Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the hopeless struggle

The rationale and logic of human struggle fascinates me. Most bizarre of all is the knowingly futile struggle, where there is no hope or illusion of redemption or success. What motivates man to continue in such circumstances? I have failed to offer any explanation in the past, though I have occasionally stared at moths and wondered. The Russians have a saying - to the success of our hopeless task! Perhaps I need to ask one of them to explain.

Instead, I have been reading Thomas Mann's Death in Venice in recent days. The summary on the back cover was what caught my eye, and it has the following to say about the central character and his story: "His pitiful pursuit of the object of his affection and its inevitable and pathetic climax are told here..."

The inevitable and pathetic climax, it is obvious from the title, is death. This seems quite consistent, for example, with the case of the moths.

I have been listening to music too. I recently discovered Na to caravan ki talaash hai (lyrics: the incomparable Sahir Ludhianvi). Here, a male and female singer sing two differing perspectives of the world. The latter is more intriguing. The male version is hopeful. But the woman's opening words are:

Mere na muraad junoon ka, hai ilaaj koyee to maut hai
For my hopeless passions, if there's any cure, it's death

Death seems well accepted as the inevitable climax by all hopeless strugglers. Indeed, they seem to aspire to little else. But death is inevitable for all, both hopeful and hopeless. Perhaps the difference is merely that for the hopeful, it is an unwelcome interruption, but for us hopeless, it is the awaited conclusion.