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Only consistent thing about our world is that it changes. What are the fads we all sported and now are discarded for something of the moment? Pokemon Go! seems to have taken the world by storm as Elvis Presley hair cut and drainpipes were the thing in my youth. Fads in their very sillines carry some profound truth. The world changes and along with it man also changes.

If everything were to keep changing, how do we keep our balance? There is no up or down in space but still we take a bearing on celestial objects these are also not keeping still. Yet in our context these give us a bearing as ancient mariners relied on pole star during their voyages(1). We are on a planet that is revolving on the sun that itself is revolving through the Milky Way. But on the earth what is certain is the gravity that works. What does it tell us? If you throw a ball up, it shall sure come down. Such is the truth for which we kill and defend with tooth and nail.

We say God is Truth. But how well we understand or follow it?

God with his mighty arm delivered the Israelites from Egypt. He called Moses and Aaron his brother and elders before him. With such up and close encounter with God we may assume that he has had greater understanding of Truth than others. Yet within a space of 40 days Aaron was guilty of making a golden calf for the tumultuous crowd who wanted a god to lead them. When man is not fully engaged his heart and soul, the first casuality is truth. Aaron simply wanted to give the people what they wanted. He heard God but he heard it through the grapevine of populism, I suspect.

When I see the mob howling, ‘blasphemy’ on some perceived slight to the Quran, I know the feeling. The man lost his horse and he could not go anywhere because the whole household was arguing over the ways the noble steed could have bolted. After rewriting the Prophet, in scholarly ways of course, the theologians (they have several schools all well funded too,) have made him look a liar and his ideas dragged through mud and have made the world a slaughterhouse. O Truth! How Compassionate! How Beneficent! How Merciful!

Notes:1.

1.By the dawn of the sixteenth century, the ancient art of navigation had begun to develop rapidly in response to oceanic explorers who needed to find their positions without landmarks, to determine the locations of their discoveries, and to establish routes between the new-found lands and home. Although the relationship of certain heavenly bodies to time of day and terrestrial directions had been known since ancient times, the first two decades of the sixteenth century saw the rigorous application of astronomy and mathematics to navigation. The new learning met the New World. Before longitude was invented  sixteenth-century navigators relied on dead reckoning. Beginning at a known or assumed position, the navigator measured, as best he could, the heading and speed of the ship, the speeds of the ocean currents and the leeward (downwind) drift of the ship, and the time spent on each heading. From this information he could compute the course he had made and the distance he had covered. Dead reckoning, through educated guesswork, is often very accurate.(ack: nps.gov)

benny

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ii

A politician who works with his times and has a certain vision is already on the rise; but necessarily he depends on his public to be relevant. Think of Hitler whose rise to power was phenomenal. Circumstances of his times made a pathway in the chaotic Weimar Republic where defeatism was as rampant as the reds scare of a Bolshevik take over. It is impossible to imagine the Austrian corporal could have got anywhere were it not for the general belief that the war was lost because of some conspiracy of International Jewry. Every German who subscribed to this canard made Hitler his man of the hour. From this to ‘the final solution’ by which some 6 million Jews perished by the state policy of Third Reich we see what compromise can do to the ruler and the ruled  . Here we see prejudice of Germans was very much in evidence as ambition at its worst. Banality of evil the man on the street supplied to the street corner agitator like Hitler who had seen the war and suffered as a result, a platform to air his ideas. Once his command over the nation was complete the mass murder of Jews was simple progress from A to B. Such are the stuff of leaders of men that they make use of lies that are convenient truths for them in their rise to power.

An artist communicates but his relevance can only be banked on truth. Thus with every artist who has endured across centuries.

An artist worth his salt has no use for pleasing public opinion. Paul Gaugin had a family and a successful stock-brokering career but when the muse of art called him he left all to be painter. His contemporary Van Gogh in his brief and tragic life sold but one painting. But when we see a starry night do we not see through his eyes? This is the highest accolade an artist can merit for which his life is but a means to convey some inner truth. Life imitates art as Oscar Wilde quipped. Similarly we all have been acquainted with Turner on watching a sunset; or with the lush English landscape we acknowledge how much we owe Constable for the delectable realization that he is a kindred spirit after all. Death and ravages of time are past any man’s power but in a painting of Raphael or sunflower series of Van Gogh we affirm the artist’s commitment to be true to his inner vision. In a manner of speaking our ordinary lives transcend at least for an hour or two, to a sublime level.

Take the truth peddled by prophets. Has it ever made man any more enlightened any time any place that he set Truth its parameters? In teaching truth to masses, has its visible effects. Tolerance, love, compassion become in its votaries commonplace. How come the world is in turmoil and lives of men trivialized? Truth is not at fault but those who bow and scrape before Man with the Message and do much less than what was taught. These disciples merely threw wool over all and added their own and passed Truth for real! How much more can any one be misguided than a man is given power to issue ‘fatwa’ over but not register what is true for all to be benefited from it? This damns both the inflictor and inflicted at the same time. This is vanity of human mind. On the other hand an artist can empower his viewer with visions of bliss and make his view of things never the same. At what cost have artists their lives among fools and evil men bequeathed to us. Is art relevant? Of course it is without which, homo sapiens do not deserve the label sapiens .

The End

 

 

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Is Art Relevant to Us?-2

 

As a social animal man communicates with others; being endowed with a larger brain mass and given to abstract thinking he has several means at his disposal to communicate with others. Art is one such.

A shop assistant who decorates the window in order to catch the eye of the passerby relies on some intrinsic urge from within so he succeeds in his objective is as much as an artist as a housewife who decorates the home in order to speak for the people that live within. In their art there is something as natural and self-conscious attempt to communicate with others. Their naturalness springs from the manner they set out to achieve rheir objectives; even so it is an indirect social statement of the technology and social status. What makes then an artist special?

 

An artist is an individual given to express pictorially and has command over the language as much as a lawyer has command over the laws of the land and can employ them to make a case for his client to purpose. Language is such words used carries meaning and these are at deeper level rooted in culture and social history of the particular milieu that a viewer can identify with. Words also change meaning since these are dependent on the end user. How artists in the medieval times treated sacred subjects are not same as how modern artists would see symbolic value in the objects themselves.

Peter Paul Rubens made a triptych in which the central piece is deposition of Christ from the cross. This painting was made (1612-14) for the Guild of Arquebusiers, who wanted their patron Saint Christopher (meaning: carrier of Christ) portrayed. If Rubens had complied with this wish, he would have had to explain himself to the authorities, because the strict Contra-Reformation’s principles did not allow portraits of saints to be hung in cathedrals. Instead, Rubens chose to hide all references to Christopher by portraying Christ as being carried in all three panels. (artbible.info)

Compare this with Salvador Dalí’s Corpus Hypercubus(1954). Influences of his times and his personal attitude to Catholicism can be found in it. His interest grew from the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of World War II which left a lasting impression on him. In his 1951 essay “Mystical Manifesto”, he introduced an art theory he called “nuclear mysticism” that combined Dalí’s interests in Catholicism, mathematics, science, and Catalan culture in an effort to reestablish Classical values and techniques(wikipedia- Corpus Hypercubus). An artist can only do so much as a child of his times despite the many tantrums he may throw in order to draw attention to himself.

Merely a shock value does not give art its relevance other than making the thinking person come to terms that there are more than many ways of looking at things. Many paintings that shocked the public in their time have become accepted as part of our cultural heritage. This is no different than the infant who threw many a tantrum has quietly taken place in the society of men as dutiful father hardworking tax-paying burgher as ever to do his duty to his family and state.

(To be continued)

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Is Art Relevant to Us? ©

An individual is a creature of his times. One of the enduring myths of the last century, especially with emergence of Nazism, has been of the ideal ‘superman’ a “Caesar with Christ’s soul.” Such a person of heroic mould, least of all in Adolf Hitler was it realized, who was neither a Caesar nor the other. Übermensch the Nietzschean concept has remained only in print. Reason for it is simple and almost humdrum to be ludicrous. No man may have been idolized in our time as Chairman Mao. He wielded power with possible exception of Stalin and Hitler as no other political figure. When his great leap forward failed what did he do to deflect criticism from him but let loose the Culture Revolution 1n1966*. He needed the youth and not sane cousel in order to hold on to power. Much as he tried hardly had he left the scene came socialist market economy under Deng XioPing (1) . In oreder to be relevant the powers-that-be had to correct the course in comparison with emerging nations each vying for relevance. China could not remain stuck in time of Charman Mao and instead veer in a tangent. Such divergence exists in belief-systems as well. Prophet Mohammed founded a religion, a third way because of his direct observation as to the manner Christianity and Judaism had evolved. His own vision of Truth will evolve after his decease into sects each claiming exclusive rights to his legacy. From experience we know the legacy of Chairman Mao or Prophet Mohammed was as durable as ‘writ in water.’ Is Truth so misunderstood that such luminous heroes end up as caricatures? Nations are made up by people as beleivers to a belief-system are but men. Each individual adds something of his own to the common experience and no one has ever taken the reins of a body of men and has shown himself like ‘superman.’ Look what followers of Christ or Mohammed have done in the name of religion. They were pioneers and their example as pure as driven snow, and consider what Papal infallibility or salafism has done to it. Their institutions what with so many adding their bit have been made to look like well trodden path of slush or a slaughterhouse.

No individual like a fish can superimpose his own values outside the stream in which he has his being. An artist similarly can only understood as child of his circumstances. (to be continued)

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What progress is it  if it gags on its own bottlenecks? It has not delivered its promises.

Progress sounds good on paper. Fame and Fortune await whoever has a genuine idea, drive and innovate. Recently Dr. Craig Wright came forward to claim he is the founder of bitcoin. Later he had to defend himself and said that proof would be forthcoming. Later we are told it is not so. What a pother!

We are children of a cashless society. In the Internet Age where we all have learned to reduce our reliance on paper, we became computer savvy. Instead of snail mail we send electronic messages that are quicker. Rather than waste our time shopping around we do online shopping and pay with credit cards. If such innovations keep working their way through it must create subtle shifts in us. It is natural to expect our lives as a result would qualitatively improve. Is it not? The job statistics in April 2012 indicate one in two of graduates fresh out of colleges are underemployed or unemployed. Our youth have come off worse. What of the old? Here is a news headline of Feb, 21-2012 For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work till you drop’ (AP-Los Angeles)

According to US College Graduate Employment Study by Accenture Strategy in 2015 found that Forty-nine percent of 2013-14 graduates consider themselves unemployed.

Technology let us fall in with the latest trends and if we thought we have become progressive we are right. Progress made us connect with any part of the world. Connectivity is wonderful. Suppose we are looking for a career change. Under normal circumstances we only need our work experience connect with the openings most suited to our talent. But now? Is it not terrible to be told all those positions are gone?

Post-war generation or the baby boomers did not account for the economic downturn of 2008. Naturally we expected as the older generation before us to retire when we reached the age of sixty-five. Oh no progress has got in a downward spiral! The post-war boom helped us to go up in financial security and along with it in our expectations also rose. We have been riding the slipstream of many forces unknown to us expanding and contracting while we thought progress was letting us off easy thanks to the Internet. Now we find technology cannot put jobs back. Our progress has hit a blank wall.

Progress of man did not account for its hidden costs. If we look closely we shall see we have come worse off in great many areas.

Let us look at life expectancy of ordinary folks.

Between 1990 and 2010, life expectancy of low-educated white women declined by 1.2 years. That 1.2 years is about 13 years of progress washed away, so what seems to be minor changes in life expectancy signal really big problems going on underneath the surface.

“If we look at the trends in the US in an international context, it becomes even more stark. US women are at the bottom in terms of other high-income countries on these measures. So we’ve really fallen off; the trends have really diverged in an international context which tell us there’s something unique going on in the US, especially for US women.

“Raj Chetty and colleagues came out with a very big study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April looking at the association between income and life expectancy in the US between 2001 and 2014.

“They showed rich women outlive poor women by ten years. They also showed that these gaps between the rich and poor in terms of survival have been growing over time. So over the period that they looked at, the richest Americans gained about three years of life expectancy, while the poorest had no increase.

If the nation cannot fix the American dream at least in terms of wellbeing of women there must be something insidious in the way progress is sold to the man on the street.

benny

 

 

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Man for whom abstract thinking is natural can always latch onto an idea, however impractical it may turn out in the end. Like the hero of Cervantes ideas turn always, blades one blowing this way and another in that way. History is such ideas creating a blur that only a fool would want to claim his idea is the best.

There is nothing heroic about taking on impossible if it is going to end in wholesale bloodshed. See the savage butchery recently perpetrated by the so called Daesh. They imagine they would thereby revive a Caliphate. Earlier  Joseph Stalin sent some millions to gulags and to death for creating a Worker’s paradise. How did it fare?

We only need consider Lenin’s idea of a Worker’s paradise when the Bolsheviks violently over threw the Tsarist regime. It was similar to a theocratic state John Calvin ushered in Geneva several centuries before. It did not work in Europe then; neither did it in Soviet Russia. Ideas are fine but man cannot stick to it all the way through. Did not the Allies set about ridding the post-war world of Totalitarian ideology? Nuremberg, the German city associated with the pageantry which the Nazi regime staged as they climbed to power was a potent symbol for the German nation. The Allies was sending a message loud and clear to the world. Nuremburg Trials was to be a show trial but as the legal process went about its rounds there was a perception among the Western powers that Soviet Union was the Threat that they needed to thwart. After all did not they dismantle the Nazi apparatus root and all? The US saw to that scientists who had helped Hitler’s war efforts were smuggled out to their country under Operation Paperclip*. V2 rocket program soon would provide the nucleus for the space war that came in play in the 60s. It was not surprising that the Trial of the century evaporated in the hustle and bustle of meeting the Cold War in offing.

Man has capacity to develop an idea like a Nuclear bomb to bring the WWII quickly to a halt. Neither his foresight and hindsight do match evenly. Of this we see even now. The Allies are at presented seized of the fact the Jihadi elements may lay hands on a dirty nuclear bomb. It has been thus progress that man cobbled up in the many innovations, has fared. Progress without exception has proved false.

Man is loath to turn 180 degrees from an idea, to which he has sold himself as well in which his experience also gives him certain pointers. Though failed in practice he trusts in his own power to pull it off. After the demise of the Imperial Rome, under Constantine the Great and Charlemagne (the Holy Roman Empire) the idea has been tried; Under Mussolini it was revived to no avail. Each idea and those who stake their legitimacy on its basis must cope with changed circumstances. In France the Second Empire under Napoleon III was a fiasco. He did not anticipate the revolutionary spirit of Europe and emergence of Germany under Bismarck. The events across the globe never stand still but like group waves negotiate with new ones where energy is passed around. Who shall cash in on these transactions by means of war, religion and cultural trade off remains to be seen. Pagan Rome under Constantine underwent a sea-change. Christianity became the state religion. The split between Rome and Constantinople as a result of political upheavals, became further weakened: The Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church of the East would no longer come as one due to the  doctrinal differences. At present the idea of Caliphate like the idea of Imperial idea of Rome is doomed if lessons of history are of any guide. Cashing in on the demise of an old order of Byzantine Empire the hordes of Saracens, Moors and Arabs created a Caliphate that died its natural death. Those who are beating the dead donkey shall soon know what it is to stop the tide engulfing them from all across the globe.

benny

* Operation Paperclip (1949–1990) was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and in the context of the burgeoning Cold War. One purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, as well as to inhibit post-war Germany from redeveloping its military research capabilities. The Soviet Union had competing extraction programs known as “trophy brigades” and Operation Osoaviakhim. (ack:wikipedia)

 

 

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In the following posts I want to look at progress that modern man has implicitly believed in and has accepted his circumstance for him to do something about. Progress keeps him going with hope and trust in fulfilling his dream to some extent. There is no denying to the inescapable truth that we could not have arrived here without it. Progress has pitchforked our ape-man ancestor from Savannah to the moden world of conveniences and miracle drugs. If he is curious to what goes on he might have news of the world at a click of a button.

We are assailed oh with what a variety of news!

Progress brings news to you. Only what it does not disclose is what good is to be told of a billionaire born with a greasy silver spoon in his mouth has become presumptive nominee to the White House while the GOP on whose shirttails he had joined the fray do not want him. What do I care what goes on in that part of a world which according to Mental Health reports* one in eight is in need of psychiatric care? I am also aware that many of them cannot avail of services even if they would be served. Cost of care throws some to the street and even a pauper’s grave. What a pother to be told that there are two alien tribes there and one party that stood for conservative America has perpetuated myth of Union of the State while systematically whittling away the soul of its basic principles. It is not Bill of Rights but of one percent such a party was all concened about. So they have a problem, which does not mean a dime to one who is in Kerala, India.

Progress is in making the world a global village. The idea is vitiated if one nation has cornered most of the natural resources of the world and wants to impose a one sided TTIP on another Bloc across the Atlantic. Progress as indicated by the ability of one nation to impose its terms arbitrarily on others  is like pot calling the kettle black. The most advanced nation relies on untested business practices of which the world is yet to recover fully from 2008 economic meltdown. It also shows what lessons they  ought to have learned from the Depression of ’29 was unlearned in order ‘the Banks that are too big to fail’ can hold the world to ransom once again. Under the terms of TTIP the multi-nationals are given more clout over  countries on this side of EU bloc.The biggest culprit in making the world vulnerable to economic insecurity gives unlimited powers to some Czars a blank check. It is a case of pot calling the kettle black.

You see the hollowness of the premise that can tout the World as a single entity albeit the title of Global Village. If any one peers closer there is so much inequality ingrained in the premise as the water that you get to drink on closer inspection is awash with industrial effluents, deadly cocktail of poison. #Flint, Mchigan is merely a case in point.

Why talk about Flint or America for that matter. A nation is made up of people and the fatal flaw is not in a body of men but in the least reducible factor that makes up institutions, tribes nations whatever.Man is the fatal flaw , the Achilles heel and it shall remain so. Till man can progress beyond his narrow circumscribed line of vision to include the whole mankind he is mere prattling and the politicians aggrandize themselves while throwing wool over the electorate.

It is a truism in parental care that a child made to grow up in an atmosphere of domestic violence the child will continue perpetuating the same cycle of violence. Experience of the child is violence as a norm and unless early correction is applied to the child the society is letting another number to join enemy forces and it becomes embedded in the very fabric of the particular society. Violence against women greed, unruliness etc ., eventually shall lead to a societal collapse can be expected in not so distant future. Nations similarly can create a breakdown. Take the case of South Africa under a brutal apartheid regime. One only need fill up the dotted lines between it and the massacre of Marikana mines on April 16,2012. The oppressed becomes the oppressor, notwithstanding all the humbug we attach to the nationalism and principles of ANC as embodied in late Madiba. He himself could not save his family front let alone the nation. Now Joseph Zuma faces corruption charges that ought not come as a surprise to anyone. In an individual given his attention span for any specific problem being so short, a character flaw halves it even from the problem on hand.

benny

(*MentalAmerica.net

Mental Health America released its annual State of Mental Health Report, with startling numbers of how many Americans are not receiving the necessary treatments for mental health and substance use issues. Of particular concern is that even among our most severely depressed youth, 6 in 10 are not receiving any treatment for their mental health problems. )

#

The Flint water crisis did not begin on April 25th, 2014, when the city switched its water supply from Detroit’s system, tapping Lake Huron to its own on the Flint River. That tragic mistake was the culmination of a much longer ongoing disaster, one caused by greed, politics, incompetence, and selective amnesia. The known consequences include lead poisoning, skin rashes, and carcinogens in the water. Flint’s water crisis begins with the pollution of the Flint River, which has been going on for well over a century.

(Ack:Tim Cormady Feb.26-16/The Verge.com)

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