Prey by Michael Crichton

•October 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

preymmpfull

Long time. There was nothing much I could do about it. It is that kind of shell you get into. You find yourself things to keep you busy so that the guilt of staying silent does not creep in. One amongst these ‘saviour’ things is a TV series. It can be any TV series to which you take a liking. There are so many of them there. Indulging in them has become a fad and a necessity for the reckless mind. So I was talking about ‘LOST’, an adventure gone horribly sci-fi over the years (over the months-for me). Taking liberties in the name of cutting edge technology is as easy as it gets. One such delusion is the ‘Smoke Monster’, which is drawn considerable curiosity from the fan-base. As so often happens, utter nonsense starts making sense. I  happened to chance upon this old-fashioned novel ‘Prey’ by Michael Crichton which does a tolerable job at explaining this figment. 

It is a fast-paced page-turner. Thats about it. Deserves a day.

Excerpt:

If you want to think of it that way, a human being is actually a giant swarm. Or more preciously, it’s a swarm of swarms, because each organ- blood, liver, kidneys-is a separate swarm. What we refer to as a ‘body’ is really the combination of all these organ swarms. We think our bodies are solid,but that is only because we can’t see what is going on at the cellular level. If you could enlarge the human body, blow it up to a vast size , you would see that it was literally nothing but a swirling mass of cells and atoms, clustered together into smaller swirls of cells and atoms.

Who cares? Well, it turns out a lot of processing occurs at the level of the organs. Human behavior is determined in many places. The control of our behavior is not located in our brains. It’s all over our bodies.

So you could argue that “swarm intelligence” rules human beings too. Balance is controlled by the cerebellum swarm, and rarely comes to consciousness. Other processing occurs in the spinal cord, the stomach, the intestine. A lot of vision takes place in the eyeballs, long before the brain is involved.

And for that matter, a lot of sophisticated brain processing occurs beneath awareness, too. An easy proof is object avoidance. A mobile robot has to devote a tremendous amount of processing time simply to avoid obstacles in the environment. Humans beings do, too, but they are never aware of it-until the lights go out. Then they learn painfully just how much processing is really required. So there’s an argument that the whole structure of consciousness, and the human sense of self control and purposefulness, is a user illusion. We don’t have conscious control over ourselves at all. We just think we do.

Just because human beings went around thinking of themselves as ‘I’ didn’t mean that it was true. And for all we knew, thus damned swarm had some sort of rudimentary sense of itself as an entity. Or, If it didn’t, it might very soon start to.

Pangs of being a writer

•March 1, 2009 • 1 Comment

How many years has it been. I have lost the count of time. I hate the world. I hate being myself. I want to hit upon something after tumbling down this endless gorge. I want to bleed out all thats inside. I do not have any craving for life and I hate death even more. They come and appreciate but they do not know of the cancer of thoughts that inflicts me. Losers all. Fakers all. I love this cancer for it has stuck to me even when life and death backstabbed. There are circles in my head. I end up where I start. Yet I am eternal. No beginning, no end. I want to see red in this perpetual darkness. The red blood of my own thoughts. The thoughts that I hate like I love them.

Roz Roz Boz Mein Zaar Madno

•February 4, 2009 • 3 Comments

baran_final

Historically I have not been an avid fan of Kashmiri Music, but a conversation with dad about the song that was playing on a local FM station brought out the latent liking. The song titled ‘Roz Roz Boz Mein Zaar Madno’ has been penned down by Mahjoor and originally sung by Ghulam Hassan Sofi. The one which we were listening to has been reformatted with a female voice. Anyways the gender does not matter, what matters finally is the emotion it portrays.

The subtle emotion I am referring to, is typified by this screenshot (see picture) of the movie ‘Baran’ (Masterpiece of the Master). As Zahra departs and Lateef endures, a lot is left unsaid. If only Majid Majidi would allow to spoil the scene by choosing words to describe the unspoken, they might be what Mahjoor wrote. (Translation by me)


Roz roz boz mein zaar madno

Daadiey chaaniey chas haa beymaar madno

Stop, stem, impede and listen, The torment that pursues

The affliction is you, the pain imbues

Katche zoon gaejthas, safraes laejthas

Tchaurmakh gaame shahar madno

The moon I resemble, Treaded have I an assured death

Have sought you for ages, In dreams and breath

Yaar daud krooth pyaum, shuir paan zaaiye gaum

Tche patte rowum laukchaar madno

Your dodge proved dire, My credulity turned mire

The cradle crunch lost in the burning pyre

Nazre chaaniey seeith, beymaar balaiey keeith

Myaane weeizi loguth be aar madno

Eyes that ease the grief of scores

Failed me, Couldnt wade me to the shores

Ishaar hawaan, dil katraawaan

Bhumbe chai tez talwaar madno

Through cues you draw the arcs of pain

Brows you have that pierce me insane

Tche myon ghamkhaar, tche myon sitamgaar

Tche chauk, tche haa bulgaar madno

Its you who heals, Its you who wreaks

The wounds are yours, The wraps for sure

Wanihaa mahjoor daastaane dil zaroor

Wanas ti chui naa tas waar madno

I wish to recount the tales of sting

Something that nips and I fail to bring

As the video says…Reality

•February 1, 2009 • 1 Comment

Remember Us

•January 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

remember_us

This is an article about ‘The Palestinian Story’

By Anna Denise Aldis and Dex A. Eastman, Press TV

The writers have dedicated this article to the many Palestinians that have lost their lives in the deadly Israeli attacks on Gaza on December 27, 2008

When the passage of time finally brings the men of many lands to the tables of judgment, politicians from countries that have emboldened Israel with their silence will gaze into the eyes of delegations from around the world only to see the same eyes gazing back. Remember us for we may not be at that table.

There are reasons for this.

We were once free to roam the lands of our fathers, to feel happiness and to cry when in despair. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River was our realm, but how were we to know what they intended to do to our nation.

They provoked wars and committed the most terrible of sins against the Jewish population, but when it was time to compensate, they put the burden of their own wrongdoings on our shoulders. One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.

Everyone had a say, the then president of the United States Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the leaders of the Zionist movement and even the representatives of Anglo-Jewry opposed to Zionism. There was no need to canvass Arab opinion.

They sat at round tables, signed agreements, sent the text to other powers for approval but no one consulted us. Remember us the native people of the ancient land of Canaan, Palestine it was called.

We protested, signed petitions, held rallies but to no avail; the process of nullification had already begun. They had decided to create a 100% Jewish state for the Jews of the West who had suffered under anti-Semitism in Europe. Nobody asked whether we were even responsible for the anti-Jewish propaganda in Germany. Remember us who sought your helping hand when they threatened us with annihilation.

Why were we for decades the main victims of the horrific massacre of the Jews by the Germans, Rumanians and Hungarians?

United under the Zionist slogan of ‘A land without a people for a people without a land’, certain powers opened the floodgates by telling Jews that our land is one that lacks inhabitants and must belong to a nation with no land.

They helped the 1948 creation of Israel based on the ‘Judenstaat’ which had been envisaged in 1896 by the founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl.

Then the flood suddenly hit us. We were no longer welcome in our own homes, our own towns and villages and on our own lands. They tried to bribe us into leaving the land of our ancestors. They promised to pay for all our expenses for us to leave Palestine and settle in neighboring Arab states.

But how could we leave? How could we leave our homes, our lands, the graves of our fathers and the hopes of our children? How were we supposed to forget and make our children forget that we had roots in Palestine? We objected.

We knew our resistance would cost us dearly, but we were ready to save our lands from the foreign invaders. Those oppressed in the Holocaust were transformed into the tormenter of the Arab population in Palestine.

Remember us in 1948 in the unarmed village Deir Yassin where 254 of us men, women and children were awakened from our sleep with the sound of bombs ripping through neighboring houses. Irgun and Lehi terrorist groups had received orders to uproot us, the Arab population of the village.

They threw bombs into our houses and slaughtered all of us they could find. About twenty-five of us were brought out of our houses on a ‘victory tour’ and then to a stone quarry where they shot us in cold blood.

The Red Cross came to understand our fate when they looked into our lifeless eyes and at nearly 150 of our maimed bodies abandoned in a well.

Several of us survived to tell the story of this indelible blemish carved in the pages of Zionist history.

“I saw a soldier grabbing my sister, Saliha al-Halabi, who was nine months pregnant. He pointed a machine gun at her neck, then emptied its contents into her body. Then he turned into a butcher, and grabbed a knife and ripped open her stomach to take out the slaughtered child with his iniquitous Nazi knife,” Halima Id, a survivor of the attack, told her sister later.

They failed to plant fear in our hearts for what is home if it is not to be cherished?

Remember us in 1953 in Qibya when our women were preparing meals for the men and children and nearly 600 Israeli soldiers moved toward our village. We heard explosions, screaming and artillery fire, but the collapse of our roofs and the following darkness was the last we saw.

The then commander of the “101” unit, Ariel Sharon, later said that his leaders’ orders had been clear on how to deal with the village. “The orders were utterly clear: Qibya was to be an example to everyone.”

Original documents of the time showed that Sharon personally ordered his troops to achieve “maximal killing and damage to property”.

UN observers say they saw our bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of our demolished houses and that we had been forced to remain inside until our homes were blown up over us.

They then wished to deny us presence in neighboring Lebanon, which had allowed us refuge from the anti-Semitism victims turned against us.

Remember us in 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. The Israeli army watched as the murderers they had provoked against us entered our two Palestinian refugee camps in the southern outskirts of West Beirut.

Us women were lying in houses with our skirts torn up to our waists, our children with cut throats, rows of us young men were shot in the back after being lined up at an execution wall.

Our babies were lying like discarded dolls on the streets, blackened because they had been slaughtered more than 24 hours earlier and their small bodies were already in a state of decomposition.

We were tossed into rubbish heaps alongside discarded US army ration tins, Israeli army equipment and empty bottles of whiskey.

3,500 of us were slaughtered; some of us men as young as 12 or 13 were killed with our arms and legs wrapped around each other, picturing the agony of our death. All of us had been shot at point-blank range through the cheek, the bullet tearing away a line of flesh up to our ears and entering our brains.

Award-winning Middle East correspondent Robert Frisk recalls that “On one blackened wrist a Swiss watch recorded the correct time, the second hand still ticking round uselessly, expending the last energies of its dead owner.”

Remember us in 2002 in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin where hundreds of us were buried alive in our homes. Our bodies were crushed and smoldered by buildings when the heavily-armored Caterpillar D-9 tore down our homes, our shelters and all of our belongings.

The IDF was fulfilling the orders of the then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who in 1956 vowed to “burn every Palestinian Child that will be born” in Palestine. “I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him”.

They struggled for a fortnight to bury our bodies and the evidence of the atrocity. They piled us in houses and when the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building to bring its ruins down on our corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank.

Remember us in 2008 in the Gaza Strip where the bombs of hatred rained down on us to prove that world New Year celebrations have no meaning. They called into action F16 bombers and apache helicopters to put fear into the very hearts of our nation even though we had long been left with no real method of defense.

Over 230 of us were killed and 800 of us were wounded. Remember us!

Let world leaders hold imprecise debates about what constitutes a massacre. Let Israel and its allies cover up their crimes. You can even call the state built upon the ruins of our homeland ‘the de facto democracy of the Middle East’.

But as our bodies lie in mass graves in our backyards, know that we are the children of Palestine — a nation of people who as our last words utter the Muslim declaration of faith (Shahadatain) and pass on our mantle of resistance to the next forgotten person.

Remember us…

The Willow Tree – Movie Review

•December 1, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The Willow Tree

The title of the movie and its essence may seem different. The difference we so deduce arises out of our convoluted perception of the world. Perceptions, you see, can really be contradictory. That is what the movie tries to understand.

Youssef was blinded by an accident when he was eight years old. Now 38 years later, he teaches literature at the university, has a loving wife, and a little daughter who just can’t get enough of him. On the face of it Youssef deals calmly with his disability but deep down he is angry with God. Now he has a tumor beneath his right eye, and his uncle has gotten him an appointment in Paris with a special clinic for eye surgery. Just before he leaves, Youssef writes a note to God and tucks it between the pages of a volume of the Mathnawi, the mystical masterpiece by the Persian Sufi poet Rumi. The note says:

“I’m the one you deprived of the beauties of the world and who never complained. Instead of light and brightness, I lived in darkness and gloom and I didn’t protest. I found happiness and peace in this small paradise. Are all these years of suffering not enough that you now want to cause me even more suffering? Will I come back from this trip to my loving family? Will this illness bring me to my knees? To whom should I complain about what you are doing to me? I beg of you to show me more compassion. Don’t take my life away.”

Youssef is thrilled when the doctors in France discover that his eyes are sensitive to the light and they decide to do cornea transplants on both eyes. The night before his bandages are to be removed, Youssef lifts them gently and realizes that he can see.

Most of the movies end here with saccharine filled happily-lived-everafter promises but this one starts to explore. How Youssef falls into the trappings of the materialistic world is the essence. Majid Majidi sums it up beautifully.

“A few years ago, I met a middle-aged blind man who had an amazing experience in his life, dealing with blindness and sight. As I was talking to him, I began to ask myself about the difference between perceptions of beauty and serenity in the real world and the world of the blind. After he talked more about his experience, I realized that when a man recovers his sight, there is an inevitable conflict between these perceptions. For Youssef, the blind man of my film, serenity comes from his little balcony, the sound of nature and the angelic voices and touches of his family. The beauty is in his mind and ugliness does not exist. He is like Adam in the garden of Paradise, both protected and powerful. I wanted to explore what would happen to his serenity and his sense of control if he were taken out of ‘Paradise.’

“When Youssef is exposed to the visual world, the beauty he encounters is compelling and frustratingly elusive. Ugliness and strangeness is everywhere. The aggressive presence of the world gradually silences the dialog he had with God and himself. I realized that when a man becomes deaf to his inner dialog and ignores the positive messages the world sends him, the only actions he could do would be selfish, violent, and destructive. When fate tests us, our life, if not built on firm foundations, often collapses. For Youssef the tests that life put on him reduced him to the powerlessness of a small creature of God. I still wonder what this child-man would do with the new life he is now begging for . . .”

To top it off, there is a surreal sufism exuding out. Infact, the last of couple of scenes where Youssef burns his writings (brilliant cinematography) and throws them into the pond, are a tribute to Rumi. The complete surrender which Rumi addressed is shown to be the only light in the world of blind. So true.

Insanity

•August 28, 2008 • 4 Comments

You would have to recognize and appreciate the helplessness of India. The helplessness of not being able to deal with a non-violent uprising. After all, when a country has had a history of stamping out revolutions under the pretext of terrorism, one can expect nothing but bullets. It does not matter to them, what people say and how they say it, they at best can resort to what they are capable of, kill people.

Helplessness invariably leads to madness and insecurity, which is what is on display nowadays in Kashmir. How else can you expect security forces to erect permanent barricades around Lal Chowk to prevent people from gathering there. Fools ( as they are) do not understand that, revolutions are not held hostage merely by a place or two. Moresoever this pathetic, inane action speaks volumes about their confidence. With guns in hand and license to kill, they still do not expect themselves to stop people. Cowards. (Mr. Arnab Goswami this was for you, you were cracking up your throat last night to label infiltrators of Jammu as cowards)

Insecurity gathers up fear. The fear of getting exposed (as if India is not already unmasked). Which is when you stop every iota of news from coming out. That explains beating up scribes and banning local news channels/newspapers. I do not expect anything from national newspapers/channels for they have serious issues at hand to discuss, namely Demons in deserted graves or Aliens inclination towards cows.

Once the senses are drained out, a failed state can do anything it likes. It can beat up doctors, stop ambulances, kill women, shoot children, raid mosques, every insanity that comes to mind.

A word of caution though. Just because India has turned insane does not mean that it will be spared. It will have to answer for every suffering that it has inflicted.

And now to the non-entities, whom people refer to as Jammuites. As absurd as it sounds, Samiti leaders have decided to boycott talks with the Governer (Talks which are anyways inconsequential in the larger scheme of things for there is no confusion in our minds about the ownership). The reasons quoted are police excesses and abuses. To add shit to filth, these insignificant creatures have also demanded the resignation of IG Jammu. As things stand today, you can very well expect Indian government to agree to their demands. The charade that they have put up will meet an appropriate end. The visciousness of the like-minded insanes (paradox) will be on display.

Nevertheless, I heard, a rally in Jammu was postponed, Samiti leaders decided to retract and resume talks. I wonder, what prompted all this.