Yayati

Shots from the Liberty Theater director Uttam Kumar‘s Yayati translated and adapted by playwright Ksh. Sanajaoba from Girish Karnad’s play of the same name. The play premiered at LIBRAICK auditorium on 27 May, 2017.

I am not yet aware of the players and other necessary details. I will add them on the go.

In the Woods

Son of an impractical philosopher type of guy with a taste for literature, I got inured to hard work, privation and stoic life, and all the more importantly, as it will have consequence to the rest of my life, to abstract things, quite very early in life. When I think of my father, now a diabetic invalid, and then of myself, I can’t but think life is too vast  a field for one person to live the entirety of it, but when you choose to live only certain parts of it, that may turn out too narrow to support its own weight that you sink. An economist of an artist–perhaps a flawed one–I don’t like many things about life to form part of the art called my life (for example, I hate earning for survival, detest eating, hate me being wished unmeant and meaningless good mornings and birthdays, the formalities of life such as schools, colleges, universities, jobs, making friends, chit-chats, workshops, conferences, etc.), and I don’t want to go through these processes, and without me undergoing them, I have to pay for it, by ruining my own life, and that is what I am doing, most of the time. That is why I am in a troubled relationship with life.

As a boy, I wanted to become a painter, philosopher, sculptor, dancer, filmmaker. Some sort of artist. But I always wanted to live in the woods without much contact with the world. Then at school, another ambition caught hold of my mind–a scientist. A physicist. Working in the field of energy. I read a lot. Actually a lot. Infatuated. I did not know what formalities it took for one to first go through before one reaches there. You need to pass through a lots of gates, and the gatekeepers don’t let you pass that easily. I took up science at secondary school, where my first ever ambition was shattered. A lot of things happened. I gave up that ambition. Streaks of that desire still swell weakly in me, once in a while. Quite a familiar stranger now. A sleeper in me. Deep sleeper. One thing that has made sleep beautiful for me is this sleeper inside me. In deep slumber, turning over once in a while.

What do you want to do in life? I ask myself. Nothing. Seriously, nothing. I can paint, think, dance, and believe I can still do sculpture. Clay. Wood. That’s just the force of life. Primitive. Like the wind blowing, dogs barking or wagging tails, stone just being hard on the cold ground. They serve no purpose. I have no purpose in life–not just mine, I see no purpose in life and this is making me feel empty. Just purposeless, I don’t want to enjoy life. Gay abandon. Eating around. Sleeping around. Fucking around. No carpe diem for me, please. No advice.

Why is it that humans, at least some of them, want to die when they have nothing to do in life? Do they want some job to do in life? Do they want to be busy? No. It’s not that simple. To exist, to undergo the process of existence in the stark meaninglessness, is a torture. Injustice. It is irritating. But why don’t I just commit suicide? Why not just blow my brains out? I wonder why I don’t do this–kill myself? Seriously. I don’t know. It seems like underneath I am a detective, justice of the law of the universe, that senses something is not quite right and wants to figure this out and fix it. Sort of some buried anger deep inside me. A quiet but burning desire to bring the culprit–if we can call it so–to justice. This is the violence in me. The cool violence. The icy cold stiff die-hard, stoic in me. Waiting patiently. But punching once in a while into the walls, on the floor, breaking my valuables all of a sudden. As if madness emerging out of nowhere. The violence in me.

Art gives me solace. I am an artist. I live as an art. My life is a work of art. There is pleasure in this art, this me. And I am not for show. How does art give me solace? Art distracts me from the meaningless elements of life. I remove parts of life I think do harm to life. Weeds. I live like an editor of life. Artists are editors of life. I edit my life. I live in my edited world. But it is also true that I want to die along with art–this art. This art is too delicate for the wake-up knock on the door. The membrane between the rumbling life and this dream called art is too thin and fragile. But I do not know how I come to the conclusion that death puts everything to rest. What is that logic? I am not sure. No, I am not sure.

I have no ambition in life. That’s true. No ambition. That did not result from any failure or fear of failure or any kind of fear. I just don’t like much about life. But that much of life I like, I want to live that much in the woods. Raising a small family. Raising birds and animals, too, as part of my family. Fish. Feeding them. Flowers. Trees. Farming. Producing my own food. Being part of nature. Dying of snakebite or being tiger-food. Or dying in the lap of my wife, surrounded by my children and grandchildren. Or dying alone in a cold bed. Unseen by any, except fruitflies. That would be a pleasing one. That is the life I am looking forward to now.

Notes on Photography: #1 Art and Realism

#1

Is there a realist art work (photography) any element of art?

Is there an art work without any element of realism?

Is it the subject matter or the nature of the subject that makes a photograph realistic or artistic? If so, does it mean that some things can never be the subject of art photography and some other things can never be the subject of realist photography, while some things can be the subject of both art and realist photography? Yes, culturally some things are considered to be more overtly associated with social, economic and political aspects of life than some other things; it, however, does not mean that art and realism are in the things in themselves irrespective of how they are employed in works of art. If properties such as art and realist are not in the things itself, then we must look somewhere else for the sources that determine a work of art more artistic or realistic. Is it the aesthetic values of the work along with other essentially extra-aesthetic properties (such as intellectual or ideological valences of the artist that inform the making of the art work) that makes the work of art more artistic or realistic? Or do both the formal properties of the work, the cultural associations of the subject, the ideological valences of the artist, and the values the viewer come with interact to form the final genre decision arrived at?

Art works can be studied politically and political works can be studied artistically.

Any sort of work of art inescapably has elements of art and realism. The degree is what matters here.

It is what you (as a viewer or as an artist) choose to see. What aspect you choose to see? In a real-life physical setting, say in a busy metro station or a riot scene, we do not see every small act of all those happening that cumulatively make up the living scene or event. Our senses have limitations and the sources whose sense data that predominantly reach us occupy most of our attention and we have our own choices which can be understood in terms of selections. Our understanding and perception of things are always mediated by the circumstances of physical perspectives and our intellectual, cultural and emotional valences, and thus it is not the same as the thing themselves. This mediation can be conscious or unconscious, and it always makes some addition to or removal from what is perceived but this fact does not make mediation necessarily biased—everybody inescapably does this. If mediation is a fact of the sentient life such as those of us humans due to our biological constitution and the subsequent psychological make-up, then photography or any work of art can be free from it. Selection can be understood in three essentially relevant senses here in photography: (i) the properties of the equipment chosen, such as camera type, processor, lens, light sensitivity of the camera, and settings inbuilt on the camera, (ii) the part of the physical scene chosen along with other physico-aesthetic decisions such as distance, angle, time of the day and light conditions, etc., and (iii) what is done during the processing of the photograph, such as darkening or brightening certain selected areas at certain chosen degree thereby adding or removing light intensity at certain judiciously chosen values.

Passport photographs