Atop a Tortoise and Other Stories


The  anecdote about Bertrand Russell was in an article written by the learned C.Radhakrishnan.  After a lecture on the structure of the solar system, Russell was confronted by an irate lady from the audience. ” There is nothing like the earth moving around the sun.  It has all been written in the family archives by my great ancestors. The whole thing rests on top of a tortoise, ” she said confidently. Russell did not bat an eyelid. ” And where did that tortoise rest?” He queried with utmost politeness. ” Of course, atop another,” she sniffed. ” Undoubtedly madam. All my doubts are now cleared,” smiled Russell. End of story.

Whenever views become rigid, inflexible, unforgiving, venomously obdurate, it is worthwhile to think of the tortoise. If the other can see only tortoises due to culture, family, religion, gender, blah blah..what can you do to persuade them to change their perspective? Nothing.Just do a Russell.


Werner Herzog’s conversations with Paul Cronin- A guide for the perplexed is being recommended by a learned Columnist .  There are translations of conversations with him. An exhortation by the learned film maker is, ” It is good to watch movies, but read books.”

A question and answer which intrigued me and toppled a tortoise within was this:

” There is an opinion that all creative people are eccentric..?”

Herzog : ” I am a very balanced person. I am a professional.”

I loved that bit. I had seen many pretentious intellectuals acting eccentric, mad, justifying stupid behaviour like drunkenness and the rest with the tortoise of ” creativity”. Woohoo and a bottle of rum!


Why do people write so densely? Some times, reading becomes such a struggle since the author goes out of her way to make it sound complex!

I had known Prof Geeta Hiranyan as a person and had enjoyed reading her short stories. That brilliant life was snuffed out by cancer, almost 13 years ago. A re- reading of her stories by a young writer, left me perplexed.

” Italo Calvino inside Thrissur Express”,( Italo Calvino Thrissur Expressil) was a delight to this ordinary reader. Pray, is it so necessary to bring in Deleuzian analysis into this one’s reading? I do not know what the heck is Deleuzian territoriality or  what a ” desiring machine” approach is! ( I did engineering by the way!) I  had just grinned all the way, enjoying the subtle humour and incisive intelligence , when I encountered  that story long time before.

The article is filled with erudition, but I wonder if simplicity is a fast disappearing skill in critical study.( Ezhuthile sankalpa vyavahara viplavangal-  Geeta Hiranyante kathakal Deluezean vyaghyanangalumayi cherthu vachouru vayana  Shruthy Namboodiri, Malayalam, 30 Jan issue 2015) I try translating the title- ” Revolutions in imagination and practicality in writing- Rereading Geeta HIranyan’s writing alongside-with Deleuzian interpretations.” Whew!!!

Maybe I am dumb. I sit atop my tortoise called ” simplify, simplify”. Thoreau, do not topple over, please.


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