Art is a deathlike experience

The human mind has this constant need to conform because it is otherwise free beyond any limitations that define structures governing human activity.There is this need to be like everybody .The moment we are free we feel lost and disoriented in the vast wild wastes of logical possibility. Hence the defining structures.We always try to devise newer structures because we are afraid of being sucked into the uncertainty of the infinity,the kind of borderless existence that fills us with fear.Human existence is a matter of so much enclosed space with a dream which refuses to acknowledge contours. Art is a uniquely human endeavor to break down structures ,to demolish contours and become part of space which is not defined by any outlines. The only way such a thing is possible when the body disappears . Art is a death-like experience when the individual attempts to burst out of enclosed spaces.

Dance is an effort to extend human existence into the infinity of space.When the dancer throws her limbs in space in her dance movements she extends the frontiers of her own enclosed space. The abstract artist demolishes the outlines of physical objects and abolishes form and structure in order to experience freedom. That is the only way one invents freedom,the freedom which is hiding behind form and symmetry.When we dream on the side of our pillow we experience scary freedom ,when we disappear in the vastness of space . We have invented our God , a finite God with arms akimbo ,enclosed in the claustrophobic space of a human-like form because we are scared of an infinite God who is not enclosed in finite space.

Beauty in nature and art

Does beauty in nature conform to the known and accepted aesthetic principles of color,balance,texture,symmetry,harmony etc.?

Actually we do not see such principles in application in nature. For instance does a painter paint bright green foliage against deep translucent sky as we often see in the summer sky, without playing down the blue of the sky? Yet this is what we see and enjoy in nature. The combination of colors in nature is dynamic and relative to the time and space of the moment.A painter cannot achieve the same beauty if he does not employ the commonly accepted aesthetic principles of color combination,color texture,contrived color effects, creating an ideal artistic space which can be appreciated by the human mind.

The “combo” effect of several elements present in the beauty of nature cannot be reduced to the enunciation of a few principles as in art.The beauties of nature are something we all enjoy without the need to break them down to a few principles of critical appreciation.

The beauty of nature goes much beyond the aesthetics of human appreciation .There is something about nature which appeals to you even when there is no conformance to the known and accepted principles of aesthetics. Take for example the texture and shapes of the straggling boulders of our Hyderabad rock-scape which are pleasing to the eye despite the randomness of their arrangement.A sculptor would impose some formalism on their existence ,position under the sky,sharing of space with foliage,their own textures and colors related to the sky of the moment etc. You will not find in them a symmetry such as we attempt in art .For example an artist will not paint just a single rock under the sky but juxtapose it with another flatter rock ,a road or passage and fill the canvas with two or three palm trees.That is how symmetry is sought to be achieved .In nature we find randomness which is the opposite of harmony and the absence of deliberate positioning of objects.


We may look at death as cessation of consciousness , the subject experiencer becoming  the object that is experienced. Looked at this way death does not mean obliteration but only an extension of the subject’s existence.

I look at death in yet another perspective.A person who is born becomes an Idea in Time and continues to exist as an Idea even after death.Thus all those who had lived and died before us are not obliterated but remain rooted in existence although they have ceased to exist in space.

A squatter’s perspective

When we were children we were eating our meals while squatted on the floor as the women of the house would serve food into our plates. As we grew up we adopted the western system of eating on a table.

I now find that squatting on the floor gives us a novel perspective, a unique line of vision in a world of standing people .Our sense of space suddenly becomes enriched with vast new spaces released into our visual perspective. Our vision becomes linear with furniture legs and table cloth frills .

When we raise our eyes we look at the ceiling fan with a curved perspective , a breath taking angle from which we see the fan as a kind of crooked oval object with its shadow playing on the intersection of the floor with the wall. Then all those people seem to be strutting about in the room like midnight shadows shuffling their large  feet grotesquely disproportionate to their comically lean torsos and tiny faces stuck up on them.

The illusion

(This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go as far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.)


Our everyday illusion begins to grow as the sun ripens to a fruit in the tree hanging in glory for its falling moment. Our shirt sticks to the body of illusion, our self growing out of a banana fiber made of words of purported meaning.

Fiber grows transparent as the sun grows making the body a silhouette by dusk. And silhouettes disappear as sketch outlines bodies experience before the sun sets.

Bodies are mind’s constructs in yesterday. Yesterdays are body’s constructs in mind, re-assembled , as we grow out of words and get up and grow, away from the sun like naked holy men who came to the river from the snow hills, hanging their selves.

Expecting the visitor that never comes

(There too, as everywhere, I sometimes expected the Visitor who never comes. The Vishnu Purana says, ‘The house-holder is to remain at eventide in his courtyard as long as it takes to milk a cow, or longer if he pleases, to await the arrival of a guest.’ I often performed this duty of hospitality, waited long enough to milk a whole herd of cows, but did not see the man approaching from the town.

-Thoreau’s Walden)

We have burst upon Thoreau’s solitude when no visitor arrives in the eventide from all those towns in the distant haze as they sit in their prime , beyond fields.

All the while, milking of cow takes place. The cows are a solitude to themselves before their milk flows to morning coffee .Their feet shuffle in slush, their eyes vacant. Only a tiny moon hangs above their tin roof .

Solitude is not away from body’s music, more in the windy creak of dead wood as strange words spring in a white space from the vast wild wastes of our nights. We sit alone, away from milking cows linking their remote existence to solitude.

Loneliness in the city

“Laing examines the particular, pervasive form of loneliness in the eye of a city aswirl with humanity:

Imagine standing by a window at night, on the sixth or seventeenth or forty-third floor of a building. The city reveals itself as a set of cells, a hundred thousand windows, some darkened and some flooded with green or white or golden light. Inside, strangers swim to and fro, attending to the business of their private hours. You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people. One might think this state was antithetical to urban living, to the massed presence of other human beings, and yet mere physical proximity is not enough to dispel a sense of internal isolation. It’s possible – easy, even – to feel desolate and unfrequented in oneself while living cheek by jowl with others. Cities can be lonely places, and in admitting this we see that loneliness doesn’t necessarily require physical solitude, but rather an absence or paucity of connection, closeness, kinship: an inability, for one reason or another, to find as much intimacy as is desired. Unhappy, as the dictionary has it, as a result of being without the companionship of others. Hardly any wonder, then, that it can reach its apotheosis in a crowd.”

From Brainpickings by Mary Popova

How true! In the busy city of Hong Kong I had experienced this ,standing on the twentieth floor balcony of a skyscraper. You were hemmed in by a number of high-rise buildings with their lighted windows . You could see the people inside “swim” through the light like luminous little fish in an aquarium. Each window was an aquarium of many hues and the people swam through their light in the tiny spaces, sometimes reaching the dead end of the glass wall and taking quick about turns.

You see their tangible presences but cannot reach out to them. What a splendid isolation, when you feel so alone in the midst of thousands of people. around you.

The amusing thing is that even after people descend from their glass houses on to the streets ,you still see them walk ,staring at each other from glassy eyes as if they are continuing their swim in the lighted windows.