14 March 2007


Mel Gibson's Apocalypto is an entertaining film, but I have some issues with it. It doesn't paint a very flattering picture of the Mayans. The human sacrifice part is authentic, but Gibson doesn't stop there. He shows them as ugly, cruel and uncivilised. It can almost be read as a justification of the Spanish conquest. There is no mention of the Mayans' achievements in mathematics, astronomy, art and architecture.

Btw, the film begins with a quote from Will Durant: "A great civilisation is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." Something to think about...

09 March 2007

Two Passings

Noted journalist and literary critic Sham Lal passed away a couple of weeks ago. He was editor of Times of India from 1967 to 1978 (before our time). But he was best known for his book review column 'Life and Letters'. A collection of his reviews was published as A Hundred Encounters, a book that can be considered an introduction to 20th century Western thought and literature.

Coincidentally, one of the thinkers reviewed in A Hundred Encounters was Jean Baudrillard - who also passed away, this week. Baudrillard is commonly described as a post-modernist, but that term does not convey much useful information. Trained as a sociologist, he is famous for his theory of hyper-reality. Most people were first introduced to Baudrillard in the film Matrix, where his book 'Simulacra and Simulacrum' makes a brief appearance.

Peace Keepers

(My recent posts have been about death and destruction. For a change, here's a feel good story)

The UN peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon has, as usual, a contingent of Indian troops. And these men are teaching Yoga to the local kids, who are taking to it eagerly.

Keep it up guys! You make us proud, both on the battlefield and off it. Uncle Sam can learn a thing or two about winning hearts and minds from you.