Jonathan Swift – A Masterclass in Satire

Jonathan Swift, with A Modest Proposal, unleashes a scathing attack on the state of affairs in Ireland, at society’s inaction to improve the deplorable state and at the Government for what he perceived to be willful inaction.

Ireland was suffering, at this point, from a host of problems including overpopulation, unemployment, severe poverty, disease, and starvation. Swift saw this all too clearly, and his keen insight brought him only frustration as he recognized both the severity of the issues that faced society and their unwillingness to do anything about it.

Wielding his sharp, morbid satire to bring the farce into the limelight, Jonathan Swift plays the part of a good Samaritan trying to find a solution to the most pressing issues that plagued Ireland at his time. A Modest Proposal starts out seriously enough and transitions far too comfortably into its satirical tone. The transition is so seamless that the reader is left fidgeting at the introduction of Swift’s solutions because he is not entirely sure how much is spoken in jest.

Swift’s reasoning runs thus: Ireland, being a Christian country, frowned upon abortion or foeticide. A woman, once pregnant, was expected to go through with the pregnancy and rear the baby no matter what the consequences. This often led to women of the lower classes being encumbered with unwanted pregnancies and then slogging the rest of their lives to provide for a child who was surplus to their requirements or wishes. This had the knock-on effect of miring them even further in the depths of poverty, resulting in the child being brought up amongst squalor and meagreness.

Swift, using faultless logic, shows how there are no positive outcomes to this scenario. The mother’s adult life is consumed in trying to keep up with the additional expenses. The unwanted pregnancy, usually out of wedlock, results in ostracization of the family from society. The child, out of desperation or poverty, often turns to a life of crime. There are no winners. Moreover, all the while the populace stares on, disenchanted and unperturbed, as family after family is dragged into the mud.

But here, Swift steps in. Surely, says he, there is a better way of going about this. Surely a nation as enterprising as Ireland must not bow in subjection to a problem as small as this. Swift’s pride and patriotism shine through and cannot be concealed even by the heavy sarcasm that liberally coats the text. And so he sets the platform for his proposed solution.

A child was suckled for close to a year before it is weaned off the mother’s milk and fed solid food. The provision of solid food to a growing child is what proves to be the greatest drain on a parent’s finances. Swift reasons that it is at this point that the mothers need to make a change.

His “Modest Proposal” is that when the child has reached the age of one, he/she should be sold to the aristocracy as a delicacy to be consumed. A simple solution, the positive repercussions of which affect every segment of society.

The parent, being paid more for the child than its upbringing would have cost in a year’s time, would make a profit and avoid all the required expenses, hence alleviating their poverty to some extent. The measure will discourage abortions, which would be seen as a positive in a Christian society. And the aristocrats will have a new delicacy to fawn over. Swift suggests marketing the new dish to the upper classes as an exclusive experience that is reserved for only those residing on the uppermost rungs of the societal ladder. The aura that accompanies such exclusivity will result in the prices always being comfortably high so as to guarantee the parents of the child do not get the raw end of the deal. And, as Swift so succinctly puts it, the aristocrats have made a habit of feeding off the lifeblood of the masses in any case, and so a chance to literally feed on them will not be taken amiss.

And finally, as if we needed any more convincing, Swift brings to our notice the amount of attention, and as a result, the tourism, that will be attracted to Ireland by this practice. People all over the world will flock to Ireland to witness this never-seen-before industrialized consumption of infant meat. Swift even conjectures that this may be the beginning of a worldwide phenomenon, of which Irish pioneering thought would be the fountainhead.

This, then, was Swift’s modest proposal to solve Ireland’s various issues. It may be seen as a classic of the genre of satire, from one of its best ever writers. But more importantly, it is a reminder that bears much relevance even today. This book was Jonathan Swift’s way of telling us that if we continue turning a blind eye to societal evils, and let the status quo dig us deeper into our grave, then it is only through drastic and disturbing measures that we will be able to salvage anything as a species. The eating of the infants is a delicious use of symbolism by Swift, signifying the depraved world that we are leaving our children in. The world where dog-eat-dog is considered pragmatic and wise, and altruism holds no place in reality.

Responsibility

Do we not have a responsibility to be Hedonistic?

Consider carefully the state we exist in, or even the State we exist in. Compare it to literally any era in history. Pre-World War, there was nothing illogical, nor even immoral (if that is a thing) to aspire to expansion. I mean expansion in every sense of the word: monetary, geographical, ideological and biological.  We were, for the vast majority of our history, a species still coming to terms with this planet. And though, from the earliest recorded times, we had people who dedicated their lives to the study of the stars and the skies, we still hadn’t really delved the depths of the very ground we stood on. Even today, as unprecedented as our knowledge levels and levels of self-awareness are, the leading figures of any branch of knowledge are the first to emphasize the limitations of what we know. So, in that sense, it makes sense for us to strive for more, scientifically. Even today.

However, what of the other categories? No longer do we live in times when we could send brave souls into uncharted territory hoping to lay claim to some hidden paradise. No longer do we live in times when things were so indiscernible to us that our only recourse was to assign to an Omnipotent being a shifty personality and consign any enigmatic occurrences to his unfathomable whims. No longer do we live in times when we could excuse our excesses by pleading ignorance to their long term effects. A ruler, in the past , when faced with the prospect of a Kingdom that had used up all its resources, simply looked elsewhere. He sent an army or a fleet of explorers, and mined outside his borders for what he did not have within.

But those were times when the Earth held more resources than people. And when our methods of extracting these resources were not advanced enough to outpace their reproduction. Our inefficiency, in short, was what kept life sustainable. But, having fine-tuned our technological acumen as much as we have, coupled with the population explosion, we have long since overrun that boundary. And what’s worse, we have done so in a way that makes it extremely hard to slow down. We learnt how to use machines before we learnt about what the machines are capable of. And we based our entire existence upon it. Now, we are faced with a terrible choice, to give up these never-before-experienced levels of comfort, or to keep living the way we have, and to hell with the consequences.

As always, when faced with a hard choice, and given a chance to prove its mettle, we, as a species, let ourselves down. We took the easy way out. We have the classic Deniers who claim nothing at all is wrong with our lifestyle. We have the Industrialists who dare not accept reality, since reality tends to drop share prices, and then we have the majority, who may accept that we are doomed, but are either too lazy or simply do not care enough to do anything about it.

Can we realistically imagine a time in the near future, even the next century, when people agree to control their biological urges and deny themselves the joy of parenthood in order to be ecologically responsible? Can we imagine an entire industry unanimously slashing their profits in the interest of environmental safety? Can we imagine a time when a country, knowing its own military superiority, but faced with a lack of resources, does not invade or bully another country into providing that resource?

The answer, for the Optimists, may be a yes. I, personally, can never see that eventuality materializing. You could call it my Pessimism, for me it is simply a staggeringly improbable event.

And so, knowing we reproduce too fast, consume too much, are irresponsible, impulsive, juvenile and quite frankly dangerous for ourselves, what is left to the common-folk?

Here, a single outlet appears to me: Nihilistic Hedonism

When trapped in a system where a common person’s input is nullified by miles of red tape and subversive laws and bureaucratic manipulations that run so deep that no man may fully fathom it, man must be forgiven, nay, even expected to react with a certain disgust and a desire to alienate himself from it all. If there exists a problem that has no solution and promises to sap our lifeblood for as long as we live (for example, an abusive spouse), every psychologist worth their salt will recommend that you sever ties. Cut them from your life, you are better off without it. For every common man, the system and the State is that abusive spouse. Interfering, violating, dominating and oppressing you every chance it gets. So, following the mental health handbook, distancing is just fine.

Distancing oneself from the system, however, has further implications, one that now render the abusive spouse analogy insufficient. When you attempt to disavow participation or any form of engagement, even in idle discourse, with the system, you are signaling the destruction of your faith in a functioning community. You are saying you do not believe we are capable of sustaining ourselves, we cannot coexist long term and that the tracks we are on lead only to destruction. Until this is accepted, a person has not truly severed ties.

Accept this, however, and the rest follows quite simply. When one accepts that everything has gone to shit, then one’s inner conscience no longer impels him to invest in a better future. It would be the equivalent of pouring money into a company that you know is going to go bankrupt. Having lost all incentive to look ahead, one simply looks to enjoy it while it lasts. Nevil Shute’s On The Beach captures this form of thinking admirably. The only difference being, in the fictional work, the onset of the end of life is much more immediate, and so its effect on people is that much more exaggerated. But the essence remains the same. “We all return to dust in the end, so let us make merry while we are here.” A completely understandable extension of the feeling of futility.

Today, the only avenue of hope left to us is outer space, and that faint glimmer is swiftly being shut out by budget cuts and strong, misguided opposition. Within the confines of our planet, we have reached, overthrown and exceeded our limits. What little we are still creating is merely to distract us from the fact that we have begun to teeter. We have nothing more to offer as a species. Nothing that will really matter.

The way I see it, we have dug our graves, we have lay in it voluntarily, we have thrown away all the tools that could possibly allow us to dig ourselves out. And so, the one last thing we can aspire to is dignity. Not in the societal sense of virtuous and moral behavior, but simply being true to ourselves. If we are honest with ourselves, and we recognize the mire we are steeped in, and the fact that we are not getting out, then let us shed these pretenses and do what our minds are telling us to do. Let the world mock our weakness (for indulging is always viewed as a weakness), and let it not matter. Bring on Hedonism, the full package. If we are to die, let us not die in half measures. At the very least, as a species, let us spare the feat of extinction the botched nature of our other achievements. Let us go out with a bang, though there will be none to hear it.

And so, to return to the original question: Do we not have a responsibility to be Hedonistic?

Yes. We most certainly do.

Ayn Rand and the Abdication of Judgement

According to Ayn Rand (renowned Objectivist philosopher and author), the motto, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” amounts to nothing more and nothing less than an abdication of moral responsibility.

In Ayn Rand’s eyes, refraining from judgement is the same as watching an injustice being perpetrated before you and doing nothing to prevent or deter it. Some may say that their non-participation means that they may not be held accountable for the act. Ayn Rand would say that their inaction in trying to prevent the evil makes them accountable, and moreover, almost an accomplice. Because in refraining from preventing evil, you are encouraging it to flourish.

I aim to take this a step further than she did, and extend the responsibility of judgement not just to morals, but to art and to culture. As far as morals are concerned, a philosophy of moral judgement would require a standardized moral code that applied to all of humanity. Ayn Rand believed this moral code exists, I personally disagree with her in this aspect. The reasons have been described in detail in a previous post. You can read it here.

But the essence of what Ayn Rand is trying to say is still valid. When, as a reasoning human being, one gives up his ability to judge and defers the responsibility that comes along with it, then one gives the green signal to decadence and degradation. If every belief and every philosophy is held up to the sternest test of cynical judgement, the faulty parts and weak links will immediately crumble beneath the scrutiny. But if judgement is abdicated, then the faulty bits are allowed to stand, and whole palaces of thought are constructed upon those quivering and barely coherent foundations. The problem, if not nipped in the bud, grows to exponential proportions and is soon beyond the ability of any one man or community to solve.

In the world of modern man, one of the worst pestilences to have hit human thought (barring humanity itself) is the mental attitude of diplomacy. One lives in mortal fear of offending others and as a result, any form of judgement is labelled conservatism, narrow-mindedness, fundamentalism, radicalism, extremism etc. And the fear of being associated with any of these labels induces men to give up their power of reasoning and judging altogether. They find it easier to meekly nod their heads in an understanding manner while the belligerent masses traverse from idiocy to advanced idiocy, unchecked by the reasoning of sanity.

The effects of diplomacy-induced-degradation can be directly connected to Democratic thought. A democracy specializes in creating equality between unequals. All forms of thought are to be considered equal, and all are to be given respect, even if the thought does not warrant any.

The effects of this “Philosophy of non-judgement,” which in my opinion should more accurately be called the “Philosophy of non-thought,” can be summarized in one statement.

The Degradation of Art and Culture

This symptom has seen an unprecedented, explosive rate of growth in the past fifteen years. Art has given up the one thing it possessed: Sublimity.

When the judgement of the value of art has been proscribed, then art no longer has the incentive to aspire to a level of excellence. An artist will put in hours, days, months of work into a single creation because he believes his creation will be unique and will stand alone and be celebrated in posterity as the only one of its kind. But if you try to democratize artistic criticism, if you attempt to judge sublime art on the same level as commercial art, if they are both held to the same standard (i.e. public popularity), then you remove the imperative that compels artists to put in that effort of which sublimity is a result. A practical and less conscientious artist would rather create a steady strea, of substandard art, than create one truly great work. Commercial success becomes the sole benefit of art. Art becomes its own worst nightmare, it becomes utilitarian.

The results are everywhere; movies do not bother constructing coherent storylines and compensate for it with popular club music and bewilderingly developed graphics. Authors compromise on their quality so that they may optimize their quantity. And its justification is: This is what the people want, therefore this is what we shall provide.

Right there, that statement typifies what Ayn Rand refers to as the abdication of judgement. The speaker of that sentence has attempted to absolve himself of artistic responsibility by shifting the blame to the public. But the public is not the body that possesses the ability to create sublimity, that power resides with the artist alone. Therefore, the responsibility of action and of sublime creation also resides with the artist alone and may not be blamed on fickle demand.

The purpose of art is to elevate. Art is meant to be exclusive, not inclusive. And a society that discourages the passing of judgement on art can never experience the bracing fresh air that can only be breathed on the peaks of artistic excellence.

A culture that worries more about how something is said rather than what is said is a culture helplessly on the path to decay and eventual death. Truth is strangled so as to supplement superficial fraternity. Innovation is smothered lest it ruffle a few feathers. An easy example of the far reaching effects of the direction this thought takes, is the co-existence of Creationism and Darwinism in an educational system that is supposedly secular, even though Creationism has no factual or scientific merit. It exists in a secular, educational institute, solely to appease the feelings of those offended by Darwinism. The statement made there is that it is more important to avoid offending people than to educate our youth.

As Ayn Rand succinctly puts it: In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.

Friedrich Nietzsche and the Death of Morality

 

 

If there were a man, superior in intellect, superior in ability, superior in discernment, evaluation, devaluation, subtextual perception and a pure embodiment of power, what benefits will morality bring him?

This is the question that Friedrich Nietzsche brings to our attention repeatedly throughout his works.

This is the question with which Nietzsche destroyed morality.

Whether you agree with his view of life or not, this question brings into the spotlight in the most poignant manner the very essence of the crisis in moral integrity today.

Nietzsche’s view of nature was extremely aristocratic. Not the aristocracy of race or nobility, but the aristocracy of greatness. For him, the entire phenomenon of nature was geared solely to facilitate the existence of five or six truly great men (if even those many) in a generation. Truly great men, not the easy adjective which we would fain fling at any passing flash in the pan.

The peculiarity of genius is that it can take mankind in directions that no amount of coordinated and fraternal effort could achieve on its own. No mass of mediocre, or even highly talented minds put together can quite traverse that gap that exists between intelligence and genius. Only one mind can even fathom the idea, only one mind is capable of envisioning the path. Its execution may be left to the rest of man, but the power of its conceptualization lies with the genius alone.

Now conjecture the existence, if only hypothetically, of this great man within a civilized society with an established moral code. An education system trained to make a nation think alike, a religious ethic drilled into society from infancy to enforce and then reinforce one trait and one trait only, supreme above all others: Humility.

Consider now, what this worship of humility as a virtue and condemnation of hubris as a flaw will do to a mind that is, indeed above all others; a mind that can only function on planes and in dimensions not even visible, let alone accessible, to the average man. A mind that cannot afford to take on obligations and responsibilities lumped upon him by those below him. A mind that births ideas that cannot be encumbered by considerations of charity or sympathy.

Just as Niccolò Machiavelli demands that a ruler’s only responsibility be the welfare of the state, and that he may not be judged on a moral basis but only on the basis of his competence in maintaining the welfare of the state, Nietzsche demands a similar attitude towards the higher form of men.

Morals and morality were created to keep the raving minds of masses in check and channel their energies in a uniform manner. But one whose mind does not come of the same stock, must he be judged by the same standard? Must everything always be watered down to the lowest common denominator? Must humanity always gear itself to help the weakest at the cost of the strongest?

In most existing societies, the answer to the above questions are a resounding Yes. Nietzsche’s is a resounding No. The harmful effects of this sort of decadent morality, he would point out, is clearly demarcated in the chaos that follows every attempt at the introduction of democracy or socialism in a country. Both these forms of governments share one thing in common, the masses are handed the power of tyranny. The herd mentality plays dictator. Every decision, every policy, every reform would have to consider the lowest amongst us and set it to his levels. The best teachers are engaged in teaching the weakest students, the best students have to make do with the average professor. Public expenditure is lavished on sustaining those unable to sustain themselves. One may argue that this is what differentiates humans from animals, this ability to ignore the natural hierarchy and aid one and all as far as one finds himself capable of it.

Nietzsche’s point is that the system has been set in place by the lowest denominator, for the benefit of the lowest denominator. Individuals are crushed in the flood of downwards oriented societies, ideas are throttled before they can be fully developed, humanity, as a race, declines. He argues that a superior man should not have to adhere to a code agreed upon by lesser men. His means may be immoral, if there is any such thing as a unified moral code for mankind, but his end is justification in itself. If the man becomes an Overman, then he is, in Nietzsche’s words, beyond good and evil.

Thus morality, in this view, becomes a tool of oppression rather than a code of coexistence. It becomes the crab’s claws that stop the other crab from getting out. It is the yolk of decadence that the lesser men would wish us all to be mired in for eternity. This was Nietzsche’s astounding claim. And thus it is that Nietzsche destroyed morality.

I return to the original question.

If there were a man, superior in intellect, superior in ability, superior in discernment, evaluation, devaluation, subtextual perception and a pure embodiment of power, what benefits will morality bring him?

The answer is: None.

 

Shakespeare and his Relevance Today

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
                                                                                   – Sonnet 55, Shakespeare

Shakespeare and his Relevance Today

The release of the Vishal Bhardwaj movie, Haider(2014), brought back into the spotlight a fact that has been well documented. Shakespeare, plying his craft over four centuries ago, still retains the ability to fling universal truths at us no matter how much time has passed. Thematically, he hit pretty much every subject that stays constant in human intraspecies communications. Love, greed, ambition, revenge, lust. One can safely assume that these qualities or weaknesses are and will remain innate in humans as long as they exist.

 But if that were the only reason for Shakespeare’s timelessness, then we would have a much larger list of timeless authors to discuss today. These themes, after all, are hardly exclusive to Shakespeare.  But where Shakespeare’s work stands head and shoulders above the rest is its ability to evolve, to morph, to transmute, to create for itself a new meaning in every subsequent generation and yet to suffer no damage or perversion to its origin.

Haider is the perfect example to demonstrate this. Vishal Bhardwaj deserves great credit for pulling off such a challenging endeavor; however the fact remains that he was able to place the play (Hamlet) in contemporary Kashmir and address all the issues that ravage the modern Kashmir, while still remaining largely true to the original play by Shakespeare. While the director’s effort was no mean feat, that of the writer’s is almost criminally exceptional.

The characters in the movie have been created with great care and obviously after a lot of research and input from some insightful locals. Anyone who has stayed in Kashmir for an extended period of time would easily recognize most of them.

 The son who starts out with innocence, but is seduced into a life of violence by propaganda and perversions of truth by one and all around him. The mother who, desperate to prevent her son from straying too far, threatens him ironically with more violence (to herself), thus entering herself into the vicious circle of morbidity that life over there constitutes; the over protective older brother, the stubborn, slightly spoilt antics of the younger daughter, the political intrigues of Kay Kay Menon on his path to power, even the morbid humor of the gravediggers.

Each of these characters will resonate with a Kashmiri, or someone familiar with Kashmiris. And yet, take a step back and each of them is still very much a character from Hamlet.

This is what Shakespeare offers us that probably no other writer can. He did not scribble out vague general characters that may or may not be identified with, depending on your perception of it. He created characters that were complex, complete, intricate and most importantly, they were flawed. Perfect characters can exist only in literature, flawed characters come bursting into real life, and that is where its relevance is really measured.

He had the ability to look inside the mind of Hamlet, to perceive the turmoil that must have taken place when he beheld his mother wedded to his uncle not very long after his father’s death under circumstances that were suspect at best. Add to that all the political intrigues that take place around him and his conduct throughout the play is almost completely justified. Hamlet’s behavior is erratic, at times lunatic, but that is precisely what makes us identify with him. Under such duress, very few minds, let alone one as emotional as Hamlet’s (or Haider’s) would be expected to bear themselves with equanimity.

He had the understanding of human psychology deep enough to understand that a person engaged in an occupation such as grave digging, with his constant exposure to death and the oftentimes horrific stories behind it, would necessarily resort to black and morbid humor as a coping mechanism. And he also gives them their fair share of wisdom, for those who see the darker sides of life often have fewer veils before their eyes in their perception of it.

 The conduct of Gertrude may be seen as simply the wish for stability. The King had died, the enemies of the state were conniving and contriving to attack, the whole country was in a state of unrest. Her marriage to Claudius, whether regarded as incestuous or not, was at the very least an attempt to restore some form of stability to her life that had undergone massive upheaval. And that wish for a stable home is still as cherished a dream for most homemaker’s today as it was in the early 1600’s.

And, importantly, his understanding ran so deep as to have developed the whole story of Hamlet along the lines of the Oedipus Complex which, of course was not discovered until much later (Freud 1910). The procrastination in the murder of Claudius is an eerie precursor to the subsequent theory of Oedipus complex under which Claudius has carried out the actions which Hamlet himself subconsciously wanted to carry out (i.e. killing the father and having relations with the mother). It is to the eternal credit of Shakespeare’s writing that the dynamic between Hamlet and Gertrude remains potent and original even in the wake of such seismic shifts in the understanding of the human mind.

Each of the characters described above are from the original play, and yet, as shown by Haider, they hold true and are easily recognizable in today’s society.

Governmental intrigues, the mentality of oppressed masses, the mental state of an emotional soul whose life is riddled by betrayals, the undying emotion of two souls in love, the amoralistic ambition of a man who lusts only for power, all these characters have been explored to unprecedented depths by arguably the greatest writer in the English Language. And their continued relevance today makes one wonder whether humans have evolved at all or remain the same bestial caveman underneath while donning a more sophisticated exterior.

That could be a part of the answer, but nevertheless the skill of the author in creating timeless characters, not once but over and over, of exploring themes that encompass all of human existence, of establishing moral precedents and cultural trends for centuries to come, and (an often underestimated fact) to do so while also entertaining the contemporaneous crowds is a feat that must not, and thankfully is not underestimated.

Any observer of the film or theater culture today will be aware of the difficulty of creating a movie that appeals to the masses without sacrificing any of its artistic integrity. There appears to be a choice that necessarily needs to be made. Either make a movie of artistic merit OR make one to please the masses. Shakespeare holds the distinction of changing that “OR” into an “AND”.

And that too, is a big reason why his plays and poetry are still prescribed in every course and enjoyed by all students of literature. Somehow he has managed to retain the entertainment value of his plays while creating works that bear no comparison. The staging of a Shakespeare play (or a movie based on his play) is as much a successful commercial venture today as it was in his time.

And so we have the necessary ingredients. Eternal themes, impeccable command of language, deep, almost omniscient insight into the human psyche, shrewd discernment of interpersonal relationships and the related dynamics, vivid and lofty imagination, tinged with a realistic, often morbid take on life. Put all these together and you have a writer whose works not only survive, but grow in importance as the years roll on. Put all these together and you can make yourself another Shakespeare.

Until that time, we may return joyfully to the Bard of Avon. 

The Day Football Died

Where do you go, when the person you equate a whole obsession to, simply leaves?

If you truly love an entity, and then the very soul of the entity is removed, could you still love it the same?

Yesterday, the 8th of May, just another day at Manchester United.
But, within my lifetime, which is not very much, it will go down as the worst day in the history of the club. The day the club lost its heart.
For me, it was the day Football died.

On the 8th of May, Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement.

There are always great men. In every generation, in every sport or discipline, there will always be men who are a cut above the rest. And while you do feel sad when they end their careers, you look forward to the next great talent with excitement and enthusiasm.
But just once in a while, you come across an anomaly. The sort of person who, even to the eternal optimist, is irreplaceable. A person who has redefined the very concept of greatness.

For me, personally, it was not the trophies. It was not the success, although successes were fondly celebrated.

It was the passion, which, after 26 years at the same club, still caused a 71-year-old man to jump up and down with glee at a goal, that caused him to scream in sincere anguish the moment he felt his team suffered an injustice, that brought out his fiercest protective instinct the moment his boys looked vulnerable.

The sight of Sir Alex Ferguson standing on the touchline, grabbing a player by his collar and screaming at him to raise his performance, is the perfect example of his unbridled pride in the club’s philosophy. The players were like his children, but if they did not stand up to the level that is required at the club, then even his children were not exempt from a lambasting. That was Alex Ferguson.
And then, on the other hand, when a player was ridiculed and tormented, as happens a lot nowadays, there was no stauncher supporter of the player than The Boss. He would stick by them through a hurricane and come out none the worse for wear. That, too, is Alex Ferguson.
He was not a father figure to the team, he was a father figure to the club. To the players, the staff, the board and the fans. There was not a single soul connected to Manchester United who did not look to this day with dread.

Since 1999, when on a fateful night, I watched my first Manchester United match with Roy Keane pulling back a 2 goal deficit against a Juventus packed with legends, there was something about this team that captured my attention. A few weeks later, they did it again, historically, to win the Champions league, scoring two in the final two minutes of the game.

Having witnessed that as my first taste of club football, I believe it was out of my hands, I was in love with the club.
But I realize today, it was in fact Sir Alex Ferguson’s philosophy that had caught my eye. A team that played fast, breathless football. A team that did not acknowledge defeat and till the last second ran their socks off. And more often than not, that resulted in an unlikely victory.
A team that no matter what the opponent or the occasion, never once abandoned their style. Every one of these traits was ingrained into them by Sir Alex. And it was these same traits that made me fall in love.

I will, to my death, continue to support the club, but if I am honest, Sir Alex was a huge part of the image of Manchester United in my head.

So now I ask the question, having lost Sir Alex, where do I go from here?