Friday, February 13, 2009

Chaturashrama and political philosophy

There is no one universal political philosophy, just as there is no one universal personal philosophy. What do I mean by that? I am not postulating some new and improved universal brotherhood formula, rather, I am stressing that an optimal (defined in whatever sense, and hence, an absolute) strategy exists for each stage of life as described in Chaturashrama (four stages of life).

Along the same lines, varying political philosophies, that optimize different progress-indicators of a nation state can be adopted at varying stages of a nation's life. For instance, it may be argued that according to certain metrics, market economics was good for India when it happened and should stay that way for the near future, whereas the same cannot be said for a country that is not yet ready to receive competition from multinationals.

The problem of course comes with globalization where there is too much confrontation between nation states, and the diversity of needs (i.e. diversity of definitions of optimality) is staggering, the problem comes when identities of nation states and progress directions have to redefined as fast as they are being created.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Catcher in the rye and other escape professions

This is not a post about the book or the characters itself, just a lead in.

Why has Catcher in the rye appealed to young readers for many generations? The character is able to articulate his frustration with his surroundings in immediate terms. He is dripping with misanthropy largely because he feels something is glaringly wrong with the world. Most people go through this in the first few years of leaving home.

But perhaps the greatest reason the book is appealing is that it offers a dreamlike escape, or more accurately, it demonstrates the possibility that someone in the depths of misanthropy (of the 'society sucks man', kind) can conceive of an unadulterated world, thus articulating with dreamlike accuracy [1], the reasons of his disillusionment with the world. The character wants to be a 'catcher in the rye', someone who can see the sun cutting through the rye field on the edge of a cliff, making everything golden; there are kids running around and playing in the field; and the only job of the catcher is to catch these kids when they try to jump off the cliff.

Are there any other such appealing escape professions [2]?

Frame lifter
I remember when we hung out on the Dihing terrace, there was one idea (Nachiket, 2005). On an F1 circuit, the pitstop for refueling and tyre changes takes about 6 seconds. To maximize efficiency, a team of mechanics waiting in position. Once the car is parked, there is one person at the back who releases a lever and raises the frame of the car so that two persons at the sides can pull out the back tyres and replace them.

Coffee totaller.

The guy who makes the bill at a small town (eg. Karaikal) 'breakfast and meals' place, slightly larger than a shack or cart on the street, so as to warrant a separate' kanakku pillai' for dawn shift, when the town wakes up, and before the first beads of sweat tell of another blinding, treacherous, humid day.

[1] By dreamlike accuracy, I mean with great attention to the details of the scene, but missing obvious logical considerations such as what happens when the sun sets or the kids poop, or what about the annoying buzz of the cars on the F1 circuit?

[2] Escape profession summarized by this ex-NYC web 2.0 geek blogger

Note: Thanks to flickr and the diligent photographers