Wednesday 21 January 2009

thought provoking

well..i have been catching up on all the books that lay on my table for eons now..i feel so much better. it is wonderful to get back to reading after a very long time. one book after another..it is almost like getting one's life back. apart from a lot of pulp fiction and magazines i have been flipping..here is a piece that felt very different from the last time i read it. yes, i do re-read a few authors i worship..and this lady is a woman i admire...so here goes...

it starts with...
"There was a time when men were afraid that somebody would reveal some secret of theirs that was unknown to their fellows. Nowadays, they're afraid that somebody will name what everybody knows."

and then...here is a speech by one of the central characters..it is one of the best things i have ever read and its impact is here to stay..

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce.Is this what you consider evil?"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor—your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth."But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made—before it can be looted or mooched—made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced."To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss—the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery—that you must offer them values, not wounds—that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods.Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires.Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality—the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind."Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choke of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth—the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?"Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?"Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil?To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money—and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it.They know they are able to deserve it."Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it."Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil.That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun."But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt—and of his life, as he deserves."Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard—the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money—the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law—men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims—then money becomes its creators' avenger.Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter."Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money.Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality.It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot."Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to "produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are."You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood—-money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves—slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer. Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers—as industrialists.
understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide—as, I think, he will."Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other—and your time is running out."

its beautiful...the book i love, the author i respect, the characters so complete..they come alive everyday. it helps understand, simplify and most importantly feel grounded and exalted at the same time.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Listen, Beta!!

A well to do gujarati NRI couple, come back from their yearly sojourn away from the country. They see that a lot has happened in India since they left. They call their family & friends in a frantic effort to swallow all the information/gossip first hand and gormandize other opinions, all of which is done with a sense of cynicism and prejudice. I happen to have been one of the invites for tea & dhokala & khakra. Well, with all the crunching and munching around, not to mention the abnormally loud voices & a lot of “ane” as puctuations….the fun & frolic begins. Here’s a snippet.

“hello beta, so nice to see you!! You are always writing so many exams & you are so busy…..blahblah”.. I gave a smile of resignation. Then came the brief introductions. I nod & nod &nod some more. Getting tired, I spotted food and immediately excused myself. Well, that was a mistake. Because, here I was now, surrounded by the ladies. All giggly. I shrank. Considered my options and settled on a chair in between. Non-alignment, I thought. The conversation veered to the money and the economy and the stock markets. I smiled. No matter how hard I try to not type cast people, sometimes I am just forced to accept it. Like the cliché..wherever there is a gujju..he is sure to talk money and business. So, there it was.
Uncle 1: “ what Is all this about India & china beating the US by 2025? It is not going to happen. Just look, just look at the USA! What they built a 100yrs back, we are still struggling to build those.”
Uncle 2: “exactly. Ane, has anyboby seen the george Washington bridge! 6 lanes on the left, 6 lanes on the right, 6 down-left,6down right..that is, 24 in all…built 75yrs back!..what foresight these people have. And here, the sea-link has taken years…and when it will open, within a few months there would be a traffic jam on it. In the USA when new lanes are built you don’t even realize that they are building a new lane..its just done. And before you know, its open. Here, people remember the agony while they are building the roads that soon break down more than the comfort they experience!”
Hhahahaha!! *laughter everywhere*
Uncle 1: “we just don’t have the infrastructure. But the mentality, the mentality of the people is worse. In the USA when a person works for 8hrs..he actually puts in his 100%..there are no complaints in there. A house-keeper will clean your house sincerely, and put everything back to where it was. The lawn will be mowed, very clean. No litter any where. Here, I see the gardener at the park, comes to work at 11:30..eats his lunch. Sweeps around the place and leaves. No sincerity whatsoever. What people here take 3days, people over there do it 3hrs.”
Uncle 3: yeah, the mentality…when I went to gujrat sometime back,I saw that there was a bridge built across the narmada. They charged the passing vehicles rs.10 toll tax. A receipt was issued but it had only the date, not the time. I saw 2 boys standing on either side of the bridge. They used to collect the receipts from the passing cars and run back and hand over the same receipts over and over again. What to do with such people! In the USA u can slip a few coins in , the bar raises and you are on your way. You see no cheating. Everything is so transparent there. You cant escape the taxes, you cant escape punishment. Its clean.
I couldn’t help snorting. I mean do these oldies even watch American sitcoms!! What happened to prison break, criminal minds, numbers, boston legal, shark and blah!! Ooh, I forgot, they like kyunki & kasauti…American politics are equally corrupt…and what do they have to say about sarah palin!!-I wanted to ask…but the conversation moved on…
Uncle 1: *animated* its like that only!!..arre, you should see how long Indians use their gadgets. Americans just don’t do it. I see cell phones, television sets etc..lying in the trash can. They go ahead and buy new things constantly. You have nice sales where you get all the good stuff for as cheap as $5 after the season. Where can you get such things.
*I look around in this guys apartment. His computer lying in the corner was old. He had an ancient television too. No, flashy lcd’s anywhere. And yes, he did not respect his servants. Im sure there was no provident fund or a health insurance given to the poor servants who laboured in these houses. It felt sick. Double-standard, gits*

Soon, one “uncle” came to me and said, ”listen beta..i have some trouble with my cell-phone. I hear you are studying engineering. Can you please help me. This icon is missing.” I oblige. Now, like all these rich guys, he bought a flashy nokia communicator. Did not know anything about it. Not that I am any better at cell-phones. But I guess a little better off. I showed him his “ missing” icon.
The man was very happy. He flashes his smile and asks-“ when are you coming to the USA? Please do visit my son & his wife. He has a huge apartment close to manhattan. He will take good care of you. Do not hesitate. You are very intelligent, you must go to the USA”

I smile and say- “sure”. He actually said all that for a “missing icon”.
The conversation had moved to airline industry. But the comparison continued.

Uncle 2” when 9/11 happened, there where 4000 airplanes flying at that time. 4000!..how many in India?? *people give random figures* how many airports do we have here. 10 decent ones. Over there, there are 100s. all this development thing in India is not happening.
Uncle 4: *a knight to the rescue*
“arre, nahi, everything is not like that. We in the developing countries save and the USA spends. They spend because we save. All the US treasury bonds that all the countries buy.
Uncle 2: “that is because, people trust the united states. It is a market. If the US dies the world dies. US will not let any other country come. It is far too advance…”
The conversation then turned to bail out packages..blah.

Everything was permeated with the smell of delicious Indian snacks. “aah!!..this is only in India!” they would remark. They are so vehement in their support and their loyalty so un-wavering, that a dog would appear unfaithful. They love India for its food, the US for its comfort, probably china for its cheap merchandize. Why then do these opportunistic gypsy businessmen - talk of ethics and sincerity and morality and worse nationality. All in all, it was therapy for the poor old men to think their lives are better off. I personally, enjoyed the show. Jesters hoping up and down totally blinded from reality and animated over nothing.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Ephemeral! Ephemeral!!

A sumptuous meal, some peaceful slumber, the joy of achievement, a sense of loss-almost everything in the realm of “the pursuit of meaningfulness” seems ephemeral. The brunt of living in the piquant 21st century. Life just moves on. “Blood-Bath” is a common word used for the stock-markets and “Mayhem” for wars & bomb-blasts. Are we just messed up? Do we need a new dictionary & not an updated one with a lot of Hinglish or has the rising inflation just taken over our brains & made everything nugatory-ZILT!

Analysing emotions is a separate profession today. Psychologists, therapists, probable HR mangers study it. Anybody else who tries is termed “unprofessional”, gullible & plain stupid. One must maintain equanimity & work like a machine. The joy of reading a book and reflecting on the thoughts and ides is a luxury today. One is just nagged by the professional hoi polloi to such an extent that even the little drabs of lasting thoughts seem to leak away on account of the sensex crash, inflation & its impact. To me, the 24x7 news is a pain, the CNBC a curse- I just want my Doordarshan News at 8 o’clock on my LCD screen with its impeccable English & timely exit. The news atleast is factual, not TRP-driven and lasts the next mornings breakfast conversation. Every minute wasted on sipping filter-coffee and enjoying the weather is a minute lost & guess what- your knowledge just got out-dated. So download feeds, get back to the rut & get ahead. Predicting fates just got a lot easier.

Is Barack Obama going to be happy once he becomes The President Of The United States Of America? Is Bill Gates happier today pursuing philanthropy or was it when he owned the world, its wealth, its SECRETS? If it was back then, why did he switch? Why didn’t it last, why did he get tired? Why did he move on for the better or for the worse? – I don’t know.
So, has change always dictated us or has it dictated our civilization & its need for betterment or is it the same thing?

Is being happy & content & greedy for luxury our priority that governs our decisions on choices or is it just change and mental stimulation that controls it all? Are we working for ourselves, or the general good? It cant be both- that is a philosophy made by politicians. Needs change as we grow and hence, our reasons that drive our choices-say many who claim to understand the human psyche.

Then, how do you explain hundreds of graduates not more than 20yrs of age who specialize & work in the social services sector. How are their needs different? Is there a basic nature of man at all? Do we live to survive civilization?
Aren’t humans supposed to be animals with a slightly larger brain? If we are all animals-why are our basic needs & sense of prioritization so different? Does conditioning matter so much? Are we that manipulated to suit civilization?
Do we all really have a soul, a different sub-conscience or whatever each one of us chooses to call it or are we all the same interally?

I want answers. I don’t want science to explain it, I don’t want religion to explain it, I don’t want rationality, logic or reason to explain it. I need an answer that convinces me. I know that everything is ephemeral but my need and search for that one answer- a lasting, simple & a curt answer goes on…..anyone??

Wednesday 21 November 2007

What shall we call this one?

He thought that no one knew him, and he was right.

He knew that relationships were too shallow in the place that he lived in. he didn’t want people to know about him; maybe that’s why he never bared his soul to anyone. Then he started to go nuts, questioning the doctrines of the church, wondering whether there was a god, searching in vain for the ultimate purpose. He felt used and empty like a tube of toothpaste with all of its contents sucked dry.

He wanted someone to listen to him, someone smart and intelligent, he thought he had that someone but then distance came between them, reducing their interactions to the yearly chance meeting.

He felt guilty, but did not know what he was guilty of; he had lost his power of reasoning and began on the journey to insanity with the quixotic irrationalities that his kind loves to ponder. He thought he was smart, but then he began to doubt that too. He lost faith in himself, in his abilities, he couldn’t trust in who he was, he had no idea himself. He never did anyway. He started to explore the occult, the flip side of sensibility, the forbidden fruits, what he had never tasted. He wanted someone to save him, someone to save him from his sin, to exorcise his hell. He’d been searching in vain. Was his heart still alive or had it frozen over many times? How many times, no one knew.

He had forgotten how to love, how to see the good in others, how to appreciate the simple things, how to be happy. He was so entirely consumed with his remorse that he had forgotten all that.

He felt surrounded with fools, one among the rest, one who wanted to be different but never quite knew how. The rebel without a cause, they called him, rocking himself to sleep. How long was this to continue? No one knew, not even him. He knew they kept him in the dark, he knew they were all pretenders but he could never fully realize that.

He kept his secrets to himself, feeling almost like the Stone Age man, without an outlet, a means of communication. In spite of living in the age of communication, he felt so without it. He was not like the others, not like one of the plays. The voices in his head started to drive him over the edge, the edge he could never define.

The Grim Reaper.

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Long time No See

Well it's been a long time indeed. My life's gone from bad to worse in the past few months since July. I now sit at the back of the class, not with Mr Behra, who sadly lost a year, but with Miss Muffet, who talks too much. Yes i got a woman for company and no, i am NOT seeing her. Seeing as in not the visual seeing but the other seeing. Thee seeing part is suppossed to be between her and Mr. K. At least that's what i believe it is.
Anyhoo, besides that i've been understanding nothing in class, not aided in the least by the fact that i sit at the rear end of the class. and besides sitting there is a lot of fun. i got mr S for company and together we launch a verbal assault on the teachers. not nice you see. and then there's the brat of the class, whom i shall desist from naming here. very nice. and besides that it's been bad. real bad.
i played a song, of which i am not proud. i wanna play pink floyd, or maybe Green Day's working class hero. or maybe something by that new band, Poets Of the fall. nice stuff.
class has gotten to be rather boring with no one to discuss metal with and most importantly no one to make evil sounding growling sounds with. if i do that at the back, i risk causing grevious harm to those around me.
well time does not permit more ranting now. but i'll tell all about the miss muffet and Mr k story(theory, actually) later.

Peace, laterz folks