Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

The Ticking Time Bomb that is India’s Population

Posted by Jerry on June 5, 2013

Absorb these facts:

One out of every 6 people in the world live within the geo-political boundaries of India, which makes this country the second most populous country in the world. Yet, despite having this large number of human minds who can potentially innovate, invent, imagine, achieve, and uncover great value, India remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world–with more than 22% of our population living below the poverty line.

In contrast, some countries having populations far lesser than some Indian states are far more prolific in their outputs in science, technology, arts, design, creativity, achievements, and research.

What’s more, almost half of India’s 1.22 billion people are under the age of 25, which makes India among the (most crowded and) youngest nations in the world.

Close to half of these 25-and-under are males, and this number is set to cross into a surplus of males by 2020.

So, India is fast developing into a country crowded with virile, young, hormonal men–and fewer women–that pass out of an educational system controlled by imbeciles and focused on producing rats that try and outrun each other in an impoverished landscape of sluggish economic growth, diminishing social and civil liberties, and non-existent psychological nourishment.

If we desire to stem this devolution, we must begin with a multi-pronged approach from the top of the institutional pyramid and from the bottom at the grassroots.

From the top, we must quickly loosen the tight grip of politics on the economy across all sectors and unleash the creative and entrepreneurial energies of its people to manifest business opportunities and new productive sectors.

Specifically, the government and its bureaucrats must completely be removed from decision-making in Education–right from setting the curriculum to standardized testing and evaluation. India must not have a Ministry of Education.

From the bottom, we must address the educational needs of the human mind, and focus as much on the arts, letters, and humanities as much as we do on maths and sciences. We must raise the consciousness of men and women to imaginations so varied and foreign to their ancestors–that these imaginations manifest as artistic and entrepreneurial energies that will exploit the opportunities offered by a free and unfettered economy.

Furthermore, a focus on the humanities will nourish the spiritual needs of our society, helping to make it more tolerable and accommodating to the crowds, to women, to diverse minorities, and to differences of all kinds.

Institutionally guaranteed freedoms coupled with an educational system that empowers its people to exercise these freedoms fully, responsibly, and imaginatively can help this country leverage its large population and uncover tremendous value.

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2012: A Review of My Blog

Posted by Jerry on January 7, 2013

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 22,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Homosexuality and its Discontents

Posted by Jerry on June 18, 2012

It is not far from the truth to complain that “most gay men want nothing more than casual sex.” Often one hears this refrain from older guys who perceive an alarming level of apparent promiscuity among the younger ones; one hears this also from young boys who seem to come manufactured with a built-in “monogamously coupled” disposition. They can’t fathom the idea of having sexual encounters that mean nothing more.

Then, there are those who are themselves struggling with frequent sexual urges, of which they are ashamed and want suppressed because of the stigma associated with multiple sexual encounters and the glorification of sexual monogamy.

So, in the midst of all these discontents, how does a homosexual find “everlasting romance”!? How does one manage to nurture a healthy, respectful, and loving relationship with another gay man, when apparently, “most gay men want nothing more than casual sex”?

Can there be such a thing as a truly loving relationship between gay men?

Now, I have a two-part reply to this:

First: All good things are rare; like diamonds, gold, or money, so is the case with people (or men) of good values and character. All valuable things come in small, scarce supply.

So yes, due to the nature of this reality, one is more likely to encounter a whole bunch of less-than-ideal options in men before finding the right kind of man who can also respond to you similarly. This is arduous, time-consuming, and a includes a bit of chance, but you can trick the game and increase your chances of finding the “right” kind of man: For example, by surrounding yourself with friends and acquaintances with similar interests; by joining clubs, memberships, or activities that are more likely to be populated by the kind of people you would like; by becoming more visible in your achievements and productivity so that your net is cast far and wide and more people hear about you, etc.

So, it’s a combination of strategy and luck–but more strategy than luck. It still requires you to have all the necessary values and virtues and personality and style of character and appearance in place before you go out seeking for people you can love, and who can love you in return.

So, in short, yes, most gay men–like the larger population in which we all reside–is for the most part uninteresting and mundane. You’ll just have to keep digging deeper, looking harder, seeking farther. You may not encounter your ideal partners 100 times a day–heck, may be not even once a day!

Second: Men like sex! This is a basic truth about our species. The male species enjoy and seek sex far more often than the female species. In the straight world, the female’s general lack of interest in pure sexual pursuits manages to balance out the male’s ability and frequency to have more sex.

However, in the gay community, there is no such counter-foil. Hence, it is easier for men to have and enjoy more sex if they are gay. The power of our hormones and physiology can be overwhelming–even when it involves romances and promises of fidelity.

So, don’t try to fight this fact of reality. Accept this fact and work out ways in which you can manage this reality in your relationships.

By this I mean, if you find yourself in a beautiful, loving, emotionally fulfilling and wholesome relationship, don’t destroy it or let go of it only because you find that you are unable to accept their need to have a momentarily fleeting sexual encounter with someone else, or their need to be in a sexually open (but emotionally closed) relationship–or only because you were unable to forgive him for that one time when he confessed to giving in to his sexual urges.

Accepting that men are built differently than women and that men face different pressures than women will help you verbally negotiate the terms and conditions of fidelity in your relationship. What constitutes cheating? What constitutes love? What are the necessary ingredients of romance in a gay relationship? And more.

The answer to the questions need not resemble the answers that conventional straight communities provide.

Finally, the basic theme of all what I said above is the “acceptance of reality as is–wholly.” The reality of the self (who we are and who we aspire to be)–and the reality of the world we live in (how men are, how gay men are, how most people are, etc.).

Happy hunting!

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Amen: A Victim of Abuse

Posted by Jerry on April 7, 2012

A word of Hebrew origin, amen means so be it, truly.

Amen movie cover designAmen also happens to be the name of a movie inspired by the life of Harrish Iyer–an enterprising, entertaining, and enthusiastic young man; a friend of mine; and a persistent voice for the rights of sexual abuse victims and the queer community.

The story behind the creation of Amen is almost as divinely providential as the title itself suggests: Amen had to be, hence it is.

With almost no funding and no actors willing to play the daring roles required of the script depicting the evolution of two men as they discover each other’s bodies, souls, and histories, it is no small feat that today Amen is an exemplar of powerhouse cinema created by independent artists and their generous patrons, winning awards and being screened across film festivals over the world.

Apart from the Directors Judhajit Bhagchi & Ranadeep Bhattacharya, it is important to highlight the courage of the two lead actors Karan Mehra and Jitin Gulati. Both handsome and rising artists in the Indian film industry, Karan and Jitin portray characters that many would consider risqué and suicidal in terms of a professional acting career in Bollywood.

Nevertheless, displaying a kind of honest heroism that we rarely get to witness even in our fantastically idealistic Bollywood movies, Karan and Jitin play the role of gay man and child sex-abuse survivor with grit, intensity, compassion and passion, and also, when required, lots of tenderness.

Karan Mehra and Jitin GulatiIndia, however, is the villain in the off-screen tale.

The Indian Censor Board–the Stalinist body that decides what artistic speech Indians are fit to confront and what we are not–has refused to give this film a clearance for screening in movie theaters unless the directors agree to cut scenes and dialogues that they consider to be vulgar and obscene.

While to the right-minded person, it is amply evident as the light of day that what’s truly obscene here is that such a body exists and that such a body dictates–like a God, or a King, or the Pope–the terms and conditions under which adult, mature, Indian audiences are to experience art, for many in India this is the expected, the accepted, the routine, the procedural, and the mundane.

Properly speaking, the battle to get Amen out in theaters is not about fair and equal treatment of all movies with similar mature content; the real battle is about the nature of free speech, artistic freedom, and the right to self-determination.

CensorshipAre we free to create, express, encounter, and consume the kind of art we want? Or, should we have to apply for prior approval from an all-governing, all-knowing, all-seeing body of authority that knows what is best for us better than we do for ourselves?

Are we free peoples? Or are we subjects of a great and benevolent ruler-king, by whose mercy and kindness we exist, we enjoy movies, and read books?

Are we ready for movies like Amen? Evidently not, according to the Indian Censor Board.

But should this fact matter at all? Absolutely not!

The matter is also not be about what happens to the Indian moral fabric if movies like Amen were to be released in all its mature glory. That’s the problem of individuals, their families, their schools, their private spheres.

The matter is about whether or not we can spend our energies, monies, time, and effort making such movies and expressing our emotions without the threat, fear, and result of censorship. The matter is about whether those of us who want to see such movies and elevate our consciousness to beyond just the most petty entertainment have the liberty to do so.

Alas, India is a democratic country. And as such, we do not live by the rule of law, but by the rule of the people. And this is one of the dangers of a democracy: the tyranny of the majority; the rule of the mob, who decides and postulates for the entire nation what they find offensive, what they find palatable, what they permit, and what they censor.

Amen is a story about the smallest minority in the world–the individual.

It is the story of a lonely individual who was abused by his uncle as a child and who grows up to meet another man, who in turn is a victim of his circumstance, tradition, and society.

As luck would have it, now Amen–the movie itself–is truly the victim at the hands of the Indian Censor Board–that great Council of Guardians of the Moral Fabric of the Indian People.

This is life in a democracy without the rule of law.

Amen.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Movies, Mumbai, Personal, Philosophy of Art, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The New Socialist: An Achievement in Illogical Radicalism

Posted by Jerry on March 14, 2012

Knowing leftists and socialists, you can count on them being unable to string a coherent sentence.

So, reading leftist material and theories become akin to watching static noise on television; there’s absolutely no sense in what is actually on the screen, but if you stare long enough, you can imagine some illusory patterns.

That’s how it feels reading leftist articles. As much as I can, I try to practice the virtue of having an open and critical mind by reading divergent and opposing view points to ensure that my beliefs are not faith-based dogma. Hence, despite my annoyance at the lack of coherence and logic, I try to slog through some of these articles to glean some basic patterns and ideas in their thought–to see if I need to address them in any way.

I recently checked out the Canadian magazine called The New Socialist. They are a group of people who want to build a radical militant and democratic movement to abolish capitalism and class society.

Okay. How do they propose to do that?

“Only the mass struggles of workers can abolish capitalism and begin creating socialism. No government, radical elite or party can deliver liberation from above – it must be won by workers and oppressed people themselves, from below.”

The Legacy of Socialism

The legacy of the Left

Let’s think about that for a moment. Note that abolishing capitalism from “below” would actually require that the ones “doing the abolishing” become a force powerful enough to ensure that the banishment endures. Lest, one could have constant fluxes of free people creating capitalism and those opposing it trying to abolish capitalism. In other words, a struggle to abolish capitalism will itself give rise to a clan of “radical elite” party workers or socialist government of the proletariat. This inexorable logic was amply manifested in the socialist experiments of the past century in Bolshevik Russia, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, the Khmer Rouge, and more–with clearly genocidal consequences.

Next, they say:

“To develop both the power to challenge capitalism itself and the understanding that capitalism must be replaced, we need militant and democratic movements fighting to defend past gains and win new ones.”

Again, you can either have a “militant” force to replace capitalism or you have a democratic one. You cannot have both. Because, free peoples under a democratic system may choose to actually continue with a capitalist arrangement of society, wherein every individual has rightful ownership of his or her own property and labor.

However, if you have a militant force, then by definition, you will need to use the militant force to suppress dissent and ensure that the capitalist system is not “democratically” selected back into the order of things–even if the people wanted such a system. So, it has to be one or the other. And it’s clear here what the preference is.

They say:

 “Capitalism and systems of oppression gain much of their power by isolating us from others facing similar issues.”

This is a ludicrous statement right on the face of it. Really? Capitalist economies thrive on isolating people from each other? Let’s see: which economic systems pioneered innovations in global mass communication systems?

Which country invented the Internet, email communication, VoIP, Facebook, Google, Skype, etc.?

Which countries have been most conducive to oppressed minorities like queer and LGBT individuals connect with each other on a global scale and create virtual communities to interact, network, and form support groups?

Was it Communist North Korea? Communist Cuba? Communist China? Communist Laos? Communist Vietnam?

Facts and logic are inconveniences that distract the purist from their ideal socialistic theories.

There’s more:

[The new left] needs to be non-sectarian, in other words to put the interests of workers and oppressed people ahead of the interests of any group or current.

Socialism explained

So, who gets to represent the interests of the workers and oppressed people in an official forum? And wouldn’t these groups of people be classified as “groups” with “interests,” too? So, isn’t this itself already sectarian?

Finally, what gets to be classified as “oppressed people”? Can we classify capitalist business owners as oppressed people in a country that is dominated by socialist rulers and proletariat representatives? In this case, will the capitalist business owners be treated fairly and given their freedom from oppression? Would that mean allowing free capitalist economic activity? Would that mean undermining their own socialist system then?

If you think all this sounds confusing, then you are not alone. Even the founders of the New Socialist Group are confused as to what they really want. One thing they know for sure is that they are against capitalism. That’s it. What they are for is a more difficult question that they’re just not able to figure out.

“The NSG is committed to working with others to help build the next new left. No one knows exactly what form this new left will take. But it’s clear that a new left is needed.”

Well, good luck. Because in the absence of any logic, they’ll need all the luck to carry them through the day.

————-

“Sure, you can muster the most heroic in you to fight lions. But to whip your soul to a sacred white heat to fight lice…!” — Ayn Rand, We The Living

Posted in Culture, Economics, General Work/Life, On Collectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Monogamy May Not Be Sexual Fidelity

Posted by Jerry on March 12, 2012

I think some clarity is required around the varieties of legitimate romantic relationship designs. In particular, we must dispel this notion that monogamy is identical to sexual fidelity.

In reality, truly loving and healthy romantic relationships can occur in at least the following designs. The different is merely in the negotiation of boundaries, keeping in mind the character, virtues, motivations, and psycho-sexual orientation of the individuals involved:

(1) Monogamous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner
(2) Monogamous open relationship — Only Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner, but sexual openness based on consensual boundaries
(3) Poly-amorous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic closed-ness with a defined and exclusive set of partners
(4) Poly-amorous open relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic openness with an undefined and non-exclusive set of partners

In other words, the concept of monogamy does not necessarily include the behavior of sexual fidelity.

Now, there can be strong arguments made about the varying degrees of prudence, success, and wisdom attributable to each of the above relationship designs. For example, I believe that design number 4 above is highly imprudent as a practical manner of living, because it may not entail emotional stability and success in achieving some romantic goals; it may engender emotional conflicts and logistical difficulties, and it may demand unreasonable amounts of emotional, financial, and psychological investment.

Having said that, it does not follow that deep, intense, passionate, and real romantic love cannot exist and be experienced by individuals involved in any of the relationship designs described above.

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Homosexuality is Unnatural

Posted by Jerry on February 27, 2012

A case of deep-rooted fear and self-loathing

The idea that homosexuality is unnatural is held widely not just among the religiously tainted but also by those who support the rights of LGBT persons.

Perhaps this is because the experience of same-sex attraction is so incredibly difficult to imagine for heterosexuals that they prefer to let it remain unexamined. After all, putting yourself in another person’s shoes to empathize with their subjective experiences is a difficult process in itself—and in the case of homosexuality, this may demand a visceral experience that can be quite unsettling.

Hence, even those who have gay friends and are in support of recognizing the full rights of LGBT individuals hold a deep-seated belief that homosexuality is not “natural” and “not how things were meant to be.”

Given this, the most common defense of homosexuality then boils down to a matter of choice—the right to have a personal preference in romance, even though it might violate “natural” norms.

This is the premise that needs to be challenged and discarded.

Homosexuality is not a matter of choice. It is not a preference. It is completely natural. Indeed, it can also be an expression of the grandly spiritual.

The Factual Explanation

But let’s begin from a purely probabilistic calculation: in a population of over seven billion human beings on Earth, it is a lack of imagination to insist that all the billions of people will manifest only one kind of sexual behaviour in nature, namely, the heterosexual behaviour. Just by the pure mathematics of it, the amount of potential combinations and permutations possible to the human species in the kinds of sexual, psychological, emotional, and physical manifestations are limitless.

Homosexuality is merely one naturally occurring variant in the great spectrum of human psycho-sexual possibilities. This variety is the natural order of things. Diversity in every aspect of nature is the motive power that drives procreation and evolution.

However, the religiously tainted claim that homosexuality is an aberration only observed in humans. Again, this is an ignorance of the available evidence. There is ample amount of documented evidence of homosexual and bisexual behavior in various non-human species. A quick search on Wikipedia reveals that same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species.

What’s more, the human species itself has documented evidence of homosexual and bi-sexual behaviour since its earliest history, agnostic to cultures and geographies.

The Moral Case for Homosexuality

But beyond these existential facts about homosexuality lie the more important question: Is homosexuality an immoral indulgence? Does it degrade the dignity of human nature?

You will see at the end of this article that the answer is a resounding “No!”

The religiously tainted have dominated the moral conversation, and it is time we exposed the root of their arguments. At the root of their moral assertions lie a fear of confronting their own self-loathing, cowardice, and un-reason.

The religiously tainted argue that just because homosexuality is observed in the animal kingdom, it does not mean that humans should emulate the same and “become like animals!” We have a moral compass, they chide us. We can and must choose to be better than mere animals.

Notice carefully, however, that there is no reason given beyond a bald moral assertion that human sexual pleasure is degrading. There is an implicit admission of shame and guilt associated with human sexual desire, as if prima facie it is wrong and therefore must be suppressed at all costs.

This debased projection of the human capacity to experience desire, joy, and ecstasy as the cause of shame and guilt is the filthy consequence of a mind—and a culture—obsessed with the mechanics of sex, not the experience of sex.

But even keeping that aside, what is more specious is the view that homosexuality is the consequence of a mindless, perverse pursuit of the sexual stimulus. Apparently, according to the religiously tainted, nature has arranged the sexual organs of male and females to “fit” in a particular manner that facilitates procreation. Since this is the only natural way to procreate, it therefore must be the only moral way to have sex.

Like almost everything that the religiously tainted claim, this is yet another illogical and specious jump from a physical phenomenon to a moral conclusion. If the act of sex is justified purely because of the resultant ability to procreate, then by that logic all manner of non-procreative sexual activity will need to be immoral. That would include everything from healthy behaviors like masturbation to every act of sex even among married heterosexual couples that does not lead to child-bearing.

Further, if the capacity to procreate is what decides the morality of a sex act, then heterosexual couples cannot morally indulge in a host of intimate, loving, and celebratory activities like foreplay, cunnilingus, and fellatio. Finally, the act of wagging a finger on the private, bedroom activities of heterosexual lovers simply because they do not intend to have children is itself a highly egregious moral offense that cannot be explained away.

Are We Humans or Sex Organs?

But there are some very important questions that confront the religiously tainted, if they choose to honestly grapple with this topic:

Is it really dignified to interpret the complexities of our sexual desires as little more than the arrangement of organs that “fit” together in our bodies—like pipes in the bathroom plumbing system? Is it possible to explain all of human desires—those heights of emotional and sexual experience that motivate marvels of art and architecture—as products of only titillated sexual organs? Can the entirety of the human sexual experience be reduced to the activity of our sex organs?

The religiously tainted say yes, because it is their view of human sexuality that sees nothing spiritual, nothing transcendent, nothing holy, nothing reverent in sex. They are the ones who truly describe the human sexual experience as that of mere meat groping in the dark to find the right fit.

In contrast, humans are the only species in nature with the power to recast our entire existential being into a sexual organ. We are the only species that can transform our whole bodies and our minds into the service of sexual exploration and ecstasy. Indeed, we have the power to reach dizzying heights of emotional and psychological experience without even any physical contact.

This is proper to the fullest nature of human beings. This is when humans rise to all that is possible to its own nature.

Those who call this human potential “unnatural” and “against the order of nature” are actually not ignorant of what it means to be human; they are afraid of it. It is fear of the realization that they lack self-esteem and that they loathe their own bodies that drives their hatred for all that is possible to us as a species.

Implicitly, they realize that it is this fear which allows them to hide comfortably behind the dark pronouncements of their religions and traditions.

ADDENDUM

The only hurdle facing humanity in accepting homosexuality or any other diverse forms of human pleasure as legitimate forms of human psycho-sexual experience is the primitive Judeo-Christian morality that has pervaded our civilizations for more than 2000 years, infecting even non-Judeo-Christian cultures now.

This morality is frought with the guilt and shame of sex–any sex, not just homosexual sex–and hence, it attempts to minimize the possibilities and wide range of sexual indulgences possible to humans. The ideal at the end of the road, of course, is the complete and total eradication of the sexual experience–as perfected by their moral personification, Jesus Christ, and as attempted for centuries by the celibate clergy of the Catholic Church.

=====================================

Related quote
“Observe the false dichotomy offered: man’s choice is either mindless, “instinctual” copulation – or marriage, an institution presented not as a union of passionate love, but as a relationship of “chaste intimacy”, of “special personal friendship”, of “discipline proper to purity”, of unselfish duty, of alternating bouts with frustration and pregnancy, and of such unspeakable, Grade-B-movie-folks-next-door kind of boredom that any semi-living man would have to run, in self-preservation, to the nearest whorehouse.”

Ayn Rand
On Living Death, a speech discussing the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, Personal, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Pressures of being an Intellectual

Posted by Jerry on November 11, 2011

220

Tehelka Magazine

The pressures of being an editorial columnist, journalist, or some kind of published intellectual can put real strain on your abilities to reach rational, honest conclusions. Because, in this information age, we interact within a massive marketplace of ideas–a market that is constantly and rapidly updating itself with newer, better, more provocative, more sensational ideas.

Thus, to really stand out–to win, to be noticed in this marketplace of ideas–especially, if you are in the business of peddling some and your survival depends on being noticed for your ideas, one has to either be a savant genius and genuinely innovative or be at least an imitative provocateur.

Ashis Nandy of the Tehelka is an example of the latter. It appears that he has succumbed to the pressures of grabbing eyeballs in this fiercely competitive marketplace of ideas by resorting to gymnastics–of the mental and provocative kind. His latest piece is particularly demonstrative and revealing.

In an article titled “The Pursuit of Happiness and other Absurd Ideas“, Nandy picks three ideas that he regards as particularly egregious and poisonous to human civilization: (a) pursuit of happiness; (b) progress; (c) secularism.

Now, if your hoping to encounter some definitions of these terms, you will be disappointed. Nandy proceeds blithely through these ideas without ever pinning down their exact meanings or how he uses them.

To begin with, Nandy makes this highly debatable–even untrue–statement: “Our value systems, even in India, are increasingly based on reason. Which is why, perhaps, we constantly feel like we are a country sitting on a tinderbox — riots, terrorism, insurgency, discontent.”

First, it is unclear what he means by “reason” in the claim that India’s value systems are increasingly based on reason. Next, given a common sense understanding of “reason”–as the faculty of human consciousness to identify, evaluate, and integrate the facts of reality–his statement is squarely false. If anything, the world–and India included–is marching towards irrationality, mysticism, new age spiritualism, whim-worship and hedonism, and overall irrationality than anything resembling reason. The global economic crises and the European bankruptcies are arguably great demonstrations of what short-term, hedonistic irrationality gets you.

What’s more interesting is that three of the four consequences Nandy cites here of the use of reason, namely, riots, terrorism, and insurgency, are all actually variants of the use of force. Now, any sensible analysis of force will reveal to you that force is the destroyer of reason. Nandy would perhaps retort here that it is precisely our reason that has convinced us of some superior “right” to use force against other people. For instance, some religious groups have somehow reached a “conviction” that their use of force is justified.

But that line of argument is fallacious. Force and reason are opposites. The ability to reason (to think, to evaluate, and to choose) ends immediately when a gun is pointed at you. A gun is a command to action, not a syllogism to persuade. It appeals to your fears not to your reason. Indeed, as it is empirically evident and proven for any honest person to see, it is only when reason, dialog, discussion, persuasion, and argumentation is abandoned that force becomes the means of settling disagreements.

Having disparaged reason, Nandy proceeds to attack the three “poisonous” values of pursuit of happiness, progress, and secularism. This is where the article derails from any semblance of intellectual rigor and enters into the territory of the absurd. Indeed, the absurdities leap out of the screen at you. For example, in explaining the origins of the idea of happiness, the author states that “all societies deny the idea of death”. Really? Which one? He does not say.

What he does say, immediately thereafter, is this: “In successful capitalist societies–bereft of religion, afterlife, rebirth, or any of the philosophies that transcend death–the panic [about death] is profound.”

That should qualify as the most uneducated statement of the year. If any country can be considered as a successful “capitalist” country, it has to be the United States of America more than any other–and this is also perhaps of all advanced economies the only country most rooted in the faith of Christianity, in the Protestant ethic, in the belief in life after death, salvation and damnation, and the transcendence of this material world!

Nandy goes on to make another risible claim: that “Both the disease called unhappiness and the determined search for happiness afflict the more developed societies.” Meanwhile, in the world of his own mind, the under-developed societies of repressive Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Nigeria, Somalia, Burma, etc. are veritable paradises of–what?

“Happiness, like school uniforms, has now become compulsory,” he says. Is he implying that the ideal human condition need not be one of “happiness”? Is Nandy suggesting that a human life lived in unhappiness or banality is just as optionally preferable as a life of happiness? If you answered NO to be charitable to the author, you are wrong. He explicitly states his intention, saying: “We need to be practical and reconcile to live in this imperfect world with our normal unhappiness.”

Yes, my dear readers. He just said that we should learn to live happily with our unhappy lives. Whatever that means.

National Socialist Workers' Party of Denmark

Nazism

If you think Nandy is just innocently unwise, again you would be wrong. Nandy belies a high degree shrewdness and sophistry. As evidence, note that immediately after citing history’s two most murderous, collectivist, tyrannical regimes–Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany–as examples of societies that enforced “utopian” happiness and thereby inflected untold atrocities upon its people, he goes on to allude that the modern conception of (poisonous) happiness is an outgrowth of the philosophy of individualism. The mental gymnastics that is required to at once connect the epitome of collectivistic horror with the philosophy of individual freedom, self-autonomy, and liberty is not possible without some intentional sophistry at play.

To be charitable, the author does introduce a brilliantly benevolent, correct, and pleasant thought into his otherwise vapid article; unfortunately, the thought is not his. “According to philosopher KJ Shah, the strength of a human relationship should be measured not by the absence of quarrels, but by how much quarrelling the relationship can take.”

The implication of this view–correctly–is that happy people are not unmoored by momentary disappointments. That happiness is not an experience of the moment, but an orientation towards life. Sadly, however, the author is unable to see that such an orientation towards life as that of happy people is not possible without reason–without a philosophy that promotes the exercise of the rational faculty. As the philosopher Ayn Rand noted correctly, happiness cannot be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims and hedonistic pleasures of the moment. A rational man projects the task of happiness across the entire span of his lifetime. Thus, he seeks his happiness not in the mindless fraudulent pleasures of the moment (although he may choose to indulge in legitimate relaxation), but in the experience of a joy that comes without penalty, guilt, shame, or contradiction. Happiness is the state of consciousness that comes with achieving the non-contradictory values of one’s life.

Indeed, from a psychological perspective, happiness is an important signal about the successful state of our lives. It is the emotional barometer of human consciousness, which informs us about our success at living life. Happiness and suffering are parallel indicators about the physical issue of life or death, pain or pleasure.

Moving on to his criticism of “Progress,” Nandy states that progress is the major source of violence globally. He says we should “hang our heads in shame when using” the word Progress. Again, his distortions are unbelievably confounding. In his attack on the concept of progress, he raises yet again the repressive regimes of Soviet Russia, China, as Cambodia as examples to fight his case. However, the connection that he wishes to forge between these regimes and progress is one that is founded on non-essentials, and is therefore simply untenable. The common ideology that underlies these regimes is not simply “progress” as a vague, general goal–but a *specific* approach to achieving their own conception of progress, namely, a collectivized, classless, communist society achieved by force and revolution. This is diametrically opposed to the classical liberal and democratic approach, which also had as its goal “progress” for the human condition. The results are evident and history has offered its verdict.

The author conflates the failures of socialist ideologies with the legitimate and praise-worthy goals of human progress–without, notably, ever defining what he means by progress. Then, he identifies a phantom relationship between secularism and the genocides of socialist regimes, such as that of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Khmer Rouge. Perhaps, he is blind to the fact that National Socialism (Nazism)–the originator of one of the most hateful periods of human history–was virulently anti-secular, anti-atheistic. It

Nazi German propaganda poster: "Danzig is...

was at the same time socialistic and religious. The Reich, or the German State, cloaked in Christianity, was elevated to divine status with the blessings of Hegel, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. If the modern Catholic Church is seen as a benevolent and benign dictatorship, the Nazi regime was an evil and violent one.

One should also wonder if the perpetrators of the Crusades, Inquisitions, Islamic wars, and other religious wars had access to the kinds of modern weaponry, would the scale of their murders be just as vast?

Ultimately, what drives maniacal men to genocide is not and cannot be a “belief in non-belief” — or atheism. It has always been a belief in some assertion–either that of the Divine God or the Divine State or the Superiority of the Collective.

But Nandy is apparently convinced about something that’s paradoxical (and perhaps because it is so, given his antipathy towards reason): he believes that any desirable society must bypass the idea of progress because progress is essentially “anti-life.”

Now, to take that seriously, one would first have to know what he defines as “progress,” because in the general understanding of the term, progress means the general enhancement of the living condition. To illustrate it simply, if the average human life span in the 18th century was 30 years, today it is 70. And that is progress. Period.

Turning to the “third killer in [the author's] violent lexicon,” we are confronted with an insidious analysis of “secularism.”

SecularismIn a very disconcerting claim, the author argues that one must not keep religion and politics separate. However, quickly, the reader realizes that the author does not really understand the full implications of what he advocates. At one point, you are even confused about the author’s take on secularism–does he hate it or like it? Because after disparaging it for a while, the author appears to defend secularism when he refers to the “hindutva” movement–claiming that Hindutva is actually secular. Wikipedia describes Hindutva as a Hindu Nationalist movement. So, is he implying that Hindutva is as good as secular or as poisonous as secular?

Indeed, much of this article is a (deliberate or not?) mix of conflated terms, inaccurate and ill-defined usages of words, and flat-out contradictions of ideas.

It appears to me that Nandy gunned for a shock-treatment approach to writing this piece, by employing “toxic” vocabulary to describe values that are–in the right spirit–actually some of the pillars of a civilized society. Perhaps he did this so that he could gain some eyeballs, shock a few people, and win a few uncritical nods at the seeming profundity of it all. To this end, the author achieves the goals. But he does so at the cost of exposing the goals themselves and at the risk of our evaluating such pursuits and such methods of trying to appear “intellectual.”

Posted in Atheism, Culture, General Work/Life, India, My Theories and Ideas, On Collectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Religion, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Psychology of the Rioters in England

Posted by Jerry on August 12, 2011

Over the past few days, as I read the reports about the sickening and terrible loss of lives and property at the hands of looters and marauders in England, I wondered what could have caused such a spectacle.

There was a nagging sense that I was witnessing a rotten malaise spreading within the minds of the youth in England. But what was the cause and nature of this psychological malaise afflicting these youth?

At various discussion threads on Facebook, I kept alluding to and grappling with the psychological cause of these riots. What makes a person behave like this? Note that from all reports we know, these rioters come from very different races–including native English people–varying age-groups, different jobs, and includes men as well as women. Among those found looting shops were people in their 30s as well as kids as young as 11. Many of them were seen laughing and having a grand ol’ time as they ransacked liquor shops and stashed up on cigarettes and whiskey and beer bottles.

riot shop hackneyThe only element in common among most of these rioters was that they were mostly socio-economically disadvantaged. They were largely the poor members of English society. Many–perhaps most–of them were jobless or employed at bare minimum wages. Many of the under-aged youth were drop-outs from school.

Using this as a launching point, left-liberals and others have argued that this sense of alienation, disadvantage, disconnection, poverty, invisibility, unemployment, and disempowerment among this segment of the English community has led to this cathartic exercise of maniacal and delirious power. There has been some sudden class-consciousness among these oppressed peoples and they have finally decided to end the exploitation by staging an “unrest.” This explains the robbing and looting of gadgets, liquor, and expensive clothing–they argue–because it finally gives them what they have always been denied by the “power” elite.

However, in my opinion, this line of rationalization is very lazy. It shouldn’t take you more than a second to remember that this world has far, far more people living in utterly despicable conditions of poverty and disempowerment. There are way too many millions on this earth who–despite their invisibility, alienation, and lack of power–do not have the luxury of wearing warm, hooded sweaters, track pants, and white sneakers and step out on a looting rampage. If Marxist doctrine is to be believed, then every “oppressed” person languishing in poverty across the world should be up in arms rioting and revolting under the enlightenment of a brand new unified class-identity.

And yet, something constrains them; something which clearly did not constrain the rioters in England.

The Arab Spring, the African revolutions, and Islamic Jihad cannot be counted as examples of class-awakening. Theirs are movements driven by ideologies of varying kinds–for better or worse.

The rioters in England have no ideology as such. There is no proclamation for any particular viewpoint. This is in fact one of the reasons why there are so many conflicting interpretations and analyses of these recent events in England. These rioters are rudderless, mindless, collectivist drones.

And therein lies the clue to their behavior. Ask yourself, how does one become a rudderless, mindless, collectivist drone? One answer is when you are never confronted with the necessity to use your own independent mind.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain–one of the largest welfare states in the world–has been nurturing and breeding a mind-numbed cadre of youngsters who are living on dole-outs, whose life, survival, and sustenance are someone else’s responsibility.

These are people who are not demanded to think and confront the fragility of their own survival. These are Britons who are not demanded to be productive. These are citizens who are shielded from the bitter sting of starvation; from the panic of creeping death and the urgency of survival.

What we see now is the logical consequence of a mighty, paternalistic welfare state breeding a class of moochers who simply find no urgency in using their own mind to think–to reason–and therefore, believes that they simply cannot find their own way out of marginalization.

Indeed, this underclass of citizens has been so disempowered–not by any remnants of a capitalist structure in English society–but by the very bloated welfare government that was allegedly meant to “empower” them that they no longer believe it possible to them to get out of their miserable conditions.

It’s not their job to do so–the government has to bring them out of poverty. Indeed, they believe they are *incapable* of doing it themselves–they have been taught so by leftist philosophers, post-modernists, and welfare statists; the capitalist structures apparently are so oppressive that these people are helpless and powerless in front of it. Thus, they *need* the government to manage their lives and direct their course. It is the government’s responsibility–other people’s responsibility–to fulfill their needs and wishes.

How can one expect any sense of self-esteem or empowerment among such a class of people who have been bred and nurtured to be helpless beggars–to be recipients of dole, welfare, free lunches, and other people’s money?

Why should it be surprising then to watch these psychologically disempowered people–who have been robbed of their uniquely human ability to think, reason, value, judge, and be productive–rioting and asserting their “power” in the only way possible to non-conceptual animals, that is, through violence?

When you have the government enforcing moral values upon you, making moral decisions on your behalf, and distributing a regular monetary allowance to you, then why–and how–would you bother to think for yourself, exercise your own rational faculty, and earn your own living?

Ayn Rand noted this inseparable unity between using your own mind, living productively, and having self-respect:

“To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living.”

Self-esteem comes with the knowledge that your mind is capable and competent at ensuring your survival qua man on this earth. By doling out freebies and free money, welfare governments may treat the symptoms of poverty, unemployment, or alienation, but never the root–which is, an unproductive lifestyle encouraged by a nanny state.

It is only through productivity and achievement that one gains a sense of pride in one’s own life–that is, self-esteem.

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Image via Wikipedia

The events of these past few days in August 2011 mark the exposure and bankruptcy of the leftist-socialist philosophies. The youth of England have been robbed of their ability to nurture a healthy sense of self-esteem–not by capitalists but by those who allegedly claim to be their well-wishers.

“The need for self-esteem is a matter of life and death,” Ayn Rand had said in her novel Atlas Shrugged in 1957.

Today, in the riots of England, we are witnessing its proof.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Culture, Economics, General Work/Life, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Explaining Postmodernism by Dr. Stephen Hicks

Posted by Jerry on August 1, 2011

My trip to Italy provided a fitting background for me while I finished reading the brilliant book Explaining Postmodernism: From Rousseau to Foucault by Dr. Stephen Hicks.

This book should be required reading for all university graduates–especially those of liberal arts and humanities.

The essential thesis of this book is:

The failure of epistemology made postmodernism possible, and the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary.

Dr. Hicks has an incredibly lucid, engaging style of writing–and the expansiveness of the topics he covers with such ease–going from Kant to Rousseau to Marx and Rorty and then back to Plato–is astounding.

Reading his account of the philosophical drama that played across centuries and which gave rise to the anti-intellectual movement that we call Postmodernism today, one is reminded of a fact that is often forgotten: that philosopher need not all be wise just because they got published and are famous today; and that what they preach need not always originate from honest and true intentions; that philosophers, like anyone else, can almost stubbornly and petulantly defend a viewpoint in order to save face, score a brownie point, or wage a war of words for its own sake. Hegel, Fichte, Marcusse, and others fit this description.

Take the following excerpts, for instance:

Immanuel Kant is the most significant thinker of the Counter-Enlightenment. His philosophy, more than any other thinker’s, buttressed the pre-modern worldview of faith and duty against the inroads of the Enlightenment. Kant firmly chose religion. And so, he stated famously in the Second Preface to the first Critique, “I here therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.”

And another philosopher Schleiermacher, a Kantian in approach, said: “The essence of religion is the feeling of absolute dependence. I repudiated rational thought in favor of a theology of feeling.”

Then Fichte, who wanted to create a superior race of German automatons through socialized education, preached, like Kant, a dedication to pure duty and an abdication of all self-interest:

“in place of that love of self, with which nothing for our good can be connected any longer, we must set up and establish in the hearts of all those whom we wish to reckon among our nation that other kind of love, which is concerned directly with the good, simply as such and for its own sake. The pupil of this education is not merely a member of human society here on earth and for the short span of life which is permitted to him. He is also, and is undoubtedly acknowledged by education to be, a link in the eternal chain of spiritual life in a higher social order. A training which has undertaken to include the whole of his being should undoubtedly lead him to a knowledge of this higher order also. [The German] “alone above all other European nations, [has] the capacity of responding to such an education.”

And among the most outrageous ideas, we have Hegel–who inspired Marx–creating a Divinity out of the Government. He said:

“It must further be understood that all the worth which human being possesses–all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. The State is the Divine Idea as it exists on Earth.” The State has as its final end the self-realization of the Absolute, and thus “this final end has supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the state.” “One must worship the State as a terrestrial divinity.”

People have agendas–and philosophers are not exempt from this. And philosophers in particular can be incredibly evil–in that they intentionally develop, defend, and promulgate ideas that are horrific in practice.

I am reminded of Ayn Rand’s brilliant analysis of the history of Counter-Enlightenment philosophy in her dramatic speech for John Galt in Atlas Shrugged, in which she correctly identifies and summarizes the key themes of Kant (the mystic of spirit) and his successors (the mystics of muscle). You can read the relevant excerpts from the Ayn Rand Lexicon here.

The discovery of truths is in sifting through the layers of detritus and engaging one’s own honest intellect with the evidence provided by our senses. Surely, geniuses can help illuminate the path along the way, but it’s up to us to figure out which path will lead us to the Enlightenment world, and which, to the one of nihilism.

I cannot recommend Dr. Hicks’ Explaining Postmodernism enough.

Posted in Books, Culture, General Work/Life, Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Political Issues, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why You Should Not Support Anna Hazare’s LokPal Bill

Posted by Jerry on April 7, 2011

As an Indian, I am not in favor of Anna Hazare‘s Lokpal bill in any form.

Anna Hazare wants to form an autonomous authority that will monitor the activities of politicians and bureaucrats (i.e., the existing government) and hold them accountable for their actions.

Against Anna Hazare

Anti-Anna Hazare

In essence, that’s creating a powerful, autonomous, non-representative authority, with a leader at the helm, who will literally have access to the monopoly power of the judiciary and law-enforcement over the democratic government.

In other words, Anna Hazare wants to institute yet another government and bureaucratic body (a non-elected one) to monitor the current, elected government. This is simply creating an extra-governmental body to do the functions which a proper government should be doing anyway as part of its very reason for existing. When a government goes bad, one should not simply institute another government body on top of it! One should work to fix the current government we have.

Moreover, Anna Hazare’s authoritative body can be susceptible to same risks of corruption and bribery that the central government is mired in.

More importantly, however, his solution has the potential to produce a more insidious form of dictatorial corruption of power because of its non-elective, autonomous, and non-accountable nature.

There is no other solution to corruption other than denying the politicians and bureaucrats a monopoly on the “supply” of the goods and services that they currently control. Which means, we need to kick the government out of every aspect of our private affairs and release the supply of goods and services into private, competitive hands. This will ensure that there is no political monopoly on the services or goods provided and the people will decide what to purchase and at what price (such as driver’s licenses, etc.)

The government should have no role to play in cricket, commonwealth games, building metros, railways, banks, hospitals, religion, marriage, etc.

THE SOLUTION TO CORRUPTION: GET RID OF THE GOVERNMENT FROM PRIVATE MATTERS OF CITIZENS. Ask for LESS GOVERNMENT not MORE GOVERNMENT!

UPDATE:

It is frustrating to see this nation plunged into anarchy by the right-wing fascist dictator Anna Hazare.

His strong-arm tactics cloaked in “Gandhian” garb are shamelessly of the grammar of blackmailers. He is holding a democratically elected government ransom to his demands, effectively undermining the process by which we the people of India chose to elect our representatives in the government–thereby not only insulting us in our face but also mocking the entire process of democracy itself.

How can laws be introduced and passed in a nation if conflicting and contradictory sides both sit on suicide-fasting missions? Who does the government bear the responsibility of saving from death?

Those who think Anna Hazare’s tactics are peaceful do not have a clue about who their hero is. He is the man who encourages punishing alcoholics in his village by flogging them in public; he condones chopping off hands of thieves; he believes cable television should be banned because of its “corrupting” influence on the people. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Anna Hazare:

“…in many things, along with Gandhi we have to look towards Shivaji. Patel committed a mistake, and Shivaji had the man’s hands cut off. This policy of Chhatrapati, in many ways, we have to think about. Hundred per cent non-violence is not possible. Sometimes, even this has to be done, and that is why I have been saying that [corrupt] people should be hanged…” Anna

Read more of where this came from: Open Magazine’s brilliant article Spare Us the Gandhian Halo.

I highly recommend the following articles for their clarity of thought and analysis, which is unfortunately missing from the current crop of un-thinking, uncritical Anna followers.

FAQ: Why Anna Hazare is wrong and Lok Pal a bad idea

Jan Lok Pal is no solution

Chasing Black Money: In search of red herrings

Posted in Culture, Economics, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 81 Comments »

Compromise with Abhay Kumar

Posted by Jerry on March 21, 2011

I apologize to Abhay Kumar and his family for causing them agony and harm through my actions, which I accept now, were not justified. The entire episode has been a result of misunderstanding, which has now been sorted.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Release of “Atlas Shrugged” in Marathi

Posted by Jerry on February 17, 2011

Professor Mugdha Karnik from the University of Mumbai had undertaken the monumental task of translating Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged into Marathi — the regional language of the state of Maharashtra–one of the most populous states in the country.

I have personally heard Prof. Karnik read an excerpt from her translation during one of the Atlas Sunday Club Philosophy Salon’s I organize in Mumbai. She read the passage in which Hank Rearden is holding the dying young wet nurse in his arms. It is a stirring scene in the original novel–and listening to Prof. Karnik read it out in Marathi was equally moving.

I remember telling her at that time that I believe she did not just translate the language of Atlas Shrugged but also managed to translate the spirit of the novel.

Anyway, all of this is in preamble to the reason for this post. The new Marathi version of Atlas Shrugged is being released officially in the city. The following are details. All who are in Mumbai or can travel to the city are urged to attend:

DATE

Saturday, Feb 26, 2011

TIME

7 pm to 8.30 pm

VENUE

Shivaji Mandir
Dadar, Mumbai

GUEST SPEAKERS
Veena Gavankar and Sharad Joshi
Dhananjay Karnik will introduce Sharad Joshi

COMPERE

Jyoti Ambekar

For more details and information about the book, you can reach out to Professor Karnik at the following address:

Mugdha D. Karnik,
Director
Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Mumbai,
Vidyanagari, Kalina, Santacruz (E),
Mumbai 400098

Tel: 022-65952761/65296962
www.extramural.org

 

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

My Blog Review in 2010: Wow!

Posted by Jerry on January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 3 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 645 posts. There was 1 picture uploaded, taking a total of 321kb.

The busiest day of the year was August 4th with 304 views. The most popular post that day was Richard Dawkins is not an Atheist.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, search.conduit.com, facebook.com, search.aol.com, and blogger.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for flamenco, leitmotif, flamenco dancer, flamenco dance, and philosophy.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Richard Dawkins is not an Atheist September 2007
60 comments

2

Leitmotif June 2006
86 comments

3

Flamenco Passion December 2006
3 comments

4

Men, Women, and Breasts July 2007
48 comments

5

Being Gay in India August 2007
46 comments

Some of my most popular posts were written before 2010. According to WordPress, my writing has staying power!

Posted in General Work/Life, Personal, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Story behind Our Entry into the Atlas Shrugged Video Contest

Posted by Jerry on December 20, 2010

My friends and I submitted the “Sixth Sense” video. Admittedly, the philosophy and concept behind the video is not easily accessible at first–beyond the most obvious message to “Think”; so, I’ll just give a brief explanation of our thoughts that went into creating the script of the movie and then the movie itself.

First, when we decided the enter the contest, we decided to stay away from the political and economic themes of Atlas Shrugged, for the following reasons:

1) These themes are difficult to capture on a personal and emotionally-connective level.
2) It’s easy to get preachy with such themes
3) It’s the most obvious and superficial interpretation of Atlas Shrugged
4) We were sure that political and economic themes would be the ones most commonly captured by other videos in the contest.

Hence, I decided to first identify the core theme of AS, namely: The role of man’s mind in existence.

From there, I began thinking of themes most directly relevant and affecting to me (and my friends) here in India. We thought of themes like the right to free speech (but dismissed it because it didn’t convey powerful images to us in our minds, without being preachy).

We thought of the struggle of Indian youth in asserting their goals and lives in a collectivist society like India (for example, publicly open gay men like myself face some kinds of resistance almost regularly in our lives). We dropped this idea because–again, we didn’t think it hit the core of Atlas Shrugged, would be difficult to execute, may not be relevant to a global or Western audience, and we wanted to avoid an ambitious project that would turn out sloppy.

Finally, I hit upon the idea of contrasting Mysticism versus Reality. Specifically, I wanted to contrast Eastern Mysticism versus a rational view of the world, since Eastern Mysticism is attractive many many people in the West as well. So, I sat through the night and typed up a 6-page long concept paper explaining all the major premises of eastern mysticism (primacy of consciousness, One-ness of Being, illusion of reality, etc.) and debunking their arguments with strong rational, logical, and objective counter-arguments.

Essentially, my concept paper came down strongly and harshly against the side of mysticism and how mysticism makes the act of living effectively and productively impossible–and reiterated the role of the mind as our *only* competent tool of survival in this world.

In the interest of full disclosure, the filmmaker that I was working with is himself a believer in mysticism (as is very common in India). He was very uncomfortable working on such a script. Therefore, the scripwriter in our team tempered the concept-note heavily by introducing a less controversial path to conveying a similar message (albeit, invariably and through no fault of hers, losing some impact of the original message along the way). She conceived of the brilliant metaphor of the five senses–which, when used effectively and in tandem with the “sixth sense”, namely, our minds–can make our life in this world tremendously more efficacious and *human*.

Thus, was born the concept of the Sixth Sense.

The script thereafter went through several more changes by the filmmaker and the scriptwriter.

To explain the final video, the voice over is of the adult character who is reflecting on her childhood. The concept of the five senses is intended to allude to how we generally take the competence of our senses as valid, but *not* the competence of our mind as valid (we accept any truths said by scriptures, priests, collectives, parents, cultures, etc.). Our message is to not surrender the mind to the various “conspiracy theories” of mystics and collectivists. The theme of our video is the competence of our mind, which we have dubbed as “The Sixth Sense” as a deliberate subversion of the mystic’s claim of “extrasensory” or “sixth sense” connection to higher truths.

For successful living, you must trust in the competence of your mind to achieve a successful life.

Watch our video, and if you like it, please do vote for it.

http://wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/42465/voteable_entries/12473666?order=recency

Posted in Atheism, Ayn Rand, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Movies, Mumbai, My Friends, Objectivism, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Sixth Sense – Atlas Shrugged Video Contest Entry

Posted by Jerry on December 9, 2010

This is the video we created as our submission to the Ayn Rand Institute‘s Atlas Shrugged video contest.

The movie was filmed and edited by Abhay Kumar–a friend and talented filmmaker.

The concept for the script was developed and written by Gazal Dhaliwal–a close friend, gifted writer, and scriptwriter for Bollywood movies.

I provided the philosophical content, guide, and direction–giving advice on the message, ideas, implications, and choices that our video must make.

So here is our finished product. I am very pleased with the outcome. If you like it as well, then please show your support for our video by VOTING  for it at the Atlas Shrugged Video Contest website.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Culture, General Work/Life, Movies, Mumbai, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Discussing Sexuality on CNN IBN

Posted by Jerry on November 2, 2009

Watch me and my friends discussing sexual minorities on CNN IBN.

Posted in Culture, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Friends, Personal, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Broken Britain Phenomenon

Posted by Jerry on February 18, 2009

Little Alfie from the UK has been making big news around the world: at only 13 years of age, he conceived and is father to a newborn with his 15 year old partner.

This, people claim, is symptomatic of a phenomenon spreading across Britain called “Broken Britain.” From the Associated Press report, I quote:

Sir Bernard Ingham, once press secretary to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told the Associated Press that people from across Britain’s political spectrum are in despair over the country’s social breakdown.

“It’s an indication that we’ve lost our way, that people don’t know the difference between right and wrong.” [emphasis mine]

In light of the above quote, I can’t help but be reminded of my own article, written some time ago, titled “Enforcing Moral Values“. In the article, I explained how the government–by interfering in the private affairs of individuals–effectively undermines the moral rudder of a society and erodes the ability of individuals to make moral decisions for themselves. Here’s some pertinent quotes from my earlier article:

Governments have assumed the role of a moral authority and have begun passing down moral laws–what it considers as being in the benefit of the “greater human family.” The government has replaced the individual as the moral and causal agent.

What this has led to is the following:

If an individual has no reason to hold a value other than because it is mandated by law, then he will also have little or no knowledge of how to pursue and maintain that value nor any incentive to discover the reasons; in other words, he will not know what is a virtuous life and how to lead it nor will he care to learn of it. He will seek further mandated guidance in the realm of virtues, thoughts, and actions. This breeding of intellectual laziness entrusts the job of thinking to others.

What we are seeing in Britain is certainly not just germane to that country. The Broken Britain phenomenon has to a considerable extent spread across the entire world.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Bisexuality and Commitment

Posted by Jerry on January 27, 2009

In brief, my thoughts on bisexuals and their capacity to have committed, romantic relationships with a single partner.

The incomprehensibility surrounding a person’s bisexuality has mostly to do with the fact that people impute more layers of complexity to the matter than is actually warranted.

Bisexuality is just like any other sexual identity. Merely because a bisexual has the possibility of forging deep and romantic relationships with both sexes (or the possibility of being physically intimate with both sexes) does not mean that he is inexorably led to do so at every juncture! Neither does it mean that he will more quickly tire of his current partner and seek someone of the other sex than his heterosexual and homosexual counterparts would!

A bisexual may well choose a partner of either sex and live in a committed, long-term relationship. The bond that keeps two people together in a lasting relationship is not sexual orientation (that’s more like a precondition), but love–and all the necessary elements that lead to the summary emotion of love.

And are we to deny that bisexuals have the same capacity to experience true love–for whichever gender that may be?

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, Love and Romance, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Personal, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

For the Sake of Justice

Posted by Jerry on November 29, 2008

For the Sake of Justice

Watch this video about the economic crises to see how one man–Peter Schiff–stood his ground for years, against public ridicule, on national US TV networks, to warn the world about the subprime crises and the ensuing credit crunch. For the sake of justice, this video must be watched and then distributed.

HT: Noodlefood

Posted in Culture, Economics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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