The road not taken – why ?

I write this editorial with a large element of surprise. We chose what we thought was a fun, lighthearted topics, to give ourselves and our contributors a break from the normally serious themes for our Webzine. We thought that writers and poets would regale us with absurd stories, bold theories and funny anecdotes – after all, we all have our own experiences of lottery, luck and lust. The response we got is an all time low, even compared to our very first issue. The January issue of Songsoptok, dedicated to ‘Cultural heritage and modern man’ was viewed by more than 5000 readers all across the world. The earlier issues were able to elicit a lot more interest both from authors and readers. So why has this theme for this month been so unpopular?

I can only speculate on the reasons, and as Editor, I can also voice my thoughts here, hoping that they will not hurt the senses and sensibilities of our readers. I have a feeling that this theme is too close to our inner selves, the way we look at ourselves, the way other people look at us. Maybe we don’t really feel comfortable talking about luck or lust, about our irrational behavior when we buy a lottery ticket. Maybe because a large percentage of the people with interact with have all been brought up to believe in work, diligence, endeavor, intelligence, preparedness, to believe that we as humans have the capacity to build our own lives. We have been taught since a very early age that destiny and fortune and luck are not necessary to for us to become successful in our lives. We have been led to believe that “he that waits upon fortune, is never sure of a dinner” as Benjamin Franklin professed. And so, even if we actually believe in luck in some way, it is not something we want to own up to. We do not acknowledge that life in itself can be considered as a kind of lottery – forever proposing different options for any given life decision. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I— I took the one less traveled by” wrote Robert Frost, and we, like him, are forever choosing roads our everyday lives, not really knowing where they will lead. Of course, we are always able to rationalize our own choices – man after all is a rational animal. But if we really look deep into our hearts, can we say with any certainty that all our decisions are totally rational? When we buy a lottery ticket, and I am certain everybody has bought a ticket at least once in their lives, can that be called a rational decision? And if and when we do buy that ticket, laughing at ourselves for our own folly, do we fail to watch the draw or find out about the lucky numbers in some other way? Why are we then either hesitant or even ashamed to accept that we are not, after all, totally rational in our choices and actions?

Admitting to lust is a totally different kettle of fish, though lust is a very natural and human instinct as well. SriSuvro, in his article on Lust has done a detailed analysis of the origins of human lust. So I shall not go into details. But I do feel that centuries of criticism, judgment and punishments meted out to humans for giving in to one of the deadliest sins have conditioned us to an outright denial of lust. Also the fact that lust is today almost synonymous to sexual lust makes us very uncomfortable in even thinking about it. But if we do take a closer look even at sexual lust, what is so shocking about it? Were human beings meant to be heterosexual and monogamous or is it just a concept discovered and hammered into our individual and collective psyche by patriarchal societies across centuries and all over the world? A very clever ploy to keep the social order firmly in place, to inculcate and reinforce the laws pertaining to procreation, ownership, property, and later, the sanctity of a social institution called marriage?

As I said earlier, I can only speculate. Maybe our readers will actually react to this editorial and share their thoughts and ideas with us. As to why this particular topic did not inspire their intellect or tickle their fancy. We would really like to know.

There is a new feature in this issue – all the three editors, Subhodev Das Aparajita Sen and SriSuvro, have written a special feature on the three themes this month – luck, lottery and lust. There was no previous discussion and agreement – each of us has presented our own points of view.

I hope you will enjoy reading this issue and let us know if we made a mistake is choosing this theme. I hope you will continue to enrich each edition with your valuable contributions. I, on behalf of the Editors, thank you once again for your continuing support.

Aparajita Sen



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