Friday, March 07, 2008

P for Playtime

For once, I am playing one of the 'games people play'. For those just discovering the blogosphere, an ongoing fad is a game called tagging. The rules are simple: take a letter of the alphabet, think of as many words as you can, and type out what each word means to you. It doesn't stop here. You need to pick a fellow-blogger and assign him or her a letter too, for the show to go on. That's how I got here, with the letter P assigned to me here...(do visit this to get a hang of what the game is)


At first sight, I had dismissed this as a frivolous exercise, but I then thought that this will be a great way to engage in my liking for collage, as well as for alliteration! Here goes my shot at the tagging game, with triads of words revolving around a certain theme.

It amuses me to start such a contemporary game with something as classical as characters in Greek mythology, each epitomizing a human trait.

Prometheus : The Titan who gifted fire to mankind; the synonym for pioneer
Pandora : The example of unrestrained curiosity and unwitting folly leading to much misery
Pan : The cheerful guardian of shepherds, letting us know that the greatest of us need not outgrow the thrill of merriment

Let us move from Greek myths to English literature, naming three literary works that between them span the entire gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous in the human condition.

Paradise Lost: An epic poem of inevitable human folly, inescapable diabolical cunning and inscrutable divine plans
The Prince and the Pauper: A historical novel on accidents of birth and appearances that are deceptive
The Pickwick Papers: Anecdotes that make a reader both laugh and sigh; presenting humour of all hues with generous streaks of black humour

Let us move on now from words to pictures; to images which have become inextricably entwined with ideas seemingly far removed from them. Incidentally, we move on from books to a publisher!

Penguin: Exotic, distant and often ponderous; like the ideas and worlds in books bearing this age-old well-loved logo
Panda: Endangered and emblematic; a potent and poignant WWF visual of a lurking,looming wildlife void
Puma: Feline fleet of foot, lending its name to shoemakers promising agility and athleticism

Let's watch some feline stances now since they have made their presence felt anyway.

Prowl: This surreptitious, stealthy motion isn't just feline anymore; with stalkers on the loose in our cities and smear campaigns underway in our organizations.
Prance: Strutting the stuff with carefree abandon seems to be the humans' preferred gait as well with ostentation and hedonism becoming second nature.
Pounce: Many of our actions mimic this feline move not in swiftness but in haste, not in finesse but just in force.

Staying with fauna, let us look at some birds which are perennial metaphors which remind of some perennial questions.
Pigeon: Is timidity often mistaken for a peace-loving nature?
Peacock: Is the idea of understated elegance forgotten in times of lavish extravagance?
Parrot: Is all repetition unintelligent and is all originality an improvement?

Speaking of repetition and originality, the discourse of men and nations can be...
Profound: Often what is profound sounds too simple to be so; like the Zen koans, the Confucian Analects, everyday rustic wisdom and every forgotten home-truth.
Profane: Much of what is now sacred began in a seeming sacrilege, and what is now the world's most populous faith is based on the words of the Saviour who called the holiest shrine of his religion 'a den of thieves'.
Profuse: Much of today's discourse by commentators, analysts, experts, madarins and pundits is just profuse, diffuse, voluble and vacuous.

Not all the experts and think-tanks in the world have been able to heal the ills which plague our planet.
Plagues: Don't pandemic bird flue and SARS, and looming smog and acid rain sound eerily similar to the Plagues of Egypt in the Old Testament? It's just that much of it is human doing and not divine retribution.
Pleas: Unheard pleas from war-zones, refugee camps, indigenous peoples on the verge of extinction, communities displaced by industrial juggernauts remain cries in the wilderness possibly presaging a wasteland to come.
Pledges: Pledges deafen men and nations to pleas; pledges in the form of alliances, allegiances, trade balances and treaties which reduce climate change to just the Kyoto Protocol, and genocides to statistics.

It is not often pledges made and promises to keep which drive men though. What drives us mainly is
Profit: 'It's the money, honey!'
Praise: Adulation is addictive.
Pride: A personal ego-trip beats any paid holiday.

Civilization owes much to those who served passions greater than their personal desires, and it is such yearnings that underlie..
Philosophy: The human endeavor which concerns itself with questions more than answers, and more importantly in knowing what makes a question worthwhile and what makes an answer true.
Physical Science: The human endeavor that is relieving mankind from enslavement to the elements, conquering the tyranny of geography, prolonging life by human effort and enriching life with comforts
Philanthropy: The urge for human welfare which addresses the ends of human endeavour while science simply provides the means

Selfish or unselfish, individual or collective; success in human endeavour results from balancing thought and action and especially realizing the subtle difference between what is:
Practical: Whether the situation considered is an actual happening or a thought-up possibility
Practicable: Given an actual happening, whether the change we suggest is possible
Pragmatic: Given an actual happening, and given possible changes, whether we are willing to disregard convention and push limits

For success in endeavours, stopping to think and avoiding pitfalls is as important as 'going for it', as they adages go...
Pause: "Look before you leap"
Pass: "Let well alone".
Pace: "Strike when the iron is hot!"

Achieving success means giving our best at every given time..
Past: This offers lessons, not regrets.
Present: This is the world we seek and all that is in it. Alas! How often do we glimpse just its shadow in the past or its mirage in the future.
Posterity: This should offer hope, not anxieties.

Three simple words can in fact present an entire philosophy of life, which is easier read than practised. This will be a fitting way to conclude.
Pay : Pay your debts...to everyone who did you the slightest favour. Pay your respects...to those who walked before you and paved the way.
Play: Play your role. Play fair.
Pray: It matters not whether we prostrate or join hands. What matters is that we pray!

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Well...to keep the game going
Letter C: Kunal : http://needlessinsights.blogspot.com/
Letter W: Vishwanath: http://venue4venu.blogspot.com/

Postscript: Much as I enjoyed this, I would like this to be a one-off. Avoid back-tagging please!

1 comment:

The Lithiumhead said...

I know this is a bit out of place for your Pristine blog but I couldnt stop myself

Shinchan has a nice take on manhood...

P for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mevydTIdAww