Prose

I against Them


I am sure you do not know me well, but I will tell you about this party I went to anyway.

It was a housewarming party on a surprisingly warm October day in New York. The house was in Midtown, the place where you find the most nauseating conformists per square meter than anywhere else in the world. It was, as you might expect, a high rent high rise high class apartment complex made for the quintessentially simple, the smart sheep, if you will, who know enough math and algorithms to create efficient maps of the world much bigger than the world itself is, yet know not why they exist (yes, this is an intentional and self aware sentence, so save the sarcasm if you’re bringing that out).

After I arrived an hour late only to know that I was the first to reach, and the only one to care about time, I was greeted by this old acquaintance of mine, and also the host of the party, who always keeps me guessing whether what he is saying to me is because of some invisible camera staring at him, or because he actually talks like that, and showed me to the balcony of the apartment on the eleventh floor, where a couple of women and his roommate were having wine, cheese and platitudes. I hadn’t even the chance to repeat the name of the talker to myself, the sister of the roommate’s girlfriend (the other woman), before I knew how she had married a guy only for his money and was proud of their mutual and unconscious banality.

I was then taken to the roof (it was great, I was told, and I had not brought my sunglasses) where we were joined in due time by the other androids. A couple of girls showed up drunk, with their make up off and their irreverence on, confused whether they were flirting or not. They were later thrown/shown out of the housewarming party of ten people. I need not insult the reader’s intelligence here but I want to explicitly mention that in this party, there were no friends, or even merely acquaintances, but people so much in love with themselves that all they could think about was I: I on the roof of a high rise; I on the blurb of a book; I on the door of a room of a very important office; I on top of a wo/man with a nice body and blue eyes; I on a treadmill; I on the top of the human pyramid; I on everyone’s minds. They were all terribly alone, but they did not know how to write or think honestly about themselves, so they wrote books on Javascript, ASP, The Art of Attack, How to Invest like Me between putting on those expensive shoes to go to rooftop bars with expensive drinks and lights that make you look good, but only until your make up melts or you open your mouth.

Then they talked about their protein shakes, their body fascism, their latest disruptive and innovative startup ideas, exposing their ideas of life sans any vital melancholy, their thought sans any humanity, their laugh sans any sincerity, their eyes shifting furiously from one person to another seeking approval in a frenzied, desperate, relentless manner. I felt sad, and offered them some pity, but that wasn’t what they were craving, no, they were craving their mothers, they were craving that somebody love them without gauging where they would be in five years, that somebody open their embrace to them so that they can remember how it feels to cry.

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The Ingrates


“I honestly hate my parents.”

“That is a very strong statement. I am sure you love them, what happened? Anything wrong between you guys?”

“My accusations are not light, man. My hate is not curable. They have made me slip into an abyss of lifetime bondage, stripped me of my freedoms throughout the time I was growing up. I wonder how much more liberated I would’ve been had they been a little better.”

“You seem plenty liberated to me, and also seem to be a very reasonable and balanced man. So much so, that this is the most absurd I’ve seen you act in a long time.”

“That is not due to them, that is despite them. They have been merely trying to raise me in their own image, I owe nothing of my character to them.”

“That’s a ludicrous statement! Surely, they could have imposed their view of the world and their expectations on you, but that does not mean that your character wasn’t shaped because of it. People are defined and made by their reactions to the constraints and assumptions laid by the environment around them. You turned out to be a rebel, sure, but you are still rebelling against them, and thus, being defined by them.”

“That’s clever… and circular. No matter what I do, I will be defined by them, right? Your theory leaves nothing to me.”

“It leaves reconciliation to you.”

“Are you saying that the only decision about myself that I can make that would be completely my own is to accept them as they are? Are we even talking about the same thing? I am telling you about the innumerable instances of repression, suppression, guilt, shame and sorrow I have felt because I couldn’t meet their expectations, because I couldn’t live up to the image that wanted I would be. Like the one instance where I misread my examination time tables and prepared for the wrong exam and scored less, and my mother called me a failure for this. I mean, it was a mistake, a small, genuine, everyday mistake.”

“To me, it only shows how emotionally invested she was in you.”

“She didn’t need to be, it was traumatizing. This is what I am talking about, this is bad parenting. This is why I wonder what would’ve changed if she didn’t make such stupid mistakes with her child.”

“I think you answered your own question. It was a parenting mistake on her part, nothing more. If you want her to have forgiven yours, I expect you should return the favor.”

“I could if it were just one. If the whole process was more mistakes than not, then I cannot forgive something that so tangibly changed my life.”

“I want to hear more. I want to hear other cases of how she or they, was it just her who did that, traumatized you. I want to know if you are being needlessly whiny or if you have any substance behind your frustrations with yourself.”

“It doesn’t have to be overt, I hope you understand that, or this conversation will go nowhere. I don’t care as much about the beatings I received as I do about the dogma and indoctrination. I borrowed their hate for Muslims, I borrowed their paranoia, suffered endlessly because of it. I also borrowed their unquestioned belief in god, their superstitions, some in the name of culture while others purely out of habit.”

“So you are blaming them for being who they are?”

“Yes. Why couldn’t they be liberal atheists, who knew what kind of books to read and what kind of movies to watch?”

“Ha! At least their behavior is justified in most instances, unlike yours in this. They hated Muslims because they were driven out of their homeland and their friends were slaughtered because of a religious movement. While it may not be best to harp upon that feeling, the resentment is still justified. Do you not remember the moments you were bullied in school? Do you still not harbor a hate for that bully, and for that matter, all bullies?
“Their belief in god remained unquestioned because they were not exposed to much science, and definitely not as much as you have been. I should also remark that it is due to them that you have been exposed to so much science, for although they might not have been the best at science themselves, they actively wanted you to be great at it. Not because you would question god for them, but because they wanted the best for you. Isn’t it so?”

“You do have a point. They were as much a product of their environment as I am of mine, and now I see why you said what you said about reconciliation.”

“I am glad you do. This is how progress happens, not because people do what they do with a clear knowledge of what they want to attain, but because they love. Your parents loved you, wanted the best for you, did whatever they thought was the best for you, and egged you on to do the things you fell in love with.

“This is the same for everyone’s parents, look at mine, for instance, they have done a lot for me. They did pay, despite not earning too much, for my swimming classes. They also paid quite a significant percentage of their monthly income to ensure I went to one of the better schools.
“They actually lived a life of extreme frugality themselves while splurging to give me the most comfortable life they could afford to give me. Now that I think about it, they rarely bought any new clothes themselves, they never bought new furniture other than the one instance when it was a table for my studies. Only the other day, I was cursing my parents’ frugality, wishing they were more intelligent with their money, spending it to increase their standards of living rather than stashing it for eternity, all the while not realizing that what was once a necessity, borne solely out of the desire to nourish me, had now become a habit.
“My father had to buy a pair of shoes for himself once. His old shoes had worn out significantly and since he avoided hailing an auto-rickshaw to save money, he needed to walk quite a lot. He needed good shoes. Paying Rs. 500 for a good shoe wasn’t that high an expense, he had bought shoes for me that were twice as expensive. But I remember him scrounging around the market ceaselessly to search for a shoe that was both good and inexpensive. He eventually settled on a Rs. 100 shoe that had a sole with holes under the insole (to save costs of by cutting down on material). I wore that to a game once and my feet killed me at the end of the day. I told him he was stupid for buying this shoe, that he was a miser…
“I haven’t been able to forgive myself for that sorrowful look he had on his face for disappointing me that day. I don’t think I will ever be able to. Why did he buy those shoes? What was the reason? It was I, dear sir, I was the reason. I was what had manifested in him this austerity. And yet, he was the disappointment. Is that fair?

“I think I hate my parents. They have stripped me of my freedom. And this is not your teenage angst whining about how they didn’t let me choose my own T-Shirt color. It is the kind of freedom that Sartre gained when he realized the frivolity of his existence and its inherent meaninglessness, the most essential of human freedoms, Freedom with a capital F, the Freedom that comes from an indifference and detachment to any purpose whatsoever. The reason I cannot have this Freedom is because no matter what I do, I can never be grateful enough. That whatever I do to repay them will fall short. The worst part is that they don’t even expect me to do anything for them. This is how they get their revenge, how they make me suffer for the sorrows I caused them because of my expectations of what they should’ve been and should’ve done.
“I probably would have been much better with parents that didn’t care, that didn’t recognize me soon after they’d given birth to me, like the cartoon ducklings that get lost and create their own father figures who give them nothing in return but a chase.
I hate my parents.”

The Oppressive Compulsive Philistines


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): An anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

OCD is a disorder of order, of obsession with order, to maintain it, preserve it, repeat it, without much thought to any revisions to the process. The thing that skipped all of us, is that our world is an OCD, our society is suffering from it, but due to the absence of an external reference the disorder is nearly impossible to spot. There are age old customs, reinforced by glorification of atavistic tendencies, that keep repeating without reason, like the propagation of sacred myths till they become unquestionable truisms. The problem is, they are not, and more often, they are very far away from the ideal.

Imagine if a thousand years from now, the restrictions on twitter statuses were to overflow into all communication by random chance and all communication, without much reason, was happening in 140 characters at a time. It would feel stupid and inefficient, right? Yet there are societal structures in place in the world today that serve no purpose relevant to the post-modern, post-internet era we are living in. Things like religion, marriage, biased patriotism, etc are some that are consistently found across most existing cultures as redundancies that have a sanction so oppressively bold that it is nearly impossible to go against all of them all the time. But some do.

There are two types of people in the world: the Philistines (I intend a broader scope of the term than the culturally indifferent person it is supposed to mean: I intend a person that would tend to gravitate towards vindication of the things he/she’s been taught, or indoctrinated with, in childhood and selectively pick examples to curate and reinforce that worldview. The article would make it clearer what kind of person I am referring to as a Philistine), and the non-Philistines (for the purpose of this article, let’s call them the vanguard, for they are the cultural avant-garde). The vanguard is responsible for raising a hand when the OCD gets too much to justify and tolerate. Sometimes the vanguard is crushed and blown away, sometimes it succeeds a little, and sometimes the apple carts turn over (only to be replaced by another obsession). To give you some examples, feminists have to fight all the time to let others know that women are human; LGBT rights are languishing in the widespread homophobia; atheists get caught in the cross-winds of religious nutcases trying to blow each other off all the time; institutional racism prevents people of color from getting an equal footing everywhere; etc. I take it a bit further to say that the legal sanction of marriage, and the oppressively high importance placed on it in certain cultures (one of which is India’s, to which I belong), tends to marginalize the happiness of a large section of society which is not genetically designed to function in monogamous arrangements.

So are Philistines just a bother, or do they serve any purpose? Well they do. They establish order, function on algorithms, are predictable, and keep the machine running. If this compulsively established order were to disappear, inefficiencies would start to creep in everywhere, and the machine would become more local and less global (let’s just say a bad thing, in general, though a separate exposition on this complicated topic would be in order), and the progress of humanity towards removal of strife and misery would slow down and maybe stop altogether. That is why the majority must always be of the Philistines. But they need to be made aware of the minority.

Like people who fight societal structures would know, one of the most crucial elements in winning the battle and creating an equal ground is awareness. If the majority is aware of their privilege as a majority and they try not to trample too harshly the voices of the minority, the world is not insufferable. So the world needs to be made aware of the vanguard in all its forms. And a person who is a vanguard on one issue may be a philistine in the other, and it needs to be out there. Turning apple carts over shouldn’t be a violent struggle all the time, treating the OCD shouldn’t be unfathomable.

Living should be easy, compromises should be few.

The Minority Identity


Ride the New York Subway on a regular day and you would realise what it means to live in a place where everyone is an outsider. Perhaps this is the reason why New York cannot be termed tolerant, because being tolerant implies that you are aware of the other’s identity, bothered by it and putting up with it. New York doesn’t care: it is indifferent, it accepts. This idea of racial/ethnic acceptance in a multi-cultural society had been going on in my head for the past few months due to its direct relevance to India, and I wanted to share some personal insights, with a little bit of science thrown in to demonstrate the point better.

Hardly a day goes by in the Indian media and political arena without a reference to the biggest religious minority of the country, the Muslims. Even though a good portion of the online population has wised up to the silly politics of religion, most people are not sure about how to go about discussing this touchy topic in a public setting, though most of them are brimming with their opinions about it. I often wondered why this was so, why was this problem so difficult to understand, for the solution begins at understanding. It took me a good deal of bigotry, cockiness, and an overdose of self-belief to allow myself to write radical comments against “the stupidity of Islam”, and the inherent aggression in it to be humiliated later when I was to re-read them again a couple of years later. What had changed in the two years is that I had undergone a change of, or development of a, perspective. I’ll talk more about that later, I want to share a few theories with you first.

At the core of this problem are the same psychological phenomena (at the cost of being too simplistic) that are responsible for the perennial gender issues, endless wars, racism, football hooliganism, the holocaust etc. Humans are irrational animals: they are motivated and influenced more by their asymmetric and biased world view than the objective understanding of the complete picture, for the complete picture is often too difficult to comprehend, even for those with a gifted imagination. Couple these biases with the inherent needs for a self-image and belonging, and we have men that cherish nationalism, for example, as a quality that defines the highest among them.

In one of the most unsettling of psychological experiments conducted on humans by a very important social psychologist called Muzafer Sherif, a group of boys at a camp were separated into two ‘tribes’ to understand how social hierarchies evolved in a natural setting, with the eventual intention of studying the interaction of the two tribes were they to meet.

You can read the details of the experiment in the link given, but to draw the relevant essence of the experiment here, the boys separated into the tribes perceived the differences between the groups, exaggerated them, ignored the similarities, growing more hostile towards each other than accepting. They also became very competitive and their work rate towards competitive activities increased. This is reflective of human nature in general, and can be explained quite easily from an evolutionary perspective- the stronger the collective spirit in a small group, the more likely is it to survive and fend off difficult circumstances. This might result in some intra-species struggles, but as we know from examples in other species, it is not something that is unprecedented. And even though the times have changed, outdating this line of thought, evolution isn’t keeping up. Nationalism, to stick with the same example, is a modern rendition of the same bigotry. It is not necessarily bad, as it can motivate people to often work hard for their country, as evinced by the boys in the experiment, but I feel the philosophical harm it causes (that often has tangible effects in the form of wars, terrorism etc.) outweighs any positives. It should be easy for the reader to see how the same bias is responsible for strife between different religions, races, etc.

Let me elaborate this with my own example. In India, I belong to the religious majority, the Hindus. I am thus fairly certain that when it is my turn to be judged by my peers, I would be judged irrationally on one less parameter compared to someone not from the majority. In other words, my identity is not defined by my religion, it is more defined by what I do, what I wear, what I say, how I behave, etc. This is a privilege of the majority. To elaborate this further, let us take the example of how society would view my moral transgressions. If I were to commit a mild treason by, let’s say, criticizing my country, I would be judged, more or less, on the gravity of my arguments. On the other hand, if I were a Muslim, I would instantly become a representative of the views of my religion, and with each step, I would be integrating my example to the archetype that would eventually become the Muslim stereotype (assuming it is not already created and being reinforced by my act). Why does this happen?

Because we have divided our world view into us and them. The minority identity for the majority is them, and in this particular case, the Muslims. To understand the often complicated reasons behind their treasons, we take refuge in the laziest of explanations: that it has to do something with their religion. This effect is called the Realistic Conflict Theory, and the biases in this form of irrationality are supplemented by yet another of the most prevalent biases we humans have, the Conformation Bias, which is a tendency to select the examples that suit our preconceived notions and ignore the ones that go against it. It creates a skewed world view where the end result might be, in an extreme but common enough situation, to assume all Muslims to be aggressors or terrorists unless proven otherwise, a dangerous, hostile and scary world view indeed.

There is a particular political faction in the country that would have us believe that pampering the minority, treating them differently in almost every sphere of interaction, is the way to their eventual integration into the mainstream. There is another that has a reputation for being downright hostile to the minority. I refuse to believe that they do this because of their naiveté. Most of the politicians in India are motivated more by greed than by adding value to the country, and very few of them have their hearts in the right place. They prey upon the religious difference among the people of the nation to achieve their ends, effectively stepping into the shoes of the colonial powers that preceded them. It again falls upon the great people of this nation to fight their oppressors.

I apologize for the digression. I am more concerned with having this article touch the readers at a personal level. I want to offer a simple thought experiment to counter this bias when you feel yourself succumbing to it.

I have lived in India most of my life. I left my country for the first time about a year back, and have lived in a lot of different parts of the United States. It is not a country that is particularly hostile, at least outwardly, towards people of Indian descent, but something about my situation here was ominous. After thinking about this vague feeling of insecurity over and over, I was finally able to point a decisive finger at it. I was a minority, for the first time in my conscious life.

I have called myself an Indian here in one year way more than I have called myself an Indian in India all my life (even if I count the daily pledge in school). Suddenly being an Indian is my identity, although I hate Bollywood, watch more American TV than Indian TV, hardly listen to any Indian songs, hardly read any Indian authors, love Sushi more than any Indian dish, and a million other “non-Indian” things, like a lot of my other Indian friends. A lot of people I meet here have been utterly disappointed that I call Art of Living a sham. Surely a lot of things about me are Indian, but there is much more that I would want myself to be associated with first before the concept of a stereotypical Indian guy. But that is how I am being defined now. I was never approached like this in my life, and it flipped a switch in me. My radical notions about Arabs and Pakistanis suddenly started dissolving away now that I could closely feel how my remarks would sound to someone from that part of the world. I loved (and understood the reason behind) the feeling of indifference in a melting pot like New York City, compared to the feeling of being an outsider in a less diverse state like North Carolina.

So here is my thought experiment. Whenever you find yourself making sweeping (negative or positive) statements about a particular community, country, culture, colour, gender, etc., you should stop talking for a while. Recognize that you may have taken the wrong line of thought there. Place yourself in the shoes of the other (like the children in Ms. Jane’s blue-eyed/brown-eyed class do) and think how fallacious what you were saying about yourself (as you are now) a minute ago was. Maybe that would help with the perspective. With all the intelligence and information at our disposal in this age, perspective is the thing we lack the most.

Humans no longer fear an existential threat from other species: they can afford to be friendly, helpful and less hostile, within themselves and without. We are (should, rather) no longer living in small groups, other than at a very intimate emotional level, and are moving towards a society that has the perspective of seeing itself from space, as one collective species out of many, floating on top of a rock in space. Our evolutionary instincts need to shift, or at least rationally modified, and it is a process we can accelerate through language and the internet.

The tensions between the warring tribes in the experiment by Muzafer Sherif was lessened by activities that involved both the groups to work together to achieve some goals. Our globalized world is the one camp we are in now, we are all humans, and we need to work collectively to strive towards a world with lesser misery, lesser suffering, and lesser strife, with more equality, more peace, and more happiness: a world that is more understanding and more rational.

Endless Loop


Humans have recently made a big breakthrough in the development of a technology that will enable them to create nanobots that are expected to grow nano-colonies so as to build a subsequent generation of attobots (at the human level) which are expected to tell us (not consciously, due to the technical difficulties involved) how matter behaves at the very infinitesimally small level. It is expected that this sub-atomic probe will continue till we reach the end of divisibility.

These nanobots would never be able to create anything two orders above them, due to the lack of materials, much like humans cannot make anything bigger than two orders above them. To these bots, our world would be full of ‘dark’ matter and it might get difficult for them to understand their origins if they were to grow sentient (something that is expected).

This experiment is very promising.

the man who wasn’t there: an impression


Ed Crane

Anyone watching the film slightly critically and having read The Outsider by Camus would know that the plots are very parallel. It is very deliberate, because the movie seeks to define ‘the modern man’, in light of the literary interpretation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (the presence of the observer changes the observed). That is why the title suddenly starts to make sense at a level that is deeper than the first reading of the plot.

In the whole movie, there is only one man who knows the complete story, i.e. he hasn’t changed the observed, and that is Ed Crane. Otherwise, seen from anyone else’s point of view, the observed is different from the ‘reality’. Even though, by the end, Ed himself starts to dissolve into the confusion around him, his understanding still remains deeper than the other characters, though he is as much a victim of this confusion as the others.

While Mersault was a man who was entering modernity by rejecting and disowning the prevalent morality, exalted by the benign indifference of the universe, Ed Crane was living in a time where the moral atmosphere was, for the lack of a better word, confused. Ed Crane was the modern man, born into a modern time, not one who was ushering in the modern era. He was trying desperately to find his place, and that is why Birdie is so crucial to the plot, as Crane wants her to find herself so he could live through her vicariously. His ambition was to create an impression, to have a say in the future (‘Dry Cleaning: wave of the future’), as he was distraught by the futility of cutting the hair that always grew back (Sisyphus the wisest barber), of having it made and having nothing, of being alienated and anonymous (although I am not too sure about the anonymity part as he was fine with his name not being associated with the business). He is, in every sense of the plot, the man who wasn’t there.

Mersault says in The Outsider that to him, everyone was guilty (an idea that becomes central to a later work of Camus, The Fall), and it is the same in the film. The crucial difference is that while in the Outsider the guilty were prosecuted for the crimes they committed, in the movie, the crime committed was different from the crime they were being punished for. But like the movie, the sentence meted out was the same. So was, I think, the reception to the punishment. Confused faces could be seen watching Crane’s execution, wondering what it meant to them. Crane, on the other hand, had resigned from the expectation of any epiphany (other than that there was no epiphany here), pinning his hopes on something in the afterlife, refusing to acknowledge the end when it hit him. This is completely unlike Mersault who reconciles with the universe at the end.

I am still reeling and not completely decided on what to make of the movie, but the impact is forceful, and it reinforces my belief in the writing prowess of the Coen brothers.

The Fear Future


What should I look forward to- resolution, or reconciliation?
A man crippled by his own thoughts wonders whether the future holds any promise, whether these contradictions are resolved, whether an identity is established, whether anything other than vanity is ever achieved. He wonders if there can be another Dostoevsky in the age of blogs and instant gratification. He wonders if thought can be shaped and questions can be framed before they are dismissed. He wonders if his own confusion can channel itself into order, and how, if it happens, will it happen?
Do people understand love as they age? Or do they attach meaning to their sufferings, thinking that since they are suffering, they must be suffering for a reason, and name that reason love? Is there a love without suffering? Are humans capable of close coexistence? If yes, is it always a coupling? There are questions, there is no answer, literature is insufficient, literature just panders to what we want to feel is right.
Do people get to sleep at night? Do people get to know what makes them happy?
What is the future like?

Slacker


The blank page stares at him derisively. The rubber pickaxe thuds away on the inside of his head, creating bruises filled with guilt. He turns on some Massive Attack. The beauty empales him. The beauty empales the impaled.
He tries to get up and do something. He has lied to everyone that he would be sleeping. He didn’t. He needs to go to work in the morning. It’s about to be morning. He’ll find it hard to wake up.

He wants to escape to a silent island, where no lures follow him, where he can just lie down with his thoughts and die of hunger. He keeps thinking of this glorious death, when the silence distracts him. The song has stopped playing.
He changes the song, puts on Koop, starts to cry without tears, wonders why love has deserted him. The truth is, love never found him, it kept looking for him.

He wants to burn the money he has earned, money that has made him a prisoner. He wants to sleep free. He wants to meet love, only to punch him in the face, hug him, and hang on his shoulders. He sits down again, with a heavy head and a hollow heart, turns all the lights on and goes to sleep.

Why, and for whom, a great song going mainstream is bad


I don’t usually write propaganda articles, it is not my forte, but I have recently seen a lot of hipsters going under the blade because they say things like “another song ruined by mainstream”, or “fucking sellouts”, or “I heard them before it came on House”, without any proper defence. I am here to say that they have a point, and that they are totally justified in letting their wrath out on songs or bands that get mainstream.

First up and most importantly, exclusivity and the feeling of being cheated upon. There is something about having your own little discoveries that no one else knows that are reflective of your dedication to discovering new music. And when you have searched long and hard for a gem only for it to get mainstream a month later, it can piss you off. It’s no longer your baby, it’s a whore now, playing everywhere. You cannot share it even, because everyone knows it already. This feeling is crucial to the enjoyment of any song, and without this, a lot of the juice of the song goes away. When you spread the word about a lesser known band and everybody appreciates them, they are not just a band whose music you listen to, but you now become a member of their band, obviously not musically but emotionally. This is critical to any band getting recognition. Once the band becomes famous, you no longer are a crucial member of the band, your appreciation and word is no longer important to them, you are just one of the crowd that oh so loves them.

Secondly, for the artist, displacement of motives and dilution of quality. In most of the cases, art is created by an inspiration from within, a feeling that is alien to anyone without this sensibility. But artists are human too, they need love too, they need appreciation too, they need money too, they like fame too. When a particular song gets a disproportionate amount of success compared to their other songs, they are tempted to make more music like that, and though it may be great for the new labels and the new fans who think that this sort of sound is cool, it is no longer a genuine form of art but insecurities and desperation masquerading as new art. This is loathsome to the fans who loved them from earlier days, because they are more discerning than their current followers, and know they are being cheated. This boils to foaming rage in some cases.
While I do acknowledge that going mainstream is not necessarily bad and creativity can still flow, it is very difficult for naive artists to avoid such traps. I am quite sure that if a band manages to retain its strengths, the loyal and intelligent fans will still stick around, albeit with pouted lips about they no longer being as special as before.

There are two type of hipsters, one who have no choice and the others who choose to be hipsters. Needless to say, the second type are the ones that are generating all the flak hipsters receive. It is just like artists, some people have no choice but to be artists, the ones I call genuine artists, and some choose to be artists because being an artist is “so fucking cool, right?”, the ones who, even if they produce something valuable, are disgusting in a stomach churning, vomit inducing way (Andy Warhol, for example).

Maybe, as Don’s mother in law in Mad Men says, a hipster is a person with “the artistic temperament but is not an artist”.

The Painting with no Perspective


The old man with a broken guitar sat in a corner, admiring the picture from a distance, so intently that he forgot only an hour ago his guitar had fallen on its neck and broken into a miserable two. His head was aching with an ache that seemed to move inside his head from corner to corner, but his sweat was drying up and he felt better. He had an odd condition due to which one of his eyes grew larger than the other when he was immersed in something and wasn’t paying attention to control his condition. So the old man with the broken guitar sat in a corner admiring the picture with no perspective intently with one eye larger than the other feeling fresh from the evaporating sweat, a feeling that surely interfered with his interpretation.
A little kid was looking at the picture closely, the painting so large and real that he seemed to be a part of it. Everything seemed big to him, he couldn’t understand when the voices around him discussed how the painter had paid so much attention to painting such small boats and people. A house in the painting lay tilted at an odd angle but when he tilted his head to see it better, the house was overwhelmed by the strange and horrifying face that was now staring at him from a corner. He seemed to have a broken neck and oddly shaped eyes. His hands unclasped due to an onrush of fear.
A journalist was taking pictures of the gallery, staring into the camera’s viewfinder with the eye that he trusted would be a good judge of the picture’s composition. He thought of including some people staring at the painting in the picture, and was looking at different angles that would show the reaction the painting generated in the audience. He caught a particular girl staring at him, he thought he would flatter her later if he had a picture of hers in his armory. He took a picture of her staring into the viewers’ eyes with the painting as a backdrop so she looked like the Monalisa, only a bit more real and sorrowful. His neck was now straining with pain.
The artist was in his studio, thinking of how a self-contained painting could be drawn. He thought about how ones in the painting had to be watching the painting and those would be the most honest judges of his work. He was wrong, of course, they had no perspective. He then thought of removing perspective altogether and make a painting that was floating in space and frozen in time.
He had the skill. But he couldn’t do it, his wrists were sore from holding the brush at a certain angle all the while and his eyes strained from staring at the painting for so long.