Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Streams of Thought

Two streams of thought in my head:


Devendra Banhart, an artist, said,  "I hate irony. This is a cynical time, everything is a joke. Love, Peace, Strength, Beauty, Divinity – all jokes to people. It's the Darkages".

Where do I stand in this post-modern time. I lean towards Banhart's views. But really, a cynic is just an idealist who was disappointed. The line is fine and hence the distinction, while important perhaps for self-understanding, is not altogether distant.


I came across this quote by Krishnamurti while researching something else entirely and I am not familiar with him at this moment. This quote however is interesting in its comparison to a very familiar circumstance in many people's lives and academic matters, that of the solution itself seeping into being a part of the problem. 

Approximately, I am talking in the same vein as I wrote this post called "A Sub-Conscious Trap" here at dandibiyo, some time ago.

Krishnamurti said, "Thought has separated itself as the analyzer and the thing to be analyzed; they are both parts of thought playing tricks upon itself. In doing all this it is refusing to examine the unconscious fears; it brings in time as a means of escaping fear and yet at the same time sustains fear."

Four lines, yet these words are a Concorde to my bicycle. Or are they? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


When there's a lot of possessions, does it make sense to pare down? The question cannot be answered without context. A simple "yes" or "no" will mislead you. One could have a lot of needs that need those possessions, in which case you would answer "no". One could be an absolute hoarder, in which you would answer a resounding "yes".

When there's a lot, and you know, you have too much, does it make sense to pare down? Well, "yes".
However, there's still a catch. What do you pare down? How do you decide if two dressers are not necessary, or those white pants that you bought from Gap, one day because you thought you would wear a white suit some day and it cost only $3 should not be kept. There is always a chance that you need something. How do you decide to take that chance regardless? It gets fuzzy. People get creative, it seems. There's some famous people (on the internet) who store those possessions for a couple of months and if they have not been taken out at all, it is decided that you don't actually use it. It is disposed of, to charity, or sold or just given away. It's a good strategy. Still, though, what works with clothes, won't work with some electronics, or books, or natural disasters. It gets fuzzy.

It can only get as fuzzy though as your mind is fuzzy. That's a very obvious statement. However, how do you make it less fuzzy, it being your mind and its decision making prowess, a superpower in some circles? The answer is through deliberate practice and meditation. It's a long and winding road of plateaus, lakes, mountains, amazing and maybe terrible scenery. The road itself could be a terrible metaphor. Where would you be going if it's stated that all is in you as all is in me (Namaste)?

If there is no road, where would a traveler even go? There is nowhere to travel to. Since we are asking these questions, who is this traveler? Is he even there? Does he exist? I pinch myself. I exist. Do you exist? I wave at you and you smile back. You exist. Where should we go? Maybe the question is not one of "should" but one of "could"? That could be dangerous. It's probably a mixture of "should" and "could".

Let's just go, though. to the inside or the outside.
You can wear that "khasto" that keeps you warm. Its pashmina grazing you in the fresh air from the Himals. I will wear my Navy-blue jacket, that I fancy makes me looks like a stylish Navy guy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The making of Nevermind

The Nevermind Recording Sessions
   Peter Henderson, May 1998

It took seven weeks and countless arguments about producers, mixing and fakery. Butch Vig tells Peter Henderson the story behind Nirvana's breakthrough album.
Nirvana were a promising live act in early 1990, but Sub Pop boss Jonathan Poneman had bigger plans: "They're going to be bigger than The Beatles," he insisted to the producer he was trying to secure for their second album. Butch Vig had attracted Poneman's attention via his production work for punk labels Twin Tone, Touch And Go and Mammoth; his Sub Pop recordings included work with Tad and Smashing Pumpkins.
In any event, Poneman's proclamation was unnecessary. Vig had heard Bleach, Nirvana's debut album: "I loved some of the stuff on there, particularly About A Girl because it had such a pop element to it - it could have been a John Lennon song." Without hearing any demos of new material, Vig agreed to work with the band, joining them at Smart studios in Madison, Wisconsin in April 1990. By now, guitarist Jason Everman, who had helped bankroll Bleach but had not actually played on the album, had departed in November 1989, initially to join Soundgarden; hence the band was now a three-piece, with Kurt Cobain on guitar and vocals, Chris Novoselic on bass, and Chad Channing on drums. Where Bleach was recorded in around 30 hours, with a studio bill totalling $606.17, the intended Sub Pop follow-up seemed a luxuriously leisurely affair. Over eight days they recorded seven tracks. "The first thing I noticed was that Kurt's songwriting was a lot better," says Vig. "The songs were very focused. What impressed me most is how hooky they were; Kurt thought of them as pop songs." The seven tracks were Lithium, Dive, In Bloom, Imodium, Pay To Play, Sappy and Polly. Vig considered the sessions successful, bar some problems with the rhythm tracks: "They struggled recording some of them, which did cause tension between Kurt and Chad."
Channing's light, jazzy touch had always been a cause of friction; after seeing hardcore band Scream with friends The Melvins in San Francisco, Cobain and Novoselic saw a promising replacement in their drummer Dave Grohl. Invited to Seattle for an audition in the summer, Grohl arrived with his drums in a cardboard box, and after playing together for a couple of minutes, Chris and Kurt decided the dynamic, hard-hitting drummer was exactly what they needed. By now, tracks that had been recorded for commercial release on Sub Pop were circulating major record labels as a demo tape in search of a big money deal - and the majors were biting. On April 30, 1991, Geffen secured its victory with a $287,000 advance, and above-average royalty deal. The necessary buyout from Sub Pop was achieved with $75,000- the band contributed half the sum - plus a two per cent royalty on their next two albums.
Geffen, keen to use an established producer, decided that the entire album should be re-recorded, suggesting Scott Litt (R.E.M.), David Briggs (Neil Young) and Don Dixon as contenders. The band pushed for Vig, and at one point a compromise, with Dixon producing and Vig engineering, was broached. "I had just finished Gish with the Smashing Pumpkins and a lot of people liked it, but Geffen didn't really know me," Vig explains. "I knew Don Dixon and I thought it might work well, but Don couldn't do it for contractual or scheduling reasons. So at the eleventh hour, a week before we were going to start, they said, 'Can you do the record?'"
Before the sessions proper, Vig and the band spent around five days fine-tuning arrangements. Cobain wanted merely to run through the songs a few times as he was more interested in catching the moment than making sure the song was perfect. "We did some arranging in the rehearsal room," says Vig. "Teen Spirit was quite a lot longer, for instance. Most of the songs were fine the way they were. With some it was just a question of tightening things up if they were too long."
The rehearsal sessions were the first time that Vig had heard Grohl's drumming. Told by Kurt that the band had secured the drummer of their dreams, Vig could only agree: "Grohl is incredibly loud and rock solid. One of the best rock drummers I've ever worked with."
In May 1991, recording proper commenced at Sound City studios (previous clients included Tom Petty) in Van Nuys, California; total budget was $65,000. Its large recording area was a key point in its favour. "I'm a drummer so I'm very particular about drum sounds," Vig observes. "The studio had a great big tracking room, which would help us get a good live drum sound."
The band's intention was that the album's sound should faithfully replicate their live show; hence Vig recorded them as a live three-piece, adding guitars and redoing the vocals later on. This presented a technical problem: an ambient mic, needed to record a 'live' drum sound at a distance, would also pick up the other instruments. "The drums were in the centre of the room with Kurt off to one side and Chris off to the other. So we could use an ambient mic in the kick [bass] drum, we built this 'drum tunnel', made of bass drum cases glued together, which came out about eight feet into the room. It worked really well."
The band's new rhythm section meshed perfectly, completing the backing tracks in five or six days. The band would typically start around two in the afternoon. If recording proved stressful, they'd leapfrog their mental blocks by roaring through old songs by Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper. After the day's work, vigorous relaxation was normally on the cards. "Dave was really enthusiastic the whole time," says Vig. "Chris liked to goof around more and drink Jack Daniel's. He got into trouble on a few occasions. One night he had drunk a lot of Jack Daniel's and they went to some show via Laurel Canyon and got stopped because he was swerving around with the van. He ended up in jail and Kurt and Dave ended up walking home seven miles. When I came in the next day there was no sign of them. His management bailed him out 16 hours later,"
Vig found Cobain harder to read. "Kurt was very moody. I knew that from the Smart studio sessions. He was very difficult to figure out because he could be in an elated mood, ready to play, then half an hour later he'd just sit in a corner and not say anything to anybody. Sometimes it would bring the session to a halt. He would be totally uncommunicative."
The method of recording the guitars triggered disagreements. Kurt wanted to keep to the punk ethic and play only one take while Vig favoured layering the guitars with different sounds. "For the most part, when I asked him to do stuff he'd eventually do it," says Vig. "But sometimes he would say, 'I'm not going to play that any more.'
"Kurt played a left-handed Mosrite a lot. He had a Mesa Boogie amp, and we rented a Fender Bassman, a Vox AC3O and a Marshall stack which we didn't really use.
"I found out right away that Kurt didn't like to sing a lot. I would record him warming up and if I was lucky I would get three more takes out of him. He likes to slur the words and sometimes it took me several passes to figure out what he was singing. But that's part of what made his singing special. He gave those words some magic, in that you don't always know what he was saying. I would then pick one as the best and then take certain bits from the other tracks. That was it. He was that good."
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Butch Vig: "The first time I heard Teen Spirit it stunned me. I hadn't seen them play with Dave before- it was in this big room and it was really loud."
Vig: "In Bloom has that amazing chorus - an amazing hook. The arrangement is the same as on the demo, except none of us was very happy with the drums."
Kurt Cobain's message to his disenfranchised audience was simple: he would accept them as they were, and he offered them no threat. His lyrics were more or less complete by the time Vig first heard the song, recorded in a rehearsal on an old boom box. Vig: "The backing track was very quick. We actually triple-tracked the bass: a regular bass, then Chris played an octave bass, then he tuned the bass strangely and ran it through a DBX sub-harmonic effect. We were trying to make the bass sound like a 12-string."
Vig: "The song starts with a really scratchy guitar. That's where Kurt plugged straight into the mixing desk, a really punk thing."
Vig: "Lithium was a problem. It was a really long day"   Lithium is prescribed to regulate mood swings for bipolar or manic depressives; Cobain used the title as a religious analogy, probably inspired by his stay with his friend Jesse Reed, whose parents were born-again Christians.
Vig: "Polly was the last thing we did at Smart and it was recorded really raw, late at night. Not too much thought went into it. Kurt just wanted to record the track at that moment. He played the song and sang it at the same time, just acoustic guitar and voice."
Vig: "That's Chris singing at the front. I think I suggested we should put something kind of odd in there. So he went in and sung a little bit of The Youngbloods' Get Together. Kurt asked him to sing it 'joyously terrible'. The guitar was DI'd [directly injected] straight into the board, like many punk bands of the '70s and early '80s."
Vig: "This took time. We originally had some different parts in the middle." Drain You is essentially a conventional love song with the unconventional subject of two babies lying in a hospital bed; the title refers to how each will drain the other of infection.
Vig: "We struggled a bit on this one. Five or six takes. We changed a few of the fills. Kurt plays this through the AC3O and then added some Bassman guitars when the guitar picks up. I love the melodic hook on this. A very quick vocal."
Vig: "We already knew this as Pay To Play from Smart. The line he says on the end, 'God is gay', which we thought was extremely funny, caused a fair amount of controversy when it came out among the right-wingers, who held it up as an example of why music should be censored."
Vig: "A great pop song. A really new one. It took a few takes to get it."
Vig: "This was written just a week before recording and was by far the most difficult track to record. We spent most of a day trying to record it as a band, working out different drum parts. Kurt came into the control room and said, 'I can't get into this at all.' I said, 'How do you hear it then?' and he sat down on the couch and was hardly mumbling the vocal, playing the guitar so quietly. So I said, 'Everybody shut up,' turned the fans and everything off and brought a couple of mics into the control room. He kind of laid on the couch and I gave him an acoustic mic and a vocal mic and he recorded it in the control room. Then he put the harmonies on and we went back and did the bass, which Chris found very hard. We then recorded the drums in studio B. It almost killed Dave to play so quietly.
Vig: "Lithium took quite a while. It was a long day and Kurt became very frustrated, and after we finally got a take, they launched into Endless Nameless and Kurt fucking went ballistic. He was screaming so hard I swore to God he had blown his vocal cords out and in the middle of it he smashed his guitar up. It was the only left-handed Mosrite he had but he was so pissed off that he didn't care. He went back in and screamed some more. We spent the next day going round LA trying to track down another left-handed Mosrite." | all documents, unless otherwise noted, © 2002 | Contact webmaster

Kurt himself explained the song as the band's attempt to match the Pixies, describing the central guitar riff as "really stupid", a cross between Louie Louie and Boston's More Than A Feeling. Yet for all the guitar's muscle, it was the progression in the vocal melody that gave the song much of its dynamic force; this progression was worked up in rehearsal: "Kurt said before playing it, 'I don't know where I should go with this vocal melody'," Vig explains. "He was strumming an acoustic guitar and played me two melodies. I said, I like it when you drop down low because there is more of a dichotomy of notes in the verse."
Hence the "here we are now, entertain us" melody (the lyric taken from Kurt's habitual opening line at parties) became defined as the song's hook, and a classic was born: "They launched into it as a band and it just roared. I got up and started pacing round the room. It was so incredibly powerful and I had them play it as much as I could get away with. We knew it was great - it's like an anti-anthem - and a week after recording it I suggested that it should be the lead-off track, that it should set the tone for this record."
One of the first tracks to be recorded, Teen Spirit was fuelled by an argument between Cobain and Grohl - "for some reason Kurt really got on Dave's case and pissed him off" - following which Grohl "totally flailed" and drove the band on to a definitive take. Kurt needed considerable persuasion to layer the guitar sound, but the vocal was captured with comparative ease. "We were lucky with the vocal - I kept the warm-up and he did three other takes. Then I spent a lot of time doing a comp[osite] version; each verse has a different feel to it but it also needed a certain continuity to it. The 'hello, hello' and the choruses are double-tracked. Kurt's voice sounds great double-tracked."
The title came from a night when Kurt and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna went out drinking and spray-painting revolutionary slogans around Olympia, Washington State. After returning to Kurt's apartment they continued talking about teen revolution, and Hanna wrote the words 'Kurt smells like teen spirit' on his apartment wall. Kurt took it as a compliment, not finding out until after the album's release that Teen Spirit was a deodorant.
In Bloom
Worked up as a fully-fledged song by the time of the Smart recordings, In Bloom's heavy guitar rush counterpointed a lyric that addressed fans who'd jumped on the Nirvana bandwagon, hence the lyric, "He likes to sing along, but he knows not what it means." The final version benefitted from a simplification of the original over-complicated drum part, and a guitar trick borrowed from Brum's finest for a heavy, doomy sound: "They found out that Black Sabbath tuned their guitars down, so we tuned the guitars down to D or maybe even C sharp. Once again, it was a very quick take, second maybe. Dave did the backing vocals, having to sing about a step higher than he could sing and his voice would break and we'd all be laughing hysterically. We worked a lot on Kurt's voice: we tried a lot of mics and ended up using a Neumann microphone that brought out the flaws in his voice that I was so enamoured with, the raspiness and growliness."
Come As You Are
Kurt's distinctive guitar sound derived from an old Small Clone guitar effects pedal. Once again Vig layered the guitars, asking Cobain to crank up his Mosrite through a Fender Bassman amp for the distorted sections: "Kurt wasn't into it at all. He kept saying, 'It's fake,' but he got into it after a while.
"The vocal was a first take. He sang it brilliantly all the way through, then I asked him to do another. I didn't plan to double-track him but the second take was great and the phrasing was so similar. He said, 'We don't want to do that.' I said, Let's live with it and see if we get used to it." Kurt did.
Breed was one of the seven songs recorded for the Smart tapes, on which it was named Imodium, after the anti-diarrhoea drug. The final arrangement was almost identical to the earlier version, although Grohl's drumming added substantially more poke. For this song, Sound City's Neve mixing desk came in for some sonic abuse: "For the bass distortion we turned the amp up really loud and in the mix we also overloaded the board. We didn't use any pedals, just overloaded the channels. We went for a Ramones-type panning. Guitar hard right, drums hard left. The solo was played through a Tube Screamer [distortion pedal]. A lot of Kurt's solos had a simple melodic sensibility and he would record them very quickly"
Breed's lyric matches the punk aesthetic. Kurt says "I don't care" a few times, then "I don't mind" and then "I'm afraid", finishing with "I don't mind if I don't have a mind".
Lithium proved relatively difficult to record, partly because Cobain insisted on an even tempo, keeping the same pace for the raucous choruses and the more thoughtful, guitar-led section. Grohl therefore recorded the drums to a click track, with the bass and guitars added later. The quieter guitar parts were also done separately. "Kurt's a great rhythm player," Vig points out. "After we got the sound, he'd only need one or two takes. Doing vocals he would sing so hard and passionately that he would not be able to speak for about 10 minutes afterwards. Some days that would be all I would get out of him. He would sing three or four takes of one song and wouldn't be able to talk."
While most of the Smart songs were re-recorded at Geffen's insistence, it was agreed that this poignant, disturbing song had "such a vibe we didn't want to mess with it. Kurt had a five string acoustic. It was really beat up and he never tuned it. Everything had to tune to it - a real pain in the ass. Later he went back and did some harmonies on it and Dave added some cymbals. I didn't realise what it was about at the time, but it sure was creepy"
The stark, unadorned Smart sound was particularly appropriate given the subject matter. Sung in the first person from the rapist's point of view it was based on a true story of a 14-year-old girl returning from a punk show in Tacoma, Washington, in June '87, who was kidnapped, raped and tortured. She escaped when her attacker, Gerald Friend, stopped at a gas station. Friend was subsequently jailed. The story's disturbing resonances were reinforced after Nevermind's release, when a woman was raped as her two attackers sang the song. Kurt responded in the Incesticide liner notes, referring to them as "Two wastes of sperm and eggs."
Territorial Pissings
The most straight ahead punk song on the album, this subsequently became their end-of-set equipment smashing song. The lyrics are a series of random lines loosely aimed at Cobain's hatred of macho posturing; he also returns to his feelings of (literal) alienation: "I wanted to be from another planet real bad."
Drain You
Vig: "Instead of concocting a guitar solo, every time Kurt did a vocal pass he would run to the side of the room at that part of the song and pick something up - squeaky ducks, percussion things or an aerosol. It became an abstract part for 17 bars. We just left them all in on the mix."
Lounge Act
The song's title comes from the band's belief that it sounded like a 'lounge song'; something a bar band would play. The lyric looks at how relationships can inhibit artistic aspirations. At the end of the song the tape is slowed down, so that the last chord grinds to a halt.
Stay Away
The arrangement is similar to the Smart version, although the band's delivery is far more powerful. The main riff dates back to the self-penned four track demo that Kurt gave to Novoselic before starting the band (called Fecal Matter, it featured Kurt, Greg Hokanson on drums and The Melvins' drummer Dale Crover on bass.)
"Kurt changed the lyrics when he went in to sing it," says Vig. "That surprised me, I thought the original lyrics were good."
On A Plain
The song was written just before the Sound City sessions started, hence Kurt's lyric, "One more special message to go and then I'm done and I can go home." The harmony vocals on one of the most melodic songs of the album were Dave Grohl's. "Kurt just wanted him in a couple of spots," says Vig. "We argued, Kurt wanted them out, but I suggested leaving them in until the end, when the song fades you'll really hear them. We did another mix with the Kurt's and Dave's 'ooh' backing vocals continuing after the end but Kurt thought it was too poppy. Kurt wrote the lyrics right before he sang them. The line 'Don't quote me on that' was an in-joke that week. Everyone would say: 'But don't quote me on that.'"
Something In The Way
"Kurt also suggested bringing in cellist Kirk Canning, who was Dee Plakass's [from L7] husband. We had a problem with intonation because everything on the track had to be tuned to Kurt's guitar. "This is my favourite on the record. It has an unbelievable sound to it. It's the most intense song on the record and the most understated."
Although reluctant to discuss the his songs' meanings, Kurt would later explain that Something In The Way related to his brief experience of living under the North Aberdeen Bridge over the Wishkah river in late 1985.
Endless, Nameless
After the mix, Vig was told the song would be added at mastering stage, but the mastering engineer, thinking he'd reached the end, stopped the tape. Hence around 50,000 copies omitted the track, which on later pressings was placed 10 minutes three seconds after Something In The Way.
Time pressures meant that Vig was forced to go straight from recording into mixing. The results were rough, and the drums in particular failed to capture the natural beef of Dave's playing. "I wasn't totally happy with the mixes," Vig recalls. "Kurt would come in and say, 'Take all the high end off the snare.' They wanted them to sound sludgy. I was trying to make them sound focused but also to give them what they wanted. I thought they could be better - the management and the record company definitely thought so.
"[Geffen A&R] Gary Gersh sent us a list of remix engineers, 10 or 15 names." The list included Scott Litt and Ed Stasium; Cobain settled on Andy Wallace, who'd mixed Slayer's Seasons In The Abyss. The remixes took two weeks; samples were added to the kick and the snare drum and effects added on voice and guitars. The band initially approved the results, but later they would condemn the sound as being more Motley Crüe than punk. Vig defends Wallace's input: "A lot of the stuff Andy used was real subtle. He'd add a stereo ambience to the vocals and delays and make sure there was really good separation between the instruments. The record sounds so loud. It worked out great."
Nevermind was released on September 24, 1991 with a 50,000 pressing. After the success of the MTV-rotated Smells Like Teen Spirit, the album finally hit Number 1 on January 11, 1992, going on to sell over 12 million copies. Despite the furore surrounding the band, Vig says that the album's appeal comes firstly from the songs: "The songs are so hooky. They have such a beautiful melodic sensibility to them and Kurt's voice has a persona that draws you in. Kurt was very knowledgeable about art and books. He was very liberal and had a passion, almost a hatred, for gay bashers, racists etc, because he also felt like an outsider. He felt a kinship to the downtrodden, people who were abused. I miss him."
After the album's release, Vig lost touch with his charges. "I went to see them play at a club in Chicago two weeks after the record came out and there was this unbelievable buzz in the air. It was like electricity. We knew we had made this special record and the kids were totally into it. The show was sold out and there were hundreds of people in the streets who couldn't get in. I went down and saw the band and Kurt ran up to me and gave me this big bear hug. We knew something was going to happen.
"We hadn't realised when we started the record, but a lot of hardcore fans and industry people were very interested. I thought it would be great to sell 500,000 records. Gary Gersh said Kurt had what it takes to transcend other artists. He certainly was a really special human being.
"I think Nevermind did change the music business to an extent. It killed the whole metal/hair band scene in the US and every label wanted to sign a Nirvana clone. Fortunately or unfortunately there is only one Nirvana. I think we realise now they had something that nobody else had. It changed my life. I went from working as an obscure engineer/producer to having every single label call me up. It opened up a lot of doors, but I've also come to realise that I'll probably never work on an album that has that kind of critical and commercial success again. I'm really lucky and also proud to have worked on it. Like any great music, it becomes intertwined with a certain time period in your life. It touched a lot of people in a lot of ways."

© Peter Henderson, '98. Transcribed by Alex Roberts w/ permission
 Original Link:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Suspend and Extinguish Thy Judgment

I have been been finding out that when you suspend your judgment, you live in life's essence. For a most unfettered mindset, suspend your judgment.

My thoughts illustrated with an example or a thought experiment:

If you come across an irate driver honking at you while you are simply waiting for your friend to get off your car, don't judge him to be an idiot. Or don't judge yourself to be an idiot for blocking other people. So, here the point is simply not to judge. The point is not to be right or wrong. To be more explicit, you maybe right in judging the irate driver to be an idiot. Or, you may be right in judging yourself idiotic to hold up traffic at a seemingly busy intersection.

By not judging, you do at least two things. One, you don't go the route of "right" Vs "wrong" for an irrelevant situation. Two, you free your mind.

On a bigger more abstract level, suspending and extinguishing your judgment accomplishes a less of "me" centered approach to life. Empathy is a natural result in this approach. So, is an appreciation of all within you and without you.

On a practical level, at your work, with your colleagues, you will be deemed as someone with a higher EQ (emotional quotient).

On a spiritual level, you become less you and yet a better you.

- Thoughts of a tired Nitish

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Watering Hole No More

After a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a year, I made my way to a tavern with a dear friend (not a romantic association). Our primary purpose was food yet my friend, Laire, really wanted to go to this place which was primarily a bar. She wanted to show me the "tapas". I had never tried tapas and have always been intrigued by new types of food. We went.

My hiatus had completely unhinged my sensibilities about a bar. I suspect, as much as the hiatus, my own change in perception was a condition for my unhinged sensibility. The crowd and the general feeling of dissatisfaction, the showing of ruffled feathers veiled in cotton, silk, polyester, vinyl and leather coverings all started to unfold right before my eyes. The change in perception came because of my continued experiment with meditation, "primal" foods, exercises and constant feeding of nutritious information for the mind. That much is undeniable.What disturbed me most was the magnified emptiness I felt. It was a cold watering hole, devoid of love and filled of want.

Laire's company was the only shining light in this dim, light-less conceptual offering. This bar, a watering hole, in the midst of uncountable other watering holes filled a deep hole in the dissatisfied and dishonest parade.

Our primary purpose of an enjoyable meal was fulfilled by the gentle and caring bartenders. I thank them for filling our empty stomachs with such delights in the midst of the confusion and chaos.

However, with my current bearing and change in perception in mind, I will refuse to partake in any such endeavors**. I will waver from my refusal if I am facing a calamity of grave proportions or if a company insists that we have to go, to which I will grudgingly go so as to not ruin the occasion for us.

Instead, I will invite the liaison to my abode and I will prepare a nutritious meal and share memories of the days yonder. I will invite the liaison to a seat and we will play games of hide and seek and face the reality of life. The reality of our condition. And not hide from it in the bleak watering hole.

But I can not partake in the watering hole anymore. I was never a loyal customer of any in the past. Nor have I ever truly delighted to be in such a setting. This refusal did not stem directly from any active disdain of the watering hole. It is the seeking of a different end that drives me rather than this dimming reflection of the moon's rays. This different end is not the watering hole. This different end consists of an honest reflection, a clearer understanding and a shining light, far from the watering hole.

*names have been changed for this semi-fictional biography
** Thoughts may change on this matter without notice and with the right company and the right watering hole.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Sub-Conscious Trap

I am reading Walden by Thoreau. Some lines that struck out for me tonight were:

"The farmer is endeavoring to solve the problem of a livelihood by a formula more complicated than the problem itself. To get his shoestrings he speculates in herds of cattle. With consummate skill he has set his trap with a hair spring to catch comfort and independence, and then, as he turned away, got his own leg into it. This is the reason he is poor; and for a similar reason we are all poor in respect to a thousand savage comforts, though surrounded by luxuries."

It's poignant yet quite simple. If you look at the essence, it's quite ironic that a farmer would be poor even in terms of food. Yet we see that all the time, throughout the world. From Timbuktu to Kathmandu to Mississippi.

For that is the farmer's business, the production of food. Yet he is in poverty of the very thing he so toils in. 

Thoreau rightly points out here that the farmer is trying to over-complicate the problem of his livelihood. Why only make corn? Or only soybeans? Or Oranges? With the land, toil to make food for oneself and the family first then go to the market and beyond.

Now, the fair thing to do is apply this same principle on one's thoughts. Where has one trapped one's own leg, when the trap was meant to catch comfort and independence for oneself?

I would not be surprised if you looked at yourself deeper and further, you would find at least one. Every day.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Beatles and Henry David Thoreau

The Beatles and Henry David Thoreau

I was contemplating the Beatles and particularly this song "I'm so tired" and Thoreau and particularly his quote on deliberate living.

The Beatles progressed rock music and their innovations are still used in melody and in mixing studios.
They also wrote this lovely tune called "I'm so tired." John Lennon really subjects you to hear his feelings. I have found out that I can actually sing this tune to my satisfaction and an upload is in order. I have only played it once and I like the result already. I guess, I really know how it is to be tired.


Henry David Thoreau in this quote refers to going to the woods to find the essence of living. Even before really reading this quote, I had decided to do the same thing but customize it to modern times. I feel that I am still verging towards the essence and the journey towards "what is essential" is not complete yet. It is just an experiment for now as I am doing other things regarding my career and other learning experiences. This is the main reason I have deactivated Facebook and I am keeping in touch with my friends and family over text, skype, email and games (odd but true).

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion." -- Walden;  or, "Life in the Woods --Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"


Oddly enough, before I wrote this post, I thought these two art pieces were disjointed and I would be writing a random piece about two random pieces of art.

There is a connection. In this version of "I'm so tired", the song's essence is more visible. It is more raw while the urgency in John Lennon's voice is still fresh. Much like Thoreau's quote, one can be tired yet not so tired as to "practice resignation." Once you acknowledge that you are tired, you get more relaxed or find outlets to get more relaxed. 

Thoreau went further. To get to the "marrow of life", one cannot simply understand and be foolishly happy and self-satisfied. One has to experience it, even for a little bit. After all, "living is so dear." Life indeed is.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I burnt my tongue

"How beautiful!" they exclaimed. They lavished their praise, their attention and their money to the beauty that they saw. The somewhat unintentional acquired beauty of the figure.

"As he burnt his tongue and turned around from uncertain sounds, he floated from sea to sea. He realized it wasn't him. It just wasn't in him to admire what they admired. He saw a hollow shell with a dangling frame with a golden top. He lost his ground yet had his way. He kept them at bay and left where he laid."

In his Private world, he saw what he was always asked to see but didn't want to see. Why now? He saw it had to be now, tonight and exactly at that moment. It was a perfect moment.

He saw that he had arisen some time ago now. He wondered why he saw that now. He saw he had to see it now, tonight and exactly at that moment. It was a perfect moment for the revelation.

He saw the camaraderie of the informants and the spies who admired the gladiators for the people in the arena. What a sight? How beautiful again! He refused to believe in the passivity, the vegetative state of an audience of false gods and demi-gods. Being an audience of his own life, he could barely tolerate. Now, to be expected to be an audience of these warriors and their ways, he found very intolerable. The informants sent ravens to the audience about the importance of playing their part.

"Don't rise!", the ravens cawed.

He took an arrow and aimed it Right at the raven's heart and the glass shattered into a million pieces, he saw in his heart. He had risen some time ago or so he suspected.

He was fearful though but not in the way of the raven's ending.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some atmospheric lines in my head not directed at anyone in particular

"Your need to understand me* at the briefest of glances and the supposed complete understanding of me in that time presumes many dangerous ideas. One is that of complete confidence and omniscience in yourself and your perspective, in the characters and personalities of other people and of yourself. That itself is quite unlikely but not impossible. However, it is very improbable considering your own bearing. Another is that of the ease of understanding other's psyche, intentions and the like by those brief verbal and minuscule non-verbal interactions. When prying and investigating in those terms, you would primarily be in the realm of speculation. While your instinct might be honed sufficiently enough, your understanding most likely is not deep enough nor tangible. Unless you have a flexible mind and heart, you would have created an illusion or more specifically, a delusion.

Besides the presentation of these dangerous ideas, even the need to suppose a complete understanding of me is questionable. It is quite unnecessary and fickle use of your time. What is there to be gained, except to ease suspicions of your own feeble mind? If you and I are made of the atoms, molecules and heavenly materials, you should rest assured that you and I share mostly identical material. You can argue that your curiosity was sparked to gain a deeper understanding in human tendencies, intentions, good will and the like. I will dismiss that argument again by your own bearing, which would then start reeking of a need to feed your own ego voraciously during most of your living moments."

*The reference to myself is a general reference and applies to everyone.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I don't want to be

What if you made a decision right now, where you truly think that:
      You don't want to be rich.
      You don't want to be poor.
      You don't want to be cool.
      You don't want to be a bore.
      You don't want to be any adjective.

You are just what you are. Right now. And forever.

What would you be? Would you just be? Could you just be?
Just try and see where it takes you. I will too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dangerous, this Analogy

It could be that if your world is explained primarily through analogy, you are living in lack.

A world lacking of a fuller description, understanding and explanations. A world lacking in a fuller picture.

Analogies are but tools. What was true for one, may not hold for another.
Also, if the tool itself is flawed, the work done by the tool will have some incompleteness. Something lacking.
So there's two dangers: The Flaw in the tool of Analogy and the actual Analogies themselves.

Therefore, tread carefully.

Some links that support my thoughts (there's plenty more out there):

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Things that I shall very much without doubt do

This is somewhat of a personal post. But I feel like I should declare it to any readers out there. (Feel free to drop by and say "Hi" and not just lurk please)

I have delved into minimalism and I think about minimalist principles and simplicity many times every day.
My physical clutter is still not that too minimal but it's getting there. My mental clutter is also not that minimal and there needs to be more work done in that arena.

Here are the actions that I will take to counter my physical and mental clutter classified respectively:

To diminish physical clutter:

1) Throw out all non-functioning materials tomorrow (books, some bags, clothes)
2) Sell some unused stuff like my golf club set (I wonder what bit me to take that purchase)
3) Do some spring cleaning

To diminish mental clutter:
1) Continue daily meditation. (It's my 21st day with formal meditation and I can call myself a meditator now. I love doing it just before sleeping.) I have always meditated on issues before but a structure now is nice.
2) Minimize online social networking (to twice a day). Not only the blatant misuse of time, but the incoming information distracts one from work.
3) Start writing more on the meditation journal (yes, with pen and paper).
4) Many more

As I write this post, I realize that my mental clutter far exceeds my physical clutter. The last year has made me a very tidy person.

I also realize I need to take some drastic steps to further alleviate my mental clutter.

Some steps I will implement this week:

  1. Get away from the internet once a week. Let's call it the Internet-Closeout Day or ICD.
  2. Check email and online social networking sites once or twice a day the rest of the week (non-ICD ).
  3. Check news once every three days. I really don't think anything significant happens. If it's very important I will hear it through facebook, google plus, email, phone call, text messaging, holy mother of god, how many communication protocols do we need!!!
  4. Thinking about 3, cut back some communication protocols? (not too certain about this)
  5. Take meditation to another level very soon. :)
  6. Run more, do body weight exercises more, eat better food. Yes, these are really physiological choices but the effects of these choices are very much mental as well as physical so I have put them here. It's a curve ball.
  7. I think, that's good for now. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Builder's work

There's three categories that I can categorize my activities in.

1. Consuming
2. Learning
3. Creating

1. Consuming is a process of consuming information, entertainment. I stare blankly at a screen and veg out. Most activities throughout my life and probably others as well, fall under this category. Watching programs on the screen, reading most news items, listening to music are some of the consumption activities.

2. Learning is a process of filling up my knowledge base that can be incorporated for productive work (creation). Reading informative websites (some blogs fall under this category, science/engineering journals, music tablature, music creation readings), school work, interaction with professors, teachers are some of the learning items. I spend a lower amount in these learning activities.

3. Creating is a process of building something out of my learning process. It's a rare form of activity and very few people engage in it. Most people are stuck doing most of consuming and while some people engage in learning and consuming. Creating and making a successful website, creating a song, creating a theory to live your life on are some of the creating activities.

A lot of activities are a mixture of learning and creating, many are a mixture of consuming and learning. I am focusing a lot on the latter two lately. Learning and Creating.

I hope this will exponentially increase and I will have created something worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The home on the tree

And there is this tree house located right in the middle of the city. As in any city, this house is a part of a a dense array of houses. The rest of the houses, however, are your normal looking houses.

I am apparently the inhabitant of this tree house. I tie my bicycle on a pole right near the tree. I didn't realize that I owned a bike until that moment.

There's this mysterious series of steps I have to climb. As I go up, I see that my tree house has a door but I can't seem to reach it. Perhaps I don't want to use it to go into my tree house.

So I see myself eyeing the window. A tree house with a door and a big window. I realize that this is a big tree house.So I jump to hang onto the window before I can fling myself in. But before I jump, I look down. I see that, if I fall, I will probably get injured or worse. I find it quite funny now in my dream. Wait, am I dreaming? I don't know. Maybe I am but I like it. It doesn't matter whether it's a dream or not.

Ok. So I lunge up with a spider-like gait. There. I am hanging on the window. I fling myself in. I am in my tree house. I don't have a memory of being in here before but I know that I live here and that perhaps I even built this tree house with my own hands. I see a hardwood floor on the tree house, polished dark-brown. My living quarters are bigger that I imagine. I see that I have been living here for a while looking at my stock of furniture, books, my bed and what is that, a TV. I peer out my window to check on my bike.

It's quite humorous and weird, this whole situation. I have a pole for a bike station and I live comfortably in a tree house in the middle of a bustling city. On top of that, I have to go through some fucking aerobics to even get into my place. It must be a dream, some voice whispers from the sky.

Then I remember why I am here. I came to pick up some outerwear, most likely, my warm, blue jacket for the party. I also remember my friends are waiting for me down there. I look out the window a second time. I see them, talking among themselves happily. Well, time to do some aerobics to get out of my tree house again .

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A thought

Here's a thought. The problem perhaps is not the greed. Maybe not even the overt carnal desires. A moderate desire after all is necessary for some motivation (perhaps). Perhaps it's not even the rampant fundamentalism or the dogmatism.

Perhaps it's more along these lines: We wake up for the 9 to 5. We break the fast at 8 or 9 or 10 (put a number of your choosing). We eat lunch at noon. The 9 to 5 ends. We go back to our den and eat at 7. Then it repeats. Nothing inherently wrong with this. But it's quite robotic, no? But are we robots?

It is April 18, 2012. I read a news article yesterday saying the total processing power of the whole world is about that of a single human brain. Ironically, this is a robotic way to compare but it gets the point across rapidly. (i.e. The comparison of a computer to a human brain doesn't mean that a human brain has been reduced literally to a non-sentient machine obviously.)

We are not robots. But we increasingly live a robotic life.

Perhaps we just have not adjusted to this robotic life. The way we have evolved clashes with these artificial routines.

Perhaps it's good to mix it up once in a while in our own way. Go primal.