Thought Of The Day

For those who know Kierkegaard, this BBC documentary is an exemplary take on the times and lives of this brilliant philosopher.

 

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."



"Once you label me you negate me."

Kafka - The Trial (Summary)

"The Trial" by Kafka like lot of his works was never completed. Though there is a chapter at the end that brings the story to a conclusion but one does get a feeling if it was the way it was originally intended by the author. Like lot of Kafka's works, this also can be interpreted in many different ways.

The novel starts with protagonist Joseph K.waking up and finding two persons near his bed who inform him that he is being arrested for crimes that are no specified. The real authority of the ones arresting him is also left unknown. He is told that though he is 'arrested', he is free to continue with his normal life as before. K. is a senior bank official finds this kind of arrest strange. He goes on with his daily life. One day he is summoned to attend a court on coming Sunday. K. reaches the place where the court is in progress. The court is disordered, crowded and unregulated. There is a sense of sham in its proceedings. K. makes a speech deriding the whole system yet he is unsure if he made an impact or if anybody cared. K. visits the place next week but the court is not in session and he meets the court attendant who takes him to law offices located in attics.Again the whole legal system comes out as dark, unknown and impenetrable. Till now nothing is divulged of the crime or the authority that bought the charges against K. An uncle of K. takes him to a advocate as he thinks K. is not serious about his case. The advocate discloses the internal workings and the extent of the Law. Since the charges are unknown, he proposes that their defense would involve considerable work. The advocate discloses that the working of court are hidden, the charges, the judges, and laws, the rules, the previous judgments everything is a secret. The advocate tells that the major task of defense is to work with court officials in the background to get a favorable judgement. They start working on the first plea.

K. work at the bank deteriorates as the case disturbs him mentally. One day, a client of the bank tells K. that he is aware of the case and refers him to a painter who may help him. K goes to the painter who is the official painter of the court painting portraits of the judges. He divulges more details about the courts. He tells that absolute acquittal is impossible The only options is either make the case go very slowly by influencing officials or get the case stuck in bureaucratic maze. K. is convinced that the advocate is not working hard on his the case for he has still not completed his plea. He visits him with a plan to dismiss him. There he meets another of advocate's client Block, whose case is going on for five years. There he sees Block's excessively submissive behavior towards the advocate.The scene breaks. In the next, K. waits for a bank's client to show him around a cathedral. The client is late, and instead the cathedral priest starts talking to K. He tells a fable about Law to K. and they both discuss its various interpretations. In the last chapter two men arrive at K. room. They lead him to a abandoned quarry and over him as he lay on the dirt, pass the long knife back and forth between them (to provoke him to commit suicide). At last one holds his shoulder and the other stabs him in the heart.

The inaccessibility of the justice, the over-bearing bureaucracy, the dark and airless corridors of law, the omni-presence of all things legal is the repeating theme in the chapters. The tragic situation of K. where he condemned for a "crime" that he does not know, by a "court" that he can not not reach. In midst of all this, there is the meek human existence trying to penetrate the Law, working hopelessly to curry some favors with officials and trying all possibilities only to be dashed in the next layer of this vast unforgiving organization. The unreachable Law feeds on hope and laying waste the human spirit. The only working principle being that all accused are always guilty and complete acquittal is impossible. In this world, all the parts work giving hope from one hand and extinguishing it from the other in sole purpose to break the human will and make him accept not the invincibility of the Law's power but of individual's hopelessness. The absolute power makes people not question as to why they are arrested or what their crime is, but just trying to work with the Law and its officials to get some reprieve. There is no heroism, no valiant defense in courts and definitely no redemption. Instead there is a bleak existence, the helplessness, the anxiety, the unknown guilt, the final realization, the absurdity of the whole premise, and of the life itself. Like a web, the more one struggles the more he will get stuck in its web.

Translation - Ghar Mein Tha Kyaa Ke (Ghalib)

ghar mein tha kyaa ke tera gum use gaarat karta
woh jo rakhte the hum ek hasrat-e-tameer so hai.

Line 1/2 - What was even there in the house, that the grief for you would have destroyed it? That which we used to keep, one longing for a construction is still there. As with Ghalib there can be countless interpretations to it. The poet says what was there in the house that the grief of passion could have destroyed. The house was already dilapidated even before the grief. There is nothing much worse you could have done. The one thing the heart longs for, a construction, a structure is still there, a place of mine. Nothing could undo that longing. I think Ghalib wrote this after the sack of Delhi during the 1857 war. The palpable sense of despair and the un-extinguished hope both find home in these lines. What is there left in the city now that anything could destroy it?? One alone longing is still there in my heart and nobody an erase it.

Meaning of difficult words
gaarat = destroy
hasrat = longing
tameer = construction

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XVIII




































I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in its Lap from some once lovely Head.

This is the XVIII quatrain of The Rubaiyat. Somewhat different from the themes of the previous quatrains where the emphasis has been on short lived glories of human age against the immovability of nature. This one hints to the effects of human tragedy of nature and surroundings.The first two lines says the rose never blooms so red unless there are growing where the great Caesar bled. The type of death (emphasis on a brutal death rather than where Caesar lay peacefully) show that the violent death has made the rose more sharp. The color of the blood is showing in the roses above. The last two lines refer to the Greek mythology where Hyacinth dies a brutal death and where his blood was spilled, the bright hyacinth blooms. Every hyacinth that blooms in this garden is on the place where the young blood was spilled. The Nature gave these harmed men its respect that they deserved, their prime cut short by the treachery and jealousy. The rose and the hyacinth grew over their dead bodies and in doing so took the energy and vigor from their remains and came out bright and colorful. 

Photo Of The Day

somewhere in southern highlands

fitzroy falls

Thought Of The Day

As some one who was and still is keenly interested in geography, maps have always interested me. Features, landscapes, lakes, mountains ect. on the maps were something I was very good in my school days. This was one exam I used to love giving. I think I am still good at it. Questions like "Mark Satpura Ranges" or "Highlight Strait of Malacca" on a maps exam gave me a high rush, besides a high score.

These and so many of the geographical features are thought to be eternal, at least in our sense of the word 'eternal'. I know that over countless eons they will change or maybe no longer be there, but mostly in timescales that we think of, we just assume that nothing is going to happen to take them away and that they are there always. So I was in a bit of surprise when the other day during one of my geo-political fantasy study over Crimea, I in the map could not locate a rather roundish and big lake (so big they call it a sea) called 'Aral Sea'. I remember (from my school days geography exams) this to be a round big water body near the Caspian Sea in what used to Soviet Steppes. Now instead of a big lake, the Google maps shows this sea as a set of smaller lakes that nowhere look like my faint remembrances of the famed Aral Sea. In fact there is no big lake left, its feature has been taken over by much smaller 3-4 lakes that hardly merit attention as the giant Aral sea used to get in a map. In our lifetimes, the big sea has become much smaller unknowns and who knows may soon become an endless dry sea bed. So much for the 'eternal' earth. The sea is now 10% of its original size. A 70,000 km2 (sources:wikipedia) sea has been reduced to a mere salt plains by unplanned and unthoughtful human exploitation. I wonder if features on maps are eternal after all. Some to think about!