what makes a work of art great

an artist longs to create such great work of art that astonishes all and outshines its contemporaries. he dwells upon his craft for long years in order to come up with one such masterpiece that shall immortalize his being in the artistic arena. but he does not always achieve that feat. in fact, only one tenth of the entire artistic clan or even lesser is able to book its name in the historical records of grandeur. the rest fail and are forgotten.

so the question that becomes important here is what is it that makes a piece of art great. what work shall stand the test of time and shall be acclaimed as great work for generations in future. is there a formula to such grand success or one has to make his way through subjective experiments?

scholars have believed that in order create great work in the present, the artist must study the past, because without a resounding knowledge of the history, any creation would lack investigatory strength. it would be as if it stands on its own and its existence shall be a transient one. if, however, one has studied thoroughly the traditional patterns of his craft, one shall be in a better position to create great work.

m.m. bakhtin, the great russian philosopher and literary critic, says: “a work cannot live in future centuries without having somehow observed past centuries as well. if it had belonged entirely to today, (that is, were a product only of its own time) and not a continuation of the past or essentially related to the past, it could not live in the future. everything that belongs only to the present dies along with the present. … in the process of their posthumous life, they are enriched with new meanings, new significance: it is as though these works outgrow what they were in the epoch of their creation.”

what a beautiful idea that is! and how true! in order to be remembered in the future, one must work hard upon the past practices that have sustained through the present. t.s. eliot had similar views when in his essay — tradition and individual talent — he says: “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. his significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. you cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.”

perhaps, that is the reason why great artists like quentin tarantino never forget to mention the classics when they come to talk about their own films. they are always inspired by the great work already done by the erstwhile filmmakers. if you watch “the hateful eight”, you’ll find that tarantino has tried to create a similar film as has already been made before, in terms of the impact it has on the audience. he says that the 1982 classic movie “the thing” is very similar to “the hateful eight” as it creates similar atmosphere for the audience.

so, you see, great work is not a creation of the artist’s mind alone. rather, it is an observance of what has already been achieved in the past and what has lingered on in the mind of the artist for long years that finally gets released into a new form of art. tarantino certainly works this way and is one of the best directors we have today. his films shall continue to be loved by millions in the future because he has picked his inspiration from great works that have stood the test of time. the same is true for shakespeare too. and that’s what makes a work of art great.

Save

how authentic are you

today’s times are tragic times. why? because image has become greater than reality. people often turn towards appearances, without realizing that looks are deceptive. authenticity is rarely valued and superficiality and artificiality has become the realm of the modern existence.

people no longer crave for art or intelligence. they are happy to go after the pseudo stereotypes that are prevalent, glossy and loud. i’m talking about the masses here. there are a few exceptions, of course. but largely, if you see, you find chaos, distractions, people following crap. The kind of songs we get to hear these days, especially the rap/hip hop ones, full of crap talk, it makes us hard to believe that it is the same country that have produced singers like kishore kumar and mohd rafi and musicians like SD burman and shankar jaikishan.

Now, you may call it collective stupidity or anything else, that’s what has doomed India’s progress on an international scale. Whereas in America, the masses are full of new startups and the youth is coming up with new ideas to change the world, in india, we are caught up in petty politics on the basis of caste and religion. We have leaders who are bent upon restoring the ancient practices back at the contemporary stage and we have youth in large numbers who blindly follow the traditional images of power and do not acknowledge democracy. During the day, these goons work in groups and assert power on innocent people on the basis of a specific traditional customs, and in the night, these goons criminally exploit and loot. Under such circumstances, where does one expect new ideas from the youth, where is the question of growth and meeting global standards.

Because everything has been commercialized, politics is no different. Politics is a good career option in india due to rampant corruption. A good candidate for politics just needs to have a great criminal background and several contact links in the existing government. That’s all and then your victory at the polls is confirmed.

Media plays an important role in this image and reality game. Being a part of the same commercialized structure of the capitalist economy of the country, media has to project and maintain an image that resounds with the general public, I.e. The masses, because if you can’t please the masses, you can’t keep the govt happy. Just like the masala movies, media has to add some masala to the news in order to feed the stupidity of mass audiences.

Tv channels are not so distinct domain from the media. In fact, they both fall under the same ballpark. Their most important value is TRP and they are willing to debase themselves to any level in order to maintain the TRP. Hence, the chaos. Now, the people like me, those who don’t watch TV, are blessed souls, because we can think, create and imagine new ideas. But the majority, the larger masses are devoid of this sensation. They are tragically trapped into the same blend of negative masala services that blind and numb.

I hope they come out of this trance and think for themselves what they are capable of dreaming and achieving. I hope india matures to be a world leader. Remember, there’s immense potential that lacks execution.

Image source: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-YE077_icorru_G_20130712062808.jpg

how to write fiction – advice from a genius polymath

august strindberg, a name that might not sound very familiar but has a fascination behind, was a polymath playwright, actor, novelist, poet, essayist, painter, swedish modernist who married and divorced thrice. infamous for his scandalous behaviour, he was charming as a young man, always attracted to ladies.

his literature is prolific and his paintings are full of expressions with vivid colors. his fiction breaks free the shackles of orthodoxy, as he is a revolt on paper and anger is his most precious emotion as he sets out to write. this is what he has to say to the budding writers, a message he had given to his first wife who had an inclination to writing:

“write everything you don’t say as you sit over your knitting. say everything you would like to say when you are angry but must keep quiet… instead of playing some dumb sonatas on the piano, take some pen and paper. (don’t write poetry, for god’s sake. there is no room in those short lines — least of all when you are rich in ideas and everything floods over.) to write for you is simply to remember. think of some small significant event in your life. first isolate it. see that it has a beginning and an end. one has to know where it is leading…! if you get “angry” your style acquires color, for anger is the strongest of all spiritual emotions. you say you lack education! god preserve us from writers who retail what they have read in the books. it is people’s secrets that we want to know… think of an injustice, get angry, bring forth invisible enemies, create adversaries… be “mad” — it isn’t everyone who can be that and not many of those lucky enough to be able to, have the courage… there was something called the sin against the holy ghost! i think they meant by that: resisting one’s calling. that was said to be the only unforgivable sin. remember that!”

so you see, strindberg inspires. he wants you to be “mad” and “angry”, as he himself was. he wants you to have the courage to set out for your calling, because resisting it is a sin to the holy ghost, and that too an unforgivable one. another ‘tip’ that he throws off at us is to isolate any significant incident from life and start writing on it when you clearly see a beginning and an end to it. it is the secrets that the people want to know. so explore the confidential.

strindberg has written some of the most wonderful plays of the modern era. the taste of realistic drama may be relished at his writings. deeply inspired by emile zola’s essay on naturalism, strindberg strove to create fiction as a mirror to the real life. his characters are picked up from his neighborhood, people he had observed for long, and his plots were based upon the local gossips.

strindberg was a creative genius, and his creativity reaches heights of magnificence in his paintings. leading the impressionistic movement in sweden, his paintings till date are considered the most original works of the 19th century. the father of the swedish literature, strindberg is an institution of creativity and artistic excellence. we, the feeble lot of the 21st century, must learn the nuances from this polymath, a prolific playwright, who wrote over 60 plays in his four-decade career. shakespeare could write 39.

click here to find a few books of this genius polymath that you’ll enjoy reading.

Save

to spectate without a skeptical eye is to endure a potato existence

you must have seen potato. the ugly, lame, and shapeless vegetable. potatoes don’t question a thing. they’re almost colorless and easily blendable with almost everything.

that’s the image that comes across my mind when i witness the urban crowd with their office bags rushing for work every morning. man was not always like that. oh no. he was once a free soul. there were times when man was independent, working for himself in the countryside, fishing in the morning, sleeping in the afternoon, playing with his kids in the evening, and partying at night with drinks, music, and dance. man was happy. how did the man become a potato then? how?

well, industrialization and globalization through capitalism has taken its toll on man. money has become the supreme value of existence. the idea of capitalism is strategically placed in this world by some cunning fellas that wish to reign it over. why, if man is always after making a living for himself and his family, he has no time to wonder about existential concerns or to question his allowed rights or responsibilities. in a communist state though, man is free of the obligations of earning and can sustain on the collective surplus. thus here he has all the time to ponder over meaninglessness of his existence on earth.

similar is the case of sports. national and international level sports and games were invented to keep people’s attention away from the important concerns of the world so that man remains busy in entertaining himself with the sports watching the idiot box while his country’s wealth is being taken over by a hefty few. the people in power know exactly how to keep the people happy and silent.

the art of deception is lucidly played against the people. media is another huge machinery working under this deception. poor potatoes who believe in media are kept in the dark by diversion of their attention to trivial matters. the people remain aloof to the most important issues at hand and are not at all skeptical about the government’s moves, which ultimately works against the people, as the government remains unquestioned.

today’s man, thus, has been successfully turned into a potato. his vegetable existence does not raise questions of any considerable weight. he is always engaged in his daily mundane activities like a Sisyphus at work with herd mentality. whatever little time he gets, after securing a three time meal for himself and his family, is spent carelessly over the idiot box that keeps up with his potatoic idiocy.

where is the question of questioning then? and what is the need? the world is still being run and it will continue to find its runners in future too. the potatoes must not give a fuck. after all, nobody follows the constitution and it is not actually the potatoes that are in power as it says; they are merely puppets at the hands of the rulers, the so-called servants. so the potatoes sit back and relax, and stop thinking about it altogether while the national health and wealth is put at stake.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

why intellectuals must raise questions

an inquisitive mind is one that is not dead. it is a sharp weapon that cuts through the vague cloud of oblivion. curiosity is life. a questioning spirit is one that takes to task the unclear and the ambiguous. to spectate without a skeptical knack is to endure a potato existence. a mind that is not curious is dead meat. for it to be alive, there has to be a constant inquisition that demands answers, that does not stop till truth is unfolded on its path. and that finally walks over the terrains of truth, and that does not stop at moments of doubt, and that rather strengthens in the dark wells of doubts, and that finally erupts out a victor. such inquisition and such an inquisitive mind alone is pure, such an inquisitive mind alone is chaste, such an inquisitive mind alone is fertile, such an inquisitive mind alone is profound, such an inquisitive mind alone is supreme.

Edward Said was a renowned professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. an arab-american who spoke out against american foreign policy and its support for israel, said was a tireless advocate of palestinian rights.

in 1993, he presented his bbc radio 4 reith lectures on “representations of the intellectual.” said was appealing here to intellectuals – and budding intellectuals – to reflect upon their craft and political engagement. expertise, he said, goes beyond competence, of being conscientious about what you do, and having the right skills to do it. rather, said stressed the importance of making choices. he asked what was for sale, whether the goals you set yourself with your expertise were conformist or critical, and, perhaps most importantly, in whose interests were you acting?

“the particular threat to the intellectual today,” said reckoned, “is an attitude i call professionalism.” professionalism “means thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behaviour – not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable.”

all of which can, and indeed should, be countered by courageous intellectual amateurism. anybody can do it – even professionals. above all, it means a readiness to withstand comfortable and lucrative conformity, a desire “to be moved not by profit or reward but by love for and unquenchable interest in the larger picture, in making connections across lines and barriers, in refusing to be tied down to a specialty, in caring for ideas and values in spite of the restrictions of a profession.”

an intellectual ought to be someone who raises questions at the very heart of professionalised activity. it’s a sense of self-worth, said reckons, an affirmation of engaged activity that hinges on an audience. indeed, is that audience there to be satisfied, a client to be kept happy? or is it there to be challenged, provoked, mobilised into collective, democratic action?

source: versobooks.com

http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

what is the meaning of life

can you answer that? i cannot. i tried it for like a million times to answer this one single question and was never satisfied with the answer.

some say that we should not raise this question at all, as it is futile to ask such questions that have no answers and that life itself is as futile as the question. it is strange that even after 4,000 years of civilization, man is yet to completely comprehend life. everyone has their own definition of this ever changing ocean of perceptions — life. those who have attempted to define it have merely taken one single perspective, and hence life becomes an unfathomable subject.

let’s give it a try still. there are basically two ways to look at life — biological and philosophical.

biological way differentiates living beings from the non-living ones, i.e. living beings are born, they grow, and they die; non-living beings do not grow or develop, they don’t die — never — and so they don’t have a life.

now, the philosophical way is the toughest part. it was okay if the human species had not developed a philosophical intellect like other animals who do not wonder as to why they exist or the purpose of life. such a state would have saved us a lot of time to be more productive and less contemplating. but that humans can think philosophically is a reason why we get to ask such questions that have no answers.

life may just be a random story of existence. energy and nature simply developed one day and created life, and now they don’t give a damn. ever observed how indifferent this universe is to our desires, feelings and emotions? still people believe in god. god, like life, is another area full of questions. basically, humans have named nature and energy as god, something larger than life. and so every religion talks about the same superpower that cannot be seen but is present. you may call it — nature and energy — out of which life emerged.

another question that usually haunt all of us mortals is — “what am i doing with my life?” also — “whether what i am doing is the only thing that i can do or do i have better alternatives?” it’s always chaos up there in our heads.

life is like a timeline that is going to end one day. basically, ‘time’ and ‘life’ are one and the same thing. although time is eternal and life is transient. but on a subjective plain, even time is transient. we do not have all the time in the world. no! we’re merely mortals destined to die and sometimes it’s tough to truly take cognizance of this fact. it’s only when our hair turn grey and our bones go weaker that we somehow get an idea about this uncertainty of life and certainty of death. while we are young and happy, we believe that we would remain so for eternity as if we are immortals. how utterly foolish are we!

once you fully understand that you have a very ‘limited time’, it becomes easier. then, it is all about how you spend this ‘limited time’, i.e. ‘life’ — that’s what it’s all about — nothing else. your choices become important then. what you choose would define you and your life, because what you choose would occupy your ‘limited time’ — your life.

but that’s again only one way to look at life. there are numerous other as well. actually, everyone has a unique way to look at life that changes with time and that’s the beauty of life.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save