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Posts Tagged ‘power’

‘…the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.’ (Wilde-the Preface/The Picture of Dorian Gray)

In the recent times no other ruler would have come close to absolute power than Joseph Stalin, who forged the shape of Soviet Russia. By 1929 he had complete control over the lives of his people and till death he was their undisputed leader. Did such power make him complete? He was vain enough to want be immortalized in verse. There were poets, writers like Ehrenberg and Pasternak but he avoided them lest they should see through the small man with bad teeth and pock marked face. A dictator’s rage at being made ridicule of is like the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. In his case his power is the face. Stalin’s rationale in not sitting for a painter who daubs in his warts and all is understandable. He has to be made a Colossus or not at all. Do you think the praises sung by bad poets are anymore remembered than the thousands of larger than life statues, all bad art? Power does not necessarily make good art.
“I can make lords of you every day, but I cannot create a Titian,” said the Emperor Charles V to his courtiers who complained that the monarch spent more time with the painter than in their midst.

Michelangelo was another who faced the envy of the powerful because Pope Julius II had him brought over to Rome. However the Pope was too busy to see him. After days waiting in the antechamber of the Papal Palace he had enough. “Tell his holiness, if he wants me, he must look for me elsewhere,” and he left for Florence. Thrice the Pope wrote for his return to no avail. The wilful Julius II threatened war with Tuscany if the celebrated artist didn’t immediately return.
Return he did. As he came for that awkward audience the artist knelt at the Pope’s presence and waited in silence. One bishop dared to mediate on behalf of the artist saying, ‘ these artists are a proud lot’. As Vasari in his Lives tells us, the Pope observed reproachfully, “You speak injuriously of him, while I am silent. It is you who are ignorant.” Raising Michelangelo, the Pope embraced the man of genius. It takes a genius to recognize the patent merit in another. To the eternal credit of the Pope we have works of this genius enshrined in marble. Michelangelo will not go out of fashion even after punk artists clutter galleries with their works, merit of which are encapsulated in its immediacy and shocking value. Like the newspaper of yesterday who cares for it once read?

Art at its best has the power to communicate. What is true for us if stated clearly can touch another no matter if he were far removed in time and place. Poets with their words and artists with their medium delineate truth. The Great masters are who hold a true mirror to our own inner self. Power that Stalin wielded did not really speak for his true self. Nor did in the case of Hitler. The rage of Caliban was not seeing his face in a glass. Their power factor, outrageous in its falsity cannot be captured in art. Why you might ask? For the simple reason it is not the true state of man who is, as King Lear would say,’poor forked animal.’ Even as I write this I am listening to Ombra mai Fú from Handel’s Xerxes,- and it is a consolation for anyone who has lived and longed for perfection and knows that life is a mirage. Art is the blessed salve administrated by man for his kind. He knows truth as seen in a glass darkly but must somehow dare to hit at it in a consistent way. He has dedicated his life, perhaps it is quixotic, and yet he cannot do otherwise.
An artist is foolhardy to think he will buy himself with art into affections of the world. The world in its own muddling ways shall not recognize man but truth has a way of settling accounts. Consider the life of Charles Baudelaire. Two years before his death the author of Les Fleurs du Mal took inventory of his poetic capital. (In this context let me point out that he had, at the age of 21 inherited a modest fortune of 100,000 francs.) Having squandered his inheritance very early on he found he had earned only 15,982 francs and 60 centime from more than two decades of versification.

Baudelaire is still read while fashions of age like clockwork rise and fall. Those who prostituted their art for praise of the mob are forgotten. Art of Baudelaire, Balzac and Van Gogh are for all time. Every generation in coming to terms with the human condition, – of darkness in men to work evil or be agents of that darkness, will discover in Baudelaire something useful and apt for its needs. Our nature makes us find in Baudelaire, ‘not a kindred spirit but a twin,’ the same he described of Edgar Allen Poe. The French poet seems to have also said, ‘if Poe had not existed, he would have had to invent him’. No one can invent what is not there in shadows and as tokens. Baudelaire was grateful there was his alter ego in another continent and he merely served as a medium. Truth shall call to account man’s works and proves from life of man that no sacrifice of life on the altar of truth shall go to waste. Power as wielded by Stalin or Putin shall always be shown by posterity for what it is.
(Ack: 1.Literary Characters-Isaac Disraeli, Pub: Fred. Warne and Co 2.Melvin Maddox review in Time Feb,14,1977 -Alex de Jong biography on CB)

benny

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chorus:
Nine muses are we here and shall we
Follow the god’s errands too closely
Or dismiss man’s unceasing toil
As raking the muck, not worth our while?
We hold golden hours and our graces
Though pared to days, hours, minutes
Is whole and complete in itself:
Numberless combs add drops from hive
Honey fit for the gods and yet for the bee’s fame,
Never was it intended but for itself.
Poetry of the earth, Oh music, man pieces together
As history, make-believe world of theatre
Everything, are our invention pure and simple
But all these he makes his own from example,
Nature, the wise Counsel has it decreed.
We see ourselves in his mirror as altered
That keeps our immortal fame sure.
His whole existence from words, phrases-
We muses in turn with fame adorn;
And we are this moment on the wings
Awaiting Priam’s son who has had
The messenger god and how shall he attend
What gods themselves have failed?

Paris:
This whole business of presenting the golden apple
Is feigned as this shepherd’s crook, a royal son
Who must strike a pose a humble rustic before all.

(The Three Graces reveal themselves and in one voice:)

This apple is pure gold: we note with delight
The mighty Zeus has found your youth apt
To choose one of us than we over it fight.

Paris:
If Supreme God has youth as his Councillor
This world would wear green in and out of season
And old age over fate, or their lot complain never.

Hera:
Come youth, your rustic form and speech please me;
I who overlord the hearth deign for the price of the apple
The nod from gods as equal for your sagacity.

Athene Pallas:
I am wisdom complete and from Zeus sprang full blown
To raise you for the price of this golden orb
Above every artifice of war that man may call his own.

Aphrodite:
Need I speak more than show this ear lobe
That under touch gives more than any worldly pleasure
you may possess or recall, accord me this fruity orb.

Paris:
Of the Three Graces I am sure to win undying disfavor
From two, of which one is enough to damn me.
Hera, O Keeper of the hearth, Power like the fire
Left to itself shall end in ashes,- and mightly
You must keep at it and for what? Such Might you favor
Shall prove the soot and grime beneath man’s dignity.
What Glory makes one master o’er another or speak of service?
I know the lie of mortal existence where the lord
Is caught in the gin with his varlet, his fame is his vice
Become with death: each pay Charon the same, by accord;
So I shall leave Mastery to the lesser mortals and choose
Love that conjures up an antidote to our servile existence,
Laughing at Death and Pleasure over glory or Power
I a Man must hold the power of love that flows out o’ itself ever.

Chorus:
What followed is Judgment of Paris
In that a kingdom lost not for loveliness
Of Helen or of wanton lust of the blood
That made the Priam’s son lose his head.
Judgment of Paris was the way forward
When three Graces tempted the son
And lo dispossessed by a vision-
Cassandra spoke too well, and Love
Was not his downfall but men who strove
For glory and Power were too violent.
benny

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Nothing ever remains static: the face of the earth changes with seasons and continental shelves move. Such changes take place in matter of time and it goes without saying man is of no exception. How relevant is a man who holds the most powerful job on the earth? History does that while tastes of the masses may be manipulated to certain extent. History however has the last and more enduring word on him.
What with the mass media and TV we have become a visual generation. Recalling the Andy Warhol quote each of us holds the right to fame though it may be for some fifteen minutes. It may be through reality shows or as a witness in TV coverage for 6 o’clock news. Television has killed the art of conversation and instead we have talking heads whose style and contents are what matter for the ratings. Yes fifteen minutes of fame is enough for the audience whose attention span is correspondingly becoming shorter.
Looking at the appeal of the US presidents history judges them as tastes govern the appeal of fashion art and literature.
The Presidency of Andrew Jackson(1829-37)has undergone swings in popularity. Jackson presided over American expansion as well as subjugated the American Indians. The New Englanders and the Eastern gentry despised him as a frontiersman and a dangerous demagogue about money and banking. The historians of the early 20th century saw him as a democratic hero, coming out of the West to fight the moneyed Eastern interests. Thomas Jefferson is another. Jefferson, had his bitter critics to whom he was ‘Mad Tom. Of his prodigious mind and its wide sweep no one had doubts. John F. Kennedy once invited a group of Nobel Prize winners to the Executive mansion and said thus: ‘the most extraordinary collection of talent… that has ever been gathered together at the White House-with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.’ His personal stature or his qualities are not what makes his relevance count. His policies or what he stands for must mesh with the mood of the times like teeth of gears so history on its march keeps his relevance as obvious. No president or king is as relevant as to be in step with mood of the times all the time. Ronald Reagan came to power on the belief ‘Politics is just like show business. You have hell of a opening, coast for a while and then have hell of a close’. He edged out Jimmy Carter from the Presidential race with the promise of getting the nation out of depression. ‘I am speaking of depression in the human sense. A recession is when your neighbor is out of work. Recovery is when Carter is out of work.’ Reagan was elected the President. His covert interference in Afghanistan to arm the Mujahiddins and break the back of the Soviets seemed to succeed. History however shows its terrible consequences even this day. As for his economic policies paved the way for the economic meltdown and recession of 2008.
Power is always a potent tool in the hands of a President in the US or anywhere else to shape destinies of people; and politics is the means to get the policies across but then they are on their own.(Ack:Hedley Donovan-Time/essay Nov 9,1981)

benny

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(This note on Multiverse accompanies the sketch posted earlier in the day.b)

Think of tree of life where every species is part and parcel of it. Species sometimes do not make it. Darwinian Natural Selection gives some chance to perpetuate genetic push through their off-springs much longer than others. Trees shed leaves as species die out. Stars die and give birth to another. Such changes are natural any where in the multiverse.
What interests me is the space where such changes take place. Multiverse like a tree has dug its roots deep into Cosmos has its abstract part. Life and death of stars go on endlessly in the back drop of the eternal aspect of Intelligence. The same space that uphold multiverse is in the micro cosmos that keeps atoms apart. The same space therefore is right through in our being. We are held together by same laws that uphold multiverse.
How well we preserve our intelligence or exercise power? Power that allows new universes to be created or die in order to create yet new universes work with  us. However so little of that that we exercise for good proclaim the same Power and Intelligence that is without.
benny

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Sleep

As a child I thought sleep was glorious.  I still think so. One would think certain habits like hitting the sack at a regular time or waking up by break of dawn would pall with passage of time. No. Man goes to sleep like a beggar with his worn out nerves and thoughts soiled by activities of the day. Even a saint is somewhat dented by it. I go to bed poor but wake up rich, feeling a power that I never thought possible. Every time. Over a cup of coffee when I have the whole world all to myself I command it to silence. My power is such even a cock crowing from a barn nearby cannot annoy me. With all that power at my command what I do? Like a beggar I polish my ivories that are ready to drop off,  clear the nasal passages that are chokeful of phlegm and drag about  my bones almost breaking apart,-osteoporosis sounds solid uh?don’t you believe it!, and make water. Indignities heaped over me by day do not end there. I am an unmitigated fool to attend to great many silliness of not my making.  Come day my age shows its unseemly, sordid side. Only company of people, those who make much of me can make me survive till I once again go to bed. Asleep I do not need the world or its uses. Even the one who warms the cockles of my heart is left out. Sleep, it is too potent to be shared with anyone.

Sleep is where I come to my proper estate. The whole universe and even God, host of angels belong to me, me alone. With such company who can tell me I am a nobody?

benny

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What is a prayer if it isn’t answered? Simple souls pray for obtaining various things. They also pray for healing and forgiveness. Well and good. If we can open our hearts to our own parents, wives and children the idea of God is the right place where we speak our needs out.
Only that one should expect God to answer him or her in His time.
In other words He makes you take the initiative which is more graceful and in keeping with His majesty. Beggars do get their cries heard but they shall ever be begging their way through this world and beyond.
God has a much worthier way to teach us.
benny

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Green algae form the basis of Arctic food chain. The March sun that filters through the Arctic Sea helps their growth and they form the staple diet for the Arctic carp; ring seals survive the extreme Arctic cold by feeding on these carps. Polar bears survive in turn by preying upon the seals. It is possible only because of an order that drives each life form to run on predictable lines. Such a certainty is the basis for the food chain.

This order is created because of material nature: each species express it and in that process have also acquired an ability to anticipate events.
How these species connect to one another in terms of survival is drawn from wisdom and power, a finite aspect of Cosmic Mind.

Oneness is in all and through all: so much so every life form is of same weight with reference to it.
How we limit purpose or usefulness of other species speaks more of our ignorance than truth.
benny

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