Month: October 2006

United 93 n more

Yesterday i watched United 93. It was a good movie. Some good realistic description of what could have gone out in the 4th hijacked 9/11 flights. It showed how chaos ensued on the plane, how nervously ppl contacted their family members via phones and cells, how tense and uncertain those hijackers were, how in the end the plane crashed as the passengers intervened and many other things. But still i didn’t liked the movie not that i don’t like seeing ppl die in a no win situation or it was a bad made movie.

Something of the same sort happened when i read those Kafka novels namely The Trial and The Metamorphosis. The novels no doubt catch the absurdity and hopelessness of human life in the most consummate of ways but still i couldn’t really enjoy them. The reason i could fathom was that life indeed is like that and when i myself try to shun from it how could i enjoy reading it like that. Or may be it was the quality of that novel that it could make me despairingly uncomfortable.

Anyhow, watched Before Sunset also which was a good movie barring a few not so good minor things. Also brought two more books- Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. So it was not that bad a weekend after all.

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About Harold Pinter

I have been going through Various Voices : Prose, Poetry, Politics( 1948-1998)- Harold Pinter for quite some time and have been quite fascinated by how Pinter approaches his work, life and society. What quite strikes is his honesty, which he embodies in every walk of his life. To him writing is a struggle both on the parts of writer and the characters, which he creates. A writer to him is kind of helpless intruder who compulsively searches for some truth.
He spoke:

It’s a strange moment, the moment of creating characters who up to that moment have had no existence. What follows is fitful, uncertain, even hallucinatory, although sometimes it can be an unstoppable avalanche. The author’s position is an odd one. In a sense he is not welcomed by the characters. The characters resist him, they are not easy to live with, they are impossible to define. You certainly can’t dictate to them. To a certain extent you play a never-ending game with them, cat and mouse, blind man’s buff, hide and seek. But finally you find that you have people of flesh and blood on your hands, people with will and an individual sensibility of their own, made out of component parts you are unable to change, manipulate or distort.

Considered a persistent questioner of accepted truth and a renowned political activist he totally lambasted Bush-Blair administration in his Nobel lecture.
Find the lecture here(must read).

He has to his credit the screenplay of few immensely popular books, namely Lolita and The trial. Anyhow, i haven’t seen any of his screen played movies but still this book that am reading has been quite fascinating. Will write more as i complete the book.

Few links: HaroldPinter official site, Wiki page

The Remains of the day

The Remains of the dayKazuo Ishiguro

Have you ever wondered how we form our decisions in life, how we take the turns and accept the changes in and around our lives.
At times things are based predominantly on some very particular event or situation that happens to happen with our life. But most of the other things take place gradually and no particular event can be pinpointed for them. The change looks so gradual and subtle that it can be hard to believe that things were indeed otherwise some time back.
Well, in our fast paced lives we seldom sit and look back but its something Kazuo does amazingly.

The Remains of the day is a story about Stevens (The Butler through whose eyes the story is narrated) who while embarking on a countryside journey around England looks back at his career where he served about 30 years at Darlington hall.
He talks about the nature of his job, its delicate intricacies, its own way of helping towards mankind and also how the long cherished qualities of the job are being neglected by today’s youth. He puts up some nice anecdotes featuring some great Butlers and their great qualities.
But as he pulls up memories from the past, also unearthed are few questions and doubts about the convictions he had towards his work. So the novel moves as strings are tangled and untangled.
An interesting peculiarity of the novel is the way Stevens at times held himself back while explaining difficult emotional situations as if he fears overindulging and saying something which he’s yet to acknowledge himself or fears acknowledging. And then later comes a point where he is forced to acknowledge about his mistaken convictions, and more importantly his notion of Dignity.
Another high point of the book is how Kazuo shows the relationship between Stevens and Miss Kenton. Though he never out rightly says or shows that both somewhere somehow loved each other but the atmosphere and feeling he generates at the end was impeccable.

In all The Remains of the day is a very nicely written consummate book. Kazuo has his own idiosyncratic style of narration, which he showcases here almost flawlessly. Go grab the copy and enjoy.

Kundera’s Slowness

Read Slowness by Milan Kundera this week.

The novel was an inquiry about the loss of pleasure of Slowness in today’s fast tracked world. The author weaves a libertine novel where two stories separated by a century or two are told in parallel. Few more things like hedonism, exhibitionism and discretion also get their share of inquiry as the novel progresses.

It was more of an obscure reading (it was the first novel i have read of Kundera) experience considering it was too small a novella with sm 130 pages of discursive writing and also i finished it in two sittings separated by 4 days. So in all it wasn’t a rewarding read as i expected. Anyhow i have got hold of The Joke which hopefully i will be reading soon, so will write sth better and substantial then.

Here’s a nice little piece from the novel:

The man hunched over his motorcycle can focus only on the present instant of his flight; he is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time…in other words, he is in a state of ecstasy; in that state he is unaware of his age, his wife, his children, his worries, and so he has no fear, because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear

check out: a favorable review and a not so favorable review

Slowman is indeed a slow affair

Slowman – by J M Coetzee

What happens when you see yourself standing at some point where you are not sure where to move and no path is visible to you, let go any goal or destination. You stand there muttering, cursing, lamenting and at times assuring and reasoning yourself. And then suddenly out of nowhere as if the long cast mist has cleared you see some path, some road to set foot to. And suddenly without thinking, where the road leads, one is thrust on it by the weight of the past’s over burdened feelings. And imagine your conscience waking up after some time when you have starting moving on that path. And since your conscience is at loggerheads with your desires the only motion left of you is skidding and slipping. And amidst this skidding and slipping someone just one day stands up and calls you Slowman.
Such is the story of Slowman, which J M Coetzee showcases here.

The novel begins with Paul Rayment waking up form an accident and realizing that he has lost a leg. Lying on his bed he thinks about his life questioning everything and anything. The novels moves as if some existential saga is unfolding but then suddenly with the arrival of a new nurse everything changes and a trite longing story of an amputated old man starts which goes on for some time and when the proceedings become too boring the novel is revived by the arrival of Elizabeth Costello. But the revival is short-lived and the story then meekly and despairingly keeps on continuing b/w Paul, Elizabeth, the Nurse and her family.

One reason for the story becoming despairingly banal is that a lot of questions are being asked, which in the beginning look great and the reader also ponders with them but then it becomes apparent that the only thing author is doing here is just asking them without exploring any of them.
Looking from another angle the story is a crude representation of old age noting that Paul and Elizabeth are in 60’s and 70’s and the storyteller Coetzee himself is in 60’s. So the author presents a story where one keeps questioning everything as the life is in quandary and also not going too deep into the questions as only reality thr is that life is standing on its last legs.

In all not a very entertaining read though it begins very nice but gets lost in the oblivion of questions and triteness.

Countenance

When she looked into his eyes she thought he could be the same person. When I looked into his eyes I thought I saw recognition. Now I know. You fake it. If you think you’re supposed to recognize somebody you, you just pretend. You bluff it to get a pat on the head from the doctors. You bluff it to seem less like a freak.
Memento

The world is always satisfied, it turns out with a countenance it can understand. Indolence and cowardice do the rest. Independence is earned by a few words of cheap confidence.
A Happy Death by Albert Camus

Memento

One possible goof:
When Leonard is talking(narrating the insurance story) to the supposed Cop on the phone he happened to see a note on his arm saying “never talk on the phone ” and cuts the phone but after when the Cop sends him a letter and calls again he laments for some time about his condition whereby questioning him why he’s calling as one can’t believe him owing to his condition. And then starts narrating the insurance story right after he left in his last disconnected call.

The point here is how come he remembered where he left.
Yeah one may say that the time may be short and could have not broken the continuity of the scene thereby making him remember where he left.

But that time was fairly large than the other incidents(like Natalie tricking him after he hit her or In the end when leonard writes his note and then stops outside the Tattoo shop etc).

ps: Anyway i guess i will watch the movie again in a few days.