Tuesday, November 22, 2005

If a definition lacks virtue, would you reject it?

Among the lesser mortals, the ones who do not crowd the stairs leading to High Courts and public squares holding placards demanding Ms. Khushboo's apologies or news readers bringing live updates about what Ms.Sania Mirza deems should be done to support the actress, arises the simple doubt:” Does such news generate the required response from the masses?”

I live on the ideals professed by many but practiced by a precious few. Does that bother me? After all morality and ideals are the mirrors of one’s deepest desires and another person’s response or non-response to an action should not ideally affect me. I am my own Island, capable of insulating myself from the action/inaction of others. But the law of averages lives up to it its name: it is an average. An average value shaves off the extremes; the average is a possible and not the Absolute representation of reality. And the Extremes have their grouse: non-representation in the mainstream. They may resort to violence so that loud shrieks are heard over silence of millions, they may resort to terrorism so that the powers that are may note that opinions accepted as a ‘global’ reality may be only a ‘local’ consensus.

The people who are in the public domain are ideally the Supreme representations of Average: they being Supreme are supposed to be the epitome of the Average. Thus politicians, religious leaders, actors, writers and the like are heard to, listened to and observed with a sense of self-realization. An example will illustrate this point. A politician though the ravages of time and the vices of material world may have a poor image in many of his constituents, but he is supposed to be the Average: one who upholds our most cherished beliefs in truth, liberty and justice. Such ideals are realized only on a micro scale in the common man’s life and he wishes to see it on a larger scale: both as an affirmation that what he or she believes is the best option available in that sphere and catering to that eternal human desire of seeing larger and more powerful manifestations of themselves (or their beliefs).

Ms. Khushboo ‘s opinions are read and reacted to with such energy because she knowingly(or unknowingly) violated that Law of Averages: she had the cards decked against her .According to the Law of Averages in a chauvinistic world ,A Her is strictly off the mark commenting on issues which are the deep end the of pool in Morality i.e Sexuality ; in a chauvinistic world she had an opinion which differed from other ‘Supreme’ Averages in that area of opinion. Her definition of reality had discordant elements: in an interview, she said words to the effect virgin brides were not an Universal Reality. That statement spawned two implicit arguments viz. virginity as an epitome of Morality is questionable in days of globalization( but of course, the Moral police claim, the splendid Indian culture cannot have produced such an opinion in isolation ;it has to be those Westerners of easy living and easier morals .When in doubt, blame the foreigners. The Abhorrent is always generated Externally. ); and that Tamil Nadu’s ‘Average’ Chastity was being called into question.

It is easy for us to dismiss this as yet another instance of publicity-hungry entities jumping into the protest band-wagon. A month from now, this discussion is academic: relegated to perhaps compendiums of feminist studies or seminars on the New Woman.
For those who wish that that the smoke would extinguish soon, silence is golden when the words uttered earlier did not make the 22 carat grade when tested by the Supreme Average ‘goldsmith ‘. Yet another evening will pass when we live with the Average opinion upheld universally and discordant voices made unsung forcibly. Your definition lacked virtue. So We reject it.

The Supreme Average council deems your opinion is in dissonance with the set of Acceptable Realities. You have ‘defamed’ us. The arguments shriek from the invincible cloak of upholders of Morality, the tragedy of it all: the cloak being more like the putrefying remnant of imbecility. Every time an entity decides it has chanced upon issue which needs a very public treatment, notions like the one which proclaims freedom of thought are thrown out of window. Morality is an age old attractor of busy bodies. Ever wondered where the masses come from to protest when the code of the Averages has been broken: have these men or women no better task to do,some wonder. Oh for the betterment of many, the sacrifices made by us few: the Moral Police retorts. Sania Mirza’s hemlines, the rising popularity of Valentine’s Day, certain films which had beautiful skin as their USP: all issues needlessly given import by media and lapped up by the We.

We can of course ignore it, ignorance being the ready medicine for any unpleasant societal malady. Ayn Rand in her thought-provoking novel “Atlas Shrugged” had her protagonist say this (It's not written gender neutral because this was before the prevailing Age of Political Correctness. So the arguments are applicable to women too .).

[Some people] think that sex is a physical capacity which functions independently of one's mind, choice, or code of values. They think that your body creates a desire and makes a choice for you -- just about in some such way as if iron ore transformed itself into railroad rails of its own volition. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a man's sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental
convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I will tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself. No matter what corruption he's taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment -- just try to think of performing it as an act of selfless charity! -- an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces him to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and to accept his real ego as his standard of value. He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience -- or to fake -- a sense of self-esteem. The man who is proudly certain of his own value will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer, because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.
He does not seek to gain his value, but to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body...

Observe the ugly mess which most men make of their sex lives -- and observe the mess of contradictions which they hold as their moral philosophy. One proceeds from the other. Love is our response to our highest values, and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence -- let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born, not of admiration but of charity, not in response to values but in response to flaws, -- and he will have cut himself in two. His body will not obey him, it will not respond, it will make him impotent toward the woman he professes to love and draw him to the lowest type of whore he can find. His body will always follow the logic of his deepest convictions; if he believes that flaws are values, he has damned existence as evil and only the evil will attract him. He has damned himself and he will feel that depravity is all he is worthy of enjoying... Then he will scream that his body has vicious desires of its own which his mind cannot conquer, that sex is sin, that true love is a pure emotion of the spirit. And then he will wonder why love brings him nothing but boredom and sex nothing but shame....

Only the man who extols the purity of a love devoid of desire is capable of the depravity of a desire devoid of love.

The core issue here is how much do you value your freedom.Thought policing is a dangerous evolutionary step. In the age of Copernicus,the sciences had to endure forced upon “truths” contararian to available evidence; Copernicus was pulled up by the Average Supreme council of that age for believing in the truth, this truth was in dissonance with long cherished beliefs.

The year may be 2005, and history, it seems, is repeating itself.