>Bits of Life, while I’m on it…


My previous article was being edited for the newsletter. Being temporarily jobless, I was looking over the process and giving my insights and was rambling on about how I meant to write about something else and ended up writing about something completely different. All throughout, I kept thinking of the many things I wanted to blog about.
I distinctly recall thinking of fear and love. I’ve pondered about enough on love.
After that I watched this movie “Waking Life” and Whoa!! its amazing. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243017/combined

There is this bit about how evolution has taken place for the entire population as such; how there has been no distinct evolutionary growth in the individual per se; how we all have not achieved what we possess the potential for and how there is a barrier that prevents us from reaching our real potential. To this, the philosophy professor says, “The answer to that can be found in another question, and that’s this: Which is the most universal human characteristic – fear or laziness?”

And that was the moment for me. That scene basically made the entire movie for me.

It’s so true. All of our actions are influenced by fear or laziness, depending on the action we are about to commit.

We chase happiness and success because we fear unhappiness and failure or what we think are unhappiness and failure. We don’t do some things for the fear that the consequences of our actions may not be as we desire them to be. We do some things for the fear that our inaction may cause subsequent misery. We seek companionship because we are scared of ending up lonely and unloved. We don’t express our love for the fear of our egos and feelings being hurt on probable rejection. We are taught that fear is a form of reverence. We learn to fear our parents and teachers and strangers. We learn that if we commit any act condemned to be sinful by some, we will be punished by God and that the Devil shall take us. We learn to fear God’s wrath more than believing that God is probably a nice old chap. We fear death. We fear life itself. Fear is omnipresent, innit?

As for laziness, well yeah, we are a goddamned lazy species. All of us are bursting with ideas to change the face of humanity. But we are just so lazy that we prefer waking up in the afternoon and managing our own messed up lives. But some of us are too lazy to even do that. We sleepwalk through life, ingesting everything that is fed to us and vomiting the same bilge back. We go with the flow. But in reality, when we “go with the flow” its not a very conscious decision. We are not aware that out of the n options, the sole reason that we are going with the flow is not because we want to, voluntarily, but because we are just too lazy to carry out the other n-1 options. Procrastination is a normal involuntary action like eating tasty and unhealthy food, brushing our teeth, watching TV, etc. We delay everything that can be delayed and which wont cause too much of an inconvenience.

Sometimes fear overtakes laziness. Sometimes the latter subdues it.

The movie makes you think. It throws up so many ideas, theories, beliefs and opinions at you. And that is where you have to think and choose.
(I apologize if all this sounds as if I’m talking down to lowly forms of life or that I’m teaching two plus two equals four and not five. But my recent experiences force me to continue in this vein..)

When we see movies or read news/ articles etc, subconsciously somehow,we imbibe the opinions, views in them. We take in those opinions and beliefs and ideas without really considering the facts. I’m not saying everyone does it and that its wrong or anything of that sort. What I want to say is, there is an excess of information, views, ideas, beliefs and opinions all around us and one should examine all of them properly and learn to make his/ her own assessment of the situation and form his own opinion. Individualism is not about reading Ayn Rand’s Objectivity of Selfishness or her other novels and then claiming to be an individualist. One does not necessarily have to be highly selfish and self-centered to be Individualistic.While taking in all that’s thrown at us, we have to realize that this is someone’s view of something and this is how he/she portrays it.

So, while seeing the movie, I was all amazed and felt like “ yes, this is The TRUTH!!”. But then, later on I came to accept that this is, in the end, a work of fiction. It is someone’s view of reality and illusion and dreams. And its all brilliant. I even agree with some ideas and insights offered in the movie. But then I need not necessarily believe that it is the absolute, ultimate truth. Well, yeah all this is possible and its all cool too. But then it could be un-true too. That’s the best thing about ideas. You can just appreciate them and like them. You don’t have to accept them or believe in them. You can always challenge them and also walk away from them.

The dialogues/ lines will blow your mind away. Each one sounds like a statement of truth, beautiful and scathing. And I chose to believe, not because it sounds cool, but because I do believe that all our lives could be an illusion and we are just moving through one layer to another. And I believe that we must live this illusion. We could chose to be materialistic and perform our deeds and live our lives, chase our dreams knowing that in the end, it’s all an illusion and it doesn’t really matter. Or we could just walk through it like indifferent zombies accepting it as something which is pre-determined and which will not make any difference as to whatever we do. It may be true that the workings of ants could not cause any difference to stars and planets. But it may not necessarily be the only truth.

When we chose to live our life knowing that in the great cycle of life and death we are insignificant grains of sand, we must also accept that every second of our time is probably a whole lifetime for some beings. Even the lowliest form of life played a role in our evolution into an intelligent species. Every instant matters and every action in that instant matters. We influence others’ lives and actions by our actions without really considering it or being aware of it. If life is an illusion, Maya, then so be it. Why does reality have to be the opposite of it? Why can’t the illusion be the reality? That’s how it is. It is the reality. It is a dream, life. We are living our dreams. A lifetime of dreams. Think of it as lucid dreaming. Sometimes you can control your actions in your dreams. You can also control your own actions in your life. In lucid dreams, when you realize you are dreaming you also realize that you can control the situation and do what you want to do. Same with life, you have to come to realize that, yes there is fate and destiny, but you are there too and you can control the situation.

In dreams allegedly, you can’t switch lights on and off and time is twisted. In life, you cant change day into night and night into day, unless you can teleport ( That is an amazing possibility) and as for time.. well, we all measure it differently, some in years and seconds, some in people and places, and some in smiles, tears, sighs and glances.

>Blank Noise

>No, it is not inspired from White Noise. (The movie?)
I think its inspiration lies in our conscience.
What is blank noise? Its that noise that goes screeching in your ears when the silence is deafening. Too cliched? No, its true. Imagine an inverter, or any machine for that reason- it goes off and there is that weird beeeeeeeeeeeeeep noise that comes from within. It is that noise which goes on endlessly when you are completely blank. Your mind is erased of any thoughts of your own. Its not a peaceful rest. Its a struggle- of voices and silences.
That is the current state of all of us. We are embroiled in that battle- of voicing out our opinions and keeping mum. The silence is at the wrong time, wrong place. The voices are without reason, rebels without cause. We talk too much. We rant on about the nation going to the dogs. We bemoan the lack of infrastructure and good education system, the prevalent corruption and bureaucracy. We talk, talk and talk.
But we sit silent when innocent people are burnt at the stake. We are mute spectators to the thousand injustices happening. We are apathetic to the misery of millions. We refuse to acknowledge their troubles as anything but public nuisance.
Some one tells me blank noise means, “it generally means women speaking out against harrassment and molestation.”
I think blank noise means how we voice out our hollow idealisms and smother our conscience into submissive silence.
We cry out loud when political leaders are caught taking a bribe. But we silently carry out underhand dealing with these leaders’ minions. Its termed as “a necessary evil”.
We think the riots in Gujarat were the workings of a evil monster. But while Nandigram & Singur burned, SEZs and the subsequent economic development silenced all our misgivings. The geographical proximity of Gujarat could not possibly be the only reason why we are not vociferous against the unfairness of the situation in WB.
We shower child artistes in movies with praise and awards. We label a child working at a tea stall as a victim of child labour and do all that we can to take away what could be his only source of living.
We find it unfair that electricity is subsidized for farmers while we pay more for more power cuts. The rising number of suicide cases amongst farmers is intensely discussed in the news. Yet we fail to find any connection and reserve our views for “intellectual debates”.
We think the police are indifferent and inefficient. And probably to help them, we choose to be silent accomplices in a crime by refusing to file a FIR and get involved in a “police case”.
Another Mandal Commission catches our fancy for a while and we picket the streets. At the same time, we watch undeserving candidates with money and clout steal our seats with restrained helplessness and indifference.
We debate whether qualification or experience helps our politicians. But we are zipped in asking ourselves whether we want politicians or leaders to govern us.
Many such paradoxes go unnoticed in ambiguity.
There are too many opinions fighting within us. But what comes to the fore is the one which is convenient to voice. One that would find agreement with the majority. The truth becomes molded into the crucible of “public opinion”. Its not what we think is right. It is about what everyone decides is right and we learn to adjust ourselves to that right. Anything that won’t require us to put up too much of a struggle.
That is how we become screeching machines- parroting the thoughts fed into us by public media. Just because a well-read and sophisticated columnist thinks going nude in public is a person’s right to freedom of expression, we all follow suit thinking its the only form of expression. Editorials of a newspaper begin to become textbooks. Opinions become facts for us. Our voice- public opinion- then becomes a mass customized imitation of a select few. A simpler way to put it is- we are sucked into the vortex of herd mentality.
The voices are meaningless. They are just material for a good discussion, nothing is ever done about it. The silences are exasperatingly unfair.
It is all about convenience. Our principles, beliefs and values are modeled on it. But like all things convenient and easy, it is not always right. In a battle of virtue and convenience, we let the latter win.
Can we make some real noise please? Can we for a change not just debate but also act?