Saturday, April 22, 2017

monday musings 280 - the retelling of the heretics

Monday Musings: The retelling of the Heretics!

I am told the original meaning of the word ‘Heretic’ is the one gives an alternative opinion. The current usage of the word implies someone who indulges in sacrilege; the black sheep who is foolish and insensitive enough to question the holy cows (is this phrase still allowed or has it been banned; I guess I will soon find out!)

Words change meaning over a period of time and I am sure there are many such words that current usage is way different from what it was. My all time favourite although is the word ‘cute’ which according to the oxford English dictionary has its origins in the 18th century for the short form of thw word acute and in its earliest meanings indicated a sense of shrewed or clever; which is clearly not what I have meant, however scarce such opportunities have been for me to use it for another person and hopefully which is not what the person(s) who have used it on me meant. (my self esteem depends upon this assumption)

However the fluidity of the word heretic is of particular significance because the word is in vogue these days. What we eat can make us heretics. In fact every time the waiter rattles off the dishes in a restaurant these days, I am besieged by the nightmare of choosing something utterly delicious but potentially heretic. My only saving grace is that my all time favourite potato is on no one’s list – not yet at least. I think potato is the most secular of food items. It goes with everything else – with all kinds of cuisine. Irrespective of the class, caste, religion or community or even nationality, potato has been revered by all. Is there an honorary title called the national vegetable yet? .

But I am digressing and that too on a very slippery wicket (the subject of food can make me a fodder for a few these days). I began by wondering that the original meaning of the word heretic is one who offers an alternative opinion. There are two place where becoming a heretic is downright NOT recommended – in front of the spouse after you have returned very late on a weekday without information(read that as permission) and two in front of the boss after you have received your annual performance report. You better not be a heretic here i.e. offer an alternative opinion. I reckon it is better to remain pious and be alive than be a heretic and be roasted!!

In the not so old days, heretics were burned – now days they are trolled! Trolling a politer version of burning because burning heretics is still not legal. Lynching them is perfectly acceptable as a few have discovered at the cost of their lives. The speed with which trolling is acquiring the status of a mass art form, we will need to pass laws to regulate it. Imagine a law which says –Not more than 10 people a day can troll any one person with a unique Aadhar number. The 11th person will have to take permission from ‘Anti – trolling squads’; Or imagine another statue which reads like this – you cannot troll a person with the surname Gandhi more than 180 days a year in the interest of human rights (this particular writer will surely support this statue – my surname which was a matter of pride during schooldays has suddenly become so out of fashion. Sigh!)

See I digressed again – and even more slippery wicket. Let’s stick to Heretics. Why do these so called ‘second opinion givers’ have an opinion to begin with. Isn’t mainstream supposed to have all the answers because they have the collective wisdom of the majority mainstream? I mean if sufficiently large number of people endorse an idea does it not automatically become a breathtakingly brilliant idea? It is like statistics – when sufficiently large data points are collected, errors are normalised. The way to understand this is this – if 1 lakhs idiots propose and support an idea, there is great statistical probability that the idea will get rid of it idioticity (is there such a word?). An even better explanation would be – if a million bulls come together to think, their thinking might ape the levels of humans. I am also recommending that the word ‘’bullshit’’ be treated as compliment hereafter because it has the word bull in it, which is bovine – and in the mood of the times, I think all things bovine are clearly sacred.   

This was the last time I digressed. I think I don’t like the word ‘heretic’. If I keep thinking about what it meant then and what it meant now, and continue to bemoan what has the world come to be, then I may end up searching the meaning of the word ‘lunatic’ – unfortunately which means exactly the same now as it meant then.



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