The word “applications” in physics needs to become a dirty word again, physics is about inquiry, useless, poetic inquiry, it isn’t about applications. When Faraday was asked by the mayor of his village what the point of his studies in electromagnetism were, he told him that surely one day he would find a way to tax them. Faraday was mocking the mayor, but his machines are now mocking us. These silent senseless creatures curving the spine and numbing the mind. The point of physics is to do and think beautiful things, it isn’t to make a GPS controller so that we can get to our kitty parties faster, it isn’t so that we can become more and more impatient, incapable of thinking for ourselves, of being bored. The machine is the slave, let us not forget that, as Oscar Wilde said “Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralising. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.” Indeed we must enslave the machine, not become machines ourselves, human beings aren’t supposed to find applications, applications should find human beings, if and when human beings have the time for them.
The careers of many soap stars, television series actors, and even movie stars depends crucially on our inability to find anything better to do with ourselves. A capitalist society brings out the mediocrity in us, we simply will not put in the effort to see the difference between a shakespearan tragedy and a saas-bahu (family drama) serial. There is a difference between the two, and a very important one, the former uplifts the human soul, is still read and studied hundreds of years later, making its viewer think with more subtlety, use language better, and like good Art, refines the human spirit, as we read the genius of Shakespeare and his grasp of the human condition, the latter simply distracts. It is difficult to read Shakespeare, it is difficult to put in the effort and the patience, it is easy to press a button and be fed a soap serial.
A society that does not find interesting things to do with its time, that does not have the patience to do difficult things, ends up paying more to people playing the role of a physicist on television (The big bang theory), than to an actual physicist, simply because, we live on the life support of entertainment. In ancient times, acting was hardly an honorable profession. If people knew what to do with their time, FRIENDS would at best be a popular folk group earning a simple living, and not world famous filthy rich stars, it is up to us to make them what they are, they themselves do not understand why they merit this much wealth and importance, often falling into all sorts of problems, it is up to us to improve the standards of what we watch and pay for, to prevent the skews of the modern “entertainment industry”.
The capitalist monster wants us to be perpetually distracted, to rid us of patience of any kind, boredom is very important to creativity and the desire for upliftment, for as Oscar Wilde said “discontent is man’s original virtue”, but the capitalist monster will never let you be bored, because it wants you to become a machine, because machines are predictable.
A society that loses its patience with literature and art, is much more amenable to mass hysteria, as Nuccio Ordine explains in his book “The usefulness of the useless”, we don’t learn the tools to understand other cultures, or the other in general, we are quick to judge, we do not think, we feel, because we lose all subtelty and patience, this is evidenced in all the madness of the last few decades, it is urgent that we give more importance to difficult, patient “useless” education.
Again, as explained in his book, only “useless” education goes directly against the logic of profit of the cynical economist, because if we share education, we are often richer not poorer for it, and it does not divide by half, but often multiplies, manyfold. It is then also not surprising that simplistic military answers are given to all the problems, I wonder how it would be if the americans on average had more appreciation for persian and middle eastern culture, if their understanding of pakistanis and indians was beyond that of taxi drivers and restaurant owners. Oh the inhumanity! And if indians and pakistanis had a little more appreciation for their own culture and history, if they had their own vision of the future, outside of the urban industrial vision, perhaps the absurdities and excesses of the silicon valley wouldn’t be imported to India.
The Acropolis, after serving as a pagan temple, a mosque, a church, has reached its final state: a tourist destination, with tourists infesting it like crickets, clicking away selfies to be posted on social media…
As I look in despair at my body that, already imperfect in its youth, has now decided to show signs of a steady and ineluctable decline into middle and then old age, nothing frustrates me as much as to look into a mirror. And Pessoa confirms my intuition, when in his book, the “Book of disquiet” (which I simply cannot recommend enough to better understand the modern world we live in), he explains that the mirror has poisoned the human soul, that must be perfect in its own eyes, that in ancient times, people would rarely, if at all look at themselves in a mirror, and if they would, it would be by bending down in an act of belittlement, to look into the water. In another part of his book, he describes how greek literature did not have mention of this modern day angst, despite all the statues they made. This is also ofcourse the content of the Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, where a man is driven to madness, seeing himself age. We do not see the origins and the subtle, ill-effects of the modern world, the way fish do not see water….
Does “life imitate art” or “art imitate life”? Is bollywood, and the need to have 5 dance sequences in a movie a consequence of indian society, or are these 5 dance sequences going to marr indian society forever? Is it like in europe where “the nineteenth century is largely an invention of Balzac”, will indian society in the 21st century be largely an invention of Shah Rukh khan? or will it be Chetan Bhagat? The horror… or can someone explain why bollywood movies in the nineties talked so much about what seems to be a rather middle-ages western invention of “romantic love”. Is hero worshiping our actors inherent to us?… Have the indian words for “love” and “romance” changed meaning with the introduction of the english words? Did teenagers suffer less heartbreak before the english? Before christianity? Would we have made such nonsensical films back then? Is it the words? Did this word, “romance” which had its own life in western history fall into the wrong hands in the 90s in bollywood? And what are going to be the repercussions of this? How can a country that suffers so much poverty spend that much money watching something as frivolous as romantic love? “We see coming out then, in fresh souls, this sickness that we call romanticism, this Christianity without illusions and without myths which reflects, even more, its sickly dryness. All the evil of the romanticism comes form the confusion between that which is necessary to us and that which we desire. We have all needs indispensable to life, to its maintenance and its continuity, and we desire all of us a life more perfect, complete happiness, the realization of our dreams. It is human to want that which is necessary to us, and it is human to desire, that which is unnecessary. That which is sickly, is to desire with the same intensity the necessary and the desirable, and to suffer our lack of perfection like we would suffer lack of bread. The sickness of romanticism lies there, it is to want the moon as though there was a way to obtain it.” -F. Pessoa (poorly translated)
I am not Indian. No indian author have I read that played with words like Oscar wilde. No indian television show influenced my language as Nickelodeon did, or Friends did. No indian science inspired me to think critically the way western modern science did. No Resnick Halliday walker came out of an Indian writer I read. Nothing is as incomprehensible to me as Hindu fanaticism, I know christianity better than hinduism, nothing is as absurd as the sycophancy of the indian middle class, nothing makes me cringe like bollywood. It seemed terribly important if Chelsea lost tomorrow, or if France lost the world cup. Its a world cup you see, and we are part of the world, its important to be part of the world and whether Di caprio did or did not win an Oscar. I have never been so perfectly close to a county far away (The US), and so far away from a country next to me. No indian music speaks to me like american music. I wait for no indian tv show like the american tv show. Indiann-ess is the dresses I wear, and vague customs I follow, and the dirt I am used to, the pundit’s feet I touch even though he speaks nonsense to me, telling me the sun is stationary, a kind of sprinkling on top, to not let things seem too absurd. How wonderful it is that sanskrit is “used in computer science”, I am sure Panini would be glad to know how relevant his language is today ^^… I don’t know how many indians are not indian, but its not a good sign for india, or for other countries with non-countrymen. We are all citizens of the world perhaps, but some live closer home than others. In the mean time lets pay lots of money to have Coldplay sing caricatures of a country we and Coldplay don’t know, and lets have Federer play baby-tennis for us, and get exited about it, lets live in the shadow of the west, and lets call it “fusion-music”, or something like that. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is it y’all?