Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Every man, at some point in his life, suspects himself of one of the cardinal virtues, mine was honesty."
- F Scott Fitzgerald,
The Great Gatsby.


Forgiveness is not a sign of strength. It is an indication of a lack of conviction. Vengeance is not a sign of strength either. It is simply an indication of one's lack of creativity. "Fucking hell, he slapped me! Fucking! I'll slap him!". See what I mean? A severe lack of creativity.
Why is the Godfather such a great movie?
Besides the fact that Copolla is a magician working with two demi-gods (Al Pacino and Marlon Brando), the theme of the movie is gratification of whatever kind, bound by pragmatism. The movie doesn't pander. At no point does it slip it's hands into your pants and tries giving you a boner. It undresses in the most natural way.
It's why Al Pacino seems so real. Because at no point through the series does he make a decision to make you feel better about the world. He finds out about the fact that the mole from within his organization was his brother. Unlike most stories, where he'd forgive him or go after him, he does neither. He proves himself strong enough to be indifferent. You can feel the one million mutinies in his body, the many revolts amongst his many sensations, when he takes Fredo's face in his hands, with a strange conviction and kisses him with the kind of spite that only a brother can warrant, he looks into Fredo's eyes and expresses himself as simply as he can, "I know it was you Fredo, you broke my heart". Fredo eventually has to die. Not because of vendetta or karma. He has to die because of the principle of causality. He has to die because a system has to work and he isn't strong enough to let the system sacrifice someone else or change the system. He has to die because, that is what happens to the traitors when a plan to de-throne the Emperor fails. It doesn't matter who you are. Brother, lover, friend. The Emperor is the emperor before being any of these things. And if precedent, convention and causality call for death, a dispassionate death, one even without a simple motivation of vengeance, so be it.
You see what this system of forgiveness doesn't take into account is the fact that a mistake is accidental. A mistake can be forgiven. But a plot to de-throne the Emperor, isn't a mistake. It's a bad decision. And by the principal of causality all bad decisions must live through their consequence, "one ill turn deserves another". I'm only writing this because of the astonishing number of people who don't understand the difference between 'a bad decision' and a mistake. Because of the number of people who've tried to teach me the virtues of forgiveness. People have to go long distances to earn forgiveness. Earn being an important verb. I hate it when 'forgive' becomes the verb. Forgiveness must be earned, not gotten. It's hard to earn forgiveness. Judas had to hang himself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"They all deserve to die,
I'll tell you why Mrs. Lovett,
Tell you why.

In all of the human race Mrs. Lovett,
there are two kinds of people,
and only two,
there's the one staying put in his
proper place,
and there's the one with his foot
in the other man's face,
look at me Mrs. Lovett,
look at you.

No, we all deserve to die,
tell you why Mrs. Lovett,
tell you why,
because the lives of the wicked
should be made brief
for the rest of us death will be a
we all deserve to die,
Even you Mrs. Lovett, even I."

- Sweeny Todd,
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Food for thought

Famished thoughts
and carnivorous dreams
get along
or so it seems,

till dreams gnaw away
as carnivores must
at simpler thoughts
that still persist

and get in the way
of multi-layered plots
and zealous dreams
and reasoned thoughts

I compromise my thoughts
at the altar of my dreams
poets can be villains too,
or so it seems.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On being fine

There's a particular manner in which inconspicuous and enigmatic old men smoke cigarettes. Dry lips and wet palates, it's nostalgic to a point where you feel like they aren't smoking in the present, but smoking by association, in an older glory. They should ban long standing gentlemen from smoking, it's far more enticing than any screen moron doing it.

Being an intern, is an exercise in taming the pride of youth; the independence that undiminished, leads to either death or glory. So, I wandered aimlessly in a premier Indian journalistic organization, with no recognition, and mild sympathy from my colleagues. Besides learning that I do not want to be a journalist (special thanks to a cover journalist with a sub-human IQ and a lovely young copywriter who took an interest in deconstructing a non existent work environment for me), I learnt of inconspicuous, weathered old men.

In the hope of finding something mildly inspiring, I, the intern, decided to take a walk near the staircase (synonymous with smoking room for all print media establishments), where I saw a 5 feet 8', 60 something years old man relishing a cigarette. He smiled at me in full recognition of my presence on that staircase and almost as a conditioned reaction searched his kurta-pocket for his cigarette pack. He drew the pack out and presented it to me as a man his age would, a blessing. 'Would you like one?' he said, brisk and well-enunciated and just like that started up a conversation as genteel as the one we have about the weather, only nicer.

He had studied in a premier boarding school pre-independence and had gone to England to study. He had worked a while in different organizations, found some success and had returned eventually to fight a losing battle for the sanctity of the print media. He had returned to find deft touches replaced by loud colors. To find that wordplay and references had been replaced by jarring alliteration and disturbing use of font. He seemed harrowed and happy. A soldier who knew the battle was lost. He was just happy he fought, and happy that he was going to be gone before the New Order had time to establish itself. Kurta, glasses, titan-watch, loose jeans, receding hairline and perfect English intact, he was an Aragorn-of-sorts.

I was walking lazily up the staircase next morning, when I saw him and said, 'Good morning' his body jolted into an absolute response, the kind you get from people who really are looking for conversation. He said,'to you too, young sir. And how are you today?' and I said, 'I'm good' and halted just a while to finish off the cursory conversation. He lit his cigarette looked at me nonchalantly said, 'I wonder when fine became good'. And mumbled to himself in several tones, 'I'm fine'.

In one response he embodied the in-exactitude of everyday conversation. The unnecessary positive overtone of fast food marketing. The assumption that if you weren't miserable, the other condition, the compromised condition the world gave to you, was good. I have embraced the compromises I've made with that which surrounds me and I'm fine. Getting better.
'Why do they swoon Charlie? Tell me why they swoon?'