Jack and Gilles, Privy Relationships and The Balance of Power, Law and Technology and The Vanishing Saraswati and The Veena
On May 24, 2011, Roger wrote:
It’s me again with a link to a great article about DSK. I am thrilled that someone has finally made the link between what happened at the Sofitel hotel and what the IMF and other financial organizations have done in their assault on the poor nations of the world.
It was utterly delightful to see you Weds. and have such a great chat over delicious food. You were in great form and I could tell from the sparkle in your eyes that you are optimistic, upbeat and, as my friend from Texas used to say, “bright-eyed and bush- tailed” about your future. It’s just sad to think that that was probably our last lunch in Geneva !
Here’s a link to an interesting piece on Weiner and his pro-Israel, anti-bike lane stance. I love Juan Cole’s blog, Informed Comment (By the way, he has recently written several lengthy entries about the Bush II administration asking the CIA to dig up dirt on him because he was such a vocal critic of the invasion of Iraq). The comments by readers after the article are also very telling about the guy as a shill for the Israeli lobby in the US.
We saw the film adaptation of Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood last night. It’s in Japanese with French subtitles and is a beautiful and quite faithful adaptation of the novel. The music and sweeping photography are mesmerizing, and A was overjoyed to be able to understand a great deal of the Japanese in the film. It’s a very melancholic film with a somewhat upbeat ending, and what I find totally refreshing with both the film and the novel is the very natural and matter-of-fact way that it (they) deal(s) with human sexuality. To my great surprise, many of the French critics have stated that the film is full of crude and raw sex, which, coming from the otherwise tolerant French who never shun the opportunity to indulge in a bit of eroticism, almost shocked me. There is nothing at all raw or crude, or even graphic, in the film, and in spite of some steamy sex scenes, there is not one bared breast. There is, however, some very frank discussion of both male and female sexuality. God forbid if the French are becoming more prudish !
Hope you’re staying dry on this wet and dim Sunday.
It was wonderful as always to see you, I enjoyed our long leisurely lunch and chat, Thank you!
It’s uncanny how I feel I have been continuously communicating with you, sharing all my ideas and thoughts on the ones you have posed and the numerous topics we have touched upon, but somewhere I feel those communications have been lost to ether as I fear i have missed penning down those lines and sending them across the sea. Perhaps, one day you’ll catch my brainwaves, and i will get my shabashi (reward/praise).
However, my time has been put to optimal use as I have ventured down the pathway of communication. I have been playing with photos, film clips and music, and have just recently sent off samples to share with you, see pasted below Geneva Blockbuster – Anjaana Anjaani.
I have roped in my charming (and very obliging) neighborhood video library guy here in Geneva, who seems to have lots of free time to chat with me in French and at the same time practice his English. He has offered to assist me with all my clumsy attempts at film making. The fact that he is very cute adds the necessary incentive for me to gather all my hi-tech gear (essentially my iphone) and trek across the road to engage my new found French friend, chat/flirt and make movies. I must admit it keeps me very entertained and excited as I not only translate his French into English and my English into French for him but all of the above into Hindustani for my video clips where I have set our movements to a popular Hindustani song Anjaana Anjaani. The clip Geneva Blockbuster: Anjaana Anjaani, kind of tells our story… where two people, an unknown or “Anjaana” (male) and an unknown or “Anjaani”(female), two travelers/soulmates “hum-safar” in a dark night “andheeri raat” meet(milana), literally an Asian version of “Strangers in the Night”. Can’t wait for you to check it out.
See Frank Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night: https://youtu.be/sbnNr4FzPXg
See Geneva Blockbuster – Anjana Anjani, a video by Purnima Viswanathan below: Once Upon A Time when we used to visit Blockbuster to chat up the cute video library guy…
I’m not sure if you can access this, but do check out The Prince of Persia (my video Library guy) as he jumps off the shelf right into my arms. Then there are photographs of my daily haunt, The Tea Room in Champel which keeps those featured Devilish Delights (more about them later), and of course the video clips that just don’t load.
See below The Black Swan with The Prince of Persia: Remember the days of Blockbuster when there was a real person to chat with behind the counter?
Back to your email and more elevating issues (the Boehner and the Weiner), I must admit I am completely out of the loop when it concerns issues that surround Israel/Palestine, I always skip through those articles as je ne comprends pas rien. Roger, i feel that there are so many great minds continuously mulling over and debating this issue that there could not possibly be any room for an additional comment/unexplored idea. However, in the defense of my state of deliberate ignorance, I do believe that there are some problems created (by man), that are created NOT to be resolved but merely to ensure that the maximum energy and the greatest number of minds are absorbed chasing their tails (one way to keep them busy with the equivalent of Fermat’s this time unsolvable theorem while the Paris burns). So Roger, I don’t venture anywhere near this blackhole of infinite diameter as I believe that once sucked in, there is no way out. And NO you can’t even tempt me with a Weiner!!
As the time for leaving approaches, the boxes are piling up and I am struggling the tick all “things to do” off my list. The first being- Divorce the b@#$%^&! The date has been set for the 28th of June, 8 long days. I have much to do and getting back to work is priority #1, so i spent a couple of hours last week completing the requisite continuing education classes required by the California Bar, to get some things out of the way while I still had the time. However, in my hyper stimulated state of mind (dwelling on Jill/Gilles), these classes took another form as I found myself flicking the computer screen trying to knock the speakers off their comfy chairs seated across the screen out there in California. These were technology related seminars, and once I got my concentration back(and realized I could not knock the SEC rep off), I discovered how technology, mobile phones with cameras, tablets/iPads had become an integral part of an attorneys existence during this prolonged stint in wonderland.
There were comments about how indispensable the camera phone was to take instant shots of of whatever needed to be collected and stored, photos, designs, documents with designs etc. The tablet seemed to replace the laptop in the courtroom and conference room as being an unobtrusive extension of a person as opposed to the laptop which builds walls(raised screen) and makes noise (punching of keys). And especially, when it came to issues of “Discovery” the knowledge of storing documents, retrieving information, knowing what and how to store the information at hand for easy production seemed to have moved light years. It now appears that if an attorney involved in basic litigation does not have the knowledge of this basic technology, he will be handicapped as he will not know what he can store, how he can store it, what he can demand the other party to produce and the various forms in which the material can be produced. This will then have an impact on the core competency of an attorney as he/she will be unable to produce or discover materials that he/she is unaware of, especially how materials have been stored and how they can be produced searched and scanned in a form that is not a waste of time and money for the client and the court.
Roger, in these long years of being out of the “formal” workforce, I have found that the world has truly turned on its head as far as digitalization and media is concerned. The computer, mobile/camera, gadget/tablet, seem to be omnipresent clicking, recording, editing and broadcasting continuously and in order to represent, advise, assist in any professional capacity in this universe, you have to be tech/media savvy. You core competency as an attorney, doctor, financier could be called to question if your advice has not incorporated the latest and most popular method of managing the matter. For this reason, I absolutely believe that a media center must form the core of any legal or medical library for apart from the attorneys who have to keep in sync with their client’s universe, the medical universe is getting more technical, more remote and more visual from what I read and see. i can’t imagine the normal two dimensional medical libraries lasting out beyond this decade, we will all be diving into our notebooks/tablets to get a look, feel, touch smell of the real situation and only then will be be able to credibly attach any of those letters to our names. I certainly have a long way to go, and these trysts with tech may not be in the right direction, but at least I’m holding on to the edge of the bandwagon!
See below Tearoom in Champel: Sin
The photos pasted above of the plateful of sin remind me of another overwhelming issue of this world of today, not the issue of saving information which has occupied our minds for all these generations, but one of deleting information, of erasing it, wiping it out. And as discussed in my last mail, this is where the Weiner got stuck. He certainly broadcasted, but upon discovering his error, he was unable to retrace his steps and simply erase the self photo he apparently sent 77,000 fans instead of the single one. Akin to the sculpture below at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:
Not only did that tear through cybersphere at breakneck speed, but once the Weiner was out of the bag (or brief) there was no way of putting it back. We are all faced with this glaring reality with it’s violent consequences, and it’s surprising how little we know and understand it. The reality that storage costs almost nothing and that it is much cheaper to store than to erase is a notion that even I can’t get into my head as i continue with the painstaking collation of information in various forms (especially print) so that a copy remains. We have few tools and fewer ideas on how to put the cat back into the bag, how to erase and delete. There have been suggestion of a digital signature, metadata that follows your script, photos etc, but in my opinion the replication, references and ownership of materials will not be easy to resolve however sophisticated the tools. Then there remain issues between nations, a clash of ideas and ideologies, the US viewpoints on the storage and destruction of data versus the more conservative European views on privacy and deletion. Roger, personally, I would like to write with a magic pen that holds magic ink which vanishes whenever and wherever I wish. I could merely trigger a command and that plateful of sin would disappear forever (tragically swallowing all the delicious dreams with it).
However, with this onslaught of scandalous headlines whether it be the story of Rep Weiner and his “sexting”, or the more sinister story of Strauss-Khan and the maid or even the tale of our beloved governor and his tango/tangle with the help, made me think of relationships and what it means in the hyper digitized universe of today where Weiner could not retract quick enough as the flick of the finger determined his fate terminally- he “resigned” to the gallows, where now it’s irrelevant whether Strauss Khan will ever get his day in court as he has been tried and convicted by the media and is serving his term as per the dictates of the digital diaspora, and dear old Schwarzenegger was sex-posed and shunted out due to his matrimonial meanderings. The information, the misinformation, the speculation together with the gore and the embellishments are out there, and are now out there forever like a shadow attached to the individuals identity unshakable unerasable eternal. Such is the reality of this realm. As I dwelt on the issue of relationships (and I had a long long time to dwell considering I HAD NONE), I engaged my prince of Persia into a dialogue and video clip (any excuse to get us together on film) and discussed the same.
Relationships: In the below pasted clip, I have attempted to explore relationships: Attorney-Client relationships where there are a set of rules prescribed by law on the manner in which this very private relationship be conducted, and again the Doctor-Patient relationship which also has it’s own prescribed set of rules, these rules rest on the basic premise that the doctor and the attorney are privy to information about you that would put you at an unfair advantage. It is essentially an issue of balancing of power so that the patient/client is not unduly compromised. Then there are relationship which do not have rules per se but require you to formulate the rules as you perceive them. For example, the rules that govern the front desk staff at a hotel and a client versus the rules that govern the bartender and the client in the same hotel and finally the rules that would govern the valet/cleaning lady and the client of the hotel. Even though they are all employees of the same hotel, would the implicit rules be different? I guess we would have to use the common sense “balance of power” and “undue influence” rule to ensure that the other party is not being victimized by the situation that he or she finds herself in. See image of sculpture below (Viola Frey – Man Observing Series II) at the De Young Museum in San Francisco:
Then I moved onto the older woman younger man and the influences and power-play in that scenario where I was reminded in a heavily accented voice that despite my being the older woman the power lay with him…(hmm I paused to drink that in before I continued on my schpeel/spiel). I ended with engaging him to fly with me and imagine that the Blockbuster video club was not a real place but that we were actually somewhere in cyberspace, and this was a video club online, he and I were avatars, personas collection of texts and messages, icons that represented a male and a female designed in our form who were interacting with each other. I then asked him to assume we were intimate, lovers on this virtual plane with an intense graphic relationship, perhaps even marriage. Now I asked him to assume that the person behind his avatar/persona was a man in some remote location and then I asked him to assume that the real person behind me was also a large beer bellied man burping beer, very different from the avatar he had envisioned.
I then asked him the pivotal question: Is our intimate relationship/marriage in the virtual world a homosexual relationship? He flipped out! Yes, he absolutely flipped out after indulging me and walking down this rose scented garden path, there was no problem with comprehension, homosexual translated directly into French! He then bend closer across the counter and assured me that OUR relationship was NOT homosexual, and he repeated this quite emphatically. I returned home to mull over this information. Was this a case of (as the counter punch article aptly put it) a Weiner wanking in front of the mirror, or did these excursions into the cyber-realm, where there is absolutely no chance of exchange of bodily fluids, translate into something tangible in the real world. If these adventures are anything more than a foray into fantasy, having “real” implications for its participants, then our avatars however feminine mine might be and however masculine his, our intimacy, would translate into a homosexual relationship if the persons behind our personas were two men. What if they were two men unaware of the identity of the other (as it would normally play out in the cyberworld), then would this relationship gain sanctity of union in a cyber-society, sanctity of union requisite for marriage in a conservative society? Are we not merely playing with illusions, wanking off in front of the mirror??
So, contrary to your stand (and regardless of his), I say Free the Weiner!
Check me out below in Privy Relationships-Geneva Blockbuster-Purnima with the Prince of Persia. This video clip was only possible because he was keen to learn English and I was excited to have an attentive “real” video library guy locked behind a counter to bounce my ideas off, material for my Geneva Diary.
Privy Relationships and Unequal Balance of Power- The Geneva Blockbuster: 2 minute video clip by Purnima Viswanathan pasted below
Full Video Link:
Good night and sweet dreams.
And, no more hot dogs for me for lunch tomorrow, I’m weinered out!!!
Identity Allegiance and Citizenship – The Vanishing Saraswati
The tale of V and his visa brings me back to a very personal conflict, of identity, allegiance and citizenship, what to embrace and what to relinquish, recognizing that time itself makes these decisions for you as you travel and mold and evolve. I am constantly questioned as to why I insist on holding onto the passport of a place I left far behind, one that requires me to stand in endlessly long lines and obtain visas at every port while my kids with their US citizenship sail through. I have also often questioned myself as to why I choose this difficult route, why I don’t give up the card of my origin and take on the one where I have spent most of my adult life. This I rationalize to myself as a last holdout, a connection with a culture, my roots, my being, but now I find, two decades later, even these arguments to myself seem weak and remote.
However, on the converse side, as I look at the place where I have spent all these years and lean towards fully embracing it (and making the questions disappear along with the endless queues) I re-look at the US from afar, at all your “issues” and obsessions (particularly concerning the issues in the middle east) and find that I am unable to relate, to connect, to embrace. And isn’t it (the American story) all about assimilation, melding into the melting pot, taking on both your dreams, ideas AND “issues”, or is it? Then how do you deal with this new wave of immigrants, “who are like me, who walk like me, who think like me”? Ones for whom your “issues” are much too remote both ethnically and culturally, who can talk about them in an educated manner but are unable to feel the passion… burn in your fire. Unsure of how I fit in, and what role we play in the future of America, I hesitate but from the brink, recognizing the facade of these two identities living in one and clinging to the memories of another.
Of course this brings me back to my roots, to India, and to the story of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and learning, one of the three powerful female deities and a personification of feminine power. A story with its references ringing across Asia with the Vedic, Hindu, and Buddhist incarnations that enrich our culture. See below images of Saraswati a revered deity in Japan, which travelled to Japan through China, and like it’s representation in India, the image of Saraswati in Japan is also associated with a sacred body of water and depicted holding a veena, or biwa in Japanese. See images below of Saraswati from the Japan Center in New Delhi, India:
In my current form as a mother and a teacher, one that my children look upon for knowledge and guidance, I fully embrace this form. In reading up about this dazzling goddess, I also discovered an interesting fact, that this guardian of the Vedas, knowledge and speech (“Vak”, sound being the most sacred and in our culture being the path to the ultimate reality) has a terrible power, she speaks nothing but the truth but moreover, everything she speaks becomes the truth (hmm… do I sense a parallel with my magical pen and alternate realities or have I stretched this one too far?)! See the story of Saraswati below: https://www.ancient.eu/Sarasvati/
Saraswati, a mighty river enriching the soil and supporting the Vedic culture as it flowed across a vast land (now postulated as being an offshoot of the mighty Indus) as mentioned in the Vedas was personified as a female deity in the hymns, one that would through knowledge, culture and creativity enrich the minds of those that bowed to it. A four armed deity dressed in white, riding on a white swan, seated on a white lotus, holding the Veena (referred to earlier) a musical string instrument in two hands playing the music of love and life and the vedas (sacred book) and rosary for meditation in the other two hands. See veena, the south Indian stringed instrument below and the sounds that used to melodiously resonate around the walls of our home: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/display-musical-wonders-of-india/saraswati-vina/
The Veena is represented as early as the mid 4th century in this gold coin from the golden age of the Guptas depicting the great king Samudragupta a patron of the arts playing the Veena from the article linked below: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_veena
See images from Japan of the veena or biwa represented as a sacred body of water around which are build beautiful shrines to the deity Saraswati. Also see image of lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan formed in the shape of a biwa or veena below:
And here is my favorite pic of my mother who was named Veena after this musical instrument by the Dal lake in Kashmir, India:
Even though Saraswati, a goddess much loved and revered across Asia and associated with the sacred river Saraswati which is mentioned extensively in the Vedas, we have no trace of it in South Asia today. There are many myths and legends about its disappearance, the stories melodically retold how this very revered river vanished, was driven underground by personas of the very culture which it raised and nurtured (more about the vanishing Saraswati and The Indus Valley Civilization).
See below snippets of my travels to the breathtaking buddhist caves of Ellora in Aurangabad, Maharashtra and the mind bending Hindu Kailasa temple where I find this magnificent sculpture of Saraswati carved into the temple, an incredible temple hewn from a single mountain, the largest rock cut sculpture in the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves
See below Purnima in Ellora:
The most popular story of the disappearance of Saraswati involved a ferocious feud between the two great sages Vashistha and Vishwamitra. In order to seek revenge in their ongoing feud, sage Vishwamitra commanded Saraswati to carry sage Vashistha to him as he was making his offerings to the river. Saraswati swept Vashistha off but refused to deliver him to sage Vishwamitra and saved him by depositing him out of troubles way. Vishwamitra was so furious with Saraswati that he cursed that she would flow in blood in the land of the demons. Horrified by this injustice, the gods assembled and purified the river granting her immortality. However, lands once cultivated by this rich river never saw her again. She remained a persona of myth and conjecture, embodied in the hymns of the Rig Veda and in the imaginations of those that recited and received them. I sense that time has come for me as well, to disappear, vanish, go underground, relinquish the identity I clutched onto so dearly all these years and perhaps somewhere in some realm I will flow again…
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