What is an Ideal Society like?

Does the dream of a utopian society create blind followers?

Are we following rituals blindly? Or do we deny them boldly without understanding the reasons behind them? We need to discuss the logical threshold of such beliefs to understand the world around us.

The intent here is to analyse the psychological profile of the followers who are strong in numbers but weak in logic.  Is it the fear of God, hope for stability and prosperity, peer pressure or consuming what’s served on the plate – that drives people towards self-proclaimed Gurus and Gods. How shamelessly the people attack other fellow humans who are also created by their ‘beloved God’. So much in the name of God and the irony is none of the teachings of God have mentioned violence for nirvana.

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The ideal society ideas have several cells integrated to make the larger part functional. Perhaps, this could explain the crores of cells working together to form the ‘Dera Sacha Sauda’ (Indian religious cult group) kingdom.  It took 15 years to award a sentence of 20 years to a rapist, the leader Gurpreet Ram Rahim singh. Does the blind following corresponds to that of the Hitler or Mussolini, who were dictators and ruthless in their own ways. Is it the same psyche which is attracting people to a power that they believe can change the world and create a utopian future for them?  And is it the same drive that is making people insensitive to the pathos of women because they think that ‘Gupreet Ram Rahim’ (former Indian sect leaders charged with several crimes) is the visible avatar of the invisible God.

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The infamous case of mass suicide at Jonestown at Guyana is another example of the devastation caused by blind cult following.  913 People committed mass suicide/ murder on November 18, 1978. The leader Jim Jones was a self proclaimed churchman. When he realized that some of his followers wanted a way out of the set up, he ordered all of them to gather and drink poison. A few followers obeyed and the rest were made to do it in on a gun point.

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Inspired from such examples of cult following, Canadian author Margret Atwood wrote ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ which has recently been documented as a TV series was based on the fact that followers are made to blindly follow the acts that is being fed to them as ‘God’s will’. ‘The Handmaid’s tale’ is a dystopian novel about the manipulative power of the mighty – a class of women called handmaids are kept only for the purpose of reproduction and are forbidden to perform any task that can be even slightly related to freedom of expression; all done in the pretext of a better future.

Indian mythological characters can help us to understand the concept of the two famous kinds of kingdom we had. However, any profound example of an ideal society hardly exists. Simplifying the definition of an ideal society we can deduce that it is ‘a man’s dreams of a better world’.  So, let’s compare Rama’s and Ravana’s Kingdoms, as they portrayed a clear distinction of thoughts that ruled both the societies

Here are some points that mark clear differences in their approach

 Rama ‘s Kingdom Ravana’s Kingdom
Society Person belonging even to the lowest strata of society can also question the king Even the king’s own brother cannot question him
Environment Art of living in harmony  with nature Kumbhakaran was given 6 months of sleep, otherwise he would have eaten up a lot of  food
Wealth Use of wealth was aimed at fulfilling the necessities Wealth was collected for pleasure and show off
People Everyone was happy The happiness of the society could be killed for the king’s pleasure
King Deedful and lived for people Was indulged in pleasure and devoted his life to become powerful
Family Difference of opinion was permitted but they shared the same feeling of love for each other No one was allowed to differ in opinion from Ravana

But the situation is quite tricky, irrespective of the presence of various intellectuals trying to build a model society; ‘my ideal society’ never came into existence. There could be various reasons for it; clash of egos, or too many possible outcomes from combining different opinions that affects decision making skills.

Even today, if we get all the intellectuals to decide the country’s future, the possibility of building an ideal society will be one in a million. Now, if we factually know that even the great epic like Ramayana couldn’t create an ideal society, how can proxies from all around the world, who have no right to rule the fate of thousands of people can create a utopian society for them?

‘Paper Doll’

Colors glorify the white spaces of a canvas and the much desired interplay of strokes and colors create rhythmic alliterations that recite the monologue of a virgin poetry. For centuries different forms of art have played a vital role in shaping the history of mankind.

Early man’s cave paintings, stone age carvings, Egyptian pyramids, renaissance, realism, romanticism, surrealism, abstract and modern art – all these eras dogmatically reshaped, revamped and reinvented the artistic appeal every time. There were constant adaptations and experimentations for creating masterpieces that can stand high on intellectual grounds. Some art forms retained their status and were carried forward by admirers but the others were at the verge of extinction, only to be rejuvenated later.

The “Paper Doll” series by Lisa K. Salerno

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80’s Ladies
 

  “It was unfolded  by accident, or perhaps it was by luck? I discovered a dissonant joy and longing in the repeating nameless-faceless forms of the vaguely female shapes I cut while playing with my daughter. While my initial intent was to entertain my little girl with these fun and innocent cutouts, I found myself imagining a story and character for each strand of figures. The repetitive patterns that unfolded reminded me of the ways in which our society so often ascribes stereotypes for each woman; ones that we impose upon ourselves, and ones that are imposed upon us.”

– Lisa

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There is a Crack in Everything

“As the ambiguity of each doll shape faded away when paper, paint, canvas, and pen combined, the narratives of each painting emerged, so too did their titles. Each painting is named in a manner reflective of the way in which it investigates the contradictions and complexity of the female experience, sometimes playfully, sometimes flippantly, and sometimes defiantly…”

                                                                                 -Lisa 

Deeply Connected

Deeply Connected

“The intricate layers of color in each piece are as unique as the layers that make up each individual.  The overlapping and/or transparency of the paper doll shapes symbolize interconnectedness and how through our connections with others,we ultimately become ourselves.”

-Lisa 

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Lisa K. Salerno is a New England painter, artisan and art writer associated with Lyrical Abstraction, feminism and equality, as well as projects that promote awareness and empowerment of those on the autism spectrum.

Love and ‘Other Factor’

Many have died and went insane, many have lost their hearts in vain, and many have scribbled on walls, or have cut their wrists. The lower class hard working love, the middle class struggling love and the elite elegant love; they all have to go through the same bridge of ego, narcissism, adjustments and criticism.

Tied across two egos, if the thread of love is constantly shaking then it may not be the right tempo to tremble, and you may decide to move on in search of the right tempo. Now the question is lucidly straight – how do you find the right tempo, so that you can absorb the tremors and enjoy the vibrations?  And when you keep moving you are deemed to find the right rhythm, now you are just left to do the mixing to please your love.

The pseudo intellectual ‘love’ doesn’t know that everything around it is imaginary – the maniac doesn’t understand the hypocrisy-

“I have to be independent but mutually.”

“I have to be decisive but have to consider you in every decision.”

“I can deceive you, but you cannot do it.”

“I can hear the truth; your ears are too weak”

The greatest verses in love have people making poetic claims, the wordsmiths have made it a royal phenomena and and poets/poetess have celebrated it with decorations and vibrant colors from ages. ‘Love’ has been pushed to the highest pedestal and all other emotions are treated like step children.

The love described above is the general presumption, but there are some kinds of love with the ‘other factor’ where love is interconnected with other emotions, where it is not the sole credit winner but the step emotions climb the ladder simultaneously.

Here are some couples with ‘The Other factor’ prominently holding a place of honour in a relationship.

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Source : Axfashion

Abuse: Joker & Harley Quinn (characters from DC comics)

They are the most abusive couple, Jocker tries to kill Harley when he starts feeling attracted to her. Every bit of insanity they have, binds them together and they kill each other’s sanity. Joker can be fully devoted to her, become caring and all; but the overdose rots him from inside and to neutralize everything he has to abuse or brainwash her.

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Source: Khan Academy

Open Marriage : Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera (Kahlo was Mexican painter who married Diego )

Long before the concept existed, they passionately loved each other but had multiple affairs. Frida was bisexual and Diego loved only women, but this never interrupted their passionate love.

Kahlo quotes :

“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband. I also cannot speak of him as my lover because to me, he transcends by far the domain of sex. And if I attempt to speak of him purely, as a soul, I shall only end up by painting my own emotions.”

Alter –Ego: Dominique & Howard Roark (Characters from Ayn Rand’s novel Fountain Head)

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Source: Anonymous

When people are insanely alike, they cannot get together too well. Dominique understood Howard’s creativity but she didn’t want him to waste it on the worthless society, and so she wanted to destroy him. On the other hand, Roark didn’t care about society and kept on creating master pieces.

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Source : moviepilot

Sapiosexual : Sherlock Holmes & Irene Adler (Characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories)

Holmes brain is trained to think faster and deduce logic, he had never fallen in love because he never encountered a girl with whom he can relate his intelligence. Irene was the only lady one who befooled Holmes and thus he was unquestionably attracted towards her.

Women & Art

Women wear an artful camouflage – the signature curves, the smooth pastel strokes of luster on the skin and the coquetry behavior make them the muse for many. What goes unnoticed is the spiritual and intellectual inclination that has subdued itself over centuries of dictatorial patriarchy.The world famous artistic paintings have used women bodies as a consumer of passion & love, as a possession of the lover, as a portrayal of chained emotion. Hardly, if ever, we come across such work where men are depicted submissive!

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Courtesy :pratanacoffeetalk

One of the most expensive paintings in the world – Nude, Green, Leaves & Bust by Picasso, the painter’s mistress and muse Marie Therese can be observed in full obedience to Picasso, whereas he is guarding and enveloping his love, also branding her with his own initials PP for Pablo Picasso, a way to make her tied up to him in all forms. The artist always believed, ‘there are only two types of women- goddesses and doormats’, so he depicted Therese as a fertility goddess and positioned her in a submissive way to portray her as a doormat too.

Alternatively, there are artists who have questioned this submissive behavior by women through their work – If we keenly observe the work of Indian artists then many have questioned the taboo surrounding women’s body – Amrita Shergill’s each painting depicted a unique reincarnation for women. Gogi Sarojpal emphasized on the animal instincts of a woman. She perceived woman as KaamDhenu. It was important in the medieval period that women showed animal instincts in her behavioral pattern.

Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’ analyses the many layers of prohibition because of which we didn’t have great women in art & literature in the Shakespearean era. She imagined a scenario where Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith.

She goes on to describe –

“She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers.”

With the given facts of that time, she came up with the most probable outcome –

“She died young—alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh”

In Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical book ‘Persepolis’, she explains the effect religious restrictions have on women’s intellect and identity:

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Courtesy :fanpop

“The regime had understood that one person leaving her house while asking herself:

Are my trousers long enough? Is my veil in place? Can my make-up be seen? Are they going to whip me?

 No longer asks herself:

Where is my freedom of thought? Where is my freedom of speech? My life, is it livable? What’s going on in the political prisons?”

The constant war against women’s intellect had severely damaged the thought process, where the nerves of emancipation have become numb. Even if societies have become so called liberal, these issues have not become archaic but are contemporary in ever form.

On the other hand there is literature like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘Twilight’ which is not supposed to be taken as serious reading but still goes on to form the culturaltone of the society. These works ultimately state that women have a chance at a happy marriage and fulfilling life only if they choose to forgo their identity or have no identity of their own to begin with!

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie points out in her essay and a TED talk by the same name, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’:

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”

 As varied the descriptions of women in the arena of art and culture might be, whether it is holding a mirror to society or dreaming a big dream of an equal world, we definitely have a long way to make our women free in their wilderness.

Featured Image Courtesy : The Atlantic