Monday, May 29, 2017

Jottings - Slice of Life - 124 ( Sir Roger Moore - The actor and the Man - a remembrance )

Jottings - Slice of Life - 124 ( Roger Moore - The actor and the Man - a remembrance )
Between 1952 and 1963 Ian Fleming wrote 12 Bond novels and two short story collections featuring his legendary creation - James bond, the articulate, suave and ruthless secret service agent of the British Government. Bringing his enormous experience of spy and espionage during the wars, Fleming’s imaginative brain spun Bond as the archetypal killing machine with heart and morals in the right place at the right time. Writing about his books and his method , Fleming once said “ I write for about three hours in the morning, and one in the evening. I never look look back on what I have written. It goes to the publisher as it is..”. We are grateful it did. The spontaneity, felicity and mounting tension of Bond novels will forever remain one of the top fictional creations of the twenty century, and well beyond it. In 1961, Albert Broccoli and his friend saw the potential of James bond on screen, roped in Sean Connery to play the character, and thus began the saga and fascination of James bond as a cinematic Icon - as it rapidly spread to reach corners of the globe, igniting passion, mystery and awe in a manner unprecedented in Cinematic history. It is given only to a chosen few to play the role of James bond, and in its Fifty year history spanning 24 films divided among seven privileged men chosen to play the tile role - the name of Roger Moore will remain a crown jewel, as one who transformed, demystified the elusive myth of Bond that Sean Connery had so marvelously woven before, and bought to screen an element which Fleming had grossly understated in his books , which is - wry humor, gentlemanly wit, twinkle in the eye, Apollonian looks and a sense of vulnerability as a human that he fictionally was.
Roger moore’s ticket to play James bond was his TV series “The saint”, in which he played the handsome detective. His physical looks had attracted a wide following, and so did his Saville-row wit and manner of wooing ladies. When Sean Connery finally decided in 1971 it was time to move on, the not so young Roger Moore ( he was 45 years old) was inducted to act in “Live and let die” along with the beautiful debutante Jane Seymour. It was the biggest moment of his life. As a young man, he had struggled like any another aspiring actor in the mushy world of Hollywood. He had talent and looks, no doubt, but in the world of cinema apart from these prerequisites, luck and opportunity is required as well. So “Live and let die” was his moment of truth. He was taking over the mantle from a great actor, in whose hands, the legend of James bond had acquired a certain charm, character and image in public mind. Roger had to either sustain it, or recreate the image. Roger did the latter. In his own words many decades later, he said “ I was terrified on the first of shooting on the sets of “live and let die”. As the time came, I suddenly realized I was a like woman in the throngs of labor pain rushing to the hospital. The baby had to come out one way or the other, so what does it matter how it comes out?..”. With this zen attitude, Moore plunged in his new role, and the outcome was a brand new image of Bond. It is debatable, if Ian Fleming would have recognized his bond in Roger, but what Roger did for Bond was to extend the dimension of the character itself without losing any of its vital elements. While Sean Connery stuck to the letter of Fleming’s words, Roger read through it and bought a different essence on screen. Surprisingly, audiences loved this Bond more than any other they had seen. I think, the key factor in Roger’s portrayal was his originality, native English wit and charm, coupled with adolescently flirtatious exterior which endured him to his viewers. In their minds, Bond now became a man capable of making mistakes, getting beaten at his game but eventually winning the battle. Roger had humanized James bond without relinquishing the mystery and aura of his trade. A singular achievement in that age and time. Like Sean Connery Roger went on to act in Seven bond films till his retirement from that role in 1985.
It is often a fact that some people continue to transform and evolve themselves even after they have left the main stage. It is difficult ,especially in the world of cinema to leave behind the world of glamor, publicity and prestige , and embark upon a new inner journey. But Roger did after his retirement. He had made many good friends, and gathered lot of respect in the industry as a man of dignity, honor and down to earth charm. Audrey Hepburn, his close friend and neighbor in Switzerland introduced him to the world of UNICEF, of which she was the most popular and endearing icon. The work with children stuck a deep chord in Roger. He once told his friend Jane Seymour “ You know, it is ironical that when we come into the film industry, we dont have clothes, money , cars or Home; and once we get famous all this is given free of cost..”. The urge to give what he so abundantly and freely received was deep within him, and UNICEF provided the right vent for that desire. He was its ambassador till his very last day - the longest man to have ever served that honorable position. In view of his work both on an off the screen, The British government knighted him, and UNICEF presented the lifetime achievement award. During the acceptance ceremony, Roger made a comment which perhaps best defines the Man himself. He said
“I am perhaps best known for my role as Bond, but my role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF is the one I am certainly most passionate about. It is beyond doubt that it’s the children and dedicated staff on the ground who deserve medals, but I am absolutely honored and would like to thank UNICEF for this truly humbling award.”
Sir Roger Moore, passed away on May 23rd after a brief battle with Cancer, which seems to take away many of our loved ones. For my generation who grew up in the seventies , “The spy who loved me” will always remain the best Bond movie ever. I remember the day in 1985 when I read the Roger Moore will not play James bond anymore. Something snapped within me. I knew instinctively that an era had ended, and the actors who come next have an immense responsibility to keep the flag of Ian Fleming flying and alive. The truth is the character of James bond will never die, but there may not be one more Roger Moore to give that role the finesse, charm and honor he so lovingly and graciously gave it - on screen and otherwise.
God bless…
yours in mortality,
Bala


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jottings - slice of life - 123 ( Baahubali - my take on it)

Jottings - slice of life - 123 ( Baahubali - my take on it)
Over the last two years, on innumerable occasions during my travels and otherwise, I have been asked by well meaning Indian Friends and acquaintances who know my interest in cinematic art , either personally or through emails, if I had an opportunity to watch the first part of Baahubali, and if yes, what are my opinions on it. In fact, one of them recently said “ Bala, this movie was and is a cinematic sensation in India, and i am surprised you are keeping a studious silence about it, I would love to read what you have to say…”
The truth of the matter is I hadn't seen the movie, nor did I have any inclination to watch it ( until yesterday on youtube), in spite of the fact the movie ran in cinema theaters near me wherever I went. Of course, I did read about the movie, its gigantic production, the years of preparation and execution that went into it, the sheer magnificence of cinematic panorama depicted on screen, the vivacity, energy and beauty of its lead characters - all of that. But something within me didn't quite relish the idea of watching it. I have wondered why ,and the reason was not too far too seek.
I am a firm believer that technique is important in any art form. In fact, the history of art is all about refinement and improvements. For example, when painting was the prevalent medium of visual art up to nineteenth century, the amount of detail and themes that could be painted were limited. The path breaking few who could visualize something beyond the general were geniuses, and they didn't produce what they produced because of any notable improvements in technique, but only out sheer creative effervescence and grace within and nothing more. Technique of photography changed all that. There was a now a way available , which doesn't demand creative visualization as a prerequisite, enabling everyone to capture pictures and themes which could put a michalengelo or Ruben to shame in terms of what they could capture on photographic film. Of course, great photography needs special talent, and not all can handle the camera as an extension of their inner eye. Technique may be there, but must be wielded well, and to the purpose of the medium. Also the point is mere improvement in technique doesn't always necessary mean great art. I could capture a pic on my iPhone and claim to produce art, but it doesn't compare to someone who would travel to Antarctica in its coldest winter, wait sleepless and shivering, to capture the rays of sun during its winter solstice as it sweeps across the dark sky mercurially changing color from yellow to gold in the blink of an eye for few minutes. In such cases, technique should go hand in hand with inner vision and an urge to convey something extraordinary. Technique is useful, but art in any form cannot be merely technical, It must be used to unfold something deep within which can resonate in our hearts and mind - in our souls. In the hands of gifted artists, such technique can become magic wand capable of educating, entertaining and aesthetically uplifting .
Now commercial cinema is all about technique and money. And if technical production and amount of money pumped into it are the only measures of cinematic success, I think, in my opinion, we have completely lost the focus and impetus which gave birth to this wonderful medium of cinema. I am not for a moment saying that we should not invest heavily, or not produce big budget films; it is definitely required for quality and to allow the creative possibilities in a director - who wishes to tell a meaningful story - to flourish and flower. But what I am saying is the story must take precedence in a film and not always the superficial aspects of how its told. The technical production of a film should scaffold and safeguard the embryo of a sensitive tale and embellish it as much as required, and not more. The movie that comes to mind as I write ( and everyone knows) is Ang lee’s magnificent rendition of “Life of PI” . Everything you see in Baahubali as jaw-dropping is present in “life of Pi”; yet it is subdued there and serves the purposes of the poignant story lee wishes to tell and doesn't jarringly intrude in the flow of the narrative. Or for that matter consider James cameron’s “Avatar”, or Spielberg's “Jurassic park” or let me stretch to it to fifties and point out “Benhur" or “Ten commandments”. In all these movies, the focus was on what is being told, and the “how” of it is subservient to the “what”.
Baahubali - the beginning is now on Youtube. And I watched it. Its good tale of fantasy and nothing more. In the context of Indian cinema, the quality of technical execution was clean, and flawless. The production value and its visual impact , which has has been the talking point for years now, is nothing we havent seen before. My detractors may argue that I should watch it on screen and not plasma TV. Maybe, maybe not!!. I have watched enough movies both on screen and otherwise to make an aesthetic judgment for myself. I am sure, on screen, some of the effects may have been spectacular; but for me, that will never be a yardstick for a movie. I would watch Harry potter, Star trek anytime - if effects is all I need to admire.
All said and done , as an Popular Indian actor said during a recent interview “ Baahubali is good for Indian cinema. Its at least seeing money”. My opinion is Baahubali served its purpose of doing out what audiences wish to see. Three hours of suspense of disbelief, packaged in modern technology. As long as this remains what we want of movies as a medium of art, then Baahubali is a resounding success. But for me, and I may be an infinitesimal minority, Baahubali is passable entertainment. Nothing that would make me rush to watch Part 2 anytime in the near future.
( PS : This piece represents only my personal view on this topic, and I greatly respect the sentiments of those who have enjoyed the movie for reasons and perspectives I may not be cognizant of, or illiterate about. )
God bless..
Yours in mortality,
Bala

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jottings - Slice of life - 122 ( Devdas - the conundrum of love)

Jottings - Slice of life - 122 ( Devdas - the conundrum of love)
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay was seventeen years old when he wrote “Devdas”, and it was eventually published in 1917 . Never before ,and possibly never after, has a triangular love affair captivated the Indian Hearts and minds as much as that between the tormented, tragic and finely etched characters of Devdas, Paro and Chandramukhi. It was Sarat chandra’s crown jewel, a work that catapulted him to fame, and established his name as a literary genius. With over twenty novels and many shorts stories during his active literary life, his fertile brain, facile pen and sensitive heart captured the essence of an Individual caught in the web of feudalistic society, which was slowly but painfully , emerging out its chrysalis to modernity in the early twentieth century. Emotional and psychological emancipation of women largely figured in his works, and it is through them he voiced his opinions and ideas. Heroines were his principal protagonists, with men only playing second fiddle, and often the tragic victim of his stories.
Last Sunday, I watched Sanjay Leela Bansali’s luxurious adaption of devdas during my flight to Chicago. It is a three hour movie, and the flight time was an hour and thirty minutes. So,I skipped quite a bit of the movie and watched portions of significance both in the book and the film.At the end of it, the question that haunts the mind of everyone who watches or reads Devdas, is this : Which is stronger and truer love of the two? Is it Paro’s unrelenting, yet diffident acceptance of her fate and wanting to possess her love on her own terms superior? or is the forgiving, forbearing, physically satisfying and mystically accepting embrace of concubine Chandramukhi deeper and more true? This has been debated in literature and social platforms for decades, and the balance more often than not tilts in favor of Paro - as the genuine love of Devdas, and Chandramukhi - the unlawful and unethical usurper of his affections. The fact that it is Devdas own cowardice at a critical time in the story which leads to tragic consequences is conveniently lost in arguing the morality of the leading female characters. It is a tribute to Sarat chandra’s genius that he held the tale as a mirror to his readers souls. Depending upon who is reading it, and from what social and cultural background they come from, the answer to this question will be colored accordingly. While Paro is pictured as the outwardly “pure” one, unadulterated by the evils of flesh, but consumed by fire of jealousy and reciprocity in her relationship; Chandramukhi trades her body as a profession, yet maintains an inner purity which shines in her unconditional acceptance of a broken, tragic man who stumbles into her embrace having lost everything he possessed, including wealth, health and heart. Ironically, Devdas resents Chandramukhi when he is sober, and pictures her as Paro when he is drunk; but in either circumstance, it is the professional courtesan Chandramukhi who anchors his troubled self in waves of solace without a word of admonition or reprimand. It is she who shows him the way, in rare moments of his sobriety. It is she who gently makes him realize it is his fault that Paro chose her own life , and it is he alone who must now seek redemption by reaching out to his true love - Paro and give himself unconditionally to her. It is with this fullness of heart, understanding and self-realization that devdas makes the final journey to Paro’s doorsteps. If the definition of love is transformation, then it is chandramukhi’s love that transforms devdas and not Paro’s - though she unknowingly becomes the recipient of his transformation. The brilliance of Sarat chandra’s work lies in the moral ambivalence he creates in the minds of readers.
Not many will know, that until 2002, there was no English translation of Devdas. Translations were available in all major Indian languages, and around 15 cinematic adaptions of Devdas produced in different Indian States are on record. However, It was only after Sanjay’s movie became a block buster in 2001, that writer Sreejata Guha, a seasoned Bengali translator, was commissioned to make the first English translation. It is a terse and meticulous translation without allowing nuances of English language to usurp the atmosphere of the story or intensity of its dialogues. I enjoyed reading it. It reminded me of the magnificent translations by great Edith Grossman of Gabriel Marquez and Mario Vargas Spanish works- clear and un-ornamented. Ironically, again, the front cover of Devdas English translation had a picture of Aishwarya rai, as if to suggest that devdas is also a “book” you can read, now that you have seen the movie. I will not be surprised if many young readers mistook the book to be based on the movie. I hope not. Anyway, the amazing fact is for eighty five years, after it initial publication, Devdas remained translated and read only in Indian vernacular languages. The need of English Translation was never felt, because all regional languages adapted the story wonderfully to suit its own needs. This arrangement worked well because until about twenty to thirty years years ago, most Indians could speak and write in dual languages - in english and their own mother tongue . But unfortunately many among the modern generation (millennials) have lost touch with their mother tongue, and have become solely dependent on English. Therefore the emergence of an English translation in 2002 only signifies the times we live in.
Before I conclude this piece, a quick word or two on Leela Bansali’s production. Enthralling and ravishing - to say the least. The two leading ladies, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit were perfect fits for the roles of Paro and Chandramukhi. Their faces were plateaus of shifting emotions between pain, remorse, anguish and passion. They understood the inner dimension and depth of characters played, and the eyes did most of the talking with effortless ease and commitment. When they danced, it was mastery personified. As devdas, this was one Shahrukh’s better performances in the last two decades. His naturally tremulous voice, forlorn looks, unassuming humor, histrionics of drunken dejection, jilted lover fitted the need well, and in the later part of the movie, when devdas rushes towards self destruction, Shahrukh khan gives us glimpses of what he could have become if he had cultivated acting more assiduously and given it more importance than mere stereotyped expressions which he doled out at regular intervals. Finally, Devdas - the movie had some of the finest songs ever composed and choreographed for screen. Not a pin out of place in the sets, or a costume stitched incorrectly. Its as good as it can get.
I wonder what Sharat Chandra would have had to say about his phenomenal success of Devdas. I am sure, he will be happy that his core idea about moral conflict still remains a moving force in society, and no matter how many adaptations of devdas comes out, the question of love between sexes and what it means will still remain a conundrum , not only in the context of India, but everywhere where society assumes the power to dictates the perimeters and boundaries of Love.
God bless..
yours in mortality,
Bala


Monday, May 15, 2017

Jottings - Slice of life - 121 ( My love affair with a writer)

Jottings - Slice of life - 121 ( My love affair with a writer)
The most difficult choice I have to make while preparing for travel is the book I must carry to read on flight and hotel stay thereafter. Its a decision I postpone to the very last moment, and just before my cab arrives to pick me up, out of sheer educated instinct, I walk to my book shelves and draw out few books and drop it into my back pack. if I were to consciously think and make a choice, it would be a maddening exercise. Literally hundreds of books neatly shelved ( as much as possible) and many more stacked all-round my home - near the sofa, on the stair case, near the bed - on different topics, and all of them equally craving for my attention. I have read almost all of them, but books like good friends needs constant re-acquaintance and nourishing. And flight time is ideal to revisit books which have lingered in my mind and heart long after I have initially read them. The choice I made for last week’s travel made me go back in time thirty years to revisit an author whose books were formative in awakening my love affair with ideas, words and written medium. He still remains my love.
Irving Stone (1903 - 1989) belongs to that select band of authors who have transformed the way I read fiction, and to be honest, look at writing in general. It is not that he was exceptionally gifted craftsmen of words and language, or possessed a rare gift of imaginative story telling; but the choice of his subjects , the research he bought to it , the passion he imbued his characters with - is at once contagious, elevating and entertaining. His works spread over half a century bought to light an entire new genre of writing into vogue, and through it educated millions, on lives of geniuses who otherwise would have remained just dry names in History books and encyclopedias as men and women of achievement, but without any sense of personal life or emotion in them. Stone more than anybody else resurrected the need to know our heroes more intimately than just dates and Honors.
It is strange how a writer finds his Genre. It is highly improbable you will find an author who knows from the very beginning what they will end up writing. The formative years are always one of experimentation, rejection and frustration. Stone was precocious, and his mother ensured his love for books and education remained nourished throughout his childhood. But like any other reader who fancies he can write , Stone believed he was a short story and Play writer. At school, he would churn out stories by the dozen and produce them to his Teacher. All of them were bad. Fortunately, one perceptive English teacher in middle school noticed his persistence in writing despite its poor quality, and allowed him a back seat in class with the promise he should produce at least one story a day. Stone took that to be a confirmation of his talent; little knowing that his Teacher was only ensuring that Stone would not abandon his raw talent, and would continue his effort polishing his narrative style. However, It was clear, he did not have the talent to write short-stories, but it even clearer to his teacher who saw something in the boy which convinced him he had talent and commitment to be writer. Its just that he hadn't found that sweet spot yet.
As an autodidactic, Stone devoured books; and each book he read only intensified his urge to write. During college in California, his interest turned to Drama. He started pouring his energy into producing plays; some of which were staged as well. But again, it was clear - to him and his audience alike - that his plays weren't good enough as he imagined them to be. In one frenzied year, he wrote 30 odd plays hoping at least one would strike the right chord, but all of them disappeared without a trace. But fortunately, by now, the creative metal within him was ready in the Maker’s hands, and the time was ripe for Stone to stumble upon the direction his art would be channelized and find consummation.
It was in Paris, the land of art and creativity, at the age of 25 in 1927 , that stone would find that path, almost by accident. During a sabbatical there, on a cold rainy night, he was dragged by a persuasive friend to Rosenberg galleries to see Paintings by an obscure Dutch painter. Reluctantly, he went along not having anything better to do. In that dim lit gallery studded with canvases of Van Gogh sparkling in their vivid colors and striking vibrancy, something deep stirred within Stone. He felt an emotional resonance, an uncharacteristic calling from the deep to tell the story of this painter who had poured his torment and agony into colors and canvases so soul stirring. He did not know anything about Van Gogh, but his instincts told him that here was a painter, a genius - whose work could not have been a product of sun-filled brightness and luxury, but of a man who lived his life with the intensity of death each day. Stone could see deep pain in those paintings, and felt an overwhelming creative need to unravel the life of Gogh - the man and his paintings. That was the tipping point ( as Malcolm Gladwell would call it). For next four years, Stone researched in Paris, studied Gogh’s emotional, hurried and often incoherent letters to his brother Theo, immersed himself into the atmosphere of art during that period, wrote and re wrote his “Biographical Novel” four times, before he submitted it to a publisher in America. It was rejected. Not once, but seventeen times in three years. No publisher would want to risk their money on an obscure life of a Dutch painter, told in story form. They believed it wouldn't sell. They urged Stone to write a plain biography with no fictional embellishments. Stone refused. He was convinced that creative lives like that of Gogh can only be understood in the context of the Human being he was. His work cannot be abstracted from his daily life. And the only way to visualize and present it in written form would be the form of a biographical Novel based on known facts with characters breathing, speaking, loving and hating each other. Publishers were unconvinced, and the manuscript languished in his desk for few years; until his wife and collaborator Jean dusted it back to life, helped him edit portions of it, and gave it the title by which it was to become a publishing sensation and a classic for all ages . She suggested “Lust for life”, and the name stuck. In 1934, a relatively unknown publisher accepted to publish Stone book. Rest is history.
For next forty years, Stone wrote magnificent biographical novels on some of the greatest minds in Human history. “Agony and the ecstasy” based on the life of Michelangelo and his commission to paint the roof of sistine chapel, “Origins” , life of Darwin aboard the ship “beagle” and the theological implications of his theory of evolution, “Love is eternal” - the underrated and often misrepresented love affair between and Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln; “Passions of the mind”, a fictional account of Sigmund freud and his astounding thesis of the subconscious mind; “Sailor on Horseback” - a life of writer Jack London, Stone’s favorite author - and many more. For a generation of readers. Stone’s books was the gateway to understanding the workings of genius. Few were adapted to become hugely successful movies. Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh, and Charleston Heston as Michelangelo quintessentially captured what Stone had so lovingly characterized in his novels. Audience watched the movie ,then went back to read the book. Many found the book better than the film. A great tribute to any writer.
Coming back to where I started this post. The book I carried with me this week was “Lust for life”. I remember ( if my chronological memory serves me right) reading this for the first time out of the British Library in Hyderabad in mid eighties. A green hard bound volume with a self portrait of visibly tormented Van Gogh on front cover. It was heavy for me. I didn't understand much of Art or paintings or its aesthetic experience. But what captivated me then was the intensity of the Gogh’s life, depth of Stone’s research and his unobtrusive prose which narrated a biography with a flair of a novel. I quickly read all his available works from the library. They have remained with me ever since as works of scholarship and beauty. I remember also wishing for a time when I could own all of Stone’s books and neatly stack them on a book shelf. I guess, that wish now remains fulfilled.
As I write this piece, I turn around to see with sense of satisfaction and little smile an entire row filled with the all the published works of Irving stone. Many of them are out print, or difficult to get in a book store. It has taken me few years to buy, bid for, acquire many of his old works. Its worth the pain. The set is complete, and so is my gratitude to Irving stone.
God bless…
yours in mortality,
Bala


Friday, May 5, 2017

Jottings - Slice of life - 120 ( beyond Good and evil - Nietzsche's Overman)

Jottings - Slice of life - 120 ( beyond Good and evil - Nietzsche's Overman)
After after work-out yesterday, our group - the self consecrated “intellectual circle” - met at the customary Juice store to ramble upon some philosophic questions. I dont know why we meet each week to discuss these issues, but we unfailingly do so; I guess, out of a sense of curiosity and the need to think deeply about human existence and share thoughts with like minded people. Its always easy to talk philosophy with people who understand where its coming from. Otherwise it can be easily construed as snobbery or “talking from a moral high ground”.
For some weeks, I have been unusually quiet in the discussions, and that did not go unnoticed. We have been discussing Nietzsche idea of “overman”, not “superman” - which is a dilution of his original thought. The problem of good versus evil, demon versus God, right versus wrong - has plagued philosophy for ages. Existentially, Man finds himself torn between these two extremes. Every decision he makes is weighed on these scales. Society idealizes goodness; unfortunately an individual struggles to reconcile his daily life with accepted definitions of goodness. We are always little unsure of how we act. Our outward facades are never true reflections of what goes on underneath. One hand, we are taught to reach out to Godly values, but on the other hand the demon within tempts us into antithetic behavior. No matter how strong our religious upbringing may be, we never completely overcome the temptation to do the opposite. This is a fact. The fundamental question for Nietzsche then was : Can good and evil ever be reconciled, and can the energies of man be unconditionally gathered and channeled into one concentrated stream to attain his true potential, outgrowing the notions of Good and evil.
The general consensus of our group was that Man yearns to be good; hence the symbol of God as an embodiment of all that is good and beautiful plays an important role in all religions. Evil is just an aberration in the natural order of things. Nietzsche “Overman” according to them was one who consciously strives to overcome his darker side and reaches out to touch a purer light. To me, that was a wrong reading of Nietzsche.
John turned towards me and said “ Bala, you have been pretty silent about this topic. your thoughts ? “
“ Yes, I have been silent because I dont quite agree with the base premise of this discussion. Thats Man strives towards God and try his best to shun what is evil is not existentially true. Essentially what all of us truly seek is an embodiment of Devilish Godliness in us. The best of both worlds. Let me explain. Ideally, we would love to be in a state where nothing we do ever falls under any kind of Moral scrutiny and censure. In other words, I could do anything I feel without any restraint. That is the kind of “all sanctioning God” we all inwardly seek. We may not accept this position in public, but deep down most of us know that is what we want. We wish for a God who can bless every act without being choosy. Unfortunately , religions do not give us that kind of choice. We are forced to give our allegiance either to God or the devil. And Man, not surprisingly, finds it very difficult to do so. Temples and churches are filled every Sunday and other convenient days because we seek unconscious forgiveness to all that we have done, and seek blessings for all that we about to do. Our obsessive religiosity is not because we are strong, but because we are weak - Inwardly weak to accept that we have feelings and thoughts contrary to everything we publicly profess. Thankfully, It is only out of sense of social decency we dont act as we think. If it were not so, there will no Gods left in this world..So, in my opinion, Nietszhe’s Overman is someone who realizes the futility of thinking in opposites, and give it up totally and completely. he does not strive purposely towards Good or evil, or thinks in terms of God and devil. He just does what he needs to do with all the energy he has. Two thousand years ago, the mystical tradition in India conveyed the same message that Nietzsche so painfully realized during his life time . We called it “ dwandwathitha” or “beyond opposites” and Nietzsche carefully worded it as ‘Overman”.
Now, this was and is a potentially dangerous concept. Hitler was influenced, and we know the outcome. But the fact remains, that any act which has transformative significance can only come when we get beyond the polar opposites of life. An average man vacillates in indecision and regret. An Overman acts and faces the consequences with deep acceptance. All this was studied, understood, lived and expounded ages ago. Nietzsche clothed it in modern terms for modern man. Thats all..
God bless…
yours in mortality,
Bala