Ode to an Ode

"Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium"

Thus starts the baritone for "Ode to joy" in the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. And my god! it chills me down to the bone.

It's monumental. It's vulgarly grand. Its complexity is majestic. Its colour palatial. Its energy opulent. It shines in a resplendent glory of labyrinthine brilliance. Its weight is so imposing, I can feel it crushing my shoulders. Its scale so magnificent, I can feel my body heat dissipating from the tips of my hair. But it's beautiful nevertheless. The 9th symphony manages to strike a delicate balance between blinding opulence and slender fragility. It keeps hovering over the boundary separating the two, forever pulsating and throbbing with the vitality of a sore nerve, forever threatening to explode with the venom of a thousand snakes but always managing to stop at the breaking point of the cord holding it back. Hence, it manages to do things I rarely ever feel. The feeling of being constantly bombarded with genius, with its every manifestation contaminating the very air I breathe, with its every materialization serving to churn my blood into one coagulated lump. I sleep with the sweet lullaby of mild violins until the deep, sonorous sounds of angry cellos wake me up. I float with the divine sounds of flutes until cymbals shoot me down. The clarinets and the bassoons, the oboes and the contrabassoons, all intertwined in a complex arabesque of seraphic order. The deep baritone and the crisp tenor, the mesmerizing alto and the breathtaking soprano, all moving around each other with the simple beauty of a DNA helix. 200 accomplished vocalists of the Berlin Philharmonic, uniting their considerable talents to create a spectacle that is both majestic and heavenly. Every single breath, every single note, every single sound, perfectly synchronized to engender a sculpture that shines with the brilliance of a flawlessly cut diamond.

I am terribly sorry if my limited language could only provide an understated eulogy to this masterpiece of human creation. The piece is more beautiful than my, or indeed anyone's, words could ever describe. Here is a youtube link for the piece but I suggest listening to it on a CD if you can get your hands onto one:

Part 1
Part 2 (The ode to joy starts at 11:05 in this part.)


Chequered and Flagged

The pieces set gleaming in crimson light
the players sweat o'er impending fight
him taking black, it's me who has the white
who gallantly gallops his gallant knight

He moves his pawn to gain the center stage
and my pawn brings us both on the same page
his knight, my bishop, such a trembling rage
histrionics nettling they do engage

We hunch over the board with faces grave
with fingers twirling hair in baffled wave
I sacrifice a rook in moment brave
he sees through it, oh! what a damn close shave

his mistress now breathing down on my neck
with raging fury, slaps me with a check
I move to left - she eats one from my deck
and leaves behind a battered, rickety wreck

I must wake up before it gets too late
with middling talent, all I have is fate
I march forward, he storms in through my gate
"5-naught", says he and adds, "it's a check-mate"




Attempting as abnormal and arduous an attempt as alphabetical acrobatic - an act aptly askancable. But boneheadedness blinks balkily, barely bothered by balanced but belligerent brethren. Cursing common conceptions-cum-cowardice condemned of a craft culture callously "comme ci, comme ça", conveniently crude. Drained, diluted, and devoid of dare - donning dark, droning, and depressing dreariness- a dame dressed dryly in a dilapidated, dirty dress. Eschewing erudition. Forgoing fastidious fervency, finicky fanaticism for flabbergastingly foolish f-art. Girth girdled garishly by germanely gaudy generations of gall-less greasebags.

Here however - hightime, I instead insisted in the inadvertence inherent in this idiotic invective. Jettisoning jarring jocularity, kaleidoscopic loonheadedness, let me mention - myriad manifestations of mouth-ly ( :-( ) moorings make 'making meaning' monstrously macabre. Hence, I am bloody done!!!


Deeply Fried

I recently completed the autobiography of the British humorist Stephen Fry titled "Moab is my washpot" and saying that it is one of the most satisfying if not the most interesting books ever to have come under my purview would not be an exaggeration.

Stephen Fry, as most people would be unaware of given our obsessions with all things American, is an extremely brilliant comedian from England. His quick wit is as admirable as his exquisite command over the English language. His encyclopedic knowledge as astonishing as his polymathic disposition, and his relentless success matched only by his depression-ridden personal life. He represents the last of the dying breed of public personalities we associate the term intellectual with and for all his mindboggling genius, his humility peering from behind the superb 'class' that veils it all makes every minute of his appearance a pleasure to the eyes, every syllable that he utters the most satisfying music of perfection, and every point that he analyzes an insightful study into incisive rationality.

The book is great not just because its so honest it hurts. Not even because he describes a life with twists and turns enough to encompass the existence of 5 ordinary individuals like me. The book is amazing because of the sheer pleasure of its language. Every sentence seems perfect. Every word as if chosen after considerable deliberation. Every punctuation has a story to tell, a weight to support. Even the font changes size to drive home the author's point. Words dance and sway in a perfectly choreographed sequence of linguistic acrobatics and every sentence merges so fluidly in the following sentence that you almost do not want to pause at the full stop. Latin merges with French and Spanish and Greek and gobbledygook to spice up the already formidable English. And from behind it all, the sweet and sour memories of an eventful past emerge with the clarity of a dew laden mountain bush against a misty background. Its one of the few books in which the subject matter did not matter all that much, not to me at least. If you will permit me the slight leeway, I would like to compare the charm of the book with music. Not music as in Beethoven's moonlight sonata. But music as in the sound of the grand Piano. Its beauty is akin to the primal attractions of color as opposed to a painting. Its both a privilege and an exhilarating experience witnessing the potentialities of language I never thought existed. Its continuity is numbing and hypnotic. Its flow... well I could go on and on.

Let me take this opportunity for elaborating on a slight diversion. As Wilde would probably have said, though in an infinitely more articulate way, "There are far too many geniuses in the world". I mean look around you. The world is festooned with the likes of them. Running around soccer fields and tennis courts, banging away their lives on the Piano and the guitar from the age of 2, spewing barely intelligible equation in dimensions too obscure to even comprehend, scaling mountains, jumping from cliffs and planes and probably moon, painting the Monalisa in Microsoft Paint. They have come to infest the world in such huge numbers, it has become an ungainly sight. So what makes these geniuses different to me than say Fry or Watterson ? I think it has to do with one's class and principles. Its in one's world view and his rationality, in the way he treats others and in how he stands for the principles he professes. It has something to do with that slightly snobbish idea of elitism. Not material elitism but intellectual elitism. The courage to say, in plain words, how mentally constrained and emotionally prejudiced our lot is. Such brilliance doesn't raise his voice like Carlin does. It merely shakes his head and keeps quiet with the sort of dignity an army commander might have while sitting with a bunch of buffoons from the Parliament. And I see these qualities in both Fry and Watterson and to a big extent, Dylan. Its not just their genius which impresses me. Its their rationality and courage and the will to defy the mores of the society for the love of their art.

About Me

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Like a particularly notorious child's tantrums, a mountaneous river's intemperance, a volcano's reckless carelessness and the dreamy eyes of a caged bird, imagination tries to fly unfettered. Hesitant as she takes those first steps, she sculpts those ambitious yet half baked earthen pots.