Friday, June 19, 2009

Waiting for DropD-4

A couple of months back, I was delivering a lecture on Mahabharata in an Institute of Mass Communications. A lot of questions were asked after that. One question that really turned out to be outstanding and long-lasting was, “Why lust is considered as negative only? I tried to answer that question but I feel that there is possibility of a re-look at this issue because there are still some problems hidden behind it. Without focusing on them, there is remote possibility of understanding the real crux. The very first point is why we feel the need to define something as lust and something not as lust. The second point is why there has to be a public definition of lust instead of private definition. The third point is if the definition of lust can be determined before an act or inside an act. Let's discuss all three points one by one in the context of “The Reader”.
Michael and Hanna have involved themselves into an act of “lust”. He is a 15-year-old boy and she is a 36-year-old woman. He is not even an adult and therefore the question of being consenting partners doesn't even arise. There is no sexual compatibility as far as the social definitions of permissible sex are concerned. In a mediaeval age, Hanna would have been convicted as a witch and would have been burnt alive. This time, things are not that bad and safety of the situation is that their affair remains a very private matter unknown to anybody. The best that could be safely extracted out of the situation is that this affair should have no future; it should end in a permanent manner. It should be forgotten and should leave no trace of any sort. But things don't turn out to be as per expectations. She resurfaces in his life on a much bigger canvas where he would have to retrace the innocence of a lost relationship. It's a story where both Michael and Hanna don't even bother about the question of lust rather they allow this relationship to undertake much deeper and riskier enterprise.
The first point is why we have institutionalised lust as a vice or something very negative. Do we mean to say that we are very clear about what virtue is or what purity is? Do you mean to say that we have decided the methods of transformation from an impure to pure soul? Are we really in a position to decide who is pure and who is not? Of course, this is a very serious political question and it will create a lot of problems particularly related with caste and gender. If we even ignore that, we still have a deeper social conditioning through which we have developed the formulae of purity versus impurity. Such kind of fixed equations create a kind of hegemonic structure through which the entire space is reconfigured as comprising moral space in contrast to immoral space. The moment this dichotomy is created, public pressure towards the expansion of moral space drives out the immoral space. “Only I can exist and you shall die”-this is the kind of response that becomes the commonsense of morality. What happens eventually is that the so-called immoral space is officially driven out of all the spaces of public engagement and resurfaces in the hidden forms in the so-called moral space. The enemy that we drove outside the walls of our moral city is back in every house, in every corner and in every soul. The tragedy of this phenomenon is that despite this failure of human design, people don't re-think about the notion of space. It has never been moral or immoral rather it is simply there and it will remain simply there. But we find very difficult to engage with the space as it is. It is fluid sometimes turbulent and sometimes pacific. This natural reality disturbs our comfort zone. Only a few want to remain in this uncomfortable zone of eternal chaos. In order to develop suitable definitions, we transform chaos from a natural phenomenon into a negative value. This begins our march into the static but comfortable domain of artificiality. This is also the beginning of the unnatural. Precisely at this moment, a need is felt to determine this ‘unnatural’ into something dangerous. That's where lust is defined. The existence of lust is based upon the denial of nature. All the structures based upon this denial have to ensure that lust should be banned from the system but it goes nowhere rather it stays and keeps staying very powerfully.
The second point is directly the result of the first one. The moment morality is codified, it becomes an instrument of law. It can be used as a mode of control. This kind of control may be direct or indirect but it produces the same result. It acts as a censor in our lives. Instead of allowing a natural order to emerge and evolve, there is constructed a wall and a barrier. Human behaviour now comes within this black and white category of rule and punishment. In total contrast to it, there is a private equation between the two individuals. It can also be called a mutual binary between the two. The ugliness of a situation gets enhanced when the public definition overpowers the domain of mutual binary. A man and a woman may want a lot from each other but the most they want is to explore the other without any inhibition. A dead-end on this front means the death of a relationship but who should have the authority of delivering this final judgement. How can someone outside determine the destiny of two persons who are deeply related? Let a question of lust be decided first by a man and a woman. Let them face each other in the presence of lust. The depth of mutual binary is such a powerful force that it can submerge a thousand definitions of lust. But generally, people are so conditioned that they don't look into the eyes of lust. Somehow, they try to avoid it. I don't mean to say that one can have an interview with lust rather it is like a shadow. If you run away from it, it will follow you but if you face it and go close to it, it will start diminishing to the point of extinction. The mockery of the situation is that most of the people are more concerned with the lust of others but not with the lust of one's own self. This kind of preoccupation takes the shape of consistent eavesdropping. They find all the methods to peep into the so-called lustful relationship of others but they remain idiotic enough not to face their own lust. The development of institution of lust is based upon a collective embrace of falsehood and fear. That is why love despite being the most desired entity, does not evolve because the first door of love and lust is the same i.e. attraction of beauty.
The third point flows out of the second one. Can the definition of lust be decided before an act or within an act? As far as the public definitions are concerned, there is only one answer that it can be decided only before the beginning of an act. This is also a kind of self-serving argument where first definition of lust is created, then authority of judgement is created and finally the methodology of judgement is decided. These kinds of control machines will only bother about sustaining their own structures of falsehood and status quo. They will never bother to allow two individuals to come out with their own definitions. But a simple question can unsettle this entire equation. How can a seed be declared unfit for growth without even giving it a chance of growth? The possibility of an ecological experience between a couple can arise only if they keep exploring the complexity of a relationship. If it is stratified, things will never grow to the extent of being rewarding and beautiful. In case of Michael and Hanna, the relationship drops all forms of falsehood, fear and artificiality. They go beyond these constructs to build a new definition and a new ecological moment for them.





3 comments:

Gaurav Bajaj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gaurav Bajaj said...

remarkable piece of inquiry..finally a justification to my question..leading to the demise of my leftover scruples..

sudhir said...

Sir You are always right in your studies but it is little bit of difficult to accept our lust in front of public because our society always sees its grey side but yes we can accept it through our meditative mind we should know that every thing which is bad is also good and if there is lust then there is love also.