Monday, October 29, 2012

The Pizza man and his burden of Barrack Obama: Sindbad and the Old-man-of-the-Sea

Democracy is a very difficult notion to understand in detail, but is extremely simple when phrased in, say, Lincoln’s words that all men are created equall. One is never very clear, though, about what one means by being born equal. It may mean that we are born with equal statistical averages of our advantages and disadvantages that are necessarily judged by very different subjective criteria. This is especially true in racially and historically mixed people such as in what is called the United States of America and our own Republic of India.

Such statistical averages do not necessarily mean that men are equal as far as a particular activity is concerned. Are they equal in, say, running a race, or pulling a railway engine, solving crossword puzzles, vaudeville acts, running a business, I suppose, public performances are crucial in winning the American Presidency (e.g., Ronald Reagan vs Jimmy Carter) while running a state is done by the President’s men. The choosing of the President’s men would require a business acumen in the president unless of course, if it not the business-men that decide the man who should be president. In this case, one requires only the cosmetic face to be projected.

In the current Presidential Obama-Romney race of America, Obama stands out clearly as a stage-craftsman while Romney as a straightforward businessman (MBA from Harvard). Obama could deliver a message better perhaps while Romney should run the state better (there is no denying he got rid of billions of dollars of deficit during his governorship).

I, as a black man, could have preferred Obama to win, but racial prejudice is not one of my strong points. As far as an wholesome image is concerned Romney seems to win easily as far as I, as a middle class old man, am concerned (see appendix for a cosmetic analysis).

The Snark as a Democracy.

There is every danger of the search for a Democracy ending up as Lewis Carroll’s “Hunting of a Snark” (see my blog “King Arthur as President of Simple folks of America? Marx, Engels, Snark and Boojum.” Of sept 29 2012). In India the Democracy is beginning to be like a Boojum. In America the democracy is beginning to look now like a fossil now that Romney and Obama prefer to put up dead-pan faces most of the time for TV.

American democracy is, like the snark, very difficult to understand because of the excessive rights to freedom that they allow, even if selectively at times (see my blog “Should America be afraid of G. K. Chesterton?”).

One of the easiest freedoms that is defended by Americans is the freedom (the Boojum) to make money, no matter how. This is their freedom to make a livelihood. By this token, a sex worker (even if she calls herself a prostitute) or a gambling an internet entrepreneur hosting sexually explicit sites, or makers of films of serial-killing perversion are equated in society with an academic professor, or an on-beat policeman, or a salvation army worker, or the vendor of inventions.

If one goes by the popularity scale on Youtube, and one ignores viral items such as the Sith Korean rap, “Gangnam style” (586 million hits would have elections in all countries. The highest views of a physics lecture (Leonard Susskind’s General theory of Relativity) or a lecture on DNA lreplication is ~ 750,000. On the other hand a Mark Hamilton’s Neothink Society’s highly dubious lecture to get rid of poverty by becoming a hard core libertarian has more than three million viewership! ( Sex video are seen ordinarily by tens to hundreds of millions.

The candidates for presidency in America have no illusion about their status as philosopher kings. The white rats (Boojums) by which they test their ratings are the same as those that rate popularity of videos on youtube by the number of hits. This equates, in most cases, to their power on the amount of money they make.

One may as well ask whether viewership of youtube videos reflects the attitude of different sections of the population towards the different activities of society. One could then ask whether the language of candidates in a presidential election should be closer to the language and idioms as reflected on youtube (for example).

In order to make brownie points ( a hypothetical social currency, which can be acquired by doing good deeds or earning favour in the eyes of another, --- Wikipedia) at a time when 75% of male Caucasian voters had opinion-ed that they would vote for Romney, we had this video of Obama being bear-hugged and lifted up by one heavy (nearly 100 pounds heavier) white Republican pizza man von Duzier
One does not require second-guessing to understand Obama’s compulsions in visiting the pizzeria without security. Obama’s inviting “here I am ... pick me up’ body language (Fig 1 left) and his awaiting open arms when lifted up betrays the very-thinly-camouflaged campaign plan. In this particular case, the total you tube viewership of the pizza man is less than 100,000. He could as well have rapped in the Korean “Gangnam Style”. Maybe, this would give the crucial winning votes in a close race.

The images in Fig 1 remind me of images of Sindbad the sailor and the old man of the sea. This story is more familiar to the Western world. The old man of the sea tricked travellers into carrying him across a stream and once on the back would not let go of the traveller. Having got on the traveller’s back, the old man would require the traveller to carry him anywhere the old man wanted without giving the traveller rest. The traveller would eventually die exhausted unable to loosen himself from the old man's grip. Sindbad (after all he is a tricky Indian from the land of Sindh or Indus river) escaped the clutches by getting the old man drunk. I reproduce below some part from “Fifth Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor” from Dixon’s (1893) Fairy Tales of the Arabian Nights if only because there is a mention of a Calabash tree which I recently identified in my “farm house” (see picture below).
One day I (Sindbad) found in my way several dry calabashes that had fallen from a tree; I took a large one, and, after cleaning it, pressed into it some juice of grapes, which abounded in the island. Having filled the calabash, I set it in a convenient place; and coming hither again some days after, I took up my calabash, and setting it to my mouth found the wine to be so good that it presently made me not only forget my sorrow, but grow vigorous, and so light-hearted that I began to sing and dance as I walked along.

The old man, perceiving the effect which this drink had upon me, and that I carried him with more ease than I did before, made a sign for me to give him some of it. I gave him the calabash, and the liquor pleasing his palate, he drank it all off. He became drunk immediately, and the fumes getting up into his head he began to sing after his manner, and to dance upon my shoulders. His jolting about made him sick, and he loosened his legs from about me by degrees; so finding that he did not press me as before, I threw him upon the ground, where he lay without motion, and then I took up a great stone, with which I crushed his head to pieces.

If Obama is crushed in this Presidential race, it could be justified. Romney is no George Bush Jr.

In an Indian version there is the Sindbad-contemporaneous 2000 year old “Vikram and Betaal” stories (see for instance). The stories relate to a noble king, Vikram, who is indebted to a sage who had gifted him riches. As a favour to the sage Vikram promises without questioning to bring the body of a corpse hanging from a tree, He finds out that the corpse is inhabited by a ghost who is called Betaal. Vikram has actually to bring Betaal, the ghost. Betaal agrees to be carried piggy-back provided Vikram does not talk. On the way back Betaal narrates a story which interest Vikram. The stories all end (there are twenty five of them) with a question/riddle which Vikram always answers, thereby breaking the silence. Betaal goes back goes to the corpse. Vikram has to start again to bring back the corpse.
A typical story summarizes as

The king had a beautiful daughter, Sona. Sona became highly skilled in martial arts. When she reached the age of marriage she said to her father that her husband should be skilled in fighting and she would marry any price who could overpower her. An announcement was made and many Princes tried and were overpowered, One prince Udayavarma, watched the fight every day from the crowd and shouted Bravo in apprpreciation. Sona heard the shout. Udayavarma learnt Sona’s techniques completely and was able to overpower Sona. Yet Sona would not marry Udayavarma when Udayvarma confessed that he was the one who had shouted Bravo. Udayvarma understood the reason and went away. Betaal would then ask Vikram why Sona took this decision. Vikram would reply that Udayvarma was just as a disciple who is learning from his teacher, Sona. A teacher is like a parent and therefore cannot marry a student. Betaal went back to the corpse.

If von Dunitzer is Vikram (von is after all a prefix used only for nobility in Germany), and the sage providing riches is the President’s office, and Betaal is the candidate for presidency (Obama) then we have an allegory with voter-candidate relationship being interpreted in terms of the Vikram-Betaal story. For instance, the voter (Vikram) is conscientious and honest while the candidate (Betaal, the ghost) is being as elusive as possible,

Having allowed himself to be carried, Obama subjects himself to being projected as a virtual reality and not a holy ghost.

Romney’s Real vs Obama’s Virtual images

Independent of this analysis, Romney does look like a more honest person. Obama is certainly a cunning person ready to strike out with, what I think are, below-the-belt hits. One of these is when he lectures Romney about the size of the Navy. Obama, thinking he is making solid brownie points jut as in the pizza-man case, tells Romney that the Navy mo longer uses “horses and bayonets” (???!!!) but has instead, aircraft-carriers (on which planes land, he informs Romney???!!!) and submarines (which go into the water, he explains to Romney). Romney did not clarify that he meant less jobs at Naval Dockyards.

It is an insult to a man of average intelligence to think that Obama won brownie points with this. The Boojum of democracy allows no discrimination between intelligence levels so Obama can allow himself some satisfaction. It is litte wonder why an young and spontaneous Romney’s son wanted to take a swing at Obama!.

Encouraged by his success Obama came up with Romnesia for amnesia. This is the kind of joke that Romney will not make as he seems to have as his upbringing not to make fun of personal characteristics such as name, colour, physical handicaps, religion Romney will not talk about the black humor of Obama, nor will he talk about Osama’s barrack jokes, for example.

Romney has the disadvantage of several generations of middle-class American values in attempting unethical behaviour. He has incredibly turned his minority Mormon background --- or which he enthusiastically campaigned in France --- into a sympathetic middle class wave because he gives the image of a clean person riding proudly on his family values and support. His four children and the honesty and mutuality between him and his wife must make a him a gentleman’s gentleman.

Romney’s money-making ways may be said to be his only disadvantage in the eyes of some. Obama’s team would like to say that “... Governor Romney is someone in the closing of his campaign who has been dishonest about the position he intends to try and execute as president.

Obama as Betaal or Old-man-of-the-sea has little record of trustworthiness has little to show about the trust he deserves by his acts during the time he was president. Like his Nobel Prize Obama intends to ride on his intentions. It is this that makes him the wiley untrustworthy ghosts Betaal or the Old-man-of-the-sea hitching piggy-back rides.

Appendix: Cosmeticity = Left-Brain vs Right-Brain

If electing an American President is all about a virtual image one may think that Obama defeated McCain because he looked more believable than McCain (who had the disadvantage of the record of a Bush predecessor). I am not sure that he gets off that easily with Mitt Romney.
I have resorted to an analysis of the left-brain and right-brain activity from the photographs available on the net (middle, Fig 3) following the method that I have used elsewhere (see, for example, the previous blog) and that I am pleased with even if I am the only one who follows such a procedure.

The photographs are chosen and rotated to be as left-and-right symmetrical as far as the tilting of the head is concerned. It is then cut in half. The left- and right- (facing the page) halves are flipped horizontally and the flipped and original halves are joined to get the left- and right faces (viewing the page). In this way, the faces labelled right- and left- in Fig 3 are actually the left- and right-faces of the person the expressions of which (I think) are controlled by the right- and left-brain, respectively. Because of this double flip, the image labelled “right” in Fig 3 is thus a measure of the right-brain activity (artistic, synthetic) and that labelled “left” is a measure of the left-brain (analytic, scheming) activity.

The conclusion I now make is that there is more of a mismatch of the expression in the eyes between left- and right-brain activities for Obama than it is for Romney. The conclusion is that Romeny is the more honest person.

The second point is that the right-brain-side of Obama shows a smile with lips moving upwards as a smile should do while in the case of Romney it is his left-brain-side. Even I won’t attempt an interpretation here. But I guess it looks as if Romney’s laugh is more spontaneous.

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