Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Monday, December 29, 2008




Friday, December 12, 2008

Wicked funny

Browsing for info on the Mahabharata, I run into this terribly funny collection of "exam howlers". Surrealism + Joyce. Excerpts:

Some of the patients were plastered, & some were hanging from the ceiling.

Both his legs were cut off, & both his hands, & most of his brains were hanging through the side of his head; & he was lying on his bed -- crying.

These peace-loving animals start their life as small, furry balls, & they grow up and with any luck will find a mate, & have small, furry balls themselves.

My aunt has been unduly disturbed of late, having two small children through the utter carelessness of the local dustman.

The octopus wrapped his testicles round the diver & strangled him.

Sharks were infesting the area, & one of them was a non-swimmer.

As he walked through the room he heard the sound of heavy breeding.

(Phone-call to the Police): Please come at once: there has been an attempted sexual orgy, and five people are dead.

Clowns tie their trousers with string which, when it is pulled, shows a hair-raising scene.

I took out a book & settled down to read, but soon put it down because I couldn't read.

People were running all over the place, the boys in shorts & the girls in hysterics.

If he is not checked at the right age he will gradually develop into a vandal, & it will not be long before he is a magistrate.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Claude Lévi-Strauss at 100

'[...] I asked him whether he might be the author of the graffiti that I had seen etched in his 16th-arrondissement apartment building’s elevator on the way up. It read “Mort aux cons” (“Death to idiots”). Lévi-Strauss grinned at my joke, but did not deny it.'

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Life must be understood backwards; but... it must be lived forward." - Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, October 10, 2008

Because I'm bored, book list time! Read and burn!

"The difference between homicide and suicide is mostly a matter of where you perceive the door top to the cage to be." - David Foster Wallace, in the 1996 novel Infinite Jest.

Last month, Wallace committed suicide.

"We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words." - John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman

"I like them to talk nonsense. That's man's one privilege over all creation. Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err! You never reach any truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely a hundred and fourteen." - from Crime and Punishment

"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!" - from Moby Dick


Thursday, October 09, 2008


Prof John Sutherland: "If the grey men of Stockholm felt daring (they never do) they could give [the Nobel Prize for Literature] to the best living American poet, Robert Zimmerman [aka Bob Dylan]."

"Writers have always spat in the soup of the high and mighty". - Günter Grass

"Bad men do what good men dream."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Truth and doubt

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
- Rene Descartes

Friday, September 12, 2008


Enjoy. The online radio station is playing a piece by Ustad Vilayat Khan right now. Exquisite. Isn't beauty the central aim of Indian music? I feel the same cannot be said of Western classical music. Music of the Baroque period may be an exception. Baroque is my favourite Western mode; Bach my favourite composer. Beauty, invention, art, even devotion.

Happy Onam.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Movies I saw recently...

Andrei Tarkovsky

Ivan's Childhood
Andrei Tarkovsky

The Wild Bunch
Sam Peckinpah

Ashes of time
Wong Kar-Wai

Carl Theodor Dreyer

Woman in dunes
Hiroshi Teshigahara

Ghost Dog : The Way Of The Samurai
Jim Jarmusch

In a Lonely Place
Nicholas Ray

Dead Man
Jim Jarmusch

The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Edward scissorhands
Tim Burton

The Happening
M.Night Shyamalan

The man who knew too little
Jon Amiel

Andrew Stanton

Tony Bancroft And Barry Cook

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Manny Farber, film critic

Friday, August 22, 2008


Finished The Canterbury Tales. At times, the genius took my breath away - like the Wife of Bath segment. Started off on Jane Austen's Emma (1816). Austen truly is a genius of the novel - quiet and wise. What an artist! It is held by many that true character is revealed by extremities of situation - a Conradian view. To know what you are, you have to visit the heart of darkness. But I remember someone having said: "Any fool can face a crisis. It is the day-to-day living that wears one out." In that sense, Austen's quiet observations of domestic life may be one of the truest statements on the human condition. I remember reading her Persuasion years back and feeling it to be like a story told by a very wise, very old woman. A lesson that can be learnt only through experience. Experience and age were the very themes of the novel. Reading Emma now, I am also aware of the formal construction of the novel - its art. An unobtrusive narrative that flows with very few agitations, with a slightly detached air that lends a cosmic comicality to man and woman's most ardent efforts. At the same time free from the sentimentality that cloys some of the best work of Dickens, who was the later novelist. In some ways, Dickens is more feminine than Austen - for control of form, I think Austen ranks higher. Both are, however, among the great entertainers. Once, in a grey mood, I thought of Dickens' novels and looked forward to life again! Long ago, under the stars of a cold night, after the raw meals of the hunting life, we gathered about the communal fire and listened as the old man spun his tale. And for many this was the time of day they looked forward to the most. Life in its living gave no pause to reflect. But now as the old man weaved his plots, we saw the moral in the event, our character reflected in the one who stayed and fought or in the one who ran away, the patterns of life. And we learnt that understanding and wisdom is a great thing, and though among the last of life's fruits, not among the least to be prized.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Finished The Corrections. Watching “Deadwood”, Season 3. Reading The Canterbury Tales.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

On bachelorhood

from the New English Review.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross. 1992. Directed by James Foley. Written by David Mamet, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 play. Top notch. Art. Ensemble acting par excellence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Movies that I saw recently

Pather Panchali
Satyajit Ray

Chungking Express
Wong Kar-Wai

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
Tom Tykwer

Welcome to Sarajevo
Michael Winterbottom

The Wild Bunch
Sam Peckinpah

Robert Zemeckis

9 songs
Michael Winterbottom

Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa

Martin Scorsese

La Grande Illusion
Jean Renoir

The Passion Of Joan Of Arc
Carl Theodore Dreyer

The Cranes Are Flying
Mikhail Kalatozov

Beyond Borders
Martin Campbell

The Kingdom
Peter Berg

I am watching some of these for the second or third time.
Planning to add a little comment on these films in the coming days.

Friday, July 04, 2008

ah! films

“I believe the film world must be analogous to be world of the circus, where the bond between the bearded lady, the lilliputians, the trapeze arists, the clowns, is greater than the one they have with their normal brothers and sisters who live 'civilian' lives away from the circus."
Federico Fellini

Friday, June 27, 2008

Releasing today: Wall-E. Pixar appears to have done it again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Having watched him in the gloriously entertaining Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) couple of days back, last night I watched one George Clooney co-wrote and directed, Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) - a serious, upright recounting of the revered American television journalist Ed Murrow's conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy, that also examines the role of the media in a democracy and raises pertinent questions about American, and therefore world, politics.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Donnie Brasco. 1997. Al Pacino, Johnny Depp. Directed by Britisher Mike Newell. Good film.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Yesterday I started off on Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections. Published in 2001. About a hundred pages in the afternoon, and it has lived up to its stupendous acclaim.

Insomnia has got me on a regular diet of cinema. Trainspotting was a highlight. As was Sidney Lumet's debut as director, 12 Angry Men. The acting was uniformly superb. For me the standout was the explosive Lee J Cobb, who had been so good even alongside Marlon Brando's iconic performance in On the Waterfront. It's also great to know that, having made his first film at the age of 32 in 1957, Lumet last year made Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which received rave reviews. In the 1970's, Lumet had directed Al Pacino in some of his best films: Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. His book Making Movies is considered by some to be the best ever by a filmmaker on his craft.

Christopher Nolan's Memento was original and its techniques exhilarating in their audacity. His script calls for attention and repays with gripping excitement.

Couple of weeks back I read E Annie Proulx's (famous as the author of the short story "Brokeback Mountain" - the basis of the Ang Lee film) novel The Shipping News (1993). An extremely impressive work; very readable too despite the argot of Newfoundland fisherfolk. The character studies that make up the book are unfailingly engaging, and we are made to feel for the decidedly unheroic protagonist Quoyle. Wise and witty too. A favourite passage of mine, perhaps for personal reasons:

'There's two ways of living here now. There's the old way, look out for your family, die where you was born, fish, cut your wood, keep a garden, make do with what you got. Then there's the new way. Work out, have a job, somebody tell you what to do, your brother's in South Africa, your mother's in Regina, buy every goddamn cockadoodle piece of Japanese crap you can. Leave home. Go off to look for work. And some has a hard time of it.'

I prefer the old way.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Five terrible atrocities against women around the world

Please dont support these atrocities

The 1000 best movies ever made

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Philosophical Films

A categorized list of about 200 films that deal with philosophical and religious themes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."

Friday, April 11, 2008

What does it take to run Microsoft?

Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, 2001


At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Phone-line interference in the form of children's voices singing just beyond the range of human hearing, mole-narrators meticulously describing their protective burrows, salesmen less shocked by being turned into beetles than embarrassed by the fact that their boss and family might see them this way - Kafka's warped and absurd snapshot of 20th-century humanity is, perversely, probably the most objective one there is.
Bataille collapses the sublime into base matter and fragments the self within the kaleidoscope of its desires. He chops man's head off, makes the sun bleed and the sky reek with the stench of God's decomposing flesh.

"Top 10 short stories"

Very few story writers work with the safety net of a plot conceived in advance. They trust in the humming tension of a single opening line or in an image that rises in their mind, or in a fragment of a character's voice.
Remembering Joyce's "The Dead" gave me goosebumps.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

[How could I resist?]

"With or without religion, good people will do good, and evil people will do evil. But for good people to do evil, that takes religion." - Steven Weinberg