Saturday, December 09, 2006

Books on my bed and a meta-post

Someone asks me why my posts are always on obscure topics and if I had no desire to make my blog popular? Or that why I never mention the latest booker prize winner or write about the latest Bond film? Or why I never write about politics or anything related to India? That made me think specially because I never consciously decide what to write here. 99% of the time it is an impulsive decision mostly when I have just finished reading an article or a book or have nothing else to do. Mostly the post is just some paragraphs which stuck to my mind (which is how I decide the worth of a book, by the number of striking passages in it) and some assorted thoughts and facts about the book. If I try to write a comprehensive and systematic review or essay, it either never gets completed or else no one understands what I was trying to say in the end!

Then, how do I decide which books to read or which movies to go to? I don't really have an idea. But yes, there is definitely a sub-conscious bias against anything popular or mainstream. Some sociologist may explain this with some theory of alienation and I think that would be right. I have a full time day job and though I generally manage to avoid participating in social rituals, I still don't have a lot of time to spare on my hobbies. (I sleep a lot and of course, the inane complexities of modern life: just today I had to postpone going to New York to see the new David Lynch picture because of some stupid bureaucratic work.) It also means that there will not be enough breadth, there isn't just enough time and energy to do everything in life.

Finally coming back to India/Politics thing. It's not that I am an apolitical person, my politics would broadly be considered leftist, though by the standards of my radical friends I am still too much of a bourgeois. But I'll have to admit, the nitti-gritties of politics don't interest me, again some theory of alienation will have to come and explain this. I love Hindi language, which is my mother-tongue and my first language, but the reason why I don't write anything about Hindi literature is that I don't get a chance to read much of it. I am too far away from the cow-belt (or "gobar-patti" if you will)! In any case I think the idea behind any art or literature should be to let it help open your mind to new ways of looking at things, learning from foreign cultures and experiences outside your own and immediate. And I find even mild forms of cultural chauvinism intensely irritating and deeply disgusting.

So finally books on my bed (I don't use the desk for reading, I like going to sleep with my books!). So here they are (Two from Austria and Hungary each and one from Latin America):

Frost (Thomas Bernhard)
Kaddish for an Unborn Child (Imre Kertesz)
The Melancholy of Resistance (Laszlo Krasznahorkai)
Last Evenings on Earth (Roberto Bolano)
Five Women (Robert Musil)


All five of them look very interesting. I will try to put a few extracts or write something after I finish reading...

And yes I forgot Bollywood. Well, for all the talk of "new wave" or new type of bollywood films my contempt for Bollywood I think is complete and final. I find them irritating, silly and often deeply offensive and reactionary. I generally manage to avoid watching Bollywood movies whenever I can.

I love watching and listening to old hindi film songs though. In fact, that's what I am doing a lot these days. It is like the "chitrahar" of olden days. So here is one song in the memory of those days of Doordarshan. It is from the 1966 movie Love in Tokyo starring Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh. Md. Rafi is singing the song composed by Shanker Jaikishen. Basically the hero is pleading her to come to him because there is a fire in his heart etc etc...

7 comments:

Antonia said...

I like your choice of books and I understand the problem of never having enough time for them due to obligations. But especially in this regard it is enormous what you still manage to read and what you post here is always interesting.

girish said...

Alok, just a suggestion: perhaps you could, at some point, do a post of some your favorite Hindi songs (top 10 or 20?), with YouTube links? Might be fun for your readers; I know it would be for me....

Alok said...

antonia:thank! i do manage to avoid of a lot of unnecessary things and try to do what i really like doing. but a blog will always be a little skewed and will be limited in scope as compared to a general purpose magazine or website.

girish: yeah, that's a nice idea. Will do. The season of list making is coming, isn't it?

Udge said...

Kaddish for an Unborn Child (Imre Kertesz)

Snap! I just borrowed this from the library (in German). Great minds think alike :-) We should compare notes; but it's pretty far down in my pile and I will probably not get to it before Christmas.

You have made an interesting blog (and no, I see no need to write about Booker Prize winners or whatever), I'll be back.

Antonia said...

the kaddish one I really liked, even tho the fateless one really impressed me - these notes, there must be some sort of diarylike notes published from coldwar time - were extraordinary, too. He translated Nietzsche and Freud at that time, so that's a combination....
hi udge - so many books, again :)

merlot said...

I think you're doing quite an exceptional job considering having a day job and still find time to update your blog.

Me? I'm stuck with this boring routine that has been shadowing me for over a month now: shower, sleep, work (occasionally, I find time to eat). I'm re-organizing my life and hopefully, will make a habit of updating my blog :)

Alok said...

Udge, Antonia: I did start the book and read a few pages. It is short but also challenging to read and it is written in a very interesting style. There are many literary references, specially the Celan poem Death Fugue which is repeated throughout the book.

There are very few of his books available in English right now. Besides this, there is Fatelessness and Liquidation. I took this because its style looked interesting... Written in one monologue and with long repetitive sentences like in thomas bernhard. he even mentions bernhard once in the book. he has translated many german(ic) writers into hungarian -- kafka, bernhard, wittgenstein and others...

merlot: thanks! actually the best thing about blogging is you don't have to worry about anything. write whatever is in your mind in whatever way you like. it doesn't take too long then :)