Monday, August 29, 2005

Plato On Love

Over the weekend, my friend Parvez has given me a treat by recommending me to the work of Plato which has a particularly non-platonic exposition on the matter of "Love". The work is titled Phaedrus and is a free form conversation between the fabulist Phaedrus and the greek philosopher Socrates. To gain a flavor of the work, consider the following statement on the definition of love by Socrates before he goes on to express anything related to it :

"Every one sees that love is a desire, and we know also that non-lovers desire the beautiful and good. Now in what way is the lover to be distinguished from the non-lover? Let us note that in every one of us there are two guiding and ruling principles which lead us whither they will; one is the natural desire of pleasure, the other is an acquired opinion which aspires after the best; and these two are sometimes in harmony and then again at war, and sometimes the one, sometimes the other conquers. When opinion by the help of reason leads us to the best, the conquering principle is called temperance; but when desire, which is devoid of reason, rules in us and drags us to pleasure, that power of misrule is called excess. Now excess has many names, and many members, and many forms, and any of these forms when very marked gives a name, neither honourable nor creditable, to the bearer of the name. The desire of eating, for example, which gets the better of the higher reason and the other desires, is called gluttony, and he who is possessed by it is called a glutton-I the tyrannical desire of drink, which inclines the possessor of the desire to drink, has a name which is only too obvious, and there can be as little doubt by what name any other appetite of the same family would be called;-it will be the name of that which happens to be eluminant. And now I think that you will perceive the drift of my discourse; but as every spoken word is in a manner plainer than the unspoken, I had better say further that the irrational desire which overcomes the tendency of opinion towards right, and is led away to the enjoyment of beauty, and especially of personal beauty, by the desires which are her own kindred-that supreme desire, I say, which by leading conquers and by the force of passion is reinforced, from this very force, receiving a name, is called love."

Of course he later even concedes that certain forms are madness are a heavenly blessing and it is better to be in that state than make sense. If this whets your appetite, please consider reading the full text.

This definitely requires 2 dictionaries and a bottle of scotch :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

On the Order of Things

It is not required but it wouldnt hurt if the reader peruses the post by Megha entitled "Paploo Stud Wannabe" .(It wouldnt help either because I am purely concerned with only the 3 words and not the content). Personally I think it takes a stroke of genius to produce a string of words like that. If you can repeat the statement atleast thrice mnemonically in your head and you'll see my point.(Quick Question : How many such phrases could you coin in less than a minute?)

If you are like me and cannot digest all 3 words at the same time, do what the programmer does for a living, namely : manage complexity using a simplification budget. So lets attack only the first 2 words : "Paploo Stud". I must remark care must be taken here not to confuse that "Stud Paploo" is the same as "Paploo Stud". In fact after a while you'll realise that the first word is more of a qualifier and hence ultimately a function of the second word. So "paploo stud" assumes you are a stud and you are also attributed 'paploohood' to you , whereas "Stud Paploo" implies inherently you are a "Paploo" and whats more,even a stud at that.( Digression : Linking Libraries is much the same way .Try linking an executable with -ly and -lx instead of -lx and -ly and you know what the compiler would do. That reminds me Compilers are like females and Men are like Computers but that would be for a later topic)

Anyways now we are prime to analyse our 3 pronged word of "Paploo Stud Wannabe". Applying the same philosophy mentioned in the earlier passage recursively, we realise that at the core is a "Wannabe". Then, he is qualified by being a stud at "wannabe" and that finally he ends up as a paploo in pursuing this whole endeavor. I wonder what the author had in mind when coining this title. In the process of arriving here I completely forgot to convey what I have originally set out to.That should not matter now .Probably I should scoot before making any more mindless comments like this..

ps : It finally came back to me. I was trying to parse the words "kanaka maNimaya nUpura dharaNA" that occured as a string in a carnatic song. ( for the curious that means "wearing golden gem-studded anklets")

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Admiration of Joyce

Came across this today written by Borges in his admiration towards James Joyce
What does my lost generation matter
That lovely mirror
If it was justified by your books
I am the others. I am all those
That your obstinate rigor rescues
I am those you do not know and those you save
Curiously enough,. Umberto Eco remarks that whats common to both these authors is the fact that the universal culture is their playing field(for their salvation or damnation).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bharat GanaRajya

Thats what the text beneath the Sarnath emblem on my passport says. (literally means Union of India). Its one of those days where I peruse each of the pages in it.That reminds me to renew it as it expires this October.Being removed by a couple of oceans from your homeland can do wonders.

I called up my pop to greet him greetings and I gather he wasnt so happy to be a recepient of my I-Day wishes. In fact he seemed to be disillusioned.He quoted an incident where a local MLA was ambushed by so called Maosits in that area and asked me how what the heck do my wishes mean?

Our family history is a nightmare that I have woken up from but I guess it still stuck to him. My grandpa was a Pearl trader headquartered at 7 Thambuchettiar St, Chennapatnam(Chennai).Then the clarion call for Independence struggle was given by whoever that resonated something in him. He left his primary occupation and took to the road.(Of course the fact that he studies "tarka-sastra" for quite a while in Benares doesnt seem to help here)Now there was no Companies Act in those days that limited your liability in case of liquidation and this fella had to forefit everything he acquired. Local contacts or head honchos had to pull strings to yank him out of the occasional jail.Promptly he came back to the Coromandel Coast and settled down as a clerk at a temple writing satirical plays and a 3-volume magnum opus on The History of Kalinga ( Modern day Orissa where my granny is from).A few heirlooms that were passed on to my childhoos were a mahagony bed and a mirror made in belgium.(my dad used it as an aid for shaving, I guess). So that was in short how the stakes were played out w.r.t to my family. Yeah! The Nation gained independence but the net worth of a fella like my grandpa went to zero. I am glad he did what he did. Its kind of liberating to know that there are some folks out there who follow Mark Twain's sayin "Always Do Right! This will gratify some and astonish the rest". I guess I am among the astonished.

That being said I am glad that things look bright atleast from my perspective. I see a progressive evolution in the country's attitude and I am not half bit as disillusioned as my pater-familias would. I am sure it could always be asked as "Kahan Hain Kahan Hain Mohafiz Khudi ke, Jinhe Naaz hain Hind par woh kaha hain.." and my answer would be that they are there where we left them and they are there where we look for them.

ps: BTW I am truly shameless to come back after calling it quits. Its something like you can take x out of y but you cant take out y out of x where x=me and y=blogging.

pps: I guess this also underscores how far I have travelled from my last year. I love August.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Over and Out

Its been a heck of ride but I guess I am running out of steam. As some of my readers might have observed the quality of my posts has been exponentially dropping close to zero. Its a nice point of inflexion to hang up my boots before I start hitting the negative values.( I have just confirmed this for a fact with an objective third party observer).I started out with a Fugue but I guess I ended with a Toccata with a bit of Allegro thrown in occasionally.