Friday, December 15, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Bridge

Waiting on the high bridge
Out in the evening frost
Winds glisten, sprint past
And dark waters rush
Silvery beneath my feet
It’s a boat sailing in quietude
Rising on the ripples
Towering me, the moon
Behind the lone distant lighthouse
There is a mighty wave waiting
A star strewn sky looks on.
Must learn to wait…



Friday, November 10, 2006


The Storm


There was a line
Surrounding it, world
The conjured amid the mundane
Flowed in like light
Strings entwining
Colours so restive
The scarlet letterbox
Swung from a wire
It was a stormy afternoon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The azure of the ocean jabs him alight
Lying abreast the rocky shore
The muted ushers in din
The sandy air clangs on yet
Folding the moment into his toy
He watches the moon fall from sky.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

Carnival I

The lunatic ambles on the lawns
And a hush seems to fall
Nip the white clouds
They’ll bring the drizzle tonight

The moon merrily glints
Over a quivering stream
Imbue this air in confetti
The Cheshire cat is winking still

Fireworks shower the sky
The juggler whistles a tune
Chrysanthemums at the window ledge
Jack-in-the-box in dream

A polka dotted dress around
Dash to those cheering claps
Sitting to fix a cherry nose
The clown laughs out loud.

Carnival II

Walking tall on those stilts
A spotlight twinkles bright
Swinging on trapeze high
Scarlet is this day

Gifts will soon begin to unwrap
Seize time in its eyes
It clenches in its fist
A pocket of fresh warm hope

The magic hat pops around
Amid din, a mandolin at play
Who’ll dance with me tonight?
-- the rabbit turns to yell.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Combat

Blazing flare leaping high
The burnished rock stubborn stands
The stony grit, clenching fate
That night was her sentinel

Steering might plunging forth
Waves that fight aloft hold
Yield to melt, a war calls out
There is fire in his eyes.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Sandy white, an unusual sky
It is a blue day
Horizon looms, the electric posts gaze
Sprinting still, he cries out
The secret cave is miles away

Slashing the tepid, the brackish waters
Leaps into the moist air
Racing on, p
assion astir, gasping
Smiles viciously
At the dark ocean.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Yellow

A breeze drew me.
The yellow flower stood out.
To embrace close
The tapering leaves
Were a dark hue
Wrapped around
Oozed as nectar
The white sap...
The yellow flower.

26 Aug 2006, Sat

Gossamer Speaks


The fish-eye hangs
Eluding from the heavens
The ruthless frenzy of the imagine
Draws her in
An arrow strung on the lyre
The canary begins to croon
Aflutter, out of sleep
Brainstorms rage loud
Draw the bow out
The ink waltzes on

Mind placid at once
An epic is born
Lamp aglow

Warm on yellow parchment

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Brake free

Sundown on the highway
The asphalt vapour lingers on
While the symphony rises
An evening leisurely melts
It is a balmy drive.

The milestones sprint past
Ineluctably, the midnight is caught
Warped; it begins to rain.

Winds lashing against him
Half drenched, in trance awhile
Hair blowing into eyes
The taxi driver breaks into a tune.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Night Out

Blown in the storm
A paper airplane zips by
Just as the mist sets in
A crimson scarf flutters atop the lamp post
A vagrant strums the guitar

Burning bright, the city lights
A lone skinny dog ambles
Across the pavement, moths flood the neon glow
The warm gust is still a little far off
Upon snug taverns rests

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Rising

The Wanderer

Beauty ablaze
The mountain stands resolute
Yellow sunshine floods the meadows down

Misty valleys caress the distant peaks
Sun and clouds play hide and seek
Hearing the stone speak

Wings stretched wide
Spanning the skies
The mind alight

Capture the dauntless majesty
Of the cliff aloft
Panning the horizon
the splendour of the mountain
Its sheer ferocity

At a window ledge
From the flitting chink
Wandering wild
Drenched in the glimpse of eternity


Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Play

The conch shell dazzles
Across the fine grooves
There is an unfailing sheen
As the play begins

At the ocean shores
The cradle begins to rock
A melody rises deep
And we fall asleep
When the dice is played
When the puzzle unveils
When the cards are thrown
And the dart lunges forth

Awash with sheets of crystals
There are leaves on the ground
From the emerald ponds deep
The blue lilies arise

The fine sands slip away
Stars rush from above
Who was looking for us this while?
There is gold dust all over.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Tree

A tree beside the sandy
Holds up its topmost boughs
Like fingers towards the skies
They cannot reach,
Earth-bound, heaven-amorous.

This is the soul of man.
Body and brain
Hungry for earth
our heavenly flight detain.

Sri Aurobindo

The Tempest

March 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Nāgārjuna: Speech or Silence?

It is in impinging on a severe critique of language that the central upshot of the Mādhyamika method emerges. The rejection of language has its kernel in the idea of Pratītyasamutpāda and śūnyatā together, and witnesses an explicit articulation in the prasanga method of the Mādhyamika. Pratītyasamutpāda or conditioned emergence shows that everything is dependent on numerous contingent factors, modes and reasons, for their relative existence. All events come into being depending on their preceding conditions. So, none of them in isolation have independent essence or being. In characterizing all categories and all existents as finally “empty” or śūnya, what Mādhyamikas mean is that they are empty of “essence” or svabhāva. Śūnyatā is thus, the natural outcome of pratītyasamutpāda because upon the knowledge of the flux of reality, when one begins to unravel the object, one finds it to be empty of inherent existence or self-nature, devoid of any essential being.
In the Milindapañha for instance, Nāgasena poses as to ‘what a chariot is’ and then himself enumerates his proposals — is it the pole, the axle, the wheel, the reins etc? Or a mere conglomeration? And in refusing these unsatisfactory suggestions, King Milinda reaches the baffling conclusion that none of these individually or cumulatively constitutes the chariot, and that when it is unraveled to its core, it no more remains a chariot. The analogy can be extended to simply everything. It turns out that on analyzing reality free of any specific ditthi or perspective, we see that concepts characteristically fail and language distorts. Evidently, this is the harshest possible criticism against language, to deny its very function of even being able to express anything. Further, the method of reductio ad absurdum or prasanga is Nāgārjuna’s methodological core, in demonstrating that all possible perspectives [in language] about reality involve inherent self contradiction. The structure of the prasanga argument is four-fold, namely it is a four-cornered negation of the form of catuśkoti or tetralemma:
I. A is [sad]
II. A is not [asad]
III. A both is and is not [ubhaya]
IV. A neither is nor is not [anubhaya]

This formulation exhausts the limit of all ‘meaningful’ thought or talk. By showing that all four alternatives are equally inconsistent by explicitly drawing out their implications, Nāgārjuna is able to point at the absurdity of language.

In picking from here, in the Vigrahavyāvartanī, the Nyāya school puts forth a number of objections against Nāgārjuna’s emphasis on śūnyatā, since the very espousal of śūnyatā itself presupposes language. Since, śūnyatā is framed in language, either, (a) śūnyatā itself is not śūnya, which would make the proposition that ‘everything is śūnya false’ or (b) if śūnyatā is śūnya, then the proposition is insignificant, meaningless, trivial or worthless, for it is simply empty of substance. Nāgārjuna however resorts to a rather confident defence in denying entirely that he is offering any thesis or ditthi.

Thus, in Vigrahavyāvartāni, Nāgārjuna says:

“If I had any proposition (pratijñā), then this defect (dosa) would be mine.
I have, however, no proposition. Therefore there is no defect that is mine.” [#29]

In the claim of a ‘no-position’ view of self refutation, the role of language seems to be radically inconsistent. To the extent that the claim is that one is not taking any metaphysical position at all, Nāgārjuna’s philosophy is śūnya too. This emptiness, best shown through silence, is realized when assent is withheld from all four logically possible answers to a metaphysical question (yes, no, both, neither). This is suggestive of the primal absurdity of speech and verbalization [prapañca]. The silence that is entailed, can be seen as a deconstruction of language itself, since language, here, is both used and negated in the same stroke. Is there a way then to resolve the inconsistency at a basic level?

In the backdrop of contemporary ordinary language philosophy, there is a visible turn towards stressing on the pragmatism in language. In his classic work How To Do Things With Words (1962), J. L. Austin makes the significant distinction between ‘performatives’ and ‘constatives’ and highlights the role of speech act as lying not in describing anything but in the doing of things. Essentially, speech acts refer to acts performed when words are uttered. Thus in a speech act, one does not seek to describe or report anything. It is about what is done in the saying of something, such as an active function as affirming, reassuring, promising, commanding, threatening or praying. That is, the utterance performs a function. Thus in saying ‘I promise’ in suitable circumstances I make a promise; in saying ‘Hooray!’ I cheer someone.
Extending the idea of speech acts to Nāgārjuna’s method, one may argue that in suggesting the śūnyatā of everything, for instance, Nāgārjuna in the strict sense, is not just 'saying' anything. It looks like Nāgārjuna is rather engaged in doing [rather ‘undoing’] something. He is unravelling philosophical discourse to expose its inherent contradictions. He is also employing the speech act in affecting the hearer, since in claiming radically that everything is śunya, he annoys, puzzles, frustrates, and even disappoints the audience. It is transformative in its affecting the person or community in some way: purifying, healing, reconciling, protecting, informing, and so on. If the seeker of freedom understands the import of the utterances, then in the same act, she is also liberated, for she is moved, convinced, persuaded and then ‘quietened’. Nāgārjuna can thus defend his stance as using language in order to do something, not to describe anything (which is to be rendered true or false). In fact it is in the undoing of the theoretical effects of language that the Mādhyamika’s concern lies. Thus, Nāgārjuna’s use of language is possibly analogous to Derrida’s ‘writing under erasure’. The performative dimension of language then is something that seems fundamental to the Mādhyamika method. And on this interpretation perhaps, the apparent paradox of language and silence is resolved to an extent.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Alterity or Subjectivity

An anti thesis of Kierkegaard’s view that truth is subjectivity is found perhaps in the post modern philosopher Levinas for whom alterity or ‘the Other’ is the ‘nude’ truth which when confronted ruptures the self. Through the face of alterity God is reached. In his Beyond Intentionality Levinas says: ‘The face ‘signifies’ beyond, neither as an index nor as symbol, but precisely and irreducibility as a face that summons me. It signifies to-God (à Dieu), not as sign, but as the questioning of myself, as if I were summoned or called, that is to say, awakened or cited as myself’. Throughout the history of philosophy ‘the Other’ has been reduced to ‘the Same’ in its drive to objectify and universalize. For Levinas, the dominance of ‘the Same’ makes the universal the goal of thought.

So it turns out that Levinas is precisely against the same universalization and objectification that Kierkegaard is standing against. However, while for Kierkegaard the personal subject confers itself its own identity, standing as the primal individual; in Levinas, through language, it is ‘the Other’ that enables me to have an identity. Language is the basis which links us to other people. The signifier then is the opening up to ‘the Other’. It is in confronting the irreducible ‘Other’, seeing time as alterity, existence as alterity, the other person (autrui) as alterity, language as alterity, and God as alterity that we are led away from ontology, epistemology and reason, to the realm of ethics and religion. The shift then is from discourses that compel homogenous levelling to ones that heighten fecund encounters with the different Other.

However, Kierkegaard’s rigid persistence on the priority of the isolated individual per se can be made sense of, by the fact that his reaction is rooted in the context of the widespread, overpowering, overarching structures propagating universality, objectivity, abstractions, absolutism and stereotypes. Strictly speaking, one is just an individual for whom other’s existence occurs as a mere possibility, never a concrete actual. What exists comes first. It is my existence that is truly actual and concrete for me. It is therefore that Kierkegaard, in his solitary confrontation against depersonalization, anonymous public opinion, and mass consciousness, sought to become what he wanted to be known as: that individual”.
(Painting: Edward Munch - Despair 1893-94)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


"To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

William Blake
Auguries of Innocence


The World and the Earth

Heidegger, Sartre, and Levinas all consider the ontology of art and the different ways in which art and language create new perspectives on reality. Heidegger in his essay ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ claims that a work of art brings a world into view. He discusses art in terms of truth and his idea of disclosure. Heidegger’s draws upon the ancient Greek concept of truth as aletheia, which means ‘the unconcealedness of beings’. As a concept of truth, it is distinct from and logically prior to our conventional, Roman notion of truth as veritas or ‘correspondence with the facts’. For there to be any objects to make up states of affairs to which our statements can correspond, there must be the ‘truth’ which lets these objects first come to be.

Art is true, Heidegger claims, in that it lets us see the tension between concealment and disclosure. He calls this ‘the conflict of world and earth’: ‘world’ is used in the sense that any disclosure is the opening of a realm, e. g., the realm of sight, and ‘earth’ is the concealed domain from which the world emerges. The artwork ‘moves the earth itself into the Open of a world and keeps it there’. A Greek temple, Heidegger suggests, opens a world by creating a ‘relational context’, of ‘birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline’, and Van Gogh’s painting of a peasant’s shoes brings out the use-life which the shoes have for their owner, what Heidegger calls ‘the equipmentality of equipment’. We experience the aletheic truth of art as a form of ‘thatness’. We might not be able to say what it is about a work that impresses us, but that there is something there we are certain of. A sense of ‘thatness’ stands out, stops us in our tracks. This is consistent with Kant’s proposal that it is part of the experience of art for us to be motivated to find new words to describe the experience. Ultimately, for Heidegger, ‘the nature of art is poetry’. He proposes that art is truest, at its most aletheic, when it is poetic.
[From Cazeaux, Clive, Continental Aesthetics Reader, Florence, KY, USA: Routledge, 2000]