Goa – Its Possibilities and Challenges

Goa has become another India for many of our countrymen. It is a place where excess and transgression are thought to be tolerated. Several tourists visit Goa to transgress the order of things ordered by their daily life. There is something profound in our culture that is aptly described as susegad by almost every Goan. It is difficult to clearly pin down what susegad entails for us. It is a way of life that resists all kinds of conceptual reduction. All conceptual tools fail to articulate it adequately. There is this impossibility that marks it at its very depths. It cannot be totalized and digested by our epistemic tool. It seems to carry an excess or surplus that brings into it a sense of transgression against the established conservative forces of the established order. There is an invitation within it to indulge into excess that leads people to taste what may be regarded as inappropriate or out of the ordinary relative to cultures that person belongs to. Indeed Goa thus, becomes a space to encounter that which is the other that is not sanctioned by the dominant order. This transitory destruction of the dominant order and its concomitant indulgence into excess is at the heart of tourism in Goa.

Excess, thus becomes a principle of being in Goa. This sense of exceeding the limits pushes one outside of him/ herself. Ordinarily this outside of oneself lies in love, laughs, death, suffering etc. In Goa this living so to say outside-oneself is carried in an excessive indulgence in love, laughs, pleasure of food and drink etc. all these in some way prefigure in what we call susegad. Georges Bataille , a French theorist of excess might describe what we call living outside-oneself as immersion into orgasm, laughter and tears. Other Indians find Goa as another India, a space that allows them to live out of themselves. This perhaps does happen because Goa provides the comfort of distance in time as well as space from their native places. This ecstatic force embedded in Goa and our Goanness provides the necessary atmospherics for tourism in Goa. Goa provides possibilities to stand out of one self to the tourists who seem to get drawn into another version of themselves. Thus, ultimately our tourism rests on opportunities that it provides for indulgence into excesses and transgressions of the order of things that our visitors subject themselves to in their native places.

People coming to Goa, while finding Goa, find a new dimension of themselves. Maybe this is the reason it has become the preferred destination of several tourists particularly our other Indian brethrens. The repressed self finds a space of expression in Goa mainly because of our susegad culture. The tourism scenario has an exoteric manifestation that might hide the esoteric interest of the tourism industry and thus can hide its destructive fangs. While tourism seems to try to reach out to our animal spirits and ride on our aesthetic tastes, we may need a new ethic that transcends and leaps ahead. When excess reigns Aristotle’s virtue of the middle fails and we have the challenge to think beyond it. The principle of the middle constrains our thought and leads us to think all excess as abnormal, unnatural and vice. But that is too naive. This is perhaps our laid back, content attitude, confident of the future that we call susegad is also viewed as vice that smacks of laziness. Goa being an ocean of excess and transgressions, we have a challenge to think excess and develop a suitable ethical response.

The quest for an ethics to respond to a cultural atmosphere of excess and transgression is indeed the need of the hour. Excess is almost the only real thing that is facing us today in Goa and elsewhere. Our homes for instance are invaded by a television that gives us access to excess. The number of channels and the possibilities for infotainment providing us news or pure entertainment is steadily numbing our society of our responsibilities converting our children to couch potatoes. The mobile phone has become a wild source of excess to us and our children. We now have the world on our palm. Thus, not just excess abounds in tourism, it has entered our homes. To exist to us has almost become to indulge into excess. Besides, Goa receives excessive attention from other Indians. It is on their minds as a result of which we have to deal with their over indulgence that does not stop even after buying a home away from home in Goa. Excess is real and it is a double edged sword. Our response to it cannot be simply a fanatic ‘no’ of a conservative nor can it be a blind ‘yes’ of an over-enthusiast. It has to be a prophetic one. It has to be explored critically. Maybe all faith traditions are endowed with possibilities to respond to the challenge. Our catholic principle of love has some possibilities. Love is excessive and refuses to be tamed by the middle of Aristotle. Excess draws us to ecstasy, to live out of one’s self. A movement away from the ecological self is true love. We need to evolve a response to the excesses of excess reigning in our society more urgently than never before.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao