Friday, September 29, 2006

When I Die...

I will try hard to protect this blog from becoming one of those mushy-mushy philosophical blogs; and will try a bit not to sound gloomy either. Believe me, it's a very matter of factly, philosophical piece.

Thoughts about death often come to me when I go to bed everyday. As I put my head on the pillow, I think of death as going to sleep. And then, I often start enumerating the circumstances that could possibly surround my death, whenever it happens.

I rarely suffer from sleeplessness, thank Goodness. But when I do, it's mostly due to a raging emotion -- of unvented hatred, jealousy, unrequitted love, feelings of guilt, apprehensions of future...such negative thoughts. While there goes on a storm in my mind, I am totally aware of the fruitlessness of this wakefulness. I wish I had got some sleep, but it wouldn't come then.

Sometimes, the sleep doesn't come due to my gluttony. A heavy dinner with a perfect knowledge of the consequences. A heavy tummy, this time the storm happening there instead of in the head. And tossing around in the bed. Awful!

And then there are days that had some particularly good experience: a rare pat from the guide, an appreciative remark from a colleague or friend. A lusty look from an attractive girl (may be imagined!), a show of affection from a girl for whom, may be, I nurture a tiny little soft corner in my heart, mom calling up and saying she dreamed about me and was worried, a piece of code running perfectly, a theorem getting proved, an idea striking. A cartoon coming out the very way I had visualised it in my mind before making it. All these cause me to intentionally ward off the sleep for few moments more, just so that I could gloat a little longer about that nice experience.

Once in a while, there are these torturous nights when the thought of something I badly crave to do, but don't know how to, keep me waking for hours. Research, for the most number of times, and drawing is another. The few hours of deep slumber in the wee hours would be preceded and often followed by a painful half-wakeful state flashing images of unimplemented modules of an implementation, intuitive but unproved research propositions, beautiful paintings not made by me. Though, I would finally pass into a sleep giving up all hopes of making all those hallucinations a reality onto the next day, I would usually wake up too groggy and bleary eyed to be able to do anything useful.

On the other hand, there are these nights which follow a particularly productive day, when I come back with some more work to do, planning that I will finish the thinking work in the minutes that precede the sleep. Often that happens; often it gets aborted by the body and mind giving up to an overwhelming exhaustion.

But sweetest are those nights when I come back after an honest day's work, all tired and broken. No! Neiter necessarily having seen great successes that day, nor any tantalising look of desire for me in some beautiful eyes. It's just a day when I spent all my energy in doing something well-meaning and happy. Irrespective of how it fits into the grand design of my life; irrespective of how it adds value to the society. That would be a night with a complete realisation that all energy is now spent, everything has been done. And each drop of it was spent relishing an honest -- perhaps very modest -- act of fulfilment. A small program. A proof. A beautiful letter or blog. A nice sketch. A long chat with a bosom friend. The joy that I feel at that moment comes not from the value or meaningfulness of the experience. But from my honest, unbriddled involvement in it. I have no desire to experience it once more; nor any plans for the next day. Just plain, sweet exhaustion! I just make my bed, curl up under the bedsheet with a sweet smile of satisfaction and fulfilment, and am asleep even before that smile has gone.

I often wonder, how I would die.
Will death come after playing hide and seek with me, momentarily preventing me from departing from a body and mind filled with agony of hatred, jealousy and strife?
Or will it come after letting me writhe a few moments more in agony and remorse for having abused my body and mind with poisonous substances and thoughts.
Or will it approach me ambivalently while I hallucinate about what I could've, but didn't, do or achieve?
Or will it abort a joyous experience with its long expected arrival when I would just have had a glimpse of a long elusive achievement?
Or will it come suddenly one day even as I would be planning my next move?

Or -- oh how I wish it were this way! -- she would one day just take my broken body into her folds, after having allowed me to lead a life of humble fulfilment, when I know I have lived it enough and want no more of it; when I am at ease with whatever little love, wealth, health and fame I have earned; when I am at ease with myself, my littleness, my insignificance. When I am satisfied, not perhaps about what the life gave me, but certainly about how I dealt with her.

That's how I would wish to die one day! :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Selfishness Inside Out

There's a subtle difference between true selflessness and selfishness worn inside out.

There are lots of people who wear their selfishness inside out. I will give examples of two such varieties. That'll clarify.

One. Over nice people. People who always are eager to pay all bills, carry all loads, do all things, and give you public praises for things you haven't done. I feel these are people who subconsciously feed a deeply engrained feeling of superiority which makes them feel that charity is the best expression of love. Don't they understand that pride is one of deepest characteristics of all humans? Don't they understand that people wish to pay too, they too wish to carry their own loads, they too are noble enough to do a favour or service without truly expecting radio announcements being made about their greatness? Sometimes, I strongly see a link between this and certain forms of charity. Some people, absolutely self-centred, proud and immodest in their personal lives often indulge fiercely in activities of charity. I feel, such charity does more harm than good. An integral part of charity should be a modesty that only true love for the subject, and not mere condescending pity, can infuse in the acts of charity. I had read Tagore's novel Gora long time ago, and this very philosophy was central theme of the novel. Material charity comes from many sources. But to wash the offers of charity of the stains of false-pride requires a purity not available to many.

Two. Unharming people. People may want not to harm others for two reasons. The first kind, they truly feel others' pain and wouldn't like pain to befall anyone because it pains them as if the hurt were their own. These are authentic spiritually elevated people. They are rare. The second kind is those who don't want to be a reason for anyone's harm. The roots of this feeling lie in a deep rooted insecurity about being implicated for any crime, not in their real concern for someone's pain. These people would go out of their way to prevent themselves ever becoming the cause of someone's inconvenience. Sometimes, if you are at the other end, you will distinctly sense the extent of their inverted selfishness in that they will not appreciate that you too are capable of some good-naturedness and don't mind a bit of trouble for your friend. But they will avoid letting such situations come as if that'd give you some weapon of offense against them.

True selflessness doesn't make one more charitable. It makes one more harmonious with himself and others. Selflessness is the breaking of the walls between me, they and the whole universe. Selfishness is the drapery worn by the self to segregate it from other entities. Worn whichever way, it always accentuates the divides that our small minds have created.

This blog is an untidy vent to feelings that have arisen from recent personal experiences.

Related links:

Justifiability of Kindness

Friday, September 08, 2006

These Womenfolk!

Truly, I have felt that pang of envy for the womenfolk.

Mostly it arises from my having a strong admiration for the qualities they
have. One is beauty. Let me tell you that I am talking about 'sexual
attractiveness' before I start giving some lofty impression about the word
'beauty'. I feel that it's very easy for a woman to attract a man, and
destroy him completely. I have felt helpless several times in my life facing
some girl, to whom I have no reason to feel weak if one takes into
consideration the higher up qualities, but just because, somewhere deep down
I have a feeling of amour towards her physical beauty. Just because, all my amour propre has been blown to smithereens by her physical beauty.

A related feeling of envy is how proud they generally are about their body.
How they love pampering and decorating it. I remember an incident from my
childhood, when, in one of my cousins' wedding, all ladies of the house had
locked themselves up in a room and wouldn't let anybody know what they were
doing. It seems they were decking up for the function. I remember very well
how I had felt. It was envy, by all means. I couldn't stand it that they had
so much to make out of their getting ready for a function when I didn't know
anything more sophisticated to do than just putting on a new dress in the
name of preparing for a function! Later on, I came in touch with this
idea of making fun of ladies getting late due to elaborate makeup. But,
truly, I still look at their ability to do so, not with a sense of ridicule,
but with a pang of jealousy. :)

Another thing I envy them for is their natural comfort in matters of
emotions. The ease with which they can cry and let their heart out. I would
now be ready to pay in gold for each drop of tear that I would be graced
with in moments of extreme grief, when tears don't just come.

Also, the way they can just pick up a child and shower love on it. I have this strange thing that I like watching kids play at a distance. Often during this spectacle, I get this strong urge to pick them up, and pinch their chubby cheek, or make them sit on my shoulder and run around. But, more often than not, I stiffle that urge. I have this strange impression that kids are scared of my moustache! :( (Are you saying that I should get rid of that obnoxious thing?! Nonono! That won't do!) Women -- starting from a three year girl-kid to an eighty year old granny -- find it their core business to handle babies as if they were born for it (feminists, hold on! It's meant as an ode to the motherly instinct of women, and I would have been very proud to have been born with this instinct)!

Yet, I feel, the roots of all this envy lies in something good, i.e. my admiration for them! :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies

Link to the article.

The author, a physicist, uses jargon from Science to write an article he submitted to a well-regarded journal of social-studies. The self-proclaimed crap got accepted. This not only raises serious questions on the real quality of the journal, but on the seriousness with which the top social-scientists are doing their job.

I personally am very empathetic towards social-scientific, philosophical or artistic studies, and find them essential alongside rigorously scienfic studies. But their subjects are inherently susceptible to clouded thoughts, and verbosity and sophistry. Protecting authentic intellect from getting mixed with utter farce is not just difficult in their cases, it's very very important!