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Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

I did not wear my sunday best

Nor my cane and silk cravat;

It was just call of nature, mate

Hold on, in a brothel you sate 

Call of nature: In my dire need  

Nature must have had her dark rede.

 

Nature set my body at nought: 

And what secrets deep she holds,

Truth past time and space shall make out

In light o’ the day, and no less by night.

Brothel is no less than fields,-

Art embrace more than Nature holds. 

Chorus

Yet I am a journeyman of life:

‘gainst Nature with art I strive

Past fields of dreams and the sere sun.

An artist has no choice but drive 

His daemons as best as he can

‘ven so not all lose ear, nor life . 

 

Some daub here and a little there,

All with devil a slave driver 

Sell art for the price of drink

Or for profit – does it matter?

Green absinthe was my drink

Need say I more? I lost my ear. 

Chorus

Yet I am a journeyman of life:

 ‘gainst Nature with art I strive

Past fields of dreams and the sere sun.

An artist has no choice but drive 

His daemons as best as he can

‘ven so not all lose ear, nor life.

benny 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the book The Universe by Isaac Asimov he writes about the parallax by which distance of a planetary body could be measured. One observer may sight the moon in the horizon while for the second observer it is overhead. In such a case the base of the triangle is the equal to the radius of the earth and the angle at the moon is the ‘equatorial horizontal parallax.’That is 57.04 minutes of arc. In other words from your known position in the earth and in relation to another you zero in whether it be the moon or truth or whatever. In the post ‘Web of knowledge’ I mentioned that the pure impulses of the baby are clouded over gradually by ways of the world that bear upon it. However the only way we can get at the reality of our moral sense is in relation to others. An anchorite may retreat from the world and yet he shall not take away the hold of the world. Like the saints of yore who even in a desert shall face temptation each according to his or her choosing. The fellow who from the fleshpots of Sin City went to the wilderness saw hills so smooth and it reminded him of the bosom of the harlots he had in the past fondled. You may imagine the kind of temptations he would have to face from that point on. Experience of the world is not be run away from but to be used as an ally to make your stand.
How many well meaning men and women adopt a monastical life and over a period of time are lured away into secret vices? Where lay the fault? It was not the cloisters but their own experience in contact with others led them astray.
ii
Suppose the blades of a fan are painted in primary colors and when the fan is switched on you do not see the same colors. Your mind has rearranged the individual colors into white. Similarly in Christian theology we speak of the Son, the Spirit and God as one. In Islam there is only one God. Think of the way two religions view the divine aspects of truth. One may aver one is obedient. But obedient to what? For some it would mean saying yes to the words mechanically without even entering into the spirit of the word. It is like one looking at his image in a mirror and forgetting it as soon as the back is turned.
There are three aspects of truth. Does a person submit to acknowledge his errors? The first step to break a bad habit is to accept it is a bad habit. Truth delivers one from repeating the same mistakes. It is a prelude to forgiving and dismissing it as of the past. Thus submissive nature is an aspect of Truth to gain an higher ground. Once freed from the past is it not prudent to substitute the place vacated with positive habits? Creative nature allowed the woman with a physical ailment to touch the hem of the garment of Jesus. She got her healing because her trust prompted to be creative in her mind what she ought to be as a result.
Submissive nature of the Son is one aspect; Regenerative Power of the Hoy Spirit is another aspect of Truth. Truth like God the Father completes the trinity. With which creative nature of Truth is made obvious. These three are all in one and co-equal.
Do I have a problem with the trinity of God? Oh no. It is the rule of three. Even among the crowd I know I am complete. A three plaited cord is not easily broken.
benny

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‘…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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Some tales with much moral add’d to lend weight
Prophets have told us: such is their bless’d state
We took it gospel truth: They are all dead.
None returns after he has pass’d the gate.

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The day Messaih, The Anointed One, came to Jerusalem the populace welcomed the prince with great jubilation. As a mark of respect the president let all the prisoners free. Rabbi Benn Weiss was there to watch the festivities. While talking with Mordecai the security chief, whose office had become redundant one prisoner saw the much dreaded police chief and jumped in panic. The security chief commented he was a prisoner who was shut up for revealing the secret nuclear program of the government. “He blew the whistle loud and clear.”he said.
“You mean he told the truth?” The rabbi could not believe it. Later they met one who sidled up to the chief and said,”I have some news to inform. Wanna hear?”
“ Shoo! Scram!” bellowed Mordecai. The rabbi asked if he wasn’t interested in hearing him. “Now I am a free man. I dont’t wish to hear from a stool pigeon even if it were truth.”
benny

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An Armenian in Paris

Rabbi Benn Weiss followed me close as we made for the exit. ‘I love Art and I know what I like,’ he had said while staring at the canvasses long and hard.
We came out into the sunshine. He asked, ‘What makes Beauty? Is it what is unattainable?’
I nodded. My companion asked, ‘Beauty! Is it because it speaks truth?’
‘Oh yes!’ I said appreciatively, ‘Rabbi, you know the words beauty, art and truth already. Only I need to teach how these connect one another. Once you know how you could be a professional art critic if you want to.’
As we crossed the busy street to the Metro in front of an art store, my companion was for buying a few books to get himself started. ‘Forget books. Forget what that guide at the Gallery was telling you.’ I told him, ‘She was far out Rabbi, but she was a peach.’
Rabbi Benn Weiss glared at me at which I suddenly stopped short. Next moment I called out, ‘See that old lady!’
I told him that I was going to explain art using her as a living example.
My companion who had his eye full of Rubenesque ladies looked at me aghast. ‘See her back is curved and how she leans on her stick?’
‘Is that beauty?’ my friend was skeptical.
‘Why not?’ I asked, ‘Does beauty only reside in a fine form and youth?’ ‘Or does it in my perception of it?’
I was in the mood to explain. ‘Think Rabbi Weiss, I do not know her from Adam. How come I suddenly think of my grandmother who has been dead for ages?’
‘She was most precious to me.’ I felt a lump in my throat and said, ‘This old woman represents a kind of truth to me. Because she is not a trick played on my eye I take it, she is a real human being’.
‘So she stands for truth,’ the Rabbi nodded his head appreciatively.
Rabbi intoned, ’But she is an ugly truth. Old Age is real and makes scarecrows…’
I cut in, ’That is besides the point. My grandmother, dead grandmother represents Truth and she is unattainable’.
‘So dying makes one beautiful?’ the rabbi wanted to know.
Ignoring it I explained, ‘Yet this frail woman down on her last legs brought her image to me.’
I knew Rabbi Benn Weiss didn’t understand me. So I said the truth this old woman carried, went radical changes to impress upon me truth of something else.’
The rabbi said, ’I never knew your grandmother was so important to you.’
I nodded gravely and said, ’I carry that loss. She can no longer make me feel good with her smile and words. But that old decrepit woman out of the blue made me reach that higher sphere, is no longer an idea but real.’
‘Aha,’ the rabbi said with a smile, ‘the old woman represents Beauty in the way she could make her truth connected with something else.’
‘Not just something, but my grandmother!’
‘Yes, if you say so, if you say so.’ he said impressed, ‘why don’t you write to your parents for a change? You can sms them if you want to.’
I said my art of life made me unattainable. ‘My parents want me to be still connected. So would the bill collector’.
‘I want to be alone, as said by the burglar to the cop,’ intoned the rabbi.

benny

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A Human Scale©
One evening a beggar approached Rabbi Benn Weiss and said that he was an angel in disguise.” Never mind these tatters, Rabbi,” he said in a conspiratorial tone, “I am indeed an angel sent down to find how many in this City of Peace are worthy to be called His own. So I shall ask you to buy me dinner.”
They were before sidewalk restaurant. “Of course!” Rabbi said and treated him to a hearty meal while he stuck to the usual. The stranger remained by his side even after he had paid the bill and wanted to go home.
It was late.
“I need a place to stay for tonight, Rabbi.”
“Try Wayfarer’s Lodge over there. It is free and clean.” ”You gave me dinner and why refuse me now?”
Benn Weiss interrupted him saying,” A poor man’s dinner is no bother, But to have you under my roof, is more than a man like me can afford.” “But I am an angel!”
“Go tell that to your archangel, my friend. He sent you didn’t he?”
Rabbi Benn Weiss walked on.
Moral:Truth when is stated in human terms must satisfy common sense and sound appropriate for the circumstances.
benny

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What is Art ? It is the mirror to life.
Primitive art thus has certain characteristics that mirror the culture of the artist. In May or June 1907, Picasso experienced a “revelation” while viewing African art at the ethnographic museum at Palais du Trocadéro. Picasso’s discovery of African art influenced the style of his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (begun in May 1907 and reworked in July of that year.) In the early 20th century African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums in consequence of the expansion of the French empire into Africa. The press was abuzz with exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exotic tales about the African kingdom of Dahomey. It was in this climate of African interest that Picasso would look towards African artifacts as inspiration for some of his work and it makes no difference that he was an outsider reinventing artistic impulses of his life and the times into art. It is recognizable and and the life of a nameless primitive artist is interpreted according to canons of art. Whereas in the hands of Joseph Conrad the African interest would focus altogether on the mistreatment of Africans in the Belgian Congo. Heart of Darkness is a literary work of exceptional quality that can transcend the narrow boundaries of time and place to be equally at home in another time and place. Francis Coppola set it in Vietnam with equal success and called it Apocalypse now.
Art as the mirror of life. This is what Art can achieve. It gives life thousand faces and the mirror is telling the truth each time. Only that the beholder need to remember the emphasis is laid in each case differently. Truth is absolute and only God can define what it is. So let us not assume to know what it is.
When Patriarch Jacob wrestled with angel or saw a ladder reaching heavewards we need to accept Truth is set in a certain form that does not vitiate the narrative or the underlying veracity. Does it touch some familiar chord in you? If you have in your life wrestled with good impulses with all the might and sought a blessing from the Highest the story of Jacob cannot remain alien to you. It does not mean if you succeeded or not. The Scriptures holds up the mirror to your life so as to elicit certain feelings in you. When you respond to it in a positive manner the Word has achieved its purpose.
According to Moslem tradition Prophet Mohammad was carried at night by a fabled beast Al-Buraq to the presence of Angel Gabriel. We need to remember that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction simply because we have no way of knowing Truth in its perfection. Art as I said earlier gives Truth a human tongue. It is thus we get the best out of the Word. For that matter how is that we have the Hand of Fatima in many versions ranging from Egyptian, Hebrew and Christian traditions? It is life given a certain symbol naming it as good omen or charm and so on. It is to be treated as such and not make undue fuss over it. Instead some silly fellows want to impose their own nonsense as truth. They pose as the Watch and Ward staff for God. Among Jews and Moslems alike there are those who want to make worshippers think in the way they think. What makes them think they know the truth? Wahhabism would try hard to make Islam ‘pure’ but would require plenty of money to stuff down the throats to make it digestable! In sacred and secular art also you find such misguided fellows. Shakespeare had been bowdlerized by some and yet Shakespeare lives on preeminent above such ignoble souls.
For me art must serve life. When we see Truth in its perfection words of human artifice shall fail since we ourselves shall be part of that Absolute quality.
benny

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Beauty is in the beholder’ eyes it is said. This implies personal preference and it is evident from various cultural artifacts left to us. Evolutionary Aesthetics is a hold- all for such preferences where some have tended to see a conflict of nature versus nurture.
Aesthetic preference is something that ultimately varies from person to person. Whether it is culturally taught or branded into our genetic makeup, preferences for beauty, style, and other characteristics of aesthetics can all be linked back to preferences. Broadly, scholars define aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.”(Zangwill Nick-1998/Aesthetic judgment) and in this short essay I shall keep my focus on the core value that must give all that philosophical ideas expressed from Aristotle down to James Joyce a basis. Truth is one world much maligned and yet as human beings we cannot swear by any thing else. For a simple illustration when a President takes office the oath is administerd to him on a Bible wherein he is required to uphold truth. But if he told truth away will he not jeopardize the national security? As a statesman said truth must be protected by a tissue of lies. Nations managing their fortunes not having the foggiest notions about their bearings sail through the mists of uncertainty and must steer clear of others. They cannot afford to tell truth. Instead their captains signal to one another hoping to gain some advantage. They emphazise on relative truth, which is fit neither here, above nor below. Yet it somehow works. Why? Our middle state cannot handle Truth the absolute quality that we ascribe to God.
Betwixt and Between

Zeus was once traveling accompanied by his daughter Athena. He was struck by the beauty of a sculpture and asked whose work it was. The goddess of Wisdom said,” Phidias.” Admiring it for a while he asked his daughter,” You are perfection in wisdom. Why can’t you then do some thing like that- a work of beauty?”
Athena laughed,” I, a goddess- work? Why waste my time?” The eagle which always accompanied the goddess whispered in Zeus’ ear, “ If she were to work it would mean her godly wisdom lacked something.”
“ Oh?”
“ That means she wouldn’t be perfect. Would it not?” the winged bird asked. Zeus could understand.
The sculptor was after all a mortal trying to achieve perfection in some area as best as he could. The bird looked at the sculpture with a critical eye and said,” Look at that index finger of the discuss-thrower. Shorter by a hairbreadth, – it would have been just perfect!”
Zeus snapped,” Phidias made it for his kind and for the praise of gods!”
benny

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When I was four I tried to explain God in my Sunday class. It surely must have been an inspired nonsense but my teacher would remember it even after a lapse of forty years. When my father met him this was how he associated with my name. I suppose as old as four I had already mapped my psychic landscape with a route that I could not have missed. My motive force in explaining the unexplainable as a child has not shed its claims on me even now. I would seek the unknowable with every experience that makes into my consciousness. What made me accept these experiences trivial or serious is relevant and vital as to throw light in my search must be arbitrary, I suppose.
benny

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