"Woke up and wished that I was deadWith an aching in my headI lay motionless in bedThe night is here and the day is goneAnd the world spins madly on"
World Spins Madly On (2006) by The Weepies
I finished reading A Dance with Dragons on the last day of August, and it was a killer of a book (as in, it will kill a full grown man if you swing it at his head). When I stepped into med school, an old friend and a fellow geek told me that I would no longer have the luxury of leisure reading. In response, I made a vow to read at least one novel a month no matter how busy I get - and I kept that vow even through my final exams. When I entered into the workforce, yet another geek friend warned me that I may soon have to abandon my modest little hobby. That galvanised my resolve because that's just the sort of person I am, and I just started on my meal of China Miéville's The City & the City for September. I will make short work of it and then belch loudly in satisfaction.
I daydream longingly and often of my time in the Indian Himalayas, where the days are in slow motion and the nights are not the beginning of tomorrows. What Thomas Wilson - Maugham's Lotus Eater - chose to do seems less and less like folly to me and more and more like a perfectly sensible plan. As a high school senior, it was a moral story about a good-for-nothing layabout meeting an unpleasant end he deserved (or at least, that's how we were suppose to interpret it in our literature studies in order to pass). These days, it makes me question the worth of a long life in service to others versus a shorter one in service to my own happiness.
I read a respectable number of books during my April in the Mountains including Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Dan Simmon's Olympos, Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear and Dan Brown's delighfully execrable The Lost Symbol. I also managed to rent a perfectly serviceable copy of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for a steal of 3 rupees from a cosy little café in the Dalai Lama's temple complex. The place serves a mean Roquefort cheese and walnut pizza, by the way - so you know where to look now.
In Huxley's bold neoteric world, people indulge in a state-endorsed, side-effects-free hallucinatory drug called soma - going on what they term "soma holidays" - and enjoy rampant, guiltless, recreational sex. He wrote of a world devoid of angst, strife and individuality, and thus devoid of true art and creation. He wrote it as if it's a detestable dystopia. All along I was thinking: "Look how fucking happy everyone is!"
One character went on a permanent soma holiday and died in imbecilic bliss. Is that such a bad thing? If we measure the worth of our lives in the amount of pleasure it contains, then no - no, it's not. I sought refuge in literature, in art, only to stimulate the dopamine reward system in my brain. It's Pavlovian. I'm a dog slobbering at the ring of fiction's bell; a complex organic robot responding to the ebbs and flows of my chemical circuitry. If I am indefinitely happy and contented, then I would have no need of the books I covet and love.
But we have no soma in our boring old world. The closest thing I will ever come to a permanent soma holiday of my own is to spend the rest of my years reading by the hillside and basking in the orange glow of a McLeod Ganj sunset. Now, isn't that a life to die for?
|Don't you just love how the sky is red and blue at the same time?|
k0k s3n w4i