Knowing Me, Knowing Me (Aha).

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Welcome back to another instalment of The Angry Indian, but first a word from our sponsors;

The following post comes to you courtesy of; conversations with friends, a little film called The End of the Tour about David Foster Wallace, far too much free time, the truly lovely albums Junun by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood and The Rajasthan Express and also Apologues by Masayoshi Fujita, along with our main sponsor, the empty space within.

I like to talk. That’s no surprise to anyone at this stage, but I feel it needs to be stated again. If there was no one to interject or reply or disagree or question then I could quite happily go on and on for hours on end without any real trouble, bar the annoyingly human needs for food and water etc. Set me on a topic, any topic, and I will throw out what I know followed by much opinion and speculation, all of it grounded in the fact that I really am a bit of a smart alec (who is this poor Alec bloke who everyone has it in for anyway?).

I could discuss films, music, books, television, science, society, religion, art, politics, economics, anything and everything under the sun, but the thing I like to talk about more than anything is myself. By myself I don’t mean just myself as a human, but rather my own personality and consciousness encased in this physical human form. My non-corporeal self with all of my talents and failings, confidence and insecurity, loves, hates, thoughts, non-thoughts, and everything in between. The collection of firing neurones and grey matter located in everyone’s skull (with the exception of Britain First fans) is an awe inspiring feat of natural engineering  (yes I’m staunchly anti-creationist, but that’s not the point), that has developed over millennia to become an insanely complex organ that operates on every level from basic body regulation to self-awareness and profound philosophical thought. That’s something that I’ve always found to be absolutely astounding. The brain named itself the brain, think about that. And then think about as many things as you can, because the list is literally everything that man has ever created or discovered, that have come about as a result of the human mind.

I love to talk about what goes on inside, and I feel not enough people do. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with people haven’t necessarily been the funniest, nor the most spirited debates, rather those in which we’ve all reached to some hidden corner of ourselves and expressed, or tried to express, our innermost thoughts and fears. I know that just sounds like high talk, but hear me out. Just the other day I sat with two of my housemates, completely randomly, and we wound up talking about physics, the cosmos, the infinitesimally small meaning of human existence in the face of such mind scrambling enormity, our thoughts and fears for the future of the planet both in the next few years and in the centuries and millennia beyond.

I loved every minute.

There is nothing more revealing about someone than how much they are willing to explore themselves, their own opinions, questioning why they have them, self inquiry into their own prejudices and aspirations. Jung said that “Your visions will become clear only when you look into your own heart,” in other words introspection is vital to understand why we are who we are. It can be scary, sure, to question the essence of your own being, you may well find something buried deep within that you didn’t know, something frightening. But it’s just as likely that you may find something unexpectedly optimistic and bright, a driver that you had never considered that is always pushing you to do the things you do.

When I was younger my mum would sometimes call me a question bank, because I spent a lot of my youth constantly questioning why she did what she did and why she made me do the things she made me do. Things that ranged from the mundane when I was very young to various cultural and religious practices when I was older. I once had a full blown argument with my poor grandmother about life choices, how I didn’t necessarily want to conform to the Indian roadmap of Education-Work-Marriage-Kids-Death, how I might want to stray from the beaten path and try something new. She just shook her head and said I was too young to understand, I refused to back down, I even drew a diagram, and on it went for a good hour. Sorry grandma.

But back to the topic at hand. The consequences of this awareness stretch beyond our understanding of ourselves, it’s arguably one of the truest ways to develop a sense of empathy and understanding for your fellow man, by knowing yourself you can at least attempt to truly know others. When I see people posting online about immigrants being scum, or denouncing followers of a certain faith as uniformly awful, or people of a certain sexual orientation as disgusting, it belies more about them than the people they’ve turned against. It underscores a lack of any logical thought or considered argument that can only stem from them having no comprehension of where their own morals and ideals originate, a thought appears in their mind and they’ll take it at face value instead of tracing it back through whatever process to arrive at the core idea. Humans are emotional beings, not merely primal, and to act on instinct in all but the rarest cases of fight or flight is to deny our capacity as free and independent thinkers.

There’s a scene in the Christopher Nolan film Inception (if you haven’t seen it, what is wrong with you?) when the crew discuss how they’re going to make their target make a certain decision, running through questions that will eventually lead him to the conclusion that he should sell his father’s company. In the end they lead him to a safe in the deepest level of his dreams, which he opens to find a paper windmill given to him by his father, a symbol of their bond, which leads him to consider their relationship, how his father has never truly approved of him, which in turn leads him to conclude that his father wants him to be his own man, and that he must sell his company. It’s emotive, smart writing, and it works because it’s grounded in truth. At the centre of every thought that comes out of our mouths is a kernel of essential fact that has informed it, an A that has led to a B,C,D,E,F,G and so on.

When I said at the start that I like to talk (in real life, not just here), and that I could talk for hours about my opinions, this is where I inevitably and invariably have always and will always end up. The essence. Sooner or later the layers of everything are stripped away to reveal what is within, and knowing that is what makes us the smartest, most self-aware, and free thinking organisms on this planet. To know why you know, to think why you think, for me that is the ultimate expression of emotional intelligence. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep things nice and light, though not superficial, but I truly feel that once in a while people should take some time to think about themselves.

This isn’t an endorsement of narcissism or ego-mania, there are times and places to be selfish but they are few and far between, but an endorsement of relentless self-inquiry in the face of overwhelming modern apathy. This is me telling anyone who has bothered to read this far, and who perhaps has never done so, to close the internet, turn off their computers, mute their phones, switch off the telly, make a mug of tea, grab the nearest person to them, and talk their goddamn ears off.

xoxo, The “Brooooooo” Indian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Information

Hello, it’s been a while.

I was mulling over whether or not I should actually write this all weekend, flitting between “Hell yes” and “No, you might piss people off.” And I came to a decision, which was fuck what people think, I need to get this out there.

The events that occurred in Paris on Friday the 13th of November were truly awful, a tragedy that struck at the heart of one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in the western hemisphere. Likewise the attacks in Beirut and Baghdad, though not as widely reported on, were brutal assaults on innocent victims that should never have happened in a civilised world. In the aftermath it was heartwarming to see people from all across the globe coming together in solidarity, either by changing profile pictures or penning heartfelt messages to those who either suffered personally or knew someone who had. For a brief day it felt as if perhaps people could overcome their differences to stand united against terrorism in all its forms, to show that we can work, pray, love and care for each other even when we’re thousands of miles away.

A brief day.

What has followed since has done nothing short of drive me to despair, and ultimately to this online refuge where I can say in peace what I perhaps would not be able to say in public. Social media enables many wonderful things, we can share aspects of our lives with friends and family that we otherwise couldn’t, we can share our thoughts and feelings at the times we need to most. This weekend was certainly one of those times, an outpouring of grief and support for the victims, a testament to what good it can do to be connected.

But then it started. It was inevitable really, but still no less mean spirited, misinformed, callous, judgmental, vitriolic, and venomous than it was a dozen times before. Both sides of the coin, tossing back theory, conspiracy, jumping to conclusions from shreds of evidence that were neither verified nor even logical. Islamophobia reared its ugly head, draped in mock concern, a thin veil for the bigots and racists to launch their insults at those who have done nothing wrong. But at the same time there were those who chose to bury their heads in the sand, insist that nothing was wrong, that there are no underlying issues to be tackled and genuine boots on the ground battles to be fought.

It’s been infuriating to see so many misinformed people have so much to say, comments that are utterly baseless and are driven purely by emotion rather than any semblance of intelligence or reason. This is not a blame game, no fingers are being pointed, rather this is an issue with what happens on social media in the aftermath of any major event. The simple fact is this, people should not be talking about things they don’t understand. Plain and simple. It applies to the bloke down the pub mouthing off about politics when he doesn’t even know what first past the post is, it applies to the cabby ranting about the economy based off what he’s read about scroungers in the Mail, it applies to journalists and politicians and newscasters, the people who shape the way we see things,  and it damn sure applies to all the legions of Facebook users writing and posting and sharing statuses and pictures based purely off a herd mentality.

Again, this is not an argument against showing respect, as some who have raised a similar point have been accused of. I’m not disagreeing with those who have changed their profile pictures with the flag, nor am I calling out people for not paying more attention to events further afield. It’s justifiable, only just, to reflect more on Paris as it’s closer to home, because incidents like this are rarer in Europe, because we may know people who live there. I understand that nobody who chooses to focus on Paris is dehumanising or taking anything away from the victims in Beirut and Baghdad, it’s simply the focus of the news we’re presented with. We can only base our views off the sources that are available to us, but that is only a further driver of this problem.

People view a valid source these days as not just the actual news, as it may have been in the days of Pathé newsreels, but anything and everything they may see and hear on the internet. We are too susceptible to liking and sharing something because we’ve seen others do it, instead of researching it ourselves and coming to a conclusion. A case this weekend was a heavily circulated picture from inside the Paris stadium, overlaid with text about a muslim man named Zuheir who stopped a bomber and saved countless lives. It’s a touching story in the context of such tragedy, but it sadly isn’t true – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-34845882. Zouheir, although a security guard, was stationed somewhere completely different in the stadium, and made no mention of his religion, he was merely recounting to a journalist events that he had been told about by his colleagues. We want a nice narrative to cling to, but that desire for a good story comes in the way of the truth. It’s the reason why people will blindly share Britain First posts, it’s the reason why redtop rags continue to publish baseless drivel day in day out, people want a good story.

Look, when it comes down to it, and though it may not seem to be so, I’m not a heartless bastard. I’m not saying that sympathy for the victims is wrong, or that people shouldn’t be giving it. My point is that it’s all too easy in this day and age to jump onto something without knowing all the facts. When any ten year old with a laptop can doctor an image, it’s difficult to know where the fact stops and the fantasy begins, be it a positive story that’s been cooked up or a negative one (of which there have been plenty which I do not wish to get into for fear of bursting a vein from rage). As largely rational, reasonably intelligent adults, we owe it to ourselves and to others to make sure that we truly know something before we talk about it. You must be sure of something internally, that you agree, that you know why you feel a certain way, not just because you’ve been told to. Likewise by spreading misinformation to others you merely hinder what good progress may be made. Perhaps an image on Facebook is small fry, but the same principle applies no matter the level of the mistake, and it’s something that must be learned to stop a generation of people from growing up to be blind followers as opposed to independent thinkers.

The events of the past weekend will not be forgotten for a long time, senseless acts of violence have no place in a civilised, modern society. IS must undeniably be stopped, by whatever means the global community settles on. But please, just think twice the next time you’re about to post a comment, or share a picture or link, and make sure that you can trust the information you’re spreading. The world, as we know all too well, has more problems than it can deal with right now, but being intelligent enough to understand that is a saving grace.

Let’s try and keep it that way.

peace