In India, as I suppose was the case is many socialist and pseudo-socialist nations, living through death of any notable public figure, back in the 80s, was a nightmare. Three full days of national mourning for a peaceful, albeit sad, demise of an 89 or so year old former president or movie actor or such, could only be described as an over-reaction. I could accept, with considerable effort, a full 27 minutes mourning and throw in a few more seconds if it absolutely had to be mourned. But 3 full days? No – I refused.
My father, as he habitually did, argued against my opinion. He thought three-days of obligatory and enforced mourning was a measured reaction, one that was measured skillfully with a blatantly obvious political calculus. As you might imagine, my father and I empathized with each others’ emotional state, However, quite frankly, I did not agree with his rationalization of the whole situation. In hindsight though, I think he was right, I was perhaps still too immature to see his point at the age of eight.
The pain of having to stare into the television, hoping against hope minute after another minute during those agonizing 72 hours, that this 60 something year old “classical” singer would just shut up for a moment and allow for Spider Man to appear instead of his prayer so depressive that it was hard to tell if he was mourning the dearly departed or his own impending demise is indescribable. All the more so, if the said television was only acquired a couple of months earlier as a consequence of what felt like a few centuries of nuanced lobbying accompanied with steadfast and unrelenting revolution at home. Courtesy? Yours truly.
As if sitting through nothingness on television wasn’t enough, while I don’t entirely remember if my school was closed also on account of the mourning in consideration, I vaguely remember being burdened with 8 hours of “homework” on each of those three dreadful days. You see that’s because teachers back then were, as they still likely are now – and there is no other way to put it politely – Cynical born losers, or at least that’s how I felt about them back then. I say this with all the sincerity I can muster – this was no laughing matter, it was a thorough nightmare both as a past experience and as a current recollection.
This mourning business was annoying especially for its pretentiousness. The entire nation was putting up a melancholic act of respectfulness for an old man whose time had come. But nobody really cared that he wasn’t immortal. Everybody wanted to just get on with their lives rather than be stuck in this bubble constantly reminded of death – as if life wasn’t difficult enough. Oh well, such was the age of national television. What choice did citizens have except to accept whatever the few elite decided the entire nation had to watch. If only mass media were democratized? How wonderful it could have been. And you likely see here and i hope you see the sarcasm from a few nautical miles away!
30 years later, I’m coming to the realization that human race is pathological and dysfunctional in its reaction to death. Gross pretentiousness of near past has given way to vulgarity for how demised and their surviving kin are treated. Wailing kin, lifeless corpse, conspiracy, character assassination are all fair game click baits within hours. The velocity and volume of online videos and articles which envelope entire social media points to an industry deeply committed to its beleif of a fascinting fetish among citizenry for Death. Death is not news because you aren’t getting informed beyond the first hour, its not mourning beyond 3 days. Its weird, but decidedly a form of amusement derived from suffering that has’nt accrued to yourself.
Is there hope this might just be a temporary phase or us not knowing how to react to death online. There is absolutely none what so ever because if you come to think of it, this is hardly a new or an internet age phenomenon. Its a phenomenon as old as throwing slaves to lions not on account of punishment, but of entertainment. So its entirely plausible humans aren’t freaking out unnecessarily and over-reacting to death. Its also entirely plausible we are relishing that misfortune has arrived to another person’s life this time around and we had nothing to do with it.
Considering how Sartre lived, it is beyond doubt he scribbled each word, that he did, with the seriousness of an impending nuclear catastrophe: a quality that seldom can be associated to words here. I’m, however, unsure whether seriousness is equitably warranted toward every written word. I sometimes wish words were not considered serious to a point of defeating reason and compassion: like holy texts.
Why is world awash with seriousness for the trivial like Twitter bursts of a peculiar president. Before you elucidate anything said by a powerful man is serious, allow my proposal to examine whether what is said is said with conviction or out of vanity; And whether what is said is considered for it’s impact or it’s redicule worthiness. Can we serve it the variety of attention it deserves: ignored as nuisance.
Not that I’m an expert, but I suspect there exists a limit to how much stuff brains can attend to seriously, for there isn’t much else but food taken seriously by a hungry man. So can someone please publish an app to tell us not what is but to tell us, just as reliably, what is to be taken seriously so we don’t all perish in a matter of centuries.
Celebrities get asked this question, or something along similar lines, a lot: which is your most favorite among all the songs you’ve heard, all movies you’ve watched, all books you’ve read and so on. It usually is reciprocated with a cringe inducing reply or, more appropriately, a reaction which is painless to empathize with. But then, empathy is one thing and sympathy entirely another which I have none for the contemptuous and, at times, condescending reply.
Such questions are invariably appraised as those for which replies are sought to determine a preference or taste. It is conceivably the wrong perspective for, of course, there is no such thing as the best song, movie or book of all. It is instead a question asked to learn about loyalty to a particular moment of joy. And loyalty requires passion which in turn is rooted at least partially in irrational.
A response to this question does not stand in need of recalling, for example, all songs and carefully analyzing merits of each to arrive at the one you’d bestow your personal all time best Grammy to. It requires a mad, unreasonable passion and conviction for how you felt that one time you heard a song and then never to let go of it irrespective of how wonderful many songs you might have heard to since.
Dear celebrities, just give us a mad reply with a mad conviction. Don’t be so bland as to cast off the question as brainless because you insist on using your brain when it’s needed that you use you heart. Show your passion, not your analysis.
As the question of what is loveliest encounters, the usual suspects to affect the conscious are beautiful beings: animate and inanimate. A lovely face, lovely child, lovely gift and so forth.
What is loveliest isn’t an elusive question conditional to agreement about properties of exquisite beauty: is it that which appeals to the eye? To the heart? To the mind? Or to the spirit? One especially scarce commodity, i think, stands taller than its few contenders to the title: nature’s beauty can author catharsis far reaching in impact than simple admiration, kindness can endow bliss beyond the giver and the receiver. Good health foreshadows a healthy mind. These are worthy contenders.
A quick aside. Quickly ensuing conclusion of it’s duty toward describing ordinary words, “lovely” metamorphoses into a collosal entity routinely encapsulating space and time into what it describes. If you think about it, there isn’t much left to describe beyond a lovely day and a lovely time (Which begs the question as what is meant when a day is said to be lovely, beyond good weather perhaps, and if that is adequate to make a day lovely).
Back to the original thought. If an object is to be loved on account of savoring and not only of yearning for, then freedom, is plausibly, the loveliest of all. We starve for freedom: of choice, of speech, of belief, from poverty, from slavery and several more hardships. And yet, for the few who enjoy it’s essence, nothing correlates so directly to their meaningful existence as freedom does. Good health, beauty and gratitude might go unappreciated, but freedom is enjoyed even if you refuse to. That’s why it stands tall. That’s why it’s beauty is exquisite. It is lovely.
If craft reduces original art to algorithm, and if technology reproduces everything described as an algorithm, then no other art form has been devoured and taken hostage to technology as much as music. It’s no coincidence toddlers can tell between music genres which follow a pattern as predictable as Japanese speed trains.
For heaven’s sake, “musicians” hardly hide the lack of originality – what with calling their “compositions” remixes. What can one say to that – “kudos to your honesty”? Must we then lament that most if not all popular music is an aftermath of teenagers fiddling digital knobs on iMac rather than musicians interacting with occasional melody or rhythm? Perhaps not.
Music attains, and some times hustles, value from how a listener responds to it irrespective of whether it’s genesis is it’s creators deep passion or plain mundane craft. Its evident electronic music creates unmatched euphoria and it counts for a lot of what music must do.
But, lament we should, oh lament we must for the ravishing remix of a transcending melody which must never be allowed reinterpretion into a 128bpm “track”. While wonderful, even novel, some melodies are better left untouched than be remixed by Mozart.
Much was staked on my reply to a question I received several years back: how would you describe the color pink to a blind man?
As I remember, my first thought was to surmise that time spent here was of no avail for conclusion about my job candidacy had been arrived at before this question was asked. As it turned out, it had, I think, been arrived at. Such suspicion attenuates the scent of opportunity liberating thought in a sense that it is no more constrained by the gravity of stakes. I proceeded then to consider the question solely on its merit.
What a curious question: inviting, through a response, proof for one’s faculties to empathize and tightrope through pretentious, absurd prospects for a reply. Would I even venture into such task or apologies sincerely for lack of imagination and vocabulary. What if it wasn’t the blind person’s curiosity, but my desperation, may be out of love, to share the joy of sight – how would I then set about my predicament.
I frankly don’t know. Yet, I replied “I’d tell pink feels like the scent of a rose”. I didn’t get the job.