Sunday, October 11, 2015

Civilisation and Question of Love: Part V Choices we Make

Taken at Max Life Style, in City Centre II, Rajarhat, Kolkata
Kaleidoscope wishes to discuss the question of choice which has become so much important in a late capitalist society. He teaches his students that development is the question of the enhancement of choices. One of our famous noble laureates speaks about development as freedom, Kaleidoscope like many others understands it is a freedom to choose. Therefore increasingly we are looking for more alternatives in our lives. We wish to avail services where we feel that we are having more choices. Lesser choices most frequently disinterest us.  
The bigger questions are therefore:

A. Does enhancement of choice mean empowerment?
B. How enhancement of choice connects expenses, restlessness and craving?
C. What happens to those (or them) whom we do not choose (or choose to leave behind)?
D. How do alternatives enhance our freedom?
E. How the question of love, choice and alternatives connect?

Choices and individuation

The most significant gift of the civilisation is freedom of choices. What we are taught to truly value is our independent individual existence. For example while a generation earlier it was taught that one must not forget the value system of one’s “culture”, one must be dutiful towards his/her significant others often including neighbours, with the advent of capitalism the philosophy has been turned upside down. The futuristic growth model which the state and market as scholarly twins of the industrial revolution thought needed a push. In order to satisfy such a need the state intervened family matters in the court of law through the army of state machineries, market continued to send army of products which first challenged the local products and then completely wiped them out with international standard branding. Therefore, while Kaleidoscope wears a Levis Strauss jeans he can truly identify himself with his friend Jan Kaweretzke staying at Berlin. However, this was not enough to break the bond of the family and community; therefore, the twin of the industrial revolution has given another dimension, a dimension that is stronger than such “pre-modern” bonding, i.e. the power to become INDIVIDUAL.

It means that

1.       Marry the person you like.
2.       Leave him/her if s/he does not suit you eventually.
3.       Choose from different alternatives and crave for more.
4.       You do not need to depend on the family and community for basic things like food, shelter, clothing, education, healthcare and of course employment.  

Interestingly the individuation issue is way too opposite than what we are taught by the millions of years of evolution. We have been co-operative with each other, we lived in communities, and we evolved and become the major force of the planate because of this co-operative ability. Within merely about two centuries we are becoming independent individuals. Today while market is providing us with choices like never before, state is doing constant surveillance over families. For example in many countries the state can sue a person to a slightest of ‘negligence’ over their children. State compels you to send your children to school, can take away your child if you do not behave with them according to the legal terms of appropriateness.

Rationality as New Barbarism:

All these are done under a powerful concept of ‘rationality’, often which is backed by another heavy loaded term “scientific.” The scientific rationality in the intellectual sphere has fuelled in the process by inventing child psychology, individual psychology, discovering diseases which were not there before the advent of certain forms of life styles. With increasing specialisation in the academic disciplines we have invented and regularly updated DSMs, by the American Psychological Association and then thrse are used across the world without often thinking about the contextual and cultural richness of different places other than America. The rationality based on logic has taken away to a significant extent the vital inputs of affect and emotions. Rationality often speaks against emotions. For example with scientific rationality we can make fun out of our medieval ancestors, even to a certain extent our own parents who still believe that there is something called afterlife and work for divinity. From a purely scientific point of view we can say human life has absolutely no meaning at all. We are outcome of a mindless evolutionary game. If tomorrow our planet is blown up, nothing will happen to the universe, and it will continue to mind its own business. Hence, any meaning that we attribute to our life is a delusion.

How does it make a person feel who continued to thins his unfulfilled aspirations will be fulfilled in the next life?

How does it make you feel if you have just fall in love and your love is reciprocated?

Yes, it is gruesome, science, or for that matter rationality is gruesome exercise.

The indifference:

With the enhancement of choices and formation of atomic individuation we have learned another thing, i.e. indifference. In fact, our building architectures, essential life commodities teach us to become indifferent everyday.
South City Shopping Mall, Kolkata

Mies van der Rohe Seagram_building Chicago

Technopolis office building, Sector V, Kolkata

The pictures above shows indifferent architectures designed to cater the issue of space rationally. All three has amazing similarity yet are designed for different purposes. They are all air-conditioned, indifferent towards the outside world, they all reflect, i.e. simply throws back the outside world, not allowing them to enter into the inner space.
While our buildings, air-conditioned cars, houses, and offices are indifferent, we too are indifferent. What we really care about is the question of choice. While we are having many things to choose from, our mind continues to crave for more. Even what we crave for years or decades only gives us a momentary pleasure and then becomes part of our regular life, making us crave for more. Therefore, we are increasingly becoming indifferent towards the world that surrounds us, relationships that contend us to focus on our individual pursuits which are actually shaped by the strategic nexus of state, market and science. Because there is an uneasy relationship between individuals (who also crave for relationships along with other things) state, market and science our species is increasingly becoming restless, tensed and dissatisfied.

Love and the trickledown effect of choice:

While we have an enhanced ability to choose from ever increasing alternatives we have started to believe (unconsciously may be) that we can get everything we want. We have forgotten to accept the defeat. Whenever we face a defeat we tend to seek revenge. Because of our indifference towards the world in which we tend to live, we hardly have anything to care for. When the question of love comes, it is often seen that we tend to seek everything from a finite person, and when we fail to have it all we seek newer relationships. Often badly hurting the persons whom we choose to leave. Often we do not leave, we continued to stay but in a void, constantly thinking and seeking other possibilities. Kaleidoscope can still remember one of his friends saying out of frustration that he cannot find new pornographies. Many of the so called new pornographies are actually old ones and repetitive.

The two scholarly children of industrial revolution, i.e. state and market along with their best friend science is sincerely manufacturing individuals with choices to make. Increasingly state-market-science nexus in their affair with individuals is pushing people far away from the affect and love, replacing them with scientific rationality and polishing them with choice. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Civilisation and Question of Love: Part IV Farming and Biggest Blunders

Yes the exploration continues over the question of love. In doing so kaleidoscope wishes to show how the advent of farming has severely affected the nature of love. While kaleidoscope says so, he presumes two things first, love is a different feeling than sexual drive. Although sexual drives do have significant connection with love, but love as a feeling can transcend sexual impulses. Therefore, one can love asexually; one can love even without thinking about sex at all. Second, love is a pleasure that comes instantaneously but it requires investment of time and emotions to nurture it. It does mean that if you do not have time you would definitely lose love to a significant extent. 

Love is a highly valued commodity now a day

Love is highly valued but less thought of or cared for. We tend to equate love with commitment to monogamy. We tend to equate relationships with the concept of property. Therefore, everything related to commitment boils down to the question of physical relationships. Being physically intimate with someone else than your partner is the highest form of betrayal. Even in the court of law this holds to be true. In this blog Kaleidoscope wishes to address the issue of love, temporal investments in love and its link to farming and rest of the civilisation.


For millions of years we were happy with hunting and gathering. We have colonised most part of the world and yet remained hunters and gatherers. The massive mistake, yes kaleidoscope calls it a mistake was conceded by a group of people about 10 thousand years BC somewhere near south western Turkey. The surplus theory which says that the entire civilisation, development etc. has come out of agriculture surplus has actually resulted in misery in average Homo sapiens life and has generated population explosion, and a class of elites (Diamond 1997).
What makes kaleidoscope conclude that farming was a blunder? From purely biological point of view farming before the advent of market economy has yielded nothing but toiling of our ancestors. We were supposed to be expert climbers of trees, trapping games and collecting a wide variety of food to satisfy our omnivorous selves. Instead of doing that we have started taking care of wheat plants throughout the year and there was no look back. We cleared up rocks for them, we fetched water for them sacrificing our lumbar spine and in return wheat has given us carbohydrates. Because these plants needed constant care they have domesticated us. We could not roam around freely. Even today we crave for a vacation, and we spend thousands to enjoy the vacation. If we did not cultivate we could have been much smaller in number with much larger space to live in and a much larger forest to roam around.
Although it is difficult for today to imagine the dire consequences farming sitting in an air-conditioned room enjoying all the luxuries of capitalist society, however we are enjoying all the luxuries at the expense of our ancestors who died of malnutrition, settled to take care of plants in settlements which were hotbed of infectious diseases.
In a foraging society people are usually happy with a wide range of foods to eat, almost no question of malnutrition. In contrast with settled farming society people are to depend more on a particular kind of diet. While our ancestors thought that they need to work harder to make farming more profitable, they did that and for a while they fetched returns too, but the philosophy of their life altered fundamentally. The new philosophy said the harder you work the more profit you make, thereby you are more secure in life.


The very concept future might be linked to farming. In a hunting gathering society there is no point of thinking about tomorrow. It has been a society which is ever present. Everyday you need to go out with your band to hunt and gather. You get your share, you eat, you sleep, you play and you listen to myths and perform rituals. When games and other resources are increasingly becoming scarce you migrate. Not much to think about. With the advent of farming you are constantly thinking about the future. The entire life's philosophy is futuristic in terms of yield, weather and uncertainties. Living in future is a trend that we have inherited and carry with us all the time.
As many of the ethnographers who have worked with recently settled hunting gathering tribes know how difficult it is to make them understand the importance of savings and having bank accounts. Kaleidoscope has studied the savings behaviour of Santals and compared them with neighbouring Mahato communities to find a stark difference. In Jindal Steel Works at Salboni he has found that while Mahatos are able to save some amount of the compensation money, most of the Santal families have made immediate expenditure mostly by celebrating festivals, and in consumption of liquor.
The whole philosophy of work harder for a better tomorrow (which of course never comes) is rooted to this grave mistake of farming. Therefore, Santals who are still hunter and gatherers in their soul fail to understand the need for savings for a future. While we were told that hard work will result in better (luxurious) future it was a lie. It was a lie because what we consider luxury today becomes tomorrow's necessity with newer luxuries hanging beyond us.


When we constantly think about future uncertainty and luxuries we tend to toil harder in our work at hand. Our brain is taught constantly to work harder with an immediate and also long term goals to achieve. Working hard does not end. We have to be very focus on what we do. Therefore, we are to choose from the available alternatives. These alternatives are given by historical forces, such as family, friend and other associations. Most often we fail to choose what really interests us. Therefore, we are living in someone else's life from the very beginning, we take the burden of someone else's dreams, we are worried about future which was designed for someone else.
In a relationship we tend to equate property rights over the rights over individuals. Womenfolk are the worst sufferers of such a concept. They have been equated with land and reproductive instruments. With time these have only become altered to adopt different forms. Even today virginity is considered as a woman's greatest virtue. Faithfulness is equated with pretention of having a happy life within the lawful marriage rather than love and care.
With such entanglements of someone else in my body and soul we tend to mount on a career horse to reach a future, thereby making our lives ever more complicated. Durkheim once stated the difference between mechanical solidarity (feature of pre-modern society where people usually perform similar tasks) and organic solidarity (modern society works as a organ system with specialisation, people perform different specialised roles). Yes we are specialised to perform certain kinds of works and we do them with ever greater hardship.
Therefore, we have specialists for everything. We even have specialists for working on love and relationships we call them poets, writers and sometimes Archie's gallery. Specialists are framing words, taking photographs, painting and selling them to us in exchange of our labour in our particular field.
The more we engage future, the more we need to work harder, the more we work hard in a specialised arena the less we have time to do other things. The more we are integrated in organic solidarity the less we have time for other things, such as love. Increasingly our species would become lonelier and miserable with machine like soullessness.