Good Old Neon – Book Review

The book is about the depth of narcissism a person can fall off to. That could be the shortest summary of it. But it is not that narcissism that we encounter in daily lives of people. Its also not that trope about human trait, that we have grown so accustomed to hear about in the popular cultural discourse. Its deeper than that. Its the narcissism a person would confess to himself, the deepest level(or that there are no levels to it and it is indeed,a pit-less hole) of which is known only to him, and the hopelessness of its condition apparent in his own self. No consolation coming his way, the protagonist in the story is a tragic as well as a despicable character. A person who does everything with the sole intent to be the centre of attention, to have fame, to have laurels awarded to him. But maybe,at some instance in the story, we realise, arent we all like that? Like that, and unaware of it. Unaware of our own conditions, our own vanity and unmitigated pride. Well self awareness is the key, and this story is not very much unlike another classic named ‘Notes from Underground’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Its different only in the way that instead on focusing much on the cause,unlike ‘Notes from Underground’, it focuses more on the effectual manifestation of that awareness and how very miserable it makes the life of its beholder.


The book is humorous in parts, at the same time deeply sad and tragic as we see a person being driven to madness by his narcissism (or merely his acute self awareness of it?). From his work-space to his yoga classes, from his general relationships to the relationship he has with his own psychiatrist. Nothing remains untainted by his self aggrandisement and his frail efforts to limit, hide or overcome it. But even in his overcoming, there is pride, even in his restraint, he finds ways to lift himself up in eyes of those around him, to get there reverence and respect. All the while well aware of its shallowness and the act he is putting on for them. The sadness of the story can only be grasped once the reader immerses himself in the world of Neon and become one with his vanity.


All the Pretty Horses – Book Review

The book like all other Mccarthy’s work focuses on a facet of American life which is quite niche, but still forms the backbone of its society. Its not just by chance that he is considered a living legend in American literary landscape. Set in American south, it covers the aspects of life on the continent which transcends national boundaries, a major portion of which is pivoted around Horses. Horse, if not considered divine, is still a very revered animal in North America, its slaughter banned across many U.S states, and consumption of its meat, a tabooed and outlawed practice. Partly because, in my understanding,as Horses were the major tool used by the Europeans to subjugate and conquer the new world.

But the story is not just about Horses and their many uses. McCarthy uses the Horse to move along his story, but the story doesn’t solely revolves around them.It starts as a representation of the yearning for a simpler times, in hearts of the protagonist of the story, who is living in New Mexico in late 40s. He, who, along with his mate,venture out south into Mexico, after a tragedy in his family,in search of his own unique idyllic hero story, kinds of which were found in abundance in these lands, during an earlier epoch,just after the discovery of the continent. There, he meets stranger, yet familiar people, starts working as a Horse trainer on a ranch, falls in love with an unattainable mistress, and falls out of it, is wronged and takes revenge for that wrong. All of it, not very much unlike a typical Hollywood western movie plot-line, though set in the dustier and poorer towns of mexico and the quiter and harsher desert and wilderness of the mexican terrain which comes at him more readily with death and doom. Its one of those perfect Hero stories, but with the only difference being that at the end of it, after defeating the dragon, when the hero returns to his own place of origin, he has nothing worthwhile to share with his community. No gold, no skill, that he can use to enrich others, no stories to tell which anyone would listen to or find any meaning in.

In this sense, McCarthy work generally revolve around a lot many of such “Anti-Hero” stories. Not in the way that they chart out the trajectory of life of an Anti-Hero, but that they start off as a typical Hero story, but slow down and become absurd toward the middle, and even when the archetype plays itself out in the background, there is this lingering feeling in reader’s mind which grows, that something is amiss, something is not right. And as the story draws to a close, and Hero’s journey lays complete, there is no satisfaction in the soul of the reader as nothing substantial seemed to have came out of it. As if all the struggle, all the trouble of the hero, all the battles he waged, were for nothing. I have read “The Road” and “The Sunset Limited”by the same author, and I can say the same about both of those stories. In this way, if not a Nihilist, then at least, for sure, Cormac McCarthy comes out as an absurdist in his writing, where he can not, or wills not, to make his stories about some superordinate principle, some overarching moral tale which enrich the reader with the sense of some understanding about this world and the people who inhabit it.


What is it exactly, when people talk about it romantically, “Go with the flow.”? What is that even supposed to mean exactly..? The nature of human will is to take firm stands and oppose forces of nature including other human beings. To be firm and unmovable is a quality worth aspiring for, not the polar opposite of it, or it isn’t..?
And what if the thing which we call ‘Love’ is just a superficial, abstract phenomenological development out of the dominance games we play in the society as a means to chose for the best gene pools to be transferred to the next generation..?

But,in the end Who knows definatively? Who could be taken as arbiter of truth? Who can claim such and still not proclaim himself a god? If survival is the only characteristic of existence, I think ‘Mother Nature’ won’t mind losing hundreds of ‘Divine individuals'(as they are known across the individualistic societies around the world) in the bad gene pool, to a good one with a couple of high performing brutes, with ambition strong enough to even shatter mountains with a glance. One which has traits and qualities which facilitates existence of humans in their harsh environments in the coming future and not to hinder this natural process.

Winter Skies

There is a certain hue to the winter skies. Even on those sunny days, when its all blue and vast in its mejestic expanse, as you look above at it, standing alone, or with friends, somewhere in an open field, with mildly cold, but pleasant, winds surrounding you from all sides, you can feel the skies having this, kind of a character, to it.
Like faded color on a canvas, with the blue giving way to the yellowish and white on the edges, as your vision moves more towards the horizons, you notice them actually covered in chrome, or a dull blue at best.You see the whole sky filled with twirling particles, atleast in your vision, and beyond that, a sense of well being prevails in your soul,something that which you can not shed, atleast on these sunny days, which might’ve come after a streak of gloomy, clouded months, during which you were struck in your house as the world outside went into a quiet slumber.

But even now, on these sunny days, its as if that sullen world overlays itself , as a weak filter from the past, on your frame of the here and now, and makes you feel sad thinking about it, yet cheerful in a way… grateful , thay those days are over and now you can bask yourself in the winter sun and spring might be just around the corner.

Unrequited Love

          There is a certain aura to love that didn’t last, or even didn’t take off, to begin with. There are so many possibilities… , unknown, untraced, left back in an uncharted territory, which was never explored, never came to be, never materialised in the real world. No wonder, it has been of so much importance in lives of people all throughout the ages. Right from poets of such repute as Dante, to writer of such stature as Marquez. This chimera, has attracted attention of, and consumed many people in its liar, over the years.

People are generally drawn towards the unknown, towards places they couldn’t go, to things they were never able to do. We are wired to explore the chaos of existence. And such relationships are our forays in that domain. In the domain of the unknown. If you were with someone and now no longer are, that fact in itself, represents to you , deep down in your subconsciousness, all other worlds you could’ve inhabited where you could’ve been with the person whom you are no longer with. All those unknown worlds beckon you. They draw you towards them. And you feel enticed by them, entangled in them, unable to and unaware of the need to, move on.

Something similar happens when you love someone and he/she doesn’t love you back. That person become the representative of unknown, or in many cases, unknowable, in your world.He/she represent everything that you are not. They represent a world so far removed from yours that you think of all the things you could be in their world, or they in yours. But nevertheless, they signal to you the chaos that lies outside the boundaries of your knowledge, of all the things outside your field of existence, that which you are not, and probably could never be. Places you could never be at, or hardly reach. OF STRINGS OF FATE WHICH YOU CAN NEVER EVER IMAGINE TO UNDULATE.


But that is where we go wrong.. in my opinion.. Because improvement is an unending process and perfection never comes, and even any proximity to it doesn’t come at snap of a finger, but sometime might take generations. There is that saying which goes something on the lines of, “Opposites attracts, same repels”, but in the search of people who are too much different than yourself, you are in a way, challenging a dragon of chaos which is far much bigger and stronger than you are ready to handle, and that dragon could eat you. And that happens with a lot of people,.. in their relationships, the dragon of chaos swallows them alive. So, not to say that the struggle is futile, the search meaningless and the feelings that you feel, unreal.. but sometimes you have to recognise your current boundaries of being and the the limit to which you can stretch them. And yes, that limit might be infinite, but this life is very short, and time is running out fast, and you have already lost a lion’s share of that.

So better move on?

True Love

Do you believe in this.. ? The idea of true love…? That something is so pure out there, so great and so unconditional that it is something that which can save you from yourself…? From your own shortcomings and your own failings…? 

I mean you can very well believe in something like this and still feel inadequate , incomplete and irredimable. Because nothing saves you… , nothing comes along and lift you up by your bootstraps. You have to do all of that yourself . You have your god, and your own unknown self, to an extent, to fill off the gaps of inadequacies and shortcomings in your owb life to live more freely, more openly, and to confront the realities of existence. 

Something, at which, you might be good or bad at. To confront the realities of existence. Depending on your personality as you would have been at that given moment in your life. Because that’s how it is supposed to be. To be and not be at the same moment when it comes to things like this. To be a shareholder in and be a part of a life you mightve never ever thought of for yourself in the long run..? Right…?

(Note – The picture is of the character of Carmela Soprano, from the tv show, Sopranos, a character, using which, all these themes I talk about, are explored in great detail over the course of the show, and something that made me think about all this stuff)

Existential Balance

The struggle in the social domain, I think , on an interpersonal level, is to find a balance between the Darwinian power struggle in the evolutionary realm, and the bonds of compassion and understanding we forge with strangers to form an in-group, in the long term, where we can rely on each other, and trust each other and mean something to each other in this life.

The struggle is always there, on an underlying level, the primordial , animalistic struggle to dominate over one another. At the same time, there is an urge to form connections with people around us, to live harmoniously and peacefully, and if possible, to whatever extent, blissfully, juggling these balls of tension and cohesion concurrently and finding a way through existence.

Sopranos Existentialism

Sopranos shows us that only if those people ,who are living the most accomplished of lives in fields where they are confronted by the existential suffering of being much more acutely than the rest of the population, could have the insight and the vision, or develop one to become self realised enough to become aware of their “condition”, then the idea is presented with much more authority and rigour than when being pontified by a pot smoking, pot bellied virgin, nobody , who lives a miserable existence.


You are sitting in a vehicle and always looking toward the front , of things coming your way, or you anticipate them coming your way. Never looking at the things passing you by.

 Those things which you are anticipating to come, approach slowly at first, then rush towards you and pass you by in a blip, but by the time they approach you, you have already lost interest in them and your focus of attention has shifted towards the next upcoming thing. This is the basic difference between a child and a grown up travelling in a vehicle. While the child is mostly enamoured by his immediate surroundings, the thing passing him by in the present moment, adults are not. And even for this they are not to be blamed, they have already lost their keen senses of perceptions, needed to live in the here and now, long back, and even if they try to focus on their present surroundings, they won’t be successful due to their short attention spans.

Love Saves

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There is a redeeming value to Love. Even if we might be unaware of it, it exists.Requited, unrequited, accepted, unaccepted, distant, near, even fake love. Yes,even if Love is faked, just for the jest of it, would start changing you in ways you could never imagine. It would start opening neurological pathways in your brains and would make you look for possibilities and options and hope in places where you might’ve overlooked it, or not even thought of could’ve ever expected to exist int the first place. It gives you courage to grapple with the meaninglessness of existence in constructive ways.It gives you a motive to exist in this cruel world,giving you mode to exist in all the absurdities of life, it makes existence and thousands of its discontents, bearable.

A lot of troubled and resentful people around the world who do all kinds of horrible things to themselves and people around them, are just unloved, seeking it in their own ways, no matter what that might mean to them. Unloved people do things which make the suffering of existence worse than what it already is.  Our aim should always be to lessen it, not to add to it as it is as bad as it is, in itself.