Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock presents...

This may seem like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but it’s not!

Our place is close to a big beautiful basilica. It is also close to a cemetery. It is close to a pharmacy and grocery store and public transit as well, but the first two have always played a role in horror movies, so I’ll stick with them.

A couple of weeks ago, on our way out on a Friday night, around 7pm, something caught my attention. A group of crows sitting on a couple of trees in front of our building. As I looked up, I saw hundreds of them flying to join the sitting ones, all cawing. They all sat on branches of three or four trees, covering the bare trees in black. In about 15 minutes, those four trees were covered in black crows, all cawing. We came back pretty late, maybe around 2 am, and they were still there. Quite, motionless, hundreds and hundreds of them, on the branches of the same four trees, not any other one…and not even the slightest sound.
The next morning, they were all gone.

On Saturday night, around 9 pm, I remembered the crows, and out of intense curiosity, went to the building entrance to check outside again. There they were. All whole bunch of them, sitting quietly and motionless, on the same four trees, covering their branches in black.
The same on Sunday night…and I began to freak out!

At first I thought may be there was a dead animal or some kind of prey that had attracted them. But they were not moving or fighting or flying. They just came there, from all over the place, by the sunset. Sat there, covering the branches, and left before sunrise. They didn’t choose any other tree than the same four trees, and all night, they were quite.

That was it! It was the same for three nights, and on Monday night, everything went back to normal. No crows, no cawing, only the bare branches frozen or covered in snow.
It remained a mystery for me. Why they came there for three nights and then left? I don’t know if I can ever find the answer.

Were they auditioning for the new version of “The Birds”????

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bubble Trouble!

Which one’s happier?

The bubble trapped in a hand sanitizer, immobilized and motionless, sitting in quiescence, waiting for a push on the pump to get sucked up in between two palms, and to burst as the hands are being rubbed together?

Or the bubble in a glass of Champagne, singing and dancing its way out, to burst after a short life of moving and going upward, and make a funny sound upon getting to the surface of the liquid?

Or the bubble blown by a curious kid, to see how they are made and shaped, which flies high on the wind, and travels up to its resistance treshhold, and then bursts in front of the kid’s eyes, to show its lifetime in the sky?

Or the huge fancy bubble made in front of an amazed audience by a skilled magician, covered in rainbow colors, strutting with pride, only to last until the next trick on the stage, bursting and splashing small drops on the first row of audience?

Or is happiness and prosperity something to define for a "bubble" at all?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Trial by the audience

I watched Persepolis the other night.

But I don’t want to talk about that. Last night, there were a bunch of us, gathered in a café in Montreal, discussing about the movie. What was amazing, was the subjective point of view that everyone had about the movie. Some believed that the writer and director of the film, Marjane Satrapi, was not honest, and that she could have introduced our country better than what she did in the film (or the books, for that matter), that she had exaggerated many events and situations, that she could have been a better representative of our country. Some thought that there was some kind of controversy going on behind the curtains (Iranian’s favorite theory) in making such a movie in such political situation. And some were saying that this was merely an autobiography, and she had every right to tell her memoirs and her experiences, which accidentally took place in the most chaotic and most eventful era of Iran.

What makes my mind busy since last night is if art is really objective or subjective? If one is really interested in watching the world from the other’s point of view, is one really allowed to have their own interpretation about it and then judge the artist/ writer/ painter/ composer/ director, based upon that?

Now the first part of the problem is interpreting the art. I know that art could be subjective. Any eye can have their own specific point of view, as the eyes are windows to the souls and not all the souls are the same. I may not be talking scientifically, as one can argue that the eyes record the scene and take it to the brain, what does soul have anything to do with it? Right, but I still think that the brains could act different in analyzing the recordings, based on the past experiences, which are usually used as the basis to interpret what one sees. So it seems natural that my perception could be different than somebody else’s.

Even if we insist on having our own perceptions, is it fair to generalize our insights, and arrange a trial for the artist, questioning his/her talent and investigating his/her intention from creating that specific piece of art? Now, I’m not really an artist, but is there an intention or a purpose behind every painting/ song/ story/ movie? Isn't there anything created just for the sake of art? Just because the artist had something, some inspiration inside that should be born in shape of a creation? Is there anyway that we would take the judging eye-glasses off, and just enjoy the art?

…and is it only us, or is it a common problem? And more basically, is that any problem at all?

Friday, February 1, 2008

To Believe or to doubt? This is the question!

There are those who challenge every pre-known answer and belief. They don’t accept any belief or thought before going through it over and over again, testing it, reviewing it, and maybe, only maybe they accept it.
On the other hand, there are those who are looking for actual, defined, clear answers for their questions. If there is an answer known, and if it seems good enough, that would be it, the answer, the belief, end of story.

Doubt by definition is the status between belief and disbelief. Many developments in different fields come from doubt. Almost all science was motivated by doubt. The amazing thing about doubt is that it has the capacity of growing and transmitting to everything. The “disease of doubt” is actually a state of excessive doubt, better known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I think as much as it depends on different personalities how much one questions the popular beliefs, it very much depends on how one is trained to look at the daily problems of life. If one is trained as an engineer, it is very likely that they are more comfortable accepting a belief, and sticking to it. However, most of the scientists, specially those involved in natural sciences, are very much in doubt, for every defined answer out there... “there could be another special condition that changes the answer”.

Now the paradox sometimes is that even if you go by methodic doubt, which is questioning a pre-accepted belief and constructing or denying it, the result depends on whether or not you want to get to your belief or not. The most famous doubt of Descart was actually doubt in himself, and he proved that he existed (“I think, therefore I am”), which is in the favored direction as toward proving his existence, even though any of his reasonings to methodic doubt could well prove that maybe he does not even exist.
The first one is briefly that believing what we thought were true, could be merely our minds deceiving us. Second one (my favorite) is that there was no reliable way of distinguishing when one is awake or dreaming (the same idea as you see in “Matrix”). Also his third reasoning is that there could be some demon out there that had conceived us, preventing us from judging correctly.

As far as I know, using merely the brain, makes it impossible to get to any sort of belief. As any of the methodic doubts can prove that even your existance is not certain, let alone the world, your life, and all other thoughts and beliefs. Well, when I get here, it scares me, although I am very much in doubt for every known answer in the world, but sometimes I feel I should just let it go…or maybe we need more than the rational mind; a piece of heart, a bit of soul, or some spirit is also needed to build some believing pillars for one’s ideology in life. Everyone needs some personal principles.