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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Henri Bergson, Henry Ford, and In defence of hypocrisy

We certainly need a change in the present administration of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram… Imagine in the near future the wily and crooked Matriprasad as the Managing Trustee, Nirmal (the Ashram lawyer, or is it broker?) and Prabhou (the commission agent) among the other four Trustees: what an unbeatable gang would it be with a no holds barred attitude towards selfish gain in terms of money, power and sex! Not that there will be no “good guys” in the administration such as Dilip Mehtani or Batti (Prabhakar Pantulu). But they will be mere figureheads (as indeed they are now) in order to please the public’s desire to see honest men in the highest seats of power. 

Three years ago I wrote a post entitled In defence of hypocrisy… The point is key to the appeal of chastened intellectualism. The key point about the hypocrisy of weakness, as I tried to emphasize before, is that the advocacy of virtue remains a good thing in the face of the practice of vice… Most would say it is too much to expect of politicians that they be noble or consistent. That is likely true. But the actions of weak and genuinely repentant politicians – those who, when caught in their weakness, take full responsibility for it and leave public life gracefully and apologetically – are not part of that problem. They are, it seems to me, part of the solution. La Rochefoucauld is quoted saying “Hypocrisy is the homage that vice plays to virtue.” The question in my mind is whether that homage is sincere. Are we aiming at virtue while falling into vice, or are we merely pretending to aim at a virtue we don’t really care about?

Henry Ford succeeded in America because soon after he started with the Model T, he could discontinue assembly by hand and switchover to mass production techniques, redeploying and rationalising his operations and work-force the way he thought fit.

But over time this cine-system had been broken down, on the supply side, by the cynical formulae and simplifications of capitalist production, which had eliminated the tension between cinema as industry and cinema as art, and on the reception side, by the sheer proliferation of images in the modern world and the expansion of private home viewing. “The reduction of cinema to assaultive images,” Sontag writes, “and the unprincipled manipulation of images (faster and faster cutting) to be more attention-grabbing, have produced a disincarnated, lightweight cinema that doesn’t demand anyone’s full attention.”  These observations could profitably be applied to the story of Indian own popular cinema.

[Henri Bergson (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) - Bergson's constant suspicion of language; for Bergson language is equivalent to symbols. And, symbols divide the continuity of the duration, leading us into illusions.] Tusar N. Mohapatra said this on June 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm
  • not sure what you’re getting at here, but potentially interesting pathway, few people talk about Bergson’s approach to language, I’m curious… chris said this on June 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm
  • Yes, except why call that illusion? Why not call that alternate presentation? Because if idempotent representation is impossible, i.e., we never experience a thing-in-itself, then why define knowledge as something that we can never have nor should want? Rather, ask the question what the consequences of various symbolic systems are. Jason Hills said this on June 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm

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