Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My response to the challenge in the little writing community to which I belong. The prompt was taboo (hence yesterday's Googlage), not more than five hundred words, to include three or more of the following words: rain | shimmer | fuck | spin | glory. Recorded here for an added measure of posterity. Very little literary value, I'll admit, but the idea made me giggle if I say so meself.

title: but now i see
word count: 490 or thereabouts
summary: heaven holds some surprises for john milton, puritan poet and crank extraordinaire. where does taboo come in? erm. many small places.

contains mild religious irreverence, apologies in advance (and warnings) to sensitive types.


When Milton died and went to heaven, he was astonished to discover that he could see, and also that God, far from being geriatric and white-clad, was decked out in a revealing wine-coloured robe, and wore a neatly trimmed, vaguely Jewish-looking red beard.

Perhaps, Milton thought, it was a feast day. An occasion for a masque. A fancy dress competition to celebrate some cherub’s birthday. What was heaven, after all, but a place where indulgence was permitted?

“Ex-actly,” whispered the nubile young angel who had escorted him to the Throne of Thrones. She winked, pinched his bottom and, as Homer remarked so often upon his women, vanished. Or was that Ovid? Milton’s head went all a-spin.

His worst suspicions were confirmed when the Almighty caught sight of him and let out a mighty joyous roar in something like - nay, verily in - Greek.

“Er,” said Milton foolishly. “Erm.”

“Thou hast been a good boy,” Zeus was booming, his shining smile stretching from ear to perfect ear. “DOST THOU KNOW WHAT WE DO TO GOOD BOYS?”

The celestial host, scattered amongst the clouds, broke into titters.

“I’m sorry,” Milton began. “There’s been a mistake. I hoped to go to heaven, please.”

“This IS heaven!” Zeus roared.

“No, no,” Milton said, uncharacteristically polite. “I wish to see my God. The Father of our Lord, the white dove, in the beginning there was, before whom we shall have none other et cetera.”

“Oh,” Zeus said, falling back into his Chair. “Bad luck, Milton. Still. Monotheism, overrated, I say.”

Milton’s heart sank. “This is not what I’m used to,” he said. “Please let me go?”

“Go?” Zeus raised an eyebrow. “But I got you special dispensation from Hades, what with your poetry and everything. Paradise Lost, what an idea! What execution! And so much blood and fucking!”

Milton considered his options, eventually coming up with a squeak that was loosely interpreted as a "Yes," by all concerned.

Zeus wolf-whistled and bounced in his seat. The fabric of the world rippled and shimmered.

A steady rain began to fall, clouding over - it had to be said - paradise.

“But,” Milton began, perilously close to tears.

“If,” said jeering voices through the rain.

“What have I done to deserve this?” Milton asked. “I’ve been faithful and virtuous and a damned good poet, besides. And now it’s all false!”

“What is not?” asked a bearded woman from the sidelines.

“I apologise for any rudeness on my part towards you,” Milton offered up to Zeus. The image of a burnt bridge flashed before his eyes and vanished. “I – I have been – unfair – blindness - ”

“Oh,” Zeus said. “Love me, love my manifestations. No offence taken.”

Later, in the privacy of his suggestively modelled ivory tower, Milton reflected on the nature of the unknown and decided that love, after all, hinged on ignorance, and the charm of the unknowable, the dangerous, the out of reach.

The perfectly decadent red silk pyjamas, in the meanwhile, were going a long way towards reconciling him to this particular mode of eternity.

Monday, May 23, 2005

taboo, naboo

On Googling the word 'taboo': sex toys, a game, a history of censored music, a luxury resort (don't ask me!) and a Japanese film called "Gohatto" show up on the first page. Googlism reveals:

taboo is broken. taboo is very handsome. taboo is no longer needed. taboo is broken dumpling festival. taboo is universal. taboo is one of the latest additions to the cafe/bar scene in eastbourne. taboo is an ongoing project and will continue to grow and develop. taboo is not intended for children for under the age of 14 yrs. taboo is dick whittington meets valley of the dolls. taboo is imposed and our homosexual men are forced to breed as heterosexuals do. taboo is worth more than the most skillful argument.

Naboo? What kind of idiot name is that for a planet? I wonder what Tolkien would have had to say about Star Wars. Actually I'm curious about what I'm going to say about Star Wars, since I haven't seen any of the six episodes. (Aishwarya baby, if you're reading this, thanks for the offer again! I'd rather come to Delhi to do cooler things than a marathon SW session, I have decided.)

Things I do know: Lucas deals in the art of the possible. I did NOT think it would be possible to make Natalie Portman look ugly, but he's managed.

Anakin Christiansen, Orlando Bloom, single-expression epic heroes. Who is to blame for the perpetration of these drama crimes? They ought to have thrown Brad Pitt out of Troy and had a girl play Achilles, anyway.

And that I love the idea of Darth Vader. A man with mechanical parts - wild. I think Tolkien would have approved. Part of why it's interesting is because one of my papers last year was about the way sci-fi and fantasy dealt with mechanism and the body. I wondered:

Is an individual defined by a body? A mind? And are body, mind, or both elementally opposed to machinery?

I went on to talk a bit about cyborgs and how they are all but the memory of a fear now; obsolete as Arnold Schwarzenegger (yes, even in California). If you prick them, do they not bleed? Well, no. But it's not easy to decide what shares mind and body have in making some person A, person A. Perhaps the mind and body are not opposed at all. It's past time to point out that a lot of our religious beliefs are responsible for this sort of binary opposition, and the hideous idea that the body is somehow lesser than the mind because it is temporal. The mind is hardly something that stays put from life to death.

One could draw a partial analogy with the earth’s fuel reserves. [Jacques] Ellul assumed that, like coal and oil, the human body’s resources were going to run out some day. This, to emphasise my earlier point, is hardly conclusive. But what, then, is our physical fate? Where will evolution lead us? How much control can we impose on the body as opposed to control on our minds? Will we find more ‘fuel-efficient’ ways to function as we render our physical selves not depleted, but superfluous?

I don't enjoy bringing up Tolkien's religious beliefs again and again but he was very clear about the fact that he wanted his work to be read as a Christian fantasy (and in passing, I do want to know what he might have said to the evidently Christian neocon environmental policies of the US).

While the moral of the Lord of the Rings is ultimately one of sacrifice – and one could view the loss of Frodo’s finger as a tangible loss of self-sufficiency – the Silmarillion’s morbid agoraphobia is a full-scale conviction of Faustian sin.

This time, the innovators are themselves elves. In their mighty tussle with the Lucifer-figure for the Silmarils, jewels of extreme beauty and power, the Faust figures (not coincidentally a race of miners, jewellers and scientists), undergo an entropy of minds and morals, but grow ‘ever fairer’ in their sins and sorrows. The elves’ beauty is triangulated with waning power and growing desire as the jewels elude their grasp.

I don't expect SW to have made any coherent points different from the blahblahness we've already heard, and I don't think anyone watches it for its philosophical hokum anyway. < insert cheeky grin > I don't much care for the space opera look. So why would I want to watch the films anyway? I want to see the mechanical man.

And John Williams scored music for SW! I like Hedwig's Theme rather better than I do Darth Vader's.

Weird Al Yankovich mixed : 'My name is ... Darth Vader.' I wish to plead: Eminem is NOT Darth Vader. He is Voldemort. I mean, come on! It's so obvious, he's hung up and whiny and Dumbledore (the Elvis figure) can kick his ass anytime. And then, the mother complexes.

Twelve Azkaban fugitives round the outside;
round the outside, round the outside
Twelve Azkaban fugitives round the outside;
round the outside, round the outside

Guess who's back
Back again
Voldie's back
Tell a friend
Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back
guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back.. {*Tom hums*}

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I really ought to start posting here more often.

So, what has been happening. A magazine has not taken off, but begun slowly to rear its featherless head. I have still not learnt well enough that it apostrophe s does not indicate possession, and Lynne Truss will be out to kill me even if I am a Ph.D who has published more books than she has.

I haven't been writing much, but I have seen three films last month.

Yay. Now I can start doing the real posting. From tomorrow.