IS IT GOOD OR BAD ?

       In my previous blogs , I have discussed the compulsions of the plot and its characters in shaping the novel. I had suggested that there are inherent demands of the plot that unfold as the novel progresses. Similarly , the characters, being personifications of human emotions , have  their own momentum. This results in commandeering of the plot to its emotional climax. The role of a novelist is that of a witness and an arbiter of these multiple and divergent pulls and pushes of these factors. Moreover , when the novel is about reincarnation , there is an emotional continuity of any given character to be maintained across different births. As I have discussed earlier , the destiny operates by ensuring that karmic interactions amongst various characters are settled by forcing these characters to think in the manner that would cause the destined events to unfold. The destiny can only achieve this by ensuring that the emotions of any individual are consistent with that individual’s past births. This is because these emotions would ensure that the individual concerned would act according to her/his  past life memories. Thus, for a reincarnation novel, the emotional continuity is essential.

         From a novelist’s point of view , I am concerned about this emotional continuity. While writing this novel , I realized that for a character to act according to its emotions , these emotions must appear in the form of wishes. It is the desire for wish fulfillment that shapes the actions of all of us. We are not able to express our emotions very clearly but when they appear in the form of wishes, we can clearly understand and fulfil these wishes. If this reasoning is correct , then our collective belief in reincarnation must also be reflected in our attitudes towards wishes and their fulfillment. In this blog , I would discuss how we treat our desires and wishes as Indians.

        There are two contradictory attitudes in our present day culture.  We, somehow, exhibit an ambivalence towards our desires and wishes.  On one hand , majority of our religions have instilled in our minds that desires are some kind of impurities that soil our souls. Thus there is an emphasis on asceticism in our upbringing. On the other hand , as we became more westernised, we have absorbed positive aspects of wish fulfillment.  The  present day aspirational paradigm of individual excellence is based on the importance of self belief and self fulfillment.  In reality , this paradigm endorses and sanctifies the individual desires. Thus we have accommodated two contradictory attitudes in our present day culture. This ambivalence characterizes our mind set. 

          However, there exists a third perspective which explains why we are ambivalent . This is the perspective of  psychology.  From psychological perspective , this ambivalence is reflects on the inherent contradictions of our contemporary society. In psychology , wishes and desires are embodiment of lacuna in our self image.  We normally desire something because we subconsciously feel that we lack that thing. Of course  , our subconscious perception of what we lack and its conscious embodiment in the form of desires are not identical.  Our mind plays tricks and what eventually surfaces as a wishful thinking is quite different. This difference between the lacuna in our subconscious self image and conscious wishes is diagnostic of our mental health. Therefore,  from a psychological perspective, this ambivalence is normal as well as educative.  This ambivalence tells us how,  as a society , we are changing.

          From literary perspective  , there is another aspect to our wishes and their fulfillment.  This aspect is that of tragedy. In the classical literature , the tragedy arises because the protagonist fails to achieve the wish fulfillment. In modern literature,  particularly after the literature of absurd , the tragedy is not a failure to achieve the wish fulfillment , but it is the futility of wish fulfillment. The  protagonist , during the process of wish fulfillment , realizes that his self image , and therefore the content of the wishes , have changed during the struggle. The tragedy in this case is that wish fulfillment , when achieved , appears hollow to the  protagonist. The final denouement in this case is the realization by the protagonist that wishes and their fulfillment are irrelevant.

          As a novelist , I am more interested in the ambivalence itself and its psychological origins. It is necessary for any novelist that she/he must describe this ambivalence without being  judgemental.

       In the novel that I am writing now, I am facing this dilemma of depicting this ambivalence without being judgemental.  As I mentioned above , the characters in a novel on reincarnation must have emotional continuity. This continuity would surface in the form of strong wishes. In this novel  , as I mentioned in my previous blogs  , one of the characters seems to have memories of past births. The  protagonist of the novel , a chartered accountant , tries to analyse these past memories of his girlfriend in the context of this emotional continuity. He begins with scepticism.  However, as the plot unfolds, his own emotional attachment to his girlfriend starts interfering in his analysis. His journey from being skeptical to a believer is one of the themes of my novel. As a novelist , I would not pass a judgement whether his transformation is right or wrong.  I think the key point is that individuals are neither right nor wrong, they simply are.  

       This brings me to the the question in the title of this blog. Is it good to seek our wish fulfillment ? or is it bad ? I think the correct answer is that it is neither good , nor bad. The key insight into our behavior is that we are bound to have wishes.  More importantly , we are bound to seek fulfillment of our wishes. Neither having wishes, nor seeking their fulfillment  is optional.  We are constituted in a such a manner that we compulsively wish and with equal compulsion , we seek its fulfillment. Therefore, if there is something like destiny , then it must be it must be in the form of this compulsion. To put it differently , the notion of destiny is a  personification of this compulsion.

         In my next blog  , I would discuss how an individual changes her/ his beliefs under the influence of strong emotions. 


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