Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Is our country really going to dogs?

While I was marveling at the fact that Iam McEwan's "Saturday" is available at a 'pirated' book stall, one man asked the seller in a surreptitious tone if 'Lost Symbol' is available only to be disappointed as the answer was a resounding no. With that my trance was broken and got me thinking why would anyone subject themselves to reading something, which is like getting lobotomy done on someone while that person is awake. Dan Brown has achieved a cult status among Indians for being a master storyteller when in fact his writing is clunky at best. The genesis of this undue reverence lies in our perception of art. Let's be brutally frank — the escapist form of art is what we like the best. We want to be entertained and in this pact of Faustian proportions we are willing to put our brains at home when it comes to the Bollywood movies that are made for an audience who has never seen a Hollywood movie or suspend disbelief if Langdon's escapades are described on paper.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview U2 vocalist Bono makes a telling statement that the saddest people he knows are the ones working for their own well-being. That is exactly the reason why our media gets a collective orgasm even if a dog catcher in the US happens to be an Indian American or if Danny Boyle makes an apology of a movie on a slum dweller's life. Except Tehelka to a large extent and Outlook to a minor extent, none of the other newspapers or magazines or the dime-a-dozen news channels are reporting on Naxalism and if at all they do, their reporting is done through a jaundiced eye. Little wonder that a leading news channel had a prime time debate on "If Naxals are the Taliban of India". Where is a country heading to if the media is pandering to the sensibilities of upper middle class?

The panacea to redeem such a hopeless situation is to ban television, which has become the retina of the mind's eye. You burn all the books in the library at the town hall and no one would care two hoots about it. You remove the same youngistan's televisions and they will be there in a jiffy armed with pump shots and pitchforks. Does all this inner decadence suggest that we are at a point of no return? Not really. I am in no way coercing everyone to be idealistic and foment a revolution similar to the ones seen in Iran and France. I am not asking you to shun your Twitter and Facebook accounts. All I am saying is that while you update your status message as "my kitty just sneezed", also read something stimulating. You might say to each his own but that doesn't mean you watch a trashy flick and mention it on your orkut profile.

The primary reason why our country is culturally bankrupt is the fact that we don't respect humanities as a subject. Sociology, anthropology are looked down upon and that is exactly the reason why the country is literally going to dogs. Every university wants to produce those factory made zombies called engineers but humanities is that pink elephant that is safely avoided. The other day I was reading W G Sebald's 'Austerlitz' where one character traverses Europe to trace the architectural history of the 19th century spas. If someone is to propose a similar idea in an Indian university with an Indian connection forget research funds, he or she would be branded as a lunatic.

Apart from Hindu no other newspaper gave the death of Claude Levi Strauss , 'the anthropology god', the kind of prominence it deserves. His structuralism has almost changed the way the intellectuals perceived the world. his structuralism theory said that every culture has some common traits and that went a long way to lend legitimacy to the eccentricities of Amerindians.

Unless there is an intellectual wave sweeping the country, Chetan Bhagat will be writing dimwit editorials about the youngistan.


At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jugs, this is fantastic. we really have no cultural innovation. no culture, really. art is indeed pure escape for us, that is all.

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Anusha Chaitanya said...

Nice one :) It's a pleasure to read your blog every time, not that I understand all that you write, but from whatever I do understand, I know it's an original honest piece of writing. It gets me out of the fog of foolishness all over, with a ray of sensibility that you bring out, bright and clear.

At 2:04 AM, Blogger j said...

@Anusha: Hi, how are you? Am happy that my writing touches one person out there and that gives me an immense satisfaction. Do keep reading my blog. The fact that you are reading it is a great source of strength.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Anusha Chaitanya said...

Hi. I'm good. Thanks. Yes, I'm following your blog regularly these days since I happened to take notice of it some time back, after a long time though. And I must say, your one-liners are too good. Also, if you're writing for any magazine or newspaper, do let me know! And suggest me some books when you're free. I'm reading The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra. I picked it after I saw it in your blog :)


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