Intellect is intact and sanity safe only in physical loneliness. The moment one is in company or before an audience, both faculties exit quietly. Discretion deserts as the gallery gains control; crowd and common sense are mutually exclusive. Sure, it would be unfair to claim all that is on parade is plain petty. The point is that exposure in excess which cannot be avoided in the current milieu, can make even the profound appear pedestrian. Less said of lesser mortals.
We are often witness to the irony of intelligent individuals making for a maniacal mob. The best example is the typical prime time TV screen in which about 6 or 8 smart experts simultaneously scream their lungs out from small boxes within the idiot box to be heard above their comrades-in-din and of course, the voluble anchors. One cannot discern even a semblance of so-called scholarship, skill or sophistry in their gross gestures and gesticulations. But accost them in private and even someone like Digvijay would seem agreeably serene and sound almost sensible.
A mike on hand invariably loosens the tongue. Public platforms produce a profuse of piffle. Tributes to departed souls naturally elicit effusive eulogies and can be exonerated for exaggerations. But it is the felicitation functions to fete living ‘greats’, across all fields, that often cross the threshold of restraint and breach ‘speech-limits’. In the absence of honest appreciation, largely owing to the speaker’s ignorance, hollow rhetoric takes over, an injustice indeed to a deserving celebrity. But fulsome flattery also flows freely if the target of praise is not that very praiseworthy. Either way, verbal camouflages are sure signs of a vessel sans stuff.
The infectious influence of the camera and/or crowd manifests most in politics. Not that politicos would make sense without such ‘provocations’. Still, their caution gets casts on swifter winds when egged on by a frenzied audience or just a lens. And this being poll time, the hoopla is at an all time high. The run up to the 5 State elections, for instance, has been marked by speeches that are substandard at best and stupid at worst. Leaders across parties have been saying things in public that themselves, only a few years ago would have hesitated to utter even within closed doors! Small wonder even iron man Sardar Patel has been bent at whim by the political heat while fatal bomb blasts get trivialised as just another security scare.
Anything goes, is the logic with no concern whatsoever as to the veracity of words or the very necessity for articulation. And once spilled, every byte is promptly bitten by the hungry media and sensationalised sans any sense of proportion. Given this prelude, the campaign to the larger Lok Sabha polls promises to be dreary and boring. There shall be no surprises as to the issues, the debates and of course, the faces. All these leaders, having peaked early and with nothing new to offer, would be as tired as the fatigued citizen who has seen them all and heard it all many times over.
Solicitations and expert advice make no sense to the discerning denizen who has already taken the decision in the silent sanctuary of his mind, not just about his vote but on almost all matters in the public domain. The anarchic and ‘argumentative Indian’ needs a break! The urge to shut out all the sound and fury is very high. Those three monkeys come to mind as worthy of emulation. As does the temptation to mimic MSingh who seems the only person in the country immune to all the turmoil around, including the ones caused by him. His ‘coolness’ is almost enviable. Our intelligence may come under strain, but some sanity can at least be salvaged.
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