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Elon Musk, Ramjas Jan Sunvayi, and, Alexander Pope.

I was watching an Elon Musk interview yesterday, and he said several things, that I believe, all of us, as the human civilisation need to think about. I take the liberty, here, of paraphrasing him, and using his argument to further my own interests. He says, that we need to think of ways to wonder, to continue looking forward to the future, with happiness, and with gaiety. In between the larger disarray of the modern times, there remain only a few moments that present themselves adorned with potential, and I strongly believe, that, in science, as in the regular lives of our political selves, these moments all contribute towards building of the future of the human civilisation. Such an event was the Ramjas Jan Sunvaayi, on the ninth of February, this year. There had to be a larger irony in play, for the date to be the same as that of the Jawaharlal Nehru University event, two years before. I entered late, as the meeting was already underway, because I wasn’t expecting much. Not to say, that I didn’t look forward to it. I did, just not ‘much.’ The turn from the Ramjas canteen, took me by shock because the usual dotted appearance of the Amphitheater, and its surrounding area, was not to be seen.

And instead, for the first time, in a long time, the architecture was being put to use, in its proper sense. As students, sat, curved into a circle, crowding towards the center, as the eye of a hurricane, or the froth, on the surface of a colding tea, unmoved by the stillness of a summer day.  Ab- was talking, and so were the people around, and the people within, the circle, that stood out. A strange return to the images of Athenian democracies, and images of Socrates, and men, of greater self hoods, painted in the varied colours of a, superficially, consumer-oriented economy. All was well, and in several ways, the national melancholy that hung over my vision, like eyelids heavy for the want to sleep, dissipated into nothingness. A strange sense of activity, tremors from a disturbed repose, instead, took its place. The problems that were being discussed were problems associated with a long and timely culture that had somehow been allowed to creep into the pipes and veins of Ramjas, and this country, invisible but ubiquitous. Invisible, hence ubiquitous. In the sole expression, the culture was called out, and to the expunging of any sewage, to recognise the scent and call it out, is the first step. Only years and years of democratic despondency, sewage, will, of course, take years and years of, first, calling out.

The merriment of democratic discussion lasted for a while, before a lady, M-, from the crowd, got up and mentioned, that A-, who then was boldly talking, of ladies and their right to pee, in equality with men, that A-, who was voicing opinions of noble spirit, dressed in subtle politics of his own self-interest, painting those in power, in negative shades, to further his own brand of the same colour, had at once, messaged the lady’s friend, on Instagram. And on Instagram he had, asked the friend about a wound on her nose, or something other. To imagine that men, of the modern day, would pass their while, in staring at girls, is a strong comment, on the manner in which women are made aware, of their appearance, the superficial, the visible, and in that pursuit, pushed beyond the precepts of reasonable creation. But simultaneously understand, how the human has fallen into considerations of such sorts, while the mind has been forcefully pushed into decay, into animal-like behavior, removed from civic virtue and order. Anyway, A-, then felt attacked, and pounced back, and slowly the froth, dissipated away, the cloud of national melancholy, returned with its placid acidity: a hurricane dead, a mist again . I didn’t stay for long after that, because I had a debate to go to, at Kirori Mal, and I could do without a larger share of that common disposition, the doleful haze. I had enough of my own.

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The slight trouble, though, revealed a larger question to me.

We often find ourselves in the critical position of being able to question our hard-held beliefs, and the manners we have impersonated off of the general social structures, in the course of education, and often with that understanding, comes the responsibility to utilise that reason towards the betterment of the united whole. But any questioning of the same, results in recoil, in retaliatory violence, and doubt. The human and the humane resist change, but change also happens to be the core tenet of humanity. In this situation, how do we pursue change, without being disturbed or destroyed? In this situation, if there happen to be errors of the graver, and the slighter kind, how do we pursue change, without one at the cost of the other? These are questions that came to me when the M-’s questioning urged further progress, and deeper reason, but for the cost of which, the established sense of calm and peace, at the Ramjas Jan Sunvayi, against the crept in culture of a corrupt and sleazy administration, against the authoritarianism of the (Officiating) Principal,  had to be, momentarily, sacrificed.

I haven’t found the answer yet, but I did happen to come about a few lines of verse, in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, that can aid us in understanding the nature of knowledge disparity, and dispensation. I do not claim to make any sense out of them, and I do not know if the current times allow for Pope’s privileged position, but regardless, his discussion, in the 1700s, of the questions that haunt me now, becomes a source of comfort that has stood the test of time; looks into the past, for answers to questions that build the future.

“ ‘Tis not enough your counsel still be true;

Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do;

Men must be taught as if you taught them not,

And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Without good breeding truth is disapproved;

That only makes superior sense beloved.”

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A Discussion About Ultralight Beam.

“I laugh in my head,
‘Cause I bet that my ex looking back like a pillar of salt.”
'The Life Of Pablo' album cover.
This, personally, is one of my favourite instances from Kanye’s Ultralight Beam, and Chance, in his Biblical references, has clearly outdone his past work. The agitation of the ‘ugh’ a few lines before, and just the pleasant isolation of the individual’s voice and associations that the genre of Rap, as a whole, allows, interact brilliantly with the lyrical allusions.
The tale of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt is borrowed from the Book of Genesis, ans the story goes, that as two angels descended onto Earth to destroy and burn, ‘in Gods Fire,’ the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, they allowed Lot, Abraham’s nephew, to escape with his wife and daughters. The angels then go on to leave Lot and his family outside of the city, asking them to move on and not look back, at the cities that now burn, in divine retribution, for their sins and vices. The sins and vices in themselves being homosexuality and material indulgence. The wife looks back and is immediately turned into a pillar of salt. But why? And how does Chance position himself in this entire discourse, when he uses this particular story in order to present an ex who clearly fucked up by leaving Chance, who went on to become a successful musician and a great father.
Of course, the same isn’t a very new and noble image in Rap music, and the obviously sexist foundations of the same are irrelevant to my discussion. All I’ve been thinking about is the interaction of these lines with the ‘bad-boy-turned-good’ narrative with popular Black celebrities, where the ‘bad’ is always indulgence of some sort, and the causes of those indulgences, which are often always systemic and associated with years of discrimination, are never addressed in their own — the entire argument against black celebrities such as Kanye, and Jay Z, and so on and so on.
These lines fashion Chance as Lot himself, and selective readings of the Bible present Lot as a brilliant man, who achieves a lot and everything, and that way, Chance is fine. But simultaneously, there are questions about the responsibilities that dropped on Lot as a husband, when his wife was literally turned into a pillar of salt, and as when his city burned, for the sin of seeking material enjoyment and sexual pleasure in sodomy. Especially, when you take into account, an earlier instance from the same Book, when Abraham and Lot are working on deciding who goes in which direction, and Lot, instead of following the path of chance, and divine predestination, that Abraham was working on, sneaks a peak towards one side and chooses it, for it presented itself as fertile and agreeable. And also, his troubled relationship with his daughters, because as far as my brief searches on Google revealed, there are readings in which Lot offers up her daughters to the citizens of Sodom to sleep with, to restrain them from going after the aforementioned angels. Umm, think about the reference to Chance’s daughter in the song, and with the claim that she shall stay out of the public eye, as he literally sings about her, and parades the same ‘privacy’ as a brilliant ‘public’ lyric. If anything, and I’m not arriving at any conclusions, the varied nature of understandings of fatherhood, and virtue, that this episode from the Bible allows is fascinating to note, in their own right.
Another reading of the same lyric could also position Chance as the city of Sodom that burns, because the ex in looking back upon him turns into a pillar of Salt. The ex has no motive to look back upon him, and if she looks back because he is now a successful musician and a good father, her turning into a pillar of salt is a weird thing, unless Chance means to talk about some weird meta shit, but that’s for another day.
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An Inquiry Into The Nature of Traffic Lights. 

I remember KJ mentioning a motion, once, something about ‘jumping a traffic light.’ Being the forever-unreal, I, of course, misheard it, on purpose, accidentally, and understood it to be, instead, about ‘regretting’ the yellow pillars of imposed order and stability. I couldn’t be bothered to frame arguments in favour of, and against, traffic lights, for fucks sake, but I did manage to ruminate upon the symbology the material objects come to embody, carry, inside those hollow metal tubes, within the larger ideological and surface structures of the modern world. 

The traffic light is so ubiquitous that we often come to forget that it is the largest instrument of practising state coercion and compulsion. While the coercion leads to an outcome largely desirable and positive, that remains, in itself, irrelevant to my proposition. Proposition is an unlikely word to choose, for it remains absolutely true. Remember how Weber remarked that the State maintains an overall legitimate monopoly on violence. It has the right to exercise that violence towards actors it deems as problematic to its own design. A design based on, in liberal and democratic thought, the benefit of the society, and the citizenry as whole. In this case, the state is curbing our right to not stop at that point on that road. 

We had all the natural right to do it, as human beings, to move around in the World, so craft fully unfolded for us, upon time and space, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…” But all that religion and jazz has been outdated since the 18th Century, or so, and the state, rightly so, curbs that right, and we internalise it as just another thing that doesn’t necessarily have a point to our existences, except maybe it makes our lives that much better, and in the internalisation we lose sight of the benefit. And then, we go on to assert our softened aggression of being and selfhood by violently breaking the social contract that the traffic light embodies and engenders. 

The thought of not giving a fuck about the police makes us feel the power, in a terrible caricature of it, that we’ve lost in the larger and more overt scheme of things, often economical and/or political. But the State allows it, doesn’t necessarily care for it, and especially in case of India, because the design aforementioned is not concerned with developing a civic sense, instead wants to get as many votes for itself, and for the abuse of its power. Obviously, that isn’t exclusive to India, that’s a basic principle that has its roots in Machiavellian notions, but the traffic light comes to become a platform for its (un)eminence. The Traffic Light is a coercive instrument of establishing order, and in practise of it, the State curbs an (un)important freedom, and while in practise, the State doesn’t regard with importance the violation of this particular instrument and its implications, it is in the fines, and suspension of driving licenses that the real ‘monopoly of violence’ is practised. 

All in all, I passed this dead traffic light sometime last week, and the way it lay, dead and, almost, at peace, as if breathing a heavy sigh of relief, at finally being shut down and unconcerned with human order, disorder, urged me to click a picture, and capture the ruin of state aesthetic that the twenty-first century reeks of, for digital eternity. The police barrier only served to hyperventilate the political imagery of the modern times that the entire spectacle was suspended under. The Indian state today is an increasingly secure one. It has an acute realisation of and a simultaneous disregard, that borders on complacency in an inability, for its monopoly of violence. The mobs rule free, and the smallest of protests are treated with extreme care and attention, adorned in a faux-gold choker. Cheers. 

Dhruv.

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North Campus and his Flowers.

Delhi was overflowing with broken flowers; flowers crushed under the feet of pertinent dreams; flowers plucked to death by promises of adolescent love; flowers betrayed by dishonest poems. Flowers, languishing under the fluorescent Moons that line the city streets, waiting for the Sun and the man who would sweep them to their destinies. The man would more-often-than-not be an old NDMC/MCD worker, too tired to take a minute and appreciate the crashing beauty of these casual bystanders to the vicissitudes of a metropolis lifestyle, and the flowers in their own way had accepted the banality of their existence.

But the ones that bloomed in North Campus were different.
Walking around North Campus, for my after-college reveries, I’d often see flowers lying idly in the corners of the sandstone pavements. There was something extremely self-aware about them. Their shades of red and yellow exuded a sense of finality, unlike the usual despair; a subtle declaration of a conclusion reached, and a purpose fulfilled. The way their petals wilted, into themselves, or onto the streets, reminded me of my first conscious rebellion, against the supposed tyrannies of life.
I had painted three beautiful canvases, with all the colors I could find, and then I had set them on fire, aided by gasoline and a decade-old metal vase.
It was as if the flowers were conscious of their sojourn on this planet, and did not want to stop asserting their beauty, asserting that for several students who walked up and down those roads every day they were the only respite from homesickness and the sheepish realization of the monotony that awaits them. They were confident of their shades and hues and the brilliance with which they shone through against the whites and blues of political propaganda posters, and litter from the Ridge, and on the days of my afternoon walks, they would lie just a tad-bit too unperturbed, just a tad-bit too suggestive of an underlying smirk at my humanity.

If they had to bend down to the whims and fancy of some evolution theory, they weren’t going to do it smooth and easy. They were going to burn, and with them, they were going to burn beauty.

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The Confounding Nature of Infinite Spaces.

insideoutside

walls, doors, window frames,

cordoned graves,

humayun’s tomb

grand, untamed,

extends out to the edges

of Delhi’s constrained

infinities;

sandstone bathed

in blood and pain;

columns that seek to break

out from in between the teeth

the Sky keeps clenched

to not let the renegades

escape into his infinities.

 

Infinities within infinities—

histories within histories—

and I hide several within

which tremble at the strain

of those larger than themselves

whenever I visit

did I say where

Humayun’s tomb.

 

A testament to the reign

of the second in command

of those that had

the World prostrating in their trail;

a testament to the failed

grandeur of the name

that now lies crumpled on

pages of rewritten history;

a testament to dragged—

through—the—streets—

she—paved irony.

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Cutting Silences.

In that time,

As I cut lines

Of silence on the

Back of your hand

With shards of paper

That bled

Unwritten poetry,

All I could think of

Was the way we trapped

Our passing times

In the space between

Our shaking fingers,

And the way I let

Loose into your nostrils

Powdered forevers

Laced with tremors

From my fading

Fidelity.

In that time

My nose started dripping;

Was it blood, or screams

Painted in technicolor?

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T o n i g h t.

Consider this bar on the

edge of a thousand stars

eternally yours, for t o n i g h t.

 

Dance joyously and whirl around,

on Saturn rings, s p i n n i n g loud,

on the turntable of time, t o n i g h t.

 

In whispers, sing songs of love,

and cosmic desire, fear not for

the eyes and ears, of the void

like forest fire, spread w i d e

across unending horizons,

and a w a y. Under the reds –

the greens- the blues – of

the passing-by Suns, rest

till the end of the record that plays.

 

And when you crash, like Icarus in flight,

and memories melt off your bones

and callously mix with the silt

of drying ocean beds,

let the caress

of those importunate waves,

the shudder of your lives and

the current that runs

[ t h e n and t h e r e ]

[ w h e n and w h e r e ]

through the veins

of your youth remind you

of the bar that was

eternally yours, for t o n i g h t.

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