Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Poe and his Raven

Edgar Allan Poe... he seems to believe that the thought process for writng a poem is not a divine intution and that its quite mathematical and all that... he explained it in this essay "The Philosophy of Composition" with the help of an example... "The Raven", a poem he wrote... We read thru this essay and this poem in our HS class and my ma'am encouraged us to write an extension to "The Raven"... it was one of the questions asked in today's paper...

chk for the essay...

the original poem:

The Raven
[First published in 1845]
Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Here goes my own extension on the lines of "The Philosophy of Composition"...
2 stanzas....

As i sat there calm and pondering, staring and the Raven wondering
If it's the cosmos, conspiring, sent the Raven to my door
Wishing for the bird to depart, regret filled, in my empty heart
Why! Oh why! did i have spoken of the maiden named Lenore
Spoken of the sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore
Only to hear "Nevermore"

And the Raven still is sitting, with demoniac eyes staring
And my empty heart regretting, I lay fretting on the floor
Staring at the thing of evil; prophet still, if bird or devil
And the Raven still is sitting, on the bust above my door
And is saying from the placid bust above my chamber door
"Nevermore!" and "Nevermore!"

Suggestions are always welcom :)

"wheels" - Arthur Hailey

For all those who have enough patience to read thru 2280 words abt "wheels" and hows its related to HS406.. here it goes....

Arthur Hailey’s “Wheels”
– A ninth angle of the eight cylinders

“Wheels” is an interesting work of fiction by Arthur Hailey. Set in the 1960s or 1970s with the back drop of, Detroit, Michigan – “the Motor City, auto capital of the world”, it serves as a very informative read for an engineer. It revolves around the struggling personal and professional lives of individuals in various levels of hierarchy in the automobile industry, more specifically, one among the “Big Three”, Ford. It involves the entangled lives of almost everyone who can link their life to the word ‘car’, from the chairman of the company to the executives in the design and engineering, plant managers, assembly line workers, used cars salesmen, machine parts manufacturers, spare parts suppliers and even to car racers.
Though according to the Detroit Sunday Times, this book is filled with “action, suspense, excitement, glamour and drama…”, we shall be over-looking all that and concentrate on a very different perspective, the humanist aspect and how all those individuals involved in the different levels of the automobile industry have their lives churned within the eight cylinders.
In relevance to our course, Humanities in Technological Age, this book is an excellent example to illustrate the fact that for a person, whether intelligent or ignorant, a humanistic point of view is a very necessary component for mental peace and a happy life. The one who strikes the right balance between family and profession leads a happy life. But it’s tricky, like a juggler’s act. All of them fight; some lose; some change tracks; some quit; some win!

All Fought
Let us look at some of the important characters in the book to illustrate a few humanist points by browsing through their struggle and their final fate; those individuals being Adam Trenton, Rollie Knight, Brett DeLosanto and Matt Zaleski.

Some Won
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Adam Trenton, Advanced Vehicles Planning Manager, Product Development Unit of Ford, he was a very successful man in at his work. But as far as his personal life was concerned, he had a failing marriage to Erica, a woman young enough to be his daughter. His work was very demanding and just like any other top echelon in the automobile industry went on struggling for perfection. With every single day, his work load increased, his days and night were consumed by newer and newer projects like the Orion or the Farstar, and his concern for his family disappeared until Erica lost all hopes.
“Where have all the flowers gone? Where the love, the life, the vanished idyll of Adam and Erica Trenton, young lovers not so long ago? O where, O where!”
It pushed her into wild ideas like extra-marital affairs and shop lifting. Not until was she arrested that Adam opened his eyes to the damage to his personal life.
The automobile industry is so demanding with the markets so competitive and the technology ever-changing, that it makes men insensitive to anything except cars as Erica rightly pointed out. Like for instance when at a race, one of the company’s cars crashed killing its driver and the very next day another car of that same company won the race, the company executives celebrated the victory without the slightest remembrance of the deceased. At this point Erica pointed out to all those executives
“You don’t live – we don’t live – for anything but cars and sales and winning. And if not all the time, then most of it. You forget other things. Such as, yesterday a man died here. Someone we knew. You are so full of winning: ‘Win on Sunday!’… He was Saturday… You’ve forgotten him already…”
She had in fact, voiced out all the wives present there
But eventually, Adam Trenton realized the importance of love and care in one’s life and even considered leaving the automobile industry to save his marriage. In the end, he had both the loves of his life, Erica and cars, and all the happiness he could ask for. He won!

Some Quit
Most of the laborers in the assembly line were blacks, who were bossed around by foremen, often white. Racist hatred was deeply rooted. Not many blacks made it to the top. If they did, or even if they were friendly with the whites, they were marked as “white niggers” or other offensive names by other blacks.
In this book there are two blacks. One was Rollie Knight, who roamed the streets and got his bread by drug trafficking. He was hired in the “hard-core” hiring programme (a programme initialized my auto companies where in they attempt to employ those – mostly black - who have been “tragically and callously been unemployed for years”) into Ford’s assembly line. The other is Leonard Wingate, an executive in the Personnel Unit of Ford, who struggled to help others from his race, those who didn’t have the advantage of a good education like he had.
Wingate threw some new light on the difficulties that arise from trying to help the blacks to rise above their economic standards.
“A lot of people we’ve hired under the programme have never, in their lives before, kept regular hours. Mostly they had no reason to. Working regularly, the way most of us to, breeding habits: like getting up in the morning, being on time to catch a bus, becoming used to working five days of the week. But if you’ve never done any of that, if you don’t have habits, it’s like learning another language; what’s more, it takes time. You call it changing attitude, or changing gears.”
I had never thought of those and I was dumb struck by his theories. These words got me thinking, that what we normally consider as common sense is not so common for them. We didn’t get it from birth; rather we got it from our upbringing and our society. And to expect someone to act like one of us just because we have given a job and money is foolishness. There is a saying that God helps those who help themselves. It implies that even God cannot help those who don’t help themselves. But what about those who cannot? Who will help them? Also, there are many forces in their environment that pull them back to their misery or worse.
In the case of Rollie Knight, it turned out to be worse. He worked for money to begin with. Though he gave up once he soon returned to his work and along came sincerity. He stayed in a house, with a woman who kept house and weekly wages, with which she bought bread for them and furniture for the house. He began to live a life, only remotely close to what we refer to as normal. Still, it was a start.
But society was bitter. Just when he began having faith in the system, he lost it. Soon he went into betting which slowly dragged him into drug trafficking. Soon the system sucked him in, even though he struggled to stay out of it. He was threatened into taking part in robbery which unknown to Rollie was a reprisal by the Black Mafia against the Detroit Mafia, and unfortunately the robbery turned to murder. When he realized that, he gave up hopes on everything, the very survival. Soon enough, the consequence was his death in the hands of the Detroit Mafia. He quit.
Though Wingate struggled hard to give his less fortunate brothers a new lease of life; not just a second chance but how many ever it took, not many benefited. Not just because they did not struggle as much, but mostly because they had other constraints on life like the environment they lived in and the generations of suppression.

Some Changed Tracks
People often realize what they did for a living is not what they really want to do, even if they enjoy it. Whether they have a perfect balance between personal and professional life, it didn’t really matter. Brett DeLosanto, who worked as a designer in the Design-Style Centre of Ford was a flamboyant man who dressed bright and was full of innovative ideas. He was good at speech and could turn around anyone to his point of view. Also he was a man of in-built leadership. Though as a design student in LA Art Centre College of Design, he always thought cars were his life, as an employee in Ford, he had second thoughts.
He never showed signs of unhappiness but he never got time to spare on his paintings and very little for his girl friend, Barbara Zaleski. He felt he could be a happier man in the world outside the auto industry where his leadership would be better used; like may be in the politics.
“I don’t think car manufacturers, who do so much long range planning for themselves, have done more than a thimble of planning and service for the community they live in.”
He felt he wanted to do more to the society and his job in the auto industry isn’t helping him much in that. So he quit, not the fight but the industry. He changed tracks.

Some Lost
Some people’s life had little involved but the auto industry. They struggled through every single day, that it became their life, whether they were happy or not. Matt Zaleski, assistant plant manager in a Ford assembly plant, was veteran but his work was weary. He has a stressful work environment where he has to tackle directly with the laborers along the assembly line. His problems include technical failures, quality and most importantly racism. A simple word taken in the wrong sense could result in a walk out. Every night he feels he “spent another day of his life inside a pressure cooker”. Since his wife’s death he had little personal life. His daughter, Barbara, working in an advertisement company that demands a lot of her time, tried to spend much time with him but his continual conflicts with her boy friend, Brett, often ended up bitter. He had worked all his life in that very plant and his health slowly failed him. According to doctors, the auto industry sucked up too much of a person’s life.
“I get a good many patients from that source (the manufacturing plant of an auto industry). Too many. Its always seemed to me like a battle ground out there, with casualties.” (The doctor speaking to Barbara)
Matt had suffered strokes which caused damage in his right brain and caused paralysis in the left of his body, thus, rendered him immovable. He was a man who gave his all, his service and his family ties to the auto industry. In the end, he received nothing in return accept for an ill-fated, bed ridden life till he dies. He lost.

Some more remarks
There are some other aspects also that the author introduced through this book, that make one think twice; some revolutionary ideas and thoughts.

Threshing Machine
The author put forth some ideas that actually help economically backward people. Manufacturing cheap farm machinery and marketing it over seas to technologically backward counties not only gets a profit but also helps those people. Hank Kreisel, parts manufacturer of automobiles, devised a hand-operated threshing machine and hoped that Ford would help in mass production and export. But places like Detroit don’t see from others eyes.
“That’s half our trouble with this town: we forget those other places. Forget that people don’t think like we do. We figure, every else is like Detroit, or ought to be so whatever happens should d be our way: the way we see it. If others see different, they have to be wrong because we’re Detroit!”

While designing a car, many aspects are kept in mind. All of them are for the company’s profit, whether they agree to it or not. Even if they are designing a car that is environment friendly, it’s only to compete with the other companies. In this book the author brought out a rather different suggestion through a student of LA Arts Centre College of Design, the suggestion being numbers.
“It’s the numbers that eats us up. They undo every effort the car people make. Take safety. Safer cars are engineered and built, so what happens? More get on the road; accidents go up, not down. With air pollution, it’s the same.” “…so no matter how good anybody gets at emission control, the total pollution gets worse.”

I think this was a perfect book for all the ideals that our course is based on. The author conveyed a very strong message. The importance of humanities in this technological age is highly emphasized. The ideals of Wingate got my head reeling. So did the above point raised through the words of a young designer about the increasing numbers.
All in all, it was very informative, be it humanist or technical. Apart from all the ideas the book seeded into me, it also gave me a good knowledge of how a car is made, from the rough design drafts, to the production at manufacturing plants, to the repair and spare parts. Like every other aspiring mechanical engineer, I dreamed of the ultimate dream, to design an ‘awesome’ car (whatever that word awesome implied) and work in a big automobile industry (preferably Ford, somehow the brand name sounded appealing). This book was perfectly in tune with that dream and I could relate myself greatly to it. It turned out to be an enjoyable experience.


Friday, November 24, 2006

All roads lead to ______

( in the above blank substitute wat you please... as in watever your belief states... doesnt really matter... its all the same...)

this post is for all those who had queries regarding my current orkut profile page.... (esp on its authenticity...)

for those who havent seen it, it goes like this...

Pranava... the word of God (John 1:1)
abt me :

IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.
- John 1:1

Prajapatir vai idam asit : In the beginning was Brahman.
Tasya vag dvitya asit : with whom was the Vak (or Sound)
Vag vai paramam Brahma : and the Vak (Sound) is Brahman"
- Vedas

and so on.. but this is all i am concerned right now abt....
so... yes... its true... i dint make it up... :)
the bible and the vedas suggest the same thing for the theory of the beginning of universe.... its not exactly the big bang (though we can associate with it).. but its rather a vibration that started the universe... a vibration uttered by god in the form of a sound .. or word as stated aboove... according to Hinduism... the word.. or more a sound is "OM".. this sound is also called Pranava... :)

if we have the patience and try to explore the innumerable websites that turn up on google search engine, there are quite a few such instances where the bible and the Vedas cross paths... i do not talk of other scriptures coz i had not the personal touch with any other...

but the biggest event i found which has many parallels in different religions of the world with varying degrees of similarity is the Flood or something similar to it... anyway... basicaaly its abt a huge catastrophe where everyone is killed except the chosen few...
be it Manu in Vedas or the Bible's Noah or the Chinese Fah-he or the Egyptian Toth or the Roman Deucalion and other similar acctns in mexican and other beliefs... for more info on this chk out

well... i'll update upon this as an wen i get more info... if youre enthu enuf... "seek truth"... :) ( its supposedly the motto of my school, a christian protestant school run by a canadian baptist missionary)

exam time....

hmmm... looks like i really wanna write stuff but all i have is exams to wirte up... well... MA202 has not much news to say... rather i forgot... it was 2 days ago... today fresh after my SOM paper i can speak well abt AM220... :)
i saw some old papers last nite.... 5 questions outta 7... wow... choice.... well... guess wat happened... we had 2 papers... 1 was theory type (Part A) for 20 marks.. 10 questions.. and time limit of 40 min... :).... great goin... the second paper was for the rest of the time... 4 questions 20 marks each... hmm... greeat going... esp.. that i can see my ma'am sitting on the table in CRC 101 in front of all of us... picking out papers... and correcting Part A...!!! well.. wel.. for her expressions on her face...
so i guess i'll jus keep my mouth shut abt how i did the rest of my paper.... :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

IDeals 1 needs 2 kn0..... ID120

so... i had a course this sem... ID!@)....
info for those who haven't done their 10th from CBSE board... half our syllabus for all courses put together had been to enlighten us abt the pollution today and its harmful effects, and how we, as responsible future citizens of India and the world, help in reducing, if not eradicating it... and i had to scrap thru it since i had not much then wen i was kid with no elective subjects...

now... in IITM... they came up with innovative ideas... i believe only last yr... and they've introduced two highly intelligent and useful courses which are a must for every BTech student...
one of them is ID120... ecology and environment...
wat does it teach us... to be "Eco-warriors"... as far as my involvement n enthu that goes into it... it was one of the few courses which is strict abt attendance.... so... i attended 79.2% ... i shud have calculated better... coz all we need is 75 to write the end sem...
all the fite i put for mid sem was slisha too much... and not gud enuf... and my performance was directly proportional... and turned out to be really bad.... so this time to mug for end sem... i totally gave up on it even before i started to mug.... mugged till i felt sleepy and then crashed...

had 6 solid hrs of sleep that night... and woke up to a hot bath aaand breakfast!! wen i got the paper and started answering it felt not so bad... exam started at 9... and wen i finished it it was 9 40.... i thought it was slisha stupid... so i went thru it and checked out stuff.... 10 05.... damn it... went thru again... and marked a few more guesses that i left out.... 10 27... i better get outta this place... coz if i look up the paper again... i'll feel like guessin a few more answers wen we had 20% negative marking... by now... i saw a lot many started to leave... from other classes too... so yeah... now i kno i ain't crazy... i was being normal... so i packed...
peaceful now... bouncing with joy... yes i finished the paper.... and i dint really care how i did it... ID120 is outta my life... forever ( touch wood)... okie... lemme restate that... ID120 is outta my IIT life... ( hopefully) ....

well... i shudnt celebrate too long... its jus the beginning.... its jus 1 down 5 to go.... so better back to muggin... atleast start abt 2 in the afti.... i better.... (but thats not wat happened ofcourse....)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

muggits the novel....

i love to write.. and bore down on all my friedns to read what i wrote... but of course.. here in iit... who has the time... events i do... but time i dont.. lots to talk of and lots to say... but to sit down n write... well packits...
so... when for my HS406... i had to write a book reveiw.. i was glad... 1st to use it as an excuse to read a non acad book (which in my case was an intriguing work of fiction by Arthur Hailey called "wheels") and 2nd to finally force sometime to write something...
but as i began writing the reveiw i could not put away all my sarcasim n blunt remarks.... well... finally i was writing it down like an article... now wat was the diff between as article and a book review...?? i dunno... all i thought was an article is interesting while book reveiw is boring... so here i go... i started deleting all the words that added to any sort of poetic effect or my unwanted comments and tried to make it as sober as i cud... well... i guess i achieved my purpose... except fort he intro n the conclusion everything else was boooooooooring... but i managed finally... i jus hope that ma'am doesnt find it too boooooring and pack it off....
i thoroughly enjoyed writing the review... especially all those days when my roomie gfets tensed and starts mugging... i say even i am getting tensed... take a novel... cuddle up in a warm blanket and eat a chocolate.... yup... i was mugging for sure....!!! :)

the submission was today.... so....i'll put up the review soon... when i think its safe enuf.... :P