Wednesday, 20 January 2010

A Shameless Worship of Heroes

Will Durant (1885-1981) author of critically acclaimed eleven–volume master piece The Story of Civilization and The Story of Philosophy wrote some independent inspiring articles which were published posthumously in a smart volume The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time in 2002. Following excerpts are from a classic article A Shameless Worship of Heroes:

“Of the many ideals which in youth gave a meaning and radiance missing from the chilly perspective of middle age, one at least has remained with me as bright and satisfying as ever before-the shameless worship of heroes. I say shameless, for I know how unfashionable it is now to acknowledge in life or history any genius loftier than ourselves.
Why should we stand reverent before waterfalls and mountaintops, or summer moon on a quite sea, and not before the highest miracle of all: a man who is both great and good? So many of us are mere talents, clever children in the play of life, that when genius stands in our presence we can only bow down before it as an act of God, a continuance of creation. Such men are the very life-blood of history, to which politics and industry are but frames and bones.

No, the real history of man is not in prices and wages, nor in elections and battles, nor in the even tenor of common man; it is the lasting contributions made by geniuses to the sum of human civilization and culture. The history of France is not, if one may say it with all courtesy, the history of the French people; the history of those nameless men and women who tilled the soil, cobbled the shoes, cut the cloth, and peddled the goods(for these things has been done everywhere and always)- the history of France is the record of her exceptional men and women, her inventors, scientist, statesmen, poets, artists, musicians, philosophers, and saints, and of the additions which they made to the technology and wisdom, the artistry and decency, of their people and mankind. “
For us Muhammad Ali Jinnah is one such hero.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

It's the Spectator that Art Really Mirrors

The last post mentioned 13 Books that changed the way America is, wanted to list out 13 such books for Pakistan, which will do in some later post. This post is about those thirteen that influenced me.

Oscar Wilde in the preface of Picture of Dorian Gray speaks about art, some pickings from that would be interesting before I list out books.”The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal artist is art’s aim. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are cultivated. For these there is hope. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril. Those who read symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

01-KHUTBAT (Sermons’) by A.A.Mududi
A foremost book about pillars of Islam, and a very precise and logical narrations of these tenants.

02-APOLOGY by Plato
Details of trial and sentence of Socrates. “ I must tell you the truth-the result of my mission was first this: I found that the men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that some inferior men were really wiser and better”

03-IBLIS O ADAM (Devil and Adam) by G.A.Perwez
Origin and Geneses paradoxes understood in light of Quran and modern empirical knowledge.

04-MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Victor Frankl
“Ultimately man should not ask what meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked.”

05-RAAKH (Ashes’) by Mustansar Hussain Tarar
A novel classically deals with the history of Pakistan, often considered as controversial but ground breaking.

06-BEING AND NOTHINGNESS by Jean Paul Sartre
“Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away… To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives.”

The seven lectures that are key to our understanding of Islam and the world around us: Past, Present and Future.

08-KAFILA E HIJAZ (The Caravan of Arabia) by Nasim Hijazi
A historical fiction, written in most admirable and lucid prose portraying early rise of Islamic polity, economy and education system.

09-LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo
“Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God.”

10-RAJA GIDH (King Vulture) by Bano Qudsia
An Urdu novel emphasizing that sins not only degrade and destroy the sinner morally but also corrupts his genes and travels to next generation.

11-SIDDAHRATA by Hermann Hesse
“When someone is seeking… it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything… because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal.”

“To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves.”

13-GERMINAL by Emile Zola
“He simply wanted to go down the mine again, to suffer and to struggle; “