Goa – Its Opportunities and Challenges

Goa is a site of excessive transgressions. It is important that we Goans rise to this self consciousness. All excess defy singular assimilation. No amount of cerebral energy can assemble excess into understandable information. There always remains the surplus-extra that fails all efforts of reductive assimilation. Excess is everywhere. Absurdity is laughing into our face. Excess garbage is an issue that we have been struggling with for a long time. We desire excessive ego-gratification in numerous ways in Goa. We tolerate political excesses of various hues. There is excess in our ranting on social media. We seem to have a sweet tooth for excess. All round the year we celebrate feasts in Goa. Our calendar is overflowing with party invitations. We are at home with an abundance of excess in various forms. It multiplies our ecstatic experiences and is the heartbeat of our tourism industry. There is an epiphany of the sublime in transitory events. Maybe it is producing our hunger for excess. St Augustine’s discovery that our hearts are restless till we rest in God seems to be our plight. We are restlessly surfing in the ocean of excess looking for fulfilment. Excess fails to satisfy us. We feel there is always some remainder that is left, the extra, the surplus and hence, we return to drink the sea again. Our thirst is not quenched and we are trapped into this chain. We seem to enjoy the journey. Excess has made subtle inroads into our lives, bodies, desires, laughter, leisure, loves, pleasures etc. We are extraordinarily excessive people.

Is there an ethics in the excess that we face? Certainly it deconstructs and undermines the moderation of Aristotle’s virtue which stands in the middle. There is ethics of excess but it hides in the aesthetic satisfactions that it promises us. Excess continues to mesmerise and fascinate us but this relentless excess can be dangerous and diabolical. The Aristotelian ethic of moderation has failed to address the reign of excess over us. Excess is intense. It is performative and lives its imprint and impact. There is a call to ethics within it. We need intensive thinking to understand and address it. Something tells me that Christian love has some way of responding to it. Love is excessive in nature and might assist us to address our slavery to excess. It can be seen as a pure expenditure of generosity against the calculative logic of Aristotle’s rule of the middle or for that matter true love is counter to the usury and investment of the capital driven market that drives the reign of excess in Goa. This is not to deny the link that Max Weber finds between Christian asceticism and capitalism. Our suggestion that there is a response in Christian love does not mean that there is no significant response in other traditions. Some may find a suitable response in the detachment of Buddhism.

George Bataille’s valorisation of wasteful expenditure might strike a common chord with Christian love. It needs a Christian reading of Bataille. Bataille’s call for life beyond utility does expel all teleology but does embrace dimensions of Christian love. If we value only that is productive and useful we fail to truly love. Hence, life beyond utility has profoundly Christian echoes and Buddha like disinterest. What does not come under the realm of productivity and utility becomes unproductive expenditure. Thus, there are these surplus generosities that humans do manifest. We might trace an echo of love in such surplus generosity. Writing, poetizing and philosophizing are some instances of these surplus generosity and are also works of love. These activities are truly unrewarding but have great power of emancipation and transformations. Pouring of oneself into these and other acts of love one paradoxically finds oneself. This sacrificial self giving is taught on the cross in Christianity. Goa needs more of these excessive unproductive surpluses. The Excess that is dominating us is productive and interest calculative. The other excess championed by Bataille and echoed in several ways by Christian love may provide us a way to initiate an emancipative response to the tyranny of excess that is flooding us from all directions. We do not just have to economise excess but have to open room for self-less expenditure/ giving that can assist us to address the tsunami of excess that is afflicting our society. The solution to the tyranny of excess lies away from the shores of Aristotle and maybe found in the armoury of intensive thought of Nietzsche and Bataille. But to set its emancipative force free, we have to let their excesses dialogue with Christian love. This exercise will enable us to identify useless expenditures or surplus generosities that are building our society today.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao