Monday, February 16, 2009

My favorite lines from Slaughterhouse-Five

"Even though Billy's train wasn't moving, its boxcars were kept locked tight. Nobody was to get off until the final destination. To the guards who walked up and down outside, each car became a single organism which ate and drank and excreted through its ventilators. It talked or sometimes yelled through its ventilators, too. In went water and loaves of black-bread and sausage and cheese, and out came shit and piss and language."

"Like so many Americans she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops"

- Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Our culture needs help again

Are you familiar with those situations when you have to explain your point of view to someone, but then you realize they are so far adrift that there's really no point? Take the Mangalore pub case, for instance. There was one representative from the Ram Sene group on television and he was asking HDK-style rhetorical questions "How can we let girls go to pubs?". Another lady on the panel tried to point out that the Rigveda dedicates reams to explain the merits of Somarasa and does not once mention that it is only for the men, but that didn't make a dent on the guy. He continued to believe that asking questions makes up for not explaining your point of view "Will the parents approve of this?"

I felt the frustration again while people discussed "Slumdog Millionaire". There was one guy on TV who felt that this is a movie that shows only the negative side of India. He made his point with a question "Why haven't they shown any white paedophiles in the movie?". I was exasperated to see the anchors patronize him. Nobody had the common sense to ask "If you want to show that there are white paedophiles why don't YOU make a movie about white paedophiles?" Another guy said that Boyle is exploiting poverty and getting rich in the process. I just sighed because I don't know where to begin to counter that.

Slumdog, by the way, is not a bad movie. The opening sequence left a huge impression. A bunch of kids, playing cricket on an airport runway, are chased by policemen through the slums. On that little tour of the slum you get all those familiar feelings of pity and distress and helplessness. And then suddenly you realize that all the negativity is in your head. The kids are having a whale of a time. That cognitive dissonance put me in a daze and I was barely present for the rest of the movie. Still, go