sharing something I read lately

@ Shunya : his notes to himself about what an Artist should do

I overdid what reviewers do with an excerpt, but the piece was really very long and therefore a ‘little extract had to be this long…didn’t want to mess up too much with what he was saying there. To enjoy it in his own inimitable style, you would have to read the original. 

“Perhaps (young artists) will begin with memories of innocence, or a private rage, or a heartfelt lament—you’ll offer yourself to the world… the result would be less akin to art, more to the dynamics of masturbation… I offer my two pesos worth on the matter…

Culture,… is the realm of the variable, free, not necessarily universal… a collective response in a particular time and place, including not only its visible side but also its elusive underside—myths, anxieties, humor, repressions, prejudices etc. Examine the prodigious multiplicity of cultural expression. You may find that, beneath them, there are only a handful of elemental responses. Consider this carefully: are some responses better than others? Why?

… Over time… fiction becomes a kind of popular truth, framed around an us and them… rooted in a silent belief that people are built differently… In them, we fail to recognize cultural practices that are variations of our own….. So for … the mass media in the West… An average man from modern Cairo, Baghdad… is variously imagined as … a Bedouin on a camel, a religious extremist simply because he adheres to Islam, a mustachioed sheik leering from behind an oil pump, someone who routinely abuses two of his three wives, a gun toting terrorist, and the like…. Them less civilized than Us.

 This is not just a Western malady and casteism is not just an Indian one. Hasty, reductive judgment of people based on speech, custom, faith, sex, etiquette, profession, nationality, or place of origin is endemic… Learn, therefore, to see each person with fresh eyes… Live many cultures, be of many cultures.. Travel… travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living…

This’ll teach you more about when to say a story is good.

Pursue knowledge — it makes the highs higher and the lows lower… not just information about this or that, but learning why things are the way they are. Pay…attention to eternal debates… This’ll help you make better choices….

Pursue… the voice of life, this living, this wonder at being conscious, of seeing at every breath the birth and death of possibility, of feeling resonance fleetingly… with the unhearable symphony of the universe..


There may be enough ‘going wrong’ but avoid the mushy, carping, chic variety of’ll.. make you rant and rave at what others do, or fail to do..

Society, like language, implies change. Glorifying past generations from postmodern nostalgia is suspect—their imagined virtues are phantoms of our mind…

Mine-fields lie at the extremes…the artist ought to tread the middle ground, survey the fault lines…”

And I especially liked that bit where  he says, that like everything around, Language too changes…There is NOTHING fixed or permanent about Language is one reason perhaps we should be somehwat grounded in Grammar. If it were just rules, you could have picked it up anyway, like two plus two four. But since it is basically convention…one needs to keep learning from transit point to transit point, one language to another…

Well, for those interested you can also see how Shunya plays around with the visual side of script of a language here  

Thanks Shunya, once again for a stimulating post, hope my friends enjoy it as much as I have.

PS: Shunya is dot net and more than one person write there, so I can’t always make out – dnt know if Namit posted this or Usha. They both write well.


My Question after the first Reading:  If artists do not tread the middle path, what then?


Their art ceases to be great art? Do they otherwise end up being activists more than artists?


3 thoughts on “sharing something I read lately

  1. Cuckoo, Priyank, thx 🙂 u are welcome, but, do you believe artists shd tread the middle path, avoid being intensely involved, distance thmselvs to avoid the extremes of ‘minefileds’ on the sides? Wern’t most artists doing smthng exceptional n beyond-their-times while they were working and believd in smthng passionately whthr their govts or ppl liked it or not? I like reading Shunya, yet I question tht stand of his, that to be great, artists ought to avoid treading ‘minefileds’ and stick to the middle path…eager to know wht you think.

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