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Showing posts from 2009

Happy New Year

We live in Cranky times.

Hara-kiri

Hara-kiri
by M. Awais Aftab
Dedicated to Mayhem.

To disembowel
To drive oneself
to the heart's last beat

To cease to be!

But why?
Does ex-cease-tence need a reason.

Madness. Mania.
Desperation. Depression.
Folly. Frenzy.
Grief. Greed.
Honor. Houri.
Pain. Penance.
But the Archangel of them all...

Arrogance.
To think, to believe
Nay
To know
That one deserves better than this world
This life
That is the secret
Behind that final slice of knife
From left to right.

Trouble in Paradise

An Odd Friend

Aati: I just want it to 'be', you know? Like the sky. But people don't get that, which is why i feel i can't really tell them. Except for you. You let things 'be' in just the right way. Indifferent yet concerned.
Me: Lolz. That makes me an odd friend.
Aati: But you fit me perfectly! Two odds making an alright.

The K-K Modification: On Nudity

Children and conservatives, please do not read.

This is an actual text conversation and hence ideas are presented in their raw form and would require further analysis to be refined.

Me: Nude art seems to somehow "cleanse" the nudity, makes it beautiful even. Real nudity in contrast can often be "Ewww".
Aati: Real nudity: Depends on who's nude. ;)
Me: True. Hollywood flashy skins have distorted our perception of nudity.
Aati: Hollywood and plenty of other things that seek to define nude body as a single type -- and in certain cases, including art, are tempted to hide 'imperfections'.
Me: My point actually was that we are exposed to so much nudity that is glossy and beautiful, we tend to imagine that all nudity would be like that.
Aati: To me, each unique 'ordinary' body is a testimony to itself, a sketch of the life it's lived. Which is fascinating.
Aati: That's something often lacking in nude art, at least the nude art I've seen. Even in m…

The Paradox Salad

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The Paradox SaladWhat came first? The chicken or the egg?By M. Awais Aftab
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Was it the egg that got laid first or was it the chicken [pun intended]? The question, however, was not hatched for mere amusement. It is not just a question about chickens and eggs; it is also a question about how life and universe began. Such philosophical problems are often phrased in comical paradoxes: Can Achilles overtake the tortoise in a race? Are all Cretans liars? Can the barber shave himself? As baffling as it may seem, these are the questions which the great minds of humanity have been trying to solve for more than two millennia...
Liar's ParadoxThis paradox consists of a single sentence (in vario…

A "Fresh" Classification of various philosophical positions on "Does the external world exist?"

What are the different possible answers to the issue of relationship of perception and external world? Let's ditch all the confusing the epistemological labels, and use simply lay-man terminology. Broadly speaking, I think all the positions can be grouped as:

The Common Sense View: The world as we perceive it actually exists and is more or less similar to what we perceive it to be.The Refined Common Sense View: An external world exists independent of human mind, and that external world is not the same as we perceive it to be, but what we perceive corresponds in some way to what actually exists.External World Skeptic View: An external world may exist but we can know nothing about it and we have no reason to suppose that external reality corresponds in any way with our perceptions.World as an Illusion View: This refers to all the various possible scenarios like my brain is placed in a vat and connected by wires to a computer which sends my brains the same impulses which a normal rece…

On Perception and External World

"We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities."

Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

"We may given the name 'data' to all the things of which we are aware without inference. They include all our observed sensations - visual, auditory, tactile etc. Common sense sees reason to attribute many of our sensations to causes outside our bodies. It does not believe that the room in which it is sitting ceases to exist when it shuts its eyes or goes to sleep... In all this we may agree with common sense; but where it goes wrong is in supposing that inanimate objects resemble in their intrinsic qualities, the perceptions which they cause. To believe this is as groundless as it would be to suppose that a gramophone record resembles the music that it causes....

Suppose that a…

Creating God in Our Own Image

Read this excellent article by Tom Rees on Epiphenom explaining the results of a study which indicates that people’s view of what God wants is actually a projection of their own beliefs and opinions: What you want, god wants

Confessions of a man who has been chopping love up into pieces for years

Love cannot be reduced rationally. Love requires a mystery, that magical feeling that makes your body and soul tick. It is its essence. Attempts at analysis can determine the components of love but can't determine the glue that holds them together, because the moment you think that you have determined that, love evaporates. Love thrives on being inexplicable. To love is to give in to mystery and magic. To love is to stop trying to define it.

A Few Queries Regarding Hegel

Some objections i raised during a discussion with someone on the importance of Hegel and his "survival" in the contemporary philosophy. If there is any Hegelian reading this, i would like to know how Hegelians respond to these queries.

When you talk of the Hegelian philosophy surviving the vicissitudes of time, and still manifesting its truth even being ingrained into the philosophies that attempted to refute Hegel, which component of his philosophy are u referring to? I am sure you are not referring to his Idealism [which Stanford Encyclopedia describes as '...Hegel is seen as offering a metaphysico-religious view of God qua "Absolute Spirit"...] Hegelian Idealism is said to have been refuted by the analytical philosophers in the start of the 20th century; even Marx didn't accept it. So the Idealistic part of Hegel came to a dead end. Lets see the concept of Hegel's State. It doesn't matter if Hegel's conception of State is as tyrannical or tota…

Psychedelic: Episode 3

Psychedelic
by Awais Aftab

Episode 3: The Prophet

“You have thirty minutes to solve this math test,” May Magdalin went around the class, handing out the question paper to first grade students, as they settled down in their seats.

“Kids, they are so cute,” she almost sighed as she looked at them, fumbling with the cross hanging around her neck. Little saints. She had just found out last week that she was pregnant, and was very eager at the prospect of being a mother.

“Pauline! Don’t look at Peter’s answers!” she said aloud as she spotted her craning out her neck. And then she saw Thomas behind her, staring intently at his page, hand and pencil frozen as if in mid-movement, facial expression reflecting anticipation. Sensing something odd, she walked up to him.

“Tom, are you okay?” She bended, and asked gently.

He looked up at her, an intensity in his eyes. Light came in from the window behind his head, creating a momentary simulation of a halo around him, titillating her Christian heart.

“Why …

Doubt

Aati: No wonder i am drawn to you! You're the Saint of Doubt, and i'm Doubt itself ;)

Is 'Drawing Room Talk' a Necessary Ritual in the Context of an Arranged Marriage

My comments on a post 'Drawing Room Talk' written by Uni on her blog. Please read the post first before reading the comments.

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If I were a guy, I would surely not subject any female on the planet to such idiocy.

My sentiments too :)

I don't think there is any other 'foolproof' way. I have tried to think a lot about it. But if we posit an essentially segregated society, in which there is little male-female interaction (which would make dating unlikely and frowned upon, and which is what, i presume, you want), then there remains no other way for a family looking for a girl to go and see the girl they have heard about. Obviously, no family would just accept any girl without even meeting her. So, in the setting of an arranged marriage, there has to be some sort of a "meeting". The only question then remains of the manner in which it is conducted. But if the mother in law wants a particular type of wife for her son, then she has the right to q…

While I Sleep

Image
WhileISleep by Anton101
on deviantART

The drawing says:

While I sleep
I dream only of you
Of love
And your kiss

Psychedelic: Episode 2

Psychedelic
by Awais Aftab

Episode 2: The Kiss

I wake up. Just like that.

Fog surrounds my bed. On the wall, a self-made calendar announces an impossible date. 16 June 1904. “Damn you, Joyce.” I mumble.

I have to find that girl today. The girl with the lipstick. The girl with no shadow.

I wait at the coffee shop. She doesn’t show up. The man at the counter doesn’t like me. I wonder why.

She just exists in your imagination.

I touch the tissue paper in my pocket; it feels real. I decide to go to the library. I have never been to this one before.

Libraries are scary places. The books talk to me.

Laugh. And a chuckle.

I am not scared of you.

I enter the place. There is a counter just in front. There is a girl there, but she has a shadow. “How may I help you, sir?”

“Umm… I am looking for…” I look around confusingly. There she is! “I am looking for her.” I point.

The counter-girl makes an expression. “Penelope!” she calls out.

Penelope.

Ulysses will kill you. A sneer.

She looks at me; her lips curl. She com…

Quantum Entanglement

Larry: Hey Don, are you, are you familiar with, um, quantum entanglement?
Don: Um, I don't think so, I'm not sure.
Larry: Okay, it's a theory that holds that photons come in pairs that are separated by space and time, but always in instantaneous, inexplicable communication. Einstein calls it "spooky action at a distance." But you know I find it... I find the notion fairly romantic.
Don: How so?
Larry: Well, uh, I mean, we affect each other, even when we don't mean to, even when we don't want to, we're connected, you see, even when we try to be unaffected.
Don: Why do I get the feeling you're talking about my love life?

Numb3rs, Episode 2.01, Judgment Call

Psychedelic: Episode 1

Psychedelic
by Awais Aftab

Episode 1: The Shadow

“What’ll it be, Tom?” the waitress asks, knowing a cup of coffee is all I ever buy, drinking it slowly so the man at the counter can’t kick me out.

What would the waitress be called?

“Just coffee, Martha.” I reply, my reluctant gaze wandering over to meet a glare from afar. “And hold the cream.” I add as an afterthought. I look at her as she nods. Age ravages faces, once beautiful, but hers had never known beauty, only age.

I shake my head to clear the fog surrounding my senses. Every morning it is like this. I am losing touch of the world. Touch of reality.

Reality, really?

I have to do something about the voices in my head. I sigh. Martha slides the coffee in front of me. I let the warmth permeate into my hand, as I take a gulp and wait for the caffeine to kick in. I hear that song again in the background, the one they play so much. Ah, I love the lyrics. I begin to hum the words along with it. "Got my psycho-delic feet, in my psycho-d…

Relationship

Aati: People don't and shouldn't morph into generic 'pillars of a relationship' type characters when in one. The relationship should be defined through them, they shouldn't be defined by the relationship. The stronger the bond, the less its survival will depend on an ability to suffocate and deform personalities.

Evolution as a Fact

It is heartening to see that so many scientists and philosophers wrote letters to New York Times, responding to Nicholas Wade's review of Dawkins's book, in which he said that evolution is not a "fact" as claimed by Dawkins. [I had also posted that review sometime back on my blog, in which, i admit, i had described it as a 'balanced review', which perhaps only reveals that the issue of distinction between theory and fact can get quite confusing at times.] These letters can be found here and here. I'll be posting some extracts below:

* "If geologists had to confront a similar propaganda campaign against plate tectonics, they would get a little testy too, I imagine, and physicists might grow impatient if they had to devote half their professional time and energy to fending off claims that quantum mechanics is the work of the devil."

Daniel Dennet, author of “Breaking the Spell” and “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”.

* "The crucial point is that, as Daw…

Cryptic Thoughts 3

X: Find the girl who reminds you of Autumn.

Nietzsche's Disclaimer

"If this writing is incomprehensible to someone or other and hurts his ears, the blame for that, it strikes me, is not necessarily mine. The writing is sufficiently clear given the conditions I set out—that you have first read my earlier writings and have taken some trouble to do that... In other cases the aphoristic form creates difficulties. These stem from the fact that nowadays people don’t take this form seriously enough. An aphorism, properly stamped and poured, has not yet been “deciphered” simply by being read. It’s much more the case that only now can one begin to explicate it, and that requires an art of interpretation.... Of course, in order to practice this style of reading as art, one thing is above all essential, something that today has been thoroughly forgotten... —rumination."

Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Prologue.

Deconstruction of a Form

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Super Snob

A Snob would persistently engage in an argument because he wants to prove that he was right and the other was wrong.
A Super Snob would simply ignore the argument, because he knows that it is not worth his time.

The Future Uncertainty Principle

Let's assume scientific determinism is true, and that there is an equation in which we enter the present state A, B, C and it calculates the future state X, Y, Z. However, the very act of calculating what the future is would change that future, because the present state A, B, C did not include the knowledge of the future, and adding the knowledge of the future changes that present state A, B, C, hence making the results of the equation uncertain. (In other words, people can now act differently from what they are supposed to do in the predicted future X, Y, Z, because they now know what that future is.) It is just like Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Trying to measure the position of a particle by introducing light into the system changes the position of that particle. Trying to measure the future by means of a deterministic equation changes that very future. Hence, i shall term it the future uncertainty principle.

Please note that calculating the future in this deterministic set…

The Personal Flavor

William James once argued that every philosophic system sets out to conceal, first of all, the philosopher’s own temperament: that pre-rational bundle of preferences that urges him to hop on whatever logic-train seems to be already heading in his general direction. This creates, as James put it, “a certain insincerity in our philosophic discussions: the potentest of all our premises is never mentioned … What the system pretends to be is a picture of the great universe of God. What it is—and oh so flagrantly!—is the revelation of how intensely odd the personal flavor of some fellow creature is.”

Excerpt froman article on the life and works of Ayn Rand, Mrs. Logic by Sam Anderson

Hell

X: I sometimes wish that I believed in a hell where I could condemn all these self-righteous, judging, arrogant believers. And then I realize why prophets invented hell, and where this need to believe in it comes from: from the desire to punish the people who reject and ridicule you, from the desire to have the ultimate last laugh.

The Story of a Balcony

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Greg Laswell - Your Ghost

Secrets and Friends

X: You are comfortable with your life, happy with your friends, and then suddenly one day you have a secret; doesn't matter what it is, it's just something that doesn't align with the moral compass of your buddies. And it strikes you that all those people you thought were the closest to you, you can no longer trust them. That's what this secret does. It uproots you from your comfortable illusion of being accepted. It painfully alienates you from your friends, who have just been rendered fake. And you realize that all the while you were looking for friends at the wrong place. A person who has no secrets doesn't know where to look for friends.

Youth Help Line

Youth Help Line by Rozan is a free telephone psychological counseling service available to the youth of Pakistan at the toll free number 0800 22444, and has helped thousands of troubled minds and prevented many suicides. At YHL, trained psychologists provide guidance regarding any psycho-sexual problem a person may be going through. This is how the Rozen website describes its program:

"The Youth Help Line (YHL) is a resource centre working on the emotional and sexual health of young people. It is primarily a toll free telephone counseling service that operates 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm and can be accessed by areas with telephone code starting with 05 and 09 . This includes the entire NWFP and northern areas and parts of Punjab. YHL is a unique counseling service as it is the first free help line in Pakistan that was launched exclusively for young people. It provides information, counseling, guidance, and emotional support to the youth in a non-judgmental and non-threatening e…

Large Hadron Collider

One of the craziest things i have heard about the Large Hadron Collider:

"Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

Read more.

The Cheerleader Effect

Barney: Ahhh, there is so much to teach you all. You have just become victims of ... the Cheerleader Effect. Glad you asked. The Cheerleader Effect is when a group of women seems hot,but only as a group. Just like with cheerleaders. They seem hot, but take each one of them individually….sled dogs!

How I Met Your Mother, Episode 4.08

Evolution All Around

"Dawkins invites the reader to share the frustration of an imaginary history teacher, some of whose students refuse to accept that the Roman Empire ever existed, or that Latin is the mother tongue from which the Romance languages evolved. Instead of concentrating on how Western culture emerged from the institutions of the Roman state, the teacher must spend time combating a school board that insists he give equal time to their alternative view that French has been spoken from time immemorial and that Caesar never came or saw or conquered. This is exactly analogous to the plight of the biology teacher trying to acquaint students with the richness of modern biology in states where fundamentalist opponents of evolution hold sway."

Nicholas Wade, Evolution All Around

It is a very balanced review of Dawkins' new book 'The Greatest Show on Earth'. I would recommend the reader to read the whole article. Here are its ending lines:

"This brings me to the intellectual fl…

Conversations: In Defence of Randomness

An extract from an email conversation with a friend over the statement "There must be some driving force that makes all that [events of life] happen, otherwise it would indicate that the events happen haphazardly, which doesn’t make any sense..."

Why doesn't haphazard make sense? In fact, if we collect data on a large scale, haphazard makes much more sense than assuming the existence of any rational force behind it. Pick up the newspaper of any day, so many murders, accidents, suicides, fightings, so much injustice. The world is a messed up place. If there is a God, one could be justified in declaring him to be a malevolent and evil God, who allows the existence of so much misery and pain in the very world He created. So, you see, depending on the perspective, randomness doesn't seem that bad an option to consider. There is no logical irrefutable argument to rule out randomness as the underlying reality. Secondly, many people when they think, they think in a polarized…

Choice or Certainty

What is love? To make a conscious choice amidst doubts or to wait for subconscious certainty to wash over you?

Fragments

X: Love is a whole for me, but we are being forced to live it in fragments.

Breaking the divisibility law

Breaking the divisibility law
by ohsostarryeyed at deviantART

would you like to hear
a secret? sometimes i, too
divide by zero.

Posted with author's permission

Is Atheism Anti-theism?

An excerpt from the article "The New Atheist Movement is Destructive" by Julian Baggini:

Not reading The God Delusion, God is Not Great, Breaking the Spell and The End of Faith is perfectly reasonable. Why on earth would I devote precious reading hours to books which largely tell me what I already believe? These books are surely mainly for agnostics and open-minded believers. In fact, I think atheists who have read these books have more of a responsibility to account for their actions than I do my inaction. As the posters on the sides of British buses rather simplistically put it, “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” God's non-existence is a fact atheists live with, not something that they should obsessively read about.

But if I haven't read these books, surely I should have no opinion about them? I think you’d be less sure of this if you had read How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard (or even not read it). In any c…

Struck

A really beautiful short film "Struck". Couldn't find the code to embed it, but please do see it at this link:

Struck the Film

Thanks to Uzair, my brother, for informing me about it.

Logicomix

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I am pleasantly surprised to learn about Logicomix, a graphic novel based on the life of Bertrand Russell and his search for logical certainty in mathematics, also featuring many other great philosophers of his time. Here is a well-written review of the comic book at The New York Times. Below is an excerpt from the book, taken from the same link, showing a discussion between Russell and Wittgenstein:

Sex and Marriage

There is an undesirable consequence of allowing sex only within marriage (there might be many desriable consequences too; they are however not the topic of this post) and that is: a significant number of people wish to get married just to have sex. The fact that marriage would also entail having to support a family and fulfill social obligations appears as a "side-effect" of the process to many, while those too madly in love may not even give due thought to it. The result: couples get married driven by sexual passion, and mentally unprepared for the demands of a married life in a Pakistani society.

Bertrand Russell writes in Marriage and Morals:

"Certain it is that when people marry without previous sexual knowledge of each other and under the influence of romantic love, each imagines the other to be possessed of more than mortal perfections and conceives that marriage is going to be one long dream of bliss. This is especially liable to be the case with the woman if she i…

When a believer and non-believer fall in love

What happens when a believer and non-believer fall in love and get married? In this insightful article here, Dr. K. Sohail explains how this relationship proceeds in three stages of Honeymoon, Conflict and Decision-Making, the third stage ending in one of three possibilities: a healthy resolution, divorce or an unhappy marriage. Dr. K. Sohail then goes on to show that the outcome does not depend on what religious/philosophical ideology the persons in the relationship actually hold, but rather on their types of personalities. A recommended read.

Cross-posted on Bazm-e-Rindaan

Comfort of Illusory Order

"She felt about people who believed in the morality of their nations exactly as she felt about those who believed in religion: it was baffling, it seemed to defy all reason, and yet she would never be the one to attempt to wrestle the comfort of illusory order away from someone else."

Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows

Business

Aati: How would you like your religion, sir? Frozen or thawed? Ready-to-fry or easy serve? Will you have it here or to go? Paper bag or plastic? Thank you, come again please. We have a special tomorrow, two for the price of one. Hah, hah. And the point of that is, religion in the 21st century is everyone's business. Even more than it used to be. Literally business for quite a few.

What is Poetry

"Poetry at its most basic level is about the movement of the mind. This is why it is translatable, even from a language such as Chinese, which has very little in common with English. What can be translated is the leap from one thought to another: what I call the associative movement particular to poetry. That leap, that movement, is what makes poetry poetry."

Matthew Zapruder, Off The Shelf: Finding the pieces that turn writing into poetry

Origins of Modesty

"William James believed that modesty was not instinctive but acquired: women had found that generosity breeds contempt, and they had transmitted the findings to their daughters. Diderot went further back, and traced it to the jealousy of husbands, whose sense of ownership led them to enforce modesty upon their wives. In many tribes only the married women are clothed, their husbands (wiser than the creator of Penguin Isle) believing this to be an aid in the maintenance of property rights. When purchase replaced capture as the fashionable mode of marriage, and parents found that chaste daughters brought the highest price, they virtuously encouraged modesty."
Will Durant, The Pleasures of Philosophy

Hot Crazy Scale, How I Met Your Mother

Mental Health

The characteristics of mental health as given in Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialtiesby Judith Collier, Murray Longmore, Mark Brinsden and can be found online here at Google



Going Twilight

Going Twilight. verb. A expression used when one's girlfriend starts acting whiny, clingy, insecure, neurotic, paranoid, obsessive, idealistic, suicidal, and becomes delusional about the ways boyfriends are supposed to look and act.

Example: "Stop it! You are going all Twilight on me now!"

Awais Aftab's Dictionary of Stray Phrases © 2009

Screwed Up

Me studying Pathology...

Me: Does a hydatidiform mole have a soul?
Saad: How screwed-up your brain must be to have given a thought to something like that.

Lolz.

Cryptic Thoughts 2

X: To believe in a specific God of a specific religion on the basis of faith alone is like believing that infinity multiplied by zero has only one answer and that is, say, 192.

Creation

This is the trailer of a new movie Creation based on the life of Charles Darwin. I'm really looking forward to watching it.

Control

An invasion of privacy confers the greatest power of control to any authority.

Being Fabulous and Obsessed

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Behind every freakin' fabulous blog is ... guess what ... an obsessed mind!

Salman Latif has kindly awarded me the freakin' fabulous award, tagged with the rules that i have to divulge five of my current obsessions to the world, and then pass on the award to five other fabulous blogs. Okay, here we go.

My Five Current Obsessions

1) Mafia Wars: Its an online browser game on Facebook which is about establishing and expanding your criminal empire. It is an efficient way to waste time, and it can get pretty addictive.

2) A particular girl: Self-explanatory :P

3) Dollhouse: A sci-fi action tv series which did not get as much popularity as it deserved. Welcome to a world in which the minds of people can be wiped clean and imprinted with a new set of personality, which may be some real copy or may be artificially designed. A corporation named Dollhouse offers these imprinted 'dolls' to the filthy-rich clients, imprinting them with whatever personality is asked for. The series foll…

The Perishers - Never Bloom Again

I know we'll grow, but we'll never bloom again
I'm sure we'll grow, but we'll never bloom again.

Would he?

"Had he known that he was about to enter a tunnel whose only egress was his own annihilation, would he have turned away?
Perhaps.
Perhaps not.
Who can tell?"

Arundathi Roy, The God of Small Things

Roses

Aati: Roses don't land twice before the feet that trample them.

Irony

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Click to enlarge

This is the opening paragraph of an article which appeared today in Jang Newspaper, and can be viewed at this link. It is ironical to note, apart from being outraged, how the author begins by praising the injunction to respect other religions and then goes on to violate that very injunction.

Cryptic Thoughts

X: Last time i broke up, i saw God. This time, i see an abyss.

Girl as Nude

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1) 2)
3) 4)

Girl as Nude
(source)
by B. Sullivan
from deviantART

You are in your Picasso mood
again
soft nude blues
and sharp grey
angles
confuse me.
I like you better
as Van Gogh
daft as a brush
sipping absinthe
while you dance on tables;
or maybe Gauguin,
curving under a palm tree,
full and nut brown -
your breasts
flirting against my shirt;
or Monet,
floating on lilies -
your mouth
that kind of red
I want to devour

(posted with author's permission)

Paintings:
1) Blue Nude by Pablo Picasso
2) Still Life with Absinthe by Vincent van Gogh
3) Tahitian Woman by Paul Gauguin
4) Nymphéas by Claude Monet