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Nothing "cool" about it after-all

The recent news on hearing of Maria Susairaj and parallel announcement of Director Ramgopal Verma that he’s coming up with a movie titled “Not a love story” based on this incident is good news for RGV fans like me.

In crux, Maria, a kannada actress along with her fiancé Emile Jerome (a former navy officer) is accused of murdering TV executive Neeraj Grover in a flat, made love in the very flat after the murder, chopped off body of Grover in parts and disposed it to a nearby jungle and finally burnt them.

RGV tweets “My interest in a film inspired frm susairaj case is to understand hw 2 seemingly ordinary everyday ppl can commit sch a hair rising crime”. Indeed, something that the world in general and India in particular must be ready to very interested to know.

Crime is not new to the annals of human history. History is replete with instances of brutal violence and cruelty. And for those of us who would live to believe that we are moving away from quiescent past to chaotic present, it would do well to recall that its not crimes which have increased, its our awareness that has – through newspapers, media, etc.

That however brings us back to the point RGV raises. We can understand crimes where a clear motive is established. We may feel repulsed by selfish actions by criminals – but we understand why they do it. We have seen invaders looting commoners in past ages and today we may see underworld gangs who operate secretively or better still, white collar crimes – but in all cases we see a clear motive – profit and power. Despicable, but nonetheless understandable!

Planned murder – for reasons not necessarily arising out of motive for profit, power or vengeance is a bit hard to understand.

God is Dead

When German Philosopher Nietzsche thundered thus at the end of 19th century, people were aghast. But contrary to popular understanding Nietzsche did not mean that a supernatural power that we call God is no longer present – he meant that the old order & system centered heavily on religion is dead. The governing principle of people is no longer religion centric. Charles Darwin banished religion from science, but left the moral aspect untouched. Nietzsche now banishes religion from morals as well.( “Two great addictions – narcotics and religion”.)

Nietzsche says “My truth is terrible: till now what was called truth were lies.—Transvaluation of all values: that is my formula”.

And what values did he propose? Whether you would like to believe it or not: most of modern philosophy and psychology is inspired from this man. His common themes like being oneself, doing what one likes without any regard to others etc are recurring themes of modern world. Please click here to read “Influential ideas”.

If these were not enough, he proposed that man would evolve further to become the Overman. And how would the Overman be: His test is that he won’t feel compelled by morality of the day. He can do anything and everything without feeling guilty ever. Does lion feel guilty of killing the sheep?

No doubt, a person who fancied himself to be the “Overman”, a "monster filled with joy" and "conscience of a beast of prey" is also a man who caused unparallel destruction and loss of life and property throughout the world. We know him today as Adolf Hitler.

While it may be true the morality is a human construct and evolves with time – it surely is a dangerous idea to suggest that few people can do anything including killing people and when capable of doing so with coolness and composure he becomes the Overman. There is nothing to brag about coolness either, as many such people broke down completely during investigations. The guilt in most cases overwhelms them.

In many such cases these murderers were torn by guilt and fear. “Crime and Punishment” by Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky explores this concept in detail.

All religions in general emphasize on humbling & taming of over-individualistic streak and disciplining it to bring it in harmony with society. So when religion is dead, we need to replace it with another system. Unfortunately, no system has been ever able to fill the moral void so far.

Why am I worried about India in particular? Because India never really experienced the loss of old religious order and system until now! Till 1990s most the development was steady and the social structure did not change at a fast pace. The changes were slow and its impact on social order was minimal. Not so today!

West in general has learned to keep up with these changes and through psychological counseling provided to teens and also adequate understanding of history (as in Germany, wherein young minds are taught how meaningless these theories of racial supremacy ended with holocaust). Noam Chomsky had made it clear on 9/11 incident that the only difference between this and ones that occurred earlier is that the hunter had become the hunted for a brief moment.

Sensitizing the child to these wrongs will help him develop a reasonable respect for law and humanity. The new generation of over-busy working couples fail to spend quality time with their children which leads to feeling of alienation and apathy. In a country where visiting psychologist is tantamount to confessing mental illness, I’m not sure if this perception helps improve things.

In a society of philosophers, no law is necessary. Likewise, in a society of Overmen, maybe law is unnecessary. Nietzsche himself did realize that his theory may be misconstrued by many and makes it clear that the Overman will not come anytime soon and all should not imagine themselves to be one.

And finally it may not be out of place to reason that “lion killing sheep” is totally unfortunate. Animals do not have the power of choice! They are bound by their nature and we cannot find a lion becoming vegetarian or sheep becoming carnivorous. We cannot fault them for they do not enjoy the freedom to make a choice. Humans however are not bound by nature to kill others.

Lastly, the man who proposed the idea, Nietzsche, went insane for the last few years of his life. That obviously doesn’t discount his penetrating intellect. However, when a man with fire in his pen and proposing Overman becomes insane you begin to suspect the theory et all. Maybe it’s a just a poem and not philosophy after-all.


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