Why no one is really free : The panopticon

I stumbled on a fantastic movie last night :”Enola Holmes” .It follows the journey of Enola holmes , the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes . Though the movie is a delight for any Sherlock or mystery fans out there , it was Enola’s personal journey that stood out for me .

The movie starts off with Enola finding out that her mother missing . A few scenes her elder brothers come into the frame . Mycroft ( her brother ) disapproves of Enola’s ‘wild’ behaviour and wants to make her ‘acceptable ‘ for the society .

The school curriculum is involved in teaching the girls how to laugh ‘politely ‘ , how to walk ( practicing with a book on your head ) and how to ‘ eat’ properly .The idea of a cultured woman is the one that always talks politely , never raises her voice and is happy with a domesticated life . This movie depicts a society of the 1900 yet since then, this idea hasn’t really changed .In a similar vein , even men are subject to the patriarchal stereotypes of strength and courage . There is a strict code that everyone has follow . There are predefined notions of ‘good and acceptable behavior ‘ which every society swears by .

As the characters again and again lectured Enola of good behavior it reminded me of Michael Foucault conception of ‘panopticon ‘ . A panopticon is prison with a tower in the middle where the guard sits . From the tower, a guard can see every cell and inmate but the inmates can’t see into the tower. Prisoners will never know whether or not they are being watched. Due to the fear of constant survelliance , the prisoners behave themselves and do not even try to escape .

The panopticon

Michael Foucault uses this concept to explain how our society functions . Our society is like a prison .The opinions of other people , the social norms ( for eg : having a great salary , being married being preconditions of success ) are the guards in the tower . The rest of us in the society are like the prisoners . We follow these norms sincerely as we know we are being watched , by our families , our friends and the society . To gain social acceptance , we often give up things unique or different to us, never daring to even know who we are and what we really want . This holds true in every aspect of our lives . One’s job , one’s marriage or even the selection of subject in high school. Most of our decisions are guided by everyone’s preferences but our own . Quite sad , isn’t it ?

There was another scene in the movie that stood out for me . The headmistress assures Enola that she can provide her with all the answers in life. Enola will never have to question anything ever again in life But I wonder why is that a good thing ? We seem to hate confusions , situations and problems in our life that make us think and question things around us . But isn’t it our ability to think that makes us human. The ability to analyse things and give it our meaning .Humans are the only species on this planet with this ability , yet we give it up so easily for the sake of others

The headmistress also disapproves how Enola mother left her to fend her for herself . In my opinion , this is exactly what we should be doing . Letting people life their lives on their terms , commit their own mistakes and find their own purpose .

The “Google” problem

In the modern age , google has often been termed as our savior . Giving us all the answers to all our questions. Making us more knowledgeable and reducing our confusion. But I do feel at the same time it reduces us as humans . Not in the oft quoted way of making us dependent on technology , but in away of devoiding us of our originality, humanity and thinking.

THE RIGHT WAY TO LIVE OUR LIVES

One can find endless articles on the web on love , truth , happiness and the meaning of life. We often try and fit our lives into the standardized templates of life available online . If one gets a certain amount of flowers and gifts , one is loved ,otherwise not . We often try and fit in so hard that we often forget to consider what we really want and what we really like .

Everything from art to fashion has become too standardized and so has the idea of beauty . These days all the Instagram influencers look the same . Everyone putting on the same banal makeup and dressing up the same banal way all for the sake of fitting in to the society .

THE HUMANITY IN HUMANS

Since time immemorial the aim of man’s life has been to find happiness . While some have looked into the spiritual realm , others in hedonistic pleasure . Though I would define in terms of human experience . Happiness can very simply be defined as the freedom to what one wants . For us to explore our potential , to engage in activities that resonate with us the most .

So for us to be truly happy , we first need to know our true ‘authentic ‘ selves . Then find avenues to develop and explore our potential . This is why our uncritical acceptance and consumption of social media is problematic . The social media often attempts to create a mass culture . A society where everyone likes and hates the same things . Where everyone thinks and feels the same way . It ends up creating a standard of behaviour everyone subcribes to .

DEFINING YOUR OWN BEAUTIFUL

It is often said that children should be taught how to think not what to think .This is because what separates humans from all the other species is our ability to think . What exactly do I mean by our ability to think . It means being courageous and brave enough to question all the pre existing norms around us . Seeing whether the ideas of ‘success’ , ‘beauty’ and ‘happiness’ truly resonate with us or not .The ability to think and reason is what makes us humans .So when we give up on our ability to think , we basically give up on our humanity .

Taking a slightly critical approach to everything that is put on the internet might help us make more sense of our lives . It will get us out of the ‘FOMO’ curse . We might start to realise that the things that look so good with an instagram filter. Might not be so pleasing in reality .

Our lives would be so much more convient if we give up the convinience of google

Singing for the soul

I am a bad singer period . I love to sing but I am incredibly embarrassed to do so . Thus I have always preferred listening to music on my headphones with really loud volume and imagining myself singing that song. . To be honest I never really sang until a couple of days . I didn’t even know what I sounded like if I tried to sing .

All of his changed last week . As I drowning in the pool of existential crisis , I saw a interview of Ed sheeran on theJonathan ross show . During the show Ed pulled out an old clip of him singing . And .. it was well .. not the ed sheeran we know . Ed chuckling said ‘ everyone thinks popstars are born singers , but that is not true ‘ . He explained that he practiced his ass off to get where he is .

Now singers working incredibly hard on their craft was not something new to me . Almost every famous singer will tell you about their long hours of practice schedules . What really surprised me was that Ed sounded like most of us in the shower in that audio clip that he played for the audience .And somehow inspired me . Gave me some hope rather made me less ashamed of myself . Having watched all the 10 year olds on America’s Got Talent belting out like Whitney houston . I was convinced that if you aren’t born with a incredible voice , you shouldn’t be singing . But this little 30 second clip really shifted my perespective .

So the very next day ,I dusted off my brother’s piano and started to sing . Now this ain’t any fairytale . It doesn’t really have a happy ending . When I sang I did sound as horrible as I had imagined . But at the same it just felt so good . Just to close my eyes groove to the music and actually sing . That feeling was like no other . I sounded horrid . My parents even came to check on me to see if I’m okay !But I don’t really care about how bad I sound . I love singing and I am keep going to love my horrid , terrible voice and enjoy it !

Why can’t I have fun ?

This is the continuation of my last post .https://sanjanasyadav.wordpress.com/2021/06/12/fun-its-too-much-work/

As I was writing the previous post I was wondering why am I never able to pursue a hobby or do anything fun?

Well my best guess right now is – procrastination. Every time I decide to take up a hobby, I keep thinking about it . How many blogs will I write , how many hours I will spend on it , what all comments will I get on my post and how wonderful it will be if I get famous because of it.

At the end I have derived the joy out of doing that activity without actually doing it . At first sight it sounds like a comfortable option. I get to feel like the best blogger , dancer singer , pianist and don’t have to work for it . But the problem is that the joy I derive out of this isn’t tangible or real .

More importantly, if my imagination can make me feel like a champ , it can make me feel like a loser too . This has started happening more often then not for me . So this time . I usually wake up from my own little world only to realise that reality is not the same . I start feeling empty , hopeless and rather useless.

So this time round , I will do things the right way . I will stay in the real world , put in the effort this hobby requires and then see where it takes me.

FUN : ITS TOO MUCH WORK

As my exams ended today , I decide to do something fun . I started off by writing a list of topics . I created a blog . All of this so that I could pursue my hearts desire – writing .

But now that I have created a blog, set aside a time and made up my mind to write . I don’t want to write . It has suddenly started feeling like a drudgery. I’d rather watch you tube or surf on the net. This is the same sequence of events that take place every time I think of picking up a hobby .

I always think of picking up a hobby when my exams start. During this time I’m forced to stop procrastinating and study for long hours . The result – I start contemplating about life. I soon come to the conclusion that all my life I’ll study , get a job, work all my life and that would be it . No excitement , no joy. As I keep thinking on this line, I end up at a dead end with the simple answer that life has no meaning

Usually at this stage my mom notices that something is wrong with me and talks to me about it . She tries to comfort me by telling me her own life story and that her key to happiness is me .This knocks some sense into me and I try to find some joy in life .

My answer to this meaningless abyss is pursuing a hobby . This is what brought me here. But right now it feel like too much work .