‘മഴയീരം കൊണ്ടുവന്ത് എന്‍വീട്ടില്‍ കുടിവെയ്പേന്‍
തളിരില്ലാ എന്‍വീട്ടില്‍ വിതയെല്ലാം മുളയാതും’
(മഴയുടെ ഈര്‍പ്പം കൊണ്ടുവന്ന് എന്റെ വീട്ടില്‍ കുടിയിരുത്തണം,
തളിരില്ലാത്ത എന്റെ വീട്ടില്‍ വിത്തുകള്‍ എല്ലാം മുളച്ചുപൊന്തും)

Bring home the rain’s wetness and let my barren house sprout life. (Literal translation, lyrical disaster.)

1991 മാര്‍ച്ചിലെ ഒരു സായാഹ്നത്തില്‍ ദേവതാരുക്കള്‍ തണല്‍വിരിച്ച മധുര കാര്‍ഷിക കോളജിലെ ഇടവഴികളിലൂടെ ഇരുവരും നടന്നു. തിരികേ ധര്‍മപുരിയിലെത്തിയ ജയമോഹന്‍ അവള്‍ക്ക് പത്തു പേജ് നീണ്ട കത്തെഴുതി…
‘ഒരു പെണ്‍കുട്ടിക്കും ഇത് താങ്ങാന്‍ കഴിയുമെന്ന് ഞാന്‍ വിശ്വസിക്കുന്നില്ല… 54-ാം വയസ്സിലായിരുന്നു അമ്മയുടെ ആത്മഹത്യ. വാര്‍ധക്യത്തിലെ ആത്മഹത്യകള്‍ക്ക് പിന്നിലുള്ളത് ഒരുതരം ദര്‍ശനമായിരുന്നിരിക്കണം. 'ജയ ജയ' എന്ന അമ്മയുടെ വിളികള്‍ എന്നെ ഭ്രാന്തുപിടിപ്പിച്ചിരുന്നു. ആശ്വാസത്തിനായി ചാരായ ഷാപ്പിലെത്തിയപ്പോള്‍ കുടിക്കരുതെന്ന് അച്ഛന്റെ ഓര്‍മപ്പെടുത്തല്‍…
കുമ്പളയിലെ റെയില്‍വേ ട്രാക്കില്‍ ജീവിതം ഹോമിക്കാനായി കാത്തുനിന്നു. ഒടുക്കം അതുപേക്ഷിച്ച് ഏകാകിയായി യാത്ര തുടര്‍ന്നു. ഇന്ത്യ കണ്ടു. ഇപ്പോള്‍ എഴുത്തുകാരനായി, എന്റെ ജീവിതം എഴുത്താണ്, ഇതില്‍നിന്നും പണമോ പ്രശസ്തിയോ കിട്ടില്ല. ഞാന്‍ ഒരു ജീവിത പരാജയത്തിനാണ് ആക്കംകൂട്ടുന്നത്. ഇഷ്ടമുണ്ടെങ്കില്‍ ഒപ്പം കൂടുക.’

Arun P Gopi in conversation with Arunmozhi and Jeyamohan, Matrubhumi Weekend Supplement, 29 July 2018. On love, letters and love-letters. High-enough-resolution scan here. Online version (Malayalam), here. I’ve attempted a partial translation, on S’s request, here.

Do not misunderstand. I think that the computer is a marvelous instrument. I think the computer has nothing to do with creative work. You are not going to be a creative genius just because you have a computer. In fact the chances are you will be just the opposite. You just will be a computer operator. But the speed and the efficiency are simply incomparable. A comp in the old days consisted of type and artwork and color and Photostats and color prints. Can you imagine how long that took, and how much it cost to do? You do it in half an hour today; it used to take two weeks, literally two weeks. There is something wrong in that, too, because it does not give you time to be contemplative. You do not have time to sit and think about it, and it keeps kicking you in your rear end as you go along. You know it keeps kicking you. You cannot stop to think about it because it is just too damn fast.

Paul Rand, Conversations with Students (Michael Kroeger, Princeton Architectural Press, NY).

It is impossible to decide what to quote from the book full of gems. Wish I’d read it before the current courses I am helping the students with, started. (The Vijayawada Library is full of pleasant surprises.) I’ve been raving about the NID: Structure-Culture Document for weeks now, and the tail-end of Rand in Conversation is strangely reminiscent.

If an art form is marginalized it’s because it’s not speaking to people. One possible reason is that the people it’s speaking to have become too stupid to appreciate it. That seems a little easy to me.

– DFW, 1996. Link

In Saat Sakkam Trechalis, Kiran Nagarkar sets fire to the pages. Each paragraph tentacles into the middle of the next one, foreshadowing, bathed in spoilers left open like wounds.

And further down, there are rocks and crabs and the tetrapods. Those tetrapods that saw me drown. Exam time in Poona. Past midnight, when I switched off the light and went to bed. Into the sticky green sea of words and sentences from the book on politics I had been reading. So sticky and thick that no waves moved over it. And I, up to my neck in it. Not far from the shore but far enough for my feet to be off the ground. Struggling desperately to escape the glutinous green that stretched as far as the horizon. The sea would neither swallow me nor let me breathe. And the leviathan tetrapods watched.

And after a few more lines (or maybe just one) I omit for fear of copy-pasting the entire paragraph.

The place where you're born, the town, the village, means a thousand things to you. Every spot, every corner holds a memory. Here you stamped your feet, banged your head and cried, there you threw stones to bring down the mangoes. You played doctor behind the schoolhouse, sat for your school leaving exams a few yards away. Learnt to swim in the Mahatma Gandhi pool, got married at the Town Hall. Every event, every memory is a dialogue between you and the place where you have lived. And although your city, town, or village may never play a leading, or even a secondary part in your life, the fact that it is always present makes it the fourth dimension of your consciousness. My memory holds a lot of Bombays. But the Bombay of the tetrapods is not one of them. That Bombay exists separately, and has an independent life.

From 7643

People’s History is turning out to be a gem. I am treating it like a template more than a definitive history textbook (apparently just the way Zinn prescribes it).

If there are necessary sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves? We can all decide to give up something of ours, but do we have the right to throw into the pyre the children of others, or even our own children, for a progress which is not nearly as clear or present as sickness or health, life or death?

—  Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Such a beautiful lens to look at most pragati versus the people debates that end up in fruits of development checkmates.

Reading this in conjunction with Stallman’s Guardian column (A Radical Proposal to Keep Your Data Safe. See link. ) where he tells us how honouring people’s data is a trait to be built into systems with the power to abuse it:

The basic principle is that a system must be designed not to collect certain data, if its basic function can be carried out without that data.

It is the Blahg over at Rivendell that usually copy-pastes bare links into articles, letting readers choose to—painstakingly—copy-paste them back into address bars. The last few times I visited those links I was glad Mr. Petersen ignored basic usabilty wisdom to make such a low-noise statement on the virtue of effort(?).

 

My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present. And the lines are not always clear. In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.

— Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Jef Mallett’s Frazz (like Calvin and Hobbes, all grown up and riding bikes to work) at GoComics. Many gems in there.

Just Ride is a painfully (!) practical guide to cycling without the gear obsession and adding things to the bike while hoping to shave off milligrams. This, as I am burning bandwidth looking for a positively eyelet-infested tour-ready frame.

Tim Crabbe’s Rider and Robert Penn’s It’s All About the Bike are excellent reads too, to help put you in the mood for a long ride. It is Gironimo next.