Friday, July 20, 2012

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy .


" All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way ."

" By digging into our souls, we often dig up what might better have remained there unnoticed ."

" This whole world of ours is only a speck of mildew sprung up on a tiny planet, yet we think we can have something great- thoughts , actions ! They are all but grains of sand ."

" life has less charm when one thinks of death, but it is more peaceful ."

" Without knowing what I am, and why I am here it is impossible to live. Yet I can not know that and therefore I can't live ."

"In an infinity of time, and in an infinity of matter, in infinite space,a bubble , a bubble organism, separates itself, and that bubble mantains itself awhile and then bursts, and that bubble is - I"

" I used to say that in my body, in this grass, in this insect there takes place according to physical, chemical and physiological laws , a change of matter. And in all of us , including the aspens and the clouds and nebulae, evolution is proceeding.
       Evolution from what, into what? Unending evolution and struggle... as if there could be any direction and struggle in infinity! And I was surprised that inspite of the greatest effort of thought on the path, the meaning of life, the meaning of my impulses and my aspirations, was not revealed to me . But now I say that I know the meaning of my life; it is to live for God, for the soul. And that meaning inspite of it's clearness, is mystic and wonderful . And such is the meaning of all existence . "

" I looked for an answer to my question. But reason could not give me an answer- reason is in commensurable with the question. Life itself has given me the answer, in my knowledge of what is good and what is bad. And that knowledge I did not acquire in any way, it was given to me as to everybody, 'given' because I could not take it from anywhere.
          Where did I get it from? Was it by reason that I attained the knowledge that I must love my neighbour and not throttle him? They told me so when I was a child, and I gladly believed it, because they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason ! Reason has discovered the struggle for existenceand the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others, could not be discovered by reason because it is unreasonable. "

" But I know nothing, nothing ! And can know nothing but what is told to me and to everybody."

" Lying on his back he was now gazing at the high cloudless sky.' Don't I know that this is infinite space, and not a rounded vault? But however I may screw my eyes and strain my sight, I can not help seeing it round and limited, and despite my knowledge of it as limitless space, I am indubitably right when I see a firm blue vault, and more right than when I strain to see beyond it. "

" My reason will still not understand why I pray, but I shall still pray, and my life , my whole life, independently of anything that may happen to me, is every moment of it no longer meaningless as it was before, but has an unquestionable meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it ."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bring me the sunset in a cup

One of my favorite poems is ' Bring me the sunset in a cup ' by Emily Dickinson . It's one of the finest poems on nature in a very modern style ...unusually beautiful !!

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Reckon the morning's flagons up
And say how many Dew,
Tell me how far the morning leaps
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps
Who spun the breadth of blue!

Write me how many notes there be
In the new Robin's ecstasy
Among astonished boughs.
How many trips the Tortoise makes
How many cups the Bee partakes,
The Debauchee of Dews!

Also, who laid the Rainbow's piers,
Also, who leads the docile spheres
By withes of supple blue?
Whose fingers string the stalactite
Who counts the wampum of the night
To see that none is due?

Who built this little Alban House
And shut the windows down so close
My spirit cannot see?
Who'll let me out some gala day
With implements to fly away,
Passing Pomposity? 

              - Emily Dickinson.

This poem is not much discussed, though it is one of the finest poems on nature with many startling phrases.It oscillates between familiarity and obscurity. It's remarkable for it's unconventional treatment of nature.

stanza 1- The very first stanza is noticeable for intensity as the poetess asks for a cup of sunset, and wants the flasks of dew to be opened and counted. Morning 'leaps', as all of a sudden the day brightens up in morning. And creator of this magical world is compared to a weaver bird weaving her nest.

stanza 2- In the second stanza are all those things, that can't be counted. Nature's bliss in it's purest form is portrayed. 'Astonished boughs' stand for trees surprised by the sweet melody of the robin singing out suddenly from them. The bees are madly drinking the dew from the flowers and are drunk with the sweetness.

stanza 3- Poetess wants to know who has created the bridge of the Rainbow? And who bounds the obediently moving spheres in their orbits, by flexible twigs of supple blue in the sky? Who strings together the icicles that form the roofs of caves? And who is it that counts the beaded strings of shells (stars) at night to check if all is in place ?

stanza 4- The questioning continues. Who is it that has created this limited mind and body through the window of which, my spirit can not see clearly? Who will that be who some fine day will let me out ...far far away from the superficialities of this world?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

God Of Small Things - A Review ..

As we go through Arundhati Roy's novel, life reveals itself first in fragments like a Jigsaw Puzzle, then emerges a shadowy pattern and finally a story takes shape.We see here and there, a few clever strokes of the artist's brush, till things begin to fall into place and a face emerges. A face - scarred, bruised, burned and tired- but starkly real; as real as life itself. Small things of life, certain not-so-very-noticeable kind of facts, in her hands come out with a richness and vividity, that none but a keen observer and admirer of these small things could portray.
To it, is added this knowledge of the novelist, that small things do matter most in life, small tears make big passions, small hopes - big fears and small dreams leave big irreplaceable voids in life. Most of all we feel the helplessness of human beings - social animals as we are, with laws governing our feelings, the ' love laws 'as the writer puts it, and there is no escape from the truth. A few rebellions against the cold blooded laws end in an inevitable surrender after an imbecile struggle; as if the cost of life is to be paid by accepting the defeats heaped upon you, till you are completely exhausted in the ill fated fight.
                          It is a world where death dominates. We meet murdered childhood ; we come across slaughtered dreams ;Sophie Mol drowns leaving a void , Ammu dies without leaving any; and Velutha is mercilessly butchered by the 'Love laws '. And where death is not visible to the naked eyes, it could be felt like a large looming presence. Where it is not around, it is within. we see death working inside Estha , making him numb gradually. And pain - is the thread that weaves everything together , even small joys.
                Characters are introduced bit by bit, through their thoughts and desires, through their hopes and fears. It's a journey through the mind and soul of one character to another. The story begins with Rahel coming back to her native village 'Ayemenam' to meet her twin brother Estha, after a span of 23 years. They are both 31 now- 'a viable dieable age'. Rahel recalls the incidents of their childhood, the process of growing up together with her brother and coming up face to face with's brutalities. 23 years later much has changed. Rahel is now divorced and Estha has sought shelter in silence - that has hardened through years.
        " It had been a gradual winding down and closing shop. A barely noticeable quietening. As though he had simply run out of conversation and had nothing left to say."
      And Rahel too "... grew up without a brief. Without anybody to arrange a marriage for her. Without anybody who would pay her dowry and therefore without an obligatory husband looming on her horizon.
        So as long as she wasn't noisy about it, she remained free to make her own enquiries...into life and how it ought to be lived.
       ...Rahel drifted into marriage like a passenger drifts towards an unoccupied chair in an airport lounge."
                 Estha and Rahel were dizygotic twins, born of two but simultaneously fertilized eggs. As Rahel recalls, even in their remotest child-hood, they never resembled each other. There was no confusion regarding 'who is who?' about them. But...
            " The confusion lay in a deeper more secret place.
     In those early amorphous years when memory had only just begun, when life was full of Beginings and no Ends, and Everything was Forever, Esthappen and Rahel thought of themselves together as me, and separately, individually as We or Us. As though they were a rare breed of Siamese Twins, physically separate but with joint identities."

         Rahel's husband Larry loved her tenderly, but could not quite make out the emptiness of Rahel's eyes . He took it for indifference or despair and was quite unable to understand
" That the emptiness in one twin was only a version of the Quietness in the other. That the two things fitted together . Like stacked spoons, like familiar lover's bodies ."

They got divorced .
Rahel recalls in her memory the two small children, living on the edge, seeing their little world crumbling, yet innocent, and therefore calm and happy. Every day adding more to their experiences of the harsh world, adding more to their doubts and loneliness, fears and insecurities. Two small children with grown up brains. Rahel remembers the innocent fear she had of loosing the affection of her mother by saying anything that might hurt her. And Estha, the little philosopher for his age got acquainted with two thoughts -
a) Anything can happen to anyone.
b) It is best to be prepared.

The wayward life they lead as an adult is the result of an insecure, unprotected childhood. They are the product of an exceptionally disturbed family life and separation from parental security as well as from the innocent support they had of each other.
          Roy has very efficiently painted the haunting emptiness in the life of the twins belonging to a broken home .
 " To Ammu her twins seemed like a pair of small bewildered frogs engrossed in each other's company, lolloping arm in arm down a highway full of hurtling traffic. Entirely oblivious of what trucks can do to frogs ."

    Life is but a process of learning . And knowledge brings pain with it as it takes away the bliss of innocence. In the delicate age of Childhood when consciousness has just opened her eyes, every event stamps it's deliberate imprints on the still fresh canvass of life. And these shape our personalities. the insecurities of their childhood leave the twins unable to adjust with life, thereby seeking solace in each other .
" They were strangers who had met in a chance encounter . They had known each other before life began ."

The two misfits of the world fit into each other's incomplete spheres... the last chapters highlight the undercurrent of pain that the story helds all through .
" But what was there to say?
Only that there were tears.... Only that what they shared that night was not happiness but hideous grief. Only that once again they broke the love laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."

              - Meeta .