alochana

yes Gods are crazy

MohAtma!

with 2 comments

“We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces.”

So said Lady Bracknell. Atleast that was what Oscar Wilde made her say. And she was right. Right for her times. Wilde, I regret to say, needs to be revised! Conditions have deteriorated quite a lot since the days that Lady Bracknell was imagined in. We don’t even bother with the surfaces these days. We live, I regret to say, in an age of edges. I am only reducing the no:of dimensions by one as I need to account for the literary licenses of the next generation. The one after theirs, I am glad to say, is not my problem.

While the past generations judged a book by its cover, we do not bother to even glance the cover. Our judgement is solely a function of whether the author is in fashion, or not. Predictably enough, where the generations before us had Hemingway, we have the likes of Roy. Where they had Wilde, we have… NONE. No writer who can point out the inherent silliness of it all without sounding like a whiner. Even when some one makes an attempt, we condemn him for being politically incorrect, or brand them as publicity seekers. Most often we just ignore them. We have so many who make a living out of creating sensation that when some one actually rattles us with aim of making us question our beliefs, we are caught off-guard. Occasionally though, we get angry just because we can’t stand the person.

This whole thread, Bracknell, Wilde and Hemingway aside, is no where truer than it is in India. We don’t give an airborne-pollination about either history or historical figures. And we remain apathetic until an outsider pulls a smart-one on the figures that we would rather not care about. Just like those truck-loads of cows whose remains regularly head to the tanneries. We do not care about it, so long as it stays at the periphery of our thought.

The sad part of this pheonomena is that the only people who are truly hurt when an outsider intrudes on our beliefs are those who pride themselves of their knowledge. These are the only people who feel hurt at the apparent silliness/15-minute-mode of the outsiders. This, inspite of the fact that these very people know that they are not the target audience for these rattlers. Is it because of their condescending attitude towards their ignorant brethren? That the sheep might follow the wrong shepherd? The people that the writers want to rattle never get the hint. They look up to their indignant brothers and, predictably enough, take to the streets. When Rushdie wrote about the issues that he had with the religion that he grew up with, he was rewarded with fatwas. When he questioned the myths about the Father of the nation, a principle figure on whose legacy his entire career was based on, his target audience did not give a damn. And he ends up hurting a few people who feel that the greatest man in the near past be sacrosanct!

Raja Ram Mohan Roy died a good 20 years before Wilde was even born. Inspite of being virulently hostile towards the Hinduism as practised in those days, no record exists that tells us that he had to go underground to save his life. We generally tend to imagine that we are better than our ancestors. So one can not help but wonder, what if he lived in our times? Would he have been forced to go underground like Rushdie and Nasreen?

PS1: While I often complain that Wilde resorts to literary licence a bit too often, he is never far off the mark. More importantly, he seems to be of the “Shut up, and do your work” school.

PS2: My stance on idol worship & conversions is diammetrically opposite to that of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. But that does not take away any respect that he deserves for the reforms that he fought for.

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Written by kowsik

October 3, 2009 at 13:32

Posted in civilization, culture

2 Responses

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  1. Wilde was ostracized, wasn’t he? I tend to think that it was not just because of his orientation. That day in the courtroom, there would have been people who would have thought ,’that smartass deserved it.’ Do you also think that common sense will always be skeptical of intelligence, and that an IQ more than a standard deviation away from the mean will always be in danger?

    Ankit

    May 3, 2010 at 08:39

  2. I don’t think it was his IQ. People are, if anything, kinder towards the smarter people. But what they can’t stand is arrogance. Wilde flouted all social norms and, when questioned, made his contempt for the others obvious. You can’t ridicule a person and demand his sympathy, especially when it is your only chance of escaping prison.

    As to your last question, why should skepticism not be directed at ‘intelligence’ (whichever way it is defined)? I don’t think that battle lines have ever been drawn on the basis of IQ.

    kowsik

    May 4, 2010 at 00:51


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