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.