Friday, 24 February 2017

Are we Truly Mature?

A couple of days back, I sent an excerpt from my published piece in a premier Dutch daily to a select few friends of mine. A venerable lady took umbrage at my piece and wrote to me: " I'd appreciate it if you left me out of such gross and ridiculous discussions. May be I'm too old for it.Or may be you're plain insensitive. But please leave me out.." This got my goat and reminded me of a famous story, which's not apocryphal. Seeing the legendary Italian master Boticelli's Venus, a prude old lady asked the curator, why was Venus naked? " Lady, the curator told her calmly, because Mr Boticelli forgot to seek your opinion!" 

We're just hemmed in by such prudes and puritans, who claim to having a very liberal and erudite outlook but cringe and feel embarrassed whenever they come across something which hurts their fragile ego and flimsy sensibilities. It's their insensitiveness to be unable to appreciate a piece of art dispassionately. Well, if you don't like something, you can ignore it, skip it. But never call the other person insensitive. This shows your rudeness, nay crudeness. I remember my male as well as female professors of Aesthetics at Oxford, Sorbonne (Paris), Columbia and Al-Azhar Universities dispassionately teaching even explicit passages from world literature without a scintilla of embarrassment. Some of the lady professors were astoundingly beautiful. But they never recoiled from teaching those embarrassingly erotic passages from Byron's Don Juan, James Joyce'sUlysses, Emile Zola's Nana, David Herbert Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover  and Arabic erotic poetry, among others. But then, they were exceedingly learned professors teaching at world's greatest universities.

Why can't others be like them? Why do most of us react so petulantly to anything even remotely related to sex and eroticism? Isn't it a part of life and integral to human consciousness? Once when I wrote about incest, a respectable old lady 'advised' me to send that piece to 'Playboy', not being aware that Playboy's interviews over the years are considered to be the most perceptive. So are its book, music and film reviews. She'd that monomaniac opinion about Playboy  being a girlie magazine that flaunts beautiful models (playmates) without a stitch on. This is monomania.


A truly intellectual person is all encompassing. S/he takes and views everything without frowning upon. One must not be blind to life's innumerable aspects manifest through art and literature. And that's the sign of maturity. But how many of us are truly mature?         
                
                                                                                                                                           -----Sumit Paul

                                         

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