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Book review

The Tempest.

Caliban: Heroic Anti-Colonial, Or Savage Rapist? Prospero: Pathetic Bookworm, or Forebearing Sorcerer? Best Be Gonzalo.

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Philosophy Politics Science What I read

Notes on Christopher Caudwell’s *Studies In A Dying Culture*

These analytical essays illuminate aspects of contemporary capitalist culture: including literature, liberty, and psychology. Underpinning these essays is the insight that a commodified approach to art and life erodes fundamental human relations, and impoverishes our souls. Caudwell argues — not for regressing into an imagined “glorious past” — but for us to fight together for a future of universal human dignity.

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Book review

The Ocean At The End of the Lane is An Intriguing, if Unsubstantial, Magic Realist Fable

The Ocean At The End of the Lane (2013) is the first I’ve read of Neil Gaiman. I begin with my usual caveat: this is a speculative novel, and I seldom like books in this genre. I’ve begun trying it regularly, and I liked this book better than some others I’ve tried recently. Still, if […]

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Book review

The Hottest Day of the Year: In A Place Out of Time, Women Oppress Each Other, Repress Themselves, And Finally Break Free

Brinda Charry’s The Hottest Day of the Year (2001) opens with the narrator, 11-year-old Nithya, finding Sudha hanging by the neck from the ceiling. Hottest Day then rewinds a few months to tell the story from the beginning. The book unfolds over six months of 1986 in Thiruninravur, near Chennai. Nithya is from Bangalore; her […]

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Environment Flash story

Promises

Fabula Argentea published this flash story in Issue 31. Image source: Air Quality in Delhi before and after lockdown began. SUMAN “Why’re you standing here, Ma?” Suman stepped onto the balcony. “You know this polluted air aggravates your asthma. Come inside.” Suman gasped. A hundred and twenty miles away, through the sky suddenly clear, wide […]

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Book review Environment

Richard Powers’s The Overstory Is an Unflinching Examination of Nine Humans’ Fight for Forests

The Overstory (2018) won the 2019 Pulitzer for fiction, and for good reason. This is the most ambitious novel I’ve ever read, possibly also the best-written. Almost every sentence is perfect: such that the very occasional slightly-imperfect sentence stands out. The prose is both sparely poetic, and dense with distilled meaning – inviting slow savouring, […]

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Environment Personal Essay

Saving the World: Individual Action and Systemic Change

Captain Planet exhorted 90s children to save the world — while also showing us how large industry and government inaction stack the cards against meaningful change. Thirty years on, was Captain Planet right?

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Short story

Sanctuary

Volume Three of Fearsome Critters is out, with my short story “Sanctuary.” Set on a solo weekend trip to Benaras, “Sanctuary” fictionalises a friend’s psychoglocial journey. A journey of healing from trauma, rediscovering oneself through reflection (with aid from psychedelics), and recovering one’s faith in people and purpose in life.

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Book review

Three Book Reviews

Parables for the Theatre: Two Plays by Brecht In college I’d heard of Brecht’s penchant for theatre that broke the fourth wall; a decade later, this two-play volume I read this month was the first Brecht I read. My experience reading drama is limited. I’ve read the classical Athenians, and some Plautus; Shakespeare, and a […]

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Short story

Holiday. A short story. Love, Fate, and Acceptance.

After uny exams in north India, a young couple takes their first trip together. Impeding separation looms over them, all but inevitable. Sarthak and Jaya have different attitudes to fate. When an eventuality is all but certain — is it wiser to yield, or to fight it anyway?

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Microstory Poetry

A Poem And Two Microstories

A very angsty love poem in five parts. To cheer you up afterwards, two microstories.

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Artists & Scientists Interview

Interview with Poet J. L. Moultrie

Michigan-based poet J. L. Moultrie has published in journals such as Sonder Midwest, Oroboro, and Terror House Magazine. Today, J.L. speaks about discovering books, writing poetry, and finding faith in his vocation.

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Flash story

How To Catch A Bee

In this magic realist flash story published at Dove Tales: Gardens in the Desert, wildflowers learn about cooperation. The hard way,

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Book review

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: the TL;DR version. Love, art, and mortality.

Always wanted to read Shakespeare’s Sonnets, but never had the time? Fear not. I impersonate Shakespeare to tell you the story of sonnets’ love triangle. The Poet, the Fair Youth, and the Dark Lady. I bolster my summary with ample quotations, and attempts at humour. The Sonnets explore every facet of desire: yearning, sexual desire, jealousy (of rival lovers and of rival poets), love-madness and insomnia, tranquil admiration, breakup and reconciliation.

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Microstory Poetry

A Poem and A Microstory

A poem about the prosaicness of love. And a microstory about the childishness of adults.

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Artists & Scientists Interview

Interview with Writer Ana Vidosavljevic

Some time ago, I read Ana Vidosavljevic’s articles at The Curious Reader, a magazine we both write for. I went on to discover her other writing, then her website. I was struck by her honest, fresh writing; by the novelty and freshness of her prose; and by her imaginative and accessible stories for children. I got to read some of the short stories and memoir pieces published in Ana’s two recently published books: Mermaids, a collection of short stories; and Flower Thieves, a memoir. Today I speak with Ana about reading, writing, surfing, and travelling.

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Microstory

Noon

In this vignette published at Flash Fiction Magazine, a woman wrestles with ambition, inertia, and anxiety.

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Book review

The Sellout (2015) is Incisive and Relentless, But Falls Short of Greatness

The first third of The Sellout’s 288 pages is hilarious. After that, Beatty recycles himself… I would’ve enjoyed getting to know Foy Cheshire, the leader of the faux-intellectuals and the book’s chief antagonist. As it is, Foy remains a theatre-mask… The Sellout is excellent, but not great. Mesmerised by its brilliantly coloured flat characters, it the novel misses opportunities to humanise its characters.

Categories
Book review Politics

Newspeak And Nationalism: Are We Living In 1984’s Dystopia?

1984 predicts the charismatic authoritarians, bigoted nationalists, and media-suppressing demagogues who lead the world today.

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Artists & Scientists Website Updates

New Weekly Interview Series

Every Wednesday, I’ll be featuring an interview with an artist or scientist, hosted on the Artists & Scientists site. With this new addition, I’m up to five blogposts a week. If you’re a subscriber, and you’d rather not receive so many emails from my site, this is a good time to change your notification preferences. […]

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Artists & Scientists Interview

Interview of Me by Ana Vidosavljevic

Writer, teacher, translater, and new mother Ana Vidosavljevic interviewed me about writing. I talk about my fvaourite books, writing routine and aids, dealing with criticism, and advice I’d give myself if I could start afresh.

Categories
Politics Short story

The Hole

In this magic realist horror story published at Novel Noctule, a wealthy young woman in metropolitan India faces her alienation in literal form.

Categories
Book review

Analog/Virtual And Other Simulations of Your Future

Analog/Virtual would have been a better book had it kept its sights strained on the human, with a focus narrower and deeper. As it stands, it is a passable book with some interesting concepts, glimmers of insight, and competent storytelling.

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Artists & Scientists

Guest Post: “MEMENTO MORI: Poem and Essay”

For this week’s guest post on Artists and Scientists, I’m pleased to introduce my friend and colleague, poet and writer J. L. Moultrie. I’ve known J. L. just a few months, and we’ve never met in person. But through his writing, and through a long and rich series of emails, I’ve come to know a […]

Categories
Flash story

“Fish”

My flash story “Fish” published in Kelp won the magazine’s Shelter in Place contest under the Fiction category. Check out the story, along with the Poetry and Essay contest winners — along with other prose, poetry, and visual art — in Kelp’s Summer 2020 issue. Enter your email ID for weekly updates about new articles […]

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Gifted Education

Empower Gifted Girls

Do gifted girls have different needs from gifted boys? In this article published at Deccan Herald, I explore the intersection of sex, intelligence, and educational needs.

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Microstory

Obsession

In this microstory published in Entropy Magazine, I explore the difference between love and obsession.

Categories
Book review Politics

A Passage to India Argues Powerfully Against Orientalism and Imperialism

In this book review published at Qrius, I revisit E. M. Forster’s best-known novel. A Passage to India demolishes the racism that sustains imperialism; the novel exemplifies the power of literature to catalyse social progress

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Film review Uncategorized

Black Mirror’s Scathing Social Commentary Is A Wake-Up Call for Contemporary Democracies

In this critique published at Countercurrents, I explore a genre-changing television series. Black Mirror does best when it shows how, in a world that’s almost this world, mass media and social media cause problematic behaviour at the mass level.

Categories
Short story

The Photograph

In this short story published in Gasher Journal, a woman helps her roommate to move on from a toxic relationship.

Categories
Book review Mental Health Science

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

A review and a scientific analysis of a tiny and powerful book that inaugurated the genre of addiction memoir.

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Environment Uncategorized

Saving the World: Individual Action and Systemic Change.

To save the world, individual action is not enough. We need to unite to advocate for systemic change. I recount my own history with eco-consciousness — and my mother’s — and narrate how I moved towards a different path of action.

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Microstory

Gulmohar

In this microstory published at Star 82 Review, a woman adapts to a new life.

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Book review Cognitive Science Philosophy Politics Science

The Republic: Examining Plato’s Best-Known Dialogue: Part 2/2

Part Two of Two:
* Summary of Main Ideas
* The Structure of the Dialogue: What’s the Unifying Theme of this Sprawling Behemoth?
* Interrogating The Republic: A Cognitive Scientist critiques the Dialogue’s main ideas

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Website Updates

Website Updates: New Guest Column

Jun 13, 2020 This week I’m introducing a new Saturday column. *Artists and Scientists* will feature one fellow artist or scientist every week, sharing: views on life and work; perspectives on current events; an overview of a misunderstood topic articulated in accessible terms; a personal essay; fiction/ poetry/ art/ photography, original or previously published; or […]

Categories
Film review

Joker (2019) raises many real issues, only to devolve into a justification of violence

This review published at Countercurrents critiques a film that squanders great potential.

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Microstory

The One Thing

In this microstory published at Potato Soup Journal, a PhD student is intent on finishing the one thing that consumes his life.

Categories
Book review Philosophy

The Republic: Examining Plato’s Best-Known Dialogue: Part 1/2

Part One of Two:
* Reading Plato as Light Literature
* Note on Gender Pronouns
* Socrates the Character
* Are the *Dialogues* Really Dialogues?
* Socrates’s Dialectic Style: Characteristics, and Pros&Cons
* Reasoning from the Ideal

Categories
Gifted Education

Gifted Education Without Prejudice

In this article published at Deccan Herald, I address a common and false belief that obstructs gifted education.

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Book review

‘An Enemy Of The People’: An Eye-Opening Read During The Pandemic

In this feature published at The Curious Reader, I revisit a powerful play that remains shockingly relevant today.

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Book review

Orwell’s Essays Presage His Masterpiece *1984*

In this feature published at Countercurrents, I examine how Orwell’s nonfiction engages with the issues that make his fiction so powerful.

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Advice on Writing

Write better at every stage, from ideating to using feedback – based on whether you’re a Pantser or a Plotter

In this two-part article on the craft of writing, I discuss what strategies pantsers and plotters might try to improve each stage of the writing process.

Categories
Flash story

FISH

In this flash story that won the Fiction category of Kelp Journal’s Shelter in Place contest for lockdown writing, a man sets out to buy fish, and learns about the intersection of social class, the pandemic, and empathy.

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Book review

Book Review: Gerald Durrell’s Encounters with Animals

A review of one of British conservationist and hilarious writer Gerald Durrell’s less-known gems.

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Advice on Writing

Writing Advice: Putting advice in context. Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

In this two-part article on the craft of writing, I discuss what strategies pantsers and plotters might try to improve each stage of the writing process.

Categories
Personal Essay

Guest Post on Already Pretty: Style, Sexual Identity, Binaries, and Perfectionism

In this essay published at Already Pretty, I explore the intersection of personal style, sexuality, and how I broke free of binaries.

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Book review

Charles Dickens’s Bleak House.

A critique of one of Dickens’s less-known but most masterful novels.

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Book review

What I Read – A selection from Aesop’s Fables

Some life lessons from an ancient Greek fabulist.

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Book review Science

The Ancestor’s Tale Offers a Fascinating Journey Back to our Roots

In this review published at Countercurrents, I examine Dawkins’s encylopaedia of the tree of life.

Categories
Artists & Scientists Cognitive Science Interview Mental Health

Interview with Aswini Madhira on Artists and Scientists

I’m please to bring you an interview with my friend and colleague Ms. Aswini Madhira. Aswini is a cognitive science researcher, and an artist in her spare time. She has previously contributed a personal essay to this blog. Today we speak about art and science; and about passion vs. pragmatism in choosing a career. Read our conversation […]