Thermocol Marshmallow

Us, cogs in the machine
digging their own grooves for it is them we shall later surf ,
like when they went behind enemy lines and called it their home turf

Shall I project a friend on this lynch-mob?
This betraying fog that clears before lunch and arrives after dinner,
tonight we cast the sin away and haul aboard the sinner

A government failing to sensitize, must hypnotize irresponsibly,
A love that is older than your civilization has seen this war before
governments against loving cogs thinking rotation settles the score.

static electricity

She wants in on it, but I'm too secretive,
My jarring eccentricities and bending-over-backwards
Flip her only love as it flops to inform again
That I'm too dynamic for this static electricity

I'm an amoral agent in an asexual abattoir, sipping airs
slipstreamed into existence to infiltrate and debunk
I'm here to slam balls across nets and scare
walls to their death with just my stares,

and my breath.

So stay, and you shall be avenged revered twilight
from my little white capsule drenched in an incandescent
fluorescence , i write, (knowing this promise is) powered by paradoxes
from this focal-point of indifference with its calm, apathetic shores

I see the distance, know the way, like the front of my hand
I shall go that way, and understand the powers of
prayers parading as poems pushing pragmatism under
precocious pretexts

which prove nothing but possibly,
are the pinnacle of the paradigm.


Running low on inspiration these days, so going to push some of my favorite poetry (all written by fellow poets and friends) through this blog hoping that the occasional stumbler enjoys it.

Pass - by Akshit Harsh
(All rights reserved with the author, published with permission)

The silence was deafening, the breeze was static
Dark was the light, so bright, oh so bright!

Nothing is all I have got,
Happiness that makes me cry.
Behind the masquerade lies a man, guilty, foul,
but nothing is deeper than his soul
Look inside me, that's all i ask,
love me or hate me, it'll all just pass

As i walk along the path of life,
i remember those who gave up half way
My eyes are wet, me steps; sedate,
i walk this path step-by-step.

Tumbling, mumbling truth, asking myself
why am I the one who's left.
Into a reverie i drown, resurrected by my own
sorrows, my own frown.

Back to life, breathe, feel, see, hear,
its all gonna pass,  its all gonna pass.

A Hunger Artist offers food for thought

"While Kafka's story came as a jolt
to those who pretended to be moral.
The so called civil society's antics
come off as insincere"
Ever the coulrophobic, Franz Kafka's books tapped the future of social pain. The kind of pain we feel when we see self appionted management teams like "Team Anna" and other deep-pocketed champions of civil society vying for attention and feedback. Driven to make us believe we are witnessing the birthpangs of protest-politics their actions scream rather loudly to draw our attention to the heinous aspects of civilized life and cohort us to change our ways before it is too late. I wonder how many of us asked ourselves why the "anti-corruption" drama continues despite a clear lack of popular-support and public interest? Every single one of us at an intuitive level knows corruption is a systemic feature of capitalist society. Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiency, and market intrusion into government effectiveness in the form of regulation and lobbying respectively. As for "Black money", it is merely a good diversion tactic which is fast losing its charm in the public eye as an excuse Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare have conjured up to keep the public from becoming aware of the reality behind, or examining their totally bogus claims to power. As for those who still think they are gentle souls toiling selflessly in honest expectations, and are unconcerned with power, kindly move along.

One spectacularly clear and direct example is his story "A Hunger Artist". Surely for the masses, the hunger artist's demonstration could not be a means to witness first hand the effects of extreme hunger on a male body. Harder still, is to accept the notion that the social purpose of his performance was to ease social anger by drawing attention to a distraction/nuisance. Just like Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare, the hunger artist had no real reason to abstain from whatever gastronomical delights and proclivities he had grown accustomed to "off the stage", but he fasted because that was his "art".

"Ars gratia artis" Looks good on the MGM logo, where we are distracted by the roaring lion, but in real life art must solve a social purpose or better still, should try to create a social purpose if not invent a social problem. In the story, the Hunger artist's emphasis was on aesthetics. Who in their right mind at that time would not like to experience the thrill of watching someone shrink in 4-D and slow-motion? So we have reason to believe raw entertainment like this was really enjoyed by the people in the old days but the post-modern mind is too sensitive. Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare's focus seems to be on steering the legislative process in the short term and changing the basic features of the constitution in the longer one. It is here that the social pain mentioned earlier is felt, the activist is raping an art-form and social tool at the same time for political gain while weaving a web of false pretensions and fake persuasions to gain ignorant followers.

While Kafka's story came as a jolt to those who pretended to be moral. The so called civil society's antics come off as insincere attempts at power-mongering at best and fascist ploys to go back to the Vedic period at worst.

The Nation needs perhaps a Fasting Act of some sort to preserve the sanctity of such tools involving self-inflicted denial of basic rights which the civil society historically used only when they believed in their cause.

the narrative at the door

Were we playing a game that once hung in the balance and now hangs
in silence as it draws to a finish and ends to diminish all the
trappings of desire and the tease that this fire once flared in our
hearts and our hearths now is branded a disease of a youth waning, please
just tell me, was it all a game?

Were we only keeping scores of our ignorance as it soared with a passion
for the boring and the asinine conjectures of a roaring late adolescence
when everything made more sense than it should have, retrospectively
but actively, we plotted as we jotted all the diktats of realities
of suburban localities where the cutting edge bleeds into the very mouth it feeds

while the hands that once rocked the cradle now folded in a prayer
are pleading for the biting to just stop, and the writing to just
drop the emotional-baggage on the floor and leave
the narrative at the door.

disaster porn

On top of the mountain when I blew my brains out into an atonal horn,
I was lost in childish rhymes, esoteric spam and disaster porn,
While the bandwidth-deprived savages plotted, without glory, lost, lovelorn
I merely meant to improvise and climax but never forewarn.

The Mystery of Godliness

Following are excerpts from the poem The Mystery of Godliness by Money-Coutts, Francis Burdett Thomas, 5th Lord Latimer (1852-1923), these remain some of my favorite words ever to appear in verse.

Who stamped us with the minting die
Of this unconquerable need
To know the unknown Deity
And name the nameless in a creed?

Whence comes our instinct, that behind
The flimsy furniture of sense
Inheres the undiscovered Mind
From which the world had emanence?
(p. 3)

And hearts responsive to the sound
Insidious, of persuasive sin,
Must carry, like the garden-ground,
A welcome for what grows therein.

Had Eve possessed a soul like sand,
Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land
Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,

Then her Betrayer would have sought
An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought
No germination of the grain.

Whence came that weed-receptive soil
That grants the tare such easy root,
And grows, for bread and wine and oil,
The blighted grain and cankered fruit?

(pp. 40-2)

When by the wind of Thought is stirred
Obscure Religion, throned in mist,
"She has not said her final word"
Declares the staunch apologist.

Is it not final, then,--her creed? . . . .
Whatever conflict,--trans- or con-
Homo- or homoi-ousion,
(p. 52)

But thought that strives to reunite
In polished facets of the mind
The broken colours of the light
Baffled in mists of human kind;

Or weaves with reasonable hands,
Into a strong enduring chain
Of texture, all the separate strands
Of all the knowledge men attain.
(p. 99)

Sow not emotion; 'tis a weed
That grows in hedge-rows; every fool
Fancies his own emotions breed
The right to teach, the right to rule.

Sow not religion; 'tis a flower
That robs the sunshine of its hue,
To deck its own peculiar bower
With regal red and saintly blue.

But rare Imagination, caught
Like seed-down from the breezes, sow
In the world's garden; there is nought
Except this balsam for her woe.
(pp. 100-1)

Indian Ayatollah?

In 1999, Osama Bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri organized a press conference at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan to declare that USA and India were their biggest enemies. Reassured that the recent victory over Russia was a direct result of the assistance it rendered to the Taliban, the United States ignored this threat and paid for this mistake with the loss it suffered in 9/11.

Praveen Swami needs to be reminded firstly, that the violent fervor of the fanatic's mind does not make decisions based on the statistical leanings of economic or geo-strategic data. After all, the fact that Osama was a millionaire himself should wipe out every notion of the idea that an increase in per-capita income necessarily means fundamentalist threat is mitigated.

Secondly, to equate the fundamentalist with the religious is a grave error not only unworthy of an accomplished writer like Swami but also carries with it a whiff of fundamentalism of an anti-religious kind. Swami should note that "god's armies" are doing more good in the world (as missionary charities etc.) than bad and should chose his words accordingly.

Needless glorification of a below-par writer

Praveen Swami seems to be living in a distant fictional future which not only is entirely theoretical, but also extremely fascist for denying its inhabitants the fundamental right to believe and to live according to those beliefs. If how public money is spent or punishment meted out in a democratic country is tied up inherently with religion and culture, then any attempts at engineering social change by assuaging the masses to give up their ontological theories (which are as epistemologically valid as any other) instead of improving those political and juridical setups in a truly secular way (i.e. without the use of mind-control propaganda that tries to sway the public into either side of the faith/disbelief debate) smacks of nothing but totalitarian designs.

It would behove Swami to recognize that there are two kinds of secularism and the theoretical and dated definition that he ascribes to is not at all conducive to peace and progress, Instead what is needed is a vision that sees reality not through the theoretical lens but as it really is. Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion is how we Indians define secularism which is a part of our culture and heritage. This newfangled hard-line opposition to theism however, is ill-informed and ill-willed.

As for Rushdie, is his opinion on anything really worth incurring the hurt and heartburn of thousands (even lakhs) of Muslims? and Meera Nanda has already been criticized so much for her hatred of religion, that the article paints a biased picture of her career as a scholar by not mentioning the reactions her so called theories have evoked.


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