Monday, December 31, 2007

Gramsci 2008

"Living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a
citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism,
perversion, not life"

Antonio Gramsci

"I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides.
Those
who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan.
Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life.

That is why I hate the indifferent.

The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference
operates with great power on history. The indifference operates
passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted
on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the
raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that
weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their
will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify,
and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve
the power.

The mass ignores because it is careless and then it seems like it is
the product of fate that runs over everything and everyone: the one who
consents as well as the one who dissents; the one who knew as well as
the one who didn't know; the active as well as the indifferent.

Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few
ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have
happened? I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their
whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one
liable: how they have tackled with the task that life has given and
gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they
have not done. And I feel I have the right to be inexorable and not
squander my compassion, of not sharing my tears with them. I am a
partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future
city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience.
And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what
happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the
intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the
window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan.
That is why I hate the ones that don't take sides, I hate the
indifferent".

Thursday, December 27, 2007




Every morning I get my green tea on 42nd street at 5th avenue from a portly white guy with a big smile. I don't know if he is gay or what but the looks he gives me make me sheepish and deep down make me smile as well. He knows it. He knows that his smile and bright eyes flatter me and make me feel like a beautiful woman. Today I decided to look in him the eyes, but I couldn't, his love and admiration is so strong that it makes me want to hide. When I finish my tea, he always, without fail, says goodbye in his own flirtatious way.

He makes me feel like a movie star, like one of the pretty people in magazines, this guy.

The power we hold within us called love is enormous. What that man does every morning for me, why does it make me feel so uncomfortable yet so good? I look for him everytime now and when he is not there I smile at the other workers but nobody does it like he does it. He is not particularly attractive and perhaps he is autistic but I thank nature for making wonderous gems like him to shine in this deep dark night we call the world. People who do not give in to their circumstances and are shaped by something more than their environment. Their spirit and strenght comes from the past, will go into the future, will forever be with us no matter what happens to the human race.

It is untouchable. Hitler couldn't eradicate it and neither will brand America, or anything else. It will always be there waiting for us and hit us when we least expect it.

After my tea is over, I see the black circus shows in front of the library, our black youth break dancing for money, 40 years after the civil rights movement and I wonder about progress when black youth dance and jiggaboo for white midwestern audiences that smile and feel good that they saw the real authentic new york. They saw the black people dance. Good thing they are not in jail. Aren't they talented? I am not amused but then again what can I give them. They make their money and I am in awe of their muscular strong agile bodies. How did they get bodies like that eating mac and cheese with spam and kool aid.

Incredible strenght, charm and character, this world we live in takes the most superior of races and attacks it.

Lets just love then. Love is all we have in this world. Its the only revelation worth having. We can only love, each other, into the night. Let us come together and be true. You know how much I need you.

Waking up besides a sleeping woman, looking at her breasts and body and holding it tight, into the night.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Slow down

My refusal to run around, is it my strenght or weakness? It makes me
different. I move without moving, to the "unmoved mover's" beat.

True New Yorkers don't sit at home. Growing up we spent idle time
playing on the street, whistling to girls from the stoop, there was
always a constant air of conspiration.

In doing nothing you did a lot. Talk, watch, shout, bouncing balls,
making deals, contemplating the universe from the depths of the
concrete maze. Watching Kitty Genovese get mugged.

There is no inherent vibrancy and life to this city. Every tree in
central park is planned, a constructed work of art. All of lower
Manhattan is granite. The spirit that moves through Washington Square
comes from the native burial ground underneath.

How difficult to be indifferent to the city of love and love lost.

I roamed the streets weeping in fits of mental anguish and unemployment.

Growing up is always difficult, no matter where you are though no place
makes you as conscious of the camera, the cinema, the symphony of it
all than this maddened, jumbled dream.

I know many have written and spoken of, alluded to what I write.
Though it will never be enough, I will never get my fill of hearing,
understanding and feeling the power of the place.

This is Shiva's city, of destruction and creation, life and death on a
daily basis. Where only illusion can set you free. Where you long to
leave and never come back, knowing each passing day and night makes it
more difficult to adjust anywhere else.

I only sleep well on trains now or if my window is open to the noise of
the street. Aeroplanes and taxis and the rumble of people, everyday I
see my lover, my killer, judas, sometimes I see my father again.

He is carrying a suitcase and his thermos. His trench coat is open,
his russian hat sits lightly on his head. He eats his tomatoe and
cheese sandwich while looking out into the crowd. Between sips of tea
he whistles and smiles. The New York times under his arm, rushing home
to catch Peter Jennings on the 7pm news. Eating dinner, contemplating
life on his favorite chair. 11pm Ted Koppell on Nightline and then
1130 Johnny Carson, just his monologue and then good night sweet dreams
to do it all over again.

Sometimes my parents would stay up late to watch Benny Hill. Thats
when I knew that they were in love, from the start.

A review of I'm Not There - a parody of a self parody

Ironically, this film is sacrilege. It was tempting, I am sure, to
assume that one could make a film to represent Dylan, the way dylan
himself is: nothing sacred, constant flux, whirlwind genius, in sum,
an American enigma. But Todd haynes is not Dylan, nobody is, and any
attempt at imitation of the spirit of the that man trivializes. I
don't know whats worse, this movie or the first time I heard the
Beatles in a commercial jingle selling potatoe chips. The inner
sensation of violation is the same.

I saw it in Manhattan at the Film Forum and wanted to scream Judas to
the screen. Dylan proved everyone wrong, with time, but Todd haynes
won't. Because Todd Haynes is an imposter, a conscious artist trying
to do something big when with Dylan, the simple stories and songs are
enough. Scorcese's film is grander in this aspect and nothing can top
Don't Look Back in its understated simplicty with moments of poignancy.
I can't believe the NY times, the entire art scene gave this movie
such hype and credibility. Hyper- constructed art projects are
ridiculous, they are vain glorious, self referential, camp, and try to
hard. Susan Sontag is rolling over in her ashes. Did nobody read
Notes on Camp?

I re-read it last night in a fit of rage. The part of about the Jews
and the Gays is striking. How both groups looked to culture, to find a
niche within it, to gain acceptance in mainstream society. The Jews as
vanguards of morality, explaining their affinity to liberalism and
communism, while the Gays became vanguards of aesthetics, explaining,
well, explaing them. I have never put together how important the City
was for their existence and how without the urban enviroment they could
never survive in America.

The city the city, I am going down with this ship. I am getting office
space in the Freedom Tower.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Athens, Rome, New York.......























"You walk across the hall with that flower in your hair"

The importance of men to compliment the hysterics of women. The
father, strong and able to command discipline. The mother love. That
is the best dynamic a boy could ask for. Nature.

Many boys now have men for mothers and pansies for fathers. They grow
up confused.

I live and breath this city. I feel its deep secrets within me and now
understand its cruelties and gifts. It makes you then breaks you and
then puts you all back together again. ( Humpty dumpty)

It may be that after all my wanderings I will return here, the city of
my metaphysical birth, where my father took his last breath, where I
kissed my first German girl and we spent post-coitus smoking cigarettes
and talking of her Nazi grandfather. Where the staten island ferry is
the best poor man's first date. And also that day I found god on a
street corner in the west village fighting death, who had taken the
form of a homeless man.

It's all here for me. My poverty, my numerous weaknesses all have
dignity here. I can re-invent myself, let go of all my friends, my
name, my people, forget it all and start again.

I would see them occasionally ice skating in Central park, falling
down, they would offer a hand and pick me up and for a moment we would
look and recognize each other and then politely move on without saying
anything. They will understand, the overwhelming burden of history, of
love lost, the only way to survive is to pretend to forget.

This morning I read a story in the Times about 7 Saudi men who
descended upon a couple and raped them both, both man and woman,
repeatedly in an abandoned building. It turned me on, tremendously.
Fucked up, but true, like the rape scene in a Clockwork Orange, there
is something about sex and violence that is deeply rooted in our
collective psyche.

This Hobbesian state, this experiment in order, peace and tranquility,
i don't know anymore. Its as if we repress a potentiality, that spills
over in punctuated moments, engulfing us. Perhaps the obsessive
control, the obsessive desire to live in a utopia is what leads to
perversion and cruelty of the highest order. Prisons are the highest
representation of that, and the human spirit, breaks free, makes a leap
either called genius or insanity.

"it is impossible to describe what is necessary, to know what horror
means, horror has a face, you must make a friend of horror, if they are
not friends, they are enemies...

I remember when I was with special forces...we went into a camp to
inoculate children, we left the camp after we inoculated the children
for polio and then this old man came coming he was crying, and they had
come and hacked off every inoculated arm, there they were in a pile of
little arms, i remember, i cried, i wept, like some grandmother, i
wanted to tear my teeth out, i wanted to remember it, i never wanted to
forget, and then I realized, like I was shot by a diamond bullet
through my forehead, my god the genius of that, the will, perfect
genuine, crystal pure, and then I realized that they were stronger than
me, men who fought with their hearts, who had family and had children
and were full of love but they had the strength to do that. if I had
ten divisions of those men than are troubles would be over very
quickly. Utilize primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without
passion, without judgment because it is judgment that defeats us." -
Brando

Friday, November 23, 2007

God Bless Non-Judeo Christian Cultures



Befriending an Arab has made me aware in the difference in outlook of upbringings of mono-theistic cultures versus the rest of us pagans. I grew up in New York City, my Hindu background and my time in India, have influenced my psyche to a large degree. I am something new, unexplainable, not yet definable. I perplex both the western and eastern mind. Part new york part new age, mixed with indian, latin, jewish and black influences, my sense of self is fluid and in influx. I become a fat Elvis singing pre-Revolver Beatles with no hint of irony or self-pity. This bothers the monotheists. They want one person, one whole, a consistent ideology, they see lack of integrity where I see possibility and greater truth. The whore, the beggar, the thief, they are a part of all is us, we must transcend through them rather than avoid them. Evil has to be played with to diffuse it. My father, I remember, in a fit of trying to understand who I was asked whether I had a conscience. I was 13, burning mailboxes, stuffing pigeons in microwaves, torturing cats and starting forest fires on a routine basis. "Don't you have a voice inside you that tells you not to do things." I didn't know what he was talking about. My religion was Guns and fucking Roses. I stole money from my mother's purse to run to the store to buy appetite for destruction, my first album. I came home, pumped up the volume while my parents were away at work and thrashed the house with baby powder. There was baby powder everywhere. This inspired my mother to put plastic covers on our sofa, which destroyed any warmth one could feel on cold saturday mornings watching cartoons.

I don't have a voice inside me that tells me what to do. I do what a I feel like, when I feel like. I am a selfish, arrogant, rebellious person who doesn't give a shit about honor and pride. And when I meet people who do care about such arcane ideas, it gives me the creeps. I know right away that these people are capable of the worse human atrocities. Honorable persons kill and maim to much higher degrees. I just hurt people's feelings and disappoint them. I am much too much of a mercenary to kill someone for some idea, or ideal, like honor and pride. I have no people, no allegiances, I move with the wind and am just here to have a good time before the party is over. I want to taste all the food, sleep with all the women, make money and spend it, travel and see things, sing songs and care for the weak, all because it feels good.

I am talking about love, love your neighbor, till it hurts.

You, you with your ideals, your honor, dignity and pride. Go fuck yourself. Take your morality and die with your repression, may worms eat your insides away. You are a sinner against life. Sit in your office, take your drugs, pride yourself on your efficiency and talents. What good will it do you, perhaps it will give you 20 years of security but security never ever gave anyone life.

The illusion of safety is more dangerous than danger.

And this is to everyone who has gone to, has served or has had anything to do with the war in Iraq. You're all war criminals. Don't ask me to support you, to feel bad for you, or feel grateful that you carry the torch of imperialism. Whether you like it or not, you are complicit to murder in the name of who knows what. Shut up with your ideals, about freedom and our way of life. We are all slaves! To anxiety, to shopping, to bulimia, to small cock size, to fatness, to gasoline cars, walmart, tv, internet, can't get it up and can't take it down. How long are you gonna let them push you around! How long! I bet you like it, I bet you like getting shit on, I bet it gives you the kicks because you feel you deserve no better because they got your mommy and daddy in the 1950s and made them zombies and then you weren't breast fed and you were fed TV dinners and now you re-live it every week in therapy. And you cry and don't know why.

"American boy, American girl, most beautiful people in the world. Son of a frontier, indians swirl..."

There was such greatness. There was the great big open in front of us, we were free to be whatever we wanted. No government could control us, this was the land of plenty, the last great unknown. And rather than bravely face it, fear took over, and we lost our way and sheltered ourselves from our selves.

The earth will always be here, waiting for us to awaken out of our sickness. It waits indifferently, knowing in the end of all our running around we come back to the Mother. Don't be afraid to live, my brother. My jihad does not entail suicide bombers but people who LIVE and FIGHT and are bombs of light and knowledge and truth.

And it is more than just willing it, you have to have a regimen.

1. no tv

2. no pharm drugs

3. no deodorant

4. no sugar free gum

5. no fast food and sodas, consume NOTHING that is advertised. Its a simple and brilliant rule.

6. use libraries, if you can more than one, angels and homeless people are there, and they both will take care of you.

7. No cars, driving makes you dumber. (an exception is made for cross country American trips and trips in general into the wild)

Don't anything out of fear or obligation. Do it for the thing itself, consciously and with love.

And realize that there are no guarantees. Nothing is fair, there is no justice, just laws of nature, and like nature, that is so loving, it is also cruel and indifferent. Either way a life spent in HER is a life spent living. You can choose to be inside, to be in your POD, living anywhere, even mars, with your cute cafes, and food, and computer and all the rest of the nonsense. Do it, play with it, put it on as one would a shirt, but don't be attached to it, it is not essential, man. It is just an illusion. Deep down, it is simple, what makes goodness and greatness.

It is no contradiction to drive to the ANTI-car meeting. Do it because it is necessary. Just because something is necessary does not make it good. i.e Modern medicine, warfare, etc, etc.

The answer is not the WILD. Modern living cannot and should not be rejected. It gave us the city, and the Novel. No time before was better than now. Enough of the empty romantics. You just got to control it, and clear your mind. Its an illusion. The most striking of beauty is possible sometimes in what seem like hopeless situations. We let our guard down, and when you flow with it, the truth and beauty find you and fill you. There is no rule-book. No way to make it happen, though certain activities can make it more likely there is never a guarantee. We are in the most perfect of systems, there is a deeper harmony, if only we are not afraid and accept risk.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The wisdom of insecurity



When we compare human with animal desire we find many extraordinary differences. The animal tends to eat with his stomach, and the man with his brain. When the animal's stomach is full, he stops eating, but the man is never sure when to stop. When he has eaten as much as his belly can take, he still feels empty, he still feels an urge for further gratification. This is largely due to anxiety, to the knowledge that a constant supply of food is uncertain. Therefore eat as much as you can while you can. It is due, also, to the knowledge that, in an insecure world, pleasure is uncertain. Therefore the immediate pleasure of eating must be exploited to the full, even if it does violence to the digestion.

Human desire tends to be insatiable. We are so anxious for pleasure that we can never get enough of it. We stimulate our sense organs until they become insensitive, so that if pleasure is to continue they must have stronger and stronger stimulants. In self defense the body gets ill from the strain, but the brain wants to go on and on. The brain is in pursuit of happiness, and because the brain is much more concerned about the future than the present, it conceives happiness as the guarantee of an indefinitely long future of pleasures. Yet the brain also knows that it does not have an indefinitely long future, so that, to be happy, it must try to crowd all the pleasure of Paradise and eternity into the span of a few years.

Thus the brain designed to produce this happiness is a fantastic vicious cycle which must either manufacture more and more pleasures or collapse-providing a constant titillation of the ears, eyes, and nerve ends with incessant streams of almost inescapable noise and visual distractions. The perfect "subject" for the aims of this economy is the person who continuously itches his ears with the radio(or ipod), which goes with him at all hours and in all places. His eyes flit without rest from the television screen, to newspaper, to magazine, keeping him in a sort of orgasm-with-out-release through a series of teasing glimpses of shiny automobiles, shiny female bodies, and other sensuous surfaces, interspersed with such restorers of sensitivity-shock treatments-as "human interest" shots of criminals, mangled bodies. wrecked airplanes, prize fights, and burning buildings. The literature or discourse that goes along with this is similarly manufactured to tease without satisfaction, to replace every partial gratification with a new desire.

For this stream of stimulants is designed to produce cravings for more and more of the same, though louder and faster, and these cravings drive us to do work which is of no interest save for the money it pays - to buy more lavish ipods, sleeker cars, glossier magazines, and better TV sets, all of which will somehow conspire to persuade us that happiness lies just around the corner if we will buy one more.

It isn't that the people who submit to this kind of thing are immoral. It isn't that the people who provide it are wicked exploiters; most of them are of the same mind as the exploited, if only on a more expensive horse in this sorry-go-round. The real trouble is that they are all totally frustrated, for trying to please the brain is like trying to drink through your ears. Thus they are increasingly incapable of real pleasure, insensitive to the most acute and subtle joys of life which are in fact extremely common and simple.

Generally speaking, the civilized man does not know what he wants. He works for success, fame, a happy marriage, fun, to help other people, or to be a "real person." But these are not real wants because they are not actual things. They are the by-products, the flavors and atmospheres of real things - shadows which have no existence apart from some substance.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jazz words - blessing to the almighty Coltrane


















The below is best read when listening to "Afro Blues" by John Coltrane off his "Live at Birdland" album. Listen to it and read and feel. It was written during the song, and was what came from me as the song played in me. A form of spiritual meditation. Why don't you try it? if you don't have this song, take any coltrane song and listen and as you listen write what comes to you. Go with it, flow with it and just write, don't worry about anything. Post it in the comments. The power of coltrane. It will pull you through the deepest blue.


"In the beginning there was love. Powerful and all encompassing. It danced and made us dance. We played along with it and it played with us. There was harmony and beauty and then Love started playing wild and dared us to move and while Love moved we moved and we went out to the outer limits of our being. Then Love disappeared though we kept on dancing. It's the moment when your father takes you out for a bicycle ride. The training wheels are on and then he takes them off and he holds you as you peddle. All you have is the park and the morning sun, and that quiet, a deep quiet because everyone else is at work while you and your father struggle against time. Its time to fly and he holds on and then gently lets go and you are not sure if its your own strength that carries you or your fathers and then you fly because you realize its all one and the same. You are moving into the wind and the wind moves with you, carries you and the legs move, though the mind is at rest but the body moves. Father leaves and we fall. And we keep at it, we start finding another, another person to replace Love, the father, that hand that held us. and we work and there is playing but we don't listen to each other and then just patterns and repetition and chaos, and she keeps hitting the same key and then a thunder bolt; Love is screaming back, showing the way over powering our disharmony though now our disharmony is part of the harmony, Love can even take our disharmony and make it beautiful and right. Now that same key she kept playing is like the beating of my heart. Its the eternal beat of the Earth and the sax runs wild, and we all fade into its ecstasy. We play, though listen in wonder, our hands move though our mind is still, focused and rested on the divine, the light and its like the beginning though it isn't because this time we are conscious of our disharmony though grateful and humbled that the greater, the Love is making us a part of it and can take anything we do, forgive it and work with it to make greater Love and then we play, we play, we don't care, no more self consciousness, no more self, no more ego, we play and play and we go strong until when? Until the end, for the end surely comes, as Love always comes and goes. As we always come and then right before, just before, we all play the same tune we heard in the beginning, and Love , this time we carry Love, if just for a moment, before the end. And its over and when will it begin again? When did it end? (Applause) "

Monday, November 05, 2007

everything is not, ok



















This place makes me insensitive to people's suffering and their lives. I could care less, I care much more about the characters in my books and the actors on the cinema screen. They evoke greater empathy then any of the living idiots I encounter here in washington, DC. What an awful, awful place this is. No style, too many white people, to many geeks, everyone is an over educated underpaid loser.

Last night I went to see a sad film with an eastern european girl. She cried and said she doesn't like seeing sad films. And I told her, baby, there ain't nothing like the blues when you got the blues. Reminded me of that scene from Farenheit 501, that truffuat film in english about the illegality of reading and books. Montag, he takes out the tale of two cities and yeats and other poetry and literature and starts reading impromptu to his wife's friends while they were watching tv. The women listen and then one of them starts to cry. The words and what they represented made her cry. And then Montag's wife admonishes him and says see see ! Thats why books are useless they just make us unhappy. That all books they all contradict each other, some say this is true while others say the exact opposite. They all are meant just to confuse us and make us unhappy.

If this is confusion and unhappiness give me more. Nothing hurts me more than certainty and order, and perky everthing is ok.

What is strange is that people don't understand the need to rebel against what is happening to US. They accept the shopping, they accept the technology, they accept the long distance relationships, they accept the pictures and the voices and the alienation. And the running around, the sleep deprevation. For what, you fools!

They take their pills, quietly. They want to function, they want to be somebody. they want a job, they want to be slaves forever. they are afraid of the desert, they don't want to do nothing. They want to swim, but only for two week vacations. They don't want to be free. They want to be heard, to complain, to be held, to have support, to want to help you so you can help them, they are scared they need help, they need happiness, they don't love, don't know what it is, they are trapped, they are beautiful, they are ugly, they are fat they are too thin, they want to be free, they want to sing, they have no idea what they are missing but feel it somehow through the moving of my words and the power of my kiss.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

god is work

A friend of mine worked in an office where people complained all day.
They were unhappy and wanted to leave but didn't. A budget cut
happened and many of these people were laid off. As they cleaned out
their desks, they cried. People in the greatest most powerful country
in the history of the Earth, trapped as slaves in their jobs which paid
60,000, 80,000, 100,000. The money did not matter, I am sure all of
them yearned to be out in the sun and not working for the weekend or
that 2 week vacation in a resort in the Caribbean. Instead they were
stuck 8 hours plus, in front of a computer in air conditioning. Damned
if they did, damned if they didn't. There was no way out for them,
they were destined to be unhappy.

I have visited "progressive" do gooding organizations that look the
same. The work they do is suppose to be different yet I see no
difference. Everybody in front of their computer in an office, all
day, working, as if process did not inform outcomes. When you talk to
many of them they look just as tired and worn out as the rest. They
pay lip service to the importance of their work but in an abstract
religious way. They choose something that made it easier for them to
sit in front of a computer all day, thats the difference, but what
equalizes all of us is the slavery to the office and the computer.

Makes me wonder about my mother, a clerk in an office for 20 years. I
remember I went to work with her once and she spent 2 hours licking
stamps and sealing envelopes. I thought, wow, I am at home watching TV
and fooling around while my mother seals envelopes so that I can fool
around and watch TV. My mother never complained about her job, never
said she was tired and I came to realize she was adored at work. She
worked mostly with African American women and was the first Indian
woman in her unit. At her retirement party I realized what a presence
she was for the office. She was everybody's confidant and took on
people's work and helped out everyone the best she could. In her own
way she forged goodness and light in a dark situation. Thats what I
have realized always, that no matter how bad the situation, humanity,
goodness, the light, lurks somewhere somehow with someone. Our free
will comes in, in choosing what side we want to be on. Maintaining
love in darkness, when nobody is watching and we don't know why we do
what we do. When you will get nothing in return and you still pick the
path of light.

I do that but don't feel alone. I have always imagined that I am being
filmed, not in a big brother way but in a french avant garde way. I
want my film to be beautiful, I pay attention to my movements and even
how I soap my belly. I remember to smile from time to time and make my
bed in the morning. To let the tea kettle whistle as I smoke listening
to jazz. Reading the paper on the can, writing poetry in the wind,
blowing kisses to the pretty school girls in plaid skirts. Yeah, the
camera never stops.

I asked my mother if she liked her job. And she said yes, it was nice
for her. It was good because she knew she was giving me a life,
putting food on the table and helping her family get ahead. She had a
purpose and it was other people. Those people in my friend's office, I
wonder why that wasn't enough? Why were they unhappy and my mother
happy? Maybe they wanted more, or expected more from life. My mother
was content that she helped support her family and educate her
children. I don't know if that will be enough for me and I wonder if
that makes me worse or better as a person.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Henry Miller - The original motherfucker

I finished "Tropic of Cancer" and convened with
the original Beat spirit, the grandfather of us
all. To think he wrote this in the early 1930s.
I couldn't believe it, I kept looking at the
date of publication and said no, it can't be,
must be the 60s. It is raw and vibrant, a
feeling hard to feel nowadays. What he writes
about is truer today than ever: man is becoming
weak, western civilization is over, success is a
sham. Where are the men of action, of
determination? Who are willing to more than
just die, no, not more martyrs, but people who
are not afraid to LIVE and love, as that is much
more difficult in our solitude. Don't let your
solitude overwhelm you. Allow it to strenghten
and make you more loving. The point of
everything is love and health. Evrything else
is just empty ambition.

The book moves with dynamic audacity, you feel
the rush of the truth in you and don't know why.
You forget what its about yet you want to be in
it, feeling what Miller feels starving in Paris,
it hits parts of you that you didn't know felt
anymore. It awakens. It enlivens, it makes you
want to jump and scream and shout to all those
helpless idiots watching football and on their
iphones saying "like", "like", and you want to
banish the word LIKE, because its destroys free
thought and silience in your mind, when people
feel the need to speak but really have nothing
to say. Take in the no talk.

In finished henery miller as I was watching
scorscese's "no direction home", so its been
quite a trip for me. Both works of striking
beauty that go quite a long way in furthering my
feeling and purpose here in America. There is a
war out there, always been there, and miller and
Dylan understood and lived life with that
awareness. The greater difficulty in America is
that it tries to convince you otherwise. It
makes you let your guard down and then kills you
with its food, alienation, technology and bad
music. And then come the pharm drugs and you
are on the life plan. You become their slave
and pay and work to maintain your disease. You
don't know what hit you, it happens quietly for
many, they justify their weaknesses and before
they know it they've lost desire, they don't
even desire desire, itself.


--

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

(k)new



When I was a child, i was separated from my mother to take a trip with
my father, to india. My grandmother died with a picture of me held
close to her heart. It was decided that I was to be taken along to
cheer up the family and touch her body before cremation. There is a
picture now, of me touching her dead body, it's striking, the contrast
between my baby vitality and her soulless shell. They tell me that it
led to a hysteric scene among the women of the family, particularly
because I had no fear and naturally paid reverence to her spirit by
kissing her face. You may not believe me if I tell you I remember that
day and that moment clearly. I remember the sun coming through the
veranda, and my Billu bhaiya, a portly fellow of 28 who bobbed me up
and down, I can feel the smiles coming toward me through fits of
crying, the scene filled with a contradiction of emotions and
sentiments. The joy of my life and the sadness of loss. The suffering
would become worse, my Billu Bhaiya would be murdered 6 months later,
thrown off the tallest building in connaught place, 13 floors to his
death. He would be doused with alcohol and the papers would report a
suicide as the accused were Delhi's most powerful. In a fit of poetic
irony, my father was the chief engineer of that building and it was his
pride and joy to have built Delhi's tallest skyscraper. Only to lose
his nephew to it. My father had bad luck with buildings I suppose as
the other building he helped build, the world trade center, has met the
fate my father promised would never occur. "That building can
withstand an impact of an airplane, its new technology..." I heard him
say that over and over. The new building was a civil engineering
marvel, fireproof stairwells and a design meant to resist the impact of
a plane. Bam.

After a week, it dawned on me, that my mother was missing. The
realization came in seeing her picture in my uncle's house. I took it
and threw it to the ground, stomping on it and crying. All pictures
of her had to be removed. I would go into unbearable fits of rage and
heartbreak in seeing her image. In recollecting this memory my mother
finds this amusing or perhaps she was secretly touched as she has
always had a bias to those who show their suffering, who express their
feelings. When a close family friend died and his daughters shed no
tears at the funeral, my mother was appalled. There was no greater
crime for her. She couldn't understand how anyone could remain
emotionless and composed in the face of death. I make it a point to
cry to my mother. I know she is the only one that understands and sees
it as a good, healthy, natural thing.

Life is fragile and any moment not spent savoring it, is wasted. There
isn't much time and the moment is only now that we have. What a sin it
is to complain or be bored. I never understood that word: bored. To
be bored means you are not paying attention to the wonder that
surrounds us. The problem is that we are conditioned to want more than
we need. We get used to screens, and gadgets and forget how
mesmerizing simple things like our breath, moving in and out, is. A
life force moves within us, our body is in a harmony that sings its own
music, if we let it. And then there is our imagination, those pictures
in our head, we can think and imagine almost anything, its a moving
picture show. Our very own film, yet most people don't see it and most
people let the outside control the inside. Control your film, be your
film, let nothing change your world. Because if we don't control the
content and let it flow than it overflows us. "Letting it flow" is a
misinterpreted concept. It doesn't mean a lack of responsibility and
consciousness, as many people do. It means consciously, very
consciously letting things come to you but being aware throughout the
process and feeling the universe working with you and in you. Most
people associate inaction with letting it flow, when really it is an
active form of doing nothing and allowing the harmony and the spirit to
come in you.

I came home last night and my mother told me of her time at my cousin's
wedding. I'm not close to her and didn't go and to be truthful I don't
like to go to events full of Indian diaspora. I feel inadequate and
unhappy having to essentialize myself based on my work. The adage "you
are what you do" is never truer than in the indian american community
(note i write indian american, Indians are much more diverse and much
cooler).

I start worrying about things I never worry about and if its not a
sense of inferiority that engulfs me, I take on the other extreme. I
develop an artificial sense of superiority, a defense mechanism I am
sure, deriding the bankers and doctors as not having truly lived life
(would that be so far off?). It becomes bad, I'd rather just be who I
am and be with others who have no pretenses and just want to come
together to break bread and drink the wine, and dance a little.

This is blog is back. I am in a new city, again in a new place, and
again with an overwhelming need to reach out to cyberspace. I send my
love to you, people, out there. Somehow, in an Andy Warholesque way, I
feel I can get to a truth in this exhibitionism. At the very least
this blog does wonders in charming the ladies.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

60 years of independent tyranny.


Just when I think that I can't write anymore, that nothing new can be said, a voice arises from my depths and speaks to me. "Write". It's as if I don't write I don't live. Like a Japanese tourist without a camera, I feel out of place and unable to feel what is happening without capturing it. Some write to understand, I write to feel, to examine and mull over my words months later, it gives me strange pleasure, as if I am moving within a house of mirrors. I don't know what is real but I know I am in there, thats the very least I am sure of, or, at least the illusion is big enough to convince me of my existence, of my powers. I feel alive.

The real reason I began to write was to become great. A part of greatness is imitation. The chicken and egg is really a representation of the mind and body. We don't know which came first, they both come from and effect each other. Similarly, if I follow the habits and superficial idiosyncrasies of the greats, that connection, in that moment of doing/imitating, I feel close. I know that wearing the king's robe won't make me a king but the feeling, it's still a great feeling. Is it enough?

I've always wanted to be other people and change bodies and experiences as casually as one changes clothing. That's why growing up autobiographies were an obsession. And then I discovered cinema and I realized I could do it. I became enthralled by the endless possibilities of existence. What do you want to be? I want to be everything and everyone. From hitler to gandhi because it is a way to know truth and also madness.

All great men wrote. They kept diaries. But do all great men have blogs? Lets forget this is a blog. This is something deeper. This is a forum for the expression of my alter ego. A way for me to connect to obscure corners of the earth at the same time. I want a 14 year old girl in vietnam to read these words and kill herself. I would then have accomplished something with my life.

There is a strange devil inside me I have always nourished with jack daniels and marlboro reds.

The rugged sensationalist in me.

Back in America, after a year filled with life and energy. It feels good to be back in New York, a city constantly re-inventing itself, in flux and on edge. More than that it is a kind of home and after this trip back from India, it's all I have. India will forever be intwined with my destiny but New York, if I am honest with myself, is where I am really from. Walking the streets here after a long absence makes me see and feel differently. Its a momentary feeling and pretty soon one gets caught in the maze but for now I am a ghost from faraway lands observing and looking at people, as they look past me.

Queens is full of beautiful Queens, all fashion designers should recruit models here, this place is the land of diversity and the future will be even more fantastic as we mix and merge to form new races and ways of being.

Mamacitas!

I am back and this time it feels right. Excuse the absence, the pondering, the self indulgence. This blog is about to get back on track soon. My emotions were too strong, I couldn't write about anything else but myself. Thats my weakness, pretty soon I will get back to examining the world, for now I leave you with a wonderful letter sent by a dear friend in response to my posts on India. There is insight and beauty in them, and I want to share it with you. Enjoy and keep on fighting the good fight.

______

Gabo man!

I hope you arrived safe, and are back to basking in the predictable, comfortable uniformity of USA!

I went through your blog- thanks for honouring my off-hand statement so! It was not meant to be so profound, actually.

Anyway, I wanted to relate a story which I thought would ease your suffering about the changes in India..

I recently went to a crowded passport office cell. A picture of chaos and indifference on the part of authorities, frustration and anger on the part of public. The counters are few, people are many. Inadequate or no instructions anywhere about what documents are needed, how to fill forms, etc. Officials are not impolite, but they have no qualms in sending a person back if one word is missing on the form, though the person has waited 1 hour to get his turn. Queues are ill formed and confusing, adding to the overall anarchy.

I am in the queue for “special services”, for example change of name after marriage, damage of passport, exhaustion of pages, mistake in passport details, etc. The office makes sure that one has to be present in person to submit this application. You can see all strata of society in that 15 person line- really! From lowly menial labourers struggling to make ends meet in Bahrain, to rich spoilt kids in low rise cargo pants. Also many ageing villagers aching to join their offspring who run news stands in Rome/Washington/wherever.

I had the good fortune of being in this queue for the 2nd time- the first time I was sent back because this counter could not find my record in their computer, and the counter that was supposed to help me was closed for the day, by the time I got my turn and received this information. I think I can claim to be knowledgeable in analyzing the human drama that  unfolds in this queue everyday.

The progression of emotions in the mind of each queuer, regardless of social status seemed to be exactly the same! Here is how it worked:

Stage 1: Disappointment and disgust at the lack of public service and systematic approach in Indian authorities.
Everyone believes that things can be done in a better way. There can be more counters, there can be more transparency, there can be less red tape, one shouldn’t have to waste a day to come here, etc. Some are more vocal than others about this furstration. Some at the back of the queue also yell out their frustration to the person at the counter far, far ahead- get a move on!

Stage 2: A strange, unreasonable conclusion that were there lesser people in this country, all problems would be solved
The “system” is without shape or form, it is difficult to imagine whether it is beautiful or ugly, smells good or stinks. It is easy to blame the system but difficult to hate. The population is ubiquitous. There is a lot of ugliness, a lot of stench- sweat, body odour, farts. It is much easier to hate the population.

Stage 3: Extreme anger and intolerance towards others in the queue
As the queue advances, the same people with whom one was exchanging backgrounds, joking, philosophising- suddenly seem intolerably obnoxious. One concludes that this is a jungle, and everyone else is a threat to one’s interests. If someone wants a pen to fill out a blank field, all are eager to push him to the back of the queue. In the front of the queue, whoever was earlier quiet and patient begins to shove and push, and to thrust their papers into the officials face- in the hope that maybe he will grab them before the person who is in front. There are quarrels, names are called. At this time, there is only one enemy- the person in front in the queue.

Stage 4: Open hostility towards fellow sufferers
Misery does not love company in this case. In Stage 2 and 3, one believes that if others are eliminated things would be better. In this stage, it becomes apparent to one that others also feel the same way towards him! There is now insecurity, anxiety and a call to arms. Everyone is sucked into this spirit- the most docile must also fight and push.

I went through these stages in my first visit, and in the second I had the luxury of observing others go through them. Here are my questions- is our society inherently irrational and selfish, and makes everyone else so? There is a mandate to the officials that everyone admitted into the hall must be attended to, we knew it. Then why is there anxiety and insecurity? The person in front of me was poorer than me, less educated and much fatter. Then why was I so jealous of him? The girl behind me was pretty, pleasant and soft spoken. Then why did I despise her so, thinking she was being pushy and unreasonable?

I sensed a similar anxiety and frustration in your blog. You mentioned several possible causes- the rift between haves and have-nots, lack of awareness and decency in the semi-educated, the heat and maybe some others. None of this mattered in this small cell (it was air conditioned) and I strongly suspect none of this matters in the larger scenario as well. Something, some alien virus has infected us Indians and made us intolerant. I struggle to find a rational explanation to the intolerance but none fits. In the end I tell myself- Man is naturally intolerant. Indians in the history books and in our memories were a superior, nobler race. They were more gentle, more tolerant and more kind than normal humans. Now, with the world opening up, Indians are becoming more and more human, and hence more and more intolerant.

Sometimes we see traces of the better nature- you saw it in Siri Fort with The Last Cigarette. I saw it too in the queue, when the person in front of me (whom I had so far branded as an uncouth, overbearing Punjabi emigrant lout) offered to go out and get copies made for some obscure document for himself as well as for me. He “offered”, I did not ask him. Such events seemed to bring a feeling of serenity and mental peace to those directly involved and also to immediate observers, reminding us of the glory days when we all understood the connection- that we were all part of the same universal yogic super-consciousness, and noone was different from the other (or something to that effect, I don’t know the exact details).

I think Shashi Tharoor is right. WE are decaying, my friend. That is the reason for our displeasure. People around you are decaying as well, but that is no cause for displeasure. Our anger is generated from within. We crave for an Indian Benigni but refuse to be one, we profess the message of love but still cannot stop despising and envying!

I wonder if there is anything that can retard, or stop the decay? Yoga, Vedantas, Vivekanand, Ramdev, etc. seem promising hopes. Deep down, the cynic in me feels that Earth is hurtling towards an inevitable and quite natural destruction, and this is just one of the symptoms. Lets stop kidding ourselves- let us preoccupy ourselves in our businesses, jobs, and studies so that we don’t need to dwell on this unproductive stream of thought.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

And I still haven't found, what I'm looking for

I'd forgotten how frustrating life in Delhi is. The traffic, the heat, the bickering family disputes, servants, the showing off, the class battles, the sexual repression, the hypocrisy, the aggression, the nothing goes your way, the poor transport, the heavy heart attack food, the pathetic night life, the post colonial inferiority complex and nothing is simple or easy. In the past it made me feel alive and now I am tired of it.

The traffic, it's leading to "road rage", incidences where people kill each other over minor disputes while driving and parking cars. Blue line buses also kill daily, operating without permits as mom and pop businesses with little governmental regulation and control where unskilled drivers kill and then flee the scene.

Delhi traffic epitomizes the law of the stronger. One drives with no rules and gets away with what one is allowed. The honking, the screaming, the chaos of it, I don't know how people here manage. I guess they don't. A friend I met yesterday said that Delhi culture is Delhi traffic. No matter how developed you make India, the traffic and the people at heart will remain the same: bestial.

The heat, oh, what a love affair I have with it. It knocks you down, it makes you sweat, and it turns me on. That’s the one part that I won't complain about. Its tough but it’s a good tough. Sitting under a fan, drinking water, taking numerous baths and eating mangoes. Did I mention sex? Let me mention sex, I feel sorry for all those AC fuckers, I am ceiling fan fucker sweat dripping tasting smelling man. The heat is the real star.

Family disputes and bickering has always been apart of Delhi's social fabric. Goes back deep into our classic epics, the bhagavad gita is about a war within a family where God tells man to kill his brother so the modern take on it is no surprise to someone well versed in Indian mythology. Doesn't make it less hurtful though I have come to terms with it and done my best to accept it. Many of these disputes go back years and the line between truth and fiction is blurred by emotions, I even forget what’s happening and what to feel. At least the family care enough about you to hate you, though it is all veiled in a hypocritical civility.

It's this in-between my family is stuck in, between the modern and traditional. New values, new money, I can feel the desperation in many of their faces to not miss the boat. They try too hard and are too fearful. I keep trying to explain to them that instead of looking for magic solutions like computer training, the non-technical, acts like reading, are what make people successful. Computers are just brains, you need a soul to drive them to where you want. Certain fundamentals are universal. You need to be intellectually curious to do well, and that usually comes from within and a simple habit of reading, of wanting to know more than what you are a part of, that’s when real change begins at the personal and bigger level.

Literacy is not getting better, neither is health in the holistic sense. You shed the diseases of poverty to take on the diseases of middle class consumption. Where is progress in that? Something deeper is required, and India has that potential. Half the world’s NGOs are in India! As Shashi Tharoor says “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history amd cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”

If I can't explain this, "Being John Malkovich" does. That’s a film that explains consciousness and how one day you wake up in a big house with a fancy car with a blonde big boobed wife and you wonder how you got there. "Letting the days go by/let he water hold me down, letting the days go by/water flowing underground"

Managing servants. Its great to have people do what you tell them for meager wages. There is always that constant connection to the true children of heaven, the poor. They never do end up doing what you exactly tell them to do and many times they become burdensome and not worth the trouble. I have seen people yell and scream all day at their servants and there are numerous cases where the servants kill masters leading to paranoia amongst the elderly.

A strange dynamic over all and something I have always felt uncomfortable with. It’s an entire sub culture, that’s what’s so perplexing here, the existence of many worlds and layers. The poor live very differently than the rich, and then it becomes more diverse given the region you are from and your particular culture and language. And then comes caste and then we are in many sub groups, I can never keep up.

When I was younger and more Marxist I would do what I could to know and romanticize the rickshaw wallahs, the servants, the poor, till I realized we are all the same in all classes. There are good and bad, enlightened and ignorant in all populations. I've also learned to feel less sorry for the poor. Ok, the absolute poor that have nothing to eat and are ravaged by preventable diseases is unacceptable but I speak more of the moderate poor who have the basics. Most of my upper middle class family is dying slow deaths in the form of over consumption and stupidity. Why would I want the poor to join in the suffering? Everyone has their problems; every situation has its enlightened and frightened side. You just got to figure out where you are and follow the light. Follow the path of love, and make magic where you are.

Benigni, Benigni, we need an Indian Benigni!

People are afraid of losing the material not due to physical necessity but more out of the respect it garners them. It's about power and showing off. My cheap nokia phone bothers my brother in law to no end only because his driver has a better phone than me. The idea that his driver would have something better than me is not inconsequential. It is a signal to the driver that my brother in law doesn't take care of me, and subsequently sends a message that my brother in law lacks power and class. In a jungle like country with obscene inequality the rich need to shock and awe the poor with gadgets that are more for demonstration than utility. You have to scare people not to fuck with you, or they will fuck with you. Fear is the ultimate weapon here, especially in a land where the rule of law functions unpredictably.

There has to be a difference between the haves and the have-nots. Otherwise there is confusion and looks are what most people go on, especially in a country of 45 percent illiteracy. Skin color, clothes, gadgets, everything is about being in the right group. The poor get harassed daily, there is much evidence of the poor internalizing their feelings of inferiority and lacking sufficient empowerment to demand basic state services. Fucked up.

The sexual repression leads to an expression of sensuality that’s brings its own pleasure. The darting glances, the innuendo, the secrecy, you can feel that deep down, inherently we are a sexual culture, a passionate people that dance and sing and try to express in subtle ways that which cannot be expressed in socially acceptable ways. It has its own sub-plots and melodrama and a subtly that is uncommon in western post materialist cultures.

It has its negative consequences. I feel sorry for my cousins who grew up here. They want to marry to have sex, or at least that’s a part of their logic, something strange and sad.

The problem is the modernity mixed with a tradition. Ideally it could work but India seems to marry the worse of both. It leads to interesting things from time to time, but usually horrific.

My friend here summed everything up with a simple statement. He said the problem with India is not the well educated, who are amongst the finest anywhere (st. stephens, ITT, IIMs) nor is it the uneducated, who work and do as told and lead simple and decent lives. It is the semi-educated, those masses of people that get caught in-between the new Indian Dream and the fear of being a nobody and missing the boat. Those are the people with the pretensions, frustrations and fears and who cause problems with their insecurity. They are the ones who need the most help. And they are getting stupider and made to buy things they don't need.

Come on! I know this land can give rise to something the world has never seen before. I know it and feel it and wait. If not here, where? If not now, when? I don't want India to become Taiwaned. Have you seen their films, "Yi-Yi" and "What time is it there" are depressing. That whole country is like gurguaon. I hate gurguaon; I hate it so much I don't even care to spell its name properly. That’s for my next post, and if anyone wants to start an I hate Gurguaon movement, I am there. That place represents as microcosm, what is wrong with India's development.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Home, is where the hurt is

What I thought before about writing, about all actions, now has been transformed. Great things come about from careful thought and planning. If there is improvisation it is always within structure where it works best. Things have to be worked at, and for one to keep working at them you need passion. You have to like doing it and see its special purpose and place in the world. And then slowly and surely you come out onto the other side and you see it, you finally are able to see what you do with new eyes. And every time you see something in a new way, you see new flaws as well as new beauty. And you chip away at it and make it come alive. I use to wonder why what comes forth from my inside isn't as harmonious in the outer material world. Why doesn't it flow from my inner perfection? If that was the case then love wouldn't be a part of the process. It is the constant chipping away and working on a piece of writing, a painting, sculpture, that represents love, a love to the original feeling that moved inside of us that compelled us to express it and bring it to life. The feeling, that original feeling is what we continue to strive to maintain. If we are still and without fear it comes back to us and brings new life, new creation that is a mirror to who we are. We realize who we are through our work.

That's the joy of writing, artistic expression of many sorts; at its best it provides a deep self awareness. How much of our struggles is a result of self-deception! How if I could ask the Lord anything it would be to get perspective, to truly understand my strengths and weaknesses, rather than wander in the midst of a fog of self-love/hate.

To be conscious, to be aware, it is more than just art. It comes forth in other physical ways. In fasting and being light, abstaining from chemicals and then the mind clears and you understand and see things in slow motion. Drugs can work too. But they need to be done with a purpose and not done habitually. The purpose has to be self awareness, to see who we really are. Seeing will be enough, and things will get better from there. It’s easy to clean a messy room with the lights on. In the dark, you might as well sleep a deep sleep. Wake up!

The show is about to begin, is everybody in?

I am waking up. As you all know, I don't like to refer to the personal details of my life in my writings. What I eat, who I sleep with and my day to day proceedings are not what this is about. For gaboworld I prefer to write with an anonymous voice, from an anonymous place, and what I am doing, and those silly details need not get in the way of the ideas and observations at play here. That is the general rule for me in blogsphere, to make blogging anti-personal, abstract and theoretical, though I must confess, dear reader, I need to break that rule for this posting.

"Why don't you go back home to America?"

"I don't know, bad memories, I guess." - Marlon Brando, Last Tango In Paris

I am in India, in my motherland after a couple of years of absence. I come here regularly from time to time as my mother and extended family all reside here. It's a strange sort of home, a place that is a part of me, where my memories haunt me, a place that gives as much as it takes. It is difficult for me to be indifferent and this place pulls and tears at my heart and sense of self. It is only here where I realize how much I suffer by belonging to nowhere. Each trip would remind me I had a place in the world, I would feel renewed and ready to take on the world. India was magic in that way.

Now the magic fades. To feel like one is from somewhere and have it be a part of one's identity, I question this need now. A firm identity and a sense of self trap as much as it liberates. This time I feel no connection here. This trip has been difficult mostly because of my family whom I don't recognize anymore. They are thrilled by consumer goods and have lost all sense of empathy and family bonding. They pass their life in working and engaging in property disputes. The love I remember in my family is gone, most likely due to economic independence which makes me wonder if our love in the past was based on sheer necessity. When we had little we had to live well together and get along, there was no where to go. Now newspapers talk about personal space and more and more, everything that made India distinct for me is fading. Fading in tandem with my sense of who I thought I was.

I know this is a trite posting, it’s been done before, this entire east meets west business, a loss of tradition, the old going through the new. I witnessed similar things in Italy, and the longer I stayed I realized this bet we've made modernity, its sick really. Much of what I write is nostalgia and maybe you would be right in saying that it's selfish. I'll agree to that, as India was always a refuge for me from the excesses of American culture. I looked to it as an alternative, as my other world, a place where I could step away from the American machine, to rejuvenate, gain perspective and strength to fight anew. Now the fight is here, consumer society, over-consumption has taken over in a grotesque way. In times like this I understand the likes of dictators like Fidel Castro. A part of me felt in my time in Cuba that he was doing what he was doing on purpose, that he reveled in keeping people at basic economic levels in order not to quell the revolutionary energy. Give people too much disposable income and they don't care much for liberation and dignity. People will trade health care and education for ipods, as was the case with my poor black students from Brooklyn. Irrationality, it's pervasive and a greater threat than global warming. People don't know how to properly interpret their own interests, even. I wouldn't mind so much if people had real choices and then decided to shop. Most people shop because they are empty and don't know what else to do with their lives. It is why people watch TV. What they don't realize is that after a while. As life is short, shopping and TV, they prevent you from building intellectual and spiritual muscle to fight the real problems that do you the most harm.

In times like this I remember Professor Marco Cesa, a hardcore realist with a pessimistic view of human nature. Self-interest, is that what it all comes down to? I know there are exceptions, I know there is a way out, it speaks to me, there is always a Benigni in every holocaust, I just can't find him here, yet. I am looking I am searching for someone new, someone to speak of what I see around me. There is good and bad, in this new world we find ourselves in, though proponents in both camps simplify and miss the point. Marxism and the traditional left here make me yawn with their rhetoric. The neo-liberal crowd makes valid points about the beauty of competition and markets though they underestimate the spiritual needs of man. We are more than our material needs.

Many great musicians say they took to playing because they weren't hearing what they wanted to hear so they had to create it. I feel that way about life in Delhi. I am searching for that soul, that person to make sense of the chaos, and all my life I have searched for the one, and it's daunting, terrifying to realize that I may be what I am looking for. The answer lies within me. I am the one.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The more you live now, the more it will hurt to remember



It is difficult for me to judge people. Though there is something
wrong with a grand number of them, objectively. I feel very
disconnected from the insanity that surrounds me. The sufferings of
young minds. The loss of intelligence. People who live only to
survive, who live with no purpose. Who no longer can focus,
concentrate enough on anything, anyone, who do things with no passion,
no love.

Then there are the people who kill themselves and make a show of it for
all of us to watch. Waiting for us to stop them, to help them, to care
for them because thats all they want, someone to care for them. Well I
don't care for them. Because nothing is wrong with suicide. The world
would be better if people were allowed to kill themselves. Our
hypocritical society doesn't want you to live or die, they want to keep
you working sad. They don't care for you, nobody cares for you, there
is nothing out here but the power of your mind, your spirit, your soul
that from time to times rhymes to make some poetry. If only you could
feel, listen, see in new ways. Then something would move. Something
would happen. But you don't have the desire, even. You desire, desire
itself. You want to care but you don't, wouldn't it be great to care,
to have passion, to be moved by sunsets and sunrises. To be sensitive
to beauty. If only it meant something to you.

Our society, based on over consumption and information overload has
bombarded your senses to the point that your intellect, if it is at all
intact becomes your only weapon, your one trick pony to kill all that
is real. Stop searching for the meaning and take in the experience.
Understanding comes also from feeling without judgment. Don't
struggle, just try and feel it. And then something happens, something
magical. The moment where you don't want anything, don't need anything
to make you happy because the feeling is enough. And then you want to
live, really live, even for somebody else.

Friday, May 25, 2007

For Sontag

Susan Sontag is a powerhouse. Reading her gives clarity and vision to my pursuits. I immediately am reminded of the "why" in everything I do, the importance of words, thinking and feeling. Feeling and floating intensely through her mind. I run to her when I feel disordered, when the words don't work, when there is no harmony.

It is never as clear with other people of the magnitude, the
responsibility and seriousness writing, art brings to the world. I
read her into the night last night before bed. The experience, the
thrill in reading an essay on pornography, things I always felt and
became true only when she put them to words. She placed them gently in
me, slowly diffusing through my mind, body, my heart and soul. She
makes essays rock and roll. She would make a philosopher king trade
his kingdom for her paragraphs.

How her words opened me to new possibilities of being. How a woman at
some time in the 60s in her New York City apartment with her pen
reached to touch me last night in my solitude, is the true mystery of
life. That it happened, if only once, gives me enough strength to keep
going on awake and aware, not wasting the dawn, nor counting on any
eternal reward. She's enough. She's the one.

We all go through this though only some really move. She moved. She
moves. She moves through us.

"On keeping a journal. Superficial to understand the journal as just a
receptacle for one's private, secret thoughts - like a confidante who
is deaf, dumb and illiterate. In the journal I do not just express
myself more openly than I could any person: I create myself." - S.
Sontag

Friday, May 04, 2007

There is no hope only love


In my difficult moments I remember to remember to feel blessed. I
realized that in the last few pages of "The Stranger" by Camus, the
benign indifference of the universe. The death of god made me more
religious. Knowing I could pray to something that would never or could
never exist made me happy. It made prayer worth it and more valuable
when one knew that nothing would ever come of it. The universe would
be indifferent, it would move and kill, give and take life and pleasure
with no order and reason. In such a static world there was no place
for morality, no one to hear your prayers, no help or mercy you were
alone and you better get used to it. A prayer with a guarantee is not
a prayer but a business relationship. One has to pray for the sake of
praying.

And I remind myself that I was born alone and will die the same, though
there have always been people along the way who have held me. My
mother, beautiful women, what would I do without them? Oh just hold me
before I go back into the that deep big black where your caresses and
the sunday afternoon sun won't warm our sea bathed bodies. But the
spirit rebels and wants to hold on to the beauty forever though the
more I try the more it eludes me, and the less I try the more it
spirals out of control. And I can't give up can't give in as I walk
the tightrope to your heart. Let me fall into you. Come on love.
Come on love. Just one more time before the flowers burst their life
in us.

If everyday I was reminded of the fragility and finite in the infinity
maybe I could finally live. Instead I am forced and pushed and pulled
and the more I try to figure out the more arrogant I become because I
think yes, I figured it out. And the more I know the less I know
because I realize that I am just a part of the harmony that my moments
of joy is when I flow in stream into the greater rhythm that
continuously hums around me. You got to float without sinking
and swim without trying and then you hit it and you really hit it.

Don't give up just yet. There is still much much more. Many more
characters to play and much more to feel before we leave. And we all
leave, that is the one constant the one truth: death. I miss biji and
I can't believe she is gone though she is gone. I called her before
she passed and I said "I love you" and she said "I love you too beta"
and she said it again with emphasis, with all the energy a dying woman
could have. It broke my heart though sometimes you need to break
things to put them back together again. Love to the spirit that
surrounds and guides us.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the pursuit of perfection, love or fear?


My friend's father listens only to classical music as after years of
listening he has developed an inability to hear anything else. Nothing
compares, his tastes have become refined to the point of repelling that
which doesn't meet the standard of complexity and brilliance which is
classical. I thought immediately of rock and roll and how a life lived
without it would be a life less lived. I also pondered the effects of
pursuing perfection and how it enslaves one. It is something I have
experienced with the television as I haven't watched it in years and
this past Sunday when my roomate insisted I watch Colombo (in italian)
I was struck by the advertising. It was a calm low grade violence that
I realized people get used to and no longer mind.

".....centuries from now our great-great-great-grandchildren will look
back at us with amazement at how we could allow such a precious
achievement of human culture as the telling of a story to be shattered
into smithereens by commercials, the same amazement we feel today when
we look at our ancestors for whom slavery, capital punishment, burning
of witches, and the inquisition were acceptable everyday events." --
Werner Herzog

Most people are not concerned about this. They no longer are sensitive
to whats happening to them and how they respond. When they look to
solve their problems they don't take everything into account. The fact
is everything matters, everything. All your actions are an expression
of who you are. They are no coincidences and everything has to be gone
over consciously to understand why. Why do I prefer to spend my friday
nights alone?

Even the pursuit of perfection if not done with the right intention
will haunt you. Will enslave you into obsession and stress. Its not
enough to try, the intentions and what you base your actions on is
where the answer lies.

All of our actions are based on two things: fear or love. That's it.
Simple as that. Ask yourself why you do things and whether it is out
of fear or love. Choose love, please. Choose love and I will choose
it too. Love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reading Tolstoy on the #7



Picture this: A man on a train reads Tolstoy while the man beside him
plays a video game on a cellphone. Are they both merely entertaining
themselves? Is wisdom to be found everywhere? There is the
egalitarian in me which does not want to confine wisdom to certain
canons and experiences but is the man on the cell phone gaining as much
enlightenment as our man reading Tolstoy? I am of course assuming that
there is something to be gained from reading Tolstoy on a train. What
is it? There is an importance isn't there? if there is then why
aren't we all playing the violin and reading proust in our free time?
Too many questions. Wouldn't we want to fill every minute of our lives
with fulfilling experiences? We don't got much time it seems and as
there is no time to waste its a wonder why most people waste most of
their time away. Perhaps its emotions that get in the way. Something
hurts us so deeply that we can only recover by relaxing and doing
nothing. Gayatri Spivak likens intelligence to a singer who has lost
her voice and can only feel the frustration of the loss of something
one is born with. Intelligence is developed naturally in us in the
form of curiosity as children only to be systematically deadened
through school, television, the church and often times the family that
has been socialized to adore and respect those institutions. There is
nothing new about this but its easy to forget what the struggle is and
needs to be directed towards. Iraq, terrorism, global warming are just
manifestations of a lack of intelligence. They don't get to the heart
of the matter. My voting democrat won't change anything for too long.
My killing my television, well thats when things start to move. Not
that I don't engage in "macro" problems but the revolution is micro and
doing the unsexy, the little things is what will allow you to take on
the bigger challenges.

There have to be some absolutes, universals, and differences as
uncomfortable as it may be to accept. For if there weren't there would
be no such thing as good and bad food, or a difference between the
spice girls and the beatles. Somethings are better, healthier lets
say. Not all actions and experiences are equal. But the problem is
how do we decide, who we do we believe as we progress through
minefields of mediocrity. Its a battle of ideas. Its a battle for
your mind. And who cares anymore? Is there enough energy left for
consciousness and critical thinking? It takes a lot of work to care
and it becomes easy to lose sight of why we bother in the first place.
Just don't think, feel good, be comfortable, enjoy life and stop
thinking. We are so tired and busy. Busy paying the bills or cleaning
the kitchen, doing laundry and becoming organized. Who has the time
anymore?

People give up and don't even realize that to give up is to stop
living. Though thats the problem with spiritual castration isn't it?
It takes away desire and you don't even have that to make you
uncomfortable, to make you suffer. Don't be afraid to suffer and long
for something. One day we will desire desire itself. But people kill
that in themselves to go on calmly and then you become like that singer
who has lost her voice and when she hears music she wants to sing and
tries to and can't but the song will forever be in her mind. In your
mind.

Lets give up then you and I as we walk beneath the empty sky. Remind
me again why we live. How to go on without being critical. For if I
am not critical and not consciousness of what I do then I might as well
not be here. And if I am not here who is writing this? Who am I ?

Thats always the question: Who am I? Who are you? Am I who I am in
times of comfort or in extreme situations? Too many questions. I just
want to be somebody. I want to be a contender.

All I know is that I have to keep writing. I only understand how I am
feeling when I write. And when I don't all goes awry. Writing focuses
me, brings me into being. When it doesn't flow I know something has
happened to my thinking. And when I am not thinking I go astray and
suffer. And I have suffered much. I have wasted much. I see not the
beauty in front of me. I lose sensibility. I, I , I.....let go and
follow the touch and the hand and the kisses......

come on woman make me great. Hold me close. Never let me go.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The meaning of resistance



Many times I have heard asked " how would you live your life if you
knew you would die x ", x generally being a short time span, sooner
than generally expected and I hear "I wouldn't be here". Why?

I live like its my last day every day and that is equally my strenght
and weakness. There is something in planning that doesn't come
naturally to the Punjabi in me. I spend today and think about tomorow
when tomorrow comes. If I will have no money then I will sleep on park
benches, look at the stars and talk to strangers to fulfill myself.

I enjoy myself because I don't believe in the future, promises they
mean nothing to me. I live today and have a simple philosophy: to
enjoy what I do. "But we don't always have the luxury to choose". To
which I say:

Even slaves sung songs, and Benigni made the holocaust a game.....no
excuses, make it work, that is the real resistance and struggle.....if
only everyone followed their heart and did what they loved then the
world would automatically be a better place....its only when we feel we
are trapped and when most people feel that way do horrible things
happen. I suppose no one wants to be alone and is afraid they will be
isolated and suffer as an individual and my answer to that is
organize.....the home schooling, environment, civil rights movements
are all minority movements that organized to make a niche for
themselves in the world. You don't need to have everyone agree with
you, you just need to be brave enough to speak your heart and demand
your dignity and that in of itself will set you free.....

"Easier said than done". To which I say who said it was suppose to be
easy? And if it was easy would you do it?

And I don't care about winning or losing, I believe on doing that which
makes me free.

"What you thought was freedom was just greed" - Bono Vox

oops

Monday, March 12, 2007

They say its your birthday...

"My 20s were difficult. I think that those are
hard years for most men. Older men want to kill
you, and girls don’t really want you. They’re
most interested in the rich, older guy. For me,
money was scarce, and I was extremely lonely.
But New York was such an exciting place then
that it compensated for all my insecurities." R. Gere

It's never what you imagine it'll be. Sex, death, suffering... Thats
a constant truth in life. Its never how you think it will be.
Literature, arts, film, all provide a glimpse, elude to the feeling of
what the experience is like but its almost always a different kind of
wonderful.

Its like that touching scene in "Lost in Translation" when Bill Murray
is in bed next to Scarlet explaining what happens to a man when he has
a child. Everything changes, and we try to understand what It will be
like, grasp out of curiosity or longing the idea of a thing rather than
the thing itself. We become obsessed with ideals, love, honor,
dignity, death, suffering, only to understand that they are
abstractions. Silly abstractions.

Why do we keep trying to understand when it will never be like the
words we read, the pictures we saw, the music we listen to? Perhaps
because there is pleasure in it. The pleasure in making the attempt.
Or perhaps we like to lie to ourselves. To pretend we know rather than
bravely face the unknown.

It does work the other way around though, ironically. Once you have
lived something and then you encounter a work of art that speaks to
that experience, it is liberating, elating and enlightening. You feel
less alone, you are caught in disbelief that someone put into words
what you always knew, what you felt, in a way, the art form brings you
full circle, confirms your experience and gives it meaning.

What would all this be like if art didn't exist? Where does art come
from? What does it mean in our life? I remember a friend of mine when
he read "Brothers Karamazov" a highly influential book in life tell me
it did nothing for him. How was that possible? My god, to not be
moved by the Russians? He was lame though, maybe he will re-read the
Russians one day. When in trouble read the Russians, an old but true
adage.

I look for art to transform me. To change my actions. To guide me.
and in my most vulnerable moments comfort me. I will often spend a
friday night in bed with poetry listening to jazz while the world gets
drunk and stoned. I'd rather scribble bad short stories in my notebook
and read them to lovers than partake in meaningless conversation about
the weather. I want to create. I feel ready now that I have lived a
little. Just a little, there is much more to do, news doors to open as
others close behind me....

We can never go back. There is no going back. And in that there is
beauty and perfection. Don't look back. Look forward. Chin high.
Don't cry. Ok cry a little. If its for the lost ones. The ones no
longer here, the ones we will see again in some other form. The ones
who loved us. The ones that don't. To all those who wanted to...its
for them I really live.

Peace.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

kissinger

Kissinger's willingness to make promises became the subject of a
popular joke in Israel: Kissinger goes to see a poor man and says, "I
want to arrange a marriage for your son." The poor man replies, "I
never interfere in my son's life." Kissinger responds, "but the girl is
Lord Rothschild's daughter." "Well, in that case..."

Next Kissinger approaches Lord Rothschild. "I have a husband for your
daughter. " But my daughter is too young to marry." "But this young
man is already a vice president of the World Bank." "Ah, in that
case..."

Finally Kissinger goes to see the president of the World Bank. "I have
a young man to recommend to you as a vice president." "But I already
have more vice presidents than I need." "But this young man is Lord
Rothschild's son-in-law." "Ah, in that case..."

___________

ahh kissinger war criminal perhaps (chile coup, cambodia) but what a
colorful motherfucker he was/is. Re-defined what it meant to be a
statesman and brought a little rock and roll to international
relations. "Power is the ultimate aphrodiasiac". I respect that, his
swagger though not all of his policies and arrogance. Its always
problematic when power comes with charisma. it distracts us from
remembering that no matter who, the only response to power is to keep
it in check.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Is the world getting better or worse?

Who doesn't want to make the world a better place? Everyone does but
no one knows exactly how. Most people lose interest because they feel
that their efforts will be in vain. That anything they do will have no
impact. Or they become so involved in the daily struggle that they
lose track of what is best, what is good, what is right - all to
survive, and make it through the day. Is it a luxury now in this world
to care? To care about what? To make the world better, remember.
What does that even mean anymore? Your better may be my worse and if I
ask people randomly "over your lifetime have things gotten better or
worse? What a variety of answers you will get!" And if you ask within
a historical context, "over the past 50 years lets say after World War
2, has the world become a better place?" You will also get a variety
of stories depending who you talk to, an Indian, an African, a German,
a Bosnian, a Colombian, a rich man, a poor man, a woman, a holocaust
survivor, or Roberto Benigni who would say "La Vita E Bella". They
will say yes, no, maybe or perhaps both, that it gets better and it
gets worse. For how can one distinguish between these stories to know
"A Truth"? Is there "A Truth?" If there are many who is right?
Before even thinking of what is right and wrong perhaps it is better to
first listen, observe, understand. For to make the world a better
place first entails understanding all of our stories, our values,
judgments, interpretations, the data, the facts. To make the world
better we first need to understand it. To understand how it works.
What has worked and what hasn’t.

When I reflect on what the Bologna Center is and have to come up with a
simple definition of what it does and what I do here its " To
understand how the world works." I know that is a lofty goal and
perhaps an impossible one, but that is what we try to do here and the
effort, the process, is at times more important than the outcomes.
Because rather than provide you with "A Truth" as studying medicine or
the law might teach you, we are taught here to think for ourselves (and
more importantly to be skeptical), to know the different perspectives,
form an opinion and defend it with gusto. Bologna Center serves as
the center where diverse stories and perspectives can be heard, from
all over the world, where we debate and discuss what "Truth" means to
us. This dialogue this process, helps us understand the world,
combined with our trainings in economics and International Relations
give us the tools to be better informed, to have opinions and ideas.
Because ideas matter, especially in the realm we operate in of
economics, international relations and political philosophy. A quote
from Keynes to put it into context the importance of what goes on here:

"The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are
right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly
understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men,
who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual
influence are usually just slaves of some defunct economist." - Keynes

So lets get it right, lets at least try, make an effort. Bologna
Center is the living laboratory to try, test out, and figure out what
we believe to be true. It reminds us to care about the world, to
think, reflect on it because much is at stake. Our ideas matter. "Is
the world getting better or worse?" What is your answer? The Bologna
center has been here for over 50 years helping young leaders figure it
out and thanks to your support we will continue to be here, to serve
and make proud and be grateful for all your efforts in this process and
while it may still be difficult to say if the world is getting better
or worse, I can assure you, at the Bologna center “It is getting better
all the time”