Category: General

31 May 2005

Bullet in My Head

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:54pm

There are many games that have only two outcomes - one either wins or loses. Many games involve no risk. Some games are fraught with danger, but the probability of fatality is very negligible. In all these cases, it is easy to find out the motivating factors for the players. But, what prompts people to play games - as these guys did - that involve putting life itself at stake, and in which the probability of losing life is as high as 0.5? 

A crooked understanding of the word adventure?
A tinge of insanity, even if temporary?
A combination of poor decision-making and high degree of adherence to the ideal of keeping one's word?
Displacement of the death wish?
Unreasonable fixation for fantasy and movies?
Some inexplicable bent for experimentation?
Escape from boredom?
...or, is such a proclivity determined by genes?


Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

24 May 2005

Proximity of Death

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:01pm

I have known him all my life, and now he is lying dead. Everyone he loved are beside him, some watching helplessly and some in tears. His mother, with a shattered look on her face, is caressing his forehead just as she must've done when he was born. His dad, old himself, is holding his cold hand and pleading him to wake up. Just once, if at all. But he is immune to everything in the human realm now. The swift, infallible cut of Fate has now taken him into the infinite distance. His wife is sobbing inconsolably. His two sons are still trying to come to terms with it. Tears flow, hearts plead for forgiveness but nothing wakes him up.

He lived all his life with ideals. As reality continued to disappoint him, and he refused to part with his utopian delusions, the chasm between him and the world only widened. The ideals were someone else's, the beliefs were put forward by some ancestors, the insights were just concrete forms of the conclusions he had borrowed from dead thinkers - great or otherwise... in retrospect, like most others, he lived someone else's life. He lived someone else's life, but died his own death. To heck with the concept of immortal soul, to heck with life after death, to heck with salvation, to heck with God; nothing saved him from the utter loneliness at the moment of death despite with his loved ones beside. No courtesy calls, no SMSs, no e-mails, one vanishes just like that! Life betrays and Death doesn't give a hoot to anything. Yes, one vanishes just like that!

True, no worse shatterer and better enlightener than Death. One lives someone else's life, but he dies his own death. Better to live one's own life, else he may not have lived at all.

An inisght into Death gives insight into everything else - Life, love, relationships, etc. 

Reminds me of the shot when Amitabh sings to the world in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar:

Zindagi to bewafa hai
Ek din thukraayegee
Maut mehbooba hai apne
Saath lekar jaayegi

May his soul rest in peace!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 May 2005

In Focus: Mani Ratnam

Posted by Oblivion in General | 2:37pm

Mani Ratnam.

One cannot put him in the same league as Satyajit Ray, but Mani Ratnam has his own style of filmmaking. Few would disagree he is the best in India today. Yes, some filmmakers - Ketan Mehta, Kundan Shah, Vinod Chopra, etc - started with great promise but lost their way. Shekhar Kapur is seen talking about making films more than actually making them. Aditya Bhattacharya had been making a film for more than a decade, and I'd be happy if it gets ready for the next generation. Nihalani doesn't come up with his magic touch any more. It's too early to say anything about Farhan Akhtar. Only Mani Ratnam has been consistent in maintaining excellence.

Astute camera work, brilliant screenplays, and inimitable use of music distinguish Mani Ratnam. And he is unbeatable at picturising songs. For all his skills, he has the knack of screwing up his work by minor and avoidable diversions and excesses. No wonder the National Award has eluded him thus far.

A brief take on his filmography:

Pallavi Anu Pallavi - forgettable
Idhaya Koyil*
Pagal Nilavu*
Mouna Ragam - compelling performances by Revathi, Mohan and Karthik. The take-off of the song 'Manthram Vantha' is like an ace in a tennis match.

Nayakan - the best movie India has managed to send to the Oscars till date. One of the best performances by Kamal, first-rate work by Sriram and Tharani. Such perfect screenplays come just once or twice in a decade.

Agni Nachatiram - although not quite acknowledged, this is a path-breaking movie, in that it made every filmmaker realize how important cinematography is for a movie. Ilaiyaraja at his best, brilliant screenplay - with some avoidable comic scenes though, and who can forget those songs!

Gitanjali - some of the best background scores of Ilaiyaraja, great camera work by Sriram again. Could have been just another love story, but Mani Ratnam's magic shows. Right from poster designs, the title font, the imagery - it's a lesson in branding.

Anjali - Ilaiyaraja excels again. With a baby as the centre, it demanded deft and innovative camera work, and Madhu Ambat pulled off brilliantly. Borrowed a lot from ET, yet did it leaving no room for complaint.

Dalapathi - more a Santosh Sivan's movie than Mani Ratnam's. Ilaiyaraja again comes up with great scores. A couple of songs are, not surprisingly, visual treats.

Roja - screenplay stands out. Made measured use of mush to good effect. Outstanding work by Santosh Sivan and, yes, Rahman.

Thiruda Thiruda - fun movie, for a change. Some impressive numbers by Rahman, and equally good work by Sriram.

Bombay - excessively mushy. Disappointing work, going by Mani Ratnam's standards. Managed to attract good acclaim though.

Iruvar - brilliant script, impeccable camera work by Santosh Sivan. Intricate storyline and screenplay made it difficult to follow.

Dil Se - passion runs from the first frame to the last, in the lyrics, and Shahrukh reflects it in his performance. Santosh Sivan at his best yet again.

Alaipayuthey - the sweetest of Mani Ratnam's movies. Great screenplay in years, some timeless numbers by Rahman, and non-pareil work by Sriram. Songs are a delight to watch. Any time.

Kannathil Muthamittal - magnificent work by Ravi Chandran. Some fantastic songs timed by flawless screenplay that has now become characteristic of Mani Ratnam.

Yuva - idealistic theme proved a drawback, although screenplay was again brilliant. Barring great work by Ravi Chandran and compelling performance by Surya, it was below par for Mani Ratnam's standards.

( * - movies I have not watched) 

Goes without saying then - waiting eagerly for his next movie. 

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

20 May 2005

Proof of Immortality

Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:35am

The Scene: Woody Allen has a dream in which he is Socrates, awaiting the sentence. Eventually, Allen is told he has to drink hemlock. But, unlike Socrates, Allen is damn scared about death and doesn't want to die. The discussion, titled My Apology - written in parallel to that in Dialogues of Plato - then takes an interesting turn. The result is an absolutely hilarious piece.

An excerpt (taken from Complete Prose of Woody Allen):

Agathon: But it was you who proved that death doesn't exist.

Allen: Hey, listen - I've proved a lot of things. That's how I pay my rent. Theories and little observations. A puckish remark now and then. Occasional maxims. It beats picking olives, but let's not get carried away.

Agathon: But you've proved many times that soul is immortal.

Allen: And it is! On paper. See, that's the thing about philosophy - it's not all that functional once you get out of class.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

14 May 2005


Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:48pm

You walked away
To the unreachable
And I stood destitute
On the ground barren

The murky sky roared
And the dusky clouds poured
Melancholy was the song
That tore my heart

The last glimpse of yours
Faded into the dim distance
And with it, vanished
A thousand dreams

Life looked distraught
With gloom was everything fraught
World moved without care
As I searched for myself

This was the road
We walked on together once
Two souls on a journey
To the land of Bliss

Alone am I standing now
And you are nowhere to be seen
Neither a trace of happiness
Nor sorrow gnaws every moment

Fragrance of your memories
Fills the still air
With tear-dimmed eyes,
I ask, "Where hast thou gone?"

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

13 May 2005

Sin and the Sinner

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:33pm

"Hate the sin, not the sinner" is among those million other sentences that sound hollow and downright illogical. Besides taking compassion too far, it propogates sham among all those ardent believers in cultivated virtue. For, if I were a believer of this tenet, I would not sit and understand the mechanism of hatred, but simply change the object of hatred from sinner to sin. And if the sinner happens to be the driver who makes that deliberate cut to inflict a fracture on my leg, confining me to the hospital bed for months, it's easy enough to see that the very act of trying to change the object from sinner to sin makes the suffering all the more worse. The situation gets more intolerable if the sin happens to be homicide or rape.

Sin, simply, is just an action - a wrong one, by definition, and powerless left to itself. It needs an external force (a person) for it to have any effect. Take out the actor and the action does not exist. If there is delicious food on the table, and a chap gorges on it and dies as a result, do we blame the food for being tasty or the chap for being stupid? Yes, the tenet actually refers to the inclination of the person to commit a certain harmful deed and not specifically to the deed itself, but that does not make it sound rational either, for the argument that the inclination is non-existent without the exploiter still holds good.

It appears to be the effect of misinterpretation of advaita school of thought. Whatever, such statements do more harm than good. For a person who is Buddha, the problem of hate never occurs because he operates at a totally different plane. So, for him the tenet is meaningless. He doesn't need it. For those who are not, hatred is a reality. A reality that begs acknowledgement, not careful packaging in some spiritual balderdash. So, when one is not free of hatred, what's the point of merely changing the objects? It's a simple displacement of the focus of the problem and not a solution.

Man is unbeatable at his ability for inventions for escape.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

6 May 2005

Dead Mind Waking

Posted by Oblivion in General | 6:53pm

At a stupid monitor
All day long
Made a morgue of my mind,
What with cadavers reeking
At every unattended corner,
Putrefying corpses,
Of wishes conjured
And ambitions conceived,
Gaping and Simpering
Rather insolently
At my unenviable emptiness!
Managing morgues
With decaying corpses
That remain dead,
I surmise,
Cannot be
Half as trying as
How things would be
When the dead ones rise!

- Vijaykarthik S

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

4 May 2005

The Day After

Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:15pm

The Earth smelt of blood
Despair filled the air
And anguish stared in my eye
Alone stood I amid
The whilrwind of hopelessness

Red flowed on the road
Every leaf writhed in pain
The little baby smiled no more
The ground beneath,
Reverberating in shock,
Craved for calm

The silence of Death
The resignation of Life
The tear of God
Watched in patience
The wily smile of insanity

Unspoken remained the words
Many a path left untrodden
As love and brotherhood
Ebbed away into
The rumblings of War

Shattered dreams, frigid corpses
Strewn all along
Fire of anger burned within
As I walked alone
Among the remnants of civilization

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: Yuva

2 May 2005


Posted by Oblivion in General | 10:54pm

Conscience, Life, and Mind. Location: Barista.

Conscience: I agree I'm the youngest. I cannot exist without either of you. I'm petty, and I enjoy it. I take delight in troubling this chap. He is so dumb he complicates everything. He is the slowest learner I have ever seen. I want to chill and enjoy, and he never lets me. He relies on me blindly and I exploit him. But I'm more powerful than both of you, because I rule him with the stick of guilt. One strong blow, and he drops dead. Neither of you can save him.

Mind: Consy, I appreciate you. Although I'm your elder brother and have more experience than you, you have impeccable and unbeatable strategy. And what the heck, I don't really see anything wrong with your decisions. I feel claustrophobic sitting inside this dumb chap's skull, so I enjoy it too when you play with him. He doesn't allow me to rest either. I feel so pissed off I make him feel more restless. I make him feel he is the master. It makes the game more fun, you see. I always wait for our big brother Lify to kick him off so I can take a holiday. When are you doing it Lify? Want some more coffee?

Life: No, thanks Mindy. When am I doing it? As you know, I believe in spontaneity. I will kick him off when I feel like it. It could be tomorrow, it could be after another twenty years. I want to show him the most beautiful works of art in the universe, but he never takes me seriously. He admires your illusionism school of art though. I suggest him to walk slow, but he runs. He takes me for granted, he doesn't even greet me. And, interestingly, when I ask him to go, he suddenly feels homesick, clings fast to me and cries for my help! He is such a jerk!

You know what? Maybe you are right. Let's just dump him and go on a holiday.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

29 Apr 2005

Happy Death

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:44pm

Lonely road
Majestic tree
Wilful gale
Graceful fall
Trampled leaf

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

21 Apr 2005

The Looking Glass

Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:57pm

"Can we question together all the foolishness and hysteria of modern mysticism, of the occult,and the fascination with unusual phenomena? Are these things not breeding a vague, inarticulate field of social demands and illusions? Can we put away the new age as well as the old age?

"It's hard to put away all illusions, including the illusions of contribution, of self-importance and the like.
"It is hard work to see clearly into this whole mess, into the insanity which man has woven around himself. You need a very, very sane mind to see, and to be free."

- JK

Has the human mind lost all capacity to understand anything simple or obvious? It seems so. Society prepares an innocent kid for the kill, and education completes it. The individual is dead and what remains is an automaton that keeps the wheel of society make another successful turn.

Unless one acknowledges the mess, one cannot do anything about it. The entire process of education and upbringing imposes a fascination for illusion, the craving for which, eventually, becomes a subconscious trigger that gets pulled automatically. Naturally, this defies all chances of perceiving reality as it is. Distortion, categorisation, justification and rationalisation become indispensable.

Forget about being passively aware of one's own psychological mess, one cannot even perceive the world candidly. As a simple example, one comes across so many people who do not admit there's anything wrong with the state of politics or law or police or education in the country. These are usually obsessive practitioners of optimism. The house is on fire, yet they suggest you to look at the other side of glass! They point at the distant, faint cloud that would pour soon with the heavenly shower and assure you that it would extinguish the fire. On the other hand, one finds those who are absolutely certain that the fire would raze everything to ashes and one cannot do anything but give up and grieve.

If the house is on fire, it's on fire. If democracy is farce, it's farce. If it's a hopeless situation, it's a hopeless situation. If the world sucks, it sucks. Seeing is the point, and when one sees it doesn't matter how good or bad reality is; a sane person is not bothered about categorization, but just about observation. Blind adherents to optimism fail to realise that in waiting for that grand tomorrow they are merely prolonging chaos for yet another generation. And those who resort to pessimism run away from the responsibility and wait for a miracle from the saviour. The house continues to burn.

As Russell said, the world does not need either optimists of pessimists, but constructive thinkers. True, all those fancy thinkers with their convincing logic and anslysis systems do more harm than good. Sanity is in seeing. Without any glass whatsoever.

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

19 Apr 2005

Six Degrees of Separation

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:16pm

"...successful social search is conducted primarily through intermediate to weak strength ties, does not require highly connected hubs to succeed, and, in contrast to unsuccessful social search, disproportionately relies on professional relationships. By accounting for the attrition of message chains, we estimate that social searches can reach their targets in a median of five to seven steps, depending on the separation of source and target, although small variations in chain lengths and participation rates generate large differences in target reachability. We conclude that although global social networks are, in principle, searchable, actual success depends sensitively on individual incentives."

The results of Small World Project are finally out.

I have been trying for two years to get in touch with two friends with whom I had lost contact. I'm still waiting for the slightest information that could lead me to them. Methinks six degrees of separation theory holds good only conditionally. Need to think more on that... 

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

6 Apr 2005

Lost in Transition?

Posted by Oblivion in General | 4:40pm

"Do you love me?" Marthe asked suddenly.

Mersault burst out laughing. "Now that's a serious question."

"Answer me!"

"People don't love each other at our age, Marthe - they please each other, that's all. Later on, when you are old and impotent, you can love someone. At our age, you just think you do. That's all it is."

- An excerpt from A Happy Death by Albert Camus

How true! How true! Camus is a genius.

Love: a four-letter word used by everybody to package the combination of the egress of biological instinct and obsession for psychological security, and a wholly selfish emotion in the form of a most expansive state of mind. A socially-endorsed, culturally-imposed drug that, aided by art and literature, sustains immaturity across generations inebriated with delusion. Without doubt, the most misconstrued and exploited word after God.

It's a painful realisation - for anyone who does realise - that nobody really loves but everybody believes he does. Love - that gift from heaven - have we lost it somewhere on our road to civilization? Or, was it never there at all? A bad turn. Worse, we don't even realise it!

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: Ilaiyaraja-apostrophe-s instrumentals

30 Mar 2005


Posted by Oblivion in General | 11:43am

One from Joyce:

"A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery."

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

27 Mar 2005

Death, Interrupted

Posted by Oblivion in General | 8:36am

Man's conception of the Universe and his understanding of the world appear to be rooted in his fear of, and failure to understand, Death. So, all his morality, spirituality, belief systems, etc seem to be the effects of thanatophobia. If he knew with certainty what acually happens after death, I doubt if we had such moral codes and schools of thought in place. What, instead, would have existed, depends on the combination of four things:

1.There is life after death
2.There is no life after death
3.There is God (let us assume God is that someone who has no better things to do than keep an account of our deeds, and rewards or punishes accordingly)
4.There is no God

Assumption 1: That there is life after death and there is God is the assumption that is most widely followed. So, there would not be much deviation from the currently prevalent belief systems and codes, if this assumption were true. Little deviation, however, would have happened because man's behavior would be different; the certainty of a second chance makes him take many things for granted. The world would not have been much different, although some schools of thought would've come up a little later, and in a totally different way. Interesting to imagine how Insurance would have been affected.

This holds, however, only if the next life is dependent on the deeds in this life. It is only this dependence that makes man attach any importance to God. If one is assured that he will be born a man again regardless of his actions in this life, I wonder how many people would respect or fear God.

Assumption 2: There is no life after death but there is God. Except for those who fear God or realise the beauty of Truth, all people else would be disillusioned and refuse to attach any importance to God. The effect? More suicides, less virtue, relaxed moral code, more licentiousness, more sanity, more insanity too. Death would be more dreadful than it now is. 

Assumption 3: There is life after death but there is no God. Man would love this. It's akin to a world without police and law. And what more! there's another life to live all over this again! Chaos twice over. Death would be a non-issue. Most philosophers and writers would've committed suicide - some, out of disappointment, but most, out of sheer boredom. The legend of Sisyphus would have inspired more fiction than any other legend possibly could have.

Assumption 4: There is no life after death and there is no God either. Pessimists would have ruled the world. More fear, more violence, more insanity. The rest is not hard to imagine.

Neither of the aforementioned assumptions would have affected the rational man though. He would live the same way no matter what. A rational man derives his points of view from the significance of life; the irrational derive theirs from the fear of death.    

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---
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