Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

Coverage

Hero calling hero!
[Source – Pixabay]

The hero is in hiding, asleep, has forgotten or has been brainwashed because only that could explain the hero’s silence; the dead silence is complementing the darkness ostentatiously.

And no surprise, right? This darkness is overwhelming, too huge, so vast, damn cruel, heartless/soulless, steady and conniving that the heroes have all locked themselves up in the epics, legends and myths.

Dejected and weak they have turned their backs, criticising the critics, they hopelessly work to earn a living, measuring their quiet success every fiscal year, waiting for the golden retirement when they will finally wake up… or maybe they will not.


Regina Spektor is calling out to all the heroes to wake up, rise and fight, to accept the responsibilities of actions they so unconsciously take, to wage a war against inequality one little step at a time.

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Listen to Apres Moi before reading further –

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I (uh) must go on standing
You can’t break that which isn’t yours
I (uh) must go on standing
I’m not my own, it’s not my choice

Be afraid of the lame, they’ll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they’ll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they’ll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood…

Regina Spektor

Revolutions, the downfall of monarchies, totalitarian leaders, genocides… mankind’s history is a presence in the absence, it is ever-looming, reminding us of the foundation on which we are now building smart castles (with Alexa or Google Nest Hub or the gadget you prefer).

Apres moi le deluge is a French phrase that means ‘after me, the flood’ and is attributed to Louis XV of France; one of the explanations suggest its nihilistic connotation that says, ‘Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone’ and the other links it with Halley’s comet and the impending French Revolution of 1789.

Here, Regina Spektor talks about the far-reaching presence of history and how we cannot ignore it for long.

She sings a few lines of a Russian poem when reaching the crescendo; it is a poem by Nobel laureate Boris Pasternak, titled ‘February’ –

Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping,
Of February, in sobs and ink,
Write poems, while the slush in thunder
Is burning in the black of spring.

Translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater, Boris’s sister

An intense song that resonates across and holds your thoughts, it seems as if the song is urging us folks to stand up against the odds without delay, asking us folks not to mellow down.


Listen to Us

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They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
The tourists come and stare at us
The sculptor’s mama sends regards
They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
Our noses have begun to rust

We’re living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We’re living in a den of thieves
And it’s contagious
And it’s contagious…

Regina Spektor

Thieves are untied clandestinely, inconspicuously, invincibly, heartily like no other group on this planet, working religiously, solely for their profit.

The one charismatic, luring fact, among other things, is the freedom they give to every individual thief, showing no concern for each other, but keeping a check and standing in solidarity if the deal is profitable.

Regina Spektor rightly diagnosed this behaviour as contagious; the song is giving a warning, it is a reminder. Wake up dear heroes, at least to rub off the rust on your noses.


Listen to Small Bills

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His destiny was just too big to spend
So he broke it into smaller bills and change
By the time he’d try to buy the things he needed
He had spent it all on Lucy’s and weed and
He had spent it all on chips and Coca-Cola
He had spent it all on chocolate and vanilla
He had spent it all and didn’t even feel it…

Regina Spektor

May the heroes win the peculiar, surreal, boorish individual battles that they are fighting again and again and again.


Listen to Hero

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Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin
(Vrrr)
Hey, open wide, here comes
Original sin

It’s alright, it’s alright
It’s alright, it’s alright…

I’m the hero of the story
Don’t need to be saved…

Regina Spektor

Listen to this song when the sky is orange-pink, dimly twinkling, armouring up for the dark night; listen to this song when the sky is whitish-blue, brightly warm, breathing lightly, gently healing the hero.


Read more –

Alex Millar’s translation of the poem February.

Lessons in Creativity I Learned from Regina Spektor by Caitlin Cowan.

R


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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Perceiving the Emotion Called Love – Part III

Coverage

Love is the key.
[Source – Pixabay]

Love, the key to living a fulfilling life, the path that leads to the real you, this emotion called love is universal and free.

An enigmatic thing, love is everywhere – in and around you and me, in our blue planet’s core, it is the main component of every heavenly body and the equally mysterious dark matter. Why else must the dark matter be dark if not for love?

Love – the power that knows the art of giving only too well, that takes pleasure in calmness, that patiently and leisurely creates, that also manoeuvres without light, that is fathomless – humbly colours the dark matter dark.

Who ventures in the unknown, hoping to pierce through the darkness like a sharp arrow, in a speed that surpasses the twang of its bow?

One who is courageous enough to Love.


Landing back on earth, let us see how Regina Spektor has perceived Love and what rhythm has she given to her definitions of Love.

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Listen to ‘Blue Lips’

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He stumbled into faith and thought
“God, this is all
There is”
The pictures in his mind arose
And began
To breathe
And all the gods in all the worlds
Began colliding on a backdrop of blue

Blue lips
Blue veins

He took a step
But then felt tired
He said, “I’ll rest
A little while”
But when he tried
To walk again
He wasn’t
A child
And all the people hurried past
Real fast and no one ever smiled

Blue lips
Blue veins
Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away…

Regina Spektor

No one said that it will not hurt, that there will not be any sacrifices, that we will not forget and misconstrue, no one said Loving is easy and so we failed, repeatedly we failed.

But why lament when we can try again?

As humans, all we need to fully revel in Love is our ability to breathe and our home planet that looks blue from far, far away.

Regina Spektor believes in Love and Loves our beautiful blue planet; it is evident in her songs.


Listen to ‘Eet’

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It’s like forgetting
The words to your favorite song
You can’t believe it
You were always singing along
It was so easy
And the words so sweet
You can’t remember
You try to feel a beat eeet eeeet eeet…

Regina Spektor

‘Eet’ is a backspace key that you find on typewriters that allows you to type over the previous letter if you make a mistake.

Mistakes and life, life and mistakes, go well together if you are truly in love (no matter with whom/what). Even if you stumble, forget or lose, you will still try, sooner or later, for love will not allow you to rest.

It is strangely powerful, this emotion; it attacks with a strong gust of memories and then waits, it tickles with happy thoughts and then waits… waiting as if it knows it will win in the end.

If you ever think of using the ‘eet’ key, do try the Regina Spektor way of editing – turn the mistakes into musical notes.


Listen to ‘Better’

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If I kiss you where it’s sore
If I kiss you where it’s sore
Will you feel better, better, better?
Will you feel anything at all?

Born like sisters to this world
In a town blood ties are only blood
If you never say your name out loud to anyone
They can never ever call you by it

If I kiss you where it’s sore
If I kiss you where it’s sore
Will you feel better, better, better?
Will you feel anything at all?

Regina Spektor

Just like opening an old album, with slightly tattered and folded edges, we are greeted with some golden memories – happy and sweet and sad; sad because we cannot travel back to meet the ones we have lost.

And yet we go on, asking hypothetical questions, somehow reliving the moment mentally, grasping the answer that we know will work, at least for now.

Just like opening an old album, ‘Better’ by Regina Spektor gives us such a feeling.


Listen to ‘How’

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Time can come and wash away the pain
But I just want my mind to stay the same
To hear your voice
To see your face
There’s not one moment I’d erase
You are a guest here now

So baby, how
Can I forget your love?
How can I never see you again?

Regina Spektor

One always remembers sad endings and unanswered questions, but why?

So that one keeps walking, searching and living more sensitively… maybe.


Coming soon – Regina Spektor’s Musical World and Addressing the Hero – Part IV

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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Assured Presence of the Antiquity – Part II

Coverage

Peh-peh-peh… a patina trumpeter plays for you.
[Source – Pixabay]

Our shadowy past lives, though hidden in the fog, it lives, and we live off it.

Ancient cities now archaeological sites, history books, paintings, literature, music and ideas remind us of the assured presence of antiquity, our link with what was the truth back then.

Like the tail of a shooting star, our past/ the antiquity makes an equally good show in the darkness, at times even a grand show.

Like a terrific shaman, the past predicts when approached with a true question and predicts without any regret.

Come, let us see, what it predicted when Regina Spektor approached it with some melodious queries.

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Listen to “All The Rowboats” before reading further –

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…First there’s lights out, then there’s lock-up
Masterpieces serving maximum sentences
It’s their own fault for being timeless
There’s a price to pay and a consequence
All the galleries, the museums
Here’s your ticket, welcome to the tombs
They’re just public mausoleums
The living dead fill every room

But the most special are the most lonely
God, I pity the violins
In glass coffins they keep coughing
They’ve forgotten, forgotten how to sing…

Regina Spektor

It seems the antiquity, through this song, shared a message for all those who are listening, which is that the past is not static, so no point in decorating and forgetting it; no point in generalising it and awarding it with a damp stamp.

Feel free to interpret it; relive the change.


Listen to “Samson”

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Samson went back to bed
Not much hair left on his head
He ate a slice of Wonder Bread
And went right back to bed
And the history books forgot about us
And the Bible didn’t mention us
And the Bible didn’t mention us, not even once

You are my sweetest downfall…

Regina Spektor

Delilah, Samson’s lover, actually a spy, had his long hair cut one night, making him powerless; the Philistines captured Samson and tortured him brutally. Samson, blind and weak, still destroyed his enemies by magically regaining his strength. He died along with his enemies after he collapsed the temple of Dagon.

This biblical account doesn’t mention the infinite voices that made Samson, Samson and Delilah, Delilah. Culturally nourished biases have always restricted so many voices and the history books have often conveniently ignored it… until someone dares and explores and talks about the sweetest downfall.


Listen to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” –

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…I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps…

George Harrison

Regina Spektor covered this “Beatles” song for the film Kubo and the Two Strings (a must watch), magnifying the song’s impact so wonderfully. The antiquity becomes fully alive here; it reassures and promises the unfolding of another epic. It is pure magic!


Return in some time dear readers, and continue the tour of Regina Spektor’s musical world here at Chiming Stories.


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Regina Spektor’s Musical World and the Ephemeral Moments of Joy – Part I

Coverage
Delicate dance anthem…
[Source – Pixabay]

Walking down the street with old heavy memories, frozen and hazy, not bothering for a while and the unknown liveliness of the fresh sounds greeting us from all around – the dripping thaw, the golden sunny warmth, the tiny twittering birds, the ‘oh my god’ honking of a dashing car’s ghost that passes by, the hearty smiles and laughter – we blush with hope teasing us, giving us bright ideas, gleaming as we experience our quiet, still mind-pond.

These ephemeral moments of joy, so true and innocent, are hard to capture, harder to sustain, probably that is what makes it so special for and loved by all.


Regina Spektor, the star singer, songwriter, musician, the starry-eyed star, the star magician, knows how to hold such moments very well. She doesn’t capture it, na-na, she only knits a pretty, sweet and soothing melody and then soaks it into such warm moments, letting the melody take this ephemeral colour.

To this colour, she adds free-play, emotions and her pianist-self and, voila, a Regina Spektor song wave is ready.

Listen to “Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me)” before reading further –

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…And down on Lexington they’re wearing
New shoes stuck to aging feet
And close their eyes and open
And they’ll recognize the aging street
And think about how things were right
When they were young and veins were tight
And if you are the ghost of Christmas Past
Then wont you stay the night?

Ne Me Quitte Pas, Mon Chere
Ne Me Quitte Pas…

Regina Spektor

She amalgamates it all so well, life’s experiences, cut both ways and so gently she allows herself to smile an honest smile. How beautifully this song captures time and lets it go.

And she loves Paris, especially when it rains there and so do we all (at least the rasiks* do).

Listen now to “Dance Anthem of the 80’s” –

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…I’m walking through the city
Like a drunk, but not
With my slip showing a little
Like a drunk, but not
And I am one of your people
But the cars don’t stop…

Regina Spektor

This is nothing but a memory, cold, harsh, but funny in retrospect; one that glares until you glare back at it, acceptingly. And Regina Spektor handles this mixed emotion so peacefully and at the same very eagerly, probably eager for it to evolve.


Also, listen to the live performance of “Dance Anthem of the 80’s”, how sweetly she thanks her audience.

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Here, at Chiming Stories, the blogger will be covering Regina Spektor’s musical world in the coming posts, trying to live and relish her songs in your company, so dear readers ‘ne me quitte pas mon chere’ (don’t leave me, my dear).


*A rasik, in Hindi language, is a passionate and thoughtful being.


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The Old Fortune-Teller’s Special Offer

Flash Fiction
Fine and finicky little bird. [Source – Pixabay]

Her picky parrot was partying somewhere and the crystal ball was dead, though she chanted to switch it on nevertheless, the old fortune-teller, with a trademark red-riding-hood cloak, was keen to predict the future. “Your future”, she squeaked suddenly.

Looking at the fixed-price board she beamed unambiguously.

“No, tell me about your future, predict first one for yourself”, said the customer confidently, sternly. “I’ll pay you extra.” The customer took out three silver coins and kept them on the table.

Fortune-teller’s eyes sparkled, slowly but firmly she picked the silver coins, mumbling to herself, gleefully, she hid the coins in one of her many pockets. Grinning, with some plans in her mind, she casually said, “I don’t believe in predictions.”

One hand still clutching her silver coins, she realised her mistake. “I-I mean, I can change the future. I often play with my-my future predictions.”

After a short staring competition between the two, she rudely said, “Now listen to what I foresee for you.”

“If you are any good, first predict your own future”, the customer said adamantly, taking out one gold coin and placing it near the crystal ball. The old fortune-teller’s toothless, sweet smile made her look delicately pretty.

She nodded her head, picked the rugged bag that was lying on the floor next to her and rummaged for something in it, happy and mumbling once again. Nimbly, she took out a tiny tin box, tore a paan in half, placing it in her mouth to the right side, she readied herself.

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The five magical objects. [Source – Pixabay]

“Hmm, I carry five things with me you see, magical objects, I change the future as I please using these… mm (enjoying the paan) first is that precocious little parrot of mine, little nuisance, for ages now I have been looking after this (gestures towards the empty birdcage)… parrots are picky you see, mine feels he is a filthy gourmet (laughs loudly)… once he flew away, returned only a week later, bloody I almost fried him that day (more laughter)… but my parrot keeps me grounded, taking care of this fine finicky red-green creature I never lose focus when I sit down to alter my future life… if I mumble a wrong spell, my parrot rebukes me brazenly (laughs and relishes the paan).”

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“My magic staff (points towards a wooden quarterstaff resting silently against the tent wall), partly made of dragon bones, many centuries old… swish-swash and the scene changes magically… ask those two thieves I met near, near (trying to remember the town’s name, coughs a little)… they thought an old dame like me, what can I do, I broke their noses, hit them with my staff non-stop, then I broke their ankles, heels and their filthy toes. Tempest-no-tempest, I always face it head-on (with an emphatic look raises a finger as if pointing towards her head), head-on, come what may… ya-hoy, I have built new paths where…where there were no lands you see, me and my magic staff.”

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She tried to pick the gold coin that was silently shining brighter than the crystal ball sitting next to it, but the customer took it back and said, “what about the other three magical items?”

Visibly displeased the old fortune-teller swallowed the paan and then mumbled something, possibly some curses.

“Hmm… this crystal ball is no ordinary crystal ball, I can see the future and the past in it. But don’t ask me to see your past, I cannot make it work for others, what a shame! If you can give me two gold coins, I can give it a try, hmm? No? Sissy!”

The customer looked at the crystal ball and pondered.

*

“This crystal ball shows me my past, times when I acted like a goof and times when I was a spectacle, I balance things, add condiments accordingly, that is the recipe to a pickled life. And here, see-see this red cloak it has so many pockets, I keep my charm books in it, plus (takes out an old hand-mirror from one of the pockets) this mirror, it is also magical. Do you want to buy it? Hmm? Think wisely!”

The old fortune-teller showed the inside pockets of her cloak, she tried getting up but her aching knees refused to budge. The customer got up and turned to leave.

*

“Listen, special offer for you… buy this cloak and get one of my charm books for free; refer to it when stuck somewhere or attacking an enemy, this is the best way to create a bright future; (gets up slowly, grunting and pushing her chair backwards) buy this mirror then, magical hand-mirror, price -one silver coin only, ask it when you have failed and it will brazenly speak the truth, I always use it, did it just before you came in, and see I have moved on, so… hey!”

The customer turned, keeping the gold coin on the table said, “I would need all the five”, then smiled and left.

The old-fortune teller, as if transfixed, picked the coin, checked its authenticity and kept it safely in her pocket. As she sat down slowly, her parrot flew back in; she cursed him badly before offering him half of the paan.


If you were the customer, which magical object you would have bought and why?


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The Thousand Faces of Night – A Charcoal-Inked Raga

Book Review

The certainty of it being the night promises us of the erubescent dawn. It is an inky night, it has been for aeons and aeons… and, mind you, she uses charcoal-ink… for the stove is still burning, she never forgets to collect woods.

And so, with her inky fingers she writes messages, anecdotes, dead secrets and stolen dreams on the walls in the kitchen.

A custom followed since antiquity, now the charcoal-ink smells of these quiet cursive messages. It talks about the dark night and the breaking of the dawn.

Her inky fingers will turn red with the dawn.


But Sita needed all the strength she could muster to face the big trial awaiting her. After that, it was one straight path to a single goal, wifehood. The veena was a singularly jealous lover.

Then one morning, abruptly, without an inkling that the choice that was to change her life lurked so near, Sita gave up her love. She tore the strings off the wooden base, and let the blood dry on her fingers, to remind herself of her chosen path on the first difficult days of abstinence.

Githa Hariharan (Part Three; Chapter 1)

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Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma.
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) is written by the astounding Githa Hariharan. The novel is a melody sung and composed at night that captures the thousand faces of the moonless, starless night.

It narrates the many tales of Indian women – the celebrated mythical ones and the limited editions – with such excellence that the novel takes the shape of a woman carrying a heavy potli bag full of tales.

The tales, entangled badly, still echo well and dramatise their essence. The tales are spicy and heart wrenching and true.

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Earthenware… they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries.
[Source – Pixabay]

Devi, Sita, Mayamma – daughter, mother, maid – kindle fire that burns time, others and themselves. And so powerful is this fire that life gathers around it to get some inspiration.

Delicate like earthenware, painted beautifully, allegedly breakable, they hold intact their stories, cultures for centuries; you must have seen the pieces of such earthenware dug out from archaeological sites, displayed in a museum safely.

Their resilience never fails them even if it means to walk alone, against the tide, the familiar sunshine. Devi, the present, dares to break away, in her agility, eager to explore, moving away from Mayamma and Sita, the past.

Posing in front of the patriarch, they contribute to his legacy/magnificence. After foolishly spending a long time and suffering from backaches, Sita straightens up and Devi dodges the mockery, while Mayamma continues.

The patriarch sees Mayamma and smiles, Mayamma bows and cusses silently. She prays for Devi.

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The new raga.
[Source – Pixabay]

After etching their charcoal-inked messages on the kitchen walls, the three ladies change the notation of their melody slightly, making the raga, still sung at night, fresher.

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I must have, as I grew older, begun to see the fine cracks in the bridge my grandmother built between the stories I loved, and the less self-contained, more sordid stories I saw unfolding around me. The cracks I now see are no longer fine, they gape as if the glue that held them together was counterfeit in the first place. But the gap I now see is also a debt: I have to repair it to vindicate my beloved storyteller.

Githa Hariharan (Part One; Chapter 3)

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Avicenna and the Turning Wheel

Spinning starry time wheel. [Image from Pixabay]

Thinking… the activity of using our mind to consider something; the process of using our mind to understand matters, make judgments and solve problems… that is what the dictionary says and says more and then sites many lovely examples:

“I had to do some quick thinking.”

“She explained the thinking behind the campaign.”

“Thinking, for me, is hard work!”

Our mind, coloured by a plethora of this and that, happy and sad, a sea of information, thinks in isolation, yet always a part of the collective unconscious. And how wonderful is it that this tinted mind, nevertheless, is fully capable to create something novel.

The thinking mind turns the wheel, knitting the society tighter. The juggernaut of sociocultural norms, in turn, fabricates the yarn for such a mind.


Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980 AD – 1037) was a physician, philosopher, astronomer, theologian, poet – a polymath – who greatly contributed to the Islamic Golden age. His book Al Qanun fi al Tibb or The Canon of Medicine, a medical encyclopedia, was studied as a textbook for medical education in many universities, also in Europe, up till the 17th Century.

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1950 “Avicenna” stamp of Iran. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

Philosophical encyclopedias like Kitab al Shifa or The Book Healing and Kitab al-Isharat wa al Tanbihat or The Book of Directive and Remarks presented Avicenna’s take on the Aristotelian and Platonian philosophy through the lens of an Islamic theologian.

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Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, Latin translation, dated 1484 CE. [Source – Wikimedia Commons]

A well-known physician, Avicenna got support from most of the rulers of his time – some made him a vizir or an advisor in their court – and the opportunity to access the royal library. Highly influenced by Aristotle, Avicenna also disagreed with the Greek polymath on many points.

That the soul is not just ‘body’s form’ (Aristotle says that a soul is the actuality of a body that has life) but it has an existence, he came up with a thought experiment, famously known as the floating/ flying man thought experiment. He argues –

One of us must suppose that he was just created at a stroke, fully developed and perfectly formed but with his vision shrouded from perceiving all external objects – created floating in the air or in the space, not buffeted by any perceptible current of the air that supports him, his limbs separated and kept out of contact with one another, so that they do not feel each other. Then let the subject consider whether he would affirm the existence of his self. There is no doubt that he would affirm his own existence, although not affirming the reality of any of his limbs or inner organs, his bowels, or heart or brain or any external thing. Indeed he would affirm the existence of this self of his while not affirming that it had any length, breadth or depth. And if it were possible for him in such a state to imagine a hand or any other organ, he would not imagine it to be a part of himself or a condition of his existence.

Avicenna

While this blogger will definitely take a lot of time to grasp these theories in entirety, she would like to appreciate the art of thinking that moulds the world in such a steady and grandiose manner.

The art of thinking, in which we participate daily and, most importantly, in the times of despair, is running the show as we then stand face to face our true being and raise questions, refute the botched theory and create a new one.

Avicenna wrote the floating/ flying man argument when imprisoned for around four months as a result of a political debacle – an argument that was later termed weak by the other thinkers.

But this is how the thinking mind works, it continues to question, argue and turn the wheel.


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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 107 and Timelessness

Coverage

*

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Suppos’d as forfeit to a confin’d doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endur’d,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assur’d,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rime,
While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.


The idea of timelessness, eternity, immortality must be true as we wish, look and aim for it in some way or the other. Imagining living continuously, building and creating happy ways of life, chiselling and shaping the continuous source of happiness, we forgetfully live with the idea of forever.

The decisive time gone by, the melting present and the secret future, though definite, knows the indefinite. And one is lured, naturally, to know and identify with the indefinite. Why? For the indefinite is the absolute. So? The absolute appears to be complete, eternal, beyond the cyclic drama and free. Then? We may be a part of it or we too may want to be complete. And so? I don’t know, I am living forgetfully with the idea of forever, remember.

Shakespeare, the greatest and most famous playwright ever, via his works, attained immortality and this is what he celebrated in Sonnet 107. Full of creative splendour, he announced his lead on rusty cenotaphs and statues of the rulers.


The Battle at Gavelines and Elizabeth I at Tilbury (Pastiche).
The painting presents a stylized account of the battle of Gravelines between the Spanish Armada and the English fleet, including the beacons, Elizabeth’s address at Tilbury, and the battle itself in a single montage on three jointed pieces of fine tabby-weave linen. 
[Source – Wikimedia Commons]

“The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured”

That the grand, rock-hard, grave and lovely moon too continues its finite journey, eroding gradually, black red white, suggests that the moon knows well the infinite’s will. Or else why will it so humbly accept its role? This long journey, then, is no less than a quiet meditation. The deep circular craters are the timekeepers and the moon knows it.

One of William Shakespeare’s renowned 154 Sonnets, Sonnet 107 is often linked with the contemporary events of the time: the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), Queen Elizabeth’s death (in 1603), the Long Turkish War (1593-1606); the Armada charged in a crescent formation, Queen Elizabeth was also called Cynthia (name of the Greek moon goddess), the Ottoman Empire’s flag boasted the crescent moon symbol.

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Elizabeth I of England.
The portrait was made to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada (depicted in the background).
[Source – Wikipedia]

In times so precarious, one would want to hold on to a secure thought or remember the limits of mortality, mocking unabashedly the warmongers and peace-lovers alike, or even hope to create something timeless.


Read the wonderfully crisp commentary on Sonnet 107, here.

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First image from Pixabay


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Jasmine-Rich Raga

Coverage

White Jasmines.
[Image from Pixabay]

Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.

Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.

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The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).

Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.

The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.

The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.


Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai

Apne hi haath laga ja balam

Lat uljhi suljha ja balam

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(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)

This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.


*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.

*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.


Listen to a melodious version of this bandish now.

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A shorter version.

Complement this with another melodious post – Amir Khusrau and the Mustard Flowers


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Not Lithic

POEM

The universe’s engine runs on love.
[Image from Pixabay]

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Its nature is not lithic,

Not etched,

You cannot run your fingers over it,

Malleable and foldable for some,

Yelling, “Come, come,

Buy a packet full of love…”

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From the absolute beginning

Love, not lithic in nature,

Etched if anywhere, then in atoms;

Ride like the wind to feel it;

A malleable, foldable sweet memory

For all those who fall

In love, just like in the absolute beginning.

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