Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Often when i am talking about human psychology, about how people can behave in so-and-so ways, i suddenly realize that most of my ideas about human behaviour spring from fiction... my understanding of psychology is not so much about real-life characters than it is about fictional characters. And then the vital question comes up in my mind: how much of it is valid? To what degree do fictional characters portray the psychology of real people? And if most of my insights are about these fictional characters, then can they be applied in real life? And these thoughts leave me helpless and troubled, as i feel the whole world around me, my past, my present, my future, is an artificially self-created reality, which is crumbling down to nothingness, to mere fiction...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Liz: But what if were like incredibly, incredibly complicated?
GrandMa Claudia: Well, one thing I can tell you....if it isn't complicated, he probably isn't a soul mate.

Roswell, Episode # 104
X: If i told you that i am an alien and not from this world, what would your response be?
Y: I'd say that i had been suspecting it for some time now!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

'We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgment of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy.'

Carl Jung

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The image shows the cosmic microwave background fluctuations. The cosmic microwave background radiation is a remnant of the Big Bang and the fluctuations are the imprint of density contrast in the early universe.

I sort of imagine a similar map of the people around me, the society in which i happen to live. Since the velocity of a wave depends on the density of the medium, the different density areas show the different velocities with which a gossip moves from one mouth to the next. The red regions, the 'hot' ones, are the group of people where the speed of gossip is the highest, and everyone knows everything the minute it is practically uttered. It is the 'no privacy', 'snoopy noses', 'get humiliated' and 'have a laugh' zone. The blue regions are the groups of people where the speed of gossip travel is minumum, and the word of mouth takes quite some time to reach there. Their "current affairs" is what the red regions consider "ancient history".
'X is dating Y, you know' says a person from Blue, while the person from Red already knows that X had dumped Y last year and is now on Z to complete his/her alphabetic series of flirts, and is planning to make a move on A to start the alphabets again.

But hey, you would think, whats the point of all this? There is no point actually... just amusement, i suppose. Next time you find yourself surrounded by society, notice what the people are talking about, and plot a density graph of 'Red' and 'Blue' for yourself, and relish the amusement. :)
Yoda: 'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.'

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

I watched this movie a long time ago, and this quote has always been with me since then, reminding me of the transition of emotions and feelings, and how one leads to another. How aggression springs from insecurity, or how a superiority complex actually masks an inferiority complex, how people can try to push away the people they feel attracted to, how a resentment against someone for a thing gone wrong is one's attempt to contain the pain of being responsible. There are so many chains of emotions, running and intersecting in so many ways, and it's not always possible to sort them out. And that's why i remain uncertain about people, because while others take the actions of people at face value, i am always aware that so many different emotions can be brewing behind the thing-as-it-appears-to-us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The lonesome Texas sun was setting low
And in the rearview mirror I watched it go
I can still see the wind in her golden hair
I close my eyes for a moment, I'm still here

The bluest eyes in Texas
Are haunting me tonight
Like the stars that fill
The midnight sky
Her memory fills my mind
For every heart you break
You pay the price
But I can't forget the tears
In her blue eyes
(Where did I go wrong)
Did I wait too long
Or can I make it right
The bluest eyes in Texas (the bluest eyes)
Are haunting me tonight

Nina Person, Nathan Larson (OST Boys Don't Cry)

Monday, July 21, 2008

M. Awais Aftab

Your bitter words poke
Tiny holes in my heart
And immense though the love maybe
It would ultimately effuse away

Saturday, July 19, 2008

See this brilliant short film 'Faubourg Saint-Denis' (originally came out as 'True') by the director Tom Tykwer. It is included in the short film project Paris, je t'aime.

Read this after watching the film (Spoiler):

In case you didn't understand what happened, the film shows the young, blind man who mistakenly believes that his girlfriend, an actress, is breaking up with him on the telephone while she is just rehearsing a dialogue. And in a split second, he reflects on all the time he has the spent with her, and the growth and the seeming decline of their relationship, and in the end when he says "I see you" what he means to say is that he has realized that he has been ignoring her and has not been giving the proper attention that she deserves, and now suddenly at the prospect of her breaking-up, he can 'see' how valuable she is to him.

Friday, July 18, 2008

'Every isolated passion is, in isolation, insane; sanity may be defined as a synthesis of insanities. Every dominant passion generates a dominant fear, the fear of its non-fulfilment. Every dominant fear generates a nightmare, sometimes in the form of explicit and concious fanaticism, sometimes in a paralysing timidity, sometimes in an unconscious or subconscious terror which finds expression only in dreams. The man who wishes to preserve sanity in a dangerous world should summon in his own mind a parlament of fears, in which each in turn is voted absurd by all the others.'

Bertrand Russell, Nightmares of Eminent Persons

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Whisper
M. Awais Aftab

Falling in the quicksand
Of your arms
There is no escape,
'Don't ever leave me'
You whisper in my ears
As if i have a choice
In the matter

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I recently watched the movie 'Love in the time of cholera' based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was a good movie, a nicely made adaption, but the key to appreciating the story is understanding the moment of disillusionment; the moment when Fermina becomes convinced that her love for Florentino is an illusion. This scene is the key to the whole story, and it is precisely this scene to which the movie miserably failed to do justice.

Here is a YouTube video which shows several scenes from the movie. The second scene is about the disillusionment. Watch the clip, and compare it with the excerpt from the book.

Behind her, so close to her ear that only she could hear it in the tumult, she heard his voice:

“This is not the place for a crowned goddess.” She turned her head and saw, a hand’s breadth from her eyes, those other glacial eyes, that livid face, those lips petrified with fear, just as she had seen them in the crowd at Midnight Mass the first time he was so close to her, but now, instead of the commotion of love, she felt the abyss of disenchantment. In an instant the magnitude of her own mistake was revealed to her, and she asked herself, appalled, how she could have nurtured such a chimera in her heart for so long and with so much ferocity. She just managed to think: My God, poor man! Florentino Ariza smiled, tried to say something, tried to follow her, but she erased him from her life with a wave of her hand.

“No, please,” she said to him. “Forget it.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Perfect Recipe
by M. Awais Aftab

You were a frozen soul
Waiting to be thawed
And i was a fiery heart
Had burnt many who touched me
So God brought us together
In his perfect recipe
Of steamy love
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children has emerged as the winner of the Best of the Booker Prize for the 2nd time on Booker's 40th anniversary. Midnight's Children originally got the Booker in 1981, and was then selected as the Best of the Booker in 1993. This time, 6 books were short-listed for the prize:

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda
JM Coetzee's Disgrace
JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur
Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

The winner was selected by a public poll, with Midnight's Children coming out as the winner, having received 36% of the votes.

For details, see:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Poet

The day
You flip through all the
Thesaureses and dictionaries
And still can't find the word
You need
That is when you'd become
A poet


What is poetry
But prose gone astray
Like a wild, beating heart
In love
Fibrillating, arrhythmic

by M. Awais Aftab

Monday, July 7, 2008

X: Love is a complicated thing.
Y: Love isn't complicated; people are complicated.
As many of my friends would know, i have been working on a philosophy book for quite some time now. I had plans of getting it published, but such attempts are turning out to be problematic and fruitless, since philosophy lacks a reading audience in Pakistan (in fact, in most countries) and publishers aren't very interested. So, i thought the best way to showcase my work to the world would be internet, and i have uploaded the whole text on a website. The URL is:

It's a history of modern philosophy, a summary of the ideas of the modern philosophers, from Descartes to Derrida. You are most welcome to visit, and comment. I hope you enjoy the book.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

X: At first i thought that you are like the sauce with the french fries; you make life so much more tasty, but then i realized, you aren't just the sauce, you are also the oil in which these fries are cooked, and without you, my life is just like eating boiled potatoes.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Smoke Cubist Female by mattrobinsonphoto

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Pair of Black Holes
By M. Awais Aftab

I understood what black holes are
When i saw your eyes
A gravity so intense
That no mortal vision can escape
From being ensnared
Two circles of singularity
Where space and time come to an end
And i find myself hovering
On the event horizon of love
Like a moth around a flame

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Finally, after having the novel (actually printed on paper from an online text, since the book as such is banned in Pakistan and not available in market) for more than one and a half year, i have completed the book, and known what all the fuss was about. When i started reading it previously, i got stuck in the middle and left it, until the novel called out to me again the previous week, and i picked it, started anew and read it to the last page. How do i feel? Disappointed, i guess. Compared to Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses is a pale echo of Rushdie's talent. On the whole, i found the novel unremarkable, and the narration dragged awfully at many places. But there were also passages that were remarkable, splinters of diamonds floating in muddy water, and it was this that saved the book from being a reader's waste of time.

So what is the novel basically about? It is the story of two Indian men, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who after the explosion of a hijacked plane, are falling down towards London in the sky, and during this fall, the process of transmutation begins and Gibreel becomes the Arch-angel, and Saladin becomes the very devil. Rushdie's characteristic style of magical realism blends the extraordinary and magical with the real in such a way that it doesn't even sound odd. The novel follows the life of these two characters before and after the fall, dealing with many issues of post-colonialism, of Indian emigrants in the West, alienation, love, identity crises, and at all times the narration retains a distinct comic tone. And Rushdie makes an uncountable number of references, from mythology to popular culture, from religion to science, which makes it enjoyable if you can recognize these references and understand the links.

But the story is not uniform. Entwined within this primary narrative are several other parallel stories going on, which are based on the dream-like, delusional, magical visions of Gibreel Farishta, who sees himself as the Arch-angel Gibreel (Gabriel) bringing revelation to Mahound, to Ayesha, a peasant girl who leads the people of his village to believe that they should go to Mecca on foot and that the Arabian sea would part for them, and to an Imam, which is an allusion to Ayatollah Khomeini. It is these parallel, superimposed stories that are most interesting about the novel, particularly the part about Mahound, which is highly controversial (blasphemous, as many would say) and is one of the wittiest satires on religion. There is the polytheistic universe of Jahilia, in which Rushdie presents a rivarly of dieties, of Al-Lah vs Al-Lat, is of considerable interest. And there are some strong characters, Mahound himself, Hind, Abu Simbel, the skeptical poet Baal, and Salman Farsi, who is a scribe of Mahound's revelations, but becomes disillusioned with Mahound and makes changes with the revealed texts. Also central to this narrative is the supposed incident of Satanic Verses, in which Mahound first presents revelation recognizing the three Meccan goddesses Allat, Uzza, and Manah, but later retracts the verses claiming them to have been revealed by the Satan. And there are other things which are too blasphemous for me to write on the blog!

Rushdie has an excellent power of description, rich with similies, metaphors and allegories. These passages gives an idea of the skill he has in language:

'The city of Jahilia is built entirely of sand, its structures formed of the desert whence it rises... [Its citizens] have learned the art of transforming the fine white dune-sand of those forsaken parts, - the very stuff of inconstancy, - the quintessence of unsettlement shifting, treachery, lack-of-form, - and have turned it, by alchemy, into the fabric of their newly invented permanence.'

'An iceberg is water striving to be land; a mountain... is land's attempt to metamorphose into sky.'

The novel also possess some philosophical reflection:

'Question: What is the opposite of faith?
Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief.

'From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustable.'

But, Rushdie also becomes very crude at times. For instance:

'Mahound comes to me for revelation, asking me to choose between monotheist and henotheist alternatives, and I'm just some idiot actor having a bhaenchud nightmare, what the fuck do I know, yaar, what to tell you, help. Help.'

So, if you are a big Rushdie fan or highly interested in the Satanic Verses controversy or curious about the satire, go for the novel, but if you just a plain reader, wishing to read a pleasant, enjoyable novel, than just stay away from it, because my opinion is that you would be disappointed.

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