Part 1 Art Imitates Art

Dated: 24th Dec, 2016

Merry Christmas!

“Art imitates life.” But life also imitates art. The traffic of exchange between the immutable natural forms and the sentimental human forms may have an aesthetic distance; nevertheless the core of all art is expression of one kind or the other. In the background of all expressions lies the energy of emotions. The artist expresses the emotion in relation to his artistic competence. Some people are so inartistic that they can’t even weep properly when faced with a tragedy.

When nature was perhaps overwhelmed with the burden of positive emotions, she expressed her ecstasy by filling every mountain brook with soft music. And when there were no persons to appreciate the music, she thundered with rage and then released her anguish in the form of showers.

Motion is the fundamental characteristic of our universe. Emotion is the basic characteristics of all life. It can vary from specie to specie till life presents her ultimate creation- the humans, a capsule of emotions entrapped in a body made up of tissues and bones and muscles etc. The expression of emotions in various forms lays the foundations of what is termed as fine art. Love, joy, wonder sets a man free; to glide effortlessly in the space of imagination and create what is not available. Intoxicated by ecstasy, when musicians are overwhelmed they produce the masterpieces. The harmonies of instruments and rhythm- the procession of a birth, culminating in a crescendo, together create the symphony -measure of art.  A moment of bliss or an hour of grief immortalised as an impression of any kind, which conveys a feeling, is art.

Writing is an art. Good writing is a habit. Habit is a conditioned reflex. Through continuous practice a second nature is imposed on the primary human nature. All skills are conditioned reflexes. A set of challenges in a particular field produces a response from a person of that field. The responses metamorphose into forms, which detail the collage of fine arts.

Three decades ago I got a chance to read an essay “The colloid and the Crystal” by J W Krutch. This essay is more about science than about literature. But the author had weaved his presentation with such artistry that I got focussed right away. A window pane separates frost outside of its surface from the Christmas cactus on the sill of the window inside the room. The frost crystal outside obeys the law of nature as the temperature drops. The Christmas cactus, he says “has got into the habit of blooming at about Christmas time.” The difference between the frost flower and cactus flower is that the cactus flower has mind of its own. Its flowering depends on its mood. It rebels against a rigid law. It can mutate. Its colour can show a variance. But the frost flower obeys law of physics. It is the true representative of the lifeless universe. But even lifeless has an aesthetic beauty. The icicles hanging from the main body mass declare: that what drives humans to take shelter in warm places is the cause of our successful being. The lifeless weaves a form to compare its beauty so to say with the life sheltered in warmth.

This essay is a complimentary comparison between the two states of being. The narrative glides over the platform of language effortlessly. One mood leads to the other-mind gliding like a butterfly from frost flower to cactus flower as words tumble out rhythmically. The narrative progresses and qualifies to be sheltered under the canopy of literature. What triggered my muse, I have no idea? Perhaps the scenes created by the author carried me back to my childhood when sitting by the window, we siblings would gaze towards the sky while snowflakes would dance down to earth. It so happens, after some time the optical illusion sets in and it appears that the house is moving towards the sky! This phenomenon also happens when a train on parallel track starts moving and we in the stationery one feel the opposite.

As the essay progressed to its culmination I felt as if I was sitting by a mountain brook where words instead of water were flowing. The words poured out of my pen in the following order, acquiring a shape-a form.

Wake Up, Cactus!

Life is a promise,
Keep it, Christmas cactus!
Wake up wake up!
Somnus dear! Retire elsewhere
Let it bloom amidst gloom
Of blinding darkness.

Kill your slumber,
Fairy flakes!
Fall off those cushiony waves
And feel the filth of the earth
And hide it like a sin
Unatoned.

Christmas cactus, you will flower
In warm less winter
In raging storms, freezing fervour
You’ll flower in spotless attire
When life ebbs to rest-retire
Lifeless mocking the life entire
You’ll flower coming winter
To ensure-reassure life a life
Unchallenged.

An open letter to the Prime Minister on June 15 2007 from Deepak Nayyar, Romila Thaper and Andre Beteille made me both sad and angry. Earlier Shashi Tharoor (June 10) and Vinay Bhatat Ram (May 31) had done the same. The following essay was routed to them courtesy The Times of India on 23. 06. 2007