Saturday, 21 December 2013

Don't read this

The blog that was to be a territory of erudition and enlightenment has metamorphosed to a sad and pathetic animal lying half dead in front of you. Wouldn't it be better to just pull the plug?

Unfortunately, I'm a sucker for second chances and the blog will regain a fresh lease. We shall again try to tap in the vast and chaotic whirlpool of stuff that I do. And we begin with some memorable words from Yeats,

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats wrote the above poem purportedly to describe post-War Europe but notice how the lines are readily applicable for today's world. Orwell did say (and I paraphrase) that every generation is in war with the last. Deeply held conventions are uprooted mercilessly. Debates that were clinched by axioms are no longer as easy as they were before. The axioms become mere opinions, and the opposite view has to be accepted as another opinion to be respected.

Of course, it shouldn't really be all that bad. The problem that I see is the fact that people hardly use facts to argue. Their stand is based on hear-say and their arguments based on a natural extension of their thinking patterns. I have intelligent friends who believe some things should exist simply because they are logical. But they don't. It was Cicero, I think, who said that logic is the last and weakest tool of a debater because it doesn't convince people as emotions do. I have other friends who have an orthodox set of beliefs and every act is based on the verity of these "indisputable cornerstones". Their judgement attains acceptance because of their success.

Is that a contradiction for the traditional debater?

Debates are artificial environments. They're rings where there are rules to be followed. It is a cult in a broader sense. For who can say if logic is the way the human world works. It has become fashionable to use irrational behaviour in economics and Kahneman won a Nobel for proving that we don't think straight.

It is essential but challenging to raise a routine individual's level to a logical base to argue. It's impossible for the masses. Underneath the mask of good intentions is a selfish beast that feels jealousy and threat; it attacks the enemy to attain dominance. To get past all that one has to assume that one can convince the opposition to argue with logic. What if they refuse?

This isn't a far fetched concept. Here's an analogy. As the system of more equality of opportunity arises for, say the middle class in India, the more is the scope to disparage previously held notions of class, propriety and art. The obvious fuel that charges these proponents in their thinking? Success. Success essentially means money and those who have money are assumed to be far more intelligent, far wiser and far more capable of giving advice than those who aren't having so much with themselves.

(Are you now mounting the thought that I must be a failure in life and this blog post is the result of pent up disgruntlement? My point exactly.)

So, the current craze for exercise and fitness can be analyzed socially as an accessible way of attaining social acceptance within a clan of people who cannot think about learning another language (physically boring), singing (high investment; late returns) and heaven forbid, going to a museum (what?!). It's much better to go out trekking.

Is this my stand? Hardly.

I'm a disgrace to the whole concept of taking a stand. I'd love to go out cycling but I might just enjoy time in front of the canvas too. I do want to know why we're talking more about fitness these days. And I'd love to know why people put the "you're too judgemental" clause when they're being analyzed.

And about being analyzed. Can you have a frame of reference?

Can you get out of this world and judge anything? Is logic really sacrosanct?

How random was that post?

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