Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Someone I know had this written about was quite amusing that he became the subject of some literary examination...

Almost a year ago, on another network called Shakespeare and Company, a strange person made his debut: Akira Yamashita. Akira-san claimed to be a Japanese Koto player, with an interest in writing poetry. He was received warmly by the network. A few weeks later, however, he put up this startling post:

Some of you may recall that several weeks ago, I fell a victim to Fugo fish poisoning. I was hospitalized in a Sapporo hospital and fed activated charcoal as part of the treatment. Time stood still.

It was a period of intense soul searching. I had visions. I spoke to God and several doctors and nurses. As a side effect of the poisoning, I lost the ability to converse in Japanese and now speak English with a pronounced Angolan accent. Not being able to speak Japanese in Japan despite being Japanese has certain disadvantages and I am now looking to emigrate. In any case, I discarded Koto playing and now play the Sitar, which affords a deep sense of meditative pleasure. I find I cannot tolerate Japanese food either and prefer the more charming Idli and Dosa from South India, despite having never visited India. And I never want to write a haiku again. Never. Ever.

The strange case of Akira Yamashita – a persona that continues to grow, change and became an independent narrative – is one way of dealing with the problem of personality in an impersonal space. With self-deprecation and humour, Akira-san constantly subverts and at the same time, draws attention to some aspects of our behaviour online. In this post, he has raised the issue of identity: What kind of a Japanese man wakes up to find he speaks English with an Angolan accent and wants to emigrate to south India? Which part of this narrative is real and what does that word mean anyway?

Another member of the same network, David Israel, had this to say when it became apparent that Akira-san was a fiction:

Is this, rather, a question of fictional persona-construction as lying close to the imagination-generating heart of his poetical creativity? Or if one is to essay the writing of haiku per se, does this fairly necessitate constructing a Japanese persona who may then do the writing? -- if one is to write from the vantage of a Black American, does this call for the formulation of a personality who can justify such a literary exertion?

Is [this person] radically different from any significant poet who, perforce, constructs a "self who can speak" in the very process of speaking?

Akira Yamashita is a story that magically transforms our ideas of ourselves in an online space. We are forced to question the stories we tell about ourselves, our identities as writers and our identities as speakers in the stories we tell. He is a mirror held up to us; if we are conscious of absurdity in his posturing, it is a timely reminder to us to examine our motivations and our stances online.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

P D James again

I regret that I learned about her so late. I am astonished at her elegance. Extremely subtle thoughts are expressed in a few simple words of such depth that I am blown away. Examples:

"There had been kindness, affection, tolerance and understanding, but those were the common currency of all the well intentioned. Had he, during the course of his ministry, changed a single life?"

"The light fell on a face of grave and astounding beauty and he experienced an emotion that now came rarely, a physical jolt of astonishment and affirmation."

Having a great vocabulary does not mean mastery of a language - it is the spare usage of words and their precise introduction that makes a difference.

The mystery of dogs

Rani's passing on hit us severely. Its easy to acquire a pup and make it happy, but taking in an old dog that must have been treated badly and then allaying her fears is something else. We learned a lot in the two years Rani lived with us. I learned to interpret her barks and moods. I knew when she was calling me to help her or was angry about something. I regret some moments of impatience when she wanted something and I was on the phone or busy elsewhere. Nevertheless, we have to move on.

A couple of months ago, another interesting vagrant moved in. A terrier called Scotty with a tremendous attitude. A truly attractive dog with an extraordinary personality - photos later with long white hair with a light brown saddle and bangs over his eyes. A single bark has a decibel level intended to crack open your skull. He is impervious to commands and declines to listen to remonstrations that he get off the couch. He does whatever he wants. NOTHING is acceptable to him - a dog outside, a strange voice or noise, a squirrel running about in a jungle in Madagascar. His walk is like a ballerina and he has enormous strength though he hardly eats. If he wants to be scratched, he gets it and there's nothing I can do but obey!

The dogs react to the presence of a person at the gate in an interesting way even though they cannot see the gate. A known person clanging on the gate gets no response - they continue snoozing. An unknown person opening the gate gets a loud volley of head-splitting barks. HOW DO THEY KNOW??

But less about that - the area I live is full of dog lovers. Strays abound. In the market areas, there is a shopkeeper who has kept his personal comfort aside and maintains a family of dogs who come and go as they please. He has a TV. Everyone stands and watches as the dogs lie about everywhere, including seats and occasionally ON him, when he's snoozing. Dogs KNOW. No irrational fear of diseases, 'will he bite', 'dogs are dirty!' etc.

My house under construction is full of stray dogs who are not concerned if I stroll in and out inspecting things. They may look up in a bored way "Oh its you..." and go right back to sleep. I think they are advanced creatures with a well developed sixth sense.

I think they are truly evolved. I think I'd do a dog test to evaluate interviewees - how they react will tell me what I would need time and experience to conclude upon.....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rani passes on

Our beloved German Shepherd Rani passed on to final peace this morning after much suffering. I shall always owe her for her blessings. We shall never be the same. Sleep for ever, loved one.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Goa & construction

Bridge to the sea
Beachside shack

Random pictures from Goa and more of our house under construction

Mendrem Beach
Scooter ride preparation
Cabo de Rama
Bay inlet Cabo de Rama
Ferry to Cavalesimo
16th century old church
Church at Old Goa
Colva Beach

Cannon at Cabo de Rama