Sidharth Vardhan

Who’s the Mr. Capital-G in here? – a review of Children of Gebalaawi

(A review by Sidharth Vardhanof Children of Gebalaawi by Naguib Mahfouz First written on December 13, 2015) This is an allegory on the history of prophets of Abraham religions – Adam, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad represented as far as humanly possible. Gebelaawi, the creator of an alley, favored his son (from a servant) Adham over his other sons of higher birth including Idris (Iblis). Idris walked out on his father and later tricked Adham into the temptation of knowing Gebelaawi’s will causing G to throw him out. “Your mind stays in the place it’s been thrown out of.” Naguib Mahfouz (Children of Gebelaawi) Another book cover of ‘Children of Gebelaawi’ probably showing Adham in Gebelaawi’s house Adham lived on hoping to get back the comfortable life that was once his, scorn-ing at life to sustain which you have to earn: “Only an animal worries all the time about the next meal. “ Naguib Mahfouz (Children of Gebelaawi) Adham lived a miserable life – the memory of lost paradise can bring more suffering than residence in hell, he saw one of his sons kill the other. However, Gebelaawi promised Adham on later’s death bed that his children will get the life he

Respectablity of Rich – Theory of Leisure Class

(Review of by Thorstein Veblen’s’The Theory of Leisure Class’First written on July 8, 2015) “For the last half of my life, I’ve learned to say ‘sir’. Its word you use when you’ve come down in the world.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Brother Karamazov) There were times in my early teens when I was confounded when upon being called by such titles like ‘sir’ by some manual-laborer, some tourist guide or like, a person much older than me – I’m a very absent-minded and in some way abnormal person and often end up in being ignorant of things which most people have already got used to – even now I feel uncomfortable being waited upon, which is at times embarrass my friends. Anyway, this observation shocked me because I didn’t fit any grounds for such respect known to me- the person in the question was obviously older and unlike me was earning and self-dependent. I, I was just a kid. Why such respect? With time I learned it was simply because I was richer. This book has a term for this phenomenon – Pecuniary respect. To date and even in the best of minds; other things being equal, a wealthy person, even one

On Nationalism and ‘Imperialism: Part Two of The Origins of Totalitarianism’

(A review of’Imperialism: Part Two of the Origins of Totalitarianism’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 comes along with a

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

Possession

(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan First written on December 4, 2018) “It started suddenly one day. We – me, my brother and husband, suddenly heard her screaming in her room. We ran to her room, the door was shut but not locked. She had developed a habit of spending more and more of her time alone in her room and often locking it. We thought it was all a part of growing up but this time the door was not locked.” John the priest entered the house. A large old bungalow probably made during British Raj time and which in fact was once a place of residence for British colonials. The place was too big for a family of four and as is often the case with such houses wasn’t well lit. “When we entered the room, she was scared. Her eyes were widened in shock, frightened. She kept telling us about a ‘him’ – we soon realized there was some sort of evil spirit in the room. That he was smiling at her, was going to ‘touch’ her. He touched me, mamma, she kept on insisting with a stress on word ‘touch’ …. She was too naive to

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 Orphan Argument

(First written sometime in 2015) In dark abysmal nights, an infant – not more than a few minutes into the world was crying; crying for his mother who died giving birth to him. It weeps, cries, requests, prays for his mother, his little hands outstretched to be taken into her arms. The world trembles and wounded human hearts are trying what they may to comfort him. And yet who can take his mother’s place for an infant. Nothing could comfort him but the as yet unknown face attached to that womb which this far was his home. No, it weeps and continues to ask for his mother – his requests in his innocence are appeal to all, the whole universe, including, if he or they exist, your God or gods. You say pray, he is praying in as much his innocence allows him to. You say pray with all your heart and you will get, yet what other prayers were made with all one’s heart. You say you shall get what you deserve, then can you claim an infant’s right to his mother? You say ‘pray and you shall get if you come with clean hands. Can anyone else claim to

Worth Killing

(First written sometime in 2014) X:“it is the cost you have to pay, a sacrifice you have to make in order to save your beliefs. Y:“But they were innocents.” X:“So they were but you can’t help it if the belief of many will cost the lives of a few.” Y:“but they didn’t volunteer to do so.” X:“That’s doesn’t matter.” Y: (after some thinking)“Tell me something, how many people must believe in something, to make it worthwhile taking the life of one unwilling innocent?” X: “I don’t understand your question?” Y: (points to a little kid playing in the lawn) “Tell me something, if I was to suddenly start believing in a new God but that kid somehow threatens my belief merely by being there. Would it be okay for me to kill that kid?” X: “of course not, you could just be excusing yourself. The belief of one person isn’t it enough.” Y: “but if say ten people were to believe in this new god?” X: “No, of course not. Still not enough.” Y: “If say a hundred people were to believe, the idea of my personal type of god, would then it be okay to kill that kid against

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

The Musical Mirage

(A short story by Sidharth Vardhan First written on January 28, 2018) 1. No one has noticed it yet, that is except for Shradha herself but soon they all will. People will only notice it over time – as she will get more choosy with her dresses, want to see more movies etc but those will only be more visible symptoms of the giant change in her values – a change that needed only six hours starting from the beginning of the movie show that caused it. The cause of change – a Bollywood movie, and a mediocre romance at that, is going to be more shocking for those who have known her at all.

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