Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"The kids are alright" - A new dimension to Parenting

The word Parent is derived from its Latin verb "parere" - which means "Bringing forth". Interestingly. the origin of this word in the mid sixteenth century meant an opening up to reveal or bring forth a fully formed being. I was tempted to understand the root of this word because one of the important issues being debated today in western circles is about "single sex parenting". Two members of a the same gender approach a sperm donor or an uterus loaner, as the case may be, and decide to raise resulting children by being a parent to them. So there are two moms or two dads and the other half is missing from the equation.
From an evolutionary perspective, this is quite a remarkable turn of events. Except in early forms of multicellular organisms, which is quaintly called unisexed, we don't have this phenomenon ever recorded in paleontological history. Every known organism that qualifies to be included in reproductive tradition have always exhibited a tendency to involve both sexes in conception and upbringing ( to whatever duration necessary). Man, like many other things, is attempting to break way here from billions of years of natural biological impulse..
"The Kids are alright" is a 2010 movie featuring two brilliant actors - Annette Benning and Julianne Moore in lead roles (Nic and Jules) as single parents to two kids ( a teenage girl and an adolescent boy). The story begins with a search for their sperm donor ( a justifiable curiosity to identify the progenitor of the sperm!!! ); only to find that their biological father is a debonair, dashing and sexually active man, whose restaurant business thrives not only for its good cuisine but equally for the savvy owner's prowess on bed. The Children take a liking for his personality and congenial attitude towards life; and unfortunately so does "one of the Moms" - Jules . Nic, the other parent , an obstetrician by profession treats this intruder with skepticism; but finally begins to warm to Paul.. The film wonderfully explores the complex relationship between two lesbian parents; kids who adore them as role models, but still ache to feel the warmth and embrace of a father figure in their lives. They are well educated. mannered and given all the support conventional parenting would have given them, yet there is a primordial ache of not having a male within their reach. Lisa Cholodenko's direction and screen play brings that angst to screen quite brilliantly. There is a palpable sense of sadness beneath all the fun, frolic and positivity that abounds in their individual lives. The protagonists exhibit a void deep down in their hearts. The story ends on a very upbeat note. Human society has evolved to a point where we have began to rewrite genetical rules. I am not sure that this is an experiment that will succeed. We are just about hundred thousand years old as a species - a minuscule amount of time to gauge the outcome of these divagations in natural course of things..
Speaking of Individual performances : Julianne Moore is one of those actors who can bring on passion with a frenzied intensity on screen. Sultry, red haired , her body language has always bordered on the sensuous. She plays the physically vulnerable female parent to perfection; and so does Annette Benning, the intellectual - the lady in control of the family and steering it in right directions. Without the both of them, this film would have lacked the authenticity that it generated. Though a controversial theme, the film made it to the academy awards, but not surprisingly, did not win any. Americans still frown at such eccentric relationships.. Mark Ruffalo as the father throws in a convincing performance as well. From an anonymous sperm donor to bonding with his kids, his character shows layered transformations on his face, conversation and body language.
In all, again, a well orchestrated drama with all key elements in place. I highly recommend this to my friends. May be a bit scandalous, but reality always is , isn't it?
God bless..

A book lover's delight..

In the annals of American History, none holds a more affectionate and respectable position in public mind than the scholarly figure of Benjamin Franklin. In fact, one would run of words and epithets to describe his multi-dimensional personality. A statesman, scientist, philosopher, philanthropist, Ambassador and more importantly the founding father of thirteen colonies that originally constituted the United States of America. In fact, it seems unbelievable, at this distance to contemplate that a single individual could have affected the destiny of a nation so profoundly in its formative years and give it the necessary moral and intellectual momentum to propel the country towards its growth, stability and prosperity – traits that have sustained this country for last two hundred odd years.
This essay is however not about his political or scientific accomplishments, but a rather a facet of his life that is not widely known. He was the editor, publisher of a gazette, (a precursor to the modern form of magazine) that he established in the year 1729. The original name of the chronicle was "The Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences: and Pennsylvania Gazette", which Benjamin shortened to "Pennsylvania Gazette" .In the editorial of the first issue, he lays down the charter for newspapers and journals, which resonates so very truthfully even after centuries.. I cannot refrain myself from quoting it in full: He writes: (To my readers, pls take time read the next paragraph in full…)
"The author of a Gazette (modern "magazine") ought to be qualified with an extensive acquaintance with languages, a great easiness and command of writing and relating things cleanly and intelligibly, and in few words; he should be able to speak of War both land and sea; be well acquainted with geography, with the history of the time, with the several interests of the Prices and states, the secret of courts, and the manners and customs of all nations. Men thus accomplished are very rare; and it would be well if the writer of these papers would make up among his friends what is wanting in himself..."
This charter should be emblazoned in golden letters across all journalistic media houses in bold letters. There cannot be a more sensible or truer statement of work in the world of media. Benjamin incorporated all kinds of events in his gazette – literature, poetry, gossip, science. In fact, it carried an hour to hour account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to eventual demise. The first known political cartoon also featured in one of its editions (incidentally drawn by Benjamin Franklin himself). The journal, however, had its last hurrah in 1800, ten years after Franklin's death. After a brief hiatus of twenty odd years, the journal was revived under a new name called “The Saturday evening post” in 1821. And since then, it has been in circulation till the present date. The Saturday post was a popular journal with its vivid front pages, essays shorts stories, war time reporting and cartoons till the 1950, when television took away a lot of readership. Circulation dwindled, and the post turned from a Weekly, to biweekly and then to a Bimonthly publication. Even today, if you look closely in News magazine stores, you will find a copy of the Saturday evening in a corner - a grim and nostalgic reminder of three centuries of tradition and intellectual outpouring.
The reason I spent the last few paragraphs tracing the course of this magazine is because, in a second hand book store today, I happened to pick up a hard bound collection printed in 1954, by Saturday Evening Post publishers to commemorate literary and visual brilliance the Post has carried in its pages since Franklin’s days. It was lying in a corner, dust ridden and soiled, but its Jacket intact. In it are extracts from Stories penned by Jack London to O Henry to Edith Wharton to Gk Chesterton among man other giants of literature; Poems that aroused national pride during the civil war; scientific and war time reporting, social commentaries by C S Forester and Jack Alexander; Color reproductions of all popular Front covers of the Magazine since 1728; political and social caricatures – Well, in all, it is a bibliophile’s dream come true.. The book was sold to me at a $1.75. The price of the book when it was published in 1954 was $7.50. Inflation hasn't really touched this rare commodity…
Nothing gives me more pleasure than dipping into the intellectual heritage of mankind. After all, as a species that is the only unique attribute that nature has accorded us - the transmission of knowledge beyond the realm of bodily instinct. The written word in my opinion, is perhaps the most notable, singular and unprecedented achievement of Mankind; allowing him to transform himself from an organism that merely lives by biological dictates to a point where he questions his role in the Cosmos; and the ability to transmit that curiosity, thirst and collective knowledge to his progeny.
Such treasures, like the book that I got today are ones that I cherish the most. It cannot weighed in monetary terms for it surpasses such frivolous evaluations anyway.
God bless…

Monday, December 29, 2014

"Mardaani" - A Rani Mukherjee film

"Mardaani" - A Rani Mukherjee film...
Many years ago, I remember watching "Hey Ram" , a Kamal Hasan movie on the Hindu Nationalist movement during partition. It was, if I recall correctly, a three hour feature film. At this distance, what I can conjure about it vividly in my mind's eye is the little cameo role essayed by the young Rani Mukherjee , as a Bengali teacher, killed during the madness of Hindu-Muslim riots. It was not only the passionate kiss executed with intense abandon, but her lilting husky voice spoken in low tones; sultry complexion; those gorgeous hazel colored eyes that seem to float around its orbs with fluid artistry - keeps leaping out of my memory again and again. I did not get to see too many of her films until the mid or later part of the last decade, but within a span of two years I chanced to watch "Hum tum", "veer Zaara" and then the masterpiece "Black". Here was a young lady, who had come into her zone, and was performing her art with consummate ease of an artist who has shed any lingering doubts she may have had about her abilities.
Meryl Streep once described acting as ".... not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding oneself in there..." The individual in Rani had began manifesting itself in all her roles. And that is a sign of creative maturity in a talented artist . When I Watched "Talaash", a few years ago, Rani had transformed herself into a complete actor. In a film that was dominated by the character played by Aamir Khan and the misty presence of Kareena Kapoor, it was breathtaking to watch Rani' as the grieving mother willing to go any distance to reconnect with her lost son; a look of tragic melancholy in those beautiful eyes, measured dialogue and body language that accentuated the strained relationship between Husband and wife - In all, she was able bring a intense realism to her glamorous persona and meaningful thrust to the entire drama.
The reason I spent the last two paragraphs waxing eloquent about Rani is because I happened to watch her latest release "Mardaani" yesterday night. A beautiful and sensitive movie on Human and drug trafficking in India, Rani Mukherjee plays the hard cop intent on breaking the nexus of mafia syndicate that deals with young girls as commodities.. To me, this is quite a radical role for a lady who has always played emotionally vulnerable characters on screen. As a Police officer, wearing a look of nonchalant arrogance on her face, her eyes doing all the acting; her voice spoken with that trembling huskiness; a body that is not laser thin but nimble and healthy enough to lend authenticity to "Cop in the street" role (she underwent physical training in preparation for this role..) - Rani carries this two hour movie entirely on her shoulders.. What Nana Patekar achieved in "Ab tak chappan" is equaled , if not bettered by this stunning actor in "Mardaani". Though the movie has borrowed heavily from the plot of block buster Hollywood film "Wanted", it has been thoroughly indigenized for Indian audiences, and there is a not a moment of inaction in the script. Well written, with each screen seamlessly flowing it the other, the story and its message held together in a tight leash by director Pradeep Sarkar. Very rarely do I sit though a movie without taking a break. This is one of those exceptions.
The length of this movie is less than two hours. And that is an ideal length for a feature film, unless the story or subject warrants a longer treatment. Mardaani also raises a few pertinent social issues and the answers provided may sound a bit clichéd. But one does not hope to be transformed by Cinema. At the most it can entertain and educate. And Mardaani scores well on both these counts.
Highly recommended and available on Netflix..
God bless...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Barbara W Tuchman - A Historian par excellence..

She was a born an aristocrat; educated in the highest traditions of the country; exposed to all the luxuries that life could possibly provide; could have chosen a career of her choice in any direction that she may have wanted to - yet, she settled to writing history for the common public. Barbara Tuchman, the grand dame of American life was perhaps one of the finest historians of the last two hundred years alongside the Durant’s, Toynbee’s and Jacques Barzun’s, who retold great stories of contemporary history in a form and manner accessible to educated citizens.
Barbara Tuchman was born in 1912 into a Jewish family with a rich International banking experience, philanthropic institutions, and political new papers on her Father’s side; and a rich inheritance of political offices on her Mother’s. Growing up in the lap of luxury; educated in Walden and Radcliffe; worked as a journalist (in her father’s newspaper “Nation”), a writer reporting on the Spanish civil war; travelled the globe to feel the winds of freedom wafting through nations and absorbing its cultural fragrance – Barbara was quick to perceive that academic historians weren’t doing justice in presenting American or world history to its public ,or failing to recount history as a lively cultural, political and economic force that involved living, breathing individuals whose personal proclivities and intellectual choices decided the course of some of the seminal events in the last century. Coventional history books with its gross pedantry, unnecessary focus on arcane and often trivial facts, a mechanical narrative of chronological documentation against dynamic movement of life and culture – moved and inspired her to attempt historical writing from a different perspective altogether. Unarmed, without a formal academic qualification to do the job, she relived the experiment of America in her mind and self-study; revisited historical sites to imbibe its vitality and essence; captured in her mind's eye a panoramic view of powerful currents that swept through the early years of complacent Europe; then sat down to write a series of stunning volumes from 1962 till her death in 1989, that lifted our understanding and appreciation of those momentous years; sensitized us to the cataclysmic changes that triggered the great wars and its subsequent social and moral upheavals. Between 1940 to 1956, she married an intern, Dr Lester, who subsequently went on to become a professor emeritus at Sinai school of Medicine (where her Father was a founder trustee), raised three girl children, and spent her time systematically preparing for the work that lay ahead of her. Her Eldest daughter later recounted in one her interviews: “My mother worked to a strict time table. She had enough time for us, whenever we needed it; but once she goes into her study and closed the doors, we knew that she was lost in a world of her own; and I would gently creep into her room to feed her a cup of tea of lunch. But never once, did we miss her. She was in my opinion the perfect blend of a mother and a self-taught scholar….”
Her effort at writing history began with “The Zimmerman’s telegram”. A unique account of an intercepted communication from Germany, which provoked and triggered the entry of USA into the First World War. In it was visible all the elements of brilliant narration that was to characterize her work. Precision and flair in language, deft use of epigrams, art of cutting through multitude of research to strike at the core issue without comprising its truth, and more importantly, a singular sense of pride in American values, ethics and its unique historical destiny – These hallmarks would distinguish her in American world of letters.
Ms. Tuchman next book was perhaps her masterpiece. “The guns of August” published in 1962. It was a unique rendering of the origins of First World War. Those tumultuous and controversial two months of July and August 1914, when the forces of Western civilization were aligning themselves strategically, and tensions in Europe were simmering to a boiling point; key political personalities, military strategists and resolute statesmen were playing their game of cat and mouse – the geo politics of Europe was is in a state of flux. Those final days preceding the war was punctuated with key military decisions, blunders and lack of perspective. Convectional history would project those final days as an inevitable consequence of historical process that have been shaping European history since renaissance, but on a closer look, a different view point emerges. With total disregard for conventional historical writing, Ms. Tuchman rummages through tomes of research gathering into herself a single theme - the grand forces, follies and stupidity that precipitated the first gun shot that ushered in World war. Her attempt was not to re-theorize about abstract causes, but to present the tale as an intellectual, emotional and often instinctive choice made by a few key individuals upon whom the deliberations of the war fell. Professional historians smirked, scholars derided the depth in scholarship; but educated public loved the account for its balanced veracity and humane rendering of a poignant moment in World history. It won the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1972, she turned her attention to the east, and focused on the life and times of Joseph Sitwell, military attaché to China. The outcome was the book “Sitwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45”. Through his eyes and journals, Ms. Tuchman recreated the political and cultural ethos of China in the early 20th century; the revolution in 1911 to beginning of Second World War. Again, an immaculately written and readable account of the times. Her strength lies in her ability to look at history through the eyes of its protagonists - feel, think and breathe with them. Like Gibbon, she could describe a slice of history with a few breathtaking strokes of her pen. America honored her with a second Pulitzer. Apart from these three books, there were a few others that flowed from the pen of this conscientious American. “The Proud Tower” - a collection of essays on life and times before the 1914, was again well received by reading public.
My desire to pen this essay was aroused, when I was talking to bunch of youngsters the other day. These were bright kids graduating out of high school this year, and they hadn’t heard of Barbara Tuchman at all. I don’t blame them; media scarcely mentions her name, teachers and parents do not mention her work, and her books are relegated to a corner in select book stores. It is not that her words have turned stale; but that we have lost our aesthetic and intellectual sensitivity. As parents, we don’t slip such books to them on their birthdays any more, gently reminding them on their cultural, moral and literary heritage. We prefer giving them digital toys and expensive vacations to fun towns. Nothing wrong, but somewhere we must steer them to experience the richness of our global heritage. Hence this short essay.
Also, during my study, I came across one of the last known interviews of Barbara Tuchman by Bill Moyers on PBS (one of the most intellectual TV anchors television has ever known…). She was seventy six then, and had just completed her last book. Watch it, and you will get a sense of what it is to be proud of being part of a free democratic nation. You will hear a true voice of a genuine citizen who believes deeply in what her country stands for, and one understands why her books resonate with such passion and integrity. Ms. Barbara Tuchman represents the highest kind of flowering a culture can give birth to, and her books have and will always give me solace and inspiration as a human being, citizen; and as a humble adventurer in my intellectual peregrinations.

God bless….

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A conversation on a Christmas eve...

“The entire idea of Christmas, sharing gifts and camaraderie is a big money making spin. I have grown past it, man... I don't give gifts to anybody, and I accept gifts from none. How can we be so credulous to believe that charity, love and sharing practiced one day in year makes us any more ethical or moral ..."
He was a middle aged, black American, who joined us for dinner yesterday at a well-known Mexican place that we regularly patronize. The above remark was made in response to a greeting made by one of my friends (in all good faith, of course…). We looked at each other - puzzled. I said:
"John (name changed). Whats wrong in celebration? Even if it be for a day in a year. Though I agree in principle what you say, I certainly would not be so vehemently opposed to giving into the spirit of the moment and enjoy the atmosphere. After all, Human beings need an occasion to let-go; and this may be one such day. Anyways John, I think you are trying to be an Intellectual snob... You want to prove a deeper point than what is being said. Let’s hear it..."
He laughed aloud and so did the four of us on that table. There were families all around us talking, gesticulating, drinking, and eating with gay abandon. In the midst of this fun, he began (and I paraphrase).. "You know, you are right in way. I have a deeper agenda.. I find it hard to believe in the historicity of Jesus. Though I was raised as a catholic with all the paraphernalia that goes with it, I started getting more and more disillusioned with it as time went by. By Jove Man, there are four different accounts of the Bible, two different accounts of his birth; and add to all that the confusion in terminology: The virgin birth, Holy Ghost, the comingling of Trinity, the hundred splintered churches. There is too much of conflicting evidence for me to stand rooted in this faith anymore. My problem is not the celebration but the reason for it. Also, the Gnostic gospels unearthed in 1945 at Nag Hammadi and their interpretation seems to give a totally different bent to Christianity as practiced over the last 2000 years. I think I have been fooled into a system that was built on shaky grounds...."
Well, there was studied pause after this seemingly long monologue. The hot plate of Enchilada was beginning to get cold, and all of us ate in silence for a few minutes. I pursued the thread of conversation further:
“John, I wonder, why do we become so unbelieving as we get more educated? As a student of civilization, one of the striking characteristics that strikes my eye is the loss of simple wonder and awe that we possessed in earlier times. The fierce backlash of misinterpreting evolution and explosion of material science is this rather exaggerated importance of “being in control” and not giving into the mystery of life and world around us - Which incidentally was the case for hundreds of years: Birth, death, seasons, earth, and heavens - almost every aspect of life was venerated with a humble acceptance, until science and skepticism crept surreptiously to spoil the fun. We want “objective” truths now. Though almost every moment of our lives is dependent on blind belief, there is a small part of us called conscious thinking that craves for proofs and evidence? We believe that our heart is pumping blood, we believe that we will see the daylight tomorrow, we believe in the fidelity of our partners, we believe that this earth will sustain us eternally, we believe in an abstract thing called “society”, we believe in love, friendship, hate, jealousy and so many other things - but, yet, we find it inconvenient to disbelieve some things when we choose to. I agree that most of our religious traditions have down to us are myths; but myths have a very useful function in society, if understood correctly. They are pointers to a deeper aspect within ourselves. The Birth of Christ may not be a physical event at all, I don’t care, but the beautiful mystery of his virgin birth, the stars heralding his descent; the little baby in the manger; his subsequent tragic crucifixion on the cross - evoke and resonate with something primordial within me. And this is true off all religious symbols. You know John, the reason for us to dedicate a day in a year to commemorate this legend, this myth - if it pleases you- is to hope that altleast some of us will realize the depth of these symbols and awaken to a newer dimension. For most of us, it may be a day of mechanical gift-sharing, fun and bonhomie; but if even a single individual is touched by the symbolism of these stories, the world is blessed. The Gnostic gospels only confirm this truth that Jesus had a far deeper message then what has been enshrined in official bible. So,all the more reason for educated men like you to participate in these communal celebrations; or at least, not show discontent, because hidden in these mythical shells are pearls that need to be unearthed and shared. It is not that we practice charity or love only this day, but this rather a gentle reminder of a forgotten or hidden bliss that needs to be tapped and made an integral part of our daily lives…” This is the meaning behind these festivities…Let’s keep it coming!!!!!!!!
Let me then, wish all my readers a great day of joy and awakening to the Christ in Jesus - the symbol of second birth, a non-physical transformation into deeper sense of “beingness”. Let’s cuddle this little baby of pure life in our hearts, and let his untrammeled bliss flow through all our relationships around us. To the millions who look upon this day with promise, hope and salvation, I join you in your prayers , gratitude and festivities…
God bless….

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"One way" - a movie review

"One way" - a review..
A young bespectacled girl with large black eyes meets a young debonair Upper middle class boy at graduation day in 1988 ; goes to his apartment hoping to spend a night together; end up committing to be friends and not to be entangled in a physical relationship. They meet each other on July the 15th each year to exchange notes on their happiness, travails, challenges and dreams that the previous year had bequeathed to them; bond deeper, and part ways again to pursue their individual paths. Emma wishes to be writer, Dexter moves direction-less between one promiscuous relationship to another; drugging himself to numbness; hosting a flashy depthless TV show, but all along pining for that elusive unconditional, unselfish love that poets and artists have veiled our eyes with for ages now..
Literature has a term for such stoic relationships. They call it "Platonic" - indicating the possibility of fulfillment only within the interiors of ones burdened self, and never to attain fruition in reality. But , such an interpretation is not being fair to the Master. In all of Plato's writings, he wanted humanity to turn away from the world of shadows, and be bathed in the balmy heat of practical living. But yet, for ages now, our ideal of love, romance and "eternal" bonding has always been an intellectual masturbation divorced from the co-mingling of flesh. Can a Young vibrant male, and a Smart , good looking young female remain connected only in their brains and never in the body? Does the touch of physical passion corrupt the pure ties of idealistic love and relationships. Do we not in the inner depths of being silently ache for physical union, but hold ourselves back because of relentless ethical conditioning, social conventions and a paranoid indoctrination against the temptations of flesh? Our conventional world of morality, ethics and religion revolve around this dubious question..
Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess bring out the sensitivity, pain and joy of living such a relationship. For twenty three years, they hold their act together; and their performance on screen shows the signs and scars of living in denial. But unfortunately, for me, the movie leaves a unsatisfactory taste at the end of it. Based on David Nicholls novel by the same name, it fails to capture the subtle nuances of a flowing relationship. Following the book, the movie (for some strange reason) is also broken into chapters; and the gaps are yawning and too deep to give us any sense of evolving maturity and dilemma of its protagonists. One had to be Kurosawa, Polanski, Tarantino or Coppola to pull that off . Lone Scherfig, the director is still learning the art of her creative trade, definitely displays a lot of talent and attention to detail..
What would generally go unnoticed, unappreciated in a film like this is the impeccable, well crafted musical score of Rachel Portman. She is one the finest composers for the screen in this generation. An Academy award winner , Ms. Portman's assemblage of instruments to underline the ebb and flow of emotions that spark between Emma and Dexter elevated to a great degree what otherwise would have sunk low as a mundane piece of cinematography. I must be frank to admit, that during some parts of this film, I was listening more to Music than watching the frames go by...
In all, this is a satisfactory movie. I would not want to rate this very highly. But certainly, the story raises a few important questions, in a rather blunt manner; and like a good appetizer leaves an intellectual viewer something to mull over...
God bless...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Two more Books and a perfect time to read them...

In a few days, I reach a chronological age when , by definition or statistical probability, at least half of my average life span has been expended. In other words, on a normal bell curve, I am at the median, and on the other side of it lies a series of data points that spread up to 70, with a large distribution of outliers as well. So on a life-span graph, assiduously constructed from sophisticated statistical tools, I am at point when One is supposed to make that transition to impending old age with dignity and grace. Though, physically the body has some distance to go before it can start showing signs of decrepitude, this short essay is more of an inner barometer of progress, or balance that ought to have achieved after having spent donkey number of years floating with and against the flotsam and jetsam of existence..
During my travel this week, I carried along two significant books that I managed , despite a vey busy schedule - to read and finish. One is Anthony storr's "Solitude- A return to the self" and the other is Thomas Wolfe's mercurial and ornate debut work of fiction " Look Homeward, angel.." In a way, both these books reflected my current state of being. Over the last few years, I have been driven by this tremendous urge to discover the solace of being utterly alone. Not in the sense of being lonely, but rather basking in a state of "not craving" for company to affirm my existence. Dr Storr was a psychiatrist who belonged to the Jungian school of thought, and It was though him that I formally learnt the primary motifs of Jung's work. It had opened up a world of possibilities, when I had read his commentaries on Jung's voluminous writings; and had also touched a deep chord of recognition of certain principles of "self-hood" that I had been harboring for quite a while in my life. This short book, however, is one of Dr storr's less technical presentation of the need for solitude in an individual's life. Contrary to modern psychoanalysis, where integration of one's personality to the world outside seems to be the main focus, Dr Storr, wonderfully presents the absolute need for being alone with oneself and face the mad onrush of the desires, cravings, fantasy and aberrations - not to overcome them, but rather to sublimate their torrential force in the fire of creativity; and to observe these "irrational" promptings from existence as a gentle whisper from the infinite in supplication uging us to strike a balance between the heart and intellect. To me, this book stuck a strange resonance to a way of life that has pulsating in me for the last few years.. It bought together several disparate strands of thoughts into a tighter knit web of understanding. It is almost like a alchemical reaction where we drop a little phosphate into a chemical concoction, and all of a sudden the liquid coagulates and turns blue in color. It tipped over its mutating point.. This short book did something similar to me. In fact, at certain points in my reading, I stood arrested by a blind light of comprehension that had been eluding me for some time. Anyways, this was a significant mid-life book to read on the eve of a birthday..
Thomas Wolfe on the other hand was one of brightest stars of English literature blotted out quickly in his prime. He lived for a brief 38 years in the early part of twentieth century, and produced four full length novels during that period. "Look homeward angels" was his first and possibly the most widely acknowledged masterpieces of his work. His writing has that rhapsodic quality to it, which I find only reflected in a Oscar wilde, a Henry James. or a Daphne de maurier. This story is partly biographical, and it traces the growth of a young introverted boy alienated , caught in the world of books and imagination and carving for himself a stability in life by reconciling his brooding introversion and creative outbursts. Every page of this book is poetry in prose. Wolfe supposedly wrote this novel over twenty months in a state of delirium; and every sentence oozes with a vibrancy and pulse that can only come from the depths of creative birth pangs. Some of his character descriptions run into multiple pages; separated by semicolons and comma and colons - almost as if, his hand moved at a pace over which he had no control and words poured out of his colorful unconsciousness with precision, artistry, unparalleled flair and style.. It is a heavy big book, and I had started reading it a couple of weeks ago. As my flight touched down today, I finished reading last few pages of the book. I have the same feeling of fulfillment as I had when I put down Dostoevsky's "Three idiots" or James Joyce's "Ulysses". A echo of a distant past ripped through my consciousness, as if in recognition of a long lost and found piece of precious experience..
There is festivity in the air. Christmas is around the corner and the airports are buzzing with life and energy. There is talk of vacations and family gatherings and a general sense of excitement.. To me, however, this is going to be a quiet month, probably get to feel my way a little deeper into myself. This is after all the right season and age for it....
God bless..