The pandemic situation has left me with a lot of time for pointless contemplation. Between being mildly psychotic, euphoric, enraged and desperate, I am beginning to lose the will to live. Youtube has become my only advisor, Google assistant my only interaction. a few scant moments of lucidity here and there are pushing me towards a radical life change. My scientific temper has sputtered and died with constant never-ending agitation. It is human nature to see patterns where we want to find them. So any reason to live that I try to grasp on to sputters and dies with every passing minute. Here’s another that might die soon. Since I have been reduced to a mere agglomeration of neurons, muscle and bone, I can no longer be bothered to care. I have been compulsively browsing online and I came across some artwork that made me wish I could paint. Going to try look at art school.
So you’ve decided that watching TV and drinking beer while strangling your kid seems like a fun time? Well you’ve come to the right place. This is extremely hard to do since you initially wanted to design space ships so you have to follow a series of carefully orchestrated steps EXACTLY as underlined below. NO DEVIATIONS.
1. Join an engineering course.
2. Get a rag tag group of peers who are more interested in drugs and beer instead of engineering.
3. Meet with an accident or something equally absurd, like get hit by a passing alien.
4. Fail to acquire the required GPA
5. Go do a master’s since you can probably recover from this setback.
6. Get exactly the wrong masters and repeat steps 1-4.
7. Change your online name to something respectable to apply for whatever job you can get.
8. HOPE work experience will make you eligible for your dream.
9. Work said dead end job and drown your broken dreams in alcohol.
11. Strangle your kid occassionally. (keep a lookout for security cameras)
12. Kill yourself when WE decide you’ve had enough.
Troubled sighs repressed, by lips
that are meant to give voice to despair.
And rage and anger lie impotent
at the gateway of my mind.
a fog blankets the path taken
and the destination lies hidden,
in mists of fabricated conclusions.
Forcing me to wander aimlessly.
Various prophets philosophizing,
in the recesses of my brain,
justifying every action taken,
after the fact.
A new direction today,
Pulling me ceaselessly hither tither
until divided I am as the fog itself.
A new direction today,
to pull myself back together,
from the mist of misguided actions.
A new direction or a new misty tendril?
Somewhere in the vast expanse of the universe is a planet that is home to a very singular race of beings. What makes them radically different from other beings of this universe is the fact that they lead highly interesting lives. For example, Trafiakar a minor shoe salesman, one afternoon went to get himself some tea, and, along the way won a lottery, met a princess and was instated as the crown prince of the realm. Of course, the next day the realm went completely broke and a lot of people’s interesting lives were abruptly ended by war, but, who among us has ever won the lottery?
However, this is not their story.
Shiva Singh of the planet Earth like many other beings of the universe lived a drab and dingy existence. He was by coincidence, a shoe salesman. But alas there were no princesses in store for him. He was a kind, unassuming man. A throwback to the times of old when such things were valued and prized. He was a thinker this one, and in his free time indulged in writing romantic poetry. Of course, no one had the heart to tell him that his poetry was dull and boring. He liked to think of himself as a present-day Byron or Shelly and continually posted his poetry on social media.
In this, the latter half of the 21th century literature had died out with most people preferring to spend their odd moments of leisure on social media and experiencing reality senso-television. There were cameras everywhere and with the right hardware any amateur could stream his own channel of senso-tv. With almost everything automated, unemployment was at a record high.
Shiva was a believer in the controlling influence of the universe and thought it left him signs. For instance, the breaking of a lighter turned into a week of not smoking. In the end however habit won and Shiva resumed his love affair with Mary Jane. He used it for inspiration. He said it made him think deep thoughts that he would then turn into poetry. His poetry was the ultimate sign from the universe and the days he could write what he considered good poetry were bound to be good days. He also hoped to meet his soulmate one day. Someone who recognized his true potential and of course, loved his poetry.
Unfortunately all trace of Shiva Singh and his poetry was lost when the planet was destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass. As luck would have it though one parchment (yes they still used dead trees) found its way into the satchel of an alien reporter posing as an actor as he hitch-hiked his way off planet. It then somehow appeared on the desk of a famous politician from a planet with a very ancient democracy. The physics of how it got there are not very complicated but most people still have trouble understanding how a bicyle maintains its balance.
The politician, who shall remain unnamed for legal reasons was just about to admonish his secretary for leaving trash on the table when he happened to read the words. The words had a deep impact on him and he read them again more carefully. They seemed deep and thoughtful to his brain. This could be explained by the rogue cosmic ray bouncing in his brain similar to how pink tennis balls bounce over radio telescopes.
Through flawed logic and supreme overconfidence – two essential qualities for a politician, he decided he was going to use this piece to show his voters his sensitive side. They would lap it up and his ratings would go higher. The verse would have to be modified for reptilian anatomy and he knew just the program for the job.
“Cancel my afternoon appointments.” he informed his secretary and sat in front of the terminal. A tiny rational part of his brain screamed in agony but mistaking it for his conscience, he ignored it.
He fired up the latest propaganda software from S.C.C. which was called Lies 2.0™. This was a coincidence as the language used on the planet was not English. He hooked up the scanners to his brain which would help the program convert the written material into the output the user desired. After a lengthy process of scanning and converting which took approximately the rest of the working hours the program sent a final copy to his personal device.
‘Nicely. This will do very nicely.’ he thought to himself and headed home. In a pocket dimension which most beings are unaware of Shiva Singh howled in rage and despair. A press conference was scheduled after filling the usual forms and paying the journalists the usual propaganda fees.
A single camera sat at the centre of the room transmitting to whoever paid the access fees. Our venerable politician cleared his throat and began his performance.
“I have thought considerably and deeply about the divide that exists between us reptilians and humanoids on our planet. As many of you have deduced I am a stable genius and have come up with a most elegant solution. It came to me while watching my secretary go about his normal humanoid business. I realized that we are not so different you and us. I can explain it better with this verse I have penned.” saying so he started his recital.
As I gazed into your two human eyes,I was mesmerized. My three chambered hearts pumped in unison. The blood flowed straight to my hemipenis. How I wished to taste your slender lips, with my cold hard snout. I wished to scream and make a lot of noise suddenly, as my kind does during romance. But the fear of scaring you away has kept me silent. I wish you would look beyond this rough exterior, to the cold heart beating within. To have you locked in my embrace forever, I’d commit a thousand sins.
He then bowed and made his way off the podium.
That day was a significant moment in that planet’s history. Those watching him wept tears of joy at having a leader who understood the common man. His ratings soared and he was suddenly in line for presidency. The lizards ruled and the people kept electing them again and again. The universe continued its slow dance towards heat death.
Meanwhile in that pocket dimension Shiva Singh, catatonic with despair kept repeating the same thing over and over again.
“My grocery list. My only legacy to survive was my God damn grocery list.”
I am hesitant to associate the name of the writer who inspired me to this amatuerish piece but as twitter keeps telling me again and again (even though I don’t have an account) YOLO. If he is turning in his grave atleast it might give him momentary respite because lying on you back for extended periods is bad. Thnak you for writing the most amazing book I have ever read. RIP Douglas Adams.
I try to gaze away
it pulls my eyes back.
Each and every day
all I see is black.
I use my indomitable will
and shift my eyes around.
Until the merest glimpse
of a new view is found.
It slides back into focus
once again ahead,
the view is gone from sight
filling me with dread.
That momentary vision
of something else new
fills my heart with joy
no more am i blue.
this infernal game I play,
the house always wins,
the highs the lows the tears and pain,
the courage of the brave and the sinner’s sins.
All my friends are dead.
They talk through their art.
They tell me how they felt,
when we were centuries apart.
They were there before me.
I wont be the last.
To see the void cloud my vision,
to feel helpless, alone, aghast.
the gods are uncaring,
the sages full of lies.
Scholars bitter and cynical,
the flag of hatred flies.
Somewhere, someone will feel the same
and say or paint or write.
The abyss will momentarily fade,
a new view will come in sight.
Walking alone through life’s meandering path.
“Imposter, imposter” I hear them cry.
This fame, name, recognition, all,
cannot assuage me of the fear deep inside.
I am worthless,
less than a dog howling at unseen fabrications.
I am worthless, truly.
Perhaps it is chance and simple minded folks that have led me here.
Through no talent of my own has come my fame and renown.
“Ignorant fool” they say behind my back,
“Worthless coward” is another my mind imagines.
This dark, melancholic brooding departs me not.
“Imposter, imposter” I hear them cry.
So far have I come, so much that I’ve done,
all guided by lady luck’s charming arm.
The simple minded are taken in,
but, the people, they see who I truly am
Why else would they talk about me behind my back?
One slip up, one misstep and all this comes crashing down.
This façade built on meaningless words and tired rhymes.
This name of mine chanted by mobs,
will soon turn into a curse.
This fame of mine will vanish with a word.
And all that will remain will be I,
Alone, friendless, a fallacy of thought
Why did you not tell us? They’ll say
It was not your hand but fate’s that did this.
What will I say that day I wonder?
When all this comes falling down.
But today is not that day.
Today I sit in the warm embrace of fate,
and all is well today. Except
“Imposter, imposter” I hear them cry.
Was watching Bill Hicks again and got reminded its all just a ride so here is a silly little sonnet. No deeper meaning to be found here. I’d be pleased if you link some of the silly stuff you’ve written and as always – enjoy the ride.
Tinkering with time, struggling with singularities.
Surfing through space, pacing through probabilities.
Building Einstein-Rosen bridges through wandering wormholes.
Galivanting on gravity using tachyonic cyber souls.
Collapsing multiple multiplying Schrodinger wave equations.
Resurrecting dead cats, other uncanny situations.
Calculating velocity and positions of travelling electrons.
Undermine uncertainty with negatively charged anti-protons.
Up, down, top, bottom, charmed and strange,
Are just some of the flavours of which quarks are made.
Quantifying strange matter into Bose-Einstein condensate.
Ruining Rubik’s reputation using cheap adhesive paste.
This is the space-time ride my friend.
Where the beginning is uncertain and so is the end.
What have I become and who did I used to be? Was it ever truly me?
These questions come to mind as I lie awake in the grips of melancholy. This is a very human thing to contemplate. I’m pretty sure somewhere someone else must be pondering the exact same thing.
It would be curious to discover who it is to whom one writes in a diary. Possibly to some mysterious personification of one’s own identity. Beatrice Webb
I have felt friendless and lonely and I have also felt the warmth of genuine friendship at different points in my life. As I become older and more cynical these boyhood ideals of friendship and one for all and all for one seem to lose their warm glow. Is it that the world has changed or is it that I have?
Richi walks into a bar. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? Well for Richi, this was going to be one of the strangest nights of his life. The bar he walked into was a nondescript dive bar. A few tables lay scattered around two pool tables. A pinball machine glaringly announced its existence in a corner. Unfortunately for the machine, this was a disinterested world which had moved on from games like pinball and pool. Augmented reality was where it was at nowadays and these small establishments just couldn’t keep up. The bar was relatively empty and old 90s music was blaring from the speakers.
…..…I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain……
The reason Richi was even in this place was that it was slightly cheap. It’s not implied that Richi was stingy, he was just going through a rough time financially. He was a freelancer and it was getting tough to get new clients. The competition was really harsh in his line of work. While not particularly skilled he managed to get the job done and really hadn’t botched a job as yet. We’ll come to his job description in due time.
He was sitting at the glass counter which was smudgy, wet and epitomised the disinterest the bartender felt at his job. He was just about to order another drink when a woman sat at the bar stool next to his. He turned to look at her and was left staring. She was drop dead gorgeous. Beautiful blonde hair complemented a radiant oval face with wide blue eyes. She was wearing a red top that clung to her body accentuating her marvellous breasts and the neckline revealing just enough to drive a man’s breath away. She had beautiful tattoos decorating her left arm like a renaissance masterpiece.
Richi suddenly realised that he was staring at her for quite some time and forcefully drew his gaze away from her. He ordered his drink and was contemplating speaking to her when she turned to him and said, “Excuse me, but don’t I know you from somewhere?”.
Richi turned to her with a pallid smile on his face thinking to himself Be cool Be cool. “I don’t think we’ve ever met.” he managed to stammer.
“Strange. I’ve a good memory for faces and I’m sure I’ve seen your face before.”
“Well, my name is Richi. Does that ring any bells?”
“No, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen you before. What is it that you do for a living?”
Richi put on the best casual face that he could and replied, “I’m a hitman for hire.”
If any of you think it strange that a hitman announces his profession so openly, you need to ponder the times we live in.
The woman looked visibly excited.
“Now I remember. I’ve seen you on a billboard outside my office. Assassin for hire it reads.”
If you find it stranger still, that assassins advertise themselves openly, I can only say Get with the times old sport.
Richi sensed this excitement in her and it emboldened him. “What is it that you do?” he enquires of her.
“I’m a philosophy major. My name is Nina.” she replies.
Up until this point nothing out of the ordinary has happened which might lead some of you to believe that this is just a boy meets girl story. You promised us strangeness I hear you cry. Well the strange part of this tale is the conversation these two, the hitman and the psychologist, share over the course of this night. Let’s listen in shall we?
Richi: So what exactly is it that a philosopher does professionally? I was never clear on the idea.
Nina: I study ethics and morals. I must tell you, it is fascinating for me to meet a hitman. I’ve never met one before.
Richi: You don’t say. Well, I’ve never met a philosopher before. What exactly do you mean when you say you study ethics and morals?
Nina: I study how people react to different moral dilemmas. For example, today I came across this old 19th century thought experiment called the Trolley Problem. Have you heard of it?
Richi: Yes, I’ve heard of it.
Hey! banjara’s back. You didn’t think it was going to be all dialogue, did you? Where’s the fun in that? For the uninitiated the trolley problem was put forward by Philippa Foot. She was a thinker, that one. One night after a tremendous argument with her boyfriend she decided to go to the nearest pub and get plastered. In the inebriated state she was, she thought up ways that her boyfriend would die. Following this train of thought she began thinking of train accidents. That’s how she devised the now famous Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is a thought experiment which goes as follows.
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. Who tied up five people on a railway track you ask. Maybe the same guys who hired Richi to bomb a brunch. Who knows.
Anyway, the trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. How often do you stand in train yards? If the answer is too often, you might want to think about getting some hobbies. Moving on.
If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (A) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (B) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?
Think about which choice you’ll make while I shamelessly listen in on their conversation again.
Nina: Cool. So as a hitman the answer must be easy for you?
Richi: Obviously. Any sane person would choose to save five lives and sacrifice the one. Did you think that just because I’m a hitman I would choose to kill five people?
Nina: That’s strange. I wouldn’t expect you to place any value on human life. Why act and kill one when inaction saves you from guilt?
Richi: I don’t fully understand it myself but I would save the five.
There is a brief silence as Nina absorbs what Richi is saying. The jukebox is teasingly playing a classic by Cage the Elephant.
………. Oh, there ain’t no rest for the wicked, Money don’t grow on trees…………
Nina: So what would you do when the scenario changes to the classic variation of the problem?
The classic variation of the problem goes something like this: You and a large man are standing next to the railway track with the runaway trolley. If you push the large man onto the tracks it might derail the trolley and save the five people. You yourself are too light to derail the trolley.
Richi: It makes logical sense to push the large man on the tracks. You save five lives in exchange of one.
Nina: You kill people for a living so it is easy for you to say so but it isn’t that easy for a normal person to actively kill another human being.
Richi: We have all evolved from animals and have been killing each other for millennia. Why is it suddenly hard to kill a person when you can clearly save five?
Nina: Most people come up against their innate moral values. The second time there is no switch between you and the life you are taking.
Richi: But in the first case too you are for all practical purposes killing another human being. How is this any different?
Nina: I can’t explain it in a way that makes logical sense. Some things are meant to be felt not thought about. Like you couldn’t explain why you would choose to kill one to save five, this too can’t be explained.
Hey! It’s me again. Just wanted to put a star trek quote in here somewhere. ‘Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. – Spock’
Richi: Maybe because I deal with death regularly it gives me a clearer perspective. The people you refer to as normal have been killing each other for some very silly reasons. During ancient times humans used to be sacrificed to appease the gods. The greater good prevailed, in a sense. Why is it suddenly that modern man has become so squeamish about death?
Nina: It is because we live in more enlightened times. Humanity has realised the value of human life.
Richi: What enlightened times are you talking about? Oil is more valuable than human lives to some. I’ve seen people order hits just to get a promotion at their job or just because they found out that their significant other was cheating on them. The number of people in my trade have grown exponentially. I can tell you the value of a human life down to the cent.
Nina: But that just isn’t true for most people. Most people respect and value human lives.
Richi: If most people valued human lives we would not have problems like starvation and poverty. How many people would rather own a shiny automobile than donate to charity? How many would elect capable leaders than elect people who only want power for powers sake?
Nina: Hmm. You are right of course. The way things are now it looks bleak, but I have hope for a better future. I believe in humanity. There are a lot of good people out there and they are working to change things. I believe.
Richi: Well what can I say except that hope reigns eternal. Say do you want to continue this discussion at my place?
Nina: Oh. I have a boyfriend.
Thus ended Richi’s night and this tale too. Does hope truly reign though? What do you see in mankind’s future? Being brought up on Asimov and Clarke banjara believes mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. But he worries sometimes. Don’t we all?
We all carry within ourselves burdens of our past. Our trials, tribulations, frustrations, heartaches and joys often coexist with our hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears. Is carrying this much mental baggage really in our best interest? One of our foot is in the past, the other one in the future but what about the present?
The Zen or Buddhist philosophy reminds us to be mindful. Mindfullness means you don’t have to carry your past baggage niether your future ones. Just live in the present moment. Develop a philosophy of detachment. You might not achieve enlightenment but you will be happier. L8ter.