Nuggets and Aphorisms

Food for thought. These first appeared in Amit Varma's blog, India Uncut

Friday, May 26, 2006

Our cherished beliefs

There seems ... to be a problem with some of our most cherished beliefs about the world: they are leading us, inexorably, to kill one another. A glance at history, or at the pages of any newspaper, reveals that ideas which divide one group of human beings from another, only to unite them in slaughter, generally have their roots in religion. It seems that if our species ever eradicates itself through war, it will not be because it was written in the stars but because it was written in our books; it is what we do with words like “God” and “paradise” and “sin” in the present that will determine our future.
Sam Harris, in "The End of Faith." This particular quote is from the first chapter, which is available here. Do read.

An angry reader emailed me some days ago accusing me of being "against religion." Whoa. I'm not against religion, provided it is restricted to the private domain, and is a personal matter. I am against coercion. And religion is the most common excuse used to try and justify coercion, of all kinds. Religion must not be beyond examination, and there should be no sacred cows at all. (Cows are divine in an entirely different way.)

Vaguely related posts: 1, 2.
amit varma, 12:28 PM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink | homepage |

Monday, May 01, 2006


Through my blue fingers, pink grains are falling, haphazard, random, a disorganised stream of silicone that seems pregnant with the possibility of every conceivable shape... but this is illusion.

Things have their shape in time, not space alone. Some marble blocks have statues within them, embedded in their future.
Dr Manhattan, in "Watchmen" by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I've been reading a lot of graphic novels recently, and have been amazed at the heights that some of them achieve. I was first sucked in by Art Spiegelman's "Maus," which I read astounded at the power and depth that could be contained within a single frame. Jai made me buy both parts of Moore's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" during a visit to Delhi, and I especially loved Part II -- my favourite sequence is the one where Mr Hyde explains at a dinner table why he is so big and Dr Jekyll so small.

I'm currently reading my way through Frank Miller's "Sin City" and rediscovering Neil Gaimon's "Sandman," and it's a trip. I pick one of them up and I'm like a little boy lost in comic books. Maybe that isn't too far from the truth.

(A more detailed post on what I love about some of these books will follow later, when time permits.)
amit varma, 9:07 AM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink | homepage |