Friday, December 15, 2006

An experimental recipe: Lemon Curry?

I hereby add another hue (or rather, a whole spectrum) to the Metaphorical Rainbow. In other words, I attempt to stretch metaphors two sizes too large. Hopefully they will shrink in the vortex of washing machine-like discourse to follow.

1. I start with a meta narrative. On metaphors. Overt stress on metaphors in writing or formulating theories is like shopping for more than you need. Often, the beautiful ideas coming about through cross linkages across vastly dissimilar hyperspaces may stay forever in the idea book, just as the dazzlingly splendid garment may spend it’s life in the bottom of the closet.

2. Is it a mere coincidence that the body of a neuron, the purported functional unit of consciousness shares its name with the VedicAmbrosia’ of the Gandharvas? Incidentally, it also shares its name with Huxley’s fictitious Ecstasy like serotonin circuit activator!

3. Eureka! The neural basis for a very complex emotion: love. [Note to self: Throw in some Shakespeare to make it sound cooler]. I predict there must be a molecule for platonic delight – just like serotonin for hedonistic pleasure. Or at the very least, something at the systems level: a neural circuit of sorts. Those perceptive enough will acknowledge the almost impulsive need to seek something intellectually stimulating and lastingly beautiful moments after an orgasm. Sometimes even before the cleaning up. Perhaps this is the platonic pleasure circuit (or our Plato-serotonin if you like) at work. Differentially coupled with the hedonistic serotonin in a homeostatic loop.

Extrapolating, I wonder if evolutionary psychologists would trace man’s artistic and cultural achievements – heretofore considered as epiphenomena resulting from the blind workings of Darwinian selection (and thus reviving an interest in Lamarckianism), to the refractory period! Speculative as it sounds, what isn’t when it comes to EP? However, I note here that a refractory period between orgasms may be merely a necessary rather than a sufficient condition for if it were, why don’t mice visit art galleries in Gothic mouse holes?

4. More EP-ness. OK. This is rather radical. Evolutionary Philosophy. ‘Western religion and philosophical thought’ and the propensity to classify human traits, to evolve a codified morality: is certainly at loggerheads with Eastern Mystic ideas, Vedanta or Zen Buddhism, where duality is an illusion, time is eternal and all become one. Now consider the clockwork like change of seasons in the temperate regions, the finesse of the drizzle, the impeccably neat vegetation and the clear demarcations between plain and plateau. By contrast, the torrential rainfall in the tropics of India, the dizzy altitudes of Tibet, or the chaos of the evergreen forests of Indonesia seem to have a natural identity of fuzziness, a tendency of fusing into one another. Connect the dots.

5. Is there a time and place for the sublime experience? Religious gatherings? Meditation camps? Malgudi days? Amsterdam? Can it be realized only with total ‘awareness’ as J. Krishnamurthi might suggest?

Or can it hit you like a bolt from the blue in the most unlikely of places? In the middle of a conversation on logistics; as you are driving by; or perhaps when you are selling a pack of chips door to door? There is a very fine line between the vulgar and the sublime. The glint in your younger brother’s eye when you tell him his first adult joke. The twenty one grotesque creatures of the Galerie des Chimerales overlooking the majestic Notre Dame. Or the half-clad, half-broken, half disgusting Venus de Milo adorning the most elite portals of the Louvre.

6. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Lemon curry at a Naked Lunch.