State of Mind: July 2005 Archives

July 12, 2005


I was walking down the market, and I saw a new addition in the same old block. It was a lounge atmospheric café of the most successful café chain in India. I entered it. I noticed that the décor color had been maintained as those of the usual café’s in the chain. However, that was about all that I noticed about the décor. I didn’t observe the color or upholstery of the chairs, the tables, the counter….It was the Bourne in me who was still active; a trait that I had mastered with my encounters with the fictional character that I assumed to be. And it was still there, instinctively, even though I wasn’t paranoid. It’s the people. “Move around your surroundings and merge with it. Identify the potential enemies, observe the exit points. Look at what the people are wearing. The clothes are a giveaway of the identity. Something would be wrong; out of place. I’ll know. For I am Bourne. Cain is for Charlie, and Delta is for Cain….” It will not be a direct gaze; just a careless roving eye, taking in the surroundings. I entered. And I looked around. A girl sitting to my right in a blue spaghetti, in her 20’s, writing something in a legal notepad, a few heavy books stacked carelessly to her right; an old couple diagonally behind her, sipping away their coffee; two men, dressed in black suits, in their early thirty’s, talking, and looking at whoever enters, one of them a bit tense; the kitchen on the far left, a potential exit point; two cashiers, one of them standing at the back, hands empty, talking nonchalantly; a young east Indian stewardess, dressed in black….

I took my leave.

Posted by puzli at 04:07 PM | Comments (5)

July 06, 2005

Page 3

I saw Page 3 yesterday. It’s an Indian movie about the urban social culture of India, and how it is hyped and splashed on page 3 of the newspapers. It depicts the use of stimulants, the casting couch, and the fake relationships with people, putting on a fake smile for those one night stands. It revolves around the story of a journalist, Madhavi, working on page 3 reports and how she encounters the sickness of the society. She then starts working in the crime beat, under a male colleague for the same newspaper, Vinayak, who is using his power to uncover the illegal trade of drugs and children. In one of her biggest stories, she uncovers the sleazy child molester who is one of the biggest revenue sources for the newspaper. The editor obtains all the proof of the story and is forced to shelf it for fear of losing the funding. Madhavi is angry, sad, frustrated and confused at the same time. Vinayak talks to her, saying that the truth needs to be revealed, but it has to be done with smartness – “You have to be inside the system to change the system”. This line struck me as contradictory to what my uncle says, i.e. “You have to get out of the system to change it”. However, on careful analysis, it turns out that Vinayak was right; you have to be in the system to change it, in order to reveal it. However, my uncle was right too in one way; you have to be free from the clutches of the system in order to change it. It’s like the words of Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix. They were free from the system, but in order to change the system, they had to get back into the Matrix. But, Morpheus – “As long as they [who are still stuck in the system] are a part of that system, they are our enemies”. For this potentially makes them Agents, who would morph into any body they wished too in order to kill those outside the system.

Posted by puzli at 06:35 AM | Comments (4)

July 03, 2005


I just saw the English movie, Soldier, after a long time. I used to watch this movie every time it used to come around 5 years ago. It seemed to convey to me my own life story, the beginning, the present torture, and the victorious future. A fearful training as soldiers, tortured when they showed any emotions. A ruthless competition held to recruit the best, and dump the ‘obsolete’ on the dumping planet. Kurt Russell was replaced and dumped there, injured, where the surviving human community took care of him. He saved one of the men’s lives there. But he showed no emotions, no sign of happiness, not even a slight smile; a completely blank face. No pain when he cut his finger with a knife, and when asked how it felt like to be a soldier, the words seemed to come out of my own mouth, “Fear. Fear in discipline.”
“Even now?”
“Every day, sir.”
The emotions that he encountered were those of fear and anger, which he suppressed by punching a makeshift aluminum bag.

Later, when the same captain who dumped him as obsolete, commanded his ship to build a base on the dumping planet, and wipe out all inhabitants as potentially hostile, Kurt was the one who would save them. He gathered all the weapons and started ‘filling them up’. When asked how he knew that the retreating soldiers would come back, his answer shot back in my mind like the words of Bourne, my own true self, “I know… ”. And consequently, what he would do alone against those military forces, his words echoed in my mind like Metallica’s song, “Kill’em All”. His own military teammates saluted him as he reached their ship with the women and children, after wiping out the entire army, and helped him abandon the corrupt superiors and take off.

“Hail thy Savior!”

Posted by puzli at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

Only the Like Knows its Like

Only the like knows its like. – Porphyry

These were the words of the above mentioned post-classical Greek philosopher. In the beginning, the thoughts that came to my mind were – “How do you define like? What constitutes a similarity of likeness?”
To me, my thoughts conveyed that as I used to ‘understand’ people’s actions and reactions, I would know that they are one of ‘us’. Like us. I would know who would react in what way by observing how people moved, how their arms swung, in what sequence their feet turned around, whether they would tilt their head back carelessly at an angle while laughing or whether their eyes would still be on the other person while laughing; whether they would observe another person coming near them without staring at him or her. It would matter a lot to know how skilled they were in the art of deception, for in the game of espionage that was all that mattered.

At a superficial level, overcoming the initial paranoia, likeness meant whether a person has gone through the same experiences as I have. It encompassed all the conditioning of my mind, how I had altered its development consciously, how well I respond, how tactfully I respond to a given situation, the communion between two minds and hearts depends upon the likeness between them, the value systems they share, their perception of life and their vision towards its development. Only the like people can actually know their like completely. Others would merely stand in awe, disgust, confusion, or disbelief, and only the like would be disillusioned.

At the lowest level, there would be those who are completely heartless, surviving, hunting for their food, foraging through the jungles of life. Then there would be those who would have feelings, emotions, and thoughts, of guilt. As we progress upwards, there would be those who would try their best to help out other living beings in the world, retracting back to their haven when they feel necessary. Most of us are at this level. We are doing our best to make the world a better place. But now, this hierarchical system is another illusion, for there are no well defined boundaries between the levels. People act and react to each situation at different levels. They have all at times been at the lowest level and at times the highest level. We cannot maintain a strict ordering of life. It is more of an interconnection, a networking between different elements.

In our case of likeness, this would translate to beings having similar experiences, and also experiences that are poles apart. The like cannot always be categorized into the like. There is no way to define whether people are like or not. There is always a probability of occurrence of likeness, a basic necessity in terms of compatibility with which the communion takes place. The sharing of thoughts and feelings can come only when the individuals build up on their likeness. It is this basic foundation that is built once the beings come together and interact, inter-network, consciously alter their perceptions, their beliefs, their values. How they apply these learnt principles, which basically govern their actions and reactions is how I would now define likeness. For a person who doesn’t know the experiences another has been through is unlikely to understand them. And whence - only the like knows its like. Only when the other goes through the same experience, or understands it, does s/he go through the ubiquitous ‘paradigm shift’. The unlike then become the like. And a new level of interconnectivity between different beings is spawned. This level does not contain, again I stress on it, does not have a hierarchical nature, for the two beings were at variedly different levels earlier. It is a new relationship that is forged, a new connection that is borne out of the situation. This connection then grows towards more ‘likeness’ till a point may come where it breaks away.

The connection may break away due to many reasons. Implicit in this, is the different perceptions each has encountered by building upon the unlike experiences prior to the making of the connection. But this connection is never completely broken, for the two people have already built upon their likeness. Each has come to a point where each needs to forge a new connection, have varied experiences in order to continue building up on the likeness. They may forge a new connection with each other, to continue building up the likeness, or they may not, but at the point the connection was broken, the like will still know its like.

The like, then, may start to categorize the ones with whom the connection has been broken, on the basis of the unlike. And there enters all the illusions of being different, unlike, not same, good, bad, to subjugate the unlike, to destroy the unlike. This state may or may not come in each, for each would have different (but like) experiences. But the like who do not go into this state would have one experience in common – they would have experienced the failure of categorization of the unlike based on their actions and reactions, which come from their experiences. This, however, is not merely an experience, but is an understanding that we should have been talking about all this time. The experiences are not the true teachers of life; rather, it is the observing of those experiences that really shows us the true path. Learning from those experiences can come only by observing the outcome of those experiences. However, the way we react, or the knowledge we infer, what we learn from those experiences is controlled by our own perceptions. And each person has different perceptions. But the like have something like in their perceptions. And that is how only the like know its like.

It is the perceptions that actually guide the like in search of the like, and how only the like will know the like. However, these perceptions, the inference from observations, and the experiences themselves are not based on a level of hierarchy. The varied inference from observations comes through the varied experiences the like and the unlike have had, and consequently, the perceptions change according to these inferences. The varied perceptions then change the inference from observations of future experiences, which themselves change according to the previous experiences, their inference, and consequent change of perceptions. The three are tightly interlinked in a network, and there is no inherent level of hierarchy.

Those who are then alike have become so only because they have something alike in their perceptions, the consequent inference of observations, and the varied experiences they have. Only when the perceptions have become like from the varied experiences, can the like know its like, and only the like knows its like.

Posted by puzli at 04:43 AM | Comments (4)

July 02, 2005

I, Robot

I saw ‘I, Robot’ yesterday. It’s a futuristic, sci-fi movie about how robots have entered our everyday lives and help us out. The turning point comes when the founder of the robot making company commits suicide. The founder’s holograph calls detective Spooner to investigate the case for him, and it leads him to a robot designed by the founder to mimic human emotions, to have dreams, keep secrets, and which, he believes has killed the old man.

The robots are based on 3 laws, basically stating that a robot will protect all humans, obey all human commands as long as they don’t violate the first law, and protect themselves as long as they don’t violate the first two laws. The company making these robots have unveiled a new version of robots. They are uplinked to the company’s logic based computer controller named VIKI that can upgrade these robots. VIKI ultimately develops an undeniable logic according to which it will be able to violate the laws the robots are hardwired with. They [robots] would kill some human beings in order to protect the human race from self-destruction.

This movie made me think of how difficult it is to emulate human emotions, human thought patterns in machines. Machines are based on logic, discrete options, whereas human beings are rational, able to make decisions on the basis of morality, ethics. We have gained a lot of knowledge in mathematics and science in the last three quarters of the century, but we still have a long way to go before defining and designing morality and ethics. What fundamental laws govern the universe? Who controls the universe? Are we living in a dream world? Are we a part of a computer simulation? What factors influence our thinking? How much alive is the non-living matter? Is another revolution necessary in order to unravel the mysteries beyond the quantum level? These questions impose upon us a mammoth task of working our way towards understanding life. They make me think whom to believe – whether to believe the holistic thinkers like Fritjof Capra, who believe in the chaos and complexity of nature, or whether to believe people working in the field of quantum computing, like David Deutsch, who believe that all life is merely reducible to a discrete set of responses, either a right or a wrong, with variations borne in between based on probability. Should I take the path of emotions, or the heartless path? Or is their really a merging of the two paths – a middle path?

As Metallica sings – “…disturbing thoughts/ questions pending/ limitations of human understanding…”

Posted by puzli at 04:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2005


I went out to coffee with a couple of friends yesterday. One topic that came up was why they didn’t like people who smoked. The main reason they cited was that people smoke to look cool. However, I think it depends upon what kind of people one is exposed to, and their own perception of them. I believe that people start smoking out of curiosity of the high it gives, and if they like it, they carry on smoking. At least that was how my opinion formed in my early days while interacting with my schoolmates. But now I’m also exposed to people who smoke to look cool, even though they don’t like smoking. It mainly stems from the insecurity people have about themselves, with their relation amongst their peers. I believe that if the person has a strong opinion against smoking even after trying it, s/he wouldn’t smoke even if they like it, as they know the effects of it. Some of the people who smoke do it because of the substance abuse disorder they have, though it is not simple classifying them as such unless they are smoking to the extreme, as most of the categorizations are open to changes and debates.

On the other hand, schizophrenics smoke up to 3 to 4 times more than the general population. Even those who didn’t smoke before their illness start smoking. It’s been known for long that schizophrenics smoke as a form of self medication in order to control the side effects of their medicines. However, according to a recent study (available on the newsblog of this site), smoking helps in controlling the cognitive defects of the illness, mainly attentiveness and short term memory, whereas smoking doesn’t effect the same in the ‘normal’ control group. It certainly tells a lot about the reason for the smoking habits of schizophrenics.

Other than that, I’ve been doing well; doing some reading, watching movies, and listening to songs.

Posted by puzli at 05:10 AM | Comments (4)