Friday, December 26, 2008

Acid evangelist

So, Morrison’s tipsy dream sequences have been on my mind for some time. I just finished reading his biography. Stephen Davis does a good job, but, the book has a horrible sense of chronology. Holden would say, “You don’t know where the hell you are.”

It is interesting to note that he underlined the following in the introduction to Rimbaud’s Illuminations. It explains a lot.

“One must, I say, be a visionary; make oneself a visionary.

The poet makes himself a visionary through a long, a prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, keeping only their quintessences…. He arrives at the unknown: and even if, half-crazed at the end, he loses the understanding of his visions, he has seen them! Let him be destroyed in his leap by those unnamable, unutterable, and innumerable things: there will come other horrible workers: they will begin at the horizons where he has succumbed.”

The self-destruction was systematic. Cataclysmic. Morrison to my mind was the paragon of the Byronic heroic. So, I was not surprised to see that the biographer quotes Byron.

The book has entailed that I start with Arthur Rimbaud and go back to Dylan Thomas. In the end, Mr. Mojo is still rising.

In other news, I hate malls. Decisively. Whatever happened to the quiet little places where you can hang out with yourself? If you have coffee houses inside malls, you should be allowed books. Not that I want to read inside malls anyway. People in love make them intolerable.

This blog is becoming depressing. I think that I will make myself pancakes now. Food-therapy works. Always.

The end

Last night, you died. Your death was imperceptible. Your death comes as no shock to me. It has become knowledge in a space of two hours. I appall myself. I was sleeping when it happened. No lightening woke me up. I tell myself that fools romanticize life, but, death is inevitable. Maybe, this didactic keeps me sane now. I also know that I believe the other, that, I can live forever. I have no right to mourn you, but, maybe, this is inevitable too. I am young. You were seventy-eight when it happened. A sage once told me that only an old man knows when an old man dies. I am not old. A lifetime is only just an instant. A lifetime is an eternity. A lifetime is both. In the end, only a thought remains till the mind vanquishes even that to leave the remnants of a lost world. Sayan would say a lost Atlantis, but everything is not utopian. But, the thought is conscious of all that is possible because of all that has been made possible. A thought is a very powerful thing. I chant a thought to myself today, to imprint it on the ocean that has become my mind. I don't want to forget.

Harold Pinter, you are dead.

Cancer is a real pain. It kills. You did say:

“They (Cancer cells) have forgotten how to die
And so extend their killing life.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Café Coffee Day

Bitterness takes time to brew.
Freedom is an interstice.
An exemption for ten minutes.
Before the metaphor of life
It scalds.
Sugar can disguise the disappointment
But the distilled flavour remains.
Coffee is best when taken dark
Black and unadorned.
Raised to your lips
No froth.
Like Norwegian Wood
So matter of fact.

PS: Given up coffee. Been having tea in coffee houses.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The reaper

I left my Dickinson volume in the metro yesterday. I hadn’t even finished reading it. I came home and searched everywhere.

I read this gorgeous Anne Sexton poem on suicide just now. It is technically brilliant. Also, so persistent that it is almost urgent.


“Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.

Twice I have so simply declared myself,
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
have taken on his craft, his magic.

In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
warmer than oil or water,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
Suicides have already betrayed the body.

Still-born, they don’t always die,
but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet
that even children would look on and smile.

To thrust all that life under your tongue!—
that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison.

Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
raging at the fruit a pumped-up moon,
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
something unsaid, the phone off the hook
and the love whatever it was, an infection.”


But, my favourite suicide poem is a Dickinson. Not a Plath. Here it is:-


“'Tis not that Dying hurts us so—
'Tis Living—hurts us more—
But Dying—is a different way—
A Kind behind the Door—

The Southern Custom—of the Bird—
That ere the Frosts are due—
Accepts a better Latitude—
We—are the Birds—that stay.”


Dickinson died a natural death. Plath and Sexton committed suicide.

I was right. That Tony Harrison collection is horrible.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Without irony

As furtively as wilderness
Abstracts into spring. As despair

Grows in one sick
Beyond hope. The omitted awareness

Of your memory divests
Into the mind today. As

Shadows in the expanse
Of light. The heart makes

Its choices and divorces
The soul. As the sound

Of a flower withering
In darkness. As death in

Life. As bliss is
A trepidation. And fear a

Prerogative. The heart wanders
Looking for pleasure. And then

Pretexts out of misery.
You knew. You did not

Come. With the Parsons
Of morality. I have no

Brawl. I do not
Dissect my life. I have

Good luck.

Desolation

“They say that “time assuages,”-
Time never did assuage;
An actual suffering strengthens,
As sinews do with age.

Time is a test of trouble,
But not a remedy.”
-Dickinson


You
Are
Old now.
I watched you
Sleep today, counted your wrinkles.
And ascertained the width between pain and wisdom,
Added the spaces in a lifetime. A longing between desire and destiny remains.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Now close the windows

“Now close the windows and hush all the fields;
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss."
-Frost

I have been reading “A Boy’s Will.” Every poem is a microcosm, a world within a world. And this is a collection of his early poetry. I am amazed everyday. It is a bit like living life “At the Vantage Point” and yet, “In Neglect.”

We went and got the books. I totally lost it there. I only just finished reading “Dubliners.” I did not even pick this one because of this absurd-I-am-not-ready-for-Joyce-theory, but then later I filched it from the friend who did. I think that I went the wrong way about reading it. I should not have read it in one go, but, the book is addictive. Tomorrow, I will read “The Stranger.” I know. Finally.

I brought a lot of poetry. A lot. Keats, Browning, Whitman, Dickinson, Frost. An anthology that features everyone from Milton to Walter Scott. I also got a Tony Harrison collection, but, I am not too excited about it.

I also got books by Chekov, Fitzgerald, Kafka, Lawrence, Hardy……. And other stuff.

No Neruda. No Murakami. Couldn’t find any.

Now close all the windows. It is time to explore. I think that it was Kashiwagi who said:

“In order to be
Forgotten from within
A flower opens outward.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

The hyper-reality paradigm

I study science.

We live life by simulation, so reality is an assumption, a hypothesis. If and when the rectitude of this assumptive reality is proven empirically, hyper-reality is attained. It seems virtual. Surreal and also, vivid.

What is illusion? What is entity?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Golden is elusive

The first semester officially ended a few days ago. I feel a dissolution of space inside my mind as if I live life in the rooms of a castle that I have made for myself. Each room is a brimming, almost ebullient enclosure. A castle that has ceilings and walls of glass, but, no windows. That is soundproof so that you can see what's going on, but, you can't hear. So, if you refuse to see in one direction, you achieve total suspension. There is no sense of time. Just the measurement of days in the literature I read. Sometimes, a passage lingers and defies time. A cycle of seasons passes. Winter hesitates in the afternoon brilliance, as if it wants to retrace its path. Sometimes, you want to capture this indecision and so you put your arms forth as if to enclose this facile radiance. As if to look for a reward or say, a reconfirmation. There is a splendour. There is a splendour. Although refracted. Although silent, intangible.

I saw a production on the Russian Mafia scene today. It was eye-opening. Then, I saw a show about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It was really interesting. Sayan gave me a one hour tutorial on Roman Warfare (and other things Roman) after that. I am not even kidding and I listened. Unbelievable stuff. So, now I am reading up about the Roman Empire.

Oh, I also finished a Murakami yesterday. I also read Catcher again.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fibonacci

“They make a desolation and call it peace.”
-Agha Shahid Ali

It
is
winter today.
In my palm
Ice perspires, leaving me cold.
The sun may rise, it may scorch me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Music invents silence

“Your ghost will walk
You lover of trees
If our loves remain.”
-Browning


It is twilight. The quiet
Of my breath, an equilibrium

Of space and sound. Absence
Is a premonition. Soon I will

Trace my memoirs. My echoes
Will confine the exiles of silence

That your voice will vacate. The specters
Of my presence will observe

Nothing. Stealthily, the rain
Will wash away the chronicles

Of ashes. Nomads will come.
Music will invent silence.


Yes, alright. I have been reading Paz.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The lovers

Apparently, there is a method to my madness. Morten Søndergaard explores poetic short story in Ubestemmelsessteder (Indeterminate Places, 1996). Here is a sample by the Danish poet. As if you haven’t had enough.


“I awake in a land where lovers have seized power. They have introduced laws decreeing that no one will ever again have to look away, and that orgasms need never come to an end. Roses function as currency, the insane are worshipped as gods, and the gods are considered insane. The postal service has been reinstated and the words ‘you’ and ‘I’ are now synonymous. After the revolution, it was decided that broken-hearted lovers should be eliminated for the safety of those happy in love. When they track me down, I immediately surrender. The executioner is a woman and it is quickly done. It is winter and I have not met you yet.”

Reconnaissance

“They would not remember the simple rules
their friends had taught them,
that a red hot poker will burn you
if you hold it too long;
and that, if you cut your finger
very deeply with a knife,
it usually bleeds.”
-Lewis Carroll

Also, if you wear heels for long periods of time, your feet tend to hurt. Excessive consumption of food can lead to inopportune weight gain. And ofcourse, if you drink from a bottle marked “poison”, sooner or later it will disagree with you. Lewis Carroll was a great man. This is the sum total of the past four days. I am a wiser person now.

I am a happy person. Also, life is boring these days. Apparently, I have an obtuse sense of humour. That is also caustic and also subtle, because most people don’t get it.

Anyway, I am going to go shopping for books with some friends in a week, after the practicals. Caustic. Subtle. Again.

I am enjoying the winter. I miss the monsoon. I see my reflection in the waters of childhood. There is a dreary sea in between. My face feels liquid when I touch it. The remnants of my refection do not want to stay in my palm. They drip. I make tired old ships. They sink in the labouring salt. The reflection is elusive, virtual.

Violins await me at the shore. I linger. I linger.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Truth, the end

I just finished reading “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” TS Eliot was a great man. Who says that man-worship is wrong? He writes:

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But ofcourse only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to escape from these things.”

He knew. He was not afraid.

And yet, when I read him, I hear his unmistakable voice. I know that it is him even before I see who it is. I hear his precision that is both impersonal and fluid. It speaks.

Also, Auden writes the following:

“For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its own making…”

That’s the comfort, isn’t it? And the release, the end. Just the simple and unerring fact that there cannot be another. Because it makes nothing happen, it is. Because it makes nothing happen, what can replace it? Ofcourse, Keats did say that beauty is irrevocable. Enduring. The frontier.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Measure for measure

I have been off rock music for a couple of weeks now.

The result of which is that I have been listening to Simon and Garfunkel's version of Scarborough fair repeatedly. Obviously, the haunting seconds play a major role in this. I especially love the "generals order the soldiers to kill" part. It is a bit dramatic for seconds, but, I like it anyway. The song brings back acappella memories of school. I miss school. It was home. I miss school friends. They were a second family.

Also, Chopin's Preludes Opus 28 sound darkly urgent in C minor, but, not so much is E minor. I don't know. I am not a very good listener.

Nine exams. Spanning over twenty days. I have lost my sense of humour. I almost miss the Monday tests. The brevity of them. Ofcourse, in person, I will deny that I wrote this.

Where be your Grecian Urn?

A friend has all the answers. He is looking for the questions.

I, on the other hand, don't mind looking for the answers, but, I have never been able to understand the questions.

I like to think of truth as a treasure hunt, the treasure being beauty. I like to think that I know the avenues, the hurdles.

I don't know what nameless, elusive address houses the Grecian Urn.

I don't know where to lead my one man parade.

Everything else becomes simplicity.

PS: Apologies to Keats.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forgetfulness

I love Billy Collins. So, will you after this, if you don't already. See you after two weeks.



Isn't he incorrigibly funny? I read a poem he wrote on Emily Dickinson, a very long time ago. It was about the complexity of women's clothing in 19th century America. Then there was one about the travails of turning ten, that also had a Shelley reference. One of the most buoyant poets, ever.

Must get back to relativity now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The taming of the shrew

So, I will take Abhineet’s advice and forsake simple pleasures for a fortnight. Not that I have a choice. Cousin is getting married between the theory and practical exams. 10 things I hate about exams:

1. Studying.
2. Late nights, sleep deprivation, mornings.
3. Coffee. Because too much is bad.
4. Microwaved maggi noodles. Because too much is bad.
5. Diet Coke. Because too much is bad and normal coke is too sweet.
6. Phone. Because it becomes indispensable.
7. Can’t read as much as I would like to. Because sources are limited and wants are unlimited. The sources being time here. Yes, I remember economics from March. Typically, read Harry Potter during exams. It is comfort reading.
8. I get crazy writing ideas and can’t do justice to them.
9. Can’t wait for them to get over.
10. Miss them when they do. Unbelievably.

PS: "The taming of the shrew" is inextricably linked to lists in my mind because the movie “10 things I hate about you” is loosely based on it.

PPS: Good luck to everyone for the exams.

PPPS: Will resume blogging later now. Renouncing the internet for some time. Renouncing poetry which is the same thing for practical purposes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Margins

I
Husk time
Abstract eternities from oblivion
Measure life in dust winnowed light.

But
Oblivion is infinite
When I take your picture
I tell myself that I have captured light, time.

Meanwhile
I am permitted
Expensive concessions as I read
A little more beauty, a little more time.


Just had one of those days when you get up in the morning and you know with all certainty that you have to read something specific, but, a chemistry practical thwarts your plans. You come home and hunt for the book only to be disappointed.

Have decided to not listen to Floyd and Morrison for a week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Requiem

Five years
Went unrecorded
Eclipsed by nothing.

So comforting
To see you
Post life.

To watch you
Open your mouth
Only to close it.

In the end
Even roses
Are bloodstained.

I traveled
Strange Distances
Never

To be
Touched by you
Again.

I watch you
On the scrabble board
Caught in a deadlock.

You suffocate
In the ocean
Of words.

Only to make
Your own
Definitions.


I make tea. The year is beginning to forget itself. There is no space between winter and me. The changing light reminds me of...... Nothing. I chide myself. I am too young to be reminded of things. It gets dark so soon. A friend has been asking me to listen to Mozart's Requiem for some time. I put it on. I sit back. It is best to stay in the dark a little longer. A little longer. I close my eyes in order to hear properly like a blind person groping through lobbies of refrain. Like a child struggling with a new expression.

The City Of Violinmakers

Henrik Nordbrandt, 1945, Danish Poet. This translation by John Irons.

"Every time that you return
I could kill you for it –
out of envy at the view
I never gained a glimpse of, the river
that wound its way through the city and out
into lush countryside
unless it was a stream of blue horses
the snow of the mountains and the local
language, the inside jokes
they made about their kings.
‘The city of violin makers’ I have often
christened the place where I search
for your soul’s preferred haunt
your melancholy’s woodland floor, and the special
tint in the light across your cheek
the one that drives me mad in late-winter
or in other words: I know nothing of death
but I ascribe such powerlessness to the dead
such an undirected yearning
that no picture can be made
despite the frame that is always present:
Throughout the night downriver
we nevertheless lay awake on deck
listening to the string music
borne out to us from invisible banks."

He reminds me of Neruda.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Gunner's Dream

“I hate that aesthetic game of the eye and the mind, played by those connoisseurs, these mandarins who ‘appreciate’ beauty. What is beauty, anyway? There’s no such thing. I never ‘appreciate’, anymore than I ‘like.’ I love or I hate.”
-Picasso

Everything that is not perfect is imperfect. Period.

Sometimes, I like to imagine a life less exigent. To miss one beginning, is to look for another. The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. Who was that again? Pascal maybe…

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Lizard King

I would never go as far as wearing exhibitionist T-shirts and yet, there is something about him. I keep coming back to him. Again and again. I don’t understand what he did with his life. And why? Why would a man in his quest for the spiritual truth derange his senses? Who was he? A prisoner guised as a free man. A free man pretending to be a prisoner. A trembling difference between the two. And then, I listen to his poetry in motion and everything is forgotten. Everything is granted. Everything falls into place. He is exonerated. There is nothing left to analyze anymore. There is no past. The future is another country, exotic, solemn, a “Spanish Caravan.” The present is a surreal progression to the country of the future in “The Crystal Ship.” He created magic. He was magic. He hypnotized time, transfixed it. Indeed, “the present is now, everything else will be remembered.” Now is beautiful because it will not come back. Now, I listen to him. Soon, his words will be gone and yet, contained in the shape of things to come, in the ocean of his departure that will swim within the four walls of my mind. Now, I listen to him when he says:

“Free fall flow, river flow
On and on it goes
Breathe under water till the end.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ocean

This is what happens when I try my hand at Haiku. Ofcourse, Japanese syllables are Japanese. Not English.

Fend the kingdom of Poseidon
Betide on a chariot of sea-foam
Armour in conch shells.

I am obsessed with the ocean. Because I have never seen it.
Here is another one.

Now, the mirror reflects me
Twenty years ago, my mother was I
It’s a trick of light.


I saw “Dear Frankie” last night. It is an amazing movie. I have flu. Again. There is not much to do except to wait for it to go away.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Soul kitchen

Sitting across each other.
The two of us, timeworn-

With glazed eyes.
At a loss of words, bartering

Awkward silences.
It is a fair exchange, hush

For hush.
Trough on trough, a function

That is periodic, constant.
A conundrum, the equation

With no solution.
A spider, scuttling

In circles.
Chasing itself, solemnizing

The genesis of logic.
Seeking deliverance.


PS: Thanks for asking. Yes, yes, the title of the poem is a song by “The Doors.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love under the Republicans (or Democrats)

I think that I am going crazy. I woke up this morning with a poem ready in my head. Sometimes, I think in verse. I am taking a short sabbatical from poetry. No more writing poetry. No more reading poetry. For a week, atleast. Except Ogden Nash, ofcourse. A poem by the master:

“Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
Of marriage conducted with economy
In the twentieth Century Anno Donomy.
We’ll live in a dear little walk-up flat
With practically room to swing a cat
And a potted cactus to give it hauteur
And a bathtub equipped with dark brown water.
We’ll eat, without undue discouragement,
Foods low in cost but high in nouragement
And quaff with pleasure, while chatting wittily,
The peculiar wine of Little Italy.
We’ll remind each other it’s smart to be thrifty
And buy our clothes for something-fifty.
We’ll stand in line on holidays
For seats at unpopular matinees
And every Sunday we’ll have a lark
And take a walk in Central Park.
And one of these days not too remote
I’ll probably up and cut your throat.”

Infact, no more reading for a week. I’ll just stay on a healthy diet of Ogden Nash and American sitcoms that is appropriate for people in my age-group. An honorary mention of Sam-almighty for insisting that I watch “How I met your mother.” It is awesome. No other word would do.

Lunar recollections

There becomes the earth
Brimming with life
Ebullient. I am its moon
Always mum. I am here
Eccentric, eclipsed.
Sometimes intimate, often far.
Amorphous, circumscribed.
My wonderdust
The shore of its disdain.


I don’t recall having any trouble understanding the law of thermal equilibrium, whilst studying thermodynamics. Now, I know that I was mistaken. After this:

“As I speak he is freezing
my words he will melt them

to listen and listen
to the water of my voice.”
-Agha Shahid Ali

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lazarus from the dead

Sometimes, life is worth living.

I went shopping today. I stopped at Crossword after splurging on a pair of shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to see Murakami, Lessing, Coetzee and Kafka sitting on the shelves, albeit, Lessing was next to a Kinsella and Murakami was hidden behind a DuMaurrier. They don’t believe in piling up the books alphabetically. Talk about sacrilege. “The trial” was priced over 500 and it wasn’t even in hardback. But, even so, it was there. Partial redemption.

This, after I had completely given up on Crossword when they told me that they didn’t stock up on Chekov’s short stories.

Yes, yes, I know I should not be so critical. And cynical. It has its advantages, though. For example, I was thrilled to find Sartre in the college library. Yes, I meant to use the word thrilled here.

I have read nothing by Kafka till now, but, for some reason, he is right up there in my hall of fame. Maybe, it is because I have been wanting to read “The trial” for so long.

Murakami is a genius. A God even. His short stories are engaging studies in the expansion of the magic that we like to call fiction.

Sometimes, I think that I “check out” books the way guys check out girls. I know that I can’t read all of them, but, that does not stop me. I still have to see and make a wishlist. For the future. You never know, after all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chasm

A golden web
Winter afternoon light
On white porcelain.

Your face
A ceramic palette
Paint any emotion you like.

The calm
A noise too loud
Of glass against granite.

The chasm
A fundamental separation
Indeed, the calibrated life.

The applicant

Some more fiction.

"First, are you our sort of person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

Stitches to show something’s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit-

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they’ll bury you in it.

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have a ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as a paper to start

But in twenty-five years she’ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it’s a poultice.
You have an eye, it’s an image.
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it."
-Plath


It had been over a year. She still had his things in their home. She wasn’t ready to throw them away, yet. His books in the study. She aired them every now and then. His clothes in the cupboard. She washed them and put them to dry. Still. She hung on to the routine of her life in the closet that had become her life. Still. She sometimes wondered if the neighbours suspected.

She had banked on time. Time, the kind friend. Time, that would make her old; that would make her forget his hushed footfall in that long-forgotten snow.

She set the table for two. Two cups of tea. Chocolate crèmes. Lilacs from the garden. There was a Shelley lying on the table from the night before.

She closed her eyes and sipped the tea. She tried to remember his face. It was too hard. She imagined it as it was the day he was to be cremated. She remembered that it was sullen, so free of regret, so final. She wondered why she still thought of him.

She closed her eyes to the intimate Chopin. Chopin who proved that sometimes, even suffering inspires envy; that sometimes, beauty is savage, wild; that rage also sings.

She opened her eyes to the suffering that had become her oxygen. The white walls. The lilacs in the vase. So fragile, his favourite. The Virginia Woolf in the bookshelf. The feminist who drowned herself.

She was tired. She wondered why.


PS: Just finished “Crime Passionnel” by Jean Paul Sartre. It is depressing. Period.

PPS: I am neither a feminist nor an intellectual highbrow, but, I have to agree with Sartre when he says, “I hate victims who respect their executioners.” This is because I am saddened to conclude that feminism has come to focus entirely on establishing the victimization and oppression of women. Creating class consciousness is extremely important, but, whatever happened to concrete action? I cringe to say this, but, it is not easy to forgo power. Patriarchy has not vanished into thin air after the establishment of the fact that women are treated unfairly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wilde, an obituary

“When there was nothing,
There was God,
Had nothing existed there would be God.

My being has been my ruin:
Tell me,
Had I not existed,
What would be lost?”
-Ghalib


You had nothing to declare but your genius. You laughed at people for laughing at you. The communion of the words that you used was so precise, that it seemed incongruous in your youth. Now, the intelligentsia quotes you with an air of self-righteous defiance. I want to stop this defilement. Now, your words make so much sense that I am compelled to write about them in my insomniac juvenescence. These words that you used together, have slipped into the language, but it is not the same. They met in happy reunion when I opened a volume of your plays yesterday. The pages were a pale yellow from the nostalgia. I look at your languid vignette, your velvet jacket, your silk stockings and ofcourse, your sphinx like smile.

Your life let you down. You were betrayed by existence. But, your legacy lives on. Your aestheticism. Your hedonistic lifestyle. I look at your picture. Your eyes have a strange look in them, a faraway look that has a magical, mysterious knowledge that is impenetrable to me at this time.

You died a very long time ago. Now, 108 years later, I mourn your death. I hope that it is not too late. Your death seems unreal. Your life seems unreal too. I am saddened by my resigned apathy. Perhaps, grief is part illusory and part exacting. For now, I look at your picture and try to fathom your being. It says a million things. It speaks for itself. Now, I know that it does not need a learned exposition.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lost souls swimming in the fish bowl, year after year

Trying my hand at fiction, now. Real life is too surprising.

"Four wax candles in the darkened room
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead
An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid."
-Eliot

She had to know. She had to be sure. She liked the mask after all. It was real. Much more real the boasting children begging the forced genorosity of thin-lipped smiles. Fake smiles and bemused. Like a guilty secret, thanking its good fortune.
She liked the mask's stoic silences; the angular contours of his guise; the honesty of his façade; the immutability of his expression; the refusal to pretend, to conform, to seek judgement, to care.
She caught him looking at her. She returned his stare, even as she walked to him and removed his mask.
He said, "What better way to create fiction, than live it?"
She walked away. She never looked back.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The renaissance of realization

There is not much to say. Or perhaps, there is so much to say that the prospect of a suitable inception daunts. I have been asked how I want to occupy my days, post these four years, unfailingly and redundantly in the past couple of months. No earlier than yesterday, a friend wanted to know about my least preferred form of interrogation. But of course, the latter reverberated the former. How could it not? I spent the better part of a quarter of an hour contemplating which to read-Pride and Prejudice; or Persuasion. How am I supposed to decide something so……….. monumental now? The fact that I read neither, the phenomenon that I occupied that day studying AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” should purport to the readers the image that I am trying to project with such painstaking diligence.
After a great degree of meditation, I have had an eureka moment. I have found my forte in life. No, no, I am not taking a friend’s advice to be a cartoon character albeit both my friend and I concede that it is my natural calling. It would require very little labour on my part. Work should connote diligence, toil and exertion and not natural flair, so that option was ruled out with deliberate expedience.
My calling in life is procrastination. It is a function of lethargy. It is a procrastination so evolved that it even engenders classification-a procrastination to decide, and even a procrastination to think.
Par exemple, my wardrobe is almost entirely pink. It saves me the hesitation of decision in the mornings.
I loathe wearing shoes, it takes too much effort to wrestle with the laces.
My grand old age belies the fact that I can’t drive.
I haven’t even attempted to read James Joyce till now.
I could enlist more vindications, but I would rather procrastinate.

In other news, I think that I am in love with Shel Silverstein’s poetry. He just cracks me up. Here is a poem called “God’s Wheel.

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, "Hey how would you like
to be God awhile And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.

Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"

"Gimme back that wheel," says GOD.
"I don't think you're quite ready YET."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Plateaus

Tropical oceans-warm and shallow
Full fathom deep.

Melted to hardness
Diamonds reflecting streaks.

Your children, their life
Trophies on your mantelpiece.

The freedom of bronzed tins
Conclaves in the night.

Faith enclosed in your hands
They are joined in a prayer.

Vultures screech
But you have lost the faculty of sight.

"That dolphin torn
That gong-tormented sea."

Ordinarily, I would not have posted something like this on my blog, but, this time I was asked to. I hope that you are happy now, Sayan.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

As imperceptibly as grief

I know that winter is approaching when my mom starts fretting that it is 6:30 in the evening and I am still not home. This is a beautiful time of the year. It is damp but, not chilly. Today, it is overly sunny, maybe, as a reminder of the ethereality, the fragility of beauty. I sit at home as I am typing this. Hendrix, Floyd and the doors have been playing in the background since Friday evening. Now, Schubert is mourning the loss of something that I have no conception of. But, I know that it is a loss. “It is a secret place, the land of tears.” Schubert was there. He created sublimity out of it. We gained from his loss.
Here is something by Dickinson.

As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away, -
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone, -
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape,
Into the beautiful.


I fell in love with this poem when I first read it. She inverts the elements of grief into levity. The summer makes her “light escape.” She mourns summer. She welcomes winter. The new morning is courteous and yet, harrowing. The foreign presence reminds her of the absence of that whose golden die is imperceptibly, indelibly imprinted on her being. The poem is a celebration of sorrow and through this, an erosion of the betrayal that has led to the sorrow. Maybe, she is trying to say that it is impossible to say when one has ceased to be unhappy. When are we liberated from the shackles of grief? A month, a year, ten, an eternity? Maybe, we get accustomed to the grief, so that, even when it leaves, we feel a sense of loss. Maybe, it is the slow erosion of this grief that assuages the absence of that which has become a part of our lives. Maybe, she is comparing the loss of grief to the loss of summer. Perhaps, she is reversing the comparison to welcome the advent of sublimity.
In a discussion about poetry with a friend, very recently, I told him that sometimes we like illusions because they are hazy. Sometimes, we shouldn’t dissect the things that we like. Sometimes, we like things albeit we don’t understand them. I never look up the poems that I like for the fear that they will mean something else and they will be taken away from me. Sometimes, I spend an hour reading and re-reading a poem. I don’t know what this poem actually means, but, I think that I have got it right.
When I first read Ariel by Sylvia Plath, I did not pay much attention to the poem “Lady Lazarus.” After a couple of friends read the poem, recently, I have been forced to think about it and I can’t believe how off target I was.
Today, I will read Victor Hugo or Guy De Maupassant. I can’t make up my mind. I have been reading Salinger’s short stories (Thanks Sushant!). I think that he captures the conflict in his era very well. I also, finished a book on Chekov.
I know that I’ve been writing soppy and rambling stuff. Next time, I’ll write something fun.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Insentience

The tears
So bitter, almost petulant
They are unshed

The words
Painful and blunt
They are unsaid

The eyes
Searching, hungry
Everything is unread

The life
Memories, memories and a mirage
Why are you dead?


I bunked most of the day to go to school for DPS Pantheon’s Poesia today. Most of the students recited modern poetry. We had Walter Scott, Neruda, Auden, Ezekiel, Amrita Pritam Singh, Yeats and a few others. Even so, I was disappointed that nobody chose Eliot, Plath and Tagore. I was asked to recite something at the end moment. I did. Prufrock.

I can’t believe how amazing my school is. We have the complete works of JD Salinger in our junior library. I saw them with my own eyes. I have been wanting to read his short stories for a long time. I read a couple today. I also got a 100 page book photocopied. Selected poems of Eliot. I just had to.

I don’t know why I wrote this poem. It was written during the MP lecture today. I was too tired to continue my reading.

The literary society had a group discussion yesterday. It was fun.

I have been reading RK Narayan-The painter of signs and the bachelor of arts. I delight in his simplicity. His subtlety. Also, I read the worst book ever written during the weekend. I won’t waste your time by telling you about it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ash Wednesday

So, I read poetry. So, I like Eliot. The present is flawed, but, I don’t look for a “lost illusory Eden.” Elegance after all, need not be reflective. Poetry need not be Byronic. Wednesdays need not be ashen. Sometimes, I think that there is an irrevocable sadness in Eliot’s poetry. Despair.

I have been going through the poems of Wendy Cope. Today, I stumbled across a gem. It is a parody of Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.”

Here is the poem by Eliot.

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

I have always felt that “Ash Wednesday” is not a poem. It is so much more. It is an incantation. And yet, it is shattering. It is a confession. It is an old man’s plea in the wake of death. He tried to be somebody else. In the end, he had to confront who he was. Who was he? He never found out.

Here is the parody by Wendy Cope. It made my day. It is called “A Nursey Rhyme.”

Because time will not run backwards
Because time
Because time will not run
Hickory dickory

In the last minute of the first hour
I saw the mouse ascend the ancient timepiece,
Claws whispering like wind in dry hyacinths.

One o'clock,
The street lamp said,
'Remark the mouse that races toward the carpet.'

And the unstilled wheel still turning
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory
Hickory dickory dock.

PS: It seems that I was wrong. There are some very well read people in the college.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

To a Life

“There was a Viking whose eyes never looked farther than the point of his sword, but there was no boundary for the point of his sword; a Viking who walked through life , breaking barriers and reaping victories, who walked through ruins while the sun made a crown over his head, but he walked, light and straight, without noticing its weight; a Viking who laughed at kings, who laughed at priests, who looked at heaven only when he bent for a drink over a mountain brook and there, overshadowing the sky, he saw his own picture; a Viking who lived but for the joy and the wonder and the glory of the god that was himself. When the Viking stood on a tower over a city he had conquered, he smiled as men smile when they look up at heaven; but he was looking down. His right arm was one straight line with his lowered sword; his left arm, straight as a sword, raised a goblet of wine to the sky. The first rays of the coming sun, still unseen to the earth, struck the crystal goblet. It sparkled like a white torch. Its rays lighted the faces of those below. ‘To a life,’ said the Viking, ‘which is a reason unto itself.’
-Ayn Rand ( from “We the Living”)

The aforementioned story is in commemoration of Kira’s spirit. It was an insurmountable spirit. It was a hymn. It was a spirit, if only because it could have been, because it should have been. It was a realization of all that is possible. It was a realization of the complete passion to a single goal. It was the goal. It was a tribute to the sanctity of that which is inexorable. It was a tribute to the human life. It was a value, a promise, a jubilation.

I first read this book when I was thirteen, soon after I had read “The Fountainhead.” I read it once every six months now. It is an important read. It reminds me of what is important in my own life. I remember my indignation when I first read it. I remember the heroic in Leo. I recall his disintegration inspite of that, because of that. I remember that he did not bend. I remember that he broke. I remember his life after that. The vacuity, the lies, the dissipation, the living-death. I recall Kira’s undying campaign. I remember a life that could have been.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Of shoes and ships and cabbages and kings

“Wine comes in at the mouth,
Love comes in at the eyes,
And that’s all we shall
Know for truth,
Before we grow old and die,
I lift my glass to my mouth,
I look at you, I sigh.”
-WB Yeats

A friend recently asked me if I believe in love at first sight. First thing is first, I couldn’t stop laughing. It was funny. We were waiting for photocopies at the electrical canteen. And so, I immediately “shut” my eyes and laughed. And laughed. She patiently waited for an explanation. I told her that it is unimaginable. More incredible than finding a male reading Browning in the mech canteen. I haven’t met anyone (of either sex) who likes poetry at the campus. Actually, in the narrow ambit of my school and college acquaintances, I don’t think that I know a guy who reads Eliot, Tennyson, Yeats, Whitman and the likes. Even at school, the guys I was working with in the Poetry club worshipped Morrison and Floyd. That’s where it started and that’s where it ended. Sure, Morrison is a modern marvel. But, what about Plath? And Hughes? And Faraz? What about them?

What is it about guys who read in public places? Why do I have to know what they are reading? Even when I know that I will be disappointed and the book will be a Chetan Bhagat, why do I still want to see what they are reading? Now, you may ask why only guys inspire such a reflex? I will just say that it’s my blog and I am allowed to write whatever I want. Let me get on with my work, you know. Girls read a whole lot more than guys and the novelty is lost anyway.

People here have varied literary preferences. A lot of people have read Tolkein. I met a singular guy who is reading Bard. Somebody else likes Wilde and Munro. But, Dan Brown wins hands down. Every time somebody here informs me that he is the best author (ever! gasp!), I control myself and nod my head in a semblance of politeness. “There is a cosmos beyond Dan Brown you know,” I feel like shouting. It is bad manners to shout at seniors though. His books have a magazine like quality in them. You read them and you forget them. You don’t come back to them. I like the ingenuity of his plot. Except that I don’t remember the plot.

Maybe, I am being a bit harsh. A guy-friend from school does like Alexander Pope. A couple of others like Ogden Nash too.

I remember being fourteen and foolish. I remember my naïve excitement in class nine when I saw a spate of people with “The Merchant of Venice.” Ofcourse, the fact that I had read “Julius Caesar” weeks before did not help matters of temperance. Stupid as I am, it took me ten minutes to find out that it was a part of the eleventh standard curriculum.

Now, I am eighteen. Collegiate and wise. Please don’t smirk. That’s what I like to think. There is a Universe to explore and I haven’t even read the complete works of Shakespeare. One of these days, I am going to lock myself in a room with them. One of these days.

I will end this post with words of magic.
“What do you mean when you say that you don’t believe in fantasy? It is the truth.”
-Akshat

PS: Meanwhile after three days of sleep deprived existence, I feel like a zombie. Must get back to TGA now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The evolution of democracy...

Mid-sems start tomorrow. We have an essay called democracy in the humanities curriculum. It doesn't have much to do with democracy. It is an enamored cogitation on Nehru.
I have started reading "Tehelka." It is incisive. Sensational. Subjectively objectivist. So anyway...

Then.........
'I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue,
"Come, tell me where's the bill,"
I cried
"And what you are going to do?"
He said,
"I search for gibes and pins,
To prick the Bishop's calves.
I hunt for royal commandments too,
To use as safety valves." '
-HH Munro

Now.....
"The majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed."
-Harold Pinter

I am going to read Pinter after the mid-sems. I cannot believe that I have so blind and for so long.

Added later: I finished reading the text properly just now. The essay is entitled “Nehru the democrat” so, I guess the essayist’s serenade is justified.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bonhomie

It has been a month now. The mid-sems are fast approaching even as I type. I am reading Mein Kamph at the insistence of a friend. It is sermonizing. Radical. I am also reading Eliot. Again. He is my favourite poet. Prufrock is true magic.

I have also started listening to Buckethead and Hendrix. They are strangely addictive.

I feel suspended in time. Everyday is like a new adventure. I meet new people everyday. I have finally made a few friends. Friends who I know will endure. I should write about them.

Pankaj belongs to the tongue-in-cheek school of humour. He is riotous. An off-hand remark in the accompaniment of a casually quaint countenance entails a volcanic explosion of the ha-ha variety. His words of wizdumb will be sorely missed when he goes to nsit post the first semester. He is one of THE funniest people I know. Maybe, it has something to do with going to an all boys school. Yeah, he is from St. Columba's.

Abhranil a.k.a Abs_hotshot is another good friend. Zany, smart but Dan Brown loving. I have coaxed him into reading Saki for now. He is reading it, deciphering it. We are discussing it. The connubial exigencies of wumples the dog notwithstanding. He has gone to nsit now. Thursday was his last day in college. He has promised to meet up with Pankaj and me every Saturday. I will go back to the age old maxim of the days of childhood now: promise breakers are shoemakers.

Sam short for Samdrisht is a wizard. He is also known as God. The terminal christening was done by the seniors for reasons I am not supposed to know because “you-are-not-a-dude.” I will say “thank God for small mercies” to that. The citation of God here is open to interpretations. Amen.

Shreya is going to nsit too! Sob! She is really very sweet. You have to know her to understand what I am saying. She has started studying for the mid-sems too!

Sneha and Abhranil are from the same school (DPS Dwarka). Sneha has become a great friend in a month. We are alike in many ways. We have shared many laughs already. I know that there are more to come.

Then there are Sonali, Nandita, DK, Happy, Sud, Anshu……………… who deserve more than a mention.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Idlewild

Three weeks into the college, I should probably write about the same. Except that I still can’t figure out how I feel about it. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times……………” I don’t need to trace the quote’s genesis. Except that everyone says, “These are the best four years of your life. Enjoy them.”
Then there is, “ DCE mein books pado naa pado, notice boards zaroor padhna. Chaar saal class mein baithoge to fight ho jayegi. Ghisu ban jayoge. Believe me, you don’t want to be ghisu.”
The worst probably is, “I have seen you somewhere……………. Are you from xyz public school.”
I speak to some strangers. I introduce them to other strangers as my friends. I read Dilbert in class. Sometimes, I play Sudoku. Sometimes, I listen and wish I hadn’t. I walk a lot. Sometimes, I walk alone. Sometimes, I walk around in circles. I finish practical work early and I walk. The campus is beautiful. And labyrinthine. Sometimes, I don’t know where I am going. Sometimes, I don’t know that I have reached.
Sometimes, I am disappointed. Sometimes, I feel a quiet jubilation. Mostly, I feel ambivalence. Mostly, I don’t know what to say when people ask me how I like the college. Mostly I say that I think that it is really nice. The drainage system IS nice. Delhi has seen an inordinate amount of rain and so, there is one thing that I am sure of.
Sometimes, I sit on the grass and I discuss Pink Floyd, Ayn Rand and Howard Roark with some people. Sometimes, I feel at home. Sometimes, I am at peace. Sometimes.
Tomorrow, I will attend a seminar on “knowledge power in a world of learning.” Hopefully. I sent the paper a day late owing to flu. Horrible flu. I am looking forward to it..........the seminar I mean. Not the flu.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sedation of the sybaritic

“I believe I once considerably scandalized her by declaring that clear soup was a more important factor in life than a clear conscience.”
-HH Munro
(The Blind Spot)

Bed time snacks pose a perplexing hesitation for a person of an unexcitable disposition. After all, you don’t want toast at one o’clock in the night. Also, there is not much you can unearth from your artless arsenal. You appreciate your lassitude as you feed on bananas and biscuits. Ofcourse, you don’t care that bananas score high on glycemic index as long as they are good for your soul. Ofcourse, you don’t even want to contemplate the nutritional appraisal of biscuits. You also don’t want to miss the look on your brother’s face on discovering the absentia of the same.

The ongoing similitude of your gravity does not discourage your habitude till the culpability of it starts weighing on your conscience. Thereon in, you take to having herbal tea. You see, it throttles your appetite.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random

The undersigned forged to college on the day of the lord July, the thirtieth, eight and two thousand. She gave an exhaustive exhibition of her celebrated idiocy by forgetting the corroboration of her domicile for the purpose of the allotment of her quarters. The undersigned was petitioned to make her presence known on the morrow, albeit in the possession of the substantiation. On being channeled to the quarters, her mother lost no time in professing that her lavatory, homeward, was more capacious.

So, I am going back tomorrow with the residence proof. Nani is going to come with me. She wants to see the rooms. It will be soooooooooo exciting!!!!!!! NOT. But, I am looking forward to it at the same time. That’s how amazing life is at the moment. I read the HP series in 10 days flat. This is a record of sorts because from what I can remember, it took me 26 days to do the same during the 10th standard board exams. The 7th book hadn’t even come out then. I have had my eye on an Oscar Wilde omnibus at Crossword for some time, but it is exorbitantly priced. Everytime, I go there I end up buying a Wodehouse which, may I add, is a convenient two hundred. I should learn to save.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

ONE EQUAL LIGHT

"And into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell, where there shall be no cloud nor sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise nor silence, but one equal music, no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession, no foes nor friends, but one equal communion and identity, no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity."
-John Donne

On the first of August, I will start with college. I don't know if I have made the right choice. I chose polymer science and chemical technology at DCE purely for the comfort of being in Delhi. I am about to start a new life. I don't know what it holds for me. I feel the exhiliration of anticipation after the inertial suspension of relentless exam time. I don't know if I am prepared for the challenges that college life will throw at me after the closeted protection of school. I will miss my friends who are all going to different places to start afresh.

I hope that I will be able to satisfy the creative capacity in me. I hope that I have the time and the energy to make a hundred indecisions and also a hundred visions and revisions in the eliotic clock if nothing else.