Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wanderings of a Bookaholic

A long wait like this has to be broken on an instinct. The blog has been lying dormant ever since I returned, so I thought the best way to get things rolling would be to talk about something which has been on my mind ever since I picked up Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse. Having read him earlier, I had an inkling of what I could expect, knowing his inclination towards eastern mysticism, but the book delivered much more than I expected. Fiction does not catch my imaginations as much as non fiction does, but once in a while I come across an author who completely blows me away.

And in the recent past, I have managed to find three such masters, about one of whom fera says has an effect of making the reader go back to the themes, all the time, it’s like being in the eye of the tornado. The greatest quality about these people, is not their ability to hold your interest, which is a difficult job in itself, but its their ability to make you realize, with each passing moment, that these men have far surpassed their craft, are beyond setting benchmarks for others to achieve, gone beyond scratching the surface and revealing the undercurrents, those swirling mystical designs, intriguing and captivating and sometimes thoroughly confusing. What they have managed to achieve is transporting the reader into a universe, not created by them, but created by the reader himself. I have hardly seen my imagination firing all cylinders until I stumbled upon them.

The experience so reminds me of rivulets, the tiny off shoots of rivers, who branch away from the main river only to rejoin in the end. During their existence, they have a semi fluous identity, one governed by the obstacles it finds in its path, and yet governed by the mother river, because its course has also been decided by the mother. As one delves into the writings of these men, you feel like a rivulet. They completely overpower your senses and make you float in an ephemeral world, but the joy this ephemeral submission to their thoughts is long enough to keep your head spinning in and out of consciousness. Your identity in those fleeting moments is not identified by who you are but with the way the author decides to play with your mind. You end up playing a mind game in which you don’t have an identity of your own, just like the rivulet, is made up of this contradicting duality, one fighting to deny the truth, the other meekly acquiescing to the very obvious.

But beyond all this, the one single thing which puts them into a different league altogether is their ability to jolt you out of your lives, the times when you thought the whole world would pause and ponder over the words of these masters, and try to assimilate an infinitesimally small bit of it into your own self. But what is even more fascinating is that all three of them do it in starkly different ways, each so brilliant in their own way. It does make me think of a question asked millions of times in the past, what is the right way to reach God? But again isn’t God another way which asks you to look within, something which stimulates your thoughts, makes you think about things which normally don’t merit a second look or conveniently forget. So if three of god’s own creations themselves manage to do so in entirely different ways, I already have my answer for the right path to reach Him. The right path is always the one you choose.

This post was supposed to be a review of the above mentioned book, and yet again, they have managed to play mind games with me, and I end up writing something which I never intended to.


gogi said...

Good work man!
The metaphor of the river and rivulets, brilliant!
My favourite of the ones you've posted. :)
Keep it up.

Utsav Mamoria said...


Thanks for the kind words. I love metaphors because they are inherently contradictions :)

Keep dropping by !

Abhishek Chopra said...

Beautifully expressed with a very lucid writing style.
PS - Who are the other two?

Utsav Mamoria said...

@ Abhishek

Thanks for dropping by :)

I completely forgot to mention about the other two giants, Milan Kundera and Haruki Murakami

Hameeduddin said...

Nice one Utsi,

I haven't been able to read fiction in a long time, and this post has suddenly made me realize that...

I sure do intend to check out the authors u have mentioned. In the mean time keep writing...

And on metaphors - I remember reading somewhere "This whole universe is a metaphor for something else..."..I wonder..

Utsav Mamoria said...


Awesome hearing from you after such a long time!

Do check out the authors, I am sure you will like at least one of them.

Metaphors I believe are not just a play of words, they are used to understand complex things in a simpler way.

Hoping to see more from you as well!

Dhawal Chotai said...

Dear Utsav,

This makes awesome reading! Finally i've come across someone who along with enjoying the reading experience, also analyzes how the author managed to make your mind enjoy it! And i thought i was the only one who'd lost it :P i often catch myself doing similar thinking in movie halls and while listening to AR Rahman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan... So reading your essay felt like deja vu! Keep this going man! And do drop by on my page whenever you are free. :)

Best Regards,

Utsav Mamoria said...

@ Dhawal

That is precisely the point I was trying to capture. When you interact with the work of people who have far surpassed their craft, its an experience like no other. Its a pity that we have such a small lifetime and so much to know.

Keep dropping by!