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The Opposites are True

Monday January 24 2005 07:52 IST

By Karmayogi

Discussion of the lives of political leaders is a pastime among their followers. One such leader lived up to the age of 96. What was the secret of his long life, discussed his admirers.

Of course, he had rendered distinguished selfless service. He was austere and self-denying, an independent, original thinker. It was thought these were powerful arguments in favour of the long life God had granted to him. But, as a rule or law of life, this will not hold good, as this long life of 96 seemed to be an exception, rather than a rule.

Another member of the group cited an exactly opposite character, equally a leader of stature, who had lived as long. This leader was endowed with characteristics exactly diametrically opposite to the case cited above. The group was speechless. There was a murmur, 'God's ways are inscrutable.' There ended the animation.

Writing about the library of Sir Isaac Newton, the historian says there were many books on astrology in it. How can one concede belief in astrology or even interest in astrology in the mind of a person whose scientific eminence is a household affair?

Films sometimes espouse sensational themes to catch the attention of the audience. In the fifties some young men, inspired by a great idealism, invested their money and produced a film they considered of great excellence. They called it, ''Here lies the path''.

It won awards for music, plot, photography, etc. No theatre ran it after the first few days and some returned it the first day. Idealism and commercial success do not go together. Magazines become popular because of writers who pour scorn on some popular figures. Often these writers are extremely popular. Serious journals do not entertain such scurrilous propaganda. Most journals do not see the value of a writer. To them, all are writers.

A journalist was working to upgrade the tone of his client and largely succeeded. He had a feeble voice in the institution. He was working almost from behind the screen, offering ideas as suggestions. The process was after a fashion. He tried his best to tone up areas where he had a say or where he would not be rejected outright. At one end, he was a great success in a small way. At the other wrong end, the power of sensationalism was building up.

He had no hope in that direction. Just then he came across the comment of a sensible reader whose social position is distinguished. He expressed appreciation of the journalist's work and added, ''In your journal there are two valuable writers.'' The journalist was stunned that this sensible man, who appreciated a serious writer, ALSO admired the very opposite. It is a striking lesson for the critical journalist, but it escaped him. In our human world, the Sublime and the ridiculous are of equally great value.
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