Of Disrespect

When we were young, we didn’t like some people. Because we didn’t know words like ‘obnoxious’ or ‘haughty’ or ‘disdainful’ — we could never explain why we didn’t like those people. Yet, our parents ensured that we ‘respect’ them. Mostly, it was about age. “That person is elder; show respect.”. Respect your elders. (So said, Baz Luhrman, in Sunscreen)

The respect was cautious. While we didn’t feel respect, we feigned it. In the least, we didn’t exhibit disrespect.

Most Indic languages have addressable word-forms that inherently define who you address. So, we have a different word-form for a sibling, a friend, and a senior. In Hindi, e.g. we have tu, tum, aap — you (casual/street), you (formal/common), you (official/respectable), respectively.

IMAG0528

By virtue of my upbringing, my education, and having lived in North India for a while, I default to aap — the respectable form, when I speak in Hindi, irrespective of the age of the person. And over time, I discovered, respect and age have nothing in common. Respect is how you see people.

I recently was addressed in the “street form” on Twitter. I did not take exception to it, and continued the Twitter banter. Yet, I was amused. The person was tweeting from an organisational account. I know that the person knows I am “elder” — but I am a fan (of that organisation) as much as a 12yo is a fan. I was not upset; as I said before, I was amused. I live in different times. There’s a flatness, that I live in, which I understand, but confuses me.

Respect, makes the world go round.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my head, it takes much, to know that person is not worthy of respect. When I see casual mentions of disrespect, I generally ignore them. Not that those who are disrespectful are making it difficult for us, though.

Instinctively, I believe, we are tuned to be respectful. But in recent times, it seems to me that we have been conditioned otherwise. Our default is now to ignore respect; which, mind you, is different from disrespect. Our tired fingers are losing the grip on humanity; our adventures of science (science not in absolute terms, but how we abuse it), are perhaps, the reason we will drop, deep down.

Deep, deep down. In a dark abyss.

Some New, Some Old; Some Plus, Some Minus

Been a while. Eighteen days. The while means different things to different people. Eighteen days could be split seconds or an age. It was neither, for me.

Me? I was just moving, from one place to another. Like I have done before. Many times before. And Richard Bach’s words echo in the clank and the shlank and the crank of the traffic:

“Flying with the wind, Richard, from town to town, has it occurred to you that’s not a way to find her, that’s a way to lose her?”

Her, now manifests. Perhaps, our lives are worthwhile only if we make new meanings. Not because they come to us; but because we make them.

As I write this, a friend is tweeting about Talat Mahmood. That soulful voice rendering such wonderful poetry distracts me from writing this post. Another friend is away trekking in a place I consider sacred and soulful. I’ll go on that pilgrimage, soon. One friend has come out of a self-imposed exile. Another is (finally) exercising a license he always had. I am teasing him, only because occasions to tease are rare now. Snotty cousins are doing well; I am proud of them. Not all is well, there are some concerns, but when so much is good all around you, all that is not good seems unworthy of my indulgence, though I am paying attention to it. Amongst all that is not well, an old wound has opened up. No, nothing mental; an old knee injury. An injury I have long cherished; because I saved a boundary (you’ll understand if you are from a cricket playing nation.)

20160705_211705

New city.

New everything. And the same old me. And that is how I will remain: same old me.

But this environment has to count for something. It affects me, this new environment, in minute ways, to begin with. All I have to do is not resist. The positive portfolio of my life is an aggregation of acceptance and the negative, has been of resistance.

The Ghost of Forgiving

I have forgiven a bazillion times. I have to admit, however, I do not understand the nature of forgiving. The format of my forgiving is to just accept that you have made a mistake, and I accept that as a mistake.

Is forgiving that easy, however? I wonder.

I think forgiving tends to becoming difficult when the impact of the mistake is over a longer term. If your mistake/offence/flaw, whatever you want to call it, affects me far too long, it becomes difficult for me to forgive you. Then, there’s intention. Did your act, which I find difficult to forgive, is it full of or bereft of intention?  How much does intention matter in forgiving? What of repenting? Irrespective of the intention, does repentance count? Does the mistaker’s repentance count for the mistakee?

Ghost of Fogiving

Ghost of Fogiving

Forgiving has been reduced to a word that we use without thinking or feeling. Its meaning has been sucked out and has been reduced to a letter combination. A filler word; an answer word; that helps us avoid confrontation – not with the mistaker – but with ourselves – because we just do not want to deal with what we feel. Perhaps, because we have been bombarded about what a great virtue it is, to forgive.

Many may disagree, but it is better not to forgive, if you don’t feel like it. If you can’t come to terms with it. You may hurt yourself or an other, but at least there will be no loss of where you stand. Forgiving without meaning is treacherous. It hurts the forgiver and the forgiven, forever. Because for the forgiver, there is no forgiveness, though it is said. And for the forgiven, there is no forgiveness, though it is said. That’s when forgiving dies and the ghost haunts, both.

There’s another reason forgiving is not easy. Most, who kneel, seeking forgiveness are unable to forgive their own selves. So even if forgiveness comes from the forgiver, it is never enough. Forgiveness is incomplete, unless you are completely forgiven. Which includes you, forgiving yourself.

Almost always, redemption is when you forgive yourself. Why we seek it elsewhere, I have no idea. It would make sense if we were living someone else’s life, but the fact remains:

We have to live our own life.

Irawati Karve

I know it’s titled as such, but this post isn’t really about Irawati Karve.

*

There’s never a dull moment with my mami (aunt; mother’s brother’s wife).

I recently finished reading a book in Marathi – and I am proud of it. So proud, that I suffer from the shout-it-from-the-rooftop syndrome, now. Given that it is my mother-tongue, and I’ve formally studied it only for three or four years. My aunt devours books, mostly Marathi literature, but many other genres as well. She is not very unlike my mother, actually. Needless to say, I told mami about this achievement of mine. Again, needless to say, she was very proud of me. Further, needless to say, we got into a conversation about writers she has read, respected. She mentioned Irawati Karve.

She was telling me about a relatively complex analysis of the characters in the Mahabharat: and I was intrigued. As she was speaking, I instinctively reached for my phone (which was nowhere close to me, because it was being charged, at the other end of the room) – I wanted to Google Irawati Karve.

Here she was, telling me all about Irawati Karve, about her life, times, and her work. Yet, in my head, I was automatically reaching for my phone. Of course, I let my phone be where it was and re-entered the conversation. It was time for our ritual 1AM coffee (something that all my cousins are fond of), and we were now talking of Kamala Sohonie. After a while we were back to Irawati Karve. And I got to know a lot about her. My mami recalled that I had finished a book in Marathi, and urged me to read more. It will be a while before you can digest the presentation of Irawate Karve, but, keep at it. It’s only a matter of vocabulary, for now.

What I learnt about Irawati Karve, from my aunt — I could not find on Wikipedia (Yes, I Googled her the next day). And, perhaps, therein lies the difference between information and knowledge. While consumption of information is not a bad thing; acquiring experiences is more important; is what I thought after I saw myself reaching for my phone.

There’ll be more reading. For sure. And there will be more listening, than searching. Thank you, Mami!

An Unfinished Thought

4958: Grand Ceiling

“How would you write about the end and the beginning…”

“Every beginnin…”

“…without a butterfly, caterpillar, window, sunsets, sky, clouds, linings or the tenses? No metaphors, no telling me what a great artist or a scientist said, no clichés, and definitely no fake quotes.”

“Whatever ends, doesn’t continue; whatever begins, continues.”

“Is that all? Would you write no more?”

“Well, if you took all my devices away from me, all my paints and brushes, deny me any decoration, then that would be all. In any case, there is nothing more to an end or a beginning. It is what it is.”

It’s over and it wont last
It ends, this is the last.
Only for that, it is the end
What’s new, at this end.

“You know what doesn’t have a beginning or an end?”

“What?”

“An unfinished thought.”

“An unfinished thought has a beginning, it hasn’t found its end, as yet.”

“But, if it is unfinished, how de we know where it begins and where it ends?”

“The very fact that it is un-finished…”

“Aaargh. When I began this conversation, I thought it would be fun. I’d like to end it now.”

The End

Death is The Answer

He wanted to die.

By 2020. He would announce his death in 2019, that’s what he said: give one year for all of his beloveds to know that that they have one year left with him. The one reason I prefer not to be listener is this: my friends say the weirdest things. But, they are their things. And even if I do not agree, they are right.

My friend has decided a date when he will die. His birthday. in 2020; he is inspired by some wacky guys, yet I understand. And while he didn’t realise it, he said this on 19th June — Fathers’ Day. My father is dead. He is not suicidal, needless to say. But he has no use for life anymore — that’s what he said.

But there’s someone he loves. And how! If I could, I would like to be in love like that.

“Go seek your love,” I said. But, it’s too complicated, he said.

Loving, should never be difficult. It’s the most natural phenomenon for us; human beings. But we complicated it with social constructs and personal expectations. It’s safer for him to not ask the question; it is safer for her not to answer. He may ask her if she loves him, she may say, yes. And it may not mean anything.

Foetal

And therefore, we live a life that’s short of this love. And all that is opposite of love is winning. Because those who are in love will never take risks. You see, lovers are not speaking, talking, telling.

Love is love. It is pure. Yet, we seek to confine it to known structures.

It is not a slave to structure. Structure is in your head.

In a positive way, death is the answer.

Will you kill it?

Art & Artifice

Shibboleth - 10

Artistic devices enable an artist to express a feeling, an emotion. These devices are many; there’s extension, abstraction, and exaggeration, for example. Each serves a purpose. There are many more and how they are deployed depends on the artist and her craft and her medium. Needless to say — on her subject.

Our Prime Minister tweeted, a while ago:

What about artists? Do restrictions and limits apply to them? In my opinion, no. For, when you restrict or limit an artist, you automatically restrict art. In some form, the principles of free-market economics should apply; let the audience be the judge of a work and decide if it is art or not. And the degree of how good and how bad. Easier said than done, because we have an “uneducated” audience. I don’t mean the sliver of the fraction of the minority who have “studied” art. I mean all of us. Art education, is an oxymoron of sorts. Art is Experience, just like Education is Experience. And we lost out on that experience, when we outsourced the sensation to a select few. “Tell us what good art is; what we should see, what we should not.” That’s the first insult we hurled at Art. Art, for us, was not worth a direct experience. We were fine with seeing it through a stranger’s eyes: eyes, we had never seen. In selecting those select few, if we sought teachers, it still made some sense — having someone expand our horizons, without influencing. We got lazy, however, over time. We stopped learning, we stopped experiencing, and we stopped thinking. Those who were to be our teachers became intermediaries, and eventually the sole connection between the artist and her audience. We, the audience, lost our connection with art.

We are all in general agreement that politicians, bureaucrats, and corporations are not to trustworthy. But are we in general agreement why we don’t trust them? They convince of what’s good for us. And with their oratory skills they wipe away the slightest smear of doubt, just in case we were thinking for ourselves. Time passes. We get accustomed. Word power translates to -isms. We subscribe to these -isms. An educated woman sees through this artifice. An uneducated woman asks questions. The mal-educated woman chooses sides.

125659: Wall Grunge

Humanity will survive even if every politician, every bureaucrat, every corporation — and even if the last common woman is corrupt to the core; corruption is not just about bribery – it is a general state of decay; it’s a rot. Corruption is not always intentional. Ignorance and laziness have often given birth to corruption.
The day the artist mortgages her soul to these dark corrupt powers, that is the day we should call it a day. When she holds a tainted mirror of misfeasance and screams, “this be it!” — that be the day of our doom, if we were to know the nature of the mirror in which we see us.

I don’t expect honesty from an artist. I assume it. And without restrictions and limits, she should express it. Wherever and however on the spectrum of human emotions, she chooses to express herself. For, only when we see experience that which is unknown, we can become better humans. In this age of disruption, she has to (and can) do away with brokers who will interpret her art. She may well take help of those who present it, un-tinted and de-ismed, so that the audience can make meaning for themselves, and not live on borrowed ones.

But enough of the artist already. The audience has a more pressing responsibility to experience art with their own eyes and souls. Of the many social curses we live under, “I don’t understand art” is one of the worst. We take great pains to learn a new interface of a new mobile phone. Yet we dismiss art with ease of a flick of our fingers. Art, has no utility. And that is true. It is not about utility. For that, the utility, i.e., the corrupt corporations are churning gadgets.

Watching the evening sun rays seeping through her hair in Hyde Park’s evening breeze has no utility. It does not serve any purpose. What is the value of that sight? Is it useful? If it is, why is it important in our lives? But it is an experience, which enriches us. It changes us. It affects how we feel. Over time, we change; become different. Do I see her in a different light? Does she become different in that setting sun? Did we understand love? Did we experience love?

If we were to ever see an artist’s impression of what it means to be depressed, we’d understand it better. Maybe not, but at least experience a presentation. When we say, “Oh, my three-year-old could do that,” We are hurling two insults: one at the artist and another at our three-year old. Why do we cherish the abstraction of our three-year old, but not that of a thirty-year old artist?

In time we may choose experiences, but all art is experience. Including, identifying that a certain artist, critic, or curator is corrupt. But that will happen only if we have a body of knowledge. And we have to graduate in the University of Visiting Art Galleries, to access and own the body of knowledge. That knowledge then, will be ours — seen through our eyes, experienced through our souls. In the least, it won’t be outsourced.

We have to discover for ourselves what our experience will be. We can ask questions to comprehend better; our experience has to be purely our own. And there are no points for liking or disliking something. It is not a game. We are not competing against the artist. She is not competing with us; if at all – she is challenging us. Twenty different voices of one artwork is what makes it intriguing. And we are only to consume those twenty voices – not combat them. For, they are nineteen new experiences for us.

It is not about liking or agreeing with the other voices – it’s about exposure.

1587: A Window in my Wall

When I began this post, I spoke of artistic devices. There is one more device: distortion. It has a legal, purposeful place in art. But it is unwieldy. It requires amazing skill and experience to use this device well. From an audience’s perspective it requires the knowledge of the origin and the path of distortion. This is the one time, we cannot completely depend on the artist’s perspective. This is where our knowledge as an audience comes in to play. See, we are now participants.

Therefore, we are not to trust the corrupt legislative, executive, or the judiciary. We have to make our own meaning, and trust the artist, who shows us the mirror..

Unless.

The artist is corrupt.

That’s the dawn of our doom.