Friday, April 21, 2006



Someone once mentioned that the biggest flaw of Darwinism is its inability to explain altruism. If the main goal of life is to perpetuate your own genes and the only way to ensure that the best genes carries on and on is to subscribe to the simple law of the jungle - the survival of the fittest - why then some people who clearly have better genes are willing to sacrifice themselves and save the weak?, blow themselves up even, just for the sake of the good of the community which is full of useless humans for most part anyway??

Now, I’m not one of those bible thumping creationist crazies but there is no way of avoiding GOD! Though I sometimes wonder…just like one of those agnostic fleas which sighed “sometimes I wonder if there is a dog”….

The flip side of altruism is of course the senseless criminal acts….and yesterday we heard the news of yet another example of this…I’m referring to the murder of a young executive who was gagged, hands bound behind her back and raped and strangled to death in her apartment and found half naked from the waist down. This is just another of the daily occurrences in many big cities and one has become used to it…one doesn’t feel a thing hearing this kind of news anymore…but this time it hits closer to home… this young lady happened to be a daughter of my next door neighbor in my home town. I felt sick the moment I knew that poor Siti was my quiet and polite neighbor…how can anybody do this kind of thing to her?? why?

If you need justifications for having heaven and hell this is one of them. It is just too terrible to pass this up as just another one of those “too bad, she’s at the wrong place at the wrong time” and it’s just her bad luck….and worse if you subscribe to the philosophy of fatalism as quite nicely depicted by one short hindu saying (anonymous) … “every action if traced far back is inevitable”….which incidently was the quote I included in my thesis for my B Sc a very long time ago….and it was quite appropriate to my findings, or any scientific findings for that matter… and I shudder…we see all those beautiful documentaries… lions chasing wildebeests or a deer…and we see the poor victim killed in cold blood…what have these poor animals done to the lion to deserve this? …same with the killers of Siti…you can say that he’s just a lion killing a deer…and that terrible ingersoll’s famous quote… “in nature there are neither rewards nor punishments –there are consequences”…no wonder some people can become rapists and serial killers and keep the dead bodies under their homes’ crawl spaces for good measure…

Thinking about this make the black dog of depression stirs up again…but that’s churchill’s expression I believe… and if I’m not wrong whenever he has his black dog he goes painting his not too good water colors… but I visualize my depression as an ugly comodor lizard lying quiescent in a pool of mud in the depth of my stomach…and when he stirs up this miasma of fume rises up and causes me to get gloomy…ah that reminds me… I recently read something about the color blue and how it associates with melancholy in the July 2005 issue of Harper’s magazine – one of my favorite American publication incidently (NOT the glossy Harper’s Bazaar). It was from a book “Field guide to getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit….a small excerpt…

The blue of distance comes with time, with the discovery of melancholy, of loss, the texture of longing, of the complexity of the terrain we traverse, and with years of travel.

What a melancholy and poignant sentence that is… when I get depressed instead of following mr churchill’s example I go book buying …(thank god I have this addiction rather than some others)… and that explains in some way how I end up with around 2000 books now and still accumulating….

And yesterday I went to Skoob and as usual asked the reedy Thor Ka Hong if he has any cheap art books for me and as usual he always said that he has a lot of books but still unpacked, I was too busy with this Harold pinter’s play see, you can come next weekend and I say next week end I’m going to ho chi minh and then to shanghai and Beijing and in august to kobe…and oh I just came back from nongkhai…drove all the way up from Bangkok and also had a short hop from nong khai to Vientiane …and I see his face gets greener and greener…(everytime I comes to his shop he always ask me where did you travel lately? )…that’s my way of getting even with him for not opening all his box of goodies for me…but in the end I came home with two coffee table books, one on Rembrandt’s paintings and another on popova…popova’s book looks very sumptuous but her paintings were just derivative cubism but quite beautiful though I can’t claim that I know anything about this movement….ah that reminds me of this great Chanel 4 production, a 4-part documentary on Picasso which I bought at my favorite pirate DVD shop at Lido Beijing last year…..but that’s for another time may be…

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Flight 93: The last minutes....

Can you bash a cat’s head against the wall without cringing?…there are some evil people that can do this of course… there was even one scene in the movie 1900 showing precisely this. But most people can’t… let alone kill humans…but killing from a distance is easy…it’s impersonal and you don’t feel a thing…unless you stop to think about it which you don’t in time of crisis or warfare..… ask any bombers how do they feel when they drop bombs on impersonal targets… ask the pilot of enola gay how he felt about dropping atomic bomb and killing thousands of the unsuspecting japanese…ask any soldiers when they shoot at enemies that they have never met in their lives before…they don’t feel a thing…

But when a murder is commited at close quarters or put under a microscope…it looks a monstrosity regardless whether it’s a justified act or plain criminality….

So… today we see an act of murder put under a atrocity, a sad monstrosity…the transcript of the last minutes of what happened on Flight 93 on sept 11 (2001) is out…and here’s the full transcript…it makes me feel very very sad…but strangely…and perhaps illogically, I feel equally sad for the innocent victims AND also the hijackers…how can this be??…


hanging matisse etc

can’t remember where I read this… two out of five people hang matisse upside down…or some such thing…I found this quite funny because I never thought it is that difficult to hang him (the paintings ) the right way up…but come to think of it…well, his later paintings - patterns more like it- are quite difficult to determine which way is up actually…but now I think I remember… must be somewhere in Nabokov’s ‘laughter in the dark’…much to my surprise I managed to finish this sad story within a couple of weeks; now that’s pretty quick for me because I read purely for pleasure… I never care when I finish anything…I’m not on any particular hurry…just read and savor.. that’s the thing really….but coming back to hanging (paintings ) I think 10 out of 10 can’t hang Jackson Pollocks the right way up unless there are some pointers (like the shape of the canvass or the signature for instance)..…may be Rothko too or any of those other crazy abstract expressionists. Of all the later art movements I like abstract expressionism best…and actually my art appreciation stop here…I detest all those rauchenbergs, warhols and the rest…all these pop arts are rubbish…I dislike current art movements and by the way what is the current movement??...…but as I was saying… ‘laughter in the dark’ is a sad story…I know women can be mean but I can’t recall any meaner and more deceitful than the young Margot of the story… well actually I can think of another one woman that is more deceitful (but not meaner) and got away with it too and that came from the first story in “thousand and one nights”… I feel very lucky to stumble upon and bought a five volume complete set of English edition from a book fair in kolkata three years ago …and about abstract expressionism… call it serendipity but I just picked up a Vonnegut volume at random the other day on the way to the loo (my mini louvre as it were…as I hang several Balinese water colors -of batuan style- and one copy of moghul miniature painting of shah jehan and his mumtaz -,which I bought in a bazaar somewhere near the red fort three years ago- on all the four walls of the loo) and it turned out to be ‘Bluebeard’ , a 1988 paperback about one one –eyed survivor of Armenian genocide who became an abstract expressionist painter in the US living alone in a 19 room mansion –apart from a cook, her young 15 yr old daughter (who’s already on the pill) and one recluse writer who very much resembled jd salinger (his name: Paul Slazinger) and one uninvited guest : Circe Berman (to whom the book is strangely dedicated)…and true to Vonnegut’s fashion the story is the usual darkly comic and a gloomy satire and this time at the expense of abstract expressionism…. And to end this rambling nonsense just a bit more about paintings… there is a very good article by orhan pamuk on the current exhibition “Bellini and the East” at the National art Gallery now and especially about the great painting of the great ottoman sultan mehmet II who is very dear to my heart as he was the one responsible for wresting Constantinople into muslim domain and forever transformed it to Istanbul… as I already mentioned somewhere before…I only have two (copies) of portraiture , one is ayatollah khomeini’s (with an expression of a deep scowl and all) and the other is this copy of bellini’s painting by my friend who only went to school up to primary six.......

Saturday, April 08, 2006


just another day in iraq.....

Another day and another sad news from iraq…

I feel terrible and truly sad to hear news of the continued senseless slaughter of worshippers in mosques in Iraq…I can try to understand and even willing to see rationale behind Iraqis killing each other in bazaars, shops ,offices or other public places (let alone places of military or political significance )…but even I…who may be considered quite extremist in my Islamic world view - I love osama - ( but my world view is more of a confused stew of contradictory philosophies of Osama ben laden’s Islamic idealism, Richard Dawkin’s atheism ,Salman rushdie’s blasphemy and Hefner’s Dionysian earthly delights)…yes, even i can’t understand this madness…

To say nothing is sacred anymore is a moot point but what tragedy to think that humans can spiral down to such extent of irrational madness that even the last refuge , last bastion of sanctity -place of worship- has now become just another arena for murder….

These murders per se may be minuscule in significance in term of scale and evil - can’t even compare to say, the Christian nazis cooking millions of jews in germany not to long ago or (as a nice counterpoint) the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the exemplary USA or Christian tutsis wiping out fellow Christian hutus in Rwanda only less than a decade since or even the ‘collateral damage’ of the very same Iraqi people who are intent on killing each other now ( thanks to US forces, again our friendly savior of iraq) – but what disturb me most is what hatred and hopelessness drove these unfortunate people to go right up into the mosques and blew themselves up?? It’s beyond me… the only thing I can say is that poor Iraqis… my fellow muslims shias, sunnis kurds and all…what hell you are living in now…you have all gone mad…no to thanks to good ole USA and bush who started it all …and who may have been unduly influenced by equally irrational and evil fundamentalists in the us bible belts…(equally mad evil bastards all of them..)…

Friday, April 07, 2006



'In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments -there are Consequences.'
R.G.Ingersoll, 1833-1899 - quoted in the sleeve notes of "Consequences"

One of the most neglected and greatest rock albums that I came across and still love dearly is “Consequences”, a triple box set concept album by Lol Crème & Kevin Godley , the two main creative force behind an old british rock band 10cc. It was widely panned and reviled by music critic at the time as 70’s worst kind of rock music excesses - similar to what was hurled at Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel’s Genesis and Robert Fripp’s King Crimson music – which ironically later came to be viewed as the best in progressive rock genre…This was understandable because these were the golden years of the ridiculous disco music and it’s she devil partner the punk rock…

In this day and age where all kinds of natural disasters are getting worryingly more frequent(?) and the fact that some big and small countries are capable of blowing the world to smithereen ten times over by WMD (as they call it these days) the idea of saving and soothing the anger of the world by music is charming… and this is the theme of this album. (Oh! what a far cry from all the current rubbish 3 minute ditties that they called music today!!)

(Oh how I miss this kind of music now…does anyone know of any new music like this now? Do tell me….)

And not only that…one of the great things about this album is that it included a lengthy and hilarious play by the great british comedian peter cook!!

Here is an excerpt of the theme of the album as described by one fan site Mr Blint’s attic (which incidently have everything you want to know about this album and what a treat! It has a complete transcript of the great & completely mad play by Peter cook!!!!) - i dare you to read it without laughing even if you can't hear the inimmitable cadence of Cook's various voices for different players.

…. the combination of some of Godley & Creme's most beautiful music, the haunting sound of their guitar 'Gizmo', the vocal talents of Sarah Vaughan and the comedic skills of Peter Cook make a wonderful listening experience

….Cook wrote a play to go with the music, and he played almost all the parts himself.

The main action of the play takes place in the office of the increasingly drunken solicitor Mr Haig; he is negotiating the divorce between Walter Stapleton and his French wife Lulu, represented by Mr Pepperman. They are continually interrupted by Mr Blint, an eccentric composer, who lives below; when the building was redeveloped he was the only tenant who refused to sell and a hole (ahhhhh!) remains in Mr Haig's floor which is, technically, Blint's attic; it is through this hole (ahhhhh!) that Blint addresses them.
The litigants are unware that larger forces are at work; the world is being threatened by an meteorological disaster. Weather is possibly being used as a weapon in a global war, and eventually it dawns on them that only Mr Blint can save them, with his arcane knowledge of pyramids, music and the
number 17.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


GHOTI* (pronounced as “fish”)

A week or may be two weeks ago watched another good BBC program “Imagination” …this time on the great Norwegian painter edvard munch and especially his iconic ‘the scream’. A little thing that surprised me… a bit … is how his name is pronounced - as ‘monk’ - but at least one English tv announcer refers to him - as I always tought- as “munch”…

And this is always a problem with me….spellings quite often don’t indicate the correct pronunciation …of people’s names especially…most people will never get the right pronunciation of say, ‘gauguin’ unless you’ve heard someone said it correctly before…but that’s French you say…and may be understandable… I never know for example that the islamophobic bastard houllebecq is rightly pronounced as ‘wellbeck’ until someone mentioned it so…not that I care very much about this writer…

But English spellings too can be quite illogical…and sometimes can give disastrous results such as what happened to dan quayle many years ago when he couldn’t spell ‘potato’ correctly and effectively killed his race for us presidency …the funny thing is the poor bugger was no worse than any other fools who have become American presidents since …English spellings can be murder to some and not just to people who are dyslexic…There was one advert in TIME magazine a very long time ago- which I couln’t remember what it was all about- except that it mentioned that English spelling can be so confusing that “fish” can be logically spelt as G-H-O-T-I. Here’s another gem… “PEKTOPAH” is pronounced as ‘restaurant’ in Russian…at least that’s what my lonely planet says….

GH = F (as in enough)
O = I (as in women)
TI =SH (as in station)

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