Thinking Excess with Goa – V

We are faced with excessive amounts of excess in all its hues in Goa. It is a plain truth that we suffer its overload in our society. Excess exists everywhere in its good, bad and ugly form. Too much of anything can cripple and paralyse anyone. Often excess has destroyed our commitment to Goa, Goans and Goan-ness. We have tried to trace a response in Christian love to our plight. Here I wish to explore and find whether there is any specifically Goan response to the phenomenon of excess that is afflicting Goans of all walks of life. I feel that our laid back attitude with an air of contentment that we call being susegad has a way to encounter excess of all kinds. It does have a Buddha like detachment which marks the distance without being distant. This marking of distance without being distant has a chord with Christian self giving love. Some might also find Krishna like innocent playfulness in our susegad attitude. Although the verbal term susegad opens for us a semiotic and semantic world , we can think that it also fundamentally remains an asemiotic resource. Hence, we can never grasp it fully as it denotes an excessive attitude to life. This excessive attitude to life resists every chain of enslavement of human spirit. This is why people across the Globe can resonate with our Goan culture.

Susegad attitude to life does not greet excess with a sense of horror or dread. Since there is little or no fear, susegad attitude has few taboos. Taboos mostly mediate human conduct with death and horror. Susegad attitude being a disruptive force enables any person to dismantle that which is tabooed. Such a transgression of a taboo is triggered by a desire to have a glimpse of what lies beyond the taboo to the point of death. Susegad attitude does not see death outside life but a crowning event of this life. Hence, we can see how susegad attitude is an indulgence into excess without being knocked down by it. Susegad attitude depicts but does not capture the Goan attitude to life. Susegad attitude is not based on calculative attitude of use-value and appears useless and lazy from the pragmatic utilitarian point of view. From this perspective it cannot be seen as gainful spending of time. Susegad is profoundly close to what George Bataille calls use-less expenditure that resonated with Christian love of selfless self-giving. We in Goa exhibited such a use-less expenditure in the Good old days during our weddings, festivals and funerals. This use-less expenditure is beautifully depicted by the film Nachuia Kumpasar. We seem to have lost this dimension of our life. Hence, such selfless giving will begin to look like a lunatic in our society.

Unfortunately, our susegad attitude seems to be perverted by utilitarian consumption. The tourism industry with the addition of casino-game play has set Goa as a consumption orgy. But paradoxically no one can drink up the sea. This is why desire to transgress multiplies. Excessive consumption has pushed our life to the point of death. The principle of utility is refusing to die and has weakened the different shades of Goekarponns. Aristotle’s principle of the middle is dead and we have to face the excesses of the principle of utility. It mediates every form of excess that we tolerate in Goa. Our susegad attitude seems to have mindlessly allowed the grand lilla of excess filtered and generated by the principle of utility or use value. This naturalisation and even blind goanisation of the use-value or the principle of utility is de-gaonising Goa. But the authentic Susegad attitude is not mindless. It transcends use-value but is open to stand up for Goa , Goans and Goan-ness with no aim for a profit. To wage a war against this utilitarian excesses we need to re-introduce the economy of useless expenditure or selfless giving without counting the cost. We have a potential response of this nature in our susegad attitude to life. Susegad attitude being an excess itself can be moderated or configured by the utilitarian principle. This seems to be our plight today. We need to shun away every trace of use-value and enter our original economy of use-less expenditure with which we lived happily in Goa some time back. Our village life that was mainly built around selfless giving has now lost all of it and is animated by priorities drawn on the basis of use-value. We do not have to go back in the past and re-enact the present in its pristine matter. What we may need is to borrow the forms, modes and modalities from the economy of use-less expenditure and introduce them into our present to resist the regime of the use value and save Goa, Goan-ness and Goans from being sacrificed on the altar of utility.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao