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Of P.D James, Citibank and Fear. November 15, 2006

Posted by K in Abstract Ramblings, contemporary, Reviews/Rants.
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P.D James. I wonder where I heard of her first. Ofcourse, until I borrowed my first, I wasn’t aware that she was a she. P.D James for some reason sounded male to me. Maybe its got to do with the initials. I remember a film from long ago where the redhead got mistakenly hired on a zoo-like establishment because they owners thought she name sounded male. Ofcourse when they saw her they got a shock, doubly so since she had claimed for herself the bed of the senior-most owner(if there’s such a thing), which he only discovered when he attempted to get into the bed after a night of drunken revelry. I think the movie was called Hatari.

The book was called The Murder Room which is why I picked it off the shelves in the first place, choosing it over the academic books that I needed to pick,ahem. It started off well enough, though in hindsight, it was probably because I had pre-assumed her greatness. The memory must have made certain connections. The middle was good too, and quite delicious, seeing as there were murders, men in uniform (one, the protagonist, being exceedingly good looking, too;)) and potential love. The end unfortunately petered off to a boring old conclusion (not the murderer; I never pick the right fellow/felli), with boring old clichés and unfulfilled promise. I mean, why on earth would you build up a premise for workplace love and then leave the poor maiden with a ‘sad’ countenance which ‘he noticed’, just as he shot off to keep an appointment with a lover who doesn’t get many lines or sightings in the text. Little bits of what must have been considered ‘insight’ into the lives of the characters are scattered periodically, but they don’t really aid the plot in any significant way, and quite pissed me off because it tended to build expectations of, if nothing else, a well rounded closure, of sorts. Silly me. It was obviously not intended. Oh, and did I mention the extremely patriarchal ending. Your place or mine. Mine, cause the Thames flows under my window as opposed to your sound of fountains in the morning. And this, after building the handsome, macho, conscientious protagonist as a sort of equalist.

Oh, by the way, do you have a Citibank card? Do you need to use their helpline? Word of advice; don’t. You will be assaulted with a beautiful feminine voice (no accent; thank god for small mercies!) reminding you to update your contact information for a more global banking experience every, oh joy, three seconds, in the near about three minutes that you hold the line. I don’t think the guy who finally took my call, much liked the after effects of such a brilliant recording.

Interesting point came up in class today. One that we discussed in Bernie’s classes last year. Do we behave ourselves and do all the goody goody things that we do out of fear? I’m still thinking that out, but I sure as hell do not believe in god out of fear. I am not afraid of what god can do to me, although I do not believe that he/she can do nothing to me. God is more powerful than me, in a way that someone who knows more will always be powerful, but I’m an equal, as I see it. I will not unload my theory of god and existence here because doubtless it will be disputed as all arguments can be ripped apart, and frankly, I don’t care enough to debate on this issue. I’m an equal because I feel equal, and am free to know as much of whatever I want to know. God, as I know it, is too chilled out and has better things to do than police dissenters. Unlike the protectors of organised religion.

Do I refuse to cheat because I’m afraid? Afraid of what? Myself, I was told (fear being defined that way by Pallavi). Does one have principles because one is afraid? And if you choose to read it that way, doesn’t it make every action of yours motivated by fear?

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1. diana - November 15, 2006

mmmm… i remember a post you made once about being equal to everything. back in july i think it was. as for fear, i dont think fear in itself as a base emotion lasts long for anything. fear leads to immunity. i used to be afraid of lizards, but then on my window everyday sat two lizards or more. i stayed away, but my computer was under this window. finally, i got sick of fear, and sat under the window. while the lizards were still on it. yeah ok im still a bit nervous, freaked out, but the fear lessens till it is no longer fear. just caution.
then what defeats fear?
love ONLY. my love for the computer in this case removed my fear of lizards. and i do not think it can be the opposite at all- my fear of lizards could not spill over to fear of computers. i might one day love lizards for all the hours they spend with me here, though.

so fear as a base emotion doesnt work. but i wont say that i dont fear God. I do. but, the fear would evaporate if it wasnt based on something deeper. if i loved something else, fear would not be strong enough to hold me where it does. eventually, my love for whatever else, would make me let go of my fear of God. as for fear of self, such a thing does not exist unless the self is not controlled by oneself. and in such a situation, one is not aware of ones fears or loves.

i loved this post. thanks for it.
Di

2. sporadicblogger - November 16, 2006

ah, see, thats how I defined fear myself too. But Pallavi made me think. Fear can sometimes be more convoluted, if you think about it. The example we took up in class was that you are writing the most important exam in your life, and the question is bloody hard, and you dont know it and everybody is cheating and the invigilator also says do what you like. Would you cheat? I wouldn’t. I despise cheating. Why wouldn’t I cheat? I said because I had principles and I would think it would be really cheap. So she said that you wont cheat because you are afraid of yourself, of what you will think of ourself if you let yourself down. In a weird way that cannot be disputed, but deep down something about that strikes me as problematic. I mean, if i let myself down, i’d feel hollow and betrayed, but the fear of letting myself down seldom translates into recognisable signs of fear: anxiety, palpitations, disturbed sleep, whatever. So how do I know that it is fear that keeps me from cheating?
And the argument for love of god could be that you actually believe in god because you are afraid of being stranded with no belief system if you DIDN’T believe in god. Again, theoretically that would be right, because if you are a believer, a hypothetical situation where you didn’t believe, would be terrifying, BUT again, deep down that doesn’t strike me as right. I believe, because it makes sense to me, and because I believe I have seen enough things to show me that there is God. My current belief is different from the innocent childish belief where you pray without knowing who or why you are praying(to), just that you are praying and you innocently trust(but i dont remember enough of my childhood to remember how much i really DID trust) in god to answer your prayers.
And i also don’t know whether fear carries more weight than positive emotions. Do we do something out of fear or because we derive pleasure from it?(and i don’t even want to get into fear of loosing the pleasure because I think that is over analysing and going away from reality) . I think I do stuff for pelasure(I am incredibly selfish about it).
Hm.

3. diana - November 18, 2006

That is overanalysis to the point of contradiction. But an interesting read. lol

4. glandheim - November 26, 2006

On the subject of why we behave yourselves:

I don’t know who said this, and I’m not sure I have the quote right, but it’s something like: Reputation is what other people know about us. Character is what we know about ourselves.

When your instructor said “you won’t cheat because you are afraid of yourself, of what you will think of ourself if you let yourself down,”…ah, I’m just tempted to cut the gordian knot with a sword and tell her she can dig self-referential pits as deep as she wants, but they are just word games.

She’s doing her job, trying to teach you to think beyond the superficial. Your posting shows you are beyond that level of teaching. I agree with Diana.

Trust in your character. If you find it lacking, ask for help from those you respect. My own position is to study myself and try to be true to what I am. I frequently fall short, but I do try.


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