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Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Esthetic Sphere

The religious ethic of brotherliness stands in dynamic tension with any purposive-rational conduct that follows its own laws. In no less degree, this tension occurs between the religious ethic and 'this-worldly' life-forces, whose character is essentially non-rational or basically anti-rational. Above all, there is tension between the ethic of religious brotherliness and the spheres of esthetic and erotic life.

Magical religiosity stands in a most intimate relation to the esthetic sphere. Since its beginnings, religion has been an inexhaustible fountain of opportunities for artistic creation, on the one hand, and of stylizing through traditionalization, on the other. This is shown in a variety of objects and processes: in idols, icons, and other religious artifacts; in the stereotyping of magically proved forms, which is a first step in the overcoming of naturalism by a fixation of 'style'; in music as a means of ecstasy, exorcism, or apotropaic magic; in sorcerers as holy singers and dancers; in magically proved and therefore magically stereotyped tone relations--the earliest preparatory stages in the development of tonal systems; in the magically proved dance-step as one of the sources of rhythm and as an ecstasy technique; in temples and churches as the largest of all buildings, with the architectural task becoming stereotyped (and thus style-forming) as a consequence of purposes which are established once for all, and with the structural forms becoming stereotyped through magical efficacy; in paraments and church implements of all kinds which have served as objects of applied art. All these processes and objects have been displayed in connection with the churches' and temples' wealth flowing from religious zeal.

For the religious ethic of brotherliness, just as for a priori ethical rigorism, art as a carrier of magical effects is not only devalued but even suspect. The sublimation of the religious ethic and the quest for salvation, on the one hand, and the evolution of the inherent logic of art, on the other, have tended to form an increasingly tense relation. All sublimated religions of salvation have focused upon the meaning alone, not upon the form, of the things and actions relevant for salvation. Salvation religions have devalued form as contingent, as something creaturely and distracting from meaning. On the part of art, however, the naive relation to the religious ethic of brotherliness can remain unbroken or can be repeatedly restored as long and as often as the conscious interest of the recipient of art is naively attached to the content and not to the form as such. The relationship between a religious ethic and art will remain harmonious as far as art is concerned for so long as the creative artist experiences his work as resulting either from a charisma of 'ability' (originally magic) or from spontaneous play.

The development of intellectualism and the rationalization of life change this situation. For under these conditions, art becomes a cosmos of more and more consciously grasped independent values which exist in their own right. Art takes over the function of a this-worldly salvation, no matter how this may be interpreted. It provides a salvation from the routines of everyday life, and especially from the increasing pressures of theoretical and practical rationalism.

With this claim to a redemptory function, art begins to compete directly with salvation religion. Every rational religious ethic must turn against this inner-worldly, irrational salvation. For in religion's eyes, such salvation is a realm of irresponsible indulgence and secret lovelessness. As a matter of fact, the refusal of modern men to assume responsibility for moral judgments tends to transform judgments of moral intent into judgments of taste ('in poor taste' instead of 'reprehensible'). The inaccessibility of appeal from esthetic judgments excludes discussion. This shift from the moral to the esthetic evaluation of conduct is a common characteristic of intellectualist epochs; it results partly from subjectivist needs and partly from the fear of appearing narrow-minded in a traditionalist and Philistine way.

The ethical norm and its 'universal validity' create a community, at least in so far as an individual might reject the act of another on moral grounds and yet still face it and participate in the common life. Knowing his own creaturely weakness, the individual places himself under the common norm. In contrast with this ethical attitude, the escape from the necessity of taking a stand on rational, ethical grounds by resorting to esthetic evaluations may very well be regarded by salvation religion as a very base form of unbrotherliness. To the creative artist, however, as well as to the esthetically excited and receptive mind, the ethical norm as such may easily appear as a coercion of their genuine creativeness and innermost selves.

The most irrational form of religious behavior, the mystic experience, is in its innermost being not only alien but hostile to all form. Form is unfortunate and inexpressible to the mystic because he believes precisely in the experience of exploding all forms, and hopes by this to be absorbed into the 'All-oneness' which lies beyond any kind of determination and form. For him the indubitable psychological affinity of profoundly shaking experiences in art and religion can only be a symptom of the diabolical nature of art. Especially music, the most 'inward' of all the arts, can appear in its purest form of instrumental music as an irresponsible Ersatz for primary religious experience. The internal logic of instrumental music as a realm not living 'within' appears as a deceptive pretension to religious experience. The well-known stand of the Council of Trent may in part have stemmed from this sentiment. Art becomes an 'idolatry,' a competing power, and a deceptive bedazzlement; and the images and the allegory of religious subjects appear as blasphemy.

In empirical, historical reality, this psychological affinity between art and religion has led to ever-renewed alliances, which have been quite significant for the evolution of art. The great majority of religions have in some manner entered such alliances. The more they wished to be universalist mass religions and were thus directed to emotional propaganda and mass appeals, the more systematic were their alliances with art. But all genuine virtuoso religions have remained very coy when confronting art, as a consequence of the inner structure of the contradiction between religion and art. This holds true for virtuoso religiosity in its active asceticist bent as well as in its mystical turn. The more religion has emphasized either the supra-worldliness of its God or the other-worldliness of salvation, the more harshly has art been refuted.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Education System in India

"Education is the manifestation of the intellect already in man"- Swami Vivekananda

Youngsters in India, do not have the freedom of selecting their career - it is said. They are forced to become engineers, doctors, MBA’s and IAS officers - it is said. Yes, agreed. But that is not the problem. The problem is, youngsters in India do not have the vision to think beyond. Neither their parents, nor their grandparents had that vision. This is where the root of the problem lies. Generations have gone through a system which sucks. Now the beauty is even the law-makers and educators of today’s India are products of that age old system. That is why no less than a revolution is needed in our education system.

Is it marks or intellectuality, which makes future secure and bright? The question is unsolved. Who knows whether a chap scoring 90 per cent would have a glittering future or a guy attaining 50 per cent have splendid opportunities? No one can answer this. The reason for this is the failure of India's education system.

Being a bookworm, licking books day and night, sacrificing everything at the expense of enjoyment and then attaining a percentage in the 90s make students feel content. But this contentment has to be paid for very soon when one realizes that one doesn't stand anywhere in this bloodthirsty world, which is the hard reality of life because it is practical knowledge that counts, not the theoretical one.

One studies for making his or her career successful, not for the short-lived appraisals by people living around. But the Indian education system is cluttered in such a way that even the government doesn't know what laws need to be enacted regarding the education system. Constructing a fixed syllabus and setting question papers out of it is the strategy of Indian schools. Why don't they understand that it would not give anything to the children at the end? Why don't they focus more on practical or realistic aspects?

Not only do schools or government deserve the blame, parents are also responsible for this cramming-and-getting-marks approach. The mentality of parents has been set in such a way that they judge their children according to the scores printed in the mark-statement. There is a section of dim-wit parents (I know; I sound brusque) who don't let their children be a part of extra curricular activities because they consider it a waste of time.

There is a need to understand that times have changed. We have stepped into 21st century where an employer has nothing to do with his employees academic life, instead, what he recognizes is his aptitude. Gone are the days of certificates and degrees. In fact, skilfulness, resourcefulness, talent and capability are some of the tools which are demanded in this contemporary competitive world.

Traditionally, Indian education has emphasized on building the scientific temper and linguistic skills. In contrast to the education systems in Western countries, the system lays less emphasis on practical education. Less orientation to practical education is an impediment to on-the-job application and reasoning skills.

Problem-solving and innovation too are not highlighted and this could be one of the contributing factors for the low-risk taking character of Indians. Though efforts are now being made to change the system they are still in a nascent stage to expect drastic changes.

The most popular and sought-after careers in India are engineering and medical sciences. A typical Indian family is known to push children towards science and technology as a choice. Until recently, for students whose choices were not amongst the three main streams, it was difficult to make a career choice. The scene is now changing with myriad openings in streams that are combinations of the core stream subjects. With attractive salaries being offered for the new occupations, the societal impressions are changing, and there is greater acceptance to vocational courses.

In recent times, with the advent of technology, especially the Internet, many new options of higher education have opened up. Bio-informatics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, technology management, infrastructure management, portfolio management, international business studies are amongst a host of other choices in the technical branches of study. The non-technical area includes fashion designing, office management, fire and safety management and journalism, amongst many more.

India aspires to be powerful, it wants to play a role in the international community, for that to happen, its economy has to grow multi fold and for that to happen, it requires a huge force of entrepreneurs who could transform it into a nation which produces, from the one which only consumes. India needs a huge force of innovators who could make it self reliant in all kinds of sciences and technologies. India needs artists who could make its culture the most popular in the world. A culture which is not only sale-able itself, but also helps in selling India’s products across the world. In a nutshell, India needs Henry Fords, Bill Gateses, Thomas Alva Edisons and Michael Jacksons born and educated in India.

One may say we had few. Yes, we had. M. S. Swaminathan who made India self reliant in food grains, Dhiru Bhai Ambani who proved a common man can become a billionaire, Dr. Varghese Kurien who is the father of Amul milk movement, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who dared to build missiles for India, Pundit Ravishankar who is the ambassador of Indian music to the world. Such people though in small numbers, were always there. But they are not the products of this education system. This system did not teach them how to become innovators or entrepreneurs or artists. Had it done so, they would have been millions in numbers. These people were inspired themselves. To some of them, their education may have given the technical know-how (though it is hardly conceivable), but not the dream or the inspiration needed. It is the education which should inspire one to become something one really wants to. Education should make you free, should make you experiment and it should make you ask questions. Ultimately, it should make you realize what you are.

The education system has to be revived if India is to be both philosophically and technologically advanced amidst the third world countries. Moreover, parents and students must understand the demand of today's world and must focus more on fruitful facets of life. Students must not limit themselves only to their academic books and must work to become scholars or intellectuals. Otherwise, their future may become dark.

In the words of Swami Vivekananda again, "We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet."

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Beauty

"Beauty is only skin deep", possibly the most clichéd introduction for such a topic. But anyway, what does it mean to be deemed- beautiful...

I often hear that this or that person is Beauty incarnate, that his/her features are perfect, that they match the golden triangle et cetra... For me, this is not beauty. This kind of beauty is rather a cold, ephemeral one. It is not meant to last.

I believe that beauty is eternal. Whatever happens, no matter what can harm it, nothing, not even time, can destroy it. Someone very famous noted, "A thing of Beauty is joy forever..." A human's beauty cannot be imprisoned in formulae, in theories, because it is out of reach.

Beauty... Even trying to define it is an impossible task. But when you see it, you recognize it immediately. It can be a sparkle in the eye, a way to bend the head, a way to talk that illuminates the face. It can be a way to move the hands, a softness in the voice that makes you stay in place, paralyzed, while you feel like you are flying to heaven, far, far from this world.

It can be a mix too. Few people have that particular gift of beauty. Fewer people see it. But some have at once that sparkle in the eye, that sweet softness in the voice, that tranquille strength that just makes you melt... Some people have this, yes, and even more. This can be combined to actions, that can be imitated, but never created unless you are born that way.

It can be a way to walk, a way to imperceptibly move the hands while talking, a way to kiss- slightly, slowly, and yet powerfully, sending millions of feelings that can only be found in that precious moment; in such a moment, you try as much as possible to feel it, almost swallow every emotion, every atom around, anything that could make this moment last longer (or even, forever!) because you know it just won't.

Features do not create beauty, but beauty creates the features, and it cannot be easily found. When you find it, try not to lose it. For if that person had the gift of Beauty, you had the gift to see it. And every time you will be in contact with that person, you legs will tremble, your hands will shake, you mouth will dry up, and pupils will dilate, and after, when beauty is gone, you will be unable to move, or maybe will you become totally hyper!

You will tell me: This is Love. No. You just need special eyes to see Beauty, and those eyes are given to you by Love. They are more than just, precious.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

From My Pen...

When I sit down to write... What is it that I feel like bringing out? Of all the numerous thoughts that float around, there is that 'something' inside the writer which wants to balloon out first.

I pen down all my inner thoughts
And hope to share with you
All my ideas big and small,
Of this great, wide world I view.

I pen emotions from my soul

And narrate how I feel,
Sharing all my hopes and dreams
From feelings that are real.

I scribe about things I’ve seen

And all I’ve grown to know
So you can grow and learn new things
From the knowledge I bestow.

But most of all I write down words

Because they form a part of me,
For I’m a working poet
Trying to fulfill my destiny.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Heartache

He had a heartache... And, he penned his heart out.

My heart aches for the
Heart I once knew,
Memories of those thoughts
And feelings for you.

I never dreamt I'd face
Heartache like this,
The honesty and respect
Aren't the only things I miss.

The perfect relationship
I thought we made,
Was only in my mind
As I was being played.

Love is blind, now I
know that's true,
Second chances are worth it,
If I find the heart I once knew.

Minions

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Vox Populi...

Rendition?

"Santa" Akshat comes to town!

"Santa" Akshat comes to town!
A token from a fellow blogging compadre, Akshat

Lady Cяystal relates...

Lady Cяystal relates...
Note - her creativity *swells* with every block. :)