Tag Archive for 'philosophy'

Dharma

I am a big believer in peaks and valleys. Sometimes my arc is rising, sometimes it’s falling. It is sort of like in Swingers how when one guy is riding high, the other guy is in the dumps. When Jon Favraeu’s character finally comes around, its Vince Vaughn who is eating shit. And just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. Life is never too busy to give you that last extra kick in the nuts.

And I mean that literally. As in my right ball hurts. I think it might be my Aeron chair and its lack of support in the crotchal region. Some might say, “Ewwww! Too much information!” To those people, I say a hearty “Fuck you.” What the fuck are you doing reading the obsessive rants of a prick so self involved he has his own blog anyway? Either love me, or leave me alone.

I also mean it figuratively. The fact of the matter is, everyone lets you down in the end. Including, without limitation, everyone you love, and everyone that loves you, even if those groups aren’t mutually exclusive (and they never are). Lawyers: sorry for that last bit about without limitation. I couldn’t resist. Only fucking lawyers talk like that.

Anywho, the only thing that cheered me up today was HBO’s The Flight of the Conchords. It is the funniest goddamned show I have seen in years. Even after I emptied my bladder I had to tie my cock in a knot just to keep from pissing myself with laughter. You can watch the first episode at HBO, here. The whole thing is brilliant, and though my favorite part is the first song, another scene made me laugh just as hard at myself:

“It’s just that I think she might be the one.”

“Sally?”

“Yah.”

“What makes you think that?”

“You just know. When it happens to you, you’ll know.”

“You said Michelle was the one.”

“Yah, she’s the one.”

“You said Claire was the one.”

“Yah, she’s another one.”

“So you get more than one one.”

“Some people are lucky, I’ve had a few ones.”

Anyway I’m out. Choke on my fucking brilliance.

From April showers to May flowers

So the last week has been incredibly busy but I’ve got a much improved outlook on life. I was in DC for the last few days, and it was an exhausting, but very rewarding trip. Throw in a barbecue, a visit to my terrific parents, and a few accomplishments at work, and I am riding pretty high!

Washington, DC is a great town. I was there my summer after freshman year as an intern for Senator Pete Domenici (NM). I loved it so much I went back my sophomore summer, and took any old job, just so I could be back in the city! This was the second time I’ve been back since then. It has changed a lot, and I had a blast. We then took the long train ride (but not long enough that a flight is more convenient) back up to New York and had a championship barbecue. Then it was off to the races – the drinking races that is. Guess what? Everybody won!

I am very much a believer that positive and negative energy of people around me has a profound impact, and my experience yesterday reinforced that belief. Here is what happened:

It being Mother’s Day yesterday, I was in a flower shop in Chelsea’s Flower District picking out an arrangement for my Mom. Of course she was going to love it and then immediately scold me for spending any money on her, but it makes me happy too, so I do it anyway.

Back to the flower shop. Obviously it was very busy there, and I patiently waited for one of the staff to free up so I could get some help picking flowers, since its not my forte. The girl waiting in line behind me, however, was anxious and fidgety, sighing loudly and muttering under her breath as to the slow service. When I finally was up to bat, she actually interrupted the employee and me and asked “Are you the only person working here?,” to which the employee answered politely but firmly, “No, there are others working here, but we are very busy, and if you cannot wait then I am sorry.” In other words, wait your turn or leave. The customer responded by huffing and puffing, saying “You didn’t answer my question,” etc., but the message was clear. Turns out the employee wasn’t an ordinary employee, but the wife of the owner, and she wasn’t taking crap from anybody. And I don’t blame her one bit for replying like that.

But the effect was immediate. On what should have been a happy day, anxiety and stress had won out, and gloom had entered like a fog. What bothered the employees (I’m sure) was that they were working hard and it was thankless. So I opened up with the assistant handling my arrangement by joking “Slow day, huh?” It lightened her mood and the other employee next to her. I continued about how I was surprised that it was so stressful here since it was a beautiful day and we were picking out beautiful flowers – and what could be stressful about that? I was kind and helped out the owner by handing her a box when everyone else was clearly occupied. I talked flowers and showed genuine interest in the arranger and her profession. The gestures worked, and suddenly everyone was in a better mood. Even the unhappy customer, who was within earshot, was calmer and was no longer acting annoyed (or annoying). Probably because even she knew any outward exhibition of her bad attitude would be amplified by my kind one.

In any case, I believe deeply that a rising tide lifts all ships, and even more reliably, a falling tide lowers them. I’ve had incessantly negative people in my life and learned that ultimately the only way is to let them go. I even believe that even when you are depressed, if you can trick yourself long enough into believing that you aren’t, you can squeak by just long enough for things to actually change for the better. And just as often, the perception becomes reality. Positive people are absolutely essential for my well-being.

What are your thoughts?

An unceremonious return.

My college buddies and I just got back from Rio de Janiero, and we are all depressed. Rio might be my favorite city. On our return, I half-joked: “New York sucks. It’s cold, its wet, and everyone here is fucking ugly.” Don’t get me wrong, I love New York. But sometimes, it feels a little….stale. You see the same people, and there is a real hostility, a real hatred, between people. I think New York really lacks a sense of community, so people can be and are horrible to each other here. While in the midst of being on the receiving end, I actually feel sad for the other person. But much later, I’m not just sad for that person, I’m disconsolate for the city that made that person. Traveling reminds me that not every place is like that. And Rio, like Costa Rica, and Iceland (the last few places I’ve been), is filled with warm, generous people.

Without really knowing it, I started to watch a movie about New York. The movie takes place right during the Great Blackout of 2003. Of course, everyone has their own Blackout story, and maybe another day I’ll tell mine. But everyone will tell you that it was one of those few days that you really felt any sense of community here. So in a way, it was one of the best things to ever happen in Manhattan. But back to the movie.

Now Shortbus is one seriously fucked up movie. But some moments are beautifully and brilliantly written. Some lines really resonated with me. Like: “9-11. It’s the only thing real that’s ever happened to them.” In a perfect arc, the movie begins with a recollection of an event that brought New Yorkers together for what felt like the first time ever, and ends with another event which had a similar effect. 9-11 was the day we mourned together, but the Blackout was the day we rejoiced together.

However, the part of the movie that had the most gravitas was the soliloquy by the ex-Mayor (played magnificently by Alan Mandell). I’ll excerpt it here:

But you know what’s the most wonderful thing about New York?…New Yorkers are…permeable…Therefore we’re sane. Consequently, we’re the target of the impermeable. And the insane. And of course, New York is where everyone comes to be forgiven. What have you done wrong? Tell me, how have you sinned? I’m sure it’s nothing serious.

How would you know?

Well, I’m– I’m sure you did your best. Imagine if you grew up here like I did. Home can be very unforgiving.

On that note, here are some of my favorite pictures from Rio. From the angle, it looks like he is hovering in the clouds. Click to open them.

jesus3.jpgjesus1.jpgjesus2.jpg

Lucid Dreaming with Haruki Murakami

I recently finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. I thought it was a very easy, pleasant read. Towards the end it started to get a little too Yamazaki-surreal on me, but other than that I enjoyed it very much. The story was peppered with random graphic sexuality, much like Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

But what really struck me about the book is how much of an effect it started to have on me. Specifically, how this book triggered vivid and lucid dreams.

Like many others, I first started toying with lucid dreams after seeing the brilliant Waking Life. In what is probably Richard Linklater’s best film, a kid travels in and out of his dreams, plays with existentialism, and asks the important question: are we mere spectators in our dreams or can we control them? This is the premise behind Lucid Dreaming, the idea that you can become self-aware in a state of dreaming, and ultimately control the events that occur in your dreams. After seeing the film in 2002, I set to initiate lucid dreaming without much luck. I couldn’t even turn on a light switch in my dreams, which is one of the interesting tests Waking Life suggests. The best I could do was realize that I was in a dream right before I woke up. My conscious brain wanted to take over the moment it realized it was not in control.

Vivid dreams are slightly different. Vivid dreams occur during REM sleep. Various drugs have been associated with vivid dreaming. Others insist herbal and natural ingredients can induce vivid dreaming. In any event, it is different than lucid dreaming in that you are not necessarily in conscious control of your actions or the actions of others in the dream. I would think that most people have experienced vivid dreams at some point in their life.

In any event, while reading Kafka on the Shore, I started experiencing vivid dreams, and when I realized this, tried as hard as I could to actively control them. I had fleeting moments of control, but nothing like complete control. After experiencing more than 5 vivid dreams while reading the book, I wanted to find out if others have had a similar experience. And of course, they have! I found at least eight places that either directly or indirectly linked vivid or uncommon dreams to Kafka on the Shore. Link1, Link2, Link3, Link4, Link5, Link6, Link7, Link8.

What is it about this book that stimulates vivid dreaming? Is it the intersection of plots both surreal and ordinary? I’m not sure, but I would love to hear if anyone else out there has been able to attribute vivid or lucid dreams to having read this book.

Your Time is Gonna Come

Every day I wake up with a new song in my head. It usually presents in the shower or on my walk to the subway to work. Sometimes it’s a song I heard last night or last week, but sometimes, it’s a song I haven’t heard in years. Well, today that song was one I haven’t heard in years. On the other hand, it is arguably one of the greatest songs of all time. The song was “Your Time is Gonna Come,” by Led Zeppelin. I could hear all the lyrics in my head too, because I first heard the song in my teens, back when music was really important.

It’s weird that this particular song was in my head, because on my way to pick up lunch I was crossing the street in the way of a cab which had stopped but then decided it wanted to move forward again. True, I was jaywalking, but who doesn’t in New York, and after all, he stopped. Anyway, the guy honked and I gave him a scowl. He then yelled out my race (Indian), as if that was some kind of epithet. I casually gave him the New York Salute and walked on.

Coincidence?

Evolution, Revolution

September 11. War in Iraq and Afghanistan, spilled over now to Israel and Lebanon. Guantanamo. Confirmed global warming. Darfur. North Korean long range missle tests. Pakistani sanctioned and/or supported large-scale terrorist attacks in India over Kashmir. More recently, North and South Korea exchanging gunfire. Transfer of power in Cuba. Mobilization of the Syrian military.

Make no mistake. We are participating in a pivotal moment in history.

I was thinking about the fact (not theory) of evolution. Many scientists concur that evolution takes place in rapid bursts rather than gradually. This concept is known as punctuated equilibrium. I am starting to believe that this evolutionary model can be applied to humanity and its history.

The rise and fall of Greece and Rome. The advent of Christianity. The development of movable type and the printing press. The Enlightenment. The invention of gunpowder and the atom bomb. The airplane. The computer. The First and Second World Wars. The moon landing. And soon, the culmination of genetic research.

I think that people who lived during the Second World War recognized at that moment that history was being made and that they wanted to be part of that. So too did those in the 1960’s witnessing the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the assasinations of Kennedy and King realize that they were participants in a rapid burst of history. And they did participate.

And I think we are either in such a period right now, or fast approaching one. And if it is not already here, it will approach faster than ever before, because ideas travel faster now than ever before in human history.

You’ve also heard that history repeats itself or that history is cyclical. You find this concept touted by economists as well as political scientists. I think its telling that the secondary definition of revolution is “a sudden, radical, or complete change.” What is the primary definiton? “a progressive motion of a body around an axis so that any line of the body parallel to the axis returns to its initial position.” In other words, a cycle.

We are in a moment in time that will one day get its own chapter in history books. So what are you doing to be at the right place at the right time when history strikes?