The more he talks about trust, the faster I count my silvers - George Soros


Book review: Battle for the mind, A physiology of conversion and brain-washing

July 15th, 2012

I found this book when I was trying to find more information on religious conversions caused by trauma. For some reason Bing as well as Google returned reference to this book for search term “trauma based religious conversions”.  Bing 5th rank and Google 2nd rank, only book in the first 5 results.

Quite odd, I thought to myself. This book was first published in 1957. Don’t tell me that there is no literature on this topic since? (The book has been republished in 1997). Since I did not want to spend money on book J, I tried searching around on different terms. I was hoping for free information. However, most of the references returned were nothing but conspiracy theory for e.g.

I finally ordered this book from Amazon since there was no credible information available on the net.

This is a profoundly disturbing book.

The book caters to only a subset of phenomenon’s covered by Freud. (This information is from the preface, I myself have never read Freud for fear of discovering something about myself J.) However, this book is completely different compared to Freudian theory. While Freud takes help of subconscious mind, this book is restricted to physical changes in the brain (which is why the name ‘a physiology’ of conversion).

The book covers all sort of conversions, religious and political, violent and non-violent, in war and in peace, ancient-medieval and contemporary.

This book is largely based on experiments by a Russian scientist called Pavlov. What is disturbing is that this person proved the physiological effects of brain-washing on dogs. by a Russian Scientist called Pavlov way back in 1920. (The link does not return much information on his experiment on dogs which are relevant to this book. Perhaps you will find more information about the experiment after further search on the web.)

After reading the book I am convinced that I myself is not immune to brain-washing. Brain-washing has nothing to do with weakness in intellect, moral character or subconscious mind. To quote the book:

No man, however highly civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. It would be interesting to take a group of the most eminent philosophers from the best universities, shut them up in a hot room with Moroccan dervishes or Haitian Voodooists and measure, with a stop-watch, the strength of their psychological resistance to the effects of the rhythmic sound…all we can safely predict is that, if exposed long enough to the tom-toms and the singing, every one of our philosophers would end by capering and howling with the savages……

Assemble a mob of men and women; treat them to amplified music, bright lights, and the oratory of a demagogue (as demagogues always are) is simultaneously the exploiter and the victim of herd intoxication, and in next to no time you can reduce them to a state of almost mindless sub humanity. Never before have so few been in a position to make fools, maniacs or criminals of so many.

Though men are not dogs, they should humbly try to remember how much they resemble dogs in their brain functions, and not board themselves as demigods. They are gifted with the power of reason; but all these faculties are entailed to the brain. Therefore the brain should not be abused by having forced upon it any religious or political mystique that stunts the reason, or any form of crude rationalism that stunts the religious sense.

(emphasis is mine, I thought this is a very interesting statement.

Last but not the least, reading the information in the book, it seems there is some element of truth behind the conspiracy theory floating around on the web. Obviously they are not entirely true but they are based on some facts unlike alien invasion theory. The author of the book himself seems to be a controversial character as well.

I gained a detailed understanding of how brain-washing works from the book. I also gained some insight on certain episodes. For e.g. members of a religious cult committing suicide or the soldier in Afghanistan that went on a rampage. Not condoning the acts, but it is nice (*sic*) to know the method behind madness.


Bookreview: Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay

June 18th, 2012



Lately I have been fascinated with the art of writing screenplay and reading up everything that I could find on this subject.


In theory screenplay is easier to write than a book. It is about 100 pages and it has a lot of white space. One would think that how difficult it is going to be to write a good screenplay. This is exactly what I thought when I started writing the screenplay. Very soon I was shocked with a realization that writing screenplay is incredibly hard.


Consider the fact that a screenplay writer must express a wide swath of emotions and actions in a very limited number of pages. On top of that your screenplay does not sell if you do not have a lot of white space. A screenplay writer has to use simple words and everything has to be visual i.e. one cannot write what a character is thinking.


Let me give you an example:


This is from Basic Instinct,  Michael Douglas is going to meet Sharon Stone for the first time in the movie.


Foggy.  Cold.  It is an expensive spit of land on the

ocean.  Multi-million dollar "beach houses" with gardens

and swimming pools.  There are two Ferraris in the

driveway one black, one white.


They get out of the car in front of the house.  They see a

woman in back of the house, sitting on a deck chair,

staring at the sea, a blanket around her.


As they get to her


If you have seen the movie then you will see how the writer (Joe Eszterhas) has done a fabulous job of describing the house in one or two paragraph. The scene really comes alive in your memory as you read the above short description


Or how about this opening scene from “Bridges of Madison county”? We know exactly what is happening in Francesca’s married life.


FRANCESCA JOHNSON is sitting in the front seat of the pick-up truck. Her expression is distant. Her eyes are sad, as if

hiding a burden she can hardly bear. Her husband, RICHARD JOHNSON, is driving.



               You feeling better Franny?



               Yes. Im fine. Its just this heat I think.

He nods, satisfied. He turns on the radio as the VOICE OF DINAH WASHINGTON sings a bluesy, haunting love song, "ILL



                           DINAH WASHINGTON



               BUT YOU AND WHEN I DO ILL SEE

               YOU STANDING THERE"





               What station is this?



               Its a Chicago station. I found it

               the other day.



               Kinda pretty. Is this uh jazz

               kinda singing?




               I dont know. Can we turn it off? I

               have such a headache.





        Richard shuts it off. Francesca turns her face away from him to look out at the vast expanse out of the countryside.


Notice that Francesca has found a station with a ‘different’ music but Richard is unaware of her discovery. He does not even know the genre. Fabulous job, you would agree.


Anyway this email is not about screenplay appreciation. J This is a book review.


Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay, basically walks us through four screenplays (a) Thelma and Louis (b) Terminator 2 (c) The silence of the lambs (d) Dances with wolves


This is a well-written book and useful not only for getting introduced to the art of writing screenplay (I am told that this is a beginners book) but to the art of appreciating a move as well. Syd takes us for a deep dive into these screenplays, explains the subtexts, why these movies work, what is the hook, what is the theme and so on.


I am really impressed with the amount of subtext even in Boom-Boom-I-Kill-You movie like Terminator.


I don’t think Syd Field (author of the book) has correctly got the underlying theme of “Dances with the Wolves”. I am going by his discussion,  I have not read the book from which screenplay was adapted and I have not seen the movie. I suspect whether “Dances with Wolves” is about a person who was a misfit that longed to belong. Wanting to be a part of something is a very deep and powerful emotion, it is a very dark place and not many people will get it unless they have been there. It is also possible that this was the underlying theme of the book since Syd mentions that the book and the film diverge on certain aspects.


I am so intrigued that I have ordered a DVD. I am certainly looking forward to watching this movie.



Book review: Who killed Karkare by S.M. Mushrif

May 23rd, 2012


Short review: What a dumbass!


Full review:


Lately a number of claims have been made about how RSS has come to dominate media and security organizations. The claim about media dominance is rather surprising since RSS itself has been complaining for a long time that the Indian media is liberal. I tend to agree with RSS here since the claim about liberal media is true about most of the world and not just India.


There is also a rise in attempts to single out Brahmin community in the name of Shahu and Phule. Typically these attacks mention “Brahminism” instead of Hinduism.


Another interesting fact is the rise in the number of claims that (a) historically Hindu and Muslims have been living peacefully in India. (b) It is the Brahmins who helped Muslim rulers to rule India. (c) There were hardly any riots between these two communities. (d) All recent acts of terrorism have been orchestrated by RSS.


Though these claims came from various minority elements, there is enough similarity in the proof (*sic*) offered. I was puzzled about what this common source might be and finally it seems I have stumbled across one:  “Who killed Karkare” by S.M. Mushrif  is the origin.


Before going into the review of this book, let me very briefly touch upon the Hindu-Muslim issue in India. The unfortunate fact is that politicians from both sides of the divide have always ended up encouraging the extremists and punishing the moderates. Unfortunately Mahatma Gandhi is also guilty of this charge. His support for Khilaphat movement was rather surprising considering the fact that the main aim of the movement was to crush the democracy and bring back the state rule under Islamic law.


There have been a number of such examples. For e.g. as a result of Shah Bano case Muslim woman in India lost the right to alimony. This was a victory of religion over secularism.


Another interesting dimension to this problem is the partition of India in 1947. A large group of professional Muslims migrated to Pakistan during this period. This meant that the Muslim community in India lost a lot of professional leadership during this period.


On the other hand, since government was encouraging extremist Muslims, normal Hindu is getting  disillusioned and moving over to the extremist organizations like RSS that have started becoming more and more militant as the years passed.


As if this is not enough, the Gujrath riots facilitated by Narendra Modi  have pushed moderates Muslims towards extremists as the riots proved that there is safety in numbers. This particular riot has been extremely painful as it has emboldened Hindu extremists and drove ordinary Muslims in the clutches of religious leaders.


If the blame needs to be apportioned then a significant portion would go to the Muslim community in India. For whatever reason, the community is not able to nurture any kind of a democratic/non-religious movement for long.


Let us come back to the book with this information in mind:

The only reason why I decided to read this book was because the author is Former I.G. Police. After reading this book now I know why the government machinery in India so badly screwed up. How can it not be if a person with such a low caliber can become I.G.?


The book is about 300 pages long of which only 50 odd pages are about Karkare. Rest of the pages is filled with author’s fantastic and ridiculous attempts to rewrite history. This miserable idiot even tries to equate himself with Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. He daydreams that his book is going to be as influential as ‘Riddles of Hinduism’.


Let is now look at a sample of fantastic claims made in this book. I am picking these at random but you will find similar claims on almost every page in the book.


(a)    The Mumbai blast of 1993 was the handiwork of a gang of Muslim criminals. This was not an act of terrorism.  (I really wonder what is authors definition of terrorism)


(b)   Author complains that Muslims were automatically being blamed for every blast in India.  (Hello! This is because Muslims were behind almost every blast in India. Once Hindu organizations were found behind some of the blasts, police now are more circumspect)


(c)    The creditability of ATS hit rock bottom after Mumbai crime branch claimed that IM (Indian Mujahideen was behind the bomb blast. (Two page of discussion follows after this statement and the only thing I could understand was that the accused were part of a different terrorist outfit. Big deal!)


(d)   No thorough enquiry was made in a complaint made by a woman lecturer in Ahmednagar who had called up Union Home Ministry and informed them that she knew a 7/11 terrorist……They interrogated her brother and father and came to conclusion the lady made the complaint in order to teach Khanderao a lesson for not marrying her as promised.  (Police closed this part of the investigation. The author does not agree as he feels police should have wasted time in following up this obvious act of insanity by the woman. Author offers this as a proof that IB does not investigate properly. My only reaction to this is that thank god this person is retired from service.)


(e)   Logically how things could have moved after the bomb blast is anybody’s guess. The district administration would have informed their bosses in Mumbai…and the Brahminist leaders would have got in touch with their people in the IB. By the time the government took a decision, the IB would have communicated to the state government… (It is all would, could, may be. Not an iota of evidence here. This particular pattern is repeated throughout the book. I think the author has smoked to much of high quality Marijuana at the time of writing this book)


The book has much more of these fantastic claims. Let me end this review here by mentioning the weirdest of the claims.


The Mumbai attack was the handiwork of RSS who orchestrated the attacks with the help of some organization in Pakistan.


Just when you thought you heard everything this dumbass has actually tried to prove this claim. Now you would think that he has some facts to support this outlandish claim. Right? Here is what he says. “I shall analyse only that part of the attack mainly on newpaper reports”.


Get it? This guy does not have any facts to offer. He is trying to prove his conspiracy theory based on discrepancies in the newspaper reports.


But wait there is more. He has a ready reason for why Kasab was left alive by Brahminist elements who organized the attacks. This is a complicated discussion and involved crunching a lot of facts for e.g. most of the CC TV cameras in the train station were not working. This was done at the behest of Brahminical elements. Someone needs to kick this guy’s ass up and down every government establishment in India. Where do such CCTV camera’s work apart from the 1st month that they were installed. How could they? With such a caliber of government officials.


Anyway, don’t bother wasting your money to buy this book. If someone starts quoting from this book then make it point to ask them whether they have really read this fictional novel.


What a dumbass!