Saturday, April 21, 2012

The first novel that I've fallen in love with

Back in Jan, I mentioned in a post that I had ordered a book called Ender's Game to keep me occupied in my spare time.  Either I fell in love with the book or I've got too much time to kill because I've already finished the third book in the series and ordered the fourth.  Its a sci-fi novel series that starts with Ender Wiggin as the central character.

To me, the first book is about a brilliant kid who is put in a challenging position where he has to struggle every single day.  Not only does he have to fight against others intellectually but also with himself morally.  The story and the concepts are smart and the twists are powerful.  The way Ender's struggle comes to an end is just beautiful to read; a perfect ending.

The next book is called Speaker for the Dead and it really does take the series to the next level in my opinion by bringing philosophy into the mix.  It goes deep into the human mind and explores the various feelings of an individual.  The story starts digging deeper into human relations, motivations and even religion.  In essence, its still a sci-fi adventure but beautifully sprinkled with philosophy.

The third is called Xenocide and it dives head first into ethics, moral and nature of intelligence.  We humans are the only species in this planet with such advanced levels of intelligence.  We are not aware of any other type of civilization or society.  Our species has individuals governed by leaders and people who follow or rebel.  What if there is a completely different way of looking at life/society?  How would our morals and ethics be perceived by a completely different species?

The books don't attempt to completely answer philosophical questions.  In fact, whenever the books provide an answer, it also provides a counter-argument against it.  This is really where the book succeeds as a philosophical piece.  You see, all our lives we have been stuffed with answers, in our schools, colleges, at work etc.  But in the books, the various characters in their moral dilemma ask complicated questions which are hard to answer.

Let me try to explain why asking questions are more powerful than simply giving answers.  Say for example you  hurt someone.  Now, all our religions will immediately ask us to repent our sin and ask the victim for forgiveness.  But have you ever wondered why we should ask forgiveness?  The word "sorry" is not going to undo the suffering you have caused him.  Its not justice either because you barely suffered while the other person clearly did.  Are you asking forgiveness to simply feel better?  See how many questions raise from a simple situation?

When it comes to philosophy, asking questions will have a more profound impact on us than reading answers.  There are so many characters caught in tough situations and struggling over different questions.  They are all inter-connected and one thing affects the other which makes their moral dilemma even more complex.  Smart, complex and philosophical, I love it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First road-trip in a car

Just returned from a one day road-trip to Pondicherry.  My road-trips are usually on bikes but this time around, it was a car. I usually prefer bikes because I love to drive/ride instead of sitting idle as a passenger.  But I would be lying if I said that a car is not as much fun as a bike.  Its just not the same sort of fun.  On a bike, its about the freedom, adventure, scenery, speed, highway and being in control etc.  But in a car, its more about relaxing, chatting, listening to music, fooling around and not to mention, the comfort of air-conditioning..  :P

I was also quite surprised by the speed.  Intellectually, I knew that cars were capable of going much faster than bikes without stressing the passengers.  I was staring out the window and suddenly wondered, why the hell are we going so slow!  Then I looked into the speedo and realized that we were doing 80 and above.  Even my avenger can do 80 without breaking a sweat, but I would be aware of it.  When I'm on a bike and going past 80, I would be able to sense it and feel the speed as the wind hits me and pushes me back.  But in a car, I feel nothing and the comfort of it fools me into thinking that we are just sailing along slowly.  I'll have to keep this in my mind if/when I get a car and go on a drive.  I did drive the car for a couple of kilometers, thanks to my friends who were brave enough to let me drive.

Its always hard to explain why a road-trip is such fun.  We don't do it because its cheaper or more comfortable or to show-off.  There isn't always a quantifiable advantage with choosing a car/bike over a bus or train.  Maybe, that's exactly the point.  We spend our entire life calculating the advantages and taking rational decisions that once in a while, it just feels good to simply let go and do something just for the heck of it.  You don't worry about planning anything; you just start when you feel like starting, rest when you feel like resting and have fun non-stop.

When the trip comes to an end and you realize that you have to return to your life, go to work, etc., that is the moment you will also realize that this meaningless trip was so meaningful that all you want to do is rewind the clock and start the trip all over again.  So, thanks again to my friends Thyagu, Deva and Arjun for making this possible!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pay It Forward

I watched a movie today called 'Pay It Forward' and something happened that has never ever happened to me before: "I shed a couple of tears for a movie character!"

Nothing more could I say to express what I want to say..

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Its all a GAME

There is something about the celluloid heroes that I really hate.  They always do the right thing; people around them always adore them; beautiful girls fall for them at first sight; they never have a single bad thought in their head.  I mean, come on!  There was never such a person on earth and there will never be one till the end of time.  Every man has his vices.  Every great person that you admire will have his share of negative thoughts/deeds or at least would've had one which turned him into the great person that you now admire.

Thankfully though, many creators and directors understand this (much better than I do).  Its the reason for some amazing movies like Watchmen and The Exam where there is no real hero.  And better yet, television series executives have also picked up on this, producing outstanding series like House M D and Game of Thrones.  This conveniently brings me to my next point that both these series have resumed this April.  Game of Thrones in particular is just into its second series.

Game of Thrones is a complex story involving a huge list of characters who are all after one thing, the Throne of the Seven Kingdoms.  Some are more worthy of the throne than others and some are better at playing the game than others.  There is no, one good guy or one bad guy.  Some characters are more wise than others but they have their own pitfalls.  Some characters are rude and are cowards but there is more truth to their words than what most people understand.

There is no one person whom you can really root for but there are a number of characters that you will love to see more.  Unlike me, you may support different characters, or support the same characters for different reasons and THAT, is the best part of a story like this.  You can choose your own heroes and bad guys based on your own perceptions and you won't be more wrong than the other person.  Its much more closer to reality and much more exciting!

If you feel that you understand what I'm trying to say, then you should check this series out.  Though, I wouldn't suggest it for family viewing or for people who don't like serious/harsh stories.