A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

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I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

*

I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

*

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

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My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

Friends As Homing Devices

A peeking rose

 

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanc’d true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

That we must feign a bliss
Of doubtful future date,
And while we dream on this,
Lose all our present state,
And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose?

I read this poem a couple of days ago. Only because I stumbled upon it, while I was reading a book. A book, which I had no idea existed, and discovered it only because I saw a movie, which was recommended to me by a dear friend, which, I would have never watched, if it was left to me. How and why this poem found its way to me, intrigues me. In an amusing way, i.e., not in a way that makes me weave the wool of conspiracy with needles of reason. Ironically, this book had itself alerted me to this phenomenon that I was to soon experience. I had smiled, when I read it; it was cute, but to have experienced the exact phenomenon couple of score pages later, was a revelation, it said:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

Importantly, the above line ended with, “How delightful if that were true.”

Ah, well, dear author, here is a perfect example of why I believe that books have homing instincts. My time to tell you the story.

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Time-travel is my favourite movie/series genre. It fascinates me, much. The actual time travel not so much, but the implications of it all. The scientific and the philosophical. Needless to say, all time-travel themed movies and series have been binge-consumed and there is nothing left. I move to the War genre.

Out of the blue, a friend asks, if I have watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) – I tell her, it has been nagging me on Netflix, but it seems (because of the poster) too mushy for my taste. She urges me to watch it. A few days pass. I do watch it. I love it. I tweet about it. Amit thinks I am talking of the book. I say, no, I watched the film. As gently as he can, he curses my wretchedness, that I haven’t read the book, and Amit being Amit, he explains why. Point well taken. I buy the book. I flip through it. I know, what Amit meant. I start reading the book. It’s enjoyable. Then I stumble upon the homing device statement. I smile. Cute, I say to myself. Then I stumble upon the opening line of a poem, that the character in the book writes of; he doesn’t recall the author. Well, I have Google.

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy’d the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanc’d true friends, and beat down baffling foes;

These are the opening lines of Malcolm Arnold’s “Hymn to Empedocles,” part of Empedocles on Etna. I’ve never heard of Malcolm Arnold the poet before. More Googling ensues. I am reminded of something else, in the book”

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive—all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

And suddenly, late as it is, I am reading “Dover Beach. for sheer enjoyment.”

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

I feel blessed. I thank my friend who suggested the movie. I thank Amit for making me read the book.

I am grateful to the homing devices, that are my friends.

Conversations with Ghosts of Past

“You aren’t online as much these days,” he said. I detected a note of regret in his voice. Wishful thinking on my part, I thought — there’s so much online these days, no one’s going to regret my absence. He’s just making an observation.

I nodded my head in agreement; smiled just enough so that it could qualify as a smile.

“It’s a bit boring, you know, to keep reading your old stuff.”

“I know the feeling, I have done a lot of reading — all my old posts. There’s not a lot, but there’s enough.”

“You are not just re-reading the posts. What are you searching for?”

“Who,” I said, looking away from him to street. There were so many people on that street. I wondered what they were doing, moving about, talking, walking. Some standing. All of them going about their lives. It seemed so strange, suddenly. Strange strangers. I’ll use that in one of my post.

“And did you find him,” he asked, stirring his coffee. He did that a lot; stirred his coffee, before every sip; I was almost sure of that. It could be irritating, if not distracting.

“I recognise shades of that person. He seems somewhat alien. It’s like … I was perhaps infected with that alien DNA a while ago, and as I read the posts, some sort of recognition causes green and blue neon-like pulses to emit through the screen and connect with a part of me. Just a part of me. It’s there, but it does not bind.”

“Why”

“I don’t know. Maybe I am a million galaxies away from that DNA. Or some million light-years away or something like that, there’s a connection, but it’s weak.”

“Too much of Netflix-binging?”

“Yes, mostly time-travel,” I said. A real smile, that would have almost qualified as a laugh.

“I know you don’t travel as much. I mean in this time/space construct; needless to say. Not time travel. You aren’t even capturing time, so to speak; you have stopped taking photos. Right? And you have stopped writing. In short, there is no movement, there is no new experience. Is that why there is no new documentation? Are you falling short experiences to describe? It’s perhaps not as simple as that, but I have to ask you – is it as simple as that?”

“Not having “experiences”; is that also an experience?”

“Doesn’t the mind hold a million times more possibilities than the real world,” he asked, not really meaning what he asked. He was perhaps interested in my mind. The possibilities in my head. I heard him but I wasn’t there.

Voices, with amazing clarity whooshed in that empty coffee shop.

You deserve more than this.
I’d rather be talking with you.
I like being with you, but…
I love you.
This is a great evening, I’ll cherish it forever.
I wish it were different.
Why didn’t you say something then.
If only…
I hope we can meet again

“My mind is full of regrets,” I said, “not necessarily mine. Not my regrets. And I may have a few. But my regrets are overwhelmed by the regrets I hear from them. Every regret was a possibility, come to think of it – it does not matter whether it was mine or theirs.”

*

“Write about them, then, those possibilities,” she pleaded.

She was grace. Unlike him who constantly stirred his coffee. She was a possibility. Looking in her eyes, then, I was reminded. Everything is possible. I don’t recall the new-age music that was playing in the cafe; but I heard:

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it’s own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

~ Sting – Windmills Of Your Mind

I looked deep in her eyes. I did not blink. I was afraid, if I looked away, she would be gone, just like him. And I wasn’t prepared for who would be sitting with me next. I continued to stare in her eyes. I did not look away, but I knew that the strange strangers were looking at me. There’s something about a gaze.

“What a lovely pattern on your coffee,” she said, with so much of love and affection.

Patterns. Repetitive. Predictable. I am living those patterns. I look up, she isn’t around. I want to say something.

*

There is no Barista in the cafè.

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No people on the street.

*

I walk out.

*

This world is empty of humans.

***

PS: Above post is all imaginary. It never happened. It’s a ghost story. None of my friends were involved in this story.

I Am Poetry

Structure, perhaps; the magic of how the words at the end, end up rhyming. Or perhaps the metre. The litany that caries us through the verses. In a sense, the only sense that poetry appeals to us is through reading. The text, i.e.

Yet, without warning it evokes a sense of being — devoid of any other sensory perception. In a preface to a Mahakavya (great poem), the stellar poet, Dinkar, talked of realm of an extra-sensory perception. He spoke about it in a different context — love — but the logic — if you would call it that, remains the same.

A poem can never be taught. In teaching, a poem, its meaning is narrowed, to the teacher’s interpretation. A poem has to be owned. Like the life that we live, it has to be lived every day. It has to permeate your every day activity; find a permanent place in your self; become a part of you.

Inner Space

There is no understanding poetry. There is no learning poetry. You can learn the mechanics, tools, methods, and metre. But to to get poetry it has to become an indivisible and integral part of life. I have noticed my attitudes change, in a few aspects of my life, as I carried poetry with me.

In its punctum, poetry makes sense that is obvious (often, not always). It is immediately apparent, but soon lost. Because it is not our own. When a poem is our own, it changes us over time; itself undergoes change.

I am learning that, now.

I Do It For Your Love

What makes a lover say no to the love that stands, with open arms, asking only, that he take one step towards love?

What purpose or gain, if you love me
Other than being scattered in the whirlwind of my milieu.

What makes a love think so much of the life he has lived and the life that he sees in front of him, that he does not take that step?

I am the denizen of the hovel of grief and pain
It’s only me, who can stay alive in this haunt.
Why would I dream a dream whose reality is remorse
For, in my remorse, you may rue it too.

What makes a lover not see a better life and drives away the love to a better future?

Pray, what purpose, that anyone share this anxious weariness
Let my world remain dreary and dismal
Let the steps in your life be easier, in the least
In traveling with me, nothing but regret awaits you

What makes a lover hope for a good life for his lover, away from him?

What of me; there are many admirers to come
Many tunes that will echo of love, for you
Many tales of love that life is yet to tell you
You have no reason to believe you will not forget me.

Love.

*

I’ve taken serious liberties in translating the song, but have stayed true to the sense this song causes, within. There is an inherent beauty in sad songs, like I mentioned earlier. Even in your happiest moments, these songs remain beautiful, because of the weave of the words and the purity of the emotion that they convey.

It’s love.

*

“Pyar Mujh Se Jo Kiya Tumne”, from Saath Saath (1982), sung by Jagjit Singh

It’s Not About Photographs – IV

Sagar came home, yesterday.

We don’t meet very often, but when we do meet, it is a time which we cherish. I am — clearly — taking the liberty to speak for both of us.

Every now and then we become complacent. We agree with ourselves that what we do is great, or at least good enough. We look at other people. We like their work, appreciate it. We think they are great; their work is great. Or at least good enough.

Then, Sagar comes home.

Everything changes.

A conversation, that once happened between Seoul and Mumbai is remembered. We laugh about it. I have taken a few thousand photographs after that conversations; haven’t published. (I like the word published – makes me feel important and famous – all I really do, is post them to my Flickr Account or to my Facebook Page).

We have a short conversation about where we are with photography. Since I started publishing photographs, I have said:

I use a Film SLR (Canon EOS 88) and a DSLR (Canon EOS400D). Not very technically competent. Always face a problem, when I say I am a photographer. People talk about lenses and cameras and filters. I think photographers should discuss photographs. Haven’t yet found a photographer who talks photographs. I will.

I found Sagar.

I should, with due respect, mention Amit Phansalkar; he talks photographs. (Only, that Amit doesn’t call himself a photographer; as yet)

Instinctively, we learn by imitation. To copy something, and see it close to the original is a satisfying act. Within this act, is creation itself, even if it is not creative. If we were to discard the imitation of the act, and realise the creation, we could do much more. Then we make a small change. We do a what-if. We like it, and then we do more. We slowly come of age; but importantly, we come of identity. Then comes the body of work. Which gives rise to signature. Then, comes the complacency, I mentioned above.

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Not that Self-assertion and Self-realisation are opposites, but that is the struggle.

Denying ourselves perspectives is denying growth. And how we offer ourselves perspectives is up to us. There are no templates, guidelines, rule-books, or formats; even though we are bombarded daily with 10-things lists. The lists have to be our own. And they may, quite curiously, contain just one list item.

We are not here to take photographs or see photographs. We are here to see, without a camera. [Paraphrased quote, by Dorothea Lange]

We’ll discover with each other, and in that, we will discover ourselves.

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Sagar’s Blog | Sagar’s Portfolio

My Flickr | My Facebook Page | My Photo Blog

Beyond Anger

A wise man once advised me that I should be open about my feelings. Negative, even if they are. Years of suppressing your emotions is the means for creating an unpredictable event at an unpredictable time.

“It’s like trying to force an empty pot, face down, in water. For a while, you will be able to manage it by brute force, but the pot will resist and it will flip out,” he said with a peculiarly balanced tone, “and you will not be able to control the jounce of that flipping pot.”

I smiled. I nodded my head, as if in acknowledgement and agreement. The sense that you could hurt someone with a clinical explanation of your feelings was much to bear. At the time, the unpredictable pot in the future made more sense.

*

Sleeping Pot

There’s an ugly side of sarcasm’s coin that I am not fond of. I love humorous sarcasm, heck, I enjoy it. Sarcasm is always a package of what’s said and what’s intended. Funny sarcasm is well-packaged. It’s simple. There’s a wrapper and the content. Completely unambiguous. When you open it, it’s clear as sky. The ugly version has compartments. Many compartments. Often, hidden compartments. That’s the one I dread.

*

I am unable to relate to most of my contacts on social networks. I continue to fail to understand their sarcasm, which is veiled in cynical scepticism. Most of them seem angry. The word they are using for anger, nowadays, is outrage. Most of them are taking sides. (Which is, I will admit, so much better than sitting on the fence). There’s too much data. No, not information or knowledge. Data. And these data grenades are being hurled in the dark by people who are blinded by their shades. Each data grenade has a counter-data grenade. The hurling continues. No targets. Just hurling. There is no stock-taking of the damage. Just hurling. And data is never wrong. Data is unintelligent and perhaps, even stupid, but never wrong. It is what it is.

All this anger (outrage), righteous as it is, is an unending ripple in the calm. Minds seem so agitated and busy finding the next counter-grenade, there isn’t peace. In the mind, i.e. We aren’t talking about the world. The narrowness of belonging is sharp, one-way, and unrelenting.

We’ll have to pause.

If you read accounts of enlightened people, you will notice that because they are so open, with so few filters on perception, everything for them is poetry. Everything is alive, asking for attention.

Attention to what? To the divine that hovers beneath the surface of all life. What we respond to in the great paintings of history is the depth of attention the artist had focused on the project. We could even use the word prayer—not in a religious sense, although for some artists that might be accurate. But prayer in the sense of communion with the stuff of creation. [Principle Fifteen: Creative Authenticity]

Anger/outrage is no more an expression, it is a community. Only two sides. With us or against us. Yet, I am sure, there be pastures, where the shades of green and gold abound and call for a sense of being, and not belonging:

Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

[Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore]

We have to stop imagining our life; start living it.

Peace and Intention: #Anthem 5

People who have followed this blog for a while…

Wait.

I’ve been saying this too often. So let me say a bit about that. I’ve recently got a couple of followers who take the trouble to read all my posts and like, or still better: comment on my posts. Some of my followers from yore, read my posts, smile and do whatever they have to do. They have known me for a while now. After a while, I guess transactions don’t mean much. #NotBeingSarcastic

When I mention any version of “People who have followed this blog for a while…” I am only offering context to those who have recently started following me. OK, context done.

*

People who have followed this blog for a while, know my love for travel. While this started as a “travel” blog it has now become a “travel” blog. Not all journeys need roads, rails, or flight corridors. Yup, I am talking about all the flights of fancies that happen in our head. That’s travel too.

Of the ways I like to travel, I like driving the best. I have a car that am in love with and she loves me back, much. Whenever I take the car out for a long drive, I always start with a specific song. That, undoubtedly has to be an anthem, the way Paul proposed. There must be a million versions of this song, (I’ll explain the italics, momentarily) I am sure, and a few of them, may be more beautiful than the one I like, yet this is the one version that gets me started after the ignition. Some time ago, I talked about Driving Rituals, and it is a good thing that I did not mention one ritual. This song. Having not mentioned this ritual in that post allows me to publish this Anthem.

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The video below, has translation embedded in it. If, for any reason, it does not play in your region, please search for “Ik Omkar Rang de Basanti.” This is the translation, if you are unable to see the video.

I said song earlier. And that’s the most generic term I could have used. It’s a prayer. It’s an invocation. It’s a reminder. And it is much more. Why should this be the one song I play when I embark on a journey? I cannot tell you of a logical connection. I can tell you this, however:

It is ethereal for me. It is divine. It makes me feel peaceful. It injects happiness. It sets the agenda for my journey. It somehow, tells me how I should drive, what I should seek in and from my journey. It sets the intention for my journey. We learn many prayers as we navigate life. One prayer and invocation becomes ours, forever. This one is mine.

The Layered Love Song: #Anthem 4

There’s no such thing as a romantic.

Wait. Scratch that.

There’s no one way to say if someone is romantic or not. Like so many other things in this world, there’s no single, commonly accepted characteristic of a romantic. Every romantic is different. I think you get the idea.

*

I was introduced to Paul Simon, way back in school, by a friend who isn’t a friend anymore. If we start delving into the purpose of someone’s life in our life, I guess he fulfilled his purpose. But, thankfully, this post is not about that, or him!

I am a bit surprised that the first post of the Anthem series was not about Paul Simon. He is my favourite musician, singer, and songwriter of all times. When I take time and think why his song didn’t feature earlier in this series, it is actually easy. Almost all of his songs would end up featuring as an anthem, by the nature of this series.

This one’s a love song.

In the sense that it is a song of love. It is not a love song in the sense that it expresses love for someone. It does not glorify love. It does not venerate a loved one. If you ask someone else, they may say it is a sad song. Perhaps. Quite a few fans may say, it autobiographical. Perhaps. I’ve been listening to his songs since the mid-eighties and I long gave up trying to find the exact meaning of his songs.

But then, Paul Simon is a stellar songwriter.

There’s never a single layer in anything he creates. I always think of him a weaver of emotions and leaves it to you to feel whatever you feel. He is a true artist in that sense — the kind I like — who allows the audience their own meaning: meanings, actually. In terms of the number of times I have played this song, it may not amount to much. When I think of the number of times I have felt this song, however, this song for me is an anthem, in every sense. This song has been with me more than thirty years and it is the most evocative song of love — it’s full of love and bereft of lovers, if that makes any sense. To me, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s the aptly titled song, which I carry in my heart and feel it in my bones.

 

Be-ing: #Anthem 3

I am continuing with the Anthem meme that Paul started. This one’s a little different from the earlier two. In that it is a popular song, or at least I think it is. I generally do not like contemporary Bollywood music because it is all about discos, late nights, alcohol, sex, and such. Not that I am against any of those things. My problem is with the music: it is transient, it hardly penetrates my skin, forget the heart or the mind. Not all contemporary Bollywood music is like that however, if you listen through all the trash, you will find a few gems.

There’s music that appeals to many senses, some that appeals to some senses, and some, rare type of music, that appeals to a specific sense.

I call this: my energy song.

Unlike the previous two Anthems, I do not have a story about this song. This is a new song (from the movie Highway which released early this year, and which, I don’t recommend, BTW) so I haven’t found time enough to have a story for this song. Yet, it is on #3 of my “most played” songs in my music library. Perhaps, that explains (at least for me) that the kind of music we seek in life, is an indicator of what we seek in life.

The meaning of this song is multi-layered, so I will definitely not leave a translation here. But for my readers who do not know Hindi or Punjabi, here’s a link of the direct translation. If you can peel off the words and delve in, I will call you lucky (or smart; you can choose). At each play-count, a small opening allows me to get deeper into the song, but that’s just me (and I have the advantage of having studied in Hindi and having many Punjabi friends in my formative years).

This #3 Anthem of mine, is sung by the Nooran sisters. I was first introduced to them in their Coke Studio performance.

In Patakha Guddi (Female) — the title of this Anthem — the kind of energy that the sisters and A. R. Rahman have cooked in the cauldron is no less than the magic potion by Getafix. I hope you enjoy it as much as I continue to.

Happy New Year

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Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! As is obvious – this post, though dated the first of this month, was published five days later. But, we all know, it’s the thought that counts, not the date that post is published. Like most posts, thoughts occur in the past and they are expressed much later, when the thought takes shape. One would argue that there isn’t much shape-taking required for s wish as simple as wishing your friends a Happy New Year. I could argue differently, but I will not. I’d like to focus on wishing you all a Happy New Year.

That’s one of things I am doing this year, staying away from arguments that mean little, other than intellectual self-indulgence. Trivia is for entertainment, not argument. These things are like tinsel, as Rabindranath Tagore said.

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

And it’s time for us (me, actually) to stop  acknowledging the tinsel, and get out of underneath the shroud of dust and death.

May this year be the same for you all.

The Reminders Within

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Some emotions will slowly slip through,
The inexorable cracks of time.
If we slice through, we’ll discover how we lived our life.

White in the Green

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Mobor, Goa, India. September 2011

How do I tell you of soft affectionate white flowers
In the monotony of sharp green blades.
The cuts preoccupy your mind.

2×2

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warm water
sea provided

bikini girls
choose none

life expanded
choice contracted

fear looms
opportunity beckons

beer cans
life drowned

gasp gasp
oxygen life

not true
not natural

yet struggle
life mine

break away
build bridge

walk away
in sunshine

dream true
real now

forget yesterday
look tomorrow

curse mediocrity
worship self

vocabulary sparse
thoughts abundant

*

Once Upon a Time in Goa: May 1992

Triangles, by Parallelograms

Installation Art at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, India. February 2012

Installation Art at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, India. February 2012

Whatever the shape of things to come
We will put it together in our own way.
New shapes will help us see through.

War of the Tenses

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What of the today, that was meant to be?
Haunted against the mortal choice
Of an uncommitted past in blur
Unchangeable by today’s tools and thoughts.

One string, thin, viscous with yesterday’s vehemence
The other thickly greased with shards of today’s forgiveness
Churn a helix around the voice that cries out
To synchronise their dues and create the silent moment.

The Jungian Fine

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The dried words crackle and crumble
in the famine of thought
Organic reflections transmit emptiness
as transactional assessments overflow.

Loss! Loss! Loss! Cries the mind
of that which is quantifiable
That which uncountable
is lost without a whisper.

As artistic deficit stacks up high
no coins remain even
To pay the Jungian fine for
“the divine gift of creative fire”.

Burn, Brightly

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Anxiety is imagination’s dark cousin
Fallen from grace.
It lights up the road to hell.

17 May 2007, Centre for Contemporary Arts, CCA: Bar, Glasgow, Scotland.

Imagining Smoky Burgundy

You have to think of black-and-white photographs in a special way.

Man saw colour from the day he learnt to stand upright, there can be no doubt of that. Pre-historic cave art attests that. It may be monochromatic, but it is not black-and-white. Colour has been available to us right from the start. Not so, for photography. It started out as black-and-white; colour technology developed much later. So, in a way when we convert our now colourful photographs to black-and-white, it is a form of nostalgia. No doubt that black-and-white photographs look beautiful, but it’s definitely not for the lack of our ability to capture colour.

There’s a song about a colour-film brand; you can’t imagine not having colours in it. And there’s even black-and-white in that song. Which are both colours, if you think about it, but we tend to think otherwise. So most of us think of black-and-white photos as devoid of colour. [Links against quotes are to the lyrics of the songs]

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers

[..]

Everything looks worse
In black and white [Link]

This post is a bit confused. It starts with what would be a treatise of black-and-white photography, but easily slides into imagining colour through music, as we shall see. There’s much to be seen, when you listen to a Paul Simon or a Simon & Garfunkel song. Many of the songs are a visual treat, and you can imagine it right in front of you.

What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline of smoky burgundy [Link]

IMG_5202 - Version 2

I try to imagine smoky burgundy, but it’s not smoky enough, as you can see. Imagination always works better than a camera and a post-processing tool. That’s a moment in time, because you see it at once in full colour, static and surrounded. Not all mention of colour is static though. There’s movement too, time that passes in moments, when, in real life it may take days or weeks:

Time hurries on
And the leaves that are green turn to brown [Link]

And you can travel with the song, watch it all like a tourist – the mega-visual of a landscape of a hill or the close-up of a bird or a soldier; your choice.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown

[…]

On the side of a hill in the sprinkling of leaves
Washes the grave with silvery tears

[…]

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions
Generals order their soldiers to kill
And to fight for a cause they have long ago forgotten [Link]

In everyday chores, there’s a palette too:

Found a rug
In an old junk shop
I brought it home to you
Along the way the colors ran
The orange bled the blue [Link]

Or you can imagine how:

He flies a silver airplane
He wears a golden cross [Link]

But these are only words. One adjective before a rainbow or an airplane or a rug, don’t mean much, if we are unable to travel with it. These are special places. The song becomes the vehicle for us, but it has to be fuelled by imagination.

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack [Link]

PS: All block-quoted text, extracted from the songs of Paul Simon. Copyright and such, as applicable.

PPS: This post becomes special. It is the 786th post

How We Killed the Poets

Sometimes, I think, poets have all the fun.

Writers of prose have been called wordsmiths for a while now, but poets are the elite wordsmiths. If I were to use the controversial (and potentially politically incorrect) yet appropriate Indian terminology for them, I’d say, they were the Brahminical class on word-smithery.

Poetry employs lesser words, often violating grammar; yet has an impact more than prose can.

I thought of a few beautiful poems that are the epitome of romance; they play now as I write this post, yet I think twice before posting them. These poems are from a few years ago. When times were different. In our new-found eyes, these poems may be anti-this or anti-that. They may be this-ist or that-ist. Did love change from the 70’s to the 2010’s?

We live in difficult times.

0987: This is how a party looks, late at night, London, UK.

Our words may be our own, but their meanings belong to those who want to extract directional meaning of them, so that they can use it for their own purpose. For, we have taken democracy to the extent that – it is easier to make meaning than ask for it. When we disagreed to disagree. There is much more in life that we have than we had a few years ago, yet we have less of everything.

Romance died soon after we stopped making poets. And we stopped making poets when we stopped reading and listening poetry.