Quest, 86, Mar-Apr 1991, p89-97.
Ajay R. Singh & Shakuntala A. Singh
IT IS POSSIBLE OFCOURSE to end this paper exactly where we begin
by making a statement: Non-Issues need not be made an Issue of. And it would not be far from the truth if we do. But making
a factual statement does not necessarily imply either the ability or the inclination to carry it out. Neither does it indicate
anything in the nature of the state or level of awareness, nor even whether it is in fact practiced or considered practicable;
or for that matter if it is understood at all. Statements made quite simply may be unthought of as to deeper implications.
And it is the rare statement which after consideration of deeper implications can still in the end be simply made.
II.1 Consider the manipulative-exploitative use of Non-Issues.
Innumerable examples can be cited from history, wars and conflicts, politics and mass struggles, religion and interpersonal
relations where this is skillfully (and, sometimes, not so skillfully) done. A Non-Issue can serve, further, the
important purpose of inflaming mass passions. Whether it be assassination of the Austrian prince which sparked off the First
World War, use of beef in cartridges which sparked the 1857 Indian War of
*Synoptic version of this paper was presented in the Ethics and Social Philosophy section of the
64th Session of the Indian Philosophical Congress, University of Gujarat, 15-17 Oct., 1989.
Independence (call it the Indian Sepoy Mutiny, if you wish); the use
of tallow in soap; playing of music before mosques; the 'blasphemy' of hanging a leg of beef in front of a Hindu
temple; carrying of Kirpans in aircrafts; entry of the police-military in places of worship, right to personal
laws; or linguistic subdivisions of states - Non-Issues serve as the rallying factor, helping strike responsive
chords in like-minded others, urging them to convert them into Issues. Of course not all will agree that these examples are
Non-Issues. But that is exactly how Non-Issues are. They compel us to convert them into Issues in our minds.
Non-Issues many a times help in Issues being brought to a head,
in a full and open conflict They serve as the match that lights the hay-stack. Non-Issues with emotive-religious-economic-ethnic
appeal are specially important here. Once individuals are united over a specially dear wish, tradition or dogma, it is
but a step to bring about a confrontation which may help solve wider and more important Issues. Consider the salt-satyagraha
of Gandhi. The matter, superficially, was a trivial one, of making salt. But note how it got converted into an individual's
basic right to a fundamental need, for which he could not be compelled to pay any taxes. Note also how skillfully
the master-mind of mass-movement organisers used it as a fulcrum to unite like-minded individuals, projecting it as a
symbol of their expression for freedom. Consider, again, how no one grudges paying the present government taxes over salt,
or any identical matter. The Non-Issue was made important then to bring things to a head; it is no longer important
now and has hence lost significance in the present
II.2 Non-Issues commonly get used as the proverbial last straw
on the camel's back. Usually, feelings of love, envy, hate, resentment and guilt can be harbored in some state of stable/unstable
equilibrium for long till a Non-Issue crops up and helps an individual (or group) almost crystallize his (their) stand
or viewpoint. The Non-Issue serves as a via-media, a pretext, an outlet for the expression or experience of long simmering,
unresolved feelings and difficulties. Therefore, trouble that may be brewing inwardly for long may burst with the
force of a volcano over a supposedly trivial matter. Most individuals are taken aback by the intensity displayed in such
situations - an intensity not at all commensurate with what is apparently at stake. We undervalue, thereby, the tremendous
ability that Non-Issues have to liberate long repressed convictions. In fact, at certain times and in certain situations,
individuals and groups may deliberately seek to carry out such an exercise. A state of uncertainty or conflict within is anathema to the mind, notwithstanding the fact that its resolution can result in major uncertainty
and conflict without. Non-Issues serve as the scalpel that incises a long-festering,
deep-rooted boil. It may be a small taunt, an abuse, or an accusation. But to serve this purpose it should be properly
directed. It needs to be a direct, though may be minor, attack on an emotionally (not only intellectually) dear thought or
principle. And a whole torrent of emotions seething within burst to the surface.
Hence the worth of abuses. If observed a little closely
one finds they are usually directed to things one holds emotionally dear. Therein lies their scalpel-wielding potential. Whether
it be abuse to mother, to sexual capacity, to the sacred thread, to the state of the fore-skin, or to the 'mother'-land. But
we shall come back to quarrels and abuses later.
II.3 Excessive concern with Issues can convert them into Non-issues. Excessive propagation
of an ideal, trend of thought or 'Issue' can itself result in disenchantment and, equally important, boredom. This is
especially true in a branch like philosophy where so many problems are capable of discussion but so few are a.menable to solution.
And in similar situations elsewhere. It would probably be more correct to say that Issues get perceived as Non-Issues. They
do not get converted, much though the manipulator and the vacillating person may wish, but are no longer perceived as such. The mind adopts this as a defense, to say, as though, 'Enough,
and no more', This applies as much to the good things of life as to the worse, to the desirable as well as the undesirable.
Hence the rich man bored with his riches, the poor revolting against his poverty, the beautiful sick of being praised,
the intellectual tired of acting the genius, the ideological zealot doing an intellectual somersault, the celebrity weary
of acting a star, the star craving the commoner's unostentation.
While we are at this exercise, let us also seek an answer to the converse of our earlier statement
Can excessive concern with Non-Issues convert then into Issues? The answer is, yes, at least to some extent. That is what,
in fact, occurs for many people in so many situations. A slogan or campaign drummed up by the media; parties, meetings, seminars
and conferences that discuss and regularly report only certain topics; craze over the latest in certain fields of research;
scoop into the private lives of celebrities and politicians. This is what the exploiter-manipulator constantly seeks to carry
out, the ignoramus wallows in, the enlightened attempts to eschew.
II.4 The elaboration of Non-Issues can sometimes act as an indicator to the state
of relationships. Those in which Non-Issues get supreme importance, in negative or positive connotation, are usually
shallow, immature and/or fragile. Exchanging pleasantries and goody-goody talk here become important or major vehicles of
communication. Also, when a relationship which earlier used to concentrate on Issues starts concentrating on Non-Issues,
it should alert the individuals concerned to the occurrence of this shift. Amends, if desired, have to be carried out swiftly;
the situation otherwise cannot but terminate or, worse, go sour. Similarly, soured or broken relationships shift to a
positive status only by passing through an intermediate stage when it concentrates on Non-Issues with neutral or demonstratively
positive emotive appeal.
Non-Issues can at times serve the important purpose of keeping
up semblance of good relationship. It can result, for example, in the babying situation where every small wish of the
other is taken care of, provided it continues to remain small.
The moment bigger ones get raised, Non Issues themselves serve as the weapon to strike them down. Thus, when
the career-minded wife seeks to exercise her individuality, the otherwise very considerate husband would raise the exact bogey
of how his consideration and care is all that she should need. Or, when a husband seeks an intellectually fulfilling
relationship elsewhere, the extremely loving but intellectually unsatisfying wife may make an issue of how her companionship
is all he should need, her love being betrayed or spurned otherwise.
The use of Non-Issues to keep up appearances of good relationship
specially occurs in potentially fragile ones, e.g. between paramours, newly-weds, ideologically and/or emotionally contrasting
individuals, group or nations who decide to collaborate (witness, for example, the Janata government at the centre,
and its fall: it's difficult to keep up semblances in fragile relationships for long), between non-intimate but
semblance- necessary relationships (the example of protocol immediately suggests itself here: tremendous value is accorded
to it in political circles for this very reason. It can be justifiably broken only as a signal of greater intimacy;
when justifiably done, a Non-Issue such as this can make many heads roll.)
II.5 Most quarrels, if not
all, are over Non-Issues. This applies as much to the common street-brawl as the so-called ideological controversies in philosophy
or conceptually related branches. Those over Issues usually do not get such a chance. They remain conflicting view-points,
occasionally develop into slanging encounters. But rarely do they get the variegated accusatory or incriminatory
character of a quarrel. We must stress that both accusation and incrimination are essential prerequisites here. There
may or may not be others, but these must be there. Eschew them, and you can't have one. Just add them to any situation, and
you have a full-blown one. The more adept you can be in this addition, the more can you elaborate upon and the greater your
success in its use.
If one wishes to have star-examples of Non Issues being made important, consider
street fights, or the purpose and content of abuses. If you ever get an opportunity to listen to the colourlul oratory
of these specimen, don't miss it, because you will find here expertise that would put the most adept debater to shame. Not
only is the language profuse in profanity, it is exuberant in imagination and adroit in mixing concepts. And all symbols of
attack and defense are Non Issues. The commonest attack in an abuse or verbal assault is either the lack of moral
turpitude in, or the expressed desire to rape or '****' the adversary, or one of his/her near or dear ones. Thus, abuses
involve insinuations of incestuous relationships on the adversary's part, or alleged. threatened or challenged sexual
intimacy on the perpetrator's part, with one from the adversary's family. The comedy of the whole affair is that this need
have no relevance to reality whatsoever. If, for example, the abuser says, ‘I’ll
**** you', to another belonging to the same sex, it is immaterial that he doesn't have any homosexual tendencies
and would otherwise balk at the very suggestion of such a relationship. If the abuser accuses another of incestuous relations
with sister, it is immaterial if in reality the other has none; and if with mother, that she expired well in his childhood.
A shining example of the comedy of abuses was when one of us chanced to hear an extremely angry woman threatening a man in
a quarrel. She was swearing time and again she would kidnap his wife that very night and seduce her - and that with her husband sitting quietly by the side in the courtyard of his hut, calmly contemplating
II.6 And just as there is a comedy of abuses, we cannot neglect the importance of
comedy itself. Apart from the abracadabra of punch, brevity, timing, naiveté, innuendo, rhyming, punning, suggestively, physical
contortions, interludes of a particular nature, disparity between words and action etc. etc. in the making of a comedy,
good or passable, slap-stick or subtle, there is also one other essential prerequisite. The enjoyment can be either at others'
or one's own cost, but it should primarily be over Non-Issues. The situation is comic when a Donald Duck or a Mickey Mouse
digs into the sand or falls into the sea when trying to surf. But it no longer raises a guffaw if he is in reality drowned.
The moment the situation assumes significance as an Issue, or even comes anywhere near it, comedy disappears and tragedy
looms over the horizon. The shrewd comedy writer is well aware of this and constantly seeks to carry this out. He switches
over from comedy and leads his audience to the brink of tragedy's precipice. But he never allows the actual fall to occur
(unless of course he wishes to make a tragicomedy). In how well is this switch carried out lies his expertise and often
his success. This is what Wodehouse does with his Bertie Wooster and Walt Disney with his Mickey Mouse; or Charlie Chaplin,
or even Laurel and Hardy. In this manner the comedy writer enhances the dramatic effect of his comic interludes. For, comedy
remains entertaining and light only if tragedy is kept out of the picture. One can mix comedy with quarrels, estrangements,
stupidity, tomfoolery, anger. But the moment the writer attempts to lead any of these to their logical conclusion, comedy
ceases and tragedy must take over. The whole business of different forms of comedy writing or direction is in how subtle,
loud or under-played, this whole situation is made and how well the writer/director succeeds in playing with such contrivances,
without bringing into the consciousness of his audience the realisation of Issues. One can thus grasp the tight rope walk
that this type of work involves; and also why most people concerned with the production of comedy consider it a very
serious business instead.
This may be disputed by some comedy-writers
and their commentators, especially the type who make tragi-comedies, or deal with satire. But for both these, comedy is only
a vehicle, nay a facade, and though it may apparently so seem, comedy per se is neither their absolute nor
primary aim. Strictly speaking, therefore, they fall outside the preview of our present comment. But we may go so far as to
say that even here realisation of issues is only at the sub-liminal fringe of consciousness. In fact its surging growth
must keep in step with the hilarity of the comic interludes, but always at the outskirts of cognition, never manifestedly
overstepping except in small spurts if at all. If can only become loud, discursive and jarring in its aesthetic appeal otherwise.
II.7 Non-Issues can become Issues when they serve our purpose. Non-Issues
remain Non-Issues when put in their proper perspective. Every 'successful' individual learns very early in life the value
of differentiating between the two. He also learns early to guard against making, or allowing others to make, Non-Issues Issues,
or Issues Non- I ssues. He also learns the skillful manipulative use of converting
Non-Issues into Issues, or presenting Issues as Non-Issues, if it suits his purpose. Herein lies the secret success formula
of most famous politicians, diplomats and schemers (Machiavelli or no Machiavelli), in whatever field they choose as their
The manipulator doles out favours over Non Issues and makes it
appear as though he is solving Issues. Those who deal with masses use their expertise in this direction continuously, whether
they be politicians, industrialists, writers, media men, or others. Thus, the politician doles out parlances of food or shelter
to a section of the pee and makes that an occasion for a lengthy discourse over high sounding poverty-eradication programmes.
The industrialist offers a niggardly pay-rise and makes an agreement of substantial benefit to his firm. The writer puts in
comic or titillating interludes to make a best seller and claim it to be a significant
work of fiction. The film maker dishes out a pot-pouri with a dash of cabaret here,
a touch of comedy there, a dab of horror here, a splash of fights there, to make essentially a box-office hit, but claims
it to be a 'drama that exposes and fights social evils'. A scribe ostensibly crusades for a clean socio-political order
but makes essentially an arresting feature, to improve his credibility, and jack up his price.
II.8 Some masters of debate make skillful use of Non-Issues to impress
audiences. The central or significant point of another speaker is neglected or purposely connived at, concentrating on some
peripheral Issues which appears exceptionally weak or strong, thereby presenting as though the whole argument is such. In
this adroit way-laying, uncompromising critics and blind followers are remarkably adept; and special expertise belongs to
those of the more voluble or prolific variety. Skillful oratory may at times involve use of impressive language at the
expense of substance. Oratory is specially useful for this purpose. It is usually difficult to get away with this in writing,
though not impossible. For example, mediocrity can masquerade as genius by playing the inscrutable. But the way-layer
does get exposed in course of time because the written matter can be gone over and re-evaluated. The spoken word, especially
an oration of intellectual-emotive appeal, by use of public-speaking techniques and juxtaposition of the well accepted
with other concepts sneaked in also to make them so appear, may not give the time, or encourage the inclination, to do so.
The awe-struck or star-struck audience, for example, has almost certainly been taken for such a ride. That is why many times
very impressive appearing speeches or words of mouth appear insipid when penned down or read. Similarly, very impressive
written matter may appear boring when read before an audience without the expert use of mass audio-visual appeal. And from
the boring to the inconsequential is but a small step.
ll.9 Most worthwhile chair-persons of debates in which individuals
of varied, especially conflicting, viewpoints assemble have to constantly guide deliberations by maneuvering or insisting
on the participants to stick, or revert to, Issues, and avoid slinging over Non-Issues. The judgment of a good or poor chair-person
rests in how soon he recognizes, and how successfully he reverses, such trends.
Non-Issues also serve the important purpose of acting as outlets
for inflamed passions in group situations. They occupy a major part of their time, effort and agenda. Consider meetings, of
clubs, societies, cooperatives, companies or nations. Anyone with some experience of attending or presiding over such meetings
will agree that it is Non-Issues which usually play a dominant role and excite the most heated verbal exchanges. Most coteries
and cliques speak unanimously and are solidly united and most vociferous with respect to Non-Issues. It is Issues over
which there is either poor discussion, a prolonged but inconclusive one, or the exercise of a veto. This applies to groups
everywhere, whether a housing society, an association, an educational institution, or the United Nations. The President/Chairman
retains the power of ruling, the five super-powers of the U.N. have their power of veto to see to it that Non-Issues do not
get the chance to become Issues. But often the exact opposite is the case. The weapon is used to convert Issues into NonIssues,
so that the latter get the opportunity to be projected as Issues, whilst individuals and groups stand helplessly watching.
The results are the disillusioned statesman who finds himself a misfit in the debasement of power-politics and its intriguing
goings-on, the dedicated worker who is unheard, harassed or put-down, and the petty fogging political ladder-climber
who uses the system to his maximum advantage. The loss that Issues incur thereby,
by being thus converted into Non-Issues, is phenomenal.
II.IO One of the best ways of camouflaging the worth of Non-Issues is by subtly mixing them with Issues. Disguised or impassioned
appeals to sense of pity and sympathy, loyalty and patriotism, with overt appeals to reason and logic is one of the most
commonly used methods. It is especially employed by those who, for example, appeal for individuals found guilty of committing
wrong or in need of retribution, for indicting others, and for messiahs of various causes. Thus advocates who plead for
criminals, cliques after some-one's blood. priests who seek divine intervention for wrong-doers, or followers who herald
a prophet are its greatest exponents.
II.11 Let us now focus attention on literature and the creative fields. First, the films. Here, the difference between
Issues and Non-Issues is specially clear. Films which lack a thorough-going or creative worth involve the characters
into numerous side-issues, usually ill-connected. A movie that is a work of art, usually concentrates on a central theme,
uses new characters, desists from diversionary tactics like fights, dance, song, cabaret or melodramatic sequences unless
a must in the narrative (the best example of this would of course be a film about fights,
songs or cabaret; here inclusion cannot but be legitimate). The same principle applies to any other work of art. whether poetry,
story-writing, painting or Indian classical music. In fact, what distinguishes a mundane work from a classic is this
constant concern with Non-Issues in the former and Issues in the latter. What distinguishes a trend-setter from a bush-beater
is about the same. (We don't know whether our present exercise falls in the latter category. Can we take solace in the
fact that we are concentrating on the Issue of Non-Issues?).
Some clarification of certain works which are considered classics
but may not follow our above rule must be offered here. Consider the 'Mahabharata', or Tolstoy's magnum opus, 'War and Peace' , to cite just two. There are many characters here, many diversions in the
narrative and enough appeal to many types of emotions. Does that not disprove our contention?
In both works, as in any mass situation like a war, a multitude
of characters need to be involved, a variety of emotions need to be experienced, a number of sequences, major and
minor, have to be narrated. The central theme, however, the Issue, remains only one - War (and Peace, too, if you please), The characters, if anything, have significance only as related to this central theme. The presence
of a multitude of characters, in fact, serves the very purpose of highlighting the variegated nature of this enterprise of
man. And those parts of such creations which stray into Non-Issues are exactly the ones that detract from the worth of these
otherwise immensely readable works.
II.12 What, after all, is the purpose of meditation, dhyana, or
psychotherapy? Or, even, of proper teaching, or knowledge? It essentially involves the ability to concentrate on Issues and
to desist from Non-Issues. The literate becomes educated, knowledge becomes wisdom, the neurotic becomes stable only
when this occurs. The student becomes a good disciple when he can do so and the teacher becomes a good guru when he can prevent his student from not doing so. Detractors, and those who get distracted. are precisely
those who are unable to differentiate between the two.
II.13 Issues have a specificity of time, space and person. Something
that is an Issue at one time, in a particular context, or for a particular individual, may be a Non-Issue at another time,
in another context, for another individual or, even from same person at a different time, in a different context. Needs,
feelings, thoughts and actions also have their specificities. The presence of food is irrelevant when one is thirsty, or vice-versa.
The emotion of deep caring is irrelevant in a casual relationship; in fact, the moment it starts becoming an Issue, it
causes either a reorientation or a disintegration. The consideration of justice is immaterial to the need for revenge.
The moment sense of justice becomes important, revenge loses its quality of blind hatred and cannot sustain itself. Sex,
similarly, is a Non-Issue in a platonic relationship: if it starts becoming an Issue, the relationship cannot but
lose its platonic status.
We must also comment on the manipulative use of specificities. Thinking about a speaker's
or writer's personal appearance, apparel or decorations, titles and degrees, should be a Non-Issue while judging his
speech or writing. Concentration on his style of speaking or nuances of language can similarly mar one's concentration
on the essence of his thought. And yet so often these Non-Issues become the very Issues which impress audiences to a
major degree. Much of what is known as star or glamour value is based on this emotive appeal brought about by skillful use
of Non-Issues. All public men desirous of popularity use it and prefer to err on the side of over, rather than under, use. The best verification of this
is when such individuals or agencies lose their star potential. Suddenly, the very action, gestures or mannerisms that used
to appear attractive before become lackluster, rather ludicrous, now. This is also why stars of a past era fail to generate
star struck enthusiasts in the folliowng. Similarly, stars of today may be unable to excite the imagination of a generation
past. A better example of specificities may be hard to find.
There are, however, some Issues which are Non-specific with
regard to time, space and person. In this sphere must come the noblest of virtues and the basest of vices, both difficult
to justify as person, time or space specific. Here are those eternal values which have universal appeal and have always remained
Issues, which detractors have constantly tried to convert into Non Issues but always fought a losing battle over.
They have surfaced and resurfaced in many generations, cultures and literatures. They continue to remain the refrain
of thinking people of all times, often defying attempts at solution, as they defy our
rule of specificity.
III.1 We must now draw a line.
III.2 Concern with exposing Non-Issues for what they are worth
can also have its draw-backs.
Most enjoyable moments of life are over Non-Issues. Whether
it be lovers playing hide-and-seek, the beauty sun-bathing, the prude. sermonising, friends gossiping, cups of tea, card-games,
friends going for long walks on lonely stretches. None of these are worthy of being considered Issues, except by the
advertising media. Yet they may be exactly the stuff of which the small pleasures of life are made. And one can be very much
the loser by missing out on them. The joy of identifying with the know-all, omnipotent hero of a third-rate movie, the
pleasure of witnessing a no-holds-barred verbal assault, the slanging matches between people and groups in debates and meetings
- there is something to lose in being unable to experience or enjoy their flavour.
III.3 Non-Issues serve as a preamble to Issues. Preliminary ice-breaking
and softening up is usually their privilege. The weather, health enquiries, children and spouse's welfare, who's who,
opinion on current affairs all serve this purpose admirably. Communication may appear brusque, ill-mannered and
ill-advised if conducted otherwise.
They have another purpose as well. When used later on during
communication, they serve to convey Issues; or lead to them. Occasionally they become road-blocks when stubborn insistence on trivialities scuttles settlement
of Issues. Most other times, however, they are used to adroitly convey what the Issues at stake are. This occurs as much between
negotiators as between newly formed acquaintances. It is best highlighted in the oft-repeated instance of a man proposing.
Both the comedy and the intensity of such interludes are dependent on how efficiently Non-Issues serve as a preamble to and
suggestively convey Issues, or lead to them, without causing shock, embarrassment or panic. And during a retrospective
reverie, it is these Non-Issues which are most tenderly remembered, even when the Issue no longer remains enjoyable. The fondness
of remembering the impossibilities of the first time need not be marred by the insipidity of all the other times that
is in fact the present state of affairs.
III.4 Non-Issues can bring the sun-shine back into so many lives. A simple hand-shake, a small pat on the
back, a common sorry, a heart-felt condolence, a prompt reply can be the way Non-Issues soothe, nurture or nurse wounded
feelings. deep set hurts or long-felt resentments back to health.
And how so very rarely do they get used. A little warmth genuinely
reciprocated can help melt so much unnecessary caution that borders on distrust, thaw the reserve and lack of spontaneity
in inflated egos, remove the crust of masks and fronts and reveal the essential humane core in the most snobbish, render unnecessary
the need to erect barriers and barricades to mind or body: to make only calculated moves, if at all; and the obsession with
guarding one's privacy that shuts off as much unnecessary as necessary input.
III.5 The joy of a lilting melody, the bubbling verve of an idiotic beauty, the flavour
of scandal laced gossip, the impossibilities of a comic-serial, the tear-jerkings of a soap-opera, the foot-tapping and
hand-clapping of a pop sequence, the robust rhythm of a qawwali, the pirouetting over a disco sequence; enjoyment of
the antics of men in position, somersaults of politicians, the prancing of prudish aristocracy - why need one lose the
ability to enjoy all these for the vestal pleasures of classical music, the intricacies of the velvety ghazal, the
joy of a Mona Lisa a Rembrandt or a Reuben, a Kalidas or a Shakespeare? There is no rational justification for one approach
castigating the other. And one has nothing to lose really by giving up the prudishness that results from dogmatic adherence
to anyone of these approaches. If anything, both can be thoroughly experienced, if not by personal involvement, at least as
a receptive spectator willing to be amused.
III.6 Thinking over Non-Issues, therefore, may be an Issue worth thinking over. And
discovering, and experiencing. The smaller mercies of life are hard to get. The larger ones are out of reach, anyway.
One cannot, therefore, lose the opportunity or ability to enjoy Non-Issues. That would be the surest form of self-torture,
One cannot also lose the ability to discriminate between
Issues and Non-Issues. Especially where it can malter. A stable personality is a happy blend of Issues and Non-Issues. The
Issues are to be vigorously pursued, the Non Issues to be thoroughly enjoyed. At no stage, however, should the individual
allow them to get inextricably intertwined. They have to co-exist, but side-by-side, not in an amalgam. Not for a moment should
one be allowed to negatively influence the other. And not for a moment should one be robbed of the infinite joys that
can result therefrom.
Of course we do not mean thereby that something vigorously
pursued cannot also be thoroughly enjoyed, because the enjoyment can be as much the result of the pursuit as the pursuit
of the enjoyment However, it is difficult, though tempting, to accept the converse statement as proper. Non-Issues need
to be thoroughly enjoyed but cannot be vigorously pursued, because that can only be at the cost of Issues. We may also add
that Issues need be vigorously pursued but not that thoroughly as to exclude the enjoyment of Non-Issues. Issues also need
not be that thoroughly enjoyed that it disallows the enjoyment of concurrent Non-Issues. We may go so far as to say that
neither Issues nor Non-Issues need be pursued/enjoyed at each other's expense.
III.7 What makes sceptics, pessimists and cynics the unenjoyable specimen that they
are is not their total involvement with Issues or exposing Non-Issues but their inability to enjoy Non Issues. If only
they could shed this, they would come into their legitimate inheritance, and deliverance. But, of course, this may endanger
their identity and probably hinder them in the pursuit of what they consider
Issues. This, in itself, may be no small problem for them to resolve. But then an identity that falls heavily on one's shoulders
is best got rid of before the shoulder itself gives way.
What, again, makes the absolute hedonist repulsive is
lack of the pursuit of Issues and a total involvement with enjoyment of Non-Issues.
He may do himself a good turn by realising that fun and frolic extract their own price in the form of melancholy and disenchantment
if delinked from an abiding commitment to at least some Issues.
A stable personality, therefore, would be wise to steer clear
of both extremes.
III.8 Philosophy especially can do with being less sombre and sour-faced. Or sounding
like a requiem. Serious pursuits need not be carried out in a grave manner. One can avoid being considered frivolous
or flippant by means other than solemnity or pomposity. And it is mere poppycock
that needs the subterfuge of pedagogy or pontificality. By appearing intense, dedicated, obsessed or harassed one can
succeed in conveying honesty of purpose. But to more avail would be an intensity that is not an obsession, a dedication which
is unharassed, a genius that is not a snob, a honesty which is not doctrinaire, a purposefulness that is neither a crusade
nor a diktat.
Of greater import is the joy
de vivre of describing the bubbling ecstacy of a baby's smile or the twinkle of mischief in a toddler's eyes than
all the reams that can be written in aesthetics. Read Will Durant's autobiography, 'Transition'. Especially his final chapter.
Or note the way in which most seeking or creative. souls come into their deliverance. Ideology, power, money, fame, all become
Non-Issues becomes the supreme Issues.