OSCAR WILDE AND MYSELF
A commentary by
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Verbal communication issues from my own life
I can relate my own experience in this regard. Though my family and siblings had and have fabulous social stature, it was a curious habit of mine to keep these things in the dark when I move around in the social circles in locations quite far from my home base. This is actually a location of free-fall in feudal languages, unless one can exhibit powerful social or professional props.
It so happened that around some twenty years back I had a close association with a Vedic guru who had a reasonable number of followers in the local areas and beyond. He was extremely erudite in his field of functioning, which was Vedic scriptures &c. Beyond that he was good in English. So, my connection with him was in English. Usually I take my English to the levels of pristine-English codes of communication. That is, I used to address him with a Mr. prefixed to his name.
This is not a condonable communication code in the local vernacular-mixed-English. All of his followers used to address him with a requisite honorific attached to the rear of his name. The honorific stands as a powerful wall-like structure behind him and his stature, supporting him from falling down into the levels of no-respect in verbal communication.
Even though in pristine-English, the usage ‘Mr.’ signifies a detached relationship or a formal relationship or a distance, this is not the way this is understood in feudal languages. The ‘Mr.’ in the front of the name is taken as a disinclination to provide the stature prop in the rear of the name. It then is seen by others as an act of trying to stand on a pedestal of equality with their revered Guru.
As to the Guru, he had no problem. Basically he was a bit younger than me in age. As to his followers, there were persons who were quite young as well as persons who were older than him. They naturally took my stance as an affront.
From their own perspective, I was standing in the air in a free-fall situation with no discernible platform to hold me up, with regard to ‘respect’. At the same time, they were from various levels of social stature, and yet conceding the necessary ‘respect’ to the Guru. I was seen as sort of being over-smart and acting too big for my shoes.
For when I conversed with them, they could detect nothing in me that was superior to them. In fact, there was everything of the inferior in me when compared with them in the vernacular sorting out.
These issues come to the core each and every time they mention me in their conversation. The indicant word form for He, Him, His etc. have to be very specifically assigned. I being on a communication level of seeming equality with their Guru would necessitate their using the codes of ‘respect’ and honour in the He, His, His words for me. When they use these words, naturally they are admitting their own subservience to me. However, this they would find quite intolerable. If they used quite lower level words for me, my equation with their Guru would literally make their conversation as sort of heaping degradation on their Guru’s close associate in their eyes.
Actually I was not a close associate of their Guru. The only problem was that I was communicating in English with their Guru, which necessarily gave me a communication stature which they could not practise on their own.
The only way out of this totally disconcerting communication ambience would be to have me removed from the scene.
I am a person who till my age 30 had lived in various locations in the subcontinent. I have had brief associations with many persons and institutions, in an off and on manner.
The following happened some twenty five years or so ago:
There was one reasonably affluent businessman who had gone broke suddenly due to some kind of clandestine affair with a female who was working in a nearby business establishment. His wife and children had left him. He was in the middle of so-many problems with regard to business deeds, shop-rent, his partners scooting off with money and business links, no decent place to live, daily food from odd restaurants &c. By some odd coincidence he came to me.
I was living my lifestyle as mentioned earlier. But then, I had an official place. Access to use family-owned four-wheeler and a two-wheeler.
This man was aged around 10 years elder to me. However, he was not from the local vernacular population. So, there was no absurdity in communicating with him in English, when all the others around spoke the local vernacular. I addressed him with a Mr. prefixed to his name. His English was not an educated-English, but more or less something he had picked up in his life.
One by one his issues were tackled. The two-wheeler and four-wheeler which I could get to use from my family was put into use to re-provide a platform for him. Money which was owed to him in various far-off locations was collected. Along with that, the message that he was back on his feet spread through his business contact. Agents of manufacturers started meeting him again. Persons who used to take goods from him came back with the money they owed him, sensing that he would be able to give goods again. The flywheel started turning. The business was once again on the go.
It was at this time that I made the seemingly grave mistake of introducing him to one of my own very senior family members, who was a very powerful senior person inside my family. This person very fast got the impression that he as basically a lowly-educated businessman running a business due to his knowledge of his goods and his connections to the place where the goods were manufactured. For, the goods came from a location which was in his own native-language area. So he had this advantage. Other than that, intellectually he was a different bird compared to me.
All that my family member did was simply to take up his age-wise seniority into account. Focusing on this aspect, where I was clearly in the lower stature, he was told that he should take-care of me. That is, this man was to take up a parental pose. The foolish-man did not really understand the terrific cunningness encrypted in the request. The moment he received the request, I could see him transforming into a parental pose.
His own personal problems had been more or less settled out by then. He had literally become more attached to the female who had come into his life.
I had been offered a small partnership in his business. A miniscule amount had been given by me. He had no money to invest, but then the old business machine had started running with the lubrication of the small money that was inserted into the machine. The vehicles that I provided and my presence as a sort of team-member had helped the re-ignition of the business machine.
In the social ambience he was functioning, certain new communication issues were cropping up. He had a few young-age small-time shop owners who used to take his wares. Almost all of them were uneducated from an English perspective. I did meet at least one person who was a post graduate with literally very low-information in English.
When these shop owners and other associates used to come and meet him (the person I had helped), earlier he used to allow me to use maintain a high stature in communication codes. However, the moment my own family member had requested him to ‘look after’ me, things had changed. He was not very happy to see me in my standard communication levels, which naturally was not subordinate to him.
As to the shop-keeper associates of his, some of them did find my presence a bit disconcerting. In that they had to use ‘respectful’ words of addressing to him. And there was a new person with no tangible platform of social stature addressing him with a Mr. They were desperate to find a weak spot in me. Actually, I was full of weak spots. The only thing that held me up was my stance that I would stick to English. This was a location wherein almost everyone in that gathering was weak.
At that time, I had my own life-time distresses to ponder upon and to brood upon. This person (the person whom I had helped) started inserting behaviour in front of others to denote that I was a non-entity. This should naturally irk me. In the sense, that the newly re-gathered associates of his were not in the know that it was I who had literally put this man back on this feet.
At times, I did hear some of these young shop-keeper associates of his, questioning him as to what my stature was in the business. Actually, I did not have any great partnership desire in his business in a mood to take up a part of the management. My interest was simply that when the business flourishes, it would give me some financial security, which in those days when I was simply wandering on the roads was something that I desperately wanted. It was his business, and I was happy that he ran it to success.
However, I found that he was slowly using words and information to suggest that I was nothing in the business. And that my own family had requested him to take care of me (this ‘kid’).
In fact, I did once hear him use the word ‘Chekkan’ about me. I was around 30 years old that time. ‘Chekkan’ is the Malabari word used for lowly servant boys or errand-boys. The moment such a definition is given the words for You, Your, Yours, He, His, Him &c. plunges to the lowly levels in the indicant word forms.
Even in these moments of disparaging me, he was desperate to mention his connections to my own family members, who stood on a pedestal far high beyond his reach and that of his immediate companions. The social system was feudal language based.
The situation was quite tragic in that I was literally supporting a person who desperately needed some help to stand on his feet again, and he was using all his might to subordinate me in front of others.
It need not be mentioned more that this association did not last more than a few months. However, it is these kinds of experiences that have given me a lot of insights on language codes. I have had an immensity of similar terrific experiences.
In the above-mentioned narrative, there were two different communication ambiances at work, more or less in opposite direction. My communication with this man was in English. He would communicate with the business agents who came from his own native-language location in his own native language. His native language was also a feudal language. He spoke to the shop-keeper associates in the local language, which was also my own native language. Three languages were involved. One planar language and two feudal languages.
I could sense a cunningness that can be understood only if one can comprehend feudal languages. A slight change in the verbal codes can literally create huge cataclysmic upheavals in the social connections.
There was another experience of mine in which I was living alongside the residential place of lowly-placed workers of one of my own family own business enterprises. This was a very terrific social situation which can literally make the language codes vibrate in a most uncontrollable manner.
The workers are basically my own subordinates when viewed via the routes business ownership. My curious life experiences were again placing me in a most peculiar situation which was not at all a common experience among most other people.
The whole communication codes were complicated with a lot of seemingly simple issues. I had no money in my hands. There was a particular underhand work inside my own family to see that I am checkmated. To add a huge lot of more complications to the social communication system was my own loyalty to pristine-English stances. This is literally a mad stance when the whole social set-up is feudal language. For, the English stance calls for the removing of all need for obsequious stances and postures and poses. The feudal language stance insists that all these things should be there in their proper proportions.
My action of instructing the lowly-placed workers not to exhibit any kind of obsequiousness in my presence was openly seen by others as a serious atrophy in my personality and lack of command.
I will not go into the details of that social ambience here. However, it may be mentioned that all these extremely peculiar life experiences have added a lot of enrichment to my information on feudal languages.
0. Book profile
10. Naples and Paris
17. Wilde's Poetry
19. For Posterity
28. The Smaller Fry