“…the only people for me are the mad ones - the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved. Desirous of everything at the same time, these are the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” Jack Kerouac, often considered to be the face of the Beat generation, wrote these lines in his book ‘On the Road’, which would go down in history as one which encompasses the spirit of a generation so succinctly. But that was the generation of jazz and beat and a brave new world beckoned. We like to play it safe now. We don’t like the road less travelled by. We like the path which everyone takes. We’re no longer innovators or risk takers. We’re a bunch of mollycoddled safe playing generation that has begun to lose the bright spark in their eyes. The age of heroes, the adventurers looking to new horizons is over. We have ushered in an age of conformity, an age of following trends rather than setting it. We have forgotten that life is not just about answering the questions but also questioning the answers.
The very romance that the unknown holds is now a source of uncertainty and fear. Everyone who’s ever amounted to anything has viewed the world in a different way and seen white where others saw black. They were often thought to be crazy, but that has always been the case where the ones who were dancing were thought to be insane by those that could not hear the music! We now see life as a series of tasks we have to perform before we run out of time. For us, the definition of life itself has changed – from being a gift we’d cherish and make the most out of, it has now become tantamount to a disease, sexually transmitted and invariably fatal. Life is a series of goals for us – good school, good college, good job, good marriage, good family, and good death. Live like the society wants you to, keep your head down, don’t go against the authority, be like the masses, then repeat after the voices on the podiums – “I am free”. The futility in this very endeavour is bound to drive any individual insane. We’re made to work for an intangible object called wealth. Money is no longer tangible and they hang words like ‘debt’ and ‘profits’ in front of our noses as they used to dangle carrots in front of donkeys to get them to move. We as a society have stopped loving virulent madness- the kind of whirling gyre that’ll take everything in and spit it out, mangled and beyond recognition. Something that’ll wreck the old and archaic and usher in the new! We’ve lost that. We have become little more than puppets on strings with every action of ours being controlled by the invisible hand of capitalism and a profit-based society. We’ve become the biggest slumber that mankind has ever seen and we pass it off as sanity! We claim we love the rain, yet we rush for shelter as soon as the first drops fall, we say we need to make love not war, yet we’re always looking to pick a fight, we say we’re benevolent and kind individuals, yet we hardly ever offer any real help to the poor in our own locality beyond some insignificant change and a few kind words. The very state of slumber that society has learned to accept as sanity has caused a paradigm shift in the power structure where the masses have been fed a vision and a line about life itself by the corporations running the world. The new world order is to keep the people stupid and poor, where they fail to realise that the power rests with them. We can only hope to quote Percy Bysshe Shelley and say –
Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!
To conclude, sanity is overrated. Sanity is a lie. It’s a line they’ve fed you all to keep you in your place, at their feet. The Hatter said we’re all a little mad here to Alice, and to you, dear readers, I’d like to quote one of the greatest inventors and visionaries of this century, Steve Jobs. So-
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Sketch By: Pranavi Kanduri