Total Solar Eclipse

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Since today we are witnessing the total solar eclipse (which I am watching as live feed right now) I thought I would share some thoughts of Dr. Brian Greene about the role of science in our contemporary culture.

“I think the rightful place for science is right alongside the other aspects of culture that we consider indispensable. We consider literature, music, theatre, films, dance, performances — all of these aspects of life as indispensable parts of our cultural makeup. If you were to go to people and say we have decided to eliminate films, we have decided to eliminate literature, it would be unthinkable. And I think that’s the way we need to think about science. It is a vital part of culture, it is a vital part of what makes life worth living. The problem is that most people think of science as a subject that they took in school, got through the exams and when they crossed the threshold of the science lab they left it behind. That’s not what science is. Science is a perspective, an outlook, its the way you rationally evaluate the world around you to come to some sense of what is true. Its hard to imagine anything more important than that. Now there are many ways of approaching truth. You can approach truth through literature, through art, through music and that’s wonderful. But all these different approaches are illuminating aspects of some fundamental reality that science has a wonderful capacity to reveal in its most stark, in its most breathtaking form. And that’s how we need to think about science.”

– Dr. Brian Greene, one of the leading theoretical physicist of our time. His area of research is String Theory, a field of study which attempts to explain Quantum Gravity, a still unsolved problem in Physics.

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A Birthday Song

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Zulejka snuggles up in your warmth
He has found a nice spot for the night
His paws make scratchy sounds on the bed sheet

In the vaporous light of your laptop
You turn into a folklore —
A distant memory draped in blonde curls and cat fur

Tigers roam your mind
Turtles and bears speak your tongue
A cool breeze of a clean earth lives inside your heart

You lay wide-eyed
With the half-smile of a hopeless romantic
While Time stands still to get lost in you

Someday
On the shores of Vltava
I will join you to watch the swans in the sunset

But tonight, in this briefly magical moment
I’m the robin knocking at your windowsill
To whistle you a birthday song

PS: Tonight is the birthday of my muse and I thought of writing her a birthday poem.

The Nature Of Reality

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“Physicists do not like the word ‘reality’. We may talk about it all the time but when it comes down to it, we really don’t want to say this is reality and that’s not reality. There are mathematical connections between things and that’s got to be it, because we don’t have enough insight to tell what is reality.

Our neural wiring that we inherited was not built for quantum mechanics or higher dimensions, it was not built for thinking about curved space time. It was built for classical physics, for rocks and stones and all the ordinary objects and three dimensional space. That’s not quite good enough for us to be able to visualise and internalise the ideas of quantum mechanics and general relativity and so forth. So instead, we Physicists use mathematics. Eventually, in time, we develop intuitions out of abstract mathematics, we get better at it. We begin to think that way. But it can be extremely frustrating when trying to explain that to the outside world.The outside world by and large has not had that experience of going through the rewiring process of converting their minds into something that can deal with five dimensions, ten dimensions, uncertainty principal or whatever happens to be. So the best we can do is to use analogies or metaphors. And the holographic principle is a metaphor.

I think there is only one thing that’s certain, that there will be surprises. Some of them will come from experiments, some of them will come from giant telescopes, and some of them will come from mathematical and theoretical thinking about how things fit together. One can be pretty sure that anybody who says that they have the final answer now, is smoking something bad.”

– Leonard Susskind, one of the first proponents of the Holographic Principle and the first to present a precise String-theory interpretation of the same, in his interview Is The Universe A Hologram?

Bodies

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My body is mine but it is not me
Your body is your best weapon
We stand at the bedside
As our bodies dismantle and reassemble in the middle
Spiraling like two colliding galaxies
Hurling matter at each other

We float mid-air in the ripples of life
Two writhing bodies; fused, fermented —
In those brief moments of weightlessness
I wish I could drown into you
Never to rise again
Never to be apart

I love you
I truly do
But I would die for your body

About the featured artwork
Audrey With Toes And Wrist Bend, 2011 by Nadav Kander

At first glance the image of Audrey With Toes And Wrist Bent (2011) (see image above) by London based artist Nadav Kander looks like a painting, thanks to the rich and luxuriant surface of the work. In fact this work is a photograph and the effect was created by covering the sitter’s body with white marble dust, suggestive of the figures in marble friezes across classical buildings. The pale body and twisted limbs reference the work of 19th century painter Sir Frederic Leighton.

Sourced from www.anothermag.com

Heliosis

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The ladybird disappears under a pile of leaves
Silence magnifies its footsteps
I trail the beetle’s escape
Down to the handmade jetty at the pond
Where the water-weed swirl like soba noodles

Memories of your red shoes
Burn like a dying star
I hit the blunt
And speed into the intergalactic overdrive
To count the seeds of your sadness

In this balmy summer evening
Between heliosis and anhedonia
Life appears to be too human
Where lovers are fossils of a defunct movement
Still hoping for an unlikely reprise

Featured artwork: Nordic Summer Evening, c. 1889 by Richard Bergh

Understanding Acting

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Tilda Swinton, one of the most versatile and gifted actors of our time

In Cinema, there are no good actors. They are either great or average. Or bad. For a director, it’s important to know the difference between an average actor and a great actor.

An average actor is someone who does great impersonations. She always gets the gestures right, her mannerism is perfect, the way she walks, talks and dusts her cigarette, it’s all very charismatic. But she fails to illuminate the interior of the character she is playing. As a result the audience watches ‘her’ performing on screen instead of watching her ‘character’. It leads to what we know as overacting.

A great actor on the other hand is someone who assists the audience’s understanding of the character. She is able to achieve this by presenting the character’s inner world to the audience, in the most natural, humanistic way, and in the process making herself and her character indistinguishable from each other. A great actor never relies upon superficial impersonation and animated caricaturing. She transforms herself into her character. Anything that she does on screen, she does as the character and not as the actor. A great actor DOES NOT ACT. She BECOMES.

I think overacting roots from insecurity, when the actor is not confident in her abilities. Let me clarify, overacting does not necessarily mean loud acting or vice versa. Great acting performances have been delivered by intense, over-the-top, loud acting in Cinema, e.g. Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface(1983), or Isabella Adjani as Anna in Possession(1981). Overacting is when the performance becomes gimmicky and predictable, when the truth is lost in the whole act of cliches, the kind of incredulity that separates the actor from the character. Film is a cruel medium. It magnifies overacting.

Case Study: During one of the ‘Directing Actors’ workshops in my film school, before she went into Stanislavksi and method acting, our lecturer, who also happened to be a Czech actress, informed us that she has hidden the white-board marker pen somewhere in the classroom. She asked us students to volunteer as actors who will ‘act’ to find and steal the marker. Two of my classmates volunteered and both of them tried to act out the skit with their best abilities, which were terrible to be honest, bless my friends, and both failed to actually find the marker.

In the end the lecturer took the marker out which was hidden behind a switch board. And she told us something very important. She reasoned that Lewis and Jure could not find the markers because they took it as an acting assignment, and they ‘acted’ as if they were searching. In reality they were not searching, they were just playing a game, pretending to search. A true actor would not pretend to search but actually search the entire classroom and not leave a stone unturned. A true actor will become the searcher instead of acting to be the searcher. That lesson taught me more about film acting than anything else.

PS: I have met Tilda. Biggest fanboy moment of my life.