It was apparently a Kennedy family motto to never get mad, but instead to get even. Mere anger was by itself not a sufficient catharsis — an affront called for retaliation in kind. I recall this little dictum from my repository of Kennedy folklore because I’ve always found it an attractive philosophy. But what shape should the revenge take? And should one repay a dastardly act with something equally dastardly? Gandhi once famously said that if everyone espoused the philosophy of an “eye for an eye” everyone in the world would be blind.
Such ruminations on what constitutes revenge and payment in kind came to mind after I left the Kabuki theater following a screening of Kore-eada’s Hana. Remember that I said I’d review it as part of my role as a member of the citizen press corps? Hana is a beautiful, slow-moving treatise on the subject of revenge and forgiveness, steeped in Japanese samurai culture, and set in a time when the samurai are pretty much extraneous. Kore-eada’s story takes place in the Edo era (old Tokyo, circa 1701) when there are no battles to be fought, and the glorious samurai of yore basically sit around unemployed as festering malcontents.
Thanks to the good auspices of Kevin Smokler (who I met at South By Southwest), I get a press pass to the San Francisco International Film Festival as part of the Citizen Media Press Corps. I love the movies with a passion, and the film festival circuit is a great place to catch movies that aren’t out in popular release yet. There are also some movies that you can probably only see on the festival circuit. For the next week, expect a lot of posts about the movies, which I’ll file under Society | At My Leisure. Here’s what I’ll be up to with my press pass audaciously hanging from my neck.
I turned older sometime this weekend, in China Town, at the EZ5, surrounded by people I love. It was a great birthday. The bar even sprung a surprise on me — a very eccentric surprise — the kind you have to grin and bear. Celebrations are always so awkward and beautiful.
This post is about (really, really) bad television, senatorial gaffes, and melanin. Mainly about melanin. For whatever reason, this Superbowl weekend (yes, yes, go Colts) a lot of people wanted to talk about race with me.
Ordinarily, that’s not really a topic I am likely to broach of my own accord. Mind you, I’m not reluctant to talk about race. If I was tongue-tied when put on the spot, it was mainly because my mental machinery takes time to warm up to the subject. This weekend, I distinctly felt that people were asking me my opinion because of my own melanin content — that is, because I’m Indian, the intrepid conversationalists assumed that (rightly or wrongly) I must have something interesting to say about the subject of race. And maybe that’s not a far-fetched assumption.
Something must be going on in the collective zeitgeist (and note that it’s also Black History Month). I got roped into two discussions on the subject, not to mention the fact that race issues featured at the Superbowl as well (e.g. see the numerous stories about the respective coaches). But here’s what happened this weekend, and here’s what motivates my current musings.
I’m in Bangalore after two days in Paris, sipping my mother’s strong coffee and sort of gazing off into the horizon from our balcony. And OK, I’m not as impecunious as George Orwell was when he wrote the book that influences the title of this blog post. I’m just taking some artistic license.
I spent two days in Paris, traveling with Vice Vik, also on his way to Bangalore. Paris was awash in a constant drizzle, but I stayed in Le Marais in a quirky little hotel and still walked around a great deal. This whole trip has been a wonderful geographically staggered homecoming. And I’m awash in sentiment.