Wednesday, January 11, 2006WOODY ALLEN: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Yes it is.
WOODY ALLEN: What does it say to you?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void, with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
WOODY ALLEN: What are you doing Saturday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Committing suicide.
WOODY ALLEN: What about Friday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: [leaves silently]
"Play It Again, Sam", Paramount Pictures, 1972
The girl in the excerpt above is an Existentialist. Existentialism is a movement in the middle of the last century. Unlike the 2.5 million Muslims who converged on Arafat a few days ago, Existentialists do not believe in God. They have different concepts of right and wrong. They believe that they should live in a way that makes them feel real. The real thing to do is also the right way.
Those people in Seberang Takir and Mengabang Panjang, Merang in Terengganu Darul Iman who cleaned out containers washed ashore by the heavy sea felt that they did the right thing by taking away the cigarettes and frozen prawns and then informing the authorities. I am sure these people believed in God. Some might have thanked God for the unexpected rezeki. A few might have thanked God for not being killed in the mad scramble.
Existentialists, while not believing in God, believed that everyone is responsible for his/her own actions. If one believes that breaking and looting beached containers is right because of some Beachcombers Laws (written or otherwise), then they should not be afraid to face the music should the owners of the containers press charges. That will be the time to stand firm on your convictions, no matter what. At times like this, Muslims will think of Bilal. Bilal is the first black to embrace Islam. People tried to change Bilal's conviction by placing a heavy rock on his chest. Bilal did not change his mind. Cambodian prawns and cartons of rokok Chap Topi are far lighter than the rock placed on Bilal's chest but they managed to change people's beliefs. I guess, mob mentality played its part too.
Following the herd or even giving a damn to what the herd thinks is not what the Existentialists would do. If an Existentialist believes that charcoal is white, and he lives his life accepting that charcoal is white, he feels that he is right. Now, do not go on thinking that those who beat the traffic light are Existentialists who believe that red is green. Remember that they will be responsible for their actions. So, if they beat the traffic light and get knocked down by a JKR lorry, they have to convince the non-Existentialist magistrate that they are right.
I am sure you find many people who think they are right all the time even though you can and did prove them wrong. You might not call them Existentialists or you might call them kerah keng, unshakeable, principled or whatever. Some might just call them assholes.
A warm welcome to another Pak Blogger. Way to go!