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.