I have been finding it increasingly hard to put words on paper owing to the recurrent, frustrating realisation that they convey nothing more than the rambling thoughts of a distracted mind with absolutely no unifying principle whatsoever. Consequently, a significant amount of my time and effort has gone into renaming the blog, rewriting its tag-line and About section, and revisiting and editing most of my previous posts. All of this, I reasoned, would discipline my mind into realising a capacious theme capable of sustaining a framework on which all of my thoughts–whether they be notes, musings, or readings–could be built. The fact that I was able to reason this out and write it down is proof that the exercise has accomplished what it was meant to.
So what is this unifying theme? I like to call it the Principle of Choices. In the plainest of words it could be phrased thus:
Every person has the right to freely choose as he-she sees fit, unless the choice affects another person’s ability to choose freely.
All the conflicts of life and literature could be seen as driven by a desire to either preserve or violate this principle. Life itself is a conflict arising from its violation: We do not choose to live; life is chosen for us. Physicist Richard Feynman once said of the Atomic Hypothesis:
If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or the atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.
Perhaps the principle of choices is to the human moral imagination, art, and literature what the atomic hypothesis is to science; hopefully I will be able to apply “a little imagination and thinking” to extract the enormous insights codified into the narratives of the wor(l)d.