The bloody remains of the previous coffee meeting (When political systems met for coffee) were a long-forgotten memory. After ages, another meeting came to be arranged in the secret underground facility. Keen watchers noticed Indian languages making their way into a meeting of Languages. No one knew who sent out the invites. Nervous excitement wafted through the air.

The Dravidian heavyweight Tamil was among the first to walk in proudly; feet barely on the ground, head pointing to the heavens. Observing no one around and a tad cross at turning up early, quite against popular Indian custom, Tamil found a perch at the biggest chair around the table. Presumably this was the Head Chair. A while passed and fellow Dravidian species Kannada and Telugu made an appearance. Upon entry, though, these languages grappled with immediate disenchantment. For the chairs were left unmarked and Tamil sat rather smugly at the best available chair.

None of the languages was in the mood for free seating. The new entrants reminded Tamil that it ought to vacate the Head Chair. Tamil appeared unruffled and reminded the group that it was indeed the right claimant. This right was automatically its due, thanks to its status as the first Indian language to be bestowed Classical status. Tamil also invoked the Indian devotion for seniority. As one of the oldest Indian languages, it expected, subtly of course, a level of respect from the others. When none was forthcoming, it remonstrated about the devolving state of affairs, hurling choice expletives in its own tongue. Kannada and Telugu brimmed, due to lack of appreciation of the words Tamil used. Each was mighty proud about their histories. Warfare of the linguistic kinds was imminent.

Tamil’s outburst, quite unforeseen, was to be met head on. The abrupt assault on their rich histories caused Kannada and Telugu to grieve over personal slander. Each began waxing eloquent about its linguistic beauty. Each language was unique, and in this respect all were the same. Tamil alleged blasphemy and accused Kannada and Telugu of forsaking filial piety. Telugu, meanwhile, opted for musical warfare, unleashing its vast musical lexicon on the group. A more inappropriate presentation of an asset could not be contemplated. Or so everyone thought.

As the battle gained steam, another language made a belated appearance. Malayalam. This language was conferred Classical status recently and was kicked at being part of an elite group. It did not, however, receive the ovation that it expected. It grappled with further strife on realising its neighbours in Dravidian-ville were well and truly established in their perches. It breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless. Unaware of protocol, out rumbled a stream of words that sounded so menacing that there was sudden outburst of silence. Malayalam twirled its moustache.

The joy was to be shortlived. For the silence was due to another reason.

A magnificient referee had appeared out of nowhere. Sanskrit.

Admiration gripped the warring group. Here was the lingua franca of them all. The fountainhead. The creator, of which these languages were offshoots. Or so Sanskrit  sermoned. There was immediate infighting for the Head Chair, pitting Sanskrit and Tamil at loggerheads. Tamil refused to budge, citing that it had gone Classical before Sanskrit, even as the latter attempted to skirt the issue.

Amid growing cacophony, the group greeted a new arrival. Oriya. This beautiful language spoke with its wondrous twang and informed others of its imminent induction into the Classical Club. The application was made and entry could happen anytime, so it came to the meeting preemptively. The others muttered under their breath. As they readied to parry Oriya’s intrusion, they were caught off guard by a sudden influx of a bevy of other Indian languages into the meeting. All claimed a place in the Classical Club. Soon, the room was populated by over 100 Indian languages, all aspirants to the Classical Club.

Opprobrium spread infectiously among the languages. Verbal exchanges of the unkind kind, in tongues that weren’t comprehensible to the others, began to fly hither and thither. Many lamented the uncultured outrage of the languages of culture.

The supposedly elite club wasn’t so elite anymore. This caused some to reconsider their objective for fighting. They realised they were clinging on to thin air. Someone reminded Tamil of a quote (in Tamil), “Cling to the One who clings to nothing; and so clinging, cease to cling.”

They looked around and realised all of them were clinging on to a title that added nothing to their personalities. The emptiness hit them hard. Sense descended upon the group. They dispersed, with a good word for the others.

In tongues that weren’t comprehensible to them.

Quote:

Quote: “Unquote me!”

Unquote: “Quote you on that!”

Quote: Quote: Quote you on that! “And so I came to life.”

Unquote: Quote: Quote you on that! And so I came to life. “And so I came to an end.”

Unquote:

——————————————————————————————————————-

Quote:

Time was when talk was cheap and abundantly available. Original talk, not quite so. Some humans thought, quite naively, that with evolution talk would grow rarer, and the premium attached, dearer. But no one seemed inclined to bid for it.

For there was much fear.

The fear of an omnipresent apparition partaking, uninvited, on mundane verbal exchanges. Communication underwent a metamorphosis. Languages had evolved, along with humans, but a time came upon humanity when daily exchanges petered into a game between Quote and Unquote. The only way to escape the clutches of the apparition was by means of transplanting one’s thoughts as the words of another soul, preferably dead in nature. Early birds reaped dividends from this technique, not only from evading persecution but from the ancillary benefits of borrowed wisdom. They not only lived longer but their stature seemed to grow in other people’s’ eyes. A virtual virtuous cycle was set in motion.

Apparently.

Those that persisted with churning out original discourse found themselves being transported to the after-life; often against their will. They then served as a fertile source of Quote-Unquote for future generations. Quite sadly, being dead, they couldn’t offer much by way of a defense. A slew of such disappearances caused rapid defections from the League of Disbelievers.

Fear spiked.

As Quote and Unquote flew hither thither, conversations assumed a scary amusing tone. Speakers quoted from the quoted versions of quotes that were themselves quoted from quote-unquote summaries of unoriginal pieces. The web grew so labyrinthine that there was a complete breakdown in law and order. Primary reason was the judge’s inability to pronounce judgments based on facts but on the quoted precedent of irrelevancies. Waves of anarchy swept across the globe. Surprisingly, the anarchists achieved little, as they got embroiled in the process of quoting from prominent anarchists from history. With much quoting-unquoting and little action, the movement died an uneventful death.

The omnipresent apparition nodded in approval.

Gradually, the bastion of independent thought and the sole pursuit of truth – science – came to a grinding halt. Inventions, and inventors, disappeared miraculously, usurped by the apparition. The more effective the invention the sooner it disappeared. With time, humans began witnessing signs of what appeared to be a hybrid life form; a cross between a Neanderthal, a quadruped and a human fitted with a brain-like organ. Only it appeared to have severely limited powers, that could be stultified at Someone’s will.

Humans talked a lot but spoke little. Few had the inclination, or the nerve, to alter the status quo.

Then the disappearances started happening more frequently. It seemed that even a semblance of speech was enough to incur the ire of the omnipresent apparition.

Fear increased exponentially.

Quote, initially overjoyed at having a field day, began feeling pangs of fear himself. He was being called to action so often that he feared coming under the omnipresent apparition’s scanner. Quote was so spooked that he sent word out, asking not to be invoked. Quote‘s message was not to be quoted, of course. He preferred making way for Unquote, who seemed just as uninterested.

Nobody listened. Nobody was in a position to listen. A herd that was so eager to unleash verbal ammunition had reached a state where an utterance was suicidal.

Then, humans stopped talking at all.

Quote died an unquoted death.

Unquote, as usual, had the last word.

For he too had breathed his last.

Unquote:

Time was when every alphabet in the English language could hope to be invited to the Opera of the Words.

Lack of smart phone predictors meant word merchants had to actually rack their brains to spell correctly. Continued demands placed on the brain eventually led to a breakdown, from which humankind failed to recover. Gradualy corect spelings began to fal by the wayside. Occidental misspellings, initially looked down upon, bcame so mainstreem that corect spellings bcam an endangered species.

Reminisenses made sense, to those that followed the thongue.

——

Lyf hd bin hell in da 19th n 20th cenchoories. Da dimmands placd on gettng stuf rite ws onerus. 1der witch demon maid these silly rooles of riting. Of using the ristraints of spelling. Nt for rebells, dis spelling biz! Only fooles play by da rooles. We wantd 2 brk free of this shakles.

V gt away wid phonyticks in phoneticks class, witch helpd us achev sooo much tht r riting ability soard flewently. The con of tence and sentense construkshun. What a constrikshun. 1 dussnt undrstnd y da oldys luvd there wards sooo much. That fell low, Shakes pear. Shake hs pears, sum1. Got cot in da rut and rote by rote abt rotten thngs. Vorse, thy maid us resite da wards of dead ppl in frunt of dose dat cudn b botherd. V don undstnd dat shit nymor. Listning is challengng 4 us. R best riters do the riting in a stile dat v guys folow. V lik simpl, shot vords; witch v shoten futhur. n futhur. Its da neu order.

Den der ws dat otha guy, Vordsworth. He shuddav bin namd Vordsworthless, 4 da pain he causd us al wid hs outwordly ramblings. Den der wer da othrs. A long list. Da philosuffers, and there fabulous confabulations. Dis grp deserv special caning. Boyle maid blud boil, Kant ws a c**t, Hegel needed a bagel, Marx gt no marks, Twain ws a pain. Da later wasn even a philosuffer. N yet he managd to do gr8 damage, esp wid hs sillee coat abt histry ryming bt nt repeeting. As u cn cleerlee c, he ws dead. N rong.

Ye abhorrers! Err in gramerr isn’ a horrer! Shunning is a nachooral progresshun. Evolushun. Da purist old hags no knot whts a knot, n whts not. Playng wid wards dussnt giv us ny playsure. Morons. Ah, moreon morons. Da peegeons uf yore dint knw 2 read or rite, yet did a gr8 job uf pissing da cumunicashuns. Hooeva thot uf drillng orda in wards.

Dey say luv cs knw langooage. Cudn hv bin writer. Bein wardless is no barrear 2 leting an outlet 2 feelngs. Wht nighther wnts in da nights is a conworseation. V lyk strait acshun. Wards cum in da way. Amid gets da midgets. Ading mor payne 2 lyf.

Bt v suffur frm shot concentrashun as a result. Nighther cn v hold a thot.

Can knot, not a can, can v? V can. Not knot a can.

V can rite. Yet.

Ther wil cum a time to per4m da last writes.

Til thn, may sence, or sentence, prewail.

2013 has been snooze time, so far. Breaking the lull, here is yet another comeback to the WordPress world.

Yours truly has been rather busy of late, doing little more precious than precious little. In the interim, your friendly blogger penned lyrics for a soon-to-be-composed number, for a band.

Stanza excerpts from the song are shared below.

Thundering whispers,                                                 
Echo of a silent breath.                                                          
Jungle reflects all,                                                      
A ripple across the breadth.                                       
Atop the earth’s throne,                                                          
A flyspeck of nothingness,                                                      
Liberated soul.                                                                       
 
‘Who am I?’, I ask,                                                     
Peeping within the abyss                                            
A place that is mine.                                                   
Of words that remain wordless,                                              
Of fun and of strife,                                                     
A journey is, after all,
Making peace with life.

—x—

Lift spirits. Not lyrics.

 

 

Wish you a Powerful birthday, Mr. Ramanujan.

Powerful is of significance here. In keeping with your nature, you may be thrilled to learn that this happens to be your 125th birth anniversary. 125, being what you would refer to as a Powerful Number.

Today the idle mind travels back a century to the intriguing life that you led – and could have led – had you not succumbed to the invitations of death far too early in life. Apologies Sire, we have never understood nor appreciated mathematicians very well; most times, not at all. It may not surprise you that a hundred years since, little has changed in this respect.

You presented to the world a vivid picture of what raw genius looked like. Genius appears in various degrees; spine-tingling, probably being appropriate when referring to yours. The kind of genius that is easily given to mass misunderstanding, and its logical extension, avoidance. That very few of the best teachers or compatriots could comprehend your ability bears testimony to the vast reservoirs of genius that you were gifted with.

A soul not given to the shackles of commonly accepted norms, and largely untainted by the fangs of education, you showed the world the values of harnessing one’s deepest interests in an area by flunking repeatedly in subjects others than Mathematics. The system tried its best to smother your talents; little has changed since you passed the world. We continue to be committed to building well-rounded individuals.

Most of us do not see beauty hidden in numbers. The ornate unending continuum of continued fractions – one of your favourites – to the very depths of Infinity, fails to excite but a handful amongst us. We love our Music, being moved to tears by pathos and left euphoric by uplifting tunes. When reminded that the wiggling notes are permutations and combinations of the twelfth root of 2, displeasure sets in. We do not appreciate Math detracting from our appreciation of Music. Breaking emotions down to wiggling roots of 2 is patently unromantic, bordering almost on the blasphemous. We like to appreciate the message, whilst dismissing the messenger.

Fault us not, Sire, for we see little utility in much of what you devoted your life to; abstract mathematics. An area replete with such gruesome arcana that all but the best, and/or the most persistent, of minds get lost in the abyss. Perhaps there is a class of beauty, that lies beyond the limits of our imagination, that is accessible only to a select few. The limits of our aesthetic powers inhibits our appreciation.

There are few things more disconcerting than the act of trying to express beauty, to an audience not gifted with the right eyes. The only thing more disconcerting, is to be at the receiving end, as a mathematically blind bystander. We, Sire, find it much easier to remind ourselves of the apparent non-utility of a subject area as daunting as yours. Brushing aside intimidating genius is easier than owning up to the limits of our comprehension.

Few possess the gift to channelise the power of the human mind in forging new pathways. Fewer still are endowed with the ability to carve multiple pathways to a destination. Most of us wilt not far from the starting point. There is probably a thin line separating a freak from a genius; we seek benefit of doubt in the former.

In this age of vast computing power, it is unthinkable to contemplate what you achieved, working mostly with a rundown slate, a chalk, and your elbow standing in for an eraser. A true rags to mathematical riches story.

Divinity probably exists. The world had occasion to witness it; in you.

SR signature

An ambitious group of apple chomping, knife toting, hunter-gatherers once descended upon an alien land. Shipwrecked and with hunger knocking against the walls of their vast bellies, some among the apple chomping, knife toting, hunter-gatherers ventured afar; only to stumble upon a bewildered and larger group of apple chomping, club toting, leaf-clothed hunter-gatherers.

Geographic expansion was high on the knife-toters’ agenda, and they pursued their noble intention of civilisation in ignoble ways. They did not need an invitation for an encore. Quick to unleash the power of their knifes and sabres, they overpowered the club-toters, driving many out for good and subjecting the rest to new-found freedom.

On scanning the spoils, the knife-toters learned that the indigenous group seemed to be carrying an odd contraption that seemed to possess wondrous qualities.

The knife-toters had discovered the Gin.

A few sampled it and the results were splendiferous. Gin seemed to be a necessity in this land. Vast uninhabited landscape now abounding with many of their own trigger-happy ilk had left many in the knife-totter community in the grip of insecurity. They spent so much time together that they grew increasingly scared of their own ilk. They put together a system with elected representatives from their group…and then feared the possibility of turncoats within this group. Trust, but self-defend, often zealously; came to be entrenched in their psyche.

So they enshrined into Law, that ‘citizens’ of this Newfoundland would be permitted to hold Gin; in their pockets and at home.

Citizens found that Gin provided some succor from their insecurities. The Gin owner could rest in peace, secure in the knowledge that helpings of this intoxicant was within reach, should trouble brew. They also found, with time, that what they had in their possession could prove to be quite deadly, when used indiscriminately and aimlessly. Most seemed to exercise self-restraint; but unruly elements sporadically demonstrated the ill-effects of dormant insecurity going berserk.

Uncontrolled usage soon began causing events of tragic proportions. Innocents began paying the price for unbridled soiree gone amiss. Events seemed to be set in a pattern. A tragedy would occur, leading to an explosion in outpouring, followed by fervent calls to revisit the Law, followed by nothingness. This pattern seemed to be set on repeat.

Most discussions were centred around revisiting the Law. Gin opponents felt the Law was outdated, a relic from history that had to be remodelled to reflect present reality. The status quo proponents – the Gin lovers – reminded all of their bloodied history, which wasn’t unique; of the possible irreverence to their founding fathers, how Gin possession was an axiom not open to question.

The civilisation was consumed by Gin intoxication.

Soon, a time came to pass, when daily transactions were carried out using Gin as medium of exchange. Gins became so commonplace that even those averse to Gin consumption were left with little choice but to adopt Gin themselves. The act of pilfering took an unusual turn. Earlier, knifes and other objects of terror were used to extract money. Now, Gins were brandished as weapons, in order to extract more Gins from a horrified populace.

Fear ran high.

More Gins seemed the only solution to this menace, as many believed it provided them with a sense of security from heightened insecurity. Soon, there were more Gins than human beings on their land. This was expected to lead to collective security.

Incredulously, the opposite came to be.

A few paused to ponder about the extent of insecurity, the culture of fear that seemed to have become institutionalised in collective psyche. They pondered about the true meaning of civilisation, when man feared man, often for no reason.

Preemptive projection of Gin on opponents then became the norm. Uncontrolled intoxication soon led to exponentially rising tragedies. Yet, few contemplated getting rid of the habit. Old habits die hard.

This one didn’t.

The civilisation had discovered, belatedly, the need for Gin control.

Soon, nobody survived.

———————————-

HaLin’s peace-loving spell-checker replaced Gun with Gin in the above post. The accidental edit was left uncorrected.

The canvas of painting history painted a lustrous picture of the wonders of the brush.

Art connoisseurs, real and otherwise, regularly paid obeisance and sang paeans to vivid masterpieces. Rising wealth in recent decades meant that many of these wonders came to be viewed as an investment class. Picasso and Rembrandt now adorned the walls of wealthy patrons; who almost unanimously, liked to think of themselves as connoisseurs.

To the art cynic, however, artists and painters seemed masters at profound conceptual mumbo-jumbo. A few lines here, a few there, random gobs of colour strewn carelessly, with great care, on canvas often resulted in a masterpiece that fetched a fortune. The naysayer was brushed off, ironically, by the artist, on the grounds of utter ignorance at appreciating beauty. The cynics, however, made some of the artists pause and ponder about the state of affairs.

Veiled irreverence had always been a potent tool in a provocateur’s arsenal. A snide remark on his apparent ineptness as a painter from one of his own set off reactive impulses in Italian brushman Piero Manzoni; who rather inadvertently through his actions taught the world an entertaining lesson on the values of popular delusion.

Stung by criticism, Manzoni decided to carry out a real-time experiment. In 1961, he put art connoisseurs to the test by filling 90 tin cans filled with an ounce each; of his valuable excrement and christened his ‘artwork’, Artist’s Shit. The action, rather harmless in intention, turned into a vivid parody of art in subsequent years.

Manzoni intended each can to be priced equal to the prevailing price of Gold by weight. The price of each can would vary according to the fluctuating price of Gold. In 1961, this valued Manzoni’s finely preserved faeces at $37 each, a princely amount for a thing of shitty value.

Shit was worth as much as Gold.

Given his stature among art appreciators, Manzoni’s cans gained in allure with the passage of time. A piece of art was, of course, theoretically priceless, in the eyes of art lovers. Several regime changing events occured in the 1970s, which resulted in Gold’s value fluctuating with gay abandon since. Manzoni’s cans came into their own.

30 years after the cans came into being, art auctioneer Sotheby’s auctioned one can for a rather eye-popping $67,000. The price of Gold meanwhile, poor commodity, had soared to only $375/ounce. Manzoni’s faeces changed hands at 170 times their ‘fair’ price. Rational humans were in the act.

Shit had got pricier than Gold.

But, rationalisation has always been a ready elixir to our actions. Of course, Manzoni’s faeces were in short supply (he died an untimely death). More of it could simply not be created, unless someone volunteered to sit in.

A thing of scarcity value only becomes more (in)valuable with time. Then in 2007, Sotheby auctioned one can…for a monumental $163,000. Gold, meanwhile, after a stellar rally, had only managed to reach $650/ounce. In keeping with the spirit of the recession, another can changed hands for $157,000 in October 2008, at the onset of the financial crisis. Gold managed to inch up to $780/ounce.

After fetching 250 times the price of Gold in 2007, humans demonstrated their natural rationality by remembering the recession and Manzoni’s excrement fell out of favour, somewhat.

Shit was priced at only 200 times the price of Gold. 

 

Manzoni's Shit

Some felt that Manzoni’s parody on rationality and consumerism had left a bad odour, not-so-ironically, on human beings. Yet others felt that humans had displayed acute understanding of scarcity value.

We humans had learnt our lesson.

Or had we?