Saturday, January 19, 2008

At the Asiatic

Following are some of the pictures that I took at the Asiatic Town Hall, Mumbai

God is dead

This startling philosophy (and to a God-fearing person like me, this is almost blasphemous) is one of the pillar stones of the ground breaking and surprisingly insightful work by German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Since having watched the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ where the brother character is heavily influenced by Nietzsche, I was interested in finding out about him and when I did I couldn’t help but be quite impressed by it.

Take a look at some of his ideas:

The basic one ‘God is dead’

Since Nietzsche’s work is open to multiple interpretations, none of which can claim to be a thoroughly accurate version of what he intended to say, this particular line could be interpreted in many ways. One is the obvious – Nietzsche with his love for ‘aphorisms’ and his ‘Anti-Christ’ polemics could have meant that God is literally dead. But scholars believe that it could mean that the universal view-point is lost. No one views an issue with the ‘big-picture’ mentality any more; every one has their own selfish, narrow-minded outlook towards issues and its resolution is done only for the benefit of oneself; not for the universal good of the society or the world as a whole. No wonder we have so many wars, genocides and hate-crimes. None of us really think of what we are doing to the world; all we are bothered about are our own short-term, thoughtless and self-centric goals. So true!

The will to power

In Nietzsche’s opinion, this will to power is the prime motivation for all our actions and ambitions; contrary to the belief that ‘will to live’ or ‘will to unite with good/God’ or even ‘will to be happy’ could be the motivating factors and I totally agree with him. Nothing motivates like will to dominate; the will to have power, honor & glory. Else why would we be risking our lives, our reputation and many a times the savings of a lifetime for that one elusive prize? Power is all that we seek. And that’s what keeps most of us going, consciously or sub-consciously. So if you think you are not one of those in the rat race for power and authority, think again….you just might realize the painful truth about yourself.

Eternal Recurrences

This one actually takes the whole Hindu philosophy of ‘reincarnation’ to a whole new level. Nietzsche’s idea of ‘eternal recurrences’ is interpreted as the possibility of all of us having to live this same life eternally, time after time and all the reason why we should live it in the most vital way we can.

Now I am not completely convinced that we have the same life over and over again but I do believe that we must live it in the best way we can. And not because we will need to repeat the same again in the next life but because I don’t think we will get the same chances again ever. So actually while agreeing somewhat with Nietzsche on this, I have to partially disagree too. But all said and done, what I am most awed by are Nietzsche’s originality and courage in taking a firm, anti-Christian stand against the reigning beliefs and the philosophies of acknowledged heavy – weights like Plato, Socrates, Kant and Schopenhauer. Man, what guts!!

The irony of his whole life was that it seems that the cause of his death was supposedly ‘his disillusionment and mental maladjustment with his own philosophies’…

Fly me to the moon

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among with stars
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby kiss me

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you

Could the art of speaking your heart out get any cuter and charmingly disarming than this? That’s the magic of Frank Sinatra and his eternally imitation-worthy poetry of love and life. But just the words aren’t enough. You have to listen to the voice behind this; classic, sexy, gentlemanly and so…so alluring….it is almost magical..

Frank Sinatra, the ‘greatest entertainer of the 20th century’; what a voice, what a talent! His songs 'The way you look tonight', 'Night & Day' etc. are a crash course in how to cast a spell on women.

I, for one, am already on my flight to the moon...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A little less conversation…

‘….A little more action please’, Elvis Presley’s immortal lines from one of the most popular songs of all the times. Remixed as JXL feat Elvis Presley, this chart-topping hit is one of the greatest dance numbers and personally a huge favorite. Is also heard as the background score for the smart, witty and clever ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. But more than its racy beats, its foot-tapping rhythm, it is the sound of Elvis Presley’s voice that’s hypnotic, especially when he says, “Come on baby, I am tired of talking…Grab your coat, let’s start walking”. Elvis Presley: the rebel, the enigma, the charisma, the controversy, the magnetic stage personality, the style that provoked a trillion impersonations and a smoldering sensation that ignited a million musical ambitions.

Elvis’ life and times are the stuff that makes legendary folklore. Through personal setbacks and destructive exploitations of his musical genius, he continued making music that still rocks the charts and keeps him at the No. 1 spot of the highest earning deceased celebrities. It is no wonder that Elvis pulls off this astonishing stunt posthumously year after year because he has spent a lifetime inventing the shocking and achieving the extraordinary; his on stage-antics (a.k.a “anit-Christian, sexually provoking” dance moves) had the conservative Church authorities condemning and banning him, his introduction of the so-called Black music into the mainstream line was disturbingly original, he was the first real popstar with his electrifying movements, the trademark white costume, white shoes, fashionably large glasses mesmerizing overbooked concert stadiums and flooring young and old alike, he defied convention to put rock-and-roll and blues together, he entertained audiences with a fervor and vigor that was considered vulgar and almost superhuman, his love life was hyped and discussed and contemplated about yet in his own confession it was singularly non-existent, he was the subject of the greatest ridicule, criticism and polemics ever written and also the object of everyone’s overwhelming love, undying admiration and blind devotion. Elvis was in short, one for all, all for one.

While listening to his music, I found that his voice had an unusual quality of sounding tender, strong, booming, low-key, playful, sad, loving, condemning each at different times; sometimes sounding all of these at one go. Listen to the shivering “Fever” sung with a minimal musical accompaniment that makes you wanna feel love as ‘a lovely way to burn’ and the classic, drenched-in-honey love anthem “Can’t help falling in love with you”, sung with such deep, surreal passion that it melts the strongest defenses of your heart. From the rebellious, fun-filled “Jailhouse Rock” to the lifting gospel “Amazing grace”, from the heartfelt, genuinely warm “Sweet home Alabama” to the emotionally engaging, heart rendering and defiant “I did it my way”; Elvis’ unmistakable voice reigns supreme. In today’s world of synthesized sounds and oft- indistinguishable voices and strains, an Elvis oldie will stand out as strikingly different and instantly recognizable due to its sheer style and vocal quality.

His gradual decline into drugs and uncontrollable obesity (the videos of some of his last concerts show him as being sick and unable to perform but still holding on is heart breaking to watch them) became a media spectacle for ridicule and speculation and his untimely death was an inconceivable shock (some fanatics believe he is still alive and the person who was buried was his twin brother…there are many such theories) but what live on are the legacy of his timeless music and his indelible charming impressions as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

Elvis, to me you are the original rockstar, everyone else is just a derivative. For the world of music, you might have checked-out of the building but you can never truly leave. ‘The wonder of you’ will always stay alive…I love you dude, you rock!!