Monday, October 13, 2008

Riding a cusp

The name of my blog “capararius aquacorn” is based on a split-and-join of Capricorn and Aquarius. I deem myself to be born on the cusp of these two constellations. As a result I don’t have a star I can definitely identify with as so many others (97%?) with well assigned stars seem to do.

Does one cusp like feature induce/influence another cusp?

I now imagine that I find many cusp-like situations when I look at events that have shaped my life.

In physics, a cusp (lamda point, actually) in some physical property happens at a phase transition that is not catastrophic. One cascades in avalanches to states on either side of the cusp by a slight perturbation. Sitting on a cus-just as riding a wave for a surfer-is therefore interesting or potentially so; unless you are very decided on things so as to be predictable. There is this danger of being predictable at my age (born in 1942) since one has slid a long way.

It helps being alive to encounter more and more cusp-my children would say too many cusps spoil the blog. As sand falling on a sand-pile you shape events by sliding down a self-organized critical state generating avalanches to do so. Being on the cusp could be important because one is in a critical state which makes one aware of the coherence of long-range or distant effects that helps put events in perspective in a causal sense.

I have chosen the name of my blog, “capararius aquacorn”, because it could have several light-hearted (hilarious, corny) connotations even if there could be a temptation to associate the name with capricious intentions, which I certainly do not have. At present I think the world as a whole is faced with a leadership and activity that generates cusps with progressively deteriorating (it would seem) consequences in this currently very complex¾technical, spiritual, ethical¾age (kaliyug?) of the world.

I have felt the cusp in several ways - like being born in pre-independence India and then being faced with the notion of independence as a very noble one without really having realized the need for it. I will deal with other cusp effects later. The purpose of my blog would therefore to put forth these perspectives, not for the sake of change or betterment of the world but more to simply find one’s place in it - with goodwill towards all and with malice towards none.

In this first page, I will introduce myself a little bit simply because I think I am typical of the cusp-people of the Indian independence movement. For the purpose of this introduction, some cusp situations from my childhood will be recalled here not because it is typical of me but could be typical of those times. For instance, my father, Aboni Kumar Ganguly, preferred to be part of a larger India and shifted out of Bengal in 1948. He was a pure, learned Bengali who also recited longest English poems in the purest Bengali accent and thereby failed to impress those with other accents, including every regional Cambridge or British accents. The cultural status of an Indian in its higher strata is usually judged by the way he speaks a foreign language. Even his religion is many a time based on what he is not. He - it is always masculine nowadays ever since women’s lib desired and successfully made, unfortunately, a female into a male - is not a muslim, Christian, jew and so he is a Hindu.

My first name-”Christian” name as they would emphasize in convents or “good” name as we would have it here in India - itself serves as another example. For the sake of national integration, an idea which was very strong in a nascent India, my name was changed from Krishna Kant Ganguly to Parthasarathy Ganguly. This is what my parents told me. Actually it may have been done to remove a tarnish. Krishna Kant is a name that is almost always changed to Keshto, especially when the person with the name is dark hued, which is my hue. Many dark-hued people are economically backward, and work as domestic helps (normally referred to as servants), more often than the guinnea” (mistress) of the house. Now, our famous Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote a poem to honour keshto, and put in a line which translates to “whenever anything is lost guinnea says keshto baetai (keshto the rascal) chor (thief)”. Whenever I was introduced to anybody since my childhood I would get this reference “keshto baetai chor”. I would laugh along with them, as expected; my mother would get hurt. My name had to be changed. This opportunity came perhaps when I had to be register as my official name in the school.

The way I obtained the initial to my surname, Ganguly, is another cusp-like situation arising due to a a transition from a Bengali environment to a tamil one. My name in the register at the time of my admission to a catholic convent (whatever that means) school in Madras was entered as P. Ganguly. Vaishnavite Iyengars would write it that way in the Madras state of that time, since Parthasarathy (or Partha’s charioteer, Krishna, when Parthasarathy is used as a single word) is an avatar of Vishnu. I later learnt that Bengalis usually would have written the name as P. S. Ganguly or as Partha Sarathy Ganguly. The name is split into two. The reason for this difference beween Iyengars and Bengalis is not clear to me, as yet. It could have come from the association of Bengalis with Partha a name for Arjuna. Partha or Arjuna is a very popular mythological character in the eastern parts of India. P. S. Ganguly would have meant Arjuna (the) Charioteer Ganguly, who would not at all be an avatar of Vishnu. The cusp situation in my name-deciding who I am when called by my name-was that a short form Partha would mean Arjuna and not Krishna or Keshto, the name by which I was addressed by those close to me.

These brief cusp-comments have served, I hope, to alert the reader of my blog that I could have cusp-like view points that are likely to be unusual for those of whom a cusp in the behavior is not expected. I hope to comment on current events that will be derived from my experiences with a cusp-sensitivity. I am technically a scientist, even if formally retired (if one can be a retired scientist), having worked in various areas and in various (prestigious, one may say) laboratories in India and Europe. I hope to write my blogs as a diversion from my “science”. I am, frankly, a little tired of being refereed and seek a freedom of expression. Paarkalaam. Let us see.