Sunday, January 28, 2007

six degrees of separation and none of freedom

Imagine entering a throbbing disco. The beats become this invisible being that holds your limbs in taut control. Suddenly, you’re pulled into that world. Rhythm, melody, harmony and their overlapping into each other’s spaces. Trampling on domains to create a mĂ©lange of implacable sensations. Your ears are filled—the entire audible spectrum—with sounds you never thought possible. You need no cue; the ambience directs your actions.

Now see, feel all of this, with your ears wide shut. Look at people, the language of their bodies. Feel the silence, so far removed from this illusion. Live on this oasis and experience. So less, so much amiss. There are no pauses that heighten the effect, that elevate the music. And a wave of people, seemingly stupid, dancing, moving, grooving to some unfelt agency.

This scene from Babel is so wonderfully shot; it has just stayed with me since.

The silence rises to a feverish pitch. And beyond, its one long silent story—birds with pulverized beaks, choir girls with severed tongues, tigers who can’t roar, and songs that don’t sing.


Six degrees of separation are really too many sometimes. Our worlds inhabit our realities so tightly, in so complex yet familiar a manner, that virtually everyone is a few nodes of separation away, close at hand. We’re balanced right on the edge of our tethers like we’re repelled by this proximity amongst us. Drawn apart against the inclusive forces like electrons in their orbitals. Such encompassing forces bind each one of us that any small piece of the puzzle displaced entails a reorganization of our existences. Values, rights, wrongs—everything collated into perspective again.

The irony is this trigger can’t be controlled. What can cause this hint of a displacement that may go on to move continents is really un-forecastable. What is culture for some is sacrilege for others; religion for some, sin for others; even our ideas of fun find no common ground these days. No wonder, with such disparate beliefs, our faith in humanity is tested with a far greater frequency. A whole lot of skepticism and insecurity has fallen into our plates. It chaps our lips, chafes the lining of our stomachs, but we just can’t stop eating.


There's this friend from Chicago, K, a major in psychology and international studies. At TGIF the other evening, we chanced upon a picture on the wall that looked like Che Guevara (it was Bob marley's actually). K remarked that she had spoken to Camilo, Che's son, at her university and knew him quite well. Our conversation suddenly assumed importance, like what we spoke about on a carefree evening mattered in a bigger perspective. Meanwhile, for a few minutes while we were on the subject of Che, I was wondering to myself: small world na?


sucharita said...

regarding the disc: to be honest i am yet to observe it first hand.the two or three times i lost myself in our college dance fest i romped the grounds for the entire night.u made me remember them again!!and i don't know but something somewhere happened,and right thru one of them i barged out saying 'i need to collect my sanity'.I dont know whre that line came from.But I do miss that feeling of losing yourself to an external agency.

And six degrees of separation: thats so true.but is there an option out of it?

shantanu said...

I'll try and write a intelligent comment later , but for now I must say I really like the direction your writing is going

satyajit said...

sucharita: But why do you need to opt out of it? its just something that is there..both convenient and uneasy

shantanu:well, thank you very much :-)

PritS said...

six degree of seperation - aren't we seperated from ourselves by it sometimes. The search goes on. The link becomes stronger and longer.