One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why We Don't Understand Art?

Can you guess, what I am trying to imply in this drawing?

It doesn't surprise us to see a white bear on ice desert of north pole, but it definitely surprise us to see white bears on sandy desert of Sahara. When we visit a zoo, we expect to see animals in the artificial environments, that are close to their natural niches. In contrast, it doesn't surprise us, to find human in any of the environments. Why we don't have any niches as other animals do? Even a school boy can answer that. That is because of our brain. It is the ability of our brain to recognize suitable patterns in any environment and fit in it. An interesting case in how brain is able to find a pattern to difficult problems is the legendary story of Archimedes uncovering of the blacksmith's fraud:

Hiero II, the King of Syracuse, orders a crown to be built of pure gold but when the crown is presented to the king, Hiero suspects that goldsmith has replaced some of the gold in the crown with silver. The king asks Archimedes for help. It was a difficult problem to solve, as it was easy to weigh the crown, but in order to determine the density of gold, Archimedes needed to measure its volume. As crown was in the form of a wreath, it was difficult to determine its volume. Legend has it that when Archimedes stepped into the bath, it caused it overflow. Archimedes notice it and apply this principle to the solve the problem. As gold has a density of 19.3 grams/cubic-centimeter and silver a density of 10.5 grams/cubic-centimeter, the amount of silver mixed into the crown, increases the volume of crown. Now, all Archimedes needed to do was to immerse the crown in a tub and measure how much water was displaced. The volume of displaced water was the volume of the crown. (Archimedes' screw is another interesting example of the ability of brain to solve the problems nature offers) 

The fact is brain faces countless problems on daily basis. The complex nature of communication alone suffices to understand the plasticity and ability of brain in identifying suitable patterns out of complexity and solving the problems so quickly that we don't notice any communication gap. This ability of brain comes from its strategy of simplification. Brain reduce the complexity out there into manageable facts and we can find its extremes in math and science. As Michio Kaku dreams to find the theory of everything that is just one inch long and describes it as, "I want to know how far you can push science until it completely falls apart.".... 

This amazing ability of brain has also a downside. The brain has a habit of clinging to its simplified way of framing something and overtime, this framing is perceived as reality. This is a BIG problem that creates mess. One of good example of this mess is our concepts of "self" and "others". Brain simplify "self" as something that exists independent of others and its interacts with others as independently. If we becomes egoistic at times and do think of ourselves better than others and give ourselves the rights to judge others is because of our misconception of the self based on the habit of brain to simplify everything. The fact is, when one dig deep and deeper into ego, it turns out to be only a mirror of others. The same way that brain simplify "self" as an independent entity with a "freewill", it simplify others as with readily available templates in the form of stereotypes and even simpler it gets when we hate them as it makes things easy to put them in bad category and thinking the world would be a much better place, if they wouldn't exist or if they cease to exist. 

The simplification habit of brain is not just associated with problem solving and deluding our concepts of self and others, but it also lead to duality of reality. While we can find duality in everything but I am more interested in the duality of mind and body as it is the origin of all other duality. As I said earlier, the origin of duality is in the habit of mind to simplify things and we find the irreducible problems of duality in the fields of knowledge that rely in parsimonious simplicity such as math, physics and philosophy (duality-in-math,  duality in physics: Wave-Particle and String-duality, dualism-philosophy) BUT, I see one field doesn't bother about the simplicity much and that is art, either it is copying nature or rebelling against it, in both form, it tries to express (rather than present) reality as it is. These might look more of caricatures of external reality, a time frame or a mental states of artists, but they do not cling to abstract-simplicity and that is why, as much expressive a piece of art becomes, that much it appears meaningless (to simple habit of mind). And that is why, we easily interpret cave arts, but we fail to do it with modern art as our minds get bored with them. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Real Alien

Jeune Fille Andormie was painted by Picasso, and I adopted the painting to compare it with a cave painting to illustrate the direction of painting. The journey is a journey inside. The cave-men were inspired and occupied by mysterious nature. To modern men, the nature is no more a mysterious world, but facts that can be expressed by abstract notations and can be predicted to some extend, and also manipulated. However, the human innerself is still a mystery, particularly the "mind" that doesn't have a physical existence as such, and is really frightening and alien in Freudian perspective. The Freudian perspective of mind was the dominant theme in Picasso's painting. I chose Jeune Fille Endormie because of its soft, graceful and smooth stroke to avoid the crude ones (in nutshell a non-Freudian painting of Picasso). The contrast is obvious and illustrate well the direction of painting: the natural mind of primitive cave painter and the Freudian mind of the a modern artist that tries to communicate an alien self.  
I am sure that everyone has some sort of obsession. I don't shy of telling that I have special obsession for Russian short stories and Korea's historical dramas. It is not that I have developed an obsession because, they are enjoyable to read or watch, but rather I see them as soft extensions of the Machiavelli's "The Prince".  Machiavelli's biggest mistake was his utter honesty in describing the nature of men as he perceived and so he lost the grace of "modesty" to the eyes of those who do not like to see any scar on the holiness of men's nature. In contrast to the Machiavelli, the great Russian writers (short stories) and Korean historical drama writers sugar-coat human nature and make them more palatable.

Today, after a very long time, I read one of the short stories, "The Three Girdles" by Vassily Zhukovsky. As soon as I started reading it, I just stuck to it, and like my early teenage times, I devoured it without any break in between (how silly a hungry soul gets: that is what obsession is, right?). Although, the story is more like a folk story, but it beautifully illustrate (may be better to say unravel) an aspect of human nature: the real alien is self that steals one's connection to nature. One has to read the story to appreciate it but, the part that I like most is when she  (It is a story about Ludmila, a good and content-heated girl who is happy with her ordinary appearance, and ordinary life, but a magical gift changes her) torments herself for losing her natural happiness for the dreams she develops from the magic girdle that transforms her charm and beauty and as a result her self-image. Under influence of her self-image, when she looks down to her original appearance (including magic girdle), she loses her charm and hence her improved self-image. She finally gets back her magic girdle and her charm returns back (a happy ending). OK, let's not forget the best part:

"...What happened to the poor, unfortunate, good-hearted Ludmila? She cried, suffered in despair, longed for her hopeless love. Where was her previous happiness; the previous tranquility of her innocent heart?....."

                ... A content-heart is the best guard that one can have, that is what I got from this story....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Wisdom of Body

Nietzsche says, “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy. ” I agree with him. Once, I visited the museum of modern art and got fed up just in a few minutes...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I love the dark color

Drawing with Q-tips

It is a beautiful night. It is dark and silent and I can smell the peace in it. It makes me realize that eyes are the biggest distraction to the peace. As past and future are noises of mind that distract us from being at the moment, so is the eyes. It brings in so much from outside that we don't find time to see what is inside.

I still remember, the first drawings of mine. They were all about very familiar things, mountains, sun, home, tree, school, sheep, stairs... Subjects remains the same but the taste of colors change. The kids like light and colors to explore the world out there. When things become familiar out there, we find that what we missed in between was ourselves. People say, darkness is the absence of light, but I don't buy it. Just light shifts its place from outside to inside. That is all. Its beauty is in its ability to let everything look alike to your eyes and let you see by your imaginations. Colors let your eyes see and darkness let your imaginations see and that is why, I love it.  


A philosopher and a monk's journey is a journey inside... to explore the self,..... and a scientist's journey is a journey outside... to explore the Nature.... To me, to be really yourself means, to travel like a wave, to go outside now, and to be inside then...and keep going...

It is really interesting (even funny), that how definitions create limits, which doesn't fit with "reality". For example, Noam Chomsky in his interview, Science, Religion and Human Nature, defines "irrationality" as, " The ability to have two contradictory ideas in mind, at same time and live by it. This is the peak of irrationality".  Well, with this definition, I don't see any rational person as to me, irrespective of what people say about what they believe in, and what they don't, practically, they live by "utilitarian rationality".

In practice, people don't care about the duality of mind/body or trichotomy of body, soul and spirit, but instead are concerned with what works best. Just take example of physical well being, modern medicine is popular among atheist and theist. The same is true about yoga. Despite of increasing popularity of evolutionary biology, we don't see the popularity of paleolithic diet on other hand. To further the case for living with multiples ideas at same time, people still turn to religion and philosophy for meaning of life. Although, Philosophy has lost its central place in the quest for truth, but it is still looked upon as source guide for meaning of life, beside religion. And, psychology has still a fear-factor attached to it, though positive psychology is appealing for bright side of psychological studies.

In fact, just like duality of mind and body, we now have duality of perspectives on what it means to be human. For several thousands of years, it was human perspective in the form of the religion and philosophy to look and understand humans through. So, it was all about human contemplation on condition. Humankind was the ultimate purpose of universe. But, by coming of evolutionary biology, we got "Nature's Perspective" on what it means to be human. Humans are just another species of primates, "Homo sapiens sapiens", not the purpose of universe. The appearance of Man is just the result of chances that were favored by Natural Selection. And, this is the extrospective perspective of Humans. Now, if we have an introspective and extrospective perspectives of Humans at same time, and live by it both for practical reasons and as our shared culture, does it mean, we are highly irrational? 

Friday, July 19, 2013

How Can I Doubt My Heart?

At dawn, I checked the day's temperature on my phone, it was reading 22 C, and by midday, it was going to rise up to 32 C (I have yet to familiarize myself to Fahrenheit ). I made my mind to leave early for library so by midday, when I am out of fuel, I could come back home. At bus stop, I met my Muslim neighbor and as conversation started, I told him, what was on my mind, "It is 22 C now and going to be 32 C by midday. It is a bad news in Ramadan." His reply was a usual Muslim's answer, but it really struck me, as I realized that I am actually complaining, "The longer and hotter is the day, the greater is the reward by Allah"... I felt like, if I was a King in ancient Babylon, I would had failed in renewing my rights to throne for the coming year. 

In ancient Babylon, the new year was beginning by a ceremonial ritual to purify the city. The King, as head of the state had to prove himself as a purified person in order to get approval of high priest for next year as ruler: "According to protocol, the king would enter the temple of Marduk, Babylon’s chief god, and tell the god that he hadn't done anything wrong in the last year—for example, slapped the cheek of any of his subjects. The high priest then slapped the king but good; if the king’s eyes teared up from this unjust punishment, he was telling the truth, and Marduk approved him to rule for another year."

Well, usually when one realizes that he is complaining for nothing, one might doubt the sanctity of his heart. Of course, if I was a dead citizen of ancient Egypt, I had to be scared of facing Anubis ( having a human body and the head of a jackal), the first god of death for weighing my heart, as it would prove that I had lived an unjust life (while, in fact, my heart was heavy, because I had lived complaining about troubles that I had faced).

It is month of Ramadan and the month of self-accountability, but I have no way to measure my heart (For that I need Anubis' weighing machine) but what I can tell with certainty, is that I do not have a good heart as  the two teen girls, Malala Yousafzai and Anne Frank has/had.

Anne Frank, the teenage Jewish girl who wrote her diary in hiding and died in the Nazi concentration camp at the age of 15, writes in her diary, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” This sentence of Anne echoes in my heart, whenever, I doubt someone's heart (for being unfair) or my own heart for being egoistic or judgmental at times. The Malala's (a Pakistani teenage girl who was shot by Taliban for writing a diary for BBC Urdu, detailing her daily experiences during Taliban's control of Swat Valley ) response to Taliban who attacked to kill her is reaffirmation of Anne's belief in people's hearts. She says, "I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him."

My dedication to these two courageous-innocent hearts 

I can only believe in goodness of human heart, if religion and ideology doesn't change it. Either, it was ancient Babylon, ancient Egypt or Jew or Muslim, a human heart is sacred and remains the same, unless we doubt its existence.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To Victims of Quetta

As humans, we are not that different physically and biologically, but in terms of hearts and minds, each of us are world apart from the rest of us. We can't feel the immensity of a loss just by mere names unless we know, what was going in their hearts and minds. How they became the persons, they were. What were their fears, their passions, their struggles and their visions. How many eyes have been waiting with patience to see them grow up. How many hearts were becoming impatience not seeing them for a while. 

The words betray me, if I try to paint the holes in the hearts of the loved ones of the victims. I am just unable to create a body of flesh with a soul just by words. I can just look up at heavens and silently question each torn up fallen leaf. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Damn Solution!

There is a Farsi saying, "The one bitten by snake fears black and white rope". I saw a demo of this saying at the local store. I was in the store to buy some essentials and there was news on TV about the shootings on pro-Morsi protesters. The Algerian guy was nodding his heads and keep saying, "This is exactly what happened in Algeria. May Allah save Egypt". Despite being in the favor of separation of religion and state, I share his fears. Violence may begin on a small level and on a single issue, but it soon grows to bring in unexpected issues and draw in more players and in no tome can go out of everybody's control. This is what happening in Syria. It is no more a revolt for democracy but wars inside wars. The dynamics of population is not as easy as zealous rebel youths think or some planners out there think. The population is a crowd of diverse interest groups that are so connected to each other, that if one group is imbalanced, it is going to imbalance all other groups. I really like the example of solving malaria problem in Borneo by WHO (Word Health Organization),

In the early 1950s, the Dayak people of Borneo suffered from malaria. The World Health Organization (WHO) had a solution: it sprayed large amounts of DDT to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. DDT killed mosquitoes and malaria declined, but roaches, which have a high DDT tolerance, survived. Gecko lizards feed on roaches and started sickening from DDT that they were getting from eating roaches. The sickened geckos were easy to catch by village cats and the cats started dying by getting DDT from sickened geckos. By decline of cats, the rats started moving from forest into the villages. To solve the problem of plague-bearing rats, the Borneo authorities parachuted in fresh cats, which having driven off the rats. The cats the started catching back geckos. The decline in number of geckos resulted in enormous increase in number of caterpillars which geckos had kept in control by feeding on them. Now, the village roofs started to collapse by these caterpillars. 

People were hoping that Arab Spring will solve the problem of tyranny in Middle East but like DDT solution for malaria, it is creating new problems. I can just hope that Egyptian people will not take the road Syrians or Algerians had taken.