Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 27 September 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

If you say so:

The navel will look like the universe

Someone once said that you could comprehend the universe if you gaped into your navel long enough. By the same mete of psychotic bunko, someone else added that the invention of mayonnaise proves the existence of God.

Though I can't say much about mayonnaise, except to point out my aunt Jemima's claim that it makes a good face mask, I guess, gazing at your navel - the scientific term for which is omphaloskepsis - long enough, will, if not anything else, befool you into postulating that the universe looks an awful lot like that part of the anatomy. It will also rupture a few or all the discs in your back.

Four statues depicting omphaloskepsis-

But it's neither here nor there. So is this unmitigated meshuga mish-mash. But following the man bites dog theory, it helps draw attention to an intriguing factor. Man's (as in the generic sense) gullibility. Meaning: our penchant, no matter what our intellect, for believing almost anything the other person tells us; our propensity to accept the artfully wrapped up hype and hyperbole as the unquestionable truth; our artless fidelity to statistics, advertisement and every other bushwah mouthed by those purported to be in the know. And by those in power.

Forget the bunko hypothesis about mayonnaise and navels. That needs a 40 TU container of salt and then some, to take it in anyway. But consider this.

Do we even think of a grain of salt, when certain banks tells us that they are here to make our life easier and that business needn't be so lonely with them?

Do we think it preposterous when manufacturers of moisturisers say that their cream could keep our skin fresh and young looking or some phony chemist's claim that an undefined vitamin can prevent you from going, grey, bald or even growing old?

Do we look for credibility when the merchandisers of ambulatory phones promise us that calling home doesn't cost anything anymore?

Do we question the temerity of politicians when they implausibly promise us the sun and the moon and everything in the universe?

Do we reflect on the 'what ifs' of implausibly iffy ventures which offer mirage-type returns in a distant, equally iffy future.

The banks may make life more difficult for us and the average manager may be a pallid, wormy sort of chap with a runny nose and no interest in us whatsoever. The skin cream may cause you urticaria. And the iffy venture, may read like the story of the crafty man, who calculating the unpredictable variables in life, promised a gullible king he'd teach a horse to speak. Meaning anything could happen, but more likely nothing could happen.

But do we ever pause to question the purports of the guys who want to entice us into thinking their way? Do we nurse healthy doubt, unhealthy scepticism or even downright opprobrious toxic cynicism?

Heck no. Of course not. And why?

Because we are all being subjected to a subtle form of primitive magic. The magic of belief. The persuasion that if you say so it is so. It's the curse of the age from which all other curses spring. If we didn't acquiesce in the belief, we would be rid not only of Saatchi but also Saatchi and every other hype spewing undertaking. Banks would remain just banks, not variously the cuddly, attentive helpful, fun stylish, up-to-the minute fabricators of the truth. And politicians.... well they may shout themselves hoarse from podiums and on platforms and maybe we'd just prepare ourselves for a lot of balloon rides.

I wish it worked. If saying so really made it so, imagine how easy life would be. Why, even the navel might look like the universe. And we'd even find the meaning of life.

Making it so

God, if you recall either religious history or the Tinsel Town version of the Ten Commandments, invited old Moses up on a tall mountain out in the desert, and handed him a couple of solid-stone memos with some powerful words on them. For want of a better word everyone call them tablets. God didn't say "Here are ten pretty good ideas, see what you think." He said ' "Do it or face the consequence in the hell of hereafter" So commandments they became.

Murphy, on the other hand was an extreme misanthrope albeit a good-humoured one. He said that no matter what you do, it's probably not going to work out very well anyhow. Some people think that Murphy was an optimist.

These are neither commandments nor good humoured cynical edicts. But given the make believe world we live in, where saying so makes it so, here are some wonky, left-off-centre skewered definitions for some often used terms, that will make it so, because I say it is so, or rather my pink book of all things mundane says it is so:

Ego: A helium-filled balloon that often lifts the ambitious to lofty destinations, where the change in pressure can cause it to pop unexpectedly.

Politician: A bundle of gaseous ambition cleverly packaged as a public servant or a corporate sales manager.

Beauty: An aesthetic radiance that delights the soul; a quality much admired in women, landscapes and tropical fish, but curiously out of favour in art throughout the modern era.

Diet: The temporary triumph of will over metabolism.

Commercials: Maddeningly memorable messages occasionally interrupted by several minutes of forgettable programming.

Ethics: An unspoken code of decency that once governed most business and professional transactions, now a fluctuating commodity that declines in direct proportion to the amount of money at stake.

Publicity: The theory that no news is bad news.

Truth: the blinding light that causes so many of us to wear sunglasses indoors and out.

- Hana Ibrahim



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