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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Age of self-conscious living - part 3

Modern human is a showman, or woman. The adoring public gives meaning to his/her existence. It is for them that we perform. The validation of our existence, as I said before. Many of us try to give the performance of our lives, be it to our immediate family and friends, or to the world in general, with some faces thrown in for that personal touch and inspiration. Some take it to the extreme of course, and some to the extent that it becomes a freak show. The age of self-conscious living. We of course announce that we do it for ourselves. But imagine if there wasn't an audience! People to applaud and envy you? I dare say it wouldn't be half as much fun. So the bigger the performance, the bigger the applause, and the bigger the satisfaction, especially when  you assume that you are the best, and that you have the most enchanted life. What a wonderful feeling it must be to think that all the rest are plodding idiots waiting to hear about your next exploit?

There is a romance and drama in being single too,. So when one is seemingly unattached one looks freer and then the more the envy and admiration. This applies more to the single man than to the woman. Because the usual thinking is that the man chooses to stay single, and the woman, because she couldn't get a man. But the majority of the spectators prefer to watch and enjoy, while trying to create a smaller scale version of the drama in their own lives. While the "free" one continues giving the show of his or her life.

While before it was just a handful who did this on a world stage, now, in this age of globalized demoracy, and explosion of media, all of us train and aspire to be heroes and heroines, in whatever way we can.  Some sign up for reality TV, others write blogs, books, everyone twitters their daily activities, as if  we make the news, or that we are news.  The age of the internet calls for new  kinds of relationships, terminologies and ideals. So, naturally, crash courses in spoken netword becomes necessary. Idioms and usages specifically aimed at different types. "Follow your heart" and "chill" are used indiscriminately. Along with pep talk phrases. In the end, when we all want to be unique and different,  what we have is a group of ageing people trying to hold on to their youth. Clones and machines. Which is fine. But for this platitude-culture to work,  we expect  a willing suspension of disbelief from everyone we meet. It is hard for us to tolerate a different point of view. We say we do as long as that willing suspension of disbelief is at work. If we don't get that, we turn mean. The philosophical and/or moralistic or amoralistic guru in us, the one with the all encompassing love and compassion for all, who loves to dish out unnecessary, unhelpful advice , which by the way, we can get anywhere else, and extend promises of "being there for you" (LOL), disappears. Spitefully we hurt the stupid who dared to think out aloud, a little differently, say, he or she did not think your last speech was that great, or found it absolutely boring,!( Or, in case of promises  -- the one who promises does not expect you take up on his or her promise literally, and expect him or her to be there. That is where the "willing suspension of disbelief" comes in handy. Imagine you assuming that the grocery clerk who asks you how are you, really cares how you are! Or that if you really tells her or him about your plight, s/he will come to help! )
So this community becomes just another insular village-community of the Middle Ages. The modern element with its really Aquarian positive, friendly, tolerant energy  remains in our imaginations. In a way, again, people use each other. Some more than others. Some in the guise of a  benign welcoming, forgiving machine-like personality, actually swallows up an unsuspecting person, wringing out all the excitement and wonder of a romance, and then spitting out  what is left over.

If this is Aquarian Age, I feel disappointed. But I am hopeful that this is just the beginning. That we human beings will evolve more and more-- to be real Aquarians.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Third world" woes

This is the post-postmodern age. we all know that. in this age, we abhor racism, sexism etc. We are enlightened beings, or on the way to being so. esp. celebs. Almost all of them have causes to work for. and we are grateful that their famous faces bring the attention of people with money to the fate of the underprivileged.
And we hope that that would bring some long awaited changes in the lives of the disadvantaged and the dispossessed.

These celebs of course are compassionate, they want to help these unfortunate people. But at some point, the problem peeps out. the fact that in their heart of hearts, they don't see these human beings as their equal. "all are equal, some are more equal" comes true here. oh, i hear protests.

We hear casual references like  "something that may happen in a Third World country", to denote the speaker's disbelief at a pathetic occurence in a rich country. ( that was the great humane do-gooder George Clooney). Or "showing that even the tall, blonde foreign lady wanted to use it" when a celeb is describing her philanthropic work in a certain Third World country ( this is from an article in Vogue). The funny thing is the lady here doesn't have a clue as to what an average Third Worlder thinks. The Third World woman, for instance, has so many other important immediate matters to think about and deal with -- like her daily bread, her children, and her family to mention a few, that the 'blonde lady" shouldn't have to worry about what we think. We do not have any concept of your blinding beauty just because you are tall and blonde. Well, if you were really beautiful with a loving smile, then, yes. But not if you were arrogant, and condescending. Anyway, most probably, if they are anything like us Malayalis, they will look on you as just an alien, as a totally different kind of being -- not necessarily angelic or intelligent. Some of them may be even laughing behind your back. Of course there will be those who fear you  like they fear ghosts.

So -- What do these unthinking, (maybe)  by the garden-variety philanthropic celebs tell a person like me? that is, someone of average intelligence? I get the idea that the celeb concerned has inadvertently revealed his or her sense of racial superiority. in the second quote, she might as well have added "Aryan"! I do not know why these people think that we like the name-calling? or that we must like it? It is like using the N- word, dear people! That you have deigned  to stop using. Why keep using this? Of course, once you stop using this particular word, another word or phrase will take its place, which for  a while will be fine with us third worlders -- for a time. after a while we may or may not protest against that too. that is our privilege. and dancing to our tunes is your burden. :) after all, third worlds did not appear overnight on their own. we know our faults, our lacks, our situation better than you. we will call ourselves names, you do not have that right.


It is this  uncomfortable, distasteful mixture of compassion and contempt of the white race toward the so-called Third World, that makes some of  us and many of the underprivileged, distrustful of these white good samaritans. this is why the whites see hatred in the eyes of many of the poor,  even as they accept the numerous kindnesses. somehow they know, because they are not stupid. and particularly because the precedents are not that good. Historically, the advent of the  white man into the  Third World countries has not been advantageous to the Third Worlder. In fact, they know that it is this "discovery" by the white man that played a huge role in making them Third in the first place. These modern day human rights activists are the descendants  of people who made grabbing what belonged to others, an art. And no matter how much the outward trappings may change, inside, most of them are the same as their ancestors. Unless they acknowledge this contradiction/self-delusion, and change -- from the inside.

I have seen this in a university setting, where the ideas of equality and justice are accepted as everyone's birthrights. Professors who strive to be fair, non-racist, evolved beings, gay men who try the same thing, but at some point,one can see through the pretense -- conscious or otherwise. They delude themselves into thinking that they are  highly enlightened regarding the race issue, just because they are afraid to be mean to the black students,  or because they are in the field of arts and humanities, or because they are outside the mainstream as they are not heterosexual. But that doesn't naturally make them non-racists.

Now, there is a white man who acknowledges this uncomfortable truth in his writings. Henning Mankell. That is just one thing, and one very important thing -- that makes him better and different from all other great white writers or scholars, in my eyes. and he is an Aquarian too! :)



PS : A variation of this covert racism is parallelled in the area of sexism. Thus we see even educated men stoop to harping on annoyingly inane jokes that make use of outdated notions about women's nature. That there are men who find such types of jokes even remotely intelligent or  funny, in this age, is unbelievable. The basic reason here too is the contempt that they hold in their heart of hearts for women, underneath all that pretense of respect and honor.And also the fear that women are getting ahead, that tradition and mores made by men may not be able to keep women suppressed for much longer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

an old-fashioned walk of the romantic variety

An Old-fashioned Walk  of the Romantic Variety
written on March 6, 2009


The day dared me to be blue and I am ready to oblige her. As I walked, I tried humming a nostalgic song from home. I thought of a certain person and sang, "ekantha sandhyakalil ninne orthu njan karanju! kaanaan kothicha neram kavitha poalen munnil vannu..." i tried dragging my feet and hunching my shoulders. i let my mouth droop at the corners. i looked around and up at the skies and imagined my loneliness and anonymity.

The wind didn't mind me at all. It went about doing its job, sweeping away the last of winter's debris. I saw the brown leaves, who had lagged behind in the Fall, being gathered together and herded away.. . They didn't seem to want to go. Like naughty school children, they stopped for one last hurried whisper.

I walked along pretending not to have seen the wind's antics. I should have known. when I show any interest, he gets scared and runs away, or turns colder, but when I ignore him, he comes running to me. I pulled my snug fitting cap down and over my ears, and hid my hair. And looked down, and again started singing my beautiful sad song.

Now it is not a cold wind. He is soothing and caressing. and the sun! at last the change that I have been waiting for. I am tempted to let the wind play with my hair. But I don't give in. I walk on. I had got out of the house all bundled up, and in my brown down coat I look like a bear. I can't remember the lines to my sad song anymore. I cannot think of broken dreams. or of unrequited love. The cruel lover becomes my Muse. I realize that without him, I can't write.

In the warm sun and cozy wind, I cannot even walk anymore. I want to run. I take off my cap. aah! the wind in my hair! I want to run my hands through it. my head is up soaking the sun's warmth. i cannot stoop anymore. I take off my gloves. I notice the coat has become heavy . Off it comes. I am strutting now, like Travolta, to a beat that only I can hear. I roll up the sleeves of my sweater, and I run. the wind against my face. the sun hugging me. It's a bright blue day, but I am not blue. I am staying alive. :))

Monday, March 1, 2010

history: a short history

I believe that the history of world civilizations may be summarized in a few sentences. Of course the summary may change depending on any number of factors. as there is nothing objective here.


In any event, the world at any point can be divided into two main groups: the dominator and the dominated.
The dominant group, being simultaneously fearless/reckless, and uncaring as to the rights and feelings of the dominated , obviously,  dominates. Gratification of their own desires is the main object of the dominant group. no matter what.At some point, the dominator group lose interest in dominating, -- because their greed is somewhat assuaged, and/or the satisfaction of greed is being met in less adventurous, not necessarily less cruel ways.That is when they are at leisure to be morally superior, pointing out the mistakes they made, chastising other upstarts who may seem to entertain ideas of domination, preventing any such thoughts by pre-emptive action and so on. Meanwhile the domination continues.

Fear and greed are the main characters in history, on both sides. But the difference is in the execution. The successful dominators utilize both efficiently and systematically in order to keep the dominated in that level for as long as possible. Race and religion are the main weapons that are brandished about to subdue and overpower the dominated.