As a solitude loving introvert I get totally distressed whenever there is an unexpected ring on the door or on the telephone….I totally Hate someone springs such surprises on me…I like to have company only once in a while & that too with an adequate advance notice n all this if I happen to like the person calling on me…most of the times I’m just too engrossed in my own work (even if that happens to be just pottering around the home/listening to music/watching some movie/just plain old thinking)…every knock on the door rudely jolts me away from the calm sanctuary of my inner world…I just don’t understand why other people are hell bent on ‘hanging out together’ or ‘meeting up over a cup of coffee’ all the times..why should I hang out with others n listen to their mindless rambling when I can hang in with myself & just think about the things that matter to me??…this terror of unknown visitors is very well captured in the song ‘Who Can It Be Now?’ by an Australian Band, ‘Men at Work’
“Who Can It Be Now?”
Who can it be knocking at my door?
Go away, don’t come ’round here no more
Can’t you see that it’s late at night?
I’m very tired and I’m not feeling right
All I wish is to be alone
Stay away, don’t you invade my home
Best off if you hang outside
Don’t come in, I’ll only run and hide
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be knocking at my door?
Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor
If he hears, he’ll knock all day
I’ll be trapped and here I’ll have to stay
I’ve done no harm, I keep to myself
There’s nothing wrong with my state of mental health
I like it here with my childhood friend
Here they come, those feelings again
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
These are a few of my favorite things: #10 (The Art of Disappearing by Noami Shihab Nye & People are Boring By George Carlin)
These are a few of my favorite things: #43(Boris Yellnikoff from the Movie ‘Whatever Works’ by Woody Allen)
Sometimes my favorite thing is not a thing but a person,a fictitious person who lives only in a book/movie but is real to me nonetheless…somebody interesting,off-the-wall character with whom I can identify n admire. Howard Roark from ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand is one such my all time favorite person. Recently I met another eccentric movie-character ‘Boris Yellnikoff’ from ‘Whatever Works’ by Woody Allen. Boris, who was once upon a time a Professor of Physics specializing in string theory n who now teaches chess to children has is quirky, witty, philosophical, pessimistic & has a cavalier attitude about human beings:
~All great ideas. These are all great ideas, but they all suffer from one fatal flaw. Which is they’re all based on the fallacious notion that people are fundamentally decent. Give them a chance to do right and they’ll take it. They’re not stupid, selfish, greedy, cowardly, short-sighted worms. All I’m saying is that people make life so much worse than it has to be and, believe me, it’s a nightmare without their help.But on the whole, I’m sorry to say we are a failed species.
~The human race. They’ve had to install automatic toilets in public restrooms, because people can’t be entrusted to flush a toilet.
& He has very interesting theories about life:
~There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.
~Everybody’s happy to talk, full of misinformation. Morality, science, religion, politics,sports, love. Your portfolio, your children, health. Christ. lf I have to eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to live,I don’t want to live. I hate goddamn fruits and vegetables.And your omega-3’s and the treadmill and the cardiogram and the mammogram and the pelvic sonogram and, oh, my God, the colonoscopy! And with it all, the day still comes when they put you in a box and it’s on to the next generation of idiots who’ll also tell you all about life and define for you what’s appropriate.
He Doesn’t think twice before insulting anybody, whether it be his chess protege/their parents/his girlfriend…wow that’s so charming n endearing 😀
~Look, you’re a sweet kid. Stupid beyond all comprehension, but you’ll never survive here. You got nothing going for you. Zero, zilch. Ya know, you may be beauty queen material in the deep south, but this is the big time. Here you’re a three. A five maybe after you bathe.
~Boris Yellnikoff : I mean it. I’m a profound and sensitive soul with an enormous grasp of the human condition. It was inevitable you would eventually grow tired of being so grossly overmatched. Greatness isn’t easy to live with, even by someone of normal intelligence.
Melodie Celestine : You’re upset. I don’t expect you to understand. How could you?Boris Yellnikoff : Believe me, if I can understand quantum mechanics, I can certainly comprehend the thought process of a sub-mental baton twirler.
& his ultimate philosophy in life is :
So, basically I liked Boris Yellnioff (Larry David) and his way of thinking n saying the truth without any sugar-coating whatsoever so much that I din’t really care about the story line or the plot.For me it was the guy who ruled!
“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe”
― Denis Leary
In ‘A Serious Man’ we meet Larry Gopnik( Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor whose life starts resembling the situation described in the above quote. His complacent & normal world starts falling apart from all directions. His wife of so many years has a fling (with a guy named Sy Ableman) & unreasonably expects Larry to move out of his own home while she files for a divorce,his son is a music buff n a pot addict, his daughter has started stealing money from his wallet for an expensive nose job, his sick, somewhat mentally retard brother has moved in with him, his neighbor is encroaching on his property, one of his students is trying to bribe him to give the student passing grades n someone is sending anonymous derogatory letters to the college committee while Larry is being considered for a tenure at the university. In short everything that can go wrong is going wrong in Larry’s life. As the movie proceeds he starts facing serious financial problems as he has to engage various lawyers to deal with divorce n neighbor etc. n then in a hilarious turn of events his wife’s suitor dies n wife expects Larry to pay for his funeral. Larry just can’t understand why all this is happening to him especially when, “I didn’t do anything”. This assertion is very heart breaking but starts to acquire comical proportions when he forgets to do anything to get his tenure, he doesn’t do anything, he doesn’t even publish research papers that are so crucial in academia. In trying to make sense of his troubles he tries to meet three rabbis but their advice proves to be superfluous, irrelevant, unhelpful n even laughable. So our guy Larry’s life is growing more n more pathetic n confusing but this may be just the beginning of trouble! Things do start to get a little better for Larry but only to get worse. There is some calmness before the real storm hits him hard. He finally succumbs to the lure of money offered by bribe n no sooner than he changes the student grade from F to C he receives a call from his Doctor who wants to discuss Larry’s X-Ray Report which is apparently too grave to be discussed on phone. n in another shot his son gets caught in a tornado. So there is no happy ending here. Welcome to reality.
The underlying question in the story of Larry n in all our life stories is why do bad things happen to good people?(This movie is a modern retelling of ‘The Book of Job‘) n when bad things happen how are we supposed to feel n react. Larry’s situation is appropriately highlighted by the Jefferson Airplane Song: When the truth turns out to be lies n all the joy within you dies, don’t you want somebody to love; Schrodinger’s cat n Heizenberg’s Uncertainity Principle.
The Uncertainty Principle.
It proves we can’t ever really know…
what’s going on.
So it shouldn’t bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term.
Opening Scene n lines: “Why do i want to kill myself? I don’t know. I wouldn’t kill myself for the same reasons as other suicidal people. Money problems…broken heart…hopelessness…no, not me. Many books say “death is relaxing.”did you know that? No need to follow the latest trends, no need to keep pace with the rest of the world. It’ll be like taking a nap before waking up refreshed and ready to begin your next life. That’s what they say; “this is bliss.”
This is the story of Japanese guy Kenji, working in Thailand, who is always thinking about suicide & trying to commit suicide, though half heartedly ‘cos he never quite succeeds. One thing or another distracts him at the last moment n then the mood is gone!!
He loves reading books. His home is almost a library. He is introverted & super organized.
His brother works for a Don(mafioso) in Japan. Bro sleeps with Boss’ daughter n Boss now wants him killed. Brother flees n comes to Kenji’s Apartment. At that very moment Kenji was preparing to hang himself. As he is about to tighten the noose, the doorbell rings & the brother Arrives!! The Don sends a hit man to kill the bro. Hitman kills the bro n Kenji Shoots the hitman.Now this is a bit strange n paradoxical. If Kenji really wants to die he would have let the hitman kill himself too.
By some twists & turns in fate he meets a girl Noi, who has recently lost her sister in an accident & holds herself partly responsible for it. Kenji moves in with Noi (‘cos two corpses are now lying in his home)n a beautiful friendship is formed. They are eventually romantically involved. Noi has to soon move to Japan. Noi’s Apartment is as as messy as Kenji’s is organized.
The story is extremely gripping.Both Kenji n Noi are interesting, eccentric n likable. Though it with dark material it is extremely humorous. The humor is subtle n situational. 3 comedy scenes stand out for me. One, when the bell starts ringing as Kenji is about to kill himself.Two, Kenji starts reading a Japanese book in the bus, another Japanese man starts to talk to Kenji seeing the book. Kenji is in no mood to talk n he gets down the bus, suddenly just to avoid the man. Three when Kenji’s brother’s boss is at the Airport, he is coming to Thailand to shoot Kenji to revenge his hit man’s death at the hands of Kenji n this conversation transpires between the Don n check in girl:
Japanese/Thai Movie: Last Life In The Universe,
Director: Pen-ek Ratanaruang,
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Sinitta Boonyasak,
Director of Photography: Christopher Doyle
These are a few of my favorite things: #39(Walden on Wheels : On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas)
This book takes us on an inspiring journey as we get to know how the author Ken Ilgunas frees himself from a massive educational loan by following the simplicity n frugality model of Thoreau’s Walden.
I was drawn to the book for 3 main reasons. First, I found Ilgunas’ desire to live super frugally in order to pay his loans Very refreshing. This is totally opposite of what I see the kids doing in India(majority though definitely not all). Parents here finance the most expensive education of kids, even taking loans in their own names. & after that if these kids don’t get a high paying job which they feel they deserve, they won’t pick up some small jobs to support themselves + they never dream of cutting down their royal extravagant lifestyle. They must have all the luxuries: expensive gym memberships, expensive food items. Even after draining their parents financially, they behave irresponsibly, can’t be bothered to switch of lights n fans even when not in use (electricity bills be damned, after all parent will be paying for that too in any case), they can’t even pick up after themselves or do things around home (they need to have their personal servants). The standards of living of these shameless, self entitled youth is very high. Ken Ilgunas is indeed the role model this generation needs.
Second I’ve always admired Thoreau’s experiments in solitude, simplicity & frugality.
Third I find the calm, quite life full of simplicity, solitude & grace which the author led far more desirable & charming than the grotesque life of the Filthy Rich n Famous
Here is an excerpt from the book:
My experiment began in the spring semester of 2009 when I enrolled in the graduate liberal studies department. Months before, I had just finished paying off $32,000 in undergraduate student loans — no easy feat for an English major.
To pay off my debt, I’d found jobs that provided free room and board. I moved to Coldfoot, Alaska — 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 250 from the nearest store — where I worked as a lodge cleaner, a tour guide and a cook. Later, I worked on a trail crew in Mississippi in an AmeriCorps program. Between jobs I hitchhiked more than 7,000 miles to avoid paying airfare. When I couldn’t find work, I moved in with friends. My clothes came from donation bins, I had friends cut my hair, and I’d pick up odd jobs when I could. Nearly every dime I made went into my loans.
I hated my debt more than anything. I dragged it with me wherever I went. While I was still leading an exciting, adventurous life, I knew I could never truly be free until my debt was gone.
I finally got out of the red when I landed a well-paying job with the Park Service as a backcountry ranger. Finally, after two and a half years of work, my debt was gone. I had four grand in the bank that was mine. All mine. It was the first time I had actual money that hadn’t been borrowed or given to me since I was a 13-year-old paperboy.
The more money I had borrowed, I came to realize, the more freedom I had surrendered. Yet, I still considered my education — as costly as it was — to be priceless. So now, motivated to go back to school yet determined not to go back into debt, I had to think outside the box. Or, as Henry David Thoreau might suggest, inside one.
In “Walden,” Thoreau mentioned a 6 foot-by-3 foot box he had seen by the railroad in which laborers locked up their tools at night. A man could live comfortably in one of these boxes, he thought. Nor would he have to borrow money and surrender freedom to afford a “larger and more luxurious box.”
And so: I decided to buy a van. Though I had never lived in one, I knew I had the personality for it. I had a penchant for rugged living, a sixth sense for cheapness, and an unequaled tolerance for squalor.
My first order of business upon moving to Duke was to find my “Walden on Wheels.” After a two-hour bus ride into the North Carolinian countryside, I caught sight of the ’94 Ford Econoline that I had found advertised on Craigslist. Googly-eyed, I sauntered up to it and lovingly trailed fingertips over dents and chipped paint. The classy cabernet sauvignon veneer at the top slowly, sensuously faded downward into lustrous black. I got behind the wheel and revved up the fuel-funneling beast. There was a grumble, a cough, then a smooth and steady mechanical growl. It was big, it was beautiful, and — best of all — it was $1,500.
I bought it immediately. So began what I’d call “radical living.”
My “radical living” experiment convinced me that the things plunging students further into debt — the iPhones, designer clothes, and even “needs” like heat and air conditioning, for instance — were by no means “necessary.” And I found it easier to “do without” than I ever thought it would be. Easier by far than the jobs I’d been forced to take in order to pay off my loans.
Living in a van was my grand social experiment. I wanted to see if I could — in an age of rampant consumerism and fiscal irresponsibility — afford the unaffordable: an education.
I pledged that I wouldn’t take out loans. Nor would I accept money from anybody, especially my mother, who, appalled by my experiment, offered to rent me an apartment each time I called home. My heat would be a sleeping bag; my air conditioning, an open window. I’d shower at the gym, eat the bare minimum and find a job to pay tuition. And — for fear of being caught — I wouldn’t tell anybody.
Living on the cheap wasn’t merely a way to save money and stave off debt; I wanted to live adventurously. I wanted to test my limits. I wanted to find the line between my wants and my needs. I wanted, as Thoreau put it, “to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life … to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
Not only is his story of adventure very gripping n absorbing, but the book is peppered with little gems of wisdom like these:
“Reading sixteenth-century French poetry, suffering through Kant, and studying the finer points of the Jay Treaty may seem to be, on first appearance, completely, utterly, irrefutably pointless, yet somehow in studying, discussing, and writing about these ‘pointless’ subjects, the liberal arts have the capacity to turn on a certain part of the brain that makes us ask ourselves questions like:
Who am I? What’s worth fighting for? Who’s lying to us? What’s my purpose? What’s the point of it all?
Perhaps many students would rather not be irritated with these questions, yet being compelled to grapple with them, it seems, can make us far less likely to be among those who’ll conform, remain complacent, or seek jobs with morally ambiguous employers” (p. 243).
“Discomforts are only discomforting when they’re an unexpected inconvenience, an unusual annoyance, an unplanned-for irritant. Discomforts are only discomforting when we aren’t used to them. But when we deal with the same discomforts every day, they become expected and part of the routine, and we are no longer afflicted with them the way we were…Give your body the chance to harden, your blood to thicken, and your skin to toughen, and you’ll find that the human body carries with it a weightless wardrobe. When we’re hardy in mind and body, we can select from an array of outfits to comfortably bear most any climate”
This book would be of huge interest not only for students, but for anyone seeking simple, spartan, frugal n calm way of living. We need more young guys like Ken Ilgunas n we need more inspirational tales like this.
- Walden on Wheels (sort of review) (ellenannelarson.wordpress.com)
- Walden on Wheels (intrepiddebt.wordpress.com)
- Walden on Wheels and back to the grind… or not? (ellenannelarson.wordpress.com)
- Blogging Walden: Economy (writingsenses.wordpress.com)
- Walden Pond (deliberatelivinginboston.wordpress.com)
- Walden II (philippmasur.wordpress.com)
- How I Paid Off My Loans: 3 Crazy-but-True Stories (thedailymuse.com)
- Book recommendation: Walden on Wheels (fiscallyfitchica.com)
- Walden on Wheels: terrific book (backwoodshome.com)
- WALDON ON WHEELS by Ken Ilgunas – Criticism (muymue.wordpress.com)
Though Oscar Wilde is more famous for his witty one liners which are abundantly present in ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’,what makes this work memorable for me is the exploration of the inner psyche of the eponymous protagonist.
Basil Hallward, an artist, paints a very beautiful portrait of his friend Dorain Gray.
Gray himself develops a narcissistic kind of appreciation for his own portrait & thinks:
& his wishes do indeed come true. So it follows that whatever vile thoughts he thinks & deeds he does his face remains innocent & stays as handsome as ever.He becomes too hedonistic & stops caring for the feelings of others. He starts ignoring the effect of his actions on people close to him. When his fiancee Sybil Vane commits suicide because Dorian decided to dump her for a frivolous reason, he remains nonchalant. Then he goes n murders his friend, Basil n also Sybil’s brother James. The painting becomes uglier n uglier with each misdemeanor.
Now this is really interesting a human face is indeed a mirror of the inner self of the person. Beauty or ugliness is not just physical features but also reflects the person’s inner life & the quality of thoughts. (Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.)
Sadly this fact is not at all accounted by our beauty n youth obsessed society. Many people act like Dorian Gray(“Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.” “I know, now, that when one loses one’s good looks, whatever they may be, one loses everything.”~Dorian Gray) n make huge efforts (even resorting to painful n expensive surgeries) to remain ever youthful. But, alas their inner emptiness is reflected in their face despite impeccable features.
To continue with the plot of the story, finally inner demons begins to catch up with Dorian n one day he himself is disgusted by the ugliness of his portrait & decides to destroy it. As he stabs his painting, Dorian becomes ugly n old n dies n the portrait returns to it’s initial beauty & splendor. The message is quite clear: As Ayn Rand once said, ‘One can evade reality, but one can never evade the consequences of evading reality.
P.S. : It is widely regarded that Dorian became irresponsibly hedonistic n degraded under the influence of his friend Lord Henry Wotton. I’ve totally ignored that aspect because I believe in ultimate responsibility of an individual for his own thoughts & action. One cannot blame others. One should be mature & wise to understand what advice to follow & what to ignore.
Okay, now having dealt with the story n it’s nuances,let’s sample the signature Oscar Wilde Witticism, which peppers the book throughout especially through Lord Wotton:
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”
“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”
“we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely understood others”.
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”
“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”
“Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last for ever.”
“It is perfectly monstrous,’ he said, at last, ‘the way people go about nowadays saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.”
“It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
He thought for a moment. “Can you remember any great error that you committed in your early days, Duchess?” he asked, looking at her across the table.
“A great many, I fear,” she cried.
“Then commit them over again,” he said, gravely. “To get back one’s youth one has merely to repeat one’s follies.”
“A delightful theory!” she exclaimed. ” I must put it into practice.”
Mary & Max is the story of beautiful & endearing (pen)friendship between two misfit, lonely souls. Though Mary & Max may be misfits from the typical point of view of society I found both of them endlessly fascinating & engaging, especially Max who certainly has very profound insights about life.
Mary Daisy Dinkle is an eight year old girl living in Australia. She has ‘eyes the color of muddle pond n birthmark the color of poo’. She lives with an alcoholic n kleptomaniac mother, who bakes with sherry, listens to cricket commentary & who doesn’t hesitate to tell Mary that she is an ‘accident’. Mary’s father works in a tea factory attaching strings to tea bags & has a passion for taxidermy & no time for Mary. Mary adored her grand poppy Ralph who told her children are found in beer glasses. On a whim Mary decides to write a letter to Max (whose name she chooses at random from a telephone directory), an American & asks him if children are found in cola cans in America!!
Max Jerry Horowitz is 44 years old, obese, has Asperger’s syndrome & doesn’t understand people.
(Humans were endlessly illogical.
Why did they throw out food when there were children starving in India?
Why did they clear the rain forests when they needed the oxygen?
And why did they create bus timetables when they never ran on time?
He agreed with his favorite physicist that there are only two things infinite:the universe and man’s stupidity).
Max lives with his Fish named Henry, a parakeet called Mr Biscuit, a cat called Hal (short for halitosis, ‘cos it suffers from bad breath) & imaginary friend Mr Ravioli who is fond of reading self help books n smoking cigars!! This is how interesting n quirky Max is!!
Mary & Max find somebody who can understand them, in each other. A special bond develops as letters, pictures & gifts fly back n forth between Australia & America. They share their innermost feelings n details of their everyday life n people around them. I found the letters very endearing, heart touching, & full of profound observations about life.
(Mary’s first letter to Max:
Dear Mr M Horowitz,
my name is Mary Daisy Dinkle and I am 8 years old, 3 months and 9 days.My favourite colour is brown and my favourite food is sweetened condensed milk followed closely by chocolate. I have a rooster called Ethel that looks like this.
He doesn’t lay eggs but will one day.My mother likes smoking,cricket and sherry
and my father likes playing in his shed with dead birds.
Where do babies come from in America?
Do they come from cola cans?
they are found in beer glasses.
Here is a drawing of me.(Inserts picture)
I can’t draw ears proper
but I’m good at teeth.
It would be great if you could write back
and be my friend.
Yours “sincerealy”, Mary Daisy Dinkle.)
Dear Mary Daisy Dinkle,
thank you for the letter, which I opened and read at 9.1 7pm after my Overeaters Anonymous class. I am trying to lose weight because my psychiatrist,Dr Bernard Hazelhof,says a healthy body equals a healthy mind.
He says my mind is not that healthy.
Your drawing is an interesting visual portrayal of yourself.
I have never met anyone from Australia.
Firstly, I will answer your question.
Unfortunately, in America, babies are not found in cola cans.
I asked my mother when I was four and she said they came from eggs
laid by rabbis.
If you aren’t Jewish,
they’re laid by Catholic nuns.
If you’re an atheist,
they’re laid by dirty, lonely prostitutes.
So this is where babies come from
I share my home with a fish,
some snails, whom I have named
after famous scientists…
..a parakeet called Mr Biscuit
and, finally, a cat called Hal.
“Hal” is an abbreviation for halitosis,
from which he suffers.
He followed me home after a gang of children
shot his eye out with a beebee gun.
Do you have a pet kangaroo?
When I was born, my father
left my mother and me on a kibbutz.
She shot herself with my uncle’s gun when I was six.
Do you like chocolate hotdogs?
I invented the recipe for them
and can send it to you.
When I was young, I invented
an invisible friend called Mr Ravioli.
My psychiatrist says
I don’t need him anymore
so he just sits in the corner and reads.
Last week I picked up 128 cigarette butts.
People are always littering in New York.
I do not understand why people break laws.
Butts are bad because they wash out to sea
and fish smoke them and become nicotine dependent.
I am just joking because, of course,
it is impossible for a cigarette
to remain lit underwater.
Also, fish do not have pockets
to keep cigarette lighters in.
I am 44 years old
and have 8 tracksuits
the same colour and size.
I weigh 352 lb…
..and am as tall as a 6-foot tree.
I enjoy entering the lottery
and have chosen the same numbers
for 9 years.
I have had many different jobs
during my life.
My first job was collecting
subway tokens in the subway.
My second job was at Yiddel’s
Gourmet Kosher Supplies
where I worked at the machine that made
pre-packaged noodle kugels.
I was born Jewish
and used to believe in God
but I’ve since read many books
that have proven God
is just a figment of my imagination.
People like to believe in God because
it answers complicated questions
Iike where did the universe come from,
do worms go to heaven…
do worms go to heaven…
..and why do old ladies have blue hair?
Even though I’m an atheist,
I still wear my yarmulke
as it keeps my brain warm.
My third job was for a company
that printed logos on novelty items.
I worked at the frisbee printing machine.
A frisbee is a circular plastic disc
that people throw at each other.
It is like a boomerang
but it does not come back.
My fourth job was when
I was called up for jury duty.
I didn’t get paid much
but got free cookies and coffee.
Jurors are outstanding members
of the community
who haven’t murdered anybody.
I made it to the short list
for a trial where a man
killed all his friends
at his own surprise birthday party.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get selected
because they found out
I’d been a mental patient at one point.
Have you ever been hang gliding?
My fifth job was as a garbage collector.
I got to clean up after litterbugs
and didn’t have to talk to anybody.
One time the police took me in
but let me go when they decided
I wasn’t a threat to anybody
The sixth job I had
was for the United States Army
in the stationery supply department.
Because I am good with numbers
I had to work out how many
ballpoint pens the Army needed.
One day they did a security check
and asked whether I was a member
of any radical groups.
I told them I was a member of
the New York Science Fiction Fan Club.
They said this didn’t count
but dismissed me anyway.
Fortunately, I did not remember
to tell them I was once a communist.
Have you ever been a communist?
Have you ever been attacked by a crow
or similar large bird?
When I was 9, a crow attacked me
on my way to school.
I had to have three stitches
and in spring I now wear a helmet
with eyes I have painted on.
People laugh at me
when I wear my helmet.
I’m not sure why.
People often confuse me
but I try not to let them worry me.
New York is a very busy
and noisy place.
I would prefer to live
somewhere much quieter
Iike the moon.
I don’t like crowds, bright lights,
sudden noises or strong smells.
New York has all these
especially the smells.
I often wear nose and ear plugs
when I go outside.
It helps keep me calm.
I find humans interesting but I have
trouble understanding them.
I think, however,
I will understand and trust you.
You appear very happy and I think
you would smell like a shrimp
as I know Australia
has a lot of shrimps.
Can you speed-read?
I have taught myself to read
two pages at once
one eyeball per page.
I have to go now
even though I have not told you
about my 7th job,
in a condom factory.
Write back soon.
Your American friend,
Max Jerry Horowitz.)
The claymation is extraordinarily beautiful. This is animation movie for grown ups. The soundtrack is also excellent & so is the rendition of song ‘Que Sera Sera’. A movie worth watching n re-watching.
Once Upon a Time Was I, Verônica is a Brazilian movie by writer-director Marcelo Gomes that tells the story about a woman who lives in a Brazilian city with her sick elderly father Jose, whom she adores to the point that she doesn’t really want comit to any guy n thus leave her father (Father: Are you thinking about Gustav? Veronika: No, I am thinking how happy I am to be at home with you). Veronica(Hermila Guedes) is undergoing a crucial time in her life, a period full of doubts: about her professional choice, her most intimate bonding and her ability to cope with the adult life that lies ahead. Once Upon a Time was I, Veronica is a fairy-tale in reverse. There are no fairy godmothers, no weddings, no dreams. It is a story that reveals itself through adventures, misfortunes, desires and songs.
Veronica works in the psych department of a public hospital, and spends most of her days listening to accounts of her of her patients’ mental problems. Her encounters with the patients are very interesting, they come to her with complex psychological problems, A boy suffering from Catatonic Schizophrenia doesn’t respond to anything around, he’s almost like a living mummy,another lady suffers from inexplicable lethargy, despite having fairly good things in life she just can’t get herself out of bed. Veronica feels she is not really able to help her patients but apparently she is very popular with them.
But Veronica’s trickiest patient is herself: she conducts daily sessions in which she examines her motives and neuroses, speaking into a dictaphone. (I, patient Veronica, uncertain about life like everyone else. I, patient Veronica, scared about future like everybody else. I, patient Veronica, in a crisis. I patient Veronica, not knowing what to do with the sense of loss invading my soul).Veronica is a believably complex and intelligent protagonist, facing up to and articulating universal insecurities in a world of increasingly challenging turbulence. Veronica is undergoing an existential crisis or to put it a little mildly, Quarter Life Crisis. At times she tries to escape the angst by indulging in excessive sex, partying n such but the inner turmoil doesn’t fade. Escape or avoidance is never the solution, only facing it squarely is. Veronica finally realizes through intense introspection that she’s “sick of suffering” and “trying to dream more about life.”
The movie proceeds at a laconic pace, no action taking place. I really liked the scene when Veronica & Gustavo meet to break up after Veronica indulges in sex with a random stranger at the Carnival. They don’t fight, they don’t shout, they don’t get overly emotional. The imminent breakup is conveyed through silence, both of them sitting n looking in different directions.
I had to love the movie ‘cos I love all movies/books/songs/even paintings which give us a sneak peak into the character’s mind. & surely Veronica has a very rich inner life. Lot more goes on inside her head as faces her external n internal demons. My interest was piqued by the title of the movie n the protagonist’s name ‘cos ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ by Paulo Coelho also happens to be among my favorite books. Both Veronikas haven’t disappointed me n gave me fertile ground to grow my own thoughts.
The Film has been showcased at & received accolades at several Film Festivals.
Pondering over the imponderables like the meaning of life, Karma, etc is one of my favorite things. As is the nature of such enquiry I get no definite answers but these exercises help me shape my personal ethics n value system.
Karma is the basic law of cause & effect: As we sow, so we reap. Intuitively we all know that Karma seems to be a basic law operating all our actions but at times I wonder, is it so really? n if it indeed does, then how exactly? The thing about karma is that it is sometimes hard to discern it’s effect because Karma weaves a complicated Web. It’s not a simple case like we get wet in the rain n we catch flu the next day.
Right here, Right Now, a short film by Anand Gandhi (Who is currently making huge waves with his Magnum Opus, ‘The Ship of Theseus’) explores this complex web of Karma rather brilliantly. A good story can convey obscure ideas more powerfully than anything else. An ounce of story is worth tons of theory.
A young man in his haste to go some place takes two actions – he screams at his mother for making him late, and he lovingly appreciates his brother’s painting. By doing so, he strikes off two cycles – one of frustration and sorrow and the other of love and joy. His mother vents out her anger on her maidservant. His brother gifts the painting to his girl friend. Thus begins the cycles of sorrow and joy, forming a Domino stairway, leading to an unknown doorway. After shaking hands with 15 other characters and traveling through 17 locations, in just two shots, both the cycles meet at the end in an attempt to give a logical understanding to the seemingly absurd human life. It’s a humorous look at the bizarreness of the cosmic accident, otherwise known as life.
- Ship of Theseus (The Film): A Philosophical Exploration (ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com)
- Review of 2013 Film ‘The Ship of Theseus’, a ‘Hinglish’ Film Directed by Anand Gandhi; Starring Aida Al-Khashef Neeraj Kabi and Sohum Shah (sashankkini.wordpress.com)
- Ship of Theseus: The Most Original Indian Indie Film (madaboutmoviez.com)
- ‘Ship Of Theseus’ simplifies the complex ideas: Anand Gandhi (ibnlive.in.com)
- Ship of Theseus: This one is too Special (cinemaunchained.wordpress.com)
- Karma – Cause and effect (chaitanyaiimc.wordpress.com)
- Ship Of Theseus (bumblebee31.wordpress.com)
- Is the Ship a Trojan horse? (thehindu.com)
Ship of Theseus:
After a long long time there comes a movie which is intellectually stimulating & which stays with you beyond the 2.5 hrs in the movie theatre. It makes you think and think and think……… ‘Ship of Theseus’ by Anand Gandhi belongs to this rare category.
The intrigue of this movie starts with the title itself, ‘Ship of Theseus’ also called ‘Theseus Paradox’.
The paradox engages in the idea of identity: “If parts of an object are replaced with similar parts, does it remain the same?” (In ancient times, there was a ship, called the “Theseus” after its famous former owner. As the years wore on, the Theseus started getting weak and creaky. The old boards were removed, put into a warehouse, and replaced with new ones. Then, the masts started tottering, and soon they, too, were warehoused and replaced. And in this way, after fifty years, this ship now has all new boards, masts, and everything. The question then arises: Is the ship in the harbor, now called S2, the same ship as the ship that was in the harbor, fifty years ago (called S1, for convenience)? In other words, is S2really the “Theseus”?~ Wikipedia). A simplified way to express the same thought is ‘George Washington’s Hammer’: A guy is admiring a hammer at an antique shop, he is informed by the dealer that it belongs to George Washington, so the guy says it’s in a pretty good condition considering it’s rather old age to which the dealer says sincerely, why should it not be considering he had replaced it’s head twice n it’s handle thrice. 😀
The film also refers to ethical issues brought out by applying the Theseus paradox to human beings, “All the cells in a person’s body regenerate entirely in seven years. An individual goes through a shift psychologically, ideologically and physically. Is it still the same person?”
Main theme is the theme of identity…or what makes Me, Me? What makes You, You? What makes Us, Us?? If some of our organs are replaced we are still the same person. That means we are something more than the sum total of our body parts..who are we then? Are we our thoughts? But even the thoughts theory is not satisfactory ‘cos as I look back on my life most of my thoughts n behavior patterns have changed totally. I have transitioned from a shy teenager to a confident Professional to a laid-back oops a hard working 😉 housewife and yet I am the same person that I used to be!! Even my passions have changed completely. Earlier I was a bookworm, then I became a travel enthusiast & a fashionista, now I’m more into cooking n yoga etc..yet I remain the same person! This thought is mind boggling to me at this moment. This argument builds a strong case for the existence of a Soul. Despite the changes in physiology n psyche it is the soul that provides continuum to a living object as a single identity. (Ask yourself this one. I was born John Doe.<Insert your own name in place of John Doe> The cells and organs in our body die off and become entirely new cells every 7-10 years. In essence, I become an entirely new person every decade. At age 80, am I still John Doe? Am I still that tiny infant? Some would argue no, but following my line of prior reason, we are ourselves for our entire life, because of emotional memory.)
Several other themes like Atheism, Ethics, Compassion, Vegetarianism, limits of human goodness, Death, Soul, Reincarnation etc. are explored.
The movie comprises of 3 stories which are beautifully weaved together as the movie approaches its end. The first story is the story of a blind photographer n how her Art changes as she regains her vision. Is she a different person with eyes than what she was before?(“A frog once asked a centipede how is it able to walk on a hundred feet, so gracefully synchronized while the frog finds it difficult to manage even two. The centipede took a moment to analyze its own walk and was baffled. So as it tried to walk further its feet got entangled and it tripped.” – Aliya in Ship of Theseus)
The second story is about Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi) ,an Urbane, suave, good-natured, rational, compassionate, atheist monk!, as he faces the dilemma of choosing between his ethics (compassion towards all living beings n not just human being) and his very life. The Philosophy of the Monk is Brilliantly captured in the Song ‘Naham Janami’ . This is the Quintessential Atheist Anthem. By large Atheists are a misunderstood lot. We are accused of behaving as we please in the absence of fear of God. But Atheist Ethics are stronger than blind faith ‘cos we take responsibility for all our actions and our firm belief in ‘cause & effect’. This part has some very Cerebral & witty conversation between Maitreya & a young Lawyer Charvak . Charvak asks Maitreya a question which I too have pondered for many years. How does one reconcile the paradox of existence of soul and reincarnation without the existence of God?? Buddha too propounded that there is no God but asserted about Reincarnation. Maitreya initially held Buddha’s view on the matter but later as he grew physically n emotionally exhausted he admits that he doesn’t know anything definite about the existence of soul. (Charvak:”you say you’re an atheist and at the same time you believe in the concept of soul, which I think is rather convenient. I don’t think karmic causality is a reason enough for anybody to behave ethically. You know, that there is retribution of any kind in this life or any other. It’s like a weak man’s hope for some kind of cosmic revenge.”)
(Charvak:”We invent God, soul… heaven, afterlife…even life-imitating technology, all sorts of transcendence to cope with the idea of an absolute end. And then, we die for an idea that promises us some sort of immortality.”)
(Charvak:– “Exactly. See, it’s pretty clear how inconsequential our actions are in the larger scheme of things.”
Maitreya- “Main is baat se sehmat nahi hoon. Hamaare har kaam ka prabhav karaakash mein rehte har parmanu par padta hai. Agar yeh baat sach nahi, toh phir sab nirarthak hai. What is the sense of existence then? The hedonism and nihilism of your namesake, Charvaka?”)
(Maitreya- “You see, in his world, it’s not all humanity that’s equal, it’s all existence that’s equal.”)
The third story is of Navin (Sohum Shah, also the co producer of the movie), a stockbroker, who has his kidney transplanted. He apparently loves only money & is shown doing his business even when critically ill ,as opposed to the so called finer things like music, literature et al which his Granny(Ajji) would like him to explore & appreciate. But as the narrative progresses he shows great empathy n compassion for a poor bricklayer whose kidney has been stolen.
(Navin-‘Kuch ho nahi paaya’
Ajji-‘Jitna kuch hua, kyunki tumne kuch kiya. Itna hi hota hai’)
Everything about this movie is immaculate and Superlative. The Script, Direction, Acting, Cinematography, Subtle Humor, The Underlying Philosophy, and The Very title of the Movie.
Also read about my other all time favorite movies:
- VOTE and DEMAND “Ship Of Theseus” in your city (moifightclub.wordpress.com)
Miss Brill is a story about an old woman who lacks companionship and self-awareness. Each Sunday, Miss Brill ventures down to the park to watch and listen to the band play. She finds herself listening not only to the band, but also to strangers. She enjoys living vicariously by eavesdropping into the lives of others. Miss Brill spends her Sunday afternoon seated on a park bench, this is the highpoint of her life. She watches others around her and pretends that all of them including her-self are actors in a play; She weaves an elaborate fantasy around this thought n it gives her huge satisfaction to be involved in the grand scheme of things. On this particular Sunday she has chosen to wear her favorite coat which she believes to be fashionable. She is generally enjoying herself, listening to the band, lost in reverie n at the prospect of her favorite past time: Eavesdropping. But things take an unexpected turn, a young pair of lovers walks in n makes some rude comments about her. Why does she drag her old mug out of her home? Says the guy n the girl laughs at Miss Brill’s coat. This disheartens Miss Brill n she hurries home, forgetting even to stop at the bakery to pick up her Sunday indulgence of honey cake. Miss Brill is a story about the loneliness of an old, solitary Lady. But for me it worked differently. It spoke to me of two things.
1) Why do people take so much interest in the lives of others? Granted one may be living alone, but there are enough things in the world to engage oneself constructively without taking interest in lives of others. One can enjoy one’s glorious solitude with variety of things like music, gardening, reading which are richly rewarding n not pathetic.
2) Why do we let the opinions of others effect us so deeply n badly.By doing this we make ourselves a puppet into other people’s hands. Just one remark from the young woman about her coat n suddenly it ain’t her favorite coat anymore!! She goes home n packs it away. N by the way who is the young man to decide whether Miss Brill is wanted in the park or not? Instead of getting so wounded by careless remark by stupid young people, Miss Brill should have continued to enjoy what her special Sunday outing in the park n her treat of honey cake.
~The unhappiest people in this world, are those who care the most about what other people think. ~ C. JoyBell C.
~I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
~No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
~ He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.” ~ Brigham Young
I find Buddha’s way of dealing with insults the best way. Once Buddha was passing through a village n some people in the village very angry with him for spreading radical ideas n inspiring youth to lead an ascetic life. So they gathered around him & started abusing him. Buddha listened to their abuses patiently n even compassionately!!! In the end he just said that he’d be passing through the village in the evening again n if someone had some more accusations they could abuse him then, People were surprised. They expected Buddha to retaliate n abuse in return, to get angry/upset/sad. But Buddha did none of these. He then explained that if someone gives you a gift n you don’t accept it, the gift is returned to the sender, in the same way he had not accepted the insult/abuse. Now I know Miss Brill is no Buddha n neither am I. But still we can remind ourselves of Buddha’s way n act a little more intelligently n not be wounded by harmful words of others.
Oh yeah, now the story!!! :
Although it was so brilliantly fine – the blue sky powdered with gold and great spots of light like white wine splashed over the Jardins Publiques – Miss Brill was glad that she had decided on her fur. The air was motionless, but when you opened your mouth there was just a faint chill, like a chill from a glass of iced water before you sip, and now and again a leaf came drifting – from nowhere, from the sky. Miss Brill put up her hand and touched her fur. Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again. She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes. “What has been happening to me?” said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap at her again from the red eiderdown! … But the nose, which was of some black composition, wasn’t at all firm. It must have had a knock, somehow. Never mind – a little dab of black sealing-wax when the time came – when it was absolutely necessary … Little rogue! Yes, she really felt like that about it. Little rogue biting its tail just by her left ear. She could have taken it off and laid it on her lap and stroked it. She felt a tingling in her hands and arms, but that came from walking, she supposed. And when she breathed, something light and sad – no, not sad, exactly – something gentle seemed to move in her bosom.
There were a number of people out this afternoon, far more than last Sunday. And the band sounded louder and gayer. That was because the Season had begun. For although the band played all the year round on Sundays, out of season it was never the same. It was like some one playing with only the family to listen; it didn’t care how it played if there weren’t any strangers present. Wasn’t the conductor wearing a new coat, too? She was sure it was new. He scraped with his foot and flapped his arms like a rooster about to crow, and the bandsmen sitting in the green rotunda blew out their cheeks and glared at the music. Now there came a little “flutey” bit – very pretty! – a little chain of bright drops. She was sure it would be repeated. It was; she lifted her head and smiled.
Only two people shared her “special” seat: a fine old man in a velvet coat, his hands clasped over a huge carved walking-stick, and a big old woman, sitting upright, with a roll of knitting on her embroidered apron. They did not speak. This was disappointing, for Miss Brill always looked forward to the conversation. She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn’t listen, at sitting in other people’s lives just for a minute while they talked round her.
She glanced, sideways, at the old couple. Perhaps they would go soon. Last Sunday, too, hadn’t been as interesting as usual. An Englishman and his wife, he wearing a dreadful Panama hat and she button boots. And she’d gone on the whole time about how she ought to wear spectacles; she knew she needed them; but that it was no good getting any; they’d be sure to break and they’d never keep on. And he’d been so patient. He’d suggested everything – gold rims, the kind that curved round your ears, little pads inside the bridge. No, nothing would please her. “They’ll always be sliding down my nose!” Miss Brill had wanted to shake her.
The old people sat on the bench, still as statues. Never mind, there was always the crowd to watch. To and fro, in front of the flower-beds and the band rotunda, the couples and groups paraded, stopped to talk, to greet, to buy a handful of flowers from the old beggar who had his tray fixed to the railings. Little children ran among them, swooping and laughing; little boys with big white silk bows under their chins, little girls, little French dolls, dressed up in velvet and lace. And sometimes a tiny staggerer came suddenly rocking into the open from under the trees, stopped, stared, as suddenly sat down “flop,” until its small high-stepping mother, like a young hen, rushed scolding to its rescue. Other people sat on the benches and green chairs, but they were nearly always the same, Sunday after Sunday, and – Miss Brill had often noticed – there was something funny about nearly all of them. They were odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just come from dark little rooms or even – even cupboards!
Behind the rotunda the slender trees with yellow leaves down drooping, and through them just a line of sea, and beyond the blue sky with gold-veined clouds.
Tum-tum-tum tiddle-um! tiddle-um! tum tiddley-um tum ta! blew the band.
Two young girls in red came by and two young soldiers in blue met them, and they laughed and paired and went off arm-in-arm. Two peasant women with funny straw hats passed, gravely, leading beautiful smoke-coloured donkeys. A cold, pale nun hurried by. A beautiful woman came along and dropped her bunch of violets, and a little boy ran after to hand them to her, and she took them and threw them away as if they’d been poisoned. Dear me! Miss Brill didn’t know whether to admire that or not! And now an ermine toque and a gentleman in grey met just in front of her. He was tall, stiff, dignified, and she was wearing the ermine toque she’d bought when her hair was yellow. Now everything, her hair, her face, even her eyes, was the same colour as the shabby ermine, and her hand, in its cleaned glove, lifted to dab her lips, was a tiny yellowish paw. Oh, she was so pleased to see him – delighted! She rather thought they were going to meet that afternoon. She described where she’d been – everywhere, here, there, along by the sea. The day was so charming – didn’t he agree? And wouldn’t he, perhaps? … But he shook his head, lighted a cigarette, slowly breathed a great deep puff into her face, and even while she was still talking and laughing, flicked the match away and walked on. The ermine toque was alone; she smiled more brightly than ever. But even the band seemed to know what she was feeling and played more softly, played tenderly, and the drum beat, “The Brute! The Brute!” over and over. What would she do? What was going to happen now? But as Miss Brill wondered, the ermine toque turned, raised her hand as though she’d seen some one else, much nicer, just over there, and pattered away. And the band changed again and played more quickly, more gayly than ever, and the old couple on Miss Brill’s seat got up and marched away, and such a funny old man with long whiskers hobbled along in time to the music and was nearly knocked over by four girls walking abreast.
Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was like a play. It was exactly like a play. Who could believe the sky at the back wasn’t painted? But it wasn’t till a little brown dog trotted on solemn and then slowly trotted off, like a little “theatre” dog, a little dog that had been drugged, that Miss Brill discovered what it was that made it so exciting. They were all on the stage. They weren’t only the audience, not only looking on; they were acting. Even she had a part and came every Sunday. No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn’t been there; she was part of the performance after all. How strange she’d never thought of it like that before! And yet it explained why she made such a point of starting from home at just the same time each week – so as not to be late for the performance – and it also explained why she had quite a queer, shy feeling at telling her English pupils how she spent her Sunday afternoons. No wonder! Miss Brill nearly laughed out loud. She was on the stage. She thought of the old invalid gentleman to whom she read the newspaper four afternoons a week while he slept in the garden. She had got quite used to the frail head on the cotton pillow, the hollowed eyes, the open mouth and the high pinched nose. If he’d been dead she mightn’t have noticed for weeks; she wouldn’t have minded. But suddenly he knew he was having the paper read to him by an actress! “An actress!” The old head lifted; two points of light quivered in the old eyes. “An actress – are ye?” And Miss Brill smoothed the newspaper as though it were the manuscript of her part and said gently; “Yes, I have been an actress for a long time.”
The band had been having a rest. Now they started again. And what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill – a something, what was it? – not sadness – no, not sadness – a something that made you want to sing. The tune lifted, lifted, the light shone; and it seemed to Miss Brill that in another moment all of them, all the whole company, would begin singing. The young ones, the laughing ones who were moving together, they would begin, and the men’s voices, very resolute and brave, would join them. And then she too, she too, and the others on the benches – they would come in with a kind of accompaniment – something low, that scarcely rose or fell, something so beautiful – moving … And Miss Brill’s eyes filled with tears and she looked smiling at all the other members of the company. Yes, we understand, we understand, she thought – though what they understood she didn’t know.
Just at that moment a boy and girl came and sat down where the old couple had been. They were beautifully dressed; they were in love. The hero and heroine, of course, just arrived from his father’s yacht. And still soundlessly singing, still with that trembling smile, Miss Brill prepared to listen.
“No, not now,” said the girl. “Not here, I can’t.”
“But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?” asked the boy. “Why does she come here at all – who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”
“It’s her fu-ur which is so funny,” giggled the girl. “It’s exactly like a fried whiting.”
“Ah, be off with you!” said the boy in an angry whisper. Then: “Tell me, ma petite chere–“
“No, not here,” said the girl. “Not yet.”
On her way home she usually bought a slice of honey-cake at the baker’s. It was her Sunday treat. Sometimes there was an almond in her slice, sometimes not. It made a great difference. If there was an almond it was like carrying home a tiny present – a surprise – something that might very well not have been there. She hurried on the almond Sundays and struck the match for the kettle in quite a dashing way.
But to-day she passed the baker’s by, climbed the stairs, went into the little dark room – her room like a cupboard – and sat down on the red eiderdown. She sat there for a long time. The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.
I once read an amusing anecdote by Osho which goes like this:
One day Mulla Nasruddin told me, “I wish I had more land”.
I asked him, “But why? As it is you already have enough”.
He said, “I could raise lot more cows”.
I asked him, “And what would you do with them?”
He said, “Sell them & make more money.”
“And then? What are you going to do with that money?”
“Buy more land.”
“To raise more cows.”
This is the way it goes, you never come out of it.
Similar sentiment runs through this humorous & Brilliant short story by the Russian author Maxim Gorky
by Maxim Gorkiy
The kings of steel, of petroleum, and all the other kings of the United States have always in a high degree excited my power of imagination. It seemed to me certain that these people who possess so much money could not be like other mortals.
Each of them (so I said to myself) must call his own, at least, three stomachs and a hundred and fifty teeth. I did not doubt that the millionaire ate without intermission, from six o’clock in the morning till midnight. It goes without saying, the most exquisite and sumptuous viands! Toward evening, then, he must be tired of the hard chewing, to such a degree that (so I pictured to myself) he gave orders to his servants to digest the meals that he had swallowed with satisfaction during the day. Completely limp, covered with sweat and almost suffocated, he had to be put to bed by his servants, in order that on the next morning at six o’clock he might be able to begin again his work of eating.
Nevertheless, it must be impossible for such a man — whatever pains he might take — to consume merely the half of the interest of his wealth.
To be sure, such a life is awful, but what is one to do? For what is one a millionaire — what am I saying? — a billionaire, if one cannot eat more than every other common mortal! I pictured to myself that this privileged being wore cloth-of-gold underclothing, shoes with gold nails, and instead of a hat a diadem of diamonds on his head. His clothes, made of the most expensive velvet, must be at least fifty feet long and fastened with three hundred gold buttons; and on holidays he must be compelled by dire necessity to put on over each other six pairs of costly trousers. Such a costume is certainly very uncomfortable. But, if one is rich like that, one can’t after all dress like all the world.
The pocket of a billionaire, I pictured to myself so big that therein easily a church or the whole senate could find room. The paunch of such a gentleman I conceived to myself like the hull of an ocean steamer, the length and breadth of which I was not able to think out. Of the bulk, too, of a billionaire I could never give myself a clear idea; but I supposed that the coverlet under which he sleeps measures a dozen hundred square yards. If he chews tobacco, it was unquestionably only the best kind, of which he always sticks two pounds at a time into his mouth. And on taking snuff (I thought to myself) he must use up a pound at a pinch. Indeed, money will be spent!
His fingers must possess the magic power of lengthening at will. In spirit, I saw a New York billionaire as he stretched out his hand across Bering Strait and brought back a dollar that had rolled somewhere toward Siberia, without especially exerting himself thereby.
Curiously, I could form to myself no clear conception of the headof this monster. In this organism consisting of gigantic muscles and bones that is made for squeezing money out of all things, a head seemed to me really quite superfluous.
Who, now, can conceive my astonishment when, standing facing one of these fabulous beings, I arrived at the conviction that a billionaire is a human being like all the rest!
I saw there comfortably reclining in an armchair a long, wizened old man, who held his brown, sinewy hands folded across a body of quite ordinary dimensions. The flabby skin of his face was carefully shaved. The underlip, which hung loosely down, covered solidly built jaws, in which gilded teeth were stuck. The upper lip, smooth, narrow and pallid, scarcely moved when the old man spoke. Colorless eyes without brows, a perfectly bald skull. It might be thought that a little skin was wanting to this reddish face, to this countenance that was expressionless and puckered like that of one new-born. Was this being just beginning its life, or was it already nearing its end?
Nothing in his dress distinguished him from the ordinary mortal. A ring, a watch, and his teeth were all the gold he carried with him. Scarcely half a pound, all told! Taken altogether, the appearance of the man recalled that of an old servant of an aristocratic family in Europe.
The furnishing of the room in which he received me had nothing unusually luxurious about it. The furniture was solid; that is all that can be said. Oftentimes elephants probably come into this house, I involuntarily thought at the sight of the heavy, substantial pieces of furniture.
‘Are you the billionaire?’ I asked, since I could not trust my eyes.
‘Yes, indeed,’ he answered, nodding convincingly with his head.
‘How much meat can you consume for breakfast?’
‘I eat no meat in the morning,’ he avowed. ‘A quarter of an orange, an egg, a small cup of tea, that’s all . . .’
His innocent child’s-eyes blinked with a feeble luster, like two drops of muddy water.
‘Good,’ I began again, half disconcerted. ‘But be honest with me; tell me the truth. How often in the day do you eat?’
‘Twice,’ he answered, peacefully. ‘Breakfast and dinner suffice me. At noon I take soup, a little white meat, vegetables, fruit, a cup of coffee, a cigar . . .’
My surprise grew apace. I drew breath, and went on:
‘But, if that’s true, what do you do with your money?’
‘Make more money!’
‘To make more money out of that!’
‘What for?’ I repeated.
He leaned toward me, his hands supported by the arms of his chair, and with some curiosity in his expression he said:
‘You are probably cracked?’
‘And you?’ I said . . .
The old man inclined his head, and, whistling softly through the gold of his teeth, he said:
‘Droll wag! . . . You are the first human being of your species that I ever became acquainted with.’
Then he bent his head back and looked at me some time, silently and scrutinizingly.
‘What do you do?’ I began again.
‘Make money,’ he answered, shortly.
‘Oh, you’re a counterfeiter!’ I exclaimed, joyfully, for I thought I had finally got to the bottom of the mystery. But the billionaire flew into a passion. His whole body shook, his eyes rolled actively.
‘That is unheard of!’ he said, when he had calmed down. Then he inflated his cheeks, I don’t know why.
I considered, and put further the following question to him:
‘How do you make money?’
‘Oh, that’s very simple. I possess railroads; the farmers produce useful commodities, which I transport to the markets. I calculate exactly to myself how much money I must leave the farmer, in order that he may not starve and be able to produce further. The rest I keep myself as transportation charges. That’s surely very simple!’
‘And are the farmers satisfied with it?’
‘Not all, I believe,’ he answered, with a naïve childishness. ‘But they say that the people are never satisfied. There are always odd characters who want still more . . .’
Some people get fixated on acquiring more and more money without even pausing to think what do they want it for? Is it worth slogging for money after we have enough to get all our necessities? Where will all that huffing n puffing for more and more money lead us? Isn’t contentment a smarter choice?
~It is not the man who has little, but he who desires more, that is poor. ~ Seneca
~Greed will always leave you dissatisfied because you’ll never be able to get everything you desire. Greed never allows you to think you have enough; it always destroys you by making you strive ever harder for more. ~ Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Taking Stock: A Spiritual Guide to Rising Above Life’s Ups and Downs
~Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.~Socrates
~Money is just a tool, don’t let it make you a fool.
Me & The Hubs just love the music by Faran Ensemble. We don’t seem to get enough of it. In fact the Hubs loves listening to it as he drifts off to sleep. Their music is not ordinary. It touches your soul. It stirs something within you. It is soothing & Meditative. N their videos are just as beautiful. There is something very very calm n simple about the videos that adds to the serenity that is created by their music. Their videos are shot in beautiful desert n show simple things like coffee being made from fresh coffee beans n enjoyed by friends while playing music and beautiful Dessert landscape in the background. No flashy lights that hurt the eyes here or 100s of ladies dancing in the background. The faces of Musicians are very calm n dignified. Their faces n their music reflects the beauty of their soul.
Here are three of my most favorite videos from Faran Ensemble
Faran is a musician trio, who joined each other in a spiritual quest, expressed in music and sounds.Faran Ensemble is a three player group, who joined each other in a spiritual quest, expressed in music and sounds. It has been years now thatthese players have deeply engaged themselves in studying the musical instruments and the theory of music with the best teachers in the country and abroad.
|Genre||Original Ethnic – World Music|
|Members||Roi Smila ~ KAMANTCHE
Gad Tidhar ~ OUD
Refael Ben-Zichri ~ PERCUSSION
|General Manager||Ziv Hand|
|Influences||Arabic & Turkish Makam, Azeri Mugam, Persian Dastgah,world music, Phsycodelic rock, classical western music, jazz|
The Hermit by Eugene Ionesco
I love everything about this book, starting with the title ‘The Hermit’…the word Hermit is so beautiful n peaceful. To me it signifies one who has found value in one’s own company.
(Great minds are like eagles, and build their nest in some lofty solitude.~Arthur Schopenauer;
Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. ~Tillich, Paul)
I was immediately attracted to the Title of the book a couple of years back (& I reread it just now). At that time I did not in any way know about the Genius of Eugene Ionesco or that I would start loving his absurd plays.
Then there is the most wonderful opening sentence of the novel:
At thirty-five, it’s high time to quit the rat race. Assuming there is a rat race. I was sick & tired of my job. It was already late: I was fast approaching forty. If I hand’t come into unexpected inheritance I would have died of depression & boredom.
(Now it is a coincidence that I too gave up the rat race if there was any rat race for me to begin with at 35, not that I was bored of my job…I was thoroughly enjoying my stint as a teacher but there came a time when I said to myself enough was enough…already time to quit n explore new things..the new things being doing nothing but devoting a large part of my time to thinking n philosophizing, devoting time to explore n adopt a simpler way of living, a frugal way, a Zen way, a quiet way, far from the madding crowd, far from the white noise of the society n confirmity )…so our unusual protagonist retires at 40 & devotes his time to ponder over the existential issues & the real meaning of our lives, not the superficial or mundane but the actual why n how of the human existence. He devotes his time to ponder over the nature of time, memories, death, infinity of the Universe, n such. Most people would regard him as eccentric n that is the general opinion of people towards him in the novel…sample these conversations & interactions of the narrator with various people:
~ I have a suspicion that the way I lived, the way I acted, rarely if ever going out, must have struck to her as odd. She made a number of allusions to my inactivity. According to her, I had no right to be retired in the first place. Not at my age anyway.
~Yes, that was it: they are all hostile towards me. What did they have against me? The fact that I didn’t live the way they did; that I refused to resign myself to my fate.
~She asked me questions that were vaguely indiscreet: “So it’s you again! Where are you going at this time? You always seem to be going out. And yet it’s safe to say you’re not going to work. You are lucky. Not like the rest of us.”
& the Best of all
~ I was about to drift off when Jeanne (His maid) came into the living room. As she rubbed the furniture to make it shine, she upbraided me, telling me that the life I led was unhealthy. Wasn’t I going to buckle down & find some work for myself ? All right, so I had an inheritance. That’s no reason to sit around and do nothing all day. At least get married. Did I intend to go on living all alone like some impotent? I ought to start a family. I should have children. Man is made to have children, and there is nothing cuter than little ones underfoot. And then when they grow up and you grow old, they don’t abandon you to poverty; no, they reach out a helping hand when you need it the most. If there’s anything worse than living alone, it’s dying alone, with no one around to offer you a little milk of human kindness. I didn’t know what was in store for me. As for herself, she had a husband she didn’t get along too well, but now he was sick. They had had a child, a boy they had brought up with tender loving care, he had a heart of gold, only he had gone away and left them; he had a heart of gold, it was only because of that wife of his. They hadn’t heard from them in a long time. Apparently they had a baby. She had also had a daughter whom they had raised with similar loving care. A lovely girl. That is, she had been. But she too had a baby, only the baby had died. After that she deserted her husband. She came back home for a while, then left again, she had begun living fast n loose, from all that they had heard. Some cousins were in contact with her and kept them informed. Apparently she was on drugs. Children are ungrateful! You bleed yourself white for them, they aren’t all that easy to bring up in the first place and then when they grow up they go away and leave you, forget you: the best thing is not to have any. You’d better not count on them to show you any gratitude in the time of need.
I told her I was sure she was right. That didn’t stop her, she was still talking, with the dustrag in the right hand while she gesticulated with her left. She made me promise to marry and have children.
This conversation with Jeanne is perfectly classic Non-Sequiter dialogue in which Eugene Ionesco excels. The maid has not too good experience with her own children & yet she wants our guy to marry n have children. Somehow everyone is uncomfortable with anyone who leaves the race of conformity n who wants to live life on his/her own terms, then everyone will jump over each other n try to convince her/him to make the conventional choices no matter how badly they themselves are faring in life with their conventional/conformist choices. I too find myself on receiving end. People try to convince me that I must be bored to be staying at home all day n doing nothing since I don’t have any children either. No matter how happy I am & I look they are not convinced. How can I be happy until I am behaving like everybody else? Unless I have a fancy Job Title n a fat pay packet?
And one more thing is that people never value anything we do for it’s own sake. Not for making money but for the joy of doing the thing, like Vincent Van Goh painting his master pieces none of which sold during his life time. He said he painted for the sheer joy of painting regardless of them not selling. People can’t accept the fact that a guy wanna leave his job n focus on his inner life.
But I admire him for his ability to quit, afterall all of us know many people who crib about Monday mornings n enjoy life only on weekends n yet they can’t give up their lousy jobs ‘cos they gotta buy stuff to impress the people whom they don’t like’…that urge seems to be powerful for the masses of people.I guess it’s very easy to quit the drudgery of work if one wants to follow a simple n frugal life. Our guy (he remains unnamed in the novel) doesn’t squander money on big n fancy things like flashy car or luxury villa or such but just buys himself a modest flat where he can be with himself
I found his character intriguing in it’s aloofness. He tends not to think too much about other people. He is very much attached to his girlfriend upto the extent a person of his nature can be attached to anyone. Yet when she leaves him he has great difficulty in recalling her name…he’s always like ‘I miss Yovne or was her name Marie?!! In this sense he reminded me of another of my favorite character Meursault from ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus (“Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can’t be sure.”)
I like this novel for what goes inside the mind of the narrator. This book is not for anyone who likes suspense/thriller. I never like that kind of books where you are on tenterhooks as to what will happen next. I could not care less for a whodunit. My kind of book is that in which nothing happens…just life goes on at it’s own pace n that’s it. So no wonder I found this book extremely satisfying.
- These are a few of my favorite things: #26 (The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco) (ritusthoughtcatcher.wordpress.com)
- Postcard from Wonderland (storyofalice.wordpress.com)
- Explain Yourself (farthertogo.com)
- How to Live like a Writer (literatureandlibation.com)
- Review: ‘The Chairs’ at Cutting Ball Theater (theatrestorm.com)
- Rhinoceros (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Belief and Wonder – Or Why I Love the Fantastic (follownopath.com)
I’ve known a few guys who thought they were pretty smart
But you’ve got being right down to an art
You think you’re a genius-you drive me up the wall
You’re a regular original, a know-it-all
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else
Okay, so you’re a rocket scientist
That don’t impress me much
So you got the brain but have you got the touch
Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
But that won’t keep me warm in the middle of the night
That don’t impress me much
I never knew a guy who carried a mirror in his pocket
And a comb up his sleeve-just in case
And all that extra hold gel in your hair oughta lock it
Cause Heaven forbid it should fall outta place
Oh-oo-oh, so you think you’re something special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else
Okay, so you’re Brad Pitt
That don’t impress me much
So you got the looks but have you got the touch
Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
But that won’t keep me warm in the middle of the night
That don’t impress me much
You’re one of those guys who likes to shine his machine
You make me take off my shoes before you let me get in
I can’t believe you kiss your car good night
C’mon baby tell me-you must be jokin’, right!
Oh-oo-oh, so you think you’re something special
Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else
Okay, so you’ve got a car
That don’t impress me much
So you got the moves but have you got the touch
Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
But that won’t keep me warm in the middle of the night
That don’t impress me much
You think you’re cool but have you got the touch
Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
But that won’t keep me warm on the long, cold, lonely night
That don’t impress me much
Okay, so what do you think you’re Elvis or something
That don’t impress me
Though Shania sings the song in context of guys, I get this general feeling whenever I meet anyone (of either gender) who tries to impress (the rest of) us with their materialistic possessions or their useless knowledge, they just end up boring us n making a fool of themselves. So you got everything but do you have the things that matter, for example let’s say imagination, wisdom, inner peace, joy?? Now those are the things that would actually impress me, but sure they are very rare in the jokers who show off their banal stuff…this showing off has reached new lows with social media…some people will just update you on all the places they go to eat, or the pics of stuff they bought!! …oh hello, ohhh really?? Now what are we supposed to do?? get impressed??? sorry folks…we just end up laughing at you..get over your petty materialism n show us something real.
- Shania Twain Motivates Me… (bkenn723.wordpress.com)
- Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: The New Normal (cookiesandsangria.wordpress.com)