The Affable Anomie

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Location: New Delhi, India

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Men, Women, and the In-between.

The great thing about family is that they laugh at the worst of our jokes. I think that's the reason why people get married and are eager to have families--immediate or extended, and that's probably one of the reasons why the whole institution exists-- to help people get away with jokes without embarrassing themselves; embarrassment only takes place in front of friends, girlfriends and outsiders, and not really with family, the family being more forgivable most of the time. Quite obvious, I would think.

Before getting married a boy-man is exhorted by his girlfriend to 'grow up' whenever he makes an attempt to be funny. Well, he indeed is funny in the beginning stages and full credit is given to him for being so. But then this man's sole responsibility becomes to 'grow up' and get serious enough for marriage. But then again, when marriage does come, he now obtains the freedom to crack as many wise ones as he wants to and get away with them as he isn't insecure now about his wife leaving him for this 'irritating' but little foible of his (little? and yeah, his girlfriend would surely have left him) .

Of course, his wife has to take it and accept that 'humour', that particular bent of his disposition as she has to do others. His children have to bear them because he is their father. Still, a corollary of all this is that the day the wife stops laughing no matter how funny you are, is the day you know you have a major problem--or that your marriage is on the rocks. Marriage is all about compromise isn't it, and well, when that doesn't happen, there must be something grevously wrong. And that's when it's time for the man to compromise with his funny bone. Life isn't all fun and games, is it?

At least that's what women want us to think. But then, from the time they are kids, they have been playing at being adult--what with the dolls' house and the kitchen set, so it is more likely that they are playing games all the time since we can't figure out when this girlish game-playing stops and becomes the womanly not-game-playing: humans are creatures of habit, old habits die hard and all such reasons just go on to prove this all the more.

So it is women who are the ones playing games most of the time. We men are serious with our joking. Dead serious. Our life depends on it.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

A Matter of Life and Death

We have to fear death somewhere. This is because if we don't, I doubt if we would attribute any value to life. In other words, one of the main reasons we fear death is precisely because we value experience. A complete attitude of indifference to death might reduce any value whatsoever, and might produce a kind of nihilism which would justify not only the reduced worth of our own lives but also of others, thus producing a kind of psychopathic attitude, logically speaking (that is, if the principle of non-value is applied consistently.)

And again to fear death too much would be another extreme, the consequence of which is all too obvious, and here life might be valued to that extent that living itself would be paralysed because of the fear that one might lose it. In this picture I would bring in the value of comedy, or rather the comic view of life. In the latter case, the comic view of life helps because one can laugh about death, life and everything, knowing that one ought not to take it all too seriously and be willing to let it go when time calls.

But to counterbalance it, one must take the tragic view of life as in the first case, knowing all too well that death is inevitable, there is nothing one can do about it, and there is much sorrow at the loss of this grand wonder called 'life'. That's why especially we feel sadder at the death of a younger person with 'potential' because he or she hasn't ' experienced 'life ' to the uttermost. So comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin, and I say this especially to those to whom this comes as a surprise. The greatest comedians are those who are aware of this. To find out why this is so, just try telling yourself "I'm gonna die" in a funny Donald Ducky voice!
What's really interesting here is that Woody Allen explores all these themes in his movies, i.e. death, comedy, tragedy and fascism (the psychopathic mentality?) in a very fascinating way. Charlie Chaplin's done it too and for that matter all great long-lasting comedy has been doing it till now. And there's always the clown in Shakespeare's tragedy. So, in the light of all this history and histrionics, the only thing that can be said right now is, "Take my advice, adopt the tragic view of life!?...Huh!"

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