Monthly Archives: January 2008

Oh Crap.

My first exposure to the news of Heath Ledger’s death was through Warren Ellis’s Bad Signal, so whatever gamut of emotions my mind ran through on receiving the news, sorrow wasn’t exactly one of them. (You’ll know if you’ve read it.) It was vaguely unreal, and anyway, the only celebrity whose death I was truly saddened by was Douglas Adams.

But now, due to a confluence of circumstances*, I happened to look at Terry Gilliam’s Wikipedia entry,

Most recently, unforeseeable problems again befell a Gilliam project when actor Heath Ledger died in New York City during the filming of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

and the Imaginarium entry,

On January 22, 2008, production of the film was disrupted following the sudden death of Heath Ledger in New York City. Variety reports that Ledger’s involvement had been a “key factor” in the film’s financing. By January 24, production was suspended indefinitely, with the contract clause force majeure freeing all parties of liability.

Okay. Now I’m depressed.

Samit Basu is apparently writing a comic-book based on a Terry Gilliam project that was “too radical” to be filmed. My guess is The Defective Detective. So I went to the Gilliam page for information.

Daily Life

[Note: This looked better in my head than it does on paper. It has Problems. But I don’t think I can improve on this right now. I might make another attempt someday.]

Darren and his leaky kitchen-sink tap had a pact. He would let it drip, and in return, it would let him live.

Darren could deal with that, but it wasn’t just the tap. He found that the fridge had rearranged everything each time he opened it.

The coffee machine in his office had a crush on him, and never gave him coffee without a little chat. His computer always needed to be cajoled into life, and started whining if he didn’t let it rest after a while. As if that wasn’t enough, the post-box he tended to use always licked his palm whenever he posted something. He just had to grin and bear it.

Darren always had to be nice to everything he depended on. Once, when he hadn’t been on speaking terms with the office furniture, the company he worked for had suffered heavy losses. It had been a practical joke – the chair had moved itself away from under him – but he hadn’t forgiven it, and when he was angry, the office furniture sulked, and the computers sitting on it got befuddled.

Darren’s bike was a continual problem. It had promised not break down – if he let his girlfriend ride it once a week. It loved the feel of her crotch against the metal of its tank when she sat forward. This was a thorny issue with Darren, but he hadn’t mentioned it to his girlfriend.

But it wasn’t all bad. Every fan and ventilator Darren came into contact with made sure that he was never too hot or too cold.

The shower in his bathroom always knew the exact way to caress his body, and once in a while, it would even help him give himself a happy ending. He never needed to use his stereo remote, and the tv always knew when to shut itself off.

And the roads always made sure that Darren stayed safe and sound. Every time he stepped out of the office, they checked the traffic in each direction to make sure no drunk was driving in Darren’s direction. Every time he stepped off a curb, the light stayed red, the cars wouldn’t drive, and the road moved aside everyone walking in his way.

The roads had a reason. When Darren was a little boy, the world had played a practical joke on his parents. They were driving home from a party one night, and the road made them turn a wrong way, the streetlights turned themselves off, and a truck drove into their way. Their car meant to swerve as soon as they were scared enough, but it couldn’t do it in time. The car had perished, taking Darren’s parents with it.

Darren was on the world’s conscience, and the world took its debts seriously. Darren didn’t know of this, but it was an open secret to everything in Darren’s life. The tap was just so that Darren didn’t get too conceited. The bike was a cad, though.

Writer and Companion

Outside, there were fireworks going on. Inside, little stirred.

Outside, everything was noise. Inside, it was silent.

And she didn’t like the silence. She was sitting at her desk, and she was supposed to be typing furiously right now, but there was nothing to write about.

He sat behind her, on the sofa, reading. It was dark, and she had told him many times not to read in the dark, but she hadn’t the strength to tell him again now.

“What should I write about?” she asked.

He sat up and looked over his book at her. She had never asked him this. “Dunno. Something about … dunno. Or maybe you should … dunno, really.”

“You’re no good.”

“Hey! You’re the writer.”

“Just because you’re not one doesn’t mean you can’t have ideas.”

“Why should I let you steal my idea if I have one?”

“Hmm,” she said. “Let’s keep arguing. Might get an idea from that.”

“What’s it about, anyway? … What is it?”

“It’s supposed to be a hard-hitting article about shoes.”

“You don’t know shoes. Why’d you take it?”

“Sarcasm, love. It’s called sarcasm.”

“What’s sarcasm got to do with shoes?”

She started to explain, but then stopped and sighed. Then she heard him chuckling. She turned and threw one of her pens at him. It missed.

“Trajectory, dear. Paper-weights have better trajectories.”

“They’re also better at splitting heads.”

He looked at her for a few seconds, then turned back to his book.

“Maggots,” she said.

Me Talk Pretty One Day

For years, we have been mocking Indian English as a bastardisation of the original, as an inept way of saying the same thing while fuddling up the essential structure that gives it meaning. And most examples we see of this gross attack by Indians on the English language (apparently as revenge for the English occupation of our country) seem to justify this rejection of the form as a valid mode of expression.

But this hasn’t dimmed its popularity. The malleability of this hybrid, made of more languages and dialects than one can pinpoint, means that it serves the basic need that makes people use language – to communicate with one another. And while we the purveyors of correctness find it, at times, difficult to comprehend, this might be because of our preconceptions of the language, the ones that force us to use English in one particular manner, exclusive of any other. In general, we even choose (usually consciously) between the two major modes of English accepted worldwide – the English and the American (that these constitute only two is another preconception, which is, in one word, wrong). But this isn’t necessary. For those not entirely proficient with the accepted form of language, it is more important to put forth the thrust of the communication in a way that it can be understood by the target. If it isn’t, they have a hundred other manners of speech to choose from. We, on the other hand, do not. Or we think we do not.

And so the hybrid has grown into what could be classed as a pidgin – if only it could actually be classed. When heard on the street, it picks up on the emphasis on speech rather than the writing, which is manifested in posters that say ‘Child Bear’ when they mean ‘Chilled Beer’. It affords us amusement, but to the person on the street, it signifies [a] intrigue, [b] comprehension (he is, after all, the target) and [c] a drink, cold at that. And while it might be ambiguous when put into writing, it possesses a palpable clarity when spoken. After all, both “Leave me to the corner” and the phrase “corner boys” can actually be understood.

But this is merely work-going (kaam-chalau, as anyone should be able to tell you). The true class of pidgin comes through not when it is forced on the user, but when it is chosen. It is, therefore, the high-school and college students, along with young upcoming professionals, that make it come into its own when they, who should know better, choose to ignore the meepings of self-proclaimed custodians of linguistic purity and tear the language limb for limb and put it back together in an unselfconscious lingua franca that might not rival its parent in elegance, but does possess an underlying sense of humour such that grammarians haven’t spent hundreds of years trying to wipe out.

English is a beautiful language to write in, to read in, and, in fact, even to use. But when it is the mundanities of your day you wish to talk about, such as your mother making a vegetable market of your head, or your tiffin not falling well enough that day (see, in-jokes galore), I prefer the pidgin. And actually, I think linguists should pay a bit more attention to it than they do. Sometimes I swear, if you listen carefully, it’s a language all its own. Mother promise.

Current Music: Richard Galliano – ‘Libertango’

Ten Things

Ten songs to ring in the new year
(First ten songs on shuffle)

  1. Do You Love Me? – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  2. Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits
  3. Cold Irons Bound (Live) – Bob Dylan
  4. Carry on Regardless – Van Morrison
  5. Across the Universe – The Beatles
  6. Stranger – Hooverphonic
  7. Rock the Shack – New Order
  8. Spit and Soar – Blue States
  9. Golden Brown – The Stranglers
  10. Till Victory – Patti Smith Group

Ten books to be read in the new year
(Those marked with an * are already in my possession)

  1. Neuromancer – William Gibson *
  2. My Name Is Red – Orhan Pamuk
  3. Crooked Little Vein – Warren Ellis
  4. Lisey’s Story – Stephen King (Oh, fuck you. I like him.)
  5. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  6. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. *
  7. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
  8. Jump – Nadine Gordimer *
  9. The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
  10. La Symphonie Pastorale – André Gide *

One resolution to be kept in the new year

  1. Write, you bastard.