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.

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