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.