Saturday, April 30, 2005

Six String Stigma

Just when I thought that I could be like some John Mclaughlin, I came face to face with the utter rubbish that I play. The hard in hard work gets shoved onto my face more often than not. Maybe all the highs and lows in the whole gamut of things are so much a part of it that they just wont leave my trail. Why is the question and I have no answer but something that sounds too ZEN to believe. Sometimes I wonder if purchasing a good guitar might do the trick but money is seldom found as a part of foliage. In any event I seem to have zeroed in on a good steel string accoustic. The problem with guitars is that like humans they also have a personality. The people who manufacture them seldom realise it unless they are in constant interaction with them and making the instruments talk, try to understand them the way you try understand fellow humans and so on and so forth. Come to think of it, the lines "while my guitar gently weeps", seem to come out in the light in an entirely new perspective. I guess, like cellular phones and clothes and hairstyle, even a guitar that one plays or chooses to sport says a lot about one. More so, the music one plays also speaks volumes about one's understanding about not music alone but even life. The six string weeps, it laughs, it scorns but perhaps most importantly, it reaches out. Where words fail, the timbre reaches out. Wait for my double platinum debut to find out :).

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fahrenheit 9/11

I wrote this essay as my final submission as a part of the course ENG 440, Literary Genres (alternatively, Detecting Detective fiction: In search of a generic definition). The film falls under the category "Detective Non-fiction" (the topic of the trial for the same course mentioned in an earlier blog)

What strikes me after watching the film is the inherent bias. It comes too strongly anti-Bush for my taste. A documentary film is supposed to present the facts as they have been recorded or documented and not give its opinion on things. The opinion is to be formed by the viewers and isn’t to be tainted by the film makers opinion.
The picture presented by the clues/facts isn’t complete in itself and Moore takes full liberty of coloring the other parts which as a detective he should not be doing. What is presented is true but not the complete truth.
There are many frames which show Bush saying/doing things with Moore’s commentary in the background providing them with a meaning, pushing the viewer to believe Bush to be incompetent which definitely might not be the case if the plain facts were presented. The documentary thus comes across to me as throwing a barrage of accusations without any significant case. Apart from the presentation, the order of the scenes interspersed with commentary by Moore, adds to the distortion. A documentary with a bias does not do justice to itself as it no longer gives a picture of things the way they occurred.
The facts are still there but it’s up to the viewer to manually filter the facts from the opinion either while watching it or in retrospect (retrospect in my case). This also implies inherently the nature of the medium, i.e. a documentary gives the viewer food for thought so that he can form his opinions. In this regard, Fahrenheit 9/11 fails as the unwary end up taking Moore’s view while the resistant viewers end up more or less giving Bush the benefit of doubt.

There are a few other issues that in my opinion need to be considered. For instance, in this case, again like in Bowling for Columbine, there is no crime but when we move from the view of an individual to that involving different communities and countries something seems wrong. Among the issues raised, a significant question to be considered is whether making wrong decisions at a level when development, foreign policies, trade opportunities and needless to say lives are at stake is a crime? For Moore, Bush is definitely at fault and is responsible for the deaths of Americans, Iraqis and Afghans alike. I however can’t stop thinking as to whether Moore is justified in taking his stand as I feel that he lacks perspective for the same. Moore is definitely not in the business of running a country and so he knows nothing of the issues involved. In other words, the issue that he is tackling is way beyond his scope as in investigator and maybe even a wannabe detective. This also implies that detectives have a scope which limits them and the veracity of their findings and conclusions.
In his “investigation” of the “crime”, he comes across facts and bases his opinions on his perspective. What is interesting is to note that in this case, the facts unearthed don’t serve as clues but as symbols, which is pretty natural keeping in mind that here the things under consideration are at a level of different societies, having a history and a lot of interests coming into contact with one another. Thus Moore looks at the symbols and comes out with a verdict. It is further interesting to note how the same set of facts (symbols) could be interpreted in diametrically opposite manners. The probing could have been more neutral had Moore taken given the accused parties a chance to clarify their stance but this never happens and in fact goes to show how the unclean slate is affecting the investigation. When one is investigating a normal case, one could start with a clean slate but at the level of a society, when a matter is being probed, it might be impossible to remain unbiased as the very motivation for investigation is the disorder that is propagated in the society and its effect on the individual. So what would an arm chair detective do in the given situation? After all isn’t he entitled to an opinion? One could draw upon this and go further to say that the background of a detective does matter.
I feel that a lawyer would have served as a better detective as despite his bias, he would have given the other party a chance to speak thereby giving those witnessing the trial a better shot at unearthing a “fuller” version of the truth.
I can’t help wondering whether or not there is a case to be investigated. Does searching for the whys and the wherefores of events make up a case for a detective? Not to mention, the fact that things remain the same even though the facts are out. It’s safe to assume that the aim of the film was to generate awareness among people about an alternate possibility, rather than implicate someone, which as is obvious is way beyond Moore’s scope. So, even here like in Bowling for Columbine, there isn’t a case, just biased ramblings and musings about an event which shook a society and shook the world by both its form and the aftermath. No case implies no investigation. Moore could thus be viewed as a social investigator, a social scientist rather than a detective as he has all the characteristics of the former, (viz. belonging to one of the relevant communities under focus, an eye for social dynamics). However this doesn’t qualify him to pass judgments as he has no idea whatsoever about the “relationships” that countries have with one another and the stakes involved.
Thus, though Moore has brought to light many facts that don’t stop giving people a shock and make them question the maturity of the establishment; it in my eyes comes down somewhat akin to accusations with biases but no basis, something which no detective would do. Moore is no detective and the film, though evoking a strong emotional response fails when it comes to delineating the reasons for the deaths that took place and are taking place, rather ends up accusing with considerable success a man who is the obvious scapegoat (something that both the armchair detective and the detective of the hard boiled realm would detest and refrain from).

Monday, April 25, 2005

Looking through smoke

Always wondered what cigarettes were about. I remember being a total dumbass as a kid, breaking dad's cigarettes, pulling them out of his mouth etc etc and telling myself that it was for a noble cause. Guess college makes you a punk unless you are flexible enough to gel into the system and get the better of it rather than the other way around.
Anyway, the smoke, the haze is in front of me and I look ahead and see it stretching out, on and on. Looking behind, I find the same. All my reflections on what came to pass seemed to be clouded by it. Cant get the rights and lefts in place. "Head full of chow mein", here I come again.

"To kill the kitty or not?" used to be a question worth giving thought to. However, once I set out on the hunt, the poor kitty no more seemed meek no more but a predator in its own right. I guess I now know how an 8 year old Lion trainer feels amidst panthers and the like. Will I kill the cat or will it get the better of me? Will I slip further within and ponder on it and bury the stake so deep in my heart that it hurts forever? Knowing myself, as not being kraven in anyway, I guess this will be one encounter till the last bullet and whats worse, the last breath. Who will stand taller? Why am I doing this? Am I, in the words of Leon Uris in Redemption going to "spend the second half of my life overcoming the first half"? I guess, this journey to my own Alexandria is all about catharsis.

Is there some peice of the cake that has my name written on it? If only, the smoke cleared up so that I could see the candle, blow it and wish myself happy birthday.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A course in literature

When I thought of applying for ENG 440 Literary Genres , I thought that it would be a course with discussions about detectives (the genre of literature being discussed being that of detective fiction) and a lot of infromation (useless for the uninitiated but essential for the nerd) and trivia would be unearthed etc etc and on the whole it would be an exhilarating experience. When it came to the actual experience, it turned out to be somewhat akin to the proverbial omnipresent shit hitting the omniscient fan. After almost being done with the course today, with our trial coming out and being lauded for the clarity and the maturity with which issues were dealt with (thanks majorly to Moitra and Bulla, and in part to Aman for sticking the spanner into the works earlier yesterday) I am in a mood to sit back and thikn about it, reflect on it and look into how I screwed up yet again for what is like the 100,000th time in this short life. I guess I totally missed the point of it. Logically its a course in literary analysis, something that is as alien to me as was salt analysis a few years ago (and still is, though in a somewhat limited sense). It took a couple of PDC's (pre discussion chits) (couple meaning about 10 weeks into the course, in a semester spanning 16 weeks) to get a hang of what might be accepted as relevant information and what might come under the perview of useless info. I got grades like C-, and C+ majorly and I guess there was one day when I got a B- for the PDC.
Wonder if this has anything to do with my aspirations to write beautiful poems and stories some day. Come to think of it, being able to take a mahcine apart and expose all its innards doesnt mean that you can put one together and be good at it. Well, there is still some hope for the inhumanly grose and profoundly retarded writer and the sensitive poet within.
Another thing that I realise is that I have read almost nothing at all. People around me generally think that I am one of those, "read this and that and that too" types. I would tell myself that n the cosmic picture, I am but smaller than an amoeba and hence I have read far less. But this course has shoved into my face, the humbling truth that there are a gazillion writers out there who have created over the years works of genius and I, shut in my own coccoon have no idea about it. Had it not been for this course, I would never have known that Edgar Allan Poe wrote detective stuff and that a certain Hammet even existed.
Anway, so much in retrospect, guess tis time I did my assignment due sometime soon. Which just reminds me that I have no clue whatsoever as to what I will be doing.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Review of the Movie "That thing you do"

I guess this falls well in line with my other fixations like Superhero stories, fantasy fiction, comic books, video games, guns, cakes, chocolates and guitars. The time frame of the sixties, and the innocence that I see into it is another addendum. The movie is very cute. Well, I would go so far as to say that its cuter than Liv Tyler who plays "Faye" (the whole being greater than the parts). What I like most about the movie is the feel good undercurrent through every scene of it. Another thing in it is the gyaan about Jazz by some African American legendary innovators who can be found in "The Blue Spot". This might, for some folks interested in music, change the tone of the movie enitrely with the line "Bands come and go, you play with someone today and someone else tomorrow. What matters is that you keep playing" providing the twist. Somewhat resembling a giveaway of some sort.

The guy who plays Guy Patterson does a fantastic job. Or maybe its the geius of the director as there are sublte hints of the growing chemistry b/w him and Faye in the movie. The scene with them coming out of a live show and Guy "rescuing" Faye is again somewhat symbloic.

Maybe I am getting too much into semiotics or whatever its called but then cant help thinking in retrospect and lauding the creative genius.

Another thing thats quite a reflection of the amount of thought put into the movie is a dialogue wherein the owner of Playtone Records says "The Wonders are the hottest thing on the circuit since the death of JFK". I wonder how big is the hype of an upcoming band with a snappy number that it reminds some people of JFK being shot the previous year (if I'm not mistaken the movie is based in 1964).

Jimmy and Lenny have their parts to play. The latter does an impressive job making a fool of himself while the former leaves a bad taste in the mouth, both fulfilling the needs of the role.

Tom Hanks is good but could definitely have had a better role. Guess the same goes for Charlize Theron. For one, she could definitely have sported a better look. Theres something about her that a friend of me and I concur upon; in some of her movies, she is so stunningly beautiful while in some others she is mug faced.

On the mucial front, you definitely get to listen to the song "That thing you do" a couple of times but then it the whole of it only once, which is quite a good thing as it comes again and again (but thankfully not the whole of it). You also get to listen to a bit of some other good songs by the band and then by some other people. Ofcourse theres also a bit of Jazz and a miniscule jam too to add to the icing.

A bit on the side lines but definitely a thought that has bubbled from the bottom of my mind is that "shades are in". Might buy myself some shades. Wonder how they would give me another dimension. Guess noone would be able to read my eyes and hence be able to read me like the proverbial open book. Just occurred to me last night that if eyey could be read then why not the ears? Maybe someday there will be this band called The Blunders which will do a song about how a girls ears tell someone that she loves them. Anyway, I guess "That thing you do" makes for a good watching.
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