Saturday, December 18, 2010

Animal Farm / Flatland

Dear Readers,

Here I draw you attention to two social satires. The first one, Animal Farm, written by George Orwell in 1945 and the other, Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott in 1884. I was fortunate enough to get copies of both the novels (or novella for the strictly technical) a month apart. I found a lot of similarities between the two.
  1. The novels are less than 100 pages in length. The modern writers can take a clue that it is not necessary to pour datasheets into the pages in order to write effective and well opinionated piece of fiction.
  2. Both have ridiculously orthogonal subtitles. Animal Farm bears "A Fairy Tale" as its subtitle while Flatland is subtitled as "A Romance of Many Dimensions". These subtitles are orthogonal in the sense that they are misleading.
  3. Both are stories of oppression. While Animal Farm exposes the suppression of the common man by a corrupt communist government, Flatland elaborates on the psyche of the commoner amidst a religious imperial state.
  4. These novels have their inspiration in reality. George Orwell wrote Animal Farm to satirize USSR during World War II. The character Napoleon is based on Stalin. Edwin A. Abbott's book on the other hand doesn't specifically point out any one person in general but the "god fearing", imperial, British society under Queen Victoria.
I would definitely suggest going through both. Please make sure that the subtitle on Animal Farm reads "A Fairy Tale". This will ensure that you are in possession of an unaltered copy of the same since multiple versions exist which were printed in the early days of the book. Flatland on the other hand has consistent text across all editions. (Although I would suggest a printed copy, one can download it free from

On a personal note, I liked Flatland a bit more than Animal Farm.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rationale on buying and listening to whole albums opposed to single songs on a shuffled playlist

Dear readers,

1. I prefer listening to albums as a whole - end to end, exactly the way the artist intended to. There are idiosyncrasies and nuances that one can know only after doing so. The flow of Dark Side of the Moon, the stories of Metropolis Pt. 2 : Scenes from a Memory and Operation: Mindcrime, the cohesive nature of Fear of a Blank Planet, the history behind black sheep of Opeth's catalog - Damnation,
the psychology/beliefs/listening habits of Rush members during each of the albums are all better conveyed this way.

2. It presents an opportunity to really absorb a song in context rather than judging from its face value. This has helped me grasp and internalise complex arrangements (
à la Rush, Cynic, Scores by Hans Zimmer, etc.) An apparently not so catchy song can become a source of joy after several listens. A playlist on shuffle is virtually a guarantee that this song will not be registered in the brain's index.

3. I spend a massive amount of time dissecting, absorbing and musing over one album over and over again rather than fill a digital player with 16 GB of songs. It helps my cognitive function classify the songs and cluster them as one. This also increases the probability of me remembering the names of the songs, the lyrics, writers, etc. I believe too much music on a shuffled playlist serves no such purpose.

4. I try and buy 1-2 physical CDs per month. I like the feel of a tangible object in my hands while I listen to the album thereby dissecting, absorbing and musing over the artwork / design. There are albums with incredible camerawork, imagination, visual gags, etc. that would otherwise go unnoticed. Lasse Hoile, Hugh Syme, Storm Thorgerson have all created beautiful artwok and these are just to name but a few.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Reasons why I plan to switch back to blogging

Dear Readers,

Around a decade ago, at the turn of the millennium, blog formally evolved from the concept of online journal. The original people associated with web logs were intelligent, eloquent and just plain amazing in their deeds and endeavours. Around a decade later, a decade into the twenty-first century common era, English has formally evolved into an unstructured, hyper-condensed construct - a change that will probably be as profound as the Great Vowel Shift. A blog is my way of reverting back to older ways of life when things were a bit more meaningful than they are now.

Communication on social networks and media has become more and more superficial. I could write in detail about how online social media bothers me but Alexis Madrigal has already done it and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Also, this is my first posting experience via e-mail. Although, not as personal as a real letter written with a fountain pen on a cartridge paper, a well formatted electronic mail is still a treat to the eye when compared to a `Dude, wasup' on facebook or it's likes.