Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hello son, one moment please? Life ought to be a string of shining moments laid out on the dark velvet of necessary actions and less frequently, unnecessary ones. Your kindness in hearing me out would suggest your agreement. I am humbled by it. I hope this fortuitous crossing of paths serves to heighten the sparkle of the rest of your life. I am a traveler on an accursed road that tracks every rainbow with a pot of gold at its end. I can only move in one direction. But that’s just a rule of this game. The curse has to do with beginnings and endings.

When I first set foot on the road, I started at a canter. I knew that I would travel faster and smarter than those before me. My thoughts raced ahead of me, colored my dreams and consoled me when I woke up. The gold lay heavy, solid and pregnant with possibilities in front, ever in front of me.

Then one day I woke up and there it was in my thoughts, a monstrous Idea, fully formed and confounding in its simplicity. On which end of the rainbow lies the gold? I had been running helter-skelter since I began my travels. What if it lay closer to the beginning than the end? The Idea fed off my doubts and loss of faith. What does faith have to do with it you ask? Everything! What is a traveler without a faith in his eventual destination? The Idea was now a succubus that weighed me down. If you admit the possibility that the pot of gold could be at either end, then what is to stop it from appearing in the middle or to not exist at all. At first, I raced off the road and began looking in my immediate vicinity. Then I started traveling in sinusoidal wave (ha! ha!) about the axis of the road. And my mood followed my footsteps. One moment I would despair of ever finding the goal and the other I would be racing ahead in desperation, hoping that a focus to my physical exertions would allow me to rediscover my first conviction. I traveled a lot and now I am at a standstill. Here I stand, hoping for inspiration, from a fellow traveler like yourself or a voice of thunder emanating from a burning bush.

Millions upon millions walk this road; some moving with such purpose that millions move in their wake; some walk without any notion of destination, the faithless travelers the worse of the lot; some, like me remain still, embracing their succubus which is now a familiar, halting passers-by and hoping to unload some of their doubts in the forlorn hope that their own will be lighter for it; others remain still in the belief that all movement is an illusion and it’s the road that moves beneath us; some will wander off the road before their journey is at an end convinced that the only illusion is the pot of gold; a very few will strain every sinew and nerve in the belief that that which makes them faster and stronger is a reward in it’s own right and pots of gold be damned. What are your thoughts on this son? Do you have an insight that can help me? Son?

Monday, December 25, 2006

A friend put me onto a good thing the other day. She's been reading a manga series called "Lone Wolf and Cub" and recommended it to me. I was hesitant because I have never been impressed by manga art. But I am glad that I picked up the first few books of the series.

LWaC is the creation of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima and runs to around 8700 pages. Created in 1970, it chronicles the saga of a Ronin (Samurai without a master) called Ogami Itto and his son Daigoro who he wheels about in a cart. Ogami Itto is an assassin with an unknown mission that is revealed over 28 volumes.

I personally think that the Sandman series is the most amazing piece of creative work that I have ever seen. Though I have read but the first two volume of LWaC, it seems to be comparable. The premises are different and comparisons cannot and should not be made, but the cinematic artwork of Kojima San and the multi-layered storytelling of Koike San makes this one of the most compelling pieces of visual art I have ever seen.

The storyline is set in the Edo Shogunate period (14th-16th century) Japan. Each volume contains 3-4 short stories that move the saga along. Thus far, each story has had a different structure to its telling. It is remarkable to me that they were experimenting this boldly with visual narrative back in 1970. Small wonder that it is a winner of the Eisner award.

In summary, to those looking for something different, something that will be hailed as one of the masterpieces of the 20th Century in a few hundred years, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

List of items purchased yesterday at the Forum -

[1] Kingdom Come - by Mark Waid and art by Alex Ross
[2] 100 Bullets: The counterfifth detective
[3] 100 Bullets: Six feet under the gun
[4] Serendipities - Umberto Eco
[5] Adam, one afternoon - Italo Calvino
[6] Napoleon of Notting Hill - G K Chesterton
[7] VCD : X-Men - The Last Stand
[8] VCD : Baba Ramdev's Pranayama

Any biblio-profilers out there? I hope it's nothing serious.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I was watching the 1999 movie, "Music of the Heart" the other day. The movie is based on the life of Roberta Guaspari, who apparently influenced a lot of youths through her violin program at schools in East Harlem. Meryl Streep stars as the music teacher with a heart of gold.

The premise was nice and so was the music. But what kept me glued to the television, despite the barrage of meaningless adverts on Zee every other minute, was Meryl Streep. Young actresses looking for role models can do worse than see Meryl in this movie for a quick course in grace and dignity. No gesture wasted, no exaggerated emotions, an economy of expression; I could go on.

Now I have not had a chance to see much of her work before. Mostly because her genre choices are very far removed from mine. But I did a bit of investigation to find out a bit more about her films. I was not surprised to learn that she is most nominated actor for the Oscar of all time (13 nominations). Just goes to show I suppose that quality is not beholden (at least all the time) to hype. In any case, I just wish there were more actors out there of her quality.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Effortlessly Intense

There is Truth to be found in the most fantastic of fiction. That the "Lord of the Rings" is not a religious text, is not because it lacks the necessary scope, obscurantism, romance and gore, but because it has yet to find the right sort of fanatic.

I have stumbled upon a recurring concept in the sword and magic tales that I think to be a Truth. This is the concept of calmness in the midst of frenetic action. The apprentice swordsman is coached by his master to never let emotion touch him in battle; Star Wars freaks take note that the young Luke is told by Obi-Wan to relax and let the Force act through him. Rahul Bose, the actor of "English August" fame, declaimed that he wished to be "effortlessly intense" in one of his interviews. I forget the context in which the words were said but I thought they formed a beautiful pair and aptly describe this eye-of-the-storm concept.

Now I have never been in a swordfight, nor been trained as a Jedi Knight, much desired activities as they are. But I have faced a six ounce hard-leather ball, propelled at 80 mph in cricket matches. Those times that I have been successful, I was posessed by an eerie calm. Perfect concentration with no thought of the result of the next delivery. Perhaps in this physically obvious and fairly limited way I have experienced "the peace that passeth all understanding". And mayhaps Karmanye Va Adhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana begins to make practical sense.