Train of Thought

Clicking URLs in Real Life

If an idea comes to your head or if there is a fact that you want to verify, your first impulse is to boot up a comp, get to and start hunting for info. Thirty minutes later, you are still on the net, despite the original purpose long achieved. Or maybe, you were just reading this blog, you hit some link and traverse to somebody else's blog. Where are you thirty minutes later? In a few URL clicks you are completely elsewhere. I wonder if the Six Degrees of Separation should be reduced to Four? Last week I experienced something quite different, but nevertheless exciting in its own way. I called it- 'Clicking on URLs in real life'. You might call it Continuous Serendipity but it felt like I was surfing in real-life.

I was at the Cleveland Heights Public library trying to get some CDs issued and I saw Joseph Conrad's The Heart Of Darkness in the MP3 audio books section, lying on the side-desk. I wish they had better stuff than the usual Clancy and other soppy romance novelists. It was too good to ignore, so I picked it up (clicked the URL) and looked at the back cover and the details(browsed). Hmm.. about 4 hours long. Not bad for my drive to Ann Arbor this weekend. I always wanted to read this book. Had glimpsed part of the movie version on TNT, years ago.

Listening to John Grisham is perhaps not as demanding as Conrad, if you are trying to stay alive on the road at the same time too. Conrad requires your complete attention. I missed a few sentences at times, when the guy in front decided to change lanes abruptly or the mass of construction slowed traffic to a crawl and I had to watch the front bumper. A few days later, I was back the library looking for the Book of the Month on the lit blog, - Eco's The Name of the Rose. I proceeded to the Fiction section. I read,
'Section A - K'
'Adams ... B-Berg ... E- Elliot, no ... back ... Camus Conrad ...CONRAD!!'. A few flips and I found The Heart of Darkness and other stories. Good! Now I could read the last few pages of the book. I was at the part when Marlowe finally meets Kurtz. Of course, I did pick up the Eco which was still on the shelf. From the audio book I had jumped to the text version.

It's a short book, a few hundred pages and I was back at the library to return it. I move over to the DVD section, sifting through the trash on the shelves. I look around and I see the title - Apocalypse Now. Hmm.. interesting find and that too the day I return the Conrad. Coppola's movie is a masterpiece. The story does not deviate much from the original Conrad version if you are willing to subsitute colonization for the colonization of our times- Wars of liberation and specifically, US-lead wars of liberation. While seeing this 1979 movie, I thought this could well be about Iraq. Echoing Pete Seeger, When will they ever learn?. It's not hard to imagine a Lt. Col Bill Kilgore(Duvall) and the sound of the 'Ride of the Valkyries' in Abu Ghraib or the boat scene where the 17-year old American gunner shoots down an entire Vietnamese farmer's boat and its occupants, when all it concealed was a poor puppy. A more compelling argument than Fahrenheit 9/11.

I was back to return the DVD and just for a lark I moved to Opera section to see if I could actually find the 'Ride of the Valkyries'. For all the Mozart in their collection, I have not found Don Giovanni each time I have looked. It always seems to be out or unavailable. I flipped a few CDs and I found 'Die Walküre' by Richard Wagner staring at me. This really felt like surfing. Instaneous gratification. In one week I was able to follow all the threads that I would have wished to follow from the original book. Wow!

PS: It was not easy to find the exact section in the Opera where 'The Ride of the Valkyries' occurs. Found it after 5 searches too many. BTW it is at the start of Scene III. Time that the wikipedia entry is updated. I think that this piece is only famous for movie buffs and not for opera afficionados.

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