5 Feb 2005

Weekend Contemplation

Posted by Oblivion in General | 2:06am

What is the one event that, if ever happens, will disillusion me and shatter my faith in humanity, or love, or whatever I have been holding with significance?

Why does one believe that everything and everyone out there exist to fulfill his expectations? Everything and everyone have their own ways. Why cannot one settle with this absolute fact? Why does one carry such excess, redundant, and useless mental baggage? Why is one apprehensive of just walking on the road of life without knowing what lies ahead?

Contrary to what people believe, taking life as it comes, with no care for security, is not same as being insensitive. Licentiousness is not same as freedom. To be open to the fact that anything can happen is not same as giving up on life and conclude anything is right. Sensitivity hasn't got anything to do with a wholesome display of emotions. To be sensitive is to be completely aware of life, every moment. When one is so aware, one doesn't become arrogant so to attempt putting life in a straightjacket. To expect life to follow one's logic belies all understanding of life.

This, however, does not imply that one takes the gravity and gore of even war with an air of easiness or dismissiveness. It just means one is open to the uncertainty of life, that one follows every note of life as it is plays, and moves along with no conclusions or expectations.

Disillusionment is just a reaction; realization and insight are wholly different. 

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25 Jan 2005

Games People Play

Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:50am

"...people's approaches to co-operation with their fellows are, indeed, evolutionarily stable. Of course, it is a long stretch from showing equal success in a laboratory game to showing it in the mating game that determines evolutionary outcomes. But it is good to know that in this context at least, nice guys do not come last. They do just as well as the nasty guys and, indeed, as the wary majority."

Nice guys refers to those who choose to co-operate, nasty guys, to those who choose not to. There is a third group - free-riders. They decide to co-operate or not to, depending on the situation on hand. In case of an intensely competitive situation, where the two subjects involved have equally powerful strategies, I doubt if categorising them as nice and nasty depending solely on the tendency of implementing the strategy and ignoring the consequences is sensible.

Game theory strongly relies on assumptions. It applies perfectly to situations where the subjects involved are equally clever or dumb, for, the evaluation of how competitive and unbeatable a strategy is depends on the acknowledgment of the strategy by the opponents. When an opponent repudiates, the strategy seems out of place and the significance dissolves. Which is why, one cannot approach kids or sane individuals with a strategy. They do not have a stand; all strategy fails against them. And because they do not acknowledge the strategy in the first place, the result would be of no bearing - no matter what the result.

For everything else, of course, there is game theory! And it works absolutely fine.

As long as man is against man
And as long as minds can plan
So long shall people play games
Futile duels for fame and names

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16 Jan 2005

The Big Idea

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:16am

It's easy to leave behind knowledge for the future generations, but it's not easy to leave behind mystery. In fact, it is possible for every person to pass on his insights, experiences and there are always takers for that in this world. Every one wants to embrace an ism, to hold on to that one big idea, to adopt one school of thought or another, so all knowledge has chance for survival for at least some generations, if not for eternity. But, to create something that will trouble the most intellectual brains for generations hence demands a great amount of genius. And to do that deliberately needs a genius who can grace the planet only once in a millennium.

That da Vinci is a genius is as much a fact as that Googling is a synonym for searching. Although no conclusive evidence exists as yet, da Vinci is believed to be the man behind the mystery of the shroud. That it has been so intimately associated with religious sentiment hampered any meticulous research. Nonetheless, the analysis, however little of that was possible,  thus far suggests no other man could have done it except him. Only a person with in-depth knowledge of human anatomy, crucifiction process, unmatched perfection in painting and good contacts with the church and the affluent could have 'created' the shroud with such impeccable foresight! It's akin to planning a perfect murder leaving absolutely no clues behind.

I'd certainly be delighted to know if he really is the man behind the shroud. And it'd be a matter of curiosity to know if he indeed knew that his work of art would become a symbol of faith for millions and perplex religious sceptics and scientific people alike, for centuries thence. Surely, if he was aware of this, it would merit becoming the subject for a mindblowing thriller. Even otherwise, if the mystery were just an accidental consequence, it would still remain among the greatest works of art, and possibly the only one with an element of mystery that would not likely be solved. Ever.

If today I am given a chance to envision any such thing that would leave mankind in mystery for centuries together, what will I choose? .....

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7 Jan 2005

Relative Reality

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:49am

Do we know what reality is? Or, do we merely live in a world of relative realities? Of course, everything is not dependent on our perception - everything, in fact, exists regardless of whether we perceive or not. So, logically, there is indeed reality - the world/universe just as is. But, are our minds capable enough to perceive reality? If we observe even casually, everyone believes he is perceiving reality. He believes the world is exactly as the way he is comprehending. Being a fundamentalist or a philosopher is simply a matter of perspective, and perspective is dependent on a lot of factors. Ergo, neither's judgment can be considered infallible. Given this situation, is it possible for one to perceive reality at all?

I suppose it is. It is possible to perceive reality when the perceiver disappears - not out of effort, but out of volition. A simple realisation that any effort on the part of the perceiver/observer subjects the reality to distortion effects the dissolving of the perceiver. In such a state, there is only perception; the duality of perceiver and the perceived is no more. The individual just becomes a channel through which reality lives and flows. He becomes the reality itself.

Unless one comes upon such a state, it appears to me that we merely live in a world of relative realities, no matter how objective our thinking is.

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6 Jan 2005

Sans-graphic Memory

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:55am

How would life have been if our memory were not photographic? Human memory, for the most part, relies on stored 'images'. The encoding process is strongly linked with the 'association' corresponding to a particular image. There's almost no storing of sense-data. So, when someone 'remembers' an experience, he is simply fetching the appropriate imagery and, more importantly, the 'associations' for the same. While the imagery helps one 'see' the experience, the associations decide the corresponding emotion generated as a result.

However, not all memory is photographic (it appears to me); nonetheless, the memory that we frequently use is. The entire repository of emotion depends, for its effective fucntioning, on only photographic memory. For example, our recollection of basic historical data or theorems in mathematics hardly engenders any recognisable emotion. On the other hand, one can say with a fair amount of confidence that envy cannot be triggered if the mind does not 'recall or construct images' relating to an issue. Same applies to other emotions as well. One feels hatred not directly for the person or an issue, but for the 'mental construction' of the subject in question. Emotion depends not on the subject directly, but on the 'association'.

Looking at it, the edifice of emotion would completely crumble if human memory were not photographic. That also implies the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next would have been impossible, or at most, absolutely difficult.

Hypothetical but interesting!

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4 Jan 2005


Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:03pm

Life is a random event with an uncertain result.

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2 Jan 2005

Certainty, the Ditcher

Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:02pm

2005 is here. What the heck! Time seems to be running faster than ever before (yes, it is a psychological illusion, that is why I wrote 'seems'). How does it feel looking back? Nothing great. It came, it went; that's how it is, after all. When viewed in a wider perspective, of course.

Any insights? Not a new one, but life seems to prove this again and again - certainty is a great ditcher. Everytime I loved her, she eloped. Even when she is there, it's only for a brief moment. Uncertainty, on the other hand, is a most faithful beloved. She is always there with one, whether he likes it or not. She loves unconditionally. She is the epitome of true, unconditional love.

The lesson? - Let certainty go; open the doors and welcome uncertainty, and life will be great, and contentment will be yours! Absolutely.

Anyways, welcome 2005!

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24 Dec 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:29am

For a long time, it had been among my interests to study what kind of blogs attract more number of visitors. Very few people follow blogs exclusively for either style or content. In such cases, the interest is short-lived, for it is not spontaneous but motivated - either to pick up a style or accumulate more information.

Majority of the visitors are attracted to blogs that give a good outlet for voyeouristic impulses. The tendency for gossip is so deep-rooted in human psyche that one is quite interested in knowing what other people think, the events in their lives, etc. In knowing that the other person's luck is better, one gets the opportunity to curse his own luck. If the other person's is worse, it makes one feel better. If the other person's ideas are contrary to one's own, it gives one a chance to indulge in an argument; if the idea is in agreement, one feels reassured of his own 'mature' thinking abilities. The motives for reading blogs are not at once obvious; they are more often subconscious. A good understanding of Freud would make it easier for one to appreciate the entire psychological mechanism.

Broadly classifying the blogs - entirely subjective classification, I must say - I found that they can be arranged in a descending order (with the number of visitors as the reference for ordering) thus:

1.Blogs that talk about people
2.Blogs that talk about events
3.Blogs that focus on ideas

Each of these categories can be subdivided for further analysis, but I would do that another time. For the moment, it does good to observe that the subconscious motives and impulses affect a person's preference for the choice of blogs - in exactly the same manner they affect choices in the world offline.

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20 Dec 2004

PS: This is Obscene!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:36pm

'Caught in the act' were two DPS school-kids (Ok, not kids anymore), the 'fielder' was a mobile phone, the 'ball' was circulated among friends, enemies and strangers, and the 'fourth umpire' is taken into custody! His fault? A 'wrong decision' - so says Section 67 of the Information Technology Act: transmission of obscene material through electronic media.

I'm not trying to justify either the DPS kids or the IIT student or Avnish Bajaj - my justifying it or not doesn't make any difference, to be honest :) - I'm just trying to understand if logic and rationality has any place in Law.

Baazee's 'user agreement' mentions that items bought or sold "shall not be obscene or contain pornography", but it also mentions that "You are solely responsible for Your Information, and we act as a passive conduit for your online distribution and publication of Your Information". If a user exploits a service, is it the fault of the service provider? Apparently, Law believes so. And, one should not question the Law - all the gibberish about fundamental rights and democracy notwithstanding - for it amounts to sacrilege! So, bye bye Avnish.

It had been perhaps asked a million times but I'm asking yet again - what 'precisely' is 'obscenity'? In this case, it was two school kids indulging in a sexual act. This clip was circulated as MMS. The boy is 17, the girl 16. So, is obscenity in this case being referred to the act? Or, to the act in relation with the age of the kids?

It's absurd to assume that a 17-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl are not grown up enough to decide what to do. So, they obviously 'knew' what they were doing. If not for the mistake of capturing it on the mobile, and circulating it, in turn, their (mis)adventure would have remained only as a memory in their minds, and a huge real estate - print and electronic and psychological - has been saved. Why is it that we make such a big issue of a 'mutually agreed upon intimate moment'? (One may also remember the hullabaloo about Shahid-Kareena's) It appears to me that most people do not understand obscenity or vulgarity clearly. In a sexually-repressed society, anything to do with sex is taken to be obscene! God save such societies with shallow morality.

If selling pornography electronically is illegal, is it legal if one sells non-electronically? If so, how does one explain such dubious distinction? If selling non-electronically is also illegal, does that mean the adult VCDs, DVDs, books, magazines, etc do not come under 'pornography'? If they are 'porn' then why not put the owners of music/book/video stores as well behind bars? If they have different logic for these, then - if the school-kids recorded it on a video disc and completed it with titling, et al, and sold it as a short-film, would it then have been fine? If that is not fine, then why not also nail all those 'obscene' filmmakers and music video makers? What is the distinction? What is it that makes this particular act obscene? Is it because they are school-kids and so 'should' be only studying and not doing anything else? Fine, a valid point that! Now, in that case, why not arrest the principal and teachers of the school for having 'not taught' the 'right' values to children? Why not arrest the parents for having 'brought them up' with such distorted morality?

What is the message that the Law and media are giving to the people? Do they want to say - make 'proper' use of electronic devices and medium - mobile phones, websites, etc? What is 'proper' usage? Logically, anything that does not intrude another person's space - physical, psychological, spiritual, whatever - is 'proper'. In this DPS MMS issue, there wasn't any intrusion whatsoever. And, come on, when the boy himself records it and flaunts it, why catch the IIT student for putting it on Baazee and making some money out of it? And, Baazee is an online store that facilitates buying and selling of products and information. I'd have understood the validity of the issue if the whole thing was a planned attempt - if the boy and girl were administered drugs or were forced to 'do it' by someone who recorded it for selling online and making money out of it.

And what the big shit about 'obscenity'!? Is it any more obscene than the way politicians exploit their power and position?; than the way media joins hands with those crooked brats and fools public?; than the way police treats a common man in trouble?; than the way we gossip about our best buddies and worst enemies?; than the way US framed Iraq and waged a war while the whole world watched mutely?; than the way people make it to top by crooked means?; than the way traffic police 'frames' a driver and empties his pockets?;... it's an endless list!

How easily people make 'absolute' distinctions between 'good and 'bad, 'right' and 'wrong'! It will always confound me!

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17 Dec 2004

Realism - Dead or Alive?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 3:59am

Cinema thrives on exaggeration. The recent list of blockbusters proves the point. Not a surprise, for cinema had always been so. The point that is bugging me is - from early nineties, cinema has shown a marked departure from 'realism'. Exaggeration in movies increased in direct proportion to the hype involved in promoting the product. As a result, the focus shifted drastically from story to secondary attributes - huge settings, sensational twists, double loads of mush, beastly indulgence in instincts, etc. These days, stories are written and scenes are shot with the promos in mind, and the actual film goes to the wall. It does, without doubt, reflect the psyche of the audience - lower attention spans, impatience, and ye dil maange more attitude for sensation. So, the more restless the society is, the more loud and mediocre the films will be. All this sound reasoning not withstanding, it makes me sad that unlike in other forms of art, the movement of realism lasted shorter in the art of filmmaking.

I'm not suggesting that out of the 900 movies made every year, at least 600 should focus on realism. I admit it is an unreasonable expectation. I'd be happy with as few as 10 such 'real' films. I understand that the richness of the medium and the craft of storytelling demand that the product appears attractive and not as just another stoty of the guy-next-door. Moreover, business as it is, and with the kind of investment involved, the entire packaging is done with the returns in mind. Naturally, films appeal to one's fantasies - each one in the audience knows, subconsciously, where the story is exactly moving toward. Each one of them knows that the hero would come out triumphant even from the most impossible of situations. Ironically, the more impossible the situations are, the more thrilling the triumph. Admitting that these are all guided by the very nature of the economic model that filmmaking is, I do believe it is not impossible to make compelling films portraying reality and yet doing good at the box-office. But again, what the fuss about box-office? These chaps have millions, and are supposedly talented. Can't they dare to risk making a good film without worrying about returns?

Mani Ratnam stands out. But he is, strictly speaking, not a realist filmmaker. I want to see Satyajit Ray's kind of masterpieces - that show life as it is. For every hundred KHNHs, I want just one Anand; for every hundred Gadars or Borders or Lagaans, I want just one Pratidwandi; for every hundred 3KGs, I want just one Apur Sansar. I agree Hero No.1, Ye No.1, Wo No.1 are all fine comedies, but I want one Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron too. For every hundred Karan Johars, I want one Satyajit Ray. I don't want to see fantastic stories of heroes, I want to see stories of people. Is there really a realist filmmaker out there, or is he an extinct species?

I don't know if anyone remembers the music video that Lintas made on Bombay when riots devastated the city in early nineties, but it was so brilliant that I still remember the visuals. It was about people - it was about you and me. At a time when kitsch is king, Rabbi's Bulla Shah music video came as a saviour. He didn't take the camera into studio settings, but he took it into the streets. May his tribe increase!

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15 Dec 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 1:00pm

"Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom."

- Bertrand Russell

What kind of a mind can chance upon such insights? Is insight dependent on intelligence, or experience, or a chance combination of both? I vote for intelligence, because assuming an experience is quite affecting, yet it is intelligence that determines how one takes it and comes out of it. And, what determines intelligence in turn? Education? Genes? Or various factors else? Or is it independent of everything? If it is dependent, we come back to the point - it's all a game of chance, for there is absolutely no way in life to choose 'determinants'. Interesting anyways... need to think more...

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14 Dec 2004

11/09/04, 5.12pm

Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:35pm

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12 Sep 2004

Sanity. Does It Matter?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:56pm

There's a famous joke about how does one make a philosopher silent. All one has to say, for whatever the philosopher says, to do so is - "That's what YOU think!" True! Interestingly, everything can be brushed off as a 'matter of opinion' - be it Bush's policies to 'eliminate' all traces of terrorism from the face of the planet to the most profound truths uttered by the Buddha. For, none of these is an empirical statement and so no data can be collected to refute either. In such a situation, no discussion would succeed. Taking advantage of this, some would take it too far - "Hey, if everything is going to vanish one day, what is the place of sanity? Live as you like to, and everything is right. Killing, plundering, meditating, writing, discovering truth, etc - everything is just a matter of choice and none is superior. For, eventually, everything tends to move toward death."

Well, I realise it is useless to argue where there is no common ground. I'd like to ask such people one thing - given a choice between a poison bottle and coke, what would they choose? They will obviously choose the latter. Now, I ask - why? why not the former, if your living or dying doesn't matter at all? Why do you choose to live than die? An extreme chap would say - "Ok, I will choose poison bottle" - just for the sake of argument. He doesn't actually mean it. How do I know? Because, if his attitude were such, he would not choose to drive carefully on road. But he drives carefully. They also choose to be in good health rather than ill.

These chaps do not realise that their attitude is just a learned behavior - that helps them 'challenge' all argument. In real life, they always choose to live than die.

Now, coming back - sanity is in choosing the beneficial rather than the harmful. Generally, in a broad sense, 'good' is in choosing the beneficial and 'bad' is in choosing the harmful. And, 'happiness' constitues in 'good'. It is not out of any condition, but just out of realisation. A sane person would choose the beneficial rather than the harmful. Now, since everyone is choosing the beneficial than the harmful - for example, good health, safe driving, etc - is everyone sane? No, because the reference for sanity isn't complete yet.

Since the rational person realises that it's better to choose the beneficial rather than the harmful, he believes it's better for people to be happy rather than otherwise. So, his focus is the 'greatest common good'. Always. He is not 'cultivating' this habit or outlook out of a fear of punishment for being inconsiderate after death. He is least bothered about that. He just believes that good is better than bad (good and bad, as we  defined earlier) and that 'greatest common good' is the most beneficial thing to choose. So, he is concerned that people should be happy rather than sad. All people desire happiness, as a matter of fact, but the difference is in whether one is desiring the happiness of others for his own happiness or without any thoughts about his own happiness. This is what differentiates between ordinary mortals who desire happiness of their kith and kin at the exclusion of, or indifference to, the rest, and the compassionate Buddha who believes it'd be good if all people are happy. Buddha is not bothered about an end or what happens eventually. The 'present' is all important.

Still, the paradox is open - Bush or even Hitler would assert that he is also desiring the 'greatest common good'. Buddha also does. Now, who is correct? The determining factor here is - the degree of attachment to the idea of 'greatest common good' (GCG henceforth). The likes of Bush and Hitler impose their ideas on the rest. They would say - "What I am saying is the absolute truth and so you must follow it, whether you like it or not." Their desire, thus, is actually the gratification upon imposing their idea on the people, and not about the GCG. Buddha would say - "I believe this is the way to happiness, and you are welcome to test it for yourself and follow." He is least bothered if anybody agrees or disagrees, because he realises that 'imposing' is in contradiction with GCG. If people agree and follow it, fine. If anyone is willing to become his disciple, he would welcome him. But he would not have anything against those who disagree and live the way they have been. His detachment is akin to a professor's with a multiplication table. 2x2 is 4, whether the other person accepts or not. Clarity dissolves attachment. And truth can be perceived only with clarity.

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24 Aug 2004

Shit Happens!

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:32am

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21 Aug 2004

Living With Lies

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:18pm

'I' or 'ego' or 'self' is fiction. It's a mere construct of thought. There is no such entity as 'I'. What makes me think so? The absolute fact that nothing survives death suggests me that 'I' is mere fictional entity. Invented by mind out of insecurity. And the whole life just becomes a mind-game; perpetually keeping one in illusion! Naturally, the desire for its permanence forces one to entertain beliefs in after-life, punishment/reward after death, and God. To make it more sound, the same is projected backwards, in that one believes this human life is a result of good deeds in previous life.

Such a waste of time! It's the most harmful lie man has told himself. 'I' makes the illusion of division more credible. It divides not just man and man, but it divides him from the rest of cosmos. Curiously, the whole invention of 'salvation' and 'God' intends to make him 'unite' with 'the Other'! Man's life, thus, is a journey from illusion to illusion, all the while blinding himself to reality that's always with him!

Death ends everything. The consciousness and the entity that had been breathing, feeling, seeing, thinking... is gone! It simply vanishes into nothingness. It defies human comprehension, and thus he attaches mystery to that. And the root of this is fear, the most dreadful fear that pervades the collective consciousness and spreads from one generation to the next. No wonder, religion is such a massive industry. It demands extraordinary clarity to 'see' that nothing has actually gone, for there was no such entity in the first place!

There is no 'my consciousness', but only 'consciousness', and it is not a special faculty gifted to man but it is the very nature of life. There's only life. 'My life', 'your life', etc is utterly illogical. Of course, for convenience of communication, it is proper to use 'you' and 'I', else identification becomes unnecessarily complicated. It is the assumption that 'I' is an independent entity that is harmful. It is based on fear and insecurity, so it is false. One may ask, "then who the hell is perceiving all this?" The fact is - there is only perception. No entity that is perceiving. The entity enters in only when mind enters into perception. Anyone can find out this upon careful observation. There is only perception. Then mind enters and says, "I like this", or, "I do not like this". It is at this moment that 'I' enters and distorts the perception. It forces a division between 'the observer' and 'the observed', to borrow from JK. While the fact is - 'the observer is the observed'. 'I' is mere fiction, a lie that we live our whole life with!

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