Category: General

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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6 Aug 2004

Eyes Wide Shut

Posted by Oblivion in General | 7:00pm

Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose photographs defined the 20th century, died on August 3rd at the age of 95

Do you wish people like these lived longer? I do.

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3 Aug 2004

Censor Board - The Biggest Bore

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:44am

The whole concept of censor board absolutely bores me. No, I don't have such a high opinion of society that I entirely question the need of such a board. But I'm questioning its functions. Its definitions of violence, vulgarity and obscenity are very confined, and strictly conservative. What should it censor? And what should be the criteria to arrive at the decision? Since it is applied to movies, should it not be its responsibility to not just categorise, but inspire too?

Censoring is almost always associated with sex. If we think deeper, its effects are more harmful than useful. There is already an abnormal amount of suppression of sexual impulses imposed by society. And for all such people, who are usually obsessed, justifiably so, movies act as an outlet. And if they are denied that vicarious pleasure, after having spent their money and having come with many expectations, they come out of cinemas more frustrated. It doesn't need one to be educated in psychology to see this; it just needs common sense, which, unfortunately, is not so common. For such movies, the board's function should just be to classify it with certification. It's meaningless to cut scenes. The people who make enjoy it, the people who act enjoy it, the people of censor board enjoy it, and all of them are paid for doing so! Then why should the common man, who actually pays to watch that movie, be denied of that!!? Ridiculous!

People go to watch porn movies for only one thing - and you know what. They do not obviously go to study techniques in cinematography or editing. Damn it! And porn is not same as vulgarity or obscenity.

Does that imply that I'm suggesting they should let pass any level of vulgarity? Interestingly, 'vulgarity' is quite relative and subjective. So, I don't venture to define it. What I'm implying instead is to discourage 'out of context' scenes and demand filmmakers to think better ideas.

What kind of 'cuts' would I recommend if I were on the board? I'd not let pass even a single music video. Crap! Junk! Garbage! Do you call them music videos? Then what should one call Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall? Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror? Madonna's Frozen? Maksim's Exodus? Enigma's Back to Innocence?

And, interestingly, those artistes blame the demands of the audience for coming up with such bullshit! It's just filling up the fact that they actually are dumb heads without an iota of creativity. I suggest them to watch the songs from Mani Ratnam's movies and get some ideas before wasting money on some audio-visual shit.

Secondly, I would not let any of the movies that focus on factionism. Violence is not just gore and blood, the fixation for divisive labels like caste, religion, nationality, etc is more dangerous, though subtle, form of violence. So, all those movies in telugu that lay undue emphasis on regional and casteist bias, and all those bollywood fare that so mindlessly glorifies India and condemns Pakistan would not be allowed by me. And all those 'love' stories (God! I am fed up with them!) that glorify persistence and obsession won't be allowed either. It is these movies that do more harm than, say, a Basic Instinct with no cuts.

Ok, I call it 'cut' for today!

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24 Jul 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:43pm

Is there any job that I would not take up, no matter how much I am paid? I had been thinking about this for the last two days, and, surprisingly, I haven't found one as yet! Is there any job that I would take up, no matter how less I am paid? Yes - that of a filmmaker. But I feel I should know the answer for the first question with as much certainty. If not for anything else, at least for the sake of some interesting intellectual occupation.

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22 Jul 2004

Thought for the Day

Posted by Oblivion in General | 9:20pm

When a certain amount of something is useful, and the difficulty of obtaining it is diminished, instinct will usually lead an animal to excess in the new circumstances.

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17 Jul 2004

Love and Responsibility

Posted by Oblivion in General | 12:16am

Does love have responsibility and duty, and will it use those words? When you do something out of duty is there any love in it? In duty there is no love. The structure of duty in which the human being is caught is destroying him. So long as you are compelled to do something because it is your duty you don't love what you are doing. When there is love there is no duty and no responsibility.

Most parents unfortunately think they are responsible for their children and their sense of responsibility takes the form of telling them what they should do and what they should not do, what they should become and what they should not become. The parents want their children to have a secure position in society. What they call responsibility is part of that respectability they worship; and it seems to me that where there is respectability there is no order; they are concerned only with becoming a perfect bourgeois. When they prepare their children to fit into society they are perpetuating war, conflict and brutality. Do you call that care and love?

Such a genius is JK! Why doesn't anyone 'see' something that is so clear!? It's a paradox that will confound me for ever.

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13 Jul 2004


Posted by Oblivion in General | 5:42am

Mr Gardner is best known for Frames of Mind, a book published in 1983 in which he expounded the idea that the mind is not a unidimensional phenomenon whose development can be measured by a single IQ test. He proposed that we have

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