Wednesday, 21 May 2008

10 crazy things I want

5 days away from my birthday, I thought I would make my list of 10 tastefully over-the-top things that I want my parents and friends to buy for me. I will add two things to the list each day. 

Watch: Patek Philippe grand complications 5970 R
I have a very similar watch, but this is probably the most beautiful thing that has ever kept time. Does anyone really care about its chronograph with 30min counter, perpetual calendar with day and month in aperture and date and leap year by hands, moon phases and am/pm indicator, and seconds subdial? No, I didn't think so. 

Car: 1964 Aston Martin DB5  

Famously used in Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Casino Royale (remember that car that Daniel Craig wins in poker and drives away with the guy's wife in? yeah.) 
Originally sold under 5,000 pounds - I wonder why I was not born in the 40s, so I could actually drive one of these in my 20s. 

Est. $1,500,000 - $2,500,000

Right, so I started this a while ago and couldn't come up with 8 more ridiculously over the top objects that I wanted. How about concepts that you can't put a price on, which are infinitely more difficult to attain:

Love - I really wish I could buy this, then I'd totally go through with the whole business tycoon thing

Barack Obama for president - To be honest, I've become quite disillusioned with the political process, and also fairly apathetic and therefore don't know a great deal about his policies. However, I like that he represents a change of precedent (no pun intended). 

Spiritual union with something higher - I'm fairly agnostic so I don't know if anything higher exists. But, when I used to meditate (a lot seriously), I felt like I was in touch with a collective consciousness. I felt that each time I was reaching deeper into this understanding, but something always pulled me back. I no longer meditate or pray these days. I think I needed a break, and I'll resume my spiritual journey at some point in the (probably near) future. 

People that understand me - No one seems to understand me, and it really upsets me. I always get the feeling that my friends are only scratching the surface, and that makes me feel like all my friendships are temporary. 

Getting over all my insecurities - Impossible? I hope not. 

A closer relationship with my parents - I always feel strangely uncomfortable around them. I hope that changes. 

Something superficial - Double Breasted Suit: Tom Ford

Come on, this is so me. I really want a classic double breasted suit that is modern enough to deal with my skinniness. 

Upwards of $10,000

10) Happiness: I think the premise behind all the desires listed above is the search for happiness. The objects, no matter how cool, probably won't keep me happy for very long. The other things will definitely keep me happy for a longer period of time. But, I'd like to be happy, and happy forever. I think I've covered my discontent with a veil of superficial happiness. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Love and Spirituality in Ecstatic Sufism

During the 12th and 13th centuries, Islam witnessed continued intellectualization. Ahmad Ghazali (d. 1126) established some of the central doctrines of the ecstatic school of Sufism. His treatise on love exalts complete devotion to the beloved linked with the ideas of the qalandar – the wandering libertine mystic, and ’ayyar – the rogue or brigand[1]. In a three-way relationship, he views love, the lover, and the beloved to all be the same divine essence. The true lover loses himself in the love of his beloved, and begins to think of himself as his beloved, while his base self and human attributes pass away in fana’, or annihilation. Ghazali’s conceptualization of the relationship between love and spirituality from a liberal perspective influenced a great deal of subsequent Persian literature. A potential example is Rumi’s Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi, the title of which itself means "the work of Shams of Tabriz”, Rumi’s beloved. As legend goes, Rumi no longer thought of his own self as being distinct from that of Shams, and therefore viewed his own work as also that of his lover. Poems from The Divan by Hafiz of Shiraz, written in the 14th century, further articulate some of Ghazali's ideas:

“But thou that knowest God by heart, away!
Wine-drunk, love-drunk, we inherit Paradise,
His mercy is for sinners; hence and pray”[2]

“All my pleasure is to sip
Wine from my beloved’s lip;
I have gained the utmost bliss –
God alone be praised for this”[3]

In both poems Hafiz emphasizes the connection between love, sin, and spirituality. In each instance, Hafiz attains a higher state of being through love and wine drinking, acts that are treated as the same in the second poem. Hafiz's references to sin have been seen as reactions to the orthodoxy of the religious establishment in his time (by E. Herzig). The interrelatedness of sin and love, though libertine in essence, could have also served to make the statement that one can achieve a spiritual connection without having to dogmatically follow institutionalized faith.

I had lunch with a very special person today. She seeks to help others understand themselves better, and in doing so performs a great service to society. 

I said to her,"if I had just one moment of selfless love, I would be able to transcend my petty current state and achieve lasting happiness. Just for a minute, I want to completely lose myself in someone else". 

She replied, "the connection you're looking for with someone exists all the time, between every individual. We're unable to access it mostly because of our own spiritual inadequacies. You should seek to love everyone and if you're love is genuine and you realize that connection, you will be happy. This could take a lot of time, but I see that you're looking inside, and trying to identify your internal difficulties, and that is the first step."

(Wine drinking?)

[1] Julian Baldick, Mystical Islam (London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1989) 66.

[2] Gertrude Bell, The Hafez Poems of Gertrude Bell. (Ibex, Inc, 1995) 18.

[3] A.J. Arberry, Fifty Poems of Hafiz. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1947) 50.

Saturday, 10 May 2008


Louboutin - personal favorite

I was re-reading the Azzedine Alaiia article in the last issue of Paradis magazine, which is my favorite periodical ever. The man is remarkable, and the shoot of some of his very interesting couture(ey) designs really caught my eye. I scanned my three favorite shots. I wonder who the model is, because I have a conception of an ideal woman in my mind who looks very similar. This ideal woman also speaks five languages, and can tell how many years aged a given piece of parmigianno-reggiano is without reading the label. 

Monday, 5 May 2008

Two poems by Omar Khayyam

Two poems that I really enjoyed:

Du ruzeh kuzeh-gari raftam dush
Didam do hazar kuzeh, guya va khamush
Nagam Yaki kugeh baravard khamush
"Ku kuzegar va kuzekar va kuzefarush?"

Two days ago I went to the potter's workshop
There I saw two thousand clay jugs, speaking and silent
One jug that had been silent began speaking-
"Where is the potter and the jug-buyer and the jug-seller?"

Essentially, this poem is alluding to an existential quandary that many of us experience. The clay jugs ("kuzeh") are an oft-employed motif for people - clay comes from the Earth, to which we will eventually return. The speaking jug's question may be interpreted as: Where have I come from? (the potter) Where will I go? (the jug-buyer) How will I reach my ultimate end? (the jug-seller)

Iin yek do seh ruzeh nobat-i omr guzasht 
Chun aab bajuyabar va chun baad bedasht
Har giz qam do ruz mara yaad nigasht
Ruzi ke niamedast va ruzi ke guzasht

In these one, two, three days an entire lifetime has passed 
Like running water in a stream, like wind through the air
Never will I remember two days:
The day that is yet to come and the day that has already passed

Here, I think Khayyam is simply telling the reader to live in the present, not dwelling on the past, which has already happened, or the future, which is yet to happen. The imagery of the second line as well as the general melody of the words are beautiful. 

Sunday, 4 May 2008


I've been going through a bit of a weird phase lately. I felt great for several weeks, fantastic top of the world really. But, I feel a bit depressed now, primarily because I'm never satisfied with what I have, what I am, and with the present. No matter how much I achieve, I can never live up to the expectations that I have of myself. I am brutally self-critical. To compound matters, I've been reading lots of Persian poems by Khayyam and Hafiz, who were probably intellectually frustrated in a similar way. Being talented at (too) many things appears to lead to a periodic sense of extreme cockiness and vain narcissism, followed by or combined with self-dissatisfaction and dissatisfaction with the world. 

The final two lines of one of Khyyam's famous rubai's have the following jist:

All his life Bahram the brave ("gur" in Persian) chased the gazelle (also "gur")
But, in the end, the grave (also "gur") finally caught Bahram-Gur

(side note: amazing wordplay.)

Like the hero Bahram, I feel like I'm chasing something that I am unable attain, and finally death will catch up to me without my having attained anything. I think I am chasing lasting inner bliss. 

Compounding matters further, I've been listening to Hotel Costes' latest album (no. 10). The song "Adios" by Zimpala, is beautifully depressing jazz/electro/trip-hop. Here are the lyrics as I heard them, followed by an English translation:

rompio mi corazon  He broke my heart 
cuando dijo adios     when he said goodbye
sin razon                    without a reason
una triste manana    a sad tomorrow
queria quedarme      I wanted to stay

muere mi corazon que diria    My dying heart that would say
oh, queria quedarme                oh, I wanted to stay

le quiero, le odio     I love him, I hate him
me ha dejado           He left me

adios mi amor...           Goodbye my love

Basically, I want to take a vacation from being myself for a little while and become someone else, so that I can truly appreciate being myself.