the fifth respectable short story club weekly meeting minutes

January 17, 2010

Attendance list
Elvin Priyadi
Laurentia Dhanio (Riri)
Ulma Nurriva Haryanto

On this fifth meeting, the club had to read a short story by Nathan Nolan, Memento Mori. The story inspired the movie Memento, directed by the author's brother, Christopher Nolan. For those who haven't seen the movie, you should!! (yes yes i've been relentingly promoting the movie to the girls.. i just cant help it :p)

The meeting actually started off with us discussing the culture of bribing and corrupt police system in Indonesia, this was following a recent inspection by a judicial taskforce in Jakarta which found luxurious cells in a penitentiary in East Jakarta.

Then we talked a bit about the situation in Asia's prison.. Elvin referred to a show on National Geographic called 'Locked Up Abroad', which had an episode with Indonesian prisons in Malang and Bali.

We moved on to this video in YouTube in which Riri expressed a very evident dislike :p the video was the one showing a canadian (?) tourist riding a motorbike, without proper license, was stopped by a police, then the police asked for a payment in order to let him pass.. Sure, as an Indonesian u'd b ashamed of the police's behaviour.. and concerened about the world's opinion of our beloved country after seeing that video. It's not a way of educating the people, that video, but the guy who made it never meant to educate anyway.. It was made to flaunt the country's embarassing reality to youtube viewers..

so...we believe that the problem might lie on the institution that spawns these policemen. it's an open secret that to enter the academy you're gonna need money, and/or related or know someone important. there's the need for total reform.. of mindset, of the institution itself.. we also sometimes enable the behavior because we are impatient, we want things to be instant, or a misplaced sympathy.. "Poor low-paid policeman/civil servants, here.. have some extra"

Before we could finally focus on the story, elvin pointed out that those in Holland had to be more careful when downloading movies with copyrighted content. things hv gone more strict.

So, the short story..

riri loved the theme, since it resonates with the thing she feared the most: memory-loss. The character was told to have a malfunctioned brain, he suffered from backwards amnesia or anterograde amnesia. his memory only spans for 10 minutes, before it goes blank and he had to start all-over again.

he filled his room, his body with instructions. a bell was inside his backpocket all the time. Two dates were engraved, one was his birth date, and one he eventually forgot (we suspect its either his wedding/the death of his wife, which he repeatedly include in his notes to make sure he would not forget).

so in every 10-minutes earl (the guy) read the instructions he made before, try to remember, n then in 'moments of clarity' write instructions of what he's supposed to do next before his medial temporal lobe refreshed itself again.

So what is this 'moments of clarity'? Quoting from the story:
...for a few minutes of every day, every man becomes a genius. Moments of clarity, insight, whatever you want to call them...everything becomes obvious...For a few moments, the secrets of the universe are opened to us.
But the problem is, we are not always that 'smart'.
But then the genius, the savant, has to hand over the controls to the next guy down the pike, most likely the guy who just wants to eat potato chips, and insight and brilliance and salvation are all entrusted to a moron or a hedonist or a narcoleptic.
And so, the only way out of this mess, according to the story, "is to take steps to ensure that you control the idiots that you become. To take your chain gang, hand in hand, and lead them. The best way to do this is with a list."

of course! how genius!

The other things in our lives made us failed to graps these moments of clarity: other priorities/constrains, moodswings. moments of clarity can take many forms, one of it is desperation..
elvin believed that desperation can be a way to solve a problem, especially when it involves whining. Because by whining you wish for someone to come and rescue the day :p

and so.. the meeting was concluded with blocking creeps and weirdos from our contact list :)))

Until the next meeting.. adieu!

p.s. for previous meeting minutes do click here and here . oh and Riri, don't be surprised by the precision of this minute, coz there is this feature in Yahoo! Messenger called 'Message Archive' ;))

so this is the new year...

this morning i received an email from a good friend, that her boyfriend proposed to her in a most romantic way.. just like in those movies.. n then i read elvin's blog, so i was thinking to write something about last year's resolution..

but then bad news struck n left me disoriented.

the newspaper has laid off some people.. one's a friend of mine.. ive just known her for a while.. less than 3 months.. feel terribly sorry for her and other people who got laid off.. as far as i know some has taken it well, im not doubting either that my friend is already running n sending out her CVs by now..

now i'm wondering if i should watch for my head too.. too bad.. maybe my old office would take me back :D *start updating CV*

the non-bookclub meeting minutes that is 3 days late..well make it one week AND 3 days

Jakarta, 27 December 2009

Attendance list:
Elvin Priyadi
Laurentia Dhanio (Riri)
Ulma Nurriva Haryanto

This week's short story was 'In The South' by Salman Rushdie.

It's about two elderly Indian men understanding death and life. Senior and Junior, two 81-year-old neighbors, spent their days bickering and going at each other. It's quite lengthy. 5494 words, approximately 6 pages. Senior was portrayed to be the one with ambition during his younger years. But as he outlived most of his relatives and felt more and more confined by his old age, he became the bitter one. While Junior, unmarried, retired as a 'respected' clerk, had never had any ambitions in his life, and so, the easygoing one.

Discussion points (non-story related):
- Elvin's almost-frozen fingers. She had lost her gloves and hadn't found the time to buy new ones
- Riri just finished an acrylic painting and now it's being displayed in fedi's work room.
- Ulma just had dinner with her whole family celebrating her mum's birthday
- Elvin pointed out that we tend to pick stories that carry the theme of loneliness and bitterness.

Discussing the story.
Ulma thinks that googling is necessary for this story in order to really "get" certain vibes and impressions. Riri also said that she has to google a couple of words.

And so, everybody's favourite parts from the story was when Junior and Senior cashed up their pension slips, in which readers were given another twist on both characters. As Junior had always been depicted as the easy going one, he, in fact was quite bitter when it comes to the idea of retirement. My favourite part was when Senior talked about his relatives, especially the part: "The babies-in-law rattled their rattles and giggled their giggles and screamed their baby scream".

Riri's favourite part was when Senior said, “...The south is a fiction, existing only because men have agreed to call it that...The universe does not understand up and down...In this regard, the points of the compass are like money, which has value only because men say that it does."
Riri also pointed out that the same goes to the concept of time: hours, minutes, seconds, year - there is no such thing as how old you are, your body is just wearing out.

The story also made us think, as we get old, would we be the bitter one? or the satisfied mediocre one? are we going to ask God for death everyday? It also tells us about how sometimes achievement and satisfaction does not relate to each other. How many achievemnt one's had, does not correlate to one's satisfaction. When Junior died (sorry, spoiler alert -- Junior died at the end of the story), Senior asked, "Why not me?", but Riri pointed out, even if Senior died, he would had asked, "Why me?"

And Salman, like other middle-eastern/west-asian authors has a 'rich' story-telling style, very descriptive, very warm, perhaps their cultural background contributed to their writing style.