Saturday, September 02, 2006


Pretty Useless Stuff
Why a Coconut Tree Cannot Be a Peepul Tree*

to Chery
Aug 30, 2006

Talking feels good, and it's been a while since we were children.

Six years seems such a short time now... and so long. Short, because at the present moment I cannot recall in detail much that I have done or happened to me. Long, because when I look around I see a cradle rocking. It represents nearly six years of my wanderings away from home. It's been a long and tiring journey physically, but has not as much as even left a scar otherwise.

Talking to you doesn't come easily to me (you might have noticed a slight stuttering over the 'phone). It's mainly because you prefer ideas in neat little packages. Then, the ideas are not freestyle, and the style you prefer is expensive (there is a bit of overhead trying to collect metaphors to make it sound sweet). But I relish the prospect of talking to to you because you are a remarkable talker yourself, without any agenda, with a fine array of wares ranged in your shop. Still, there's no denying the fact: you send me scurrying for cover while talking, always on the toes. Yet you are sympathetic, and quite literate. You throw a unique set of challenges at me, when compared to Raphael. To put it in your own words: you prefer conversations with headings. Depth—yes, range—somewhat; but juggling ideas while at the same time laying them out in a grand banquet fit for the emperor — I don't feel I'm that much commercialized yet. And this for me is the difficult part: I always think and talk freely (eastern way). If someone says there is discipline in eastern thought, it would be very hard for me to agree. [Actually there is nothing to agree upon in this regard].

I'll now try to pass some of my premises in the guise of aphorisms, without proof. [This is loosely disguised freestyle. I have given them headings, but they serve merely as commas, and are in no way related to their significance when compared with the premises that follow]. These thoughts are always close to my heart, sometimes expressed but most times implicit and unspoken. I used to be reveal myself through the written word, but during the last few years, over the course of numerous conversations with Raphael, my power of speech has improved, and so also my confidence in the spoken word. Today, our telephonic conversation proved to me that it was not just with Raphael. A pretty exhilarating thought, so I sat down with my mind completely blank. And these came out of it.
  • Growing up, for a man, happens only so long as he resists drawing the line.
    • "Drawing the line" signifies that a limit has been reached.
    • When a man draws the line, he is in fact, reluctantly in some cases, stating that he should be considered complete mentally. His culture is supposed to have grown only to that point, and his mental accomplishments reach only thus far. His mind's reach is proclaimed. He can arm himself with new skills relevant to his trade and in tune with the times, but no major change in modality is possible for him while at the same time being true to his self: doing so would contravene the act of drawing the line.
    • Drawing the line is not an act, it is realization. It does not split things in two, but it grows in your mind like doubt.
    • Being shadowy, it has all the characteristics of a negative fear. It first show itself as a speck in the horizon, then the night slowly takes over, you grow fearful, you feel alone, and finally it drives you crazy: the only reprieve is when you accept you have had enough. You draw wrap the blanket around you.
    • Drawing the line is, hence, a last resort.
    • It promises an easy way out, but once you elect for it, you are constantly in the grips of other worries.
    • In either case the calculus of worry and gladness is preserved. You merely shift the debt from one bank account to another.
    • All things told, growing up is the perfect folly. This is how the quest ends for me and for you and for all.
  • When a man realizes that he has reached the limits, he settles down.
    • Settling down means differently to different people.
    • In most cases it is not marital security, or a home and homestead.
    • Settling down can happen even to dirt, and smoke in the mind.
    • When dust settles, it crusts over land. Crust becomes mud and finally becomes too slippery to walk on. Same with people.
    • Settling down often indicates smugness, self-satisfaction, and a desire to just "be".
    • It definitely indicates that your self-importance has attained enough proportions to require a different sort of expression — hence the paraphernalia, the printing of the personal letterhead. (Why waste time writing your name over and over? Why such humility? Why be modest when you are you?)
    • And that of course, is the whole point in settling down: leave traces of your existence. This feature is universally applicable to all forms of settling down, even to dust.
    • Settling down has a natural tendency to form alliances and dependencies.
    • Those in the settling down modality often have this compulsion to effectively persuade others. Such a one is a snake, a blot unto humanity.
    • Settling down is the ultimate expression of culture paying back the universe: nature loves order but the universe is ruled by chaos.
    • Settling down is in the nature of human beings because human beings love order, they love peace of mind.
    • Settling down is a bourgeoisie concept, and it is marketed as virtuous life.
    • Free love is a sophisticated form of settling down. All types of associations, however fleeting, represent short-term attempts at settling down into a long-duration embroilment.
    • Everyone prefers not to have something going for the long-term; but no one can say no to the advantages of long-term, so they experiment with short-term. Gradually the forces of inertia dictate that people see the short-term fading into long-term, and they end up reinventing the wheel just like everyone else.
  • Once a man settles down, he makes a formal press conference, so to say.
    • He has been facing the music, but before settling down, nobody really cared because he was a "work-in-progress" or a man in search of his place. Oh, everyone forgives a student who makes a mistake.
    • Now that he has ensconced himself in his self discovered throne, he has to face the music conclusively.
    • Facing he music becomes the major proposition, the big deal, the only thing.
    • He devises various ways of staying attractive throughout the lifelong session of lip service.
    • Lip service may be inaudible and even performed to oneself (private).
  • Settling down means accepting responsibility (of course, that's what facing the music also means, incidentally).
    • This means continuously drawing the line (for a defence, or to make a stand).
    • Those who settle down habitually defend things as they are.
    • To put it more accurately, it is their lot to defend the rotten state of affairs.
    • They are the workers who need television to see their dreams.
    • They cannot afford the luxury of parenting the half-baked idea they find themselves defending.
    • They are not the culprits but they condone the error.
    • They are not the producers but they are the mass market that makes no demands.
  • Ascetics do not settle down, they search for ways to keep their minds engaged until the (dead) end.
    • The idea that an ascetic dies peacefully is a pathetic misconception because the two states (the state of wandering and that of peace) are irreconcilable. Ascetics die miserably.
    • A saint is a besotted fellow who tried unsuccessfully to translate the Sanskrit into the Cuneiform.
    • Had Sisyphus done lip service and not worked himself up, he would have been a saint.
  • A lot of deep things often coexist with things that ostensibly contradict them.
    • They both define the context, they both are needed to fully depict the picture.
    • They are both part of the same thing, it's just that you can't be both right- and left-handed at the same time. There are things which you commit on, by circumstance or by design. Similarly, you are essentially myopic, there are things you do not know, or cannot characterize completely.
    • Knowledge of something — so-called deep knowledge, in particular — reveal nothing about that thing. It reveals us. It reveals the knower, not the known.
    • The object of knowledge is not knowing what is external or inanimate, but ourselves.
    • In other words, knowledge is not data collection.
  • Wisdom is that which is incommunicable.
    • Wisdom has a personal flavour to each and every one of the wise
    • For this very same reason, wise people respect each other. To each, his own.
    • Wisdom is unlike insight, in that it is not beneficial, and that it is not a flash. It persists, it persists like numbness. Most of the time you grow weary of its tastelessness.
    • From the moment wisdom is revealed, it all becomes a formality.
  • Wisdom is that which everyone is after, but nobody really wants.
    • Wisdom is totally colourless and has no attributes that reveal its presence.
    • It is immiscible with reality and the human condition.
    • Wisdom has no tracks to cover and it has no associations.
    • It does not need another fact or another wisp of wisdom to exist (or manifest to some person).
    • Wisdom exists blissfully unaware of all other things in existence.
    • And for this reason, wisdom is of no practical use.
    • What the old men possess is not wisdom but experience. There is no other word for it: they have experienced these things, they have gone through it before. Nobody can go through wisdom because it happens, and it at the same time both inside and outside of the subject. (At this point, there is a temptation to deal in the absolute absolutelessness of Vedanta).
    • Wisdom, sadly enough, is real.
    • Wisdom, sadly, cannot be proved or demonstrated. It makes no difference.
    • People have different things to say about wisdom but most will agree that it is nothing else they have experienced.
  • However:
    • As in the human condition there are no solutions to problems
    • As in the human condition the desired condition is there being no problems
    • So with wisdom: for a blessed period of time there is this hollow conviction that proves nothing else but the futility of wisdom; there was the promise of peace or gladness or whatever, and it turns out that peace or gladness or whatever else is what this is. All this is that.
    • Wisdom is the most intimate and heartfelt way of coming to terms with your self, your insignificance, and the hallowing realization that so is everything else as it is with you.
    • With wisdom, the concept of nothingness is forever etched in your brain. You are liberated, yet you are constrained (for ever so many reasons).
  • Summing up,
    • So, is wisdom a concept, and the quest for wisdom an ideal?
    • Or shall I put it this way: is it possible to start with an absolute and end with a question mark?
  • The greatness of a mind is its capacity to imagine all things as cyclical, as occurring in huge and varied iterations of loops.
    • Fundamentally, each person to his own loop. Each person doomed to spin the wheel of life and come back to where he started.
    • The greatness lies also in fooling the fellow travellers into thinking that the world is not round, and that each one of us is separate, distinct, colourful, and with a purpose in life.
    • This is the standard agenda for multiplication, association, and agglomeration. However, with the agenda, the pestilence comes for free. If something multiples, anything else can (and will) multiply. You show me the way, I follow and stab you in the back.
    • The greatness of a mind is in its capacity to see nothing as separate while at the same time seeing the context of a scenario.
    • This involves seeing each context as separate and having different relevance to the thing at hand.
    • An event has no value bereft of its enclosing context.
    • And we still talk about things taken in isolation, as they "just happened".
  • Liberation is unconditional whereas restraint is always conditional.
    • Liberation is an ocean offering occasional sand dunes where you might indulge in un-liberated activities.
    • Look at the beauty of language: unconditional liberation and conditional restraint. Language wins unconditionally.
    • Sadly enough, one implies the other.
    • Restraint is conditional because you always imagine yourself as restrained by something. If that something is removed, there is no such restraint. However, you still don't feel liberated; you just feel unrestrained.
    • It is very tempting to assume that liberation is an ideal. Sadly it is not, and this doesn't make one's life any easier.
    • Liberated people are rare but such people have no agendas at all, and they are usually not known outside their immediate circle of friends.
    • Unlike the case of wisdom, one can liberate oneself by degrees. It can be learnt.
    • It can also be unlearnt.
    • To some people at least, liberation is not a luxury but a need.
    • Liberation is a condition of brotherhood and hence essentially a social act. It does not happen in isolation from the society, or apart from other people's company. Both the society and other people are necessary for liberation to be meaningful (liberated from what, then?)
    • The term liberation cannot catch everything. Liberation always has an implicit subject.
    • Hence it is a more material concept, and hence a lot many people can be liberated.
    • If only they tried.
  • Bonds, marriage, conjugal living, and family life are not grave sins.
    • ... but a rather crowded way of settling down. Legitimate, but too many strings for comfort.
    • The way of the masses, and by default, requires no justification.
    • Unfortunately, every other modality requires justification.
    • Asking for justification is actually a crucifixion. It is a public homicide.
    • And thus, even Jesus, single, was crucified. (Please forgive my irreverent metaphor).
    • It is the easy way out, but the way out often leads to a darker tunnel.
It's exactly two hours since I got this thing going, and I here I draw the line.

* Just in case you did not care to find a quick answer to the nonsensical question posed by the subtitle, "Why a coconut tree cannot be a peepul tree?", I offer the following. "Because it's a coconut palm, and not a peepul tree." This is Achilles' last stand and the philosopher's first. At this point the casual "argumentator" will simply fade away or drop dead. We are talking about two things, related by an error in representation, but a fairly common error that somehow persists, and will persist, through time. This error is not trivial, and someone who fails to immediately notice it is not fit for the play of words, which is what philosophy boils down to.

Back to the question, "Why X cannot be Y". X cannot be Y. It is a pure simple, it does not need anything to lean on. It is an irreducible fact. If I rephrase this abstract proposition with the often used banality, "Why can one thing not be another?" (the question itself being nonsense), I put myself to shame. Two things are two things, they are not the same, and that is why they have differenat names. Things have to be taken for what they purport to be, you have to allow something the luxury of establishing its factuality. However the question remains nonsense and mediocrity is written all over it; it is proof that someone is "running" an abominable show that never ends.

The very thought of something that goes on forever is so dead and inanimate and inhuman...

Meta: ~
  • Page composed using Netscape (Mozilla) in about 130 min
  • To Chery Jim Nadackal; on retrospect a lot of things seem meaningful now
  • Wishing him all the best, and continuing interest in all things deep and (un)clear.
  • This post in eblogger from original written on Aug 30, as you have probably found out already...

__________ 2700 Words or Thereabout __________

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