Kind of surreal to take a photo of the singularly inspiring Bhagat Singh -- a revolutionary voice in 1920s India, who was hung by the British in 1931, at the age of 24 -- run it through the Heritage AI algorithm, and see him reanimated.
Swami Vivekananda probably would have laughed at such algorithmic efforts to reanimate photos, but as a great believer in the powers of science to improve material aspects of human lives, he would have probably wanted to understand the details of how it all works.
It was hard to find a quality photo of Lokmanya Tilak, but this worked. Tilak urgently deserve a new reappraisal as one of the founding fathers of the modern Indian mind. A reformist & revivalist of traditions, a believer in the power of mass media before most Indians could read.
2. On the extraordinary & violent rise Chinese intelligence and counterintel capacities under Mao (& Zhou en Lai) to the present when State Security divisions try to hoover up CPU/GPUs for supercomputers on American export control lists.
“I have sometimes been troubled by a doubt whether what is true in one case may not be true in all. Then, when I have reached that point, I am driven to retreat, for fear of tumbling into a bottomless pit of nonsense.”
– Socrates (Plato, Parmenides)
“I perceive that in Germany as well as in Italy there is a great struggle about what they call Classical and Romantic, terms which were not subjects of Classification in England – at least when I left it four or five years ago.”
9. Richard Lloyd Parry narrates his deep & perceptive essay on Japan, Japanese royal family, & the greatly admirable previous Emperor Akihito & his efforts to make the monarchy & Japanese society more sensitive to harm done in his father's name. [mp3] sphinx.acast.com/londonreviewpo…
10. An excellent long conversation with Stephen Kotkin on the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, conservative, anti-Communist, and a terrifying moral presence. files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019…
11. Excellently fun & insightful conversation w/ Pratap Bhanu Mehta who talks to two Pakistanis who probe what does it mean to be Indian, what is the Indian project, where does it fall short -- a great many interesting & open questions discussed. feeds.soundcloud.com/stream/2452922… [.mp3]
if you know Malappuram in Kerala & the dynamics of its Islamist politics, 'Halal Love Story' on Amazon Prime is very interesting & good -- about two guys (from Jama'at e Islami) who set out to make a film.
it speaks to a deep truth: even the orthodox enjoy cinema.
how then can they go about participating in a modern art that has its own grammar of presentation & aesthetic which doesn't efface the moral ambitions of their self-consciously fashioned antimodern views?
understandably, the filmmakers argue -- religion is not the opium of the masses. cinema is.
all this is done in a light, spoofy sort of way.
plus, good to see Malabari Malayalam spoken on the screen without caricature.
88. How is it to be living in a world where the old Gods are yet to recede and the new God is yet to fully emerge and take form? Chaos, violence, fundamentalism, tradition -- a great Gore Vidal novel about an age when Christianity froths from the margin & becomes state religion.
89. To see man for who he truly is--a monster, a moron, & a miracle-- requires courage. But life is also love, betrayal, & unsteady virtues. Machiavelli's life was filled w/ all even if his diagnosis of man was called evil. He was a good husband, a doting father, & a kind friend.
90. Where does science happen? For many, scientific knowledge is an unsullied quest for empirical truths. But courtesy Steven Shapin, I learnt that what gets acknowledged as "scientific knowledge" is also subject to all that influences how humans ascribe authority & credibility.
3a. Set on the18th day of the Kurukshetra war, the Kaurava warlord Duryodhana who hides in a lake, wounded, then dies at the hands of Bhima thanks to Krishna's cunning, the blind king Dhritharashtra heads into the forest, & Ashwathamma sets out for the night-massacre of Pandavas.
over the past few days I have been reading the great Colin Thubron's travels in China of 1985-86, just as it was opening up. It is a largely forgotten book about a lost in-between time -- a melancholic period after Mao's insanities but before McDonalds arrived.
over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about covers of books that i have enjoyed/admire/learnt from. and so i asked, what do i take from the text, how did it make me see the world, and how can it be represented? so, i did some experiments.
a running thread. hopefully fun.
1. English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee
the sly ennui that Agastya Sen experiences is overwhelming, but it slowly it seemed tome that beneath all that urban Indian cynicism is a slow recognition that India is a strange, strange place.
[photo from a Satyajit Ray film]
2. The Legends of Khasak | O. V. Vijayan
The master wrote a fable abt the borderlands of Kerala-TN; but inside it are tightly wound historic, erotic, & folk anxieties, coiled up as legends, that somehow stay in place, till one day they stop playing ball w/ history.
“In 2002 UNAIDS issued the “Titanic Peril” report, which argued that China had many more cases of HIV than it was admitting. “It’s the only time that my then boss, Kofi Annan, called me on a Sunday. He said, ‘Peter, you’re a brave man, but nobody has ever won against China.""
"I remind him of @Laurie_Garrett's book The Coming Plague. In our arms race with microorganisms, are humans destined to lose? Piot quotes Louis Pasteur: “‘Messieurs’ — because they were all men in those days — ‘microbes will always have the last word.’”
An excellent essay by Laura Spinney on how the Spanish flu of 1918 changed India ~ around 14-20 million people were killed, and laid low many others including Mahatma Gandhi who wrote when ill: “all [my] interest in the living had ceased”. caravanmagazine.in/history/spanis…
The Global Spread of the Spanish Flue ~ 2nd wave, 1918
[see the figures of estimated mortality: ~6% of Gujarat’s population died; see South Africa and Alaska]
“Emergency hospital created to accommodate Spanish flu patients at the US Army’s Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918”
since it is the christmas holidays, something fun:
here is a Sanskrit verse from 15thC Kerala in south India by a mathematician Madhava (~1360-1420)
navanikharvamite vrrtivistare paridhimaanam idam jagadur budhaah ||
what does this mean?
"Gods, eyes, elephants, snakes, fires, three, qualities, Vedas, the constellations, elephants, and arms -- the wise say that this is of the circumference when the diameter of a circle is nine hundred billion."
a while ago, i had tweeted a thread about the Katapayadi system [if interested see here:
A short thread on the Katapayadi schema which I mention in the essay below, wherein numbers are concealed/correlated in words. Hiding numbers in words, traditional cryptology, transmuting words into numbers — all have a long & obscure history. Katapayadi is one such system.