Excerpts – Geneva Diaries (#6-#10)

Letters To Roger

Letter #6

Dear Roger,

I saw a fabulous movie this weekend which immediately lifted my spirits, Good Morning England a “must see”! Its about a band of rogue DJ’s broadcasting their music which was scandalous and unacceptable to the establishment of the day from a pirate ship stationed in the middle of the North Sea. I absolutely loved the movie, loved the story and loved the music!. A wonderful journey that captured the fever and excitement of the 60’s, the ideas, the music and aptly put together on this 40th anniversary of Woodstock (which I have been waiting to hear more about from someone who I am sure was in the midst of all the action, but instead I ended up browsing through a coffee table book on Woodstock’s 40th at Payot this weekend).

Somehow pirates and pirate ships have always excited me, as you remember from my fervent support of the Swedish pirates and our chat about cyberspace and piracy. And then of course there is my very own pirate story, adapted from Pirates of the Caribbean. I was captain Jack Sparrow and when it was possible and exciting enough, Elizabeth Swan. The problem occurred of course when they kissed…who was I? But her spirited response immediately put me into her shoes. Our black jeep Cherokee was the black pearl of course, and the crew included two half toothed brats seat belted in the back as we tore down the pirate lanes on 280 and 101! It was only when you got near Palo Alto that we all had to duck/ submerge as the police cars emerged and appeared to chase this motley crew (a California housewife, two brats and later a dog!) down the highway. 

Not to be outdone or forgotten in my current story, the pirate theme continues…last week  i found myself in a car without my handbag rushing to get the kids in time for tennis just across the border in France, I drove without an ID, without papers, with out cash or a license across the border praying to be spared for this very last time. As I passed the mustard fields surrounded by spectacular peaks on the Route de Thonon (my soul certainly feels good everytime I drink that water having seen its origins), I was convinced that the froggies were jumping up and down in a frenzy (I was told by the frog prince himself that The Frog always watches),   saying, “shall we nab her, shall we nab her not!” I guess Not!

Route de Thonon: 

https://images.app.goo.gl/kkBun79VKkDw4WS89

Then of course back home in Geneva, i have the radio blaring at 6am with Gaddafi’s indignant message for the nth time after the supposed affront by the Swiss authorities on his son, “this is a mafia country, they are all mafia!” Well guess who jumps up all excited, moi of course, and the creative juices start to flow again…

A mafia country, a pirate ship…could I really be on a large hidden pirate ship! Could this be the Pearl? Incredible, I might be home! Suddenly, everyone around me starts looking the part, the postman is certainly One-eyed Jack, and then there is Blue Eyed Bob behind the meat counter at CO-OP who so deftly uses his knife as his golden earrings glisten and swing, the bankers with their eye patches and attorneys with tall tales all neatly tucked into their neatly tailored European suits and of course the guard at the border post, a female that winks every time I pass (in this bizarre upside down universe as many girls seem to wink at me as boys do!), could my world be more exciting!

Good night.

Purnima

On Sep 30, 2009, at 5:07 PM, Roger STEVENSON wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Back in Bucharest after two days of no internet, castle hoping, fending off pickpockets and marveling at the ubiquitous poverty.

I loved your last email about possibly being in a pirate haven – truly wonderful.  I’m not quite sure what to think of la Suisse after the Polanski arrest.

I have seen previews of the film about Radio Caroline and really like the actor who plays the lead.  I was in Denmark when it was broadcasting and used to listen to it.  The Danish authorities were going bananas over it too and tried unsuccessfully to silence it.  At the time, it was the only radio station that played good music.  I must go see it.

And can’t wait to see your new hair color.  I also have a wonderful passage to share about moving between different states of realty. I read it today on the train on the way back to Bucharest. It’s from Murakami’s After Dark.

Lots to share. Talk to you soon and see you on the third.

Bisous,

Roger

10/7/09

Now Your Day: a note filled with Magritte, Green Apples, and Yet another American in Paris!

Dear Roger,

Thinking of you on this special day and wishing you the very best for this day and the year through.

So, you are off once again to see an exhibit in Brussels of “our” favorite artist, I am turning apple green with envy. How can you see Magritte without me, you have to take me along! Imagine me seated swinging my legs on the tip of your spectacles. I must hear all about it.

Talking about Magritte and his green apples, I just returned to my french lessons after a break of a couple of days (bunking class to be with my brother), and guess what, I was completely “out of it”, could not follow a sentence without struggling. As usual inspired by Magritte and his passion for floating bowler hats and green apples, I was imagining my head as an enlarged green apple seated on the chair staring blankly in class(ironically green suits me best- another long tale with a capital S for surreal) with a giant pip stuck in the middle of my head occupying most of my brain and blocking me from thinking and and speaking! Whatever I said sounded ridiculous…help!! I now plan to grab people on the road here in Veille Ville and just say something to start a conversation in french, what do u think? need some ideas.

See below Magritte’s Green Apple:

Letter #7

10/08/09 

Dear Purnima,

I feel like I’m still floating in a sea of neglected chores and catch up after being gone for four days, and that after wading through the throngs of tourists in Barcelona on Sunday afternoon.  We did catch a wonderful exhibit at the Barcelona Cultural Centre, “Le Siècle de Jazz” that traced the evolution of America’s one true and original art form and its influence on literature and art.  It was a veritable flood of images, sounds, album covers, sheet music, books, paintings, more sounds, all of which evoked a cascade of memories from different times in my life and the countless hours I have spent listening and admiring, first on those little 45 rpm records, then on 78 rpm vinyl disks, then on cassette tapes and finally on CD’s and MP3 recordings.

On Sep 30, 2009, at 5:07 PM, Roger STEVENSON wrote:

Dear Purnima,

Back in Bucharest after two days of no internet, castle hoping, fending off pickpockets and marveling at the ubiquitous poverty.

I loved your last email about possibly being in a pirate haven – truly wonderful.  I’m not quite sure what to think of la Suisse after the Polanski arrest.

I have seen previews of the film about Radio Caroline and really like the actor who plays the lead.  I was in Denmark when it was broadcasting and used to listen to it.  The Danish authorities were going bananas over it too and tried unsuccessfully to silence it.  At the time, it was the only radio station that played good music.  I must go see it.

And can’t wait to see your new hair color.  I also have a wonderful passage to share about moving between different states of realty. I read it today on the train on the way back to Bucharest. It’s from Murakami’s After Dark.

Lots to share. Talk to you soon and see you on the third.

Bisous,

Roger

Dear Purnima,

We got home late last night after a return flight via Frankfort – an incredibly big airport, and it seemed like we had to walk for miles and miles to get to the right departure gate, but we were used to that after all the walking we did in Romania.

I have lots of ambivalent emotions about Romania.  It certainly has a rich history and a colorful culture.  Many of the old churches and medieval monuments are really marvelous, and then there are the grandiose remnants of the Ceausescu regime (He wanted to turn Bucharest into another Paris: there is a little Arc de Triomphe, an Avenue Charles de Gaulle, etc., etc.).  The parliament building he built is huge and imposing, as are his several palaces, none of which we visited, as I don’t get off on former tyrannical fear mongers who literally starved the population so he could pay off his debts through foreign exports.  However, we did go see one of the remnants of the monarchical past – the Castle of Peles in Sinaia.  It was the summer residence of the king Carlos and is in magnificent shape today.  It is richly decorated with exquisite wood panelling on both walls and ceilings, which is very impressive.  However, there is just a little too much of a mixture of architectural and decorative styles to suit my tastes.  It seemed horribly cluttered with all kinds of statues, paintings, ornaments, swords and pistols and armour.  The guide was very proud to announce the fact that the castle had running water and a central heating system and even a central vacuum cleaning system, but I couldn’t help thinking how much it all cost and at what point the population of the country had the same kind of creature comforts in their homes.

On the other hand, the country seems like it is falling apart.  The infrastructures are terribly dilapidated, and the older housing has not been very well maintained, and there seems to be litter everywhere – quite a contrast compared to Switzerland.  And while the Romanian women are a mixed lot – some of the younger women are quite exquisitely beautiful and the older women seem to have let themselves go completely –, I didn’t see one pair of enticing; deep brown eyes that could possibly turn my head.

And I’ll wait until I see you in person to tell you about our experiences with bribing, or at least being offered the possibility of paying a small bribe to avoid a steeper fine for not having the right ticket, a bus ticket controlleur and being victims of a really talented pickpocket in a crowded bus in Brasov !

PIRATES MANIFESTO

Dear Roger,

After reading you, I can’t wait to jump into bed with Kafka; Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore lies by my bedside visibly, patiently.

As for The Pirates’ Manifesto, I need help… guidance… direction. At this point the doors appear shut and I don’t have the access codes yet. Perhaps, I need to read your highly recommended “Millennium” and fully embrace the persona of the Swedish Girl “Hacker”, Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, broke the codes and got her information! Did u say u had an English version or was it Danish?

As you know, it frustrates me endlessly to find that access to information is often restricted, denied, to the very people who might need it the most: the unpaid, unaligned, unfettered. I just cannot support subscribing to every journal and offering my contact to every site before gaining access. I wish to surf seamlessly, quietly and stealthily. But, as you mentioned in your mail, the world around us wishes to track and keep tabs, make tables and profiles, all of which I vehemently reject and work covertly (at least in my mind) to expose, sabotage these very schemes of control! 

Then of course, I stumble upon Diderot! With whom I find, I share the inherent conviction that knowledge should not be confined, restricted to any group, subset, academies, class. Like this enigmatic Frenchman, I am totally and completely for the free perpetuation of knowledge, yes, even in this programmed world of today… am I being naive? This militant passion drove me all the way, through many wormholes, to the doorsteps of Diderot and d’Alembert, and their incredible project of compiling the knowledge, thoughts and ideas of the world of their times, the summary of the Enlightenment: the Encyclopedie! I discovered that this compilation of knowledge went on to have a pivotal impact on the society of their times, through the expansion of knowledge and the development of the critical modes of thought, lighting the spark that culminated in the French revolution.

 The Enlightenment of course was about expanding the realm of knowledge to all people which struck a blow to all those that were out to control, contain and stifle reason and free thought. Knowledge was no longer in the hands of a select few: the Academies, the Clergy and the State, the average man (and what is even more important, the average woman) had access to the ideas of the age. No longer could the cosy relationship where the Clergy ( complemented and substituted in our day and age by the gargantuan educational institutions with their power, influence and billions) supports the divine right of kings (or presidents), and the other (the State) bestows an abundance of grants, tax free income and subsidiaries for such adulation and support! Yes, Roger, now you know which side of the argument I am on. Thus through the Encyclopedie and the free dissemination of information, Diderot aimed to erase the dogmatism of government, religion and illiteracy that pervaded. An idea more relevant than ever in the world of today, in this controlled and monitored world of today, the cyberworld of today. Carving out a mission for the modern day pirates!

This of course brings us back to the pivotal question: what language should this (The Pirates Manifesto) be written in! In the time of Diderot, Paris was the intellectual capital of the world, thus many of the ideas written in this language had the ability to spread. His Encyclopedia encompassing all the novel and radical ideas of the times, easily disseminated, perpetuated. What do you think would be the universal language of tomorrow where knowledge could flow effortlessly, seamlessly, a platform for inspiration and consensus?

Surfing through the colossus, I came upon a wonderful paragraph taken from the very controversial article written by d’Alembert for the Encyclopedia on Geneva. I find this 16th century piece amusing and as relevant today, would love to hear what you think:

This is very – strange that a city with just 24,000 souls, and whose territory does not fragmented thirty villages, do not cease to be a sovereign state, and one of the most successful of Europe: rich in its liberty and its business, she often sees around her on fire and never feel it, the events which agitate Europe are a spectacle for her, she enjoys without take part: attached to the French by alliances and by his trade, his trade by Englishmen and by religion, she pronounces impartial justice of the wars that these two powerful nations are to each other, although ‘ it is also too wise to take no part in these wars, and judge all the sovereigns of Europe, without flattery, without injury, and without fear.

Letter #8

10/16/09

Dear Roger,

Yet another day under house arrest as the flu season has hit with a bang…”Thing 1″ is sniffling under the covers and I find myself, once again, home alone with the Cat in the Hat!

Upon revisiting your letters, I have found that many fascinating questions lie suspended and spaces unexplored, like SEX! So, let’s talk about it…

I was intrigued by your statement that “…all u need for sex is mind” (I would have added an exclamation point or two).  Is it really all in our heads ?  Are there not different kinds of sex, and what role does love itself play in it all ?  (Interesting to learn that we share something else in common – our favorite subject)

The statement “all you need for sex is mind”, or as it was told to me, “it’s all in the mind”, words I cannot honestly claim and must correctly attribute  to one of my fabulous female friends who owes humanity an encyclopedia on the subject. Yes, our very own modern day Vatsyayana, the Indian philosopher that lived during Gupta period, 4 century AD, and is known for authoring the Kama Sutra, the bible on eroticism. 

Vatsyayana, returned in the most exotic female form to whisper these words in my ears as she saw me determined to embark upon this incredible journey of self exploration, anticipating the great CRASH ahead. Of course there are many other FFF fixated on SIZE…and swear that that is what its all about; how little do they know, how far they have to go…!

On the subject of eroticism, do you know that the erotic sculptures carved on the facades of the magnificent temples in Khajuraho, in central India almost a thousand years ago commissioned by the Chandella Rajput kings, depicting all forms of passion and intimacy, were reputed to have been sculpted by and possibly for the education of the “Bramacharis”. Brahmacharis are young men during the initial stage of life as specified according to Vedic tradition, who live in a hermitage and absorb themselves in education leading a celibate life. This is the stage before they re-enter into the world of the “Householder” where they marry and procreate. From what i was told, the very fact that these young boys were so deprived of female relationships, the sculptures they sculpted and the forms it took were voluptuous and exaggerated, reflecting in the female form the epitome of desire. Their hands carved the fantasies they could only visualize and had not yet experienced (similarly, have we not seen many authors of what was considered at that time seductive and erotic works in literature who themselves led a very staid and puritan life). The Brahmacharis were certainly exposed to these sculptures as a way to introduce them back into the world so they may fulfill the very important social role of householder. In fact, I just read something that cannot be put into better words about these sculptures of Khajuraho which I would like to share with you:

If the temples of Khajuraho can be said to have a theme, it is woman. A celebration of woman and her myriad moods and facets. Writing letters… applying kohl to her eyes… dancing with joyous abandon… playing with her child. Woman – innocent, coquettish, smiling – infinitely seductive, infinitely beautiful.

Warrants a visit for sure, shall we?

Back to Murakami, Miro, the Surrealists and the realm lurking behind everyday reality; you could not have got it more Dot On…it’s surreal, it’s for me! Similarly, in the Tale of Genji, art permits assuming a persona, which in “real life” can never be you; a wormhole to transcend the physical form or personality that shackle. So Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the Tale of Genji,  a medieval Japanese noblewoman constrained by her gender, status and time was able to transcend it all and assume the form and passions of Genji, a character she created, and live him for a while in another world another existence: literatures version of “Second Life”. Yes, all this while retaining her own skin, her own form. For me, my expression is the escape I seek, as I realize I am entrapped not by anything else (the world, society, family), but myself and my sense of duty. And, the only escape is a journey into this surreal world, where I have “written in” The Whirlpool, permitting a return to my world. This way, I too can live, I live many lives, without relinquishing any…any piece of myself!

On the surrealists, I encountered references to your friend Andre Breton, all over Barcelona (if I have I told you how much I love that city, I could not have told you enough!). I need an introduction…please. The Miro museum was fascinating as usual, my second visit. But this time it was like rediscovering a whole new world. It seems like every visit unfolds something else, something new. This visit, I stumbled upon “The lion”, essentially a single black squiggly line over a brown paper canvas portraying a lion encaged in a circus. The only difference was that there were scratch marks on the canvas which added the multi dimensional multi sensory aspect to this incredible piece of art. With the scratches, you actually heard the lion attempting to burst out of the canvas. I think with this Miro took art to another level…engaging not just the visual but stimulating all the senses at once. Surreal for sure!

 I also found a lot of Miro’s works remained blanked out, incomprehensible, where the title has no relevance to the art itself…much too much for my mind to encompass. Yes, unreachable, waiting for another time, an accumulation of experiences, before the doors unfold and the art unravels.

The Matador and the Tapas Bar: Barcelona, with its bustling life, wide boulevards and Art, Food, Art for Food can be quite a heady experience! The best meal yet was at a famous Tapas Bar in the Born district. The restaurant was a bar table with everyone seated side by side and the cute cooks opposite us whipping up one fabulous tapas after another. We also had the next seating, our line of spectators standing directly behind us drooling over the dishes, both the cooked and live ones! Yes, the cooks were gorgeous Spaniards! The one serving us was like a  matador with a narrow waist tied in red cloth and a charming smile. His brisk movements from one end of the table to the other, from one plateful to the next, juggling multiple demands of the hordes lined with their hungry heads towards him and the deftness with which he charmed and fed everyones appetite was a spectacle worth the wait! On our end, he was completely oblivious of the ogre seated at the other end, and proceeded to show me how to eat the tapas with my hands without removing his eyes from my face. I was hot, I was red, I was embarrassed by the flattering attention. He then offered me the first clam open with its juices and watched me eat it, he proceeded to do the same with the mussel dish…I had turned crimson by this point. So, I looked up and said politely “Thank you, that was delicious”. He held my gaze for a full minute before responding “YES”. Absolutely MIND BLOWING!!! Talking about mind, I have not been so turned ON for a long long long time. That man had certainly mastered the art of making love in the kitchen!

One Catalan for me please!

So, I’m still hobbling but Megeve is not too far!

Hope to see you soon!

See attached Barcelona Adventures:

Dear Purnima,

What a tantalizing treatise on sex, visual seduction, Miro, Barcelona and Genji.  It arrived just in time to rescue me from the boredom of illness – Yes, it seems the travel bug has mutated to a malicious head cold bug.  It hit me Saturday morning and I thought I could shake it off quickly, but it feels a bit worse each day.  At least I have some time to read.  Now that I’ve finished my Danish translation of volume II of the Millennium trilogy with a truly original and unique female character and a plot so complicated that you don’t really fully understand what is going on until the final pages, I can move on to the next Murakami on my list, Kafka on the Shore (I’ll try and find a copy for you on my next trip to Geneva).

Wow, your matador/Tapas chef sounds like a master at seduction with his mussel shell demonstrations and enchanting eyes.  Too bad you were so shackled by the ogre and at the end of the bar.  It is almost criminal to get someone so hot and bothered and then leave them dangling and blushing.  And you didn’t even have your Tale of Genji with you for bedside reading.  How did you manage to get through the night ?

Your sensual pleasure from eating Tapas reminds me of the several films where food and sex are intertwined, some more successfully than others.  Did you ever see Peter Greenway’s The Cook,The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover ?  It stars one of my favorite British actresses who can be as sultry as anyone on a given day, Helen Mirren, who can leave you panting.  And then there is the famous eating scene in the film Tom Jones where each bite of a pear or chicken leg is as suggestive as a tender caress.  Speaking of films about sex, did you ever see the French film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover ?  It won the French Cesar award for best film two or three years ago, and was such a delightful rendition of a very lonely woman’s journey of self discovery and exploration of her own sexuality, all, of course, overshadowed by the moors and customs of a puritanical Great Britain where class differences were, and are somewhat still, very important.  The role of the neglected wife is played with such delicate innocence and yet delicious sensuality by a young French actress named Marianne Hands.  It’s one of the most refreshing, open and genuine evocations of female sexuality that I have seen on screen.

More later, but I have to go play cook tonight – I’m doing a salmon soufflé – for our week-long house guest from southern France.

Bon courage with your Florence Nightingale duties and try and keep your mind from wandering too often south to those warm climes, hearts and sexy Catalan Tapas chefs.

Love,

Roger

Dear Purnima,

Yes, in spite of the solitary green apple, Brussels was a real treat.  I had no idea you were a Tintin fan.  There truly must be an abundance of French blood cursing through your veins – inherited no doubt from your Francophile aunt.  Tintin is one of the favorites of French readers of nearly all ages, and he, of course, was omnipresent in Brussels.  We went into a shop in downtown Brussels that was entirely devoted to the books, many in various translations, as well as all the other derivative products, and the place was really packed.  We didn’t see a Tintin museum, but I’m sure there is one there just waiting to be thoroughly explored.

I found your description of your aunt’s encounters with the French extremely nostalgic.  I think you are correct in saying that the French « represent an exceptional group of very cultured and sophisticated people with whom you could not ever associate racist behavior (vulgar) and profiling (too American). In fact, it is just for these reasons that they appear to take a stance that is completely and in every way contrasting with and contrary to that of the US. »   In many ways that is true, but I fear that such attitudes are slowly changing, at least in the upper echelons of French society and the governing elite.  In the past, France was indeed a country that was curious about and fascinated by all sorts of exotic places and peoples.  Black American musicians and performers were always more readily accepted and revered here than they were in the States.  Josephine Baker is probably the prime example, but there were numerous Black musicians who found a welcome home in Paris and the freedom to perform and express themselves.  Many still call France home, such as Dee Dee Bridgewater and Archie Shepp, and where would Henry Miller have been able to write his wonderfully scandalous novels that form the backbone of his literary production (Quite Days in Clichy, for example), and that were banned for many years in the USA ?

However, that is not to say that there hasn’t been and isn’t today a certain French brand of racism, which, I’m convinced, has its roots in French colonialism.  The Northern African immigrant workers who were brought to France in the 1950’s and 60’s to fuel the economic recovery following the war have never been fully accepted into French society.  They have, instead, been shunted into housing projects on the outskirts of French cities that are today ghettos of despair – a stark reminder that the French national rallying call of « Fraternité, Liberté et Egalité » is a hollow echo in a society that is so hierarchically structured.  And since Sarkozy and his pals have seized power, it seems to get worse every year.  Brice Hortefeux’s not very subtle joke about trouble when there are a lot of them, I’m afraid, mirrors the official attitude of the ruling class in France today.  And, I should add that it has been just recently that France has begun to come to grips with the realities of the Algerian war and the outrageous atrocities committed there by French troops.

I agree that there are lots of good things coming out of the Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden and Denmark.  I read a poll last week that found that the Danes were the most satisfied with their lives among the inhabitants of any other European country (I think France was 12th on the list).  And there are so many wonderful things Swedish – especially the marvelous films of Ingmar Bergmann.  I’ve been thinking that a trip to Stockholm is in order.  It’s not that far away and even in the cold of winter it would be a treat to visit.

What is a sqiggle ?  Whatever it is, I am always ready.

Have a good weekend.  Can I take you to lunch on Tuesday ?

Bises,

Letter #10

Dear Roger,

She used to call his name  M- – -…M- – -…m- – -…

Dear Roger,

As the 21st of March approaches, I look back on the 17 years…

I wish to share with you a poem by Rabindranath Tagore (Lipika) translated by Aurobindo Ghosh titled Seventeen Years. I have attempted to read this to an indifferent Mirko over the last few dismal years, telling him through Tagore that our time together is coming to an end, and that one day he will look back at our seventeen years which he so mindlessly threw away and think:  “She used to call his name”. 

And perhaps one day while leaning on his walking stick and gazing at the setting sun his mind will wander back to these years and query: “But those days and nights are no longer strung together by the binding thread of that name – they lie scattered.” …”Who shall call us together and surround us with her presence?” 

And I will be gone, we never make it past our 17th year of that I am sure!

Seventeen Years – by Rabindranath Tagore

I had known her for seventeen years.

So many comings and goings, so many meetings, so many tetes-a-tetes!

Surrounding those years, so many dreams, so many conjectures, so many hints.

And then, sometimes, when half asleep, the light of the morning star; sometimes the scent of the Chameli flower in the dusk of a rainy day; sometimes the tired strains of the Nahabat in the last hours of the spring night!

All this had passed round his mind in the course of those seventeen years!

And, mingling with it all, she used to call his name.

The person that used to respond to this name was not merely a creation of God – he was created out of the seventeen years of her knowing him.

Sometimes in love, sometimes in neglect,

sometimes in work, sometimes in leisure,

sometimes in the midst of all, sometimes in privacy –

thus was he built in the heart of one person.

After that, seventeen more years had gone by.

But those days and nights are no longer strung together by the binding thread of that name – they lie scattered. Therefore the days ask me daily: 

“Who shall call us together and surround us with her presence?” 

I can give no answer – I pause and ponder.

But they, flying away with the wind, say:

“We go searching.”

“Whom?”

They know not whom.

So they wander hither and thither. 

Like aimless clouds they sail across the sea of darkness and I can no longer see them.

—————————————————————

3/15/10

Dear Roger,

I could not let this mail go and drift into the “unanswered”. There were so many juicy openings for discussion and debate, even if I am unable to cover them all, I must struggle with some. You should see me now, bent with furrowed brow with my black rimmed glasses dangling from the tip of a rather long nose, with a sprightly ponytail bouncing in excitement at having been saved, as i pound away one finger at a time… 

You had mentioned in your email that you finally managed to finish the Millennium trilogy and were left dissatisfied as the author died without completing his proposed series of 10. 

“There is no provision in Swedish law for a concubine to inherit anything from her partner if they were not married”. 

That sounds very surprising for a progressive country like Sweden where I assume such relationships are the norm before or instead of marriage (and btw a male partner can also be a concubine!). In its most simplistic: this immensely popular work where the author has suddenly died at the peak of the fervor generated by the book which (from what you tell me) seems to have taken on a cult status. In my opinion, the ownership lies in all who embrace the story, the public. Therefore, the one who attempts to assume the authors place, edit, modify or expand the work has to not just attempt to stay true to the original, the essence but have the readers ultimate clearance. The substantial property rights of course in this instance go according to what is outlined in the law. However, the law has to accommodate, perhaps use this case to evolve, reflecting the ideas in popular culture, commitment and contribution of a partner. I, of course, would only hand over my pen to the image in the mirror! 

“Or maybe Steve Jobs will have become the final arbiter of justice with a market place savvy that settles all conflicts with his new i-judge software and hand-held, touch screen, app-driven i-tort (that may actually be a better source of justice than our present, very flawed and political interest driven system or the justice frequently meted out by the religions of the day).”

Dear, dear Roger, you cannot underplay the human element to me! I cannot possibly conceive how a software program could make a judgement incorporating the essential elements of “timeframe” and “cultural context”, which would vary based on the issue at hand from decades to days, as we have seen in the rapidly evolving field of cyberlaw and technology where before the issue can be brought to court and final judgement be passed, it is redundant and replaced by a competing issue. Its at times and instances like these where there is need for the human, the subjective element, which can incorporate timeframe, cultural context, and the fall back on the core issues of common law before reaching a decision. 

There is a reason why the judges are selected: they are known, respected and we recognize them for more than the mechanical application of their knowledge and their ability to identify issues. They are selected because we have read their decisions, recognize their positions and defer to their judgements EVEN when it goes against us, for we are programmed with the inherent belief that when we join society and submit ourselves to the law, we are a part of the whole. And, if the judgement passed is one against us, it must be passed for the greater benefit of society, and since we are a part of it, we vicariously benefit! Otherwise, I can’t imagine why we would agree to anything that binds us, making us vulnerable to decisions by men in wigs and men in frocks, can you?

You are definitely wanted, my dear, dead or alive, preferably alive, but the question you should really ask is : Am I wanted, virtual or real ?

Purnima Traversing The Blue Ridge Mountains – Virginia


https://www.dropbox.com/s/2omivt6w3f754my/The%20Blue%20Ridge%20Mountains-Virginia.mov?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/xbsdh2fmbnsb526/Wanted%20Dead%20Or%20Alive%20-%20Virginia.mov?dl=0

Do I wish to subsist in this virtual medium or in the real world? The ultimate question is: Where would I be more real? What is the medium of today, one that would engage a broad spectrum of ages, education, background and ethnicity? The exciting aspect of the fast evolving virtual sphere is that, the medium is not merely one of language as we are historically used to (with that familiar feel of paper between the fingers), but an all engaging 3D multi-media medium encapsulating sight, sound, text, (and soon even tactile sensations) which are enmeshed and indistinguishable from each other. The only parallel I can think of from my “old world” is the realm of comics… A sizzling Japanese comic that captivates the pulse of the youth in a world language! Yes, I think I would like to live forever (like Minnie still sprightly at 80), the heroine of a Japanese comic. You would too, if you ever got a chance to meet the hero of my comic book… Boom, Boom, Pow!!

It’s well past midnight, and since I have not turned into a pumpkin, and since there is no chance of dancing with the prince, not even a little froggie, I guess i will just continue…

Apart from my favorite comics, I guess theatre has played the historic role (Roger, I need your input/feedback here…urgently) of reaching out and disseminating novel and radical thoughts, ideas and developments in  the Arts, Sciences, Government. This historic role of theatre to disseminate new ideas and educate the public through a forum that was entertaining and perhaps comics permitted many radical thoughts to be so presented and disseminated which would have otherwise been strictly censored during its time. The impact of the theatre over time with its ability to permeate society in a similar multi-media format, would probably be akin to the realm that is today partially covered by the virtual world, don’t you agree? 

Returning to our old favorite subject of interdisciplinary studies, I believe that incorporating elements of theatre in most traditional subjects still forms the most effective form of education and dissemination of information where the onlooker/participant is entertained as he is being educated.  And talking about interdisciplinary studies, the oldest and dearest example from my childhood was Alice in Wonderland, Mathematics and Literature, with my father attempting to explain the mathematics behind the madness.

In fact, Lewis Carroll, a pen name for Charles Dodgson, a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, wrote Alice in Wonderland to satirize the then radical new ideas in the world of mathematics, where mathematics was getting more abstract with imaginary numbers, abstract symbolic algebra, non Euclidean geometry. He brilliantly used this fantastical piece of literature to present what he thought was the absurdities in the new mathematics. This was his forum, his stage to present his dissent, his point of view through a memorable and much beloved piece of literature in the form of a children’s book.

 In order to satirize these new age ideas, he found fiction as the best forum to present his opinion, his dissent. Alice moved from a rational world through a rabbit hole to a land where even numbers behave irrationally, erratically. Thus this irrationality, reflecting the new age mathematics, was created by Dodgson as a construct of Alice’s mind which exists only in Wonderland as it did not need to conform to any laws of the real world. Dodgson has Alice continuously changing in size from 9 feet to 3 inches, but when Alice calls this world absurd, the caterpillar (“the worm” in her story) who lives in this irrational world pipes up and says that “it isn’t”! Here of course, I am tempted to draw the parallel with “the worm” in my story, who returns with the same response! As Dodgson through the madness that exists in Wonderland tries to highlight the dangers of the new symbolic algebra, I chant to keep my balance, my ratios constant Ignoring putty like contortions, sometimes oval, sometimes elliptical, moving from one form to another… finally looming overhead across magical glittering lake Geneva, in the smile of the Cheshire Cat that seems to know it all!

As I come near to the end of my time here in Geneva, so does my Geneva Diary which has been my friend and companion, and thanks to you, with whom I have dug up many a ghost, walked the cobbled streets of the old town and discovered the alleyways of this charming city. Like Alice in Wonderland, this has been written in a young voice, for the old and the young (I plan to reread it at 70!). And again like Alice,  and my other favorite character Tintin, my stories and many (mis)adventures have aspired a light surrealistic touch with many looming body parts. Of course, I have woven in my area of experience, the law, and pivotal topical legal issues like privacy with a lot of bizarre storytelling.

In the story of Servetus, with his tombstone poignantly placed outside the university hospital, I have attempted to pose a reminder of Medicine and Ethics: Do not use Green Wood! If the case is terminal, the decision final, then let the end be painless, swift. In keeping with my mantra,  this tale would cover the spectrum, the subjects of History, Theology, Medical Ethics, Law, Government and perhaps literature with a suggestion of substance abuse !

See below images of Geneva:

PURNIMA VISWANATHAN

Disclaimer : P

All persons, places, events are fictitious; all imputed relationships purely aspirational. There were no men harmed during the penning of the Feminist Manifesto

Published by Purrnima

Travel Writer - Art Blogger - CyberSmurf

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