Sunday, September 28, 2008
Basically the operative element is an anonymous proximity. Even if my photo is seen you cannot claim to become my friend and try to spend time with me. This safe “use and throw” relationship-of-convenience is the primary attraction of blogs. I can say what I want, and if you decide to register your protest I still have the right and the choice to allow the protest on my page. Those who see my page will be seeing my views and my counters (whenever, and if ever I can logically produce one) and no one will know where and when I am at a loss to explain.
I can still feel I am in a crowd that is talking about things which matter to me. I can protest with dignity or cheapness, be an angel or a devil, talk when I want to and be silent if that is fine for me. I cannot be forced into discussions; ofcourse, I cannot force you into a discussion, except when I dare to spit valueless venom through a personal pathology. These are the conveniences I have noticed and even used in blogs.
The second operative element in blogging is its pseudo-personal space wherein one can become disinhibited. Though your true skin will be seen by others when your blog is posted, you need not hesitate to say whatever you feel like unlike in the real world where you have to observe elementary decency to those who deserve it. Yet, it is only a disinhibited and not an uninhibited behaviour, because deep down you are conscious that your words are going to be seen by someone somewhere.
Masked identity is another courage-boosting element of blogging. You need not talk in your real name. I know of some people who chose to mask their identity for real and valid reasons, but most of the persons who write in pseudonyms ( and sometimes in anonymity) do so out of fear. Though their words may appear courageous they still have not mustered enough conviction and courage to come out in the open and stand by what they have said.
Why mask identity? Some are like a compassionate medusa, for if their face is seen their critics would turn into stone, stupefied with fear. Some are like clowns who need to have a different identity to make an apparent fool of themselves so that others can have a good laugh. Some are like a silly child hiding behind a table thinking no one can see who and where they are. Whether one decides to disclose her/his identity or not is certainly a private decision that has to be respected and even if not accepted, not discussed.
The problem of wearing a mask is different in a socio-psychological perspective. There are intellectuals who use their intelligence to call themselves idiots, and so too are there idiots who stupidly call themselves intellectuals. Depending on why the mask is worn, and depending on the insightful intellect of the individual, a mask becomes a potent weapon or a poor joke.
It is understandable if masks are worn and identities deliberately disguised in the mushrooming social networking sites. Though these sites can be a forum for healthy and honourable matters, mostly they are used to find a `friend` to flirt. An elderly uncle who tries to wear shorts and T-shirts, ugly dyeing of hair and a false accent in which lies are expressed as values, will never be able to date a young girl with average intelligence. But in the virtual world, the same uncle just has to assume a name, age, occupation and marital status that would bring scraps to his page! But, blogs are not meant for picking up a date. Whether your profile declares you as young or old, spiritual or religious, left or right, no one `falls` for you. Only your views matter. And therefore your identity is never masked or invisible the. However sublime your language, however innocent your discussion, your colours will show through veil.
Blogging has its psychological benefits. Just as how your mind operates in a dramatic performance there are certain mechanisms operating here too. Initially there is identification, then there is the possibility of learning a conflict resolution and finally there is a catharsis. You identify with the character or the cause or the chronicle, you feel you have experienced a similar situation. Then you see the situational conflict resolved in the performance and if you choose to, you may try to use it to answer your personal question. Even if you cannot find a solution to your problem in the performance-narrative it would still be a cathartic relief. You can download feelings from your emotive memory and get the same relief of being happy, sad, angry or disgusted. But are blogs used for this?
Though blogs can be of immense personal psychological comfort, I see some bloggers using it to throw mud (if not spit venom) on ideas that are not consistent with their own values. Blogs are becoming pamphlets thrown on the disinterested by stander. If perchance someone reads and accepts their ideas it is fine, otherwise just some space on space is wasted! However impassionate and objective you may describe yourself, you will tend to lean towards one ideology versus another. If you have not formed your own opinions on matters these moments would tilt you towards a particular idea if not ideology. The intelligent wearing the mask of an idiot would appeal to your conscience by their pseudo-innocence. You will fall for the game plan. Some vague emotional itch that you have been bearing all along would be scratched and you will not only become comfortable with that anonymous hand, you would start yearning for it.
If we can just be aware a little more, we can escape from the dragnet. We would be able to retain our power to choose. We can choose only when we think. And, when we start thinking we cannot be silent. We would start protesting.
This happened to me, and I started commenting on issues that I felt were concerning me, and the response I got from one blogger was that I have “become jobless”!! Blogging is not a jobless individual’s way of spending time, it is a social obligation to respond to the milieu.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
In the beginning there is always a word, and the word multiplies and becomes a book.
To begin a book is needed. Later the book is shelved. It has to be. But, if the book is always around, opened every moment, referred and re-read instead of being remembered then either the book or the user is inadequate. The remembering has to happen with spontaneity; labour is most often love lost! Any reading should be a beginning to end reading. This series of articles is an introspective interaction at the end of which our roles as the writer and reader may change too.
As succinctly said by Shakespeare, “ all the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”. Life indeed is drama. The scenes happen according to the script (not in the fatalistic escapist sense), but in the script of life, the artiste can improvise his role and thereby even change the course of the script. The performer can make the scene belong to himself just by focusing and relaxing. It is towards this enhancement of performance in life that we all strive till we exit.
Any performance needs light. As in any theatrical production, in life too there are spot lights and flood lights. The spot light is what Alan Watts called focused consciousness.
It is like this- there are times when your actions are deliberate and purposeful and this is in the spotlight of intense awareness. Many times we act in reflex, and this is in the floodlight of intuitive consciousness. In a spotlight the artiste needs to perform with precision, while in a floodlight he can move along with others and perform with ease and the comfort of company. Life is performing mundane, profane and even puritan acts on a daily basis.
Drama is ever present. In this wonderful theatre there is an ever-going interactive drama in which we assume, shed, resume, redefine, refuse, grudgingly comply and perform various roles at various moments in various places with carious persons.
We act, constantly. Acting is not mimicking or miming, not imitating, but responding and provoking, invoking, inviting, inciting, initiating and interacting – even through inaction. Onstage is the performance of daily living and off-stage is the performance in dream arena. In the theatre of life, to live well is to perform well. To perform well is to know the role, learn the role and be the role.
Though roles can shift in a miniscule of a second, they have to be performed to perfection to ensure smooth and successful progress in the drama of life. To know the role one has to feel the role. Stanislavsky, the theatre genius said, “when you encounter with a role, the first meeting like on that happens to lovers; the second meeting is like pregnancy and the third onwards, it is birth and rearing.” Though his description was to help artistes to conceive and develop their acting abilities, this can be relevantly construed to constructively create and enrich our repertoire of roles in life.
To learn a role one has to be aware of the encounter with the role. First impressions are the deciding factors in a role’s effective action and success, or defective display and failure. They are seeds with virginal freshness- unexpected, direct, unpremeditated, unprejudiced and unfiltered by criticism. A receptive frame of mind is essential to approach these roles. This receptive state of mind is an inner state of readiness and need, clarity and desire, composure and focusing.
The emotional encounter with a role that we watch or perform is the basic and most important aspect of creativity. When creativity is lost, charm vanishes; the performance is painful to the audience and the artiste. For, just as how a seasoned actor can take his role in a scene for granted, and because of repeated successful performances , we too presume about our roles in life, and often perform out of a rusted library that has outdated references. When such lackadaisical performances happen the results may not cause alarm or lead to failure, but the fire of life will be smothered, and performance in life become painstakingly boring. To be effective in a role is to remain sensitive and alert. It is about love.
Work is love, labour is pain. Life is loving- loving the self and the other. To love is the basic function of human machine, and the tools of emotion are intended for this functioning to be smooth. Love has to be experienced. It is an inner energy that needs the milieu to surface. Life is all about loving, yet, it is philosophised with so much pretentiousness that the simple and spontaneous act of breathing becomes a panting.
“ Thou to me the harp of gold,
I to thee the fingers bold “ –( Bharathi)
Was one of the greatest expressions of unison, greatest definition of creativity. The golden harp contains music yet needs the finger to emanate the notes. The finger knows the music yet needs the harp to produce the notes. Here production is not procreation but creation; it is not about productivity, but about creativity. It is not about interdependence but about inner interaction unaware of the action. This is the golden rule in performing the lover’s role. A lover in her/his role becomes the role and cannot be outside and objective. It has to be inside pouring out of every pore. It is an action, it is a performance, but it cannot be taught or premeditated. It has to happen. Top make this happening happen, one has to learn about other roles and others’ roles in life.
Learning and loving happen spontaneously in infancy, and then the teachers squash the musical babble and cook the human cookie. It tastes good to itself the first time. Confidence becomes a trifle overconfidence, and soon noise replaces notes and pretends to be music. Pretensions are ofcourse a natural process of learning. But with the passing of each test, poor imitations delude themselves as original naturalness.
The first lesson is always imitation. Unknowingly a model is selected to mould one’s role. The safest model is the least risky. It is one that is comforting and rewarding. To please to be pleased is the first concept understood at this point. As in any development, this has to be experienced and outgrown. To grow out of a developmental stage and to move onto the next phase, one has to identify, understand and resolve conflicts.
Any conflict is a difficulty of expression - to take in or give out the right response, meaningfully and in time. To express is to understand and make the other understand. It is the effort of the animal to become human, and the human to become the universe.
To express is to emote- appropriately and adequately.
The primal list of emotions, as defined in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit texts of India, are-
Love, Humour, Empathic sympathy of pathos, Anger to the explosive ultimate, Heroism of truth and valour, Fear, Disgust and the Wonder at the magic of mystery.
Love, joy, sorrow, fury, enthusiasm, terror, disgust and astonishment….these are the primary emotions. Life is painted from the palette of these emotions. These eight emotions interact with each other to present as drama in life. The beauty of classification of these emotions in Indian Texts (Natya Sastra in Sanskrit and Tholkappiam in Tamil), is intensely wonderful by the fact that after enlisting the eight primary emotions comes the description about the ninth state of mind, santhi – blissful peace and peaceful bliss. The idea is that all these emotions have to be understood and brought under one’s will in order to enable the mind to experience blissful peace and to continue life in peaceful peace.
All the plots of life’s theatre are scripted with and around these emotions neutral in gender, common to all, emotions are controlled by socio-economic and health factors. Controlled and even concealed they may be, but never prevented from appearing on the mindscape. This is the reason why an Indian uneducated villager can understand the smile, tear, frown or fear on the face of a Harvard topper. Emotions are instinctively acknowledged in the mind; but when expressions of emotions are to be adequately tuned to the frequency of social comfort, they have to be understood. Life’s drama always starts with a shriek and a cry from the mother and the baby; the smile and joy follow later. Perhaps the initial encounter with emotional roles may cause a painful moment of truth, but they would make life easier, to be continued!
i was one of those who believed that our MMS was a very clever man. perhaps he is. but the very intelligent do not look at the wider perspective. they are experts in their own little corner. they know almost everything about a certain something but almost nothing about the other things around. economics, globalisation, re-colonisation…these are certainly high on MMS’ agenda. people? who cares? after all these silly masses that never even voted for him are not worht wasting time. so when MMS talks of india, he talks of the india that he discovered.
MMS too like his very early predecessor, discovered india. he has learnt that he need not answer the people. he has found out that there are lots of guys and lots of money to get things done, and therefore the common man’s opinion can be junked. he knows his new indian maths- 123. he has discovered that india needs more nuke than food. he has discovered that india is actually the elite. he has discovered that india is made up of the rich and those who just want to become rich. he has discovered that india wants to be america! with so many discoveries to his credit, should not the scientist (albeit economic) be pardoned for the one mistaken discovery? after all when he said india loves Bush, perhaps he meant he loves Bush, and the corollary is he is india!
i know many indians who ape americana. they eat pizza and drink coke, with enormous discomfort stuff burgers, support pseudo causes…. all because americans are supposed to be doing these things. they constitute MMS’ india. they are his concern. his kinship and identification with them is blatant. his policies and programs are for their upliftment. but now alas, the mighty MMS is going to be criticised by these fellows, `his’ indians, for making a simple statement.
if america aping indians are `the’ indians that MMS thinks about, well things are going to be tricky. aping america cannot mean loving Bush. B is not a lovable thing in the `great’ USA. it is very un-american to love B. so what happens? are the `neo’ indians going to feel uncomfortbale if not angry that MMS is alienating them from americans? no way! they will not talk about it. they know what they want. they will go about getting what they want. they care not about modi and nanavati, they have not even bothered to glance at tehelka. they have their own agenda, just as how their `beloved’ MMS has his own! each one to his own in this dog-eating-dog days of modernisation.
whether india loves B is not a matter fo concern to these `indians’. they love themselves. they are the indians of this prime minister. perhaps they love B! after all they have no concern and therefore little knowledge about political,social and national problems that plague this country. this is just their address- temporarily till they start fingering the papers that say ‘in god we trust’, even if they dont love that god.may be they love B. it is possible, for they would know very little about the american mind except their silly concept that americans live well.
so… india loves what MMS loves. all silly, shameless souls like me can take recourse to impotently whine on blogs, while the game continues.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It is commonly alleged that conversions are made by luring with gifts or threatening the life. Being the oldest in India, Hinduism apparently does not convert others, and it does not contain any prescribed rules for making one a hindu. So, the problem apparently occurs only when others try to convert hindus. Though Hinduism as a word and a concept with current rules and regulations, is not really as ancient as its roots- the original sanadhana dharma, or the tantric or the pagan worship styles of the olden days it is essentially eclectic and embracing, till ofcourse it became political. It is only natural that the newer religions of the world try to enlist followers. Christianity and Islam had to lure or force people to follow what their religion professed as right since when they started all the people of the time were practicing some other religion.
Let us assume that there are economic gains for the people who convert. Now, imagine somebody doing a job without passion or even basic interest, and just waiting every month for the salary day. If the converts are going to behave like this, who gains? The opportunistic convert gets the promised benefits- not the seat reserved in heaven, but socio-economic gifts. This would mean that those who are engaged in the business of converting are losing. Their purpose of bringing the black, brown and all the colored sheep back into the Lord's fold, would have obviously failed if this is the real state of conversion. They are not incensed, their funding patrons are not upset, and the game goes on. In most cases the game is like this- in the name of conversion a person is able to get some food, some education; in the name of the same game one person is able to siphon the project funds for personal use. The passionate converter begins to convert his modest living into a modern and luxurious life. This is the most common situation in which everyone the nice game also ensures a sense of pride for the donor who feels he has done his bit to better the natives! As everyone appears to get something, it is a simple business activity that should not have caused anger and social unrest.
The problem begins when there is a real conversion. In a real conversion, irrespective of the honesty and integrity of the converting person, the convert believes in the new order. He is no more a part of his previous belief system. He has had enough of the pain, disappointment and hurt in the old order. He believes his life is going to become better. He may not believe that his sons would get professional education, nor that his family would start living with better amenities. He may not even really believe that his god is waiting with open arms in the heaven. What he believes is the fact that he is no more a marginalized member of the society. He believes that he has his own group wherein all are treated with equal respect. He believes that the socio-religious concepts of his original religion are not valid anymore. In simple words, he has thrown out the oppressing society from his mind. This is the final irk. Conversion for gain would not create a furor as beggars are never the cause of concern for the establishment, but when it becomes conversion for a social change it is a slap on their superiority. They cannot tolerate, even in the name of the allegedly most tolerant religion. It is no more a problem of economics. It is a socio-psychological problem.
just a thought! Though there are a few rich guys who convert, the majority of those who get converted are poor. Among the poor, just think how many are dalits and how many are brahmins? Conversion is not just the yearning for material comforts; it is the oppressed society's avenue for self- respect. It is their way of creating a social order in which they need not accept that they are lower than others. Unless this problem is addressed, communal tension regarding conversion will continue. The anger is not that christians are converting hindus, the real anger is that the marginalized hindus are walking away from hindusim. A change in the established hierarchical society is the easiest spark for anger to break into rage.
Those who are beaten are poor, those who beat are poor. The rich have a way of adjusting and living in peaceful co-existence with convenient bouts of democratic and secular moods. The rich are not affected by this problem, except perhaps when there is a strike and they cannot drive out. The poor believe that they are superior because they are Hindus, or they are blessed because they are Christians. The angry member of the hindu mob knows that the stone he pelts is at a dalit’s head and not at the new cross on his chest. His anger is the social evil that chased the dalit away from his religious territory. Unless we address this problem we are going to witness more and more of unrest. A restless society does not think, and therefore does not grow.