Sunday, October 31, 2010

Birthday''' today: John KEATS...

Hey people. I am back on my page after a while this time. I don't like it. Feel I 'll have to pen a song dedicating to myself. And the way it goes, it will have no other title than, 'My Lazy Dreams'.
And so I thought I will mark today as the day of my return to the page. Let me jot down some of my favourite quotes as essenatial echoes of the poet who died young but will live forever through his words...
We remember John Keats today... and feel the power of words in our faces... once again.


I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.
~  John  Keats

I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.

~  John  Keats

My imagination is a monastery and I am its monk.
~  John  Keats

Now a soft kiss - Aye, by that kiss, I vow an endless bliss.
~  John  Keats

The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.
~  John  Keats

There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music.
~  John  Keats

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Things we can do...

It is October. A fresh start to the final phase of the year.
This time marks few occasions worth remembering...
England will celebrate Children's Book Week. Countries as far as Cyprus and Nigeria share the Independence day today. It is the International day for Non-violence tomorrow. On the 5th, we have International World Teachers' day. For the United States, October is the National Arts & Humanities Month.
In India, Rajasthan gears up for the International Folk festival, while Bhutan celebrates Jampa Lhakhang Drup Festival later this month.

I guess that will do to let people 'go out' and celebrate; to mark the occasions with colours and smiles. We will talk and resolve, teach the young and join hands with the old. We commit ourselves to the nation, and revere the Arts.
Each occasion is valued and marked by the community followers.

While these events and more take place, I would like to enthuse our genial spirits, trying to infuse our sense of actions and thoughts alike, with words woven thus:

"To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. "
                                                                     — Hermann Hesse

Thursday, September 30, 2010

View 2

Reading this amazing novel (Death at Intervals) by Saramago. Oh,, what can I say about it... The more you read Saramago, the more enchanted you feel. Food for thought! Yes, feels as if this guy is inexhaustible. In this book, he plays with the idea of Death. I am at the place where it is best to be in a good book: right in the middle of it. Woof, what unbelievable pages I am reading; these are some thoughts that Saramago, taking you by the arm, show once; then twice. At this stage of the book, I’d share a thought that he’s held in his arms for us to hold and think about:
"By the way, we feel we must mention that death, by herself and alone, with no external help, has always killed far less than mankind has."  p. 98
In the context of the narrative, these words appear at a point, where you are taken aback, with eyes opening to the extent of your mind noticing it.
The pages that follow, have opened up the argument in the most subtle of ways. Surely, with Saramago, I can never gain a foothold to stand firm, as the so called reader. That is so until I finish the entire book. Before that, don’t even think about it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Untitled 24

Hello everyone...

Its been a few days since I posted my last. What has made do it today is my coming across certain words...

It is my first meeting with the (words of) Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, and I will soon learn the correct pronunciation of the name :)  Well, I read a few poems by him today... and boy oh boy... words can move the heaviest stone, I say. There is something which stirs inside you, reading a word followed by another and then another... till the immovable stone has already moved under its own weight; with the movement, you catch the beat of your heart...

Would like to share with you, one poem by Czeslaw Milosz:

. . .


Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it from various ills
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.
Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesnt matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesnt always understand.

 . . .

What amazes me is the beauty with which the poet captures a fleeting paradox in the first and the last couplets. I hope you liked it too. Discovering new words woven in melody is like visiting a new place. A new place you visit to discover people you were searching for. And I know I am doing the same; have been striving to see you...

Its been a few days, since I posted last
Was worth the wait but, I reached a heart.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Impressions...

Finished the book that has had a few rounds on this blog: The Cave.
As a general practice, after finishing a novel, I rush to find some well written reviews on the book that I'd picked, held and savoured literally. :-)
The reason for this hasn't got so much to do with the desire to know more on the themes etc. , as it is with the immediate and natural feeling to share your reading with someone. And since I normally end up in vain in finding reciprocating voices to share something like reading, one of the best things to do is to search and find few other pages of writing which, given a chance, could speak to you about that reading on similar terms of understanding. It also helps to come across varying points of view ( find many I argue with vehemently :) ).
Anyway, to review the book on my own is going to utilise energy elsewhere and for another time ( hope that comes soon), but what takes most of my imagination, after stepping over the threshold of a novel's ending, is figuring out a straight, succint impression of the book freshly read.
     What is this book about? What do I make of it? Well, as for this space, I am taking recourse to what the following words express:

   "Amongst the small, but countlessly frequent and therefore very effective, things to which science should pay more attention than to the great, rare things, is to be reckoned goodwill; I mean that exhibition of a friendly disposition in intercourse, that smiling eye, that clasp of the hand, that cheerfulness with which almost all human actions are usually accompanied.  Every teacher, every official, adds this to whatever is his duty; it is the perpetual occupation of humanity, and at the same time the waves of its light, in which everything grows; in the narrowest circle, namely, within the family, life blooms and flourishes only through that goodwill.  Kindliless, friendliness, the courtesy of the heart, are ever flowing streams of un egoistic impulses, and have given far more powerful assistance to culture than even those much more famous demonstrations which are called pity, mercy, and self sacrifice.  But they are thought little of, and, as a matter of fact, there is not much that is un egoistic in them.  The sum of these small doses is nevertheless mighty, their united force is amongst the strongest forces.  Thus one finds much more happiness in the world than sad eyes see, if one only reckons rightly, and does not forget all those moments of comfort in which every day is rich, even in the most harried of human lives."
                    ~  Friedrich Nietzsche, 'Goodwill', Human All Too Human

 Perhaps, at its heart, The Cave proposes a similar argument. The characters of the book, which Saramago effusively paints or portrays in terms of exhibiting human characteristics, are the ones whose disposition bears feelings and emotions as the foremost traits. And this feeling, which they all happily share with each other, is the feeling of "goodwill" and "the courtesy of the heart", that enables them to enter and come out strongly of the cave.
It is a book which is constructed ( or if I could use the word, 'woven') with the tears and smiles of these unforgettable characters who never shy away
from wearing hearts on their sleeves so that human emotions seek array.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reading of a book

Read some pages from Saramago’s The Cave today. I am so delighted to read these lines that I want to share them with you. Couldn’t help it really. I am halfway through this novel. It is a simple story about a small family. The head of the family, Cipriano Algor, wakes up early in the morning one day, to complete some work. He gets up and decides to go out and see the following:
        “The dense foliage of the mulberry tree still had a firm grip on night, it would not let it leave just yet, the first dawn twilight would linger for at least another half an hour. He glanced at the kennel then looked around him, surprised not to see the dog. He gave a low whistle, but there was still no sign of Found. The potter went from perplexed surprise to outright concern, I can’t believe he’s just gone, he muttered. He could call out the dog’s name, but he did not want to alarm his daughter. He’ll be out there somewhere, on the trail of some nocturnal creature, he said to reassure himself, but the truth is that, as he crossed the yard in the direction of the kiln, he was thinking more about Found than about his precious clay figurines. He was only a few steps away from the pit when he saw the dog appear from beneath the stone bench, You gave me quite a fright, you rascal, why didn’t you come when I called you, he scolded him, but Found said nothing, he was busily stretching his front paws, lowering his head and spine, then carrying out what one can only assume to be, to his way of thinking, a vital exercise of adjustment and rebalancing, lowering and stretching his hindquarters as if he wanted to detach himself from his legs entirely. Everyone tells us that animals stopped talking a long long time ago, however, no one has yet been able to prove that they have not yet continued to secret use of thought. In the case of this dog Found, for example, despite the faint light that is only gradually beginning to fall from the skies, you can see from his face what he’s thinking, neither more nor less than Ask a silly question and you’ll get silly answer, which means in his language that Cipriano Algor, with his long, albeit not very varied experience of life, should not need to have the duties of a dog explained to him, we all know that human sentinels will only keep watch properly if they are given a definite order to do so, whereas dogs, and this dog in particular, do not wait for someone to tell them, Stay there and watch the fire, we can be sure that, until the coals have burned right down, they will simply remain on watch, eyes open. However, in all fairness to human thought, its famous slowness does not always prevent it from reaching the correct conclusions, as has just happened inside Cipriano Algor’s head, a light suddenly came on, allowing him to read and then pronounce out loud the words of recognition that Found so richly deserved, So while I was tucked up asleep in my warm sheets, you were out here on guard, it doesn’t matter that your vigilance would not have helped the firing one iota, it’s the gesture that counts."    -  page 165-66, The Cave
The feeling of a natural togetherness, the unconditionality between the master and the dog in the passage, compels me to think about the wonderfully possible amity shared by the two living beings. Anyone who has read Saramago, would be familiar with an under the skin observation and character portrayal. In the case of The Cave, which comes out to be an easier read than some of his other books surely, the dog Found has been treated as a character on par with any other you will name. Up till now, this has been the highlight of the novel. I am reminded of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of the Being, which ,again, manifests a level of sensitivity ( in the depiction of the dog, Karenin) that calls for a realization of the human spirit that holds the capacity to feel from a heart and give it expression of unconditional reciprocation.
I am also reminded of an author in J. M. Coetzee whose Elizabeth Costello was a heart-rending book for me in terms of its argument for having a natural human sensitivity towards animals.  He argues by saying:
“Strictly speaking, my interest is not in legal rights for animals but in a change of heart towards animals.”
Human beings possess a priceless heart; so do animals I believe, and characters like Cipriano and Found, who Saramago puts his heart in creating, show every possibility towards a change of attitudes, thoughts and actions ultimately.
While I savour every single page of The Cave, in the activity of reading that, for me, becomes more like a ruminative meditation in passages like the one above, and move gradually towards the final chapters; this writing, here, will need to be given a break so that a heart is left to another heart and the master and his dog may derive meaning through gestures of affection and loving care.

QuoteS of the day

  Feel like posting some quotes with the word 'echo'. 
  Activities like reading, writing, and thinking, essentially have words at their disposal as echoes of something I mightn't be able to name. Perhaps that's the reason we should let these echoes be. As is presented time and again by authors of good literature, something becomes an irrefutable spark which is given some form with the bits we call words. These echoes belong to everyone; and that is why the creator shares it by freeing it from the struggling, fidgeting artist's inadvertent grasp.

  "Perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us yesterday, separate, in the evening." 

                                                                 — Rainer Maria Rilke

 "for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one's own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes."
                            — Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being

"Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly -- that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion -- these are the two things that govern us."

                                             — Oscar Wilde (Picture of Dorian Gray) 

"A mountain keeps an echo deep inside. That's how I hold your voice."

                                                      — Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

"The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration. "
                                                                   — Pearl S. Buck 

"Dreams are hopes, and echoes of hope."

                                                                     — Neil Gaiman

"Every something is an echo of nothing"
                                                             — John Cage
An echo builds a relation between two entities. For me, an echo is the other's voice, the strand that recognizes me because I listen to 'it'.  If the same echo echoes within you and me, aren't we the same? Aren't we one? 

Monday, September 6, 2010

On this Day...

September the 6th, 1847; Henry David Thoreau leaves Walden Pond and moves in with Ralph Emerson and his family at Concord. There are people who are not fascinated by numbers and I ought to respect their relative nonchalance in upholding logic and reason, but probably for the sake of posterity alone, I shall talk about the book he published much later. In Walden, or Life in the Woods, Thoreau recounts his experience of two years, two months and two days of time spent on the site he must have beheld in a state of freedom. He writes:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."
— Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods) 
       There is no particular reason to mark the numbers when a great author wrote books or when he published them, but to remember the person himself; what he thought, felt and expressed. How can we, the readers or listeners of words, not heed when the master says,

   "Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify."
   — Henry David Thoreau (Walden and Other Writings) 
If numbers lead us to remember or not forget somebody who did something or said, I believe they only help to "simplify". The paradox, which knocks the door of those who are capable of hearing the knock, is that to simplify is often not as simple for us.

Had it been that simple to "simplify", Thoreau would've stayed where he was able to stay put and feel contented to speak his mind. Of course, I can only imagine that which my little mind leads me to, but I see the leaving of Walden Pond by Thoreau as an integral part of his essential nature which also once expressed:

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
   For reasons as 'simple' as these probably my mind justifies me to say: On this day...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Echo of the day

"The stupider, the clearer. Stupidity is brief and straight-forward, while intelligence is tortuous and sneaky. Intelligence is crooked, while stupidity is honest."

         ~ Dostoevsky, Ivan, in The Karamazov Brothers

Re-imagining some of the passages from this book is a pleasure. The book has a rare quality of warmly adopting and embracing the reader. A voice from this book is echoing in my head. Above quoted words of the character, Ivan, clearly reflects not only on the beautiful paradox found with human beings, but also on the tripatrite design of the text which is perfeclty balanced between the lives of the three borthers. While Ivan's words characterise his brother Dmitri's straight-forwardness, they dawn upon his own person as an honest confession to be what he is: a thinker. As a third, these words encapsulate the nature of the youngest of them, Alyosha, since he is both; a sythesis of these indubitably human characteristics, and the paradox personified. 
     One of the beautiful things about books is when we make alive by reading with our hearts, that which remains lying dormant otherwise.... Thereafter, books bring the best of their pages in you. Like the echoes of words from this piece of art, remain as alive as you and I could imagine ourselves to be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Reply to 'Ten things' and more...

     "I have more memories than if I were a thousand years old."
      ~  Charles  Baudelaire

Few days ago, I came across a post by my friend. It talked about one's childhood memories; things that seem to've been slipped from one's mind long ago, but come to life in the blink of the mind's eye. Objects, paper, photographs, cards, various things, which bear the stamp of one's lived experience, weave moments in time that are etched somewhere forever. 
    Reading about the discovery of a person's realization of time spent in happiness, imagination and vigour, leads you towards your own memories triggered out of nowhere; a place made up of no place; perhaps from what we call the recesses of the mind.
    Reminiscing about a past that has surely passed but left its permanent mark - like some undying embers in a distant field, witnessed on a silent evening in a corner of one's world, I feel driven to underline the impressions of the lanes of memories which, you and I are compelled to pass through, revisiting ourselves with a bitter-sweet sense of wonder.   

Dedicated  to my friend:

     'Lost and Found'

Forgotten foiled memories 
Were once the life of a prized heart
Yesterday’s facts, today’s figments
Your present vision’s unforgettable part.
She said, “I have lost myself over the years”
In “few vague memories”, my abundant past
That lies in the swimming of shimmering tears 
Few render  the emotions, the ‘first love’ amassed. 
Those years these moments
Beckon belongings abundant
Weigh up remaining quotients
To make sweet pain more refulgent.
Listen, see, reminisce the worlds
Of where I was and where I stand
Was once a tree, now a flight of birds
A priceless time in the grain of sand. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Dear You, I plan to start a new thread today under the label, ‘Words_for_Birds’.

Words constitute languages. Ever wondered what we’d do without them, even when it is interesting to wonder what we do ‘with’ them at various occasions? :)  This word is important in the sense that we, speakers of English as second language, need to be aware of the aspect of avoiding unnecessary repetition of words, especially in writing. So, here we go.
What do we call when someone is making unnecessary use of two or more words to express one meaning? It is called tautology,,e.g. the phrase “a beginner has just started”, is a case for tautology. Or “he saw with his own eyes” or “true fact”. Such a statement would be a tautologous statement. To such a user I can say, “Stop tautologizing!”

. His speech was full of tautologies.

Tautology is a defect we should be aware of while speaking or writing. It’s a common defect with users. There are other synonymous (similar) words meaning for this, which can be learnt: Pleonasm, Redundancy, Prolixity, Prodigality, Verbosity, and Superfluity. A speech or writing would be pleonastic, redundant, prolix, prodigal, verbose, and superfluous if it carries this defect. I gave you six good formal words to use when the next time you come across this defect and you want to describe it in words. Examples of these words will follow over next few posts under the label, ‘Words_for_Birds’. Doubts will be welcomed. Next lecture: what do we call speech that is the opposite: without this defect. Happy reading.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The first entry of this blog used as its title a phrase that is dear to me. Preponderant ponderability. I could imagine a few stalwarts of literature who, for me, exercise it in their work. Wilde, Hesse, Proust, Bellow, Saramago, and the heavyweight, Shakespeare. In the last post, echoes of words found pages of a novel I am reading these days, The Cave. I consider myself fortunate to have read some books by Saramago and the few that are left, beckon me everyday.
                It has been two months today, since I read about the news of the artist’s death. Ever since, having come across pages of sudden dedication as well as criticism, I have felt a strong desire to write about my thoughts and experience on reading his work. So much so that I decided, after posting my last last night, to create some sort of an exclusive space for one of my favourite writer.
                Shall I start another blog-dedication to Saramago? It is churning in my mind right now. May be I will start with a folder or label at QuoteSechoeD itself. I can give it a try. And as we tend our books, lost in cold damp pages, fiddling with the bookmarks, ponderability shall be the guiding light. Amen.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beginning of a beginning

One who lets words be, knows they are capable of the occasional wonders and surprises that spring right in front of you just when you have lost all hope and have had your share of contemplation of the Hamletian murmur, "Words, words, words."
      The opening of fifth chapter of José Saramago's The Cave, adresses a similar predicament. To my utter surprise, the words on the page complemented the exact problem that had occupied a good portion my day today. The problem of a beginning. How do we begin anything? How does that thing begin which, before its much anticipated inception has been pondered on lest something turns out into a chaos? The fear of beginning a thing (like a creative initiative, a responsible task for one's job) is something, I believe, a lot of you could share with me. How to begin your writing? How do we begin teaching in a class even? What repercussions can, a not so discreet, a beginning have on the rest of the assignment, lecture, poem, meeting or a product, call what you may. 
                     "Begin at the beginning,". 
     But after all, how to determine that beginning? Or maybe not even that; how can one say this is my beginning and thus I begin? What I mean to say is that if what we begin is taking shape in one's mind previously or prior to the material act of jotting a word in ink or, say, clicking the green button on one's mobile to make a call, how determinately can we claim, right, 'this' is the beginning of what I begin? Another problematic concern emerges so. I. What exactly is it that 'I' begin? And the most essential of all, who am I (to begin)?
     The opposition of what begins and what ends opens up interminably when we ask that. But getting back to the immediate call on one character's assertion in this novel, that is, beginning at the beginning, Saramago says something which only he can:
   "Marta said to her father, Let's begin at the beginning, and it was as if all they needed to do was sit down at the table and start.... These are the delusions of the pure and the unprepared, the beginning is a long, painfully slow process that requires time and patience in order to find out in which direction it is heading, a process that feels its way along the path ahead like a blind man, the beginning is just the beginning, what came before is nigh on worthless."

I cannot say, I begin, or 'this' is the beginning of me. The issues problematize my existence. I am reminded of a Hamlet, a Herzog, or even Siddhartha. Do they ascertain the beginning of their being; even of what they do? It is something I ain't sure of. But perhaps these characters are more and more aware of it all as a "long, painfully slow process that requires time and patience in order to find out..., a process that feels its way along the path ahead like a blind man, (for) the beginning is just the beginning,", and what was it before, what is its beginning, and what will be the end, is "nigh on worthless".         ~ The Cave, pg 54

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paro's Prayers

I am doing a double post today! The reason being this image of a place in Paro, Bhutan, which once again, the keen observer beheld one day:

You need altitude to melt attitude. That is my first imaginative reaction to the mountain peaks and the flying swabs of clouds from a point of view which makes me say: WoW !

In contrast to the last image I mentioned, this one lacks green but blooms in blue. The soil of the earth tries to match the glow of the sky; and in between lie the mountains. All I can do is wonder... wonder in my mind who longs to wander... in the same swabs of clouds, on this same ground of land.
This image inspires too; with expressions like,,, Glow of the day. Flight of inspiration. Altitudinal Imagination.

'Image of the View'

Nothing to shield
Nature grows in trees
The glories of the field
The wind and its breeze.

Cotton-swabbed clouds fly down upon you
Rays of sunlight still seep through
Life’s verve lies in the beholder’s view
What replenishes life, from your heart did ensue.

I see the mountain range, its face
Colours, elements, are life’s layers
Infused this vision in a caress, an embrace
Promise of harmony in the windhorses’ prayers.

“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence”
~ George Eliot

Last Sunday evening, after finishing my reading session, I was taking a stroll in the lawns outside the library when I noticed the area to be mostly empty with overcast skies above. I decided to stand still in the midst of this beautiful place. How many times during a day or even a week do we observe our surroundings like I am doing now, I asked myself. I looked at the grass, the trees and the rock stones that lay wonderfully encapsulated in the softness promised by this landscape. But the question was still flickering my mind. To a natural surprise, I saw butterflies emerge from the hedges, evening birds chirping on the trees and welcoming more of their brethren as if to join for one final conference of the day, before settling over the branches to take rest from the day’s flight.

Then a rare thing happened. Here comes a baby squirrel running towards me. It stops suddenly just a step away, looking at me with its tense tail swaying. And I am astonished to witness the kind of palpable energy with which it approached towards me and is now saying something or asking rather, with eyes fixed at my face. Unbelievable. The spell is momentary, and the squirrel starts running around as if frenzied with an excitement I dare not imagine about. The little squirrel runs all over the place, halting only to find a rare grass blade or some seeds and nuts maybe. With my hand reaching out habitually for my mobile camera, I sat on the ground trying to observe and hear the heart of Nature beating in a lyrical movement of these living beings.

For the next few minutes, as few would believe, the baby squirrel posed for my camera. Perhaps, it was just too excited to come in some contact with one of these ferociously walking giant-like figures. I can say, this adventure for the little animal was worth it, just like it was for me. The squirrel looked happy. So was me. It started growing dark and we had to say goodbye. I, seemingly the less sensitive of the two, did it first. With special memories and a faint smile on my lips, I left for a more ‘civilized’ place.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coetzee's words ...

It always interests me when the writer of a novel, creator of a song or the artist in general, reflects his thoughts on Arts itself. What is it to write? What is it to read or observe a painting? There are two quotations by J. M. Coetzee that indicate certain responses to these questions. I would like to refer to them in tandem because the function of writing and reading has, in my view, a lot to share and contextualize as far as books are concerned.

"...reading is being the arm and being the axe and being the skull; reading is giving youself up, not holding yourself at a distance and jeering."
~ J. M. Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg

The way Coetzee defines the role of a reader deserves more than a passing mention. That's because the idea of reading as not just another activity to while away time but to commit yourself to the act is something that gives to the writing (the kind Coetzee is concerned with) its first deserved worth. Each book we pick up and start reading, through the very act, builds upon a relationship where, if the book is responsible to us, then the reading is equally responsible to the book.

This is a special book from the author, in which the narrative, being the story that it is, is also a serious meditation on 'writing', 'reading' and creativity. I want to attend to another echo which is the dimension of the idea of giving up. Coetzee suggests:

"We do not write out of plenty, we write out of anguish, out of lack."
~ The Master of Petersburg

What interests me tremendously in this novel is that it captures and sets free a beautiful paradox. You ask how can one write something if he/she doesn't have anything. How can reading be giving yourself up more and more when the reader, supposedly, has to gain and achieve from the book?

I intend to let these questions be. I do not want them to be answered. What can be done though, is to befriend these lines and see them in tandem. And perhaps the most important thing is to "not holding yourself at a distance and jeering." Because in doing so, we not only extinguish the possibility of either gaining anything or giving ourselves up, but the very space of two of the most beautiful things we know of: reading and writing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today's post has no direct Quotes. I am writing it after being purely inspired by Sonam Dema's image of Thimpu, Bhutan. Here is an image of a rainbow adorning the landscape of the city captured one afternoon by its fortunate witness:

The beautiful scenery so naturally lets loose words and I wonder if quotes of great men, for instance the so called transcendentalists, start echoing with the 'image' of imagination which inspires the witness to see. It can't be helped. I am reminded of words by Thoreau:

"The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of rainbow which I have clutched." ~ Walden

The true harvest of my daily life....". Priceless words. Thoreau must have been a witness himself to sights like these. I can only imagine. Or go out there and see for myself. But as for now, in the cool shadow of this painting of a picture, I can perhaps, express/write :

The clouds, the sky
Hide a silver lining
Seeing a mountainous joy
My heart started pining...

The colors of this Rainbow
Are one and also many
Where the houses have a glow
Since you painted it in Harmony.

Day and Night, Sun and shade
Breezy branched leaves
Birds nesting under eaves
In the verdurous grass blade.
_ _ _ _ _ ______________________ _ _ _ _ _

Friday, July 23, 2010

Through the Echoes . . .

Almost an year ago I knocked the door of the room in the hostel where I met my friend Almeiz for the first time. A well built Kyrgyz lad whom I'd disturbed from an afternoon sleep. The room was as all rooms are meant to be; so I will reminisce about something else. To my surprise I discovered that my friend couldnt speak English at all. And to his inconvenient awareness, I would do no better, as Kyrgyz or Russian to me were as new as today's rain.
Later, as we both started understanding each other through a new 'other' language: a result of our hardwork over the days in building words combined with some crisp sign-gesturing, we realized some time later that, on that first day itself, we welcomed each other with friendly intent.
But I would like to go back again to that first afternoon in the room. As I took seat against the table and looked in front, an unlit wall-lamp beckoned me to feel at home. The next moment my table was struck to life with the beautiful warm raylights of the bulb. The lamp had also lightened a portion on the wall on which I read words that I apparently took as most welcoming:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I knew immediately, reading lines from Frost, that words are sign(s) of things to come.
Re-reading the lines on the wall found strange echoes in my mind. While watching Bela Tarr's film 'Satantango' some time ago I had come across these words from a character:

“They haven’t a clue that it is this idle passivity that leaves them at the mercy of what they fear most”

I cherished the connection that these dissimilar ways of saying a similar thing impressed on me. And recently, did I find one more echo in Boris Pasternak:

Keep awake, keep awake, artist,
Do not give in to sleep . . .
You are eternity's hostage
And prisoner of time.

As I write these words, missing my friend who left few months ago, I hope (first, I don't sleep more than needed ;-) ) with nothing but words in my hands that the echoes live on, get echoed in more rooms, beneath more lamps and in the hearts of more Friends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Second Coming.

Hey. Its been a while since the last post; quite a while. But this time I intend to remain active.
Want to start with a quotation ofcourse:

"A smile is the chosen vehicle for all ambiguities." ~ Herman Melville

I was reading these words few days ago somewhere. Couldn't help smiling myself.
How true Melville is I started wondering. And suddenly , like a whirlwind, I am reminded of numerous instances where, while reading the novels that we read, faint flickering smiles accompany our faces, just like our thoughts escort the writing's ambiguous paradoxes which (if considered naturally) help in rendering our own life experiences.
Ambiguity, sharing the most natural of connections with the Arts we create, render, imagine and yield to, reflects the essence of what we are. You might wonder and ask me, :"does it"? I reply, with an equally mysterious smile that Melville intends to ponder on through his words, "perhaps".