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The increase of new blogs on kottu has, unsurprisingly, resulted in a few posts about the quality of the content of blogs, as well as the phenomenon of the ‘anonymous’ commentor. As usual, and obviously, the views expressed are based on the writers’ values and prejudices. However, I did find myself in agreement with some of the sentiments articulated – particularly with regard to the ‘anonymous’ commentor.

I’ll try for quick assessment, bearing in mind that I’m not a voracious reader of many of the blogs that fail to arouse my interest in the opening paragraph. The exception would be previous experience, which allows me to ignore the opening if I find the particular blogger worth spending time on. I have, however, found that the listing of ‘Popular Posts’ on kottu is worth checking out, as these posts are usually chock full of comments. But here too, I spend time only on the subject matter that either contains some intellectually stimulating subject that I find worth my while responding to – either to present an alternative point of view and to (hopefully) shed some light on aspects that the author or commentor may have missed.

The hostile commentors – most often ‘anonymous’ – and the ones that use the forum to spew venom, or launch personal attacks, or fill the space with profane invective, must fulfill an inner urge that results in some amount of personal satisfaction. And this, I guess, is perfectly valid – given our liberal values and the freedom of expression that we treasure, although it does get tiresome after a while.

Another category is that of the of ‘anonymous’ commentor, consisting of those that are clearly reluctant to identify themselves (either directly or obliquely) due to the subject matter at which their comments are directed. In these times, when ‘patriotism’, ‘separatism’, even ‘peace’, elicit such emotionally charged responses, it is understandable that some individuals prefer to remain ‘anonymous’ and express their views under cover of anonymity. The more recent fear of being labeled a ‘traitor’, or of being carted away in the reportedly ubiquitous ‘white van’ is another major constraint for commentors opposing the alleged human rights abuses by the government or commenting on what they perceive to be rampant corruption and mismanagement in general.

So in the end, it does appear that there are extremely valid reasons for the ‘anonymous’ commentor, although hiding behind anonymity to launch personal attacks smacks more or cowardice than of anything else.

But then it takes all types, doesn’t it?

‘Opinion’ is a pretty heavyweight number, when you really get down to thinking about it. Just about everything we know – information in general – all boils to ‘opinion’, however you may want to couch it. It’s kinda ‘all-encompassing’ as it were, but could there be a consensus that unifies the field?

Swami Siva Kalki – Mike Wilson, in an earlier incarnation – had this thing about ‘opinion’ and even formulated an ‘Opinion Theory’ for which he was trying to find an elusive mathematical formula that would result in cracking the Unified Field.

The premise that everything we know of is ‘opinion’ – all information, including ‘God’ or the concept of it, was the fundamental ‘truth’ of Siva Kalki’s postulation. He related this to Maxwell’s equations on electromagnetism and how it could be the unifying force that would apply to all physical situations at all times. What was missing, however, was the mathematics to clinch his theory.

He had some very intriguing syllogisms on ‘opinion’ and I have been trying like hell to remember how they went, but so far attempts at retrieval from the memory bank, except for some bits and pieces, have proved to be futile. Perhaps by the time I get through this – hopefully!

Gödel’s ‘Incompleteness Theorems’ also played a major part in Siva Kalki’s formulation of his ‘Opinion Theory’ and the concept of ‘if the system can prove it is consistent, then it is inconsistent’ was right up his street. ‘Truth’ was also an interesting concept for him, as questioning the validity of the basis of any theorem or hypothesis as ‘true’ – relating it to Gödel’s view – only made him certain that ‘truth’ was relative and added to his ‘opinion’ of ‘maya’ which he saw as the Buddha described it.

When I first met Mike in the early seventies he was just getting into ‘swami’ mode – not yet Siva Kalki, but secluded in his Horton Place home and away from the hectic social life that he had scrambled out of – not long after Brian Jones of Stones’ fame had been his house-guest. Tired of the rat-race, of deep-sea diving, of film making and of Hollywood and all that sham and glam that he had recently emerged from, he was sublimely content living in his bedroom – mostly in bed. I was on an extended visit from the US of A and had brought with me a substantial collection of music – mostly 60’s rock, R and B and some of the early jazz-rock and spin-off classics by folk like Tomita and the Swingle Singers that had caught my fancy. And given our common taste in music amongst other subjects, we spent days on end tripping out on the music and on all manner of subjects that included Tarot, Mysticism, Religion, Philosophy and Psychedelics – mostly dealing with altered states of consciousness, in between periods of mundane chatter and uncontrollable fits of laughter. His sense of humour was as acute as those other qualities he had in abundance.

The JVP’s initial foray into revolution, combined with the repression that Sirimavo brought about, hastened my departure back to LA. I left my collection of music with Mike and not too long after, he took off with another friend, the artist Aja Schmidling (later to become Bikkhu Sumedha), leaving the life of the householder and headed for Vallimallai on the other side of Vedihitikanda in Kataragama, where they lived in a cave for some time.

To make a saga brief and fast-forwarding a few years – after all manner of spiritual and other adventures, Swami returned to Colombo (one of his many forays back and forth from Kataragama and the hill country) and, with the help of a manic mate, got himself set up in urban splendor (relative to his caves and kuttis, that is), where friends and seekers of spiritual counsel would meet him. It was around this time – the latter part of the seventies, that I believe he started on ‘Opinion’.

As Richard Boyle (a mutual friend), wrote in his excellent and incisive essay, ‘The Enigmatic Mr. Wilson’: “Despite humble origins and only a basic education, Wilson became something of a polymath in his adult life. His learning extended in many directions, embracing on the one hand an exhaustive knowledge of human spirituality, comparative religion and universal tradition, while on the other, an impressive understanding of the sciences. Indeed during the last twenty years of his life the formulation of a Unified Field Theory became his magnificent obsession.

In the abstract to his unpublished paper A New Approach to Field Unification he explains: ‘This model seeks to demonstrate that the four fundamental forces of nature and their fields can be successfully unified by the correct application of Maxwell’s four electromagnetic equations. It seeks to demonstrate how Maxwell’s equations can be validly extended to describe the functions in other field; .seeks to demonstrate how these four equations are in fact laws which may be seen working in all physical situations; and how every physical situation can be completely described by means of these equations alone. It seeks to demonstrate that Maxwell wrote the four fundamental laws of Nature – the Unified Field Equations without realizing it.’” (Richard is in the process of publishing his book on a period in the life of Swami Siva Kalki and hopefully this should see the light of day in the very near future).

Unfortunately for his close friends, Swami Siva Kalki left the material universe behind in 1995 and so his views on ‘Opinion’ never did get the exposure he hoped they would. I’m not entirely sure of how far he got, or if he saw the futility of the exercise, given that it was just an ‘opinion’ anyway. So there it lies, waiting for some bright spark to pick it up and extend it to its potential.

What’s yours?

Oh yeah, those syllogisms – I’m going to try to dig them up and if I do, I’ll lay them on you.

It was one of those special mornings when everything is just pluperfect – and I mean everything – from the early morning light, to the bird-song, to the temperature – the ambience reeked of perfection. As (I think it was) the poet Browning said, like “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world” or something similar anyway.

The morning walk-about with the dogs was like walking in a glittering fantasy-land, the morning exercises brought out some extra-special energy that coursed through the being, even the music that came through WorldSpace, be it classical (early morning), jazz (mid-morn) or that good ‘ol 60s and 70s R ‘n B and rock ‘n roll (later-morn, towards noon) was too good to be true – hitting the spot every single time. Oh, and no external influences were responsible for this special state of being, okay – just to clarify things!

The scrambled eggs done in butter with a few chopped green chilies and a smattering of cheese on perfectly toasted bread tasted like never before, although it is a popular brekkers at Flowerbook. Then, whilst feeding the leftover bread to the ducks I noticed that even the crows that usually make a racket trying to snag bits of bread, were particularly restrained and waited for me to throw them some crumbs, instead of the usual raucous pushing and shoving type of behaviour they are known for. The ducks themselves looked resplendent, their plumage gleaming metallic shades of different hues as the sunlight caught the angles. Incredible! Buster, Rocky and Bruiser looked like celestial canines – missing only the wings, but glowing in the sunshine and mellower than I had ever seen them before.

I got back in the house – kinda floating along – and checked my mail. No bummers or urgent shite that needed immediate attention, just some pleasant communiqués from near and dear friends, all adding to the wonder that was the day so far. And then I wondered about how long this would last for – surely, it was too good to be true, but I knew I wasn’t dreaming when Java appeared and told me that I looked different.

Like yo got som aura or shheet like dat maan – whatcha bin droppin dis time of da day? Nuttin? Den how com yo look so fuckin spaced out an weird?

Weird??!!! I floated off to the dresser and took a look at meself. Yeah, something did seem a bit off kilter – a slight flush maybe, giving my face a ruddy hue, like I’d been sunburned, but not quite. I sure as hell felt super-good – almost like I was tripping, but I knew better.

So what was this all about and what was on the way? Was this what Bucke described as ‘cosmic consciousness,’ or the onset of it? Whatever it was (is), I ain’t complaining, ‘cause it sure feels great!

Heeey maaaan, have a toke – look like yo be needin somting to bring yo ass down! An if yo don tell me how yo be gettin on dat trip I won be tellin yo what happen when Alice finally met up with dat Cherry Lady – an I jus know dat yo wanna get in on dat sheeeet.

That one sounds good, so I take the doobie out of his hand and drag deep – tastes like Colombia. Wonder how this will affect the ‘whatever it is’?

I guess time will tell.

Jeeezzzuuuss Chhrriisstuuus maaan, it’s dem Redemshun Freaks at da door – again – an I be tellin dose two dudes an dat chick not to bodder wit us folk caus we be beyond any of dat redemshun sheet.

That was Java a day or two ago, who was on this trip again about some Mormons of all things that, straight from Salt Lake City or some such city in the mid-west, had ended up here on their mission of selling Redemption to the losers. And their definition of ‘losers’ was pretty much everyone that didn’t believe what they did about their Saviour and Redeemer – yup that very same JC – the story, subtlely twisted according to the teachings of Joe Smith in the old days, and now preserved by Gordon B. Hinckley, the current head honcho.

So, when dey be showin up again da nex day, I invited dere asses in, sat dem down and played dem som Bob Marley – ‘Exodus’ and som of dem odder tunes he do an tell dem bout Jah. I also fix dem som tea and brought out som of dose speshul brownies made from Tra La La’s unique an poten cannabinol resin mix. But I be warnin dem bout dis sacrament an how it sometime bring forth vishuns an sheet. Aaannyways, dey each try som an be likin dat flavor an after som time of rappin bout religion an dem turning me on to dere trip, dey get all silent like an be getting into ma maan Marley. Dat album done, I change over to som Floyd ‘Set da controls for da heart of da sun’, ‘Astronomy Domine’, ‘Let dere be more light’ and sheet like dat an dey be trippin, all spaced out an not sayin much. So we jus lounge aroun, getting into dat music.

Much later that evening, according to Java, the trio of Mormons managed to disentangle their thoughts from Java’s rap about Jah and other metaphysical concepts, as well as from the effects of the Floyd selection of spacey music. One of them said that he experienced ‘redemption’ and had seen his life play back in the vision he had during the Floyd section. They asked for more tea and also asked Java if they could visit again – to actually re-assess their views of the Mormon trip and get more into what Java was on about, which Java had no problem with, as they had turned out to be pretty decent folk in the end.

And so another relationship was initiated, although Gordon B. Hinckley, all the way back in Salt Lake City, may not be too pleased about the outcome of his Redeemers’ efforts.

There’s this mate of many years, now comfortably ensconced in The Big A, doing his thang with his art and jewellery making and getting into the total-immersion thing with ‘Art’ of all sorts. And so we exchange mails occasionally, ever so often succumbing to our craziness and communicating in parables. I came across one such exchange of August 1999, when cleaning out my junk – to do with his mails to a friend being returned by ‘Mailer Daemon’ – that ethereal postman who used to return mail found to be undeliverable. It also had to do with a dark chick with a great voice, who he was hitting on in an attempt to get in her pants. Aaannnyways, G Force sent me the following mail (permission to re-print taken for granted).

The Gargoyle (true identity known only to that mysterious companion of his – Ducilla Dido – a veritable Persephone) hunched over the control panel (read keyboard), now with hands flying over as of an eagle, now at disturbingly staccato movements, with a devilish sneer and a crazed gleeful look that betrays an underlying insidiousness of a dark and malevolent kind, is absorbed in his wont busyness.

By Pluto! Those scaly hands with unsightly fungi ridden disfigured nails wafting a most malodorous scent is crashed upon the panels of Doom!! For the mildly disturbed fearful and bewitching enchantress, moments as these are prized more than the invisible wish fulfilling jewel of ancient lore. She croons “ Pray, O lord, my singular delight, what may perchance the matter be? Might there be some pleasure denied that I may soon fulfil? Could it ever happen that I (woe is I – were that be the case) may have been the cause of thy displeasure?”

“Nay darksome and designful creature of mine, it seems that I am once more haunted by me arch-enemy the devious and loathsome MAILER-DAEMON , hence my grief.”

There were a few lines that followed – in regular language – that spelled out a few chores he wanted taken care of, but the message in his Gargoyle number was quite clear to me. This was the first ‘stylised’ mail that I received from G Force and had to respond in like vein and so:

Ducilla Dildo, also know as the Dildo Duchess, (depending on his choice of gender at the given time), twatwithstanding the Gargoyle’s push and thrust for the invidious and elusive east wind, grasped to her bosom those scaly and scabrous appendages and breathed deeply of their malodour. Infused with the narcotic swamp gas, Ducilla wafted over the Gargoyle, dildo at half-mast and pondered over the lascivious goings on between the Gargoyle and the luscious ebony-hued wench with the voice that launched a hundred phallic fantasies.

The Gargoyle lay back, trying like hell to look cool and, with a decided lecherous smirk, wagged a disfigured, fungus-infested finger in a ‘come closer my husky melon-twat’ motion to the wonder-voice before him.

The Duchess continued to waft, watch and ponder – “would the wench succumb or would this be just another Gargoyle fantasy unfulfilled?”

The honey-husk moved forward and gargoyle, scarcely unable to control his surprise and the expectations that were zipping through his twisted mind, sensed the stirrings of an erection. Honey-tone didn’t seem to notice and, to Dildo’s abject amazement, moved so close to Garg that he could get his crazed and beady eyes focussed directly on a cleavage of near epic proportions. The first stirrings were now decidedly firmer, as Gargo whipped out his…….camera – and whispered to the illusion that faced him, “I must have your image forever in my possession and the sound of your voice on my system. Come, pose for posterity. Presume nothing. I am the creator of works that defy the mundane viewers of so-called art and you, creature of my wildest fantasies, have been chosen to deliver.” The voice sighed – a sigh of resignation and decided to succumb – why(?) was beyond her.

Ducilla wafted and wondered, “what the fuck?!!” Gargoyle reached for the cleavage and, as the image of the most wondrous creature he had ever beheld disintegrated before his very bloodshot and haunted gaze and the remnants of the honey-tones drifted away, in its place words were formed: “Message Undeliverable.”

Gargoyle screamed – a wail of despair, as he swore revenge on his arch-enemy, the devious and loathsome MAILER DAEMON, who had mindfucked him one more time.

And the Duchess wafted and pondered, dildo drooping.

And that was the gist of it. A few more lines couched less in parable format followed and the message was clear. There was the inevitable response from G Force, but that’s a whole other thing.

You probably know how it is when you feel obliged to keep the drift flowing in spite of having little or nothing of worth to put down. Or do you? There’s a couple of folk I know that are never ever at a loss for words, always having something to say – and not just any old banality or cliché-ridden crappola, but real solid-ass information or some thought provoking stuff that engenders stimulating side-effects and creates the milieu for a magic-carpet ride of sorts. Then there’s also the goss part of it that is of high entertainment value providing it doesn’t degenerate into personal or puerile pap – which it hardly ever does!

Mr. Sands, manic at the best of times, is one such and this is always evident to those that have had the fortune to meet with the man. Never at a loss for words or ideas that are usually too far off the beaten track for most folks to even contemplate, Sandy (to his mates) can hold forth for hours on end regaling his listeners with his anecdotes and bewildering them with his conceptual brilliance. A specialist in cultural heritages and with the ability to apply, for instance, Ananda Coomaraswamy’s observations on Indo-Sri Lankan art to more abstract philosophical concepts dealing with counter-cultural trends, the ideas he gives birth to are not only stimulating but also laced with the sort of humour that is both trippy as well as deep.

Choker the Rat is another one of this type that could, off the top of his head, come up with all sorts of intricate relationships stemming from just one name that may have been mentioned in the course of conversation. And the stream of intricate information would just keep on flowing down all sorts of tributaries that manifest in the course of the narrative. Needless to say, it is always interesting, hilarious (more frequently than not) and verges on the scandalous in most instances. But that’s not all there is to Choker. There’s a whole lot more, but the problem is in finding a way to describe it without letting a whole host of cats out of a bulging bag. Perhaps later!

Snake-a-nake, ever since I knew him as a pre-teen eons ago at that school by the sea, was always into natural history – as kids, smuggling tree-snakes into theatres and creating scenes with hysterical ladies losing it and getting us thrown out on more than one occasion – and there were more outrageous incidents as well. Now, armed with a doctorate from a prestigious institution in the Sates, Snakey can spew facts and figures on environmental degradation anywhere on the planet and come up with original proposals on how to implement solutions to a lot of the shite that is going down. His knowledge on nearly every aspect of the natural world is mind-boggling and although many of his solutions are met with some degree of scepticism, there is never any doubt about his brilliance. He is a developer’s and industrialist’s nightmare if they do not apply his sustainable-development solutions to their projects and at times gets into positions of serious danger due to the vehemence that accompanies his opposition to the destruction he believes will result from whatever it is he is opposing.

There’s a few others that come to mind as well, but I guess the gist of this post was to contemplate the almost inexhaustible repository of information or interesting stuff that are in the minds of some individuals who, had they been bloggers, would have absolutely no problem whatever in churning out stuff that would be attractive to many readers – quite unlike Java and meself, who most times, have to struggle to put anything down that, more often than not, is pretty ordinary – so much so that we frequently wonder why we even bother. But then we’ve gone down that path before, so will just let it be for now.

Oh, and by the way, there is something very common to all those mentioned in this one and that is the magic-carpet ride number – if you can figure that one out.

Well, it isn’t as if it wasn’t the ‘I have’ syndrome that turned Java on to the ‘pick-a-vital clue’ game from the dark bespectacled chap with his bock wurst, potato wedges and Yorkshire pudding that followed the haggis starter wolfed down earlier. But it is, because it was the same bloke that, earlier in the evening, had sprinkled saccharine in his beer – just to watch it foam over the brim of the mug and add that sickly sweet popsicle flavour to titillate his rather extreme taste buds.

Java had returned from one of his astral jaunts, visiting Wanda The Midget at her now luxurious digs located quite close to her old pad in the red-light district of Amsterdam, then to Kincardineshire and finally to this pub in the English countryside. It was here that he encountered the waif – a wispy little thing – who insisted on doing a tarot reading for him. Java said she looked like she was straight out of that Woodstock era, with flowers in her hair and all that good stuff, but what he didn’t realize was the trip that she would take him on.

I’m tellin yo maan, before I even knew it she had dose cards laid out – straaange fuckin deck maaan – she say it be a ‘Far Sight Tarot’ deck an it have dese faaar out images on dem – not like da Waite deck dat you be usin in dem long gone days. Dese have names like ‘Gaia’, ‘Youngblood’, ‘Genius’ an sheet. Aanyways, she do dat readin an tell me all bout what I be doin dese las few days – right on da ball she be too. An den she say I be goin to run into som reeal good luck – which I don be mindin one lil ol bit. So da readin be done an I get us som lager an do me a roll-up an she start to tell me da story of her life. Her name be Maya an she say her hippie parents be into all dat philosophical sheet an so ‘illushun’ came to be her mishun. She say she be into all kindsa magic too – make me flash on Wanda an her illushunist. But she don show me anyting dere. So we finish our lagers an she aks where I be crashin an if I be likin to go over to her pad for a bit.

We walk out of dat pub an down dat cobbled pavin, down a coupla blocks make a right an dere we be. Maya open da gate an we go up dis garden path bordered by all sorts of flowering plants – poppies, nasturtiums, hollyhocks an sheet like dat – growin profuse an in no kinda order or nuttin, but lookin reeal nice. Her pad look like a quaint lil ol country cottage an be furnish in a very hip-seventies style, wit rugs an cushuns an frilly drapes wit lil bells hangin from some of dem. Dat smell of incense also be comin thru an dat vibe be groovy, dig? She put on som sitar music, we sit ourselves down an she gets her stash out, tells me to roll a number or two an goes off to get som herbal-tea.

Java pauses for a bit to change the music, replacing Pat Metheney with ‘Ragas Midnight and Spring’, with Bismillah Khan and V.G.Jog – perhaps in an attempt to revive the vibe he had experienced. He lights up as well and gets on with the tale:

So we have dis tea she make – Chamomile an Mint, she say – an we get into da music an dat smoke, da incense makin dat scene complete. Nex ting I know, she get me to take my shirt off an lie face-down, den she straddle ma back an give me dis massage dat transport me to heaven maaan. I musta fallen asleep an when I wake my ass up, I find myself back in dat pub. Dat’s right, blew ma fuckin mind maaan! I be sittin dere on dat stool, brew in hand, watchin dat dude get into his bock wurst and wedges – da same one dat put dat saccharine in his beer. So what I couldna figger out was where did all dat time go? Shuure as shheeet I weren’t dreamin up dis stuurrf, but I did’n try findin dat lil ol cottage to confurm nuttin.

Java was clearly flabbergabbed and I didn’t want to enhance his confusion, so we both got into the music and the day drifted by.

What started off looking like an iffy morning up here in the hills, given the watery early-morning light that strained to pierce the canopy, has turned out to be pluperfect. Clear blue sky with just a few wisps of cumulus scudding across is a good indication of how the rest of the morning will turn out. A Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), looking like a sparkling jewel darts into the pond and emerges with a small silvery form in its beak, perches on a convenient branch just above the water’s surface and beats the life out of the fish before it swallows part of its breakfast. A female Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea), its speckled plumage and red eyes striking in a shaft of light, is busy gulping mulberries whilst a noisy Red-vented Bulbul (Picnonotus cafer cafer) tries competing with it. The dogs are impatient at my dawdling and urge me onwards in their inimitable style, so we continue. There is one stretch on the path that is covered with leaves, now soggy and the perfect habitat for leeches (Haemadipsa zeylanica) that we have to quick-step through, so as not to get them suckers attached to the lower extremities. The dogs don’t seem to care all that much, although once inside, they do have to spend time getting the annoying annelids unstuck from between their toes.

Back inside I find Java getting into ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, Jean-Luc Goddard’s film featuring the Rolling Stones, so I get another cuppa and join him to watch a young Jagger do his thing with Brian Jones (rare footage of the original leader of the group), Keith Richard, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts – oh, and the keyboard player could well have been Nicky Hopkins or Ian Stewart, although I’m not certain.

The film was an interesting, if eclectic mix, of the genesis of the song ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ going through its birthing pangs in the studio over many days. Made in Goddard’s idiosyncratic style that combined it with a series of abstract vignettes in which he features topics as diverse as race, pornography, and the irony of interviewing celebrities, also featuring a demonstration by Black Power revolutionaries. Filmed in 1968, the content clearly reflected the signs of the time and the style in keeping with the European evolution of film that Richard Lester also used for his films on the Beatles around the same period.

Heeey maaan, dis cat be somting else, huh? Jus check out his attitood.

Jagger’s into one of the tracks and going crazy with a small drum he holds between his thighs. Keith Richard is absorbed in his guitar work and Brian Jones is doing his thing but some of his attention is on the cigarette that he has been puffing on madly in an attempt to get through it before the track began – his Pan – Dandy demeanor and dress epitomizing the image he had crafted for himself.

Yo know dey do dis track for da Beggars Banquet album an not fo dat Satanic Majesty’s Request one, right? Ain’t it strange how dese cats be doin all dis Satanic sheet? Dat film dat Jagger did wit Nicholas Roeg and dat Crammell dude who shot hisself – ‘Performance’, dat also be havin som dark sheet in it. Weird dude!

The vignettes that Goddard has interspersed in the film are pretty abstract and off the wall as it were, but interesting and trippy nonetheless. The ‘Black Power’ segments are typical of LA in the late 60s as visions of Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst, et al, flash through the memory banks.

Too soon the film ends. The dogs are lazing in the patches of sunlight that streams through the windows and its time for brekkers. Java’s getting some jazz on, so I’ll leave the lyrics of the song – for what its worth.

Sympathy for the Devil – Mick Jagger / Keith Richards

Please allow me to introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
Ive been around for a long, long year
Stole many a mans soul and faith
And I was round when jesus christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
Im a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But whats confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me lucifer
cause Im in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or Ill lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But whats puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, whats my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, whats my name
I tell you one time, youre to blame
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Whats me name
Tell me, baby, whats my name
Tell me, sweetie, whats my name
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Ooo, who, who
Oh, yeah

So what is it about the Sri Lankan polity that endures the mismanagement of the basic urban infrastructure all citizens are entitled to? The flooding of Colombo and other areas bring into sharp focus the ‘in your face’ indifference the governing authorities display with regard to avoiding repeated occurrences of this nature. Leaving aside the cause for the increasing incidents of flooding (filling up the low-lying drainage systems for development of housing and other commercial establishments is one reason), there are several options that could be exercised to minimize the damage that is now being caused at incredible cost to individuals, as well as to the country.

Dredging the silted-up swamps to allow for effective draining the lower-lying areas, clearing the canals and other waterways that are clogged with garbage, vegetation and silt, disposing the mountains of garbage at the edge of swamps in and around the city that block the flow of water, reviewing (and repairing, if necessary) the state of the city’s sewerage system and ensuring that the city’s drains are not clogged, are a few imperatives that must be activated immediately to reduce the potential damage in future.

It seems apparent however, that nothing will be done – as usual! So what does it take to shake these guys up and make them pay attention to the fact that they were put in their positions to serve the public interest? One of the editorials in a Daily suggested that lawsuits be brought to bear on the institutions responsible and questioned the effectiveness of consumer protection agencies (if there are any around?). Would mass demonstrations help? The opposition parties have not yet seen fit to make their voices heard, but then that’s like par for the course! How much more do we endure?

Of course, given our collective ‘lotus-eater’ national characteristic, it seems most likely that nothing substantial will occur until some enlightened individual is in control – and that is like asking for the moon at this particular point in time. So here we shall be in our apathetic condition absorbing the shit.

Reading your post on being twenty and being confused and possibly depressed about it, made me wonder about the metamorphosis from teenager to adult in today’s privilaged Sri Lankan society. In your case, by your own admission, you have understanding and supportive parents, a very secure and satisfactory lifestyle, exposure to most influences of your choice, expertise in music, performing with a group of other musicians, friends and relationships and all sorts of other goodies that a majority of Sri Lankan twenty-somes have very little of – in other words, a pretty good slice of life has gone by with little or no glitches to even hint at austere or unpleasant possibilities. So what’s the problem? Could too much of a good thing be the cause of this feeling of not being fulfilled? Bored with the good life?

If the emotion you expressed could be equated with unhappiness (for surely you don’t come across as ‘not unhappy’ in this post) at your state of mind, then it must follow that the cause for this must have to do with some unfulfilled desire? One of these (if there are more than one) could well be the need to experience living independently of your parents, which you express almost in passing, but also being considerate of your parents’ likelihood of not wanting this right now, puts a damper on that one. You also mention that you are “.. too busy to take a break to enjoy life”, which may just be a cop-out, as your studies are now done – until next January, at least. And even for the next ten days when you say you are “free”, doesn’t bring up the possibilities of that “break” you mentioned you couldn’t take due to being too “busy”. So what gives? Not wanting to look at what’s really going on in your head? If so, the attitude won’t help in solving the problem. All the advice from well-intentioned respondents will not be of use if the crux of the problem is not looked at as dispassionately as possible.

Wanting to “run away” from the life you see “stretching in front” of you is a more than a little sad – a statement reflecting the present state of mind, but now that you have come to terms with it, there is much that could be done to change the mindset. The solution, however, lies with you and your ability to cut through the crap of conditioning and look at life with a fresh perspective. A change of environment, whether physical or in the head, is always one way of catalyzing a shift in perspective and the will to set that in motion must be imperative to get things started in the opposite direction to what is being felt right now.

Actually, come to think of it, age probably doesn’t have all that much to do with this feeling of despair that so many folk experience in the course of their lives. Being ‘twenty’ is probably just an association with all the events that have occurred nearly simultaneously at that particular point in time for you, so that’s another association to label as irrelevant and dump, so as not to clutter the space.

Maybe it’s time for a little adventure to break from the monotony of the times you have been experiencing all your life – your parents will surely understand if they are as cool as you make them out to be. Backpacking with a friend or two can be very trippy and will expose you to all manner of new experiences – you have until January, right? Very often it takes leaving something or someone to actually realise the value of that which wasn’t considered valuable before leaving. There’s other things too that maybe you could consider given your interests, so give it a go and get off the bummer. You’re too valuable to go to waste.

May 2007
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Ephemeral Ruminations by Java Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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