Showing posts from April, 2017


'Odin gave Gjallerhorn to Heimdall, watchman of the gods. On the day the Gjallernhorn is blown, it will wake the gods, no matter where they are, no matter how deeply they sleep. Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn only once, at the end of all things, at Ragnarok.' Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology


"You just have to close your eyes and let the world die." 12 Monkeys, Episode 2.02

a touch of frost

'    Is it a touch of frost lies in the air? Why are we haunted with a sense of loss? We do not wish the pain back, or the heat; And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.' Ella Wheeler Wilcox,  Friendship After Love

strangers and friends

"She is a lifetime of strangers and friends" Ben Abraham, She


"To allow the sunlight far into your depths, to have depths no one will ever visit." Robert Wrigley, Being a Lake

10 Questions - A Snapshot of My Philosophical Leanings

About ten years ago, I posted a list of 10 questions on this blog, which I declared 'are of great interest to me, and which occupy a significant part of my thinking'. A list of questions that preoccupy me now would have significant differences, nonetheless, it's interesting for me to look at this old list, and think over how I approach these complex issues. I'll take a brief shot at each, outlining the direction in which I lean, deferring elaborations and arguments to the future. 1. What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of human existence? There is a psychological question of what constitutes a subjectively meaningful life, and what are the factors that lead to it, and there is a philosophical question of whether there is an objective meaning or purpose to individual human existence. I think that any attempts along the lines of 'There is no objective meaning to our lives, but we create/decide the meaning of our lives for ourselves' to groun

Forgotten Blogs

Aati: "I'm actually glad to see you take this [blog] up again, because it felt like such a waste for it to be gone. A small defeat, the sort that goes unnoticed, like weary communists opening up businesses: cold hard reality encroaching upon our hopes and dreams. Forgotten blogs are what disappointment might look like. So I am glad. Gives me hope the dream still lives, waiting."

Kafka on the Shore

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Twitter, the chatter, and the they-self

There is something about Twitter that brings out feelings of existential angst in me in a manner and degree that no other social media platform does. I am painfully reminded of what Heidegger calls  das Gerede , the endless chatter; it is a surrender to das Man,  ‘the they-self'/'the they'; a socialized, superficial, inauthentic mode of being; the clamor of the multitudes. (Heidegger says that the chatter serves to distract and insulate us from the confrontation with  das Nichts,  the Nothing.) I am embarrassingly aware that a lot of my offline and online social life would be considered  das Gerede  in pure Heideggerian terms. I am not trying to be broadly dismissive of twitter or social media in general. I know that many people, including myself, have found some measure of authenticity through these platforms, which was otherwise lacking in daily lives. There is also nothing inherent to Twitter than makes it more inauthentic than, say, Facebook or Instagram. Perhaps

Art, Memory and Experience

MoMA 41517 This is a collage made from details of various paintings and photographs that I came across during my visit to Museum of Modern Art today. I did not note down the names of these artworks and their respective artists, and while contextual information regarding these works is vanishing fast from my mind, the images remain vivid in my memories; the collage intends to capture this phenomenon. The experience of art that lingers in my mind is a de-contextualized experience of art; the details evoke associations, feelings and interpretations in me that likely have no proximity to the intentions of the artists. Disparate forms, separated in origin by decades and centuries, are enmeshed in my mind in a unique juxtaposition, creating a new holistic experience. Intimacy, politics, desire, symbolism, abstraction, all thrown in a blender... this is fodder for the unconscious, this is the stuff of dreams.


As I approach the beginning of the third decade of my life, I cannot help but acknowledge this yearning in me for 'a wilderness untamed by moralism, careerism and the strictures of conformism'. Not that I was ever a fan of the scripted life, but it feels like a tyrannous presence more than ever, and I am increasingly impatient of the 'the simple moral judgments of the uninitiated':     "Cracks in the foundations of our life narratives can have the surprising effect of clearing space for unforeseeable developments. Like the seeds that sprout in toxic soil, or push up through slabs of oppressive concrete, re-emergence and reinvention become possible. Instead of playing out familiar plotlines, which would otherwise escort us all the way to the tomb, we can take over the screenplays of our lives, and we can begin to spin the most quixotic yarns, set in a wilderness untamed by moralism, careerism and the strictures of conformism.   Although these types of cr

the intrinsic quality of physical events

"the inferences that I can make as to the external causes of my experiences are only as to structure, not as to quality. The inferences that are warranted are those to be found in theoretical physics; they are abstract and mathematical and give no indication whatever as to the intrinsic character of physical objects.... we know nothing about the intrinsic quality of physical events except when these are mental events that we directly experience " (my emphasis)    Bertrand Russell, Mind and Matter  

tangled beyond repair

"The title is a nonsense phrase, meaning tangled beyond repair. Our narrator (who, with his excellent intentions and total lack of initiative, recalls Nick Carraway) hears it for the first time on his honeymoon. He has pounced on his new wife, Anita, in their hotel room, but can’t untie the drawstring of her sari’s petticoat. It’s all knotted up — ghachar ghochar , she says, reaching for a word from her childhood, a word invented by her little brother to describe a snarled kite string. The narrator is thrilled by this intimacy, to be welcomed into her secret language. In the morning, he gestures at the disheveled bedsheets, their entwined legs: ghachar ghochar. " Parul Sehgal , writes about the novel Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag.

On Intimate Male-Female Friendships

In NYT Modern Love , Jennifer Boylan writes about how she experienced a change in her male friendships after she transitioned from a man to woman: "I wondered if, among the male privileges I had surrendered in transition, a certain kind of romance-free intimacy with straight men was the first thing to go. From now on, even among the guys with whom I had been (and in some ways still was) closest, the not-too-far-off aroma of sexuality now hung in the air." This reminds me of something I have been very mindful of in the recent years: vast majority of people struggle with the idea and actuality of intimate, opposite-gender (heterosexual) friendships, which are not primarily driven by sexual attraction. I am referring to individual friendships beyond workplace and group collegiality, displaying a closeness usually reserved for same-sex friendships. Such friendships are exceedingly rare... not because they cannot and do not exist, but because we sorely lack cultural and

Flourishing and Virtue

Emrys Westacott at 3QD :  'The Greek term often translated as "happiness" is eudaimonia ; but many scholars prefer to translate it as something like "flourishing.".... a human being who is not plagued by sickness, poverty, oppression, loneliness or misfortune, who freely cultivates and exercises their talents, and enjoys doing this as an active participant in a pleasant community, exemplifies human flourishing. One whose life falls short in various ways does not.  [...] Today we tend to think of moral virtues solely as qualities that affect our interaction with, treatment of, and value for others: e.g. generosity, kindness, or courage. But the Greek term arete , which is often translated as "virtue," signifies, more broadly, any kind of excellence that enables a thing to perform its function. From this perspective, qualities such as, say, wisdom, curiosity, intellectual rigour, sensitivity to beauty, and discriminating aesthetic taste might b

a process of refining the truths

'An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.' ( Adrienne Rich ) Before we can do so, there is another delicate, violent, terrifying process we must undertake, the process of refining the truths we can tell ourselves. The two processes are linked, not only because one requires the other, but also because sometimes they only way to tell a truth to oneself is by telling it to another. The degree to which one can bear truth - without dying of thirst at sea - relates to the degree to which one can love another deeply and honestly.

The Procrustean Bed

"We fall in love not just with a person wholly external to us but with a fantasy of how that person can fill what is missing from our interior lives."  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings Love is a complex negotiation between a psychological fantasy and the external reality, between what we lack and what we have, what we imagine the desired can offer us and what the desired can actually offer us. It's the dilemma of Procrustes: there is a bed in our hearts, but no visitor ever fits it exactly. And many times we do exactly what Procrustes did; we terrorize the ones the we love, amputating or stretching to make them fit. The problem is most conspicuous when it comes to love, because that is where we are most stringent in our idealism, but it applies to relationships of all sorts.

actually constantly ending

“In the hazy light of forest fire smoke, I looked across at the refineries and thought that the world was actually constantly ending.” Mount Eerie, Forest Fire Nitsuh Abebe elaborates on this in NYT Magazine feature New Sentences : "In this sentence, looking through the haze of a nearby forest fire, that entire push and pull is condensed into two very ordinary adverbs, set back to back in a way adverbs seldom are outside incredulous rants. For a moment, the world seems to be actually ending — as in, not for him, but for a whole planet, burning and collapsing around him. And it seems to be constantly ending. That notion feels, for a moment, surreal: You imagine a world that wakes up each morning and slogs back to work on its final catastrophe, always on fire but somehow never done burning. It is constantly ending but never actually ends."


"To paraphrase Arthur Schopenhauer’s succinct response to Kant: We can know the thing-in-itself because we are it." Hedda Hassel Mørch

Dual-Aspect Monism

Hedda Hassel Mørch (writing for  Nautilus ) makes a case for dual-aspect monism, linking the hard problem of consciousness with the hard problem in physics.


Subtext Awais Aftab since feeling is first who only pays attention to the text of things will never wholly know us alchemy is in the undertone vaporous even to us lost to the historians of today and tomorrow (co-opting lines from e. e. cummings )


"All the Dude ever wanted was his rug back... it really tied the room together." I have finally seen The Big Lebowski, and I think I'll be quoting the Dude for a long time!

Song to Song

This beautiful review at Vogue , describing  Song to Song as Anti- La La Land, drove me to see the film yesterday. One could easily mistake the film to be an ode to Rooney Mara's bare midriff, but I'm not complaining.  "And here is the key difference—aside from tone and setting, of course—between La La Land and Song to Song . The former is about how much must be sacrificed in pursuit of big dreams; the latter is about what you might risk by overindulging in that pursuit. Not all dreams merit giving everything else up, and not every dreamer is a dreamer through and through. It helps that Malick never makes the case for either Faye’s or BV’s extraordinary talent—just for the magic, the gravitational pull of their young love. Some of us, Song to Song seems to suggest, were never destined to be Iggy Pop, or Flea, or Johnny Rotten, or Patti Smith (or, for that matter, Cook). Some of us might be happier with something simpler—something, say, like a lifetime of cavorting


"Being in love—this subtle keen unforgettable sense of the other’s uniqueness."  Susan Sontag, Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963

Epistemic Humility

" given who we are, how should we listen to others about oppression? If we are lucky enough to be privileged, then the answer is this: closely, carefully, and with the right amount of epistemic humility." Grace Boey at 3QD

The Quiet World

The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel . There is a certain asymmetry in the interaction: he carefully saves his words for her, but she doesn't. It is not stated, but there is a sense that this is a frequent occurrence. Even this is a romantic poem, and I think most readers interpret it in a more positive manner, I end up projecting a feeling of disappointment mixed in with the love.

April is the cruellest month

"April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain." T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Holding it's Breath

"... like a place that's holding its breath, hoping time won't stumble upon it." Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


"... in everybody's life there's a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can't go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That's how we survive." Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Here I Am

"So here ich bin , unbalanced and delirious, here je suis,                      tapping into some long forgotten intelligence —" Sandra Simonds, 8. I Love Wine!


"You're so quiet you're almost tomorrow." Ocean Vuong, Into the Breach