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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Middle Finger Jerk


The screen suddenly went black. Power failure. My friend Rahul and I were sitting in the ‘Reserved’ class of the movie theatre. Reserved class is at the farthest end of the auditorium; behind us, the door opens to the hall outside. This was way back in 1977; Sreekumar Theatre was yet to have a standby generator, probably because power failure was not very common those days. It was an afternoon matinee show; the door behind us was flung open and people casually got up to stretch their legs, till the show started again. Sitting near the aisle, we could see our silhouettes on the screen. I raised my hand; in the white screen, my shadow too raised its.

We were in our early twenties; still in the shadow of our adolescence. Rahul said – “Dey, lets give a middle finger jerk! The arseholes don’t even have a generator. The entire audience will notice it; but wouldn’t know who did it”. I said – “No, that’d be crude; it’s indecent.” Rahul turned to me. ‘Don’t be such a prude! Indecent, indeed! You’re just scared someone would bash you. You and your f- ing principles!”. I retorted that it is not because I am scared, but I feel it to be wrong. It is lack of culture, like some bums, to show a middle finger jerk in public. Rahul started mocking me- “ You are scared, but instead of admitting that, you are bullshitting with your principles. You have been taught that you shouldn’t and you are just afraid to break the rules”. I said you are wrong; if that is our society’s values, I have imbibed it, because I too feel that it is wrong to show obscene gestures in public. Even if I am bold to do that, I wouldn’t, because such values are mine now. Thus ensued, one of our usual hot arguments over silly things.

Which came first, the fear of breaking society’s rules or making your own rules, whether they agreed with that of the society or not? What is decency and indecency? What is obscenity to you? Is it what you would not do in public only? Is it based on ‘Do not do in private what you would not do in public?’ Are we all, basically crude, gross human beings who are just kept in reins by the values and norms of the society? Or aren’t we intelligent enough to distinguish the dos and don’ts, aware of the limits of individual freedom and the requirements needed to be a member of a society? Where do we draw the line in morality? Does conformity to one thing indicate conformity to everything else too? Can’t we have our own set of rights and wrongs, what if some agrees with that of the larger world? Rebelling without a cause, what is it’s point?

This post is for you, Dr.Antony; thanks for your inspiration through your post, Yes Sir! http://heartbeatsandruns.blogspot.com/2010/12/yessir.html

Insignia commented : Profanity? Uttering it without having any intent is much better than not uttering but having the intention. I disagree. Restrain over one’s words is a quality of self-discipline; we owe that much to society. We mock at discipline, thinking that lack of discipline is freedom. Only a right blend, a balance of individual rights and individual responsibilities would make a good society; history has shown and continues to show how human society has fallen into decadance, not only moral, but environmental, cultural and political, whenever they have leaned too much, either way. The question as Dr Antony raised is not whether you should call your teacher by the person's name or address him/her as Sir/Ma'am. The question is how much respect you have for the other. It is an acknowledgment of order in human relationships, that is natural and necessary for harmonious co-existence.

*********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 13-12-2010

11 comments:

  1. You are a thoughtful person!




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    ReplyDelete
  2. Bala,

    I am being thrashed eh? :-) Its nice to see in this blog world, people noticing what each one says and analyzes it. Not many cares :)

    Well, I have a reason why I commented that way. Blame it on my work environment and culture. My line of work involves collaborating more with Americans than Indians. And you know few people out there use the f-word as common as others. Thought its against our "Personal code of conduct", its still used. A frustrated and annoyed one at work utters a f-word! without any intention at all. Its nothing more than a "aaarrgghh!!"

    So much so that I recently discovered a piece of code in our software having this f-word. Of course it stays within the company.

    Does this mean the person who uttered it lacks discipline and respect towards his job? the company? the person working with him? Not at all. Do they lack a social responsibility? Maybe not. Restraint is always there.

    This doesnt mean that I am promoting such usages. It was only meant to say that sometimes these words are uttered without really hinting at anything or anyone.

    On a lighter note you may find this refreshing. http://spice-n-ice.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-i-never-swear.html

    Oh! and yeah I dont swear :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do have few questions on these lines.

    Do you believe that just uttering a profane word casually amounts to indecency and lack of respect towards environment, culture and fellow humans? If yes, what about the malicious thoughts each has on his/her wicked mind?

    Is this not more deteriorating than a casual utterance?

    A word cuts deeper than a sword. Agreed. But ifs casual and everyone around are aware than it means nothing at all, what harm. Its just gonna loosen up the nerves and the person just gets to vent out than let it boil inside.

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  4. nice photo
    one should be careful when we talk, but even if someone says something it should not be seen as a crime
    ignore it or debate with him and prove it he should not use that word

    but respect his right to talk and express.

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  5. If the F word and the middle finger jerk was not so fascinating ,why is it generating these comments?
    I agree with Insignia's point of view.
    There are people walking around with profanity in their heart and soul , displaying an exterior of holiness and when the opportune moment comes they strike like a viper.
    And then again continue with their holier than thou countenance.

    Yes in many cultures the 'f' word is derogatory and not used even in casual context. However when English is spoken swearing and muttering the f word seems to be well blend into the lexicon of popular use. Now when I say ,"what a fucking life",it can either be meaning what a wonderful life or what a depressing one. It is purely in the mind and conjecture of the other person to take it as an offensive usage or a harmless expression . However I will not advocate a public speaker to begin his speech with the sentence," good day to all you fucking ladies and gentlemen".

    The middle finger jerk I guess is a fascinating "mudra" ,. Do not know if it could be found in the 'natya Shastra ' .
    Look these little gestures and words , if used in the right context and in the right group of people will evoke only laughter , fun and banter.
    If we cannot discern the context of usage well then we need to go back to the basics.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Balachandran,
    It was kind of you to mention that post.
    Anil, What a fucking comment you made,man!I was laughing all along.It was good I was alone,or else someone would think I had gone crazy. Wow..that was fucking good!
    I was just imagining the scene,at a packed audience. "Fucking ladies and gentlemen"...I am still laughing!

    Honestly,I think it is time we invent another word to mean the real act.Fucking no longer means fucking.
    That is what Insignia said and Anil commented on.When everything is low and down the drain,isn't it natural to think..Ooh..what a fucking life!.And when suddenly everything comes back to you,to say a welcome..Wow..fucking good!

    This middle finger trick is a unique one.The real meaning is where you are going to shove it in to!
    That monkey is a familiar face. Looks like he really means it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You have problem with MFJ? Try mooning instead :=)

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  8. eeks - no comments. i feel like a fish out of water.
    guess i've yet to eveolve:-)

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  9. @Claudia: I dunno, but thanks! :-/

    @Insignia: Malicious thoughts everyone might have, but to act upon such thoughts, is malice.

    @Anil & Doc: You can make a f-ing joke out of it, but using it other than as an interjection, is crude and uncultured.

    @Sm: Respect others? what the f--- do you mean?

    @Ashok: No comment. But thanks for teaching me another word.

    @KPJ: We all are fish - living in this filthy waters.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh MOC what a fucking retort for the comments!

    ReplyDelete
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