Friday, July 1, 2016

Jottings: slice of life -22

Jottings: slice of life -22
It’s a great mystery on how we fragment, apportion our love to different people at different times in our lives. We ensure our boundaries of affection are clear, at least, our upbringing indoctrinates us to believe they are very clear. Between Husband and wife, friend and lover, friend and family, sons and daughters – the lines are firmly drawn. Even if our instincts deep down propels us to cross those limits, we are tied down. I call it mysterious because these fences are fictitious, thought made and have no real basis biologically or otherwise; and our desperate attempt to stick to them like leech to skin seems so incongruous and stressful. There is no way in the world we can control what we feel. The idiom “be true to yourself” is the greatest lie propagated. Because, if each one of us were to be so, society as we know it wouldn’t exist. Now what else would take its place. We don’t know. We can only conjecture, but all of us would like to believe that there will be chaos. Well, that’s a good way to find solace in fictions we so tortuously love. Creation of made fiction is a unique development in our evolutionary history. Not only are we the only ones capable of creating such powerful psychological thought structures, which more or less govern the way we live; but somehow we get lost in its meandering pathways. The many genuine moments of our lives often decay in the slime of these fictions. Who defines I cannot love anybody else like a husband or wife. Who defines it is incorrect not to feel sexually, emotionally attracted to another. Who defines I must not “overstep” boundaries of affection? And if I happen to feel the need to do so (which most of us do, if we are honest with ourselves), then what do I do. Sweep it under the carpet, and act as if everything is alright. Is it not self-duplicity to hide behind fiction, when raw facts stare at us on the face? I am not for a moment even suggesting that we throw every social convention to the winds, and live with gay abandon. But do we have right perspective on it? Is it not equally important to live true to oneself at some point in one's life? Fiction does have a place in human understanding. Nobody questions its utility. But when it starts governing Man’s inner psyche, we run into problems. Science needs ideation and adequate fiction, without which, we cannot attempt to grasp it's working; but when the fluidity of life itself - its passions, its instincts, it's emotions are jettisoned within artificially erected fences, we are then attempting to subvert the reality of our being and living life according to fictions we have blindly inherited or adopted. All psychological conflicts of modern man can be traced to what he genuinely feels within and what he thinks (fictions) he should live by. In 2015, Professor Yuval Noah Harari taught an online course (MOOC) which subsequently was published as a best-selling book titled “Sapiens: A brief history of Mankind”, in which, he beautifully points out how our fictions have aided in our material progress from an instinctual ape to an astronaut, but at the same time, the price we have paid for this progress is almost a complete disintegration of our inner self. Ideas about nations, corporations, tribes, Gods, love, sex, success, compassion have taken over the living reality it represents. And therein lies the struggle of modern man.
Arts have always dabbled with fiction. It has always had the freedom to push our boundaries of social conformance to its limits. That is probably the reason, we love controversial books, movies, drama and music. When DH Lawrence wrote about illicit physical love between land lady and her gardener, something ignited within us. It gave our feelings of lust a legitimacy which we don’t often find in world outside. Or when we watched or read “Bridges of Madison county”, we sympathize with the lonely lady who finds true love, solace in the arms of a complete stranger, or when Sharon stone crosses her legs during a police interrogation, we are shocked; our moral and ethical foundations are shaken; yet, surreptitiously, we admire her character’s brutal honesty, provocation and unbridled sensuality. What we don’t have the courage to face up to in reality finds its expression and transference to art forms. Perhaps, it is better that way. It is not for nothing that art is called the mirror of our souls.
I recently watched a wonderful Made for Television Movie titled “Strange affairs”. Low budget, starring Judith light; the movie captures a unique relationship between a husband and wife and her lover. All three live under the same roof with complete acceptance of each other’s relationship. When their initial reluctance to break conventional ties are overcome, then it becomes utterly natural. That a woman can love two men simultaneously without prejudice or disrespect to each other, and both men can engage in mature friendship with a tacit understanding of each other’s role and position, give equal respect to the woman they adore and love - is sensitively bought out in this tale. To my surprise, this movie was directed by Ted Kotcheff, the same man who directed “first Blood” - the first Rambo movie. Diametrically different films.
I guess, the point of this essay is simple. There are no equatorial lines dividing life into distinct compartments. It is only a fiction, and our modern issues of morality, customs and conventions are only true so long as we want them to be true. In Ernest Hemingway's words “… So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”. A good enough yardstick for whatever one does, I guess.
God bless...
Yours in mortality,
Bala

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