The Man with the Blue Guitar

via Babu…

Wallace Stevens, “The Man with the Blue Guitar” (excerpts)

I

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”

II

I cannot bring a world quite round,
Although I patch it as I can.

I sing a hero’s head, large eye
And bearded bronze, but not a man,

Although I patch him as I can
And reach through him almost to man.

If to serenade almost to man
Is to miss, by that, things as they are,

Say it is the serenade
Of a man that plays a blue guitar.

III

Ah, but to play man number one,
To drive the dagger in his heart,

To lay his brain upon the board
And pick the acrid colors out,

To nail his thought across the door,
Its wings spread wide to rain and snow,

To strike his living hi and ho,
To tick it, tock it, turn it true,

To bang from it a savage blue,
Jangling the metal of the strings
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Dhoom Dhamaka!

Our friend Lapata is having an exhibition at Counter Pulse and I failed, miserably, to notify you. More importantly, I wasn’t able to attend in person.

She has put the works featured in the show on her flickr page: Dhoom Dhamaka! Show

I think some of her strongest work, to date, is being featured in this show – specifically, the Rasa series. Since she has portrayed generals and kings, she immediately got how a true theocratic-juristical Leader, such as me, should be captured. After a lengthy, exhaustive, and exhausting series of photo-shoots – scattered around the globe – she finally was able to capture the sprite that lurks behind my twinkling eyes. That iridescent smile.

Karuna
Bhayanak
Bibhatsa
Shanta
Adbhut
Raudra
Veer
Hasya
Shringar

In all seriousness, go see her show:

1. Dhoom Dhamaka!

Sept. 4 – Oct. 1

Opening reception: Sept. 4 at 6-8 PM.

CounterPulse
1310 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

The show will be held in conjunction with a performance by Joti Singh’s Duniya Dance Company. Performances will take place Sept. 11-13 at 8 PM.

The theme? The War on Terror! Paintings are shown in the lobby and can be seen from 12-6 Tues-Fri, at the opening, and during the performance (where they will be projected onto the stage). For more information about purchasing tickets ($12-$20) for the performance and directions to the venue, visit CounterPulse .

Ramadan: The Night Rides

originally posted September 13, 2007

Jagtay Raho was the ever-contradictory yell uttered at regular intervals by the night watchman in our neighborhood. He was a wizened old man, at least I think he was old, who carried a heavy stick and sometimes a M1 Carbine. Jagtay Raho, he would dramatically intone right as he passed by our house. Stay Awake. As far as I could tell, the man served no purpose beside making me furious. Except during Ramadan. That is when he would switch his 3 a.m. cry to Uth Jao. Sahri ka Waqt Hai, Wake Up, it is time to eat before the fast.

In Ramadan, Lahore lit up like one of those trick candles. Bright and shimmery. The usual rhythms of the city reversed themselves. Streets became navigable. Cranky butchers threw in an extra chop. Aunties bargained but with lips muttering silent prayers. There was less noise. More genialness. The blast of the anti-aircraft guns to signal the breaking of the fast. The mounds and mounds of dates. The fried foods and fresh fruits piled on the same table. The 7Up in Milk cold drink. The pakoras. The uncle sneaking a cigarette smoke behind the tree. The unexplained weight gain on certain people. The never-ending taraveeh. Qur’an on a loop on the telly. The fetishization of color. And an ever-growing sense of invincibility in my 14 year old self.

I don’t know about spiritual blessings but Ramadan was solely a time for me to flex my muscles. I could fast – exalted in the complete mastery over my own flesh – all day, and still play a game of cricket or squash, run countless errands, and bike to school and back. All this in the oppressive heat and humidity of July and August. Tough, doesn’t even begin to describe me.

Look Ma, no food.

The glories of keeping full fast – for a whole month – while patiently waiting the last excruciating hours of the sinking sun were too many to describe: One would get trotted out to the company of adults and praised for one’s dedication and stamina; one would get to brag and lord over one’s peers and friends who only managed to fast for 24 or 29 days; one would strain to remember the last Ramadan – was I three, I wonder? – when one didn’t hold an entire month’s fast.

But all that glory paled, at least in my eyes, to the pitch black night bicycle ride to the market. To get fresh yogurt. I mean, not only are you awake when the world is supposed to be asleep. But everyone is awake. Except no cars are on the street. I would zig and zag on my bike all the way to the kulcha and yogurt shop, whizzing through the night mist, thrilled to be out there before the false dawn.

My rosy nostalgia aside, Ramadan Mubarak to all of you gentle readers.

Agency

Pakistan is in dire straits. It is a nation at a crossroads. Extremism is around the corner. The politicians are corrupt. The nukes could end up in the hands of bin Laden.

Pakistan is in dire straits. Its people demand accountability. Those who claim to protect it and make it prosperous seem busy keeping themselves in power. There is no hope for change since the people have no power. They are stuck under a dictator. If the citizens of Pakistan are to be real agents of change, they need a way forward. They need democracy.

In March of 2007, when lawyers came out on the streets, there were only two available narratives. Those who held a results-based approach argued that Musharraf’s dictatorial regime was the best case scenario, the lesser of the two evils. The evil being, of course, justice, accountability and democracy. They raised the specter of rampant jihadism spreading through the populations. They pointed towards the economic development that had occurred on Musharraf’s watch. They warned that Pakistan had some amazingly corrupt politicians. And that US needed a stable ally, a dependable ally, in our war against terror(ism).
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