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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

The Age of Irreverence

In art, Love, true enlightenment on March 15, 2020 at 18:43

When I tweeted, “Looking at all the World War memes I am pretty sure the last trace of humanity will be selfies with Mushroom clouds,” someone replied with a meme precisely matching it within 5 minutes. There is a meme for every conceivable kink and emotion. Yet all the memes put together are not enough to fill the void you feel in your heart.

Rebellion has always been celebrated by pop culture. But the irreverence of today is without rhyme or reason or even without any real rage. Nietzsche declared ‘God is dead’ over a hundred years ago. God may not be dead but He is definitely on life support. And there are no worthy successors. Science has proven to be a cold comfort at best. And commerce an auto-immune disease of pandemic proportions.

The result is corona virus memes and suicide jokes. The kind of dryness reserved for the stand-up stage and Monty Python movies is now part of everyone’s feed. Stand-up works because exaggeration is fun in small installments. Comics may relate to each other but seldom make for good friends. If everyone tends towards brazen Godlessness, it would taste like a sliver of sushi in a spoonful of wasabi.

And one cannot assume humor online comes from a nuanced intellect. Many memes, as layered and niche as they may appear are merely the outcome of aggregation, templates built on other templates evened out by the huge churn of social media. It is deceptive in the same way a school of fish appears to be a big creature. It is still better than political and communal content and Bollywood trash. But none of it can give solace they way art and spirituality can.

Seeing the amount of time being butchered in senseless content consumption and gaming, it seems like a miracle that there are still enough people who actually work. Work without distractions so that planes land, internet keeps working and water keeps running in your taps. And it will keep running as automation takes over more and more work freeing up more and more time for SIM and PUBG.

People can eventually find meaning in anything. But number of subscribers and record scores can’t help you sleep at night. Suicide is believed to kill more people than road accidents in the west. Cultures differ widely but human vulnerability remains the same. The extreme isolation and deathly loneliness people live with in Japan is the eventuality of every society with high technology and low social mobility.

If there was a way to calculate the percentage of pure unbridled happiness in the world, it would definitely be in single digits. And it is advertised precisely because it is so rare, not because it is a common and relatable experience. The products and services that claim to sell you happiness are not even cheap imitations. Individuality has sold enough mass-produced t-shirts to clothe the entire world in capitalism. And algorithms may have progressed enough to read your mind but happiness still comes from community, companionship and compassion, all of which are going extinct.

The vast irreverence we see today towards authority, institutions and tradition is not without reason but it is also without purpose. I would rather go down a longer route than have no direction at all. My boss used to say, “If you cannot respect the person, respect the chair.” We can start by respecting ourselves first. In the long run, time is irreverent to everyone and entropy is agnostic to every thing. In the fraction that we are alive and conscious, irreverence should be the least preferred disposition towards life.

In a world hurtling towards chaos as randomly as it emerged from it, the only antidote is prayer. If not to a higher power than to humility itself. Humility that recognizes each breath as a triumph and each unkind thought as a childish mistake.

May we have the humility to get through each day and the grace to appreciate it.

– Punit Pania

Is Everything Kayfabe?

In Love on June 4, 2019 at 18:28

If I were to ever have something as foolish as a favorite word, it would be Kayfabe, a concept I didn’t know existed till less than a year back.

A word invented by professional wrestling (which is itself an invented term), Kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events as true or real, even when both portrayer and audience know better.

It not only addressed my guilt of still enjoying wrestling, it also explained a lot of other behavior and social phenomenon otherwise described as ‘performative’.

So much that I even used it in a sound-byte during the Me-Too movement on the whose-who of the stand-up industry falling to the most serious of crimes; proven hypocrisy:’Much of what passes as woke is Kayfabe that doesn’t cost much to commit to and happens to sell. Comics are to activism what pro-wrestlers are to martial arts – great on camera but heartbreakingly far from the real deal. We may continue to enjoy their content but never mistake it for real-life intentions, let alone actions.’
To which one Netizen tweeted: ‘Is Love also Kayfabe?’ A question immediately valid and rhetorical in its simplicity.

A lot of our lives is merely performance: the interviews we give, the movies we watch, the parties we attend and the politicians we vote for. All of it an open secret of bad acting and a criminal lack of creativity. Anything to get away from the really important questions in life. 

Most of us have a false sense of immortality. It is the only thing that keeps us going. Once food, clothing, shelter and sex are bought and paid for, nothing else short of a higher purpose is motivation enough to get you out of bed in the morning. And in a Godless world we end up finding this meaning in everything from stamps to Golf to a corner office. Many of us try to find it in a another person. Someone we believe is the perfect compensation for all our insecurities. A match more perfect than a solved Rubik’s cube. The chances of the other person being at the same stage in his/her life and feeling the same way are slim to say the least. But it does enable chocolates, Romcoms and divorce lawyers to continuously be in business.

Love feels good. It feels great. It feels like heaven, even if you are an atheist. So you invest more and more into this one person against all good faith, market sentiment and your own better judgement until he/she can’t take it anymore. The chance to frame your life-long anxiety into this perfect picture of harmony and happy endings is so tempting that is defies mounting statistical evidence to the contrary. Even the most strong-willed among us fall for it, on multiple and successive occasions.

Watching a young couple talking about love is almost as scary as watching an old couple trying to cross the road. You know they won’t make it but they still have to try. You have to love one person unreasonably to be reasonable with the rest of the world. Everything is fair in Love, War and the race for TRPs. But the only thing we underestimate is our ability to hurt others.

The other extreme is also not pleasant, being rational to a fault. Parking all faith and sensibilities in science and logic. Picking consistency over warmth, certainty over adventure and detachment over failure. Science coupled with atheism is a righteous mix. To the point where you start taking an academic interest in your own ruin. A third-person view of your own life. A waking, unblinking Nirvana.

But being a rational person in an emotional world only makes you feel more alone when it’s finally time to switch the Wifi off at night. And you can’t fight loneliness with more loneliness. All that is left then is a familiar blank page in front of you. You could give up on it or make another futile attempt to soar above the toil of fears and longings. And to reduce in whatever small way; hate, if not hurt in the world. If you can’t buy into someone’s Kayfabe, you make up your own.

  • Punt Pania

Unconditional Love

In Love on February 5, 2018 at 15:37
Unconditional is the only kind of love there is, everything else is just a transaction. A give and take that can be explained by some mixture of evolution and economics. Most of what we call love is the willful suspension of logic by genes itching to replicate under the covering fire of bad poetry. And it can’t hide for long. No myth is sacred enough for Science to not topple. The most vile crime to the most exalted emotion, all just resulting from a different cocktail of hormones and pathologies, from a pedophile’s compulsive behaviour to a Mother’s love for her newborn. Everything happens for a reason governed by biology and chemistry and pre-determined by physics. Random objects in a cosmic pinball machine, innocent bystanders in an unfortunate hit and run.
bojack horseman planetarium
What your parents used to call fate, you can call string theory. But it won’t make you feel any less helpless. Between anorexia and food addiction, nothing is eccentric enough, all is acceptable and even worthy of celebration or worse, rationalization. In a world full of victims, there is no crime, only mass depression posing as utopia. The end of guilt is near but it will also be the end of wonder. Eventually genetics will explain all evils and malignancies and we will be absolved of all sins; except hypocrisy.
ryan-gosling
But unconditional love will remain…a glitch in the system that we wish we could wish away. Call it insanity, temporary or otherwise. Emotional graffiti that will live on in anonymous donations and the kindness of strangers. Complete surrender to a person, a cause or a muse as an antidote to the highly leveraged hyper-connected modern world. If you ever feel it sneaking up on you, don’t try to fight it with logic. Embrace it as the only trace of free will left. And jump off with a middle-finger salute to the heavens.
– Punit Pania