The Kitchen Vedantist

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The Life of a Word

Not sure if someone has said this before: “writing to me is like a snake shedding its skin. I move on and the thought is no longer part of me”. This is how I have often felt- at least during my early writing experience. There is a certain kind of re-emergence happening.

There is a difference though. The skin the snake sheds is a lifeless thing. It just lies there. One need not elaborate on the power of the word. All the great literature of the world, all the oratory stand testimony to that.

Isn’t it strange, the power a word has? What is a word after all? A word is just a symbol of an object or a thought. It is a mere carrier, without mass. Except when written, a word doesn’t require space either.

Is it energy or life a word has? Is a word like a knife thrown or a bullet shot? Perhaps. Except, the path of a knife or bullet is fairly predictable. In the hand of a good marksman it finds its target. Else, the path is still a simple curve. Not so with the word. Even the most expert writer or orator cannot chart the course a word takes.

Maybe a word is a living thing. It feeds on emotions and needs. Perhaps it is akin to a virus- once thrown out, it lies dormant and acquires full life only when it finds another live thing. And then it all depends on how the host is wired.

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September 1, 2010 Posted by | communication, consciousness, philosophy, self expression, talk, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Trapped

An image of the demon Stolas

Image via Wikipedia

The day has caught fever, the house

Is the hungry, open mouth of a demon;

Across the yard a giant red hibiscus

Is giving the evil eye

The wind, with undisguised malice, warns

Sky may cave in any moment now.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lost in Transmission

Statue of Confucius on Chongming Island in Sha...

Image via Wikipedia

A recent conversation about the nature of communication has left me wondering. The guy, someone whose views and judgment I value a lot, was going to meet his friends from schooltime, and I asked “Can you still connect with them?”. He said , “I speak to them in my own way”. He continued that no matter who your correspondent is, they’ll make what they want out of your words. I can readily see the point…our interpretation of someone’s words and deeds is tempered by our own attitudes, experiences and state of mind at that point in time. But doesn’t that make each human an island unto himself? If total communication were not possible, why this irresistible instinct for self expression that only the great silent ones (munis) could overcome? Why this need to be understood?

On the other hand, is this such a one-sided need? Don’t we all at times want to get inside someone’s head, see and experience things as they do? What of that saying “to know someone is to love them”? Why do we buy books and art? Why do great works of art and literature appeal to people divided by centuries and vast geographical expanses? Where lies the universal and where the individual?

These thoughts remind me of a quest in an entirely different field. I just can’t stop marveling about the delightfully thought provoking Edge essay by neuroscientist V S Ramachandran about mirror neurons. Call it empathy, call it collective subconscious, there indeed seems to be some kind of overlapping of minds/experience/consciousness.

Coming back to the munis, is silence the ultimate desirable? Did they withdraw into silence because they realized experience can never be expressed in words? Is it the ultimate victory when one overcomes the need for self expression? If so, have I fallen from grace by starting this blog?

August 25, 2010 Posted by | communication, culture, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Living with Compromise

Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati playing chaupar

Image via Wikipedia

I guess I’ll feel better after writing this.Try looking at it standing where I am.

So here I’m, desperately combating senility, on my nth effort to start a blog and get it going. Finally, I think I have found stuff I’ll be able to write regularly- or at least randomly-about. Finally I think I would be able to play audio from my blog without having to turn it into a video file, something I’ve wanted for a long time. Now I can happily start posting away to my share of cyber immortality.But wait, what about the title? Child’s play to the more imaginative blogger, but not so to someone as verbally challenged as me. Sure, stuff that sounded nice to the ears did pop up, but nothing that connects with the nature of my ramblings. Much brainstorming later, I find something that made sense and sounded good too.

Climax-anticlimax if you will- now. That title I thought fitted my blog to a T, even as Parvati and Siv, word and meaning, is taken. Taken- like it happens for men who’re rich, handsome, not gay and not too shy.

But why? Here it is. The Kitchen Philosopher. Woe upon me, I can’t see the connection between title and content. Can you? Too late, anyway.

Now what’s THIS BLOG to do with kitchen or vedanta, you may ask. No connection with kitchen or vedanta per se. Kitchen vedanta is the translation of a Malayalam word ‘adukkalavedantam’ (adukkkala= kitchen) coined before the time of women empowerment and politically correct speech.

So that’s where it fits. No more than ramblings about books, music, life- could be anything as long as it is strictly impractical.

Come to think of it, I shouldn’t really feel bad about this. Someone else thought this was a good title too. And the guy has got style- I must give it to him. But god, what two unlike people to think up the same title!

August 20, 2010 Posted by | humor, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments