Monday, July 25, 2016

A Poem

A poem I wrote and my new Painting!
ta-da! double-treat! 

You weren't the cure,
you were the Ailment.

Like Cancer,
you were;
A mutiny of my own body. 

Scarcely deemed symptoms 
reflected in your smitten eyes, quite often.

I concealed them, 
with the benefit of the bittersweet doubts.

I who reads through the slip of pen
quite contrastingly,
I redeemed you in a self-destructive rampage.

Now you may be in a place far far away ...
(At least in my mind)
You are rotten-ing six-feets under
in a dreamy landscape. 

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: Book Review

Girl, InterruptedGirl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is one of the best memoirs on mental health that I have read. It is concise yet profound, explores some really interesting issue. It is one of those books that keeps you engaged, I read it while being bedridden with the flu and I couldn't put it down. The language and description are so beautifully done by Susanna Kaysen

Akin to a book based on the life of another author spending time in McLean (The Bell Jar) this book also shows the high contrast in the way women are facing sexism on day to day basis even now. Is the time just an illusion, has the feministic moment achieved so little in past 50 years that the changes in the life of women seem comparably insignificant. I had the same thought in my mind when I read Sylvia's book. Perhaps the perspective I am seeing it form is also location dependent. I live in India and those books are set up in New York ( of 50 yeas back). Perhaps the changes in eastern and western societies might be evident if considered independently.

Susanna Kaysen Puts in a strong argument on the thin line between rejecting social norms and regarded as mentally ill. There were only a few points in the book when I regarded her as someone who needed to be in McLean, (While she sort of enlightens us with suicide101 and when she wants to make sure about her bones ...). Perhaps it was the 60s; it made me realize how much the Baby boomers were like the Millennials on "mental" front. Moreover, the Mental health diagnostics keeps on changing and many conditions are included and excludes depending on the need of time and social conditions. Currently, applicable DMS-5 updated in 2013.

The book is written in a nonchronological sequence, that was initially annoying but by the end, it made more sense. Kaysen's state was unstable and her perception of time was uncanny. Besides it has been written years after the incident took place and only a few, yet significant events are recorded. It is in a way, the perception of past from the present's eyes. It is random memories put together.

I recommend this book for mental health awareness; it is the first-hand record of someone who went through the process of suicide attempt, diagnosed as borderline personality and hospitalization. It is wonderfully written. At times, in writing is in the fashion of a stream of consciousness in which the author raises some very interesting questions.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse: Book Review

SiddharthaSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The critique of this book is absolutely subjective, as is the case of most philosophical books. Siddhartha is a cleverly put fiction woven around the Buddhist ideology set somewhere in 6th century India during the life and times of Gautama Buddha. It is interesting that the name of protagonist "Siddhartha" it is the name that Buddha's parents gave him. I grew up listening to Buddha's story. However, the story in this book is that of a wealthy Brahmin man named Siddhartha and his quest for nirvana.

I was anticipating it to be more of a spiritual/ religious book but it did not disappoint me by being so. It falls in the genre of philosophy. The protagonist, a well-educated man, is not content with the knowledge in the Vedas of Hinduism and seeks a deeper understanding of what "consciousness" is. He often is unsatisfied with the knowledge he gathers and hence changes his ways. No kidding our boy Sid in today's times would have been a badass hippie somewhere in Bhutan. #InsideJoke

Another interesting thing in the book is its idea of parenting. Often parents assume that their experience in life will be easily incorporated into their child's life and they will save the child from hardship by just telling their stories. However, the child rebels... The books show that child cannot be helped. Hence must be allowed to learn from their own mistakes. This may cause distress to the parents but the sooner they understand the better, that the child will live their own life make all the classic mistakes in the book and learn by his/her own experience.

The Writing style in the book is metaphorical and somewhat poetic in the essence. Despite being translated from German, I didn't come across any feeling of missing out something because of translation. Perhaps, my Indian-ness makes it conceivable. I understand the terminology such as Brahman, Sansara, Samanas etc... I reckon it would not be clear to many people.

These days I have been reading the books that are regarded as "religious" in the most literal way in order to understand ideas and arguments from a religious perspective (you don't want to know how some texts had enraged me!) Siddhartha, on the other hand, is one of those books that carry the zest of spirituality leaving aside the religious "politics". Besides Buddhism is a wonderful lifestyle/culture/spirituality/religion perhaps one of the most serene ones.

I recommend this book to people interested in the philosophical read. I would say I could relate the conclusion of the book to be in line with the "Spacetime Loaf of bread" theory, sprinkled with the idea of the following quote by Carl Sagan.

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering: Book Review

Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OMG! this was some stuff! I read it for June book of the Banging Book Club. Boy did I learn something about paraphilias! I could not possibly keep track of all those Jargon and the terms for the specific "fetishes".

The main point of the author seemed to be, don't Judge or apply "morals" to the equation of sexuality. He specifically draws a line on the well-being of the consenting people on a mental, physical and emotional level. That should be the only prerequisite.

I disagree with all the pedophilia and hebephilia bits in the book. Because (as the prerequisite goes) the tone of the author didn't seem to be taking sides, however, that is something I cannot possibly "not be judgmental" towards. I understand Pedophilia is a condition that people will not normally act on if they just get the required stimulus via via visuals and stuff. Now, that kind of visuals (Child pornography) is banned and rightly so because employing a child in such a disturbing scenario is abominable. It is a difficult topic ...

The Book was witty at times which kind of lightens the mood. Anything that you can possibly perceive could be someone's "paraphilia". There were many instants in the book that grossed me out, Ugh!

Overall the book is comprehensive in its psychological approach. The author does justice to the book by including and citing the extensive scientific research and psychological surveys. I recommend this book to people who like to get their ideas and thoughts challenged. Trigger Warning: for people who get easily offended by sexuality.

The Stranger By Albert Camus: Book Review

The StrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Stranger by Albert Camus is one book of my TBR. I enjoyed reading it as I had expected. The first half was somewhat distant resonance from the protagonist, despite being a self-narration. The tone of narration was cold and commenting indifferently. Only after reading a few pages one realises that the Protagonist is lacking the ability to relate on an emotional level. The narration sounded pretty much like that of a sociopath. Overall the theme of The Stranger makes life seems to redundant.

The Nihilism at its best and the debate on life being a subjective/Objective matter plays throughout the book in between the lines and in the mind of the reader.

The story by the end come across as humanization of a sociopath/psychopath and I cried (like I often do while reading, love to get myself some good crying! Ha! ). However, the narrator is indefinite to emotions and but fascinating how often he mention being annoyed. He denies playing the "social construct" games because that don't make sense to him. He doesn't believe in God and all that jazz as he evaluates the surroundings based on an empirical approach.

I liked it! I don't reckon I completely understand it. I felt something missing perhaps a gap in translation. I want to reread it someday. Recommended to people who like philosophical subjects.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching GodTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is such an important Feminist book! why no one recommended it to be before!?!
The most significant aspect of the story was the various power dynamics in various relationships in the protagonist's life. The innate need for submission by the woman was more than often a mandatory undisclosed requirement for the men counterparts to establish "ownership". It affirms the ugly truth institutionalized patriarchy. Body image and age shaming depicted is still so significant for contemporary society. Suppression of women sexuality and chastity depicted so powerfully.

Like other great literature (Huckleberry Finn, The Colour Purple, etc) this book hits the gut in a subliminal level on the race issue. Although, the people in the book are free from slavery the after-effect of the same is obvious. Caucasian skin preference and comparison of skin colour within the African-American community (as in the case of Janie and TeaCake) is remarkable and even exist in present times.

Covering plenty of issues, Their eyes were watching God, has the essence of a love story and is realistic in that sense. It takes half a lifetime for Janie (Protagonist) to finally find love that she craved for all her life. TeaCake just made to one of my favorite book boyfriends, He comes across as a romantic heartthrob (except for sometimes...). One of wonderful thing in their relationship was how TeaCake encourages Janie to try new thing and learn new things irrespective of social constraint.

I would have given it 5 stars if the vernacular was not as difficult for me to read. The book covers dialogs in an African-American dialect. Now, in general, I enjoy reading a creative vernacular. However, my mind was not grasping it. Perhaps, due to the lack of having any real experience with that language (except for the Orange is the new black Black girls team) So it was little difficult to follow. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that The vernacular has a lot to do with the stance of the time and place where the book is written and is an essential component of the piece.

I would recommend this book to anyone who prefer Feminist literature. I would advise reading a bit about the life of Zora Neale Hurston in order to understand her prospect of the novel.

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