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Showing posts from January, 2008

Happiness

I recently read an article by Dennis Prager, 'A Simple Truth about Happiness', and it raised a point which i had never realized with clarity before: the altruistic reason for taking happiness seriously. We all owe it to the people around us, our closed ones, family and friends to be happy, because our being happy or unhappy affects them too. You must have noticed this: if a close friend of yours is unhappy, a part of that unhappiness also spills into your life. And you have to realize that the sense happens to your closed ones when you are unhappy. Being unhappy is the easy way out. Anyone can do that; it doesn't require any effort. Most of us see happiness as a feeling that results from events that happen to us, over which we have little control. But this is not quite true. Happiness is not passive, but active. Happiness often requires an effort; you have to work for it. Its an attitude that needs to be cultivated, not awaited.

Tristan and Isolde

*ISOLDE: Don’t you think there is more to life?
TRISTAN: Than what?
ISOLDE: Something more than duty and death! Why are we capable of feelings if not to have them? Why long for things if they are not meant to be ours? Well don’t listen to me. You’re so sure of things. Your certainty, it’s like armour. I wish I had that.

*MARKE: Isolde. I was trying to explain to Tristan the importance of loving. It seems he might live without it.
ISOLDE: Why?
TRISTAN: There are other things to live for. Duty. Honour.
ISOLDE:But they are not life Tristan. They are the shells of life. And empty ones and in the end all they hold is days and days without love. Love is made by God. Ignore it and you can suffer as you cannot imagine.
TRISTAN: Then I will no longer live without it.

Tristan and Isolde

Scared

Jamie: You don't know what you want. Landon: Neither do you. Maybe you're just too scared that someone might actually want to be with you. Jamie: And why would that scare me? Landon: Because then you wouldn't be able to hide behind your books, or your frickin' telescope, or your faith. No, no, you know the real reason why you're scared? It's cause you wanna be with me too.
A Walk to Remember

A Specimen of Instant Art

"So far we know of only one instance of an actual exchange of blows, one which unfortunately aroused a great deal of public attention. It was at the preview of the exhibition of the work of the painter Frederick Le Boche, whose patron Blorna is considered to be, that Blorna and Sträubleder came face to face again for the first time... at this moment Blorna did punch Straubleder in the jaw. Without further ado, so that it may be forgotten without further ado: blood flowed, from Sträubleder's nose; according to private estimates, some four to seven drops... Frederick Le Boche, who with great presence of mind had seized upon the chance to catch Sträubleder's blood on a piece of blotting paper and had converted it into what he called 'a specimen of instant art'. This he entitled 'End of a Long Friendship', signed, and gave not to Sträubleder but to Blorna, saying: 'Here's something you can peddle to help you of a hole.' From this occurence plus the…

Lifehouse - Storm

How long have I
Been in this storm
So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form
Water's getting harder to tread
With these waves crashing over my head

If I could just see you
Everything will be alright
If I'd see you
The storminess will turn to light

And I will walk on water
And you will catch me if I fall
And I will get lost into your eyes
And everything will be alright
And everything will be alright

Lifehouse - Storm

The Influence of Love

*"Love brings to light the noble and hidden qualities of a lover--his rare and exceptional traits: it is thus liable to be deceptive as to his normal character."
Nietzsche

*"Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are."
Paulo Coelho

*"The cause why the majority of women are so little given to friendship is that it is insipid after having felt love."
La Rochefoucald

A Public Feud

"A very public feud between two philosophers involving damning book reviews, professional roastings and personal slights shows how bitter, unforgiving - and unwittingly hilarious - academic spats can be, says Stuart Jeffries." It is a highly amusing and enjoyable article on the fight of two philosophers, Ted Honderich and Colin McGinn, on the issue of consciousness, but the motivations behind the feud, it seems, are more personal... Do read it:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,,2230971,00.html

However, there is one paragraph from it that i'd like to post here as an extract. It is unrelated to the feud, but presents an interesting philosophical idea:

"McGinn, by contrast, is the world's leading proponent of the so-called new mysterian position (named after the rock band Quark and the Mysterians) whereby some philosophical problems, consciousness among them, are insoluble. In this, he claims other leading thinkers - Noam Cho…

Difference

"I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things."
Henri Matisse

It reminds me of Deleuze's inversion of identity and difference. I find his philosophy incredulous, but interesting:

'Traditionally, difference is seen as derivative from identity: e.g., to say that "X is different from Y" assumes some X and Y with at least relatively stable identities. To the contrary, Deleuze claims that all identities are effects of difference. Identities are not logically or metaphysically prior to difference, Deleuze argues, "given that there exist differences of nature between things of the same genus." That is, not only are no two things ever the same, the categories we use to identify individuals in the first place derive from differences. Apparent identities such as "X" are composed of endless series of differences, where "X" = "the difference between x and x'", and "x" = "the difference betw…

The Smear Campaign

"Following a brief encounter with a man wanted by the police, the hitherto unremarkable Katherina Blum becomes the object of a smear campaign conducted by an unscrupulous newspaper. Labelled a whore, a communist sympathizer and atheist, her life is ruined; her privacy and reputation systematically destroyed. In the formal, but not unsympathetic, manner of a police report, Heinrich Böll traces events as they lead to their violent conclusion."

This is the backcover description of the novel "The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum" by the Nobel Laureate writer Heinrich Böll, and which i just finished reading. It makes me realize, with a certain degree of alarm, the intense power the media holds in its hands, and which can potentially be misused for propaganda and misguidance, or as the description terms it, for conducting a'smear campaign'; and i have no doubt about the naivety of a layman, who takes in the information from the media passively, with little doubt and …

The Painted Veil

* Walter Fane: I knew when I married you that you were selfish and spoiled. But I loved you. I knew you only married me to get as far away from your mother as possible. And I hoped that one day... there'd be something more. I was wrong. You don't have it in you.

Kitty Fane: If a man hasn't what's necessary to make a woman love him then it's his fault not hers... I married you even though I didn't love you. But you knew that. Aren't you as much to blame for what's happened as I?

* Mother Superior: "I fell in love when I was 17… with God. A foolish girl with romantic notions about the life of a religious, but my love was passionate. Over the years my feelings have changed. He’s disappointed me. Ignored me. We’ve settled into a life of peaceful indifference. The old husband and wife who sit side by side on the sofa, but rarely speak. He knows I’ll never leave Him. This is my duty. But when love and duty are one, then grace is within you."

The Painte…

The Poem Duet

Published in Poet's Corner, Us Magazine today:

"The following two poems present radically opposing themes before Us. However, both the poems are inextricably and mysteriously linked to each other through a common strain. Analyze them for yourself and do let Us know about your viewpoint. :)"

A Very Spaghetti Life
By Saad Javed
The long, unwinding days,
Brimming with tangled ambitions
Spiced up with,
The flavour of sumptuous gossip
Emanating,
A sweet and sour aroma of
Teenage aspirations
Filled with,
The cheesy texture of,
Attire and attitude
Garnished with,
The toothsome topping of,
Shopping and back-biting
Served with,
The delicious delights of,
Family and friendship
Oh, she's living,
A very tempting life,
A very spaghetti life!

A Very Existential Life
By M. Awais Aftab

The short, swift days
Brimming with shattered ambitions
Drugged with
The opiates of idle reflection
Emanating
A bright and dark aura of
Teenage alienations
Filled with
The caustic touch of
Amnesia and amour
Garbed in
The tangible traged…

Planes of Philosophical Thinking

Philosophers are not necessarily sharp and clever people; their intelligence is of a different sort. In fact, many times they can appear absent minded during ordinary conversations which leads to a false impression of their intellect. In my view, a good philosopher is defined not in terms of his/her IQ level, but rather in terms of the plane at which his thoughts lie. Philosophers tend to think at the most fundamental of levels: questions so simple, yet so devious, that ordinary people never ask: how can we be sure the sun will rise tomorrow? Does a text have a single and stable meaning? Does the external world really exist or is it just a collection of internally generated sensations by my mind? What does it mean to say that A causes B? It is about pondering over questions that lie at the bottom of everything.
Another plane at which philosophers usually think is the holistic plane-- concerned with the synthesis of knowledge, a complete, over-all view of learning. As human knowledge gr…

Smallville

* Clark: You knew she was vulnerable, and you played her until she thought she was in love with you.
Lex: If you really see Lana as that naive, you obviously don't think as much of her as I do.

Episode # 610

* Oliver: This is it, the moment, right? The moment that I'm gonna regret for the rest of my life, isn't it?
Lois: Yes.
(When Oliver leaves Lois)

Episode # 611

Untitled

Untitled
[Translation of a poem by Parveen Shakir]

Awais Aftab

Translated on request of Madiha Nasir

I was silent at my thirst
And like the desert sand,
Thought of life
As a plot set aflame by caustic sunlight
If the desire to be irrigated
Ever arose in my body
I apologized to my heart
And said
No matter how hot the fire flares inside
The right to gaze up at the rain is not mine
Boils may abound at my tongue
But the taste of the dew is not mine
I refuse any gift from the clouds
There is only one possibility of water in my life
And that is tears!
But ever since the moisture in someone’s voice
Has permeated the sand of my heart
Inside me
The longing to be completely drenched has emerged
It is fire alone now which forms the solvent of my blood
And the body burns like a red-hot coal
But what luck I possess
That the river departs
After kissing my bank
I am thirst incarnate
And someone pulls back the filled cup
After bringing it up to my lips

[The original poem in urdu can be seen at:
http://ww…

Deification of the Absurd

'[When] Chestov discovers the fundamental absurdity of all existence, he does not say "This is absurd" but rather "This is God."'

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Most Irritating Noise

"I have long held the opinion that the amount of noise which anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity, and may therefore be regarded as a fair measure of it... Noise is a torture to all intellectual people."

Arthur Schopenhauer

On an impulse i decided to have this survey, and i asked about a dozen of my friends about which noise they found most irritating. Here are their answers:

Me: The sound of telephone ringing
Umair: The noise coming from mosques
Hammaad: Meri neighbour aunti 3 to 6 pm musalsal bolti hai and at full volume
Usama: Noise when people curse each other.
Mehreen: Loud rap sort of music
Abdullah: Someone singing out of tune [Spoken like a true musician!]
Saad: An old pressure cooker's vent weight. Chick chick chick. [Spoken like a true cook!]
Gaya: People arguing in loud voice or someone screaming
Kay: Raised voices during arguments
Nouman: The horns of the wagon which comes to pick my neighbour's children
Hamza: The sound of a…

Rumour Chamber

X: You have a way of generating rumours wherever you go, just like a charged particle generates bubbles throughout its trajectory in the cloud chamber.

The Risk of Love

The analogy between love and religious faith is pretty common, love is often referred to as being a 'leap of faith' and is becoming something of a cliche. In this post, i'd like to extend this analogy one step further. To make this comparison, i need a faith-based philosophical model, and Kierkegaard's philosophy seems to be a perfect candidate for it.
Kierkegaard is extremely skeptic of reason and shows through a great deal of reasoning that it is impossible to achieve objective, necessary knowledge about things related to human life. This leads to the human predicament: we have no knowledge at all about the purpose and meaning of human life, and yet we have a dire need of such knowledge to live our lives. Either we can remain in our state of utter skepticism, or, as Kierkegaard advises, we can take a leap of faith, a ‘leap into absurdity’, an irrational belief that there is something called ‘God’ who can give us enlightenment if we desire it. And now comes the tricky …

The Evil Hand-Claps

My brother read this joke on Facebook:

Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2, is famous throughout the entertainment industry for being more than just a little self-righteous. At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, he asked the audiencefor total silence. Then, in silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, 'Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.'
A voice with a broad Scottish accent from the front of the crowd pierced the quiet . . .'Well, fuckin stop doin it then, ya evil bastard!'

My First Pay-Check!

I got the first ever pay-check of my life today, from Us Magazine! Well, even though it's a relatively small amount, but still, it is a memorable and happy moment. Worth relishing, worth mentioning; one more step towards being a grown-up. :)

A Disturbing News

I heard a truly disturbing news today: a very good friend of mine is being forced by her father to marry a paternal cousin she doesn't want to marry, while she and her mother like a maternal cousin instead. It seems that her father has made it into some sort of an ego problem and is being very stubborn. This is so unfair! Her whole life is at stake here! And daughters in this society are brought up to be so obedient and dependent, they can't even rebel. I am boiling with anger and frustration at this! I can now understand what Russell meant when he wrote, "I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer."
All you life-ruining conservative people out there, if there is a Hell, you deserve to be in it! Damn you!

God is 'there'

A dialogue between Father Pluche and Professor Bartleboom from the novel Ocean Sea:

"Numbers speak clearly, Father Pluche. The rest is poetry."
"Quite. If only we were a little more..."
"Don't make things difficult, Father Pluche. The question is a simple one. Do you really believe that God exists?"
"Well, now exists strikes me as slightly excessive term, but i believe he is there, that's it, in a world of his own, he is there."
"And what difference does it make?"
"It makes a difference, all right, Bartleboom, and how. Take for example this story of the seventh room... yes, the story of that man at the inn who never leaves his room, and all that."
"So?"
"No one has ever seen him. He eats, it would seem. But it could easily be a trick. He might not exist. Made up by Dira. But for us, in any case, he would be there. In the evenings the lights are lit in that room, every so often sounds are heard, you yourself, i …

Soko - I'll Kill Her

I recently discovered this song, "I'll kill her" by Soko... and there is something different about it. I am sure many of you would outrightly hate it, as my brother did, but perhaps someone may discover a charm in it as i did. The best way to listen to this song is to pay attention to the lyrics and to the way her voice changes during the song. I simply love the way she says 'I'll kill her!' Lolz. Check it out.

Potentialities

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

'“Man is nothing else but what he purposes, he exists only in so far as he realises himself, he is therefore nothing else but the sum of his actions, nothing else but what his life is.” Hence we can well understand why some people are horrified by our teaching. For many have but one resource to sustain them in their misery, and that is to think, “Circumstances have been against me, I was worthy to be something much better than I have been. I admit I have never had a great love or a great friendship; but that is because I never met a man or a woman who were worthy of it; if I have not written any very good books, it is because I had not the leisure to do so; or, if I have had no children to whom I could devote myself it is because I did not find the man I could have lived with. So there remains within me a wide range of abilities, inclination…

Starvation and Indigestion

Belladonna: You know what i was thinking; you prevent love from dying of starvation, and i prevent it from dying of indigestion!

:)

The Right One

Lois: See, what worries me is that when my Jonathan finally does come around, I'll be looking the other way, and I'll miss him completely.
Martha: Well, you have to keep a closer watch. You know, I think we go through these bad relationships for a reason.
Lois: Well, if there's a good reason for all the pain and aggravation, I'm dying to know.
Martha: Maybe you have to get through all the wrong men so you can recognize the right one.

Smallville, Episode # 520

The Others...

X: All the others in my life, the previous ones, they taught me how to love, so that when i meet you, i can love you the way you deserve to be loved.

The Creative Struggle

I just remembered something which Ahmad Arsalan, my friend and my mentor, had said to me several months back:

Ahmad Arsalan: "In any case, Awais, genius always gets manifested. This rejection and loneliness is actually the tool which helps shape a genius' craft. That's the creative struggle. And the essence of avant garde, which is simply not "new" but rather it first rejects the existing parameters (where artist was not being recognized) and creates its own parameters where he is alone judging his art or philosophy by parameters he himself sets. That is the path and it never fails. Just never give up and compromise with mediocrity. No anger, no remorse. Just a clear confidence that you are exceptional, and your time will come."
Your words gave me hope then, and they still do... you have taught me well.

Way Down

The Way Down by `gilad on deviantART'There is only one thing
Worse than being at the bottom
Is being where I am
And looking all the way down'[Courtesy of Iqra; thanks!]

Wait...

... Remember you once said that if i ever wanted some time alone, you'd give me that? I need it now. Please don't ask anything. Just wait...

And suddenly, the day seems so heavy, and the clocks seems to be ticking simultaneously too fast and too slow, and the gray sky becomes even more gray as winter spreads its wings... life becomes so viscous. Even the radio plays songs that i haven't heard in ages, but which eerily echo my sentiments; the voice of Elliott Yamin saying:

Baby I will wait for you
Cause I don't know what else i can do
Baby I will wait for you
If it's the last thing i do
I really need you in my life
No matter what i have to do I'll wait for you

When love gives a wound to one person, it also gives the healing power to the other... i just wish you'd see that.

The Swan

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I wonder: what is this swan feeling? Is he mesmerized by the golden beauty of dusk around him, relishing the artistic beauty of nature? Is he looking up at some distant bird flying in the sky and wishing that he could fly to that heights too? Is he feeling lonely, desiring that he could have enjoyed the sunset in the company of a loved one? Is he just silently ruminating over his life at this peaceful spot, away from others? Is he looking back and pondering over his mistakes? Or maybe, this swan is experiencing the existential liberation, the same psychic victory over the indifference of the universe which the wife in Camus' The Adulterous Woman experiences under the night sky...

Beowulf

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Movie adaptations of mythologies and legends always fascinate me and i was greatly looking forward to watching the latest movie made on Beowulf. [Though, i must admit, i was also very curious about the role of Angelina Jolie!] And the movie didn't fall short of my expectations. The graphics and sound track was awesome. What i liked the most was the story, and the sort of hero Beowulf is. He is brave and courageous, but he is not without flaws, and his pride leads to his fall, but when given the chance, he rises again and like a true hero, faces the consequences of the mistakes he made and regains his integrity. This is what makes Beowulf a memorable hero for me. A myth and a hero are only meaningful as long as people can relate to them. And as cliched as it may sound, Beowulf touches the hero in every person. A recommended movie for all epic-lovers.Here is a song from Beowulf's soundtrack along with some movie clips:

Postmodernism

Leadership & Postmodernism
By Prof Khwaja Masud

THE airport of a metropolis is the emblem of our turbulent times. It may be considered a social force in its own right — a metaphor for a cluster of related technologies and social developments. Travellers from every corner of the world stream in and out, travellers with cultural baggage and economic interests that bear no relation to those of their fellow passengers.
They move in different directions, yet they form a collective. The airport, like the world we live in, is a confusing place. The passengers may not have anything in common; but for airports to work, workers and passengers alike must understand and adhere to a complicated combination of rules and regulations.
The international airport is both an agent and a symbol of the new global economy that is eclipsing the nation state. It is also a symbol of man’s triumph over the forces of nature; yet quite often subject to the vagaries of the weather. Michel Foucault, the postmoderni…

The Inner Self

Someone said this to me around a year ago about blogging:

X: Don't you feel weird... anyone can read your inner thoughts. I thought of having a blog once. I used to write everyday, but never had the guts to make it PUBLIC. So it has sort of become my online diary... Anyway, i would never have one, thats for sure. I'm just not comfortable with the idea of exposing the real inner me to everyone. And sometimes, i wonder... does anyone really know who i really am... the question remains unanswered.
Umm, well, how would the others know if you don't want them to know, or if you continuously project of false image of yourself to the people? And many times, people do know a lot of things about you that you aren't even aware that they know. :)

Cruelist Trick

Renee Pelagie: Can I impart to you his cruelest trick?
Dr. Royer-Collard: Of course.
Renee Pelagie: Once, long ago in the folly of youth, he made me love him.

[Referring to Marquis de Sade, her husband.]

From the movie Quills, based on the life and works of Marquis de Sade.

Sand and Foam

Today is Kahlil Gibran's birthday, so in his honour, here are some quotes from his book Sand and Foam:

* The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you.Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.

* My loneliness was born when men praised my talkative faults and blamed my silent virtues.

* When Life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind.

* When two women talk they say nothing; when one woman speaks she reveals all of life.

* If winter should say, "Spring is in my heart," who would believe winter?

* Now let us play hide and seek. Should you hide in my heart it would not be difficult to find you. But should you hide behind your own shell, then it would be useless for anyone to seek you. A woman may veil her face with a smile.

* If I were to choose between the power of writing a poem and the ecstasy of a poem unwritten, I…

Forgive

X: You forgive too easily; perhaps because you have a psychologist's sense of human determinism: actions are driven by motivations, incentives and weaknesses that go deeper than free will.

The Emergency Psychologist

The elevator in our building malfunctioned one day, leaving several of us stranded. Seeing a sign that listed two emergency phone numbers, i dialed the first and explained our situation. After what seemed to be a very long silence, the voice on the other end said, "I don't know what you expect me to do for you; I'm a psychologist." "A psychologist?" I replied. "Your numbers is listed here as an emergency number. Can't you help us?" "Well," he finally responded in a measured tone. "How do you feel about being stuck in an elevator?"
Christine Quinn, All in a Day's Work, Reader's Digest, Oct 1998

Waiting Forever

And now some quotes about 'waiting forever' :D

* If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.

Oscar Wilde

* The first time that I saw you I knew
That to you my heart would be true
We can't be together now
But I know we will somehow
Someway and someday, there's gonna be a way
And I'll wait forever for that day.

Anonymous

* If you really want her, tell her because she can wait but she cant wait forever.

Anonymous

* I'll wait forever for your love, but I have to admit, I'm dying to meet you.

Anonymous

* There you are standing right in front of me
All this fear falls away to leave me naked,
Hold me close cause I need you to guide me to safety,
No, I won't wait forever
No, I won't wait forever
No, I won't wait forever

Snow Patrol, Signal Fire

Prism

Prism
By Awais Aftab

A translation of Parveen Shakir's poem 'Prism'

When sun enters
Into a drop of water
A collage of colours appears
The seven arches of rainbow
Spread out their arms
And draw into the tiny droplet
A whole cosmos of colours!

I, too, have a sun
That by a mere graze of body
Cultivates in me the rainbow flowers
A slight change in his angle
And I am rendered
A simple drop of water
Unscenic, uncoloured!

[Published in Us Magazine in March 2007]

The Broken Part

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Sometimes being in love means having to break off a part of yourself. * Photo taken by me.

Happy New Year!

To my belladonna:

In ancient times, the Babylonians had a New Year Festival in which they celebrated the creation of the world by gods, who had brought order out of the primordial choas at the time of creation. A drama of mock battle in the festival re-enacted the struggle of gods against chaos. My heart too was in a state of choas before you came. Like the Babylonian gods, you created a world for me, full of such beauty and fragrance. And on this New Year, i celebrate your presence in my life. Have a year full of love! :)

Someone who cares

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