Saturday, March 10, 2012

On cynicism, and other disquieting concerns.

They say that a cynic is never surprised. Strange it is, then, that I find myself somewhat confounded by the world, as it has chosen to present itself to me lately. Whether that indicates my having become less cynical or the world having become more confounding, I know not. What I do know, however, is that something is eating away at all social structure and the people that comprise it. It is a form of moral corruption so incredibly pervasive, that once you see it, it's impossible to ignore. 

The more I zoom out and try to view the world from a more privileged(read distant and disconnected) vantage point, the more conspicuous becomes the absence of a grand master plan. The universe, providence and random chance(or whatever else you choose to believe in) have always been indifferent. But now, so are the people. It was just naivete, ignorance, and idiocy before. Now, there is also indifference. The masses are frivolous and fickle. Fickle with their loves, fickle with their hates, fickle with their allegiance, fickle with their belief. Fickle with their ambitions, fickle with their hopes, fickle with their words, and fickle with their needs. With moral codes traded for oblivious languor, and passion for disposable cheap thrills, constancy of purpose is just about the rarest thing one could go about in search of. In a world where every one, every thing, and every idea is dispensable, what does a person place their faith in, anyway?

Now whenever I veer off on this particular tangent, I am accused of mounting the moral high horse. But it's not adherence to a certain code of ethics I advocate, it is the necessity of an individual defining one for himself and living by it. Because in the absence of the same, when perfunctory institutions like religion fail, there would be nothing left to define oneself in terms of. We'd all be jaded and shapeless blobs of indiscernible substance, with no purpose, no identity, and nothing of consequence to call our own. One could argue, that it's already happened. 

Much has been said about the gradual and inevitable decadence of the bourgeois, and the supernumerary cliches that follow. Yet, fully aware of the facts, I so desperately seek people who could pledge their lives to one idea that they stand for, who would make a conscious decision to always live by their word, and who have the courage to fight for the things they believe in. Why are people so scared of investing any substantial part of themselves in anything? I've been told that it's that same cynicism that creeps up on them, leaving them bitter and uncaring. And I am always left to wonder how and why a cynical disposition has come to entail apathy, even towards oneself. 


Tangled up in blue... said...

I always wondered if a cynic was a heartbroken idealist really.

You know what really confounds me about people? The idea that given time, people can get used to anything. Dishonesty, apathy, even cruelty. They accept status quo so unquestioningly.

How can people be satisfied be so little? Why does everyone hunger for superficial qualifiers of prosperity when what really matters is never attained.

Is something inherently wrong with me that makes my longing for some things so intense? Is it really so unjustifiably selfish to want to live a life less ordinary?

All I've really wanted for myself - is to be good. To be a good student, a good teacher, a good doctor, a good person and to be good at things I do and think of.

It's a little disquieting how most people go through life without thinking about their selves, even if they choose to ignore others. Do you think that maybe they're just afraid to look too closely at themselves because maybe they won't like what they find there?

soin said...

i wondered if it all comes down to a question of where, collectively we can draw the line between idealism and reality. and there is accepted reality and actual reality. actual reality being undefined as of now. one might have realized much more and asked these questions earlier, but these questions do not hurt us collectively. so easier to bypass. most of the thought process seems to be 1 and 0 built on top of each other, so expecting other people to understand or think along similar lines is futile at this point of time. but do we let these define ourselves or get along, saying my answer to this question 0 and yours 1?

and one thing work i seem to be have observed from work- real cynics just had too much of it. the other cynics just copy and would eventually give in and try.

Sugar Magnolia said...

I don't think it's cynicism that keeps one a commitment-phobe.

I think it's a combination of inertia, obsession with appearance plus an innate need to conform(that leads to choosing the Herd over the Hero), fear of the unknown and sheer laziness.

Conformity (the despicable sort, not the other kind which is merely maturity; a pragmatic discerning sense of priorities - not all battles are worth fighting), you may find, has many faces. Surface brilliance is, unfortunately, quite easy to mimic. And mimic well. Ingredients include a well-developed coterie of 'fans' who exist in a symbiotic relationship with you (you say 'Wow' at everything that comes out my mouth/arse and I return the favour), a keen ear to the ground for all liberal developments in and around your world so as to appropriate as soon as possible and recycle in multitudes of synonyms till even coterie begins to gag, and perhaps a really low esteem of oneself (the kind that hits at bedtime, not at kitty parties). All best represented metonymically by a Mirror.

But this is no news to wise (and perhaps wrinkled) eyes who no longer (or never did) fret at their reflections.

From personal experience I find that even though periodic knells of sense keep ringing one back to track (one that's going up, hopefully), it's those occasional moments of self-doubt that are murder to tide over. Hold on tight, is all I can say to all fellow travellers.

This last year has let me see a lot of life outside what had been a rather narrow three years preceding it. I find that people worthy of being admired (not loved maybe but definitely the ones you look Up to) come in all shapes, sometimes have an unfortunate taste in fashion and potentially funny accents.

From what I know of you, Sherry (and you may of course ignore this if it seems presumptuous), your cynicism is not of the self-perpetuating, snake-biting-tail sort. Keep that questioning blade sharp for years to come. I can, with some degree of pomposity :D, guarantee that you've not yet seen everything/one there is to see. There's true grit out there. Truth out there. Period.

I don't know how this got so long. What I wanted to really say is the only way to not be so flummoxed at the ludicrousness of the world is to reduce contemplation time spent on it to a minimum. Spend more time questioning, criticising, doubting, and triumphing over self. Become what is best about the world. Cool stuff will follow.

It's turned 2:00 this moment. Time ripe to get off the damn keyboard and get back to raging against the dying light.

Goodnight, Sherry. Love and best always.

PS: Also to TUIB, who I miss very much. =)

Sugar Magnolia said...

PS: Above comment length may appear to contradict this :D, but one thing that I stick by is that though periods of contemplation/track-record-review are absolutely mandatory, one should not underestimate walking the walk as well. It's a lot less frustrating to think about this square world when you're dog tired doing what you should.

Simultaneous sentience while Working It is of course, like Chandler Bing's chewing gum: Perfection.

Priyanka Mehta said...

Someone told me, "It's not worth it."
Could be the same cynicism.

I just wanted to know then what was worth it?

I thought the world needed people who were "alive".

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sugar Magnolia, those are truly fabulous words. I just read them today and I feel so, well, comforted. :) Become what is best about the world. That's a supremely brilliant sentence. I shall always endeavour to live up to that. Thank you. :)

Deboleena said...

Oh my dear, you read through that! <3

hyd said...


Shanky Jindal said...

Good one...