Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For believe me!—the secret to harvesting the greatest abundance and the greatest enjoyment from existence is this—living dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!... The time will soon be past when you could be content to live hidden in the forests like timid deer.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Most people prefer to live deterministic lives; lives that can be mapped out, charted with accuracy, the trajectory plotted out in coordinates with precision: they live in a Newtonian world. Newtonian physics, as we all know, works for a large number of everyday observations, but when you go to the extremes, when you push limits, that's when it breaks down. There are people who live at these extremes, where determinacy loses its meaning, and uncertainty rules. Where there is not a single path to follow, but a maze of probability to walk through. Where identity hangs from the question mark of wave-particle duality. This is the Quantum world. Newtonian world is safe; Quantum world is the unknown, hence scary. It requires immense strength and courage to survive there. A stray anti-particle could annihilate you in a moment. Why would anyone even want to live like this? Driven by some sort of inner-calling, maybe. Some primal, fundamental urge? Something innate like the charge of a particle? Who knows. But the Quantum world does exist. The people in the Newtonian world may close their eyes to it, they may live in denial, they may consider it a sin, but the fact remains that their world is a fake, constructed world. And there will always be those who would not be satisfied with that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Let me ask you one question.
What's worse? Not getting everything you wished for?
... or getting it but finding out its not enough?
The rest of your life is being shaped right now,
With the dreams you chase, the choices you make...
and the person you decide to be...
The rest of your life is a long time....
And the rest of your life starts right now."

One Tree Hill, Episode 5.02

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alfred Gockel is a brilliant German abstract artist, whom i have recently come across on internet, and his paintings have captured my fascination. They are not only beautiful and inspiring, but they reach out to something deeper in me. His vibrant and swirling colours, his abstract figures, his romantic scenarios, the intense flowing lines, the elegance of his work, its all magic. And i feel bound to share the work of this maestro on my blog. Here is a selection from his paintings:

Moon Dance

Mirror Image II

Lost in the Desert I

Circle of Love II

Blushing Spring II

Moved by the Music I

Thursday, October 23, 2008

X: All of your rebellions and heresies and deviations and obsessions can be traced back to a single thing: the pursuit of meaning. It seems as if 'meaning' is some sort of a sensation to you; like an addict seeks 'being high' and tries all sorts of drugs for it, you seek the sensation of your life being 'meaningful', whatever that means, and you are willing to try breaking all sorts of social and moral rules for that. Why you can't find the things which other people find meaningful is something that shall perhaps remain an enigma to me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I had to take this Tag from Misspecs!

1. The age you will be on your next birthday

The grip of life keeps getting tighter!

2. A place you would like to travel to…

Louvre in Paris. Ah, Mona Lisa awaits me!

3. Your favorite place

4. Your favorite pet

The only pet i ever had when i was a kid; it 'drowned' in a glass of water in an accident. :(

5. Your favorite color combination

6. Your favorite TV show(s)

7. First name of your significant other

8. The town in which you live

I live in this part of lahore.

9. Your first job

Yeah, you sure can. That's what i did for my first pay-check.

10. Your dream job

The psychologist Sean Maguire from Good Will Hunting, played by Robin Williams. Ah, i want to be that guy!

11. A bad habit you have

12. Your worst fear

Being Sisyphus; Camus was wrong. Sisyphus is not happy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gems of Pakistani English Fiction
By M. Awais Aftab

Indian writers of English fiction began to grow huge internationally in the '80s and the '90s, but Pakistani writers have begun to do the same only in the last decade. While there have been many brilliant novels with international recognition, let us examine these four which are probably the best of the lot.

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid (2000)

"The alienation is so thick you can cut it with a knife," writes Peter Gorden, describing the atmosphere of Mohsin Hamid’s debut novel, Moth Smoke. With the richness of historical symbolism, the novel describes the decline of Darashikoh, a person on the fringes of upper-class elite in a Pakistan suffering from economic crises after the 1998 nuclear explosions. Daru’s deterioration is best described by Hamid’s own metaphor: a moth spiraling around the candle, seduced by its flame, revolving, falling, until it makes contact with the fire… the moment of union, and… the moth has been reduced to smoke and ash. The novel explores Daru’s obsession with drugs after losing his job in a bank, his affair with his best friend’s wife and finally his entry into the world of crime. "The book explores the idea of how you arrive at truth with conflicting narratives, which is what you do in law," said Hamid in an interview, and these multiple narratives are one of the best features of this novel. Hamid talks of arriving at truth, but the reader, he doesn’t find a single truth anywhere… he just uncovers different versions of the truth. Is truth just the totality of these versions? The novel begins with a trial, and you are the judge, and the novel ends without a sentence, because it is you who have to decide whether Daru is guilty or not. And unless you are a 'fundo’ (a word oft employed in the novel), you would not be able to answer this question of innocence. The life which Hamid describes is dark and gloomy, but his style, with which he does so, is charming and gripping. The novel was a winner of Betty Trask Award, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book of The Year.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (2007)

'Some books are acts of courage... Extreme times call for extreme reactions, extreme writing. Hamid has done something extraordinary with this novel.’ This is how The Washington Post praises Mohsin Hamid on his second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. With exceptional skill, Hamid makes use of a gripping, fast-paced monologue about a young Pakistani’s experience in America to unsettle the pre-existing assumptions in the reader’s mind and induces a fresh dialogue on the topic, equipped with the psychological experience of the novel’s protagonist. At a cafĂ© in Lahore, Changez narrates his story to a mysterious American stranger. He is a Princeton-graduate, an employee at a top-notch firm, earning a lot of money, apparently living the American dream, but then September 11 happens, and it forces Changez to think about who he is, and where he belongs. Simultaneously, there is an on-going love story, which serves perhaps more to give the novel an allegorical touch, of Changez being involved with a pretty, neurotic and damaged girl. But why is Changez narrating all this to the unknown, nervous American? Like Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist too has a very fluid, ambiguous and surprising end; an ending that reflects the reader’s own view of the world back at him. The novel was short listed for the 2007 Booker Prize. It also won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature, among many others.

The Geometry of God by Uzma Aslam Khan (2008)

"Elegant, sensuous and fiercely intelligent, The Geometry of God takes an argument that is in danger of becoming stale - that of fundamentalism vs free thinking among Muslims - and animates it in a wonderfully inventive story that pits science against politics and the freedom of women against the insecurities of men." Kamila Shamsie reviews the most recent novel by Uzma Aslam Khan which made quite a name for itself in literary circles this year. The novel explores a controversial issue in a controversial era: the Zia rule in Pakistan, and the massacre of science in the name of Islam. The story is about a paleontologist Zahoor who is doing research on evolution and fossils while Zia is Islamizing knowledge in the country. During a fossil-dig in Salt Range, Zahoor’s grand-daughter Amal discovers a fossil of the oldest known primitive whale. At the same time, Amal’s baby-sister Mehwish goes blind and it falls to Amal to take care of her. And then there is Nouman, the neurotic, confused character whose father is a minister in the Party of Creation, which attempts to create a pure Islamic science. Nouman encounters Zahoor and can’t help being drawn to him. The relationship of Nouman, Zahoor, Amal and Mehwish creates a parallelogram that is the central crux of this multiple narrative, and tells the spectacular story of love and friendship amidst an ideological war.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (2008)

Who killed General Zia-ul-Haq in the mysterious plane crash of 1988? Mohammed Hanif, it seems, is not satisfied with just one answer. In this brilliant novel, he imagines how and why Zia-ul-Haq was killed, and as many as half a dozen possible suspects emerge in the novel and gradually converge at the moment of the final show down. The conspiracy soup thickens as the novel proceeds, and the suspense becomes murderous. The narrative is made more literary by the use of techniques of magical realism and absurdist military comedy. The central character in the novel is a young military officer named Ali Shigri, who is being investigated about his friend Obaid 'Baby O’ who has gone AWOL. But Shigri seems to have a plan of his own, which will unfold with time. Hanif brings in the character of Zia himself, exploring the psychology of this dictator as Hanif imagines it, which adds a strong comic touch to the story. Other characters keep popping up: General Akhtar, the ambitious 2nd in command; Major Kiyani; a communist sweeper in military captivation; a blind rape victim in jail; Bannon, a CIA officer posing as a drill instructor; even Osama Bin Laden makes a cameo appearance. And the potential assassins of Zia do not include just people, but also creatures like a crow carrying a curse and an army of tapeworms. Long-listed for the Booker Prize, this novel has many more awards coming its way.

Published in Us Magazine

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Music heals. It helps you deal with the pain. Like a gentle touch on a sore skin, it makes the ache more bearable. It doesn't abolish the pain but it makes us less affected by it. A song that fills you up, makes you resonate with its tune, this is the music you need in your life. Something that makes sense of what you are going through; makes you feel that you are not the only one. That this song is the acoustic transmission of the shared feelings of all the people who have been through the same. Some words of lyrics that never made sense to you, but at some right time you find yourself humming the song and realize the meaning that was always inherent in them. Good music is not the songs that make it to the charts, most of whom you won't even remember with time. Good music is what reaches to you, which touches you. It need not even have words; it could be an instrumental; feelings too sometimes have no words. Like people, songs too come in all varities. You have to find the songs which matter to you. Songs that you will remember, because they are not just songs; they are expressions of your life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whether you are a man of art, a man of science or both, you will find these pictures very fascinating: art and science meet at the microscopic level.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why do i hate wedding ceremonies so much? (Pakistani wedding ceremonies, specifically.)

Because they are a nauseating display of the hypocrisies and superficialities of our society; because they are a finerly orchestrated drama of money and social politics; because they are a means to show-off how much wealth one has; because the ceremony is more about the family and relatives of the couple than about the bride and the groom; because everyone pretends to be happy; because people are more concerned about making the video of the function than about the wedding itself; because the aunties are always on a rishta-hunt; because people compete for food more ferociously than even predicted by Darwinian selective forces; because it is a flagrant waste of money and resources on an event which is supposed to be simple and beautiful but has been mutated into a hideous social monster.

And because the bride almost always looks ugly!! God, why do they even need to plaster their faces with such thick layers of make-up? I can't imagine why on earth brides spend thousands of Rupees in beauty saloons for bridal make-up only to look so ugly!

Friday, October 3, 2008

This Eid i pretended something for a while... pretended to be normal just like everyone else: A normal person with normal tastes, with normal ideas, with normal conversations, with normal regard for social conventions... and i felt accepted, happy; for a time i was able to overcome my detest and irritation for the things around me, and i felt happy. Artificial Happiness. It made me wonder about my whole previous 'real' life, and my Real Misery.

Sorry, if you are looking for any wise conclusions, you wouldn't find any this time. I don't know what all this means.

Its surprising though, how people around you can live around you for so long and yet have no idea what is actually going on in your head.

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