Apr 21, 2011

Some Thoughts on Books & Films

Tulip’s a good girl, I saw that at once. You’re the trouble…….. Well, she’s in love with you, that’s obvious. And so life’s full of worries for her. She has to protect you to begin with; that’s why she’s upset when people approach you: I expect she’s a bit jealous, too. But in order to protect you she’s naturally got to be free; that’s why she doesn’t like other people touching her; she’s afraid, you see, that they may take hold of her and deprive her of her freedom to guard you. That’s all the fuss is about, I should say. It’s you she’s thinking of. But when you’re not there, there’s nothing for her to do, of course, and no anxiety. Anyone can handle her then, I’m sure. That’s all.”

Does this sound like an extract out of a novel about obsessive love and pathological posessiveness? You couldn’t be more wrong. :)

Love among human beings is subject to much rigour – too many rules, too many labels, too many conditions. All those things which we are usually conditioned to think of as positives, suffer a curious inversion in love. Hence, truth becomes inconvenient, devotion feels sickening, sponteneity is rebuked for being unrestrained, and innocence is gradually demolished. Being a canine is perhaps easier.

I’m currently reading JR Ackerlay’s ‘My Dog Tulip’ – a deeply moving, enjoyable work. It’s a memoir about Ackerlay’s dog with whom he spent 15 happy years. Still have some way to go but stopped to blog. A little bit of background is imp. to appreciate the book. Not only was Ackerlay a gay, he also possessed a great disdain for the working classes. These two tendencies in him endowed him with an almost open dislike for most people; he felt disconnected from most others around him. It was only with his dog Queenie (Tulip in the book), that he could feel, offer, and demonstrate the full gamut of emotions he reserved within himself. His love for her was as uninhibited, as unrestrained, as complete and as innocent as that of his canine partner’s towards him. In the absence of the usual rules and conventions which govern our affections & choices, the two were free to indulge their mutual love & devotion for each other.

The extract I’ve posted above occurs in one of the most affecting sections of the book where Ackerlay is describing the difficulty in taking Tulip to see a vet for she did not like being touched by any other than him. Or so he thinks. Until the vet explains Tulip’s behavior in the extract above and adds, “Dogs aren’t difficult to understand. One has to put oneself in their position.”

Perhaps there is a lesson in this. Perhaps the rules need simplication or maybe even a complete overhaul. Perhaps, all you really need is to put yourself in the other’s shoes.

Watched ‘Rajneeti’ recently & found it well-made & captivating. Also found it quite disturbing. There are no heroes in the film. While Ajay Devgan’s Surya (Karna) may seem to possess some modicum of integrity which is totally lacking in the others, even he is not above resorting to random violence. It reminded me of Spielberg’s 'Munich' where every act of vengeance is followed by retaliation and entire generations of people are massacred. It is a bleak, dystopian world, bereft of any hope. i liked the way Prakash Jha reworks the Mahabharata story and finally invests power and dignity to Indu (Draupadi/Katrina Kaif) for she’s the least culpable and the most morally upright of all the others.

Last, I realise I may attract some egg-throwing here but I needed to say this. I haven’t read the Gita though I have tried it twice. I don’t want to denigrate a work which everyone speaks highly of and which is supposed to be one of the greatest treatises on spiritual growth. But as I was watching 'Rajneeti' it struck me that the Gita, which contains the core discourse between Krishna & Arjuna when the latter is struck by doubt regarding the morality of killing one’s kin, is really a survival handbook. It is a debate between what is ‘right’ and what is ‘necessary’; between what is ‘moral’ and ‘whatever works’. Krishna finally convinces Arjuna that what works is what is right. I find this hard to digest. I pay bribes to get my clearance license but that doesn’t make it right; I may resort to lies to avoid hurting those I love, but that doesn’t convert those lies into the truth. Perhaps it is important to imagine a world where such bribes and deceptions can be done away with largely. But that's a post for another day.

Maybe, what makes the Gita a great work is that like Machiavelli’s ‘Prince’ or Chanakya’s ‘Arthashahtra’ it offers a code of conduct/mechanism which is meant to minimise conflict and maximise efficiency on earth. At best it should probably be read as a practical guide to survival and happiness.


vaidegi j said...

when am or rather was with our dog, (back home) truly use to feel the same way ur protagonist did..i mean its sheer bliss...n nothing else comes inbetween..use to tell myself...yes a dog would certainly feature in my must haves..in my sunset years! you miss out on that feeling, which nothing else can buy...or even come close to..

abt the Gita part, ya me too had jerky attempts..! then settled for just a few hard hitting 'quotes' and yes does keep me rooted at times. like the, u gotto do what you gotta do part, without expecting dramatic results or pats on ur back or brickbats or watever!! but yes theres an ocean of knowledge to be delved into, which one would, when they are upto it i guess. (not sure if that made much sense.)
p.s. im the 'was-onlooker'!! :)

drift wood said...

Finally a face! How nice. :)

Onlooker & my dear friend R too, i guess. :)

hey, why dont u pen something about this dog you speak so fondly of? C'mon?

vaidegi j said...

:) well, ve been scribbling stuff, if not on dogs..!
abt the face, mebe it wudve been wiser/saner to remain the anonymous onlooker!!