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

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ricochets 2.0

Been awfully busy the whole week, which made me lust after the Sunday. Not only the day but also its concept. Spent the whole day staying in, lazing around and catching up on some reading. The glorious summer day that it was, refreshed my memories of being totally devoted to sloth and anomie during my youth.

Speaking of reading, have finished the Quirke series by Benjamin Black aka John Banville. Quite alright. Lately I am noticing a lot of reviewers make a mountain of a molehill of a book review. Being the Muhammad that I am, allow me to break the mountains into molehills.

Christine Falls is a wonderful piece of work in noir-crime. Very few books written on this side of the cold war have been as masterly both in its narration and its plot as this one. I particularly liked the protagonist Quirke - a desolate, brooding, alcoholic, a hapless intense widower who simply can't help not pursuing trouble. Though the plot lacks in any great surprise or suspense it makes up in the complex layers of its characters - each of them. They all seem so unbearably, painfully realistic for a crime novel. In the case of Quirke, starting from very trivial - like no one knowing his second name to the very central - his extremely complex way of relating to others esp. with his layered family, it is all quite rare in popular literature. There is no sense of grand heroism or an undercurrent of righteousness; It just is the story of a few dysfunctional people living around a crime.

The follow-up The Silver Swan is comme ci comme ca. I found it less delicate and more linear than Christine Falls, as if Banville had penned it down forcefully under a spell of obligation. Somehow it felt terribly incomplete. I paid £16.99 for the book and thought wasn't definitely worth a penny more than £ 3.99. [ L and K, If you folks are in no hurry to get to it, I can lend it to you ]

The only new thing I learnt from the story was that the household refrigeration was in use in 1950s when I earlier believed it was introduced only in the 60s.

However, regardless of all that I suggest you read both the books:

1. If you are a fan of beautifully constructed English sentence ( though it is too sophisticated for a crime novel)
2. If you love Dear Dirty Dublin. (In which both the books are set)

Prompted by Banville, who reportedly was inspired to become Benjamin Black by reading Georges Simenon I took up Stain on the Snow which I am presently enjoying reading. Stripped off all the unnecessary decorations of pretentious language, typical of a shallow writing mind the narration makes me feel quite at home. I gather Simenon was a kick-writer who churned out a novel in an average time of ten days. That's amazing. Also I went through his biography , which makes me envy him. His experience and insight of life is first hand, as evident in that interview in Paris Review.

The other current read is the hilarious riot by John O' Farrell - An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 years of Upper Class Idiots In Charge. The title is self- explanatory. It is quite an entertaining read.

Here are few picks from the book in the timeline of Great Moments in British History:

60 AD Boudicaa burns down Colchester, St Albans, London. Roman Governor regrets asking her if it's her 'funny week'.
1191 AD Richard I joins Third crusade, convinced Saladin has weapons of mass destruction
1944 AD D-Day Only time in history the Brits get to the beach before the Germans.


This is rather embarrassing. Had wished mom on Mother's day a couple of months back when she thanked me and called me a couple of days later and gently told me it was only Women's day and NOT Mother's day and it was the thought that mattered. Blimey! That's four ands in a sentence.
At that time I made a point to look up the Mother's day and put it on the reminder list but to add to further shame had called a day later than the actual Mother's day. Well what can I say, some days are just not your days. Mother's days especially.Interesting content of the further conversation with Mom was the acceptable difference of age between the groom and the bride. She kept on insisting that anything lesser than five years was appropriate whilst I said the rule of the thumb was to half the man's age and add seven. Concluded in amicable disagreement. Not that either of us believe in what we argued for.


Ah yes, more on the Apprentice: readers might remember sometime time back I had written about benevolent geeks. Here is another wonderful example. A feller named wahwah has most graciously uploaded all the episodes of the first two seasons of the UK Apprentice, along with the ongoing season four on YouTube. Further He has also promised to upload season three. God Bless his soul. Acts like these reaffirms your faith in humanity. The moral of the story is that there are many ways to reach both heaven and the handsome target of seventy two virgins without the need to blow yourself to pieces.

Anyway, virgin-suicides apart (quite a shit movie that was), check out all the videos at leisure. Yes I Know, it is a reality show, but it reflects a fair deal of ethos and rationale of UK Business structure. Also gives you a flavour of variety of personalities in the world. Which I think is lot more useful than many other things, say, for instance watching Indiana Jones and the arcane tribe of golden testes or whatever the recent one is called.

Speaking of business and infrastructure, it's gladdening to see that cricket has been finally given the much deserved league shape and form. I haven't been able to watch any match yet, and unfortunately not likely to catch any this season but I reckon it is going to be a huge success, especially in the next couple of years when there would be, hopefully more international players representing the teams a la football. Already the competition is being well covered in the media in different parts of the world. Also, if backed with a sound strategy by the dormant ICC this version might help to push the game to the heart of America and who knows may be even China? so that in around ten years time we can satisfy ourselves on a Sunday evening by watching the Chinese Cricket Team comprehensively smash a motley team of vegetarian, overweight, so called spinners, asians.


Shameless feral woman, aka greenmamba aka atonement butter naaan.

This year's Cannes shall go down for offering one of the most cringing moments in history. If you haven't known yet, day before this anonymous feral woman who looked like having jumped out of a Russian circus in an ancient Tarkovsky movie,
was noticed to be walking around confusedly by the Cannes red carpet. It is yet to be confirmed if she was actually begging. But seriously. Just because you once upon a time acted in a movie called Munni or Guddi or whatever the right nickname was, it doesn't mean you actually ought to turn up dressed like THAT. Did no one- her husband, son, daughter in law tell her before she left the hotel? All the bleeding four of those waste-of-oxygen Bacchans should be banned from Cannes for the rest of their lives. Such a absolute disgrace.


Photography is a domain which I am yet to make peace with as an art form. I have shared some thoughts on this before. Thinking further, the main drawback with Photography I suppose is the lack of active and dynamic role of the imagination in the creative process. Often it is overridden by aesthetics of the subject or the technical aspect of the camera or at times a complex interaction between the two. Because of these reasons the degree of control of imagination is rendered minimal - reducing the process to no more than a skill. People might disagree about this but those who do often lack a reasonable explanation why it can be regarded as art.

Schels' sample

That regardless, I still find the whole idea and the process of photography quite an interesting exercise. All said, the minimum amount of imagination accessible in the procedure can be used to expand the possibilities beyond the technical and the aesthetic significance. Two wonderful examples of such an endeavour that I have come across are Walter Schels and Cindy Sherman bus riders. Schels explores the meaning of death through the eyes of time and Sherman examines individual identity in society. The former is a series of photographs of faces of terminally ill patients before and after their death while latter is a series of photographs of people posing in postures whilst they are travelling in a bus.

Sherman's Bus riders

Watched Days of Heaven after I have come to acquaint myself with the works of Edward hopper. Mallick meditates on the Americana so tantalisingly captured in hopper’s paintings. See below one of Hopperian painting House by a Rail Road and the Mugshot of Days of heaven.

This reminds me of this Edward Hirsh poem

House by the Railroad

Out here in the exact middle of the day,
This strange, gawky house has the expression
Of someone being stared at, someone holding
His breath underwater, hushed and expectant;

This house is ashamed of itself, ashamed
Of its fantastic mansard rooftop
And its pseudo-Gothic porch, ashamed
of its shoulders and large, awkward hands.

But the man behind the easel is relentless.
He is as brutal as sunlight, and believes
The house must have done something horrible
To the people who once lived here

Because now it is so desperately empty,
It must have done something to the sky
Because the sky, too, is utterly vacant
And devoid of meaning. There are no

Trees or shrubs anywhere--the house
Must have done something against the earth.
All that is present is a single pair of tracks
Straightening into the distance. No trains pass.

Now the stranger returns to this place daily
Until the house begins to suspect
That the man, too, is desolate, desolate
And even ashamed. Soon the house starts

To stare frankly at the man. And somehow
The empty white canvas slowly takes on
The expression of someone who is unnerved,
Someone holding his breath underwater.

And then one day the man simply disappears.
He is a last afternoon shadow moving
Across the tracks, making its way
Through the vast, darkening fields.

This man will paint other abandoned mansions,
And faded cafeteria windows, and poorly lettered
Storefronts on the edges of small towns.
Always they will have this same expression,

The utterly naked look of someone
Being stared at, someone American and gawky.
Someone who is about to be left alone
Again, and can no longer stand it.

~Edward Hirsh


Have to go now, anyway, bear in mind these useful things:

Culture is no substitute for sex though people wish to tell you so.


If you want to shoot, shoot the message. Don't laugh. But make sure you fuck the messenger. Always.


Anonymous said...

>>>2. If you love Dear Dirty Dublin. ( in which both the books are set)

Ha, exactly. Dunno where I read this (I guess on the back cover of Christine Falls) some one mentioned how one can almost smell Whiskey on reading Banville's description of Dublin. That was my reaction too!

Made me want to wander around Dublin streets. Maybe I'll do that. Walk around the streets on June 16th, reading Banville.

Ubermensch said...

Yeah Quirke is into Whiskey. Yes Dublin is teh city that can be savoured only by walking. But reading Ulysses.

Anonymous said...

Oh btw, just remembered - the House by the Railroad appeared in Psycho? Did you make a post on that or did I read it elsewhere or just imagining it?

Anonymous said...

right on the green mamba disgrace. reasons for that choice are probably symbolic,like:
-headsup to boba de's new love mayawati

Forget it, that whole strand of blob on the carpet is some travelling circus from some place. I love the way the cameras are looking away. That would have totally ticked off greenblob and co except for the pink thing who is perpetually deluded and raped.

- Finny

Ubermensch said...

K not to my knowledge.

Fin; She is utterly useless and a rapist. how? Rape is when you say no and the other person yes. or so they say.

palm d'or tomorrow,
Thumbs down kusturica, kaufman;
Jolie accolades;

prolly che but too long or the Israeli animation, but i dont know anyone who saw the latter.

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