Maxims and mottoes from masters of one-liners: A reading list

ideas.ted.com

Fiction is a dignified form of lies.” “What’s hard to express is easy to understand.” “Everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity.” Professional aphorist and all round word nerd James Geary (TED Talk: Metaphorically speaking) collects aphorisms like these — and documents their provenance in his own books. Here, check out his list of must-read books from other authors covering literary life, proverbs, aphorisms, and the art of being quoted.

1. History in English Words
Owen Barfield
Lindisfarne Press, 2007

“Barfield is a forgotten genius, and this book is his excavation of the metaphors buried in some of the most common English words. ‘Every modern language,’ he writes, ‘with its thousands of abstract terms and its nuances of meaning and association, is apparently nothing, from beginning to end, but an unconscionable tissue of dead, or petrified, metaphors. … A man cannot utter…

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Why I m quiet

December 16th was another unfortunate day in Pakistan. A school was attacked and many young souls and valuable lives were lost to us forever. In the aftermath of the tragic day, everyone expressed helplessly but strongly to the sad event that shook us all. I remained silent, somewhat untouched and indifferent. I was expected to say something, to protest, to voice my anger at the extremists attack on the school in Peshawar. But I didn’t want to say anything. At last when I did pen down something for my own sake of catharsis this is what I could say…

You ask me why I m quiet.
You question my silence,
And think of me to be indifferent.
People are crying all around me.
You nudge me to express it too.
I stare back at you.
It’s a cold crude night.
I shiver and take on the cloak,
The cloak of mourning.
But I stand aside,
Apart from the crowd.
Distance myself from the tears.
Walk away from the vigils.
Close my eyes to the blood.
Muffle my ears to the sighs and cries,
For I have been dead a long time.
My heart once skipped a beat,
Then another and another,
One after the other they left,
With each mosque they blasted,
With each church they destroyed,
With each bullet they fired,
With each suicide bombing,
With all the breaths that escaped,
From souls young and old,
Lives that bled out,
When terror first strike,
When it was but an infant,
That is when my heart skipped a beat,
Then another and another.
I ask you,
Why should the cry be loudest now,
When the monster is beyond our reach.
When we can offer nothing but our own grief,
To the ones whose grief we cannot equal.
Let them at least cry in peace.
For living in peace is beyond our reach.
Let us not burden their sorrow,
With our own.
For we did not cry the loudest,
When the beast was but an infant.

It has been more than a month to the incident. May the souls rest in peace and may we actually learn something from this.

Bon appetit a tous

Yes. I am back, yet again to my very own blog. It feels good to call something your own. Just as I had thought and knew, I would go on to start the post with a totally random thing. I think I need to sort of renovate this blogging space of mine. I have come in the early hours of the day, during the awfully hot summer afternoons and sometimes way late into the starry night to have a look at this webpage – the space of my thoughts and ideas, no matter how lame. Of late every time that I have clicked my way here, peaked in and thought – ‘Great! I have nothing to write about’. Though there is always, ALWAYS a thought up in my mind. 
However, though I dont want to sound the problem child here but I need to admit it loud and open that I have been whining quite a lot lately. And I mean  A LOT when I say it. There have been days when I wanted someone to pull me out of the ocean of despair and dejection and depression. 
The simplest solution was to just lay in my bed, stare up at the ceiling, it too seemed like a feat of tremendous effort to me and then just drift off…only if I knew the direction of ‘drifting’, it might have helped. Or had I only tried. 
Then I happened to watch Julie and Julia, the movie only a few hours back. It did the trick. I have this interest in baking, something that I havent shared on my blog and now feel I have done injustice to no one but myself. As my creative juices shot up, I thought to myself, why didnt I think of this before!! The story was about an American woman Julia Child who went onto become famous by teaching the Americans the art of French cooking (through her books, later TV shows) and the blogger Julie Powell who cruised her way through cooking by using Child’s recipes. Both ended up writing books and becoming famous for something they truly enjoyed doing. 
As for me, I love baking though I cannot claim to be very good at it. Baking is one of my recent interests and so I have tried my hands at cookies, cakes and muffins, apple pies – nothing out of the world but its edible. And people smile when they eat what I bake – an acknowledgement to my bearable baking. 
After the movie session, I feel revived from my past deliberate plunge into the ocean of *beep*. There is still something I can do and get better at IF I remain consistent because that is something exactly both Julia and Julie did. 
The resolution is to remain consistent at all the things I m trying to do in life. *sigh* 

Momentary purposelessness

I picked up the above phrase from one of the articles on a news site. Shamelessly I thought it quite fitting for my own long pending post here. Its alarming that the last piece of writing I left here was in January. I half abandoned the world of blog, forgetting how important it was to me in the past few years that I found and nourished my love for writing ( not that I m a scholarly one for that matter). I have been locked up in a self made bubble of many hurdles, now that I think of, created out of my own imagination. There is still a vague but strong feeling of being lost in a Grand Canyon of my clustered thoughts. Time and again I have reminded myself of the need to break the illusionary bubble for it is doing me no good. I cannot put the feeling to words, either it was defeat  or simply a lack of purpose that glued me to my suicidal comfort zone. I preferred it there, doing nothing and merely being a spectator of my surroundings, close and far off. It feels good, sitting in your own space with no one bothering you  even if its about your own bed creaking indicating of a ‘bed accident’ in the near future. Its intoxicating once you give yourself in to the aimlessness of life.

Today is a long summer afternoon, trees under the new summer sun are giving off long shades, hot breeze occasionally blowing the curtains away from the window.One such slow afternoon of many winds ago, I remember sitting in my cocoon of self destruction, gazing into the blank canvas hanging in mid air. My limbs tired of an exhausting peregrinate, eyes tight and watery and jaws locked from holding my lips together against the dusty desert wind. I gave in, closed my eyes and drifted into reverie’s labyrinth. It was a momentary purposelessness that felt inviting, a favourite pastime anyway. Day dreaming, brain trying to gathering thoughts from as far as north and south pole, oil thirsty long strands of hair swaying to the fan’s cool air about my face. Nothing felt wrong about the slowly creeping in of the intoxication of the momentary purposelessness that stretched into hours, day, weeks and months right before my eyes.

Capable of more than being a breathing organism, I remained a silent spectator of the revolutionary winds that invaded the world, the price hikes, natural disasters, socio economic maze, lives and deaths. I chose to remain mum on issues that mattered to me directly or indirectly. For it felt like a trivial phase about to pass into oblivion, a train waiting to depart at any second. The train’s engine became the background sound to my existence. I was to get on the train anytime, just didnt know when…

The delirium is soon to follow or maybe it is what I m talking out of…

2011, what to expect from it

Is it the mid of January already? What? Seriously? And in no time this year will flash before our eyes and we will be reading the last page of 2011, the farewell. 

My last post was a rather heartbroken tale of material loss filled with anger and regret  and a tiny bit of hope in the backdrop as 2011 began. Today when I checked for any updates on the neglected blog, the comments there put a smile on my face. A batch mate, Amna (always goes through the torture of reading my writings hehe) wrote how she has lost some of her stuff and man do I salute her! She lost so much more than me! Then another valued reader, UTP had left a comment “you should be a stronger person after such an incident… my grandpa used to say… when something like a theft happened… “He needed it more…” I think he was right… in all cases…”   Indeed I feel that I am a stronger person now and it delights me how grandfathers and elders are so right. After all the hugs that my mother could give me, she said something on the same lines. Maybe those who stole needed it more than I did. Well enough of introspect I guess. It’s another year, another day and another story awaits us.

The rate at which days are passing by, in no time will we be lamenting our half done tasks, lost ‘to do’ lists and hopelessly catching up to the deadlines we set for ourselves as the year began. Before we start regretting more of our actions and reactions in the story we weave around us with every new day, it is better we remind ourselves of the follies we have already committed ( yes I use the word ‘committed’ since I feel, it puts the impact that ‘committing a sin’ clause can).

 At the beginning of a new year or while promising some resolutions though already knowing their fate even before the first month ends, many of us would ask the million dollar question – what is the mantra of living a better life; a life with less anger, less failures and more accomplishments, healthy relations and so much more.

From all the failings, like many of the readers must have had, I have learnt, that the backbone of cruising safely through life is attitude. Maybe we have read and heard this before. Ya ya attitude right!  Followed by a scornful laughter but it is true to some extent if not all.

We need to tailor our attitude towards life. A lot of things that come to us in life is because we unknowingly attract them. There are energies all around us and this brings us to the law of attraction of the Universe. The energies that emerge from us attract the energies of the Universe. If we emit positive energies, we will attract positive force from the Universe. No matter what religion we follow, most of us believe in the doctrine that a divine energy created this Universe. In Islam too we believe that our Creator asks us to pray to Him for what we need and wish for. That we should always hope for the best, we must avoid falling towards the negative and hopelessness. The long trail of ‘ifs’, ‘I wish’, ‘why me’ ‘another failure’ and ‘I m hopeless’ can easily be controlled if only we channel our thoughts with a clarity of our mind. Channeling our thoughts in the right direction gives way to the right attitude. Things that we think about and that keep us occupied become reality. Unconsciously first we create the thoughts and nurture them either positive or negative and see them turn into reality. We are in control of our life. We are the beings of love, intelligence, success and a lot more good things but at the same time we are also beings who have the power to nurture anger, failure, and revenge. Hence it is entirely on us, either we make it or break it. Whether we are optimistic or pessimistic generates from the kind of attitude we carry in life.
Bernard Shaw said “imagination is the beginning of creation. Imagine what you desire and desire what you imagine and finally you end up creating what you desire.”  Thus we need to imagine the best in life in order to transmit healthy positive vibes to the law of attraction. We can only expect from 2011 what we want it to be.

Bye bye 2010! thats the door, just leave!

Another year has come to its end. A new day is waiting to greet us with a mild winter sun peeking out of the massive caravan of clouds and fog. When I started thinking about the ‘last post of year 2010’ there were still a couple of weeks left in December ending. When I started writing the title and a few lines there was just one day left till the new year. I ended up hitting the ‘save’ button instead. Technically I m a  bit late in writing the ‘last’ post of 2010. Writing was never this tough for me. Some days I thought, I have lost interest in what I chose as a career, the line of journalism. To revive my lost enthusiasm for writing, I instantly go to my ‘how, why, where’ guru, the Google. It always ensures that this feeling is just temporary. Soon the writer’s block will end and I will be back to normal. *sigh*


 This time even Google didn’t have the answer to my otherwise described ‘writer’s block’ condition. It was something else. I knew why I wasn’t able to write for more than a month. I knew it all along. It was the excruciating feeling of loss that had send me into my shell. It was like the end of the world ! Nothing seemed to matter much. I was hiding in bed, under the warm blanket and thought this will last till eternity and  I will leave the world with  a broken heart and zilch in my ‘will’ for my next generation.


 I think I m now brave enough to come out of my cocoon and write what I should have written long ago to rid myself of the angst chained deep inside. The tragedy  was that I lost a laptop worth 70,000 Rs along with a hand-me-down mobile phone, wallet, cash, ID card and other accessories in an imported bag from my university during a class lecture while I was in the same room. All my data, thesis work, writings, pictures, songs, everything said bye bye to me and within seconds they vanished almost in front of my eyes thanks to the asses who are on a stealing spree this season. So I went saying  %$$#@&^#  *beep* *BEEP* and glaring at every person with the eye of suspicion.


The epic episode of the robbery/ theft is going to go down in history books for my generation to come. I was crying, panicking, running to trace the thieves with my head spinning and repeatedly saying ‘I cannot imagine this to be true’. Now that I recollect the fateful day, I realise the extent of my stupidity and the amount of tears I shed. if someone ‘consoles’ me about the mishap, I give it a good laugh and narrate the entire incident and the events that followed as if it just happened with one of the characters in the story I m writing.


The idea was to rid myself from the burden of losing some of my precious and valuable things. The more I think about it, it makes me feel not so me. Since when did I start to fuss about ‘material’ things.  I lost what I claimed to contain half of my life’s data. But then what? It was destined to happen that way. What was I gaining from emotionally breaking down for days and regretting the necessity of taking laptop to university.


I may never get my stolen stuff back despite all the efforts made to trace it and neither can I teach the moral less gang stealing others’ property a lesson. What else can you expect from people when the rulers of the country are no less than thieves themselves. Its not that other countries are crime free or that the people of my country are evil but the ratio of getting justice drops when the people at the top have excellent moral records. Nevertheless, I realised I cannot complain and whine and hide myself from the big bad world only because I faced this. This could happen to anyone. In fact this happens to a lot of people every single day around the world.


Though I cannot claim to be a ‘changed’ person after the horrible experience. I sure have realised that there are people suffering from bigger problems than me. In my own country many innocent people lose their loved ones to bombs, ethnic violence, drones and what not. Some people lose their new born babies and children to natural deaths or to pedophiles. What is my loss in comparison to the loss of human life?


As I come to the end of my catharsis filled post, I m shameful of the fact that it took me so long to pen this down. Lastly, IF anyone has reached the end of this irritatingly long whining post, seriously I feel for you. But nonetheless, happy new year! I m more than happy to say GOODBYE  to 2010…need I explain why? :p