October 27, 2009

'The Lost Symbol' Review

The plot is good; the visual imagery is clich̩ to Dan Brown Рbloody and thrilling; the flow Рsimply hooks up the reader. As they say, art and literature are a reflection of contemporary trends Рso this too is Рspecifically about the global quest for spirituality, spiritism, and the application of science to it - noetics.

Weaving a story around a plethora of symbols, symbolisms and ancient artifacts is Brown’s forte. His signature style is in the sparking-up of the controversial coincidental-connections between these symbols and major world institutions, mostly religious.

Having said all that, ‘The Lost Symbol’, to sum it all up in one word is simply Lost. Well, I’m being awfully critical, right?!? That’s because when the purpose of a novel goes beyond literary purposes and ‘a good read’, it also needs to be as critically looked upon.

The weirdest part about Brown especially in the three novels featuring Robert Langdon is that he tends to get very philosophic and preachy about few subjects, debate of Science vs. Religion for instance in Angels & Demons; unproven details behind the holy grail in The Da Vinci Code; Noetics in The Lost Symbol. This only makes readers put it down for a while, like I did, another mini-discourse, let me take a quick break. But, I guess, it’s to do with the character – Langdon’s a professor.

As I finished reading, I was just saying to myself “What!!! So much mystery ‘just’ for this bit? Such a calm and all absorbing climax to all this suspense built-up?” The end is on a ‘note of ‘hope’’. Sigh! Well, all The Da Vinci Code readers must have been bit ready for such a thing, because even that ended in a no great climax, instead a ‘fatherly kiss’ from Prof. Langdon.

At a point in the novel, it seems as if Brown is making up for the damage by quoting & supporting The Holy Bible so much that he’d done with his writings in The Da Vinci Code. All of the hype around this NY Times’ bestseller has come to an end for me.

Going beyond ‘The Lost Symbol’, to be candid, if there’s so much criticism about Brown’s novels, I believe it has to do with the fictionalization and presentation of profound subjects as mentioned above in mere plainness.

Talking about the author – I have a feeling that Brown is somewhere caught in the spiritual realms and not able to find his way out. But, as the novel points in the end – ‘There is hope’.

Dear Brown - hope you’ll find ‘the way’ in the spiritual realms...

October 9, 2009

If you can't convince them, confuse them!

I don't think Harry Truman had an idea of how widely this mantra he gave would be put to use. In some areas, it also defines the strategies..

I've seen this mantra at work and it's very true of large organizations— Governments, large business organizations, religious institutions like church etc., all employ this principle in a very effective way. When all the substance they can use to convince is exhausted, the only way left is to confound the rest - for the best.

Clarified but not Convinced

A lot of formal communication in any organization is by the management - flows top to bottom. Focused mainly on getting the management message across - primarily about objectives, results, strategies, scorecards, policies, procedures, news & updates, other etc., So the idea behind all is - 'Get the message across!'

Of course, one can't imagine discounting the little-bit of the feedback taken and surveys conducted to understand the employees' ranting and raving as well. What of the communication after surveys? Err.. wrong question! Be focused - the point I'm driving home is - the objective of communication is - 'Get the message across!', is it clear?

I've been having this 'clarified but not convinced' feeling reinforced specifically since the time India Inc., had started taking recession cover for various cost-effective measures. There's been a great deal of communication on these strict measures. But, as I observe hundreds of people around me, myself, working family members who keep watching how India Inc., is succeeding in bringing the expenses curve down, for them, the other economic costs have been going up. Even for these measure the great deal of communication that's been happening within the organization from top to bottom has been to elaborate the management's stand and to clarify... Unfortunately, management communication hasn't been able to convince anyone.

Guess the cost of convincing employees is too high! Any doubts? Is it clear? Yes, it's clarified, but, I am still not convinced..

Do not forget the sons and daughters of misery...

The 'Do not forget' speech by William Booth. Transcript also available here...

For a video in Booth's own voice, click here...

I am glad you're enjoying yourselves. The Salvationist is a friend of happiness. Making heaven on earth is our business. 'Serve the Lord with gladness' is one of our favorite mottos. So I am pleased that you are pleased.

But amidst all your joys do not forget the sons and daughters of misery. Do you ever visit them? Come away and let us make a call or two..

Here is a home, six in family, they eat and drink and sick and die in the same chamber. Here is a drunkard's hovel, void of furniture, wife a skeleton, children in rags, father mistreating the victims of his neglect. Here are the unemployed, wandering about, seeking work and finding none. Yonder are the wretched criminals, cradled in crime, passing in and out of the prisons all the time. There are the daughters of shame, diseased and wronged and ruined, traveling down the dark incline to an early grave. There are the children, fighting in the gutter, going hungry to school, growing up to fill their parents' places..

Brought it all on themselves, do you say? Perhaps so, but that does not excuse our assisting them!

You don't demand a certificate of virtue before you drag someone drowning creature out of the water, nor the assurance that a man has paid his rent before you deliver him out of the burning building!

But what shall we do? Content ourselves by singing a hymn, offering a prayer or giving a little good advice? No! Ten thousand times, no!

We will pity them, feed them, reclaim them, employ them, perhaps we shall fail with many, quite likely. But our business is to help them all the same. And that is the most practical, economical, and Christ-like manner. So let us hasten to the rescue for the sake of our own peace, the poor wretches themselves, the innocent children, and the Savior of us all. But you must help with the means,  and as there is nothing like the present, who in this company will lend a hand by taking up the collection?

October 1, 2009

Ka ching!

One of my favorites from Shania Twain.. 

We live in a greedy little world
that teaches every little boy and girl
To earn as much as they can possibly
then turn around and spend it foolishly

We've created us a credit card mess
We spend the money that we don't possess
Our religion is to go and blow it all
So it's shoppin' every Sunday at the mall

All we ever want is more
A lot more than we had before
So take me to the nearest store

Can you hear it ring
It makes you wanna sing
It's such a beautiful thing--Ka-ching!
Lots of diamond rings
The happiness it brings
You'll live like a king
With lots of money and things

When you're broke go and get a loan
Take out another mortgage on your home
Consolidate so you can afford
To go and spend some more when you get bored

Let's swing...
Dig deeper in your pocket
Oh, yeah, ha,
Come on I know you've got it
Dig deeper in your wallet