Friday, June 29, 2007

Success - An Introspection

Looking at myself is difficult but I will do it. Everything is looming large at the moment. It is as if I have shrunk and/ or the world around me has grown. A bit like Alice. Was Carroll also hinting at this aspect of the self when he wrote Alice? Or, Defoe when he wrote Gulliver’s Travels?

My life seems to have fallen into a serious mess. I could say, ‘things have fallen apart’. This leads to an interesting insight into the importance of “success”. It is only when one fails (or is a failure) that one’s failings are exposed. If one succeeds then, notwithstanding the existence of the very same failings, no one pays any attention to them. This is probably the main reason for coining the saying “nothing succeeds like success”.

Success is like the light of the sun. It blinds, it dazzles, it conceals more than it reveals, it cloaks the reality of the universe that we live in (the universe within). Failure on the other hand, like darkness at night (or, even, the light of the moon), reveals all. The truth of our existence cannot be escaped in the cold light of the stars.

Success is power. Power allows people to ride their faults. The absence of it turns the same faults into to millstones round their necks. The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is about power and the loss of it. About actions that seem justified when carried out (whether out of a sense of arrogance or out of ignorance) and, the agonies that we undergo thereafter. It is about the foolish arrogance that scorns its lodestar, destroying the very thing that guides and sustains it.


Sometimes I am in a state of flux, with insights happening all the time. Almost anything- a glass of water, the sight of a tree, a few words on a page – are enough to trigger off an insight. It is as if light bulbs are going on all the time, illuminating something afresh or casting something familiar in a new light. To some extent the insights do help in improving perspective also but the larger picture is still not seen.

The question arises, how large is the picture. What if the picture keeps getting larger and larger without end?

Why do I ask this question? Is it a problem if this happens?

The answer is yes. The reason is that I want to acquire the larger picture for a collateral purpose and, not for its own sake. And, I can’t go on waiting for the picture expansion to end because I want to be able to announce that I have seen the whole picture. In this sense, no one has seen the picture, perhaps, because it is a picture without end.

Today, I felt a bulb lighting up while reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: the world is a construct. We talk about various aspects of this construct quite frequently but without understanding its implications fully. For example, the ‘construct’ of manhood or, of feminity. What do we mean when we call them ‘constructs’? Does it mean there is no such thing as manhood or feminity, except in our minds; except in the minds of the human race.

Does it mean that manhood is a notion in our heads? It was not born there and, nor did it enter full grown. Its entry was an osmotic process that happened over time and, which is still happening. Its entry is proof of the existence of a dimension in space-time where we are all linked. Like the world wide web, which comes into existence by the linking of thousands of computers all over the world. One could perhaps call the space where these ‘constructs’ live and travel the life space. Is it the same as what people call the spirit world? Or, some variation of it: like the magic-realities that are so popular today. If yes, then the implications for “modern” realists are quite drastic. Mythology may turn out to be more real than history!

Theoretically, we can kill this dimension in the same way as computer cyber space; by destroying the linkage between people. But how does go about destroying something that has no wires, no power source, no ‘waves’ by which it communicates? Something that can be transmitted by a sidelong glance, a look in the eye, a grunt or, even, silence. Something that need not be transmitted in toto or full grown but is yet shared in complex detail. Which is not static but lives and grows, and evolves. Is there a switch inside us that we can turn? A plug that we can pull, isolating us from the rest?

If ‘manhood’ is a construct then so is everything else that together makes up what we call the “world”. If this is so, then who are we? Human beings? What is a human being? She/ he are just a construct. Layer upon layer of it. For, the process commences virtually the moment we are conceived and continues till we die. The construct appropriate for an embryo is different from that for an infant, for a child, for an adolescent, for and adult. At each stage of the life of a human being, layers of “reality” gets applied in the shape of sets of constructs; over which fresh layers gets applied in the next stage.

What happens when we strip off a layer or two of the construct? Do we remain human? Is there a way to deconstruct human beings? Are psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts on the right track? We all know that people deconstruct. Personalities break down. The layers, which are connected with each other in a complex hierarchy of connections, get short circuited. New dimensions to self emerge as a result. Many, if not most, of them are called “mad”.
What if madness is just a different layering (manner of layering) of constructs? What if schizophrenia is just one such manner? Or, paranoia?