分类存档: 生死

庆祝生命, 即使在死亡 — 这一类别包含了我的一些更个人化的职位.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t “get” 第二十二条军规 the first time I read it. That was some twenty years ago, may be I was too young then. Halfway through my third read a few weeks ago, I suddenly realized – it was a caricature!

Caricatures are visual; or so I thought. 第二十二条军规, 然而,, is a literary caricature, the only one of its kind I have read. Looking for a story line in it that ridicules the blinding craziness of a cruelly crazy world is like looking for anguish in Guernica. It is everywhere and nowhere. Where shall I begin? I guess I will jot down the random impressions I got over my multiple reads.

第二十二条军规 includes one damning indictment on the laissez-faire, enterprise-loving, free market, capitalistic philosophy. It is in the form of the amiable, but ultimately heartless, 米洛明德宾德. With inconceivable pricing tactics, Milo’s enterprise makes money for his syndicate in which everybody has a share. What is good for the syndicate, 因此, has to be good for everybody, and we should be willing to suffer minor inconveniences like eating Egyptian cotton. During their purchasing trips, Yossarian and Dunbar have to put up with terrible working conditions, while Milo, mayor to countless towns and a deputy Shaw to Iran, enjoys all creature comforts and finer things in life. 但, fret not, 每个人都有一个份额!

It is hard to miss the parallels between Milo and the CEOs of modern corporations, begging for public bailouts while holding on to their private jets. But Heller’s uncanny insights assume really troubling proportions when Milo privatizes international politics and wars for everybody’s good. If you have read The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, you would be worried that the warped exaggerations of Heller are still well within the realm of reality. The icing on the cake comes when someone actually demands his share — Milo gives him a worthless piece of paper, with all pomp and ceremony! Remind you of your Lehman minibonds? Life indeed is stranger than fiction.

But Milo’s exploits are but a minor side story in 第二十二条军规. The major part of it is about crazy Yossarian’s insanity, which is about the only thing that makes sense in a world gone mad with war and greed and delusions of futile glory.

Yossarian’s comical, yet poignant dilemmas put the incongruities of life in an unbearably sharp focus for us. Why is it crazy to try to stay alive? Where is the glory in dying for some cause when death is the end of everything, including the cause and the glory?

Along with Yossarian, Heller parades a veritable army of characters so lifelike that you immediately see them among your friends and family, and even in yourself. Take, 例如, the Chaplin’s metaphysical musings, Appleby’s flawless athleticism, Orr’s dexterity, Colonel Cathcart’s feathers and black-eyes, General Peckam’s prolix prose, Doc Daneeka’s selfishness, Aarfy’s refusal to hear, Nately’s whore, Luciana’s love, Nurse Duckett’s body, 该 107 year old Italian’s obnoxious words of wisdom, Major Major’s shyness, Major — de Caverley’s armyness — each a masterpiece in itself!

On second thought, I feel that this book is too big a chef d’oervre for me to attempt to review. All I can do is to recommend that you read it — at least twice. And leave you with my take-away from this under-rated epic.

Life itself is the ultimate catch 22, inescapable and water-tight in every possible way imaginable. The only way to make sense of life is to understand death. And the only way to understand death is to stop living. Don’t you feel like letting out a respectful whistle like Yossarian at this simple beauty of this catch of life? 我做的!

Terror and Tragedy in Mumbai

Lo Hwei Yen was gunned down in Mumbai a few days ago. She flew there from Singapore for a one day visit, and walked innocently into a death trap that was set in motion probably months ago. My heart goes out her family members. I can understand their pain because of my own recent personal bereavement, although nobody can probably understand their sense of unfairness of it all. As we bury our loved ones and mourn the fallen heroes, we have to ask ourselves, what is the right response to terrorism?

My ideas, as usual, are a bit off the beaten track. And on this emotional topic, 我可能会为他们感到一丝不安,,en,但是,如果我们要消灭恐怖主义的祸害,,en,我们必须为自己辩护,,en,不仅拥有快速的枪支和出众的火力,,,en,而且还有知识,,en,为什么有人想要杀死我们,以至于他们愿意去尝试,,en,恐怖主义是我们所有反应都是错误的那些奇怪的错误之一,,en,这种攻击的天真反应将是复仇之一,,en,如果他们打倒我们的摩天大楼,,en,我们把他们炸回石器时代,,en,如果他们杀了我们的一个,,en,我们杀了他们的十个,等等,,en,但这种反应正是恐怖分子想要的,,en,恐怖主义的战略目标之一是使人口极度分化,以保证新兵的稳定供应,,en,这是否意味着无所作为将是正确的回应,,en. But if we are to wipe out the scourge of terrorism, we have to defend ourselves, not only with fast guns and superior fire power, but also with knowledge. Why would anybody want to kill us so badly that they are willing to die trying?

Terrorism is one of those strange debacles where all our responses are wrong. A naive response this attack would be one of revenge. If they bring down our skyscrapers, we bomb them back to stone ages; if they kill one of ours, we kill ten of theirs and so on. But that response is exactly what the terrorist wants. One of the strategic objectives of terrorism is to polarize the population so much that they have a steady supply of new recruits. Does that mean that doing nothing would be the right response? I don’t think so. 如果这里有一个中间地带,,en,我只是看不到它,,en,另一种进行信息战的方法,,en,受到来自我方的酷刑和恐怖的帮助,,en,记住阿布格莱布和关塔那摩湾,,en,非凡的演绎,,en,显然不是正确的路要走,,en,任何体面的人会同意,,en,每一个受到折磨的恐怖分子都是一百个重生,,en,每一个无辜的受害者都有可能成千上万的新恐怖分子,,en,但是另一种选择是什么,,en,询问一些绅士的问题,并呼吁恐怖分子更好的性质,,en,这里有一个平衡的中间地带吗?,,en,甘地基会说,,en,让他们来,,en,让他们杀死尽可能多的人,,en,我们不会抵制,,en,当他们厌倦了杀人,,en,我们会打败他们。,,en,老人是我的英雄,,en,但它是正确的回应,,en,它可能是,,en, I just cannot see it.

Another approach to wage an information war, aided by torture and terror from our side. Remember Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay? And extraordinary rendition? Clearly not the right way to go, any decent human being would agree. Every terrorist tortured is a hundred reborn. Every innocent tortured is potentially a thousand new terrorists. But what is the alternative? Ask a few gentlemanly questions and appeal to the terrorist’s better nature? 同样, is there a balanced middle ground here?

Gandhiji would have said, “Let them come, let them kill as many as they want. We won’t resist. When they get tired of killing, we would have beaten them.” The old man is my hero, but is it the right response? It may be. 如果我的一举一动都只会让我的敌人变得更强大,,en,我最好留下来,,en,但是,如果我要像一只坐着的鸭子一样静静地站立着,,en,我的敌人根本不需要强壮,,en,当恐怖分子寻求自己的死亡和对他们的亲属报复,,en,当他们试图破坏和平进程时,,en,我们是否做出愚蠢的举动,并通过完全按照他们想要的方式去玩他们的手,,en,印度和巴基斯坦这次袭击的反应令我失望,,en,反恐战争不是对其脚兵的战争,,en,谁是愚蠢的谁被洗脑或勒索成恐怖meyhem,,en,它甚至不是对其将军或者傀儡的战争,,en,当砍掉一个头时,只会在另一个不知名的地方产生另一个头,,en,这场战争是一场意识形态的战争,,en, I’d better stay put. But if I were to stand still like a sitting duck, my enemy doesn’t have to be strong at all.

When the terrorists seek their own death and reprisals on their kins, when they seek to sabotage peace processes, do we act dumb and play right into their hands by doing exactly what they want us to? 从这个角度来看, the reactions to this attack from India and Pakistan disappoint me.

War on terror is not a war on its foot soldiers, who are merely stupid saps who got brainwashed or blackmailed into committing horrific meyhem. It is not even a war on its generals or figureheads, when chopping off one head only engenders another one in some other unknown place. This war is a war of ideologies. 只有拥有卓越的意识形态才能赢得胜利,,en,我们有一个吗?,,en,罗惠妍,,en,孟买,,en,恐怖,,en,生与死档案,,en. Do we have one?


[这将是我个人的一种最后一个职位, 我承诺. 这个法国悼词是由我的朋友斯特凡电子邮件, 说起我的父亲是谁很喜欢他.

斯特凡, 已发布的作家和一个真正的艺术家, 把他的感受美丽和善良的话. 有一天,我会翻译它们并追加英文版本,以及. 这是很难做到这一点,现在, 但难度是不是所有的语言。]


我们很伤心,从你父亲学习. 这对我们作为一个父亲, 善良的典范, 诚信和慷慨. 其自由裁量权, 它能够适应我们这个时代所有的怪事物的能力, 他的幽默,尤其是他的责任感意识是我们记住他的教训,我们希望传授给我们的孩子.

我们喜欢在您的博客写的文字. 有人如此接近的损失带给我们的存在同样的问题. 什么是意识? 它是如何诞生前身后演变? 有多少在宇宙中可能意识? 总意识的多样性, 每个教师的良心觉醒, 在客厅一个意识的化身学部, 蔬菜, 动物或人的… 这一切无疑是一种幻觉, 但也是一个谜,我们的语言的话只是杯水车薪飞. 这种错觉依然悲伤, 深且明显 “实”. 你写的悲伤让我想起诗人 (或佛教?) 唤起希望和绝望为对称的边框,以实现两个对立的创作原则克服. 这一原则, 他命名inespoir, 不存在,因为它包含两个对立的双方一个奇怪的词. 从而, 我常常想这个词时,我看晚上的星星, 或者当我看着我的女儿睡觉安静. 我觉得我们一共美的世界, 明显, inexprimable. 然后,我意识到这一切都是短暂的, 我的女儿, 我所爱, 我, 甚至星系. 更坏, 我知道,这个宇宙, 它是一种牺牲场面, “所有吃”, 然后 “是吃”, 较小的原子更大的星系. 当时, 我觉得非常残酷的世界. 在结束, 我想念一个字, 这可以表达宇宙的两个美丽和残酷词. 这个词并不存在,但在印度, 我了解到什么是这神圣定义 : “其中,对立共存”. 再次, 印度, 神州大地, 引导我在我的想法. 难道真的提早应对? 我觉得你的父亲与他的仁慈的微笑回应.

我们相信,很多你. 我们拥抱你都非常.

斯特凡 (Wassnti等suhasini)

PS: 这是我很难用英语回答. 遗憾… 如果这封信是太复杂,阅读或英文翻译, 就告诉我嘛. 我会尽我所能来翻译它!

马诺Thulasidas写道: :
你好, 我亲爱的朋友!

你好吗? 希望我们能很快再见面一段时间.

我有坏消息. 我的父亲去世一个星期前. 我在印度采取通道的最后的仪式照顾. 将尽快回笼新加坡.

在这些日子难过, 我有机会思考和谈论你很多次. 你还记得我父亲的照片,你Anita的大米喂养仪式上花了大约十年前? 这是那张照片,我们用报纸公告等场所 (像我 可悲的博客条目). 您拍下安静的尊严,我们那么吃香,并在他的尊重. 他本人选择了照片为这些目的. 谢谢, 我的朋友.

– 大吻,
– 诗, 我和小家伙.


My father passed away early this morning. For the past three months, he was fighting a heart failure. But he really had little chance because many systems in his body had started failing. 他 76.

I seek comfort in the fact that his memories live on. His love and care, and his patience with my silly, childhood questions will all live on, not merely in my memories, hopefully in my actions as well.

Perhaps even the expressions on his face will live on for longer than I think.

Dad and NeilDeath is as much a part of life as birth. Anything that has a beginning has an end. So why do we grieve?

We do because death stands a bit outside our worldly knowledge, beyond where our logic and rationality apply. So the philosophical knowledge of the naturalness of death does not always erase the pain.

But where does the pain come from? It is one of those questions with no certain answers, and I have only my guesses to offer. When we were little babies, our parents (or those who played the parents’ role) stood between us and our certain death. Our infant mind perhaps assimilated, before logic and and rationality, that our parents will always stand face-to-face with our own end — distant perhaps, but dead certain. With the removal of this protective force field, the infant in us probably dies. A parent’s death is perhaps the final end of our innocence.

Dad and NeilKnowing the origin of pain is little help in easing it. My trick to handle it is to look for patterns and symmetries where none exists — like any true physicist. Death is just birth played backwards. One is sad, the other is happy. Perfect symmetry. Birth and life are just coalescence of star dust into conscious beings; and death the necessary disintegration back into star dust. From dust to dust… Compared to the innumerable deaths (and births) that happen all around us in this world every single second, one death is really nothing. Patterns of many to one and back to countless many.

We are all little droplets of consciousness, so small that we are nothing. 然而,, part of something so big that we are everything. Here is a pattern I was trying to find — materially made up of the same stuff that the universe is made of, we return to the dust we are. So too spiritually, mere droplets merge with an unknowable ocean.

Going still further, all consciousness, spirituality, star dust and everything — these are all mere illusory constructs that my mind, my brain (which are again nothing but illusions) creates for me. So is this grief and pain. The illusions will cease one day. Perhaps the universe and stars will cease to exist when this little droplet of knowledge merges with the anonymous ocean of everything. The pain and grief also will cease. In time.

Sony World Band Radio

I recently bought a Sony World Band Radio receiver. It is a beautiful machine with some twenty frequency bands and all kinds of locks and tricks to latch on to distant radio stations. I bought it for my father, who is fond of listening to his radio late into the night.

Two days after I bought the radio, my father suffered a severe heart failure. A congestive heart failure (CHF) is not to be confused with a heart attack. The symptoms of a CHF are deceptively similar to an asthma attack, which can be doubly treacherous if the patient already has respiratory troubles because the early care may get directed to the lungs while the troubled heart may be ignored. So I thought I would discuss the symptoms here in the hope that it will help those with aging family members who may otherwise misidentify a potential CHF. Much more information is available on the Internet; try Googling “congestive heart failure.”

For asthma patients, a danger sign of a heart failure is persistent breathing difficulty despite inhalation medication. Watch out for breathing trouble that increases when they lie down, and subsides when they sit up. They may have consequent sleeplessness. If they show the symptoms of water retention (swelling in lower limps or neck, unexpected sudden weight gain etc.), and if they have other risk factors (hypertension, irregular heart beat), please do not wait, rush to the hospital.

The prognosis for CHF is not good. It is a chronic condition, progressive and terminal. 换句话说, it is not something we catch like the flu and get better soon. Depending on the stage the patient is, we have to worry about the quality of life, palliative care or even end of life care. Once a heart has started failing, it is difficult to reverse the progression of the onslaught. There are no easy solutions, no silver bullets. What we can concentrate on, 真, is the quality of their life. And the grace and dignity with which they leave it. For most of them, it is their last act. Let’s make it a good one.

By my father’s bedside now, listening to the Sony, with all these sad thoughts in my head, I remember my first taste of real winter in the fall of 1987 in Syracuse. I was listening to the weatherman of the local radio station (was it WSYR?). While lamenting the temperatures going south, he observed, rather philosophically, “C’mon, we all know there’s only one way the temperatures can go.” 是的, we know that there is only one way things can go from here. But we still mourn the passing of a summer full of sunshine and blue skies.

The Sony radio plays on, impervious to these doleful musings, with young happy voices dishing out songs and jokes for the benefit of a new generation of yuppie commuters full of gusto and eagerness to conquer a world. Little do they know — it was all conquered many times over during the summers of yester years with the same gusto and passion. The old vanguards step aside willingly and make room for the children of new summers.

The new generation has different tastes. They hum to different iTunes on their iPods. This beautiful radio receiver, with most of it seventeen odd short wave bands now silent, is probably the last of its kind. The music and jokes of the next generation have changed. Their hair-do and styles have changed. But the new campaigners charge in with the same dreams of glory as the ones before them. Theirs is the same gusto. Same passion.

Perhaps nothing and nobody really passes on. We all leave behind a little bit of ourselves, tiny echoes of our conquests, memories in those dear to us, and miniscule additions to the mythos that will live on. Like teardrops in the rain.

Choices and Remorse

Remorse is the flipside of choice, and nostalgia the inevitable consequence of any relocation. I should know; I have relocated far too many times in my life — nothing comes for free.

In the sea of unsmiling faces trying to avoid eye-contact every morning, I miss the unexpected joy of a friendly face. Anonymity the price exacted and familiarity a willing sacrifice.

Searching for myself in the glaring lights of these metropolises, I miss the Milky Way and the stars hiding behind the artificial brightness of the skylines. Creature comforts at the expense of inner peace.

In the crystal clear waters at the postcard beaches of Cassis to Bintan to Phuket, I miss the angry waves of the choppy Arabian Sea and the boiling ferrous red beaches. The quest for a promised land at the cost of a paradise lost.

As my powerful sports sedan purrs away from the pack with near contemptuous ease, I miss my old Raleigh bicycle. Rich possession over simple pride.

While sipping the perfect wine matched to the incredibly minuscule helpings of incomprehensible delicacies, I miss a half-tea at Tarams and a mutton omelet at Indian Coffee House, and the friendship around it. Sophistication over small pleasures.

Watching National Geographic on large screens in all its HD glory, I miss the black and white contact prints from my dad’s old Agfa Click III. Technological perfection over emotional content.

And while writing this blog following as many rules of an alien grammar as I can remember, I mourn for the forgotten words of a mother tongue. Communication skills garnered at the cost of a language once owned.

It is not that I would have chosen differently if I had a chance do it all over again. It is the necessity of choice that is cruel. I wish I could choose everything, that I could live all possible lives, and experience all the agonies and all the ecstasies. I know it is silly, but I wish I never had to make a choice.