30 September, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Is Oscar Wilde one of the greatest writers ever?
Certainly, yes!

The first of his work  which I have read is the uncommon fiction The Picture of Dorian Gray, which serves more as a critique on the etiquette of the 19th century English society, which is more relevant today than even when it was written.

This is an extraordinarily written story about a naive, young man and his tryst with narcissism, which turns him into a devil from within, while still retaining his physical appearance. Narcissism, and the consequences of mad obsession of one's own physical appearance and addiction to pleasure without gauging the rights and wrongs are the rest of the book, ingeniously written.

Apart from the exceptional plot, the consistent wit associated with every parable puts the reader at awe, incessantly. Especially the philosophical discourse, a character Lord Henry spills throughout are unbelievably witty, although the morals of the same could be severely debated.

This work by Oscar Wilde is a tribute to youth of people, as was his entire life. The vanity, curiosity and hypocrisy of the protagonist, which the narration elucidates are the manifestations of the life and personality that Oscar Wilde was.

Oscar Widle, as an author, to have written and to have endorsed this work in the 1890 is something of a great achievement by itself.

A personal favorite passage towards the end of the book; It stands out while reminiscing the book.

Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play--
I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. Browning writes about that somewhere; but our own senses will imagine them for us.....
The world has cried out against us both, but it has always worshipped you. It always will worship you. You are the type of what the age is searching for, and what it is afraid it has found. I am so glad that you have never done anything, never carved a statue, or painted a picture, or produced anything outside of yourself! Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets

25 September, 2011

Stop. Look. Proceed

An apprehension that has been perpetually haunting me, from the time I remember my own conscious thoughts is the sensation of having done so little, while there's so much more to do be done. Even in some previous posts I must have expressed this private concern. The apprehension is neither exaggeratedly confined at the macroscopic level, or simply at introspective level. It is a boundary less visualization of everything, including the task of realizing my own potentials to the fullest.

I do not look at this as a question of  accomplishments or unquenched goals. These are voids which I know I can fill with with my efforts. For some inexplicable reasons I feel as if I am running late - Sometimes, as if I have started late!

Today for reasons symbolic only, the day is an epochal one to me. And although symbols are mere symbols, they serve to highlight some specialty associated with their endorsements; It is such symbols which serve the purpose of revealing aspects of ourselves to us.

Will this remembrance serve as a wake up call to some extent? Not sure. But, I would certainly strive to get better, in all regards.

23 September, 2011

Comprehending fear

Over a casual discussion with a friend, which as usual ended up being vibrantly philosophical, the question of fear and the sources of fear surfaced up. A consistent definition used by me, did fit the context well: Ignorance.

Ignorance, adding to its list of accomplished human vulnerabilities also is the certain root cause of fear.

While obscurity and lack of clarity can be attributed to natural curiosity and inquisition, ignorance and misinterpretation can conveniently be attributed to fear.

And this aspect of ignorance when left to grow, will mature (or can i say immature!) as fear, to become one of the most efficient instruments of exploitation at our disposal.

Oppression in the name of classes, castes, race, color have all been possible because institutionalization of fear emanating out of  ignorance has been transformed into reality. Inequality coupled with ignorance can be used to force a reign of fear upon people, as History stands to testify.

Conquering ignorance, and invading into the exciting realms of reasoning is the scientific penance each one must consciously be engaged in. Enlightenment is not an spasmodic transformation, it is a gradual revelation!

18 September, 2011

All art is quite useless

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. 

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. 

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. 

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. 

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. 

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. 

All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. 

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. 

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.


PS: I have quoted Oscar Wilde verbatim from the preface to his book The Picture of Dorian Gray. I could not contain myself to complete reading this book and then write about it.
He is truly the First Modern Man.

13 September, 2011

Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

The Wealth of Nations is considered to be the basis of classical Economics which has today grown to become the foundation of the Free Market Economy, maturing into Capitalism.

The book Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is a ghostwritten work by Karen McCreadie . It is a brief commentary, but in the contemporary sense of the impact of the basic ideals put forth  by Adam Smith in his humungous five volumes - The Wealth of Nations.

It isn't surprising to hear the statement "Even Adam Smith would turn rounds in his grave, if he'd know what has come of his ideas of free market , to have culminated into today's ruthless capitalism". Even in this book, this apprehension is reiterated numerous times.

This book by Karen serves at best as a perfect primer to introduce Adam Smith's ideas, in correlation to the Economic bubbles and busts we are experiencing even as I write of it. She explains Adam Smith's ideas in relation to the global economic ambiance fluently.

One conclusive excerpt from the book:

The biggest challenge with The Wealth of Nations is that it fails to take human nature into account, which by all accounts is a serious mistake. Free enterprise can be valid economic system, but this is on the assumption that human beings will not exploit each other, that the strong will not take advantage of the weak, and unfortunately that assumption is misplaced in the 21st century, perhaps especially in the 21st century! Capitalism without decency, humanity and moral conscience is tantamount to evil, whatever century you choose to examine.

PS: It is interesting to note that the very fundamentals of today's global free-market economies: loans, credit, mortgage, gambling (speculation etc.) and other villainous tactics while are hailed today in the name of Adam Smith and his works - We were warned about these perils by the very person!

12 September, 2011

Contentment and discontentment of similarly dissimilar diasporas

When I'm with students, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - exams, projects, jobs

When I'm with working professionals, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - hikes, pressure, jumps

When I'm with kids, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - chocolates, homework, play

When I'm with an exclusive chunk of femina, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - infatuation, surreality, alliance

When I'm with activists, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - change, society,vision

When I'm with FOSS enthusiasts, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - proprietary, GNU, Linux

When I'm at home, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same - future, work, sedimentation

When I'm with my small tribe of mavericks, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are all the same- unconventionality, creativity, expression

But, when I'm with myself, the aspects of contentment and discontentment are never all the same - ponder, wonder, forget!

PS: Every diaspora has its own undercurrent, defining trait and objective; And this is what discerns the similarly dissimilar diasporas from the ever similar rest of the plethora.

07 September, 2011

Right Ho, Jeeves!

Got on to reading fiction after quite sometime; And this time I made it a point to get hold of some humor. Based on the collective opinions of some friends and a huge reputation online, PG Wodehouse was the name appearing everywhere.

Right Ho, Jeeves! was the book, and I am relishing the fact that I was smiling almost half the book and giggling within for the rest of it. Also having known that the subtle and witty Jeeves was played by one of my favorite actors Stephen Fry, Jeeves throughout was played by him in my imagination.

Although Jeeves has very few lines, and very little presence on the scenes, he's undoubtedly the protagonist and most of the scenes as imagined by me also had him heavily occupying his master Wooster's thoughts !

And this vividness PG Wodehouse brings about with his simple language and effective narration allows one to travel into the country side house and be part of the audience in most of the hilarious scenes.

Will be looking forward to some more of PG Wodehouse books; for now, will try to own the Jeeves and Wooster TV series with Stephen Fry playing Jeeves :)
Right Ho!

05 September, 2011

Not just another brick in the wall!

I must finally, and gladly admit that the last one month of my life has been the most satiating in terms of the quality conversion that has been in progress, of time into tangible efforts.

Not teaching, but facilitating, and at extreme cases mentoring as I perceive is what I have been engaged in my own alma matter. A matter of pride and privilege as I see it.

The efficacy I have been able to incorporate into my routine in terms of the amount of reading, studying, discussing, ideating, implementing many of the discussions, and of course having fun has been super exhilarating.There is also a reasonable amount of vanity in the impact I seem to have made already. Wholly, it has been quite remarkable, this known cum new experience.

I have wanted to discuss this discourse, but am inhibited by my own clauses I will keep it brief and pretend to have obscured you.

If the following lines sounds rhetoric, it would purely be coincidental, and I certainly did not have any such intentions. These are merely my deep experiences of the last few hundreds of hours of my life.

There has been little time that I have been whiling away! The cribbing sensation I used to feel previously, while I had to while away time forcibly has vanished, replaced only by a deep sense of gratification. Understanding has been elevated to newer levels. My days are swift, productive and in the end deeply satisfying.This is not complacence in any sense, but a strong motivator to drive me to strive further.

With contemplations of bigger and better plans I have ushered into a new realm, with the least bit of doubt as apprehended by my well-wishers I shall stay put and do my best operating in this environment.
And rest assured,
/me not just another brick in the wall!

02 September, 2011

My humble wishlist

You might want to brand me a knurd, geek, or any other stereotype, into which I might be far from being congruent.
Nonetheless, as I lay on my bed thinking, or maybe just when I was at the rim of my conscious mind entering into subconsciousness, I stumbled upon a fanciful wishlist of sorts; Today being my birthday and all, I allowed myself this privilege of posting it up on my blog!
  • To understand the General and Special Theory of Relativity in a manner Einstein would have wanted everyone to
  • To read Charles Darwin's elegant work, and to take a voyage of evolution along with him sailing on HMS Beagle into the nature's womb
  • To revel through the profound obscurity of a mind that Karl Marx was, and observe the polity of economy
  • Fighting with Sigmund Freud to look into the mind as taught by the Father of Psychoanalysis himself
  • To play around with Quantum Electrodynamics and understand almost everything that fascinated a mind like that of Feynman
  • Someday to have learned Tamil and to fathom the gist of Thiruvalluvar's Thirukkural
  • And to have my own Theory of Everything!
Is this a lot to ask for?
Hmmm, maybe :)

Hope I someday draw myself closer to understanding few of these minds and the greatness imbibed in their work.

01 September, 2011

The eternal fountainhead

Well, if you are expecting Ayn Rand and the selective endorsement of her individualism on my part in this post, after having read the title, let me warn you that it is not going to be about it.

A personal, childhood question if creativity was inexhaustible, or whether we would run out of it seems really amusing in retrospection. I intend to reminisce this silliness of mine.

When I was ten or something, I remember deeply analyzing the prospects of humanity running out of creativity, which was according to me then the only discerning factor between humans and animals. My concern then had been on the certain possibility of us running out of it ;-)

The creative run of humanity, keeping music as a domain for analysis, I had then concluded would get 'exhausted' for, we had extended far beyond our abilities to churn up creative music. (This claim by me then, sounds to me like the 'laugh at you' scenes of the Truth Happens video).

Not that I relied for long , nor that I still dwell on these lines of thinking. But, it certainly puts me at awe, as to how we are able to push the envelope farther everyday.
Worth wondering is the fact that we end up inheriting centuries worth of efforts by our ancestors, as snippets of intuition and go on to expand the boundaries of our understanding of Nature, and conquering the ignorance that keeps haunting and eluding us.

The regression of saving an idea today, apprehending that one might not be able to churn up a better one tomorrow is the proclaimed death of creativity.

PS: Truth Happens, one of the best videos ever

Truth Happens from 521studies on Vimeo.


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