BLOCKS THE MUSE
all character flaws, ego emits the foulest odour that immediately
offends and overpowers others' sensory and extra-sensory perceptions.
That's one of the lesser reasons why ascetics, mystics and sages
of almost all faiths and schools considered it a cardinal vice,
if not the primary one.
the fact that René Descartes, the so-called father of
modern philosophy, had to base the method of his philosophic
enquiries on the 'famous' premise -- 'Cogito, ergo sum,' (I
think, therefore, I am) -- has always amused me. And that amusement
turns into amazement when US journalist Ambrose Bierce proposes
to 'improve' the dictum, 'Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum' ( I
think that I think, therefore, I think that I am), claiming
it to be as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher
has yet made. But, luckily, most of the world is still unaware
of the claim, as, otherwise, the percentage of schizophrenics
would surely witness a boost.
To a man
of common sense, constructing such syllogistic formulae merely
to 'prove' that one exists would seem childish and a revealing
example of the speculative quagmires in which ego-centrists
tend to fall, wallow and, finally, drown.
people, whom the pundits derogate as common, vulgar, ignorant
etc for not obsessively groping like them for absolutes or static
points in the ever-changing flux called reality, are actually
more intelligent and natural than the eccentric 'truth-hunters'.
In most cases, their 'love for truth' is just disguised 'self
love' and symptoms of paranoia. It also explains why the greatest
world religions were founded by non-pundit ordinary but wise
and meditative men; especially those who cultivated humility,
selflessness and socially accepted moral virtues. They and their
true disciples considered themselves as nothing more than flitting
shadows, geometric points, the tiniest ripples in the ocean
of life, forever tending to zero, continuously decimated by
the omnipresent, all-encompassing mortality. Some Buddhist,
Zen and Natha schools even teach one's self as emptiness and
one's ego as a delusion that causes most of the sufferings and
woes in life.
we put aside such nihilistic thinking, the common sense of an
adult, derived from experiences, clearly shows that ego makes
one blind and deaf in social interactions. It insulates people's
perception and sensitivity. The higher the egotism the more
insensitive a person is and, as a result, more detached from
reality. In its extreme form, egotism produces megalomaniacs,
imbeciles who as George Eliot wrote become 'like a cock who
thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.'
Of all professions,
media professionals tend to get their egos progressively inflated
as they proceed in their careers and, in some cases, success.
And perhaps, after the film and music studios, the odour of
ego pervades the newsrooms more than any other factory of mass
communications. Tom Stoppard, a Czech-born British playwright,
produced a brilliant sketch of the situation, describing a foreign
correspondent thus: "He's someone who flies around from
hotel to hotel and thinks the most interesting thing about any
story is the fact that he has arrived to cover it."
newspersons we find too many who consider themselves as the
cream of the elite, in terms of learning, knowledge and intelligence.
But, perhaps, what they take as knowledge is nothing more than
a huge mass of unrelated information. And their levels of intelligence
really don't differ much in quality from those of a craftsman
having adequate skills acquired through experience and training.
Moreover, due to the so-called information super highway, the
quantity and speed of information-flow have reached such a stage
where it would not be unjust or incorrect to term it as 'information
pollution.' In fact, a major bulk of the information that a
newsroom deals with every day is either garbage or useless,
sometimes even harmful to its recipients.
To be frank,
during the best phase of my not-so-long life, when I experienced
the most peace and serenity, a newspaper was of no more use
to my psychological and physical well-being than, for example,
a roll of toilet paper. I had the same feelings about electronic
news broadcasts. Most of those appeared to be too superficial
or unnecessary for a soul involved at every moment in the wonders
and mysteries of life and the cosmos.
I have opted for joining this egotistic bunch, I recommend the
following observation by US actor and comedian Robin Williams
to my peers as a nice antidote to egoistic tensions: "You're
best when you're not in charge. [Because,] The ego locks the
Muse." Newspersons do serve the Muse and Muse favours those
most that are humble and not too self-conscious.
Aziz is a senior sub editor at The Daily Star