Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Thoughts - Love_Lust

There is an interesting essay in The New Yorker on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I suppose the author is basically making a point that Anna Karenina is indeed a love story and not a lust story so presented in a latest movie based on the novel.

I read the novel seventeen years ago. I suppose classics are wasted on teenagers. I don't remember anything from the novel except for that one scene.

Anna was planning to return home after visiting her brother's. Her nephews and nieces were very much attached to her. So one day before the departure she became aloof to them. When they felt that their aunt no longer gave them any attention they also withdrew from her.

I don't know why but I remember this.

Regarding the character Anna, I suppose, she is a regular heterosexual and heteroamoural woman. But I thought Emma Bovary was a more rounded character than Anna. Maybe I can understand Emma better as she also comes from a middle class family where money is a constant requirement. In fact, her tragedy is her misfortune with money even though according to my understanding she shouldn't be succumbing to materialist addiction. Anna's story I can only read as a distant observer as I don't have the background to relate.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random Thoughts - Astrology

I have this nagging thought that whether one should only oppose Astrology as a pseudo-science or should also consider it as a criminal offense if an astrologer makes negative predictions. I would guess sometimes they should even be arrested for culpable homicide. Two events have set me thinking in this direction.

Couple of years ago, I participated in a discussion in an atheist forum. One of the participants gave many examples where he had seen the predictions of an astrologer coming true. I found many of them dubious but the one prediction that interested me was about his father's death. According to him, his father died on the same day that was predicted by the astrologer.

I know a family who are hopeless believers. Unlike that rationalist with an ambiguous attitude towards astrology because of his experiences, I get plenty of hilarious examples from this family that only strengthens my conviction about its pseudo-science status. But I suppose I should be neutral and go by only the scientific studies. Couple of recent ones in the family are;

1. An old woman who is supposed to be dead by August 4th of this year is still alive
2. A young man is looking for a suitable match. He has 'Mars Fault' so can only marry a girl with that condition. But there is an additional clause that faults in both Horoscopes should lie in same house. Or so their astrologers had told.

From the prospective brides' side, it turns out that;
- The additional clause that faults should lie in the same house is wrong and in fact based on other positions, faults in different houses are auspicious and the same house is dangerous
- The guy's horoscope reading itself is wrong and he doesn't even have that 'Mars Fault'!

These prospective brides' astrologers are even more reputed than the guy's astrologers or so accepted by the guy's family. I'm sure they will overcome this momentary crisis of faith and get back to astrologers with even more vigour. Last checked they haven't gone to that astrologer and asked their money back(or chided him) since the old woman is not dead.

Anyway, I believe the reason this old woman didn't die like that old man was because he knew about the prediction and she didn't (keeping underlying medical conditions common in both cases). I would think any negative prediction would have psychological impact like 'white coat hypertension'. It would be better to study any such "successful" negative predictions with this angle. What if those persons would have had few more years to live but for those predictions?

Monday, November 05, 2012

babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye

Search for "babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye" and you'll find hundreds of links to this famous song composed by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh. He composed this when he was exiled by the East India Company, when they took over his kingdom.

Satyajit Ray's only Hindi movie, - "shatranj ke khiladi", based on Munshi Premchand's short story is to be watched to understand the character of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

I've translated this song into English, trying to retain the poetry.

O’ father, the home I grew up in is slowly
fading away;
Four men are bedecking my palanquin (coffin)
 with flowers;
And soon I have to leave behind
all that is mine.

I see an unfamiliar garden that seems
a mountain to me;
And my new courtyard seems
an outside land;

O’ father, I’m going away, never to
come back!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Random Thoughts- Love_Lust

Gustave Flaubert's Emma is a complicated character and the setting is confusing. I tried to dissect her love and lust profile. Some of the points that I could list out to understand her character are the following.

1. She doesn't feel any love for Charles, her husband
2. She lusts after men both rich (Rodolphe) and poor (Leon)
3. She doesn't feel any maternal love towards Berthe, her daughter
4. She is a materialist and addicted to that
5. She doesn't have any words to express her love
6. She isn't smart enough to see through the game of Lherueux, the shopkeeper
7. She is smart and quick witted enough to give excuses to her husband when her affairs were about to be exposed
8. She is seduced by Rodolphe like ruling class seducing poor farmers and
9. by Leon like an actor seducing his audience

From (1), (2), (5), (6) and (8). I would say she's a heterosexual, inamoural woman victim of manipulations of capitalist and feudal patriarchal societies acting in their own ways.

However, her lack of love to her daughter appears to be added to give her somewhat a negative character. The areas of the brain that gets turned on during sexual love, romantic love and parental love are mostly mutually exclusive. Even if one lacks romantic love, I suppose that doesn't make her/him automatically lose parental love.

(4) is rather strange. The brain region that overlaps with addiction is love and not lust. But the character is inamoural so I suppose she shouldn't have any addictions too.

(7), I suppose, again, added to give her a negative touch. Or it may be that she's a product of  the feudal patriarchal society where the person is dumb in front of a stronger one and manipulative of a weaker one. So, it might not be a negative character and even here too she's a victim of patriarchal thought that she's imbibed (and resulting in victimization of the weaker characters).

(9) is a direct message that by taking seriously make belief world of dramas and stories people become irrational. Or in other words by conquering their crave for love seducers can make them open up their lust. But being an inamoural woman Emma shouldn't be succumbing to the charms of the words in stories and if my characterization as an inamoural is incorrect then Madame Bovary should have been a story of love instead of lust( Emma found again in adultery all the platitudes of marriage). Even the shy Leon gains her after he becomes "confident with women" or after he masters feudal-patriarchal game of conquest.

Gutenberg Project

Friday, November 02, 2012

Idea of god

Just a flash idea. It came when I was listening to a Bhimsen Joshi's classical rendition - "main to tumara daas janam janam.." (I'm your servant for eternity, in this life and every new life).

Though god has been declared dead by many philosophers and in today's effluent society, the market value of god has gone down significantly, when the idea of god originated, I think it was really revolutionary!

So, this idea is about why it's good for a poor man, who may be constantly exploited by the man he works for, to believe in god. Consider that you are working for a man, who swears at you and treats you badly but you have no option but to oblige because you don't know what will happen if you lose this job. Then comes god! You say to yourself, I'm not bothered by what this man does to me. I'm only answerable to god. When the rich man you work for says,  "Just see what I will do to you, you xxxxx." You can say - ".... there is god" The rich man is not offended because the rich man also believes in the supremacy of god. You, on the other hand, believe god is on your side. It gives you solace. This way you have an invisible friend. Apart from a strong shoulder to lean on in difficult times (like death of a dear one), idea of god also gives you right to relax and take time off to celebrate festivals. When the rich man says - "Come on Sunday, I need this cleaned up." you can say - ".... not on Sunday, there is puja in the temple...." etc.

This thought helps me understand why the Black slaves of North America turned to Christianity. Same thing holds good to poor people working in a feudal society. It also explains why a revolutionary society (like Communist society) wants to ban religion. If one believes in religion, his response to exploitation will be naturally subdued. Karl Marx wrote "Religion is the opium of the people". This thought helps me understand Marx's statement better.

This thought is making me take pride in religion again. Long live religion! We just cannot afford to be a god-less society. But will religion stop revolution? Perhaps, but revolution is always run by a few frontrunners and rest of the people need god to lead a bearable life in his harsh world.

There is a corollary too to this idea. One can try to replace god by market in the above example. You are a poor man; you are exploited. Over time the society (including you) has outgrown god but you have a strong market. So you turn to the market (just like you turned to god in the above context) to escape exploitation.You quit your job and get a new one. You continue doing this till you get an employer who respects you and you find happiness. This should be the ideal situation in an ideal world. This will bring an end to all exploitation. But...the market is not infallible like god. When the market is good, you are fine but when it turns bad, you become a slave. But now, having lost your god, you have no one to turn to. You cannot be happy in this situation without god. Therefore, I believe, it's becoming more relevant to keep god alive in today's market-oriented world where poverty is on the rise and not the contrary.

If one believes that happiness and pleasant life is the single most important thing in this world for all people - rich and poor - and that a large percentage of the people in the world will always be poor, then one cannot imagine a world without god!