Friday, August 16, 2019

of morality and mortality

Some people advice me to have kids. Here I am, confused about purpose, worried about climate change, unable to make up my mind if Hobbes or Monboit is right, flitting regularly between self-love and self-loathing, angry, weak, bitter, absent-minded, easily susceptible to vices, appalled at my easy susceptibility to vices, jotting beautiful sentences in the hope that they'd salvage me some day, preaching a high moral standard and personally failing to uphold it every single time, googling synonyms for unable, having a hard time socializing, waking up into the voracious maw of  inconsequentiality, using all the little knowledge I have to negate action1, judging people, judging myself for judging people, with no inclination to find a job, fantasizing about making a film like Apocalypse Now set in the Naxalite zones to share my notions of morality, justice, development, motivation and greed, ecology, and that wet question of film festival favourites, "What does it mean to be human?", and people, following, I believe, their own misunderstood convictions, want me, someone who can't even recite one Urdu couplet, to bring about a being, that I'm going to be responsible for, into this bizarre, beautiful, cruel, indifferent world that seems to be racing towards annihilation.

The higher I tilt my head to catch a glimpse of the summit of knowledge, the bright sunlight reflecting off its magnificent surface forcing me to squint and making it impossible to see the actual surface, the higher the cliff seems to get, disappearing into the clouds, inducing a strange combination of reverence and sadness, leading to vertigo and disillusionment. Are the cliff, the sunlight, me, the seer, all maya, all illusions created by my (illusory?) mind?2

One part of me seems to strive for greatness, create art that is honest and beautiful, another questions the point of the craving, stopping me from putting in the effort, because really how does it matter?, while another, and I'm guessing this is the part that's half-digested midway-abandoned magazine articles on Vedanta and Zen, says that the effort is the reward. It is so hard to write, incredibly harder to well. To regurgitate demands focus, discipline and a willingness to defend positions. To write well is to brush aside the frivolous, temporary facts and feelings, to refuse to be lulled by their woolly warmth, to walk past the shallow certainties of the mob and be prepared to wade into deep waters, and try to find solid ground on which you can slowly start building the delicate house of your morality instead of meandering through, as per convenience, the dilapidated, Kafkaesque edifice of  'popular morality'.

I really want to make the Apocalypse like film I mentioned earlier. I think our popular culture is too shy to talk about important things. For that, I must read, travel, listen and watch a lot of art and real life. But it is something I'm serious about. Our popular culture seems to think that talking about mob lynchings, rural population's sufferings, the scary news about climate change and it's predicted effects etc. would take it away from the realm of pop as well, since anyhow the idea of culture has already been ravaged. Telugu movies exist in a strange spacetime, and I'm sure some enterprising kid is going to grow up and write a thesis on the sociological reasons for its gaping distance from normal life, that any self-respecting, serious thinker is going to be appalled and, diving into the muck, be repulsed by3.

Maybe, like Bujjimama says, I shouldn't think about this too much, especially when I can't seem to help it by brooding about it4. You just do your own exploring, read poetry that captivates you, observe people whose way you appreciate and make the film you want to/ can make.

Self-help gurus exclaim that it's the struggle that turns the prickly caterpillar into beautiful butterfly, that the struggle is necessary, desirable even. I don't know the biological desires behind the transformation. But if I was a caterpillar, I wouldn't find myself prickly and I might want to take the option of staying safe and warm in the cocoon than develop delicate, attention-grabbing wings that would attract young boys into catching and hurting me. How does the self-identity of a caterpillar change after it transforms? Would it keep struggling for the rest of it's life, convinced that the struggle is good and if it struggles, it could become something more beautiful than a butterfly?

1 I'm done with thinking questions like, "Is inaction an action too?"
2 No wonder sadhus seem to want to get high; this is all so gorgeously trippy
3 Ofcourse, my brain being my brain is already questioning on the cyclical relationship between cause and effect, and if the public, whoever that is, deserves anything better (has someone defined a Maslow like hierarchy for ranking cultural produce) because they seem to have made peace with this atrocious junk
4 But how to we decide how much is too much. How do you know while living it, if the break you are taking is going to fire you up and the empty meandering is going to light your imagination, and that's going to be a good thing, or if it's going to turn you into a lazy, complaining, 'raped by psychic Bedouins' self-conscious person who can never integrate with society again


Deekshith said...

The 4th footnote makes all the sense in the world; for the rest of it, can't comment much as I have stopped thinking so deeply about this shallow thing called 'life'

HK said...

never stop asking these questions(to yourself and to the world).