I am not participating in this FQXi competition

Actually, I had more or less reached this decision right by the middle of this month, but still, just because there was some time in hand, kept on indulging in aimless, useless, baseless, energy-less vacillations about it. Until it was the evening of August 31st, anyway.  … Yes, yes, I know there still is some more time in hand, even if only because India is ahead of USA in terms of the time of the time-zone. The time still in hand (about 15 hours) is enough to write a mere nine-page essay anyway. However, read on to get to know why I would still not be writing. …

The reason, ultimately, turns out to be grounded in the competition topic itself, viz., the question: “Which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong?”

Loosely speaking, the nature of this question makes it a “negative” topic, not a “positive” one. … That could take some explanation. …

OK. No. I am not a New Age idiot. So, I don’t mean to say that the reason I decided to keep away from this competition is because the topic invites some of kind of a criticism of others. That’s not what I mean by the adjective “negative” here.

What I mean by “negative,” here, is: the (logical) compliment of “the positive.” And, by “positive,” what I mean is: a direct existential kind of a statement. … More detailed explanation is called for.

OK. For example: “The Sun exists” is a positive statement. It directly captures a fact of reality. Another example: “The Sun shines brightly,” again, is a positive statement. Not primarily because the word “brightness” has a connotation of clarity, efficacy, joy, happiness, etc., all supposedly positive things, but simply because the adjective “brightly” does not logically negate the sense of the basic truth contained in the rest of that sentence.  On these lines, the statement: “A black hole sucks in everything, even light” also is a positive statement. Its purpose is to identify the nature of an existent rather than to deny, qualify, or question one.

In Ayn Rand’s way of putting it: The positive statements are of the kind: Existence is identity. Or: A is A. They are not concerned with what possibly might belong in the non-A. They are not concerned with the logical complement of A.

Alright. … What’s that to do with not participating in the essay competition?

I think I have already ended up hinting at this aspect, right during my last post.

The FQXi competition question does not ask: “What new, foundational thing have you got right?” It asks: Where did physicists got it wrong?

Answering the first question is always easier; the second one is not.

Physics is a science. It establishes its truth via a laborious process, one that proceeds through observations, analysis, hypotheses, experimentation, analysis of data, validation, integration, etc. And, it’s a cyclic or iterative process; the parts of it are interdependent. You don’t begin thinking of integration only after conducting the experiments; considerations of integration are part of the context of analysis and hypothesis generation as well. You don’t do analysis only before experimentation; you need it right during validation, too. So on and so forth. All in all, establishing a new truth requires a whole lot of real, hard, work. Naturally, the progress is slow. Naturally, therefore, there is very little to show in any annual/biennial essay contest, if at all one has produced anything in that time period. Naturally, therefore, it is very easy to identify what one does have to show, if one has it.

However, precisely due to the nature and extent of the hard-work involved, it is very difficult to even summarize what all things one does not have.

In a way, it’s a matter of teleology—and the crow-principle of epistemology. The goals are few. But they lead to a whole big “tree” of issues, factors, possibilities and considerations to manage. It’s always possible to tell the goals—and it’s even easier to tell the actually achieved goals from among them  (which are even fewer than the goals). But it’s always too complex to even indicate the extent and scope of the “tree”s directly involved in it: the teleological one, and the epistemological one (by which, here, I mean: the “tree” arising out of the basic meanings of the concepts, generalizations or issues at hand).

Beyond these complex trees, there also is that biggest of all considerations, when it comes to all matters concerning knowledge, viz., the consideration of integration. Integration of the new knowledge with the sum total of all of the rest of the knowledge.

Statements of goals and achievements are easier to make. But since the process of knowledge creation is so intricate, difficult and laborious, statements of what went wrong are far more difficult to make. The “A” is easy enough to identify if it involves the goals and the achievements; the “non-A” is far too voluminous for the mind to separately deal with.

That’s the basic reason why mere polemics never succeeds. Even if a polemics (the non-A) is objectively valid, and even if it’s done very neatly or sharply, the listener’s mind still is simply unable to hold on to much of it, unless the positive part—the “A” of it—is not explicitly identified.

So, you get the idea of why I couldn’t get much past that question.

Of course, as I stated in my last post, I could still have written something on some one important issue and simply dumped it. I did try. … As it so happens, I was participating in a LinkedIn discussion on the nature of randomness (“Is anything truly random?”). I wrote a lot there, and also got misunderstood—at least some, if not a lot. (Expectedly so.) So, it seemed like a good topic on which to write the FQXi essay. I did try along this direction.

However, as soon as I finished my initial take on the “outline” part of it, I realized the essential dissonance. What I was addressing was an identification of the basic nature of randomness. But what I was supposed to be addressing was a survey of the physical assumptions that are not only wrong but also obvious enough in their wrongness as to be ripe to be acknowledged by the (astro)physicist community (at MIT) as indeed being wrong. Too much of a chasm in there. Too much of dissonance.

The essay indeed would have carried some (what I think are) good contents. Indeed,  I should sincerely try to bring it all together, give it some good, additional touches—specifically, the scholarly kind of touches (doing a real serious lit search etc.). And, then, submit it to a suitable journal (e.g. Foundations of Physics/AJP/The Physics Teacher/Whatever; not Nature/Science/PRL). However, just the fact that it can make for a good essay, doesn’t mean that it makes for a good essay for this competition.

Could anyone have written a good essay to address that particular question?

For the reasons indicated above, I don’t think anyone could have. There is just too much that is bad with the present-day physics. The situation is so (or such) bad that, as mentioned in my last post, in one’s attempts to condense it all, the first things to strike one happen to be all philosophic in nature. And, rational philosophic principles are not always well-known to people. So, you also have to face the issue of having to explain even simpler among the terms, as you go along.

Further, things have gone bad to such extent that not just the Platonic intrinsicism but even classical subjectivism looks brightly rational in comparison. For example, in the so-called Many Worlds Interpretation, originated in an American’s 1950’s PhD at Princeton, people don’t just create their own reality, as a classical subjectivist would have you believe. The Many Worlds Interpretation’s point is that no people are basically necessary to create world, not even a creator god (the idea of it). Physical processes, occurring in the universe, by themselves, are enough to spawn infinity of universes. Yes, you read it right. That’s the actual thesis. (And, idiots at places like Princeton, Berkeley, MIT, etc., have by now developed a tradition of taking such nonsense seriously.) So, in short, there indeed is a lot of nonsense out there. (It’s precisely because the situation is so bad philosophically that it also is so bad quantitatively.)

But there still is that nine page limit. So, you can’t possibly both write well and comprehensively enough to actually address the essay question. There are objective principles because of which an essay of the kind that the competition question demands, is impossible to write.

So, no, I don’t think that anyone else could possibly have a good essay that also actually addresses the actually posed question. They may have good essays that don’t address the question or bad essays that do. But they can’t possibly have both. Now, that’s something that looks like modern physics, doesn’t it, FQXi?

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No “A Song I Like” section, once again. I still go jobless. Keep that in mind.

[This is initial draft, published on August 31, 2012, 6:31 PM, IST. May be I will make some minor corrections/updates later on]
[E&OE]

So, you think physicists got it wrong?

So, you think physicists got it wrong?

If so, why not tell them—or, even if they wouldn’t listen, at least to the world—what precisely it is?

The obvious reference is to the latest FQXi essay contest. The topic they have selected for this edition of the essay contest is:

“Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?”

For more details, see here [^]. Note that the last date of submitting your essays is August 31, 2012. There also is a chance that “proper” physicists may end up reading your essay; see the “Who is FQXi” page here [^].

However, in case you didn’t know about FQXi, also note that this is not the first time that they are conducting such an essay contest. Check out the winning essays from the earlier contests: 2008 (on “The Nature of Time”) [^], 2009 (on “What Is Ultimately Possible in Physics?”) [^], and 2010-11 (“Is Reality Digital or Analog?”) [^].

To read the essays already submitted for the current (still open) contest—and the ongoing public discussions on them—follow this URL [^].

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In case you are curious to know my opinion of this essay contest, the reason why I didn’t participate in it so far, whether I would participate at least now, etc.:

Why I didn’t participate thus far. Well, there are different reasons for it, not a single one.

As to the very first contest, I would have liked to participate in it. However, I simply wasn’t even aware of the FQXi itself at that time. In fact, despite my fairly extensive browsing of physics-related sites, I didn’t come to know of the first edition of the essay contest any time before it was already over.

What would I have written for the first contest (“The Nature of Time”)?

I would have written about the nature of space before coming to that of time. If further curious, my position would have been in many ways quite similar to Ron Pisaturo’s [^]. A few asides: (i) I didn’t know about Pisaturo or his position at that time. (ii) Pisaturo, in his articles, addresses more points than I would have. In fact, some of these points existed only faintly on my radar; it was he, who, in addressing them, highlighted their existence/importance to me. (iii) Regarding the nature of space itself (not to mention other issues like the finitude or otherwise of the physical universe), my position was (and remains) independently arrived at. In fact, I found out via an exchange of a few emails with him that there could be some differences in our positions, may be even some essential ones, esp. at the level of details. In particular, it’s concerning whether space is a concept of mathematics, physics, or both. Now, as far as my own position is concerned, I had been jotting down my points in small pocket notebooks (the paper version!) that I usually carry around. I hope to find the time, and more importantly, the right frame of mind, to convert these into an essay. I would certainly like to do that, but only after I am more than halfway through writing my QM book. Which means: after about a year or more. Ok. Enough about the first contest.

For the immediate next contest (“What Is Ultimately Possible in Physics”), while the topic selection here was rather smart, I personally didn’t think that it was well focused enough. And so, in all probability, I wouldn’t have participated in it. However, it didn’t matter one way or the other because I happened to miss the deadline once again. (FQXi contests are not held periodically i.e. regularly.)

As to the last contest (“Is Reality Digital or Analog”), I thought that the topic was, at least at the very first sight, a bit frivolous. However, as it happened, what I thought of it on the second thoughts also didn’t matter anyway because I once again missed the deadline, this time round by just a few days or so.

I think there was some discussion on HBL on a related topic roughly around that time, and I, in fact had a subscription to the HBL at that time. That topic, I think, began with the discussion on whether 0.999999… equals 1.0 or not; then went a bit on to series and infinitesimals in a geometrical context; and then, another related thread made appearance: whether, as we go “all the way down,” does the physical stuff at that level have sharp boundaries or not. BTW, this is a far, far better way of formulating what the FQXi contest topic had merely hinted at. … My answers, without providing full justifications here: the stuff “all the way down” cannot have (infinitely) sharp boundaries, because infinity does not exist in the physical reality (HB had this same position); 0.9… does equal to 1.0, but only in the limiting sense—the former does not “go to” the latter. Here, surprisingly, HB differed from me, in the sense, he didn’t at least immediately agree with me; he kept quiet—perhaps was thinking about it. (In case you missed the reason why I might have found it surprising: the infinitesimal is nothing but the infinitely small. Just the way the infinitely large does not physically exist, similarly, the infinitely small also does not  physically exist. Both are mathematical concepts—concepts of methods.)

… Anyway, coming back to the FQXi contest, notice the difference that the FQXi topic had from that discussed at the HBL: both digital and analog are, primarily, mathematical concepts, not physical. The fact that they can be successfully applied to physical reality does not, by itself, make them physical. That’s the reason why I said that the terms in which the issue got discussed at HBL were better—the formulation there captured the essential issue more directly, in fact, quite explicitly. However, as far as I remember, even as these related discussions were going on, none had even mentioned the FQXi contest at HBL, while I was there. So, I missed that edition too.

So, this is the first time that I have run into a FQXi contest while there still is some time left for it.

Would I participate now?

As of today, frankly, I don’t know. … As you can see by now, as far as I am concerned, it’s the topic that matters more than anything else, actually.

Come to think of it, I am not afraid of putting even the inchoate among my thoughts, in an essay contest like this. And, that’s to a large extent because, I am most certainly not at all afraid of participating in it and also not winning anything—not even a fourth prize. One doesn’t enter an essay contest in order to win a prize (just the way one does not take an examination to score the highest marks/ranks). In case you are sufficiently idiotic to not get it, notice that what I said in the last line is not an argument against having prizes in contests (or taking them home if you win them). It is merely a way of highlighting the fact that prizes do not deterministically elicit better responses (just the way top examinations ranks do not necessarily always go to the best guy). (If you are not convinced, substitute “fatalistically” in place of “deterministically.”)

The main function of prizes is to attract publicity, and thereby, possibly increase one’s chances of finding, or reaching out to, the right people, the right minds. Prizes serve to attract a better audience rather than a better set of participants. That is, statistically speaking, of course.

You don’t necessarily have to win prizes in order to reach out to a better audience. (And, what’s a better audience, you ask? Obvious. It’s an audience that is itself capable, employs you, pays you, respects you, etc.—overall, values you on a rational basis.) That is the reason why participation matters more than winning.

(The Olympics participants usually get it right—and most of the humanities folks, never do. For example, consider: If it were to be just a matter of exceeding one’s own past performances, or to see the limits of one’s abilities, why not go to a secluded place, exceed your abilities to your heart’s content, and then, never let anyone else get even the wind of it? Ditto, even if your motivation is less exalted, and consists solely of exceeding others’ abilities—beating others. Here, suppose that there are just the two of you, you and your opponent (or the ten of you, or ten teams), and suppose that you (or your team) win (wins) over (all) your opponent(s)—but strictly under the condition that no one else ever gets to know of it. None. You continue to know that you exceeded your past records, or that you beat others, but there is no audience for it, no better consequences to follow in your own life, out of it… And, now, also consider a contrasting scenario: What if you do get to connect to the right kind of an audience even if you don’t win a contest in which you participate. What would it be like? Here, I am tempted to speculate: It would be just like any of our (India’s) sports teams, especially, our cricket team. … So, either way, it is the participation that matters more than the winning. QED, nah?)

So, the idea of participating in a contest like FQXi is quite OK by me. So, coming back to the topic for the current edition of this contest:

As soon as I read about the contest (which was something like the last week or so), I got the sense that the topic selection was, once again, rather smart—but also that the topic was a bit too open-ended, though probably not too broad. Reading through the vast variety of the essays that people have submitted so far only confirmed, in a way, this apprehension of mine.

If a well-informed physicist friend were to ask me in an informal but serious chat the question  of the topic (“Which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong?”), the first set of things to strike me would have been rather philosophical in nature. But then, this is not an essay contest in philosophy as such, though, I guess, certain parts of philosophy clearly are not out of place here—in fact, dealing, as the contest does, with questioning the foundations, philosophy of physics, and also relevant principles from general philosophy, are clearly welcome. However, the main part that philosophy can play here would be limited to identifying the broad context; the essay cannot be concerned with expounding philosophy itself, as such.  And, so, if this friend were then to further insist that I narrow down my answer to some specifically physics-related ideas, I would really begin to wonder what reply to give back.

That, in particular, was the position in which I found myself for the past few days.

I found that, if I have to think of some issues or ideas specifically from physics to answer that question, I could easily think of not just one or two but at least five-six issues, if not ten or more of them. And, I found that I could not really pick out one over the other without also substantially involving general philosophy as well—comparing and contrasting these issues in the light of philosophy, i.e. using philosophy to put every one of them in a common broad context embracing them all—in which case, it would become (at least a small) book and cease to be just an essay i.e. an article.

So, honestly speaking, this essay contest has, in a way, foxed me.

In a way, it had become a challenge for me to see if I could find just one or two issues out of all those numerous issues. Without there being adequate space to put all of those issues in context, treating just one or two of them would come to mean, I thought, that I consider the selected issues to be at least more pertinent if not more foundational than the others left out of the essay. And, there, I realized, my home-work is not yet well done. I don’t have a very clear idea as to why I should pick out this issue over that one. That’s why, at least as far as I am concerned, the essay topic had, in fact, become a challenge to me.

I then decided to see if I could challenge the challenge (!). Namely, what if I pick up a few issues almost at random, and write something about them, without thereby necessarily implying that these selected issues must be taken as the hierarchically more foundational/at the core/important than the others? Would it then be possible for me to write something?

BTW, there would have been another point against participating, which no longer matters: Sometimes, the discussion at FQXi seemed to digressed too much into inconsequential matters. Submitting an essay is to commit to having discussions. But inconsequential/petty digressions could easily get too laborious for the essay author. Here, however, I have noticed that as the contest and its management matures, the degree of such largely pointless digressions seems to be going down. I think you now can more easily ignore the issues/folks you don’t want to tackle/answer, especially so if you really don’t care much about winning the prize. So, that’s another point in favor of participating.

So, the churning in my mind regarding the topic, regarding whether to participate in it or not, is still going on, even as I write this blog post. However, I think I am getting increasingly inclined towards the idea of writing something anyway and dumping it there. … Let me see if I can do something along that line. And, the only way to see whether that is doable or not is to actually sit down and start writing something. I will do that. … If something “sensible” comes out it, you will see me submitting an entry by August 31. If not, here is a promise: I will at least share a bit from whatever that I wrote (and decided not to submit for the contest), here at my personal blog, and possibly also other blogs/public fora.

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No “A Song I Like” section, once again. I still go jobless. Keep that in mind.

[Minor corrections and updates were made on July 23, 2012.]
[E&OE]

A Hypothesis on Homeopathy, Part 3

With this post, I return to the title subject after a long hiatus (almost a year).

Recently, I had a bit of an exchange at Dr. Diana Hsieh’s blog; see the comments section here [^]. What I said there could qualify as a blog post in its own right, in this series of mine on Homeopathy. Yet, looking at how the things turned out there, I decided to pursue a brief digression from my planned sequence for this series, and instead to first touch upon a simple point that so many people seem so easily to miss. BTW, I have cached my comments at that blog, and will be using those points later on in this series too.

Anyway, to return to the point of this post: It is perhaps best approached via a simple exercise, to be performed by you. For best results, I urge you to actually perform it. The exercise concerns simply putting on a piece of paper, in the form of diagrams/sketches, what we mean by a solid, a liquid, and a gas.

Anyone who has studied high-school physics knows that all matter is composed of atoms (or molecules), and hence, sketches or diagrams for the three states of matter can be made in reference to atoms.

Assumptions: To make this exercise accessible to even those who have never studied science beyond high-school, it is perfectly OK if you assume the so called “hard-spheres” model for atoms. Thus, for the purposes of this exercise, feel free to keep aside the more complicating considerations such as the fact that matter often actually exists only in the form of ions and molecules and not as atoms, or that there actually exist those quantum mechanical orbitals (or electron-gas or whatever) whose physical effects are real, or that atoms and molecules really are not spherical in shape, etc. For the time being, let’s keep aside all advanced considerations such as these. (Indeed, the exercise is interesting precisely because it is so simple!)

Now, the actual exercise is this: With the hard-spheres assumption in mind, and relying on the integrated state of all of your knowledge, draw three representative sketches/diagrams of: (i) a solid, (ii) a liquid, and (iii) a gas. The hard-spheres model assumption means that you should draw atoms as spheres (or as circles, in 2D drawings). The sketches should be as accurate, representative, realistic, etc., as possible, though you need not use compass, ruler, etc. to draw atoms—it can be a simple free-hand sketch.

Do not read further until you actually have completed this exercise.

Or (I knew you would be here without doing the exercise!), better still, to enforce the idea, let me end this blog post right here! (LOL!) I will come back with the point I wanted to make, right within a few days’ time. That’s an honest promise. On your part, you, too, please do actually draw those three sketches in the meanwhile…

It’s quite easily possible that you will “get” the point I was trying to make here. If so, your sketches will show it. If so, I will be only too happy. However, I am afraid, if my past experience is anything to go by, many (even most!) people are simply going to miss it. …Verifying if you actually got the intended point or not, can be such a fun! So, there. Just go ahead, grab a piece of paper right now, and proceed to show how the three states of matter look like. And, keep it aside (in a safe place; away from strong heat, light, having controlled humidity; away from children’s reach; etc.) We will come back to your sketches right in the next blog post. Real soon. (Within a few days. Right this week. That’s an honest promise.)

Links to my earlier posts on this topic:

A comment on homeopathy [^]
A Hypothesis on Homeopathy, Part 1 [^]
A Hypothesis on Homeopathy, Part 2 [^]

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A Song I Like:

(Hindi) “bas, ek chup see lagee hai… nahin udaas nahin…”
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: Hemant Kumar
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
[PS: All these years, what I heard was only Lata’s version. Per Google, there seems to be a version sung by Hemant Kumar, too! Looking forward to listening to it soon!]

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An Update to This Post (done within 3 hours):

Since this post was short, and since I usually write very long ones, and since I so particularly love this song, and since there is that “eespeshal” Gulzar-“eeshtyle” “kahaani mein ‘twist'” gradually building up about this song, I decided to include both the song in Hindi, and its (poorly done up) translation into English (by me (who else?))… Hope you enjoy (!!)

First, the original Hindi lyrics of this song. (Picked up from the ‘net.)

“bas, ek chup si lagi hai
nahi, udaas nahi
kahin pe saans ruki hai
nahi, udaas nahi
bas, ek chup si lagi hai.

koi anokhi nahi
aisi zindagi, lekin,
khoob na ho…
koi anokhi nahi
aisi zindagi, lekin,
khoob na ho…
mili jo…
<<distinct pause>>
khoob mili hai;
nahi, udaas nahi
bas, ek chup si lagi hai.

sehar bhi ye raat bhi,
dopaher bhi mili, lekin…
sehar bhi ye raat bhi,
dopaher bhi mili, lekin…
hami ne…
<<distinct pause>>
shaam chuni hai;
nahi, udaas nahi
bas, ek chup si lagi hai.

wo daastaan jo
hamne kahi bhi,
hamne likhi…
wo daastaan jo
hamne kahi bhi,
hamne likhi…
aaj wo…
<<distinct pause>>
khud se suni hai;
nahi, udaas nahi
bas, ek chup si lagi hai.

Now, a note before my (great) English translation. I have tried to keep the translation as literal as possible, keeping the interpolations down to the basic minimum. I have tried to see that the extra words given in the square brackets ([]) are not interpolations but only those that (i) serve to bridge the grammatical structures of the two languages, or (ii) suggest a possible alternative meaning, or (iii) in general serve to specify the exact shade of the meaning. Hopefully. I have also kept the repeating lines from the song, into the English translation. (They do serve a purpose, for this song.) People who know English but not Hindi may perhaps glean some sort of an idea as to why so many people find so many old Hindi songs so wonderful. Including, of course, the subtle poetry of Gulzar.

An English translation of this song:

[it’s] just [that] one [closed-lips] sort of quietness has set in.
no, not [a] gloomy [or a sad one].
somewhere [in the soul, or, as if] the breath [itself] has stopped.
no, not [a] gloomy [or a sad thing].
[it’s] just [that] one [closed-lips] sort of quietness has set in.

some stranger, it isn’t—
this sort of a life [which I have got], but,
[doubtful, if it] may not be beautiful…
some stranger, it isn’t—
this sort of a life [which I have got], but,
[doubtful, if it] may not be beautiful…
that [life] which [I] have got…
<<distinct pause>>
[I] have got a beautiful one…
no, not [a] gloomy [or a sad one],
[it’s] just [that] one [closed-lips] sort of quietness has set in.

the fresh early morning [breeze], too, [and] this [or the] night, too,
the afternoon, too, [I] have got, but…
the fresh early morning [breeze], too, [and] this [or the] night, too,
the afternoon, too, [I] have got, but…
I myself…
<<distinct pause>>
have chosen the evening…
no, not [a] gloomy [or a sad one],
[it’s] just [that] one [closed-lips] sort of quietness has set in.

that [sincere, or heartfelt, or] soulful tale which
I told, too, [and]
[I even] wrote [about]…
that [sincere, or heartfelt, or] soulful tale which
I told, too, [and]
[I even] wrote [about]…
today, that [tale]…
<<distinct pause>>
[I] have heard from my own self…
no, not [a] gloomy [or a sad one],
[it’s] just [that] one [closed-lips] sort of quietness has set in.

Finally, one more note on the difficulty in translating this kind of a song—a song that right in its original version itself is so atrocious!

The Hindi “chup” literally means: “with mouth shut up.” However, immediately after, Gulzaar adds the softening modifier (Hindi) “see” (literal meaning: “of that sort”, or, “something like”). All that the (Hindi) “see” makes clear is that the shutting up of the mouth is not meant in a hard sense, say, as in “just shut your ugly mouth up,” or even in the sense of: “tight-lips-ness.” The intended usage is soft. But one still doesn’t immediately know: soft, in which sense? happy, or sad?

Asking to keep the mouth shut up can be a mock order to a bright, lively and mischievous kid, as in, say, “now, wouldn’t you better keep your mouth shut up.” Yet, with (Hindi) “chup see” alone, one cannot certainly tell if it can’t actually be a sad context coming up, e.g., as in: “he is so sad/weak/in a pessimistic mood, that he obviously wouldn’t talk about it!” Etc. Thus, the same word can equally connote (i) an innocently mischievous, or a sparklingly happy, or a beautifully ironical kind of a context, or, (ii) a delicately sad sort of a situation. And then, the suggestion for the sad or delicately sorrowful meanings gets reinforced when you go over those denials the first time you read it: “no, it’s not about sadness, something else….”

And, thus, even with the original Hindi version, you really have to get to the last stanza before you can fully realize (or confirm) the exact sense in which the poet expects his (Hindi) “chup see” to be taken.

For any further interpretation etc.: Go, figure! [And, don’t forget to keep those sketches ready!]

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[E&OE]