Sidharth Vardhan

Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ – looking too much into the abyss of Christianity

(A review of ‘Anti-Christ’ a book by Friedrich Nietzsche) I had a liberal access to Internet only when I was already in college. And I developed a very quick obsession for Wikipedia and Wikiquote surfing. When I tumbled about Nietzsche’s Wikiquote fan, I became a fan. But reading ‘beyond good and evil’ was a disappointment. All the good parts of it I had already read on his Wikiquote experience. It is as if his best always comes in aphorisms – you read Wikiquote, you can say you have read Nietzsche, well the good parts. (I felt same thing with Oscar Wilde’s plays but Wilde had non-aphorism beauty in his in non-dramtic writing). There are lots of great quotes in it, but I had already read them. They might be more of a revelation to other readers. Much of his criticism of Christianity makes sense but he seems to want to correct it by forcing opposite values on society which is where he fails. It is a popular adage that philosophers are better at asking questions than answering them. Goes for Nietzsche too. Friedrich Nietzsche Moreover he can often be inconsistent. At one point he says Christianity has taken away virility

Of Svetlana Alexievich’s Zinky Boys

(A review of the book ‘Zinky Boys’,by Noble Laureate Svetlana AlexievichFirst written on November 3, 2018) “‘I cried when I read your article, but I shan’t read the whole book, because of an elementary sense of self-preservation. I’m not sure whether we ought to know so much about ourselves. Perhaps it’s just too frightening. It leaves a great void in my soul. You begin to lose faith in your fellow-man and fear him instead.’” From Svetlana Alexievich’s Zinky Boys This is the second book I have that is written by Svetlana Alexievich and her books really do make me wonder about why I read. On one hand, her books are about truth – and plain, ugly truth at that which needs to be told or it would be suppressed, and thus exactly the kind of books that should be read on the priority basis. On other hand, her books are so depressing – being full of accounts of lost and wasted lives; making one wonder whether there really is any point in reading them. Svetlana Alexievich Zinky boys sidharth vardhan review analysis Though not as depressing as Chernobyl diaries, this one is full of sad accounts of all those whose

On Gandhi

(A ridiculously long essay about a man I think is overratedFirst written in October, 2018 by Sidharth Vardhanas a review of ‘My Experiemnts with Truth’ or ‘An Autobiography”by M.K. Gandhi.) Gandhi is hands down one of the most overrated people in the world. It might be true for most people tagged as ‘great’ but the way people in India obsesses for Gandhi either considering him really great or awesome on one hand or calling him wicked on other without being willing to see any shades of grey in him is really too much. To be honest there are two Gandhis – one is the real Gandhi and the other is the idea of him that is attached to an almost ridiculous faithfulness to non-violence and truth which features in movies like ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’. The idea Gandhi is more popular of course, I wonder how many of us have ever imagined Gandhi as a young man, This later idea Gandhi is something I like because it doesn’t have to suffer from limitations of the original person who is, after all, a human. Gandhi The God The problem is that, even in his own time, this idea Gandhi raised him

The Driver’s Seat – a SPARKling thriller

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘The Driver’s seat’ (1970) by Muriel SparkFirst wrtten on August 16, 2018[usr 5]) A kind of novella that spends more time in your mind than on the page. Spark does it brilliantly by working under-the-hood. It is no spoiler that it is all about Lise executing her plan to kill herself. And so it is “it’s a whydunnit in q-sharp major and it has a message: never talk to the sort of girls that you wouldn’t leave lying about in your drawing-room for the servants to pick up.” – the lines Lise used to describe the last book she read. But the why never gets answered clearly. By the end, we get clear clues that she must have suffered some psychological problems. And mental illness can describe her problems and one can easily dismiss it at that, but from Shakespeare to Plath to Gogol to Grass to Han Kang, writers have long held habit of putting methods in madness. I will forward two theories, not mutually exclusive. Suicides, especially those who have been planning to kill themselves for a long time, tend to be dramatic (think ’13 reasons why’), knowing you are going to die

Aleph (Short story by Borges) – A review

(A review by SIdharth Vardhanof the short story‘Aleph'(1949) by Jorge Luis Borges[usr 5]) “All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past.” Jorge Luis Borges (Aleph) …. and so there must be things beyond describing powers of language. What if some day you were to come across a thing or an experience who is nothing like shared past? The human impulse to communicate must find a let out, and where mere words are not enough we need poetry: Daneri’s real work lay not in the poetry but in his invention of reasons why the poetry should be admired. Jorge Luis Borges (Aleph) Daneri, like most good poets, didn’t invent reasons, he found them – found them in the inexplicable Aleph. Borges is not only talking about nature of language or importance of poetry, he also seems to be speculating why the descriptions of supernatural are so vague or strange: “How, then, can I translate into words the limitless Aleph, which my floundering mind can scarcely encompass? Mystics, faced with the same problem, fall back on symbols: to signify the godhead, one Persian speaks of a bird that somehow is all birds; Alanus de

Review of ‘Frankenstein in Baghdad’

(A review by ofFrankenstein in Baghdada novel by Ahmed Saadawishortlisted for International Man Booker 2018For English translation by Jonathan WrightFirst written on May 20, 2018) Shouldn’t it rather be called Frankenstein’s Monster? The book sure picks up the atmosphere of Iraq suffering from aftereffects of war and terrorism. The very idea of making a complete dead body out of parts of victims of bomb blasts which couldn’t be identified with their owner is something that could occur easily to someone living in Baghdad and, for whom, bombs are a daily occurrence. In fact, the characters who seem to be prospering the most are those gaining from ruins – one of them gets rich by buying old junk from those migrating out and other by buying or illegally occupying their properties. Then there is the fact that monster like Baghdad contains elements of various communities. Another element would be religion: “There were people who had survived many deaths in the time of the dictatorship only to find themselves face-to-face with a pointless death in the age of “democracy”—when, for example, a motorbike ran into them in the middle of the road. Believers lost their faith when those who had shared their beliefs and

Die My Love by Harwicz – a review

(A review ofDie My Love by Ariana HarwiczTranslation to English by Sarah Moseslonglisted for International Booker 2018First written on May 5, 2018) “I’m fed up with the fact that it’s not okay to bad-mouth your own baby or walk around firing a gun.” Ariana Harwicz (Die My Love) I know, right? As somebody of other said human beings are born free, but everywhere they are in chains. Chains of different types – social, religious, national etc. In this case, they are of family. The chains of expectations as to how mother should talk, behave, feel. I mean we all know that everyone can not be a cook, but we do always expect everyone to be a good parent. Specially mothers. Die My Love Ariana Harwicz If you think about it, all freedoms boil down to just one freedom – the freedom to be oneself. And being a parent (again, specially mothers in a traditional patriarchal families) must take a heavy toll on one’s freedom – for you are no longer doing what you want to do, but are struck looking after those stupid, smelling, needy little creatures that won’t even thank you for the trouble (okay, why are people bothered

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk – a review

(A review by Sidharth Vardhanof Flights by Olga TokarczukOriginal Title  – Bieguni (polish)Winner of International Booker 2018 for English translation by Jennifer CroftFirst written on May 31, 2018) “Age all in your mind. Gender grammatical. I actually buy my books in paperback, so that I can leave them without remorse on the platform, for someone else to find. I don’t collect anything.” Olga Tokarczuk (Flights) This book can be a kind of bible for the people with restless legs – people whose biggest fear that they will have to spend all their life in one place; to whom travel is the religion, road is the home and their own house merely a comfortable hotel. The narrator is one such person: “Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that – in spite of all the risks involved – a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity. From then on, the river was like a needle inserted into my

A tale of a broken heart

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘A Tale of Two Cities‘ (1859) by Charles Dickens First written in September 9, 2015 [usr 4]) “No man ever really loved a woman, lost her, and knew her with a blameless though an unchanged mind, when she was a wife and a mother, but her children had a strange sympathy with him—an instinctive delicacy of pity for him. What fine hidden sensibilities are touched in such a case, no echoes tell; but it is so, and it was so here. Carton was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew. The little boy had spoken of him, almost at the last. “Poor Carton! Kiss him for me!”

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