-A window ajar is a prelude in building to the joy of being limitless! That uneasiness of being familiar somehow, sometime, somewhere.......

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Repertoire de vivre

Waiting for my regular chips and cheese burgers, I am writing this on a paper napkin in an outdoor café. Strange, it’s less hectic this evening.
A dull autumn sky slowly pulling a veil of darkness over herself; a silent farewell to light and colour. Scent of dead autumn leaves in the air.
I wet my lips with a sip of steaming coffee. A memory. Of a lingering taste.
As I bring down the cup, I catch a typical coffee cup circle on the tablecloth. Well, almost a circle. It should be termed something, they are so well-known now.
A middle aged English lady in the opposite table. Too much make-up but natural auburn hair. She smiles at me. I return the smile, more earnest than usual. I like auburn.

Salt and vinegar? Familiar voice.
Yes please.

I see the chips before me. Scent of heat, potato and oil. A causeless revolution. Then, the tongue takes over, politely sucking the purpose out of them. Cut.Grind.Chew.Savour.Masticate.Wetted and pushed through by more coffee, waiting to be burnt by acids of the belly. All in silence.

I gaze at the road beside. A silent aging testimonial. Grows steeper and hides into a mystery of a leftish curve.
Two males, well clothed for the impending subzero weather, walking on the pavement.
Something grasps my interest. Something else.
Two figures in front of them.Walking towards the cafe. A small girl, somewhere between six and eight; auburn tresses dangling out of a mauve scarf. Small tiny steps. A divine poetry in motion. A heavy-built man, middle aged. Saying something to her, perhaps a story? Warm tone, heavy accent. Can’t quite make out the words. No reason not to believe they are a daughter and a father. Yes! He is telling a story.
Both look ahead and never at each other. They walk.Telling and told.
Then suddenly, Duuud, she slips and falls, on her belly.
Oblivious, the father strides with his story. A moment is seized into vacancy. An uneducated freeze. The noise of the void in my awed mind.
Life otherwise is the same. The air. The sky. The road. Cars. People. Then the Dad realises her absence just turns back looking for her; she slowly gets up and joins him and he restarts the narration. Nothing. No expedite. No exasperation. No celebration. Not even regret.

Life, naked and virgin.

The mind is grappled in a struggle seeking meaning of the event. Heaven and Hell within the head. An answer no question? Only echoes of nothingness. Embarrassed, the mind turns to the heart for an answer. Heart curves the lips into a smile and conjures an image, a vindication, of the great wave of the ocean, the wave trying to define the accent of the ocean, the wave answering a moon’s prayer. A rise, A subsist and A graceful death. The passionate, sultry, an all knowing laugh of the ocean. A wave that knows the mind of the life.

Lost and found, I smile again, at the lady opposite and take another sip of the coffee, more educated!!
Heart, always is more intelligent than the mind.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Zen and the art of Dishwashing!!

We, the people of our abode, have long back signed a referendum accepting democracy in the kitchen (just in the kitchen). This means, we have a rotation scheme based on our work schedules to fairly share the honours of kitchen-chores; cooking and dishwashing. Cooking an institution by itself is definitely beyond the scope of a blog. Well, dishwashing, being unsung is worth an attempt. Now, as a regular dishwasher, I can say with reasonable conviction that I have, not only mastered the art of dishwashing but also grasped the meaning it has to offer and beyond…….

Yes, dishwashing definitely is an art. It may come in quite handy if you happen to invite some induhviduals(Dilbert term) for a party. Here are few tips from an accomplished dishwasher-

  • Always remember, preparation is the key. Never ever think of dishwashing without a kitchen-apron and a pair of polythene gloves. You never know which dunce may choose to save a portion of red wine and you do not want to explain the stain on your favourite T-shirt to all the inquisitive souls.
  • A Decent scrub and a strong liquid detergent is a must. If not for the sparkle at least to hear the squeak.
  • Never miss an opportunity to dishwash in parts-for as long as human consciousness is concerned, the sum is always greater than the parts.
  • Never dishwash in front of others-for A. It is un-british! B If the, observer is astutely virtuous; it exposes your character ruthlessly. Correction .The core of the character.
  • Always play soothing background music-preferably instrumental or classical, Radio is too much of a distract, though classic fm is an exception. I am quite used to instrumental movie soundtracks. And strictly no metal.
  • Start with the hard ones, strictly by Newton’s Second law…the momentum is bound to wear out; the old greasy cooking dishes first and always in hot water.
  • Chinaware, plates, knives, spoons, forks last. In cold water and in that order. Smooth and easy, adds less frustration into your already rosy life.
  • Watch out while on the exquisite wine glasses, especially if you have a single set –surely you will be surprised to learn about their price and you have to replace the whole set!
  • Remember the golden rule-The plates from peripheries and dishes from the heart.
  • While about it, never think. Anything.You will certainly run short of expletives and to no end. Instead think poetry, like this haiku (pardoning one unintended rhyme) I came up on my last session.

Ah! What a limitless fun!
To wet a china, one by one,
The bliss of perfect homerun.

Now to complete the title, the Zen part of it. Nothing profounder than a shallow Zen story.
So, this great king went to the enlightened Zen monk and asked ‘I have everything in my life yet I feel so incomplete’. An all knowing Zen smile lurked on the monk’s face and came the Zen counter question ‘Tell me, have you ever dishwashed?’. ‘Err, no’…and thus the great king realised his folly and attained great salvation after dishwashing the rest of his life.

Now that definitely, is a Dishwashing story but it will never let you go uneducated.
When you dishwash, you wash your precious sins and that of the people you hate, people whom you minutes before, while dining, referred to as tiresome old fools in the sanctity of your mind with a smile on your face. Doesn’t that kill your ego? What better path to salvation, than dishwashing?

Meow , meow …..Ah don’t bother; those are the cats are in my little bag. In these times,you can never be sure - which business might turn into a money spinning entrepreneurship. Can you? So I am just a lil hesitant to let all the cats out of the bag. That should be enough,got to go dishwash now!
From now on folks, never tell nobody taught you dishwashing….go dishwash like your mommas should be proud!

Dishwashingly yours

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Moral Absolutes?- Just a version!

Dear L,
As I had promised, I am blogging my perspective in answer to your question on moral absolutes.
The answer is yes and no.
First,If we regard ethics as a concept, an idea, then absolute morality can quite exist. But that would be limited to just an ideal –independent of humanity.Remember your blog of utopian constructs? So ‘murder’ and many more of its colleagues qualify as worthy entities to be discussed the rights and wrongs of them? Which is why, we have Aquinas saying to use ‘just the equal force’ and bible saying to ‘treat thy neighbour as thyself’. Most of such ideals can only be an image, but indispensable one , if you quite, bother to ponder;
Life, sadly in practice, is a value system.
So, if one is committed to moral as a value, then we directly acknowledge that it can be a source of conflict, both in personal and interpersonal interest,which in other words means morals in application are victims of dynamic élan vitale?
But who, then, is the judge of the faithfulness of the morals and its departure from being absolute? – Now, to reflect on that, I would have to borrow heavily from Hegelian dialectics-in one word, Volksgeist.(the spirit of the times).
Morality both, of personal conscience and that of social system is judged by the spirit of the times.-So we have , at times, the system committing value-errors (kindly note the usage, not mistakes.)E.g. Nazism and at times, on an individual level, people swimming against the stream.
Now the value of both such efforts is proved only as the resultant consequence of the acts, so act is a thesis, the counteract the anti-thesis and the consequence the synthesis.(that is so Hegel).So, we had Nixon shown the door, while being the president of USA and Tolstoy let to die in a railway platform.(which the system corrected by paying him added fame).

An easy way to eloborate is to base an example of contemporary political world built on a moral system(value)-
I believe the world is still getting re-organised and coming to terms with the end of the cold war and its overspill. The cold war did end in an abrupt, unexpected anticlimax and it definitely put many people out of their jobs, in different parts of the world. Other spins are just a sop to the stupid Cerberus.
1. (Thesis).- USA, being the greatest power (purely in terms of uranium) was/is just not prepared to handle that status yet, the status to be accountable to the whole world –so it is prone to errors-- as we have just noticed ( both inside and outside)- in all fairness that’s acceptable. To blame someone, just not prepared for your expectation, is foolishness.
2.(Antithesis) At the other end we have the rise of great economies, China especially, and the wise French, making the-la perfecte moves (I can only attribute it to the wine!!).The new world , all hue and cry inclusive from all quarters would be 3.A Synthesis. (June has a futurology version of it!!)
So do we end up in another great war or in a multi-polar world is to be seen……based on emerging morals. .....

That is whole lot of menu, now the supper….. Is there such a thing as a moral absolute? Is there any act that is always wrong no matter what the circumstances?
My take, On an abstract level, yes , lying to oneself , to ignore one's own nature...- glad that it never goes unpunished !!

Well, kindly note, these are just impartial observations- I have used most names here to cite an instance, neither I vouch for any political ideology nor am I a Hegelian!

So long,

Monday, November 08, 2004

How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir?

After all the customary chasing, finally laid my hands on this interesting article in a journal regarding psychopathology in world famous men. The study investigated 291 famous men in the fields of art, science, philosophy, literature, politics and music- based on their biographies-looking into family background, physical health, personality, psycho-sexuality, addictions and mental health. Given the nature of the venture the discrepancies are predictable. But what was surprising was that it concluded heavily against the creative individuals-painters, musicians and especially the writers.Subjects were classified into groups of No/Mild/Marked/Severe psychopathology. The women were not included-(probably strictly by the dictum that no one can figure out the women folks!!).
As Im not very acquainted with the personal lives of some musicians and scientists, I cannot comment much on them and moreover it feels stupid to type 291 proper nouns, however famous they are!

So, some reflects and ricochets,

  • Most of the scientists were given a clean chit while Boltzmann Bohr, Mendel Metchnikoff, Galton to quote a few were classified as severe. Surprisingly Schrödinger escaped into the marked group along with Darwin and guess who Pasteur. Osler, Maxwell were amongst those deemed healthy.
  • The Musicians I know were placed almost appropriately Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Schumann, Elgar (all severe), Stravinsky, Rossini, Chopin etal (marked) Gershwin, Bizet etc (mild).
  • As regarding thinkers- well, expectedly most of the thinkers thought themselves into severe madness. E.g. Comte, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Ruskin James, Russell, Toynbee. If James is suspected as severe then Wittgenstein, Jung, (of all), Whitehead, Schopenhauer (all in marked) should also share the honours with him. Seems the benevolence of Schweitzer makes him sane.
  • Artists not surprisingly were titrated against their creative potentials. Cezanne, Rivera, Kokoschka, Van Gogh (Psychiatry has exploited this chap!) are branded severely ill while Derain, Sargent, Pissarro Corot are amongst the other end of spectrum.·
  • Coming to the politicians, well, probably the most decent classification barring one very big paradox, Gandhi is sane while Nehru is regarded as markedly eccentric.Thats ridiculous(read hilarious) considering, Gandhi publicly threatened to self harm himself on numerous occasions!!!!
  • Now the writers-Faulkner,Conrad,Kipling, Gide, Proust,Fitzgerald, Lawrence,Wells, Googol, Waugh, Hesse, Joyce( my all time fav), Kafka, Hemingway, Wilde, Tolstoy-that’s most of my beloved writers and many years of my life. All of them labelled as loonies of extreme degree. Was not unexpected but felt sad somehow. Most of us owe a lot to these guys who have helped us to understand the world we live in better. Evidently not without a price!!

Having said that, I must add that psychiatry has to deal not with equations, codes or diagnoses but with life which by definition is a bias. So……….

While about here, I am reminded of this story about James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald-it seems Fitzgerald worshipped Joyce to an extent that he was reluctant to approach him; On being introduced to Joyce by Sylvia bleach in a party, it seems Fitzgerald knelt down on one knee before Joyce and asked "How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir that I could weep...

Probably the most appropriate reply would be…. ‘Quite crazy son, quite crazy....’’

No surprise both of them went to the severely ill box, Ah! Life is never fair on passion….

So long…

James Joyce

PS: Personal reflect/ Conflict of interest -none declared!!!

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