Saturday, January 29, 2011
Among them a small group of short South American native Indian men are dancing in a circle, in their colorful ponchos and long braided hair. One of them is playing a flute with many reeds. You are captivated by the music, there is something primordial and familiar about it apart from its haunting notes. You sit in the circle of people standing around them. You tell your friends to go ahead, you are staying here the rest of the afternoon.
So people come and go, but you are still sitting, watching the dance, entranced. The dancers have noticed you, and are now smiling at you as they pass you in the circle. Their faces are deep brown, their skin is polished and taut, their smiles are very warm.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The First Nine: Milk vodka congeals and freezes
The Second Nine: Vodka congeals and freezes
The Third Nine: Tail of a three-year-old ox freezes
The Fourth Nine: Horns of a four-year-old ox freezes
The Fifth Nine: Boiled rice no longer congeals and freezes
The Sixth Nine: Roads become visible from under the snow and ice
The Seventh Nine: Hilltops appear
The Eighth Nine: Ground becomes damp
The Ninth Nine: Warmer days set in
The fourth one is the worst – and that’s where they are now.
Mongolia has been on my mind the last 2 years, ever since I saw the most beautiful film ever - Mongolian Ping Pong, each frame a painting by a master, a paean to innocence.
And since I read the biography of Genghis Khan by John Man,
And finally own a CD of beautiful Mongolian throat singing, Alash: http://www.alashensemble.com
by Ken Hada
After three days of hard fishing
we lean against the truck
untying boots, removing waders.
We change in silence still feeling
the rhythm of cold water lapping
thankful for that last shoal of rainbows
to sooth the disappointment
of missing a trophy brown.
We'll take with us the communion
of rod and line and bead-head nymphs
sore shoulders and wrinkled feet.
Stories. In the gaps in the travels too. But then, isn't everything a story to you? Narrated to yourself, for the most part, but a story nevertheless. An entire childhood of silence, living within books, has left its mark, deep down.
Photo by a friend, fellow-traveller.
«Vingt-deux ans d’Asie, en chemin de fer, en chars à buffles, cahotant sur de grosses roues de bois peint, à motocyclette, à dos d’éléphant, en prahu, en catamaran, à cheval, en Rolls Royce - elle ne m’appartenait pas - ou en camion parmi les choux et les sacs d’oignons.» Gabrielle Wittkop n’a ménagé ni sa peine, ni ses différentes montures pour sillonner cette Asie qui exerce sur elle un pouvoir d’attraction irrésistible. Elle y est souvent allée pour des reportages parus dans le Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Les carnets que publie Verticales ne sont cependant pas une recension d’articles mais bien une sélection des notes qu’elle prenait au jour le jour, au gré de ses vagabondages tropicaux.
Née en France, Gabrielle Ménardeau, lesbienne, mariée à Justus Wittkop en 1946, écrivain déserteur antinazi et homosexuel, s’installe avec son mari à Bad Hombourg, près de Francfort. Elle écrit des romans vénéneux (le Nécrophile, Sérénissime Assassinat ou les Rajah blancs), qui ne seront remarqués qu’avec le travail des Editions Verticales. Elle ne goûte que brièvement le succès littéraire, se donnant la mort à 82 ans, en décembre 2002 après avoir appris qu’elle souffrait d’un cancer. Elle envoie un dernier message à son éditeur : «Je vais mourir comme j’ai vécu : en homme libre.» .......................
Sunday, January 23, 2011
"He would most likely not have embarked on that year-long enterprise had he not had profound assurance that return was possible, even though he himself might not return; that indeed the very nature of the voyage, like a circumnavigation of the globe, implied return.
You shall not go down twice to the same river, nor can you go home again. That he knew; indeed it was the basis of his view of the world.
Yet from that acceptance of transience he evolved his vast theory, wherein what is most changeable is shown to be fullest of eternity, and your relationship to the river, and the river's relationship to you and to itself, turns out to be at once more complex and reassuring than a mere lack of identity.
You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been." (p. 55)
- Ursula Le Guin, The Dispossessed
A fascinating glimpse of Nigeria, a peep into its dreams and trials, as seen through the eyes of its women. Noticed a lot of similarities with India, the same ambitions of a better life in the West, the same discoveries, the same gender issues, almost similar customs.
You've probably heard her on TED, that great talk about the danger of believing in cultural stereotypes, of having only "one story" about a culture, and not bothering to dig further into what they really are: "Show a people as one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become." "It (a single story) emphasises how we are different, not how we are similar."
Hopefully the internet has reduced such ignorance?
The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which critics hailed as “one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years” (Baltimore Sun ), with “prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes” ( The Boston Globe ); The Washington Post called her “the twenty-first-century daughter of Chinua Achebe.” Her award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun became an instant classic upon its publication three years later, once again putting her tremendous gifts—graceful storytelling, knowing compassion, and fierce insight into her characters’ hearts—on display.
Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
More here: http://www.shelfari.com/books/12833751/The-Thing-Around-Your-Neck
Saturday, January 22, 2011
and lest this be taken for wry sorrow,
drown the spider in wine.
you are much more than simply dead:
I am a dish for your ashes,
I am a fist for your vanished air.
the most terrible thing about life
is finding it gone.
Charles Bukowski, 'Sifting through the Madness For The Word, The Line, The Way'
*'The Toughest Indian in the World'
* * * * * * * * * * *
Age, I suppose, is also listening to a young person pour out her anger and anguish and also hear what she is not saying, and having the grace to not show that you know, because you realize that she is not yet ready to talk about it, and youth, being what it is, needs to save its face, its so very vulnerable face....
* * * * * * * * * * *
And yet again, age is also answering the most stupid of questions with kindness without Ever showing any sign of contempt or ridicule, because there are different kinds of knowledge and as long as we are curious we are getting somewhere, and in the end, not knowing the Big Bang theory is just not as catastrophic as not knowing how to care....
"...The majority opposition to peyote reflected a cultural bias, the belief, unsupported by scientific or historical evidence, that 'hallucinatory' experience is automatically bad. Since hallucinations are a form of insanity, the term 'hallucinogen' is clearly pejorative. Like early descriptions of Buddhism as a 'heathen' religion and Islam as 'barbaric', it begs some metaphysical questions. The Indians who use it as a part of their ceremony might with equal accuracy call it a 'de-hallucinogen', since it's their claim that it removes the hallucination of contemporary life and reveals the reality buried beneath them.
There is actually some scientific support for this Indian point of view. Experiments have shown that spiders fed LSD do not wander around doing purposeless things as one might expect a 'hallucination' would cause them to do, but instead spin an abnormally perfect, symmetrical web."
'Lila. An Inquiry into Morals'
Robert M Pirsig
Note: I am not advocating drugs here. That was a thought-provoking observation worthy of, and requiring, reflection and further study, that's all.
I know it all,
Down to the very cold you feel.”
Mrs. R, my poetry teacher who introduced me to Tagore and Kazantzakis and de-coded the opaque world of T.S. Eliot for us, once sent me this haiku in response to one of the angst-ridden letters of my youth.
The knowledge that someone understood, that someone has walked this path before, that someone will not ridicule your pain, that someone will listen to your story without irritation or indifference - how infinitely precious.
In the rented house of each stage of life, is it this "I know" that you search for, and find so rarely?
"...We're also going to have to do something about children's television. Today's children watch shows like "Sesame Street", which teaches them that the world is full of friendly interracial adults and cute puppets and letters that form recognizable patterns. This is, of course, a pack of lies. When I was a kid, in New York, my friends and I watched shows like "Captain Video", which taught us that the world was full of evil forces trying to destroy the earth, which turns out to be absolutely correct.
"Captain Video" consisted of five episodes a week, no one of which cost more than eleven dollars to produce. The episodes always took place in Captain Video's spaceship. It was an extremely low budget spaceship. For example, Captain Video's radio was a regular telephone handset, except he held it as if it were a microphone and talked into the listening end.
..They also don't get Meaningful Social Lessons, the kind we got from shows about cowboys and Indians. These shows taught us that not all Indians were savage killers. For example, Tonto was a good Indian. As I recall, all the others were savage killers."
Page 67, 'Bring Back Captain Video', from 'Bad Habits' by Dave Barry, author of 'Babies and Other Hazards of Sex' and 'Claw Your Way to the Top'.
At the end of it all, you don't want to be a global citizen, you want to belong, belong to one city somewhere, feel that you are Coming Home and look down and smile with a hint of tears in your throat as the plane comes down from the clouds and the yellow lights now start moving and you can make out roads and sodium-vapour lamps, and you know all this unreal abstraction from up here will soon transform to the solid reality of a vehicle that leads you to a door that will take you to that corner of the bed which has your very own blanket and pillow, and nothing, nothing can get real-er than that and you are happy to learn that yet another time...
And so, you wish you could have one city where you could belong belong belong, which is overwhelmingly home home home and which you could look down from a plane window and feel something, something, something other than relief at finally getting out of an aircraft where the airhostess asks you Veg or NonVeg? while you desperately search for some tissue to wipe your eyes.
"The importance of dopamine was discovered by accident. In 1954, James Olds and Peter Milner, two neuroscientists at McGill University, decided to implant an electrode deep into the center of a rat's brain. The precise placement of the electrode was largely happenstance; at the time, the geography of the mind remained a mystery. But Olds and Milner got lucky. They inserted the needle right next to the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a part of the brain that generates pleasurable feelings. Whenever you eat a piece of chocolate cake, or listen to a favorite pop song, or watch your favorite team win the World Series, it is your NAcc that helps you feel so happy.
"But Olds and Milner quickly discovered that too much pleasure can be fatal. They placed the electrodes in several rodents' brains and then ran a small current into each wire, making the NAccs continually excited. The scientists noticed that the rodents lost interest in everything. They stopped eating and drinking. All courtship behavior ceased. The rats would just huddle in the corners of their cages, transfixed by their bliss. Within days, all of the animals had perished. They died of thirst.
"It took several decades of painstaking research, but neuroscientists eventually discovered that the rats had been suffering from an excess of dopamine. The stimulation of the NAcc triggered a massive release of the neurotransmitter, which overwhelmed the rodents with ecstasy. In humans, addictive drugs work the same way: a crack addict who has just gotten a fix is no different than a rat in an electrical rapture. The brains of both creatures have been blinded by pleasure. This, then, became the dopaminergic cliche; it was the chemical explanation for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
"But happiness isn't the only feeling that dopamine produces. Scientists now know that this neurotransmitter helps to regulate all of our emotions, from the first stirrings of love to the most visceral forms of disgust. It is the common neural currency of the mind, the molecule that helps us decide among alternatives. By looking at how dopamine works inside the brain, we can see why feelings are capable of providing deep insights. While Plato disparaged emotions as irrational and untrustworthy - the wild horses of the soul - they actually reflect an enormous amount of invisible analysis."
Author: Jonah Lehrer
Title: How We Decide
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date: Copyright 2009 by Jonah Lehrer
Pages: Kindle Loc. 463-538.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
By JRR Tolkien
I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.
For still there are so many things that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring there is a different green.
I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
and people who will see a world that I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet and voices at the door.
From here: http://www.munnaontherun.com/2011/01/returning-feet.html
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
"...It didn’t matter that the story had begun, because Kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen.. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t.
In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.
That is their mystery and their magic."
'The God of Small Things', Arundhati Roy (excerpt sent by a reader, I had forgotten this)
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best-
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso-
maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins-
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,
and, if necessary, the windows-
trees fifty, a hundred years old
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road--
Only wind trails upon the sea.
Kohima, 1944. The Japanese invade India, life changes overnight, and seventeen-year-old MariO’Leary and her sisters are evacuated from their home and separated from the rest of their family. Even as she pines for her fiancé Vic, a soldier in the British army, Mari and her sisters are forced to run from village to village, camping in fields, eating herbs for food, seeking shelter or a trustworthy friend, until the madness has passed.
A sensitive recounting of the true story of a young girl during World War II, Mari brings alive a simpler time in a forgotten place that was ravaged by war before it was noticed by the rest of the world.
About the Author
Easterine Kire (Iralu) has written several books in English including three collections of poetry and short stories. Her first novel, A Naga Village Remembered, was the first-ever Naga novel to be published. Easterine has translated 200 oral poems from her native language Tenyidie into English. Her forthcoming books include Forest Song; a volume of Spirit Stories; and Bitter Wormwood, a novel on the Indo- Naga conflict. She is founder and partner in a publishing house, Barkweaver, which gathers and publishes Naga folktales.
You can buy it here, they deliver within India: http://www.flipkart.com/mari-easterine-kire-book-9350290187 I picked up the book at the Odyssey bookshop.
Read about Easterine Kire and her story, in her own words: http://www.icorn.org/articles.php?var=8
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
For adbhutam is wonder. And wonder is immediate. It cannot be premeditated or calculated. If you do that, it isn't wonder.
That is the hallmark of wonder. A curiosity to know, a yearning to possess. And when you do, the wonder ceases. That is the nature of adbhutam. To be transient. For you will never known it again in exactly the same degree."
Book 3: Adbhutam
"When we finally find what we have been looking for in the darkness, we nearly always discover that it is exactly that. Darkness."
"...For at times, when I listen to the words of English that emerge from my mouth, I have a disquieting sense that the one I hear is not the one I call myself. Rather, it is as though some other person (but who?) were being imitated, followed, even mimicked. Larvatus prodeo. [Descartes - "Go forth masked"]
Perhaps it is so that all languages are, finally, foreign languages, alien to our animal being. But in a way that is precisely inarticulate, inarticulable, English does not feel to me like a resting place, a home. It just happens to be a language over whose resources I have achieved some mastery.
My case can certainly not be unique. Among middle-class Indians, for example, there must be many who have done their schooling in English, who routinely speak English in the workplace and at home (throwing in the odd local locution for colouring), who command other languages only imperfectly, yet who, as they listen to themselves speak or as they read what they have written, have the uneasy feeling that there is something false going on."
Page 195. Diary of a Bad Year
J.M.Coetzee (Nobel Prize for Literature, 2003)
Chapter 01: 'On the origins of the state'
"...It is hardly in our power to change the form of the state and impossible to abolish it because, vis-à-vis the state, we are, precisely, powerless. In the myth of the founding of the state as set down by Thomas Hobbes, our descent into powerlessness was voluntary: in order to escape the violence of internecine warfare without end (reprisal upon reprisal, vengeance upon vengeance, the vendetta), we individually and severally yielded up to the state the right to use physical force (right is might, might is right), thereby entering the realm (the protection) of the law. Those who chose and choose to stay outside the compact become outlaw.
...What the Hobbesian myth of origins does not mention is that the handover of power to the state is irreversible. The option is not open to us to change our minds, to decide that the monopoly on the exercise of force held by the state, codified in the law, is not what we wanted at all, that we would prefer to go back to a state of nature."
These streets remind me of quicksand (quicksand)
When your on it you'll keep goin down (goin down)
And there's no one to hold on too
And there's no one to pull you out
You keep on fallin (falling)
And no one can hear you callin
So you end up self destructing................
Monday, January 17, 2011
What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them.
And they have changed since then.
To pretend that they and we are the same
Is a useful and convenient social convention
Which must sometimes be broken.
We must also remember
That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.
T. S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party (1949)
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.
Naomi Shihab Nye
What is the measure of our lives? What we own? What we contribute? The number of people who call to ask how we are? Who want to hear our stories? Who want us to be part of their lives?
Or is it just the weight of the bhikshu's begging bowl you bear after you finally learn to walk away?
"Neuroimaging studies of individuals with bipolar disorder or other mood disorders also suggest evidence of cell loss in these same brain regions. Thus, a suggested cause of bipolar disorder is abnormal programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in critical brain circuitry that regulates emotion."
by Allen Ginsberg
It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my
shoulder. Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office
buildings shouldering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the
sky an instant — and the sky above — an old blue place.
or down the Avenue to the South, to – as I walked toward the Lower
East Side – where you walked 50 years ago, little girl – from
Russia, eating the first poisonous tomatoes of America – frightened
on the dock –
then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what? – toward
toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned
ice cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards –
Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching
school, and learning to be mad, in a dream – what is this life?...
Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you're out, Death let you out.
Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with
God, done with the path thru it – Done with yourself at last—
Pure – Black to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all—
before the world—
There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you've gone, it's
Listen to his poems here: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Ginsberg.php
"Kaddish is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service. The term "Kaddish" is often used to refer specifically to "The Mourners' Kaddish", said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism in all prayer services as well as at funerals and memorials. When mention is made of "saying Kaddish", this unambiguously denotes the rituals of mourning."
I tasted wine in my mouth
My heart was like a firefly; it moved
Through the darkest objects laughing
There were enough reasons why this was happening
But I never stopped to think about them
I could have said it was your face,
Could have said I’d drunk something idiotic,
But no one reason was sufficient
No one reason was relevant;
My joy was gobbled up by dull surroundings
But there was enough of it
A feast was spread; a world
Was suddenly made edible
And there was forever to taste it........
The debasement of language not only reflects but also produces a retreat from civility. The slightest disagreement has become an occasion for violent reactions. Television has educated an entire generation of Americans to believe that the normal way of reacting to a slight is by punching someone in the face”.
Editor, “Saturday Review”
Tum us ped ké tharah ho
Kitaab mein chapi
Badalté mausam sé békhabar....
.....You’re like a tree
That’s printed in a book
It cannot feel the changing seasons...
From “Bhasha ki Raat”
* * * * * * * *
......Aur woh hasthé hué kaha
Sach kahoon Babuji
Mere nigah mein
Na koyi chhota hai
Na koyi bada hai
Har aadmi ek jodi jootha hai
Jo méré samné maramath ke liyé khada hai...
.....And laughing, he said,
To tell you the truth, sir,
In my eyes
There’s no one who is small
And no one who is great
To me every man is a pair of shoes
Who stands before me for repairs......
From “Mochiram” (The Cobbler)
Sudama Pandé (Dhoomil)
(Dhoomil is his pen name, which he coined from “Dhool mé mila hua aadmi”
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Best talk I've ever heard in my life.
"Blind river dolphins, reclusive lemurs, a parrot as fearless as it is lovelorn ... Douglas Adams' close encounters with these rare and unusual animals reveal that evolution, ever ingenious, can be fickle too -- in a University of California talk that sparkles with his trademark satiric wit."
Saturday, January 8, 2011
When I wake up
In the morning
I pour the coffee
I read the paper
Then I slowly
And so softly
do the dishes
feed the fishes
sing me happy birthday
like it's gonna be your last one
here on earth
you made yourself invulnerable
no one can break your heart
so you wear it down
and you wring it out
and you break it yourself
Andrew Bird's one-man orchestra of the imagination, on TED:
On MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/andrewbird
Thursday, January 6, 2011
by Garrison Keillor
When Love is lost, the laughter's good and gone,
The sun sinks down, the heavy fog rolls in,
Nothing is left to say and you know that no good
Will ever come of this,
Life will never again be miraculous.
Tall dark woman in the café, I see
How the tears glitter in your blue eyes.
You drink black coffee for bravery
And weep onto the front page of the Times.
I had a love once too who now is gone, is
gone, she's gone. The waves roll along
The coast, the sweet summer rain blows in.
If I knew you, I'd sit by your side and sing:
This world is not our home, we're only passing through.
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- Si, si, Indio!
- Now tell me
- Mongolia on my mind
- L’Asie en notes et en motocyclette
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Unblinking Grief
- Over the years...
- The hallucination of contemporary life
- I know it all
- Dave Barry: Bring Back Captain Video :) :)
- The molecule that helps us decide among alternatives
- I listen
- Returning to the Great Stories
- The life of the mind
- Go forth masked
- The option to change our minds
- Does more information mean we know less?
- Joe Hisaishi
- Fast Enough
- Walk away
- There, rest. No more suffering for you.
- Poem written in the street on a rainy evening
- The debasement of language
- Aur woh hasthé hué kaha....
- Douglas Adams: Parrots, the Universe, and Everything
- Andrew Bird
- We're only passing through
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