[+2] paperback activists considered really, really  harmful

04/09/2013

So, you promise  that you have read the previous two installments? But, just in case you haven’t read ’em- here they are:

Paperback Intellectual --  Graphic courtesy: Peter Brookes / The Spectator / London / 1989

Paperback Intellectual (my title: ed) — Graphic courtesy: Peter Brookes / The Spectator / London / 1989

… It is obvious to me that, you haven’t had enough  of this rather arrogant and self-righteous drivel. Anyway…

Scenario #7

One evening when I met with Rumouraj Monger, his whole body was feverish with excitement; apparently his mother-in-law had visited him and found sufficient time to gossip about the alleged sexcapades (many decades back) of the current prime minister of India. Rumouraj is for righteous behavior as long as he was lecturing to someone else  and just like any  of us, is also for purity in public life.

Questions:

    1. Leave alone the mother-in-law twist to the whole thing – It is obvious that when one is in public life – whether it be the PM or a civil servant – it is the honourable thing for citizens to talk derogatorily of them. Isn’t this correct?
    2. Okay. Assuming that the current PM actually did ‘those’ things – what did the mother-in-law do about them? Is Rumouraj willing to go public over these things so that there can be a public debate on ‘honesty and integrity’ in public life?
    3. Do we constantly mangle the latest header of all input-rumours  we hear of, and recreate the payload/contents so that it becomes more saucy/juicy/slimy to make output-rumours  better for onward consumption?
    4. Do we have nothing good to say at all about anyone?
    5. Since we seem to be doing so much for the furtherance of the cause of rumours, don’t we have any contribution to make the world a ‘little better?’ Don’t we have any time or energy to spare for the betterment of ourselves, leave alone humanity?

In one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read (Jones, Mark and Patricia Collette – Realizing Our Dreams. Relevant context for this discussion available at soilandhealth.org; thanks to that remarkable individual (and my dear pal) Steve Solomon, the whole book is available online) there are a few things that are made clear.

For example, we create elaborate facades about/on ourselves (like: I am a highly principled person) and we consciously believe in them. But our basic characteristics, from which our ‘vibrations’ (that I am a highly this or best that … etc) stem, are programmed in our subconscious minds. Some of these, may be limiting beliefs – such as “I am devious, unprincipled person” – in this frame of mind, we systematically attribute (or ‘transfer’ if you will) all kinds of vices (that we carry) to others, whereas in reality, we suffer from the same…

My pet theory is that – negative-news generally not only has more inertia, but also has this tremendous acceleration across TV, newspapers, mouths and ears – this is incredible.

Scenario #8

Crass Pollinator feels that for any development to take place, external intervention is necessary. He is one of those who feel that India is a staid and stagnant civilization and has been lumbering along in delirium for the past 5000 years. He ardently feels that – but for the advent of the civilizing mission of the Christian missionaries and the great contributing factors of the British imperialism – India would still  continue to be a ‘backward’ nation.

During the course of a conversation a few months back, Crass suddenly came up with a data point in that Rukmini (Arundale) would not have made contributions for the bringing in of respectability to ‘Bharathanatyam’ – but for the intervention of a white (an ‘external’ force) as in Arundale (a theosophist associated with the movement based in Madras)! He followed up the same with an assertion that, civilizations like India are so old and fosslized that they refuse to change or correct themselves. And therefore, external influence is the only one that can save countries like India. QED.

Questions:

    1. On what basis, has he managed to arrive at this stupendous theory of external intervention?
    2. Taking this particular case of Rukmini – does he even know that there was a remarkable individual from Tiruchi called Kuppuswamy Iyer, who slogged it out against all odds to move the Bharathanatyam culture from a primarily temple centric and – a perniciously deviant practice of association with prostitution to a mode of respectability. Does he know that Rukmini was associated with him? However, I understand the urge that must have made Crass Pollinator to come up with his theory… His inexorable logic must have flowed like this:
        1. As per him, Bharathanatyam was a symbol of things that are rotten to the core  in India…
        2. A charming lady emerges to champion the cause. But females are slender, they need assistance from the external world.
        3. An association with a stud white bull – the classic knight-at-arms emerges.
        4. Therefore, he must be the one who was responsible for whatever was allegedly done by the lady.

      It is obvious that all the above so called logical steps are broken – but for Mr. Pollinator, does that really matter?

    3. Has Crass read that cute and seminal article ‘generalizations based on a sample size of one or less?’

Scenario #9

Naveen Kiranagharan is a person driven by an urge to learn musical things – both western and Indian… He had a zest to learn various things, but then unfortunately, he never developed a tendency to persevere – it may be blamed on his short attention span… So he invariably copped out of all these endeavors on one pretext or the other.

For example, when he tried to learn Karnatic music – the traditional ‘great culture’ codified music of south India  – it had to befrom one particular teacher (why only from him, I asked — but there was no tangible answer) who incidentally was a ‘brahmin.’ And at a later point of time, when he had to cop out from this endeavor for some reason or the other, then he rather conveniently blamed it on the ‘brahmin arrogance’ of the teacher – he said that it was because of this reason that he had to discontinue the learning of the Karnatic music…

Questions:

    1. What is of importance to one – the net learning or the teacher, even assuming that ‘brahmin arrogance’ was present in the teacher in significant quantities.
    2. How can a consistent lack of enthusiasm for everything and anything under the sun be blamed on extraneous reasons, even assuming that the allegations are true?
    3. I’ve had a horribly twisted (and a very difficult to deal with) landlord from whom I had rented my residential premises a few months back – does this mean that I can blame the whole thing on Christian meanness or whatever – just because he happened to be a Christian? IMO, if I were to exhibit this kind of an idiotic  tendency, that would be very mean!
    4. I agree that stereotyping individuals and straitjacketing them into some generalized patterns of behaviour is reasonably alright – that is, till you get a first fuzzy picture, and establish a reasonable platform for discourse and discussion; but subsequently, in closer interactions these assumptions must be reinspected in the light of new evidence… However, merely imposing our view point on others without any +ve feedback mechanism is a proper case to be handled by lobotomy, IMO! ;-)
    5. If Naveen loved Karnatic music so much, why didn’t he move to some other teacher who did not have any such silly arrogance?
    6. Why get caught in the hallucinatory imaginations of victimhood, sulkathons and blamathons when there is this whole wide fascinating world to learn from?

… It transpired later that, Naveen was of course not correct in blaming that teacher. Apparently, he had a ‘love’ affair going on in his class (it was not an 1-on-1 music tutoring but was for a bunch of students) and this was actually disturbing the chemistry & rigor in the sessions so, Naveen was pulled aside and was told that, at least during the sessions, the focus has to be on music and nothing else. Of course this sane advice was not listened to and hence, Naveen had to go. (The girl continued and is now one of the grade B vocalists in the Karnatic music firmament)

Another interesting thing was that, this teacher had at that time, two ‘christian’ lads as students of whom one was a ‘dalit.’

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(Just one more installment to go but, you can cop out, even now…)

JournalEntry#  14th April, 2004

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