Monday 30 January 2012

Gier on Matilal on Virtue Ethics

This is Gier on Matilal's 'Epic and Ethics'-
'Matilal finds a caricature of Kantianism in R¹ma, whose inflexibility with regard to duty leads to absurd and/or harsh decisions.  As Matilal quips: "Rama's dharma was rigid; Kant's was flaccid."[35]  Even though he was encouraged to do so by the sage Jabali, Rama was not going to break a promise, even if it meant that he could regain his kingdom and avoid 14 years of exile. One of Rama's lame excuses for shooting Valin in the back was that a person has no duties to animals, Valin being a member of Hanuman's monkey army. (Kant held that mistreatment of animals was blameworthy at least as a reflection of the person's character.) Rama's extreme interpretation of a wife's duty to her husband has led generations of Indian women to conform to an impossible ideal. Following Sati's example, Indian women are required to stay with their husbands no matter what they ask of them and no matter how much they are abused.'
Why is this fucked?
The Ramayana is a widely available text- you might try reading it if you're going to write about it. What was 'Ram's extreme idea of a wife's duty to her husband?'- The answer is that she is free to leave him and then marry anyone or simply fornicate with anyone who takes her fancy.  Ram actually tells Seeta she is free to marry his own brother, Laxman, or the demon King, Vibishina, or the Vanar King, Sugriva (this forecloses the possibility of their appealing against Sita's decision to commit Suttee, because they will immediately be upbraided by that wrathful lady- who, consistent with Universal Dharma- gets the last word and upstages everybody) or that she may just go off on her own wherever she might please, even though Ram had just expended a lot of blood and treasure to get her back. 
Rama is saying a woman whose husband is living can, if he abandons her, marry whom she wills- even his own brother or someone of an enemy race or different status. There is absolutely no evidence that Ram held that a woman's duty is to stay with a husband who mistreats her. Gier, whose personal Virtue Ethic does not include being truthful, says ' , Indian women are required to stay with their husbands no matter what they ask of them and no matter how much they are abused.' I am Indian and though not a woman have a sharp temper and often sing 'main maike chali jaunge, tu dekhte rahiyo' while in the shower to hint at my displeasure with my domestic arrangements. Women are not required to stay with their husbands if they feel someone or other has insulted them or put their nose out of joint or failed to lavish compliments etc. and are constantly traipsing off to their 'maike' for a nice holiday. I recall reading a book by Wendy O'Doniger Flaherty in which she wrote 'The South Indian Brahmin female bites off the penis of her husband before beheading him' - which was the basis of my own refusal to marry within my caste, which was just as well because, ever since the invention of contact lenses, even the vainest of our myopic Iyer girls have been turning up their noses at me. However, Gier's statement that Indian women will stay with their husbands even if they are mistreated is even more misleading- indeed, it is potentially fatal! The husband of that heroine of Hindutva, Rajini Narayan, must have been reading Gier when he called his wife a 'fat, dumb, bitch' when she purified his penis with fire, according to an ancient Hindu custom (invented, presumably, by Wendy O'Doniger) and burnt the fellow to death. 
No doubt, Gier will blame Ram for this and amend his statement to read 'Indian women are required to stay with their husbands no matter how much they are abused because Lord Ram said they have a duty to purify their husband's penis with fire and burn the fellow to ashes- unless, of course, they are South Indian Brahmin females, in which case as Prof. Wendy O'Doniger has pointed out their duty is to bite off their consort's penis before neatly beheading the fellow. This is because Rama had a 'rigid' Virtue Ethics whereas Kant had a 'flaccid' one.'
Gier and Matilal fail to spot that, according to the Ramayana, Rama was God. There was some stuff he had ordained for himself to do, but ordained that he do all unawares, e.g. kill such and such devotee so that devotee might gain immediate union with the Godhead and so on. There is a perfectly coherent philosophical position- Occassionalism- which fully describes the universe of the Ramayana. As for the dramatic portions pertaining to Dharma- this arises from what we may call not just Agency Hazard but Policy Actor Hazard.
But, Matilal and Gier- being philosophers and therefore under occultation w.r.t the text (in Matilal's case) they have read in the original- ignore facts like this and write worthless shite.

Gier is much taken with this 'insight' of his-
 The Buddha once said that "they who know causation know the dharma,"[44] a great example of how dharma, as J. N. Mohanty observes, connects "what one ought and what in fact is."[45] This happy violation of the Humean prohibition of deriving an Ought from an Is demonstrates how virtues are derived from the facts of our personal histories and how this contextualizes all moral decision-making. The famous "mirror of dharma" is not a common one in which individual identities are dissolved, as some later Buddhist believed, but it is actually a myriad of mirrors reflecting individual histories. The truths they discover in their mirrors will be very personal truths, moral and spiritual truths that are, as Aristotle says of moral virtues, "relative to us."
Why is this fucked?
Dharma aint a happy violation of a Humean prohibition on deriving deontics from alethics. Maybe the Professor was thinking of Jack Kerouac's 'Dharma Bums' or something. It does not concern itself with 'the facts of our personal histories' at all. No statement re. dharma or vyavahara takes the form 'reflection on my personal history leads me to hold that such and such is enjoined on me'. On the contrary, we have statements of the order 'the seers have laid down x, y, z' or 'Scripture says x, y, z'  or, as in the story of Yuddishtra and the demon of the pool, a particular question- viz which of the Pandavas is to be brought back to life- is answered by applying a Universal maxim re. 'paro dharma' (the higher duty) such that the King chooses a half-brother rather than a full brother to be brought back to life.
Buddhism is a one period universe- kshanika vada- there isn't any time to discover anything and, no matter how many mirrors are all busy reflecting away, not time to look at them. There's only time enough for an intention to exist-Chetana ham bhikkhave kamam vadami. Chetyitva kammam karoti kaena vacha manasa- nothing else.
Neither an occassionalist not a momentary universe permits the drawing of the sort of conclusions Gier and Matilal arrive at.
The truth is talk of Morality and Ethics is worthless shite and has always been recognised as worthless shite. People who talk it are immediately recognized as fuckwits, frauds or murderous fanatics. The only categorical imperative that isn't fucked is to repay cunt pi-jaw gobshites in their own coin. 
Gier says- Matilal's insights now allows me to do something that I thought that I could not do in my own comparative virtue ethics--namely, to add Krishna to the Buddha, Confucius, and Aristotle. The problem of course is that Krishna appears to be the least virtuous person in this list and can hardly be seen as practitioner of the Middle Way.  Nonetheless, Matilal declares that his "dark Lord" as a "paradigmatic person . . . in the moral field," who "becomes a perspectivist and understands the contingency of the human situation,"[49] both necessary elements of virtue ethics.  He also describes him, as opposed to the rigid Rama or Yudhishtra, as an "imaginative poet" in the moral realm: "He is the poet who accepts the constraints of metres, verses, and metaphors.  But he is also the strong poet who has absolute control over them. . . . He governs from above but does not dictate."  This guarantees that Krishna 's "flexibility never means the 'anything goes' kind of morality."[50]
Why is this fucked?
Krishna spends a lot of time telling us that he is the only efficient cause. His Creation is an Occassionalist Universe but he isn't its 'strong poet'. Rather, as he declares, 
muninam apy aham vyasah
kavinam usana kavih

he is the sort of muni-kavi whose Shukra seeds Shuka who, having gone beyond that other Krishna, Vyasa,  already leaves him  behind, though at the morning of the world,  mourning and bereft. 

What actually happens in the Bhagvad Gita, is a discussion of Agency Hazard because, to preserve symmetry and 'balance the Game', both Krishna and Arjuna are Agents not Principals. Ultimately, Krishna offers himself up as sacrifice. He slays himself. The Mahabharata shows that even if a work is so constructed as to conserve karma and dharma as symmetries of the system, that system can't be purely relationist and must cash out as a substantivalism.
Gier proposes a sort of aesthetic autonomy in which virtue ethics has a domain and therefore some content. The problem here is that it really isn't true that any aesthetic degree of freedom is good or bad by itself. Auerbach, in his Mimesis, shows that the opposite is the case. Rasabhasa- the use of low style for high matter or the reverse- drives precisely the same process that Gier valorizes- viz. self-discovery within a relationist field of interacting reals.
the fine arts, I believe, give us a very rich analogue for the development and performance of the virtues. Most significantly, this analogy allows us to confirm both normativity and creative individuality at the same time.  Even within the most duty bound roles one can easily conceive of a unique "making one's own."  Even though the Confucians must have had a set choreography for their dances, one can imagine each of them having their own distinctive style.  The score for a violin concerto is the same for all who perform it, but each virtuoso will play it in a unique way.  The best judges have the same law before them and yet one can detect the creative marks of judicial craft excellence. Even the younger brother who defers to his elder brother will have his own style of performing this duty, his own dharma (svadharma).
Yes, but the point about playing the fucking violin is that, sooner or later, you evolve into a coke-head Nigel Kennedy type and get jiggy with like Spice Girls or summat. For all Art aspires to the condition of Music and Music aspires to banging groupies in your limo while off your head on coke.
As opposed to a rule based ethics, where the most that we can know is that we always fall short of the norm, virtue ethics is truly a voyage of personal discovery.
So true! Virtue ethics is about Harry Potter discovering his wand really is magic if he rubs it. However, this voyage of personal discovery has to end when he finally works out where to put it so it will do most good (I believe it was in Ron Beezley's sister- yuck-eee!) and engender future generations of young wizards who go off to Hogwarts to play with their wands.
Gier, whose oeuvre, like Simmel, is a manic protestation against the universal ontological dysphoria his own project virtuously discloses, ends on this lapidary note- 
'Virtue ethics is emulative--using the sage or savior as a model for virtue--whereas rule ethics involves conformity and obedience.  The emulative approach engages the imagination and personalizes and thoroughly grounds individual moral action and responsibility.  Such an ethics naturally lends itself to Matilal's moral poets and a virtue aesthetics: the crafting of a good and beautiful soul, a unique gem among other gems.'
This reminds me of a T-shirt I saw in the gym the other day- Idaho? No u da Ho!
Says it all really.

Monday 23 January 2012

Valentine's Day is anti Hindu.

Valentine's Day is nothing but a Christian Conspiracy aimed at destroying Hindutva by encouraging lechery, promiscuity and Carbon Dating. When I was young man- no Carbon Dating Shating- just Carbon was getting monogamously hitched to Oxygen and staying home to poison the childrens.

Personally, I blame Sumit Sarkar
That boy aint right.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Justice as Fairness requires you to cut your foot off and sew it to your neck

Like Utilitarianism, Contractarian Theories of Justice suffer from the flaw that they all require you, personally, to cut your foot off and sew it to your neck- or shoulder, if- like many ageing Social Choice theorists- you no longer have a neck.

Why? Well, there is some offer you would accept in return for undergoing this procedure. I make you that offer and throw in a 0.000001 pennies to every other member of your society. So kindly get busy sawing off your leg and sewing it to your shoulder.
What? You don't believe me? You don't think I'll make good on my promise to compensate you? But, if you don't believe me why should I believe any undertaking you give? Even if you have an unimpeachable reputation and have never cheated the million people you have dealt with so far- still, maybe you believed them and thus acted in a manner which caused them to continue to believe you. Me, I know you don't believe. How am I supposed to gain certainty that you won't betray my trust?
You may say- well that wasn't what I had in mind- the rules as I frame them forbid it. But, I reply, your rules as I frame them don't. Why should I accept you as an umpire when you won't accept me as an umpire?
You might then appeal to 'strains of commitment' and say well- Econ 101 and Psychology 101 and Biology 101 (all of which we're assumed to know behind the veil of ignorance) condemn what you suggest as an argument made in bad faith. The trouble here is that if Evolution is true, then it is the fitness landscape which decides what is or isn't an E.S.S of good faith/bad faith mixes. Think of Kavka's toxin- good faith may disguise its own bad faith because that's what made it adaptive- i.e. it wouldn't have evolved otherwise. Indeed, even assuming identical preferences, my forecast of a future fitness landscape may motivate my offer- you have no apodictic way of ruling it out a priori.
In any case, on the evidence of the last forty years, Justice as Fairness can't give us an answer to any problem we face in real life- but, happily, it can tell you- you personally- to get busy cutting off your foot and sewing it to your neck. (Your cheque is in the post- and always will be.)

Thursday 12 January 2012

Queen Olga's anima naturaliter christiana

That our Sainted Queen was humbly born is suggested by two facts
From villagers, who widowed her, mild vengeance she exacts
A hut tax, on each thatch, of a mere three sparrows and a pigeon.
She sets homing ablaze, Souls Mir to raze, Soviet Religion

Monday 9 January 2012

Landsburg getting it wrong about public debt.

   Steve Landsburg says 'When the U.S. government borrows from Chinese investors, it’s exactly as if U.S. taxpayers had borrowed from the U.S. government. (That is, the effect on Americans is the same either way.) Since the assets of the U.S. government are, ultimately, the assets of the taxpayers, it’s exactly as if the U.s. taxpayers had borrowed from themselves.'
   Landsburg is assuming there is no principal-agent problem. Taxpayers are the principal and the Govt is a perfect agent which has no agenda of its own and which does what is in the best interests of its boss- the taxpayer.
    Landsburg says- ‘debt, by itself, is not a terribly compelling reason either to cut entitlements or to raise taxes’. 
Even assuming zero agency dilemma, I think this statement is misleading. A Govt. debt level which is foreseen and budgeted for and universally accepted would not, in any meaningful sense, be Govt. debt any more than Shareholder Equity is considered debt in a limited Company. Indeed, the Govt can get such debts off its books simply by selling off the rights to its future income streams immediately. Under perfect information, no uncertainty or agency hazard,zero transaction costs etc. the Govt is always just one instantaneous market transaction away from having a balanced budget. It can't meaningfully be said to carry debt at any time.
However, where debt levels diverge from what they were predicted to be (which can only happen if some risk was overlooked or some information not properly discounted) then a compelling reason arises to cut entitlements and raise taxes just the same as transpires when Balance Sheet weakness compels a Business to cut dividends or restructure or issue a call on partly paid up Equity.
Landsburg concludes by saying- ‘As Krugman point out, this is not to say that all government debt is harmless. It is to say that if it’s harmful, it’s harmful for different reasons, and probably to a much lesser extent, than is commonly believed.’
I am curious to learn more of that transcendentally mystic state in which even Landsburg begins to find Govt. Debt to be harmful. 
I believe,  he will then have to invoke either uncertainty, or agency hazard or both. IN other words, he first banishes reality so as to say one silly and counter-intuitive thing but then, so as not to appear a complete nut-job- has to bring back that bogeyman to justify saying the reverse. Landsburg is a reverse Talmud Golem. He won't print my objections on his website- well, he did a couple coz he thought I didn't know from OLM- but when the going got tough he just shut me down and carried on regardless. 
Meanwhile, this is Landsburg being misguided by Ricardian Equivalence to come to the conclusion that Public debt isn't really a serious 'burden on our grand-kids'.
'Murphy objects to formulations along the lines of “government debt is not a burden because we owe it to ourselves” and offers a parable that he thinks illustrates all the key issues. I agree that his parable illustrates all the key issues, so let’s review it — and see what it really illustrates.
In Year One, Abraham (who is old) owns an old apple tree and Isaac (who is young) owns a young apple tree. Each tree delivers 100 apples to its owner. Shortly thereafter, Abraham’s tree dies and Abraham follows suit. In Year Two, Isaac’s tree delivers him another 100 apples, and then both the tree and Isaac die.
Now in Year One, Abraham’s government decides to give him a present of 10 extra apples, which it borrows from Isaac. As a result, Abraham gets to eat 110 apples and Isaac eats only 90. In Year Two, the government owes Isaac 11 apples (including interest). It gets these apples the only way it can, by taxing Isaac. Therefore Isaac pays 11 apples tax, receives an 11 apple bond payment, and eats 100 apples. Bottom line: The government policy has increased Abraham’s lifetime apple consumption at the expense of Isaac’s. Therefore, says Bob, it’s clear that the government’s debt constitutes a burden to Isaac.
Fine. Here’s my counter-parable. In Year One, Abraham’s government decides to give him a present of 10 apples, which it gets by taxing Isaac. In Year Two, the government does nothing. The government policy has increased Abraham’s lifetime apple consumption at the expense of Isaac’s exactly as in Bob’s story. The Landsburg-Isaac feels exactly the same burden as the Murphy-Isaac, even though there is no debt in the Landsburg world. Therefore debt cannot be the source of Isaac’s burden.
Indeed, the source of Isaac’s burden, plain and simple, is that his government decided to transfer resources from him to Abraham. Whether they do this via debt or via taxation is as irrelevant as whether they deliver the apples to Abraham by truck or by train.
If the apples are delivered to Abraham in a wheelbarrow, one could, I suppose, blame everything on the wheelbarrow and talk about the “burden of the wheelbarrow”. And in some very contorted sense, one could defend that position. But why would you want to?
Why is this silly? Well, we have a story about a guy who goes and buys Govt bonds which can only be retired by a lump-sum tax upon him self! In other words, buying bonds today is what determines how much tax you're going to pay tomorrow! Who would do that? Certainly not someone with Rational Expectations. But Ricardian Equivalence (which is what has misled Landsburg into buying into Murphy's  parable) is crucially dependent on people having Rational Expectations and being free to costlessly enter into financial transactions.
Ask yourself this question- suppose your kid comes to you and asks you to lend him 1000000 pounds. You ask how he is going to repay it. He shrugs his shoulders and suggests you just raise his allowance and deduct from that. Would you lend your kid the money?
In real life, the Govt isn't your 5 year old kid, nor is it a perfect servant. Murphy is assuming that the Govt. can levy a lump-sum tax at any time. He further assumes that people only know the lumpsum tax in the current time period, not what it will be in the next time period and also not that the lump-sum tax is dependent on how many bonds the Govt has to retire. But Murphy's assumptions violate Rational Expectations.  His parable is simply silly. He doesn't have a subsistence lower bound nor a satiation upper-bound- very silly in economies (like ours) where zero Marginal Cost commodities exist.
More ludicrously yet, he doesn't understand that if bonds are tradeable then no borrow/tax mix can hit a specific redistribution target - i.e. the Govt would have to be irrational to be using this policy instrument. In so far as, under his assumptions, present transfers are funded by tax payers hundreds of years in the future- this only happens because the Govt has created a new Econ good- viz. a hedge (not perfect) against starvation in the future, or method of saving- Still, Murphy is a happy camper coz his ludicrous model lets him have think he's proved something- even though it's the opposite of what he needs to show.

Murphy aint stupid, but, assuming people are stupid in a pre-specified way in your model lets you show anything you like.  And that's stupid. Landsburg doesn't point this out. No, because he has a wheelbarrow to bring in. The Govt takes Isaac's apples to give to Abraham in a wheelbarrow. Notice, if Isaac was stupid enough to have bought bonds with apples, he has only himself to blame. Not the malevolence of the wheelbarrow, but his own stupidity in lending to the Govt has harmed him. If Isaac learns to 'just say no' there is no lump-sum tax for him to pay in future years. He no longer suffers from 'fiscal illusion' because he now has Rational Expectations. True, the Govt can just take stuff from one guy and give it to another but, if agents are risk averse there will be a coalition which hedges against lump-sum tax/entitlement uncertainty such that within that coalition Govt. actions are immediately cancelled out.  Under plausible assumptions, this coalition will dominate and crowd out the Govt by making an equal or better offer to anyone with whom the Govt wishes to interact.
Landsburg really has no answer to points like this. He feels that, because certain sorts of assumptions are standard in 'over lapping generations' models of Murphy's sort, there is no need to use one's common sense. True, common sense isn't common, but consistency should be second nature to a Math maven. Landsburg isn't applying Rational Expectations consistently- incidentally, Rational Choice theory with Schutzian ideal types get round his objection that people in an identity class, in Murphy's OLG model, don't know what proportion of their bond purchases will be clawed back. This doesn't matter, so long as they have enough cognitive capacity to achieve a Rational Choice Verstehen- similar to my not buying into a pyramid scheme though not being sure whether I mightn't be one of the lucky ones who get rich off it. 
Landsburg says- 'deficit finance does not allow an entire generation to increase the burden on its descendants beyond what it could have done anyway (and in that sense is nothing like a time machine). It only allows some families to increase the burden on their descendants. The greatest damage one generation can inflict on the next is to consume everything in sight, and this is always possible without deficit finance.'
This is not true. Deficit finance can lead to hyperinflation, the collapse of the market for Govt bonds, collapse of confidence in the regime, the rise of extremist political parties, War, Genocide, Slavery.
Lansburg thinks the only way we can fuck up our grand-kids is if we eat up all the non renewable resources and let all capital goods depreciate away to nothingness. But, countries which have been invaded and denuded of all productive capacity and natural resources can still bounce back if they inherit Institutions with a reputation for, or even new found dedication to,  thrift, transparency, zero agency hazard etc. 
Indeed, under plausible assumptions and assuming factor mobility, they may well stand taller than the rest- as happened to West Germany and Japan- within a relatively short time.
To misread Ricardian Equivalence as justifying Landsburg's indifference to the level (especially in that it was unforeseen) of Public debt is to succumb to a particularly witless pedagogic, rather than truly academic, availability cascade.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Not in Time's tessitura is the Surah al Yaseen

More unmeaning than the Ghazal's use of tazmin
& less musical than the muezzin's new Tannoy
Not in Time's tessitura is the Surah al Yaseen
What is Death that you yet so annoy?

India was invented by Rimsky Korsakov

It's official. India was invented by Rimsky Korsakov and populated by Kipling.

I found Johnny Mercer's lyrics here
And still the snowy Himalayas rise, 
In ancient majesty before our eyes, 
Beyond the plains, above the pines. 
While through the ever never changing land, 
As silently as any native band, 
That moves at night, the Ganges shines. 
Then I hear the song that only India can sing,
Softer than the plumage on a black raven's wing.
High upon a minaret I stand
And gaze across the desert sand,
Upon an old enchanted land
There the Maharajah's caravan,
Unfolding like a painted fan,
How small the little race of man.
See them all parade across the ages,
Armies, kings and slaves from history's pages,
Played on one of nature's vastest stages. 
The turbaned Sikhs and beggars line the streets,
While holy men in shadow town retreats,
Pray through the night and watch the stars,
A lonely plane flies off to meet the dawn,
While down below the busy life goes on,
And women crowd the old bazaars.
All are in the song that only India can sing,
India, the jewel of the East! 

Outsourced, alas, is Ind, the Nysiads abode

Outsourced, alas!, is Ind, the Nysiads' abode
Now, who wrought God write only code
& to Philomel, its thorn, if Winter yet displays
 All pipe forlorn in growth of riper days.


Saturday 7 January 2012

Dvorak's 'Song to the Moon'.

 My Eyes set famished Skies to your forehead's moon
& you, chanson de l'adieu to my every tune
What betides your yet loosening hair?
    Ptolemy of Tides- I'm unaware.

Surely the loveliest video ever aired on the late lamented Sky Classical Music channel?
This is in Anna Netrebko's own voice (the previous video features the voice of Renee Fleming.)

Wednesday 4 January 2012

I am the breaker of your Babri, Godse to Thy Ram

Gandhi, Ghalib & the Geeta, we are their Mahmuds until
A Somnath, our stone heart, Ayaz loot at Thy Will
I am the berserker of your Babri, Godse to Thy Ram
Befriend me, or end me- Say, brother, where's the harm?

Krishna is ink's colour, thus Kufr to Khalil's Quran
Thy face, Friendship's page, but I its Bilal Azan
Gandhi or Ghalib- Sahir- our guilt yet is clear
 Gita we hear distant tho' all Sukhan is but here.

New Years Resolution- adopt a NGO.

While billions of people across the planet celebrated New year with costly feast and ostentatious display, I preferred to turn my gaze to the plight of those who trip and fall down and bang their head on the pavement and pass out. No doubt, somebody or other will help them up or send for an ambulance or something of that sort. However, what is important to remember is that such 'Good Samaritans' are not dedicating their lives to the cause of the upliftment of those piteous and vulnerable people abandoned by a cruel and mercantile civilization to remaining passed out on the pavement.
Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, I alone have raised up my voice on their behalf- parenthetically, I may observe, I also stake my claim to represent the sufferings of those constitutionally unable to drink Margaritas without a straw- and have set up a N.G.O based on an ecologically sustainable, for-profit Micro Finance model, adhering strictly to the Gandhian principle of 'No Fat chicks'.
Make- 'adopt an NGO' your New Year's Resolution.
But, no fat chicks. I'm serious.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

The change India most desperately needs today

is with respect to
a) Rahul Gandhi's diapers
b) Anna Hazare's incontinence pads
c)  Manmohan Singh's agenda
d)  your mind if you think it worthwhile to finish this sentence.
e) All of the above

Ans. This is a trick question. The correct answer is (c) because Manmohan Singh does not have an agenda. Nor, just to be on the safe side, a gender. Hope this clarifies matters.

Monday 2 January 2012

How Hasan married Rabia

Kipling has written a poem showing how, when Jane Austen got to Heaven, Sir Walter Scott arranged her wedding there.
What about Hasan-of-the-pearls and Rabia, the beggar maid, of Basra? The story is she used to run around the streets with a flaming torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other so as to destroy the eternal rewards of Devotion which are so much less than Love, even Love of God, that too now, today, at this very moment, right here.
I once wrote a poem on the theme of her rejection of his marriage proposal-
What Hasan said to Rabia
Not that, flashing, they burn down Heaven
Nor that, flooding, they put out Hell
But that the wine of Thine eyes' Tavern
Alas! its Saqi loves too well.

We know she refused him on Earth- what happened in Barzakh?

Before I tell you, permit me a scholarly digression reflecting on my own solitary peek at Maryam's mirror.

Al Jahiz tells the following story. A comely woman appeared and importuned him by signs and gestures to accompany her to the shop of a goldsmith. She said 'Like this,' and departed. Al Jahiz asked what the woman meant. The goldsmith, who was Jewish, replied- 'this woman made me promise I would make the effigy of any person she desired. She said 'make one of the devil'. I replied 'I have not seen the Devil. How can I make an image of that which I have not seen?"

My own imagination supplies the rest- I disguise Hassan as myself and send him before Rabia. 'Wed me.' 'No!'. 'What? You reject me? No doubt, it is only because I am not of the Faith. What if I were to bring before you one poorer, uglier, more stupid than I- but of the Faith- would you marry him before you would marry me?' 'Yes!'. 'Then, now, that man is me who am, by a Cantor diagonalization of the but denumerable regress of your refusal, in consequence, your self-betrothed husband more infinitely!'

Rabia, poor darling, is caught.

I should open a Marriage Bureau.