Love, Sex and Marriage


I did a podcast on this topic. It started as a response to this podcast (download), then I digressed and started talking about other things. Out of all my podcasts I enjoyed this one the most.

Download it from here. Other podcasts

What follows is an email exchange that I and one my listeners had. It was long exchange. I'll just quote parts of it. I've modified the sentences in few places to provide anonymity and frame the discussion within a context that is generally comprehensible.

In response to my podcast:

You mentioned that sex is the basic reason why people marry. And luckily you later clarified your reasoning, otherwise others and including me would have jumped at that. But what I don't understand is this: Why is sex always associated with marriage? Let's forget about love & marriage for now. The two have nothing to do with each other at all in my opinion. But why sex? I agree that there should be a certain kind of sexual intimacy between the married couple. This intimacy will enhance their already established understanding of each other and their friendship. But I think that divorcing just because your sex life isn't active is stupidity. Because it is obvious that as the marriage proceeds, sexual activity would decrease. And finally the husband and wife would end up having no sex at all. This occurs because both of them are more focused on their career or they have to take care of another responsibility; that comes with the arrival of a child. Pls correct me if I’m wrong. So don't tell me that before marrying these people, who divorce their partner for the reason of a lack of sexual life, didn't contemplate on such a possibility.

You quoted the figures of those who get a divorce because their sex life sucks. Yes true. But how many more couples do you think there are, who lead the same mundane lives, in which sex is absent? There should be many. They are either the type who, as you said, adjusts and give in. Or they are the type who are 'mature' couples who have come to know that sex is not the only thing that gives them the joy of intimacy and who have come to value their long-lasting friendship above all.

I have seen more and more of my friends getting their boyfriends and going out with them. And for most of the time, I have thought that they were happy. But after a few years, they are filled with bitterness and anger because their relationship obviously didn't last for long. And soon, one of my friends had found another boyfriend. So are/were they in love? Or was it just infatuation?

But I’m clear in my stand that I don't believe in this bf/gf stuff. I find more benefits in forming meaningful friendships with the opposite sex, rather than a 'meaningless' relationship. As far as it concerns me, such bf/gf relationships are meaningless

My Reply:

{{You mentioned that sex is the basic reason why people marry. And luckily you later clarified your reasoning, otherwise others and including me would have jumped at that.}} – Actually I need not have clarified it; I could have easily defended what I said. That defense is also the answer to your question “Why is sex always associated with marriage?”. It’s not always true, however, associating sex with a relationship is. Since in India, relationship is pretty much synonymous with marriage, sex is associated with marriage. Anyway, I’ll answer the question from the "Indian perspective".

If sex does not define marriage, what does? Let me take some pointers from what you’ve said and dissect it.

{{they are the type who are 'mature' couples who have come to know that sex is not the only thing that gives them the joy of intimacy and who have come to value their long-lasting friendship above all.}} – If this is what defines marriage, I think it makes me a homosexual already. Yeah, I have a relationship with my best friends which can only be characterized by what you’re saying. We are intimate as in we share our inner most feelings, problems and tribulations. We care about each other a lot, and needless to say we know we are best friends. And I think it’s going to be ever lasting.In fact going by the definition, each friend of mine is married to 3, 4 guys and some, to a few women.

I’ll quote a part of what I had said in my
post on identity, arranged marriages and all that (the one you had read).“The only difference between your friends/room-mates and your spouse is that you have an emotional attachment with your spouse that is partly sexual (and of "committed" economic dependence or interdependence).”

If mutual care and friendship is all you need in a relationship, why even marry? Can’t you be “just friends” and do that? Oh, married people live together, right? Then make it people who are “just friends and room-mates”. Interestingly though, a lot of married couples lead the lives of two room-mates who don’t see each other often. They sleep in separate rooms, they cook their own food, make their own money, spend it the way they want and they are not interested having kids. If it’s not for the occasional sex they have, they are nothing more than “good friends who are room-mates”.

I can also explain it from a different angle. What makes a marriage is pretty much the same thing that breaks a marriage – fidelity/infidelity (or adultery). What do we mean when we say “he was unfaithful to her?” I know a lot of guys who, don’t even touch, but have “intimate and a long-lasting friendship” with other women even after they’re married. Is he married to them as well? Is he being unfaithful to the one he’s living with? The one he tied a yellow thread around the neck?

We say “he cheated on her” (or vice versa) when he has sex with another woman, don’t we? It means, "you’re married to this woman, so you no longer have an ethical right to have sex with other women but to her and just her”. The whole “faithfulness”, “trust” and other expressions are all facades for the crude sexual blockade they lay on people to monopolize gene transmission (which is not a bad idea I guess). So, sex does define marriage (or a “relationship”). Sex is the basis for all the social relationships. Father, mother, sister, uncle, aunty, friend, friend who’s a guy, friend who’s a girl, girlfriend, wife – all these relationships boil down to your sexual “freedom” with them (from completely blocked to complete freedom). That’s the basis for human cultural evolution. So it’s not inappropriate that sex is associated with marriage.

If I get married for whatever reason, I’ll accept that I got married so that I can have sex with a person that I love without the society bitching about it. Yes, if I ever get married that would be just to avoid all the non-sense that comes from the society if I did not (say, I was “living together” with her). Of course, there are also legal reasons (like, if I die, my wife shall have the insurance money and inherit whatever I have and vice versa).

{{ But I think that divorcing just because your sex life isn't active is stupidity. Because it is obvious that as the marriage proceeds, sexual activity would decrease.}} – You’re being judgmental here, I had just said in the podcast – we are in no place to judge what others’ priorities should be (in their personal lives that is). Who are we to pass judgments on what one should expect out of a marriage? And it’s not “obvious” that sexual activity decreases as marriage proceeds. It’s not a scientific fact. Contrarily, women’s sexual energy peaks in their early 40s and for men they peak in the late 20s and it continues at a relatively same rate till they reach mid 40s. While it may be true that what you’re saying applies to lot of couples, it need not be true that it’s “the best way to live”.

I’ll state a perspective that is not my own, by very convincing nonetheless: We don’t know why we are here. We don’t know if our lives have any purpose. What we do know for real (as real as reality can be perceived by humans) is our momentary existence. As long as we are alive in this earth, we might as well indulge in earthly pleasures (if we are ready to face the consequences too). As opposed to “both of them being more focused on their career or taking care of another responsibility; that comes with the arrival of a child.” What are they chasing by running behind a career and bringing up a child? Happiness? So they are depriving themselves from a happiness to achieve a happiness of a different kind? At least sexual pleasure is reflected by the fact that you have orgasms. There’s no delusion (like the "pleasure" you get from watching your progeny grow up, get in to deepshit and put your ass on the line every other day).

Don’t agree with me? Why? You think the happiness of the ‘other’ kind is better than the satisfaction you get out of sex? Well, may be it is for you and me, why should it be for others? If a person is born with an immense libido, would you call him (or her) stupid if he leaves his marriage because he cannot satisfy his urges? Is it his fault that he’s born that way? Is it even a fault?

Of course, there’s an age old argument about the permanency of ‘that’ happiness -- as if the happiness you get from family life (career, children and all that nonsense) is going to last forever. In my opinion, they are both as fickle and shallow.

So I repeat - sex is the basic reason why people get married. This time however, I’m giving no clarifications, deliberately. Let me see if anyone can “jump on it” and prove me wrong. The people who get married may not realize this, but the institution itself is structured like that. They are 'weekend customers' who order shark-fin soup. They are not killing sharks, but they are part of the business that does.

{{So don't tell me that before marrying these people, who divorce their partner for the reason of a lack of sexual life, didn't contemplate on such a possibility.}} – There’s a basic difference between knowing it’s going be painful and experiencing it. It’s like those who climb the Mt. Everest. They know it’s going to be cold, really cold. But when they get there, they go “man it’s cold! I didn’t realize it’s going to be this cold. To hell with this expedition, I’m leaving”. So people who knew that their sexual life is going to diminish might still not know how bad it can get. How bad can it get? I don’t know. But if people leave their marriage because of that, it should be pretty bad.

It’s all in how we look at things. People often praise Indian couples for staying together in spite of all the problems (lack of sex life being the least of them). These people put their society’s whims before their own, but it doesn’t mean they are any better. If they contributed to betterment of the society by not caring about their personal lives, as many would argue, I fail to see their contribution. It’s a society soaked in inequality, injustice, poverty, sexism, bias, racism, political imbalance and what have you. I’m not saying that things would have been better had we followed a different family model. I’m just pointing to the fact the existing one is not the best. All societies function within their limits of sustainability. So, the western societies need not be mocked or looked down up on because they have shrinks and strip clubs.

Getting back to my podcast, my only point of argument was that marriage is a mixture of several things (sex, attraction, love, compassion, friendship, trust, reliance etc.). Regardless of how it begins (arranged or love) all marriages go through this mixture, probably in varying proportions. And if you take love as the source of it, that source’s inception can again be triggered by sexual attraction or whatever. As I had said, I know a few guys who “fell in love” looking at the girls' breasts and neckline. They’re now “happily married” with a kid. I think they embody the “happily married every after” couple. Sure, their start, as I know personally, wasn’t all that “divine”, but now it’s just as good as others’ who started with “complete maturity and understanding”. In my opinion it’s all bullshit. No body needs to justify which way of bullshitting is the best. My discussions however, are only about establishing that; it’s all bullshit.

In all of this, the question of morality is moot. I don’t think anyone has the moral high ground to claim that a particular way living is moral and others are immoral. I think that line of thinking is nothing short of intellectual bigotry and prejudice. There are things in this society that I hate, despise, scoff at, pity and disrespect, but I would never (at least when I’m “completely in control” of what I’m saying) have the temerity to say something is immoral.

About your friends having boyfriends; I don’t know exactly why they do it but I can understand. You would have seen me use the word memes quite often. What your friends are doing could be that. I think we all do it. Fashion, movie, music - none of these is independent. We like what we like because there’s a status associated with that likeability itself. Just tell me if you’ve done anything on your own, just for yourself. I shall deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn’t. In the same light, what your friends are doing need not be measured or judged. But you may throw your ideas on what they are doing. It will probably help you shape your worldview.

We all venture in to things that don’t always go as we planned, but it doesn’t mean we were stupid. But failing to see the possibility of it going wrong is stupid indeed. So in a sense if your friends cannot handle breakups I don’t think they should be dating. Then again, as I had explained with the Mt. Everest example, they might know it’s going to be painful if and when they breakup; but cannot quietly take the pain. So they get “filled with bitterness and anger”. But it passes and after it does they would have gained a valuable experience.

We are all big blocks of stone, we carve ourselves an image by blowing with a hammer called experiences (sometimes other blow it, sometimes it’s feeble blow, sometimes it’s a strong blow – each blow has its corresponding effect). Creation and destruction happen simultaneously. As the stone block loses itself, an image, a sculpture gets created.

{{So are/were they in love? Or was it just infatuation?}} -- I had mentioned about this specifically in the podcast. Is it love only if it lasts? Or if they get married? I don’t agree with the idea that love should be ever lasting. I don’t think it’s possible (if we are to follow a strict definition of love). All relationships share an intensity that does not remain constant, because we as people, change constantly. If you remember my earlier discussion about the ‘self’, you should be able to correlate. You fall in love with someone when you are 25. By 30 he is a different person and you’re a different person. Now, how is it possible to maintain the same love with the same intensity? It may increae but it's still not the same. It’s almost like finger prints. They look the same but they are the not same, are they?

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term 'risk society'. It’s also a book's title. That book, in general, is about risk and reward behaviour of people in late modernity. It’s mostly sociological than psychological. There’s a section in the book that talks about how people in the 60s, 70s and 80s spent their whole lives working for the same company. That is, their career started and ended in a building. They were from the non-risk-taking generation. They were scared to leave their jobs for the fear of ending up in a worse job. But today it’s not the case, you see people jumping companies every month. Each person has 4, 5 jobs in his career. Some people have 4, 5 careers in their life. Now, whose life was better? Nobody can tell.

Apply the same logic for love and partners. All these people who are supposedly in love may just stick to their partners because they don’t know where they might land if they leave the one they have. In all of this, I don’t see where the distinction between love and infatuation creeps in. I don’t even know if there needs to be a distinction.

{{As far as it concerns me, such bf/gf relationships are meaningless.}} – As a nihilist, I think everything is meaningless (just give it a wider perspective). It’s like looking at something in ‘Google Earth’. When you are 80,000 ft above the ground, everything looks green or blue or yellow – somewhat meaningless. Then you go down further and further, you see a country, then a city, then a street and then a green circle. The whole blurry green thing seen from 80,000ft on a closer look is beautiful cricket ground. So be flexible in looking at things, not only from different angles, but also from different altitudes.

***end of exchange***

If you are going to leave any comment, please don't say anything about the post's length. I probably could have summarized the whole thing to less than 800 words, but why should I? People summarize books too. But I would rather read the book than the summary. This post is a narrative, it's not meant to be "appealing" or interesting. But I think it still is. Nevertheless, just know that if it's not, it never tried to be. It's not prose that follows a certain structure. It's a conversation.

22 comments:

The Individualist said...

I appreciate your reasoning. I really do.
There is one point though that didn't sink in deep.
"Just tell me if you’ve done anything on your own, just for yourself. I shall deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn’t."
Take an instance where am completely blown over by the evening skyline. And I stand over the thirtieth floor of a building, enchanted by the sight I behold, lavishly granting pleasure to my eyes and providing stimulus to my creativity.
How would you deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn't something that I did on my own for myself? Curious.
It need not be the thirtieth floor, for all you know. It could even be some hillside.
What 'status' would you say is associated with that 'likeability'?
If it were someone else, I wouldn't have bothered. I do think that you are capable. Precisely the reason I want to see your defence.
Sudhir.

The Individualist said...

And curious. Did you ever happen to have a supervisor called Sanjeevi?
If you do, I happened to stumble upon the mail. Looks like it's become quite popular amongst the 'rebellious' employees of my organisation.
Kudos for the wit employed.

Suresh said...

Hi Sudhir,

Good to see you here. Now, to the post,
{{Just tell me if you’ve done anything on your own, just for yourself. I shall deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn’t.}} - I think this question has to been given a few footnotes elucidating how it needs to be understood. Because, eating, sleeping, running away from danger are all things that we do on our own (well, mostly) for ourselves. I was referring to actions that have a social meaning beyond the inherent meaning the action carries (eating-gluttony, sleeping-laziness, running away-wussy etc.).

What you're talking about is experiences, don't exactly fit my question's scope. Nonetheless, I can actually deconstruct it. Have a look at this post. From the post
"A lot of feelings, awe, fear, respect, admiration etc., all come from what we know about someone/something."
Also run through this article, just for brief understanding of what I'm going to say. Actually, your own words carry with them the essential ingredients for deconstruction; words that have subjective meanings.
{{I behold, lavishly granting pleasure to my eyes and providing stimulus to my creativity}} -
Lavish - what is lavish? Who decides what is lavish? Is what is lavish for you, lavish for me too?
Pleasure - what is pleasure? Is pleasure the same for a sadist and masochist?
Creativity - What is creative? Is falling a tree to make a table creative?

Why are you using so many words to describe it instead of saying say, “It was awesome”? Because it will make you look less poetic or less suave or less sophisticated? Or is it because “awesome” doesn’t quite describe it? In that case, you think the other words describe it adequately? Besides, it’s just about description; I think a mute video will do a better job. (Read it with a bantering tone)

As you grew up, your (my) mind gets filled with meanings the society gave to objects and words. The objects and the corresponding meanings keep changing even for an individual. I might have had the same feeling you're describing, as a hedonic capitalist. But as a nihilistic fatalist I can't but cringe at the destruction of nature for creating a block of brick on mortar covered in the sheen of glass and wood.

Nothing is what it is, everything is what you make it to be. And what you make of something has to do with what your experiences were with it before. Humans (as animals) are not genetically coded to “experience” nature like we do now. For we start out tabula rasa.

About this particular experience, is there any reason why I should believe it's true? Even if I take it as you are telling the truth. But what you think is true, true in itself? If I fail to experience it, does it become a lie? On the contrary, if more people say the same thing that you do, it becomes the truth? (Something like this truth in the 14th century Europe: The earth is flat. Why is it true? Because 99.9% people then, thought so).

The experience of "awe" when you're looking at green pastures, blue lagoons, yellow sky, deep space, all have a social status associated to it. That's what differentiates animals and humans (at least as much as we have understood them). For animals it's just their habitat, for us it's "nature", "beautiful nature".

On a different note: As much as I'm human as anyone else is and experience fear and awe in varying amounts, I also accept that it's due to the experiences that I've been through, since the day my feet were expose to open air.

PS. I know I’ve overstated my points but when you deconstruct you go for disambiguation than pithiness.

Suresh said...

yeah it's me, Sanjeev was my manager. It's amazing that after 2 and a half years it's still circulating.

The Individualist said...

Even though the scope of the question wasn’t mentioned earlier, owing to which I took the liberty of mentioning that ‘experience’ to find out how you would deconstruct it, you have proceeded to do so. So, it must have, in some degree, fallen into the scope.
“{{Just tell me if you’ve done anything on your own, just for yourself. I shall deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn’t.}}”
This was what you had promised.
“I stand over the thirtieth floor of a building, enchanted by the sight I behold, lavishly granting pleasure to my eyes and providing stimulus to my creativity.”
This was what I had mentioned. So, essentially, your objective was to prove that the whole ‘experience’ was not done on my own for myself.
“Lavish - what is lavish? Who decides what is lavish? Is what is lavish for you, lavish for me too?
Pleasure - what is pleasure? Is pleasure the same for a sadist and masochist?
Creativity - What is creative? Is falling a tree to make a table creative?”
I decide what is lavish, pleasure and creativity for myself.
“Why are you using so many words to describe it instead of-“
Why did I do so? No. Not because I would be more ‘suave’ or ‘poetic’ or ‘more sophisticated’ if I did so. If I had done it for the former reasons, it means that the image I want to create of myself takes more prominence than the description of the example I want to let know. My usage of those adjectives has resulted from my intention of using the best possible sentence to convey the right description to the reader. You.
I agree that society has a hand behind the words and the respective meanings attached to it. I do think that when we start to discuss about the origin of words and their assigned respective meanings (there is some word for that which skips my brain, what’s that? Some logy-), we are digressing off the objective, aren’t we? The words that I have used and their meanings aren’t relevant when your objective is to prove that that ‘experience’ was something that I did not do on my own for myself. It’s more the experience that needs talking about than the words I have used to describe it. I don’t intend to sound narrow-minded neither am I being a bigot. It’s just that it appears to be a digression from our conversation.
But yes. I shall join in too. Am just curious. “but cringe at the destruction of nature for creating a block of brick” ?
But why would you cringe at a process that aims to make your living more comfortable? True. It takes advantage of natural resources. But if it didn’t, would we continue to exist? Aren’t you taking advantage of it yourself? If you admit that you are, then, you must either despise yourself for existing or you are contradicting yourself by practising something and advocating something else. If you don’t admit it, I only will have to shrug and wait for an explanation from you.
“About this particular experience, is there any reason why I should believe it's true?”
Again, questioning the validity of the experience is going nowhere in proving that it was something that I did not do on my own for myself. To prove that an experience that I speak about is something that I haven’t done for myself, you will have to believe its authenticity. If you aren’t ready to believe it, then, you are shrugging away the experience and the base of offering a proof against it being done on my own for myself. If you believe something does not exist, there is no point speaking about why it happened. Because you are ready to believe it happened in the first place.
And yes. I appreciate that succinctness pales in comparison with disambiguation when the objective is deconstruction.

Suresh said...

Sudhir,

There's no experience without meaning, there's no meaning without language (however primitive it is). So language is not just language, language is the source for your thought process that comprehends what you experience. The commonality of language is what let's that comprehension be transferred. In all of this a lot of information is lost, right from the moment you observe something.

I don't think you read either of the articles. Because you're missing the point when you say "I decide what is lavish, pleasre and creativity". Let me quote what from my previous post "The reaction is not you; even your instinct is not you, for 'you' do not exist. You are a personification of your circumstances and surroundings and to an extent, genes (and genes know nothing about calories or good/bad sports)." I would suggest you read the entire post before you continue.

What you call "I" is an embodiment of your past circumstances. I'll again quote a passage from the same post (actually included in a different post).
"The idea of one's self is very murky and sometimes void. Self is nothing but a construction of an individual's perceptions built on reflecting his/her notions and ideas on various people and places under different circumstances"
I wonder if you were brought up in tiny island of relatively "barbaric” people you would hold the same sense of pleasure, beauty etc.

{{My usage of those adjectives has resulted from my intention of using the best possible sentence to convey the right description to the reader.}} - So you decide what's best for me? That is, you think those adjectives will best explain the experience to me? Would I able to understand what you're saying unless I already know what you're saying? That is, if I cannot imagine a tall building or the blue sky, how would I understand your description of the experience, notwithstanding how elaborate you make it. My understanding may very well be as follows,
A rope is long
A snake is long
A rope is a snake.

I'm not talking about etymology (that's what you meant), I'm talking about ontology. And we are well within our objective. My assertion was that,
Because you reflect up on your past circumstances, all your experiences are constructed from outside. Free will or "individual experience" in its true metaphysical sense does not exist. So, what you claim to experience on your own is actually because of cycle of events that has unfolded since the inception of time. Because you neither got there on your own (would you be working there if you were born in Tanzania? or if you were running a business?) nor experienced it on your own. The present circumstances drove you there (wherever you are) the past circumstances give meaning to what you feel (whatever it is).

{{But why would you cringe at a process that aims to make your living more comfortable? }} - I was just making a hypothetical comparison about how different people interpret the same thing. Once again that was to establish my claim that you are what your circumstances make you to be. If your circumstances make you a communist you look at the world from a Marxist perspective--as two dichotomous camps--the oppressors and the oppressed. So what you call as something that makes your life comfortable may be seen otherwise. It's a basic capitalist vs. communist dispute. Forget about caps and commies. I wonder if a 40 year old father who lost his job to outsourcing come to Bangalore and marvel at the new IT industry serving American companies. Why is he not able to appreciate what makes "living more comfortable" for millions of people? Because that, in a way, has cost his job. Of course he can think about it, realize that "globalization is a two road, there's loss and gain" and all that BS. But essentially, he thinks within the confines of his circumstances. The "I" of his is not his, but his circumstances.
If you still don't get it, I think you need to read some of the literature that I shall recommend. Just to understand what I'm saying (you may still not accept it).

Because you've asked,

{{It takes advantage of natural resources. But if it didn’t, would we continue to exist? Aren’t you taking advantage of it yourself? If you admit that you are, then, you must either despise yourself for existing or you are contradicting yourself by practising something and advocating something else.}} - This is an age old logically spurious argument. I'm a part of the system that exploits nature and I was brought in that system with limited power. The limited power gives me the power to question, but not to change it. Why? Because we have come a long way living like this, we have outgrown the sustainable ecological cycle the Earth and its natural resources had evolved itself to. Now the sheer population of earth is such that we have to exploit nature. But it doesn't mean I should praise the system. I'm a prostitute living in a brothel called earth, in which people rape each other. Rape and prostitution have become essential to their existence. I can either be alive and be a part of it or end my life and free from the misery or be alive in the hopes that this misery will end. In any of the scenarios I don't have to despise myself. For it’s not my fault that I'm a prostitute. I was born in the brothel where all doors lead to more brothels.

Besides, what I preach and what I practice need not be the same. I can be a short basketball coach who encourages dunking whenever possible, but I can never do that. Is there a contradiction? I could have had 10 kids, suffered a lot, and come to position where I take it up on myself to make sure that none of children or my friends' children have more than 1 (or 2) child(ren). Is there a contradiction? I might have smoked my lungs off, about to die of cancer. I walk along with few hundred rallying against smoking in public places. Is there a contradiction?
If all these are contradictions, worse yet, hypocrisy, I'm a proud to be hypocrite.
You practice what your circumstances allow you do at best; you preach what others' circumstances allow them to do. We all don't live in the same circumstances, for contradiction is intrinsic to nature.

{{To prove that an experience that I speak about is something that I haven’t done for myself, you will have to believe its authenticity.}} - It's not about the authenticity (well it is to an extent) but the accuracy. Let me rephrase the questions. I'm sure it happened, but did it happen that way you say it happened? Did you not fail to observe something? Not even single thing? If you did, isn't the experience incomplete? If I'm put there in that spot, how can you be sure about what I'm going to observe?
In all of this hasn't my mind already been corrupted by you description of the experience.

That is, existence of something true. But the understanding of the form of existence of what exists is through observation. And observation as I discussed earlier is through your senses that are shaped by your experiences and circumstances.

Suresh said...

This is what I was referring to by "previous post"

"Be yourself"

The Individualist said...

First of all, apologies for not having gone through those two links. Was at work when I replied, hurriedly.
I have read them now. And re-read them, I should say.
I agree on the first paragraph.
"So you decide what's best for me?"
If that question were, "So you decide what's best for me from you?" I would say yes. Atleast as far as communication is concerned.
I decided that that was the best statement I could come up with, to explain the situation. I decided that that sentence came the closest to meaning what I wanted to convey to you and hence, I decided that the probability of that sentence meaning the same to you is much higher than with some other sentence.
And when I talk about building , I do assume that by the word 'building' you would understand a man made walled structure. If am not permitted that basic assumption which we employ during communication, the whole essence of communication is lost. You are no longer sure of what you say. You are no longer sure if what you say means what you want to say. And if you agree that am permitted that basic assumption, the sentence I used to describe the image did not have taken greater prominence than the image itself.
And thanks for that. Etymology. Sometimes, it slips off. I'll do well to remember it.
"Just tell me if you’ve done anything on your own, just for yourself. I shall deconstruct and demonstrate that it wasn’t."
"Would you be working there if you were born in Tanzania? or if you were running a business?"
Good. The question proves that that something wasn't done on my own. And that the possibility of me being at the place at that time was made feasible by a lot of other factors.
But what about the second part? How about 'just for yourself'? Where does it prove that I did not do it just for myself?
Suppose two people, born of the same parents, were subjected to the same conditions and circumstances from the time of their birth, how likely do you think it is that both of them would react similarly at a given situation?
Haven't you seen how twins brought up together can be so strikingly dissimilar?
It need not necessarily be the genetic difference alone, as you probably will say. I think every man as an individual has an inherent something that makes him different than everyone else, even if they should be subjected under the same conditions. And that something is possibly what creates intellectual geniuses out of duncely parents. Not just the situations and circumstances. Not just the genes. An inherent something. To describe which, I need to do more homework. I agree. :)
So, you are a prostitute who finds brothels everywhere you turn?
If you agree that you have no other way out of this, and that you have limited power, how do you think you asking questions will give you a way out? Practically speaking, will mere sulking get you anywhere? Or the system?

And yes. I agree that you need not practise what you preach. And it works too. But I also happen to think that as long as you continue doing contradicting activities, your preaching will not have any concrete following. Or results. Or progress would be extremely slow.
After all, "it's a question of how long-", isn't it?

I also think that this whole business of co-existing harmlessly is bs. When you as a human live and your necessities and needs happen to depend on other being, you have NO option but to take advantage of it. For your survival. And sometimes, I agree. For your 'happy' survival. When 'happy' could well have been done without.
And as for questioning the experience's accuracy, like I told you, it's a constant. My constant. You will have to take my word for it. Contesting my very experience is not going anywhere towards proving that I did not do it for myself, does it?
As only if you believe that there is water, can you proceed to prove if its salty or sweet. If the objective is to prove how the water tastes, how long shall you be stuck in believing that it is water in the first place?
And your observation from my position and the distortion of your mind by my description of the experience is not relevant, is it? After all, we are not contesting the quality of the experience but if the experience was for myself. Correct me if am wrong.
"There's no experience without meaning, there's no meaning without language (however primitive it is). So language is not just language, language is the source for your thought process that comprehends what you experience. The commonality of language is what let's that comprehension be transferred. In all of this a lot of information is lost, right from the moment you observe something."
Impressive few lines. I remember reading something on these lines in Ayn Rand's The romantic manifesto.
p.s. My current manager is a more refined replica of your Sanjeev. And this person apparently was a team manager in Dell, Chennai. And guess what? He reads your complete mail. And while am showering applause in his midst ;), he storms away, murmuring, 'whoever wrote this mail is a stupid idiot'. Talk about guilty conscience. :p
p.p.s. And yes. I agree I have to spend more time before I can contest or join or be apathetic towards the likes of Nihilism, Libertarianism and blah. A bit more time.
Your wiki link had a lot in it. Thanks for that. Also, got some Neitszhe book lying around. Got to dust it up again.

The Individualist said...

Oops. Nietzsche.

Suresh said...

“The same twins brought up in two different places” is an exhausted example in the 'nature vs. nurture' arguments. Given that neither of the sides has been established as the right one, the discussion of what decides who you're going to be is in indefinite. But the very fact that there is at least some amount of influence (Which the nature side of the argument readily agrees with, just the amount of influence that they are contesting against) proves that you are not you but you are what your circumstances made you to be. The only way you can argue against this is to accept that as a given. That is "Yes 'my own' means what my society has brought me up to accept as my own". When you say that, we reach a moot point. My claim just hangs there neither proven, nor disproven.

{{Not just the situations and circumstances. Not just the genes. An inherent something}} - There is no inherent something. There is just information loss that occurs in varying degrees. You take it for a fact when you say "when two people were expose to the same environment". I had posed a question to debunk this in the earlier post,
"Did you not fail to observe something? Not even single thing? If you did, isn't the experience incomplete? If I'm put there in that spot, how can you be sure about what I'm going to observe?"
This was supposed to be an answer for another point, but you seemed to have missed it again. I'll quote it again there. But for this discussion,
Do you believe in evolution? If you do not, then we might as well drop it here, if you do please proceed.
"How is that a single cell able to develop in to multiple life forms when they were all exposed to the same environment?" - This is the question some religious folk ask. That is, we often say "The climate in Jupiter", "The climate in Mars", as if the entire planet experiences the same climate (we tend to simplify things for linguistic convenience, nothing more). So these religious folk debate from the same stand point. As if the whole of the Earth is exposed to the same environment. Sure it was below the same atmosphere. But as you go down and down, you see differences every few sq-kms. So this single cell was exposed to multiple environments in multiple times for several million years before it evolved in to "meaningful" life forms. It cannot be accepted as the truth if we discount the immense amount of time that was spent. Here we are talking about a thousand years for a minor change in hair colour. That's how slow evolution is. You cannot put an African in Europe and expect him to turn white in 40 years.
I know you're not saying this, I know you'll completely agree with me on this. I'll now try to relate it to the "two people put in the same environment" argument.

The basic difference occurs in the loss of information that occurs in varying levels in both the individuals;
Information needs to be processed and comprehended and made sense of;
This is based on past experiences (however short they were. The difference could be that this baby has peed twice today and the other baby has peed just once). Really minor differences make a lot of difference in the way they observe things; their body temperatures, how they digest the food etc.
How much is taken to their brains, amount of hormones secreted in the brain has some relation to the food you eat or how it's digested. And as you know, hormones have a lot to do with what we experience.

Now multiply this process with millions of milliseconds (that's the time span the brain functions on). By the end of 20 years you have a tree that is 20 ft and another tree that is half dead, both standing next to each other. The same place (well, not quite, but that's point I'm making). So each human goes through an evolutionary process that is very similar to the organisms in the earth itself.

Now I'll again quote what I had said above - The only way you can argue against this is to accept that as a given. That is "Yes 'my own' means what my society has brought me up to accept as my own". When you say that, we reach a moot point. My claim just hangs there neither proven, nor disproven.

{{how do you think you asking questions will give you a way out}} - I don't think so. I know I cannot get out of the system. That's what shapes what nihilists do. We do whatever we want to do knowing that it's all meaningless in a wider perspective. It's like playing basket ball. If you asked me this 6, 7 years ago--"why I play basket ball?"--I would have probably replied "to play for the college tournament next year" or something like that. But now, I know I'm not going anywhere with my game, but I still play it. Why? Because I love playing. The same way, asking questions may not get us any where. But I like asking questions. The very activity keeps me entertained. Ironically though, I do inflict some change. It's microscopic, but that change is definitely because of my intervention (this line can be deconstructed). So, though I mostly do it for the sake of doing it, it does have some effect. That's the difference between an optimist and a nihilist. An optimist does whatever he does hoping that it will yield him the expected result, while a nihilist will do whatever he does without quite thinking about its outcome (though he knows the likely outcome, he wouldn't pay too much attention to the likelihood of that likely outcome to occur).

{{Or results. Or progress would be extremely slow.}} - This problem has no philosophical bearings. This is due to human failure to comprehend the basic contradiction that I had mentioned about nature. While I have kept my discussions and examples at a metaphysical level, you have taken it to its practicalities. If we have to talk about that, then I'll have to give completely different examples and in many cases agree with you.

My questions with regard to the accuracy of your experience, has not much to do with accepting that it happened, but to differentiate how each of us experience it differently.

{{And your observation from my position and the distortion of your mind by my description of the experience is not relevant, is it? }} - Yes Sudhir you're right, it's irrelevant when I get in the picture. But I said that to point to the fact that your experience is also a distortion because of what you heard from another person. At this moment you become me. How can you experience something for yourself when the experience is already distorted? So you're experience is borrowed or polluted, however little it is.
As you agreed, you’re already in a place not exactly because you wanted to, you experience something that is distorted, how can either of it reach you when you don’t realize the former? Remember the classic scene in Matrix “Do you think it’s air that you’re breathing?”

That is. You’re in a restaurant that you didn’t want to go to; you order a food which isn’t exactly what you ordered. But you think you wanted to be there and you think the food is what you asked for. So you also think it’s going to you. But when it’s not what it is, how can it reach who you are? For ‘who you are’ is a non-existent allusion that is essentially a construction of millions of distorted experiences that you had in places that you never really intended to be. This statement by its nature is self-contradictory because it uses “you” as a real thing in order to negate its absence.
Nevertheless, it’s a philosophical limitation that does not warrant the dismissal of what it conveys (in my opinion).

Sudhir, this argument has severe limitations because of two reasons. I have to use language to deconstruct to deconstruct what you’re saying. But in order to do that I have to use words with meanings (by language’s intrinsic nature). That is, what I say can be deconstructed further and so forth. The second problem lies in the metaphysical school of thought you subscribe to in order to understand the nature of beings and nature itself.

As I had in my blog post “Be yourself…”, the idea that “you do no exist” can be an open fact if you take that school of thought. Otherwise my demonstration (as I had stated) will only be a sophistic farce.

Suresh said...

About your manager; hahaha trust me there are assholes everywhere. Given that you've been working for quite sometime you should know this better than me. The time I wrote the mail, my language, as you could see, was so infromal. I typed it all in a yahoo mail window. It's not just informal, it's almost like the 'teen-text-message', ewww feel like throwing up. I feel embarassed when I look at it now. I wish I had the same stuff in structured sentences :p.
Well who cares, it sure became popular and got the guy suspended . It's funny that I had mentioned that "nothing is going to happen" in that mail even though I wasn't calling myself a nihilist then (well, not till 7, 8 months ago). But something did happen. Talk about actions done without expecting consequences but happen anyway! :p (apparently bursting out does have some effect on the system).

The best thing about the mail becoming so popular was that it opened up a possibility (however improbable) to all the managers; that they might be the next one.

Zero said...

I assume the original podcast to which you were responding here was regarding "Alai Payuthey".

Such "obvious" reading of a film is something that mars story-tellers like Mani many a time. No such "pontification", in want of a softer word, was Mani Rathnam's directorial standpoint/viewpoint in the film. At the risk of sounding defensive, it's the character's standpoint (perhaps, even temporary) at the end of the film and that's all.

Zero said...

And, it'd have been nice if you had given the podcast link instead of the download link.

The Individualist said...

I guess I'll have a better standpoint when I know what exactly it is. I seem torn between various metaphysical standpoints. Even though Libertarianism seemed close to heart, it apparently has severe limitations. And more.
Nihilism. Well, more or less, like you say, my mind has become distorted owing to the fallacious explanations I find at many places. Not until I read Nietzsche did I realise the misconception that Nihilism was the belief in nothing. Anyway-
Feels nice to put the grey cells to use and more importantly, to see it being used by someone familiar. :)
I must've imed you umpteen times in the last year. Everytime you come online screening cricket matches. Do you have that id anymore? Fanta-

The Individualist said...

And yes. Evolution seems a better alternative to Theism.

Suresh said...

@Zero

Yeah she was talking about 'Alai Payuthe'. She kind of read too much in to the scenes and their meanings. It's funny because when Aayutha Eluthu was released some "so called Mani fans" were complaining about the language in the movie. "Cha Mani Ratnam poi indha maari kevalama dialogue ellam pesaveikaati enna?". Because it's a Mani film even local politician should be speak divine Tamil, ennangada dei? :))

The podcast was irritatingly long as well. But I didn't care about that, I just picked on the points she made about so called love and infatuation. Seriously, these kinds are there in every other forum. Trying to establish the "true meaning" of love, when it's all BS.

I've also changed the links. Now you can download or go to the page. Thanks for suggesting.

I said...

dude, get a fuckin life.

Suresh said...

dude? are you on drugs? well, get sober then!

Whether you like it or not, however pathetic and low, everyone has a life. Nihilism is in pointing to the meaninglessness of loaded values and connections that exist in this world, not in making meaningless comments :)).

"dude", get a fucking book!

Sriram said...

So now you feel so smart and all about yourself?

Suresh said...

@Sriram

What's the matter? If you make a comment that is even remotely connected to the topic, I shall respond without having to resort to "I'm an asshole, I full of it" strategy. But if you make a one line nonsensical "hey I'm a smart ass" comment, that's what you get in reply.

Fine, I'll try to set things right. You and I have more than a few things in common as far as our world views go. But I disagree with some of your views (I have just read 3, 4 posts and a couple of comments) because I employ a theoretically established deconstructionist methodology (pardon me for sounding like "look at me I use big words") which is slightly holistic than yours. I might be judgmental because of my limited exposure to your writing. So we can cool things now on. Anyway, I thought I'll make a clarification and I have.

Anonymous said...

Hi Suresh - while I dont deny taht sex is an integral part of mairrage, are you trying to say sex is the core/only purpose of mairrage? and I see that you have argued saying that mairrage (emotional blah blah) minus sex is friendship.

Well, am trying to come up with an analogy.we need air to breathe/survive. But the core/only purpose of life is not breathing. we have more meaningful things in life, atleast within the realm of life.similarly, sex may be necessary or even vital for mairrage. But how can you say that mairrage does not have anything more to it. (not sure if you exactly said so though)
-Padmanabhan.

Suresh said...

Padmanabhan,

I don't argue that marriage does not have anything more than sex. But marriage has very few things that are unique. You tell me what makes a marriage and I'll tell you whether marriage is the only thing that makes it.

About the purpose of life: it's highly subjective. For a lot of nirvanic budhists constant breathing (and the supposed nirvana they attain in the process) is the purpose of their lives.

That's my core point. Let's not define life or love in a "one size fits all" fashion. These are things that should be left to the individual's perception.

Post a Comment

 
©2009 english-tamil