Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Mind is Music
by Jocelyn Ortt-Saeed

My mind is music since I saw
you-
since the fragrance of your
hair
wound around me such a gar-
land
of delight my only care

is to look and look so lightly
your eyes won't tinge with
fear
of this unknown between
that may yet disappear

if the joy that grows in giving
be too far or too near

[From Poetic Justice in today's Dawn newspaper.]
There are loves which are barely distinguishable from friendship and there are friendships which are barely distinguishable from love.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Your Laughter
by Awais Aftab

[Translation of Parveen Shakir’s poem ‘Tumhari Hansi’]
This laughter of yours
Illuminated, luminuous
Moulded in moonlight
Freshened by colours
Fragrant with love
Was whenever heard by my heart
It broke into a dance
As if a rainbow had arched in my soul!

The laughter had no different colours today
The radiance of light was the same today
The scent was maddening as well today
But there was something which it lacked
And, with a question, my countenance was tagged

[Published in Us mag today:
http://jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2007-weekly/us-28-09-2007/p8.htm]
My cover-story on 'Modern Art Movements' published in Us magazine today!

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2007-weekly/us-28-09-2007/p24.htm

But i wouldn't recommend reading it online... on the web-page they have shuffled the arrangement of paintings, and they haven't mentioned the names and artists of the paintings as well. So, get your hands on the printed copy of the magazine, if you can.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The passion in love may burn out one day but the friendship in love remains forever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What are we suppose to do
After all that we've been through
When everything that felt so right is wrong
Now that the love... is.. gone...

There is nothing left to prove
Now you still deny the simple truth
Can't find the reason to keep holding on
Now that love is gone

David Guetta, Love is Gone

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

WHAT I BELIEVE

It was only after writing the post on Question of Morality, that i realized that i was in fact dealing with the two questions, which had been treated as one by many previous thinkers. i.e. the question "What is Good?" and the question "How do we ought to act?", which i believe to be independent of each other. It was previously assumed(/defined) that a good act is intrinsically equivalent to an act which we ought to do. However, when the matter is seen from an evolutionary point of view, this dichotomy between the two becomes apparent. A good act is no longer an act which we ought to do... a good act becomes an act which satisfies our moral sense, which is a product of our (biological plus social) evolution. Crudely speaking, good has been reduced to a mere feeling. And in a sense, it has pushed the issue of "what is Good?" out of the domain of ethics. If we assume that we ought to follow our moral sense [i.e. we ought to do what is 'good'], this would be an assumption which cannot be proved rationally... it lacks philosophical necessity. So, even though i may have answered "What is Good?", and the major problem of ethics remains unanswered, "How do we ought to act?"

Even if we do assume that every one ought to follow his moral sense, i still do not believe that it provides a comprehensive or satisfactory model for ethics. There are many instances where we do have to go against our moral sense, over-riding it with our intellect. Take a simple example... nearly every person feels an impulse to give some money to a begger who is sitting on a street corner in a very pitiful condition. This is the normal response of the moral sense; it is designed to generate altruistic impulses. However, do we really ought to give money to that beggar? Maybe he is just a pretending to be in a pitiful state? Maybe he has been hired by some mafia group who would snatch all the money people donate to him, the money which would never reach him? Do these questions do not matter in how we should respond to the begger's cry for help? Yet, our moral sense is blind to these questions. It is not designed to "think". However, it would be wrong to say that the moral sense is futile... at minumum, it has provided us with a bare guidline that we should at least try to help the beggar. Our intellect intervenes and tells us that giving money to begger is not likely to improve his condition, and so we must think on a larger level... the level of society. Something must be done on the social level to eradicate beggary... but this must involve something of a sort of government. And now we have entered into the "legal" domain.

As can be seen, the ethical issue has been made much more complex... and i confess, i do not have any proper satisfactory answer to the ethical question. We do not have any utopian model of ideal behaviour... some fundamental principle which we can follow in all instances, without exception. I tend to feel that the utilitarian principle of "maximum happiness for the maximum number" does provide us with an ethical axiom which we can follow in most instances. Because the welfare on an individual is what matters most... in most cases. There are exceptions. The Kantian ethical imperative, which is just a technical version of the Golden Rule ['Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you’] seems to be me to a part of our moral sense, already encoded in our brain. [So, in a sense Kant was right, the imperative is apriori!]

At present, i can only say that i believe in a society that is governed by laws which loosely follow the Utilitarian principle and moral Zeitgeist, and which provides maximum personal liberty to people. I know this is not a satisfactory answer, and it is not immune from objections, but in the absence of any ideal ethical model, this does seem to me to be one of the better options.

[P.S. On a social level, perhaps the negative utilitarianism of Popper is better than simple utilitarianism. Popper writes, "Philosophers should consider the fact that the greatest happiness principle can easily be made an excuse for a benevolent dictatorship. We should replace it by a more modest and more realistic principle — the principle that the fight against avoidable misery should be a recognized aim of public policy, while the increase of happiness should be left, in the main, to private initiative."]

Monday, September 24, 2007

K: Strange how God creates angels for everyone.
A: And strange how God hides these angels in the guise of men.
[Inspired by the life of D. H. Lawrence]

Bask!
In the light of mediocrity
Dance!
In the rain
Which doesn’t green the earth
Smile!
At the praise of your hollow words
By hollow people
If this is what you offer
I’d rather be an outcast
And live in my rebellion!

M. Awais Aftab
24.9.07

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Lets dwell in the dawn
Lets dwell in the dusk
Its when night and day get close
Without hurting each other

M. Awais Aftab
9.9.07
Some people are born stupid, some have stupidity thrust upon them, but most of them simply earn it!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It has been my observation that since every person has some defect in personality or some flaw in character, all it takes is a sharp mind and a linguistic command to come up with an appropriate set of abuses which would exploit that weakness. So, next time, when you are about to bad mouth someone, whether in his/her presence or absence, keep in mind that a lot more nastier things can be said about you as well... and maybe, have already been.

I have also discovered that the above mentioned thought serves two purposes:

1) Inhibits any nastier thoughts you might have about other people.
2) Acts as a small means of consolation for those who have been a victim of this bad-mouthing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

To thank someone for a praise is often one's way of reliving that praise.
Grandmother Willow:
"All around you are spirits, child.
They live in the earth, the water, the sky.
If you listen, they will guide you."

Pocahontas:
"I hear the wind. - Yes."

Grandmother Willow:
"What is it telling you?"

Pocahontas:
"I don't understand."

Grandmother Willow:
"You will understand
Listen with your heart
You will understand
Let it break upon you
Like a wave upon the sand."

------
Sounds so Paulo Coelhish, doesn't it. :)

A year ago, or even some months back, i'd probably have dismissed it as a illogical, meaningless rubbish... but now i am not so sure. I mean, logically and scientifically speaking, it is rubbish, but the value of an idea is much more than its scientific legitimacy. Maybe it has a mere poetic value, but there are moments when one feels that one is surrounded in nature by a meaning too fluid to be grasped by science alone. Call it spirits, call it fairies, call it gods, whatever, it doesn't matter... it is the feeling that matters. And this feeling of mystic-cum-mythical awe refuses to be translated into scientific terms.
You think you own whatever land you land on
Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You learn things you never knew
You never knew

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Or let the eagle tell you where he's been
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Vanessa Williams, Colors Of The Wind [From Pocahontas]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I hope the ring you gave to her turns her finger green
I hope when you are in bed with her, you think of me
I would never wish bad things, but I don't wish you well
Could you tell, by the flames that burned your words

Kelly Clarkson, Never Again

Woah... what a curse!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So, Raaji, here you go, i am doing your tag. :)

Here are the rules:
* You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
* When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
* At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.
* Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.

Awais, on different occasions, serves both as my first and middle name, so i'll go with Awais.

A- Alienation. The first emotion i distinctly felt when i was in adolescence... the feeling that i don't belong to the world in which i live, that i am out of place, that i am some sort of aberration, an anomaly. And this alienation was accompanied by an intense psychological loneliness... there was no one i felt who could understand me, or with whom i could talk freely. It was undoubtledly the worst phase of my life. And i have learnt that the best cure for this alienation is love; to love and be loved in return is the most effective anectode for this existential loneliness.

W- Wittgenstein. A philosopher whose thoughts have had a great impact on me, emancipating me from many of the metaphysical puzzles which previously seemed insolvable. The most important of these is the idea that language works as a language-game, and that meaning of a word is not conditioned upon a "definition". In other words, Wittgenstein has showed me the therapeutic aspect of philosophy. And then, his life as a life of brilliant genius serves as source of inspiration and his relationship with Russell often serves as a metaphor in my reasoning concerning genius, achievement, fame and recognition. [As expressed in one of my maxims.]

A- Ambition, Achilles. After alienation, ambition is second most distinct emotion i felt in my adolescent, and which to a great extent, i still do. The nothingess of my childhood has planted these seeds in me... to do something, to be something, 'to matter' in the world in which i live... a miniature Achilles, perhaps. But i am simultaneously conscious of the futility and absurdity of this desire, which often lands me in a state of despair.

I- Intoxicated... with love and philosophy. :) Both of them 'forbidden wines', to borrow the expression from Omar Khayyam.

S- Smile. 'Why do you put a ":)" so frequently at the ends of your sentences in chats?' I am sometimes asked. The reason is simple. I smile a lot. Maybe not always in the physical sense, but i smile quite a lot mentally and in my thoughts. And often i smile sadly at the sad thoughts as well. So, a smile is an expression of great and multiple signifiance for me.

People I Tag:

A- Angie
W-Can't think of anyone
A- Abdullah
I- Ibn Azam
S- Saad, Sulail

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vampire energy is a type of energy used by things that consume electricity twenty-four hours a day, even when they are turned off or not being used. TVs, VCRs, DVD players, computers etc. are the everyday secret users of vampire energy. You think you have turned them off, but they are still running.


Saad: I read this thing in Time, health article on BMR, humans have this vampire energy thing too. Increases in anxiety etc. Wierd analogy. I think yehi tumharai Fatigue ki wajah hay: high vampire energy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What comes to mind for many people when they think of philosophy and of philosophical questions is... "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
[The] question is not particularly philosophical and, in the light of evolution is not even especially difficult: the egg came first.

Brooke Noel Moore & Kenneth Bruder, Philosophy- The Power of Ideas

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"... everyone has his own journey to make, and in the arms of a woman you end up following a twisted road, which even you don't understand that well..."

Alessandro Barrico, Ocean Sea

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How does it feel to be a minor idol in the pantheon of gods?

Monday, September 10, 2007

'We are meaning-seeking creatures. Dogs, as far as we know, do not agonise about the canine condition, worry about the plight of dogs in other parts of the world, or try to see their lives from a different perspective. But human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting, that revealed an underlying pattern, and gave us a sense that, against all the depressing and chaotic evidence to the contrary, life had meaning and value.'

'A Brief History of Myth' by Karen Armstrong has turned out to be a very thought-provoking book for me. I had become interested in the role of mythology in human life two years back when i read an interview of Joseph Campbell, but reading this book gave me the opportunity to visualize the issue more clearly. Despite the writing being ambiguous and muddled at several places, Karen Armstrong doesn't fail to convey a fair impression.

In the book, Armstrong sets out to overcome two challenges: to explain why myths are still relevant today; and to sketch a brief history of their development from prehistoric times to the present day. It was this first aspect which was of greater interest to me, and about which i shall have something to say.

The interesting thing is the way Armstrong perceives a myth. She does not agree with the general opinion of myth as being "purely fictitious narrative usually involving supernatural persons, actions or events ... " but she sees myth as something deeper, something more significant. A myth, says Karen Armstrong "is an event that - in some sense - happened once, but which also happens all the time." A myth is not meant to be a historically or factually accurate account of reality... it is never meant to be taken literally... in fact, it cannot be described in terms of 'true and false'... it is beyond that. Mythology is designed to give meaning and significance to human life... to help us come to terms with the harsh realities, with death and disease. It is a sort of therapy.

She writes:

"A myth, therefore, is true becaus it is effective, not because it gives us factual information. If, however, it does not give us new insight into the deeper meaning of life, it has failed. It it works, that is, if it forces us to change our minds and hearts, gives us new hope, and compels us to live more fully, it is a valid myth."

and

"A myth does not impart factual information, but is primarily a guide to behaviour. Its truth will only be revealed if it is put into practice-- ritually or ethnically. If it is perused as though it were a purely intellectual hypothesis, it becomes remote and incredible."

It is important to note that Armstrong also sees religion in the mythological light. Although she does maintain some sort of a distinction between the two, yet she blurrs it considerably.

The decline of myths began with the Enlightenment and the preference of logos, human reason, over mythos, the mythological narrative. Humans became so much used to rational thinking, that they began to see myths in literal terms... and this was a death blow to mythology, because myths were never intended as literal truths.

"The old myths were beginning to be interpreted as though they were logoi, an entirely new development which was doomed to disappoint, because these stories were not and never had been factual."

But this lack of myths has created a vacuum in our lives... we have lost the therapeutic effect which these myths once exerted on humans. We still long for a significance and meaning in life, to experience something deeper. Armstrong ends with an optimistic note, saying that arts and literature have the potential to play the role in our lives which mythology once did.

"A novel, like a myth, teaches us to see the world differently; it shows us how to look into our own hearts and to see our world from a perspective that goes beyond our self-interest."

In the world of today, a victim of over-emphasis of logos, Karen Armstrong offers us the opportunity to bring the component of mythos in our lives, and to save ourself from the despair and alienation of a life based completely and absolutely on reason.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I completed reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid yesterday, and it is certainly a remarkable novel. I personally feel that it lacks the allegorical charm which his previous novel Moth Smoke possessed, but like Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist has a very fluid, ambiguous and surprising end... in the both novels, Mohsin Hamid throws the burden of coming up with a conclusion on the reader, but this aspect is much more marked in The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

I came up this interview of Mohsin Hamid, and his answers to two of the questions, which i shall quote here, shed light on the way the novel ends:

Q: The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue about a young Pakistani’s experiences in America at the time of the 9/11 attacks. What made you choose this format, which has the Pakistani telling his tale to an American whose voice is never actually heard?

A: The form of the novel, with the narrator and his audience both acting as characters, allowed me to mirror the mutual suspicion with which America and Pakistan (or the Muslim world) look at one another. The Pakistani narrator wonders: Is this just a normal guy or is he a killer out to get me? The American man who is his audience wonders the same. And this allows the novel to inhabit the interior emotional world much like the exterior political world in which it will be read. The form of the novel is an invitation to the reader. If the reader accepts, then he or she will be called upon to judge the novel’s outcome and shape its ending.

Q: The stunning ending of The Reluctant Fundamentalist leaves room for speculation and debate. Were you deliberately working toward a surprise ending when you first started the novel?

A: I certainly was working toward an ambiguous ending, one that would reflect the reader’s own view of the world back at him or her. Depending on how the reader views the world in which the novel takes place, the reader can see the novel as a thriller or as an encounter between two rather odd gentlemen. Because the journey I am asking readers to undertake is emotional and troubling, I knew I wanted a strong narrative pull, a mystery that would add urgency to their reading. The ending, I hope, is the culmination of those efforts.

[Source of the interview: http://www.harcourtbooks.com/Reluctant_Fundamentalist/interview.asp ]
Every person, every society, every language has its points of irrationality.
'... perhaps the world is a wound and someone is stitching it up in the fusion of those two bodies...'

Alessandro Barrico, Ocean Sea

Saturday, September 8, 2007

'You're a watchful guy. You know where that comes from?' I shook my head. 'It comes from feeling out of place,' he said. 'Believe me. I know.'

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Yes, he is very right. I can vouch for that as well.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The angel and two defeated men

To person 1: God gave you exceptional talent as an art critic, but you strove instead to be an artist, and not surprisingly you failed.

To person 2: And you... you possessed an unparalleled artistic genius, but you chose instead the path of an art critic, and look what happened.

To both: If you two had just accepted who were, instead of trying to be something you are not, you would have been successful.

Both to angel: But this is unfair... why was this fate imposed on us? Why couldn't we be what we wanted to be!!

Angel: I don't know... ask God yourself.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Here are some old pictures of my birthday celebration at KE with my friends.
These pictures were taken by Sharjeel from his mobile camera:



My friends had lifted me and thrown me up in air, catching me again... and it was a great experience. :-D
In social gatherings, women often provide the necessary lubrication for the conversation to continue, which would otherwise get jammed, again and again.
"Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them."
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

This is one of the earliest quotes that i had read by Oscar Wilde when i was a child, and as i have grown, i have found myself recalling this quote at several occasions, and always thinking how true it has been for me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ah, this headache... this gnawing, biting headache... it won't leave me alone... this dull, diffused headache... i can't escape it... i am helpless!!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

"She eavesdropped on her daughters' dreams, just to know what they were upto."
Salman Rushdie, The Midnight's Children


Oh, i really hate such mothers... let your children have some liberty, for God sake! And especially, daughters tend to be the victims of this 'maternal virtue'...
 

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