I had a nice little talk with a senior here in college. We call him Sawant, and I think he’d like for you to call him that too. Anyway, Sawant was a welcome change for me as far as conversational purposes go. We were talking about each others views on life and what could be done about it, until we finally hit upon two frames of though: pseudo-intellectualism and escapism. We decided that each one of us would come up with our own sets of ideas concerning the two notions. While Sawant is a man of many words, I’m a man of pen and paper. He will read what I have to write, I will listen to what he has to say!
First of all, I had to clarify for myself how I felt about escapism and knowledge, one at a time. I’ll put up a separate post on pseudo-intellectualism after this.
- Varied perceptions
I believe that the structure of the world around us today, be it in its religion, politics, science or philosophy, is erected upon the factors I’ve listed above. Institutionalisation recapitulates a fear of change, acceptance defies the basis of varied perspectivism, and the state and society play with each other to deliver a fairly acceptable social system devised on assumptions and history, a fable but agreed upon. For anyone, you, me, him, her, fitting in cosily amongst such chaotic scenery is a laborous task. The various strata that have to be mined through while simultaneously fashioning hopefully sensible opinions and judgments to gauge the nature of the people around you alone will take up a sizable chunk of your time; all this while you chalk out a superficial make-up to plaster on your face and choose willingly to assume the personality of someone else in a moment of self-loathing and on a whim of just thinking that these are matters to be bypassed in favour of convenience as well as a strongly denied sensation of escapism: our society is a maze.
Every time someone says “life is too short for all this”, I am only prompted to think. Obvious principles of argumentation has us all know that a true and infallible argument is that which is absolute in its standing and fundamental in its logic: it must be that a statement doesn’t exist which can negate the facts quoted in the infallible argument. Saying ‘life is too short fo all this’ is not absolute. If one were to take up the chronological aspects of living, all we have for our consideration are the inhabitants of the planet we ourselves live in: animals, birds. If one were to narrow the comparisons down to sensible footings, we only have the people around us to compare with. In this frame of thought, ‘life is too short’ is a statement without meaning. What are we gauging it against? Against the lifespan of others around us, people with the same biological composition as you and me. If you have 100 years to live and also think that life is too short, are you trying to say others around you try to live longer? And that is just but the chronological aspect of it! The state of which they are citizens, the society of which they are social units, the world of whose theatrics they are spectators – we are part of a similar society, a parallel state and the same wide world.
However, while stating all this, I do not enforce upon others that they take to the logical factors just as favourably as I do. All I am trying to establish is that although it is taken for granted that ‘life is too short’ is a convenient option to bypass those moments that have you making tougher decisions, it is also escapism because it is logically faulted through the inherent convenience itself.
I know. I’m just a silly, old fool.
Whenever I have been confronted with the need to ponder upon knowledge, the first thing that comes to my mind is its elemental standing. If you were to question me here, I will confess that ‘elemental standing’ is a term I have coined to imbue the element in question with the duty to declare its purposes with reference to mankind in general. The world we have built for ourselves is a world of extreme dynamicity and deeply rooted materialism. In such a basket, it is hard for anyone to stop for a moment and think as to why it is all the way it is. The innate ability to open a mind’s eye in the darker corners of our brain and perceive things differently has given birth to civilisation – a mensurable parallel to its biological counterpart of evolution. And today, it is too late to rewind through 4,000 years of civilisation and try to pin down the one thing that started it all. However, that is obvious: the quest for knowledge. The very purpose of evolving eyes is to see, ears to hear, skin to feel. Blame it on panspermia, divinity or luck, here we are.
For a civilisation spree sparked off by the want to know more by the second, it is only natural that what we have with us today is a scenario that is stable only as long as there are knowledgeable people to handle it. Now, knowledge, as it were, is a summation of all that we know, but just because such a thing exists doesn’t mean it is a necessity; those people who are devoid of the thirst to know more aren’t invalids. They are a hindrance, yes, but not an anomaly. Knowledge, by its existence, only confirms that it can exist, and the purpose we have assumed for ourselves – that of to know more – has nothing to with it. This is a very important point: knowledge and thought are different. When we think that we need to civilise along the same lines as our ancestors, we reach out to the pool of knowledge and partake from it. When civilisation is no longer a serious concern, as in when we are at the top of a graph that dictates sensibilities, knowledge separates itself from the pool of humanity per se.
(Imagine I am mixing up a bit of coffee. The mug being a metaphor of the absolute container, the coffee powder is humanity and water, knowledge. When the person holding the mug – in effect, the goal we have set for ourselves, the definitive plot of civilisation that we chart out – wants to have some coffee, water is poured into the mug and mixed. Coffee consists of the separate ingredients of powder and water, but it is coffee only when they are together. Similarly, the need to civilise consists of the perpetrators of the actions (mankind) and the knowledge that facilitates it. When they separate, it may or may not be civilisation as it originally was or was needed to have been.)