Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Children of Darkness

Darkness is a pervasive theme in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth.  The play opens with three witches one of whom says ominously, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”

The protagonists are Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth both of whom are described as ‘children of darkness’ by the Shakespearean scholar A. C. Bradley.  It is worth quoting Bradley in some detail.

“These two characters are fired by one and the same passion of ambition; and to a considerable extent they are alike.  The disposition of each is high, proud, and commanding.  They are born to rule, if not to reign.  They are peremptory or contemptuous to their inferiors.  They are not children of light, like Brutus and Hamlet; they are of the world.  We observe in them no love of country, and no interest in the welfare of anyone outside their family.  Their habitual thoughts and aims are ... all of station and power.”

Ambition in itself is a good thing.  But when ambition is coupled with the characteristics highlighted in the quote above, it paves the way to darkness. 

Psychologist Karen Horney (1885-1952) listed ten sources of inner conflicts which give rise to neurotic needs in people.  One such source is ‘the neurotic need for power’.  This need expresses itself in craving power for its own sake, in an essential disrespect for others, and in an indiscriminate glorification of strength and a contempt for weakness.  People who are afraid to exert power openly may try to control others through intellectual exploitation and superiority.  Another variety of the power drive is the need to believe in the omnipotence of will.  Such people feel they can accomplish anything simply by exerting will power. [as summarised by C. S. Hall et al in Theories of Personality]

The similarity between Bradley’s (a literary critic) and Horney’s lists of characteristics of the power-hungry is striking.

We come across people who suffer from this “neurotic need” all too often in our surroundings, not just in politics.  Horney’s solution for this problem is that the person should understand (or be made to understand) that his/her worth does not lie in sitting on a throne pretending or claiming to be a god/goddess.  Psychologically healthy life lies in learning to live with other people on a kind of equal footing, accepting them as they are as well as accepting oneself without the facades of the inflated ego. 

Horney, however, added that the neurotic is not flexible.  Hence the change is not at all easy.  In the words of the literary critic, that neuroticism is the “tragic flaw of the character.”

Not all neuroticism makes people children of darkness.  The simple fact is that most of us possess certain degrees of neuroticism of one kind or another.  The problem is when we start inflicting other people with the fallout of our neuroticism.  It is then that we become the children of darkness and create a world where fair is foul and foul is fair. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Centenary of World War I

Today (July 28) is the centenary of World War I (WWI).  The War started as a family affair and then spread to the whole world because of more family affairs.  Wars are, more often than not, family affairs even today.  We, the human beings, are still as clannish as we were when our forefathers descended from the tree and started feeling ashamed of the groins that gave birth to families.  Shame breeds wars.  Shame is the other side of honour.  

What triggered WWI was the murder of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand.  The year was 1914.  France was already a republic and England was a constitutional monarchy.  The rest of Europe remained conservative monarchies.  But the monarchies were already feeling the fire beneath their bottoms because of what had happened in France and England.  The common man was beginning to assert himself.

It was a common man who shot the archduke Francis Ferdinand.  A common man’s crime could not have triggered a world war. 

Francis Ferdinand was the nephew of the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph.  Francis Ferdinand was a close friend of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm.  Connections.  Relationships.  Politics is all about connections and relationships, whatever illustrious historians may tell us.

But the historians are not all wrong, of course.  How can they be?  They are the scholars who determine for us, the ordinary mortals, what is right and wrong.

Historians are the people who will make a mahatma the villain and a villain the mahatma.  Wait and see how it is going to happen in India in the coming few months.  NCERT is going to rewrite history textbooks.   Just as it did when BJP came to power the last time.

During the WWI, the Prussian field marshal Helmuth von Moltke wrote: “Perpetual peace is a dream, and not even a beautiful dream.  War is part of God’s order.  Without war, the world would stagnate and lose itself in materialism.  In it, Man’s most noble virtues are displayed – courage and self-denial, devotion to duty, willingness to sacrifice oneself, and to risk life itself.

In August 1914, young men in Europe rushed to enlist themselves in the army of their countries.  They wanted to relish the entertainment called war. 

Today, we are told that young men of India are going to the Arab countries to fight against the enemies of Islam.  War is a good entertainment, it seems, even today.

In the olden days, Kings led their soldiers to wars when they were bored of the women and wine in their respective palaces. 

Can we give more entertainment to people and avoid war?  I think it is possible.  But the entertainment has to be more stupid than what we are providing already on the numerous TV channels.  We should give a lot of God on the channels. 

Freedom is something that people can’t understand.  Enslave them with God and spirituality.  Temples and Mosques have failed.  Give them God on TV screens and computer screens.  Make God digital.  Make God a relevant drug. 

WWI marked the final end of absolute monarchies in Europe.  Yet there was another World War just a few decades later.  Why?  Because there were too many people in Germany, the country that was defeated in WWI, who were unemployed.  Too much poverty.  Too much exploitation.  And Germany sought its saviour in Hitler.

Hitlers create wars.  They don't know how to create relevant Gods.

These are some random thoughts of mine on the centenary of WWI.  I’m no historian, no scholar, no strategist.  I am not one of those Israelis who entertain themselves watching their missiles kill hundreds of people in the Gaza strip. I’m not one of those “experts” who are going to rewrite the history of India in the coming days. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014


An eagle I saw in Orcha a few months back

I fly, I fly high, I fly very high,
Heights are in my genes,
My eyrie is on the cliff
With no egg waiting to hatch.

Eagle’s eggs are eaten by scavenging crows.

They descend, the crows descend,
And feed on the maggots that breed on the garbage
Thrown by you people all over what you call civilisation –
In the backyard of the plaza or the foreground of Gaza.

The carrion of your civilisation nauseates me.                    
I cannot lay eggs anymore.
My bones shrink at the sight of your city.
I’ll be the missing link between man and humanity.

I’ll die in my eyrie one day
Without any egg to hatch,
Without offspring,
Without grief.

My unlaid egg is waiting for the Darwinian mutation
in my eyrie

where scavenging crows strive to ascend.

Friday, July 25, 2014



The end of a party leaves you with a feeling of emptiness.  The people leave after the singing, dancing and eating.  The noise subsides.  The balloons burst in the heat. 

What remains are the plates and utensils to be washed up.

“Put Raman to bed while I do the dishes,” says the exhausted wife to the husband.

The husband is very understanding.  He knows that his wife is even more exhausted than he is.  They are a working couple.  The corporate bosses suck both their blood in equal measures from the waking time of 5 am to the bedtime of 12 midnight.  The time at home is also dedicated to answering emails of their respective bosses and transferring the profits to the bank balances of the bosses or the bosses’ relatives or the relatives’ relatives. 

The son’s birthday party was just over.  The children of the neighbouring flats were invited.  The least they could do for their only son who had just turned five. 

“Tell me a story, dad,” said Raman as soon as he tucked himself beneath the bed sheet.  The cooler whirred at the window.

Mum always put the boy to sleep with a tale, he knew it.  A fairy tale, in all probability.  Mum had a lot of dreams.  Those who dream a lot have a lot fairies in their stories.

“Once upon a time,” he started.

“Oh!” said his son, “don’t tell me those stupid stories, please.  No more kings and queens.”

“No, sonny,” he said.  “Not about kings and queens.  It’s about you.  You and me and mum.”

Raman looked at Dad as if he was the biggest fraud in the world. 

“Once upon a time,” said Dad ignoring his son’s eyes, “there was a boy.  The boy was good.  Too good.  So good that nobody liked him.”

Raman’s eyes lit up with a sparkle that was almost blinding. 

“His friends thought that he was an idiot.  They teased him.  They called him names.  They called him Chamcha.  They called him Mama’s boy.  They called him Boy.  He didn’t understand any of those names.  He didn’t understand why his classmates or any other boys never allowed him to join their company.  They seemed to hate him.  So Boy went and sat under a tree.”

 “Like Isaac Newton waiting for the apple?” asked Raman.

“Who told you about Isaac Newton?”  Dad was surprised. 

“I read in the Children’s Digest.  Cartoon strip.”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Like Isaac Newton.  And Boy dreamt.  Like Isaac Newton.  He dreamt of a world of apple trees on the mountains.  Dreamt.  Dreamt of golden marigolds in verdant valleys.  Of the silver brook that babbles down the pebbly mountain into the verdant valley.  Of the fish that swim and birds that sing.  Of wheat that sways in the wind and jasmines that dream in the night ...”

“You’re a good story teller,” said Wife when she came in having completed her work in the kitchen.   “I never managed to put him to sleep so quickly.”

“Jasmines are dreaming in his mind,” said Husband. 

Let him dream.  Let him dream until his mind will be stripped of the dreams.

He hugged his wife.  They kissed each other.  And they forgot their weariness. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Ocean Beckons

“Anybody who’s ever mattered, anybody who’s ever been happy, anybody who’s given any gift into the world has been a divinely selfish soul, living for his own best interest.  No exceptions.”

Einstein didn’t discover the theories and formulas of relativity with the intention of serving humanity.  It was his interest, his passion, to dwell on such matters.  Otherwise he wouldn’t have been Einstein.  His mind was such that it couldn’t be satisfied with anything less than those ethereal concepts.

There are hundreds of artists, writers, scientists, who defied well-established and domineering (even ominously threatening) authorities in order to express the truths they had discovered.  Galileo, for example.  Even Salman Rushdie, why not?

Most of us are not Einsteins and Galileos.  We are ordinary mortals who would like to do our ordinary jobs to the best of our abilities and earn our living which will help us live happily with our families or engaging in our hobbies or other meaningful passions after the regular work hours. 

What if that bread-earning work becomes an oppression for the soul?  What if the work environment changes all of a sudden for reasons beyond our control, tossing us into a new world with a structure that sits on us like the yoke on the neck of a bullock?

It is in such times that I’m reminded of Richard Bach’s reluctant Messiah whom I have quoted at the beginning of this piece.  You can quit the job even if it is your life’s mission when it becomes unbearable, that’s one of the fundamental messages of Bach’s book [Illusions]. 

“I command you to be happy in the world, as long as you live.”  Suppose God tells this to an individual what would he do?  Go your way, discover your happiness, says the Messiah’s God in Bach’s novel.

Let not the system kill your creativity.  Let not the system sap your vitality.  Let not experts define the crests and troughs of the wave that you are commanded by them to surf.  The vast ocean beckons you.  The ocean does not command you anything.  You can ride any wave.  But the ocean has its own laws.  If you break them, they will break you.

They are the laws of the ocean.  You should know them if you want to break free from the structures laid around you like a debilitating trap by people who call themselves experts.  You are the expert in the ocean if you know the laws of the ocean. 

Ready to break out of the structure?  The ocean beckons you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

People and human beings

In George Eliot’s novel, Silas Marner, the eponymous hero is a man who felt deceived by both god and man.  His close friend deceived him by implicating him in a theft committed by the former.  Since Marner was known for his honesty and goodness, the matter was taken to God.  The lot drawn before God after the ritual of a prayer incriminated Marner again.  The worst stab in the innocent heart of Marner was when his fianceé abandoned him to marry the man who had done the terrible injustice to him.

Marner leaves the place heartbroken and settles down in Raveloe as a solitary weaver who does not socialise at all.  He cannot bring himself to join any human company.  He has lost faith in mankind.  He has lost faith in God too.  However, when he sees Sally Oates suffering from the same disease which his mother had suffered from, the natural goodness in Marner well up.  He prepares a concoction for Sally and it heals her.  Marner becomes famous in Raveloe as a man with occult powers to heal incurable diseases.  People flock to him for medicines.  He drives them away telling them the truth that he has no such powers as they imagine.  But people are people.  They accuse him of being wicked.  They blame him for all the ills that befall them.

The novel is set in the beginning of 19th century.  Two centuries later, today, has the human nature altered anyway in this regard? 

Marner was good and honest.  He did not lose those qualities in spite of his bitter experiences.  That’s why he helped Sally Oates.  That is also why he refused to help the others.  He did not want to be a charlatan who cheated them by giving false medication.   But people did not care to understand.

That is why Robert Zend said, “There are too many people, and too few human beings.”  Diogenes, the Greek philosopher (412-323 BCE), would have walked the streets in broad daylight with a lit lamp looking for human beings even in our times.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

When all is revealed

When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.
[Louis MacNiece, ‘The Sunlight on the Garden’]

You cannot hide everything
behind the façade of lies,
however beautiful the façade is.

What will pain you the most
and appal those who had stood in awe
will be the horror of the grin
that the mask had concealed hitherto.

Trade in dreams cannot go on forever,
false promises will breed barren fever,
the phantoms crafted in the past
won’t be quelled with rituals of exorcism,
confessions and angst will accompany.

When all is revealed
you won’t have the right
to seek pardon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Freedom to Die

Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) committed suicide.  His wife too committed suicide on the same day.

Koestler was a great writer.  Parkinson’s disease and leukaemia enervated his spirits.  Below is an extract from the suicide note he wrote.

Trying to commit suicide is a gamble the outcome of which will be known to the gambler only if the attempt fails, but not if it succeeds. Should this attempt fail and I survive it in a physically or mentally impaired state, in which I can no longer control what is done to me, or communicate my wishes, I hereby request that I be allowed to die in my own home and not be resuscitated or kept alive by artificial means.

My reasons for deciding to put an end to my life are simple and compelling: Parkinson's disease and the slow-killing variety of leukaemia (CCI). I kept the latter a secret even from intimate friends to save them distress. After a more or less steady physical decline over the last years, the process has now reached an acute state with added complications which make it advisable to seek self-deliverance now, before I become incapable of making the necessary arrangements.

Cynthia, Koestler’s wife, added her own note below her husband’s:

I fear both death and the act of dying that lies ahead of us. I should have liked to finish my account of working for Arthur – a story which began when our paths happened to cross in 1949. However, I cannot live without Arthur, despite certain inner resources.

Double suicide has never appealed to me, but now Arthur's incurable diseases have reached a stage where there is nothing else to do.

The Supreme Court of India is contemplating legalisation of passive euthanasia.

Hastening the death of a person by altering some form of support and letting nature take its course is known as passive euthanasia. Examples include such things as turning off respirators, halting medications, discontinuing food and water so as to allowing a person to dehydrate or starve to death, or failure to resuscitate.

Active euthanasia involves causing the death of a person through a direct action, in response to a request from that person.

What Koestler and his wife chose was active euthanasia.  What the Supreme Court of India seeks to usher in is passive euthanasia.  I personally advocate the legalisation of both the types but with the necessary conditions and restrictions.

Life is to be relished not suffered.  If a person comes to the situation that Koestler found himself in, why not let him die provided he chooses death with full knowledge of what he is doing?  It would be an act of kindness to let him die.  Why not be kind?

However, I have never understood why Cynthia Koestler had to die on the same day.  She was just 55 and not suffering from any fatal illness. Koestler was an eccentric man especially where his relationships with women were concerned.  Did he impose his will on Cynthia?  Did he want her to die with him?  Cynthia’s note almost implies that.

I won’t ever support the kind of euthanasia that anyone forces on anyone else.  Cynthia has the right to live if she so chooses as much as Arthur has the right to die if he so chooses. 

Choice, that’s what I advocate.  People should be allowed to live or die as long as they are sane enough to make the choice. 

One of the paradoxes of human life that I have always failed to understand is this: we have no qualms about killing hundreds or thousands of people in acts of violence such as communal riots, political wars, and terrorist attacks.  Millions and millions of people have died in such acts perpetrated by man.  And yet, when a sane person desires to bid good bye to something he cannot value any more, something that has become an unbearable pain to him, why not let him go?

I am a staunch advocate of euthanasia.  Not just passive euthanasia.  I would like to choose my own death when the time comes.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Candid Management?!

Four ways leaders can create a candid culture.  I laughed when I saw that title on the careers page in The Hindu newspaper today [16 July].  I must have laughed my belly out because Maggie came running from the kitchen asking if I was alright. 

“Shall I clip this article and give it to …?” I asked her.

She looked at the title and read the fine print which said, “Start by listening.  But that is just the first step.  You also need to demonstrate that you truly want people to raise risky issues.”

Maggie prohibited me from doing anything of the sort my laughing brain was conspiring to do.  “Why do you always invite trouble for yourself when you know very well that the world will never improve?” she asked.

I was not convinced.  Trouble for myself doesn’t convince me. 


That settled the matter.  I put the pair of scissors back in its place.

But I kept wondering why The Hindu published such an article.  How can candidness and management coexist, especially in today’s world?  It never coexisted at any time.  Managements are always secretive and manipulative.  Haven’t I seen them for 30 years?  Is my experience all wrong? 

I read on.  The article is about “a former president of a major defence company” who tried out candidness and succeeded.  But then came the catch.  The author says he will call that “former president” Phil.  Why not name him actually if he is real and he really accomplished the tasks mentioned in the article?

I have given the link to the article above.  You can decide whether such management is possible or whether such management actually exists (existed) anywhere. 

“Praise publicly,” says the article.  Phil is supposed to have “created a safe forum for people to raise questions – and then publicly lauded those who asked them.”  Is that possible? 

“Phil went beyond encouraging openness to teaching it,” goes on the article.  How could I not but laugh?  Management encouraging openness, let alone teaching it?  My bones rattled.

Maggie came hearing the rattle.  “Go and buy vegetables if you want dinner here.”  By here she meant home.  Having at least one meal at home with your most beloved people is a rare blessing in our times.  So I went to buy vegetables.

A former student of mine, who used to pass every examination by ingenious methods including threatening his neighbour in the exam hall if the latter did not help him, ran into me in the market.  In the course of the conversation he told me that he was doing MBA.  I understood The Hindu article fully and my bones stopped rattling. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Religion - Overrated?

The latest debate on Indiblogger is whether religion is overrated.  I didn't want to join the debate at all because I can only think of religion as something that is as redundant as the vestige of the ape's tail that still remains at the bottom of our spines.  I was, however, encouraged to see quite many bloggers expressing views I agree with.  Most bloggers who joined the debate argued against religion one way or another.  Even if they are believers, they seem to think that religion should be kept out of public affairs.  

The question is whether religion is overrated today.  I think it has always been overrated.  Humanity was bossed over by religion until the last century.  The Enlightenment that occurred in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries altered man's attitude towards religion significantly.  But it took another century or two for man to wean himself from the mother of all illusions. 

Yet, even today, religion remains an overrated phenomenon that serves as the opium of the masses (to use a Marxian phrase). People use religion for all sorts of purposes: as a painkiller (O God, put an end to my disease), as a prop if not a fraud (God, help me during the exam), as a terminator of enemies (terrorism of various hues)... And God is eager to help, it seems.  People love in God's name, hate too in the same God's name, kill, rape, manoeuvre, swindle... do anything because as far as it is done for God it is right. God makes everything right. 

That's why, I think, religion is overrated even today.  I have lived with all kinds of religious people.  I have admired (and still do) the width and depth of their imagination.  Joan of Arc (the heroine of Bernard Shaw's play, Saint Joan) would be a dismal failure before the phantasmagoria exhibited and exploited by the religious people of today.  Anything and everything is grist to the religious mill. 

What does religion really mean to these people who consider themselves religious?  I'm reminded of a parable told by Anthony de Mello (himself a religious priest, but very different from the usual breed).

The pilot announced in midflight, "I regret to inform you we are in terrible trouble. Only God can save us now."

One of the passengers who was half asleep asked his copassenger who happened to be a priest, "What was the announcement?"

"The pilot says there's no hope," answered the priest. 

If we take away the wealth, land, ostentatious temples and cathedrals from the religions, what remains will be the faith of the priest in the parable.

That's why, I reiterate, religion is overrated. Even today. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Puppet Show at Workplace

You want me to be creative wearing the rigid straitjacket you’ve fabricated. 
You fix the routine of my each day with sirens that bombard my mailbox.
You started as my leader and turned slowly,
Like a mythical insect drawing nutrition from some invisible god’s ignorance,
Into a gargantuan monster whose shadow bedevilled my footsteps
Wherever I went, whatever I did.
And you chastise me for not being creative.

Can a puppet be creative?

Epilogue: “Being creative means being able to relax into uncertainty and confusion.”  [Fritjof Capra, The Hidden Connections]


Sunday, July 13, 2014



Sangeeta expressed her surprise by an uproarious shout which made Prashant drop the plant he was holding. 

“What a surprise!” She repeated that phrase until she reached near him and grabbed his hand shaking it wildly.   “What are you doing here in this forest?”

Prashant took a while to overcome the shock of the encounter, its surprise as much as its boisterousness. 

Sangeeta was his classmate during the undergraduate days when they both studied botany.  Plants were his passion while they were a “time pass” for her.  “Dad asked me to study something before I would be of marriageable age and I thought botany was the easiest to study.” 

They were meeting now after a gap of over a decade.  Prashant was now doing a post-doctoral research on some endangered species of plants. 

“Those apartments you see over there,” he pointed to the array of skyscrapers that blocked the sun on the adjacent hillocks, “are not meant for people deprived of homes.  They are meant for the people working abroad who will come with their dollars that need investment.  Apartments have become the latest fad for investors.  And they are killing off entire species of plants and animals.”

Sangeeta laughed as she used to do in her college days.  But her laugh did not have the old sparkle, thought Prashant.

“Oh, I forgot to ask you,” he said, “What are you doing here?”

“Some of those investments belong to my husband,” she said. 

Her husband belonged to the species known as builders and developers, she said.  He had built, in addition to quite many apartment paradises, a resort at the edge of the forest.  She loved to spend some time in the resort looking at the forest once in a while.  “Time pass,” she laughed.

“Why not with the family?” asked Prashant.

“Hubby has neither the time nor the inclination for such time passes.  Time is money, that’s his motto.  Making money is his life’s mission.  I don’t know how much money will satisfy him.”


“Yes, a son.  He loves to watch horror movies on the TV when he’s not playing video games whose sounds are more horrifying than the movies.”

They sat down on a rock.  “I was just taking a walk when I saw you,” she said.  “You haven’t changed a bit, you know.  The same old shabby hair and beard, jeans and kurta.  Yes, the specs have acquired some style.”

He smiled.

“Still miserly with words?  No change in that too?” she asked. 

He smiled agaisn.

“I remember you speaking once about the symphony of the forests.  How each sound in a forest adds together to create a harmonious symphony.  I hope I’m not disturbing that symphony.”

“No.  You’re a pleasant surprise.”

“Is there anything apart from the symphony that you’ve discovered about forests?”

Prashant looked into her eyes.  Do you really wish to know that? 

“Come on,” she cajoled him to speak.  “I can be serious too.”

“There are forests in all of us,” he said.

“Go on.  I’m all ears.”

“Some people harmonise their inner forests with the symphony of the real forests.  Some others clear the forests under the delusion that the inner forests are being cleared.”

“Civilisations are conquests over forests,” she said hesitantly.

“Remember the social Darwinism of Spencer?  Survival of the fittest.  Civilisation is just that.”

She remembered one of their professors speak about Spencer who coined the phrase ‘Survival of the fittest’.  Spencer had gone to the extent of saying that the weak people should be allowed to perish so that the future of humanity would be bright.  That is survival of the fittest.  Civilisation. 

Civilisation with its various toxins had become an abhorrence for her.  That’s why she used to take a break to stay in the room kept reserved for her in the Paradise Resort at the edge of the forest.

Her husband had encroached on the forest in order to construct the resort.  He had the political clout to encroach on any land.  Civilised people possess the lands and the rivers, the seas and the mountains.  Civilisation is an endless hunger. 

“Shall I tell you something funny, Prashant?” she asked.

He looked at her.

“I used to feel a strange attraction to you when we were in college.”

He didn’t say anything.  He didn’t even look at her.

“You aren’t surprised, I know.  Nothing surprised you even in those days.  You had no human passions.  You were a vegetable.  A plant.  That’s why.”

“Why what?”

“Should I answer that?”  She laughed.  “Can you forget the symphony of the forest for a while and join me for a dinner tonight?  Just for old time’s sake.”

“Why not?”

“Thank you.  You are not a vegetable altogether, are you?”

The sun had already set behind the skyscrapers.  The cicadas had begun their orchestra in the forest. 

“Your family?” She realised that she had not asked anything about him.  They were walking towards the Paradise Resort.

“Didn’t marry.”

“The forest is your soul.”  She laughed.

He smiled faintly.

“The forest is in our souls.” She laughed again.  More loudly this time.  

Acknowledgement: The concept of “the symphony of the forest” is borrowed from a Malayalam movie, Ezhamathe Varavu (The Seventh Coming), whose script is written by one of the best writers in Malayalam, M T Vasudevan Nair. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Murphy’s Law

Plagiarised from Arthur Bloch’s book, Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.
            Corollary:       1. Every solution breeds new problems.
                2. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
                3. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
                4. Mother Nature is a bitch.
The Murphy Philosophy: Smile... tomorrow will be worse.
Boling’s Postulate: If you are feeling good, don’t worry.  You’ll get over it.
* If things appear to be going right, you have overlooked something.
* Always keep a record – it indicates you’ve been working.
* When in doubt, assert louder.
Finagle’s Rule 6: Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.
* Capitalism:            You can win.
   Socialism:            You can break even.
   Mysticism:            You can quit the game.
First Law of Bridge: It’s always the partner’s fault.
Law of the Perversity of Nature: You can’t successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
Wyszkowski’s 2nd Law: Anything can be made to work if you fiddle with it long enough.
Horner’s Five-Thumb Postulate: Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.
Cahn’s Axiom: When all else fails, read the instructions.
Whole Picture Principle: Research scientists are so wrapped up in their own narrow endeavours that they cannot possibly see the whole picture of anything, including their own research.
            Corollary: The Director of Research should know as little as possible about the specific subject of research he is administering.
Mr Cooper’s Law: If you do not understand a particular word in a piece of technical writing, ignore it.  The piece will make perfect sense without it.
Young’s Law: All great discoveries are made by mistake.
            Corollary: The greater the funding, the longer it takes to make the mistake.
Murphy’s Law of Research: Enough research will tend to support your theory.
Maier’s Law: If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.
            Corollary             1. The bigger the theory, the better.
                                    2. The experiment may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurement must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory.
William & Holland’s Law: If enough data is collected, anything may be proven by statistical methods.
Heller’s Law: The first myth of management is that it exists.
            Johnson’s Corollary: Nobody really knows what is going on anywhere within the organisation.

The Peter Principle: In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
            Corollary: Work is accomplished by those employees who have not reached their level of incompetence.
Peter’s Placebo: An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.
* Incompetence is directly proportional to one’s position in the hierarchy.
Imhoff’s Law: The organisation of any bureaucracy is very much like a septic tank – the really big chunks always rise to the top.
Match’s Maxim: A fool in a high station is like a man on the top of a high mountain; everything appears small to him and he appears small to everybody.
H L Mencken’s Law: Those who can – do.  Those who cannot – teach.  Those who cannot teach – administrate.
Truman’s Law: If you cannot convince them, confuse them.

Swipple Rule of Order: He who shouts loudest has the floor.
Rayburn’s Rule: If you want to get along, go along.
Gummidge’s Law: The amount of expertise varies in inverse proportion to the number of statements understood by the general public.
Issawi’s Law of Conservation of Evil: The total amount of evil in any system remains constant.  Hence, any diminution in one direction – for instance, a reduction in poverty or unemployment – is accompanied by an increase in another, e.g. crime or air pollution.
Katz’s Law: Men and nations will act rationally when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
Parker’s Law of Political Statement: The truth of any proposition has nothing to do with its credibility and vice versa.
Mr Cole’s Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

Jones’s Motto: Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.
McClaughry’s Codicil to Jones’s Motto: To make an enemy, do someone a favour.
Vique’s Law: A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.
Gattuso’s Extension of Murphy’s Law: Nothing is ever so bad that it can’t get worse.

Lynch’s Law: When the going gets tough, everyone leaves.
Law of Revelation: The hidden flaw never remains hidden.
Grossman’s Misquote of H L Mencken: Complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand wrong answers.
Imbesi’s Law of Conservation of Filth: In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.
            Freeman’s Extension: ... but you can get everything dirty without getting anything clean.
The Power of Negative Thinking: It is impossible for an optimist to be pleasantly surprised.
Conway’s Law: In any organisation there will always be one person who knows what is going on.  This person must be fired.
Stewart’s Law of Retroaction: It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Whistler’s Law: You never know who’s right, but you always know who’s in charge.
Spencer’s Law of Data: 1. Anyone can make a decision given enough facts.
                                    2. A good manager can make a decision without enough facts.
                                    3. A perfect manager can operate in perfect ignorance.
Pfeiffer’s Principle: Never make a decision you can get someone else to make.
            Corollary: No one keeps a record of decisions you could have made but didn’t.   Everyone keeps a record of your bad ones.

Gourd’s Axiom: A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals: Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem.
* If you don’t understand the problem, moralise.
Jones’s Law: The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame it on.
Mark’s Law: A fool and your money are soon partners.
O’Brien’s Law: Nothing is ever done for the right reasons.

Glyme’s formula for success: The secret of success is sincerity.  Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.
Warren’s Rules: To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.
Green’s Law of Debate: Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.
Burke’s Rule: Never create a problem for which you don’t have an answer.
Hlade’s Law: If you have a difficult task give it to a lazy man – he will find an easier way to do it.
* Fools rush in – and get the best seats.
* If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Cheit’s Lament: If you help a friend in need, he is sure to remember you – the next time he’s in need.
Denniston’s Law: Virtue is its own punishment.

Jacob’s Law: To err is human – to blame it on someone else is ever more human.
Edelstein’s Advice: Do not worry over what other people are thinking about you.  They’re too busy worrying over what you are thinking about them.
Bocklage’s Law: He who laughs last – probably didn’t get the joke.
Lackland’s Laws: 1. Never be first.            2. Never be last.             3. Never volunteer for anything.
Allen’s Law: Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of.
Ruckert’s Law: There’s nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of proportion.

McKernan’s Maxim: Those who are unable to learn from past meetings are condemned to repeat them.
Mitchell’s Laws of Committology: 1. Any problem can be make insoluble if enough conferences are held to discuss it.
            2. Once the way to screw up a project is presented for consideration it will invariably be accepted as the soundest solution.
Kennedy’s Comment: A committee is 12 men doing the work of one.
Brown’s Rules: To succeed in politics – 1. rise above your principles; 2. find a crowd that’s going somewhere and get in front of them.

Walton’s Law of Politics: A fool and his money are soon elected.
Ely’s key to success: Create a need, and fill it.
Bralek’s rule for success: Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you when things go wrong.
Mayne’s Law: nobody notices the big errors.

Vile’s Law for Educators: No one is listening until you make a mistake.
Strano’s Law: When all else fails, try the boss’s suggestion.
Pinto’s Law: Do someone a favour and it becomes your job.
Foster’s Law: The only people who find what they are looking for in life are faultfinders.
First Principle of Self-Determination: What you resist, you become.

Addicted?  Get hold of a copy of the book… The 26th Anniversary edition is available now. 

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