On the duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?

thoreau-disobeyEven at the known risk of getting branded as a boring old uncle, I must admit into finding this essay fascinatingly metal. It was from some gandhian readings that I got introduced into this venerated magnum opus whose relevance transcends over centuries(also freely available on internet). Mahatma Gandhi has undoubtedly elevated Thoreau’s duty of Civil Disobedience from the level of individual consciousness to the ethics of a collective, during his Non-Violence movement.

A weak historic background might look something like this- Then president of United States was a demagogue(not demogorgon), and Thoreau belonged to the meager minority, who were morally troubled by the Government policies on slavery and Mexican war. So when asked, he refuses to pay State tax, as, according to him, giving allegiance to an invading war waging State is against his consciousness. Anyway, Tax was as certain as death even then, as it is now, and fractious Thoreau was put behind bars for withholding the same. Well, he continued being metal by welcoming the jail – ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison’, and writing a whole essay in that direction. Thoreau was really thorough with his ideas, pun intended.

In this essay, he severely criticizes political passivism, and those who escape under the argument of not knowing what to do. Then followed portions I wasn’t able to completely comprehend except for the seemingly subtle yet lurid difference between what is right by law and what is just. Though the most obvious and convenient illustration to understand Civil Disobedient argument would be the recent Trump government, I urge readers to hyphenate the philosophy with one’s personal, more accessible demurs.

I am heavily under resourced to review this, but what amuses me is the relevance of this essay in today as well as the course of history it has been preserved along. It is highly difficult to register your opinion these days without being branded into the prejudiced categories everyone seems so eager to fit in.

strangerthings_walkinhere
an entirely random irrelevant image of demo-gorgon to masquerade from uncoolness

Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers by Lawrence Watt-Evans

1931778This story and Coherence movie could greatly complement each other,though the latter one offers more thrill and grittiness to the concept.

In this first person narrative, a young man from the countryside shares with readers, his strange experiences at Harry’s all-nighter, where he worked his teenage days off. Harry’s All night Hamburgers could be considered as a Way Station, unlike Simak’s Intergalactic one, this version works on Interdimensional platform. Narrator encounters strange beings, multiple versions of same person and is occasionally seduced by the possibility of being an Interdimensional travel bug.

Most striking fact about this story is, that even in its pompous setting of parallel universes and wanderlust, it is essentially a pleasant travel motivation short. And the feelings I am left with, after the read, goes something like this.

I should make it to Banaras at least this year :).

full text available here for free read

 

The Crystal Spheres by David Brin

In this Hugo winning short story, David Brin looks back into our modern history to postulate a probable, though completely fictional explanation to Fermi Paradox. His interesting yet unclear universe includes Crystal Spheres – invisible envelopes, around every galaxy. Unlike the usual sci-fi route of metaphysical arguments, Brin’s Crystal Spheres are completely materialistic with seemingly protective intentions – like Kandor in Fortress of Solitude or dust cloud surrounding planet Krikkit in Hitchhikers.

Background of the story involves futuristic Earth with Interstellar travel and deep space dwellers,and Milky Way with ‘broken by accident’ Crystal Sphere. What troubles me is the entire breakage of so called gargantuan envelope in one single impact, whose physics and existence are completely unfathomable. God would have been like, ‘I need to shield every universe from each other, lets get the most brittle material for that’. Anyway, since then, humans were on an active SETI mission that ends in one solid clincher- unbreakable Crystal Spheres enveloping other universes. At the wake of the novella, a deep spacer is called for duty , on discovery of a broken Crystal Sphere, which could be humanity’s First Contact, and bright answer to many disappointing frustrated years.

cnhBrins argument actually aligns with the progressive Segan thought (aliens exists) and the relatively hegemonic yet pessimistic Hart- Tipler (where are they if they do exist) thought. Though fascinating and full of imagination, story didn’t work well with my rigid mind.

  • Included in The River of Time, collection, 1994, Bantam Spectra.
  • A well read audio version is available under this link starshipsofa

spoilers:

There were few things I couldn’t get my head around. Unnecessary word building, the whole idea of fixing cosmic stuff as Shards from Crystal Spheres and the voting out of night from Earth(?) would be a few. Also the incentive of meeting intelligent life seems far less convincing for suspended animation (or stuff) of a whole civilization (Natarals),since it practically bookends progress, leaving them inferior to the very intelligent life they seek so badly for.

The 43 Antarean Dynasties by Mike Resnick

Capture.JPGIn this Hugo winning short, Author intertwines the once glorious history of erstwhile Antarean Intergalactic dynasty and a guided tour happening in present through it’s remains. And a reader could relate with both sides, whether it’s the proud erudite romantic tourist guide, who is forced to chuck his pride and knowledge to make a living, or yokel earth tourists, keen only on the boasting rights and instagramming part of sight seeing.

Coincidentally I’ve been doing some readings on per-independent India and British Raj, while I came across the 43 Antarean Dynasties. Though panning over an Intergalactic scale, this story helped me understand the asymmetrical cultural shock and post colonial attitudes between the Orient and Occident, far better than any historical texts. Highly recommend.

“What is obscene to one being is simply boring to another”

A far better analysis can be found here, along with the free text to complete story http://martyhalpern.blogspot.in/2011/06/alien-contact-anthology-story-8-43.html

Valentines Day

#guestpost

giphy

I don't burn to see other people being happy

I just curse myself for not being able to get over a hypocrite and a coward

I don't deserve you at all.I deserve much better but I'm unable to get you out of my life and head. 

You are almost always mean to me but I never say anything. 

You are always judgemental and intolerant towards me. 

I can clearly feel your irritation every time we talk.

 I'm not jealous of others or desperate because I'm single.

It's just nice to know that you are important to someone. 

And you know the interesting thing about love? 

Once it's gone it never ever comes back in the same way. 

So stop walking all over me like I am your doormat. 

Stop judging me by the things I say to you. 

I have never had a filter in my thoughts when I'm speaking to you 

And by the unfiltered things I say you, have made up this image of me as the stereotypical frustrated spinster or something. 

So just stop with that. 

I have spent enough time n heartbreaks on you. 

So this Valentine's Day I have only three words to you. 

Three last words and I'll never ever speak to you again.

 


 


 





Go F**k Yourself.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is a Nebula and Hugo Award winning novella and below review covers only the first installment of an ongoing series. An ambitious Wakandan-ish girl, also the very first person from her tribe to leave the planet, is left with the heavy responsibility of universal peace as some Romulans– ish race butcher her Starship,  which was on its way to Oomza University – this story’s StarFleet Academy.

images

One is often insecure about his stand when it comes to registering his like or dislike towards a culturally or ethnically diverse work; which often leads to a personally unjust review, under peer pressure or the fear of being branded by the adjectives for intolerance, non progressiveness and their kins. I am unable to get my head around this old school racism or sectarianism, that forms the basic framework of Binti (also some how limited to protagonist’s particular tribe), considering the extremely diverse and pluralistic Intergalactic society, story’s universe is based on.

Okorafor is a really good writer, and I heavily appreciate the prose which consorted well with tribal girl narrative, and the non pretentious word/world/culture building; but as far as science fiction is considered, story is solid meh.

From a whovian perspective, the philosophy of Binti would be something like this – Hey, I can’t accept Martha Jones, but Sontarans are cool.

 

But, Afrotourism? Really?

also,

Bint(d)i- the red dot that decorates an average Indian lady’s forehead.