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The Butterfly Effect of Bawdy Language

Posted in FrontPage by Jayasri on January 19, 2010

It is the lull after the storm. Having rained profanity on camera,  the Ex-PM has speedily put it all behind him, said sorry, and moved on.  From bawdy language to blustering apology to laughing his way out, it was a breeze for the Ex-PM.

For the hacks, it is dead news, probably to be dusted and brought down from the attic at the end of the year,  to figure in  the list of  2010’s WORST, or BEST,  MEMORABLE, OR FORGETTABLE….. Its use-by date just fluttered by, but not before many went back to their rookie days, and wrote columns or blogs revisiting the Deve Gowda of their wet-behind-the-ears days. After falling out with Hegde, he was the same rustic, earthy politician wallowing in the glory of his days as a minister, given to mouthing the same profanity at press conferences in his trademark droll, mumblesome manner.

Only, that was also the time when pretty young things  strayed into journalism, (it wasn’t  politically incorrect to call them PYT in those years, and press conferences were not the melee’ that it has become today,  and everyone knew which reporter was coming from which paper, and it was all bonhomie and family-like, and print journalists didn’t have to end up staring at  the backsides of camera crew, wondering if  they were at the right PC. Of course, now print journalism is much more easier- lift irrigation from Sanjevani, and watching the Kannada 24/7 news channels and some creative writing can result in a reasonably good report that will cheat the Editor for some time )  and inevitably, started to cover his press conferences which meant he had to mind his language, and bite his tongue sheepishly very often, until he learnt to be more kosher,  and took to administering a paternal gaze at the PYTs who became regulars. It was “brother…..” for the guys and ”  adu sistaire……..” for the girls.

Hegde   was a charmer, and many journalists (male and female) clamoured to  attend his press conferences even if  it meant poaching on a colleague’s beat, for the sheer delight of watching him focus the famous glad eye on the best looking (female) reporter in the hall, as he adroitly fielded questions from another corner.  The “object” of Hegde’s attention always had to suffer a great deal of teasing, while everyone trundled out with the story of the day, usually ruing that the “real” copy was  just an occupational hazard, never to be printed, unless someone thought to write their memoirs.

Not that Deve Gowda’s  press meets were all dull . You could’nt nod off, or  play tick-tack-toe with your neighbour, or look out the window wondering when the glucose biscuit, 4 fried cashew nuts and the coffee would come, for fear of missing the news in the monotone.

It was all kosher, however. Which is more than can be said for  the toxic language that is now enshrined in the air-waves for eternity.

And there is the BUTTERFLY EFFECT.

The Butterfly Effect was an idea that MIT meteorologist Edward Lorenz came up with, to illustrate the concept that small events CAN have  consequences of great magnitude– a devastating storm might have its roots in  the flapping of a tiny butterfly in another continent half-way across the world.

In his June 8,2008  article in The Boston Globe, Peter Dizikes, writes,  “translated into mass culture, the butterfly effect has become a metaphor for the existence of seemingly insignificant moments that alter history and shape destinies. Typically unrecognized at first, they create threads of cause and effect that appear obvious in retrospect, changing the course of a human life or rippling through the global economy.”

The article also talks of how “THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT” leapt out of Lorenz’s lab to become a catch-phrase and even a title of a movie. In its avatar as a catch-phrase, according to Dizikes, its meaning has become much distorted from the original. The larger meaning of the butterfly effect is not that we can readily track such connections, but that we CAN’T.  To claim a butterfly’s wings can cause a storm, after all, is to raise the question: How can we definitively say what caused any storm, if it could be something as slight as a butterfly? Lorenz’s work gives us a fresh way to think about cause and effect, but does not offer easy answers.

But the popular meaning of the catch-phrase suits us just now.

This  post itself is a consequence of the “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” of  Gowda’s foul language.  As are dozens of others, and the editorials, and the Letters To The Editor in scores of newspapers and magazines.

While on the topic, most people , you’d expect, would focus on the man and his bawdy language . But the Butterfly Effect comes into play willy nilly, and someone objects to Deve Gowda being called Animated Ragi Mudde. It is not clear whether offense has been taken on behalf of the ragi mudde, or the man who globalised  it. Though it’s obvious  the offense-taker could use a funny bone.

Millions of Indians must be wanting to learn Kannada now,  especially the toxic words, and a smart publisher could make a killing.  Mind Your Language may not have to resort to it, but naughty words are great ice-breakers.

Deve Gowda’s rivals, in particular the target of his invectives, must be animatedly exploring possibilities of exploiting the “flutter” that Gowda created, before he claims copyright and proprietary rights over the video clip . As a consequence of such exploration by said rivals,  Gowda may not have to beg that the offending video be removed, since the   target of his invectives will do it himself., for fear that Gowda turn the whole episode round to his advantage entirely, using any means.

So we come to  Lorenz’s question in his 1972 paper “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” He was talking about climate and weather forecasting, and demonstrating that the “innumerable interconnections of nature  exist between a butterfly’s  flapping of the wings and a tornado.

Just like Deve Gowda’s  Bawdy Language and  the offense quotient of Animated Ragi Mudde.

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One Response

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  1. sharatchandra said, on January 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Hi, Nostaligic about press conferences of Politicians! HDD knows what he is doing. Yr suggestion about the book is good. In fact i taught my professor these words and it became handy for him when he was camping in a guest house at Belur when some drunkards went on banging his door

    May be u should expand on butterfly effect a little more. some people use that without fully understanding what it is or they refer to different kind of butterfly!


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