Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No More Jokes!!

We had a little break room conversation today. We are colleagues that have worked together for around five years, and hangout a lot and know each others families. Two of us were male and two were female (states to which none of us have any contribution to). We have joked at several occasions about a vast variety of things: from silly jokes, language puns, accents, funny situations, funny remarks in odd contexts, raunchy stuff and occasional harmless banter based on communities. We have always laughed together and to this day we have never taken umbrage to non-PC jokes.

Privately, I find amusement in a lot of things. A lot of events when viewed askance in the right angle are giggle-worthy. That, I believe is the beauty of humour. Most jokes that make people laugh out loud are at somebody's expense. The popularity of legendary stand up comedians, specially contemporary ones is a testament to that. The propriety of a joke is of course a function of context and audience. Jokes that adversely affect an individual's or group's social and professional opportunities, I believe are wrong. In the presence of impressionable minds, no such jokes are appropriate. I believe a joke is a joke until it affects one's own attitude leading to prejudice.

The break room chatter today turned out to be different from previous occasions. The boss (who happens to be male) has been under a lot of stress lately and his moods swing from one day to the next. After some chitchat someone asked why he is upset today. I offered "That's coz he is 'Man'struating'." E v e r y o n e laughed out loud. At some point in the next few minutes the we shifted to talking about people behaving strangely on a cyclical basis. The subject of on specific individual came up. One of the ladies said she was been acting crazy. The talk about "time of the month" came up. I said "Women be crazy!!" with an attempt at an African American accent (too many episodes of "The Wire" will do that to you). The other lady LOST it. She complained for good while about how such jokes stem from sexism and chauvinism. Jokes like this have far reaching affects on women being discriminated against for employment and them not getting positions as judges in Egypt. She explained that women are thought not be capable of rational thoughts when menstruating and so can't be appointed judges. And some facts about women not being able to drive in Saudi or vote in Kuwait were mentioned. 

That outburst was unexpected. I never thought that this joke to this small group of well acquainted people who have known me so long, would ever have implications on Gulf countries. From my point of view, the same group, us, has joked about far worse things on several occasions. Mood swings and irritability are medically established behaviors associated with that physiological state, and often joked about. This joke would never prevent me, or anyone else there, from taking female human beings seriously, in any context, ever! I would never crack this joke outside the small circle of my long acquainted friends, not even with my brother.

If we are going to be this PC, lets just forget about jokes all together. There are seldom jokes anyone laughs out loud to that aren't at someone's expense. I for one, have decided that conversations with colleagues necessarily need to be insipid, bland and "professional". There goes any hope of having a happy workplace out the window!

You might wonder if I'm overthinking this. It is just that I'm tired of men being accused of chauvinism when their own lives and behaviors have shown no trace of contempt towards women.  

Thursday, September 04, 2014

If Nietzche had a blog- Part1

I find it notable how discourses on how life should or can be lived are often unburdened by context. I guess that is when need for commentaries and allegory becomes most obvious. Again, I do not claim to be a theologian, just someone interested in why religious/philosophical memes survive through scripture for so long. I attempted to read the the Hindi translation of the Gita. I have been able to read only three chapters. Partially I attribute my failure to go any further to the sheer incompatibility of the teachings with modern life, as I perceive. As far as I read, the Gita says all our actions should be geared towards becoming one with God. As stated this thesis seems strangely abstracted from the realities of life. My cousin Nonu Bhaiyya says that's because I'm reading a very advanced book on a subject for which I'm barely equipped with the basics. Point taken. I'll continue to read more and try an take what I can from it.

I've recently been reading 'Thus Spoke Zarathushtra' by Nietzsche. I claim specifically NOT to understand everything he says, specially from a translation to English.  Also, I specifically DO NOT agree with all of what is being said. But I'll be bold, a tad presumptuous, and write the interpretation of his writings as a blog entry.

"I spent ten years as a hermit. In those ten years, truths came to me and I insist on sharing them. I'm sad to hear the drivel from charlatans drawing awe from the masses. The fact is, God is dead! What is coming is the next step up in human evolution. We all need to make way for him even at our own expense. We have to go down for him. He is Ubermensch (Superman in English). I find the following to be eighty truths of human existence.

1.      Based on our intentions we undergo three stages. The first is where we want to prove to ourselves and the world how much burden we can carry, like a camel. Our abilities are then guided by intention, much like a powerful lion who does what he wants. Soon we become like children, doing what we want, when we want.    

2.     Preachers of wisdom can be foolish themselves and practice nothing of which they speak.

3.     The good old days were not so good. They may been simpler, but not necessarily better.

4.     Love your body and be healthy. Many, do not. They who don't, can't be bridges for Superman to this world.

5.    Joys and passions are the first steps to virtue. Let's develop a single virtue. Too many virtues in a single man breeds confusion and therefore evil.

6.    People will judge intentions. Doers will do, regardless.

7.    Life can be hard, heavy and confusing. Wisdom is a double edged sword, it can help you in life or it can hurt you. People who delight in the little things are the happy ones. For, I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance.

8.    Come, come young men. Don't despair in your pursuit of virtue. Many start off well, patter out and devolve into sensualists. Stick with it. You'll get there.

9.    The world is full of life haters and bleeding hearts. Life is short. Live it wisely.

10.   If you really like war and violence, you'd better reconsider your choices. But whatever your choices, be a an obedient soldier and fight well.

11.   People can live in groups. The minute they constitute a State, everything goes to hell. Jingoists and power mongers suffocate the rest. Once the State is gone, Superman can arrive.

12.   You do not bear the responsibility to correct notions of fools of whom there are many. Go do your own thing, by yourself if need be.

13.   Be chaste if you can. Do not try too hard to remain so. If you do remain chaste, do not abuse that virtue.

14.  Friendship is valuable. Keep your closest friend at a comfortable distance or you can kill the friendship in many ways. The love of a woman is fickle. But then, who is truly capable of a perfect friendship?

15.  I've seen  a lot of lands and know good and bad. One's good is another's bad. I've seen a much bad be revered. What is indispensable and hard is called good. What brings relief in the direst circumstances is called Holy. Whatever gives you an advantage over others is appreciated. A behavior is good or bad depending on how it affects social order. Humanity has thousands of goals, but humanity is not one of them. 

16.  Try and love the ones most emotionally separated from you as opposed to the ones closest to you. The latter can get messy.

17.  Let your solitude have purpose. Let peace, not loftiness and ambition be your purpose for isolation. People say, stay with the herd at all costs. They're wrong, but remember, being alone with your own opinions about yourself can be MISERABLE!! In loneliness, you might refute complex truths beyond your grasp. You might reach out emotionally to just anyone, regardless of whether they're right for you.You might even just want to hurt them for no reason. Loneliness is confusing and misleading. Be sure to like yourself and desire to improve yourself before you choose solitude. 

18. (I know you'll think I, Zarathushtra, am a fucking misogynist after you read this part. But, wait for it.) I met an old woman who said I talk at women and about women but never say anything concerning them. She assured me she can take whatever I had to say.  So I said 'Women are riddles and their solution is pregnancy. True men like danger and diversion. Women are the most dangerous plaything. They manipulate men. Their aim should be to bear Superman. They need to exceed the expectations of their man in all emotions, such that he fears them. *some shit about women's souls being shallow and men's being deep and gushing*... And the old woman said 'You go to a woman? Do not forget your whip.' (Personally, I think Zarathushtra was talking to some crazy hag... and that Zarathushtra was deprived of affectionate and genuine females in his family let alone friends. If this was a joke, it was unfunny and ignorant. Stupid fuck!) 

19. In a time of injustice, stand up for yourself. A small revenge is more humane than no revenge. I prevents the injustice from spreading to other. Also, never hurt a religious recluse. If you do, kill him too.

20. To be entitled to have a child, you have to be victorious, a self conquerer, ruler of your passions and master of your virtues. An animalistic love between a man and woman is no more than mutual sympathy. A marriage is holy only if the couple thirst to bring Superman to this world.

End of Part 1 of this post