Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A letter from Israel

Life has a habit of surprising us, I'm saying this because one fine day I received this bit of very personal information in an official communication from a colleague in Israel.

He, I imagine, would have been pleasantly surprised to find somewhat of a Jewish name in far-off India. And I was equally pleased to receive these following words -

"You might find it interesting that your first name "Shakul" means: a person who is responsible and gives a good thought to things before he/she makes a move. Shakul comes from the word "lishkol", which means to weigh stuff, like fruits for example. :-) I thought I write it to you even that it has nothing to do with the CSN."

Thank you Roy for taking the time and effort to provide me with something that I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life. And now I can tell my mom where the most probable origin of my name lies :)

The entropy of elegance

Can we say something without saying everything? What determines the threshold of words to express our ideas? And what is elegance anyways?

Haven't we all faced that time where we could have said something in a better way? A witty repartee, a quick retort. A swan gliding on a stream; watching as the interlocutors' questions unravel on themselves.

Somewhat like an implosion, eating up its dust. How beautifully unrealistic. Do you remember the scene where an expression says it all? No words could have expressed whatever that gesture did, not so perfectly at least.

Why do we still cling to poetry and aphorisms to express and understand the world around us? Does a limiting structure guide and compress our expression into a powerful idiom? I believe it does. Words in an insipid sentence lose their rhythm and convey a meaning that is bland to clerical precision.

How many times has a legal paragraph stirred you? It makes perfect, technical sense and yet it conveys nothing. It just trots along mechanically, without breaking a sweat, while our fallible minds and hearts respond to that mystic rhythm of line and metre.

An elegance conjured out of words, their placements, their meanings and contradictions and the apparent dissonance between them. A harmony from the entropy of alphabets.

I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to waterski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.

                   - Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins