Still fine tuning dreams...
5 of 5 stars to The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky http://t.co/cHL9aqfoyO
— And who are you? said he. — Don’t puzzle me, said I. (~ Tristram Shandy)
Before Federer and Nadal play these days, we’re always told that we should enjoy it, that we won’t see too many... http://t.co/1wrAxOrwVJ
I pledge to fight back against social injustice, unless it requires more action than sharing a video on Facebook. http://t.co/INkVD0WM4h
RT @cricketaakash: Pollard has been in the middle of two bizarre incidents this IPL--dropped Hussey thrice in 3 balls & today was caught th…
3 of 5 stars to The Face You Were Afraid To See by Amit Bhaduri http://t.co/F6XXV5XPLm
Got to be careful of those words when talking about Nadal on a clay court - "There is no way Nadal can ___"... http://t.co/MsbZjhOdKH
As a body of inexact knowledge, economics requires us to be intellectually modest, and that leaves little room... http://t.co/cDsWOqQ2u4
On page 22 of 218 of The Face You Were Afraid, by Amit Bhaduri: As a body of inexact knowledge, economics requires... http://t.co/Mkpg5w5zlt
3 of 5 stars to Plastic by Susan Freinkel http://t.co/2s8j83E2re
RT @BetterMarketSF: It's Bike to Work Day! Check out the Bike Barometer on Market #BiketoWork brought to you by @sfmta_muni @sfbike http://…
Angry young Indians: What a waste | The Economist http://t.co/WPcoQEJFe2
The MAD & The BAD: Today’s Dose of Entertainment http://ping.fm/YTZFd
The MAD & The BAD: Today's Dose of Entertainment http://ping.fm/J89BL
Daily Pick of 1 Movie and 1 Book for your enjoyment. Watch the movies. Read the books. Discuss them here! « http://is.gd/MADnBAD_17_02_2011
Twitter is Better: Why Twitter will be The Most Comfortable Social Platform For You - http://ping.fm/C0nC7
It is a collection of 25 stories of IIM Alumni who made a difference – either by taking to entrepreneurship; or by pursuing independent and alternate careers. Many of them left lucrative careers with Consulting firms, banks and marketing firms to strike out on their own. The book also draws on the business and managerial learning throughout their professional lives.
25 Great Stories To Inspire You: The Fresh Brew - "Chronicles of Business and Freedom. Served Hot. The Fresh Brew." @ http://is.gd/uthNXD
Yes, to have the honor of holding the record for maximum number of weeks as reigning as number one, as the king of the tennis world. All he needs is two more weeks. That is too close to be given up, too tantalizing to stop fighting for.
So the only question is how can it happen? Any great achievement needs a special set of factors to come together for its fulfillment.
The OptimismI had painstakingly constructed an excel sheet after Federer won the World Tour Finals on the how the next year can pan out points wise and how federer can recapture the Number 1 Ranking from his kryptonite,Nadal. (you can find the excel sheet here.)
But the optimism that steadily increased due to Federer's better attacking style, his spate of victories post-wimbledon and culminated in a peak after Federer decimated every top ranked player in the world including Nadal has turned out to be slightly misplaced after all.
Trick Behind The Trade
What most tennis fans didn't realize was that there was a real reason Federer won so many slams all through those years.
The above is also the exact reason why Nadal could win three GS titles last year.
Nadal built up such a cushion that he could zone in purely on the GS tourneys and coast along at other times. We can observe his results and we will see that he literally won next to nothing outside of clay and GS show courts. In short, He was turning it up when it mattered and just relaxing at other times.
That is what Federer used to do in the good old days...
Now The Mighty Fed is reduced to scrabbling for points in even lowly 250 point tournaments to hold off the hoard of younger guns fast closing in.
He has to be in top form for every single tournament that he plays.
This is the reason he had to turn it up in Dubai just before Aus Open. Dubai is usually a tournament he treats as pure warm up, but suddenly the points were important and he had to peak there.
I believe that he peaked too soon and the ebb started in the Simon match in Aus and by the time he met Djoker in the Semi's, it was not the fiery peaking Federer who had blown an awestruck Djokovic off the court.
Federer with his new attacking style inspired by Anacone is still perfectly capable of beating any player as he showed in WTF, but the qualifier to that statement is that he needs to build up to a tournament and then get into his zone to be able to play that brand of tennis without enough errors for the opponent to sneak in.
He can't do that if he is playing for his life in every Masters/500/250 tourney. And Djokovic was the beneficiary this year. If Federer had gone into AUS Open like he usually does and worked his way into the tournament's second week, he would have been hitting top form by the Semis, which is what he used to do so well in his day, and the Slam would have been Federer's for the taking.
And where does all this lead Federer to?
A Vicious Game called ATP Ranking
He now finds himself within firing distance of Djokovic who is a millimeter behind with 85 points less. Just to illustrate how close that is, all he needs is to perform better than TMF in one single tournament and Federer will be down in the third position. Now, it might not seem that single ranking point fall is a huge fall.
BUT, there are four major types of ranking point falls in tennis:
1. The fall from 1 or 2 to three:
2. The fall from 3/4 to 5:
- Falling from 1 to 2 does not really affect your play statistically. All tournaments are decided by draws and the way draws work, seeds one and two are treated equally and both have an equal chance of reaching the finals.
- However the moment you fall to three, you then might have to face the number two player who toppled you to reach there (implying he is in good form) OR, more importantly you have an exactly 50% chance of meeting the reigning world number one - In this case, Nadal, the last player Fed wants to meet.
- So falling to three by extension means that fed will reach a lot lesser number of finals than at ½
3. The fall from 5/6 to 7:
- As explained above 3 and 4 are treated equally by draws
- This means that you have to get through one player ranked above you that is it
- The moment you drop to 5, suddenly you are going to be facing a 3/4 ranked opponent in the quarters and even if you get through, you still have the 1/2 player waiting for you as the finalist
- This means that you can exit in the quarters more easily and by extension getting ranking points to get past the player above you will become more and more difficult
4. The fall from Top Ten:
- Now you stand a good chance of falling in fourth rounds and hence you basically get very few points unless you beat people who are good enough to be in top 5
I guess the gist of what I am saying should be clear by now.
- Now suddenly you will find yourself meeting players ranked better and playing better in third rounds and literally meeting the best player sin the world in every round from then on
Why The Hierarchy in Tennis
What all this boils down to is the fact that Tennis is a highly hierarchical sport unlike football where France and Germany can meet in league matches and knock each other out.
But as you climb higher, once you break into top 50 or 30 or even 20, suddenly you will find that gaining enough points to overtake the next guy gets tougher and tougher.
This is because you have to go deeper in a tournament than the person ranked above you and at the same time you get tougher players than him. So statistically speaking it should be IMPOSSIBLE for you to overtake anyone 2 ranks ahead of you. Strange? I assure you it is very logical. I am just going to hope you got the flow of logic till now and skip explaining that bit again.
I guess I will furnish an example* anyway: It is simplistic, bear with me.
- Suppose Soderling is currently number 5 and that Murray is ranked 4 and Djoker at 3.
- Also assume that He can never beat Nadal or Federer or Djoker but he is good enough to beat Murray sometimes and that he can beat anybody else .
- Now this means that in 50% of every tournament he enters he will easily reach till the quarters where he will meet Murray/Djoker.
- Now what happens if he meets Murray, let us assume he can beat him 50% of the time and if he meets Djoker he loses 100% of the time.
- In the rest of the 50% tournaments he enters, he meets Nadal/Federer in the quarters and he falls in the quarters
- All this means that Soderling will reach semis in exactly 25% of tournaments he plays in and get defeated there (he can't beat Fed/Rafa/Djoker)
- Murray on the other hand - will win 50% of his meetings with Soderling and 50% of his meetings with Djoker and lose always against Rafa/Fed.
- This means that Murray will reach semi's of 50% of all tournaments he plays.
- So what do we get? Statistically, Soderling can NEVER move up another ranking point! Nor can any other player for that matter. :)*Of course, all of the above was based on a very simplistic assumption that no player is good enough to beat anybody two ranking ahead of him and that he will beat the person just ahead of him 50% of the time.
Well, that was a lot of explaining wasn't it? Sorry for getting sidetracked.
But one more point: Just bear in mind that the inverse is equally true for what I illustrated above and that is what Federer needs to avoid. just as there is a curve up, there is a viciously steep curve down. the logic above was so that you can visualize how viciously steep that slope could be.
What Should The Maestro Do? If Anything
We were talking about why a single fall in ranking can be catastrophic for federer now since that would mean he will have to scramble all the more for points which then translates to having even less chance of peaking for the Majors. As Anders Lammers explains in his article,
"in order to attain those kind of points, he either needs to win more or less all the 'smaller' events (a double in Miami and Indian Wells would help him quite a bit adding 1865 points alone) or to raise his level in the Slams to his usual standards. Quarters and semi's won't get him to the top."
A Tall Tale
So essentially the first priority for Federer is defending his number two spot against the player who is in raging hot form having won AUS Open, Davis cup and finishing Runner up at the US open ad defeating Federer in the last two slam semi's.
But wait, there is more to come! If he needs to have a serious shot at regaining number 1 ranking, he needs to play better than Nadal.
And how has Nadal been doing?
Nothing. Except for the fact that he has won three of last four Grand Slams and was hot favorite for the fourth till he was injured.
Impossible? Not exactly
The To-Do List
Here is a break down on what Federer needs to do:
- First and foremost, the thrust has to happen before Wimbledon ends
- This was the period when Nadal was most dominant - And because of the way the ATP ranking system works, the time when you were most dominant last year is the time when you are most vulnerable this year. Also, the time when you played crappy tennis last year is our best opportunity this year.
- These two things come together in the stretch of time between Aus open and Wimbledon.
- Federer played his worst tennis in 5 years and Nadal his best in his career
- So, what we have is that if Federer goes back to his pre 2010 level and Nadal also goes back to his pre 2010 level, then federer suddenly has a realistic chance of catching up
- Federer earned 1705 points last year during this period. Nadal? 7765 points and currently has 4425 points more than Federer. This means that Federer needs to get exactly 5045 points during this time.
Can he do all that? Considering that he used to average 7000-8000 equivalent points during this time in his peak years (note that I say equivalent points - the points system has changed over the years) This should be easier.
But the fact is that now there seems to be another player who is regularly defeating him in addition to Nadal - Djokovic.
And when you factor in Djokovic and Murray also maybe sneaking a hard court title, I don't see a way Federer can realistically hope to reclaim the throne in 2011 unless Nadal goes AWOL or Djoker emerges as a major threat to Nadal on clay.
The Two-Pronged Dilemma
To reiterate, Federer now finds himself with an impossible dilemma. A Two-Pronged Sword.
- He needs to be in top form and try, really try to win every tournament he plays as the Slams are not a guarantee anymore.
- He needs to do this to avoid falling into the gruesome downward spiral which I explained in detail above
- At the same time be able to coast through smaller tournaments so that as to ease into a GS andpeak in the second week which is what he is better than anybody in history at doing.
How is the best tennis mind in History going to solve this impossible new puzzle? If he works out a way, it sure is going to be the best year of tennis that I have ever seen.
But can he do that magic at 30 years of age against two competitors hitting their tennis prime and with young guns clambering up to start the next era?
When I started this blog post I honestly thought I had the reasoning to prove that Federer can definitely do it and break Sampras's record (which eludes him by one heart-breaking week).
But as I wind up this article, all I have managed to do is convince myself how herculean a task it really is and how nearly impossible.
Here is hoping for that Miracle.
It is hard to put a finger on what this book tries to do but it does something important. It narrates history in a detached way without giving any undue importance to the ‘major’ events. It is one of those rare instances when its brevity is the greatest strength of a historical narrative. It is not that lacks in detail detailed, don’t get me wrong here. It does go on about how people did things to each other and developed theories about each other, about how people and nations thought and acted, about large numbers and statistics of war, and about how absurd it all was. It never says in so many words that it was absurd, of course. But it makes you realize that when history is told by someone who has (or seems/ attempts to seem) no agenda or alliances or a spirit of inquiry or even an interest in educating the readers (etc.) but is just told, told as if it is just something that happened – then that narrative has the power to show you how small everything was and how collectively we are a bunch of such magnificent buffoons. There is a touch of Douglas Adams in there somewhere, in that humor and in the sad irony that keeps on putting a half-smile on the reader’s face despite the subject matter being dealt with (Hint: I am not talking of Adams’ sci-fi books here). It is only apt that Ouředník is also the translator of Beckett and Queneau and perhaps most pertinently, of Rabelais.
This should be required reading for students of History – even as we learn about the great nations and the of great wars and of the heroes and of the generals and of the great science and its advances and of turning points and tragedies, we should also learns perspective and learn that history was just about a large bunch of people making decisions that would always seem absurd (like the proverbial best-laid schemes…) to everyone but themselves – either to other countries or at least to posterity . And that would be a valuable lesson… I am not doing justice to this, as I said it is hard to put a finger on what this book does. Just read it?
- A Breif Reflection on Historical Narrative (elagoona.wordpress.com)
- Potential Literature, Actual Reading: Regarding Oulipo in 2013 (vol1brooklyn.com)
- Europeana Collections 1914-1918 Digitisation Project (britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk)
- Woodhall School in Bethlehem, CT Presents Short Plays in “Evening of the Absurd” May 17, 18 at 7:30pm (prweb.com)
- When Food Attacks: A Selective History of Literature’s Most Alarming Feasts (theawl.com)
- Two Generations or Five years? (unsettledchristianity.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts Tagged: climate, current-events, Douglas Adams, Europeana, François Rabelais, History, Patrik Ouředník, politics, Queneau, Raymond Queneau, Samuel Beckett, science
To make the Indian experience more central to global debates is one aim of this book. Another, and perhaps greater aim, is to make Indians more aware of the richness and relevance of their modern political tradition.
After such bold claims, I was disappointed to find that the book is in fact an anthology of Indian political writing. I strongly feel a commentary would have been better to meet the professed aims of the book and could have been made more impact-full with short relevant extracts
The questionable set chosen as “Makers of Modern India” include nineteen famous and not-so-famous names:
Rammohan Roy (Part I); Syed Ahmad Khan, Jotirao Phule, Tarabai Shinde, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Part II); M.K. Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, B.R. Ambedkar, M.A. Jinnah, E.V. Ramaswami and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (Part III); Jawaharlal Nehru, M.S. Golwalkar, C. Rajagopalachari, Rammanohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan and Verrier Elwin (Part IV); and Hamid Dalwai (Part V).
As a contemporary alternative to Argumentative Indian, I am not sure it succeeds – except by showing that a connected tradition built on boldness, challenge, contest and contrast existed in the vast correspondences that contemporary Indian thinkers were capable of producing. Guha illustrates this in a way by showing a connected series of thoughts evolving by bouncing around between the set of characters above, original thoughts arising and then being furiously debated and progressing in dramatic point-counter-point fashion (mostly Gandhian ideas of course, but still…) towards action and sometimes even more dramatic reaction in the crucible of Indian Democracy.
The essentially disputatious nature of this tradition is manifest throughout this book. The pity is that very little of this intellectual ‘tradition’ was meant for mass consumption or was based on a focused and sustained attempt at analyzing and evolving systems of thought but seem to be individual contributions to individual problems – a method that has always plagued Indian political thought and has probably resulted in the poverty of thought post-independence.
That sort of integration is probably what is needed before India can submit the results of her social and democratic experiment to the world and from it evolve a new conception of democracy relevant to a more diverse world than that existed when democracy was originally conceived. Guha has taken a first step in this direction and I sincerely hope a more synthetic attempt will follow one day.
- There are better candidates for PM than Rahul, Modi: Guha (ibnlive.in.com)
- Reviews of: India After Gandhi (book) (anirudh2189.wordpress.com)
- Where I Can Purchase The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Suggested by the Tamil Version of Kamban) , Buy Now and Save More! (gnzvumns.wordpress.com)
- India Adrift (mitraroger.wordpress.com)
- Discount India: The Culture (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures) Ratings (hgezwuei.wordpress.com)
- Pakistani prisoner attacked in Indian Kashmir (omaha.com)
- InfoTrends Report Sheds Light on Indian Print on Demand Market (prweb.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books Tagged: Bal Gangadhar Tilak, climate, gaming, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Hamid Dalwai, India, libya, middle-east, politics, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramachandra Guha, science, Syed Ahmad Khan, Tarabai Shinde
A subtle paean to Engels. Paints a picture of Engels as the precursor, refiner and ultimately the author of most of what today bears Marx’s name. I exaggerate but it is only because this take amazes me. The book is a great intro to Marxism and takes special care to interpret Marx on his own terms and to stick to all his terminologies and conventions and thus resolve some of the apparent contradictions. This is definitely a work I will keep in mind during my soon-to-begin exploration of Marx’s works and later interpretations.
When the conclusion has a passage like this, it makes the book so worth it! -
The Marxist constituency has remained as narrow as the conception behind it. The Communist Manifesto, written by two bright and articulate young men without responsibility even for their own livelihoods—much less for the social consequences of their vision—has had a special appeal for successive generations of the same kinds of people.
Not to Mention:
Despite the massive intellectual feat that Marx’s Capital represents, the Marxian contribution to economics can be readily summarized as virtually zero. Professional economics as it exists today reflects no indication that Karl Marx ever existed. This neither denies nor denigrates Capital as an intellectual achievement, and perhaps in its way the culmination of classical economics. But the development of modern economics had simply ignored Marx. Even economists who are Marxists typically utilize a set of analytical tools to which Marx contributed nothing, and have recourse to Marx only for ideological, political, or historical purposes.
In professional economics, Capital was a detour into a blind alley, however historic it may be as the centerpiece of a worldwide political movement. What is said and done in its name is said and done largely by people who have never read through it, much less followed its labyrinthine reasoning from its arbitrary postulates to its empirically false conclusions. Instead, the massive volumes of Capital have become a quasi-magic touchstone—a source of assurance that somewhere and somehow a genius “proved” capitalism to be wrong and doomed, even if the specifics of this proof are unknown to those who take their certitude from it.
- Marxism: Philosophy and Economics by Thomas Sowell (wanderingmirages.com)
- Thomas Sowell: Is Thinking Obsolete? (conservativeread.com)
- Thomas Sowell : Immigration Sophistry (conservativeread.com)
- Understanding Karl Marx: Hoisted from the Archives from Four Years Ago May Day Weblogging (delong.typepad.com)
- Thomas Sowell: Cyprus Can It Happen Here? (conservativeread.com)
- Why’s There So Little Free Speech on Campus? (txwclp.org)
- When Derrida discovered Marx (salon.com)
- Marxism (alexssfilm.wordpress.com)
- Marx After Marxism (newrepublic.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books Tagged: communist manifesto, Economics, Engels, Karl Marx, Marx, Marxism, Marxism: Philosophy and Economics, Thomas Sowell
One attempt too many at defending political decisions and one slur too many at the other leaders (Nehru, Gandhi, Patel among others), all the while trying to portray Bose as a visionary who alone had the true picture of world politics and the future, makes this a bit of a propaganda book. At many times it resorts to ‘if’s to wonder about what Bose might have done or speculates on how he could have influenced various momentous events. At other times it is a string of ‘but’s to explain all the questionable affiliations and decisions that plague Bose’s legacy. In the end Bose’s own statement is what truly reflects his impact on the politics of the day: ‘Subhas felt like “a political Rip Van Winkle.”
With Bose being a distant absentee during almost all the major turns in the play, the author had to resort to some questionably speculative tricks to make him the star actor. The ‘biography’ is all the worse for the fact that it spends most of its pages trying to follow Bose in his meandering journeys rather than trying to understand his political/ideological progress that culminated so historically.
There is no doubt that Bose was a man of high integrity and as true a son of Mother India in those turbulent times as any of the other celebrated leaders. He deserves to be on as high a pedestal as any of them does. They were strong men and hence had strong ideals and also individual tendencies. All of them could not be right and none of them could be right all the time, there is no need for an apology to be composed for any of them, same being the case with Bose. Four of Five stars to the Protagonist; Two of Five for the Biography.
- Arguing for a New Indian National Organization (azadbharat.wordpress.com)
- Handwriting analysis: Bhagat Singh (manhardeep.com)
- Battles to repel Azad Hind Fauj voted UK’s greatest (historychannelfromthewar.wordpress.com)
- The Historic Ross Island!! (anchalv.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books Tagged: Asia, Bose, Empire, Independence truggle, India, Mother India, Patel, politics, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sugata Bose
It is but folly for me to attempt to review a book so close to my heart. But, on my third reading of this book, it is time to finally go beyond the beauty of the prose and the elegance of Nehru’s presentation. It is time to see if the book achieves the objectives it sets out to achieve and judge it thus. I will let my earlier one-line review stand. Here goes…
The following passage reflects the objective of the book.
To know and understand India one has to travel far in time and space, to forget for a while her present condition with all its misery and narrowness and horror, and to have glimpses of what she was and what she did. ‘To know my country’, wrote Rabindranath Tagore, ‘one has to travel to that age, when she realized her soul and thus transcended her physical boundaries, when she revealed her being in a radiant magnanimity which illumined the eastern horizon, making her recognized as their own by those in alien shores who were awakened into a surprise of life; and not now when she has withdrawn herself into a narrow barrier of obscurity, into a miserly pride of exclusiveness, into a poverty of mind that dumbly revolves around itself in an unmeaning repetition of a past that has lost its light and has no message for the pilgrims of the future.’
Does it achieve such a grand objective? It sweeps across Indian history on very able wings and the history unfolds with irresistible drama and with the glow of a golden splendor. India of old comes alive for the reader in all its old grandeur. But this is dazzle. Does the expedition go beyond that and ‘discover’ India? It does and it doesn’t. The India glimmers and fades – reappearing every time Nehru takes an unbiased look back and disappearing every time he turns his gaze eagerly to the present.
The second half of the books quickly descends into a political commentary from being a historical study – and in this transition from history to the present, the ‘discovery’ is left incomplete in the urgency to expostulate on current happenings. This is a minor failure and Nehru is quite aware of it. He has to go back to the vagueness he started with to end his quest:
Nearly five months have gone by since I took to this writing and I have covered a thousand hand-written pages with this jumble of ideas in my mind. For five months I have travelled in the past and peeped into the future and sometimes tried to balance myself on that ‘point of intersection of the timeless with time.’ These month have been full of happenings in the world and the war has advanced rapidly towards a triumphant conclusion, so far as military victories go. […] Because of this business of thinking and trying to give some expression to my thoughts, I have drawn myself away from the piercing-edge of the present and moved along the wider expanses of the past and the future. But there must be an end to this wandering. If there was no other sufficient reason for it, there is a very practical consideration which cannot be ignored. I have almost exhausted the supply of paper that I had managed to secure after considerable difficulty and it is not easy to get more of it. The discovery of India — what have I discovered? It was presumptuous of me to imagine that I could unveil her and find out what she is today and what she was in the long past. […] Yet something has bound them together and binds them still. India is a geographical and economic entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads. Overwhelmed again and again, her spirit was never conquered, and today when she appears to be the plaything of a proud conqueror, she remains unsubdued and unconquered. About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive. There are terrifying glimpses of dark corridors which seem to lead back to primeval night, but also there is the fullness and warmth of the day about her. Shameful and repellent she is occasionally, perverse and obstinate, sometimes even a little hysteric, this lady with a past. But she is very lovable, and none of her children can forget her wherever they go or whatever strange fate befalls them. For she is part of them in her greatness as well as her failings, and they are mirrored in those deep eyes of hers that have seen so much of life’s passion and joy and folly, and looked down into wisdom’s well. Each one of them is drawn to her, though perhaps each has a different reason for that attraction or can point to no reason at all, and each sees some different aspect of her many-sided personality.
While that maybe so, this too is pardonable as even the political statements soar to heights sometimes and is amazing: (more in updates section)
The tragedy of Bengal and the famines of Orissa, Malabar, and other places are the final judgment on British rule in India. The British will certainly leave India, and their Indian Empire will become a memory, but what will they leave when they have to go, what human degradation and accumulated sorrow? Tagore saw this picture as he lay dying three years ago: ‘But what kind of India will they leave behind, what stark misery? When the stream of their centuries’ administration runs dry at last, what a waste of mud and filth they will leave behind them!’
The conclusion is a fitting one (though this passage is not really the conclusion). It was ultimately not about the Discovery of India as India is too diverse and manifold, it was an inquiry into the soul of a generation, a Discovery of their India, of the India then, of that generation, the greatest generation perhaps in our living memory:
My generation has been a troubled one in India and the world. We may carry on for a little while longer, but our day will be over and we shall give place to others, and they will live their lives and carry their burdens to the next stage of the journey. How have we played our part in this brief interlude that draws to a close? I do not know. Others of a later age will judge. By what standards do we measure success or failure? That too I do not know. We can make no complaint that life has treated us harshly, for ours has been a willing choice, and perhaps life has not been so bad to us after all. For only they can sense life who stand often on the verge of it, only they whose lives are not governed by the fear of death. In spite of all the mistakes that we may have made, we have saved ourselves from triviality and an inner shame and cowardice. That, for our individual selves, has been some achievement. ‘Man’s dearest possession is life, and since it is given to him to live but once, he must so live as not to be seared with the shame of a cowardly and trivial past, so live as not to be tortured for years without purpose, so live that dying he can say: “All my life and my strength were given to the first cause of the world — the liberation of mankind.”‘
If only we could also figure a path to save ourselves from triviality. If only we too could Discover the moving spirit of our own Generation.
- Famous Indian Books and Authors (generalknowledgeforall.wordpress.com)
- Philosophical bases of India’s political superstructures (thehindu.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts Tagged: Asia, aviation, Bengal, gaming, India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Malabar, Nehru, politics, Rabindranath Tagore, society, The Discovery of India, transportation, videogames
What was that Mr. Ghosh? An attempt at a new genre? A bold stroke at creating a uniquely Indian view on science and how it would have been if science research was driven by mystics and cults? A spi-sci-fi book?
***Spoiler Alert*** . It is a pity that all the science falls flat the moment it wanders beyond the known and the proven. It could have been so much better. However, because Ghosh keeps all the science strictly to the unreliable Murugan, it seems acceptable or at least pardonable – even when it is utter nonsense, we can take it as a man’s eccentricities and carry on in the ride he has created for himself.
If the narrator had not climbed aboard the same train for the ride, not to mention adding the unnecessary ghost train (or did I miss its significance all together?) and the comic book ending, I would have given the book an additional star to complete a fiver – it entertained me that much, and when unexpected entertainment finds you, it is exhilarating. The book under-delivered on literary merit but over-delivered on pure fun and that works, sometimes.
I fully expect it to be the worst of Ghosh’s works but I also know that I will not approach anything by him with the faint dread-steeped respect with which we approach most modern literary giants for the first time.
- A Clash of Civilizations: The Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh (theculturetrip.wordpress.com)
- Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh (wildmystique.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books Tagged: Amitav Ghosh, Arts, Calcutta, Fiction, Ghosh, India, literature, Sea Poppies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brilliant artwork, simplicity throughout. A delight to read. Some pages soar to artistic expression that thrills while others seem like a kid playing with his favorite hero models. The text feels almost like an afterthought and I feel that I might just have enjoyed the book more if it was a set of silent stills and graphics with all meaning to be derived from your past readings while the imagery is being supplied by the author/artist.
Hardly anything is given any space in the book and it barely touches on the drama that is latent in it. This adds to the sense of a dreamy retelling that is not meant to amuse or to entertain but simply to lull you into a gentle nodding ascent, like how you used to listen to your grandmother tell these stories – the details never were to be told, they were to be enacted later in your imagination. The story plays out again and again only adding to itself by the dance of repetition and of adumbration. Abhishek has transmitted this sense of reading/listening into his artistry and catches us in that spell. This is certainly a rich successor to his previous works.
- [REVIEW] Krishna by Abhishek Singh (uberlit.wordpress.com)
- New York’s Metropolitan Museum Showcases Hindu Lord Krishna (eurasiareview.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books Tagged: A Journey, Abhishek, Abhishek Singh, Art, aviation, Entertainment, gaming, Gods and Goddesses, Hinduism, Krishna, oscars, Religion and Spirituality, videogames
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Marcus Aurelius must have been a prolific reader. He sure was a prolific note-taker, for these meditations are surely his study-notes(?- after all he was a ‘philosopher’ from age 12). I don’t know of the publishing system at the time but where are the detailed footnotes and references? Marcus Aurelius is quite a wise man or at least he read enough wise men. He sure nailed it as far as boring a reader is concerned. No better way to establish your book’s wisdom quotient.
I am being needlessly caustic of course(do note my rating above). The book is quotable in almost every page and is good to dip in to now and then, you might well find an aphorism that fits the mood just right every time. And that is why the book is a classic and so well-loved.
Don’t read it as a scholar, you will end up like this reviewer. As I said earlier – He is like the wisdom of ages. Aargh Not that it is all bad – it is like reading an old uncles’s notes after he has been preaching to you all your life.
Good that I am a stoic too. All ills are imaginary. Yes.
- Marcus Aurelius on Overcoming Anger and Developing Empathy (philosophy-of-cbt.com)
- Action with a “Reserve Clause” in Marcus Aurelius (philosophy-of-cbt.com)
- Book 7 of 73: MEDITATIONS by Marcus Aurelius (beautiful-absurdity.com)
- Marcus Aurelius becomes Emperor of Rome (vamadevananda.wordpress.com)
- Roger Michelson’s Today In History (3/7/2013) (sandiateaparty.com)
- Think on this doctrine (thinetheglory.wordpress.com)
- Strength (turntoday.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books, Thoughts Tagged: Arts, Epictetus, God, literature, Marcus Aurelius, Meditation, overcoming anger, prolific reader, Religion, reserve clause, Roman Emperor, Rome, Stoicism, wisdom of ages
If and when you meet The Buddha,
Then come back
Enlightenment is there,
Before it arrives.
- If you meet the Buddha (paradelle.wordpress.com)
- Shunryu Suzuki roshi: Study Yourself (buddhistinsight.com)
- You: Americanized Buddhism (japantimes.co.jp)
- When you do something (zenflash.wordpress.com)
- Another New Year’s Thought (In Case It Rains) (kmabarrett.wordpress.com)
- Dark Night of the Soul, Lenten Observance, Day 17, 2013 (allsoulo.wordpress.com)
- A Split Soul: Darkness and Light (bipolarlessons.com)
- beginner’s mind (jeffjosephwoodworker.com)
- Zen Chic for your (Beginner’s) Mind, (Old) Soul & (Hot) Body (fashiontribes.typepad.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books, Creative, Philosophy, Poetry, Thoughts Tagged: Buddha, Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, literature, quotes, Religion and Spirituality, Shunryu Suzuki, writing, Zazen, Zen, Zen Mind Beginner's Mind
Non-scholarly musings on a Scholarly work
So it is then established that Gods, Religious concepts and Rituals are natural effervescences of the kind of mind that we posses, parasitic on our cognitive processes. It (our minds) is uniquely suited to imbibe them.
Mark though: We cannot (yet) make a claim that our minds WILL produce Gods and Religions and Rituals if left to themselves (though historical evidence might indicate that this could well be the case) but only that our minds cannot avoid the God Meme once exposed to it. Our society is very efficient at ensuring that.
An Atheist or an Agnostic is in this way, in this fundamental cognitive aspect of the nature of our cognitive construction, indistinguishable from a Theist – once exposed to a God concept they cannot but let their mind’s velcro stick to those burs forever.
The Theist adheres to a theological notion, the Agnostic to a scientific/skeptic’s credo and an Atheist to his own brand of faith in a new-found Religion of Science (reminding one of the Buddhists who tried to go nuclear (agnostic) and ended up as theistic in daily life).
But, we do have two brains inside us (yes, that is quite a ‘new’ finding too)) as Daniel Kahneman elaborates in his new book (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and only our rational brain system (read pathway) can entertain these abstract concepts. Our emotional/instinctive (read pathway) brain will still repeatedly resort to the God Concept we are familial (thus familiar) with in most of our our “on-line” thinking – that is in our daily (non-abstract-thinking) life.
“Deal with it”, the message is: We are all the same – Theists, Agnostics, Atheists or whatever we call ourselves, we are all in the same boat believing in the same agencies “on-line” and professing different versions of our pet abstractions “off-line”.
Not even managing to fool ourselves.
The above review is not a summation of the book but more a running with the ball tossed by it. The book is a study and an overview of the new Science of the Cognitive Study of Religion and deals with Religion in a new way – as a cognitive by-product of our psychology and our evolution. It is thoroughly fascinating and can lead to all sorts of ideas just as any new science should.
- The God Delusion – Why there almost certainly is no God? (wanderingmirages.com)
- Kahneman talks rationality (yaledailynews.com)
- Why Religion is Natural, Science is Not – a review (phulme.wordpress.com)
- Weekend Lecture: In Conversation with Daniel Kahneman (businessinsider.com)
- How To Know If You Are An Atheist (atheistrev.com)
- Agnostic, atheist, anti-theist, whose right? (richarddawkins.net)
- All Children are Born Atheists (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
- Daniel Kahneman and Nassim Taleb NYPL 80 Minute Talk (valuewalk.com)
- The Friendly God Debate (thebackroomcatholic.wordpress.com)
- Sooooo, I’m not really sure how to start out but… (shawnandsimone.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books, Philosophy, Thoughts Tagged: Agnosticism, Atheism, Cognition, cognitive foundations, Daniel Kahneman, God, literature, Philosophy, politics, Religion, Religion of Science, science, Theism, theological notion