Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bullet with Butterfly Wings

The idea is the following. There is a bullet which hurtles down at breakneck speed towards a wall (say). As a cruel joke, the bullet's been provided with butterfly wings. So as not to smash head on to the wall, the bullet tries its best to flap its teeny-weeny pellucid little worthless excuse of a wing to save itself from inevitable destruction. Unfortunately for the bullet, the laws of physics, the eternal party poopers, guide it towards its imminent doom.

With or without the wings - butterfly or otherwise.

And then comes the chorus:

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

...

Heh, I love big, fat, rich rock bands making infinite money off their own suffering, getting richer and doing it all over again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Insanely Funny

A white, American gay guy looking at Indian men (aka Briyanshu's Bollywood Butt Blog)


Has to be seen to be believed. One of the genuine laugh-out-loud-till-you-rip-your-guts-apart moments you will have. Promise!

Link

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reading List (part two)

9) The Brothers Karamzov: Fifth (?) re-read. Plenty more to follow.

10) The Insulted and the Humiliated: This was my second Dostoyevsky book overall. I think I read it first in 10th/11th standard. AK once mentioned (I think in final year) that this book in particular brought him close to tears before he pulled himself together. I'd like to imagine him shedding a couple of tears but the image doesn't quite gel up. How sad!

11) The Difference Engine: The two biggest stalwarts of Science Fiction - William Gibson and Bruce Sterling come together to invent a new sub-genre of Science Fiction - Steampunk. Imagine an alternative past in which Charles Babbage has managed to make his Difference Engine and Ada Lovelace has managed to program the machine. Throw in conspiracies and political intrigue and set up the great London smog of '52 in Victorian times, Lord Byron as the Prime Minister and what follows is a riveting experiment in alternative history telling by two of the most brilliant thinkers of our times.

12) Snow: Orhan Pamuk is a fashionable writer to follow. Especially if you move around in lit circles. So it's not without reason that I came to read him filled with a lot of prejudices. However, having read two of his books - The Black Book and Snow, I must concede that he's won me over. In particular, I think that The Black Book is a stunning read. Snow is awesome too. Very, very highbrow stuff. Recommended to lit junta.

13) Joker: I had blogged about the much anticipated book by Brian Azzarello before also. The book however, is a big let down. A very ordinary story with some stunning artwork in patches. Disappointing overall.

14) Notes from Underground: The most intense hundred page book I keep coming back to. Dostoyevsky kicks ass. Totally.

15) Still Life with Woodpecker: Tom Robbins is currently my favourite writer. This is a terrific book, an enchantingly bizarre love story full of obscure little details with a sardonic, witty, earth shattering explosion of an author. I'll quote the blurb
Still Life with Woodpecker is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that include powerful Arabs, exiled royalty and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.


Another excerpt that I just have to post.

Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.
Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.
Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.
There is only one serious question. And that is:
Who knows how to make love stay?
Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.
Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time.
Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon.


Terrific, heady stuff. I gave this book to AK to carry away to Stanford. I want it back!

Part three of the reading list to follow. Let's see when that happens.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To all Friend-Whores

Down with Facebook!

One of the best articles I've read in a really, really, really long time.

For god's fucking sake, please read it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Reading List (part one)

It's been quite a while since I shared my reading list here. Truth be told, I haven't been reading much at all. So here's a list of the books I've been reading for the past six-seven months.

1) The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul: This Batman comic is written by Grant Morrison. It's a bad read however, full of magic, supernaturalness and otherworldness.

<*Gets prepared for being whacked by Grant Morrison's die hard fans*>

<*Whack, whack, whack*>

<*Emerges with a bloody nose*>

2) War Games Act One (Batman): Nothing great about it either.

<*Yawn*>

3) The Idiot: A fourth (or is it fifth?) re-read of the Dostoyevsky masterpiece. I can do this over and over again and yet not stop being awestruck each and every time I read this book.

4), 5), 6) The Bridge Trilogy (William Gibson): William Gibson has been the noir prophet of cyberpunk and has never failed to amaze me with his minimal, gritty, compact prose about societies of the near future and their interaction with technology. Here is a writer who operates more as a sociologist, argues that culture is shaped by technological shifts and writes about human/societal behaviour in the way no other person can write about (cf: "The street finds its own uses for things"). He was writing about science fictional extrapolations of underground subcultures way before they became big enough to be noticeable (he writes about Otakus and their subculture in near future settings in 1996!).

So it's easily understandable that this trilogy totally kicks ass. The three books of the trilogy: Virtual Light, Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties continue on the Gibsonian theme of the merger of technology and humans and the proliferation of AIs and their effects on society in a dystopic setting, although this time the future is much nearer than that of the earlier Sprawl Trilogy.

Virtual Light, however, is probably the weakest William Gibson book I've read. As a standalone book, I didn't think it was as awesome as his earlier works. Idoru is brilliant. All Tomorrow's Parties (the name is a tribute to the eponymous Velvet Underground song) is the perfect consummation of all the themes explored in the trilogy. The ending is fantastic and reminded me of the awe inspiring, shatteringly earth shaking ending of Neuromancer (relax, I am not going to rave all over again about how great the book is).

Highly recommended!

7) Pattern Recognition (William Gibson): This book is set in the present and features a mysterious series of film footages found on the internet and the hunt for its maker. A thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking read.

The story started in the book continues over in the second installment, Spook Country - a book I have not yet read (actually the only Gibson book I haven't read till now).

If one observes the way Gibson has been writing, one sees that the timelines of worlds that he's been writing about have become more and more close to the current world timeline. He started off with Burning Chrome, (the anthology) and then went on to write the Sprawl Trilogy (set in a far future) and the Bridge Trilogy (set in a nearer future). Now come Pattern Recognition and Spook Country set in the present world. Juxtapose this with his now famous statement - "The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed" and you begin to appreciate the remarkable insights that the writer has to offer.

8) Burning Chrome (Anthology) (William Gibson): The groundbreaking anthology that set Cyberpunk on the highbrow science fiction manifesto. The stories are trademark Gibson - taut, spare, tense stories about lonely anti heroes in SF settings suffused with heavy doses of film noir. Terrific stuff.

The rest thirteen books will be covered in part two. Don't hold your breaths though.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Like My Juice Pulpy

Surendra Mohan Pathak, the prolific Hindi pulp fiction writer is being translated into English!

Link

Do read this if you have even the slightest interest in Pulp Fiction.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Killer

Isn't Cortez the Killer simply the most brilliant song ever? I think the closest one word can come to describe the mood it builds up is lugubrious (yeah, I mugged Baron's just like every wannabe kid of my generation).

The laidback, sombre guitar riffs at the beginning, the heavy, brooding feeling the song induces, the gradual surfacing of the vocals towards the middle of the song and the slow fade out with the words "What a killer" overpower me in ways I thought happened in movies only.

And totally orthogonal to the story of the Conquistadors, the emergence of the theme of lost love in the last stanza ("And I know she's living there, And she loves me to this day..."), a recurring motif in so many of Neil Young's songs, grips me by the scruff of my neck. I wonder if a more mournful song will ever cross my path.

Ah, Neil Young, I would've been a fan even if you weren't the Godfather of Grunge!

Schopenhauer was right. Take refuge in music - the cure that ails us all.