Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
— L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

No.78 from this fascinating anthology linked via Jabberwock, who also has additions to the list.

And co-incidentally No.94 -
In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together — Carson McCullers
is from the book 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter' referred to in 'A Love Song for Bobby Long' which has a ton of fun lines. (Did that rhyme? Did I just do that???)

Monday, January 30, 2006

If I am right, do you have to be wrong?
Uneventful day. Things are moving at their usual snail pace. I am battling with EndNote trying to figure out how to make a bibliography with the least effort. Besides the point of course that expertise with said software will not make up for lack of content. I'm on it. This year, is for sure, the getting-out year. Or so I would like to think.

I am suffering from roving eye syndrome. NPR just announced that there has been a rodent invasion in Chile. And I digress. Roving eye, yes. Am whoring myself among multiple theorists, unable to either make sense or come to rest. Everything looks good and it's all customizable, especially when one specilizes in the anthropology of globalization ( synecdoche for sure)...but this semester then must be a certificate course in the fine art of paring down. Keeping it simple. Thinking straight.

Am I talking about blinkers?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I have a paper acceptance for this, and a whole week of endless tasks. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. And tea, and whatever source of caffeine I can find.

Restlessness has crept in. Along with intolerance, impatience and all the other irritating prefixes. The naysayers. And make no mistake, I love them all. At any point of time, I only have to locate the hyphens and the prefixes to figure out the number of things that are wrong with life and its demons. Right now, I detect fear, uncertainty and frustration...in that order. Fear of inability to write exams, fear of prospectus fear of never being able to make sense of why exactly it is that I do what I do...uncertainty about whether I will ever manage a week of unending certainty...and frustration with the lack of tolerable humans. The last I haven't been able to figure out. Either my bars are too high or I do not make enough of an effort or I do not have the time or I cannot afford the risk or the man with the blue turban is announcing the end of the world. Maybe all?

Well, truth be told, this is the situation. I have been lucky. I have known people who care. And I will not settle for less.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Did I like 'Rang De Basanti'? Like is too strong a word. Did I dislike it? Dislike demands too much involvement. At best, the language and the lines hover at the periphery of my attention; at worst, it threatens to be an irritant.

Not a preachy film, yet moralistic.
Not demagoguery, yet borderline.
Not unaware, yet superficial.

I wouldn't even mind if the film were nihilistic. But it is not. What it is is a surefire attention grabber, the movie equivalent of a 30 second Amul ad. The parallels lack integrity, the homology between freedom and recapturing the essence of the Indian nation, again commits the fatal mistake of assuming an Indianness and a unity. On the contrary,ruptures in this assumed notion are what cause the very condition of conflict. And further, drawing upon Bhagat Singh and Azad assumes as legitimate the notion of violence against a valid and named oppressor. Straw dogs and straw hats. Save me from the sun.

The characters are paper warriors.
Aamir Khan is the loud, Punjabi-speaking, good-at-heart neo-bumpkin, happy and safe in the coterie of friends who admire and crowd around him. His transformation though is real, his confusions empathetic, his sadness touching. Kunal Kapoor, playing Aslam is suitably restrained, bringing as best as possible to a role that is a marginal improvement on the good Muslim citizen. Siddharth tries his hand at intensity, threatening to overplay cynicism to the point where it comes across as another Freudian childhood emitting another shaken infant. Sharman Joshi is a revelation, bumbling, joyous, confused and schizophrenic. Atul Kulkarni...hmm, now that's a tough one. Do I believe that there exist people like the role he plays? Sure. Do I think transformation is effected that easy or that late? Duh, no. This underlying appeal to humanity bothers me. Aren't we too far gone for this? Can evil sometimes not be unreasonable, out-of-control, running amok evil? Or is that not what we see? Yes I know that a constant last breath appeal to humanity is what will probably keep the human race with a voice loud enough to appeal, but for chrissakes can we move beyond good heart, bad company stereotypes? This is why I loved Abhishek Bachchan's character in Yuva so much more!!! He just was. Unreasonable. Out-of-control. The face of rage, with the power to sustain it. The difference is the difference between Mani Ratnam and Rake(y)sh Mehra. One delves even if he finally tries to wrap himself up into a neat package, the other rants in order to come to where he has already decided to be. Ptsk.

And why are Madhavan, Soha Ali Khan Pataudi, Waheeda Rehman, Kiron Kher and Alice Patton afterthoughts in this review? Well, I'm just going with the movie, what do I know?In keeping with historical authenticity, it's only the men who are at the forefront of revolution it seems. Even if the woman sounds the call, it is her fiance whose intensely righteous life triggers this reaction. I have a number of peeves with this literal obsession with the famous five, but that I will leave for another day.

In the end, do I think Rang De Basanti to be more than reasonably entertaining? Sure. Have the actors done a good job? Absolutely. Does it have glitz? Yup. Does it score well on technical mastery, comic timing, the colour of Soha Khan's kameezes, the intonations of Alice Patton's accent? Yes, yes and all yes.
Does it have soul? Only the appearance of.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why would one want to be in a relationship? To be happy I guess.

To live in that uneasy tension between one hand that gives and the other that takes. To play over and over the vicissitudes of power and desire and love and lust and anger and hate till such time as the form becomes evacuated of content and the game becomes devoid of the desire to win. Till time becomes the easy susceptibility of one day into another and life makes meaning only in shock and scandal.
And then it ends. Only to start all over again.

Really? Is that what it is? Or did I get the order wrong?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

It's the first day of the new year...and things are going well so far.

Yesterday started out well, walked around downtown on a beautiful sunny Austin day. There were people milling all over Congress around the Frost Tower, Bank of America, Paramount

and Radisson. Austin City was trying to do a day-long countdown event with dance, music, puppets, et al called 'First night Austin'. Most of the events were amateurish and overhyped, but it was nice to actually see people outside, instead of in their suburban houses and suburban SUVs! (and yes, I have a bone to pick, but I will save that for a drunken night).

Then I was out again in the night listening to Maneja Beto and Grupo Fantasma. The club wasn't overcrowded, the music was good and my friends were around. Not a bad deal, is it now?

And today, I sit and think about life, home, people and dogs...in characteristic bouts of 'event'-based nostalgia...even though I know this is just another artificial marker designed to trap me in its headlights.

If only I could stop according life the privilege of being alive...