Friday, December 5, 2014

INTELLIGENT HUMANITY MADE STUPID CHOICES!

I am reading about 'Sapiens' or the humans, its complexities, and what not?

I seem to have a vague idea. Every time we, as in humans, try improve our lives, by joining hands against kinds of us, or others, employing shimmering grey cells, we actually end up making our lives intricately knotty, layered and profoundly miserable. Pursuit of easy life has made it sad. We might have humanised few machines, but our own life is become so mechanised. We are on course at a rocket pace towards an imminent disaster.

Money, religion and polity integrated humanity but also created a superstructure of discrimination: rich and poor; on racial and caste considerations. In the name of culture, highly divisive,  pit each one against the other. The whole humanity against the planet earth.

It’s not a secret that in the last 150 years, the human capacity for self-decimation has increased by a billion times. They can destroy the world thousands of times over in scores of possible ways. Many may call it something akin to success; others may dub it development or a tribute to human resilience. I am not so optimist. 


Human are intelligent in a very stupid way. To understand that we have to understand what is intelligence? It's the cord that connects perception to action. It helped humanity survive during tough times--96 percent of its existence was that of a hunter, gatherer or forager.

One potent example of human genius is compounded stupidity, that they created artificial intelligence. Basically a mechanical replica of intelligence in all its manifestations--perception, motor control, communication by use of various languages, reasoning, planning, learning, and memory. But much more powerful. In principle, all and any aspect of human intelligence can be mechanized by use of a computer. And the computed brain can be programmed to be much more intelligent than the most intelligent human brain. Artificial intelligence has inherent advantages, with infinite capacity to interpret complex data; save or revive a scarce or dying expertise or skill, it's possible to combine knowledge of experts of various fields to create a super-expert--yet artificial.
It took the best mind of our times to emphasise the consequences of unabated ambition (read stupidity) of humanity. "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity," observed Albert Einstein. And more recently and emphatically, physicist Stephen Hawking when he said: development of artificial intelligence could mean the end of humanity. Plain and simple: end of humanity. The reason for it is as plain and simple: artificial intelligence is one of the many monsters that humanity has created but can’t tame it. The monster has all the potential to tame humanity.
In the words of Hawkins, "Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said talking to BBC, because "humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded."
There is no escape. Some respite, though. Either, I should join a jungle forager community , or perhaps, a nudist club for dispossession is the greatest possession, especially in this wired world where they even monitor and draw inferences from how laud you fart. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

I saw my imagination in flesh and blood

The hobby of interacting with people in the nude, while sketching them, has never failed to inspire me.

In a recently made painting I symbolized life with an image of a strong, curvaceous woman--a figment of my fertile imagination


Last week, I sketched a woman who's a replica of the image I painted to represent my life. I visualized her without having seen her ever. I was bemusing to see my imagination in flesh and blood.

She spoke about her life, challenges and sufferings--some continue to nag her.

Her struggle is similar to mine. She trying to let go of things that seem to linger on with her.

I am confronting the need to confront issues that I can't deal with. 

I know me. I can't avoid me. I can't lie. That's a lie. See, I don't lie.

I feel helpless. But I do my bit. Try not worry about the rest. It's tricky. I do worry.

For the first time, in a sketching session, instead of my subject baring her mind, I felt the need to bare mine to her. I think it's to do with trust.

Usually while sketching, I voice my thoughts, or intuition, to my subjects inspired by experiencing their unbridled self. 

They mostly hear me out, sometimes react, rarely ignore. I mirror my subjects. But during this session, she was reflecting me. I talked a lot about me that afternoon.

My immediate artistic endeavour is to document her by way of a painting. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Berlin Wall that was

The  fall of Berlin Wall or the Berliner Maue is symbolic of the end of the cold war. This happened 25 years ago. The day was celebrated with much fanfare in Berlin: 'Some 8,000 helium balloons have been released into the night sky ' reports BBC. 

The fall of Berlin wall ended an era where not only a territory was divided, but also hearts, on ideological grounds. 

When politics enters people's life, like religion enters political mind-space, is a recipe of disaster. The people pay the price of faulty politics some bigots.

I was a child when the wall was demolished and people were united. I have faint memory of the day. Many of my parent's friends, who happen to be in Berlin on November 9 of 1989 or visited Berlin soon after, carried back an innocuous piece of the Berlin wall with them as mementos and was displayed in the glass-cabinets of their drawing rooms.

On my recent visits to Berlin, there are lingering signs of the two worlds that was--the East and the West, on the either side of now a non-existent Berlin wall. The integration is a continuous process, not yet complete. 

While the Western part is materially richer, and the eastern part, now I am not just talking about Berlin but the whole of Germany, is rich in nature, where industrialization hasn't tempered with the pristine nature in relative terms. The divide is still clearly visible. 

In the East Germany—communal goals decided by the political masters were the guiding force, not the individual pursuits. I was told that a potent in the East Germany a potent, and perhaps one of the very few ways, to assert freedom and individuality was nudity. Still, folks  are far more open to the play of elements on their bare bodies. 

This is a paragraph from my article on my tryst with nudity in Europe [http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/photographic/my-nude-vacation] 'So there seems to be a north-south divide over public nudity. With its cooler climes, the north is ironically far more open to nudity. Sunrays are precious there and summers celebrated. But that doesn’t explain the divide, does it? I asked Jan (Peters—my friend and co-traveler). The cultural split is true of Germany, he replied, but wasn’t sure if that’s so of Europe overall. After all, Spain in southern Europe has dozens of nude beaches; in July this year, 729 people even tried to set a Guinness record for collective nude bathing on a beach near Vera. Jan thought it over. “Nudity was the only significant way of self expression available to people during the GDR time,” he said, referring to East Germany before the country’s unification. It was a way to assert freedom and still is.' 
The old and new Berlin co-exists
In  Berlin, now a hub of cultural emancipation, of self expression by way of art, may seem radical or iconoclastic by erstwhile East Berlin  standards, is about freedom. And the freedom of expression is integrally linked to tolerance, and perhaps, appreciation of the alternative view or way of life.
  
Now a marking on the surface extends were the Berlin wall stood tall till 25 years ago. I stood there spreading my arms wide, on the either side, the east and the west. That we are different, have varied identities, belief and practices is a reason to celebrate, I reminded me. And not fight wars. Or erect impregnable walls. Or homogenize humanity that this globalized and connected world tends to do.

Friday, November 7, 2014

At home in Allahabad.

On a recent visit to Allahabad for a couple of days, I felt at home again, as always. 

It's a great feeling, brings out the worst in me. 


I will try explain what this feeling of 'at home' does to me. 

I make no effort to be anything other that who I am--mercurial and stupid. 

I don't have to prove anything to anyone, they know me very well.

I can argue with my elder brother, say nasty things to him, and he will give it back to me in equal measure. I get away with it. I can be intolerant towards the intolerance of my family members.  

I ask my mother, without slightest hesitation, to consider marrying the second time when she asks me about my marriage plan. Can marriage be planned? It just happens. I am lucky, it hasn't happened to me. So far. 

My prime activity is to hibernate. I sleep like a log, even Sheri's [the new bitch in my life] barking won't interfere my enticing slumber.

I indulge in free flowing gossip, relatives and friends, no one is spared. I vent my frustration on figures of hate, there are many. I talk recklessly with no remorse. I do it all the time. And my family, mother in particular, tolerates me. 

Someone will tell my sister about the harangue, she will call me later, politely ask questions pertain to my mental health. She has one panacea for all my ailments: get married!

And how so ever petulant I may get and misbehave, two hours before I leave  my mother gets sombre, and tell me in many times, "good you came." What makes me syrupy is that she means it.

 

  



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bhang Ka Rang-COLOUR OF MARIJUANA

Ganges in Allahabad.
A dear friend and me had bhang [a preparation of marijuana made from young leaves and stems] in Varanasi. I narrate here what happened after that.

So we were back in the hotel room rather disappointed. An hour had passed, nothing really was happening, we were our own mundane self, though, were constantly in look out for any new sensation within us.


I was trying to sleep when my friend started to yell frantically in his mother tongue. The only word I understood was mother-fucker. I though he was dreaming. Actually he was, but with his eyes open.

I switched on the light. He was restless, and then, soon, slipped into hysteria. He seemed hanging by a thread. "What have you given me?" he asked, as if I had pushed him off the cliff. Of all the things I was worried about: what am I going to tell his parents if he loses his mind permanently?

A moment later, my perception of reality began to change, faster than I could handle--sharper with vivid colours, clarity of depth. I was transported to a three-dimensional fairly land. There was a vague realisation. I, too, am besotted.

My friend started laughing. I must have done something that he thought was funny.

His mouth would stretch out every time he laughed. He wouldn't stop laughing. He was transformed into something scary in this new reality.  My glare bothered him, he told me later.

I felt acutely thirsty. There was no water. I was frustrated. I told him that I am very thirsty. He laughed. I hung my tongue out to show my throat is dry like Atacama Desert.  He laughed louder. I explained him a hundred times that I am not joking. He laughed a hundred times.  The tussle went on for sometime. My struggle helped him rise above his own.

I woke up with swollen eyes. It was a bright sunny day. He wouldn't let me go out of the room to get some water, because I told him 'I am thirsty'. "You are still stoned, will get killed outside," he wouldn't relent. I has to sneak out.

A dose of delusion is good to mix with reality, sometimes. This otherworldly experience has become sacrosanct in my real world. 


My friend, when we meet, often clasps his throat with both his hands, and says dramatically, 'I'm thirsty.'  

And this evening reminds me of this famous Hindi song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I08ex7M5WTw&list=PL4G2ne7gV3nWBM6mW6nI9Myru9cKed3Xw

Monday, September 29, 2014

GLOW WITH GLOOM

This is for the first time I have used only two colours--black and white. It's not some momentous feast in my life as a so called artist.  Here, in this painting, I deal with my own life--its ups and downs, and how it has treated me.

Life is not black and white but a thousand shades of gray.

Sadness is a powerful emotion. Like love. I now know me better. 

Intensity of any emotions--more so gloom--helps me deal with me better. 

Shades of gray is a metaphor for emotions, not just life. 

I drew no conclusions, found no answers, just experienced: Emotions are subtle, amorphous, yet in my face, shape me.   

Events and people that influence me, cast their shadow on my life, has to do with it and them, but more importantly, has to do with me. 

There were phases in my life when nothing really could make me grim. And there was a  phase in life when nothing could make me happy. I didn't force myself to be happy.

In this painting, life is the curvacious woman intently looking at me. Empathetic. My life, a witness unto me. While I have surrendered to my being, isolated, yet connected to self, is when dark shadows of gloom engulfed me. I am not resisting. I am not trying to light a candle of hope. I glow with gloom.

I am affected by others. I do seek approval . I have expectations. I am judgmental, too.  

I need certain people in my life. And certain others--not. I was with certain people when they needed me. It's when I need them the most, I gave them reasons, some found reasons, to stay away.

I was confronting my negativeness when I made this painting. My negativity is transferred onto the canvas. I glow with gloom.

Monday, September 22, 2014

letter to a real dopehead


........so one of the things Conversations in the Nude (http://www.mid-day.com/articles/artist-mihir-srivastava-talks-about-drawing-nudes/15279074) has done to me is rather scary. I cannot lie to myself and mostly to others (which could be a big lie)

I see things, the reality, deal with it, or try deal with it, or don't, but that doesn't change anything.

It's good to be true to oneself. 

But bit of a delusion is good too, nebulous--is a beautiful word, to surrender and not to resist, and allow perception of reality [seem like monster peachy keen to eat you] to get blurred a bit, so there's room for the improbable, the flight of imagination can soar high, a mind trip into real world scenarios is possible, where real people happily do fictive exploits, and momentarily cease to be entangled by who they are, their circumstances, like I am entangled by my own realities, and all merge to synergistic euphoria. 

Reality is so stark, like nudity, like bright light, fatalistic, in your face. 

But delusions can seem real and while reality denigrated as delusional. But, at second thought, if it's not real, then it's delusional. But some delusions are life long, or live sustaining, or even life saving. For some, therefore, delusion could be the only reality of life. Like the other day I heard a psychologist argue that insanity is a potent way of asserting one's individuality.

According to a point of view, we are here to spend time, in this world that we perceive as reality, whatever we may do, or not, will die one day. And death, makes no discrimination, is a great leveler. So what's the big fuss?!

Nudity, like reality, is stark, like a wall, hit your head hard on it, won't shake or budge, instead, the skull would crack. The wall-like reality won't change, so, you might as well change, or die with a or due to cracked skull.

There's saving grace --polite way of saying I give in-- sometimes, or many a times, change that beckon is mere need of some adjustment. Like change of attitude, or the way one deals with people, and one's own self. I hope, perhaps, the same reality, after making these 'mere' adjustments, will becomes tenable. 

So confront your reality by doping. That might be your reality. But do let me know, when you are sober, when can we have a sketching session? 


Monday, February 10, 2014

WORK WITHOUT WORKING AND Manu Joseph



Manu Joseph resigned about a month ago. That's an old news. Few days ago was his official farewell party. It's not the end but a new beginning for Manu and, hopefully, for the Open Magazine.

That Manu is not a political animal is his strength. He writes very well on the practitioners of politics.   Consider this. A month ago, Manu compared Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with an editor. I am not suppose to say this, in all likelihood, he is the editor. Because it's obvious. I have a habit of stating the obvious as something prescient. 

I quote Manu: 'Every editor in Delhi has a Manmohan Singh in him. In a nation where the preeminence of ethics in both politics and journalism is absolute in theory but ambiguous in practice, the prime minister and the editor occupy roles that require relentless negotiations with a higher authority from whom they derive their powers. Both have to fight for their independence, as it is not easily granted, and find ways to influence “management” to do what is right. Both make compromises for the sake of long-term benefits. And the only card they possess but cannot use too often is the threat to quit and walk away in a huff.'

And that Manu resigned, though wasn't a-walk-away-in-a-huff, and Manmohan Singh didn't for much more compelling reasons only shows, in Manu words, 'A man who quits his job on principled grounds may appear glorious to most people. But many times the more difficult path is not what appears heroic.'


Some humiliation of holding a position is far less than demitting it. Some get habitual to their existence that is reliving humiliation everyday. For others, humiliation is a necessary evil to achieve something less humiliating. There is certainly something heroic about people who have the insatiable capacity to absorb humiliation with humility. 

Nevertheless, we celebrated every Friday evening for last three weeks, partied with religious fervour.  I will miss him.
This is my latest and hugest painting inspired by the androgyny. It has nothing to do with the contents of this blog.

Now I am talking about me. I got drunk on every occasion. I don't have to work hard to get drunk. I just need one drink. The problem is that I don't confine to one drink when my employers are paying for it. It's a great feeling to be drunk. Senses blur, perception of things and people change; you are more accommodative and less assertive, in my case, less combative. My capacity to hear out others increases significantly simply because I am not listening to them. 

I joined the rest of them on the dance floor: shook, swayed, jumped, twisted, whirled, foxtrot and perspired on a cold evening. It felt like a run for fun. I was dancing with the same set of people I can't avoid in office, the polite word to describe them is colleagues. A dance floor is a good place to see people in the new light. 

More often than not, dance floor is a place you shed long held biases for and against people. I think motion has a role to play in this.  Dance, which is nothing but a complex mix of random dynamism, helps one get into a rhythm. It was good to see colleagues perform on a dance floor. Some of them looked awkward . I am glad I can't see me dancing.  

Change is good. But not always. Some changes are harbinger of a bigger change, which, ultimately, might be good. 

I might be suffering from a syndrome described by this phrase: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. That's why I, sometimes, feel it's sexy to be unemployed.

We all are struggling in our unique ways. Suffering is a subset of struggling. Or is it the other way? I am not sure. 
These days I meet new set of people on a daily basis, let's call them the Hoi Polloi. They are excited about what they have accomplished in the recent past, and are preparing to force change the future for better. They are jubilant. And many others, thanks to the jubilant, are fed up. 

People who are accustomed to wield political power, let's call them: Stick-in-the-mud, don't know how to deal with the Hoi Polloi. That the Stick-in-the-mud can't control the Hoi Polloi makes them furious. So they deride each other. 

When people make specific accusations about a wrong doing, they are actually describing, more or less, what they would be thinking or doing in that particular situation.
The reality is different from what is being projected by the popular media. The reality is hidden in the web of complexities and confusion. The reality as we see is perception driven. 

I am happy to see what is happening. At least someone is trying to make something happen.  

I am dejected to see idealism in many of us, why talk of others, me in particularly, is nothing but an adrenaline rush. 

But a bit of idealism, or delusion, is necessary to beat the rut of predictability, boredom and ordinariness. 

Things that make sense in the long-run may seem disastrous now. 
We, the humans, collectively, are and will remain unmitigated disaster, whatever we may do or not do, now or in the future, for the rest of the world. 

But that shouldn't prevent us from trying. Like I am trying to write this blog in the middle of the night.


Friday, January 31, 2014

In Nepal Not for Tourism

In the first week of this year, I was in Nepal chasing a story. The story was tragic in nature. You can read the story by clicking on this link: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/those-hemraj-left-behind. It took 15 hours of drive from Lucknow to reach here. 

Nepal's hinterland is beautiful. The days were bright and sunny, evenings biting cold. 

Here are some of the pictures that will help you visualise my trip, most of the time was spent travelling in a car. 
 
Alcohol is readily sold here in nearly every shop at twice the price. The driver (I don't remember his name) is buying his evening dose.


We stopped here to eat fried chicken. A cup of tea was bonus.

And this smile priceless.

I was face to face with the advantages of polygamy.The man I am talking to is a brave tribal who is a father of three children from three wives. The fourth wife is in the family way.  
This girl thought we were aliens from outer space.

We light upon some breathtaking scenery.

Raul took some great pictures for the story. I took some pictures of him.
Life in a remote village in Nepal is burdensome.

Hemraj's family: mother, wife and son. Loss is a way of life for them.

But never say no to life, for in this world, as someone is rightly said, joys are only the tender shadows that sorrows cast. Mother and son together in grief.
In this world, full often, our joys are only the tender shadows which our sorrows cast.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrywardb150006.html#7qX53feCuAkhEck3.99
In this world, full often, our joys are only the tender shadows which our sorrows cast.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrywardb150006.html#7qX53feCuAkhEck3.99

The warmth of the fire in the dark, cold night was serene. 
We stayed overnight in a town that looked like a quarry.

Sunshine!

The travel-mates!
 
Soon after we entered India, had the biggest meal of the trip in an urbanised dhaba.

The Highway. The pitch darkness. And hot chai