I am trying to become an international person, atleast theoretically. But I realized that the idea of becoming an international person, isn’t an international idea, so becoming an international person is meaningless. So from now on, I am trying to become an international person by definition, the way Esperanto is an international language, by definition.
I have now decided, personally and perhaps to myself alone, to no longer call the World wars, “World” wars, for they were not an affair of the whole world. There is no one word for world.
I regard the title of the newspaper “Le Monde” as a lie, that has become a definition. The gross domestic product, the economy, money and the dollar bill as forceful, powerful and incomprehensible abstractions. Democracy, an absurdity, that demands people to understand complex abstract things, while distracting them all the time. The Olympic games as an imposition of a particular cultural heritage on the world masquerading as openness and equality.
I realized that what I thought was Modern is but another word for Western, Occidental. Occidere is old french for falling, for the part of the sky where the sun falls, what a powerful thing comes from such a simple word. What is in a name? The word is the beginning and the end of an understanding, atoms and gravity exist for most of us because they tell us, the world exists as it is because of the words we use.
But aren’t we all one… ah… but another meaningless abstraction.
But I am almost certain that I could argue in favour of all these words, and my desire for understanding and clarity sickens me.
After all It is those I resist, from whom I learn to resist, and so it always is, for as they say “It is better to be a man of paradox, than a man of prejudice”.
If Ferdowsi hadn’t fought for his language, the Iranians would be speaking arabic today, what would it matter, nothing really matters. The poor bastard spent his whole life writing the Shahname, only to be given old age and death in the end.
I sit in my chair, arbitrer of what is right and wrong, with complete clarity of what should and shouldn’t be, and then I get back to my miserable work: Perfecting my imperfections, succeding and thus failing, failing and thus succeding.
As Omar Khayyam said, ‘ Drink and forget the troubles of the 72 nations’ , and as Pessoa said ‘there are only two things that stop us from acting, one is sensitivity and the second is analytical thinking, which is in itself a kind of sensitivity’, ‘Thinking is not knowing how to live’
Vigyan (the common hindi translation for Science) and Science have two different histories, you cannot translate one with the other. There is nothing Indian about the Indian Institute of technology or Science or management. There isn’t a word for entropy in Hindi, or in any Indian language. I do not know what the Hindu fanatics seek out by trying to remove Mughal history from their syllabuses, when there is nothing left of “India”, because modern India is a contradiction in terms. Even if we have the best institutes of Science, they won’t be Indian in the strict sense, or Hindu, because they will not be a product of Hind civilisation, but a sign of its complete decline.
No Hindu sage had the faintest desire to send a mission to mars, he contented himself with contemplating his Gods, he would watch perplexed as Delhiites kill themselves in sef inflicted pollution.
The western civilisation may one day fall in Europe but it is on the rise everywhere else in the world, including India. If the Hindu fanatics really want to protect their culture they should destroy modernity, instead of foolishly pretending that cosmetic surgery happened in India. Hindus were given their name by the persians and the greeks, and have had their civilisation replaced with the embers of the west. What is Hindu anyway?
If the Canadian prime minister talks proudly about how different cultures interact in classrooms in Canada, it is because his multiculturalism is a farce, because the civilisations represented by the hindu boy, the chinese boy, the girl from the middle east, are all being dissoved in that classroom on a smart phone and in swirling Star bucks coffee. That is no real exchange of cultures, let us not be fooled. Let us all accept that the Canadian prime minister wants all of us to be modern, where the past religions are benign irrelevant nuances to a religion left purposefully unnamed – modernity.
Modernity is a religion and should be treated as such. The way Islam or Christianity or Hinduism historically took over so many countries, on the might of military power, giving people from widely different cultural and geographical contexts common ground, so does modernity with science provide common ground today to all countries of the world, compels people to follow one mould (everybody needs an army otherwise it’ll be taken over, with an army comes science, industry, and the works). It doesn’t matter what it believes in, one believes in Allah, the other in the conservation of energy, it makes its people believe in an unquestionable truth, and the idea of not being modern is as silly today as not being christian would have been 500 years back to Europe. Modernity came out of Chrsitianity – the way jainism and buddhism came out of hinduism. The hindus didn’t know they would be classified as “Hindus” later on, we too shall be classified and judged in the future.
The Water boiler
Growing up in a Hindu-Indian household, it is difficult to not know what a havan is- a prayer where everybody gathers with a fire burning at a centre, with a priest pouring oil and sweet-strange smelling mixtures into the fire at regular intervals, chanting incantations in sanskirt, and involving everbody by asking them to say “svaha!” at the end. Fire must have been a subject of ancient indian texts, its nature must have discussed by the ancient hindus, the greeks, the aztecs – they must have contemplated and weighed in on what they thought was its “true nature”.
In the middle of the 17th century (a.d.) Denis Papin, a french physicist, too contemplated the nature of fire, or rather its indirect effect on the lid placed on the casserole filled with boiling water. It was he that decided to wonder if this fire could not be put to “use”, and by the end of the century many like him were working on heat powered boats. Since then the idea has remained the same, the industrial world has exploited the “motive power of fire”, a nuclear power plant is after all but a giant water boiler being ferociously boiled with nuclear energy.
So it may be said that the modern world began, in a sense, when a boy was enamoured by the rattling caused by boiling water.
Indeed the “Reflections on the motive power of fire” is precisely the name given by Sadi Carnot, another brilliant french physicist, to a little book he wrote as a young man in the beginning of the 19th century, that would be the basis on which the laws of thermodynamics would be established. Indeed at the time, as his title suggests, the nature of “heat” itself was not clear. Lavoisier (again french) in the seventeenth century had laboured to deconstruct the phlogiston theory, and he developed the caloric theory, which was finally dismantled by Clausius, who took up and refined the work of Carnot to develop the concept of thermodynamic entropy. It seems that with him the “nature of heat” was finally understood in physics, well atleast at a macroscopic level.
But for thousands of years these sages had contemplated fire? What did they find out? What was their “understanding” of fire, can it be compared to the mathematised one we have today? And why weren’t they interested in pulling out motive power out of the fire before them?
There is literally no way, no way I can realistically convince a simple Punjabi farmer of Avogadro’s number, and therefore I am not convinced of it myself. The good thing about a simple farmer is that he literally knows nothing on such matters, or more precisely he hasn’t started to tell himself he understands things like temperature or entropy or kinetic energy or energy, his ignorance is so pure, so complete on such matters, that it is only if I am able to explain it to him that I know I have understood it myself. But this will never happen, and therefore I shall keep telling myself I know things, when I don’t.