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Millennium Post

When art fortells passions of the worst

One doesn’t know whether it was the role of W B Yeats’s esoteric beliefs or his alleged dependence on his young wife’s mystical practice of automatic writing, that is said to have helped him in the creation of the finest prophetic poem of all times, The Second Coming, in which he talks about the apocalypse and the violent birth of a new age. But one certainly finds two lines from the poem that are simple and most insightful about the way men have gone wrong. The lines about our frailty, are metaphorically depicted in phrase, The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

The  Woolwich beheading, a gory act in the aftermath of the Boston bombing was enacted in broad daylight, with young men wielding butcher’s tools and coaxing onlookers to shoot them with their mobile cameras for the rest of the world to get, an instantaneous, scene by scene perception of their real-time bloodied hands while motivating Zehadist psychobabbles. These are shocking extensions to countless examples of men stooping low in the name of passion since the poet with mystic leanings have left the world.

The calm and composure of the murderers dressed in jeans and jackets, who stuck to the crime scene demanding that they be video recorded and interviewed should force one to think that madness is actually – ‘sanity put to worst uses’.  It will enlighten Nietzsche who held the view that such calculated insanity, which though is rare in individuals is present as a rule in groups, political parties, nations and eras. A motivated person, is likely to be committed though an insanely passionate one is, no less calculated. The social media you subscribe to may tell you  many individual stories of such passionate insanity if you look for it in them. Obviously  what Nietzsche was referring to is the method in such calculated madness which get their share of free public shows for parading the naked exhibitions of insane passion at the cost of individual lives.

Back home, we were recently force-fed with the theory of national revenge which one prisoner here in India and a couple of them back in Pakistan were said to have allegedly put to practice by murdering  fellow inmates belonging to their rival neighbouring nation. If the alleged motives behind the recent fatal attacks in jails are genuine, then it certainly is an extension of  life’s ugly adaptation of even uglier reel versions of art, this time of something akin to the Hollywood movies on American military adventurism. Take for example, the worst of of them all which probably was hailed as a
classic in the late sixties – the Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin featured movie – The Dirty Dozen, based on E M Nathanson’s novel of the same name. The movie was about how an army major was made to select and train a dozen dangerous felons who included a psychopath, a sex degenerate and violent misogynist, and a white-hating Negro among others with Bronson playing an alienated murderer, from an army prison on a commando mission during the second world war.

The movie shows how the felons  successfully raided and destroyed a chateau in Nazi France that was hosting a meeting of several high ranking German military officers with their families, whose elimination could hamper the enemy’s ability to strike back on the D-Day invasion by England in the spring of 1944. The movie shows how the criminals on a patriotic mission burned alive enemies with their families included women and children. This classic movie – a fictional supposition on military
venture by criminals, was a hit.

But the critics had then rightly called it ‘silly and preposterous’ and ‘a studied indulgence of sadism that was morbid and disgusting beyond words’. Interestingly, the title of the novel Dirty Dozen was taken from a real life group called the Filthy Thirteen. Now that our streets have begun to be crowded by murders with politico-religious passions, no wonder Hollywood, followed by Bollywood will soon hire script writers to dole out frenzied hits which will be re-emulated in real life with style afterwards for the trigger happy mobile camera users.

The author works with the Information and Public Relations Department of Odisha
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