Thursday, March 31, 2005

Language is map, mind is territory.

[Draft post of Nov-29-04 - now completed.]

Mouth foaming, brush vigorously laboring at inadvertent gum destruction, face pulled under the cake of an ubtan mask, and the mind? Busy with The Da Vinci Code. Of all other places that it can wander off to during the nightly cleansing ritual, the mind chose to discover the territory of cryptology.

I was realizing with wonder how our words represent us? Several years ago, I read something by Harvard philosopher
Richard Heck. His principle interests lie in the areas of philosophy of language, logic, and mathematics. He explained how words are used to encode concepts that exist in our minds. If I am correct, he talked about sounds and the origin of language?

To summarize, language is used as a code to represent the concepts that exist in our minds. This is why some concepts - such as "mother" - have nearly universal phonetic representations: ma, mama, maan...

This is interesting. I reached the conclusuion that language is a map to the territory of mind. (Thank you anyone else who's put it this way before me. I love the meeting-of-minds thing.) I had first stumbled upon that theorem more than a decade ago in a Reader's Digest collection of essays on the human mind. An author was suprised how his mother was able to guess that one of their friends was pregnant. "Didn't you hear? Her language was all about nurturing and children and care!"

This is the best thing about the language-mind relationship: we can reverse-engineer the language to figure out what's going on in the mind. Such as when too many if's, but's, umm's, and err's are peppered in the speech, we are dealing with a confused and unsure personality. AND what's even more curious is that if we pick up a certain pattern of speech only if to imitate, it will begin changing the mind! Do not copy any iffy personality, even for fun! There were a deeper purpose behind those manner lessons.

Perhaps an addition to the topic statement is already in order.

P.S. Ok, thank you Google! I have found the link to Richard Heck's interview here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Antonym for "Color Blind(ness)"

In Sophie's World, Sophie is given two bottles in a scene reminiscent of Alice in the Wonderland. One bottle contains blue liquid, the other red liquid. Sophie takes a sip of the blue liquid, and suddenly she begins to see everything in sharp detail. She sees every tree distinctly in the forest, and every leaf and twig distinctly on a tree. The red liquid merges all perception together in one whole. The microcosms merge to make a macrocosm - and Sophie no longer sees trees, but the forest.

I sometimes feel I am on a permanent high of the blue liquid. I see many things, all apart from each other. Which is a remarkable shift from my life long habit of perceiving things in general, bunched together. Anyhow. Thanks to my new perceptual outlook, I have a faculty quite opposite to color blindness. What can one call it?

Color splashiness?

Ah, that's not bad at all. Meanwhile, the reader of Quest & Lust will have to tolerate the deranged palette. : )

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Writing diary by the midnight oil lamp

Well. I am staying up late. One nasty habit that I had dropped once I realized I need to live. But it's back, now that I have decide to learn, talk, and write about life.

Since I have time to spare at the expense of my well-being, I might as well practice a little handwriting. And this is the pointless purpose of this post.

Must I not sleep?

Finding my religion

I want to write a book on what Islam really is all about. Islam happens to be the faith I practice, but right now, it's sounding like the name of some boy next door.


How's Islam doin' today?
Hey, how are you Islam? Where've you been, haven't seen you around lately?
Hey Islam, where do you want to go today?

All right. So. I want to write a book about Islam. Which will require a few more years of research and perhaps validation of myself, too. I am, after all, concerned about reviews; and anticipating the debates and counter-debates that will inevitably follow. I need to maintain a convincing upper hand.

There will be, as I see, a tremendous increase in the knowledge pool of the ignorant and the knowledgeable alike. This will be the way things and lives are made better. This will be my contribution to the world. This will be my great road to salvation; my ticket to pearly Paradise.

One cold December night last year, I was emaciated, fatigued, and lonely as a plant transferred out of its mother ecosphere. As I lay sunk in bed and stared at the ceiling trying to find Happiness and Purpose - I realized, Oh! This is my life.

As in, you know, this is my room. This is me and my four limbs and the rest of me. My mind. My heart, when it feels kind enough to be my own. So if all of me is here, and this is my existence, then where, possibly, can be my Purpose? Happiness? Meaning of life? When, exactly, will be the time that I start living what I believe in?

Silly, isn't it? I have to find happiness, and THEN I will be happy. And then I have to find a ready-made tangible purpose, and then live it.

I have to write a book on Islam, and then, MashaAllah, Alhamdolillah, I will be a great Muslim.

As if.

UPDATE: A fish needs a bicycle. A Lust for Life needs your feedback. Yes, move. Move!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Candle Light

The lights went out yesterday. I thought the candle looked worthy of being found in my quest for beauty. It is now a part of the ever-mounting treasure.

This (below) is a b&w look at the candle and its melting wax. Gives the candle the look of a gothic tower.

Candle with a Gothic look - by Ramla A.

I then blew the candle out, and lit it up again. The act of lighting fire - the act of creation: snapped!

The hand that lights the fire - by Ramla A.

Sometimes, it's fun to have the lights out. You see entirely new things. Things of beauty...

Lust for Life ki . qaum mein sham'ooliat

A Quest for Beauty; a Lust for Life has joined the elite ranks of the Dot Qaum of Websites. Thanks to my major supporter (who will pretend to wish anonymity but would love more than this simple note), I got this blog's very own Thank you, darling!! :)

Presented to the world:
[major inauguration drum roll and pigeon release]!!!

Update thy bookmarks.

UPDATE: A fish needs a bicycle. A Lust for Life needs your feedback. Yes, move. Move!

Bring the paparazzi on!

This I HAVE to blog. I have been approached to play Lady Diana for a TV program. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. The blessing of short hair, a poised neck that verges on to appearing arrogant, and That! Accent!

That! Accent! (Thud and thud.)

Poor, poor Lady Di. Well, as an aside: I see it's time that I succumb to popular demand and put my picture on this blog or at least remove this blurred dinner time beauty that I thought qualified for a masterpiece. But then if I can qualify to look alike Lady Di...!

P.S. Hmmm. Off goes the dinner time blurred beauty. I put this rather lovely picture on for a while, which would assure the reader that I am asked to play Lady Di(e) for a reason. However, me as a mime is perhaps the best current representation of me. Not too bad either. I am Gori! Stare, stare o desperate nation!

UPDATE: A fish needs a bicycle. A Lust for Life needs your feedback. Yes, move. Move!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Weight of the world

In Jostein Gaarder's Maya, Frank Andersen, "a Norwegian evolutionary biologist estranged from his wife Vera" after the accidental death of their child, ponders the importance of his situation. In his death, he realizes, will die hundreds of thousands of years of knowledge and history if he has no progeny.

Jostein Gaarder earlier reminded us in Sophie's World: He who cannot draw upon three thousand years of history is living from hand to mouth.

All right. So I am not completely irrational or superficially indulgent in myself when I wonder: how many thousands of years' worth of history will change or continue their course when I change or continue my course? How, on each branching of destiny, I will turn one way and modify the course of travel of this history forever?

Which person up, up, up my ancestral lineage took the decision that made me, me? Whose decision am I anyway?

I must say, in drawing upon three thousands years of history, we do also choose to carry quite a weight - the weight of all history and evolution and survival that made us who we are. And the weight of all the decisions not taken, to make sure here I'd be, writing this. Here you'd be, reading this.

UPDATE: A fish needs a bicycle. A Lust for Life needs your feedback. Yes, move. Move!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Feedback, please!

A Lust for Life is being renovated in small steps. The readers remain the best judge of the site. Please answer the following few questions to help improve your experience of this site. This survey is about the design of the website.

1. Is this blog easy to navigate?

2. What are the 3 best features?
A. B. C.

3. What are the 3 not-so-good features?
A. B. C.

4. Is there anything you'd add in the left column?

5. For the regulars: how would you rate the change from the previous layout?
- Better
- No difference
- Worse
- Don't Care

6. Any other comment?

I'd be grateful for your help.

Hand in sunlight (the T- studies)

The mobile photography continues. It is an effective way to utilize travel time. My hands remain ever available models who aren't shy to dance to my wishes.

Study: Hand under sunlight © by Ramla A.

Monday, March 14, 2005

An eye, a cellphone, and 33mm

Photographing is weird. It doubles up life by creating an imperfect image of it. Is all perception a collage of tiny photographs?

Here's what I do to get another perspective on life - a limited one, but a very engaging one. I take out my T-mobile, and snap on. Or I just look at life through the lens. It is an addiction.

When I am not studying how light bounces off my hands, I spy on certain colors. My favorite game is catching Red. I snap on red signboards, cars, houses, dresses. Generally, I am open to anything that fascinates me. It's all about seeing "more out of the same." I am beginning to note things that I never noted before. What a great feeling it is! Makes me want to go through life with a heightened pleasure and involvement.

Here are two photos I want to share: The first one is a tree that glowed beautiful under yesterday's sunlight in the Academy. I didn't realize the special effect was set on sepia, so we'll have to forego the glowing colors here. It looked like a dusty old photo, and I love it nevertheless.

Here is something else that I caught this morn - March 14. It's a tail of frost left behind by a jet. I positioned the T-mobile several times to get a good shot from my car window... It was until I shot the tail over this fledgling tree that the picture became decipherable.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Two to Tango

Yesterday, I noted a street sign displaying the sign --> to indicate a turn. Just below the sign, a longish statement read: "Insaniyat ki khidmat ke liye lagaya gaya." [Translation: Erected for the service of humanity].

This simple line cried for credit - I thought it involved a certain exhibitionism. I smiled inwardly at the thought. This signboard, indeed, was a tragi-comic representation of our society: we want to do good, and we know that good must not be publicized. It's just plain bad manners - besides, it must be a way of life, not something that requires shouting. On the other hand, we know that our society is slow to appreciate or identify those who do small good.

I was having dinner with family one day when the thought struck me: what a blessing to have dinner with a decent set of human beings! After all there are families where the girl child is served the last of bones of the meal. Here I was, with men of my family passing on the better parts of food to me. This is the kind of good that is invisible to most of us. We do not thank not acknowledge - not even see this good - until someone has to shout: "Hey, I did this for the service of womankind!!" And then a feminist of the wrong kind* would think, "What a display of machismo!"

* It can be any kind that's not the right kind. In this context, I mean some uninitiated feminists who just have to be against men. I decry any school of thought that is based simply on opposition, without understanding the cause of the opposition. And indeed, having a right cause. If my theory of conflict resolution is anywhere near being correct, I suggest that most conflicts are only ego-based and can solved if we step out of the realm of ego.