The Property


I am going to own you,
Like the aristocrat owns his real estate,
Like the pimp owns his whore and,
Like the dog owns his pissing pole

I'll mark every stamen, every cell in every inch
of your body with my stench and
leave traces of my faith burning in every corner
of your scented mind

I'll own you with all that can be seen
and all that cannot
You will be the property
I'll die protecting.

The First Few Storms


Just when land was near I was swallowed by the sea
My little dinghy tossed across its dismal, dark decree
Whiplashed over ripples of a vulgar tragedy,
I was punished that night for my lover set me free

I was thrown about hither, and thither randomly
I was crippled, kicked and maimed for an infinity
Thought the storms would never end but one day finally
My land was in sight, my home, my loving destiny

With white sandy beaches and a cold refreshing breeze
Palm trees waving a welcome for my ending odyssey
Oh how I loved hearing again my lover breathe!
With all the storms I weathered heaving right underneath.

Everyone's Secret Favourite Couple


Opportunity, oh, Opportunity
Go away Im weary, I've had enough
Of your kind and your kindness
Let me be

Let me mind my business which is bigger
than any of your bargains
your sales
your alluring discounts

I'm in the business of hunting for blessings
Stuff so rare that when I find it,
I feel unworthy of it

Whereas you, opportunity
can give me what I merely deserve.

Roma


While lovers debated and negotiated terms,
On the famous beach of the ocean of fire
She jumped right in and said, follow me
I didn't even blink to think what could transpire

Now we're diving deep into potential danger
Tickling undercurrents washing at our feet
Wide-eyed I'm gaping at this woman's confidence
Drawn at some nether source which does not deplete

That's all I ever want to do now, watch her swim
Try to trace her movements with ligatures and phrases
To record the lines of a heritage our own,
Shared between all time draws and erases

No games, no politics, no strategic calculations
No meddling of love with petty human cares
I may well be the least polished of all trophies,
This girl is going to win because she dares.

Womb Decay


You'd better hurry up, she's getting
Lonelier and lonelier
and when you arrive, make sure
your cries drown out her solitude

So that only Daddy's snores remain
audible above the ticking of
All the clocks you will inherit,
when you leave her radioactive womb.

Silence In Spraycans


yes you could choose to mourn or
masturbate the difference away - to a place
where shibboleths suffer, suffocate and succumb
to their fear of the snow
    or slide like the soft smell of a bitter wood secretly sleeping
in its alpine womb

yes, you could trap this
sleepy wisp and sell it,
tell it to dust your rear-view-mirror blues
with its provocative greens, dark-greens and other hues
but can you sell me
this silence in a spraycan too?

http://www.godrejaer.com/

Continental Drift / As a modem blinketh


Many have mined at these foothills before you,
and mimed at the altar of her presence before them
But you are the annointed fate she has chosen
You are not the drunk poet, mumbling in these virtual back alleys

You are her whole world now, you will live
in all her peaks and all her valleys
I will leave, skating across this continental drift, my only asset
To a fresh deluge of binary blood in my lonely vein

You may relax, this sun will soon
Blink away into last night's dream.

A Reluctant Fragrance Pushing Redundant Winds


My role is that of a repetitive explicit
        arguing with an absence,
My whole is implicit
        in the unfolding of an implied inconsequence.
I’m not afraid to own you but skeptical
        of an inferred benevolence,
I am, like them, seeking to sublet
        a part of my irreverence and irrelevance.

I'm the sailor and his whore and the unyielding sea-floor below
        in all its florescence,
Or the redundant winds howling
        before the sailor's only weapon, his common-sense.

A lost poet, sure I'm penniless, spent and sprawled
        before your evenness and evanescence,
I am the mystic's last lure and the pounding of the score
        into obsolescence.

In statutory compliance of and political alliance
        with the irredentist's iridescence,
I am his holiness, his permanence, his chemist and his bigamist
        cousin impermanence.

An employee of innocence serving time
        under an imaginary, ill-bonded fragrance called “Reluctance”
Of the one i lost during the ill-fated expedition
        to the Cape of all Convalescence.

Now that I’m making cold calls, taking hot orders
        from my duplicitous and other-worldly essence,
I am taking dead aim, no chances and no prisoners
        on this quest towards everlasting effervescence.

And If ever the undead soldiers take a break
        from their vengeance and stop shooting blindly
                at my depreciating petulance

With my invisible cape, i’ll then escape still
        donning this faraway fa├žade of sheer confidence.

So you want to be a poet?


Burn, in stead of the innocence you seek preserved,
though it will not help with flow or diction
innocence will be what you fought for, in the end
when all the rest is history and all the motion fiction


Be a runt, ruminate, feel the creep of febrile, sickly thoughts on your spine
Whisper a loud syncope into a murmuring asshole madly mooning
Give blow jobs to trees and while rubbing shoulders with the devil,
do smell all the secrets of the sunflowers swooning

Relish the earned pittance or remittance, if any,
blow holes through the pockets of pants that don't fit
rebel, like Rilke, Pessoa and Faust
but never like Neruda must you ever submit!

Doing the obvious


Fuck you, Simran, queen of the spammers
banging my inbox with news of upto 50% discount on adult diapers
windshield wipers and hired snipers who shoot anyone
up to a distance of twenty clicks, in any direction

Am I doing this obvious disservice to science to ensure it's survival?
hell no, science is just another illusion pressed against
the services of my dementia, doing the obvious

is it the only way of getting things done?

it is not science, rocket science or anything
like science, or rocket science

But I'm on a run, a jumble fun to take apart at the seams,
and it seems
I'm doing the obvious, a disservice which by all means
is an act of desperation, i mean, obviously, right?


The New Normal


"The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most Normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.

They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; They are normal only in relation to A profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. 

These millions of abnormally, “normal people”, Living without fuss in a society to which, If they were fully human beings, They ought not to be adjusted."

- A. Huxley


Not Another Word


As long as I have a breath in my body, I will never speak to you
No calls will be answered, no messages met with replies
Emails will be sent directly to the trash and
video and text chat disabled

If you come to my house I will not come downstairs,
If you ring the doorbell I won't open the door, but someone else might
You can sit on my sofa across my face, my lips will remain pursed
Until you have nothing left to do but leave

If you set your dogs or your family upon me, I shall react
As I deem fit without uttering a word
If you drag me to court I would rather goto Jail,
Than ever to speak another word to you

I'm out of words out of disgust out of you
I'm out of this back and forth passing of hatred
I'm out of this mess, you should get out too
and turn the volume all the way down when you do

Lest You Become


when the comets lit backwards in their orbits rotate
and the stars start wars over who's who's fate
let us lick sunshine dripping over fruits we once ate
and allow the moon to in its fullness lactate

if you're lulled and confused let me recapitulate
you were once like me when you didn't hesitate
but a waxing venus weaned you off martian nature innate
and you chose to love what love wanted to debate

you turned television on and saw order separate
from chaos which churned pleasure with a pain too great
and you watched the cogs unwinding in machines gyrate
you saw children suffer, starve and dehydrate

Don't be fooled by my freedom, rhyme is my restraint,
and don't fool yourself into thinking you'll ever levitate
No, you can only elevate from being an uxorious primate
To being a traveller hopping across another's nation-state

So listen, this is the only way you will ever satiate,
Learn to love your fellow fiends more than friends reprobate
and once weekly lest you become everyone you hate,
masturbate men, masturbate.

Everest Complex


The broken breath of a slave struggling daily
Escaped with the words, "Delhi is not yet dead",
Heard the prostrated spines leaking metal at the bailey,
"Be quick, reach Delhi and settle scores in the red!"

An exhumed emotion that once slayed soothsayers
Resurrects to challenge usury on failure compounded,
Warns all glib gilded by the creamiest of layers,
On thrones usurped shall now sit forever hounded

Let a wild neigh out, tonight on everest complex
Pull the bridle, let the muscle meet metal, seek gore!
Watch the competition writhe, squirm, scribble and vex,
See their bleeding fort stand victorious, no more!

Knowledge Is Great(er)


This essay won the third prize in the indiblogger "Knowledge is Great"Competition.

"Specialisation", the famous American Science Fiction author Robert A. Heinlein proclaimed, "is for insects", yet no modern education is complete without a specialisation because little creative synthesis can be mined without descending down the hierarchy of human knowledge.  While the division of knowledge into specialties, sub-specialties and super specialties of mental and manual labor makes economic sense and even though this division is rational and superior to any undifferentiated system of human enterprise, it is also the cause of anomie and alienation because knowledge is great.

Indeed, as with all things in life this greatness of knowledge is also relative. Knowledge is Great because it is (1) greater than the sum of its specialised subdivisions and (2) greater than the scope of a singular human lifespan.

Correspondingly, when the people realise that: (1) what they know is a only a tiny fraction of what is out there and (2) that try as they might, they never can know it all, a deep dissatisfaction develops among them as members of a naturally and terminally curious species.  Moreover, because knowledge and work often travel in tandem, this dissatisfaction resulting from the impossibility of attaining perfect knowledge is often carried forward, infecting the specialist's work and its ultimate output with an ideology that pervades much of the material world today.

Call it an overstatement if you will, but even the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations agrees that this ideology of discounting effort towards long term goals (because the long term is uncertain and requires thinking in terms of an increasingly incomplete and therefore imperfect knowledge) is the primary cause of global financial crisis, terrorism, poverty, procrastination, unemployment, diseases and maybe even dandruff.

We might have varying definitions of the scope of perfection, but there few exceptions to the generalisation that humans seek forever higher ideals, and when these ideals seem unattainable, we change them to something attainable, settling for a little less than the absolute possible in the process. The focus on short and medium term is rife while the attention to longer term suffers. Specialisation is to be blamed for this short-termism.

That is what Heinlein meant when he equated specialisation with an entomological drive, to him specialisation always meant settling for a little less than the absolute possible. Cockroaches are experts in the art of survival so the lives of cockroaches are absolutely sustainable, but are they worth living?  Sure, it is necessary to whittle down areas of expertise to make our lives manageable,  but who says that one person can only be an "expert" in one thing only? It can be argued, for example, that specialisation in medicine saved more lives than general medicine could ever have, but the counterpoint is that if general medicine was made robust enough, there would perhaps be less lives that needed saving.

The solution then, simplistically stated, is for education systems around the world to help reverse this trend of blinding specialization by teaching students everywhere that ascending the hierarchical mines of human knowledge and coming out into the open unified fields of all understanding is just as necessary for any creative synthesis and that a specialization without the ability to generalize is just as useless as the ability to generalise from a lack of deep understanding or special knowledge.

The ancient discipline of Philosophy has always been one of the routes of ascent through the various verticals of knowledge as it rouses us from the numbing and complacent routine of knowing more and more about less and less by asking us the big, difficult and fundamental questions. By giving us the overview and "helicopter-shot" of all understanding and also by confronting our systems of knowing and believing, Philosophy brings us face to face with the limits of our understanding which culls forth a force of intellectual modesty which one can then deploy against alienation and disaffection of any kind. This is probably the reason why Philosophy has survived (both academically and otherwise) for so long despite bearing no immediate connection with the business of any profession and solving no seemingly practical problem facing mankind.

By allowing us to rise above the artificial and commercial distinctions and divisions of knowledge, Philosophy helps us see the one big ball of understanding all human knowledge really is and only when we see that the knowledge is greater than our knowledge are we sensitized to the plight of the human condition and only then can our education be called complete. Besides, by its virtue of being a professional no-person's land between subjects and disciplines, Philosophy becomes inherently interdisciplinary by sharing a common border with all divisions of great knowledge.

But even Classical Philosophy today stands sliced into numerous layers of specialization in order to efficiently feed the insatiable print-appetite of academia. So it is pertinent to remember that the primary task of Philosophy was asking rudimentary questions and not pontificating over procedural, semantic or legal lacunae and thereby serving the ulterior motives of one economic lobby or the other. Of course, by fundamental questions one means the questions, which, if answered differently than they are so far, change the world-view of everyone alive.

Thus, it appears worthwhile to me to investigate this perpetually topical field of interest at the London School of Economics because only then, I believe, I might become what Bertrand Russell intended when he referred to himself as a hybrid between a mathematician and a philosopher. I seek to specialize in this most vast, general and holistic of all subjects so that I may be found, in the words of Lord Macaulay, Ashburton, Melvill, Sowett and Lefervre (in their report on the Indian Civil Service, 1854) to be "superior to men who have (...) devoted themselves to the special studies of their calling".

If my argument in favour of broad generalisation or generalist study still seems counter-intuitive and against the grain of modern economic practices, consider the single biggest reason why a generalised study is better: Creativity.

Generalists are more creative because they have access to a richer network of knowledge which is wider than it is deep. Depth is good when ideas are meant to be re-enforcing, re-enforced or derivatives of a constant. Interdisciplinary width is needed to deal with change that happens at a quick pace, is more encompassing and has greater significance to any kind of majority or multitude.

The neologism "pancake people" coined by the American journalist Marshall P. Duke in an attempt to describe "the Internet generation, whose knowledge is wide but shallow" accepts this reality and silently acknowledges that pancake people might be in a better position to feed a hungrier world.

In rapidly changing uncertain circumstances, the  generalist will necessarily always outperform the mere specialist, which I already am.

Armed with extensive specialised knowledge of Computer Applications and programming, I shall then be able to (among many other things) deploy my acquired Philosophical acumen to create solutions which bring forth into the world software which coasts people through their deep metaphysical and existential crisis. Of course, I would need the help of Psychologists, Sociologists and Economists in this endeavour all of which are in no short supply within the multicultural campus of the LSE.

Ergo, it is not perfection of the ego that I will seek when I enrol myself as a lifelong-student hell-bent on earning a Master's degree in Philosophy at the London School of Economics; I merely wish to see knowledge in all its greatness revealed by internationally acclaimed teachers in one of the greatest cities on the planet.

The irony that the revolt against specialization starts by specialising in a subject of general interest is not lost on me but I am sure once I know my way out of the mines of a divided knowledge, my work down there will not suffer the disaffection of someone who is lost in the field of his or her specialisation.

What Was Aarushi's Crime?


Had Eve possessed a soul like sand / Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land / Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,
Then her Betrayer would have sought / An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought / No germination of the grain.

- Francis Burdett Thomas


In the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet's character suffers the constant heartbreak her daughter subjects her to because she believes that tolerating her daughter's venomous actions must be the penance she has to pay for her own fiercely individualistic and ambitious lifestyle. One can only imagine what goes on in her heart when sees her daughter Vega (a character played to perfection by Evan Rachel Woods) not only have sex with her mother's boyfriend in front of her mother, but also unrepentantly flaunting her nudity in their presence.

The Talwars had no penance due when they purportedly walked-in on their daughter and their servant engaged in objectionable acts and although much has been said about the vile and heinous nature of their crime, little attention is paid to the circumstances that seed the evidence of their guilt. What has been casually filed as another act of honour killing, reveals on even the most careless objective analysis to be a case which defies any time-honored epithet.



The Talwars do not fit any die that would cast them as typical Honor Killers. They had provided for Aarushi's education and lifestyle in a manner that goes against the grain of the "Khap" mentality, add to that their own educated background and you have an anomaly which begs the question: What was Aarushi's crime?

What, in the name of all that is holy, could lead two stable, functioning units of society to commit an act which is the very antithesis of their values? The preservation of family honor as a motive reeks of intuitive bias because the even in that phrase "family" comes before "values" and Aarushi was the only family the Talwar couple had besides each other. If then, upon seeing their teenage daughter and middle-aged servant coiled in sin, Rajesh Talwar, decided to take law in his own hands and severed their bodies of life, then he must have been prepared to face the consequences no matter how great his rage.

How anger works in middle-class India is not unknown to anyone, corporeal punishment is routine but anything more is an exception. What is unknown is why a fourteen year old would become a sexual miscreant and why she would oblige a man twice her age, a immigrant labourer on top, to fool around with her? That both of them were murdered proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that their "objectionable act" was consensual. Had that not been a case, the father would proudly saved the daughter and slayed the servant alone.

From the pictures of Aarushi floating in the media, she appears to be a smart brat, ergo the theory that it was a case of teenage-rebellion gone haywire does not make sense because even the most rebellious Indian teenage girl knows where to draw the line.



Hence, If she allowed Hemraj near her, it could only have been out of a poisonous sense of retribution against the parents. Rajesh Talwar's actions must be seen in proper light: as a doting father's reaction to Aarushi's meditated, rancorous provocation and while the law does not seem to take human psychology into consideration while pronouncing judgements, civil society must indeed consider all aspects of the story before writing two average people off.

Murder is always uncalled for, but what was perhaps even more uncalled for was the rousing of parental anger by a calculative, misdirected teenager who wasn't as smart as she made herself to be.


A Reputation


a rose by any other name,
would still be a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain
had it known that the language of its people was a game,
it would have withstood all its earthy pain

what the rose sought to remind the people with its thorns,
the stone just swallowed - a bitter refrain
but in the end no truth was revealed to the stone
nor were the rose's efforts  ever stonewalled again

because a rose, by any other name adressed,
is still a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain

the whales never really knew


the boy in the crow's nest whistled thrice to wish two whales below, goodnight
"goodnight monalisa" , sleep tight "leo",
the moon slept carefree ignoring the fly-by-night operators twinkling in the distance,
the plagues of daylight savings rushed in from inside the due morning:
love was yet to greet my sails with its wet, salty kisses

I shook and I shivered, as I slept but I kept,
as i quivered - my tilt to the port and the cold-front frothing at its mouth in the north.
my fluttering jibs chewed through those naughty, nautical blasts of night
with nothing to protect me from them on me, no support being there
but the invisible face of this bleached night, cowled as if dressed in a monk's habit

and blessed as if bathed in the waters of the holy see,
it saw my stern snaking, shaking its wooden fists at this liquid sovereign,
looking unearthly at this ungodly hour.

we might be cadavers for this marine mourge beneath, soon all calm was flushed
down the drains of history - a time when rivers of static flowed
upon the banks of status quo
and a trillion insects buzzed to announce my cargo

To the natives who had been drinking during the day and had danced the night away, 

saw that all their hopes had dried on the docks, the next day
as my crew and I, we set sail for the far east, for mandalay!
"But wait, Opium clippers don't talk", "or do they?" I heard them say

but now,

With the passions of my masters mustered out of visions of a decadance,
and hewn out of a war, their motives - now a palimpsest of their previous idols, few
were marred, hacked and sawed beyond recognition by vanity, and mountain dew
pride and a prayer were their wings as they flew to achieve what they called the

permanence, i called the boy come morning and told him 

that the whales never really knew.

this be the worse


they fuck you up, the poets you read
they always mean to, that is their job
they augur corruption of the soul, and feed
the shoulder-devil twisting your literary knob

but they were fucked in their turn
by fools who thought they were prophets for their age
who half the time were taciturn
and half burning with some lonesome rage

poetry passes misery to the masses
it's a poison to douse the fire in your belly with
if you want to look smart, try reading glasses,
and better just stick to the sports on the telly, kid


Milk Burns


We sense a stinking mouth incanting industrial chants,
echoed by a chimney choir somewhere, singing
blood churns to milk, burns to glue

like whispers left out to dry on the grapevine
this funk is not accounted for
its equally untraceable, scrambled, real and true

in damp, unlit nostrils, this whisperlike reek from the mouth
incanting industrial hymns now addresses limp minions, announcing
ladies and gents, we're fucked through and through

we know its a prompt to a finish, this popish plot hatching
within our nostrils, an army of nasal hair is now chanting
milk burns to turn this blood blue.

all is not well


a casteist bias bleeds through your love of heavy-metal
a colorless confusion peeks through holes in my smoke-rings
our grasshopper minds jump across them, and settle
on all the promises that tomorrow makes but never brings

further contradictions and paradoxes i could list
that in our arsenal of mass-excuses ever dwell
but your carpet-bombed convictions might miss the point, so the gist
of it all is that all is not now, nor was it ever well

the future is a filament wrapped on a core of burning dreams
illuminating a lighthouse that wants to run away yet can not
because there are dangers worse than the fog and it seems,
that this is not the cape that the crew or captain sought

Ode to a Virtual Crush


when you find your match i hope you set fire to the inferno
and as for me well, I'll find somebody who is going for a lot cheaper
and entomb myself in the burial chamber of decadent birds,
who also drink the same juices that are now driving you deeper

i was never one to be this bold and forthright, but i will
if I came off as insincere, it was probably honesty being bland
but its not as if you don't already know that and still
if you can't help being uninterested, I suspect the devil's hand

this milestone, this ode is in no way a slight underhanded
read this, carry on and know we have no unsettled score
I'm sure many will write more words in your praise,
I know they've probably done that type of thing before

The Golden Age Of Silverfish


Glad that my story "The Golden Age of Silverfish" has been getting positive reviews by the readership of Reading Hour, hopefully this won't be my last short-story!

Please Support Reading Hour by buying a copy off of a magazine rack near you or better still, order all the back issues here on amazon.

Links: Reading Hour (Jan - Feb) 2013 (Amazon) | Preview | RH Facebook Page

On Complacency


Complacency is the pregnant bitch you go to bed with,
Fondling her insured curves and stroking her financially- independent fur,
it is the phlegm our minds want to spit out but our tongues suck
complacency, is but a mephistophelian mercenary chewing mercury

corruption's cousin and im/maturity's rapist,
it hides behind words and sleeps under sarcasm
lest we forget its best friend, power,
absolute power corrupts with relative complacency

Complacency, both the cause and effect of formality
Breeds little hypocrite mutant puppies who can tweet
From within warm laps and hot laptops, but remember,
this kind of complacency has consequences
(other than veterinary)

Thermocol Marshmallow



1.
Us, cogs in the machine
digging their own grooves for it is them we shall later surf ,
like when they went behind enemy lines and called it their home turf

2.
Shall I project a friend on this lynch-mob?
This betraying fog that clears before lunch and arrives after dinner,
tonight we cast the sin away and haul aboard the sinner

3.
A government failing to sensitize, must hypnotize irresponsibly,
A love that is older than your civilization has seen this war before
governments against loving cogs thinking rotation settles the score.

static electricity


She wants in on it, but I'm too secretive,
My jarring eccentricities and bending-over-backwards
Flip her only love as it flops to inform again
That I'm too dynamic for this static electricity

I'm an amoral agent in an asexual abattoir, sipping airs
slipstreamed into existence to infiltrate and debunk
I'm here to slam balls across nets and scare
walls to their death with just my stares,

and my breath.

So stay, and you shall be avenged revered twilight
from my little white capsule drenched in an incandescent
fluorescence , i write, (knowing this promise is) powered by paradoxes
from this focal-point of indifference with its calm, apathetic shores

I see the distance, know the way, like the front of my hand
I shall go that way, and understand the powers of
prayers parading as poems pushing pragmatism under
precocious pretexts

which prove nothing but possibly,
are the pinnacle of the paradigm.


Pass


Running low on inspiration these days, so going to push some of my favorite poetry (all written by fellow poets and friends) through this blog hoping that the occasional stumbler enjoys it.

Pass - by Akshit Harsh
(All rights reserved with the author, published with permission)


The silence was deafening, the breeze was static
Dark was the light, so bright, oh so bright!

Nothing is all I have got,
Happiness that makes me cry.
Behind the masquerade lies a man, guilty, foul,
but nothing is deeper than his soul
Look inside me, that's all i ask,
love me or hate me, it'll all just pass

As i walk along the path of life,
i remember those who gave up half way
My eyes are wet, me steps; sedate,
i walk this path step-by-step.

Tumbling, mumbling truth, asking myself
why am I the one who's left.
Into a reverie i drown, resurrected by my own
sorrows, my own frown.


Back to life, breathe, feel, see, hear,
its all gonna pass,  its all gonna pass.

A Hunger Artist offers food for thought



"While Kafka's story came as a jolt
to those who pretended to be moral.
The so called civil society's antics
come off as insincere"
Ever the coulrophobic, Franz Kafka's books tapped the future of social pain. The kind of pain we feel when we see self appionted management teams like "Team Anna" and other deep-pocketed champions of civil society vying for attention and feedback. Driven to make us believe we are witnessing the birthpangs of protest-politics their actions scream rather loudly to draw our attention to the heinous aspects of civilized life and cohort us to change our ways before it is too late. I wonder how many of us asked ourselves why the "anti-corruption" drama continues despite a clear lack of popular-support and public interest? Every single one of us at an intuitive level knows corruption is a systemic feature of capitalist society. Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiency, and market intrusion into government effectiveness in the form of regulation and lobbying respectively. As for "Black money", it is merely a good diversion tactic which is fast losing its charm in the public eye as an excuse Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare have conjured up to keep the public from becoming aware of the reality behind, or examining their totally bogus claims to power. As for those who still think they are gentle souls toiling selflessly in honest expectations, and are unconcerned with power, kindly move along.


One spectacularly clear and direct example is his story "A Hunger Artist". Surely for the masses, the hunger artist's demonstration could not be a means to witness first hand the effects of extreme hunger on a male body. Harder still, is to accept the notion that the social purpose of his performance was to ease social anger by drawing attention to a distraction/nuisance. Just like Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare, the hunger artist had no real reason to abstain from whatever gastronomical delights and proclivities he had grown accustomed to "off the stage", but he fasted because that was his "art".


"Ars gratia artis" Looks good on the MGM logo, where we are distracted by the roaring lion, but in real life art must solve a social purpose or better still, should try to create a social purpose if not invent a social problem. In the story, the Hunger artist's emphasis was on aesthetics. Who in their right mind at that time would not like to experience the thrill of watching someone shrink in 4-D and slow-motion? So we have reason to believe raw entertainment like this was really enjoyed by the people in the old days but the post-modern mind is too sensitive. Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare's focus seems to be on steering the legislative process in the short term and changing the basic features of the constitution in the longer one. It is here that the social pain mentioned earlier is felt, the activist is raping an art-form and social tool at the same time for political gain while weaving a web of false pretensions and fake persuasions to gain ignorant followers.

While Kafka's story came as a jolt to those who pretended to be moral. The so called civil society's antics come off as insincere attempts at power-mongering at best and fascist ploys to go back to the Vedic period at worst.

The Nation needs perhaps a Fasting Act of some sort to preserve the sanctity of such tools involving self-inflicted denial of basic rights which the civil society historically used only when they believed in their cause.

the narrative at the door


Were we playing a game that once hung in the balance and now hangs
in silence as it draws to a finish and ends to diminish all the
trappings of desire and the tease that this fire once flared in our
hearts and our hearths now is branded a disease of a youth waning, please
just tell me, was it all a game?

Were we only keeping scores of our ignorance as it soared with a passion
for the boring and the asinine conjectures of a roaring late adolescence
when everything made more sense than it should have, retrospectively
but actively, we plotted as we jotted all the diktats of realities
of suburban localities where the cutting edge bleeds into the very mouth it feeds

while the hands that once rocked the cradle now folded in a prayer
are pleading for the biting to just stop, and the writing to just
drop the emotional-baggage on the floor and leave
the narrative at the door.

disaster porn


On top of the mountain when I blew my brains out into an atonal horn,
I was lost in childish rhymes, esoteric spam and disaster porn,
While the bandwidth-deprived savages plotted, without glory, lost, lovelorn
I merely meant to improvise and climax but never forewarn.

The Mystery of Godliness


Following are excerpts from the poem The Mystery of Godliness by Money-Coutts, Francis Burdett Thomas, 5th Lord Latimer (1852-1923), these remain some of my favorite words ever to appear in verse.

Who stamped us with the minting die
Of this unconquerable need
To know the unknown Deity
And name the nameless in a creed?

Whence comes our instinct, that behind
The flimsy furniture of sense
Inheres the undiscovered Mind
From which the world had emanence?
(p. 3)

And hearts responsive to the sound
Insidious, of persuasive sin,
Must carry, like the garden-ground,
A welcome for what grows therein.

Had Eve possessed a soul like sand,
Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land
Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,

Then her Betrayer would have sought
An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought
No germination of the grain.

Whence came that weed-receptive soil
That grants the tare such easy root,
And grows, for bread and wine and oil,
The blighted grain and cankered fruit?

(pp. 40-2)

When by the wind of Thought is stirred
Obscure Religion, throned in mist,
"She has not said her final word"
Declares the staunch apologist.

Is it not final, then,--her creed? . . . .
Whatever conflict,--trans- or con-
Substantiation,--supersede
Homo- or homoi-ousion,
(p. 52)

But thought that strives to reunite
In polished facets of the mind
The broken colours of the light
Baffled in mists of human kind;

Or weaves with reasonable hands,
Into a strong enduring chain
Of texture, all the separate strands
Of all the knowledge men attain.
(p. 99)

Sow not emotion; 'tis a weed
That grows in hedge-rows; every fool
Fancies his own emotions breed
The right to teach, the right to rule.

Sow not religion; 'tis a flower
That robs the sunshine of its hue,
To deck its own peculiar bower
With regal red and saintly blue.

But rare Imagination, caught
Like seed-down from the breezes, sow
In the world's garden; there is nought
Except this balsam for her woe.
(pp. 100-1)



Indian Ayatollah?


In 1999, Osama Bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri organized a press conference at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan to declare that USA and India were their biggest enemies. Reassured that the recent victory over Russia was a direct result of the assistance it rendered to the Taliban, the United States ignored this threat and paid for this mistake with the loss it suffered in 9/11.

Praveen Swami needs to be reminded firstly, that the violent fervor of the fanatic's mind does not make decisions based on the statistical leanings of economic or geo-strategic data. After all, the fact that Osama was a millionaire himself should wipe out every notion of the idea that an increase in per-capita income necessarily means fundamentalist threat is mitigated.

Secondly, to equate the fundamentalist with the religious is a grave error not only unworthy of an accomplished writer like Swami but also carries with it a whiff of fundamentalism of an anti-religious kind. Swami should note that "god's armies" are doing more good in the world (as missionary charities etc.) than bad and should chose his words accordingly.

Needless glorification of a below-par writer


Praveen Swami seems to be living in a distant fictional future which not only is entirely theoretical, but also extremely fascist for denying its inhabitants the fundamental right to believe and to live according to those beliefs. If how public money is spent or punishment meted out in a democratic country is tied up inherently with religion and culture, then any attempts at engineering social change by assuaging the masses to give up their ontological theories (which are as epistemologically valid as any other) instead of improving those political and juridical setups in a truly secular way (i.e. without the use of mind-control propaganda that tries to sway the public into either side of the faith/disbelief debate) smacks of nothing but totalitarian designs.

It would behove Swami to recognize that there are two kinds of secularism and the theoretical and dated definition that he ascribes to is not at all conducive to peace and progress, Instead what is needed is a vision that sees reality not through the theoretical lens but as it really is. Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion is how we Indians define secularism which is a part of our culture and heritage. This newfangled hard-line opposition to theism however, is ill-informed and ill-willed.

As for Rushdie, is his opinion on anything really worth incurring the hurt and heartburn of thousands (even lakhs) of Muslims? and Meera Nanda has already been criticized so much for her hatred of religion, that the article paints a biased picture of her career as a scholar by not mentioning the reactions her so called theories have evoked.

Intestines


When the artist becomes a teacher he begins to yearn
for another youth to teach and corrupt,
To instruct, for he thinks of himself as someone
who was anointed by the powers of the will to destruct
what he thinks is false, he thinks he's got the balls and the gall
to appall all those with twice the intestines
and half the guts.

In Circles


Raw - like the smell of boiling potatoes mashed to the pressure cooker's whistling symphony - i have hopped many rooftops, searching god only knows what but finding, the distant din of a marriage orchestra playing in perfect sync with the whimsical notations of a passing truck toting its horns.

The autumn winds - pierced by the lustful twinkling of the market lights along the horizon - carry with them an aeroplane, paying no mind to the clandestine match between illuminations above and below judged by the tip of its blinking tail.

Inanimate objects come alive through the twilight's feather-touch, the satellite receivers talk and the breathing pipes of overhead tanks listen, as i, transfixed, eavesdrop on their geometric gossip going round in circles.

Chaos Holds Us


The flamboyance of a frequently flying society
Discredits my regard for their notoriety
And blesses me with a sense of perpetual anxiety -
Of a peculiarly perplexing variety

I shall not feed off of their avarice
I might as well hunt my own discordant vice
And when I do find it, oh it shall be nice!
To give headache to aspirin and trap to the mice

The purveyor of all that’s possible and pure
Informed me that King-Kong had died from the cure
And all that disorder could never restore-
The pride of the prophet disguised as a whore

Eris herself did foretell this fable,
Baphomet resonated from her perch on the gable,
Threatening to pull the plug and disable-
Everything that relied for it’s life on a cable

It’s not that esoteric if you’re that erudite
Chaos holds us together so believe what you might
It paints a utopia in grey, black and white-
Where all that darkness renders, it surrenders to light.

A (micro) Refutation of "Practical" Metaphysics


If we call metaphysics the discipline … that purports to define the basic structure of the world, then empirical metaphysics is what the controversies over agencies lead to since they ceaselessly populate the world with new drives and, as ceaselessly, contest the existence of others. The question then becomes how to explore the actors’ own metaphysics. - Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour takes it upon himself to suture the fractured and fragmented discourses on Ontology and Metaphysics by resorting to relativism to create what he calls a “practical metaphysics”.

Of course, by “practical” he means “plural”.

The question is this: even if a plural metaphysics as enunciated by Bruno is stable enough to theoretically examine all phenomenon and express it as a function of a most clearly crafted Ontology, will such a relativist theory of reality be able to survive the transition into Praxis? In other words, will my ability to gauge and measure the ontological weight of someone’s claim not break down my own subsequent attempts to affirm or deny the causal contingencies arising out of me being weighed down by the said ontological weight? Put simply, the first step in the exploration of the personal metaphysics of an actor is pretty much always a rejection and denial of the logic and rhetoric structuring the metaphysics of all the other actors in the network. Verily, the very possibility of a metaphysics arises out of the possibility of the metaphysics.

In such a situation, I presume, one will have to forgo one’s commitment to any relativism that is equally and evenly distributed over causality and choose to assemble a single ontology from the multitude of varying and contradictory metaphysical claims of other actors in the network.

However, rationality forces us to conclude that in a finite network ontological patterns will develop within all the local mediators preventing a state where any kind of near-absolute relativism (necessary for any pluralistic idea of metaphysics) may gestate. Latour, therefore, has given birth to a baby that’s stillborn if held upside-down but comes alive as soon as you turn it around and ask : “can metaphysics save relativism”?

A traversal of an actor's own metaphysics then is not much different than the traversal of his own politics. In-fact, such hollow multitudism will only thrive until the actor realizes that by short-circuiting metaphysics with pragmatism, he has all but extinguished both. All that remains thereafter, is to consolidate the (remaining) relativism for the sake of pragmatism and since democracy is the obvious tool-of-choice for such tasks, we can remain sure that one of the last functions it will perform as a human tool is the consolidation and reduction of empirical, metaphysical relativism, thereby giving birth to either a compressed relativism or perhaps even a pragmatic absolutism.

Now can you smell the totalitarian disaster that awaits us at the other end of pragmatic metaphysics? 

Sniffin' Shoes


Yes, yes sir you surely snore and are imperfect and impure
But since you're called family sure, i love you, you brazen fure
Sometimes you stick out like a sore, Sight or smell or a kinaesthetic roar
But because blood binds before it blinds
I could do with less no more

I'm sniffin' shoes in search of a cure, you're high on inhalant abuse's lure
The side-effects of breathing have us shivering on uncertainty's door
Yes, I know I've been cruel before, but so have you and so much more!
But because blood begs for balance
The past is just mouthwash mumblecore

So on my forklift-funeral day, please bury me in the hole we bore
Beneath the tiny rivulet in the backyard of the house of the kings of lore
And like a treasure there let me rot, or like wine let me mature
Allow me to live in your memories and I promise to return for sure.

Wikileaks didn't start the fire!


It can be credibly argued that the simmering discontent in Tunisia exploded in public anger when WikiLeaks published the cables on the U.S. ambassador's assessment of corruption by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian uprising, then, was triggered by the WikiLeaks revelations, and fanned by the Internet.

My Response:

Its almost an insult of the Tunisian people and their revolt to say that they did it because a website (about which a handful of them knew) told them to. Wikileaks was one of the many factors that justified the revolt in the eyes of an Assange-worshipping media, but to say that it started the whole uprising is to make a dent in the causality of history.

It is highly improbable that the Tunisian uprisings were "triggered by the Wikileaks revelations" firstly because these leaks were hardly revelations for a public being ruled over by a corrupt dictator for over 24 years. That there was already a "simmering discontent" nullifies any possibility of Wikileaks being a cause for the uprising. Secondly, no country on the brink of revolt needs a Wikileaks to find out the right muhurat to end the lethal combination of poverty, unemployment and political repression affecting the masses for more than two decades. Wikileaks just happened to coincide very beautifully with discontent which was about to boil over anyway.

In Defence of Cerebral Liberalism


Parts of the keynote address delivered by Lord Anthony Lester at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference in Hyderabad earlier this month resonate strongly with the call for "muscular liberalism" given by the British PM a day earlier and seem quite insensitive to the cause for concerted tolerance which has propelled the cultural narrative of India this far into its history.

Lord Lester's opinions on the decadent and primitive nature of Indian Penal Code struck me as only partially right to the extent of his legal observation that the "IPC was enacted to suit British needs". However, his assertion that section 295-A of the IPC was spreading hatred and that it was against the spirit of free-speech seemed to me not only odd but grossly misinformed. For the following reasons:

1. Currently, Judicial decisions under this section tend to punish undertakings of "deliberate and malicious intention" towards religions or religious sentiments of people. If, however, our lawmakers decide to jump on the bandwagon of reckless liberalism and make amends to this part of IPC -- so that it becomes difficult to punish such acts -- it would clearly tantamount to a state of cultural lawlessness for the state will no longer be able to protect the dignity of its believing masses. While in an ideal regime of free-speech raising offence (regardless of context) can not be seen as a crime, raising religious offence is just as much a crime as mental harassment (and for roughly the same reasons too).

Moreover, attempts to ignore all offence raised by the letting-loose of free-speech standards will require parallel amendments in the law of contempt of court, and that will only mark the beginning of overhauling the whole legal framework under the constitution and ultimately reveal deep-seeded hypocrisies. A small but perfectly fitting example is the recent culling of the "I hate Ambedkar" page by Facebook.

2. Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed by our constitution, inherently contains a duty on every citizen to refrain from insulting the religious sentiments of others, there is however, a very human limit to how much the tolerant will tolerate the intolerant (i.e. those who do not perform this constitutional duty), Section 295-A makes sure that our civilization steers clear of indecision and confusion when faced with such a paradox of tolerance. Subsequent Judicial decisions upholding the need to be crystal clear about the secular nature of Indian multiculturalism have justified the use of Section 295-A as an effective legal tool.

3. It must be noted, also, that this section of IPC does not punish a person for mere criticism of religion or religious practices, rather it is the "wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion of any particular group or class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion"[1] that is/are punished with fine and imprisonment (up to 3 years). Even by European standards, I doubt this language or the legislation it frames will seem anti-humanistic to anyone. It isn't always easy to clearly define and ascertain the nature of a religious attack but that hardly warrants a repeal of the section on the whole.

4. If then, Lord Lester like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens (whom the Marxist Philosopher Terry Eagleton collectively refers to as "Ditchkins") believes that it is religion itself that stands in the way of more liberal standards of jurisprudence, he needs to be reminded that Section 295-A is also implicitly protecting the rights of atheist citizens and if interpreted broadly enough, it protects the religious interests of the entire gamut of believing and non-believing people of the nation (including the followers of faiths yet to be created).

How then, may one ask Lord Lester, is this Section of the IPC hindering free-speech or encouraging hatred? It seems only to be an innocuous legal step forward from the dark ages and seems only to protect the innocent from the wicked. It does not take a legal genius to realize that the reconciliation of the universality of freedom of speech with the particularity of religious discipline can never occur by lowering our guard against the malafide intentions of misanthropes; yet this is precisely what any further amendment (in favor of so called free speech) or repeal of section 295-A will bring about in this hostile ecology of conflicting world-views.

Liberalism may flex its muscles at European gatherings but in India we must take every 'ism' - be it seemingly good or bad - with a grain of salt and remember that "by reluctance to criticize some of it, we may help to destroy it all". For any blind adherence to instrumental reason will breed insensitivity and ingratitude towards positive and life-affirming traditions. For example, what Lord Lester fails to notice about the statement that the IPC was "enacted to suit British needs" is the fact that some British needs are also plain Human needs. Needs that humans have yet to outgrow. Such as the need for knowing with certitude that one's epistemological, ontological and theological convictions - however simple or complex they might be - will be well respected and protected by the community at large until science completely eliminates the need to hold (m)any such convictions.


[1] From the report of the Select Committee preceding the enactment of Section 295(A)

 

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