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Power and Money

In Artist, freelancing, Big Brother on November 6, 2018 at 18:47
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Power and money have an almost inherent tendency of accumulating. Sinking. Like gravity. One can try to impede this coalescence with great effort. But the resistance is short-lived, at best. So heavy is the weight of its logic that it does not let trivialities like honesty and justice get in the way.
In fact, it is almost childish to expect the rich and powerful to take a stance. Most of them have got where they are by abetting or turning a blind eye to crime,if not indulging in it themselves. And what is crime anyway? It is merely a violation of generally accepted behavioral aesthetics? And aesthetics are always aspired to but seldom achieved. We expect too much out of our judicial institutions. The sheer abundance of injustice in the world is proof enough of how naive our aesthetics are.
The few noble souls who do manage to get a foothold in circles of power can’t help but get colored by its excess; either out of compliance or for camouflage. The only balancing force is other centers of power. Which is why very often injustice is only replaced by overcompensation. In the French revolution many innocent heads rolled and the Arab Spring ended up being just a blip on the radar.
Power endures because its only allegiance is to itself. In that sense, it is truly agnostic across eons, cultures and religious garbs. And sometimes it merges with a competing center of power. They circle each other in envy and magnetism, each attracted by the other’s darkness. Like two black holes destined to become one. Even the faintest ray of light can’t escape from the absolutism of its influence.
The only hope is to observe it from afar. For to play its game is to be coloured by its darkness. All our heroes have fallen, if there were any to begin with. From tainted godmen to flawed artists blood is on all of our hands. Especially the ones who proclaimed themselves the cleanest. The only thing larger than the universe is the ego. And there is no black hole big enough to contain it.
The only real heroes then, are people you have never heard of. People who lived and died in utter obscurity. Not because of their mediocrity but by virtue of the incredible lightness of their being. By their shunning of greed, envy and possessions. By their acceptance of oblivion as the only eventual certainty. And by their joy in merely understanding the world without scrapping for souvenirs. The shroud has no pockets and the universe has no memory.
– Punit Pania

Fame and Posterity

In Artist, freelancing, Fame on February 28, 2018 at 20:08

Fame works in the same way primates choose their alpha males. We are just humoring ourselves by believing that intellect matters. It matters only to the point where it allows people to not feel guilty about prostrating before beauty. Intellect has to be utilised in moderation. The right formula balances glamour with showboating, flirts with controversy and adds a hint of intelligence. Just a fleeting flavour. Anymore and the audience starts feels uncomfortable at the mirror you are holding up to them. Any less and you miss the blessings of the reviewers but you may still win the audience and may be even an election.

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The masses need predigested Cerelac, not the high fibre low sugar breakfast you’ve trained yourself on. Numbers, fame and power accumulate around the lowest common denominator, which is why politics attracts the worst of the lot. Art attracts the best and it never promised to pay the bills. Just that one gets to express oneself freely is privilege enough. But in the consumer economy, everything is entertainment, even the most highly researched and well written Think Piece or Podcast. Mass consumption subjects art to the same vanity, voting and warranty schemes as a dating app or a toaster. You can play along and chase ever-growing pay cheques, ratings and subscriptions. But in doing so you are reducing yourself to one more service provider who may be recognised as an artist only for the sake of classification and drop-down menus.

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Artists of yore survived purely on the patronage of murderous Kings. We are surviving on the patronage of corporate shows and brand endorsements. Every artform and style eventually finds its own audience, however big or small. The only question to answer is: What are you aiming for? Building a legacy or a flat in Bandra? Both are seldom reached from the same path.

– Punit Pania

Unconditional Love

In Love on February 5, 2018 at 15:37
Unconditional is the only kind of love there is, everything else is just a transaction. A give and take that can be explained by some mixture of evolution and economics. Most of what we call love is the willful suspension of logic by genes itching to replicate under the covering fire of bad poetry. And it can’t hide for long. No myth is sacred enough for Science to not topple. The most vile crime to the most exalted emotion, all just resulting from a different cocktail of hormones and pathologies, from a pedophile’s compulsive behaviour to a Mother’s love for her newborn. Everything happens for a reason governed by biology and chemistry and pre-determined by physics. Random objects in a cosmic pinball machine, innocent bystanders in an unfortunate hit and run.
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What your parents used to call fate, you can call string theory. But it won’t make you feel any less helpless. Between anorexia and food addiction, nothing is eccentric enough, all is acceptable and even worthy of celebration or worse, rationalization. In a world full of victims, there is no crime, only mass depression posing as utopia. The end of guilt is near but it will also be the end of wonder. Eventually genetics will explain all evils and malignancies and we will be absolved of all sins; except hypocrisy.
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But unconditional love will remain…a glitch in the system that we wish we could wish away. Call it insanity, temporary or otherwise. Emotional graffiti that will live on in anonymous donations and the kindness of strangers. Complete surrender to a person, a cause or a muse as an antidote to the highly leveraged hyper-connected modern world. If you ever feel it sneaking up on you, don’t try to fight it with logic. Embrace it as the only trace of free will left. And jump off with a middle-finger salute to the heavens.
– Punit Pania