I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.

Kurt Cobain

Twenty years ago, Kurt Cobain was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I remember feeling lost and confused. In Cobain and Nirvana I had a voice that could process the pain of being misunderstood, of expressing aggression and anger without misogyny, ego or machismo. He was the one who’d found a way to process the chaff and frustration, and yet he’d succumbed to it, and despite a beautiful and caring last note, he felt the only way to truly deal with the pain was to end his life.

I had a very hard time processing his death. I couldn’t cry because I was angry at him. I felt betrayed by a man I’d never met, but whose art would help define who I would eventually become. He, like so many of my heroes, was unafraid to point the middle finger at the tormentors of the young, the quiet, the different. He fought off bullies of many sorts with his words, his ideas, his sandpaper growl, his art. And yet he collapsed.

After some time, his death imparted another valuable lesson, one which guides me to this day. Kurt Cobain, for all his success, his achievements, his otherworldly talents and his vision, Kurt Cobain was just a man. He was flesh and bone, made plenty of mistakes, and had fears and doubts just like anyone else. His death not only killed my hero-worship, it also obliterated any want for celebrity or to follow it.

Celebrity, whose etymology derives from the Latin celibritatem, or multitudes of fame, is a poison that corrupts the integrity of a man. It froths all that is superficial and covers fears, flaws and all those things which make us real. It is a dam withholding troubled waters. In our current times, celebrity worship has reached unprecedented levels, where the admiration of plastic constructs like Kardashians, anti-vaccination bimbos or the Royal Family not only perpetuate lies on what construes a normal, complete life (nobody is fabulous, rich, skinny, perfect, happy and gets what they want ALL the time, if ever) but also poisons us with disappointment in our own flaws, which many times aren’t even flaws at all. Celebrity not only foments envy, but chisels insecurity into our bones, to the point of self-destruction and self-mutilation.

The day Kurt Cobain died was the day I understood how beautifully fucked up life is, how immensely complex it is, and how it can never be appreciated through a filter of perceived celebrity perfection. It forever changed my interactions with people and how I did business later in my life. I see no one as being more important than the other, we are all flawed, we are all scared, we are all actively making mistakes and we should help one another to solve them, rather than being judgmental of our failures and envious of our successes, which is the very core of celebrity. The saddest part of Cobain’s death was that, despite having friends who loved him dearly, he died alone and in tremendous pain, and it is a thought that brings immense sadness to my soul.

The quote above demonstrates Cobain’s struggle with celebrity, and the best way to honor his death is to love him for being human, for being a real man, and not just for the art he made, which moved so many of a generation in a personal way. I remember, clear as day, the moment Kurt Cobain came into my life, as I recently wrote on my Facebook page:

"I got this EP for my 14th birthday. Wax Trax records in Denver, on Capitol Hill. Compact disc issued by Tupelo, discount marked down written in Sharpie on the case. Threw it on my dad’s CD player and THIS bassline changed my life forever. I couldn’t dance to it, all I could do was pound my fist into my chest and thrash my head. Mom was worried, but she also saw that I was happy. I’d connected."

The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death – however mutable man may be able to make them – our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

Stanley Kubrick

Everybody always thinks that Kubrick, by virtue of his methodology and pitch-black darkness of his art, was a cold, heartless and draconian man. Furthest from the truth. Kubrick’s acceptance of all facets of humanity - from the most beautiful to the abjectly terrifying - is his demonstration of love for all of existence. Indifference of the universe, embodied perhaps in a Monolith, takes us away from a culture of victimization and vaults us into the beauty of the unknown, where we forge our own path en route to finding our self-defined bliss. I could not agree with a singular statement more. It is a life-defining trajectory, simply beautiful, from one of the greatest minds to have graced this planet.

The Dark Side.

My wife often tells me that I need to direct a kid’s movie. Something with an anthropomorphized-anything that has a few requisite “believe in yourself” and “I love you the way you are” lines thrown in for posterity. She’s right - we’d make a shit-ton of money and I’d be free to make the movies that I really want to make. Every time she brings it up I stroke my chin thinking about what story I would tell and my wife sees that look on my face. She sighs.

"No," she says, pointing a finger. "You can’t kill anybody in your movie."

And with that, the brilliant idea dies a glorious death. Back to the drawing board. Why can’t I make a tragic kid’s movie? For fuck’s sake Bambi’s mom got shot - gunned down. Old Yeller gets put down. Disney movies are littered with orphans and widows. The original Grimm fairy tales are overflowing with tales of cannibalism, rape and pestilence. These are the stories we were told growing up. “Ring around the rosies,” besides being a playground staple sung by children, also happens to be about the hundreds of thousands of people who succumbed to the plague, the victims of Black Death.

Ring around the rosies - a rash that outbreaks on the skin - pocket full of posies - flowers used to ward off the smell of rotting flesh - ashes, ashes - the skin turning black from necrotic decomposition - we all fall down - everyone kicks the bucket. If memory serves me correct, on the final line, all the kids dancing in a circle collapse and play dead. Good times.


Bring in the plague doctors.

But I think it’s quite beautiful, really. I’ve always had a leaning towards all things dark, and it’s something I know that really bothered my parents and grandparents, and to some extent still bothers them. When I finished the Lilith script my mom asked me why I keep returning to these dark themes, why I can’t just make a lighthearted romantic comedy or an inspirational story of triumph. Before I could answer she corrected herself, looking at the table. “I know, I know - it’s just who you are.”

It makes me question myself, sometimes. Why can’t I simply see the light in things? Why must everything go to the dark side? Even on my TV pilot, which on paper was a very sexy dissection of female desire, onscreen shows signs of my darkness. Female sexuality is a lot about embracing one’s true self, and in my interpretation that journey is one of tackling fear - fear of judgement, fear of failure, fear of embracing one’s true self in the face of mainstream expectation. I filmed a scene that was initially supposed to be flirty as something a lot darker - questioning herself and facing fears in the mirror, and then embracing her wicked naughtiness and going forward with her desires. To me that journey is a lot sexier. Secrets are sexy. Darkness is sexy. Deviance is sexy. Breaking the rules is extremely sexy.

I get a lot of resistance to that, and it’s a difficult thing to try and explain. I’ve always felt that tragedy and darkness resonates far stronger emotionally than a sanitized portrayal of happiness and triumph. It’s the reason why we don’t care that Rocky Balboa lost the fight at the end of Rocky, because ultimately he won the battle - he found love after years of self-punishment and loathing. That, to me, is stunningly beautiful. Today’s storytelling environment would prefer to have Rocky win, because for whatever reason we have this idea that people go to the movies to see winners, because studio executives make the blanket assumption that everyone going to the movies are losers in real life and they don’t want to be reminded of that.

Fuck the executives. Yeah I said it. Fuck ‘em. It’s that same lowest-hanging-fruit mindset that has made for a summer of dreck like The Lone Ranger and The Mortal Instruments. It’s the counter mindset which has made current television so gripping. TV embraces our darkness, our deviance, our attraction to odd behavior and unconventional choices. That used to be the realm of movies, because once upon a time in movies there was no subject too taboo, in large part because of the ratings system and because we had to buy a ticket. Today on television there is also a rating system, and cable television had broken the boundaries of what can and cannot be shown. An episode of Californication would’ve probably gotten an X-rating in the 60s. How times have changed.

This doesn’t mean that I eschew all things light and beautiful. In fact I love movies like Babe and Up, movies that pretty much drive me to tears because they’re so sweet. But those movies are also rooted in real human emotions, and not some saccharine cover-up of how we really feel. Babe the Pig faces extermination (he’s almost chosen for Christmas dinner) and that’s a very real consequence. Up begins with one of the most gut wrenching portrayals of love lost and death. It is the precursor to grief, and is very, very real despite the preposterous nature of the rest of the film. These beautiful, Oscar nominated, super-sweet kid’s movies embrace life in its full spectrum, and don’t gloss over important things like loss and mortality. We cannot love something if we know it’ll be there forever. We want to hang on because deep in our hearts we know at some point it’ll be taken away from us. Our time is important.

Which is why no other convention pulls at my heart more than loss. To lose something dear - something which I experienced all too much this year - is to engage your love on the most intense and molecular level. It is intense and often disturbing to us because at those moments we feel we have no control, that we are losing everything. And at the bottom of the pit, we look up and see that faint light in the dark - a little star, my Zara - and it reminds us why it’s important we love in the first place. That cavalcade of emotions is beautiful and poetic beyond words. It is the foundation of the stories I choose to tell, because I want my audiences to feel that. Because I think that is important. Because I feel that is my contribution to make.

You give me any story and I’ll likely process it though this filter, because that - for better or worse - is the world view I hold. Give me The Avengers and I’ll likely focus on the amount of death wracked upon the city by the battles of superheroes. Collateral damage and its undermining the responsibility of the hero. Give me The Smurfs and I’ll turn it into a tale of persecution and prejudice - much like Babe - and I’ll put real consequences into it. Doesn’t mean I’ll turn it into Smurfpocalypse Now, but I’ll want to infuse real-life consequences into it, reinforce the love for community and brotherhood, and yeah, maybe it’s time for Papa Smurf to suffer a heart attack. That fucker’s old, and he probably eats way too many Smurfberries, or whatever the fuck it is that they eat.

I think I can do a kids movie, and I think a lot of people would watch my kids movie. And if I ever made that kid’s movie I’ll probably get a lot of resistance from parents who will scold me for ruining their kids’ day. I’ll tell them that Harry Potter was the story of a kid whose parents were murdered, and who is being hunted by a murderer himself. Total family fare. But Harry Potter is authentic to that fear, and that is why it resonates with kids. What kid doesn’t fear losing their family, their comfort, their joy? And what kid doesn’t celebrate that Harry pieced his life back together with the help of dear friends and dedicated teachers?

And in response to that I’ll be told that Harry Potter is witchcraft. Some battles you just can’t win, and those battles are not worth engaging. I was a goth kid and while I dropped the black nail polish and black trenchcoat a long time ago, that kid still lives in my soul, because that’s who I really am. Call me a downer, call me a dark soul, call me disturbed and you’ll just be helping my cause. I know all of that, and I’ll love you even more for it, and maybe you’ll see the beauty that I do when we all are on our deathbeds. Because like it or not, we’re all going to be there.

Happy birthday, Norma Jeane.

Every year on June 1st I give a shout-out to my birthday soulmate, Norma Jeane. This year death has a new meaning to me, and it makes my birthday all the more introspective.

image

Life is fragile, like a candle in the fucking wind. It’s only when we accept that we’re going to die that we can truly start living. Cherish life, friends, do not fear the inevitable, and make the most of every second you have.

Coming back.

I’ve had some time to think things through and decompress with the events in my life, and I think I’m ready to start writing again. It really is amazing how life can change within a matter of minutes, how our fortunes can shift in the blink if an eye. We’re processing our loss the best we can, creating small rituals and symbols to deal with our grief.

Grieving is something that we’re never really taught how to do. It’s a subject we’d rather not face, and frankly I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to face our mortality in such a way. It’s really painful, there is sadness mixed with anger, an anger that has no outlet and no focal point. I can be angry at God but then I’ve recently realized that’s just wasting my time. I can ask why these things happened and I will never receive an answer. There is a hole in our hearts that will likely never be filled, only built around and buttressed.

The importance in grieving is allowing ourselves to be be sad, to be angry, to just sit in a catatonic stupor. We need an outlet for these emotions, and to keep them bottled inside in a vain attempt to “get over it” or “move on” is just building a pointless powder keg of damage in our souls. We’ve cried until our eyes became sore, we’ve shouted at the sun and moon, we’ve held each other without saying a word. Our beautiful family and friends have allowed us to grieve and have shared our pain with us, the ultimate act of compassion. Because of them we will be fine, and we are on the positive path to healing.

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Lastly I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of you on this blog who have sent me amazing messages of strength and support. It’s fair to say that we are strangers bound by digital threads, but for someone I don’t even know, who knows nothing of my predicament, for them to pour their heart out to me and support me in my grieving is the mark of exceptional character and humanity. You are incredible, and I don’t know how to repay you other than express my gratitude. Gratitude for not only your support and words, but for also restoring my faith in people and the kindness of strangers. I am blessed.

I’m going to get back on my business plan posts, so read up on the past posts and refresh your mind. My world and this blog may have stopped, but time never does, and life goes on. Let us embrace it and celebrate it.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Your humble director,
Sridhar.

happy

The Wrens

Played 49 times

Music in Memoriam: Happy by The Wrens.

I’ve been holding back on this for some time, trying to process it all. I’m still torn up about it, but I need to get it out.

Last week I lost - we all lost - a dear friend and champion of art in Roger Ebert. I had a history with Roger, which I wrote about before. You can read our history by clicking here.

Basically Roger was the first person in my life - beyond my family, friends and mentors - who told me to become a filmmaker. He believed in my passion for the artform, and felt I had something important to say. He is the reason why everything I’ve made so far exists, he’s the reason why I took the path I did. He showed me my path. He cared enough to give me that support. He continued to support me and my friends until his dying breath.

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And now he’s gone. And while I’ve read every loving tribute to him and cherish his life, contributions and the overwhelming change he created for the artform, I’m still angry. I’m angry as fuck. Not at Roger, not at the cancer that first took his brilliant voice, then his smile, and then his life.

Truth be told, I’m angry at god. Or whatever the fuck is up there. I apologize for what I’m about to write, but it’s how I feel. How cruel is it - by what twisted, fucked-up and deranged design is it to take a man who is blessed with humility and honesty, a man who made mistakes in his life but who also took accountability, a man who loved his wife, children, and children of art equally with every cell in his being, and then give him cancer and take it all away.

There is no justice in that. I can’t find peace in this arrangement. I fucking hate god for what he’s done to my friend, my mentor, my guide. Roger always fought back from whatever shit end of the stick that was handed to him. He had his voice taken away, but came back stronger through his relentless and honest writing. He had his face taken away, but Roger refused to hide, telling us to love and accept him as he is. Roger was honest about his alcoholism and wore his sobriety with humility and thankfulness. And finally god had enough of Roger’s determination and just said “fuck it, you gotta go.”

Fuck you. Fuck you for all your tests, your plans, your litmus of faith and goodness. You took a good, humble man away from us, someone who did not deserve to suffer the way you made him suffer. Fuck you, asshole. I fucking hate you. We’re done. We’re done. WE”RE DONE.

*huff huff*

*sigh*

ah…

*sniff*

I…I know…I know this is not how Roger would want me to feel. Not about god, but about having this anger in my heart. But in this way I’m being faithful to what Roger always taught me, which was to be honest about how I feel, to never cower to the expectations of the many. Roger’s writing was imbued with unapologetic honesty. He felt what he felt, and never backed down from what he knew in his heart to be true. And he did it with imaginative wit, humor and eloquence. A guardian of the written word, a champion of expression.

I know this to be true. Everyone dies. I am going to die. I hope to join Roger someday and he’ll pat me on the back and tell me that I stayed true to myself, that I took the right path, that I made the world a more interesting place to live in. He did that, and I only desire to live in his example. I will die with that in my heart.

But to die the way Roger did, to have to go through what he had to, to have the things he needed to thrive slowly, one by one, taken away from him, I simply cannot accept that. He had Chaz by his side and he went without pain, and I at least take some solace in that. But the rest is bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit.

What the fuck. This is the worst eulogy anyone could ever deliver. I’m sorry.

No. I’m not sorry. Roger would’ve told me to fucking grow a spine and say what my heart feels. And what my heart feels is this:

I miss my friend. I feel like he was taken away from us too soon. I hate that he had to go through so much pain, simply for doing what he loved, for helping little shits like me find their way, for supporting the strength and integrity of the free voice. I know everyone has to kick the bucket at some point, but not this way, not the way he did, not at this time. It’s a fucking mistake, a clusterfuck of gigantic proportions carried out by one of the biggest frauds in existence. I am fucking shaken, not stirred. There’s some Ebertian wit for you.

I miss you, Roger. I wanted to show you my next work, and the works after that. I honored your opinion, even though sometimes it hurt. Because it always came from the right place. Because it was honest. Because you were honest, and you only wanted us to be better, to live up to the potential that you saw in us.

I’m over it now. I’m over it.

Fuck.

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1942-2013

We’re all going to die today…

…or was that last month? I keep losing track of our supposed Armageddon days. I suppose now is the time to give you a ‘live today / everyday like it’s your last’ speech but hey that’s kind of maudlin and fey. It’s been a tough week, what with kids getting shot, kids getting killed in Pakistan drone strikes, kids getting shot in Chicago’s South Side for the past umpteen years with no news coverage, kids getting maimed in the countless civil wars in Africa, kids getting sold as sex slaves in the Middle East, and just basically kids getting the blunt end of every adult dysfunction we can dream of.

It’s hard not to watch the news and think that this is a pretty shitty world we live in, in fact the news seems to make it a point to reinforce that idea by making things sound worse than they actually are. I know for every killing there’s tens of thousands of acts of kindness and compassion in this world, ranging from selfless service in Kolkata’s slums to the girl behind the register telling me to ‘have a nice day.’ But I have to admit, these instances seem to be diminishing over the years, as we seem to be buckling under the pressures applied by an adult, cynical world. We’re drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid, and the cracks are starting to show.

Maybe the Mayans were right in that it’s not so much the end of the world, but the end of civilization as we know it. They could’ve been off by a hundred years, but there’s a definite disintegration of all that was built before. I see people dying of cancer, mighty brick buildings being struck down and replaced with feeble, ready-to-break sheds, animals going extinct and no snow on the mighty mountains of Colorado.

If you don’t feel like blowing your brains out already (we can all-too-easily source an assault weapon from Wal-Mart to assist in that endeavor), hold on, hold on. Let’s think this through a bit.

Bad things happen. Every day. I can try to rationalize it as some kind of circle-of-life shit but it’s hard to do that in the face of injustice. A cute gazelle getting eaten by a cheetah is not injustice - there’s some basal purpose behind that act of killing. What happened last week and in Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech and basically all over the country was not done for survival or food, it was acts of deluded power, anxiety and illness.

The thing is that we can control and manage those things using the tools we have developed over thousands of years as a civilization. At this moment, more important than any one given law, legislation or gun purchase, the most important thing we have to embrace as a country is philosophy. We have to ask ourselves “why” and not so much “how” these things keep happening. And as cogent creatures we are fully capable of it.

I’m not so clueless as to suggest a complete ban on guns - sure I don’t like them but they have a role to play just as any other weapon does. War is a constant, we will have true evil forces in the future to dispatch, i.e. Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, etc.. You can’t just ask a Navy Seal to go into a compound and slit a tyrant’s throat (although I’m sure it can be done). But I recall a conversation I had with an old high school friend of mine who returned from two tours in Afghanistan. We were hanging out on the porch and I asked him what it was like over there. He said it’s pretty much what we think it is, but what was really bothering him was that he had shot someone in Afghanistan. A civilian who was suspect. There wasn’t any time to deduce who was friend or foe, action had to be taken, and he pulled the trigger. He told me that a part of him died when he puled that trigger, and that at that moment, his fear was what was propelling that bullet. I reassured him that he was fighting the good fight, but I also told him that as a civilian I could never relate to what he was feeling, only so much a sense of loss that accompanies a deep moral decision.

Fear is a powerful thing, and the end result of fear is ultimately loss. To live in fear is paralysis, and everything that is unknown becomes a threat, and what is known becomes suspect. The purpose of philosophy is to make the unknown a little more known, to give us a sense of context and meaning. Philosophy is not justifying something, it is merely contextualizing it. Where does a senseless act of violence fit into the greater whole of existence? What are the determining factors not for this guy to buy an assault weapon, but to want to kill in the first place? While I do think the access to an assault weapon and ammunition is a major problem, it is only one piece of it. Mental illness is a large problem, but it’s not exclusive to mass killings and homicides. There are plenty of people without mental illness who pull the trigger.

We must use philosophy to tackle anger, and to me, anger stems from one thing - resentment. When we harbor resentment - be it from loss or injustice - our anger festers and seeks release. The main way to deal with resentment is forgiveness, and to forgive someone is the absolute highest level of compassion that can diffuse any kind of powder keg of a situation. It lifts the burden of anger that can lead to irrational and immoral decisions. Forgiveness - even if the other side refuses to accept it - is the cure to violence.

To ask the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook killings to forgive the young man who killed their children is no small task. Even though he is dead. To ask them to forgive the people who sold him a high-powered assault rifle is just as hard. To show compassion and bring a universality to the death of their children, to place their tragedy alongside those of other families around the world, is to achieve transcendence and to help heal wounds of senseless violence everywhere. This is the essential starting point, and from there we can tackle guns and mental health. It would be impossible to do so with resentment and anger in our hearts.

The world might very well end today, tomorrow, next week or nine million years from now. But to die with bitterness and acid in our soul is to disrespect the gift of existence and consciousness. I don’t want to go out that way, mad at the world and doing nothing to make it better. I accept that I will die, and so will everything around me. Nothing is permanent except energy, a shimmering field of it that constitutes the collective dynamic of what we are. We can control where it goes and how it is used, a gift bestowed upon our species, a gift we readily take for granted. That, my friends, is the root of our change.

But if the Mayans were right and indeed we all die, just know that I love you all - even the folks who made Twilight. You’ve made this world amazing and I’m blessed to share it with you. And when we wake up tomorrow towards a new day, let us renew our commitment to making the world an even better place to live in for us, for future generations, and for every being in the universe. Be well.

Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Spiritualized;J. Spaceman;Sean Cook;Kate Radley;Roddy Lorimer;B.J. Cole;The London Community Gospel Choir;John Coxon

Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Played 160 times

Music for the Weekend: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space’ by Spiritualized.

Gah. Caught a nasty sinus infection these past few days, feel like shit. Seems like I get sick once a year, every year, around this time. Must be the change of the seasons. But I’m loaded up on Tussin, NyQuil and Z-Pac, which makes for interesting conversations and dreams.

I had a particularly bizarre dream last night. I was in a club and suddenly I had a premonition that the world was going to end, right then and there. And then it happened - the world ended, but not in the “everything blows up” variety.

Inertia stopped. The Earth stopped rotating. Everything just started floating and drifting into the atmosphere, which itself began to be reabsorbed into the ether of space. We all just sorted floated into nothingness, and it was quite beautiful. My body began to disintegrate molecule by molecule and I saw every bit that made my constitution. And then everything - the mass of the human world - reformed into a giant black diamond, and plummeted into the core of Jupiter, creating a small black indentation upon the surface of the planet.

I’ve never had a dream like that before, and I remember when I was a kid someone telling me that “if you die in your dream, you die in real life.” Well I guess I died, but then I sorta didn’t. But I’m here to tell the tale, so I guess that guy was full of crap.

I played this song the first thing in the morning because I needed a soundtrack to my dream, and it fit perfectly. Having noted it down in this blog post, it now becomes a permanent fixture in my dream journal, and my vault of strange ideas to explore. Down the line you may see this in a film, and you’ll know where it came from. Funny how these things work.

I’d also like to dedicate this song to my friend Paige, who just lost her cat Cecil to cancer yesterday. Cecil’s been a longtime companion to Paige for 19 years, and was one feisty, punk rock kitty. She loved and was loved unconditionally for all her time on Earth. We’ll miss you, Cee-Cee. Give Siggy a big hug for us in Kitty heaven.


Cecil B (1993-2012)

Have a great weekend!

All Fires

Swan Lake

Played 109 times

Music for the Weekend: All Fires by Swan Lake.

This song always reminds me of the fall. It’s a moribund, sad tale, and I don’t know why, but that’s what the fall is to me. Not that I think the fall is a time of sadness, rather it’s a time of great reflection. After the exuberance of summer it’s the period of winding down, before the cold death of the winter. The leaves give their last hurrah before collapsing, animals prepare for the hard times ahead. One system dies for the other to live. Reminds me of the absolutely heartbreaking passage from this song:

There was a flood
A world of water
The mason’s wife
Swam for her daughter

One thousand people
Did what they could
They found the steeple
And tore up the wood.

Five hundred pieces
Means five hundred float.
One thousand people
Means five hundred don’t.

It’s sad as fuck and at the same time tragically beautiful, and that’s what the fall is to me, a great tragic romance. It’s the kiss before dying, the exultation of love before the separation, the boldest stroke of paint that defines an overall work. I don’t use the fall to mourn, rather it is a celebration, an explosion of life where colors fight off the cold. One life gives into another, and we pay it forward. Sacrifices are made, pain is bled, and what we are left with is the warmth of our shared hands.

This is par for the course for me, as I tend to see things as tragic, but in the absolutely most beautiful way possible. Our time is limited, and that’s why it is so valuable. In my teens and college years I was drowning in a sea of darkness, I was obsessed with all art and expression that was pitch black, nihilism laced with arsenic and bullets. I had no faith in humanity to do the right thing. I guess as I got older and wiser, I realized that dressing in black and writing / painting the most evil things I could think of was simply an affront. It shocked people with evil, but it’s not what I fundamentally believe. Evil is for the soulless, and after falling in love with my wife and building a family of artistic collaborators, I saw that I had a soul. And in that realization I also understood that once my heart stops pumping and my brain dies, all of this will go away. It’s a morbid thought but the beauty of it is staggering - the world and I were meant to be together, but our destiny is to eventually be separated. The ultimate cosmological Romeo and Juliet.


We will all die, which is why we have to live.

I was going through some old files and saw some of the things I used to paint in college. It was some seriously twisted and dark shit. I asked a dear friend of mine as to where all that went - I’ve still got a pretty morbid and dark imagination, but that razor edge of evil is gone. I asked my friend what happened to that. My friend paused and said:

"You got a cat, Sridhar. That’s what happened."


Ezra the Pound and King Pavlov - saviors and clowns.

Have a great weekend!

Hot Topic: Celebrating Death.

Ever since I was a kid I used to get disturbed when in the movie theater, people would cheer when the villain was killed. Generally it was an action film, rooted in some pursuit of heroism, and the villain died a spectacular death whose complexity was directly proportional to the level of heinous infraction committed. I used to scratch my head as to why we were cheering the death of someone.

Fast forward to the present, and I strangely find myself cheering upon hearing the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden. I’m still conflicted, but I won’t deny that for some reason, the death of this tyrant has brought me tremendous relief and closure.

A misappropriated quote of Martin Luther King has been making the rounds on Facebook, a quote that essentially paraphrases the famous line by Gandhi, which is that “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind.”

I believe in those words, and I am vehemently against capital punishment. But again - upon hearing the news of Bin Laden’s death, I find myself at peace with his passing. I have to think that some of this comes from the idea that he can no longer do any harm, that he can no longer spread his poisonous ideologies. Our special forces accomplished one of the key directives of fighting a terrorist organization, which is to cut the head off the snake. I can rationalize Bin Laden as an evil on the level of a Hitler, a pure embodiment of hatred and a sociopath.

That’s me trying to justify his death to my own mind. But in the end, he’s dead, and not by natural causes. We killed him. In the name of justice, yes, but we killed him. I might have been happier if we had apprehended him alive and brought him to a tribunal, or would I?

We can argue that Bin Laden showed no mercy when he pulled the trigger to kill innocent people in the myriad of Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, and therefore he does not deserve the dignity that he denied his victims. But just like his victims, does any human being deserve to die?

It’s a prickly issue. The family of a victim will likely seek closure knowing that the murderer of their loved ones can no longer partake in the world that their kin were prematurely robbed of. But can we not argue that the same effect is achieved when that murderer is locked away from society for the remainder of their lives? Is not the concept of hell to live in a state of constant torture? Then is not solitary confinement an embodiment of a living hell, and is therefore a higher level of punishment than the release of death?

I’ll play the devil’s advocate with this. Had we not killed Bin Laden and instead imprisoned him in solitary confinement, would he even feel remorse? Would he feel the pain of isolation, would the notion of being a living dead man even affect him? His beliefs are so strong that he would view everything as an act of martyrdom, as a sacrifice to his greater cause. As long as he would be acknowledged alive, his followers would draw strength from his martyrdom. As an objective in the fight against agencies of death and chaos, keeping Bin Laden alive would do little to extinguish the flames of extremism. It might even fuel it more.

In Sri Lanka, the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the head of the LTTE (aka the Tamil Tigers) destabilized the terror organization and, at least for now, ended one of the largest human catastrophes in modern history. The sentiments and struggles of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka remain (a sentiment that is valid, but not justifying of terror and the use of child suicide bombers), but the violent figurehead that was Prabhakaran is no longer there to fuel violent retribution or organized terrorist attacks. With the head gone, the organization of the LTTE (which before 9/11 was the FBI’s most dangerous terrorist organization, ahead of the IRA, the PLO, and Al-Qaeda) has corroded under power struggles and a lack of faith amongst supporters that the organization can survive. Prabhakaran, like any man, did not deserve death, but conversely his death has saved thousands of lives and has paved a path for potential peace.

But all said and done, Bin Laden achieved exactly what he wanted - he brought the most powerful nation in the world to it’s knees, paralyzed her with fear and ideological division, turned a brutally critical eye upon the United States’ relationship with Israel and its policy towards the Palestinian people, and made a lot of his friends in oil producing regions very, very rich. He is the definitive modern agent of chaos, a sociopath with a definitive ideology. His death doesn’t mean victory, but it does knock out the knot that held a complex web of extremism together. Without guidance, the extremists will consume each other with power plays and conflicting ideals.

And I have to believe that none of this can happen if Bin Laden were still alive, either in exile or in captivity. Killing him is not a fix to the world’s problems, but it’s a small assurance that he can’t make things any worse. And now it’s up to us, the citizens of the world, to make sure that his ideology of hate is delegitimized, dismissed and destroyed from the annals of human existence.

So in hindsight, I don’t celebrate his death, rather I celebrate the justice his death creates.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.