Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Lovers

Let me draw your attention to a scene. Not very special. Subtle would be the word. Ahem. Michelle is just back from the hospital, having suffered from a miscarriage. Leonard is sitting by her side, tracing out those three words on her arm, as she drifts into a sedated sleep. He loves her, but she doesn’t know it. Not yet. But does he either? Is she just a way out of his loneliness? Plausibly.

What’s remarkable about the scene is not its clichéd poetic beauty, but the fact that it is embedded in the very brutal reality of life. It’s daytime and the sunlight is sharp in its intensity. No expressions playing on their faces remain hidden. There are sounds that are obstinately stealing into the room. The dull thud of the music from a party close by. The shouts, catcalls, and bickering of kids playing in the streets. The spirited laughter and animated conversations of the party-people.

The walls are straining under the pressure to keep these harsh realities outside, where they belong, so that the two lovers can stay frozen in time. But they still manage to creep in. And they make us realise that no matter how poetic, tragic, or romantic the moment might seem to you, life won’t let you stay trapped in it. Even fleetingly. It is relentless, cruel, and insensitive. It won’t stop for you to get back on your feet while you wallow in your own private prosaic moment. And that, my friends, sucks.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Surely You're Joking

A poet once said - The whole universe is in a glass of wine. We will probably never know in what sense he meant that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in it's composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments , the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness of the mind that watches it. If our small minds, for come convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe into parts - physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on - remember that Nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let us give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!


In hindsight, and with due to respect to Anon One's comment, this makes sense too.

Poets said Science takes away from the beauty of stars - mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old-light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part - perhaps my stuff was belched from some forgotten star, as one is belching there. Or see them with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some common starting point when they were perhaps all together. What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. Far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined! Why do poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if here were like man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia, must be silent?

Surely he must've been joking? Mr. Feynman?