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Clownin'

Remembering Myself, Travestying Time, Being Imposterous

Quote #115: A curious “theomaniac” epidemic in the 13th century

Fifty thousand children in France and Germany braving pater paternal authority, gathered together and pervaded both cities and countries, singing these words, ‘ Lord Jesus, restore to us your holy cross.’ When they were asked whither they were going, or what they intended to do, they replied, ‘we are going to Jerusalem to deliver the sepulchre of our Lord.’ A great portion of this juvenile militia crossed the Alps to em bark at the Italian ports, whilst those who came from the provinces of France directed their course to Marseilles. On the faith of a miraculous revelation they had been made to believe that this year (1213) the drought would be so great that the sun would dissipate all the waters of the sea, and thus an easy road for pilgrims would be opened across the bed of the Mediterranean. On the coasts of Syria many of these young crusaders lost themselves in forests, and wandering ing about at hazard perished with heat, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Others returned to their homes ashamed of their imprudence, saying they did not really know why they had gone. Amongst those who had embarked, some were shipwrecked, or given up to the Saracens, against whom they had set out to fight.

Michaud’s History of the Crusades,Vol. II., p. 202

Quote #114

Never explain. That’s a very good motto. […] Everyone is far too full of their own private worries and fears to be in a questioning mood. They’ll take you for granted so long as you just seem sure of yourself. It’s a great mistake ever to say anything when you needn’t.

Crooked House. Agatha Christie. 1949.

Quote #113

Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.

– Zhuangzi.

A Glass of Sparkling Tea

Rain

I died in late October

when the rot vanishes

like drops of rain

leaves no stench behind

just the pungent breath

of being that once was

I live to tell my life

to you to you to you my soul

I lie

like the rain beneath the earth

like the worm beneath your feet

Continue reading “Rain”

Quote #112

A seeker has heard that the wisest guru in all of India lives atop India’s highest mountain. So the seeker treks over hill and Delhi until he reaches the fabled mountain. It’s incredibly steep, and more than once he slips and falls. By the time he reaches the top, he is full of cuts and bruises, but there is the guru, sitting cross-legged in front of his cave. “O, wise guru,” the seeker says, “I have come to you to ask what the secret of life is.” “Ah, yes, the secret of life,” the guru says. “The secret of life is a teacup.” “A teacup? I came all the way up here to find the meaning of life, and you tell me it’s a teacup!” The guru shrugs. “So maybe it isn’t a teacup.

Thomas Cathcart. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

On Discovering Manga

The visual aspect is the only aspect worth counting in any art form. In that light, I always supposed manga and anime were a waste of time. Its ridiculously unrealistic drawings, lack of visual depth, squeaky voices, and dramatic music; after being inculcated in the visual aesthetic of Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks, you ought to get teething troubles if you plan to plunge into the otaku (don’t know if I’m using it right, but I love this word!) world of hyperrealistic fantasy. I’m fairly new to manga: so far I’ve read the amazing Vagabond, the riveting Death Note, most of the excellently drawn and profound but never-ending Lone Wolf and Cub, most of mangaka par excellence Osamu Tezuka, a little of the clever but annoying Liar Game, most of the depressing Punpun, and most recently the psychological and intricate Homunculus, the weird but okay Onanie Master Kurosawa, the cute teen coming-of-age tale A Silent Voice, and the horrific and curiously relatable I am a Hero.

It came as a bit of a shock. Why was nobody talking about manga? Forget anime, most of it, I believe, is irritating and puerile. But manga, that’s a whole new level of art, a formidable tradition rooted in history, a body of work so huge and extensive, like another dimension in space. Manga is virtually a cinematic storyboard complete with minute details, dialogue, landscape, sound effects, camera angle, lighting, shot depth, and so on. I find it amazing that people worked manually to create these detailed panels and characters that go on for a couple hundred or thousand pages, depending on the manga’s popularity.

Continue reading “On Discovering Manga”

On Lucky Jim and my Problem with Wodehouse

It is seldom that I find a fictional character that I can genuinely relate with. Or, to put it mildly, that I am able to comprehend the philosophical POV of another person. I have written earlier about Holden Caulfield and Christopher Boone. The greatest joys of reading Lucky Jim in my graduate days was the discovery of a relatable soul. More than in the character Dixon, but in the implied author (yes, I know my bit of narratology). He was excruciatingly funny, the way descriptions bring out vivid pictures of silly everyday life and persons, the unapologetic loserliness of the protagonist, the hypocrisies of academia, the embarrassing sadness of living.

It’s unfortunate that the book is not popular, and that the people I recommended it to found it boring and tedious. They’d rather prefer Wodehouse with his pretentious, monotonous, trivial hotchpotch of wordplay, misunderstandings, idiosyncratic characters and endless repartee. Wodehouse, I admit, is fun for a depressing and hectic day because it takes away the steam with its childish revel in nonsense.

Continue reading “On Lucky Jim and my Problem with Wodehouse”

Symmetry

An 8mp snapshot from a boat ride via Alappuzha, Kerala.

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