There is the old Indian debate about arranged marriages vs love marriages. I always think it is a stupid debate...I mean, you do not decide you want a love marriage, and then go out looking for ways to get into one...if you do, it is probably more arranged than love...but there is another more interesting debate....is it a good idea to do the running-away-from-home thing to marry someone you want to marry?...how much is the 'love-of-your-life' thing really worth?
Love is a way too overrated emotion. It was the supposed grand solution to all of 20th century woes...perhaps like religion was before that...and its likely to continue that way...mainly through lack of competion...'I stand alone without beliefs, The only truth I know is you.'...how simple and comforting...to put your faith in 'you'...some you...
But if you have to do something for the 'you'...how far is it a good idea to go?...to damage relationship with your family, etc etc?....especially if their objections are the pointless ones...like community, religion, etc?....I think at this point it has nothing to do with the love thingie....it is about the type of person you are...if you are the pragmatic type, maybe you would not really want all that trouble...if you are the rebel, you might just go ahead and do it for the kick, and for the inevitable round of envy and applause...
I guess I am too cynical....yeah, I am...but then, life is a bore, and if you expect you will find someone who will make it endlessly exciting for you...well, good luck to you, and you will be the first ;) ....
I met someone today who wanted a) to do a PhD, b) marry someone he/she loves...and the family does not agree on either option...my advise would be...do both if you can...but drop the person if you have a choice, and go for the PhD...for a broken heart will mend...but a job you don't like...that really really sucks....
There are few things more difficult in poetry than to bring alive a single moment, a single feeling, just as it was felt, before it disappeared. Larkin is the master of the epiphany.
No poet creates a moment as effectively as Larkin does. It is this skill that makes him such a great artist, and lacking this talent, his poems will get tiresome. You meet the cynical old man in every poem, whose childhood is dull, the people he meets superficial and unworthy of consideration. Yet he has an appeal, because this grouchy old man observes the world stripped of all pretension.
I have a strange favourite among Larkin's poems - Coming.
On longer evenings, Light, chill and yellow Bathes the serene Foreheads of houses. A thrush sings, Laurel-surrounded In the bare deep garden, Its fresh-peeled voice Astonishing the woodwork.
It will be spring soon, It will be spring soon- And I, whose childhood Is a forgotten boredom, Feels like a child Who comes on a scene Of adults reconciling And can understand nothing Except the unusual laughter, And starts to be happy.
It is not as popular as some of his other works, but I still love it more, as it brings to life this moment where you are alone somewhere with nature, and you feel its beauty, but at the same time its mysteriousness. Just like a child who feels happy on seeing adults around him happy, though does not always understand why.
But Larkin could not keep the grouchy old man out of this poem either.
Caught some TV yesterday. Friends. Yeah, people exist who haven't watched Friends. Or they did, till yesterday.
One sequence reminded me of of a similar one from Frasier, where the dad has an extra $100 credit to his account. Miles asks him to return the money and he answers: 'Are you kidding? This is America. An entire nation built on the principle of finders keepers!'
Over to Friends, where one of the girls(don't ask me names, I don't remember) has an extra credit of $500 in her bank account. Someone asks her to go shopping with it, and she says, 'No, I can't. If I buy a pair of shoes with the money and I walk down the street in them, all I will hear as I walk is "not mine! not mine! not mine!'"
Started Koestler's Darkness at Noon yesterday evening. Yeah, its my old problem. Reading too many books together at the same time. But its interesting to read it side by side with Gorky Park. Both deal with the Soviet Union, but their heroes(or rather protagonists, as Rubashov, of Darkness, is not exactly heroic) cannot be more different. Arkady Renko is the man who refused to sell his soul. He is not burning with hatred for communism; he is probably too old and tired, and past all that. But he cannot take all that party and revolution and workers' paradise talk seriously. Its a farce to him. So he simply avoids anything to do with the party as far as possible, and sticks to his job as detective. That is a realistic potrayal of the closest one could come to dissidence in Soviet Russia.
Rubashov of Darkness at Noon is almost comical in comparison, with his faith in the future and how the Party will take the world to a new paradise.
When the novel starts he is locked up in a cell waiting for interrogation. He is finally caught in the net in one of the purges under No.1 (Stalin, I guess). So he broods intermittently over his past and over a toothache(Koestler very effectively uses the toothache as a symbol for his discomfort over things Rubashov did for the party in the past). And all through his brooding, he wonders about - and this is the theme of the book - whether the ends justify the means. This is supposedly the central problem in the book. But I think the way problems should be defined, it is a very badly defined problem.
For one, the ends, the way Rubashov describes them, are laughable. He believes that the revolution is 'with' the forces of history, and it will create a completely just society and a paradise on earth for the masses. Now, such ends- okay, this sounds a little too scientific- are not quantifiable at all! How do you measure the justness of a society? How do you know when you have reached a completely just one? Anyone who believes such ends is simply deluding himself, cos he himself will not know even if he has reached those ends. And even if he does, how will he prove it to others? Darkness is a good book if you want a peek into the mind of a failed Communist, but as a general book raising question of ends vs means, I think it fails.
To define a good 'ends vs means' problem, we need a situation where the ends can clearly be seen, be measured, to be good. Then we can think about the means. A science fiction work may define the problem more clearly.
Suppose you have a planet where people exist with two kinds of mutations. Some have one heart, some have two. Now, the people with one heart can live easily with one, but the people with two hearts, their bodies are used to twice the pumping since birth, can only survive if they have two hearts. Suppose a 100 people on this planet(all with one heart) are about to die of heart failure. Should you round up 50 2-hearted people (at random) and use their hearts for transplant, and save 50 lives on balance?
Ok, all that was a little creepy. But it attacks the means vs ends question with more clarity, cos at least you know the ends are measurably better. Not some vague workers' paradise in the future.
You can solve a tough problem, but what you can never solve is a badly defined problem. That is what I don't like about Darkness at Noon. It would have been fine if Koestler had stuck to depicting communism and why he hated it. But to set it up as an example where the means failed to justify the ends seemed taking it a little too far.
Reading Martin Cruz Smith's Gorky Park. Had tried to read it when I was at Rourkela...couldn't finish it. Well, I was a kid then; this time, I think I will. Its a little ho-hum as a murder mystery. First thing, you do not even know the identity of the three people who were killed(they are discovered in Gorky Park, their faces carved off, their digits chopped off, so there is no identity), so you can't hatch conspiracy theories of your own. Second Renko(the hero) is so convinced that the KGB did it(who else?) , that you believe him, and so there is no mystery at all!
But the description of life in the USSR is v v good. There is one scene I loved, where Renko is at a party, and the hosts show him their new washing machine, 'top of the line' - one they waited 10 months for, where they could have got another model in 3 months, cos they wanted the best. Then they try to give Renko a demo and the machine breaks down. They almost bring the machine to pieces trying to fix it, but no, it doesn't work. Then as good hosts they ask Renko not to tell Natasha, who just got a new piece for herself. Unfortunately Natasha finds a loose knob from the machine lying around, and so they have to confess that the washer 'isn't quite working'. Natsha is not bothered:
' "That's all right. We can still show it to people." She seemed genuinely content.'
Well, I have been gone a long time. I kind of expected that. It is amazing I came back. Friday night and I am sitting in the lab trying to implement k-medoids clustering in MATLAB.
Well...I am not quite feeling myself. You can tell that by the fact that I am here on my own volition trying to write something. Normally I do not feel like writing anything. Quite a strange fact, considering my lifelong ambition was to become a writer....
Pluto went away and I am still not over that. I think back to him all the time. I think I had built him up to be something v big in my life while I was away from him for so long.
Pluto was eleven years old. I am still not sure if that is old enough for a dog. Everytime I hear of dogs that last/lasted beyond 11 years, I feel bad. But I think we took good care of him, while he was around.
Had a pleasantly slow start today. Got up and out of bed at 10:00am, went downtown for my weekly supplies- bean cans and the rest(my love of rajma is really standing me in v good stead here) , then just strolled into the Borders book shop. after a long time. An hour's window shopping there, which was good fun. Read through portions of 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X'. Have to read that one from beginning to end sometime.
Slj is reading 'A bend in the river' by Naipaul. Was discussing Naipaul with her over the phone today, and I think I will go to the library today to get some of his books.
First time I tried to read Naipaul was at REC, and it did not work out too well. I just couldn't stand all the anti-India talk. I could stand it a lot better in Pune. He was a pleasant antidote to the sugary Darlymple. Read Darlymple and Naipaul on India, and you will think they are talking about entirely different countries. India is the elephant and these two guys are the blind men of the parable.
I am not surprised Darlymple is excited by India, because he is a historian, and that is something Naipaul definitely is not. He does not even try. He just gets off the bus, catalogues all the things that don't work, and takes the next bus to another new place. He has no patience for any sort of historical diagnosis of how things came to be that way. So if there is a chance things will change in the future, he never has a clue. That is why many of his 70s and 80s books on India seem so dated now. But still he is a good read, for his sharp eye and acerbic tongue, and his eye for flaws. I doubt he is ever happy with his wife's cooking. She must either be putting too much salt all the time, or too little.
So...here begins. After flirting endlessly with the idea of keeping a blog, I have finally beaten the procrastinator inside...though i guess it'd be too early to plant the flag and do the victory dance. I'd honestly be surprised if I ever come around to putting a second post here.