Monday, December 24, 2012

Something does not add up!

Is it all about garnering compliments? Lets work through some of it… Buy Lucchese boots, and you get compliments. Buy Denim Demon jeans — get complimented! Wooh! Show your art to those same who happen to be in the business of “discerning,” and you do not get complimented. But rest assured, they know where you stand.

Well, something about my work snuffed the words right in their throats. A combustion, and spontaneous too?! For that matter any mention about something even a tad exotic as say horse sashimi (basashi), and eyes roll. The cool boys and girls will have none of that either. Its not cool if they have not embraced it. Its not cool if its too cool for them. When they do anoint something as IT, perhaps you are simply supposed to get in line and be happy that what you do, what you know, or even how and what you draw happens to be in the way defined as cool by these voracious cognoscenti. Yeah, the Way of Cool. Cool-dou (and vying in my head with Shodo (Way of Writing), and other peerless Japanese ways. Some happiness, hanh?!

Move on baby. Its not personal. Its simply a bit of the asinine, or in Indian terms the vulpine.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

So was gibt?: of cock horses and knaves

Unpublished pro bono piece. The title
which goes with the original text also
inadvertently fits this blog post of mine!
My life interestingly has encountered its share of prima donnas and primo uomos, neither of whom are inclined towards anything remotely operatic, but yet they deliver their diktat and knavery arias with a mien worthy of hyenas. 

They never seem to get the point, nor truly wish to, and are hardly inclined to making anything easier for those outside of themselves and their cliques. 

They charge on their cock horses, itinerant scarecrows, roosters and hens of the walk and killjoys, who even proverbially could not dance on pointe in the dank catacombs of their minds — or anything remotely close to an extrapolated analogy of the same. That much one may be sure. But your existence is fair game to these dastards (what better time to seek an English word stemming from Old Norse: dæstr). These are truly knaves (no feminine form really). 

Makes me wonder in German so was gibt? What gives? “So what else? or what's up? or even what more?” What more!?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the difficulties to converse in ones Mai bhas (in Konkani: mother tongue)

Aagurs (in Kashmiri: sources).  For HIMAL Southasian, Kathmandu
Nepal.Scripts depicted are Takri (top left), Sarada (bottom-horizontal),
Kashmiri (a) [no longer in use], top right, Arabic (for Urdu) and Roman. 
Language and language retention causes a lot of anguish among those who believe (rightly too, I believe) that the inability to converse in ones mother tongue alters our makeup, renders us inadequate as bearers of a given culture; and that we often tend to lose out proportional and even more to what we gain by speaking in a dominant language like English, unless of course the attempt to transition is complex and relatively complete. 

So, It could be seen as a collapse of memory. Moving on… and I must add, that these thoughts stemmed from a conversation/ discussion on the language Konkani (which is my mother tongue) taking place on Goanet .

In modernity being polite has its charms, besides its good procedural practice. Hence we often hear that such and such conducted themselves as a gentleman, although the discussion had its upheavals. Many discussions and the quality of argumentation have nothing to do with being a gentleman, or possessing gentlemanly values, unless one means it as an euphemism for “deficient” (Konkani, unno (as in less/deficiency, not undo (bread!). Forgetting Konkani should not normally bring to mind as a matter of course—those who speak English with any distinct Indian flavor, since there are also those who speak exquisite English, and write even better although they do not speak the mai bhas. And I do not have to showcase them. They are in our midst. 

The aggravation when it spills over, on account of somebodies lack of Konkani chops, says something about us. At the end of the day all families construct themselves in ways they see fit, even if that shaping may appear unfit (in/to our eyes). It is when we lash out, or are absolutely nonchalant—that we have a choice to not engage, engage less, move on, or maintain the possibility of effecting some manner of change/ engagement. 

I had one of ours tell me that he regrets not being able to converse in Konkani. That's fine, yet why so, considering that among many things obvious, this being also has the resources to set things right. But such possibilities do not gel with their modernism. Oslem unneaponn (Such lack / Such poverty [of mind, of being]). On the other hand it could be a feint, as one ramps up ones ability in Konkani. Other than a small anecdote, it matters not. It would have mattered if I said, “this ass,” but then… 

+ + 

My mother would exhort/ encourage us to speak in English, not in Hindi. She was not wrong in a way, but WRONG in that — being a part of India, and having neighbors, folks from UP, Lucknow, Allahabad, almost all rank and file as us, we had to relate to them beyond Level 101, not merely inquire, sab theek hai (from Hindi: Is all ok?). Hanh (Yes,… and a few more words). But her aspiration for us may have been what she saw "was possible" with certain tools, one of them being English. This woman as a child had been pulled out of school when my grandmother got partially paralyzed; she did not wish to get married; and when she did so it was in Bombaim (Mumbai). So, her view must have got shaped as revealed through these few significant touchstones. We encouraged her to speak to us in whatever Portuguese she knew but then, it was not to be. We had no pretensions that Mother knew a lot of Portuguese, since she had shared that she did not. But I had seen her do a lot with what her ability was in that language. For me, it will happen sooner than later sometime in the near future.

Furthermore, is it only I who wondered/ wonders whether other parents did not say something similar to my mother, to their children — considering not having encountered such sharing. On Goanet for the longest time its been something on the lines of: My mother encouraged us to speak Konkani. NEVER: I was discouraged to speak in Braj/ Magadhi, or say Konkani! (a joke of course, but better to make it obvious). Perhaps I may be presumptuous enough to say that relatively educated parents know/ knew the winds better, and made sure that in not putting out less flattering thoughts — that certain reminiscences would not show up in ones wards autobiography. But I cannot wait for better paper to be manufactured. 

Wondering what Hindu parents said to theirs, could be a worth a cup of tea. 

But besides all the Konkani, or whatever—not much seems to have helped our own, in basic terms—civility, and the like. 

The manner in which we emote, and that taken over time says/ tells a thing or too. The operative phrase here being “over time”. Now I could write the same in Konkani and prove our Resident prescriptivist (NONE of you who have contributed to this conversation/ discussion on Goanet thus far) wrong, but that would mean me having to work OT = overtime.

Um dos otros.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Windows and falling stones

Vigilant Eye
A swarm of projectiles arching across still skies knifed with wispy streaks of crimson, hurtling from shadowed otoshis* set on high enclaves, on a metropolis inked in an indigo of senseless motions — mirage of uncertainty; yet its own reality, whose afflictions it attempts to survive through a solid geometry of shodo rhythms: firmly imprinting marks on the fate inherited from the patriarchs and patrimony of advanced capitalism. 

* ishi otoshi 石落し(stone throwing windows)

I wrote this small text in 2005 when I was at the Nagasawa Art Park Artist-in-in-Resident program, in Awajishima, Japan. The year before, in 2004 Cecilia and I encountered the Hakamagoshi – 袴腰型 at Himeji castle (姫路城, Himeji-jō)My concerns for the longest time have been about religion, sexuality and consciousness — of course situated as we all are within a capitalist mode of existence. These brief reflections will someday make it into a design book.

Friday, November 9, 2012

a pliant reality…

More often than not in the pliant realities we exist within — the new normal is to be the lookout, archer, pike man, clog maker, moat cleaner, gravedigger, engraver, and altar-candle lighter.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Politics of Opportunity, Opportunism, or Opprobrium

Indeed, a false choice is no choice at all. One may chose from options though. Basically in talking about/ within Modernity, and how one rejects certain pasts, near pasts, and even the yesterday, to make a viable today — one is formulating or offering options. In their application — in that  process of transaction, many lose. But we see our gains, or if in a more egalitarian sense, someone else' gain — as the best possible; given circumstances known and affirmed by us.  

Often it also helps to simply state things without the back and forth. But we all have our own reasons and styles of approaching ideas. Lets call this: a Politics of Opportunity. 

Moving on...
Here are parallel examples that involve me, and are situated within the Politics of Opportunism (or, [Casting a net for] an ace in the hole). 

Some years ago I got into a argument on the notion of Labor of Love. It had to do with being invited to be part of a project billed as such. Having eschewed advertising design by NOT serving as an Art Director, and having made the choice to work in Production (a better financial slap to self there could not be) but still in an agency (no options considering illnesses, supporting people, family, etc); I pointed out that the endeavor should not be seen as such; that I would be happy to be a part of it; albeit knowing well that I would be hampered by a tiny budget and the agony of dealing with design decisions by committee. Their unvoiced motivations were: about creating some movement for themselves, have a voice, identity, and certainly a line on their resumes. I would rather they had plainly said: vjp you have certain skills and we would appreciate your talking an interest in our project; be a part of it. But no! It rarely works that way.

Having lived and breathed Labor 'o' Love since I was about 14 years old, I had no patience to hear anyone tell me what was, let alone allude to what made any given endeavor — a Labor of Love. In any case, over the years I had also been working on design organs for different South Asian groups, protests, events on various Social Issues, and always pro bono. In the process aiding quite a few South Asians in getting a grip on what they thought they knew in the bag of waters they floated in; while also putting up with their smugness. Basically, my experiences were concrete.

So what can happen, really happen. A lot… Does it hurt? More like, it creates confusion and takes time to bounce back. 

My work was seen as that of a weak designer, by various gatekeepers. Why? They simply did not want to see that those Socially conscious projects were created under duress, low budgets, horrific deadlines. Neither were they moved by anything that did not flatter their minds. Instead of celebrating, they maligned, and never cared to see if I had done anything else. In one case one did not even wish to retract anything even when confronted by a mutual friend who is not someone to be trifled with. Ergo, they labelled me a poor designer. 

They had become the kind of moderns, losing touch with why one does certain things and the meanings those projects may contain for others beyond the being of the artist/ designer. They could not see the human and cognitive element in our sadhana. Its all about culture for them, which does not take much work beyond pfaffing. Some of them are back in India. 

The same happened with individuals who had the nerve to approach me for design projects, give comments, share opinions, even artworks etc. In almost all these cases there was hardly, or never a closure. A closure in terms of: a. Hey guy (leave alone, Dear Venantius; that may be too much, or even too formal for our fun-loving Goans), (a) sorry to say it did not work out. (b) It was good to have you work on it though. (c) Thanks for sharing bro. Here, I am not talking of mundane and trivial make believe, but true experiences!

Their resources and resource focus is phenomenal; but they have embraced a dog eat dog modernity. Now, am I indulging in a Politics of Opprobrium! Not at all. This reminds me of: Not even cannibals eat their own. 

It takes great courage to say certain things, and its hard. Of late though the tone on Goanet has altered a bit in small ways: a bit more acceptance, styles of formulation, even in signing, etc. People are learning, and just perhaps inadvertently (lest it cause umbrage) from each other. Mercy! It takes a few egalitarian sinews and a genuine sense of acceptance to listen, approach and heed ideas. But then we would be better men — which we hardly are. I mean I certainly am not better than any on you. Perhaps its just that I do have a sense for meaning: connoted and denoted, and those that have evaporated. 
Evaporated Meanings: 

Should we operate and seek meaning within a Politics of Opportunity (and just perhaps sharing). Or indulge in a Politics of Opportunism. Or, will we only be satiated with the fruits of a Politics of Opprobrium.

It’s us, only about Us

“Mumbai (Financial Times) bureau chief James Crabtree takes a test ride on an Aston Martin, the latest luxury car entrant to the Indian market. He ponders why India's rich will buy cars like these despite a hefty price tag and the often poor state of roads.  (2m 14sec)”

The video above from the Financial Times, and the splendid explication says a lot about us Indians: not to mean only the super-rich Indians who have their ways of feeling powerful alongside the brands on offer. Theirs is also not about buying to celebrate the superior engineering or even aesthetics — hard as this may be to believe. I mean those on the lower rungs who are enamored with the idea of brand, the possibility that something is there for the having. That feeling of being suffused and thrilled on being able to feel and feel more desire. 

What is this willingness to pay double and triple for cars which would leave many other wealthy individuals outside India do a double take? As I recently mentioned to a very, very wealthy Indian visitor to NY: How is it that one can buy an expensive car, with a high Import Tax, and other tariffs (in the past it was 350%), but have serious reservations of giving a well deserved raise of Rs. 500 to the driver. Rs. 500 is about $10, but should not be seen in Western terms although its not a lot. I was met with complete silence, suggesting a surprise on the part of this individual at having encountered someone who was alien to their cultural creed. There are many such examples. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Respect, and receiving

detail of Biomorophic Déja vu
Respect is not simply a giving to be merely milked and prided upon; one must be genuinely receptive to it, and able to understand its nature. Otherwise its an indulgence within a feudalistic frame of being — a villainous hubris albeit with modern contraptions. All that one may do is to develop awareness, and leading towards that accept the falls, learn from the nature of those pitfalls, do not pity oneself, but yet hold your self high in esteem and being. 

Biomorphic Déjà vu

Saturday, August 11, 2012

“Unknown knowns”…

There is nothing like being recommended for work, a project, a collaboration, or a mingling of minds. When it does happen, it says something about a few things:  including that one is not simply aging well or otherwise, within the cast shadows of unknown knowns (Žižek).

Expiatory Sutra I, sec. 11-11. MMVII. Moleskine Japanese accordion. 31 panels (each 9 x 14 cm (3½ x 5½"), including back of front cover.

Expiatory Sutra I & II are a collaboration between Mo Riza and Venantius. We simultaneously each began working in a Japanese Accordion Moleskine, starting the thread–very much as in an exquisite corpse. Expiatory Sutra I was begun by Mo, and was passed between him and Venantius; an exploratory dynamic which they wish to continue. The last exchange was on January 4th, MMVII, which incidentally was Mo’s birthday, at Veselka, East Village, NYC.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The indistinct distinction

“Catholic Nuns Send Romney Letter, Call Out His 'Woeful Lack Of Knowledge’ About The Poor” 

One can only wish they send one too to POTUS on the dialectics (disambiguation), polemics, rhetoric, epistemology of epistemology, heuristics, the ontology of CHANGE (Aristotle, and Aquinas) for starters. Change one can believe in. In any case, I have no doubt that the promised change was delivered. We are hearing ball bearings grinding against each other and slamming against the walls of our craniums. Strange sounds indeed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Rejected

The Rejected. 
Ink on paper, 38.5"x72". MM.
This piece locates Christ among the downtrodden in India. The banyan tree is very special, and such trees have been the sites of trading under which merchants traded their wares, rested, and pr

ayed. Its under these trees that classes were conducted, women assembled and shared their lives, panchayats (village councils with five heads) and so forth. Here the Christ is not exactly in anguish, he is present, apparently floating but not pulled down by gravity — an apparition. He is present yet his presence is not apparent — it seems hidden. The little monkey, symbolizes rejected peoples much as Christ himself has been rejected.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Being one with oneself

I am a professional at a few things, but that does not mean I want to do what you think I should do — to satisfy your sense of being. For that get another professional who will take orders, which is indeed what we are trained to do. But do not expect to straightjacket me to have your way. Just perhaps consider a collaboration. As to why this thought surfaces, look up what ‘to collaborate’ means, and also remember that there are many kinds of collaborations. Affix those meanings in the mind, and ask if unsure. 

Clarify. Then realize, that you stand to get something way different, not simply something out of the way, as in a project wrapped up. Ergo, the desire to avoid being used on inane projects, with all parameters off kilter; and the reason one may come across as reticent. Not because one remotely imagines oneself as a prima donna or a primo uomo, but one has been proverbially balancing on pointe — walks on ones owns path, and cannot appeared flat footed now nor self-effacing. Really and why? Look at yourself for starters.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Observing violence on the path to awareness

Nothing like it when the powerful condemn violence while igniting it in so many ways. Forget its practice in the First world; for a whole other über level of charlatanism, look at this so-called principle in effect in the Developing World.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Silver ladle

Its true that very few are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, leave alone a hoe. Just that, these much admired people never even allude to the peerless grooming they receive, as befits them of course — to be a part of the order, to accept their marching orders. Being part of the order, is not a virtue by any stretch of imagination. Guess that non-existent silver spoon has a way of turning into a silver ladle!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Being, Rigor & Phenomena

My name is Anthony Gonsalves is a blog post on Anthony Prabhu Gonsalves, written with verve, sensitivity and sincerity by Rajan Parrikar. Rajan is a passionate being who calls a spade a spade, like referring to Bacchan's humor as oafish nonsense (I can now die). The other point he makes is: Kishore Kumar’s pronunciation of “Gonsalves” even today grates on every Goan ear. The syllable “Gon” is phonetically close to “gone,” not to “lone.”

In the area of music, film music in India — very little is know of the contribution of the Christians, and worse barring a few, very little is understood by those whose entire being appears to be propped up by that music. The point is simply that very few understand how influences, mentorships, resonances and other phenomena lead to satiation in ones being. It is such awareness, which have made your music heroes who they are in your eyes today as also the confusion as to what constitutes influence which help one forge new perspective albeit often with the same raw materials. 

So why is that? Give that a thought. A clue: The modernity that many of us imbibe so comfortably has come at a price in many ways on the part of a lot of specific and rigorous productivities on the part of others, who are not in the majority. They are part of India’s minorities. This is not baseless, nor is intended to take the shine away from the big names; rather, it is to draw attention to the base on which ones heroes stand tall in our own eyes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Shunning the Shine

We are all different yet at times conveniently presume we are all the same, uttering platitudes to elevate our selves while massaging in conceit. We hear the same words differently, as said by different people; are easily impressed; as also, easily turned off; besides being quick to think one has understood intended meanings. We are not talking of painting here. Basically, many of us live in conservative worlds with conservative concerns; but, in no way relating to anything close to a liberal, progressive, or other egalitarian mode of being. 

John the Baptist and Venantius in front of 
the Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Japan 2011
Thanks to Sylvain Guintard’s (Kuban) 
suggestion, I made it to Kurashiki. 
We would like to shun those who hurt us, but more often than not are unable to hold accountable those who assault our sense and sensibility. That goes for remaining silent when ones environment is torn asunder — the spine of lived reality kicked in. One is not talking of simply feeling offended but committing offences which only serves (hardly inadvertent) the offenders, whose trope is to harangue at the cost of clamouring to tell the truth. There is a cost, and they know it. By lived environment, one refers to the relationships between people and place. To clarify further, and beyond the usual — office, play environments, home, children, public spaces--and others more complex — relational, one must look at relationships with institutions — the larger Church, the Church at large, as also within such paradigms, at the humble cog (as perceived), the humble cure of souls, the Parish Priest.

Perhaps this already is too much said. 

NOTE: I follow these things and share them in a general sense--much as I may mention a shloka, a proverb, a text, or a movie. There is a reason for someone engaged closely with art to do certain things in specific ways, without spelling it out. Tracing contours. Sharing process. Unfortunately, not many like to attempt an engagement: so take my word, leave it, or disparage it. It all works. 

Monday, January 2, 2012


There is something to being addressed as a Pastor and then have acid poured on your face. Something intensely forlorn and anguished. Of course the same may be said cynically or sarcastically, but then it would sound different to the ear. One would perceive a threat in the tone. The idea and a dastardly one at that, is to as we say in India attack with love (प्रेम से मारना/prem se marna = to kill with love; हमला करना/prem se hamla karna = to attack with love). Such dastardliness is not mere cowardice, it is a contemptible meanness rooted in a hollow interior existence and shows up in other forms including in individuals with halos apparently intact, as far as the mind can perceive.