“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, goes the well-known phrase from the poem, Endymion, by John Keats. Dwelling on this phrase made me wonder about that one unique thing of such incredible beauty, that it would bring unfailing joy to its beholder.
Could it be a favorite work of art that could turn into a visual feast every time we set our eyes on it? Or a piece of music that strums our soul, each and every time we listen to it?
Geography – Terrain and weather that shapes cultures and customs
When I read O’ Henry’s short story, “Soapy”, I could not understand Soapy’s attempts to get imprisoned for the duration of New York’s winter.
At that time, I was living in the tropical part of India, where winters were mild, offering a much needed respite from the oppressive heat of summer. Having lived only in the tropics, where people went to cooler places to escape the brutal heat of summer, I was unable to understand why anyone would want to escape winter.
Several years later, when chance brought me to the east coast of USA, I was able to hold in my hand – the beautiful crystals of snow as they fell in silent showers, painting the world monochrome. What I also came to experience was the merciless cold, as Old Man Winter breathed down on us during these months.
I was reading to a room full of people when someone interrupted with a question about my first short story. I said something about being a novice writer and how I have grown ever since. When I resumed reading, the words fell out; the printed words rolled and fell out of the book. Some scattered on the podium, some on the floor, some fell on my clothing. I tried to resume the reading, but there were no more words left. I turned the pages back and forth in panic. The book had emptied out and the empty pages mocked me, ‘You built a career on stolen words, now the words got stolen from you.’
“Ramblings on a word”, is created with the intention of showing a different perspective to a word that is in common use. The definition of the word given in each article, is more specific to the context of the topic of discussion, than the broader definition of the dictionary. So each word mostly stays within the confines of that definition, occasionally it does get twisted around a bit, just to show a different angle or probably because I am irreverent.
Several articles are just my opinion and are written in essay format. Some are personal essays. A small number of them are, “character soliloquy” where I try to channel a character for demonstrable effect. So, even though the article is written in first person, it is not my personal experience, it’s an expression of a view-point through a fictional character I create for that purpose.
Algorithm – method for tracing predictable patterns
When Úrsula Iguarán, matriarch of Buendía family began to go blind in her old age, she devised a clever method to keep the impaired vision a secret. She accomplished this successfully by observing, processing and storing data.
While walking down the verandah one afternoon, she nearly tripped over her daughter, Amaranta who was sitting in the shade doing needlework. Amaranta reacted sharply and asked her mother what was wrong, to which, Úrsula responded that it would not have happened if she was sitting in her usual place. The ensuing conversation and some reflection made Úrsula realize that the sun’s position changed slightly throughout the year, which caused her daughter to move to that extent each day from her usual place into the shade, until one day she obstructed the carefully memorized path.
Úrsula listened, deduced and memorized the patterns of all her family members and realized during the process that her family lived in predictable patterns, so much so that she could pin-point where everyone was at any given moment on any day. Her mental map was so accurate that one time, she helped locate her daughter-in-law’s misplaced wedding band through an aberration in the pattern.
This is the technique Google search, Facebook and other social media websites uses today to understand the behavior of their users and hopefully convert that into advertisement revenue or create emotional hooks by customizing user experience thereby making the user feel special.