Despair

on September 30, 2009 with 0 comments » | ,

What an amazing picture - definitely worth a thousand words and more! 

A man takes a break from cleaning a house swamped by flash floods brought on by Typhoon Ketsana, in Marikina, The Philippines.
© Erik de Castro / AP

A man takes a break from cleaning a house swamped by flash floods brought on by Typhoon Ketsana, in Marikina, The Philippines.

When Pigs Fly

on September 29, 2009 with 0 comments » |

Next time someone tells you -...] will happen when pigs fly, tell them they already did!


Miss Porky Pig flies through the air during the Pig Racing and Diving show at Melbourne Showgrounds, Australia.
© Scott Barbour / Getty
Miss Porky Pig flies through the air during the Pig Racing and Diving show at Melbourne Showgrounds, Australia.

Just read that Omara Portuondo was granted a US visa to play 2 concerts - San Francisco Jazz Festival (Oct 20) & at UCLA (OCt 23).

So, in celebration, here is one of my favorite songs by her - with another great from the Buena Vista Social Club: Ibrahim Ferrer. (If you have not seen the documentary on the BVSC, you can watch it on hulu.com.)



Hear it without understanding it first.[1] Then you can read the English translated lyrics.

[1] Damn! I *so* need to learn Spanish -- not just to read Paz and Neruda and Lorca in their original but also enjoy beautiful songs like these even more! Plus would help in that long-hoped-for South America travels, no?) 

Possibilities

on September 23, 2009 with 0 comments » | ,

Soren Kierkegaard, the famous Danish philosopher wrote in his book Either/Or:


If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?

Tweet is a very lonely man

on September 18, 2009 with 0 comments » | , ,

Much ado about a Tweet but it takes special talent to come up with this analysis. :)



The context of this quote and videos of the entire discussion from which the above prized quote was gleaned can be seen at this blog post by Amit Varma, one of the panelists.

Update: Someone started this on an email group I am on and while I cannot reproduce their verse here, here's my contribution.

Twitter this, Twatter that!
--------------------------------


i.
Look! Tharoor's under a dark cloud
for saying whats on his mind aloud
Serves him right for being outspoken
Who does he think he is - Ashton?*

ii.
The Tweet is a very lonely man
Will Tharoor now be an also-ran?
Much ado about a pol's tweet
Cows make for sumptuous meat!

iii.
Five-star luxury he does like
Waiting for the CPI now to strike!
But the nerve to call us cattle
He deserves a rap on the knuckle!

iv.
Tom's not smiling, all distraught
Says we need some restraint in thought.
Tharoor's in Liberia, can't join in for a chat
Fly coach or business, you fat-cat?

* Those amongst you who are not lonely...er who do not Twitter, that's Ashton Kutchner - the demi-God [pun intended] of Twitter - the tweeter with the most "followers". Also, you will need to see all 3 videos at http://tiny.cc/LonelyTweet to get all the jokes (like 'fat-cat', Liberia, etc.)

Renovating Virtues

on September 17, 2009 with 0 comments » | , , ,

This is one of the best quotes about the relationship of art to life....

The relation of art to life is of the first importance especially in a skeptical age since, in the absence of a belief in God, the mind turns to its own creations and examines them, not alone from the aesthetic point of view, but for what they reveal, for what they validate and invalidate, for the support that they give." - Wallace Stevens (Opus Posthumous, page 159)
I suppose the quote particularly vibed with me since I, being an athiest, have sought strength, solace, and the lovely company of music and poetry in a difficult period of my life. So, be it music, poetry, paintings, or any other art, I have seen that art that can connect and move you can rejuvenate you from the tedium of life. These are the renovating virtues through which "our minds are nourished and invisibly repaired" [1].

As the critic Robert Pack writes in the Introduction to his 1968 book on Wallace Stevens and his poetry and thought:
To say that all things are potentially beautiful, for there is nothing beyond the touch of the artist, may not be the last reach in the paradox of human understanding, but at least it indicates the kind of paradise that may be lost if the prophetic voice is right. This paradise, rich with the transformation the imagination makes of ordinary experience, is what Wallace Stevens envisions and evolves, it is the treasure most accessible to our modest lives, and for many it would define the sum of human loss were it to be relinquished.
Leave you with a lovely poem by Wallace Stevens titled "Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour."

Light the first light of evening
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one...
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough. 
--
[1] The words "renovating virtues" I borrow from this lovely excerpt from William Wordsworth's The Prelude.

    There are in our existence spots of time,
    That with distinct pre-eminence retain
    A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
    By false opinion and contentious thought,
    Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
    In trivial occupations, and the round
    Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
    Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
    A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
    That penetrates, enables us to mount,
    When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

He is The One! :)

Have seen lots of pictures of Obama that I have liked but none more endearing than this one! ;)

bk.obama.20090916.7302


Learn more about what was happening here.

And that is the least of the problems women commuters in trains and buses of India have to often endure. But since we, as a nation, cannot seem to change our sexist attitudes and behavior, we have to seek alternative measures to curb this - like running special ladies-only trains.

© Chiara Goia for The New York Times
Elsewhere, Japan has its own problems to deal with when it comes to public transportation!
Tokyo police have begun a week-long crackdown against the twice-daily scourge of gropers on commuter trains.
and   
A Japanese rail operator said Thursday it is installing blue mood-lighting in its stations in a bid to stop people committing suicide on the tracks of a busy Tokyo line.
And so it goes....

Man bites dog

on September 16, 2009 with 0 comments » | , ,

In this case, he did more than bite.

This is the most surreal WTF video I have ever seen. Many thanks to Aadisht, who forwarded it to Gaurav, who in turn led me to it. This is the logical next step to the "Man bites dog" news headline.



I had seen only half a minute of the video but already had gleaned so many prized quotes..

"Kutta bhi vaheen area ka hai....har roj uske paas hee khaana khaata hai ..isliye sab log pahanchaata hai usko" :)...

"doctor ke liye treatment ke liye ...maybe I dont know if usko jaroorat hai ki naheen"..

and "uska medical ho gaya hai..." ...
later..

interviewer: oh..biwi delivery ke liye gayi thi? mere khyaal se woh miss kar raha hoga?
cop: kuch bol naheen saktein
interviewer: kuch psychic hai kya woh....
cop: naheen, accha hai woh!

:)

interviewer: pahle kabhi kiya...kabhi bhi aisa try bhi kiya ho!

interviewer: kuch film dekhi kya aise...

and there is lot more in this fascinating interview between the befuddled and curious reporter and the calm bemused cop (how does he keep a straight face!).

Also, this hindi news article about the incident is priceless. I thought nothing in the article could exceed the WTF value of the interview but the last sentence does in fact trump it!
"kutiya ki haalat par raham kartein hue tardeo thane ki police ne logon ko vishwaas dilaaya ki kutinya ko adalat mein pesh naheen kiya jaayega."
Aah... good to know! For a moment there I was afraid they were going to drag the poor already harassed dog to court and ask it to give witness. Good to know the cops are considerate and will "raham khao" on the kutta and not bring it to court. (Seriously!!? WTFness quotient shot off the scales!!!)

Also, this video of the aankon-dekha-haal from a witness, who seems to be taking great joy in narrating all the details!

I am sure there is a horrific and disgusting angle to this story but all I can find in it is much amusement and laughter. At the stupidest of things. Like the dog barking in the background 18secs into this 2nd video and more interesting questions from the interviewer: "unki position kya thee" etc etc.

Sorry for any readers who do not know Hindi. Someone should put up a translated transcript of the entire video but I cannot do it. I keep falling off the chair ROTFLing after every 10-15 seconds watching the video!

Saw this video at 2pm or so yesterday and was laughing right through it. Then at 4pm last evening, shaving, I remembered the last sentence of the Punjab Kesri article and start laughing aloud. Again, at 4am this morning, tossing and turning in bed, I remembered parts of the interview, and start laughing aloud. (Luckily my wife did not wake up and wonder what was wrong with me!)

And so it goes... the  video continues to entertain long after I first saw it. Makes me wonder if I am amongst a minority of people who find such joy and amusement in the  WTF moments of life! Life is too boring and mundane (not to mention absurd and meaningless) without this, no?

I think I know why this is so entertaining to me....is kahaani mein sex bhi hai, action bhi hai, drama bhi hai, comedy bhi hai, tragedy bhi hai, satire bhi hai, emotion bhi hai, farce bhi hai, horror bhi hai..... this, my friends, is the stuff life is made of. Who needs entertainment or Jon Stewart or The Onion when life can serve us so much mirth!

-
Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn. ~ Irvin S. Cobb

Evolution

on September 14, 2009 with 0 comments » | ,

A great cartoon a friend sent me via email.


There is a signature at the bottom but its hard to read and I have no idea about source and hence do not have a copyright notice here but if you know the source, let me know and I will be happy to put an attribution.

Same friend also sent this other one the other day. Only sharing it here because I first thought there was another Krueger National Park type situation.(If you have not seen that vide, you must! See it here.)

The headline screams:

Dog Pack Attacks Gator In Florida 

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.  The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented 'team work' strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into the canines.  Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator. 

See the remarkable photograph below  .....

.....  

   ........

  Warning: Not for the squeamish ..... 

       ............


                 ............ ............


Sorry! Bad one... No one reads my blog anyways but if someone does, hope such stupid jokes do not drive you away! :) 
--
At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.  ~Jean Houston

Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective:  an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.  ~Christopher Morley

Its a dog's world - 14

on September 10, 2009 with 0 comments » |

Come meet the ...


Picture 9.jpg
... Yoga Dogs! (via a post at BoingBoing.com)

Update: Looks like too many people visiting the site, thanks to BoingBoing and other sites advertising this, Yoga Dogs site is down!

Its a dog's world - 15

on September 9, 2009 with 0 comments » |

No comments... except every dog has its day!



Paris's pinkified pet playhouse has two floors. Downstairs there is a living room and upstairs there is a bedroom and a closet to stash the many outfits she has purchased for her small pets. Hilton's dogs, which bear names like Tinkerbell, Marilyn Monroe, Prince Baby Bear, Harajuku, Dolce and Prada, will feel right at home because the mini-mansion, outfitted by interior decorator Faye Resnick was designed to resemble Hilton's own home in all its pink majesty and includes miniature Philippe Starck furniture, heat, air conditioning and even a black crystal chandelier and black ceiling moldings.
More pictures and details here.


Btw, it seems these are the dogs that play in this mansion!


Celebrity twitter pictures: Paris Hilton posted this ridiculous picture of her pet dogs

Also, her dogs are named Tinkerbell, Marilyn Monroe, Prince Baby Bear, Harajuku, Dolce and Prada. WOE! Ms Monroe will never be quite the same for me again.

Update: via Paris's own Twitter update, we learn which one is Marilyn Monroe! ;-)

As if blood newly came

on September 8, 2009 with 0 comments » |

Been trying to read up about Wallace Stevens a lot lately. Here's some beautiful lines from "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" celebrating poetry.

The poem refreshes life so that we share,
For a moment, the first idea . . . It satisfies
Belief in an immaculate beginning

And sends us, winged by an unconscious will,
To an immaculate end. We move between these points:
From that ever-early candor to its late plural

And the candor of them is the strong exhilaration
Of what we feel from what we think, of thought
Beating in the heart, as if blood newly came,

An elixir, an excitation, a pure power.
The poem, through candor, brings back a power again
That gives a candid kind to everything.
More excerpts from the poem can be read here. Or you can read the entire poem and lots more from Wallace Stevens by buying:

or

Do read more... for as Wallace Stevens said in his poem, Of Modern Poetry: "It must be the finding of a satisfaction."

Also for your reading pleasure these two links from the NYT archives:
Talk With Mr. Stevens (1954) - A New York Times interview with Wallace Stevens. 
Wallace Stevens, Noted Poet, Dead (1955) - The New York Times obituary for Stevens.
And to come full circle, the 1931 review of Stevens' first book of poems, Harmonium, which included the poem "Notes towards a Supreme Fiction."
"Harmonium" (1931)
"From one end of the book to the other there is not an idea that can vitally affect the mind, there is not a word that can arouse emotion. The volume is a glittering edifice of icicles. Brilliant as the moon, the book is equally dead."
The reviewer, Percy Hutchinson, can eat crow. Harmonium is celebrated as one of the great poetry books of the 20th century [1] and Stevens is celebrated (and not just by Harold Bloom) as one of the top 5 leading American poets of the 20th century alongside T. S. Eliot, William Carlos William, and ( controversially) Ezra Pound. (I say controversially because though he is credited with fostering modern poetry, his own contributions to poetry, Cantos notwithstanding, I am finding are subject to a lot of discussion and debate. Be that as it may, he deserves mention amongst the greats of modern poetry.)

[1] Read this blog post by Edward Bryne, editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review, where he compiles a list of 100 books of poetry "that might present appropriate coverage of poets whose contributions represent a collective sampling of twentieth century American poetry." Also, the follow-up post with replies from some readers of his blog.

--
“After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemption." - Wallace Stevens, in his book Opus Posthumous.

To possess other eyes

on September 4, 2009 with 0 comments » | ,

Given that I am reading a book with excerpts from Prousts (see previous post), I may post an excerpt from Proust from time to time in the next few days.

Here's one that I found (still in the Preface to the book) that I liked!

The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; .. with men like these we do really fly from start to start.
Indeed! That's what reading is all about...

After much rain through May to August, we are having a week of great weather here in the Boston area, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. I put up a Facebook update noting this and then commented on this when I found what I called the "perfect poem for the week."

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather...
And autumn's best of cheer.
- Helen Hunt Jackson . . . Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America, Donald Hall, ed. (1985) Oxford University Press.
And there there is Thoreau waxing poetically and eloquently about the joy of such a September day at Walden - very near here!
"In such a day, in September or October, Walden is a perfect forest mirror, set round with stones as precious to my eye as if fewer or rarer. Nothing so fair, so pure, and at the same time so large, as a lake, perchance, lies on the surface of the earth... Read More. Sky water. It needs no fence. Nations come and go without defiling it. It is a mirror which no stone can crack, whose quicksilver will never wear off, whose gilding Nature continually repairs; no storms, no dust, can dim its surface ever fresh;Ma mirror in which all impurity presented to it sinks, swept and dusted by the sun's hazy brush,—this the light-dust cloth,—which retains no breath that is breathed on it, but sends its own to float as clouds high above its surface, and be reflected in its bosom still."
Reading this, Neha wrote about how "utterly wonderful" it was that "something that someone once wrote that finds resonance in contemporary experience."

Indeed! That comment came back to me when this morning I read something which harks back to what she said about how something written centuries back finds a resonance today.
"Art propitiates accidental homecomings. It sets up and invokes that privileged moment which the Greeks called anagnorisis - recognition."- Andre Aciman in Preface to "Proust Project" [1]
I love the term - accidental homecomings - as it applies to things that others have written that find homes in our hearts.

As Proust himself wrote elsewhere:
"Every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have perceived in himself."
[1] I find Proust very inaccessible - have made two attempts to read 'In Search of Lost Time - Swann's Way' in the past and failed. Some day I will read it but for now, I picked up this book at the library earlier this week - hoping to enjoy, through others experiences of reading the book, the wisdom and joy that can be gleaned from Proust's writing.

It's a dog's world - 13

on September 2, 2009 with 0 comments » |

What can I say! The picture says it all :)

A dog owner in China has trained his two terriers to do his shopping.
Wow Wow and Pong Pong bring the groceries home
Wow Wow and Pong Pong bring the groceries home.
More details here.

Earlier: The lettuce-dogs of Fuzhou, China:
Lettuce dogs
Sigh!

Using darkness as a medium

on September 1, 2009 with 0 comments » |

In comparing the confessional poets (like Robert Lowell) to Wordsworth's poetry (Prelude, etc.), Mark Strand, in an essay [1] about the poetry of self, opines that "Wordsworth takes his own Being in the wold more for granted than any contemporary poet is able to." He writes:

In most so-called confessional poetry, there is no governing vision of submergence or transcendence as there is in Wordsworth. Submergence occurs when the poet uses darkness as a medium and communicates with his own unconscious. It is through such process that the poet makes the universe internal until it takes on his form. Transcendence is the process by which the poet puts himself into the universe until he becomes identified, with the divine event. Light is its medium. In confessional poetry, the self is terminal, physical, isolated.....
This one is a weighty essay but I enjoyed the book very much especially A Poet's Alphabet, On Becoming a Poet, the Introduction to The Best American Poetry 1991, Notes on the Craft of Poetry, and an interesting essay about the appearance of Parnassus in 4 different poems by US poets.

[1] You can read this and other essays by Mark Strand in his book: The Weather of Words. Also, read this article about the book by Edward Bryne.

 Just ran across a quote:

Like dreaming, reading performs the prodigious task of carrying us off to other worlds. But reading is not dreaming because books, unlike dreams, are subject to our will: they envelop us in alternative realities only because we give them explicit permission to do so. Books are the dreams we would most like to have, and, like dreams, they have the power to change consciousness, turning sadness to laughter and anxious introspection to the relaxed contemplation of some other time and place.  --- Victor Null, South African educator, psychologist in Introduction to Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure, Yale University Press (1988).
You can read an article based on the main thesis of the above book here (pdf).