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Days with Frog and Toad (Frog and Toad, #4) – Arnold Lobel

 

 

In realm of silence, when thoughts corrode
Words fade, swept away by a mind sham,
A comfort searched within nostalgic shades,
With fresh pot of tea, stories sprang on a warm divan.

Jumped the rope one hundred times, an Old Dark frog,
Did it really happen?, was it true?, a thought to mock
Amid ghostly shivers, rise tales of quick wit and grit,
On a cold dark night, two trembling hearts warmly grin.

Swirling in the sky, on a bumpy ride, the kite encircle
To laughter it climbs, higher from its airy shackle,
To the march of the wind, perseverance and hope sparkle
In the shadows of the kite, the robins fly, without a squabble.

There waits for a sleepy head a glad tomorrow,
Under the covers, procrastination a happy phrase
A thought of another day, a despair in future foreseen
Tomorrow a clean slate, in present where the mess lays.

A birthday hat too big, a gift that seem unfit,
In biggest thoughts, highest mountains, tallest trees
A larger head for a hat, a loving heart for keeps
In white lies sees a caring friend, happiness pleasantly knit.

Wet sandwiches on a sunny day, a reason to be alone,
Two friends, sitting alone together, a home away from home.

Lessons learned, an empty teapot , a wide smile to boast
Spending time with a friends, what a wondrous magic
Adventures of an amphibian pair, an inspiring classic
A tale of friendship within the Days with Frog and Toad.

 

5/5*****

 

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Stoner – John Williams

Stoner


“Mr. Shakespeare speaks to you across three hundred years, Mr. Stoner; do you hear him?………

Sloane was speaking again. “What does he say to you, Mr. Stoner? What does his sonnet mean?

What if? The powerful wordy duo ruminate in the silence of my room, its vestiges drawn-out to the smooth voice of Lee Ann Womack guiding the overwhelming metaphors through the darkness, hoping that I would dance. For hours after I closed a page on Stoner, defying the nudging of Womack, the audibility of the thunderous rain collapsing into my inaudibility, I pondered: – “What if?” The soil chemistry had overridden the realms of literature. The illusion of love had surrender to the innocence of love. The prosperous loneliness had depleted in impoverished companionship. What if, William Stoner had never stepped in the corridors of the University of Missouri? What if he had never met Edith? What if he had never attended Sloane’s lecture? The reverberations of Arthur Sloane’s words pulsated right through my ponderings; the mirror within wiping a speck of its vagueness. Mr. Stoner speaks to you across decades, do you hear him? Life miles away from the rural landscape, a life esteemed in mediocrity, do you hear him?


The past gathered out of the darkness where it stayed, and the dead raised themselves to live before him; and the past and the dead flowed into the present among the alive, so that he had for an intense instant a vision of denseness into which he was compacted and from which he could not escape, and had no wish to escape.

We are the proverbial mirror fabricating our perceptions of the world around us. Our aspirations educated through harmonizing the inner conflicts flourish in the capacity of subtle companionships. The colossal world of books, language and literature, rinsing the murkiness of the mirror reflecting the opaque mysteries of life. A thousand facets learned from the pages of the books, the thought of rising above the common herd braving the unthinkable nuance of life’s journey, further and further in the permanence of bleakness whilst cherishing the consuming ripples of fresh vistas. To quote Anatole France – “We chase dreams and embrace shadows.” Stoner chased his dreams however inconsequential they have seem to the life pundits and alongside embraced numerous shadows carving a tedious path of loneliness and cynicism distracted with a feeling of hopelessness. A naive farm boy setting on an explorative journey of a life beyond the rural Missouri milieu into the colossal realms of English Literature yearned to carve a niche as a faithful teacher staying true his art of knowledge. Stoner’s life brims with overreaching simplicity plagued with incessant hardships, pain of desolation and endurance to clichéd absurdities. His tumultuous relationship with Edith, the love that he discovered with Katherine, the loyalty he hoped from Finch and the complexities of manipulative diplomacy he encountered with Lomax and later with Charles Walker, veered towards psychosomatic severity. The shadows intensified into the ruthless politics escalating in the narrow world of the University impacting a profound change within Stoner paving a rational route in normalizing irrationalities in the competency of an “asylum”, a rest home disquieted minds.

Am I romanticising William Stoner? I dare not! Do I concur with the author (John Williams) inferring Stoner to be a hero? If heroes are depicted as a larger than life saviour aura of sword wielding knights, an underdog rising to the thrilling destined zenith, then I shall speak otherwise. Heroes are not only born by winning a war, battles are fought every day, the elected battlefield either stately or pedestrian, not all those who survive are heroes and not those who die are less heroic because in a war there are no winners or losers, just sufferers. Stoner’s potency shimmered when he faced his optimistic parents with his own pessimism. The audacity of his convictions braved his own battles with Walker and the probing academia. Behind the curtains of monotone prose and rhetoric clichés, sparkle unlikely gems illuminating the notion of gallant life interchanging through the hope of future and the conflict of past and present and being the doomed instrument of change no matter how negligible amid the potential menace of stagnation.

The women in Stoner’s life endure similar psychosomatic maladies succumbing to the polarities of passivity, stoicism and antagonism dispositions. The contemplations are asserted by the domestic education of Edith Bostwick: –“Her childhood was an exceedingly formal one, even in the most ordinary moments of family life. Her parents behaved toward each other with a distant courtesy; Edith never saw pass between them the spontaneous warmth of either anger or love. Anger was days of courteous silence, and love was a word of courteous endearment. She was an only child, and loneliness was one of the earliest conditions of her life.”A convoluted maze of behavioural inheritance hovers over the fate of the characters, perpetually in an ongoing tussle to escape the belligerent irregularities of their upbringing, be it Stoner or the people around him. This stays true especially to the women who are in habitual pandemonium to change the rules of the emancipation and break away from from the protocols of their familial rearing. Stoner’s mother who never opposes her husband’s sentences passively agreeing to every decision made on their behalf; Edith who is stuck in her own commotion of sympathetic self- liberation in the unsympathetic societal didactic obligations, Katherine, who charts her own way to individualism and Grace , defining herself from her past discrepancies . Each of these women influenced by their circumstances and realities are inexorable in the fair and unfair hostilities, yet somehow not unalterable.


Stoner’s colleagues, who held him in no particular esteem when he was alive, speak of him rarely now; to the older ones, his name is a reminder of the end that awaits them all, and to the younger ones it is merely a sound which evokes no sense of the past and no identity with which they can associate themselves or their careers.

A solitary carnation may adorn the grave, the hopefulness of a name mislaid amongst the forename gradations on a wooden board nailed on the wall outside the Bursar’s Office, merely having the singular opportune alumni reminiscence, the essence of the individuality crumpled within the washed up ink of an old newspaper, the love for language and literature ebbed into nothingness and the mulish earth stoically consuming the enigma of the mind and heart. The Midwestern Don Quixote may not have his Sancho to arbitrate his madness, his dreams and morality to the world, nonetheless akin to Don Quixote, William Stoner has a story to tell, his very own.

Much has already been said, yet there is much more to be told and then there shall remain volumes untold. For every mind, every heart that walked the hallways, the extensive corridors of academic institutions, gently knocked on the least decorated door courteously nodding to a pair of anxious eyes peeking through the stack of books , dreamers and realists, both taking refuge in a world far more unreal and yet real, has had a probable chance of encountering an equivalent persona of William Stoner; the passivity of mediocrity imparting the triumphant lessons of life irrespective to its unsentimental consequences. Do you hear William Stoner? A good man or a weak man, who’s to blame and who’s to claim its share, do you perceive the rumbles of his life? What does Stoner say to you? YOU, the reader!

 

4/5****

Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World – Kamo no Chōmei

Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World

Below the crimson skies shivers the last leaf,
Sings the blue bird, songs of a lonely tree
I wonder where, swallowed by the spring rain,
Floats the leaf, to claim a spotted grave
The sounds from Hojoki deeply permeate,
Heart of a one-room hut, poetry and music rhyme
Nestled within an early bud, what do I see?
Glimpses of Lotus Sutra, one man’s pilgrimage.

Five deciding elements of nature persuading the humble origin of the supreme fruition of man conceptualising the ephemeral life, the sensibility of man imparting the teachings of the universe from a ten foot square hut attuned to the immortality of a poet’s soul. All things are imperfect. All things are incomplete. The image of Amida dwelling among the sanctimonious mountains, the Law of Buddha shinning through the soft cerise lotus petals and the bloom of the lotus in the murky waters spiritualizing the beauty coaxed through the ugliness of stagnation defining the modest truth of the nature. The inevitable cosmos emerging from nothingness, accepting the transient inhabitation weaved into a metaphysical web of turbulence, isolation, hazards and tranquillity, devolving towards the exquisiteness of human totality fading into the depth of nothingness. Humanistic traditions expanding the sensory ambivalence of nature in the spirituality of the mind; the inevitable extinction evocating the aesthetics of existence in tender solitude of nothingness in the core of simplicity. The ‘wabi-sabi’of the universe, in its purest form.

A house and its master
are like the dew that gathers
on the morning glory.

Which will be the first to pass?

Sometimes the dew falls away
while the flowers stay.

More permanent than the emergence of birth is the oblivion of death and the fleeting journey in between is something called life; the ultimate pioneering grace of music and poetry. The inception of bloom and lush, the dew on flowers awaits the morning sun falling then into the decay of the dusk? A wasted beauty it is not, the man who builds a house for warmth only to die out in the cold comprehending the transitory nature of man and his dwelling.

Of the four elements,
water, fire, and wind
often cause great damage.
Earth does not so often
bring catastrophe..

Earth is forever metamorphosing into the permanence of deathly grave a respite for the victims of impermanence. And, when fearsome earthquakes engulf the vanities of the world, nature becomes the supreme equalizer of mankind. You can’t control nature, simply learn from it, the greatest educator.

Sinful times!
That I should witness
such a dreadful thing!

Kamo no Chomei (1153-1216) was the second son of a Shinto priest in Kyoto. One of the leading poets of the late Heian Period at the imperial court, Chomei’s powerful intensity in the poetry and music engaged the phenomenon of nature with the intricacies of human life. The notion of the universe destructing and constructing concurrently progresses the comprehensive system of ‘nothingness’ embedded in the Chomei’s poetic verses. The elegance of Chomei’s well-crafted text mirrors the world he survived whilst recognising the legitimacy of nature and its association with man.

the fire destroyed
sixteen noble houses—
who knows how many more?—
I heard one third
of the entire capital.

In this famed Japanese literary marvel deriving its titular inspiration from the ‘tiny hermit hut’ built by Chomei himself during his pilgrimage in the mountainous towards the divinity of solitude spinning the , Kamo-no-Chomei scripts through various brush strokes the devastation of famine(1180), the Kyoto fire (1175 CE) , the great earthquake(1185), deaths, floods, whirlwinds, political upheavals in the imperial court , yearning to banish materialistic hierarchy and in the end his pilgrimage to acquire a peaceful mind and the pristine beauty of simplicity nurtured in solitude.

In 1204, Chomei adhered to the teachings of Buddhism and lived a life of a recluse monk in the foothills of Mount Hino. The path to enlightenment disentangles the dilemma of possessing an “impure heart” dwelling in the woods of discipline and retribution. The enjoyment of simple company and by the means of mind and body as the only trustworthy entity for health and strength depicts the philosophy of Buddha and the wholesomeness of “shunya” (zero). An “old silkworm spinning its last cocoon”, Chomei contemplates on the benevolent beauty of rural life endowed with materialistic emancipation and minimalism achieved through remoteness from the burdensome world. On the road to achieving tranquillity, Chomei expresses:-

Fish do not hate the water.
But then, none can know
the happiness of the fish
unless he is one….

A quiet life is much the same.
How would anyone know it
without living it?

The four metamorphosing seasons equating the four defining phases of human life, ceaselessly flow like the river reverberating vanity of time concealed beneath the watery whims of impermanence. From the tenderness of glorious spring to the culmination of frosty snow, the poetic immortality of Kamo-no –Chomei defies the reluctant nature meditating through ethereal silence the transitory passage of man and the phenomenon of nature.

The flowing river
never stops
and yet the water
never stays
the same.

Foam floats
upon the pools,
scattering, re-forming,
never lingering long.

So it is with man
and all his dwelling places
here on earth
.

5/5*****

Clouds – Aristophanes

Clouds


“Well, what do the slanderers say? They shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affidavit: ‘Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.’ Such is the nature of the accusation: it is just what you have yourselves seen in the comedy of Aristophanes (Aristoph., Clouds.), who has introduced a man whom he calls Socrates, going about and saying that he walks in air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little—not that I mean to speak disparagingly of any one who is a student of natural philosophy…… As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other… a man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong—acting the part of a good man or of a bad.”

Plato’s version of Socrates’ confession during the latter’s death trial (399BC) insinuates Aristophanes to be a conservative thinker, an affirmation later established during the play. Although several of Aristophanes’ works are a philosophical think-tank debating the validity of orthodoxy dogmas, his rebuttal to Socrates’ Western philosophy stemmed from the argument discourse on atheism (a grave offence in the 5th century) and deficient holistic theoretical rearing. Aristophanes’ dismissal of the ‘sophists’ philosophy outweighing traditional values by means of scientific reasons was acutely delineated through lampooning caricatures of Socrates and his school of reasoning. Thus, portraying Socrates as a dangerously hypnotic figure of modern values which could be detrimental to a just society; the complete idea of “one man’s virtue, other man’s vice” being ridiculed.

Despair, without which happiness would never be the nectar of the heart, is a demon mocking melancholic cries; a curse to human soul. The burden of his son’s gallivanting debts deprives Strepsiades from peaceful nightly reveries. He laments the day he got married, the root of his misery –Phidippides, his son. Anxious about his escalating financial woes, Strepsiades relentlessly pleads his son to acquire eloquent verbal skills as a plausible defensive method to escape the problematical debt. In a turn of unfortunate events, Strepsiades takes utmost responsibility of eradicating the prevailing misery by enrolling in the “thinking” school presided by Socrates himself.

Kierkegaard in his moralistically aesthetic tome articulates,
“Aren’t people absurd! They never use freedom they do have but demand those they don’t have; they have freedom of thought they demand freedom of speech”.
How truthfully one can assert these words to be, rightfully in the case of Strepsiades! A man ridden with monetary obligations to his lenders chooses to escape his moral responsibility by sheltering his shortcomings in the veil of eloquent orations; Strepsiades comes forth as a desperate man, yet, a coward to own up to his follies and chooses the art of glib as his weapon to envelop the quarters of corrupt thoughts. When questioned by Socrates on how would he win his case without any witnesses, Strepsiades resorts to the absurdity of abducting the moon through witchcraft; an obnoxious notion of lunacy and if vulnerably cornered he would kill himself as no can prosecute a dead man. Aristophanes satire screams the deviant tactics used by numerous scamming actors in various walks of life. The bankruptcy claims filed by corporate giants and public figures in bid to escape grave punishments are personified through Strep’s each irresponsible procedures. The question of suicide being the remedy of a defenseless acquittal however is debatable over humane grounds of self- sacrifice, though not escaping the cowardice stigma. On the other hand Phidippides, the carefree youth who initially mocks the Sophists for their preposterous sermons, ultimately succumbs to sophistry fluency exercising the training on his own father. Aristophanes’ handling of Phidi’s education as a metaphor exposes the intricacies of Socrates’ Western philosophy; the assault of Strep by Phidi rationalizing the violence as a equalized moralistic chastisement affirms Aristophanes’ fear of scholastic radicalism despite the fact that it implies the Aristophanes very proposal of challenging stagnated principles.

Soren Kierkegaard in Conspiracy of Irony esteems Aristophanes for his meticulous portrayal of a sardonic Socrates;
” It is of importance first of all to be satisfied that the Socrates brought on stage by Aristophanes is the actual Socrates. Just as ancient tradition fortifies this conviction, there are various traits found in this play that either are historically certain or at least prove to be altogether analogous to what we otherwise know about Socrates.”
This seems a bit incongruous as both these thinkers stand under the same existentialists umbrellas. Further, the scene where Strepsiades derides Socrates for hanging mid-air cuddled in a basket questioning the validity of GOD ;uttering the inferential ‘Clouds’ to be superior (as events of thunderstorms, rains, etc…are scientifically proven to be the effects of evaporation rather than miracles) affirms the skepticism over Socrates ironical works. As Kierkegaard surmises,

“The ironist, to be sure, is lighter than the world, but on the other hand he still belongs to the world like Mohammed’s coffin, he is suspended between the two magnets”; a perfect case for Socrates mid-air illusion of looking down on Gods yet somehow he remains attached to the ground- earth. Speaking of ironical suppositions, one cannot overlook the emphasis on the Socratic Method used in the initial stages of Strepsiades enrollment in the “thinking” school; two opposite views pitted against in a series of debates to extract the beliefs and stance on an exacting issue.

Soc. And for what did you come?

Strep. Wishing to learn to speak; for by reason of
usury, and most ill-natured creditors, I am pillaged and
plundered, and have my goods seized for debt.

Soc. How did you get in debt without observing it?

Strep. A horse-disease consumed me—terrible at eating.
But teach me the other one of your two causes, that
which pays nothing; and I will swear by the gods, I will
pay down to you whatever reward you exact of me.

Soc. By what gods will you swear? For, in the first
place, gods are not a current coin with us.

Strep. By what do you swear? By iron money, as in
Byzantium?

Soc. Do you wish to know clearly celestial matters, what
they rightly are?

Strep. Yes, by Jupiter, if it be possible!

Similar concept is applied in the powering dispute between the ‘Just’ and ‘Unjust’ regarding the establishment of the education system. At this juncture, Aristophanes does not fail to impress the reader with his strong views on a holistic education. Rationalizing the need for a traditional yet, liberal education, he addresses his ideas through the ‘Just’ mouthpieces criticizing the “new unjust education” of slippery rhetoric and murky morals. Satirizing orthodox teachings Aristophanes elucidates the dire need to challenge longstanding societal decree, whilst adhering to moralistic virtues, an ignorant aspect with the sophist’s radicalism. Strepsiades setting fire to the school, the flea ridden bed onto which Socrates shoves Strepsiades, the thrashing of a father by his son on moralistic grounds, speaks volumes of Aristophanes’ disdain for scientifically rationalized atheist edification. Thus, it can be carefully deduced that the lampooning of Socrates and his methods was for the very reason of Aristophanes dreading that “know thyself” existentialism might take a sinister turn; a fear of sinners becoming saints. Aristophanes not only subjects Socrates’ philosophical teachings to logical reasoning, but criticizes his contemporary methods to impart the virtues of good and evil. The satire which now seems more to be a battle between the sophists and realists rather than a frantic solution to a father’s debt problems, encircles each controversial issue from religion, education and moralistic corruption.

Lastly, ‘The Chorus of Clouds’; the finality of Aristophanes’ hypothetical dogma. The symbolism of clouds bore utmost responsibility in diagnosis of Socrates atheist beliefs debating the eternal dilemma of religion v/s science as well become the voice of the writer; primarily being the voice of scientific validation, and in due course substituting as a virtuous mediator imparting the repercussions of ‘karma’; a boomeranging bitch that chants the “reap what you sow” hymn.

Cho. What a thing it is to love evil courses! For this
old man, having loved them, wishes to withhold the money
that he borrowed. And he will certainly meet with
something today, which will perhaps cause this sophist
to suddenly receive some misfortune, in return for the
knaveries he has begun. For I think that he will
presently find what has been long boiling up, that his
son is skillful to speak opinions opposed to justice, so
as to overcome all with whomsoever he holds converse,
even if he advance most villainous doctrines; and
perhaps, perhaps his father will wish that he were even
speechless.


“A choice is a radical one. And its radicalness still lies in the total redefining of the values of a human life. It is important to realize the compass of the redefinition. It isn’t a matter simply of turning over a new leaf; the choice of oneself means rewriting the whole book.”

Taking Kierkegaard’s expressions in perspective I wonder if it is ever possible to live an aesthetically moral life or we as human are compelled to make a choice weighing the pros and cons that life throws at us. And, if undermining traditional values was detrimental to a well-organized social order then saints would eventually become sinners.

4/5****

Lysistrata – Aristophanes

Lysistrata

It had been quite awhile since I contemplated over any books let alone penning a critical appraisal. It was tough trying to get words out of the overwhelming emotional vortex; an obstinate ketchup bottle ignoring the need of a fried potato for the tangy goodness. So, when suggested a reading of Lysistrata, I was a bit apprehensive. A Greek playwright crossing the dreaded course of fallen heroic tragedies; even more remorse to my cerebral coma; not a luxurious indulgence at the moment. Lysistrata is a woman’s name; yes it is and sex is the weapon used to hem the broken olive branch.


“To husband or lover, I’ll not open arms. Though love and denial may enlarge his charms. But still at home, ignoring him, I’ll stay. Bountiful, clad in saffron silk all day. If then he seizes me with by dint of force, I’ll give him reason for a long remorse. I’ll never lie and stare up at the ceiling. Nor like a lion on all four go kneeling. If I keep faith then bounteous cups be mine. Do you swear to this? Then I shall immolate the victim thus.”

Holding a pair of olive logs, a vine torch and a small pot of live embers; Lysistrata and her women folk thus embarked on an egalitarian journey within the locked Acropolis citadel; a long awaited unified cry of misplaced wisdom. Neither the pointless sexist blabber from unassailable old men who rather burn the protesters than give a patient ear nor the wailing of desperate husbands and lovers could shake the well rooted fortitude of this rebellious bunch. Peace is what they strive at the cost of their fornication. We pay taxes, manage finesse with domestic budgetary, and give birth to descendants who will render their youth to deathly absurdities in a unproductive war. Abandoned voices yearning to be heard outside the bedroom in the ubiquitous courtyards of masochism.

I’m a free woman; screams this slap-stick engaging play. Aristophanes delineated a cohesive front; an equalized gender dais debating the validity of aggressive hostilities. Wars not only annihilate countries but families too. Common sense is a rarity and idiocy the universal daily crow of a proud rooster. Underestimating the weak is the biggest blunder of an astute strategist. And, ‘Groupthink’ is not just a term coined by a confident Mr. Janis; harried egocentric faulty pronouncements can even corrupt sincerity. Remember the ‘Bay of Pigs’?? Nevertheless all is not lost and the inbred humor prances around like a spring rabbit. One cannot help but laugh when distressed over the abstinence issue Myrrhine’s husband Cinesias brings their child to convince to come back to a lovely home and a lonely husband. Even after pledging to bringpeace to the land, Myrrhine does not give in to the carnal needs bringing Cinesias to tear his hair out.


CINESIAS
A wicked thing, as I repeat.
O Zeus, O Zeus,
Canst Thou not suddenly let loose
Some twirling hurricane to tear
Her flapping up along the air
And drop her, when she’s whirled around,
Here to the ground
Neatly impaled upon the stake
That’s ready upright for her sake

Baudrillard was precise in inferring the power of seduction to be greater than the act itself.

“Master the kitchen, master the bedroom and so shall rule your husband”. The evergreen thumb rule of triumph of one of my elderly aunt’s long-lasting marriage. In a world devoid of any sex toys or cinematic screenings, sex and food was the ultimate seduction of power. “Buy me the silver or no midnight climaxes!” You want me to clean after you; my closed legs will be your eternal marriage gift!”…. Can sex be really used as a weapon by ladies of all societal strata? Power seekers beware of the fairer sex for they have unfailing artillery!! Is the abstinence of sex capable of stopping mindless male aggression of power? Could Silvio Berlusconi minimize the impact of EU crisis if Ruby had protested the Bunga Bunga? Gaddafi would not have met with such a brutal death for being a scoundrel of a dictator. An excellent point put forth by Brian, about the Iraq War; wonders if the search of the indiscernible WMDs would have stopped if Mrs.Bush along with Mrs. Blair transpired Lysistrata proposal at the White House. The new democratic gesticulation could discipline the wildest of men, Napoleon would have been the best candidate; as the saying goes small men huge “ego”. Aristophanes is undoubtedly a visionary for banishing the discrepancies of gender biases bequeathing the ‘weaker’ sex with a new leash of power and control. No more will the patriarchal societies characterize gender roles and women no longer will be pretty bodies sitting on a vagina. Lysistrata’s protest was not designated to demoralize the validity of manhood, but an outright memo of the rarity of common sense and advocacy of peace over a senseless war fought for decades. The weak can be strong when they stand up for their rights and cannot be easily dismissed by mere ignorance. Not only wars, but numerous crimes against can be stopped with the ongoing strategy. The only fear looms is of how long it will be until the newly acquired democratic forum spits an authoritative fire. But, that is yet a farsighted destination and as of now, peace was ultimately restored and the Greeks merrily celebrated with abundance wine and sex. Wasn’t that (sex) the ultimate catch after all?


LYSISTRATA
Earth is delighted now; peace is the voice of earth.
Spartans, sort out your wives: Athenians, yours.
Let each catch hands with his wife and dance his joy,
Dance out his thanks, be grateful in music,
And promise reformation with his heels.

4/5****

Birds – Aristophanes

Birds

Nephelococcygia, a metropolis in air,
Zeus’ cloudy nightmare,
Unlikely a bedroom scare
From a sparrow’s wild rare.

A respite between heaven and earth,
“An avian heaven”, says Pisthetaerus,
Flirting with the nightingale’s mirth
Hoopoe consents ; what a fucking putz!

Sacred chants float over the lustral waters,
The birds join the jubilant choir,
The peacock dancing in a tutu simply backfires,
It’s not an ass-whooping Le Ballet Noir!

The pelican, the spoon-bill, the horned-owl, the teal, the stormy petrel and the titmouse,
Solemnized the laws of the land,
Harboring the Olympians grouse,
I rather be chained and canned.

Messiah to Bitch Dependency,
“Birds over bitches!” proclaims a pimp called Slickback,
Pleading for wings is a bitch tendency,
Cloud-cuckoo town- a two-cent hustler.

Rainbows descent on womanly divinity,
“That’s a bitch!” , yelps Slickback,
Iris, messenger of Gods, heart of Zeus’ affinity,
“That bitch’s gonna fuck y’all”.

Perching on twigs, the birds laud the forgotten heroes,
A choral interlude, a cry for pigeons,
Howl the pigeons preening their Afros,
“You came to the wrong neighborhood, motherfucking wigeons!”

A cry of an amateur,
Verses may not rationally click
Least an award clincher,
I care a fuck ; I just blasted a stick!

2/5**

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare – G.K. Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare

‘Humanity crushed once again’. ‘50 dead, 120 injured’. ‘Grave face of terror strikes again’. Familiar headlines scream through the pages of the newspapers each time a bomb goes off annihilating blameless lives. Through teeth gritting resilience, public outcry resonates through the deafened ears of failed intelligence and faith in the state’s law and order hangs by a thin string. As the weeks pass by rapid sketches of the alleged bombers, email links, forensic reports, collected evidence from the attacked ground and pictures of rehabilitating victims are splashed across the dailies. If by any chance the investigation comes through, anonymous visages covered with black rags are photographed outside the courtroom, readied for trial procedures, which may go on for months, maybe even years. As the days go by, life returns to normalcy (yes! It is a tricky word); everything is forgotten and the news fade until once again “humanity is crushed” by another dastardly attack. The analytical carnival starts once again. This is the time I dearly wish we had ‘philosophical policemen’ just like Chesterton describes in his book. Policemen- (officers of law), who would discover the book of sonnets and verses from where the crimes will be committed; those that recognize the intricate web of intellectual crimes. The derivation of dreadful thoughts- the human mind, so malicious and calculating camouflaged within an affluent, composed and erudite exterior. It is that very egocentric brainpower which churns out sadistic alterations from harmless verses and then picks vulnerable actors to craft that design into realism.


“Evil philosopher is not trying to alter things but to annihilate them”.

This book is more than a mere plot of undercover detectives and their clandestine exploration of the Secret anarchist Councilmen. Chesterton pens that a small time criminal is more of a good person. His aim is to eradicated only a certain obstacle and not annihilate the edifice. What caught my eye in one of the chapters was the elucidation of stereotyping poverty to rebellious festering.

“You’ve got that eternal idiotic ides that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats are always anarchists; as you can see from the baron’s wars”.

When a bomber or an active terrorist is caught, he mostly turns out to be from an impoverished background, where his ravenous mind and mislaid faith is manipulated to find refuge in an illusionary godly abode. These are mere actors for crying out loud, chosen by the scheming selfish elements who are coward enough to remain behind the backstage curtains. The affluent as elucidated in this narration are the ones to be feared. They have an abundance of monetary resources, have sheltering capacity in far away lands, if need be and have a mind that concocts the unexpected. Where do you think the enormous funds come for fertilizing terror? I do not want elucidate detailed reports of various pathways of monetary funds wired to definite cults or “charitable” institutions that ultimately fund the immoral actions. But, the currency sure is not a bequest from the poor or some excise complements from our paychecks. The respective courtesy comes from those societal fundamentals that remain unscathed or unfazed by decree. Who do you suppose manages the advanced scientific technologies in various bombing devices? The knowledgeable elite, isn’t it? The erudite or should I say the crème de la crème of religious preachers who instead of spreading peace and equality manipulates vulnerable populace digging their raw wounds every time through words that revolt in their bleeding wounds? I could go on and on, as it angers me to see such naivety among the elements of law and order or purposefully turning a blind eye on the so-called modernists who may be responsible in concocting the ongoing mayhem of lawlessness. Why couldn’t there be some ‘philosophical policemen’ here in India or any place that incessantly plays the role of a powerless victim?

Chapter 4- The Tale of the Detective is the deciding chapter that outlines infinitesimal details of who Gabriel Syme really is. Syme sneaks his way into a clandestine council of seven men, each named after a day of the week. Syme becomes the inevitable Thursday though a pact he made with Lucian Gregory ,a poet and a true anarchist. Fear catches with Syme as his path deepens into the sinister world of the other six council men; the President being the most feared of all. Chesterton throws a light on various aspects of fear that thrives within and outside us. We rebel against the only side that corrupts us. What makes a mutineer and destroy the very notion of survival? We try and run from fear and pain, until one eventually catches up and makes us susceptible to uncouth rudiments that shelter our mental nakedness. It is the most treacherous survival, if every time we need proof of familiarity to feel safe. When fear caught up with Syme suffocating his senses, he would feel protected only if a blue card ( a source of identification given to every policemen in England) was shown to him. How vulnerable was Syme to live in a world of treachery and deceit? Makes me think of all the trepidation we feel every time we walk outside our homes or travel; the security checks, the sense of familiarity that we seek in bloodcurdling situations, the proof of safety that we search or reveal; spins a web of utter vulnerability that looms within the safest corners of our thoughts. The Man Who Was Thursday is a treasure that needs to be dug up by reading between the lines of a puzzling narrative to know what Chesterton is really saying.


“Revolt in its abstract can be revolting. It is like vomiting.”

Lastly, if everything leads to God and when nature if dissected reveals the face of God, then should I assume that evil is illusionary? Is malevolence the creation of couple menacing minds? If God means endurance then why is such mutinous extermination carried in God’s name after all?

4/5****