Sunday, June 11, 2006

Announcement: I am Moving Out!!

So, I’ve decided that I was finally tired of the Blogger/Blogspot platform and needed a change. If I was to continue blogging, I needed a better blogging platform that I didn’t get frustrated with all the time. So, here I am now… just barely moving into to http://ergosum.wordpress.com. I hope the Wordpress platform will prove to be a much user-friendly and enjoyable one to work with. The most wonderful feature of Wordpress I've encountered so far is its ability to import all my posts and comments from Blogger without any glitches. That has truly saved me endless hours of copy/pasting. However, now I'm in the process of categorizing all my previous posts - which is also another lovely feature that Wordpres offers. I believe it'll make it easier to dig up old posts based upon its categorical classification. This should also address the problem of "low-shelf life" that typically blog posts suffer from. Many of you might need to update your links and such. I doubt there should be any problem with your existing links to this site (http://ergosum.blogspot.com/) as I plan to keep it up and running also. I suppose any future links would need to be to my new site at Wordpress: http://ergosum.wordpress.com. All of your comments and suggestions regarding my latest move, the design, layout of this site, and any glitches or problems is most welcome. I’m still trying to figure out all the of complex features of this platform. I hope to keep blogging without too much interruption. Thank you for blogging along with me, and I hope to see you all there!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sean, Chantilli, Myself and Vodka at Tian's

Last Sunday, I met with an old friend of mine from high school days. He and I were boarders in a renowned Catholic school in Mumbai. We were in the same school from the 7th to the 10th grade, after which we graduated to junior college and went to different institutions. However, my years in the boarding school are still among the best years of my life. I enjoyed the life, the people, the friends, the curriculum, the teachers, the academic activities, the prestige of the school - everything. Life was truly an adventure everyday! Moreover, being that we were boarders living by ourselves there, I believe we each had a sense of being "grown-ups" in some ways. We tended to "look after" each other, talk about "life issues", think big, think independently, and think freely (in some cases). Anyway, so I was meeting someone who I've been friends with for over 10 years now. Even though after moving out of high school our lives took us to different places, we maintained contact occasionally, and prior to my moving to the United States, we even managed to hang out together often. Needless to say, it was an absolute delight to be able to see him again - this time, it was almost after 5 years! I was looking forward to Sunday evening… we met at the train station. Sean (his name) had suggested that we head over to a nearby "pub" (that's what they call bars here; very British); he had been there only once before but was impressed enough with it to try it one more time with me - Tian's at Juhu. We got into a rickshaw* -- these rickshaw drivers are extremely picky about where they wish to go, so it took us a while to find a driver willing to take us to the place we wanted to go. Along the way, and the whole evening really, our conversation flowed quite smoothly; mostly it was I who did all the blabbering. I guess I was overly excited that evening. I had good reasons: I was meeting Sean, and I was going to a bar for the first time in more than two months since I came to India! I was almost thirsting for some Vodka! It was such a heavenly delight to finally wet my lips with a ruby-red cocktail mix of Vodka and Cranberry juice! :) The bar was surprisingly nice: the ambience was mellow, rustic, almost Irish-like. They played oldies music - Richard Marx, Eagle's California, etc. It was a nice respite to listen to these long-forgotten songs… the sound level was just perfect for a conversation to occur without much effort, as well as to smoothly fill in those moments of transitory silence between sips of a drink or changes of conversation topics. Oh, and we actually started off with a glass of wine each. It was some Indian brand wine - Chantilli Merlot! Lol! :D It was not too bad… though it was incredibly thin, and lacking of any texture. But, I couldn't complain. Hey, I was at a bar, with a great companion, having alcohol! Sean suggested we also get some appetizer to munch on while we had our drinks. I agreed. Food always sounds like a good idea to me. However, the sheesh kebabs that we ordered weren't really that good. They were quite flavorless, actually. I did mention that to the attendant who made the mistake of asking me how I liked the food. I was honest, but polite - I think. Something I noticed about our conversations struck me as certainly worth noting. Given that he and I were high school buddies, we have had years of some very juvenile topics of conversation… like our 10th grade classes, exams and papers, our teachers, homework, gossip about friends, hardrock music bands, mystery novels, Agatha Christie, Hardy Boys, Stephen King, etc. This time, however, our topics were about our jobs, our careers, our goals in life, marriage (yes, marriage came up a quite a bit), bank accounts, financial processes, etc. I didn't happen to notice anything unusual about our conversation while they were happening… I just happened to note the fact later on as I reflected on the evening. It's not that I don't usually have these kinds of conversations with my other friends, but just that being that it was Sean, who I've known since I was much younger, talking to him specifically about such things really highlighted to me the stage of life we are in now. Of course, we talked about Ayn Rand. He had never heard of her, but mentioned that he vaguely remembered hearing about The Fountainhead. I said I would buy him the Atlas Shrugged. He protested slightly saying he could buy it himself. I said, no. I really wanted the pleasure of buying this book yet again, and offer it to him. Sean is a mostly reticent man; but he laughs gaily, with much innocence. And that is a very good thing. He is highly intelligent; loves reading, though he says he is losing the habit now because of his busy work schedules. He strikes me as a person who is utterly self-confident and secure, and because of it, he finds no need of making sure the other person realizes it. I like the fact that he doesn't play conversational games like refusing to answer you because he wants you to insist; or feigning anticipation and interest because he knows that what you want him to do. I don't do those things… and it was superbly delightful to talk with someone who followed a similar discipline. All in all, it was a delightful evening. As we both work all week (Mon - Sat), we decided to meet up again next Sunday - possibly for a movie or some such thing. I look forward to continuing our friendship. He is a rare man of honest integrity. It's nice to surround myself with such wonderful company. *rickshaw: an enclosed tricycle with a motor in the back. Also known as an "autorickshaw." Moves along at a top speed of about 30 miles an hour. Ubiquitous outside the downtown city area. Very cheap means of transportation.

Friday, June 02, 2006

God cannot be Perfect, but Man can!

Heroism is possible to man only because failure is a very real and constant threat. Bravery is possible to man only because there are instances that generate tremendous fear in man. Humans are heroes only in a metaphysic that permits the possibility of failure, success, loss, achievement, death, birth, danger, and security. Existentialists focus on the constancy of failure, and the reality of death, as corroborating their claim for the "fallen" nature of man. Modern philosophers and post-modern artists highlight human weaknesses and human imperfections as evidence of our fragile and corrupt nature. Death is the point of focus, and their philosophical direction is motivated by the death premise. Ayn Rand's sense of life, her art, and her philosophy showed that human perfection, human heroism, human greatness is a very real fact of reality, and its achievement is entirely possible in this world. Her premise is not death, but life. Death is nothing, it is not a state of being - for there is no "being" in death; it is not a state worthy of contemplation - for nothing cannot contemplate about nothingness; it is not anything that one can speak of, except in negative terms: death is the non-existence of a living being. Death is the end of life. Death is a reality that is no one can ever experience. Life is what living beings have to face everyday; therefore, a universal, objective, and life-sustaining code of principles is what living beings must have to develop in order to deal with the reality of their life in this world. Therefore, Rand's philosophy looks at man as a LIVING being. Her art, her philosophy, projects man as a being that sustain his life by interacting with this world, learning about it, mastering its laws, producing means of enhancing his living condition, establishing his intellectual and moral superiority, and rightfully claiming heroic status for a life well-lived. Heroism, perfection, greatness, are all qualities of men that can only be applicable in this world. Those who claim that humans are not like heroes in a fantasy novel, that humans can never achieve perfection because humans are inherently "fallen", have a corrupted notion of heroism and perfection. The cause and reason for that corruption are religious and altruistic philosophies that almost everyone has accepted as "universal truths about man". Heroism is not an attribute of an invincible, undefeatable, immortal Goliath. Perfection is not an attribute of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent God. Ascribing those attributes to such fantastical entities renders the concepts of heroism and perfection, utterly meaningless. For God to win a battle against the Devil is not a heroic feat. For God to never commit a sin is not a committment to perfection. God (if such an entity does exist) would require by its identity to be undefeatable, and incapable of sinning. Those are not his virtues, but his limitations. It is only to man - who can indeed fail, who can indeed commit mistakes, who can indeed die - that heroism and perfection properly apply; because only they who have a possibility of failure, can achieve heroic successes; only they who have the possibility of committing mistakes, can achieve remarkable perfection in their lives; only they who have the reality of death ahead of them, can experience the joy of living with every fiber of their being.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Leitmotif

Introducing: "LEITMOTIF" - the leading motive; a dominant, recurring theme. "The only obligation man has in life--regardless of whatever else he feels--is to act." (Atlas Shrugged). The dominant motive for one's actions, the motive that dictates his choices, implicate the kind of morality he lives by. Faith, whim, power-lust, emotion, reason -- these are types of leading motives -- the LEITMOTIF of one's life. I choose reason. That is my Leitmotif. I intend to have all my actions, as much as is under my conscious and immediate control, to be motived by my rational judgment. I did not come upon this decision only just now; it have held it implicitly for a long time now. I merely chose to make a public statement about it through my blog.

Rand on Racism

Thanks to Nicholas Provenzo for bringing Ayn Rand's definition of racism to the surface in the light of a recent attempt by the Seattle Public Schools to re-define racism. In her 1963 essay on racism, Ayn Rand said: "Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men." And more: "Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science." In the 2006 re-definition of racism, the Seattle Public School system says: "Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers." Do you think Rand had a tendency to overstate and exaggerate the influence of her opponents and their ideas?