InstaScribe

Create Elegant E-books in EPUB and Mobi Formats


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

As reasoning improves, its claims to the power of proving facts grow less and less.

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.


<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/quote91.jpg?w=611" alt="As reasoning improves, its claims to the power of proving facts grow less and less."/>
By InstaScribe
</a></div>


4 Comments

Epic Memories and Philosophical Ruminations @BYOB Party in September (Part 1)

This time we chose a different venue for the BYOB Party. We co-hosted this quaint book party with Reading Hour and it took as an hour to get to the venue- a quiet house filled with the warmth of book loving souls Vaishali and Arun Khandekar.

indian-philosophy-volume-1-400x400-imad8zmdnhyxq4vuNilesh Trivedi has a penchant for challenging books in a previous BYOB Party. He found Indian Philosophy by S.Radhakrishnan quite riveting. Though the book is written in English for western readers, it is a starting point for a seeker of knowledge when it comes to such an inaccessible subject like philosophy. While Bertrand Russell and Will Durant have succeeded in making the  polarities of Western philosophies far more accessible, S. Radhakrishnan has veered away from the mystical and provided a serious analysis of Indian philosophy, of which there are several parts.

The German philosopher Schopenhauer’s dictum of never reading commentaries was a strong motivator for Nilesh to chose this book. Summaries may seem appalling to a fiction lover like Vaishali (how can you read a summary of a fiction?) but reading summaries is one way of tackling the mountainous number of non-fiction books out there.

As is the case with book parties, one reader is magically connected to the next by an invisible thread called taste. Arun Khandekar spoke at great length about his experiences reading the philosophical works of Swami Vivekanada and Ramakrishna Paramahmsa.

“It is strange how Vivekananda uttered such difficult truths in his time. He believed in the agency of the mind and finding things out on your own.”  Arun believes that this freedom of thought and expression seems to be a thing of the past.

The Great Indian Novel“In fact The Great Indian Novel  written by Shashi Tharoor and published in the 90’s interprets the Mahabharata in a way that can not be envisioned being done now.”

Arun told us how Tharoor eloquently clothed epic characters in contemporary light, reflecting the Indian public’s fascination with this story.  Abhaya confessed to his addiction of the Mahabharata series that he watched on YouTube several times over and Arun spoke of the pre-internet, pre-TV days when he relied heavily on Amar Chitra Katha to feed his Mahabharata compulsions.

“In hindsight, in post independence India, it was stories like Harishchandra that got more leeway and now we see a renewed interest in the epics,” Arun mused.

Even if you did not know the nitty-gritty of the epic, the rivalry between the righteous Pandavas and the tainted Kauravas have lodged themselves in the Indian psyche.

“There is a Shakuni in every household,” Veena Prasad, a writer, summed it up nicely.

DuryodhanaThe mythical theme continued in Veena’s description of her co-writer Raghunathan’s book called Duryodhana, a book she confessed to reading in one sitting. “It’s a book from the villain’s point of view. Only here, the villain questions the reader. He speaks from the other side and his monologues are a social commentary on hypocrisies and double standards that existed in Hastinapur.”

The defining line from the book Veena cites is when Duryodhana says, “I had evil thoughts, and so have they”. The story of the Mahabharata never runs dry, does it?

What are you reading this week?


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

The pursuit of truth, when it is wholehearted, must ignore moral considerations; we cannot know in advance that the truth will turn out to be what is thought edifying in a given society.

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.

<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/quote63.jpg?w=611" alt="The pursuit of truth, when it is wholehearted, must ignore moral considerations; we cannot know in advance that the truth will turn out to be what is thought edifying in a given society. "/>
By InstaScribe
</a></div>


2 Comments

Shimmying Shammi Kapoor Vs Clear Thinking @Talking Terrace Book Club – April 2015 (Part 2)

terrace(color)

You can read Part 1 here.

Jaya is stuck on Kiran Nagarkar—this time it’s Ravan and Eddie. She was not sure if she wanted to replace her idea of the grand sweep of Nagarkar in the historical fiction of Cuckold and the allegory of God’s Little Soldier with the humor of two slum kids, one Hindu and the other Catholic, in Mumbai. “Nagarkar’s irreverence is so refreshing. That is a universal theme in all his books,” Jaya said, relieved that she loved this book as well. She read us some interesting passages.

The unstable tyrant of the family in the CWD chawls is the man of the manor. Drunk, sober, employed, jobless, taciturn or gibbering, his word is law. His wife sustains and not infrequently supports the family and is more than happy to give her husband all the credit for it if only he will allow her to carry on with her work. But despite the boss-man’s pretensions and the wife’s sacrifice and self-effacement, the prime mover of life is water. You snapped out of anaesthesia, interrupted coitus, stopped your prayers, postponed your son’s engagement, developed incontinence, took casual leave to go down and stand up at the common tap, cancelled going to church because water, present or absent, is more powerful than the Almighty.

The actor Shammi Kapoor is worth writing about and Nagarkar has made the most of the opportunity.

shammi-kapoor_01-300x225

Shammi never needed a pretext to be outlandish but he really came into his own in song sequences and his films were strewn with them. He threw a tantrum in mid-air, he landed on his butt and thrashed his legs. He flung his head back, he yelled ‘ya-hoo’, he rolled in the snow, he went stiff as a flamenco dancer, he sank to his knees, he dislocated and fractured his body in a dozen places. He walked mincingly, dropped in a dead faint, his narrow mouth went all over his face – all in the course of one song.

Jaya is still reading The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. It’s the sort of book that never ends and that can not be read at a stretch unless of course you are a student of philosophy. Philosophy needs a dose of humor and that came with a reference to an unlikely Youtube video of a Hindi actor Rajendra Kumar conversing with Bertrand Russell (Bollywood seems to have extended her tentacles to the most unlikely quarters).

For someone like me (who likes art and poetry), a book like The Art of thinking Clearly is an unfair choice. Rolf Dobelli is an extremely clear-headed writer—he created ‘a compilation of pitfalls’, a list that would benefit not just him, but others as well. That is how a bunch of anecdotes turned into a best-selling book.

Book club April

His book is interesting. Just read the TOC:

  1. Why You should Visit Cemeteries: Surviorship Bias
  2. Does Harvard Make You Smarter?: Swimmer’s Body Illusion
  3. Why You See Shapes in the Clouds: Clustering Illusion

You get the idea.

Some of the ideas in the book can make an irrational person sad. Suppose you think of X and X calls you at precisely that moment? An irrational you would bring it all down to synchronicity. However, if you analyze the number of times that a person calls you when you think of him or her, it isn’t all that often.

So poof goes synchronicity.

I recommend this book to all irrational souls of the world. It gives you an insight into the other side. You must know this to survive.

What books have you been reading lately?


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

Beginnings are apt to be crude, but their originality should not be overlooked on this account.

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.

<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/quote36.jpg?w=611" alt="Beginnings are apt to be crude, but their originality should not be overlooked on this account."/>
<p style="font-weight: bold;">By InstaScribe</p>
</a></div>


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.

<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/quote29.jpg?w=611" alt="Science may set limits to knowledge, but should not set limits to imagination"/>
<p style="font-weight: bold;">By InstaScribe</p>
</a></div>


1 Comment

Quotes Wednesday

"It

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.

<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/quote23.jpg?w=611" alt="It is only among fools that the wise are judged to be destitute in wisdom."/>
<p style="font-weight: bold;">By InstaScribe</p>
</a></div>


2 Comments

All about books we are reading@Talking Terrace Book Club – December 2014

terrace(color)

It was our first one in the cold winter sun- we sat outside on the office terrace. The sun got too hot in a while, so we shifted our chairs back inside. We all liked the idea of talking about books on the terrace. And so it happened that on the first Friday of December a book club was born.

This Book Club is a little different from the conventional idea of a book club. We don’t focus on a single book or genre- we just talk about the books we are reading. We interrupt each other and we take notes. We also immediately steal the other person’s book once the book club is done.

“I’m reading women novelists this year,” Abhaya said and he held out a book called The Thousand Faces of Night. He aims to read 40 books by the end of the year and there are three more books to go.

thousand_faces_of_night

The book won the 1993 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. It’s a slender volume with an extremely promising prelude. Feminism is woven with mythology- so there is the story of Amba and the story of Gandhari. Did Abhaya like the book?

“I’d give it 2-3, no 3,” he said.

A political satire and a short book– Animal Farm was the book Srishti read.  Everyone likes a short book, so we had all read it and we started interrupting her when she spoke. “I like the part when the pigs say alcohol is banned and then they get drunk,” said Srishti. “It’s the same kind of hypocrisy that we see in all political systems that Orwell talks about.”

As it is with political satires, books like Animal Farm can turn your head and discussions as well. Suddenly everyone was talking about V for Vendetta, a graphic novel by Alan Moore. As far as political books go, there is 1984 and War and Peace. What’s on par with Animal Farm?

animalfarm

Jaya held on to a massive tome by Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy. “Philosophy is the basis of everything,” she said. It turns out that all disciplines spring from this strange obsession we have with what we can learn about the human life.

Jaya is in comprehensive reading mode- so she went into great detail about what Utopia really meant to Plato. Utopia may mean a world of perfection to us, but the idea of Utopia was grounded in Spartan life—incidentally the Spartans had a reputation for communal living and being very hard on themselves indeed. It was not an ideal society- weak babies were left to die and slaves were a given. A very different kind of Utopia if ever there is one.

Philosophy is quite delightful by the way.  Jaya read out some fun portions; don’t we all know about the mystic mathematician Pythogarus?

41J6D-GNI7L

“Pythagoras is one of the most interesting and puzzling men in history. Not only are the traditions concerning him an almost inextricable mixture of truth and falsehood, but even in their barest and least disputable form they present us with a very curious psychology. He may be described, briefly, as a combination of Einstein and Mrs. Eddy. He founded a religion, of which the main tenets were the transmigration of souls and the sinfulness of eating beans. His religion was embodied in a religious order, which, here and there, acquired control of the State and established a rule of the saints. But the unregenerate hankered after beans, and sooner or later rebelled.

Some of the rules of the Pythagorean order were:

  1. To abstain from beans.
  2. Not to pick up what has fallen.
  3. Not to touch a white cock.
  4. Not to break bread.
  5. Not to step over a crossbar.
  6. Not to stir the fire with iron.
  7. Not to eat from a whole loaf.
  8. Not to pluck a garland.
  9. Not to sit on a quart measure.
  10. Not to eat the heart.
  11. Not to walk on highways.
  12. Not to let swallows share one’s roof.
  13. When the pot is taken off the fire, not to leave the mark of it in the ashes, but to stir them together.
  14. Do not look in a mirror beside a light.
  15. When you rise from the bedclothes, roll them together and smooth out the impress of the body.”

Jaya will be telling us a lot more about this book in our next Talking Terrace meet.

maus

I talked about MAUS- a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. What I liked about this Pulitzer Prize winning comic strip was how the two narratives focused on one man, the artist’s father. This biographical tale talks in the present and past tense about a man who survived the holocaust. Survival doesn’t mean you forget suffering—at least this is the message I got from this book. Ironically, life after struggle (at an individual level) is the same as anyone else’s struggle-free life.

“The irony of the comic strip for me,” said Srishti,” was that even after Vladek (the artist writer’s father-protagonist of the story) went through so much racism inflicted pain, he was a racist himself.”

 

Which goes to show that reading graphic novels can bring up the big questions that need to be discussed today.

We all can’t wait for our next book club meeting. Reading books is not enough; talking about those books you invested time in is very rewarding.

Tell us what you’ve been reading.


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

The problem of finding a collection of 'wise' men and leaving the government to them is an insoluble one

By InstaSribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.

<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href="http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/quote13.jpg?w=611" alt="The problem of finding a collection of 'wise' men and leaving the government to them is an insoluble one"/>
<p style="font-weight: bold;">By InstaScribe</p>
</a></div>


Leave a comment

Quotes Wednesday

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate.

By InstaScribe

Want to embed this quote on your blog or website? Use the following code.


<div style="text-align: center; padding: 25px; background: #eeeeee; margin: auto;">
<a href = "http://instascribe.com">
<img src="https://instascribe.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/quote05.jpg?w=640" alt="A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate./>
<p style="font-weight: bold;">By InstaScribe</p>
</a>
</div>