Peace in the Middle East, the easy way.
By Rajneesh Narula
(Another in my occasional essay series)
Some of you may be under the false impression that I live out my life as a humanist, a man whose greatest desire is to live in a world free of hunger, pain and suffering; that I want nothing more (apart from the occasional glass of wine and a decent meal) than a better world, that I strive to improve the lot of my downtrodden brethren.
I say to you emphatically: only if it somehow improves my own existence. To wit, I am a selfish bastard. If push comes to shove my heart’s desire is not peace in the Middle East, nor is it an end to the battery farming of chickens. As long as I am not happy, I seek not the redemption of the third world. I care not a jot for the piddling little hole in the ozone layer. Were all the Forests in the Amazon hacked down to make chopsticks, not a tear will blemish my cheek. But all is not lost: I have seen the light. All these beautiful wishes for a happy planet will come true not through the introduction of socialist paradise as promised by Marx, Engels and Lenin, nor by seeking inner peace and tranquillity enticingly offered by the Buddha. Instead, the answer to global happiness lies to the west: I speak of Lala land, that holiest of places on god’s green earth. I speak of the land where dreams come true: I speak of the perfection of Hollywood.
What I am saying, gentle readers, is that utopia is nigh: the answers to all our anxieties and earthly shortcomings lies in achieving in real life what the silver screen has already made reality. How very shallow, I hear you cluck disapprovingly. But I have thought through this, dear reader, and I can see no greater boon in life. I now know how personal fulfilment can simultaneously result in global peace and prosperity. Let me illustrate this with a few examples.
When I whisk my glasses off, I want not to be myopic, but instead to be instantly dashingly handsome with several superpowers (which may or may not include flying, thus saving a fortune in airfares), and even perhaps X-ray vision. It goes without saying that when I slip my glasses on immediately after saving California from an earthquake, no one should be able to recognise me, despite having been on every newspaper and TV in the world.
When I check into a hotel (even a two star hole-in-the-wall) it should have an unobstructed view of Eiffel Tower or Central Park or whatever the most picturesque local sight there is. I want to wake up on most mornings (when not out solving world hunger) next to a drop-dead gorgeous woman with a PhD in astrophysics, but who looks great in Victoria’s latest secret or in a lab coat, and cooks a mean breakfast. Of course, despite her black belt in karate, she will be completely and utterly helpless when she hears a strange sound in the basement, investigating aforementioned sound in aforementioned revealing lingerie. I shall then proceed to kill the Beast with No Name, as she screams incessantly, after which we make love on a Tahitian beach (as the natives and tourists politely and tactfully disappear from sight) against a setting sun.
I would also be grateful for the opportunity to overcome my inability to speak several languages by speaking English in a French, German or Chinese accent, and to be immediately taken for a native.
I should like, furthermore, to always find a parking spot for my car right in front of the very building that I wish to visit, even if it happens to be on Piccadilly Circus at rush hour. This will greatly facilitate the ensuing car chase that is bound to happen, but if I had arrived at the building by some other means (say, flying), there is sure to be a bright red Ferrari parked conveniently outside with the keys in place.
When I decide to use an airline (flying solo can be so boring, plus it’s chilly at 10,000 metres), I wish to be seated next to a Bolivian tin heiress who has a striking resemblance to Natalie Umbruglia, who is immediately captivated by my wit and charm, and invites me to spend the rest of the summer at her chateau in the south of France. Papa (a Nazi war criminal), repents after meeting me, establishing a trust fund from his ill-gotten gains He leaves me to distribute several billion dollars to good causes, himself returning to Germany to face his fate. Maria-Celeste and I live happily ever after in our several mansions as I solve world hunger and eventually receive the Nobel Peace Prize for arranging Arafat’s wedding to Sharon’s daughter, thereby bringing lasting peace to the middle east.
You can see, can you not, that these developments will make me deliriously happy man, and make the world a better place with just a few minor adjustments courtesy of Hollywood.
But most of all, I want theme music. I want background tunes (not just for me, but for all human beings) that set the mood. I want soft romantic music to come on when I happen to sit next to that special someone on the bus, so that we both know we were meant to be. I want a few bars of staccato music from Copeland when I am about to put my foot in my mouth, thereby saving the day. I expect ‘sexual healing’ by Marvin Gaye to play in the background when I am about to get lucky. I want triumphant music when I come enticingly close to doing something amazing, so I know not to quit at the wrong time. Let Bollywood not be left out, sitar music with rhythmic chants of ‘Om’ as I have a transcendental experience (Hollywood movies rarely have such events). When I am in physical danger, I should have music by Vangelis to encourage me to run.
The cynics amongst you will say, what’s life without some unknown element, some surprises. And I would agree with you. I don’t want life’s outcomes to be predictable. That would be boring, but I do think it would be nice to have a little help making the right decisions or at least narrowing down the chances of making the wrong decisions. This will make all of us happy, taking some of the guesswork out, and giving us better odds of generally achieving our full potential for happiness. Not quite maximising our utility, but simply improving it.
Besides, there remain many a moral or social issue with ambiguous solutions, and therefore no official theme music. For instance, there is as yet no approved Hollywood or Bollywood theme music to tackle the thorny issue of battery farming of chickens. Leave those sorts of issues to Dogme films.
(Queue Louis Armstrong’s ‘It’s a wonderful world’, exit stage right, music fades)