জন অরণ্য

Dalrymple enjoys a viewing of The Middleman (1976), the third part of Satyajit Ray’s Calcutta trilogy, which among other things dramatises (from 4:09)

the way in which the world is more than ever full of absurd and pointless questioning, the object being the humiliation of the respondent.

An applicant, one of 10,000, for a clerk’s job is asked, ‘What is the weight of the moon?’* The question reveals the desperation of the young man’s situation,

as well as that of all the other applicants and by extension of the whole of society.

The respondent

must take part in this charade,

and his

powerlessness could hardly be made clearer to him.

The question

is not asked for any purpose, other than to let the respondent know that he is a worm.

* The answer to the lunatic question is: zero.

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