Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Two Worlds that the Artists Inhabit

We dwell in two worlds; one inside and one outside. I have not just stated an earth shattering truth. I have said what everyone knows. However, if you ask what are these worlds, most of us would look here and there or give the readymade answer instantly; inside world is spiritual world and outside world is the real world. The romantics among them would further say that the inside world is the one where we hide ourselves and live our secret lives, play out our fantasies, pose all what we are not, cry to our hearts’ fill and outside world is where we live pretending that everything is alright. Interestingly, barring a few most of us have not reconciled with the internal and the external worlds. They remain as two different strange lands never to be bridged by anything.

Many people are still confused about the internal and the external worlds. They think that if you are a person who has realized the internal world, a spiritually enlightened person or a hardcore romantic, then one does not have anything to do with the external world. Similarly, those who delve deeply into the worldly matters leave the affairs of the internal world to those ‘enlightened’ men and women and believe that an occasional visit to them would be enough for them to satisfy their urge to realize an internal world, if at all such an urge exists anywhere. Seeing the number of people thronging around the sannyasis and spiritual gurus of both the genders I am reassured that the urge to realize the internal world even for the diehard worldly beings is so high that they could spend any amount of time, money and energy to do that. All of them unfortunately think that realization of the internal world is directly proportionate to the amount of time and energy (of course money too) one could spend on such matters.

I have a friend who constantly worries about his artistic growth and family life. Way into his forties, he feels that his time is over and the youngsters as well as his contemporaries have made it; he is the only one who has been left out. My friend, who is a freelancer, goes to his studio every morning, work religiously and he gets chances to exhibit his works in various shows, besides having opportunities to participate in workshops and camps held in different parts of the country. When he unpacks the bundles of woes before me I often ask him why he was so worried about his life and works. According to him, the others have ‘arrived’ in the art scene and he has not yet. I realize from his talks that for him ‘arrival’ means a sort of success enjoyed by the artists in terms of recognition of the works among the peer groups as well as among the younger artists, and is obviously iced with the selling of the works. To put it simply, what leaves him dissatisfied constantly is the fact that his inability to turn his works into liquid cash. In other words, he is worried about money.

This friend of mine is a disciplinarian; he goes regularly for meditation camps and does meditation for an hour every day. I ask him why he does meditation. He tells me that he does that for keeping an internal balance and to realize the inner world. I understand internal balance as calmness or the much talked about word, ‘peace’. What about the inner world? I quiz him further and he comes out clear by saying that inner world is the world where he could live his life. I ask him about the complexion of the world and how does it feel? He tells me that there in the inner world he lives an ideal life, creates his art and just does not worry about whether people see it or buy it. He is happy in that world where nothing worries and he floats in a sea of fulfilment. He also says that in that one hour of he understands that nothing matters; even his happiness does not matter. There is no need to prove anything, gain anything, lose anything and it is pure bliss. And do you like it in that way, I ask. Definitely, he answers. “I like it in that way.” In that state of mind aren’t you worried about your family, your wife and kids? “No. Nothing is indispensable. Everything would take care of itself.” Are you sure, I ask. “Yes,” he says. “But,” he continues, “But when I come out of it after an hour, everything remains the same. I am back in the same s**t.”

If meditation helps for an hour to be what you are and throws you back to the garbage after that hour, then does it fundamentally differ from the alcohol consumption and drug abuse? Logically speaking, any intoxicate would help you to forget the worldly woes for some time. This sort of alcoholic abuse has been given cultural sanction via popular novels and films. A spurned lover or a man who failed in life could always turn to alcohol or drugs to ‘forget’ his sorrows. His actions are justified and to certain extent sympathized by the public. He is a poor man and the ‘world’ is the villain. Meditation and medication do the same. Those who go for meditation are the people who have been wronged by life and it is important for them to seek balance and peace to continue with their lives. The imagery that comes to my mind is that of a public place that the municipality worker cleans regularly in the morning only to be littered by the people throughout the day and night till the cleaner comes back at the appointed hour next day. If we cannot keep our minds clean throughout the day and night there is no point in doing meditation or holding the bottle.

As human beings, everyone lives in two different worlds; it is already said outset of this article. What I am going to elaborate here is the nature of those worlds. The internal world that one claims to habit is neither a spiritual realm that needs special exercises to be realized nor a definable one where one’s movement could be clearly chartered. It is an ideal realm. And ideal is thought about or imagined only when a non-ideal is seen, lived and experienced. Hence, we cannot be sure that ideal precedes the non-ideal, which could also be called mundane or the mundane precedes the ideal. According to the Greek Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, the ideal is already there in the divine realm and man’s job is to imitate it. It is slightly against our soonya theory, the theory of nothingness. There is nothing to precede or succeed therefore there is nothing to be emulated. Whatever be the case, whether an idea exists in the divine realm or nothing is there including the divine realm, a human being could live an internal life, by which one means which is not external and palpable, without all what he/she thinks limiting him/her in the external world. With all the limitations erased (which is not possible in the external world) what one lives inside one’s own being is the ideal world which is inside.

It is so interesting that we always say inside and outside. This binary exists because we contrast the external world, the world that we see, live in and experience, with the thoughts generated by it. Where do these thought originate? We say, in our minds (the scientific one would say, in the brain). There are thoughts which are felt not really thought about, and we say that is originated in our heart. When we know that as biological entities both brain and heart cannot show us proofs that they generate thoughts (brain mapping and related scientific fields have made attempts to see thoughts as ‘image’ entities and energies, which in fact could be quantified), we imagine them as streams of words or pictures because we are trained in these two systems or structures of comprehending the world we live in. Thoughts cannot be touched, tasted and smelt; but it could be seen and heard (muted hearing). That means whatever we consider as ideal world inside us are either created of words or images. And living in there means we live in two structures, linguistic as well as pictorial structures. Together they give birth to the three dimensional sensation of a life lived inside.

And what is this ‘inside’? Technically speaking, anything that is inside the outer skin (epiderm) is ‘inside’ for a human being. Ironically, that internal world which is manifested by two structures and is felt as an ideal world without any societal limitations, is neither muscles and bones nor veins and blood. That means what we imagine as the ideal world inside (in mind, in soul, in heart etc) is just a ‘virtual reality’ which we have willed to be. We feel a child like bliss and innocence there because whatever we see and ‘live’ there ‘inside’ are fresh and new to us and always prod us to further our journeys revealing avenues to encounter surprises after surprises. It is in this realm of virtual reality people ‘see’ things that have never been seen before, hear music that has been never heard before, feel ideas that have been never thought about before, ‘smell’ fragrances that have been never smelt before, touch various objects and things that have never been touched before and taste foods and pleasures that have been never tasted before. There are some people who live in these realms got this terrific capacity and skill to reproduce what they have seen, heard, felt, smelt and tasted there through mediums that are known and identified in the outer/external world. They are often called as artists. That means, in the internal world of ideal things (sans any restrictions) every one stands a chance but only the artistic ones channelize those chances for the external world.

If so what could be the external world? The common definition is that the external world is what exists outside the human skin that means whatever we see, live and experience in the material world. This external world is so over powering that it hardly allows anybody to delve deeply into the internal realm. This world is the world of controls, habits and routines that people thoroughly enjoy. The external world as it is palpable and quantifiable imposes lesser fear amongst people. Erasing mystery is one way of making external world alluring everyone. Here everyone could think of becoming everyone else. Most of the human beings think of emulating those people who have done materialistically well. They have gone beyond the basics of roti, kapda aur makan (bread, cloth and home). They have improvised the basics to various forms of pleasure and everyone is seeking it. To achieve them, in the material world one has to have money because that is the only one way of exchange that the material world knows. And this is the world that people identify as the external world.

Here is a problem. External world is also a perception as intriguing as the internal world. The only difference between them is that in the internal world each human being rightfully inhabit, possess and occupy an autonomous world and there are no binding rules and regulations, and in the external world, every human being is meant to follow the rules and regulations created by the political authorities. Otherwise people coming from different strata of the society perceive and experience the material world in different terms and from different vantage points. That means even if there is an appearance of the world as seen in the photographs and maps, it is not so. People perceive it differently, interpret and understand it differently. That means depending on the number people on the face of the earth, there are as many interpretations and perceptions about the world, which in turn means that what we perceive is not what our neighbour perceives as the world. There fundamental differences. If that is the case, each perception of the world has to be seen as a virtual projection of the world which is given in the material form. Hence, the world we see with our eyes and experience with our lives is a conglomeration of various perceptions which at times nullify the other perceptions or confirm the. However, society as a whole with a political or military power to govern it standardizes these perceptions for keeping certain patterns. And it is interesting to see that to accept these patterns the people are prepared physically and mentally through various sorts of indoctrination by the authorities so that the people would eventually forget that they have two autonomous worlds (internal and external) at their disposal. They start believing that what is seen is reality and they learn to disbelieve their own perceptions. People do not have any problem to come out of home at a given time, take the same, go to office by same route, do the job, take salary, go home, do the same things and repeat the routine six days week for almost thirty to forty years, without any complaint. People who have fallen under the weight of routine not only have forgotten the internal world that they have but also the external world that they live in.

People try to rebel when the oppression of the rules and routine weigh down on them beyond a point. That’s why they go to the theatres, cinemas and art galleries. That’s why they listen to music and try to break free once in a while. What do they get when they try to break free by taking creative routes as mentioned before? What do they carry back once they get back to their routine? According to me, artists are those people who with their special skills express their ideal worlds through their works of art. Works of art are the bridges created between two virtual worlds; one, the world that exists somewhere else (you may call it ‘inside world’ but I would say that is the world where one realizes one’s own existence) and the one that exists right in front of you and you believe that it is ‘real’. As I said before, both are virtual worlds. Artists bridge them and the people who break free walk through these bridges once in a while and get the glimpses of the other world of ideals. I don’t insist that everyone stand on the bridge for ever or cross over to the other realms. They have their own priorities to do so. But I insist that those people capable of realizing the internal worlds for the external world, that means artists, are destined to be there in the internal realm and live an autonomous life without ever succumbing to the routine or rules of the external world. No meditation could help the artists to do better art or realize the internal world or gain peace provided if they are guided and goaded by the rules of the external world. As both the worlds are virtual the artists could make what they want; their comforts and luxuries irrespective of the rules of the outer world, but only catch is that those comforts and luxuries should be different from those of the routine world. To tell you the truth, the routine world works day in and day out for the artists to live their lives; one just needs to realize it. 

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