Geneva Diaries #75*(Part 2)

(The Last Letter 2009-2015)

OED, Emojis, FreeTheEggplant, Censorship, Evidence, Lingua Franca, Kipling, Domaine de Tara and Evangeline  All on the Silk Road 😂

Sun, Nov 22, 2015, 11:44 PM

Thanks. Oxford English Dictionary ‘s “word of the year “, but is it really a reflection of the spirit of 2015 ?

Sitting in the airport in Bangkok waiting for our flight to Kuala. More later. Thanks for your latest opus. I found it wonderful. 

Hugs,

Roger 

Sent from my iPhone

Hi There Roger,

I’m back! It was the quickest visit yet and I’m now back to complete part II of my letter which I must complete otherwise this too (along with the other many half finished mental drafts) will drift off into ether by the morn. To keep the flow, I am re-sending part I, but do scroll down to part II to continue.

Part II

Now Roger, prying you away from pictographs and logograms, I wish to hold your hand and take you on a journey where these pictograms and logographs have been words, language generating art, culture, poetry for many millennia. A journey along the Silk Road as my birthday gift.

As I had mentioned to you in my earlier emails, my youngest aunt, my mothers youngest sister’s birthday also falls on October 7th, and that makes me feel especially connected with you as she not only raised me as a baby, but also continued to have a special impact on my life through adulthood. She was our spectacularly charming beautiful young aunt who was closely involved with raising and caring for every child of the family, until of course she was taken by the tribes of the North (yes the people of Peshawar/Tora Bora). She left laden with her weight in gold, her eyes forever California Dreaming. We all remember her very fondly on this day, and I dedicate this following song to her, to you and all those born on October 7th, the ones forever looking beyond the horizon. Do see my aunt Renu Shourie California Dreaming below:

Renu Shourie California Dreaming (1970’s)

See Renu as a bride below leaving our home bedecked in the gold of the Tribes from the Borderlands – Peshawar and Tora Bora (There’s a lot of gold in dem dar caves!):

Renu as a Bride Bedecked in Gold

Do watch a song which I dedicate to my aunt Renu one who evokes its music and ethos, see below from Coke Studio- Bibi Sanam:

A Song Dedicated to my Aunt Renu Shourie who evokes its Music and Ethos

http://grapesaresour.blogspot.in/2010/06/bibi-sanam-janam-lyrics.html

This beautiful song from Afghanistan sung in Daari( Farsi or Persian) is a melody about a beautiful woman(our beloved aunt), as sweet as the pomegranate of Sistan, whose home is at the gates of Tashkurgan. So as my aunts eyes wander to the horizon, this song leads her to her home, the gates of Tashkurgan. So remember as the bombs hit Afghanistan, they pass over her as she sits there listening to these nostalgic tunes in Daari with glazed eyes making rotis (bread) over an open fire for her two lovely daughters.

See below a video from Coke Studio about the performance of the song Bibi Sanam Janem. Here the musicians share that through this performance they are giving breath to their old folk song about love from the Herat province of Afghanistan:https://youtu.be/I9KVeJy6J2o

Tashkurgan almost has a mythic dimension, and was for long a central point in northern Afghanistan (Kholm) an important destination along the Silk Road, and a place remembered as Aornos, Alexanders last bastion. It is also a place in the East in Xinjiang, along the silk road. Before we head out along the Silk Road, let me head south with you to Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier provinces and forward in time, to the British Raj. I would like to share with you Rudyard Kiplings Ballad of East and West published in 1889 and often remembered by these misquoted lines:

Do see the following link The Ballad of The East and West: http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_eastwest.htm

0h, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

Of course the poem ends with with the assertion that all distinctions are irrelevant when two men of great courage stand face to face, as evidenced by the following lines from the above link:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

However, my take extends Kipling and goes on to say that East and West, Kamal and the Colonel’s son represented by me and you, do come together in a space beyond that of equal courage and strength,  in a new land, far away, one that is neither the East or the West, but is a whole New World. Yes Roger, this is our story for in the New World, we meet, Europe and Asia. So since I have assumed the persona of Kamal the fleet footed Afghan horse thief (quite aptly so) who so flagrantly raids the border between Afghanistan and British India/ Peshawar, and I have assigned for you the role of the Colonel’s son. I wish for you to know that I take your most beautiful horse just for the chase. And I take you outside the borders of this poem, beyond the point of no return, through the Khyber pass to the gates of Tashkurgan and for a journey along the Silk Road.

See below a fab find at the book fair in Aix-en-Provence, you will find me in its pages: Air de Chasse, illustrations by Jacques Cartier

Air de Chasse Illustrations by Jacques Cartier

But before we proceed, once again we have to stall and return today and our life as we live it.

In answer to your question about Tara and her future plans, I have some great news to share, Tara is confirmed to go for the exchange program to France in February, and she is over the moon. It has been a long tough journey for Tara, as she been moved from destination to destination, continuously being uprooted, journeying far away from home. I know I often revert back to my favourite poem by Longfellow,  Evangeline – A Tale of Acadie, but Roger this is a true story, its Tara’s story in Pictures, a poem and a few words.

See link Longfellows Evangeline: http://www.hwlongfellow.org/works_evangeline.shtml

Tara was conceived in Arcadia (even though this was a beautiful place in Singapore), and she took her first few steps in California where she blossomed and grew under the California sun in her charming home surrounded by fragrant flowers and many types of tree ripened fruit, her sibling, her parents and her friends. Then the storm came which brought with it fire, and she had to flee her charmed life and home. Like Evangeline she boarded a boat with all her household gods and set sail to an unknown future. Do see pictures posted of Tara/Evangeline with the following lines from Evangeline pasted below from the following link: http://www.bartleby.com/42/791.html

MANY a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pré,
When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed,
Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into exile,
Exile without an end, and without an example in story.

Do see the attached image of Tara’s first home with her household gods (from an article in the Singapore Tatler June 2000), and the images of a Goa sculpture of Saint Francis and the many Gandharas (buddha friezes and heads). I have also attached Tara’s home in Geneva with its household gods and images. Our story of Evangeline, Grand pre and Tara continues on to Angers, France. However, as the journey has been hard and long, Tara’s household goods and gods are scattered around the globe, as she moves from one shore onto another searching for home. However, in my interpretation of Evangeline, Tara does return to Acadie, and into the arms of her beloved who will be waiting for her at her journeys end.

But the household gods, the Gandharas, from the attached images take us back to Kamal and the Colonels son, back to Tashkurgan and the Silk Road.

See below The Centaur-Sea Serpent Gandhara Lintels from The Asian Art Museum San Francisco, showcasing a distinctive fusion of Greek and Central and South Asian Styles:

http://AAM Centaur Sea Serpents http://searchcollection.asianart.org/view/objects/asitem/search@/11?t:state:flow=382d91f4-7d30-4247-93e2-0a6ec780a973

Gandhara – The Centaur Sea Serpent Sculptures from The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

These sculptures particularly took my fancy, as steeped in the legend of Andromeda who is captured by the sea monster Cetus whom the valiant Perseus slays, is a legend which I have made my own (from a previous blog where I embrace the role of the mother of Perseus), see links to the sea monster Cetus from the Greek legend:

https://mythus.fandom.com/wiki/Cetus

https://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/constellations/cetus.html

See below an echo from the Old World reflected in the sparkling waters of The New World: The Sea Horse-Sea Serpent sculptures of the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Chicago (Chicago being an apt destination as my story is connected to this charming city and the old Continental Bank of Chicago) which features four sets of Art Deco style sea horses representing the four states that border Lake Michigan: https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/clarence-f-buckingham-memorial-fountain

Purnima Visits the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain in Chicago

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e60grkm6wwfl9xa/Clarence%20F.%20Buckingham%20Memorial%20Fountain-Chicago.MOV?dl=0

And veering the tale back to Tara, see below Tara Household Gods– A Tale of Acadie, Tara as Evangeline:

Tara as Evangeline – A Tale of Acadie

The Gandhara HeadTara’s Household Gods – Gandhara head with bronze Jain deity and stone Buddha head.

The Gandhara Head Sculpture – Tara’s Household Gods

Tara’s Household Gods (see below from Geneva, Switzerland)- Balgopal (baby Krishna), Krishna playing the flute and Sacred slippers of The Guru.

Tara’s Household Gods-Geneva, Switzerland

St Francis Sculpture from Kerala, India – Tara’s Household Gods

St Francis Sculpture from Kerala, India – Tara’s Home

Tara’s Household Gods: Varaha or Vishnu avatar in Geneva, Switzerland.

Tara’s Household Gods-Varaha, Vishnu Avatar in Geneva, Switzerland

Arcadia – Tara’s Home (Photo by The Singapore Tattler Magazine)

Arcadia Singapore- Tara’s Home- Photo from The Singapore Tattler

Very briefly as I have a library to fill on this material…Gandhara is an area that covers parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan and is known for the Greco-buddhist, Bactro-Zorastrian influences that moulded its art and subsequently went on to influence the art and culture of Central Asia, China all the way across the Silk Road to Korea and Japan. After Alexander’s conquest of this region in 4th century BC, Greek art and culture combined with the prevalent culture and religion of the region, which was predominantly Buddhist with strong Zoroastrian influences. In fact, the Indo Greeks passionately embraced Buddhism, (as famously showcased through the Milinda-Panha, a philosophical dialogue between the Indo-Greek king Menander with the buddhist monk Nagasena) and the resulting merger of these two ideas resulted in the most magnificent art the region has known: Gandharan art and sculpture. In fact the numismatic art work is said to have far exceeded in fitness even its contemporary Greek origins (much more to say about Indo-Greek numismatics). See below an example of fine Indo-Greek coinage from The National Museum of Delhi, India:

The Gandharas were images of the buddha modeled after Apollo, in finely draped robes, and curly hair which highlight its greek origins. There are numerous images of the Buddha with Hercules and numerous other Greek deities standing guard over the buddha. These images patronized by the IndoGreek kings in the first and second century BC became further fine-tuned and widespread by the Indo-Scynthians, Kushans and thus travelled with silks, spices and Buddhism along the Silk Road to China and beyond and helped mould the image of the buddha in the lands it touched along the Silk Road. And we, in another time, along with our household gods, the Gandharas traveled alongside these caravans through Central Asia.

Do see some fab images of Gandharas from my travels across the globe pasted below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhist_art

Gandhara Caption – from The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

The Terracotta Gandhara from the Asian Civilization Museum in Singapore https://www.dropbox.com/s/vdml29r1tsio1bz/Teracotta%20Gandhara-ACM%20Singapore.mov?dl=0

Terracotta Gandhara, Asian Civilization Museum, Singapore

And Finally, Tara did go for that exchange program to France, a place she seemed to embrace like home. And as I came to bid her goodbye at her school I found her completely engrossed in conversation with her new friends, I wasn’t quite sure if it was a wave good bye from a distance or a wave off (like please don’t dare come here and try to practice your faltering French with my new found friends). It seemed as though this California grape ripened under the warm California sun was being squeezed into a French bottle and happily so. Soon we might have her back at our table with a French label affixed to her lapel!

However, despite her having turned coat overnight, I was more perturbed by her quizzing me over our last supper as to why she should ever consider returning to California. I found upon taking my umpteenth photo in an attempt to collect all the memories I could gather of my little girl, she stopped smiling, appeared visibly upset at my continuous clicking, and stuck two French fries into the corners of her mouth like a fuming wild boar. I was immediately put at ease, for I realized that even if you put this grape in a French bottle, affix a French label, she will return home, for she will always remain a bold California wine lol! See below Teenage Tara – A Robust California Vintage:

Tara in France- Mom Put Down That Phone-I Am Not Amused!

Tara in France – I Am Not Amused

Tara in France-A Bold California Vintage!

Tara in France- A Bold California Vintage!

It’s good old California root stock that make the French eyes sparkle : )

Here Kamal says goodbye to the Colonels son and promises more adventures in the future.

Face with Tears of Joy 😂

With lots of love,

Purnima

Sat, May 30, 2015, 9:44 AM

Dear Purnima,

I have read with dismay about the terrible heat wave that is plaguing India at present. Whereas the most hard-hit areas are in the southeastern part of the country, I’m sure you have been feeling its effects in Delhi. It must be terrible to suffer in such heat. I do hope you have a good, air-conditioned refuge from the heat.

Are you making progress on your masterpiece? With a heat wave on the prowl, it’s probably a good time to hole up somewhere and write.

While we are on the subject of the weather, it has been rather cool here this spring. We still haven’t set up our table outside for meals because it gets so chilly in the evening that it would be uncomfortable to eat outside, but I rather like it this way.

How are your children doing? Have you been able to spend some time with them?

Our little family drama is still evolving, but for the most part, in a positive direction, and everyone remains good friends with open channels of communication.

Do take care of yourself and stay cool.

Love,

Roger

Roger Stevenson

Purnima Viswanathan

Blog Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #75*(Part 1)

(The Last Letter 2009-2015)

OED, Emojis, FreeTheEggplant, Censorship, Evidence, Lingua Franca, Kipling and Evangeline  All on the Silk Road 😂

Nov 15, 2015, 7:33 PM

Dear Purnima,

It was lovely to get your comment on FB yesterday. I have been thinking about you the past couple of days and wanted to write, and your FB comment spurred me on.

We have been back in Chiang Mai for four days now. It’s so wonderful to be here again. The weather is nice and warm, but not terribly hot, and the people are so lovely and friendly and then there is the food, not to mention the wonderfully delicious massages.  Last night we went to the weekly Sunday Night Street Market in the center of the city. It is such a delightful experience and there is a such a variety of creative things that they sell. The only drawback is the huge number of tourists that crowd the street. Sometimes it is almost impossible to move. We spent a couple of hours walking up and down the street and then we capped the evening off with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We had a lovely table right next to the pool.

How are you doing since your return from your latest California jaunt? It was so nice talking to you when we were in San Diego. I’m sorry it didn’t work out to talk further while you were in Northern California.

We have been saddened by the terrible and horrendous attacks in Paris. One of the restaurants hit, La Belle Equipe, is just around the corner from the apartment we rented in October when we were in Paris and we walked past it often.  I’m afraid that this will change so many things in the world, just like 9/11 did, and I don’t know where or when it will all end. I deplore the vicious attacks on innocent civilians, especially since it is in the name of a religious cause. The only heartening thing, if you can call it such, is the solidarity that has been expressed not just among the French people but from all corners of the globe. However, I fear the long term social and political consequences. France will have presidential elections next year, and I fear that the far right, anti immigrant parties will reap a lot of votes because of this.

That was a wonderful picture of Tara that you posted on FB when she left for school. She has grown into such a fine young woman. You must be proud of her. Is she still at the same school in the north of India ?

Speaking of northern India, I am just finishing watching (only one more episode to watch) a marvelous British series called “Indian Summers”. It deals with India just before independence and the fact that the British administration of India moved their headquarters to northern India, at the foot of the Himalayas in order to escape the summer heat in Delhi. It is such a damning portrait of the arrogant British and their racial attitudes toward the Indian people and how manipulative they were in their public displays of how they handed out justice to the Indian people. There are, of course, several romantic involvements between Indians and Brits, and it all comes together so delightfully. It’s one of the best series about India that I have seen in a very long time. I’m just hoping there will be a second season.

We are flying to Bangkok on Saturday and on Monday we fly to Kuala Lumpur for two nights and then on to Singapore for two more before we fly back to LA.

More when we get back to Ojai.

Love and hugs,

Roger

Roger Stevenson

– – –

PART I 

Dear Roger,

How wonderful to get a lovely long email from you! It sure sounds like Thailand has carved out a special place in your heart, and it certainly did mine but I got to see a lot of it from under a 100 feet. Yes, the sea, sand and massages were incredible, but I used to leave Mirko sunbathing on the beach ( a strange western custom in my eyes), and head out to the deep ocean for scuba adventure. Yes, I married a New Yorker who didn’t drive and wasn’t keen to get more than his ankles wet. I now yearn to return to Thailand in this new found second life for the sea and for the food.

What happened in France was beyond a tragedy, with so many innocents murdered, the world just doesn’t make any sense. I’m so glad you were far from the danger, and not at your summer rental. Annick must be very disturbed, do give her my regards. However, I believe the main the test for the French nation and French values that the whole world admires is now, to see that they in this very intense time of crisis uphold Liberty, Egalite and Fraternity. What do you sense from the murmurs on the ground?

On home ground, I’m always looking for interesting movies and tv shows to fill my evenings. The British show Indian summers seems right up my alley. As you know, my family was very much a part of that story, The British Raj and all the stories around it are the lives lived by my grandparents and then my father as a child of the Raj. The summer capital you refer to is Simla, where my family spend many summers and in my memory it will always be a place superimposed with images of  my family and of course an integral part of the story of Kadambari (for woven in the story of Kadambari is the story of my family, the story of the Raj). Roger, for me to get images of Kadambari, I will have to visit the British , French and US archives, and you will have to help. Yes, even the US archives, for This is an American Story!

We last spoke on your birthday, October 7th, when I was visiting Anaheim, and I have been remiss in not responding to your earlier email, but I was gripped by the most intense jet lag/exhaustion after my travels and have just about managed to recover. It was really unfortunate that we were unable to meet, but I’m sure you had a lovely birthday weekend treat to San Diego with Annick.Well Roger, since Annick took you on a birthday trip, I would also like to do the same. However, my planned journey is a rather more exotic one, as I hope to take you for a tour of the Silk Road and Central Asia (perhaps one day for real as well). So seat belts on, let’s see how steady you are on a camel.

But first, before we embark upon our exotic travels, I would like to share with you a piece of news that has tickled me and had me engrossed over the last couple of days and I’ve been raring to share, The Oxford English Dictionaries word of the year for 2015: “Face with tears of joy”,😂 an emoji!

See the OED blog below:

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/11/word-of-the-year-2015-emoji/

This has caused a furore over the internet, and I’ve been having fun following the expletives. People just can’t seem to be able to wrap their minds around this, its been declared an outrage, a betrayal among many other colorful terms. It is that all too familiar yellow round face with tears pouring from the side of its eyes, to convey an image of unrestrained laughter or LOL, laughing out loud. Apparently, not only are emoji’s which have only recently entered out universe (1990) fast taking over as the most popular means of communication, this particular emoji “face with tears of joy”, is the most popular of the lot. Once again, the emoji is an image, pictograph as opposed to the emoticon which is an arrangement of punctuation like a smiley face 🙂 The overriding question was on the various online forums was “How is this even a word?” It’s an image, a picture, a symbol … 

Well according to the oxford dictionary, a word is defined as below:

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/word

Definition of word in English:

noun

1A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed:

I don’t like the word ‘unofficial’

why so many words for so few ideas?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “word” as:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/word

: a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written

: a brief remark or conversation : something that a person says

: an order or command

Roger, as you know the earliest written communications primarily comprised of pictographic representations. This logographic language quickly evolved to represent both images for the thing described and similar sounds for other objects, like the hieroglyphics. So pure pictorial symbolism for an object is truly rudimentary, and that was the charge being leveled against the OED word of the year, that it was a process of regression and not evolution.

See below:

http://www.ancientscripts.com/chinese.html

The Chinese writing system is a unique phenomenon in the modern world of alphabet scripts. Instead of a few dozen letters, it has developed thousands of complex signs or “characters” that represent morphemes and words. Even related writing systems such as Japanese and Korean, while sharing many of the same characters, can fully function as purely phonetic scripts. And while it is not the only living logographic writing system in the modern world, it is the only one serving as the primary writing system for hundreds of millions of people.

However, on the most vocal charge of all on how is this image/pictograph even a word, I found myself revisiting the China Institute in New York where I had spend a summer, and recalling all the images from the characters of the Chinese script that were very much a pictorial image of the object represented, like man, mountain and tree. I know haters will hate and objectors will object, but are all these objectors really saying that the Chinese character for man, mountain and tree is not a word? Are they really saying that the only words that exist, exist in the English language and the rest of the world could just lump it? Are they saying that Mandarin, Korean and Japanese are not really languages, even though they are spoken by millions of people? What then constitutes language?

See below Logographic scripts and Chinese characters for Man, Mountain and Tree:

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Logogram

logogram, or logograph, is a written or pictorial symbol that is used to represent an entire word, unlike phonograms, which represent phonetic sounds.

As a purely logographic script would be impractical for most languages, writing systems that incorporate logograms also make use of phonetic elements. Thus, such writing systems make use of a combination of phonetic and logographic symbols, including ideograms.

For example, symbols for currency like “$,” “€,” and “£” are universally recognized to mean “dollar,” “euro,” and “pound” respectively…mathematical symbols like “+” (plus), “<” (less than), and “π” (pi). While the spoken representation of these symbols may change according to the language, the symbols themselves transcend language barriers. 

Chinese characters are traditionally divided into six types, of which only a very small number are true logograms, representing a single word. Some of the oldest Chinese characters are stylized pictographs, like 人 for “man,” 木 for “tree,” or 山 for “mountain.” See below the Chinese characters for man, tree and mountain that actually look like the image of the word they represent.

 Person/Man: 人

https://www.chinese-word.com/data/0071.html

Tree: 木 

https://www.chinese-word.com/data/2330.html

Mountain: 山

https://www.chinese-word.com/data/1209.html

See below a fabulous installation at The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco titled Collected Letters by Qui Jianhua where a cascade of ceramic letters in Roman script and Chinese radicals that form Chinese characters appear to tumble down from the ceiling and dangle in midair suspended on an invisible string aptly dovetailing with my letter as they represent art, pictographs and the evolution of language, see exhibit below:https://www.dropbox.com/s/gsfn1ud5670x5v8/AAM%20Installation-%20Chinese%20and%20Roman%20Letters%3ACharacters.mov?dl=0

An Installation at The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco titled Collected Letters by Qui Jianhua

What is interesting to note is that while the Oxford Dictionary deals with current usage, the Oxford English Dictionary is a historical dictionary and it traces the development of words in the English language. Do see video pasted below:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivV8x2K_DSU

And as a historical dictionary it is doing just the right job of following the natural progression of the English language not just in print and spoken form but in the most relevant of all forms and forums today: The World Wide Web! 

Now Roger, I ask what if language is not as it was, traditionally limited to one group, community, society or culture but is required to be widely disseminated, accessed and understood by the global community, what then should be the role and goal of this language? This is the world of today and this is the world of the internet. By incorporating the emoji as the word of the year, the OED is declaring that the English language has morphed and transcended into another dimension, the dimension most relevant today, the virtual world, the web. I say bravo and three cheers for the pundits behind this move, English is and will continue to be the lingua franca of the new realm, the new world for it does what language must primarily strive to do, help facilitate communication. Ironically, the word lingua franca come from the all pervasive/ prevalent language of the enlightened world- French, but and unfortunately, the French seem to be fighting on different battlefields. If I provoke, I do to get a response, would love to hear you Roger as we have discussed the evolution of language in the past, what are your views on this now? Tragically, my French is almost non-existent due to lack of usage.

The Eggplant Emoji 🍆

I would like to wrap up this discussion with something that made me roll on the floor with “face with tears of joy”. I couldn’t stop laughing out loud and absolutely had to share, it is also connected to a subject close to my heart:censorship. Well, during this journey through the internet chasing the emoji face with tears of joy, I came across an article that said that Instagram had banned/ censored the usage of an emoji of an eggplant. Yes, the image of an aubergine, eggplant, a vegetable has been censored. You are no longer permitted to send this innocuous looking  eggplant image on instagram as it is meant to represent a “penis”. Yes, the character of an eggplant in the modern world has the same sound as penis! This has resulted on another furore on the internet and liberal souls like myself are demanding that we FreeTheEggplant. Do see link below:

http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/24561/1/freetheeggplant-instagram-bans-emoji-from-search-function

I find the world has come to a most ridiculous end when vegetables are being not only viewed as phallic symbols (even if the boys on tinder are liberally using the image of the eggplant must we all be denied?). Now, everytime I say, “I love eggplants, I would like to have an eggplant for dinner, I dream of having an eggplant meal”, I have to hold myself back to re evaluate my audience and its response. I have to ensure I am conforming to contemporary community standards before I ever read out a recipe from my vegetarian cookbook. As I read out the baby books I must censor strictly: A is for Apple, B is for Ball, C is for … (carrot? I’m not sure if even that is permissible as the dimensions don’t conform, for the Length is greater than the width. I am certain its on the not permitted list), D is for Dog and E is …NOT FOR EGGPLANT…help!!! I envision a censorship squad in our supermarkets blotting out the names of horse radishes, cucumbers, carrots and eggplants. Those of us who inquire as to its location are whipped on the hands by the grocery store staff. There is a censor squad sent to all kindergartens to ensure the books are correctly labelled and the inappropriate images of eggplants and other objectionable phallic vegetables excised with immediate effect. Roger, welcome to the universe of today, and tomorrow…you thought The Brave New World was bad wait for this edition! Do check out the vegetable song for kindergarteners that I played to my children but will probably not be able to play to my grandchildren, must watch I promise you will laugh with tears of joy:

The Vegetable Song: https://youtu.be/0bxZylSiJ78

The Vegetable Song for Kindergarteners

I have to sign off now Roger as I’m off for a funeral and I promise to leave all my eggplant images back home as I leave for this sombre occasion. But wait for me, Part II which is a continuation of the above is coming up and I promise you an incredible journey.

Ok, so I last left you with an eggplant in your hand. But this is serious stuff regarding censorship, what are these contemporary community standards and who gets to determine what appeals to the prurient interest. Does something banned on the internet/ instagram like the eggplant emoji get translated into eggplants being censored in the real world as discussed above and more relevantly for us today, things that we censor or ban in the real world, can that be directly translated into the internet and can we automatically ban the same. This question has been raised in numerous cases in the US courts where the site being banned questioned the community standards, and whether what is considered pornography in the real world may not translate directly into the virtual world as there are different standards. Well, hello, I’m very interested to know what these standards are and how are they different or the same. Is anyone out there? Can anyone hear me? Chinese, French, English, Emoji…anything??

Now Roger, even though I have given the OED my thumbs up, three cheers and bravo (and this may be because I’m innately inclined towards the Oxford Dictionaries as I was given my first copy by a Don of Oxford from the 1920’s and 30’s, do see my copy attached, and I’m very aware as I turn the pages that my fingerprints overlap his), as language stretches there are very grave issues that arise relating to the law to consider.

My grandfather Viswanathan’s OED below: Viswanathan’s Oxford English Dictionary

Viswanathan’s OED

https://www.dropbox.com/s/plyvwo1pnjvyf24/Viswanathan%27s%20Concise%20Oxford%20Dictionary.tiff?dl=0

Now I’m going to hold your hand as we become web ants and walk through the California Evidence Code. I do this in order to better understand our corpus of laws in this ever changing linguistic landscape, we have to ask some pivotal questions. The one that comes to the top of my mind in this context is “What is a writing?

Let’s say hypothetically, a legal document is under review, the question is whether it can be admitted into evidence. Let’s say its a will. What if that will was drafted by a goof ball (comme moi), who after adhering to all the legal requirements, signs off with the emoji “face with tears of joy”, relieved that the final task is done.

The question is…Have I invalidated the document by signing off with an emoji ?

My take: After all the emoji, face with tears of joy was the OED’s word of the year! It’s a word, if the oxford dictionaries said so, it has to be a word!! 

The question is: Is this a writing admissible as evidence (as defined under the evidence code)? 

See below the relevant sections of the California Evidence Code:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov

140.  “Evidence” means testimony, writings, material objects, or

other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the

existence or nonexistence of a fact.

250.  “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing, any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.

Section 250 above “Writing” covers pictures and symbols as well. An emoji is certainly a picture, and possibly a symbol as well, it can certainly be understood as a combination of word, picture, symbol, so under the evidence code. I read the emoji “face with tears of joy” as a writing.

Now that we have answered the first question whether it is a writing, we have to ask if this is the writing we are talking about, ie, authentication. Let’s say the Will can be produced and authenticated. However, upon further inquiry relating to the content of the writing, I suspect we slip down a slippery slope

The question is whether by the insertion of this emoji, “face with tears of joy” which also has as an alternate meaning  LOL or “laughing out loud”, we are inserting ambiguity and invalidating the document. Even if the dictionary definition of the emoji is “face with tears of joy”, by the insertion of the emoji in the will could I be saying “This is not a Will” haha, laughing out loud. Or could I be creating a document that states, “She is a surgeon, Not” by inserting the emoji at the end of my letter of verification that confirms “She is a surgeon”. Though verbally stating sentences that end with Not, may now have become common parlance borrowed from slang, if the emoji serves to ridicule or disdain as many have claimed the emoji face with tears of joy does, it would destroy legal documentation forever!

So as we cheer, we have do so with caution, as it will impact much more than our language, it will impact our laws and the universe as we know it.

The Squirt Gun Emoji 🔫 (An excerpt from Purnima’s Emoji Paper to The CLA – a must read lol)- See a marked up screenshot of Jailbreak from The Emoji movie below also posted by me on Snap:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nrbojkaco08pab1/SNAP_20190520-111239.mp4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/93aguh0160eyuxp/Money%20Museum.mp4?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/049maox98mijory/Gun%20Emoji.mp4?dl=0

Marked up Screenshot of Jailbreak from The Emoji Movie
Purnima Enter The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Purnima at The Money Museum, Chicago
Purnima at The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago with the Squirt Gun Emoji

Do Check out Eric Goldman’s paper on Emojis and The law: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2961060

Goldman points out how this depiction diversity can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Unicode takes a somewhat lackadaisical approach to cross-platform compatibility

  •  it could attempt to sanction platforms that implement emojis so differently than the official Unicode outline that the meaning is changed, such as the Apple squirt gun implementation of a pistol firearm. Apple can offer its users a water gun emoji; but it can’t do so using the numerical code that Unicode assigns for the pistol emoji. Of course, Apple can choose not to implement the Unicode pistol emoji, though that will lead to recipients seeing the empty-square omission notice on incoming messages from other platforms (or the incoming emoji being omitted entirely). 

Purnima reflections: The other way to get around the Unicode Indexing system is by developing consensus across platforms as to the depiction of an image, then regardless of what a gun looks like in the real world in the world of emojis we would recognize its representation as a squirt gun. It now appears that not only has Apple kept a squirt gun emoji in the place of a pistol (weapon) but this has worked to persuade the other large platforms to do the same. Now Google, MS, Samsung, FB, Whattsapp, Twitter have squirt gun emojis in place of the gun symbol. However, this stream of reasoning doesn’t do much to resolve the underlying issue due to which the realistic gun image was converted to represent a toy- a squirt gun.  The squirt gun as we have seen above when used in conjunction with other realistic emoji weapon depictions is just as threatening and incur the same civil and criminal liabilities when used with the intent to threaten. 

In order to truly achieve the aim of denoting a gun (weapon) as a squirt gun, in addition to persuading all major platforms to adopt the squirt gun, it is imperative to eliminate all signs of the squirt gun from the real world – yes its time we wrestle away that squirt gun from our seven year olds hands and create a bonfire toy squirt guns. It is only in that instance that the image of a squirt gun (squirt gun emoji) could truly and absolutely represent the gun and claim the Unicode numerical code for the gun. The noble idea of eliminating the gun and all the mischief associated with it still remains a distant dream which this inversion doesn’t really solve.

In fact this inversion, representation of a gun by a squirt gun brings us back to the original question, how far are we willing to modify the real world to reflect our lives in the digital realm and in whom do we entrust this power. If an image is inverted in the digital realm, in order to maintain compatibility and coherence do we also accept corresponding inversions to our real world?  

Love

Purnima

A marked up screenshot of Purnima as Jailbreak from The Emoji movie below also posted by me on Snap

PS: Do Check out Jailbreak from The Emoji Movie below:https://emojimovie.fandom.com/wiki/Jailbreak

PURNIMA VISWANATHAN

Blog Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #74*

Music & Memories Fur Elise, EIC and The Alphabet, Art, Love and Logic 

10/06/15

Dear Roger,

You are probably going to see a series of frantic emails and messages from me asking if you are back in California, well here goes another!

I leave tonight, in a few hours for LA, and will be staying in Anaheim (at the Mariott) Oct 7-11. I couldn’t be closer, so if I miss you on this trip to California, it will be a real pity. Are you back, when are you back? I really hope to see you and catch up over lunch, dinner or even a coffee! I fly out from LAX to SFO at 1:30pm Oct 11th.

As my writing to you is often a journey into my “dear diary” I’m going to leave you with this haunting melody which encapsulates my childhood and all the wonderful memories within. As I journeyed through the last rocky decade, my magical childhood somehow seemed to appear an illusion, something I had conceived, and life had contaminated. I struggled to revisit the fragments of my past, those blissful memories of my childhood, my parents and our very regular and very happy family. But whenever I caught a piece, it seemed to evaporate, or rather disintegrate due to the last few traumatic years. I found that I was unable to hold or retain a single pure uncontaminated memory, and that truly broke me. 

See below a surrealist art work titled Magnetic Mountain by Kurt Seligmann at The Art Institute, Chicago evoking the shards of memories of a house atop a mountain, my childhood home, with the mighty Brahmaputra flowing by:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/92bzd2nb93jidg0/AAB4qymRTK6jNfL9X2W8Annva?dl=0

And then…as magic happens..when one falls to the bottom with no where to go… in the dark depths I heard… music…pure, clear, unadulterated sound bringing back a rush of beautiful pure unadulterated memories. It was in this musical piece (Fur Elise by Beethoven) that my entire childhood in all its giddy laughter, happiness and bliss was retained in its essence. 

See below a video of music box playing Beethoven’s Fur Elise:

Fur Elise Music Box – For Purnima

As my mother adorned, anointed and wrapped herself in her saree, I often played with her jewels dancing around her dressing room. There, in the depths of that special cupboard used to lie a silver music box with two dancing figures, it was magic to open it for out streamed Beethoven’s Fur Elise as the two exquisite dolls, one male and one female, twirled around each other as elegant dancers at a great ball. It’s for you Purnima, my mother used to say, and now I know “Fur Elise” was really “For Purnima”, for in the music was retained an entire idyllic childhood, untampered, and uncontaminated. For music is memory. See attached a picture of Mom and me.

Do see below Fur Elise by Ludwig Van Beethoven:

See pasted below Mom and Me:

Mom and Me – Veena Viswanathan holding Baby Purnima

And Roger, since I have two full hours before my flight I’m going to share a blurb I had written just the other day about …The Alphabet, Googol, EIC, Art, Love, Logic and Ode to Joy…all inspired after reading an article posted by a friend on The East India Company (EIC) by William Dalrymple. See The Guardian article below:

The East India Company: The Original Corporate Raiders

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/04/east-india-company-original-corporate-raiders

So Roger Here goes my take on the modern day equivalent of The East India Company and its implications, can’t wait to hear what you think.

Let me take you for a ride on The Magic School Bus and let your imagination fly free: Imagine all the possible permutations and combinations  of all the letters of the alphabet, artworks or the musical notes containing within it all the art, history, literature, philosophy and creative expression of mankind. What if someone claimed The Alphabet, Would we be relinquishing all the past present and future of humanity’s expressions to that entity?

See below Jasper Johns Alphabet from The Art Institute, Chicago

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ow5zhnmnmdlu9sb/AADXM1CHwbYHFQ8dGwCkqQuLa?dl=0

Jasper JohnsAlphabet

https://www.artic.edu/artworks/229353/alphabet

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/342067

Jasper Johns Numbers 0-9 At The Tate:https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/johns-0-through-9-t00454

Could an “all expansive” corporate entity, in the sense that it has no defining (limiting) corporate goal (charter of world domination), indeed claim the Alphabet? It’s as ridiculous as a foreign company from a distant and diminutive island traveling across the seven seas aspiring to trade, control and eventually posses all of Hindustan, India, the much coveted dream and destination of a large part of humanity since ancient times. Well, the East India Company did exactly that, and finally had to be absorbed by the Crown, are we seeing another EIC in the form of the omnipresent, omnipotent Googol or (heh heh) should we portentously call it The Alphabet aspiring to conquer the realm of our dreams, physical and virtual destinations!?!

What are the ramifications for humanity? Are we, humankind, due to progress in technology, (over which we seem to have limited control) coming closer to relinquishing our core humanity: human speech, expression and core freedoms that makes us man? Who safeguards these freedoms for mankind as a whole, is it a particular nation (unlikely as each will strive to claim fire for themselves), a group of nations ( as we have seen they will act primarily in their own interests, ie,  the interests of the economically dominant nations over the others claiming higher moral authority just on the basis of economic prowess), or then The Unite Nations (God help us all)!

In my opinion, the fate of humanity has to be secured by its humans. No nation, state, organized group or forum, but the individuals who stand jeopardized as their humanity is being wrestled from under their noses under various pretexts. No one speaks for me for one, I speak for myself and that is the speech I wish to be heard and registered as I’m arm twisted in giving it all up. How can we make this happen? How can we express ourselves freely, unconfined by the nation state, religious, ethnic and educational or vocational or gender distinctions? I strive to ensure that my voice is crisp clear and unadulterated as I fight for my right to retain my humanity not having this wrestled out of me by persuasive and influential voices that purport to represent my interests.

More… Much more to follow…For in the world of tomorrow, the world from which I edit, the cauldron is brewing over with images of AI Art…a note for another time… for in this letter I hope to showcase The Art Institute (AI) Art

See images of Purnima at the Art Institute of Chicago below:

Philosophical dilemmas:

Is Art/ creativity really bound by its medium (language, music, numbers) or is the medium merely an expression, one of numerous avenues or dimensions to express the idea. The idea being in a nebulous effervescent form in an undefined space until it is realized and expressed by man in any of the numerous avenues open to him to express the same. By enumerating every permutation and combination of letters, numbers and musical notes, and scanning the corpus of literary and artistic works can we conceivably say that we have listed/ defined every past present and future expression of Art or creativity of humankind?

In a universe where man is not only looking to simulate but create a virtual existence starting from digital copies of viruses to worms, can we similarly attempt merely by listing all the possible permutations of the Alphabet (etc) to state that we now have (have been able to simulate or express in a digitized form) all of mankind’s Art/Creativity?

Can you really conceive of an algos to represent creative expression?

I think…not!

In attempting to represent this human realm, man through his gargantuan omnipresent omnipotent corporate entities, will wrestle as much knowledge/data as he can in order to accurately simulate this world. The danger of course lies when man is unable to wrestle (for example) the Alphabet and all its permutation combinations back out of the hands of the corporation. When due to IP restrictions or other laws bestowing possession to the corporate entity excluding the rest of humanity we are not somehow deprived of all that we believe makes us human to list a few: our physical image, our movements and facial expressions, our texture, color and all physical attributes, our unique verbal and physical expressions, our distinctive mode of communication, all our financial relationship and professional history both in pictures and text including search data covering  relationships, emotions, desires and passions all neatly contained in a data packet tucked into the  pocket of the corporation. Can you conceive of a time where the corporate will claim pre eminence over our data, where we will have to line up and pay the corporate entity, commit to eternal enslavement, to reclaim ourselves our information our image and our data back from the corporate? And how and why we will ask did we get here…ALL because the nation state, whether individually or through the agglomeration of nations failed  us, all because the organizations designed to protect were compromised! This is not an event in the misty realms of tomorrow, this is the reality of today.

However … fortunately… I believe there is a land of rainbows and unicorns beyond this cloud of gloom as I believe that completely erasing or enslaving humanity will just not be possible AND this is despite ourselves…because I believe art is the expression of that elusive spirit that refuses to be confined by the devices of Man or the Algos(AI gods).

As these virtual realms get built with all our data packets, attempting to find a formulaic representation of creative expression is where the simulation of the universe will hit a roadblock so it will attempt the next best thing, it will list all potential permutations and combinations of the ( for example) Alphabet to represent all of humanity’s creativity past present and future, in the belief that creativity is somehow embedded in the forum or the channel of expression, and a catalogue of every potential expression through all known channels would encapsulate all of mankind’s creativity. And with this final flourish this future entity will declare it has replaced human experience and existence in a virtual form. Fortunately life and Art are not so simple to replicate, and humanity will eventually prevail with a new Ode to Joy that will blow everyone s brains off!

Do check out the MIT Tech article below:

THE MIT TECH REVIEW – A PHILOSOPHER ARGUES THAT AI CANNOT BE AN ARTIST (4/15/20) https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/02/21/239489/a-philosopher-argues-that-an-ai-can-never-be-an-artist/

This above pasted MIT Tech article gives humanity a thread to hang on, for it shows how despite producing an algos for every musical notation and it’s combination, AI wouldn’t necessarily be able to produce pathbreaking creative work/music as (giving the example of Schoenberg below) novelty and creativity may lie outside the form and format of music which might mean redefining music and it’s notations, and similarly all of artistic expression.  AI could only work from the subset provided and would not be in a position to redefine it (music or art).

We count Schoenberg as a creative innovator not just because he managed to create a new way of composing music but because people could see in it a vision of what the world should be. Schoenberg’s vision involved the spare, clean, efficient minimalism of modernity. His innovation was not just to find a new algorithm for composing music; it was to find a way of thinking about what music is that allows it to speak to what is needed now.

And I wrap up this missive with these final words:

The universe is a balance between Love and Logic, disorder and order,  with Art as its expression. We may be able to duplicate artistic expression with permutation of historical creative expression but in my belief never replicate it. For in order to meet the next Picasso, the one that turns the world upside down, challenges norms and changes human perception, we will have to live in the realm of man and not in the realm of AI gods, for  Picasso can only exist in the “real” human world.

See below images from The Art Institute of Chicago that showed us new ways to dream…

Images:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/uijm6jphird2gm5/AABjPN_uhqOyS5fShg-B11J1a?dl=0

As I explore the above pasted collection from the Art Institute Chicago, I realize how my life experience is enriched and taken to another threshold, an experience that a literal translation of the title into an art form would not produce: Viewing Picasso’s Man With A Pipe, we can barely count the varied textures, dimensions and sensations we are exposed to as we journey into the man’s half shut eyes and inhale; In the Nude under a Pine Tree, Picasso once again deconstructs and reconstructs our perception of the human form, using perspective to telescope us on to another realm; Fernand Leger’s Still Life feels eerily un-still, the painting as I see it are the accoutrements of a man of those times (1928) a top hat, a cane and a pipe all of which appear in a hurry; Rene Magritte’s The Banquet leads me to a familiar place, dinner at sundown on the patio, but with the seemingly familiar is surrealistically unfamiliar as the incandescent setting sun presents itself like a glowing orb in front of the trees instead of silently setting in the horizon behind them; Personages With Star-Joan Miro…c’est quoi…what? Oh now I see it…the glamor, the glitter, the hallucination, fabuleux! And finally, Angel Planells – Midday Sorrow, this masterful work of languid oozing grief and procrastinated sorrow in multiple dimensions says it all, for it talks to the soul.

I now wrap this up with a bunch of videos from my trip to The Art Institute of Chicago where I query the magnificent lions that guard the facade, Sher Khan and Simba, “Do you know where the Jabberwocky is?” 😂 A Must Watch!

The Art Institute Chicago- Sher Khan-Video 1

Video 1:https://www.dropbox.com/s/8iebwztp0wrptpx/1%20Sher%20Khan%201.MOV?dl=0

The Art Institute Chicago-Do You Know Where The Jabberwocky Is? -Video 2

Video 2:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/50sl0skawe09xd5/2%20Sher%20Khan%20do%20you%20know%20where%20the%20jabberwocky%20is%3F.mov?dl=0

The Art Institute Chicago – Sher Khan Points To Simba- Video 3

Video 3: https://www.dropbox.com/s/la4uv4h0hioz268/3%20Sher%20Khan%20Points%20To%20Simba.MOV?dl=0

The Art Institute Chicago-Hello Simba- Video 4

Video 4: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9ifi5k1z3e5vbn3/4%20Hello%20Simba.MOV?dl=0

The Art Institute Chicago-Simba Do You Know Where The Jabberwocky Is? – Video 5

Video 5: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8zhsdfhzbg18hgm/5%20Simba%20do%20you%20know%20where%20the%20jabberwocky%20is%3F.MOV?dl=0

Lots of love to everyone, can’t wait to see you all and hear about your recent adventures in Paris!

Purnima

Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #72*

Mad Dogs and Lobsters, Art and Cheese balls, Happy 25th and the Alpine Ibex and Tara

7/22/15 (Edited 4/16/20) and published today, on my birthday, October 3rd, 2022 (IST)

Dear Roger,

I’ve returned from what seems like a tour of the universe only to find my inbox empty! Where have you been, why not a whisper? Am I not even entitled to even a basic comment like “hmmrph” or “boring” on my last three (what I consider epic) outpourings? Well, here goes yet another with the hope of retrieving you from some distant recesses of the www where you may have been temporarily detained.

My summer break with the kids turned out to be more fun than I had expected. We flew to Vienna where we spent a couple of days just walking the streets soaking in that magnificent city, we also managed a bus and tram tour of the Ringstrasse constructed in 1860 by emperor Franz Joseph with its many iconic buildings like the State Opera, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Parliament, Imperial palace and University and of course Cafe Landtmann where we spent a leisurely afternoon  imagining conversations with its famous patrons like Freud and Mahler, Marlene Dietrich and Burt Lancaster. The art, architecture, food and culture was truly an overload for the senses. What I enjoyed most was the buzz in the city, it seemed young and bustling, teeming with life. I was certainly glad I had read Fin-de-Siecle Vienna by Schorske before landing as I was brimming with information for the kids, excited about my anticipated role as tour guide. Unfortunately, my kids had heard enough of my voice and would run the moment I appeared to open my mouth. So I resigned myself to either talking to myself all alone or spending time with the kids walking the city but in silence, of course I chose the latter.

There is much to say about Vienna and I’m not sure I can do so in one breath, but we did cover the highlights like the Hofburg Palace and Royal quarters, Treasury, and the Sisi museum, a collection built around the fascinating empress of the Austro-Hungarian empire Elizabeth, wife of Franz Joseph (whom I had mentioned in my last mail). This enigmatic personality continued to have its intense draw as her desire for freedom above all eerily resonated with my soul. The kids loved the Prater, the Vienna amusement park, where we returned more than once. We enjoyed the Natural History Museum with its spectacular collection of minerals and fossils, and the next day found our way to the famous Kunsthistorisches museum

See below Purnima at the Vienna Library:

Purnima at The Vienna Library

Dhruvum points the way- Hofburg Palace Vienna:

Dhruvum Points The Way – Homburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Vienna Horses with Crotched Red Earmuffs:

Vienna Horses with Crotched Red Earmuffs

Kids at the Kunsthistorisches museum:

Kids at the Kunsthistoriche Museum
The Prater – Vienna Amusement Park

The Egyptian galleries at the Kunstmuseum blew us away! Apart from the collection of artifacts housed in the museum, the actual halls…in fact the entire wing was a work of art. Egyptian motifs collected from Egyptian tombs in the 18th and 19th centuries were painstakingly and beautifully painted on to the walls to provide a sense of being in the tombs of Egypt and viewing the artifacts within, Do see attached a photo of the Egyptian Gallery at the Kunstmuseum.

The Egyptian Gallery at the Kunstmuseum.

 Apart from my desire to take a giant size bite of this delectable city, and savour its contents, I sensed I was being sampled by Vienna in turn. Do see attached pic of me lying on a giant tongue and being sampled by Vienna in turn.

Purnima Lying on a Giant Tongue:

Purnima Lying On A Giant Tongue – Being Sampled by Vienna

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vdpvkno0allxvta/PURNIMA%20ON%20THE%20GIANT%20TONGUE%20BEING%20SAMPLED%20BY%20VIENNA.tiff?dl=0

The highlight of this trip to Vienna was the Secession building, with which I will wrap up this mail, an absolute must see!

The Secession building, Vienna, Austria

We then took the train to Salzburg, where we enjoyed spectacularly good food. The weiner schnitzel (a traditional pork cutlet, beaten thin and then breaded), the rib eye steak and the gargantuan traditional egg dessert called the Salzburger Nockerl were outstanding(see pic below):

The Salzburger Nockerl

The highlight of Salzburg for me was The Sound of Music Tour with a chance to visit the real life sites of my childhood memory(movie). See below a scene from my fav movie replayed – my kids aged 16 and 17 standing beside the original Gazebo featured in the song with the same title from the movie Sound of Music:

See below the Sound of Music palace- Schloss Leopoldskron:https://www.schloss-leopoldskron.com/en/our-history/the-sound-of-music

The Sound of Music palace- Schloss Leopoldskron

My kids aged 16 and 17 standing beside the original Gazebo in The Sound of Music movie:

My kids aged 16 and 17 standing beside the original Gazebo in The Sound of Music Movie

Here we spent a lovely afternoon in Salzburg with the kids Austrian cousins all dressed up in their traditional gear of lederhosen who were all warm, welcoming and extremely generous- see link of an example below (http://www.gosauapartment.com/uploads/8/0/7/4/8074434/5183426_orig.jpg)

Lunch with Kids Austrian Cousins Dressed in the Traditional Gear of Lederhosen

We walked the streets enjoying the sculptures and architecture of the buildings and palaces, peered at Mozarts home from below, posed outside a sign that said “Schmuckpassage” and “Badgasse” adding much to the kids sense of entertainment who were exhausted by endless palaces and museums, we finally made our way up to the Hohensalzburg fortress which offered gorgeous views of Salzburg.https://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/hohensalzburg-castle/

We ended the night at the famous beer halls of Salzburg. Here kids aged 16 are permitted beer, it’s all a part of the culture, so I told the kids that we must do in Rome as the Romans do and they could sip a “radler” which is a kind of shandy, made of beer and lemonade. But first, we had to collect our beer mugs wash it in the spring water fountain and then take it to be filled, all in all quite an experience! The kids loved Salzburg so much that they would have been happy to have been left there until graduation (two years hence). Will try and forward the above-mentioned pics in my next email. See below The Beer Halls of Salzburg:https://youtu.be/vThk9DlPEQo

See Kids in Smuckspassage below:

See Kids in Smuckspassage

See Purnima in Bad(g)asse below:

Purnima The Bad(g)ass

See Purnima in Salzburg (Fortress)

Purnima in Salzburg (Fortress)

We reluctantly left Salzburg behind, and caught the train to Innsbruck where we spent two nights. See below Purnima in Innsbruck:

Purnima in Innsbruck

This Alpine ski destination surrounded by magnificent snow capped peaks, clear blue skies, crisp clean air was truly breathtaking and an ideal stopover before the long train ride to our destination, Geneva. See images of Innsbruck below:

We did walk the streets and try all the local cuisine, but the highlight of Innsbruck for us all was the Alpenzoo (http://www.alpenzoo.at/en/),  a zoo housing animals native to the Alps.

Getting to the zoo was a trek, and walking around was another hike, but it was well worth it! Do see the photo of the kids with the Chamois, the gentle looking mountain goat, which you might remember from Chamonix, at least I did as I have spotted them during my numerous ski trips and cable car rides up the mountain. We saw the Lynx, the Moose, and of course the Alpine Ibex. See images from The Alpenzoo below:

In my prior emails to you, you must have sensed my excitement over the Ibex, and it remains an animal close to my heart (Did I ever read you The Story of the Ice Mommy?). My father had a similar fascination for this elusive and magnificent beast, and here we were face to face. The Alpine Ibex was extinct across most of Europe and Switzerland in the 19th century, and had resurged in northern Italy only after a careful plan of reintroduction and preservation, and is now in the “least concern” list. However, the same is not true of the Pyrenean ibex which is virtually extinct, the last female Ibex having perished in year 2000, see link below:

https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/pyrenean-ibex-timeline-extinction-in-2000-resurrected-in-2009-extinction-again-in-2009.html

https://www.britannica.com/animal/ibex#ref241043

Well, that is the year Tara was born. Do see the photo of Tara with the Alpine Ibex at the Innsbruck Zoo. 

Tara with the Alpine Ibex at The Innsbruck Zoo

Tara as the Pyrenean Ibex: In order to Immortalize this beautiful extinct species, I have incorporated it into  my novel  Kadambari (continued). The last female Iberian Ibex died in year 2000, but in my book she morphed into a little girl Tara born in Year 2000, just like the various characters in the world’s first novel Kadambari, that morphed between human and animal forms. And so, that Ibex lives perhaps not in our physical world, but in the world of literature eternal. How do you like it?

In fact, uncannily enough, the northern Italians during our visit to Lake Como spoke to all of us in English and to Tara in Italian. To the extent (do indulge my creative outburst) that as we were leaving northern Italy the young officer stared into our car, directly at Tara indicating somehow that were we removing a protected and endangered species from his lands. I looked back and responded that this ibex belongs to “the other mountain range“, and I am merely returning her to the Himalayas. He was not convinced and gave her a lingering look as the car pulled away.

See below a very wide eyed teenage Tara in Italy:

Teenage Tara in Italy

So before I jump the gun, we were last at Innsbruck and we took a train to Geneva, our main destination, a place to unwind relax and reminisce about our lovely three years there. Well, we spent the first day doing just that, walking the city from corner to corner, visiting old haunts, like Parc Betrand and our home, the Old Town, Rive, Globus, and of course the Jet D’eau among other familiar sights and flavors. However, there was an unspoken pact between us, me and the kids, No More Museums. However, we did visit St Peters Cathedral, the magnificent but austere Calvinist church in the heart of old town where I found the duck-dragon (see pic) considerably lightening the mood. 

The Duck-Dragon Geneva:

The Duck-Dragon Geneva

The Jet D’Eau Geneva: See below Purnima in Geneva

The Jet D’Eau Geneva

Surprisingly, Geneva was intensely hot, and there was no air conditioning in our rental apartment, we had to survive on cold water showers and ice cubes. Fortunately, the evenings cooled down considerably and we would be out rediscovering the city till late. We even traversed the lake from our place near Geneve Plage to the other side of the lake, and toured the botanical gardens. There were endless meals of fondue and pizzas from our favorite Italian place in Eaux Vives but the most memorable one was an invitation from Mirko for lunch at a place that served Malakoff towards Nyon. Yes, Mirko! Mirko met up with us in Geneva, it was strange at first as I was seeing him after many years, but I was quickly put at ease as his good behavior evaporated after our first meeting and he was in full fledged obnoxious terrain by our second meal. Yes again, I agreed to overlap a couple of days with the kids and him, and I was all prepared for the worst. Have you done that, overlapped vacations with your Ex and the kids?

Malakoff, I discovered at this charming outdoor restaurant in the countryside was a traditional Vaudoise dish of sinfully fried cheese balls, and it was divine. See link below: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/04/the-malakoff-swiss-cheese-beignets/

Visiting Restaurant Malakoff in Nyon with Friends and Family

Of course I was intrigued by the name, how does Malakoff, a distinctly Russian sounding name become a local dish? I then proceeded to question the waiters who were only French speaking (I had long given up all pretensions of speaking French, I was no longer in Geneva needing to connect with the language and culture, I was now a foreigner, a tourist, so coherent English was a preference over smatterings of incoherent French for my ego, so English it was), this created a bit of a disturbance and a couple of them tried to come out and communicate the same, finally handing a printed sheet to a guest of ours. In the interim, as I continued speculating the origins of the Malakoff, I found myself transported to Sevastopol and the Crimean war. Then I found myself standing up spontaneously and in full vigor heady with Alpine wine reciting The Charge of the Light Brigade to my kids who promptly hid under the table exasperated that “mom is at it again”. I wasn’t far wrong, for the battle of Malakoff (from which this dish gets its name was probably transported by Swiss mercenaries who participated in the Crimean War to Lake Geneva). The Crimean war was a joint French-British onslaught against Russia in 1855 resulting in the fall of Sevastopol and the raising of the French flag on the tower of Malakoff. As you are aware, Sevastopol in the last year has been in the news again, having been reversed to/annexed/reabsorbed by Russia, depends upon where you read it but this time we were missing the Light Brigade: “Into the valley of death, rode the brave 600”.

Do see below a link to one of my favorite poems: The Charge of The Light Brigade by Tennyson, written in 1954 about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War where 600 brave English soldiers un-hesitantly following erroneous orders charged head on at the adversary into a death trap- The Valley of Death.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174586

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

Was there a man dismayed?

Not though the soldier knew

   Someone had blundered.

   Theirs not to make reply,

   Theirs not to reason why,

   Theirs but to do and die.

   Into the valley of Death

   Rode the six hundred.

The Charge of The Light Brigade-Tennyson

As I re-emerged misty eyed after reciting this poem to myself to finally sit down and join the family and friends I had left at the table, I found everyone deep into their delicious cheese balls with all traces of Malakoff and the mad mama long forgotten.

On our last day in Geneva, we revisited landmarks like Jardin Anglais see pic below (guess who hates posing for pics):

Searching for Kadambari in Jardin Anglais, Geneva:

Searching for Kadambari in Jardin Anglais, Geneva (Guess Who Can’t Bear Being Photographed)

And I scanned the gardens to see if I could find Kadambari yet… If you remember from my earlier emails, I had quizzed why Kadambari, a romantic novel in Sanskrit by Banabhatta, probably the world’s first novel (written in the 7th century) did not feature in Foundation Bodmer which had a worldwide collection of antique books and manuscripts. This novel which spans time and space, multiple generations, where people morph into animals and back like the parrot Vaisampayana, demi gods like Chandrapida, beauty as in Kadambari and love eternal in all its forms could not be more relevant in the interactive multimedia anime driven world of today. However, in my story, Kadambari is always found in an English garden with a French accent, and so here in Jardin Anglais, I would like to see a sculpture of this book half open for the story continues…

Dear Roger, in order to entertain you further, I would like to attach a snippet from my family to the above story of Kadambari. My grandfather, the Oxford pundit with a wicked sense of humor and definitely the one who named my aunt Kadambari, was madly in love with my gorgeous grandmother till the end(about whom I have written a lot) the near second would be his bottle of scotch. I only recently connected the dots, in the book Kadambari by Banabhatta, Kadambari’s mother is named Madira. And madira in Sanskrit is honey or an intoxicant (wine). So effectively, Kadambari’s mother, his wife was his intoxicant, his madira. I assure you, this, my grandmother was unaware of this at the time of the naming.

See below pics for “Tej” or traditional honey-wine from Ethiopia from my fellow adventurer’s travels in Ethiopia. Yes it’s time we modified the oh so popular theme song supposedly portraying California Girls to accurately reflect all the Golden State’s birds and bees. See below Honey-Wine from Alison Macbeth’s Travels in Ethiopia:

Honey-Wine from my buddy Alison Macbeth’s Travels in Ethiopia
Pouring Tej or Honey-Wine from Alison Macbeth’s Travels in Ethiopia

Alison Macbeth’s FB post – Ethiopia:https://www.facebook.com/alison.macbeth/posts/10156615007685919

Madira defined- The South Asian Digital dictionary:

4. मदिरा madirā : (page 1228)

a. having long and fascinating eyes; यदि मदिरायतनयनां तामधिकृत्य प्रहरतीति Ś.3.4.-आसवः an intoxicating drink.

मदिरा madirāमदिरा 1 Spirituous liquor; काङ्क्षत्यन्यो वदनमदिरां दोहद- च्छद्मनास्याः 

Finally finding the link between the Sanskrit Madira, and the Portuguese Madeira (knowing the long connection between the nations) much too close to be a coincidence, with both referring to intoxicating liquids, I found the following excerpt in the Economic Times which raises the same question:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-06-15/news/50598249_1_east-india-company-british-trade-wine/3

Madeira was once the most widely consumed wine in India. Madira is the Hindi word for alcohol. Is there a connection? The usual etymology for madira is that it comes from madhu, Sanskrit for honey, which was brewed into alcohol. 

Madhu is an ancient term, so it is not surprising that it links to other Indo-European languages, where it means the same thing, honey or sweet. Mead is the Old English word for honey wine.Madeira is derived from an old Portuguese word for wood, so perhaps there’s no clear link, but it is still an interesting coincidence.

See below glimpses of Funchal, Madeira through its many enchanting hand painted doors brilliantly photographed and generously shared on Insta by my friend Bob, Robert L. Cunningham:

See above the magnificient Madeira vistas, what better than an image embodying the dreams, experiences and vivid aspects of culture painted on their front doors by the people of Madeira. The Hand painted Doors of Funchal, Madeira- Photos by Robert L. Cunningham

After a restful week in Geneva with the kids we went on our long anticipated family trip with Mirko to Lake Como. Everybody I knew was nervous for me as they were convinced I would drive him to drop me off on the highway or in the middle of lake Como without a raft. We drove to Lake Como from Geneva and as we neared the lakes the the very first glimpse of the pristine blue lakes was truly breathtaking. There were innumerable hairpin bends and a nation full of F1 wanna-bees, but we managed miraculously to arrive at Bellagio with all pieces intact. What I did notice however was that despite their super fast cars and super fast boats, the internet was prehistoric so I had to lay down my plans of moving right next door to Clooney and making it home. The picturesque villages scattered around the lakes with houses all clubbed together beaming in their vivid hues were right out of an impressionists canvas, I could not get enough, it was truly overwhelming. 

See below the emblem of the commune of Bellagio:

The emblem of the commune of Bellagio

However, once again we were blistering in the sun. It was ridiculously hot, it almost felt like 40 degrees Celsius and once again the hotels despite being grand were not equipped for this unusual heatwave. Being the proverbial tourists, we dragged ourselves from site to site almost collapsing under the sun, all the while the local Italians were out of sight cool and comfortable in their homes. There was one and only one species found everywhere, all over Lake Como, going about with steely determination, almost unaware of the burning rays of the mid-day sun searing down their backs, it was the lobsters of the North Sea: Englishmen of course!

The Lobsters of The North Sea – Englishmen of Course!

As I glanced up from my perch waiting for the tour boat back half dazed by the sun, I found a bunch of very cheery gleaming red lobsters completely oblivious to the weather. It was then that my memory jerked back to my father’s voice singing Noel Cowards song: Mad Dogs and Englishmen. It’s true, it’s true, for only mad dogs and Englishmen go out gleefully in the midday sun! See link below of one of my all time favorite songs by Noel Coward: Mad Dogs and Englishmen:https://youtu.be/HPnJM3zWfUo

Noel Cowards song: Mad Dogs and Englishmen

See snippet below:

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, 

The Japanese don’t care to, the Chinese wouldn’t dare to, 

Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one 

But Englishmen detest-a siesta. 

In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare. 

In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won’t wear. 

At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done, 

But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

– – –

With Lake Como we wrapped up our long family vacation in Europe but before I sign off I must revisit Vienna with you to complete where I left off, The Secession, The Secession Building and Gustav Klimt.

The Vienna Secession were a group of artists, sculptors and architects who broke away from the traditional and historical representations of artistic expression in Vienna. they objected to the prevailing conservatism where all forms of artistic expression were burdened with ornamentation and historicism. The architects proceeded on radical new lines and linear facades without excessive ornamentation, the artists including Gustav Klimt who headed the Secession movement wished to break free from the stranglehold of orthodoxy and tradition (that confined artistic representations especially to the historic greco-roman themes) and strove to represent art in a novel liberal and dynamic way. I have personally found a great connect with Klimt’s art as I believe this man was not just a generation ahead of his time but perhaps two centuries. His art is vibrant, multidimensional with dark, light undulating and shining features each of which reaches out to grab you. There is a fluidity, as though music was being interpreted into an art form and there is mosaic, as though Klimt in the late 1800 was using modern day graphics to supplement his visions. It’s phenomenal, completely out of the ball park!

The secession building (see pics below) crowned by a giant ball shaped golden wreath, has the following soul inspiring words framing its entrance:

To Each Age its Art, To Art its Freedom

Nothing has since and could have stirred me more. No words could better reflect my soul, and I had to travel here to Vienna to find them. This Roger, I’m taking back Home to the New World!

The Secession Museum:

The Secession Building, Vienna, Austria

The Secession Motto Crowning the Entrance to The Secession Building: To Each Age Its Art, To Art Its Freedom:

The Secession Motto Crowning the Entrance To The Secession Building: To Each Age Its Art, To Art Its Freedom

The Secession building houses the famous Beethoven Frieze in its basement. See link below: 

https://www.gustav-klimt.com/Beethoven-Frieze.jsp

 The Beethoven Frieze is a series of murals flowing from one panel to another as Beethoven 9th symphony which was played at its opening exhibit flows from one movement to another. This is truly a work, an artistic expression converting one art form into another. As Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy is merged into the final piece of Beethoven’s 9th symphony (once again transcending one artistic medium) this great work of art expresses music through paint. The overlapping of artistic expression has always excited me and this is the space of the New Age, this is the New World!

Do see a review of the Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze by Khan Academy below (brilliant video worth watching):

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/symbolism/v/gustav-klimt-beethoven-frieze-vienna-secession-1902

Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze by Khan Academy

Now Roger, I’m going to steal you away from all these misty mountaintops and bring you back down to our current real world, a complex and convoluted earthly realm where the moment man has the power to suppress and dominate he does so and ruthlessly using all the organs of law and government which have been so carefully structured for our protection to his advantage if permitted. Which is why I believe we should be super vigilant about our security and privacy now more than in any other time in history. The Electronic Frontier Foundation that celebrates its 25th year this July is doing just that, and doing a swell job, let’s wish them Happy Birthday!

I wish now to bring Klimt and the mantra of the secession ” To each age its art, to art its freedom” to this world. 

Let me quickly walk you through a pathbreaking case as a part of my self study to keep those brain cells ticking at the ski lodge where I lie marooned and forgotten for an eternity at 10,000 feet! See images of Purnima-Ena sightings with the chamois at St. Moritz, Verbier and Les Houches, Chamonix below:

Bernstein V Department of Justice: A doctoral student cryptographer at the University of California at Berkley, Bernstein developed a code named snuffle to help encrypt and decrypt data. He then wished to publish the algorithm, the mathematical paper explaining it and the source code written in “C” to the academic community on the world wide web. However, the US department of commerce required cryptographers to get a license before publishing their work on the Net or exporting it. It was considered a “munition” requiring a license. Bernstein filed an action challenging the constitutionality of these regulations. The source code it was clarified involved a human to human interaction. It was a form of expression of one mathematician, cryptographer to another who understood the same language in the community. It was the equivalent of equations shared by mathematicians of graphs by economists. And just like music, which only someone who can read it understands.  This code thus works as a tool of expression for the mathematician/cryptographer, an extension of his artistic expression if you please. This source code would later require a program to convert it into Object Code, which is the language that is understood by machines, and would serve a functional purpose. The district court in a (2-1) decision held this code to be a constitutionally protected expression like speech and since the license would act like a prior restraint on speech it was unconstitutional. The decision completely hinged on the expressive quality of the source code.

Taking the relevant sections of the First Amendment to the US Constitution –

Freedom of Speech from Wikipedia, see below:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution codifies the freedom of speech as a constitutional right. The Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791. The Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Prior restraint

If the government tries to restrain speech before it is spoken, as opposed to punishing it afterwards, it must be able to show that punishment after the fact is not a sufficient remedy, and show that allowing the speech would “surely result in direct, immediate, and irreparable damage to our Nation and its people” (New York Times Co. v. United States). U.S. courts have not permitted most prior restraints since the case of Near v. Minnesota in 1931.

The US constitution has the broadest and most liberal interpretation and protections of speech. Apart from certain obviously restricted categories like obscenity, defamation, incitement of imminent lawless action, slander/libel, and copyright issues, most speech is permitted. The government can only impose Time, Place and Manner restrictions, like preventing someone from taking out a procession during peak hour in Times Square, New York. Content based restrictions, ie, the subject matter of speech generally cannot be restricted and for this the highest scrutiny applies.

Expressive conduct, ie, non verbal speech is generally protected like silent marches, clothing, flag burning if it is motivated by a significant (political)purpose. As are mathematical formulae, charts, music and now source code joins the fray. 

This was then taken to the US court of appeals 9th circuit, and the appellate judges not only found unconstitutional prior restraint on speech, but took it a step further stating effectively that it is in public interest to develop the art and science of encryption for as technology is progressing our privacy is being severely jeopardized, and any progress to not just empower governments but help protect the privacy of ordinary citizens must be supported. 

Thus as I understand it, due to the creative component involved, cryptography software is not just any software which could the equivalent of speaking gibberish on the Net and which affords no protection, cryptography is clearly a human to human artistic expression and thus cryptographers cannot be denied the basic right afforded to other expressive/symbolic speech to publish and export the same. 

This is truly revolutionary, and falls directly in line with my mantra, taken from the Secessionists:

To each Age its Art, to Art its Freedom.

Source code, is the art of this age, its creative expression. So for this art i support its corresponding Freedom!

Just when all was looking hunky dory, the hackers started getting hacked and it has unleashed old demons. See Wired article below:

http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hacking-team-breach-shows-global-spying-firm-run-amok/

The records hacked from this global surveillance firm show sales to governments that are on the global embargo and others that routinely spy on their dissidents. Their promo video looks like a clip out of Assassins Creed (must say pretty cool, the video not necessarily the blokes behind it) This has many people including the ones who support the publication and export of encryption software take a step back. No, we are past the shackles of licensing and restrictions on development and export as this has been affirmed as protected speech, however, I wonder if Time , Place and Manner restrictions which can be imposed by the government on expressive speech like preventing someone from creating havoc on the world stage at an inopportune time (when the state is in embargo) by selling encryption software it knows will be used against its citizens (just like the above-mentioned Times Square example)can help resolve the issues at hand without restricting freedom of art.

Hugs and kisses

Purnima

Jul 26, 2015, 12:28 PM

Dear Purnima,

Thank you so much for your latest opus, and for chastising me, which I fully deserved. I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t written for some time, but I did follow your latest European adventures via FB and even left a few comments, especially on the pictures from Geneva that you posted – there was even one from the street where your apartment was.  It brought back lots of sweet memories.

I’m so glad that you were able to escape the heat and confusion of Delhi for your jaunt to Europe. I have been to Vienna twice, but a very long time ago, and I would really like to return. You make it sound so wonderfully cultural.  Speaking of Vienna, we just returned from a four-day stay in The Big Apple, and we went to the Neue Gallery near Central Park where Gustave Klimt’s “The Woman in Gold” is on exhibit. It was fabulous to see it up close and especially to realize that it is really more square and not the cropped rectangular shape that most renditions of the painting in the media are.  We had seen the film about Maria Altmann’s quest to gain ownership of the painting from the Austrian government and the Kunstmuseum – a fascinating story.  The gallery has a good collection of Klimt’s paintings and especially the many sketches he did prior to painting “The Woman in Gold.”

How delicious to be “sampled” by the city of Vienna. It obvious left a profound impact on you, both the city and its tongue! 

You mention of the lederhosen-clad cousins reminded me that I bought a pair of lederhosen in Innsbruck many, many years ago.  I loved them and used to wear them skiing in the spring.

Your description of your time in Geneva and Chamonix made me homesick for that long lost part of the world. I have been watching the Tour de France on TV, and the images of the spectacular scenery in the French Alps always leaves me very nostalgic. The last three days in the Alps saw the peleton ride over many of the routes and arduous climbs that I have also done on my bike. It has been a real trip down memory lane. I also love lake Como and am jealous of your travels there. Any progress on becoming Clooney’s neighbor? Maybe you could engage his wife in your quest to unravel the intricacies of the laws governing encryption.

Thanks for the fascinating discussion of the dissertation and court challenge about being licensed to engage in cryptology.  While I’m not sure that I share your enthusiasm about cryptology being THE art form of the modern era, it does, of course come with lots of baggage. The government is, of course, worried about the implication of encryption for national security purposes, because it just might prevent them from pursuing their highly organized program of snooping at everyone’s cyber communication.

Where do you think that the advanced research in source code will lead us?  I watching a new and fascinating TV series called “Humans”. It’s a British-American remake of the highly popular Swedish series called “Real Humans” (Äegte Menneskar). It is also a take off on the theme in “Ex Machina” where the robot achieves human-like qualities and “escapes” into cyberspace and the real world with potentially catastrophic consequences. In the series, a small group of “synths” who are special and a cut above the other government authorized and regulated robot-servants that nearly every household in England has to help out with the cooking, minding the kids, house cleaning and much, much more. The government is aware of the special, vastly different synths and has mounted an all-out campaign to find them and destroy them, since they would obviously be more intelligent, efficient and powerful than ordinary human beings.

We had a delightful time in New York.  It was Alexandra’s birthday present, and she and Annick went to two musicals: Les Misérables and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  I chose to forego the musicals and saw a great play called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” A fascinating tale of a young 15-year old autistic boy and his investigation into who killed the neighbor’s dog. In the process, he discovers all kinds of things about the adults in his life, especially about his parents.  We also had some fabulous meals: Italian and great cous-cous in a little, funky French-Moroccan restaurant. We also got intimately acquainted with Uber.

Take care, dear Purnima. I hope it’s not too difficult for you to withstand the rigors of life in Delhi when you have had your fabulous European adventure. When are you coming back to California again?

Love and hugs,

Roger

Roger Stevenson

Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #71*

Terrestrial Law v Cyberlaw, A Tamil Tale – The Saga of The South Continues in The New World

6/12/15

Dear Roger,

It was amazing to get this email from you just as I was shooting out an unusually heavy email laden with letters and images. Yes, it’s been sizzling and all I have done through the month of May here in Delhi is to either sit directly under the air conditioner in front of my laptop, or immerse myself in the cool pool of my gym. I have been writing continuously even if I haven’t yet put it down in text form. I have found swimming the most effective place and time to pen a letter as that is one space where there is complete silence.

Tara arrives tomorrow and I just can’t wait to see her. I am also planning a trip to Singapore early August as Dhruvum will be doing an SAT course there, and then playing with the idea of making it back to California this October for the annual California Bar conference. That would give the required continuing education classes I need as well as the chance to get myself out of the cave and back into the mainstream legal world. I am also hoping in this trip to meet with Forrest at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, who responded very warmly inviting me for lunch to meet with his colleagues to further discuss the Ramayana epic project. However, there was no response, no mention about my grand proposal to connect the cultures of the East and the West, from Japan to the British Isles, so even though he has very warmly invited me to meet him, it seems like he has other pressing matters and so has put my proposal aside, I feel he is missing the forest from the trees! Oh Roger, you know I absolutely had to add that quip, how can I become completely sober and resist being me. In any case, I’m very much looking forward to that meeting, fingers crossed.

Well, since it’s a 120 degrees outside, and there is absolutely no place to go, and my computer screen looks cool and welcoming, I’m going to place myself besides it, and continue with my mental regurgitations.

Ok, so I’m back in the cyberworld and reading everything i can get off the internet relating to “Earth” bound laws being thrust upon randomly across issues relating to cyberspace. As I had mentioned in numerous prior occasions, I don’t believe it is exactly, or directly translatable, and cannot be arbitrarily imposed. I believe we need to get a consensus from the cyber realm before imposing earth bound laws upon it. In any case Roger, which laws would you impose, Civil Code or Common Law, or perhaps state specific code (California law perhaps since this appears to be the residence of choice for all the gods and demons of the cyberworld), which specific nations can assert and impose their laws and how would that be determined? Would jurisdiction and liability be determined on the location of the violating device, the individual (if that can be identified) or the location of the server? There are a gazillion unanswered questions and I can keep going… but I suspect no one will get anywhere unless we get a consensus from the netizens themselves or their representatives, who i believe are currently the Pirates of the Cyber Realms. And in order to get a consensus from the pirates, we’ve got to think out of the box, or “Nation State”. I know I’m sounding like a scene from a popular movie, but this is real (or virtual however you like to call it), and it’s pivotal that we start to define these cyber standards.

I’d like to share the following two articles to further highlight my point that the denizens of the cyber realm are rising, protesting, and will soon not accept the arbitrary earth bound laws imposed upon them.

As someone who was raised and educated abroad, the more I delved into it, the more it blew my brains: The first case related to freedom of expression as outlined in the first amendment to the US constitution. See the First Amendment overview below from the Legal Information Institute):

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief.

The LII goes on to elaborate that though the legal definition of obscenity has been hard to establish it lists the following category of speech unprotected by the first amendment:

Currently, obscenity is evaluated by federal and state courts alike using a tripartite standard established by Miller v. California 413 U.S. 15 (1973). The Miller test for obscenity includes the following criteria: (1) whether ‘the average person, applying contemporary community standards’ would find that the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ appeals to ‘prurient interest’ (2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and (3) whether the work, ‘taken as a whole,’ lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Now it is here in “contemporary community standards” that we have a very broad and ever evolving spectrum. So long as pornographic materials were limited to traditional modes of dissemination like print it was thereby limited to a certain geographic area, it was easy to determine that community standard, but now with the all-pervading internet that has access to ever home and pocket, across all genders and demographics, unlimited by national, or other traditional gateways or boundaries of codes, customs, and indigenous expression, determining contemporary community standards has become infinitely more of a challenge. Again, the question arises as to what these standards depend upon, and who is designated the arbiter of “standard” in the cyber realm.

Speech based freedoms which have repeatedly been upheld by the US supreme court, in my opinion are one of the most enlightened liberal and all encompassing freedoms provided to mankind. As someone who was raised and educated abroad, the more I delved into it, the more it blew my brains, it’s wholly inconceivable for most parts of the world to even fathom that these freedoms can exist, and here not only do they exist but are routinely enforced and upheld. It’s uncanny to see that however diverse the justices of the US Supreme Court (left, right, centre) may appear, applying the highest scrutiny to any transgression to the same, they almost always unanimously vote to uphold it. In my opinion if there is something worth protecting on earth, it is this, this, this! 

Do see People v Larry Flynt, I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it I only wish it discussed the legal issues more in detail. Link below:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbvZtbeC0EM

So, back to the ambiguity that exists in the cyber realm, at this juncture, it is being resolved by these earth based laws, but I suspect it will not be supportable in the long run. It’s imperative that this all expansive protection be interpreted for the cyberworld and gain the consensus it demands and then provide all the freedoms that a select group have been able to carve out for themselves on this earth.

See case copied from Netlitigation.com, United States v Thomas, at the end of the email where community standard was challenged and instead it was proposed that the case be decided upon “cyber community standard“.

The second piece that jumped out as me and got my gullet as I was languorously surfing the web trying to keep my vision focussed in this 120 degree weather, was an article by Jonathan Bick on the Internet User’s Duty of Care (Cybersecurity and New levels of Online Liability). See article pasted at the end of email if you can’t open link below:

View the full article here:

http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202723076143/The-Internet-Users-Duty-of-Care?cmp=share_email

This excellent and very persuasive piece highlights what the pundits of the Earthly realm believe relating to the enforcement of Earth bound laws in cyberspace, in this instance the law of Torts (negligence), that the potential liability will enforce vigilance among the computer users. He goes on to say:

“While certain bad actors trick Internet users into installing software that harms other Internet users, most of the harm to other users is due to intentional or negligent acts by individual users, even if the harm is actually a byproduct of the acts. Internet users expose other users to harm when they intentionally disable security software, so as to improve the speed of their uploads and downloads. Or they negligently employ vulnerable passwords or engage in risky behavior, such as downloading questionable material, such as free copyrighted content (e.g., music, videos or games).”

“Tort law evolved to protect the public against new dangers arising from new technology. Negligence emerged as the liability standard for non-intentional injuries caused by new technology.” 

“Courts have had little difficulty extending liability for bad software when the design defect causes physical injury or death. A New Jersey court applied product liability law in a case in which the brakes of a tractor-trailer failed because of defective software on the vehicle’s onboard computer. See, Roberts v. Rich Foods, 654 A.2d 1365 (N.J. 1995).”

Both an Internet site operator and an Internet user could potentially be held liable for negligently permitting a third party to access its computer and copy data or proprietary information owned by others where that inadequate security results in injuries to third parties.”

My response to the above was explosive to say the least, it jolted me out of head spinning heat, and got me reading and rereading the text. Whaaaaaat…is being proposed here?!? It looks like he is proposing that protections afforded to owners of real property and chattel be extended unaltered and arbitrarily across the internet to all kinds of “ownerships/possessions”, it also seems as though he believes that product liability laws that govern the earthly realm where they are connected to software translates into software programs and Net enabled IT! Oh Roger, please help me but it must be the heat or I am grossly mistaken. Well this was my knee jerk response upon reading this excellent article (a must read to know what the gurus are thinking):

Can of Worms- directly translating Earth bound laws to apply universally across the internet. Wake up and smell the cyber-stink!

In my opinion, the faulty software on the tractor resulting in liabilities as referenced in the article above is completely comprehensible, but remember this is merely software running on a machine that is earth bound, this does not apply to software on the Net! For the moment the software package is linked online, it becomes a part of the cyber-realm and even if it used to run the tractor that operates on Earth, the laws governing it are not so straightforward. Unlike the above clearcut case of faulty software onboard a tractor, where the laws governing it and the resulting liability is clearly defined by a long history of product liability laws, the moment this software is linked (not to an internal LAN system restricted to that corporation) but linked to the WWW, the laws that govern liability move outside the physical realm to the cyber-realm. And the laws of the cyber realm DO NOT correspond necessarily to the laws of the Earthly realm. What freaked me out completely was the application of the tort of negligence directly upon the interactions in the cyberworld, holding each netizen liable to third parties (ie) the world for being negligent towards his own security (not adequately securing his/her computer against viruses, downloading from dubious sites etc). I danced in the rain and now am liable to the whole wide world for passing on the common cold!!! Where does this liability end…”am I permitted a sneeze in this one space I have carved out for myself, or do the ominous omnipresent and restrictive laws of Big Brother permeate here as well” is what the Netizens will CRY out loud. There obviously needs to be a code for the cyberworld, but imposing the Earth bound code of laws directly and without either thought of the nature of this space nor consensus from the denizens of this space would be a frustrating foolish and futile attempt by any government.

I’m not sure if I should be ending that with a Ho, Ho , Ho and a bottle of rum…but you’re certainly Not going to find me on Professor Bick’s boat!

Ok Roger, now that I have got that heavy stuff off my chest i’m kind of raring to plunge down memory lane (yes, its somewhere in the dark depths of the ocean in another realm). See below The Tamil Theatre

I sit incredulously on my opium bed on which rests my teak writing tray table and journey back through time to my wedding day.

Opium Bed-The National Museum of Singapore

In my last email was attached a wedding photo of Purnima and Mirko bedecked in jewels and silk, glowing and happy awaiting to embarking on a new life in a new world far, far away.

Purnima and Mirko – Hindu Wedding

The Saga: Mirko as you know was a New York banker and even though he was of Indian origin he had barely spent anytime in India. He had lived studied Europe and America but had returned to India to marry his Indian bride, that was an enigma in itself. We met a handful of times, the families had known each other over three generations, with my grandfather working under his grandfather in the Indian Civil Service, and his father, my father-in-law, working under my uncle in the Indian Foreign Service (still remembered as the greatest rivalry in the foreign service which caused huge protocol issues at the time of the two families meeting and garlanding each other at the wedding). But most of all his incredibly brilliant uncle Uma Shankar was my grandfather’s “bestie”. I had met him at home on a number of occasions and seen my living room light up as the two brilliant men sat together over bottles of scotch of course and reminisced the Raj, their spectacular careers in the foreign and civil service and the story of India. Their wives were close friends and my grandmother often exclaimed that Uma’s wife was among the most beautiful women of India, I only wish I had images to share. That story is also long and tragic and I will leave it to my children to fill in the pages of their family. So in the midst of close friendships and great rivalries this bond was forged. How marital relations are forged between two rival factions, families and kingdoms, is the subject of another email but it has happened through time and we just have to look at the Chinese who send their princesses north across the wall (Vindhyas in my instance)into the hands of the fierce tribes of the North, see below Wang Qiang on Her Way To The Khan of The Xiongnu from The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco:

Thus I found myself bedecked from head to toe sitting on my marital bed in front of a man I barely knew. Mirko stared at me for a while and then… you won’t believe what me asked me on the marital bed on my wedding night… “Can you bop your head side to side for me“? “What?”, I exclaimed, not really understanding the question, until he repeated it twice. Here I was a south Indian bride, and he believed all south Indian girls could bop their heads side to side, yes just like a typical “Indian doll”, and he wanted to see me do that. See link below of Tanjore terracotta doll:

By Alamelu Sankaranarayanan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17915492

Tanjore Dancing Doll – https://youtu.be/P2ibK558Ur4

The Tanjore Dancing Dolls

Of course I couldn’t believe my ears, there were jumbo signs flashing saying “MISTAKE” and “RUN“, after 18 years of education, a semester before I was to graduate from law school, I was sitting on the bed bedecked at a bride in front of a strange man with an American accent who was asking me to bop my head side to side. And so began the saga …

Highlighting the theatre that was to unravel as my life, with a stranger from another universe, the scene opens in New York City. Our charming old brown stone on the upper east side of Manhattan adjacent to the Guggenheim was a dream, but the man was far from that dream.

Purnima at The Guggenheim

He should have laughed when I made zucchini sandwiches for our picnic in central park (I had never entered the kitchen before so knew no better); He found no humor when I literally flew in for Dinner at Le Cirque, “I flew” because I was struggling with the 7 yards of a silk saree on stilettos and found myself temporarily airborne,  finally steadying myself I ordered my meal and of course I requested for crushed red pepper, I’m a southern belle, the chef arrived in a tizzy at our table (I suspect he arrived to see the dramatic Indian lady draped in a saree) seeing all the fuss that was created I turned to find Mirko beetroot red with the fourth of July fireworks exploding out of his head fearing yet another scene…

July 4th Fireworks out of Mirko’s Head

Then there was the incident in Paris…I was out sightseeing and was told to get to a certain place for dinner at a certain time, with the emphasis on time, I arrived at La Tour d’Argent, in my black leather biker jacket and boots to find at the table the ambassador and his wife among other guests dressed in silk and pearls, of course there was a nuclear explosion but I plead innocent as I was not informed. These stories are endless and perhaps entertaining but the eight years in California were no joke, by then Oberon had become Bottom and there was no going back. 

La Tour d’Argent: https://www.cntraveler.com/restaurants/paris/la-tour-dargent

Le Cirque NYC:

My theatrical entrance draped in multihued south Indian silk certainly fit right into Mr Maccioni’s arena – a quote from the article above- “I encouraged beautiful people, interesting people, people of different races and colors,”

This was all my paternal grandmothers grand plan, The Swan of the East, whom my in-laws much admired and respected. See below my grandmother Kowshiki, The Swan of The East:

She had know the family for generations and was close to over the moon having found The Suitable Boy. From the time I remember she had wanted a little girl in the family. She used to endlessly lament that her daughter Kadambari did not try for a daughter (as though it was guaranteed), and then it was the turn of my cousin, Kadambari’s son, and once again there were two boys, so by the time she got to me she prayed passionately to realize her dream and her dream for me.

The Tamil Story: There is a long historic background to this story, and it is entwined with the Tale of the Tamils. My paternal grandmother Kowshiki came from one of the most recognized musical families of South India. I can trace back our ancestors to the 1700’s, her father, my great grand father, S. Duraiswami Iyer, was a renowned lawyer in Madras, a revolutionary fighting for India’s independence from British Raj, and a great patron of the arts. His maternal grandfather was Tiruvottiyur Tyagier (1845-1917), a celebrated composer. Tyagier’s father was ‘Veena’ Kuppayyar (1788-1850). He was a direct disciple of Tyagaraja, arguably the greatest composer of Carnatic music.do see link pasted below:https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/music-to-dust-the-house-of-tiruvottiyur-tyagier/

My great grandfather S Duraiswami Iyer’s (see attached image) passion for freedom resulted in a terrible tragedy for my grandmother as her family was first separated and then she lost all her siblings one by one.

S. Duraiswami Iyer – Madras Lawyer, Patriot, Philosopher, Revolutionary and Devotee of Sri Aurobindo and Swaraj

He sent his wife, my great grandmother to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, she left with a baby in her arms (supposedly for her protection as he was constantly under surveillance by the British agents, and Pondicherry was a safe haven as it was under French jurisdiction), where she at the age of 27 had to drape herself in a white saree and hand over all her jewelry. The bride of a home and a family that would have traditionally been covered in silk and bedecked from head to toe in jewelry, she left her palatial home in Madras to occupy meagre accommodations, a small room in the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry as one of the sadaks or disciples of the ashram.The infant in her arms, baby Rudra, did not survive the year in the ashram. Her life replete with its tragedies is the subject of another book and makes me more determined in my outlook that the freedoms we (women)take for granted in this day and age are but ephemeral if not reaffirmed, reinforced and upheld at every juncture, so that we may voice our opinions, stake our claim, extend our protections not only to ourselves but those under our care and vehemently reject being being treated as chattels vociferously disregarding the bindings imposed by tradition, culture and society. Oh how I wish I were there in Old Madras to advocate for my great grandmother Meenaskshi with a voice that stood firm, equal and opposing to my great grandfather S. Duraiswami Iyer!

See below my great grandmother (sitting second from left) at The Aurobindo Ashram in Pondhicherry, India with the other sadaks, Ashram inhabitants, who were extensions of her spiritual family and the foundation she rested upon for comfort and support:

My Great Grandmother S.D.Meenakshi (Seated Second From Left)with her daughter Anu standing behind her, Vasudha Aunty, Kittu and Bharati Reddy, – Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India

See below snapshots of Pondicherry, The Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry and the street and home where my family lived in Pondicherry, India.

My grandmother Kowshiki’s entire family was scattered, sent to different homes while their palatial home, horse buggies and staff stood with my great grandfather who was a prominent advocate of the Madras High Court at it’s head hosting the revolutionaries and friends of Swaraj or self government in Madras and clandestinely funneling funds to the revolutionaries. Out of the five children of S.Duraiswami Iyer, my grandmother was the sole survivor, and she often reminisced about her ancestral home Palm Court, and her siblings especially her favorite, her brother Thyagarajan who joined the RAF during his studies in London and was shot over Normandy on the day Paris was liberated. Having lost so much so early in her life because of the high ideals of her family members that sacrificed themselves on the alter of patriotism, truth, justice and freedom, she yearned for something earthly a reminder in the form of a child of her family that was no more. I loved my grandmother more than anything and I wanted to realize her dream.

My grand uncle Tiger Tyagarajan (The RAF Pilot seated on the engine cowl):

Tiger Thyagarajan RAF on The Engine Cowl – Shot Down Over Normandy The Day When Paris Was Liberated

Palm Grove-Old Madras Homes (See link to Palm Grove in Madras Musings Below)

Palm Grove -Home of S. Duraiswami Iyer- 40ft Ceilings

See pasted below a link of Palm Grove, my grandmother home and the home where my father (Vijay Kumar Viswanathan, see attached), his sister Kadambari and his brother Priya Viswanathan was born.

The Babies Born in Palm Grove – Kadambari, Vijay and Priya Viswanathan

I was told by my grandmother who had the fondest memories of this almost 130 year old home with airy balconies, 40 foot ceilings and beautiful wrought iron grills, a home that saw much song, dance and theatre of the south as artists and musicians were often housed and taken care of by her father. Subramanium Bharati used to sing out loud in its halls glorious songs of patriotism, sages, saints and philosophers were frequent guests. She remembered sitting on Ramana Maharishi’s lap right here, my great grand father was a huge devotee. And all of it just vanished, my great grand father gave up the shirt off his back, his assets, land, home property to the Aurobindo ashram and the freedom struggle and he retired to Pondicherry to live out his life in memories. Roger, here in the north of India, you don’t hear the stories of the southern revolutionaries. In his instance, I guess his story will be found in the French archives, as the British would not necessarily highlight the saga of those that so flagrantly rebelled against their authority. See below the link for Palm Grove:

http://madrasmusings.com/Vol%2019%20No%2016/historic_residences_of_chennai_31.html

And then…Tara was born, the Swan’s Dream. Do see attached two pictures of Tara in California, one in an Indian dress (where she looks like the picture postcard of my paternal family) and one in a white birthday dress handing out her heart. My grandmothers seed and the story of her family continued in California. I remember the day I came to my grandmother with Tara in my arms, she was brimming with joy but at first would not let me just hand her over. She first straightened her dress, said a small prayer and then was ready to receive Tara who she held up (like a scene from the Lion King), and declared she was Krishnaa the expression of love and beauty.

Tara as Krishnaa the expression of love and beauty in California, USA:

Tara in California, USA

Tara offers her Heart and This Theatre of The South Lives For Another Day in The New World:

Tara Offers Her Heart and The Theatre of The South Lives for Another Day in The New World!

I wish to share with you her favourite hymn  Bala Mukundashtakam “Kararavindena Padaravindam” which describes the beautiful form of lord Krishna with hands like the lotus holding his feet like the lotus, with lips like the bimba fruit and teeth like pearls. I can hear her sing it with all the members of the family. This much beloved hymn came to life for me through Tara. See link for hymn below:

Bala Mukundashtakam: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ThnAQ71OTU

And with that Roger, I will end the saga for today but I am attaching a photograph of my grandmother, The Swam of the East, at the age of 77, the same profile that the artist in Lahore had sketched forty years earlier (overlaying her Indian bun with a Parisian hairstyle).  I guess the first claim to possession is recognition, the artist seeing a familiar form in her image, recreated it with stylized hair. And expressed through his art she remains in our memories eternal and exquisite forever.

Kowshiki – The Swan of The East

The Swan Ages Gracefully – See below my grandmother Kowshiki in her late 70’s draped in a saree looking as elegant in her golden years as in her youth. And thus this Tamil Tale – The Saga of The South as it fades from memory in the old world, it takes new life and continues in The New World!

My Grandmother Kowshiki Viswanathan still Dazzling in her Golden Years

Love,

Purnima

Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #69*

Family Portraits in Pictures, Knights and Knaves, Ex Machina, Travels to Austria

A Family Story in pictures

On Fri, May 8, 2015 at 9:42 PM, Roger Stevenson wrote:

Dear Purnima,

It does seem to be far too long since we last communicated, but you have never been far from my thoughts. It was really delightful to chat briefly with you while you were in San Francisco, and your connection with the Asian Art Museum in SFO sounds terribly exciting. Do let me know how that turns out. It might even bring you back to California on a regular basis.

I’m just slightly jealous of your planned trip from Austria to Geneva and spending time reminiscing at all of your(our) old haunts in the city. I think I told you that when I was in Geneva briefly last October, it was strange being back, especially since most of my Geneva friends no longer lived in the city. I felt very much the stranger/outsider. I hope you all have a wonderful time.

We are all struggling with the terrible water shortages in California. Most of the lawns in front of houses are now brown or else being replaced by less water-thirsty plants than grass. I almost feel guilty watering my vegetable garden, but I do it by hand rather than use the sprinkling system. We even collect the water in our shower that we run waiting for the hot water to arrive and then use it to water the plants and flowers outside. It was supposed to rain yesterday, but it only amounted to about five minutes of rain that barely got the ground wet on the surface.

I’ve been a little caught up in an idea that I know you are also concerned with: Artificial intelligence. We saw the new film, Ex Machina¸ last week, and really liked it. You should go see it if you get a chance. It poses the question of whether a machine can truly express human emotions and learn by itself independently of the humans who programmed it.  Can you fall in love with a robot who has a beautiful face and body and who convinces you that she really cares for you? What are the implications of AI should scientists actually end up programming such a “creation” ? is it something that we should fear or embrace. Would AI run amok pose an existential threat to humankind?

We haven’t done much globetrotting since our last trip. We are taking Alexandra to New York City in July as a birthday present. We have tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch and I’m going to see a play that was a huge hit in London and has now migrated across the Atlantic to off-Broadway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It should be a fun trip, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to NYC since 2003 when Annick still worked for the UN.

We are also planning on going back to Thailand in November, although we haven’t yet bought our tickets.

I hope you survive the month of May and that you get a good start on your magnum opus.

Lots of love and hugs,

Roger

– – –

Dear Roger,

It does seem like ages since we sat down and had a nice long chat, I miss our long walks and endless chats in Geneva. For me, you are forever entwined in my memories of that charming city where I lay my wings to rest for a while before i took off again…into oblivion.

It’s such fun to get your news, I get a birds eye perspective of whats up and happening in the world. How did the plays go, a close friend was raving about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. All the while i was wishing myself transported to London watching the play by your side.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

And yes, I finally did watch the movie Ex Machina, initially I was not quite as impressed, but on a re-viewing I found it engaging and pertinent to everything else I was trying to read in the space of art, law and robots. The themes are not exactly novel or pathbreaking, it’s all about developing an AI using data gathered from all devices from all over the earth by activating their cameras thereby giving the AI unlimited sources to simulate a cross section of all emotions found all over the world. This Roger, is not only a reality, it’s kind of old hat, unfortunately not everyone knows that the cameras phones and computers, roads, malls, security devices are not only continuously clicking but can be hacked into and you can be observed. I completely agree that this would be a great source for AI emotional simulations, and the data gathered by this so very Google-esque company would provide an incredible platform for building a very “human like” AI as it would have a map of all our interactions and responses, and as stated in the film even be in a position to anticipate the same. Do check out Ex Machina trailer and very interesting analysis below:

Ex Machina – Movie Trailer
Ex Machina Movie Analysis

 All very real. However, if I were the young man (software programmer) and realized I was being brought into the experiment to determine if the AI  which has passed the Turing test was akin to a human with true consciousness or machine, a number of red flags would have risen. And for me the red flags rose and waved which made me unable to fully swallow the storyline: How could the AI (who was designed to determine whether someone is telling the truth or a lie by their facial expressions) tell the young software programmer that the CEO is a liar. We know the CEO programmed the AI, and he specifically programmed the ability to detect a liar from a truthful person, so then why would he bother to lie to her in the first place. Thus we know the CEO is truthful (he wouldn’t lie to a creation he designed to determine lies in others and to utilize lies to achieve her goals), we know the AI is lying about the CEO being a liar making it a liar, and we know the software programmer is a fool!

Roger, this brings me to the book Cantor, Satan and Infinity which my son brought home over the last holidays (of course he had read it and was trying to quiz me continuously). It really took me back decades, as these were logical questions couched in a different dress, the same logical questions bombarded at me by my father that moulded my mind, and here he was again in the form of Dhruvum, my American teenager! This book deals with logical questions in a story about knights and knaves, the ones that always tell the truth and the ones that always lie, which reminded me about the above movie Ex Machina and the logical conundrums outlined there, I highly recommend it as it’s really fun and worth a read.

Regarding all your other questions stemming from the movie Ex Machina about love, emotions, binary codes and AI, whether they should ever be programmed, and whether they can run amuck…gives me a real sense of deja vu! Roger, believe it or not, I have just spent the last week responding to my 16 year old’s 8000 word essay which essentially deals with exactly the same questions. I get this uncanny feeling in my response to you that somehow I am now talking to my older son, possibly 17, and as much of a questioning, curious and introspective one. It’s wonderful that you are so vibrant and keep that bold youthful curiosity alive, I know I would have enjoyed each and every one of your classes prof! And yes AI’s are a reality, no going back there, and whether they can run amuck and destroy everything in sight, since they are logically programmed I suspect they will not, but they will be keeping us in their pens and garages with minimal sustenance for our survival, to be utilized if and when creativity and out of the box thinking is required to resolve an issue. It was surprising that in the movie Ex Machina the CEO did not have an off switch for the AI whether physical or verbal, but the AI’s which will dominate the earth will certainly put those “off” switches in our brains, keeping the key. The future appears quite horrifying, but every online game involving evolution and progression of man where AI’s are introduced in to the picture, very quickly end the story of man. Then again it may be a matter of definition, its possible these AI’s would be really us in the future but instead of wearing the device, we are the device. In the interim stage, we need smart (young) people who are ahead of the curve, and who recognizing the pitfalls of technology devote their energies to defining and redefining what it means to be human (with your prodding), representing the interests of man and humanity, ensuring the constitution at all times provides protection for the same. 

Roger, in response to your question whether AI will pose an existential threat to humanity, I will have to take us back to Issac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (I think every pre-teen from my village can recite them), but greater still is Stuart Russell’s modification of Issac Asimov’s third law, and this is absolutely brilliant and could potentially save the day:

Stuart Russell :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_J._Russell

Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:https://webhome.auburn.edu/~vestmon/robotics.html

First Law – A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Replace Asimovs 3rd Law with Russell’s Third Law (Start Russell) – A robot does not know human intent, It must ask the human. And it must permit being turned off. 

With this astounding 3rd law, I declare that he has taken over from me as the new Power Puff Girl for with this he truly Saves The Day! See Stuart Russell below:

Stuart Russell Saves The Day!

We are all very excited about our trip to Austria, Dhruvum will be returning to Austria after 15 years. I remember very distinctly, taking a year and half old Dhruvum packed in the baby seat at the back of my very old car, across the Alps through Germany and into northern Italy, Tuscany. We left from there for San Francisco. My memories of Austria are very warm and wonderful and I can’t wait to relive them. I remember being quite the dramatic spectacle at the Vienna opera in my red silk patola saree and my Kashmir shawl (the one that actually passes through a ring). See Vienna Opera: https://youtu.be/pnagSvvArsY

See below a description of the technique, skill and mathematics behind the making of this masterpiece of Indian art and culture-The Patola Saree:

The Making of The Patola Saree

Talking about the shawl that passes through a ring, see below the Shatoosh shawl made from salvaging the fine hair from the beard of Tibetan antelope. These are now banned, but our silver haired grandmothers and aunts adamantly cling on to the last of theirs battling the frost of the north with this single featherlight layer. See below the shatoosh shawl draped beautifully around my aunt Kathy Shourie in New Delhi, India:

Elegant Kathy Shourie in New Delhi, India

I received numerous appreciative glances and smiles, the people seemed to be aware of the complex weave of the Indian silk saree, they also seemed to recognize the shawl and gently caressed it as I passed. In fact, I had two ladies following me into the ladies clock room to tell me that they thought I was very beautiful and they loved my dress. Here I sensed being different was admired, appreciated almost adored, it was a long journey from here to California! Do see attached picture of me in another red saree, but this one is a bandhini saree which is an altogether different technique but almost as labor intensive, see me in pic below titled “Purnima in Geneva” of course.

Purnima in a Bandhini Saree in Geneva, Switzerland

And so I continue sharing my family story in pictures, hope you enjoy it Roger.

Austria and the Alps will remind me of my father as he is forever etched in my memory in his alpine hat. His passion for the mountains, nature, wildlife come alive in the images I have left of him. His was of both the sportive and intellectual pursuit, and though he was a great “shikari” or hunter with crack reflexes, he belonged to another era another time, the time of the Raj. As I had mentioned in a previous email, i was raised on all the birdcalls of the birds of Asia. My home was always like a game room with stuffed animals, mounted horns, animal rugs, but these were all relics of the past of which my father was an integral part. I have attached four photos of my father and grandfather (the Viswanathan men) very distinctive in their alpine hats, I wish to preserve these so that they don’t fade away like so many memories do. My grandfather with an Indian Bison (gaur )from my last letter, my father on a wild boar hunt or “shikar” in India with the “beaters” in the background.

The Boar Hunt, North India – Vijay Viswanathan

Unfortunately, his life was as brief as it was vibrant, and he vanished from our lives exactly thirty years ago from cancer at the age of 48. I sense if I were to ever find him in another time and place it would probably be in his beloved mountains, the Himalayas or perhaps the Alps. He would be in his late 70’s, possibly grey, perhaps with a mustache and of course in his alpine hat, but I’m sure I would recognize the distinctive physique and profile anywhere anyday. He lived for us children, interacting as one of us. The many winters spent in the Himalayas hiking and fishing, the many summers as he took us for a swim on his broad shoulders in the oceans in Mahabalipuram and Puri, boating in Ooty form the picture postcards of my mind. See attached boating in Ooty.

Ooty: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Ooty

Boating in Ooty – Purnima and Arvind and Papa

As I travel through Austria with Cantor (book mentioned above) and the memories of my father, I’m sure he will glance through time and space to see me with his grandchildren, even if that time and space does not permit him to openly embrace us he will be with us, with his spirit shadow following us, glancing from behind ever pillar and every signboard. I from my side will look out for that alpine hat, that profile…

Do see attached the last image of my parents together, my mother in a ravishing pink saree and my father very elegant in his suit. I can still see this exquisite couple dancing in my dreams and will see them come to life this summer waltzing in in the beautiful palaces of Vienna.

See below a charming Asian Couple, Mom and Dad in Evening Dress – Indian Dinner Party

Charming Asian Couple- Veena and Vijay Viswanathan in Evening Dress for Indian Dinner Party

See below Snapshots of Vienna and a link to the Vienna Waltz: https://youtu.be/U4J0MKsG_is

As I leave the misty recesses of my past behind, I meet with my present, my Midsummer Nights Dream (or shall we call it nightmare!). It’s incredible how all my stories return to Bottom the donkey! See below a fabulous earthy depiction of Bottom the Donkey at the Craft Museum in Delhi, India http://nationalcraftsmuseum.nic.in. This fabulous museum collection displays arts and crafts from across India showcasing India’s diverse and rich cultural heritage. The following terracotta piece (donkey)was on sale by a traditional craftsman on site, see donkey below and Purnima at the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s fab performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream-San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

The story of Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, the parallel mortal realm, and the interactions between the two. My story started out like a fairytale, I was wed to the the perfect match, a suitable boy, the equivalent of the king of the fairies, Oberon himself. But the twist to my tale, the love potion dropped onto my lids converted Oberon into Bottom! Yes, I was married and living with Bottom the ass for 8 years (in California), and he kept repeating the words “Do you think i’m an ass”, “Do I look like an ass to you”, just like Bottom. I spent these years along with my fairies Peasblossom and Mustardseed (see images of Dhruvum and Tara as Peasblossom and Mustardseed) pampering and indulging Bottom’s every whim. The entire scene was set as a Shakespearean play, with the ridiculous indulgence of ass headed Bottom, his theatrics, his over dramatizations, his foolish self indulgence, his belief in his all importance and that Titania’s love and devotion for him is to be taken for granted, that there was nothing exceptional to be waited upon hand and foot by the fairies of the forest. 

See the Faries Peasblossom and Mustardseed (My kids Dhruvum and Tara) Below:

The Faries Peasblossom and Mustardseed (My kids Dhruvum and Tara)

Returning to Vienna, I found in the biography of Sisi (Empress Elizabeth) an eerie parallel, the similar desire for freedom, to break away from all conventions imposed relentlessly, the omnipresent and all controlling mother-in-law without whose word the son would not sneeze. Her father’s love for circuses and horses and hunting. And of course her fascination for Shakespeares Mid Summer Night’s Dream, as she envisioned herself as Titania, and had the mural painted  of Titania and Bottom in her hunting lodge, The Hermesvilla. See attached mural in the Hermsvilla and link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermesvilla

By Carl Rudolf Huber – kunst-fuer-alle.de, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6702516

In this family story in pictures, I would like to leave you with images of myself, best reflected in painting by Raja Ravi Varma, the world renowned Indian artist that painted vivid scenes from the Indian epics and magnificent images of women in traditional dress and saree. He belonged to the princely state of Travancore (Kerala and Madras, just like me), and thus being painted by his brush is most apt. Do see attached this Palakkad damsel (me) in traditional dress with her children below:

Image of me viewing Dhruvum through the looking glass (Unnamed -1), and an image of me holding Tara (Krishnaa) in my arms, the embodiment of love and beauty.

Kerala Woman with Childhttps://ravivarma.org/kerala-lady-with-child-by-raja-ravi-varma/

Looking Into The Mirror by Raja Ravi Verma:https://ravivarma.org/kerala-lady-with-child-by-raja-ravi-varma/ https://ravivarma.org/looking-into-mirror-by-raja-ravi-varma/

In the interim, I’m trying to see all the movies and read all the books I need to be a good Austria guide for my kids (remember they are demanding American teenagers), so i have seen Sound of Music, Wagner, Amadeus, Sisi, waiting to see immortal beloved and the Story of the White Stallions. I’m halfway through Fin-De-Siecle Vienna by Carl Schorske, which is a good but detailed book, and I’ve just finished The Last Waltz in Vienna , a wonderful first person account of an assimilated Jewish Austrian family and their journey through the end of the 19th century into world war II ending in the death camps which left me all chocked up. I would like to end my story with my daughters favorite Sound of Music (a tour which we have signed up for in Salzburg), and imagine all of us being whisked out of Austria by my very noble and elegant father who would have rivaled the charm of Christopher Plumber in Sound of Music (and would have known the Alps like he knew the Himalayas like the back of his hand) all the way across the Alps into Switzerland and straight to Geneva!

See below the gazebo from the sound of music in the beautiful Hellbrun castle grounds in Salzburg with my 16 and 17 year olds posing in front:https://youtu.be/hwK_WOXjfc0

The Gazebo from The Sound Of Music Movie, Salzburg Austria

With lots of love from Purnima who will always be found in Geneva.

Love and hugs to the family.

Purnima

Purnima Viswanathan

Blog Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries#68*

Letter To Forrest, Journeying From England to Japan,The Cult Of Mithras

5/4/15

Asian Art Museum San Francisco AAM

Dear Roger,

It seems like ages since i last heard from you, how have you been? I know you are most probably globe trotting but would appreciate a postcard, one liner, now and then so I may follow you from my armchair.

I returned from all my travels mid April and am now staying put in Delhi through the brutal month of May, as I’m determined to finally put pen to paper and come out with my magnum opus!

June and July are going to be an adventure as we are planning a trip across Austria ending in Geneva where the kids will return with me to reminisce our old haunts, the lake, the old town and all our favorite parks and patisseries. I look forward to sharing those stories as you know those places well.

In the mean while, you would be pleased to hear that I have been following my passion and have been in close touch with Forrest at the Asian Art Museum and have informed him that I would be very keen to get involved with the museum in any capacity. I specifically mentioned my interest in connecting cultures and people across Asia (as the museum is intending to do so through the Ramayana exhibit in 2016). See below the AAM SF Ramayana exhibit showcasing the Rama Epic written by Valmiki and retold for 2,000 years from India to Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and beyond:https://exhibitions.asianart.org/exhibitions/the-rama-epic/

See below the Indonesian shadow puppets (Wayang) at the AAM in San Francisco used to tell the epic tale of the Ramayana in Indonesia (and my puppet of Hanuman The Monkey God from the AAM SF):

Sculpture of Hanuman, The Monkey God from North India

I have actually proposed in my letter to Forrest to extend this idea of connectivities and building bridges westward to connect Europe to Asia, Japan to Great Britain, in my mind there could be no better place to do so than at the Asian Art Museum of SF. 

Roger, as my dear friend (and guide) I am keen to continue to keep you in the loop and to share with you the essence of my correspondence with Forrest. Now despite there being no apparent “eureka” moment in his response to the same, I strongly sense there is a novel in the offing, do you see Dan Brown in the excerpt from my letter to Forrest below? It’s certainly an epic in the making!

The email sent to Forrest at the AAM is pasted below:

In continuation of our chat in March at The Asian Art Museum where you had mentioned that I should inform you when I would be returning to the Bay Area, I wish to re emphasize my deep interest in being involved with the Asian Art Museum, and specifically the pan Asian Ramayana exhibit that is scheduled for 2016, and would be open to relocate to the Bay Area within the next six months if there is any opportunity for me at the Asian Art Museum. 

I can envision my involvement on multiple fronts, both at the research end of setting up the exhibit (even though I have no prior experience, I am confident I would be able to contribute positively), as well as reaching out to the extended Indian community in the Bay Area, involving them in the project and bringing forward potential funders for the same.

Since I was on my international travels across Asia during the Ramayana exhibit, I compiled a personal, audio visual chronicle which I believe would dovetail perfectly with the above mentioned AAM SF Ramayana exhibit. See Purnima in Ellora, Maharashtra, India, at The magnificent Kailasa rock cut temple, (the largest rock cut structure in the world, a temple carved from top to bottom out of a entire rock cliff attributed to the Rastrakuta king Krishna I, 756 AD) in front of the intricate carved reliefs of the great Indian epics, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata below: http://srsindia.colgate.edu/2017/01/15/mahabharata-and-ramayana-at-ellora/

Purnima at The Kailasa Temple in Ellora, Maharastra, India-Scene from The Mahabharata
Purnima at The Kailasa Temple in Ellora, Maharastra-Scenes from The Ramayana

I am most excited about weaving a thread and connecting diverse cultures, through the Ramayana across Asia in this instance, and can think of numerous other overlaps and connectivities between people across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. As I had briefly mentioned during our chat at the Museum Cafe, the role of building bridges between peoples and cultures, connecting diverse people from nations across the globe should be squarely in your hands, a prominent American museum representing the various immigrant groups (a large Asian population) that form your community and the changing face of the United States. I have to admit, this excites me tremendously as I can see myself in a unique position to contribute through my time and experience.

See below a frieze from Cuttack, Odisha: A Scene from The Ramayana with Rama, Laxmana and Hanuman, with Rama giving hanuman his signet ring to take to his wife Sita who is being held captive by Ravana the demi-god

See Purnima in Mahabalipuram, India riding one of the five rock cut chariots, Pancha Rathas, attributed to the chariots of the five Pandavas from the Mahabharata) of this incredible complex in the south of India hewn out of boulders by the great Pallava king Narasimhavarman II, in 690 AD.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancha_Rathas

Purnima with the Pancha Rathas or Five Chariots of The Pandavas in Mahabalipuram, India

If you remember, during our chat, as you were drawing the thread connecting the cultures of Asia through the Ramayana, I mentioned another network of connections through East Asia and then onto Europe. Once again reiterating, that culture cannot be contained and is not the proprietary right of one person or group, in fact all these great cultural expressions have found their way onto these shores (US shores) on the backs of their people. I had also mentioned to you that I was most fascinated by the Japanese 7th century Nara hollow lacquer standing figures of Brahma and the Vedic deity Indra at the Asian Art Museum (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/2/#inbox/14cffa11bd11746c). See below Nara Lacquer standing figures of Brahma and Indra at the Asian Art Museum San Francisco:

This fascinated me because apart from the fact that few Indians would believe that their Rig Vedic deities are a core part of the Japanese pantheon and culture, Indra and Brahma being a central part of the Buddhist story, they might be surprised to know that Sanskrit also travelled to Japan and forms a part of their grammar, that Ankor Wat has the largest Brahma temple, and all of South Asia as we discussed have their interpretations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata unique to their people and culture.

Moving away from the East to the West, I had also briefly mentioned the Mitanni kingdom in Northern Syria and Southeast Anatolia that thrived between 1500-1300 BC. This kingdom with its extensive trade and marital relationships with Egypt during the reign of Ahmenotep and Akenaten, all codified in trade treaties, inscriptions, letters and even a horse training manual, shows us a fascinating culture which composed its texts in Akkadian (oldest Semitic language) but invoked Vedic deities like Indra, (the same deity Indra that formerly graced the Japanese Nara temple and now stands proudly at the Asian Art Museum), along with Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya (ashvins). In addition to this the horse training manual once again though written for the indigenous Hurrian population in their script referred to the Sanskrit numbering system, movements and colors.  These are clearly Proto-Indo-Persian, and perhaps could help shed light on the unique connection between Sanskrit, Latin and Greek, once again a thread connecting people and cultures.

On the topic of global connectivities, see below The Amarna letters where (for me) it’s almost mind blowing that the Sanskrit words for chariot “Ratha” and horse “Asva”, and the Vedic deities mentioned above were first written in the cuneiform script, possibly using the Akkadian dialect.

The Amarna Letters in Cuneiform Script – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=629827

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/amlet/hd_amlet.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitanni

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kikkuli

Finally, I would like to take you to Europe and connect my final thread with the Cult of Mithras. Mithraism was the dominant culture/ religion of Europe just before the coming of Christianity, and was spread geographically over an extensive area from Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and north Africa to parts of East Asia. Mithraism was a secretive cult and it was practiced in underground caves and hollows with the figure of Mithras, holding and slaying a bull. See below relief of a Tauroctony (bull slaying) found near Rome, now displayed at the Louvre from the Roman Mithraic Mysteries.

Tauroctony from The Roman Mithraic Mysteries- By Jastrow – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=599533

Here Mithras is also surrounded by numerous other objects and animals that according to a theory depict the constellations and other astronomical subjects. Mitra in the Rig Veda is one of the deities which symbolizes the sunhttps://www.britannica.com/topic/Mitra-Vedic-god. Once again, this cult of Mithra (Persian) or Sanskrit Mitra (from the Rig Veda) is found in these secretive setting across Europe connecting Europe with Asia. Please see pasted below a very interesting article about the possible symbolism of Mithras depicting the precession of the equinoxes (the recognition that the earth was in motion as were the skies and the constellations, dislodging traditional beliefs of the constancy of the firmament) and the cult of Mithras: 

http://www.mysterium.com/mithras.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraic_mysteries

See below Roman Britain and The Cult of Mithras in Britain from The British Museum:

Though the cult of Mithras is still shrouded in secrecy, and little is known, there are many challenges to the Persian connection. However, I must admit that the Cult of Mithras with the slaying of the bull, the focus on the solstices, the very name Mitra seems very proto-Indo-Persian  appearing to invoke the hymns in the Rig Veda. I absolutely do not subscribe to the Out of India theory but believe that perhaps an indigenous group occupying the southern Caspian all the way to the Caucasus had a set of beliefs, deities, practices, and language, and as it is with the journey of man, one group set out one in the easterly direction making its way to the Indian subcontinent (and developed the Rig Veda en route), and perhaps the other group made its way through East Asia (Mitanni), another to Greece (giving birth to the Mycenaean civilization) and yet another journeyed towards Europe. We do know the languages are connected (with Sanskrit and its close connection with Latin in Europe, and Greek), it’s a matter of connecting the peoples and the cultures. 

I do hope I have fully expressed my enthusiasm in Art, Asia and connecting the dots. I do look forward to hearing from you soon.

So Roger, what do you think, could we all be connected at an ancient stage and then spend the rest of our existence highlighting our differences? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 The one thing that jumped out at me while I was researching the above mentioned cult of Mithras was that all the reference material call The Cult of Mithras (which is scattered all over Europe) a Persian cult, and the Mitanni, an Indo-Persian tribe. However, in the Persian Pantheon Indra was not a god but a demon, and Mithra, or the Vedic Mitra, Indra, Varuna and Natsatyas are all together only found in the Rig Veda, which predates the the Persian references, thus is not Persian but proto-Indo-Persian (or as I call it Rig Vedic) with Mitra being adopted by the Persians as Mithras, as by the secret cults of Europe. The Rig Vedic roots appear completely unknown!

Look forward to hearing your response.

Big hugs

Purnima

Purnima Viswanathan

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #65*

Science, Sci-fi, Huxley, Orwell and A Tid-Bit of Value – The Tid-Bit Coin

Sent: lundi 23 février 2015 03:05

To: Roger Stevenson

The Tid-Bit Coin Continued from Letter #64 with a lot of mental regurgitation:

Moving away from Kashmir’s Kadambari, and Kadambari’s Kashmir, and closer to the New World, and the books on my bedside table. My son as a part of his school syllabus has to read The Brave New World, and so he persuaded me to do the same (as I had fragments from an old memory) for us to review it together. OMG, and I must say that again! Aldous Huxley and subsequently Orson Welles 1984, have transformed me…you will not see the Purnima you knew, you will see a “Being”, a “Beast”.

https://principatoscuola.it/huxley-vs-orwell-competing-visions-of-the-future-in-brave-new-world-and-1984/

There books should never have come within my shadow, it can only spell destruction, annihilation for the kind of fiercely independent persona I have. I am sorry Roger, there are just not enough punctuation marks for me to express myself!! I have transmorphed from posing as a left leaning socialist during my university days (my Cambridge mission college almost made that inevitable), to a radical RIGHT WING zealot! Right wing only in the sense of abhorring Big Government, and wanting them to get the hell out of my face, my life, my mind! I don’t want government, I don’t care for nations or the nation state. The only purpose I see in their existence is in further aggrandizing power and attempting to diminish all the other organs set up to contain this monster. A self propelled Hydra that swallows the Supreme court, diminishes the legislature and enslaves the President! The citizens are monitored, contained, reviewed, rewarded or punished all in the name of EFFICIENCY! How I hate efficiency, how i know that is my Achilles heel and I will submit all, my home, my personal space perhaps even my mind for greater efficiency. And it is this lure of efficiency under which we organize ourselves, submit ourselves and permit the State its excesses. Roger, please help me to close these books, how will i survive outside the State? The one thing I do know is that the internet is extending the conventional territorial space into another realm and man is regrouping himself in this realm. Perhaps in this realm we will be more free and not succumb to our vulnerabilities of “efficiency”. What do you foresee, do you see me? I somehow sense you have already traversed my road traveled my journey and found your answers. You always seem in a sense of bliss. You have that smile as you hear me rambling along, it could be all that French wine and chess or something else…

See below Huxley v Orwell – The Webcomic

https://biblioklept.org/2013/06/08/huxley-vs-orwell-the-webcomic-2/

Well, to top off all my bedside reading, I had visits from artist friends as I had mentioned earlier, all very anti establishment, searching for answers and traveling the world. We discussed the financial systems and how we are enslaved to it, and then we discussed alternate financial systems like  Bitcoin, the decentralized online virtual currency. My response to Orwell and Huxley was the Tid-Bit Coin, a possible pathway outside the nations controlled dystopia outlined below.

https://bitcoin.org/en/

Unfortunately, despite its incredible success, the governments impose strict restrictions and there are numerous governmental clampdowns. Here the value is “mined”, or generated by solving a mathematical calculation which changes as technology improves (so the ten minutes to mine still remains ten minutes despite the progress of technology). It was here I had a bit of a brainwave which I discussed with my finance guru buddy from Hong Kong (I suspect he thinks I’ve actually flown over the nest) but never lets up, and I would love to share the same with you.

Do see below an interesting quote that I lifted off Wikipedia by Melanie Fein, (Shadow Banking Charade) about Bitcoin:

Bitcoin appeals to tech-savvy libertarians, because it so far exists outside the institutional banking system and the control of governments.[217] Its appeal reaches from left wing critics, “who perceive the state and banking sector as representing the same elite interests, […] recognizing in it the potential for collective direct democratic governance of currency”[218] and socialists proposing their “own states, complete with currencies”,[219] to right wing critics suspicious of big government, at a time when activities within the regulated banking system were responsible for the severity of the financial crisis of 2007–08,

So Roger, in the world of today, with the acceleration in technology upping our ability to strive further and firing our passion, we as humanity have undertaken incredible humanity defining projects inconceivable a decade or two earlier, like The Human Genome Project which mapped the entire human genome, our essence, our DNA, our blueprint, all the 3 billion base pairs. This gargantuan project, projected to take ten years, undertaken by The National Institute of Health and overtaken by the shotgun methods of Craig Venture. Of course this data was released in the public domain though many had private interests from which they benefited. 

Check out the Human Genome Project infohttp://www.genome.gov/10001772

Now moving on to another gargantuan project The Human Brain Project which is being undertaken by the EU, and involves mapping the 63 billion neural networks and trillions of connections. This incredible human infrastructural project almost inconceivable in its size and complexity is currently being undertaken by man. Even though there have recently been issues with the multi billion funding required, the disgruntled scientists who claim that this neurological project is being turned into an IT project siphoning off the funding for pure brain research. Despite these issues the reality is that projects of this size requires immense manpower and billions of dollars both of which are not easily accessible unless a tangible commercial purpose is outlined and often that tangible commercial purpose which is in the minds of some of the parties pushing for these projects would not pass the muster of human ethics. The patenting of genes, so called synthetic cells, chromosomes, creating novel organisms, hybrids, mapping the brain so it can be simulated. And the commercial purpose may take us back to The Brave New World or 1984, and though crime. 

Check out The Human Brain Project Infohttps://www.humanbrainproject.eu

Then there is the the Near Earth Object (NEO) scanning facilities, and the US with its super powerful telescopes and satellites track these objects around the solar system. However, the complexity of this task is so great that we probably currently track only 1 percent of all the NEO in the solar system. The second issue is that there is a moratorium about disclosure, and the excuse is that it might contravene the nuclear pact, ie, it may be a nuclear missile testing and not a NEO. So we have Cherablinsk, the thunderous 2013 near earth asteroid impact that nobody was warned about, and nobody knew.

Check out the images of a looming NEO that alarmed a little girls eyes (oui moi) as she turned the pages of Tintin and The Shooting Star below:

https://tintin.fandom.com/wiki/The_Shooting_Star

My question is when it is an issue of the preservation of humanity, should we be really leaving ourselves at the mercy of nations. Don’t all these nations have their own axes to grind? What if an asteroid breaks up and a fraction hits an insignificant part of the globe from the western perspective, will the alarms really go off in time for the few indigenous people to take cover, or will the excuse be that we were unsure if we were contravening a nuclear pact? Should the EU really have the power to one day simulate the brain and perhaps control humanity (even though we know they project themselves as goody goodies, can they be trusted), do the nations not have their personal interest and retention of their power and influence in mind? Now Roger, imagine the French having the power to control the brains of the Americans and turn them into little robots at will…now there is at least one froggie that would have a smile on its face do you not agree?

My thought was that we use a version of this very virtual online currency, Bitcoin is already a victim, but generate another, that is created for the interest of humanity and not to further the interest of any one nation, especially when it concerns humanity defining infrastructural projects that equally concern the tribe in Borneo who may have no voice on the international stage and the fat banker in Zurich (Ooh I better be good to the Swiss if I want to continue visiting their glorious mountains). This virtual currency would not be defined by a nation, state, ideology, but would be for all of humanity. The most interesting part is the generation of the value of this virtual currency, would be generated by the virtual public that scans the skies for NEO, which they may do voluntarily now, but under this plan their work scanning the skies, generating formulas unraveling the trajectory of these objects would be a Tid-Bit of Value, and so they would be engaged and rewarded, all via an online game, all virtually(similar to solving the mathematical puzzle to generate a bitcoin). In the case of the human brain project, we need not just billions but manpower. We need those millions of teenage gamers who are spending their valuable time gaming online for nothing, we would tap this “gaming power or energy” and direct it towards scanning the skies or unraveling the connections between the neurons in the brain with each connection translating into an encryption further translating into value. In fact I would volunteer to create a game for the same which would be released for free online to tap the gamers who after every level, are rewarded tangibly by the creation of a virtual coin, or shall we say Tid-Bit Coin.

So Roger, what do you think of my plan for Our Brave New World, out of the clutches of The Nation State?

PS: (Let’s see if you can hold your breath through this regurgitation 😂 )

Room 101 (Continued)- The Tidbit Coin

As we are all aware, the Internet is silently expanding and enveloping us at a phenomenal rate. It has encroached into our every sphere and leaving barely a nook untouched. However, it still is at its nascent stage, it has far far to go. The creation and expansion of this infant universe is being undertaken by us, yes you and me as we pound away on our computers, cell phones, and digital gadgets texting, surfing, emailing, commenting and uploading all kinds of data. Slowly converting our efforts in human time into efforts in digital time/ virtual time and creating, expanding and generating intentionally or otherwise in this virtual space. 

Now, I’m not immediately going to go into the complex discussion of the exact translation of human time into virtual time and whether the clocks correspond, if could or should they, but I would like to explore the value of this tidbit of human endeavor in virtual space. As we go about purposefully amending wiki, or responding to yahoo answers or enter and comment or give advice in any forum, we may be aware of voluntarily or intentionally imparting value to the forum. However, even in this simplistic scenario the value would be both the information imparted, the particular expertise and the participation in further expanding the network, the virtual universe. Often, the human time is volunteered, the time and space by which the universe has correspondingly expanded is conjectured. Similarly, for every tweet, quip, bleep, this virtual space is expanding but the complex interconnectivities of this virtual space, and it’s “weightage” or “values” would make defining the human value of this expansion very difficult to determine in my conception. But, let try (with) a “Tidbit”. Let’s aim to define the Tidbit along the lines of the currently popular Bitcoin. However, unlike the mining of the Bitcoin via resolving random complex mathematical equations, let’s conceive of a value for merely surfing the Internet, tweeting, emailing, posting, commenting and uploading data. The value of the Tidbit earned in the virtual world would have nothing to do with value in the human world whether it be in expertise, time, complexity of the value/data imparted, but would have its own equation based on how much it influences and expands this virtual world, the time space concepts being completely alien to those found in the human realm. We would have to figure out this formula but with a completely different mindset, or head screwed on where the values of the human world do not directly translate, and accordingly have to be weighed within its own context. We may have to set down some core ground rules or values by which this space is defined, and eventually the core laws of the mechanics of this space. Im not sure if anything at all has been done to date on the above as far as I’m aware.

As we identify the core values of this space, and set down its base governing laws, we can move on to the next phase of defining this virtual online currency, just for fun let’s call it a “tidbit” of value. The minute it’s defined, we can start churning it out. Every individual on the Net will accrue it at various rates, and we can easily develop an economy online for the utilization of the same. The primary movers possibly our initial underwriters if we wish, might be the hardware/software companies in whose interest the further expansion of the net, the addition of information and multiple users, using it for multiple purposes. Now the We the Netizens will have to figure if we want the big fish, or how much we want the big fish involved. We don’t want nations replaced by gigantic corporations then we are back in the same stew… Fish head curry! And we must not forget what we initially set out to do, to create a valuable alternate decentralized virtual currency which will stand in for all the mega billions spent by governments on large infrastructure projects that impact humanity, our human germ line, our humanness and our physical existence on this planet. Yes, the mega billions required for projects like the Human Genome project, where the data should not be privy to any nation corporation or group, the likes of the Human brain project, where the data generated/accumulated (which is what it’s appears to be downgraded to), is not in the hands of a few interested parties whether they be in the facades of nations, unions or Corporations. I cannot imagine wisdom to prevail when the fire of the gods lie only in the hands of one group. Of course the inevitable race will be for all groups to acquire the same unless the first group turn all the rest off to rest, and dons the hat of Big Brother, the Guardian of the Globe. Power corrupts absolutely, why give it yet another opportunity! Finally, onto our asteroid hunter project, or the NEO project by NASA and JPL. The gargantuan dimensions of this project has been discussed above, and the need for manpower and funding is urgently required to map as many of the NEO s that pose a threat as possible. However, as discussed above, we don’t want a nation organization or group to be the primary forces behind this for as discussed above, in the instance of smaller bodies, like Cherablinsk  not the civilization ending ones, but the ones that could wipe out Manhattan, Shanghai or even the 15 million people in Delhi, India. For these size bodies neither do we have the current means to monitor nor the blanket freedom given to the scientists to disclose data. The world is shrouded in numerous agreements between nations to with hold information that could point to weapons testing or nuclear explosions, and since these asteroids tend to explode in the atmosphere despite having the data, the scientists hands may be tied till the NEO instead of exploding above the Indian Ocean explodes over New Delhi, by which time it would be much too late. 

In my opinion, no one nation should be privy to this information, we should have satellites and monitoring stations that don’t act for nations and their buddies, but which act in the interest of humanity and disclose data as soon as it is accessible blasts, bombs, asteroids, comets and all. For this the agency/ organization monitoring would have to be independent of nations, and work to serve humanity for humanity’s sake And Pleeeeaaasse don’t start getting misty eyed and veering towards the UN thinking that somehow that is going to step in as the savior of humanity. Please understand the UN is severely conflicted, there is no option but to be biased based on its structure and formation. It serves a purpose, and like the other nations of the globe must be treated as one agglomerated nation with certain groups glomming more (“glom”how I love that word)and others being left in the periphery, and so similarly weighted. 

Back to the independent organization required for monitoring NEO and alerting the citizens of the globe of impeding disasters, this organization of course would be funded and supported by the human virtual community both by their currency the Tidbit and the labor of the volunteers who will scan the skies, monitor and chart the trajectories either based on data shared or games designed for the purpose. These volunteers by their very reason of being online will earn a tidbit, Roger can you imagine the immense power that can be harnessed if we can tap even a fraction of all the people surfing the Net. Imagine being compensated just for going online! However, even if we only focus on gamers we have all the man hours we need for all our human infrastructure projects(those that impact human survival), the gamers may earn more based on the complexity of the task and the level of the game they are able to reach, thus uncovering more of the skies, being compensated and making the world a safer place for each and every one of us who is vested in this Human Story.

Love and hugs to you and the whole family. 

Love,

Purnima

PURNIMA VISWANATHAN

Disclaimer 😛

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

Geneva Diaries #16A*

What Does The Fox Say? Who…Who…Whodunnit??

What does the fox say? (The Fox by Ylvis)
What Does The Fox Say – Fox 1 — Kamakura Period- National gallery of Art Washington DC

What Does The Fox Say by Ylvis ( See excerpt of the lyrics pasted below) :https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ylvis/thefox.html

Dog goes woof, cat goes meow
Bird goes tweet, and mouse goes squeak
Cow goes moo. Frog goes croak, and the elephant goes toot
Ducks say quack and fish go blub, and the seal goes ow ow ow
But there’s one sound that no one knows…
What does the fox say?

From The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: The Life of Animals in Japanese Art

NGA-The Life of Animals in Japanese Art
The Life of Animals in Japanese Art-Exhibit at The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Dog Goes Woof…

Cat Goes Meow…

Bird Goes Tweet…

And Mouse Goes Squeak…

The Mouse Story – Mouse Marries Princess Pretending to be Nobleman – Momoyama Period – Hand Scrolls Ink on Paper

The Cow Goes Moo…

The Cow Goes Moo- Japanese Screen

The Frog Goes Croak…

Or Does it Go Je t’aime, Je t’aime…

Frog Goes Je T’aime – Purnima at Gumps, San Francisco with The Frog Prince – Photo by Polina Steier

And The Elephant Goes Toot…

Fugen Bosatsu’s Elephant, Kamakura Period, Japan

Duck Says Quack…

Psst…It has duck feet, but this is not a duck, this is a Phoenix – Muramachi Period, Rukuonji, Kyoto, Japan

Phoenix, Muramachi Period, Rukuonji, Kyoto, Japan

Fish go Blub

And The Seal Goes Ow Ow Ow…

A Happy Seal – Photo by George Jacob

But If You Meet A Friendly Horse…How Will You Speak To That H-o-o-orse?

What Does The Fox Say?

A-oo-oo-oo-ooo! Wo-oo-oo-ooo!

What Does The Fox Say —Who…Who…Whodunnit? Fox 2— Kamakura Period- National gallery of Art Washington DC

Who…Who…Who…Who…Whodunnit???

Sacred Foxes- Kamakura Period- The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Disclaimer :p

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

Purnima Viswanathan