selected verses by Dr Mohsin Maghiana
Safdar Salim Sayal | on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder
4 April 1979
today also, morning dawned but
today’s day, very black was
conscienceless through conspiracy
one great person had killed
Remember the tale: The goddess Ananke, or Necessity, sits on her throne amid the Fates, her daughters, companions, and aides. But it is she, Ananke, who establishes what the soul has selected for its lot to be necessary — not an accident, not good or bad, not foreknown or guaranteed, simply necessary. What we live is necessary to be lived. Necessary to whom? To what? To her, Goddess Necessity. Necessary because necessary? Hardly an answer. We have to speculate.
Who and what is Ananke? First, she is extremely potent among the powers of cosmos. Plato cites only two great cosmic forces: Reason (nous or mind) and Necessity (ananke). Reason accounts for what we can understand, for what follows reason’s laws and patterns. Necessity operates as a “variable” – sometimes translated as “erratic,” “errant,” or “wandering”– cause.
When something doesn’t fit, seems odd or strange, breaks the usual pattern, then more likely Necessity has hand in it. Though she determines the lot you live, her way of influencing are irrational. That is why it is so difficult to understand life, even one’s own life. Your soul’s lot comes from the irrational principles. The law it follows is Necessity, which wanders erratically. Little wonder that we readers are drawn to biographers and autobiographies, for the offer glimpses of how irrational Necessity works in a human life. Although Necessity’s rule is absolute and irreversible, this determinism is indeterminate. Unpredictable.
Mythological images and pathological problems refer to each other. Jung’s famous dictum makes this explicit: “The Gods have become diseases.” Nowhere does the god in the disease show more strongly and tersely than in the tightening heart pain of angina and the anxiety states that hold you back from free action. Both “angina” and “anxiety” derive from ananke.
The point is that there is no escape from necessity. It will not yield, cannot submit: ne + cedere. Kant defined necessity’s German equivalent, Notwendigkeit, to mean that which “could not be otherwise.” This makes the understanding of our lives remarkably easy: whatever we are we could not have been otherwise. There is no regret, no wrong path, no true mistake. The eye of necessity reveals what we do to be only what could have been. “What might have been is an abstraction / Remaining a perpetual possibility / Only in a world of speculation. / What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present” (T. S. Eliot)
As we perform an act, make a choice, we believe there are options. Options, Personal Agency, Choices, Decisions — these are the catchwords Ego thrives on. But if we look up from the engagement for a moment and speculate, Necessity’s implacable smile says that whatever choice you make is exactly the one required by Necessity. It could not be otherwise. At the moment the decision falls, it is necessary. Before it is decided, all lies open. For this strange reason, Necessity guarantees only risk. All is at risk in each decision, even though what is finally decided upon at once becomes necessary.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz