Thursday, September 29, 2005

A (not so) brave new world?

Yes. I just read Huxley’s brave new world. And while I was happy that I finally got around to reading one of the books that played a role in boosting counterculture, I was also left with a slightly bad taste in my mouth at the end of the story.

Some things about the book bothered me because they seem to quietly reinforce mainstream stereotypes… and coming from a book that otherwise criticizes mainstream culture so sharply, it seems to me rather insidious.

The way Huxley describes the reserve bugs me. It irritates me that a man so reputed for his sensitivity and intelligence could take such a crass view of brown skin culture. Why is it that he harps on the most basic and coarse rituals (such as the whipping) as being the essence and core of Indian culture? Why not speak of the way the shamans healed? The way they related to nature, read the temperament of the earth? Why not speak of how they had a strong sense of collective responsibility which meant taking care of each member of the tribe? Why not speak of their knowledge and traditions that respected spirituality and the dignity of life? Instead, to merely focus on them as savages, beating themselves after a chant-induced frenzy (what, as opposed to soma-induced orgy porgy?) , dancing with snakes (for crying out loud!!) smacks to me of contempt for the brown person. Which like I said earlier, is very disturbing in a book that speaks for changing the social system.

Another thing I was pretty upset to come across in his book was his attitude towards women. The mighty man stands against the world, fighting for all that is pure and beautiful, and is toppled from his pedestal…. by a woman. How banal. Why make Lenina a scapegoat for John’s inability to live up to his own ideals? If his contempt for the Fordian order and belief in his other “brave new world” couldn’t stand the test of lust, why the hell dump all the blame on the object of lust? The man condemns her as a whore. He thinks she is the epitome of the sickening social order that has come to be… and yet longs for her. The author again subtly passes judgment on her alone. What does it say for John that he should see her as such a symbol and still yearn for her? Not much, in my opinion!

So even if this book is a first tottering step away from mainstream culture, it’s already asking for the old caste system to continue. We’d like freedom and art, but it’s not really important that these mere brown skins and women get it.... ?

Nope. Like I said. Disturbing. Maybe the book was starkly non-conformist and very progressive for the era that it was written in. Maybe the things I am uncomfortable about have a more contemporary context. Could be. But I think its important to hold up that book to sunlight and look at it keenly again.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

the fragments

she couldnt admit to herself that some things had happened. the knowledge ran as parallel rivulets to her consciousness, causing explosive turmoil whenever the streams of thought converged. she watched detachedly as the rivulets swelled over the years. their waters would one day drown her reason, but as she could see no solution at hand, she accepted it all calmly.

her life had become a disjointed ball of quivering fragments. each shard danced with an intensity and life uniquely its own, each born from the tears that she didnt cry. some fragments would beckon her to the past, an unwilling slave, she would obey their call. her life relived in its most painful emotions again.. and again.. and again. the malicious fragment would dance away then, leaving her a trembling wreck. she couldnt help but sit captive in the middle.

she smiled bitterly to herself as she acknowledged the jabs of the vicious shards which weren't supposed to exist, "so that's what ms. woolf meant". a small sigh escaped her lips. She straightened, held her head up proudly and once more resumed waiting.

patience can be a paralysing virtue.


Monday, September 19, 2005

an epitaph

thanks senthil. the tag gave me a chance to say this - and i really needed to! :)

An Epitaph

They always fought when she was alive. She was a tyrant. We hoped he would enjoy his new freedom. Sadly, he was just too lost without her. after he died, we found her death certificate and an old sepia photo of them together under his pillow.

His was love that had quietly weathered 65 years.

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Monday, September 12, 2005

arbit blah 5

A Birthday
Christina Georgina Rossetti

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.


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