(A review by Sidharth Vardhan’Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’by Philip K. Dick First written on July 15, 2017) Have you ever wondered how we are living in a world where people are becoming more and more mechanical while machines are being turned into more and more human-like? I mean look at it, on one hand, we have people to whom, mobiles have become as important for lungs. They can’t imagine their lives without them – they set alarms on mobiles to determine when to wake up, they carry the thing in their pockets (in their hands at times when it is one of those large smart-phones and their pockets are too small). Not only that, the phones create a virtual reality for them – with music and videos and so on. I read a comic book once about these aliens who had become cyborg over time – they got so many things to carry around, that they decided it is just convenient to build the thing in their body. I am not sure how many of us will mind such an in-built mobile, you know it frees your hands for sex and stuff. On the other hand, we have
(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan February 19, 2019) 226.I subscribe to Joker’s words, “I am an idea, a state of mind.” to explain how I do not always think of suicide. If these notes give such impression, it is because they are written in that very state of mind in which I am thinking of killing myself. No, the notes written here are not by Sidharth Vardhan, there is no Sidharth Vardhan, he is a mere amalgamation of different ideas, states of mind – that often contradict each other, whose mutually envious existence fills the Sidharth Vardhan with more and more of anguish. I,.myself, who write these notes, and call himself, a cynical suicide, is a state of mind. And thus no one should judge the one that goes by name of ‘Sidharth Vardhan’ through this state of mind – on second thoughts I don’t care if you judge him. But you must realize that this is not the only the state of mind he is in. 227.People who like arguing are fools. We don’t believe in something because it is rational. We do so because a belief has an appeal to us. Philosophers do not come with new
Arendt refuses to define power as mere ability to do violence as some of the old authors she quotes has defined it to be. The book is written in times of cold war and during fears of mutually assured destruction. Arendt refuses to see violence as something that goes along with political power. She seems to think that the very fact of the presence of nuclear weapons makes the world a more violent place. There is no weapon humanity ever created that it didn’t use and all that. The best part is where she tries to define like sounding words – power, strength, authority etc.
Naturally, words themselves are mere symbols and you can use them to mean whatever you like but it enhances the ability to communicate better if each word described a unique abstract concept and every abstract concept has an exclusive word to signify it.
Weak as a love story but powerful in its social commentary. I found a lot of similarities between people of Nigeria described here and that of India- people wanting to migrate to developed countries and real estate being the only investment that attracts the rich. ” There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.” – Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Then, there are migrant problems – the social and psychological stress they have to bear. The best parts though are Ifemelu’s sometimes angry blogs about racism in U.S.A. It is not always about the dark racism that is pointed out in the book, sometimes it is nice white people trying hard not to be racist: “Kimberly was smiling the kindly smile of people who thought “culture” the unfamiliar colorful reserve of colorful people, a word that always had to be qualified with “rich.” She would not think Norway had a “rich culture.” – Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Adichie is powerful and honest in her social observations and it is that which makes this otherwise weak love story ( it is so real that it is boring)
(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan First written on December 4, 2018) There is a body next to my bed. The body of a sick kid. A very, very sick kid. I call it a body because I am already thinking of it as dead. And that is how I write. Not as I see but as I feel. As an impressionist and not as a realist. And anyway, the only people who have any claim to realism have either killed themselves, gone insane or in jungles feeding the kids like these. The body. How it makes my life a nightmare! It wails and cries and moans and screams – and it does all that, I know it sounds absurd, silently. Every morning on waking up, I spend several minutes trying not to think about it. For what is there is to think? Earlier I used to be normal, more or less, before one day, this body appeared next to my bed and now when I am one of Kafkirs. Kafkirs, as you know, react to their misfortune in different ways the first time they see a body next to their bed. Many of them are too embarrassed by their
(A review by Sidharth Vardhanof ‘On Chesil Beach’ (2007)a man-booker short-listed novel by Ian McEwan) This is an amazing piece of writing. If psychology detail of characters is your kink, you will love this novel. Like many readers, I was a bit frustrated by flashbacks though they did seem to be of value – not to mention there was some really beautiful writing. You get to see that the Edward had a mentally ill mother which would explain his anger (other examples of violent display of which are also visible in flashbacks) and you get to see how Florance is conflict averse (she would leave her house in order to avoid any communication with the vaguest hint of conflict) so it makes sense that she kept delaying most awkward conversation of her life. Sex has something of aggressiveness inside it, something of our animal nature which frightens her who seems to have none of that aggression to herself. Moreover, sex needs a second nature, away from normal social nature. The couple who has known each other for so long are embarrassed to show this aspect of their nature (it is to avoid this awkwardness that God invented role-playing games and
(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘The Death of Salesman’ (1949) a Pulitzer Prize Winning Play by Arthur Miller ) “I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?” I don’t know if Miller intended it as such but it might as well be a criticism of capitalism. Just look at what Willy has to say to his boss upon being fired: “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.” but this criticism is more existional: “After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.” or “Work a lifetime to pay off a house — You finally own it and there’s nobody to live in it.” or “Nothing’s Planted, I don’t have a thing in the ground.” Unless you are rich, money is a very strong determinant of your self-worth. Willy and Biff struggle with the realty of fact that they haven’t made much. The desire for greatness and having to accept that one is not great is another theme. Awesome. “Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream,
(A short fiction by Sidharth VardhanFirst written on January 25, 2019) 201.My last wish that I don’t see ever getting fulfilled is for someone to hold my hand and tell me “I understand.” That is perhaps all I need from all my friends. But perhaps they aren’t friends. Perhaps I just don’t have the luxury of friends. 202.I don’t even how to make effort or in what direction to make. I don’t have it in me to walk another mile to find happiness. All I want is for this suffering to end. Everywhere I see, there are people … Living things suffering. I don’t want this anymore. No more of this world in my eyes. I must close them to the world and close them so that they are never opened around. 203.Pain Letter – 18I guess you did listen to me and delete the last letter. Well, delete this one too. I will make it short. I am never gonna find any self-respect again – ever. And for the rest of my life, I will never be able to open up before another person knowing that they will walk out the second I learn to look at them for
(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of‘Imperialism: Part Two of the Origins of Totalitarianism’(1968) by Hannah Arendtfirst written on September 15, 2018) My one and the only objection is that it should have been named ‘Nationalism’ instead of ‘Totalitarianism’ because this book discusses various consequences (mostly negative) of Nationalism and imperialism was one just such consequence. Moreover even while studying imperialism, she is only interested in white men aspect of it – its effect on Europe. Moreover Arendt’s larger concern is studying origins of Totalitarianism which seems to me more connected with Nationalism than imperialism. Among consequences of Imperialism, she included are Imperialism, totalitarianism, refugee problems and wars (including two world wars). Imperialism Nationalism somehow continues to be thought of good when it is just a beautified name of narrow mindedness. Much like religion or racist ideologies, it is basically an act of limiting responsibility by creating a limited ‘we’ group based often on language, race or religion. It gives a false superiority complex- you are supposed to feel proud just because you belong to particular group (often people who are good for nothing else, chose these causes to take pride in). And a pride in belonging in such groups always
(A review by Sidharth Vardhan ofAntisemitism: Part One of the Origins of Totalitarianism’(1968) by Hannah Arendtfirst written on September 15, 2018) Arendt brings out a brief history of anti-Semitism with a special focus on the way it came to be used as a propaganda device by Nazis. There is much in this – like the argument that a wealthy section of society is tolerated by the rest only as long as they serve a function. And to be able to serve a function, power is needed. Some of the richer Jews (mostly bankers) were themselves first to accept the differentiation given to them by state. This differentiation attracted prejudice, first, when the customers of the bankers become middle class rather than upper class (middle class people take loan out of needs and won’t ever like bankers) and the stereotypes created because of a single family – Rothschilds. You can add to this, the conspiracy theories. Thus Nazis found a ready prejudice to take advantage of when they came into power. It is all very interesting but it isn’t as much hard hitting as other Arendt works I have read. May be because it is much further into past and because