A picture named dd10.jpg

"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, December 1, 2005

I finally got down to reading one of the many books I have recently got. Am absorbed in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino presently and I find it a fascinating read. It's funny, it's the sort of book you may or maynot read from cover to cover, and for many days, I just dipped in and out, and always find there is food for thought whichever page you unveil. There is poetry in the images he conjures of magical invisible cities; cities nobody has ever seen, and yet those that every one of us might have sensed and experienced. Semiotically really rich, it is a book which is difficult to 'analyse', but where I find myself reflecting on the almost meditative tensions between what we see, what is, and what might be; between past, present and future; between death and beauty; all of which urge you to drift along dimensions of perception and memory.

Only this afternoon did I read it in some order, but I drifted, and I am nowhere near done. I know it will lie on a shelf that's easily accessible and I will keep dipping into it. Here's one of the conversations between the older Kublai Khan and young Marco Polo; typing it in brought it more alive to me somehow.

....the Great Khan tried to concentrate on the game: but now it was the game's reason that eluded him. The end of every game is a gain or a loss: but of what? What were the real stakes? At checkmate, beneath the foot of the king, knocked aside by the winner's hand, nothingnes remains: a black square or a white one. By disembodying his conquests to reduce them to the essential, Kublai had arrived at the extreme operation: the definitive conquest, of which the empire's multiform treasures were only illusory enveloped; it was reduced to a square of planed wood.

Then Marco Polo spoke: "Your chessboard, sire, is inlaid with two woods: ebony and maple. The square on which your enlightened gaze is fixed was cut from the ring of a trunk that grew in a year of drought: you see how its fibers are arranged? Here a barely hinted knot can be made out: a bud tried to burgeon on a premature spring day, but the night's frost forced it to desist."

Until then the Great Khan had not realised that the foreigner knew how to express himself fluently in his language, but it was not this fluency that amazed him.

"Here is a thicker pore: perhaps it was a larvum's nest; not a woodworm, because, once born, it would have begun to dig, but a caterpillar that gnawed the leaves and was the cause of the tree's being chosen for chopping down ... This edge was scored by the wood carver with his gouge so that it would adhere to the next square, more protrudings ..."

The quantity of things that could be read in a little piece of smooth and empty wood overwhelmed Kublai; Polo already talking about ebony forests, about rafts laden with logs that come down the rivers, of docks, of women at the windows ...

And in the final conversation, Polo states :

"The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what we already have, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many; accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognise who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space."

6:28:45 PM    comment []  trackback []

It has been over 10 hours since I asked for a password reset for Skype, following the password scare - no response yet. Had to boot my laptop this morning so I am now locked out of Skype completely. Can someone from Skype please help with this? I hate moaning and know this is a rant but it is very frustrating. While some Skypers haven't had this problem, there are lots of others facing it.

And to top this, I get an email from the new PR firm for Skype :

".....We are making an announcement tomorrow about the introduction of Skype 2.0, which is even more user friendly and offers video for the first time. The news will cross the wire tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., but Walt Mossbergís story just broke a bit early, so I wanted to be sure you got all the news early as well. Please let me know if you have any questions now or in the future about Skype. I will be happy to help you getaccess as best I can."

I would love to try the 2.0 beta but am locked out. All I can say at this point in time is I hope this isn't what's in store for us with Skype 2.0.

And I notice they've gotten rid of the tagline - "It just works" from their website! Interesting what you notice when a brand you're close to and have an emotional bond with lets you down.

Update :  I got a message from Skype support asking for an alternate email id .. and it was reset immediately after.  Finally happy.  I can try the beta now !


10:27:01 AM    comment []  trackback []

I too got a scary email from Skype this evening, and until I read Stuart's post, didn't really look at it. When I read it, I hurried over and changed my password but the promised new password hasn't arrived. Am afraid to log off Skype as I will be stuck. Hope my SkypeIn and SkypeOut accounts and credits don't vanish. This is nuts. Skype is probably overwhelmed by the number of requests and hasn't been able to respond to all ... am hoping.

12:21:39 AM    comment []  trackback []