Power And Prejudice

By Sunil Kumar

The power of technology and incessant drivel. So began another day in a partially interesting life; when I reach a literary fest in a former movie studio by the sea.

Any fan of the Hindu shastras or Milan Kundera the Czech writer; knows that the existential ebb of daily life is sometimes exciting; and at other times jaded and morose. There was nothing to be practically gained here; yet something draws me relentlessly to self-absorbed chatter; the defining factor of human existence. The blah-blah of the writer’s fest.

The keynote begins with some Greek-American humor; the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post; Arianna Huffington. After a keynote which is marked with some seriousness and usually frivolous observations; I get an opportunity to question the lady.

My brain is bubbling with the thought of AI(Artificial Intelligence) gaining ground in a digital world which already resembles a miasma; a mirage that is something similar to the Hindu concept of illusion(Maya) or the Greek underworld of Hades. That thought is stark.

On expected lines; Mme. Huffington declares that Artificial Intelligence will not make inroads into her publication at least; but the world is infinite flux; and we shall see what actually happens. Then, just, maybe a scientist or a technocrat would have approached the question of AI in the digital domain differently.

Continuing in the wet orgy of words; Ashwin Sanghi and Amish Tripathi talk about two of my favorite subjects; history and mythology. The multiple theories of genetic origins and the cultural colonization of the Aryan Invasion theory are only some of the subjects touched upon in this free-wheeling ideas fest.

From the Himalayas to Mesopotamia, Meluha and Ur; Brahma and Abraham; horses and gods; we had a glimpse into profundity. Something I forgot to ask; which will forever remain a neuron impulse; do you believe in extra-terrestrials? Would have got some interesting answers.

The last time I saw Tripathi in this fest; he was similarly engaging; making belief the cornerstone of his descriptions of Nataraja(Shiva); the most creative of the gods in the Hindu pantheon.

Swaminathan S. Aiyar responded to my question on the relation between GDP and Gross National Happiness. The Bhutanese concept seems to be skewed at the outset; according to him; as it is based on rather jaded variables.

But; in an Indian(or global) context; happiness he believed was relative; which in common-sense terms may translate to “I don’t know about my Neighbor” and not Christ’s benevolent thought of loving him.

This common-sense straight response was not what I was expecting; as my mind was inching towards a more analytical detailed statistical and calibrated thought experience; but what he said was practical and believable.

Leaving just as William Dalrymple; the man who writes sentimental prose largely about the Mughals; and sometimes give us floral descriptions of the past was about to speak; I was also struck by the eloquence of Pico Iyer; a writer who sounded more English than the Britons on stage.

Nostalgia is something a few of us experience; perhaps it is only the lazy reader of massive amounts of literature. Or someone who loves the romanticized world of the mind; for some time. Power perhaps brings with it unthinking prejudice; or in common-sense terms; that’s the way life is. Write another one and move on. My blog; my life.


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