Archive for November, 2008

Continuing from the previous post in order to make history one must have a correct sense of timing. Man follows certain trends  and would know how to exploit them. Man makes history by his understanding of his world and to his time and place in particular. The latter is crucial. Mao Tse Tung in China fashioned a strategy ‘as fishes in the sea’ which adapted IRA commander Michael Collin’s idea of ‘safe houses.’ Mao  took urban guerrilla warfare  to fit the Chinese context. Thus man hitches his fortunes to events already unfolding by adapting strategies already tried before. Man is thus only a bridge for changes of very short duration. Beyond which how his vision and mission undergoes changes no one can foretell. Mao’s polices were replaced by Deng Xioping. Having survived the Cultural Revolution and other mass political movements of the Mao era he was instrumental in introducing a new brand of socialist thinking, socialist market economy and partially opened China to the global market.
Man’s control over history is partial.
A man who makes history is relevant only for a narrow period of time for the simple reason his active period is too short. His span of life may be four score or more. But by the time he comes to take the center stage about half of it is over. Thus a world leader struts and throws his weight around for a certain period while  events that have had their origin long before would have entered into several other areas in order to change the social and cultural landscape. Like the mythical Hydra, upon cutting off each of its heads Herakles found that two grew back. No man quite control each development before it moves into other areas as well. The Cluster principle gives no man a complete hold over all the events that cannon into any one of the chain of events. These collision will create new issues that need to be addressed.
In the case of Tien Wang who led the Taiping rebellion, he succeeded partly because of  the Ming regime that had entrenched itself into the national life. He could convert those who had benefited under their rule but the Ming dynasty itself came to power by supplanting another dynasty. How these  cross currents work out no one can tell. For example we need to rely once again turn to Taiping Revolt.  Tien Wang began the revolt in concert with the Triads who were for bringing back the Ming regime. Tien Wang’s aim was more of a theocratic rule himself as a brother of Jesus Christ. (In his concept of Trinity god, the Father, Christ the son, and himself was the other brother.) The man who would ultimately bring him down Tseng Kuo-fan had no Tartar blood as the Manchu masters. He was not a supporter of the Manchu regime. But he was believer in Confucianism and had no use for Christian Taipings. In a welter of cause and effect man who makes history has a walk on part in terms of posterity.


Read Full Post »

History is the march of events in a perspective.
History is made in context of something else.
History is made by man on whom other life forms as well as  inanimate objects  can also work. Socrates ended his life drinking hemlock and Cleopatra by a bite of asp are but a few examples. A man like Caesar afflicted with falling sickness might in time lose his judgment and that might hasten his end in an unexpected manner. In short man who makes history can never be seen isolated from his world.
History is made in time and space.
Since history is made by man certain primary impulses in man would always take the steering wheel. Championing the cause of the weak for example. In ancient Rome around 113 BC the Grachii brothers stood for land reforms that would have given land to the veterans who served the republic in wars. Then as now. The vested interests of those who had plenty of land saw to that the brothers were done away with. (ref:note below)
These two brothers were concerned with the underlying injustice of the political system but in a space of decade had to appeal to two different sets of people viz., plebians and publicans. Our basic impulses have to lock in with time and place in order to be relevant.
History is correct timing.
( to be continued)
Note: Historical background
The Gracchi brothers were a pair of tribunes in 2nd century BC who attempted to pass land reform legislation in Ancient Rome that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians.
In 133 BC, two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, became agents of reform. They were both well connected with the ruling elite and descendants of Scipio Africanus. The political issue was land reform. The small peasant farmer was being pushed off the land by rich landowners.
When Tiberius Gracchus’s proposal came to a vote, masses of rural people, seeing opportunity for economic advancement, entered Rome to support the proposal. In addition, as head of this movement, Tiberius found himself necessarily replacing an opposing tribune already in office. The proposal passed and the situation returned to almost normal, except that Tiberius was going to need re-election to stay in office.

When the day of election arrived Tiberius’s supporters were lacking and, worse, his opponents caused a fight in the assembly and killed Tiberius Gracchus.

Ten years later, Tiberius’s brother, Gaius, took the same office as his brother, as a tribune for the plebeians. Gaius however, appealed to a different set of supporters, the publicans. They were in charge of tax-collecting in Asia and of contracting for construction projects. The equestrian class would get to control a court that tried senators for misconduct in provincial administration. In effect, the equestrians replaced senators already serving at the court. Thus, Gaius became an opponent of senatorial influence.(ack:wikipedia)

Read Full Post »

Hung Hsui-Chuan January 1, 1814 – June 1, 1864)
He was the son of a village headman of the Hung clan of the Hakka tribe. As a child he was precocious( he was able to recite the Four Classics after five or six years) but with no means to advance himself. He became a tutor to other children in his village and continued to study privately. He took the local preliminary examinations and came first, but at the age of 22 in 1836, he realized his further progress to enter the government service was blocked. Success in examinations required a bribe to the examiners. Thwarted in his ambition he fell ill. In a delirious state he saw visions that he was taken to the ‘Thirty-Third Heaven and the Venerable-in-Years gave him a mission to destroy the demon worshippers on the earth. When Hung had recovered from his fever he was altogether a new man. A chance encounter in Canton with Christian missionaries from London Missionary Society,  gave him new direction.  While reading the book of Genesis his earlier vision took on new significance. The Venerable –in Years of his dream had become the Creator of heaven and the earth. His curious theology was a mixture calculated to win over most supporters. (Do we not see similar mix and match of doctrines in many of the cults around us?
As luck would have it the Opium War (1839-1842) broke out around this time and it showed the hated Manchu regime was almost on its last legs. Manchus were Manchurian Tartars, foreigners while south of the Yangtse there were many who yearned for bringing back the defunct Ming rule.
The Taiping Rebellion was spearheaded by a school teacher who saw visions and who knew his time and place. By any standard this episode was as extraordinary as it was disastrous for the land where Hung intended to usher in Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace or ‘Taiping Tien-Kuo’ .
As a consequence of acting on his vision, more people are said to have perished than in the WWI, either by death in action or massacre or by starvation resulting from the foraging armies of one who called himself Tien Wang or Heavenly King. Heavenly visions unfortunately can only be attempted on the earth by wading knee deep in violence as his life amply demonstrates.

Where there is no vision people perish; so would they if they conceal theirs in someone else’s vision. I have a vision myself to live my life reasonably well, neither too rich nor poor. Well my vision is still keeping me. I trust not another to take care of my vision as I would. Another may turn out to be a crook or downright cuckoo.

Read Full Post »

An interview with Winston was sure to yield much more than what was bargained for. His comments were sure to make a good copy  and often barely concealed the irrepressible impishness of the man. Fiercely loyal to Clementine his comments on the fair sex often brought out the battle of sexes;
When Churchill was told that savants are declaring that by the year 2100, the women would be ruling the world his rejoinder was, “still?”

When asked by an American feminist for his comments about equality between the sexes and what woman’s future role should be , he replied after a pause: “The same, I trust, as it has been since the days of Adam and Eve.”


Once he was asked if he knew any professional women. He answered promptly: “I’ve never met any amateur ones.”


Once asked why he always seemed to miss trains and planes he said, ”I am a sporting man. I always give them a fair chance of getting away.”


At a time when asked why he painted only landscapes he replied that ‘trees never complained about its likeness.”


While talking about the Greek general Plasiras, during the Greek Civil War, 1944, Churchill exclaimed: “Plasterarse eh! Well I hope at least he hasn’t got feet of clay.”


Churchill was asked by an admiring lady if he was a pillar of the Church. He replied that he was more likea flying buttress. “I support it from the outside.”

Read Full Post »

Place:in the spirit world

Phantoms in white are floating around and two among them discuss about a coming event.
Angel #1:The Venerable in Years have at last agreed to attend the show. Do we kick our heels high and present a dance routine?
Angel #2: we have past the age of levity. We have no ears to trick us; nor have we a heart to admire nimble footed chorus line.
The angel who is rather new to the world feels rather embarrassed and asks, “OK I spoke out of turn. You are rather familiar with what the Old Man likes.”(At this moment a horde of specters like voice of great thunder gravitate to them.)
In unison, “ Here we have a showstopper ,a new song parts written for four beasts.”
Angel #1: “Four beasts?”
“The chorus:”yes, the lion, I roar;you be the eagle”
Angel #2 ‘”yes I have talons”
Angel#1 you mean talent. Is it not?”
Angel#2: Don’t be a square. Don’t be too literal.
Angel #3 “ I play the part of the ox.”
Angel#1 ( brightly) It is a hoax then.
One angel buts in, “I play the part of man.”
(The crowd disperses in merriment. It is obvious the coming event has made them all livelier.Angel#2 also follows them asking the Angel#1 to come and enjoy the show.)
Angel #1 spots a mount with a lamb on it.
(aside) Mt. Sion.
A voice, ‘What did you say?’
Angel#1 ‘ Who are you?’
The voice: John of Patmos
Angel#1: ‘The show isn’t meant for you. Go back to your devotion,if that makes you feel better.
Angel#1 catches up with Angel#2 and asks in whisper,”Who are these an hundred forty and four thousand each having a symbol  stuck on their foreheads?
Angel#2: These are cues for a quiz show.(points to the four beasts)
Angel#1 ‘What do they represent?’
Angel#2 ‘since we are not the ones to guess, I will tell you. They represent Ezekiel. You know your Bible. Don’t you?’
Angel #1,’Oh Ezekiel’s vision by the river Chebar.’
Angel#2:’Right-o’ These 144000 are words from the Bible that we have not fully understood. They are going to tell us what they represent.
Angel#1‘Oh I see. I always had difficulty to digest the verse Mt 5:29-30
Angel#2: “Are you going to see with your eyes or with your inner eye?
Angel#1 with a laugh,”You know well we have no physical eyes but inner eye.”
Angel#1( in serious vein) Then I don’t have to be concerned. Come the show has begun.
Meanwhile St.John the Divine furiously scratches in a scroll:’And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion….’(rev:14:1)

Read Full Post »

After 103 years Einstein’s formula e=mc2 is proven right by using some of the world’s mightiest supercomputers. A consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France’s Centre for Theoretical Physics was behind this marathon computing.

‘According to the conventional model of particle physics, protons and neutrons comprise smaller particles known as quarks, which in turn are bound by gluons.
The odd thing is this: the mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five percent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 percent?’

According to the study published in the US journal Science on Thursday, the 95 percent comes from the energy- from the movements and interactions of quarks and gluons.
So cluster principle that I have been explaining in my earlier posts must hold the key. How we set chains of events in space and time also must cover energy as in the case of Theoretical Physics. We the people are gluons in real time and our worth, zero. Yet we keep holding while the big events like wars, slump in oil prices, fiscal bailouts, suicide bombs, Jihads, extraordinary renditions,G20 summits, pre-emptive strikes etc catch the headlines all across the globe. Missing mass of our inner lives (we who are shot at and caught in friendly fire or rendered homeless and thrown out of jobs) pack the punch to send all the calculations of politicians, oligarchs and mullahs to smithereens.
The Cluster principle throws light into the Finagle’s corollary to Murphy’s law, ‘Anything that can go wrong, will’.

Read Full Post »

Charles Townsend Copeland, a Harvard professor once invited some of his favorite pupils to his chambers. A sophomore asked, “How does one go about learning the fine art of conversation?” The professor lifted an admonishing finger and said:” Listen, my boy.” After a moment’s silence the student said, “Well I’m listening”
Copley said, “That’s all there is to it.”

John Howard Van Amringe of Columbia University was a sworn enemy of coeducation. “It is impossible,” he asserted, “ to teach a boy mathematics if there is a girl in the class.”
“Oh, come professor,” some one protested, ”surely there must be an exception to that.”
“There might be,” snapped Amringe, “but he wouldn’t be worth teaching.”

Sir. Herbert Warren of Magdalen College, Oxford was noted for snobbery. Once an oriental prince, who had entered Magdalen, confided apologetically that in his own language his name meant, ’son of god.’
Sir Herbert after a pause said, “You’d find sons of lots of distinguished men at the College.”

Professor Robert Tyrrell, of Trinity College in Dublin ( who taught Oscar Wilde while he was there,) while holding forth one day, was interrupted by a rude fellow who in the midst of a sentence, asked: “Where is the lavatory?” To which Tyrrell replied, ”First door on the right marked GENTLEMEN, but don’t let that deter you.

Ä. E Houseman the poet and a professor once gave an after dinner speech at Trinity, Cambridge thus: “This great College, of this ancient university has seen some chance sights. It has seen Wordsworth drunk, and Porson sober. And here am I a better poet than Porson, and a better scholar than Wordsworth somewhere betwixt and between.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »