Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Lazy Sunday

Sunday has been very lazy so far. Partially because of a rather severe bout of cough :-( , and partially because I really want to read and not browse the 'Net interminably.

I broke-down and bought "The Argumentative Indian" after waiting interminably for Vivek to finish his copy and give it to me :-). Saw the book on a pavement bookshop and could not resist. Especially since a heavy breakfast of Puliyogare and Sakkara Pongal had left me in a very body-sated state. Food for the mind was indicated.

A couple of quotes in the book I found quite fascinating.

As Alexander wandered around north-west India around the fourth-century BCE, he queried a group of Jain monks on why they were not paying him much attention. He got the following reply:
King Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth's surface as this we are standing on. You are but human like the rest of us, save that you are always busy and up to no good, travelling so many miles from your home, a nuisance to yourself and to others!... You will soon be dead, and you will own just as much of the earth as will suffice to bury you.
What kind of a person would have the clear-mind and courage that he could reply in such a manner to an all-conquering Emperor?

And though we have all read the following passage from the Gitanjali many times, it struck me as very profound wisdom, reading it afresh after a very long time.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;...
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;...
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
This stanza captures perfectly what I could never express clearly, the ideal state of human-kind. How much longer will it take for even one corner of this world to reach such a state?

Also I know now why I'm so incorrigibly argumentative :-). It's not my fault, we desi folk have always been so. And I have also an excuse for why I collect so much crap^W information about so many things in my head;
All the convergent influences of the world run through this society: Hindu, Moslem, Christian, secular, Stalinist, liberal, Maoist, democratic socialist, Gandhian. There is not a though that is being thought in the West or East that is not active in some Indian mind.
writes E. P. Thompson. I'd like to think that mine is contributing in some small measure to this heterodoxy :-).

The curse and blessing of India is that we are ponderous in thought, and the plurality of expression and opinion mean that we can rarely find two people who have the same opinions on a majority of issues.

I think this is a great benefit when we actually use this to form structures of infinitely malleable, pure-thought stuff, a.k.a. software.

And, still on thoughts, dipping into the ever bountiful HHGTG,
"The mere thought," growled Mr Prosser, "hadn't even begun to speculate," he continued, settling himself back, "about the merest possibility of crossing my mind." - Mr Prosser, head builder.
An even more appropriate Dune quote,
Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and has powers of reality.
fReaK ouT!

The effect of science

I tend to wonder at how people selectively block things out of memory and thought. While blissfully enjoying the everyday benefits of science and technology they easily forget the same when it comes to rationally analysing their motives, religion, nationalism, spiritualism or superstition.

A person who uses a cell-phone without being astounded by how it works, professes amazement that some cheat produces vibhuti from nothing. A person who lives in a 14-storied apartment prays to another cheat for health and wealth. A person who takes carefully metered shots of Insulin to stay alive stops thinking while offering bribes to his god to cure him. A person who earns his very living through thinking has no thought-process when he says I go to pray at this temple because the deity there is very powerful.

What kind of profound influence is this that leaves otherwise perfectly normal (if there's any such thing) people so deeply irrational and blind to the reality around them? What is this set of blinkers that can be so selective in allowing the person to think only when the object is not related to their core set of unshakeable beliefs?

It's a weird world we live in. Where the fact of reality takes a back-seat to the fantasies of the mind.

And if you haven't read V.S.Ramachandran's Phantoms in the Brain, go, get yourself a copy, and finish reading it. He talks about some very interesting properties of the brain and provides some extremely interesting although simple experiments.

fReaK ouT!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Me, Myself, and I

Goli in his infinite wisdom has forced me to trod the beaten path and vomit what may otherwise be deeply hidden (nominally) thoughts.

I am thinking about...
always thinking about things, and not getting to actually doing the things that I think I think about.

I said...
'Let there be light!' And my roomie switched on the fan.

I want to...
walk around and understand India.

I wish...
I could understand everything I want to.

I hear ...
music in everything.

I wonder...
why people stick to myths that are millenia old while being blind to reality around them.

I regret...
not, that I try to have no regrets.

I am...
therefore I think.

I dance...
when I hear some hardcore dappanguthu. Not a pretty sight I hear.

I sing...
to myself, almost every moment I can imagine.

I cry...
Can't remember when I cried last.

I am not always...
in my senses. I sleep-walk. I've done some pretty weird things if I'm woken up a little while after I sleep. My mother took advantage of this to give me milk which I'd otherwise refuse when I was awake.

I make with my hands...
drumming noises on most flat surfaces. Drives people around me nuts, sometimes. I pretend that I'm a, well budding is probably inappropriate, Sivamani.

I write...
far too much, and in way too much detail. Brevity is the soul of wit, said someone, but I'm not having any of that. I also write to express myself clearly - better than I can when I speak, which is not too bad by itself.

I confuse...
names and faces. I suck at it. :-(

I need...
to stop procrastinating and do things, at least starting on Monday.

And finally...
to pass on the tag to
Man-madhan 'cos he's a lazy bum.
Lokesh 'cos he's in a bit of a funk.

Sorry guys :-)