Saturday, August 22, 2009

What to me is beautiful

My table – when I sat on my study table with my lamp, register, book and pen, the other paraphernalia carefully arranged to make for a cozy environment before the studying began; and then the studying began.

The Start – after a pensive impasse standing behind my chair looking at the book on the table, in the moment, captured by the thought of what I was missing, and then the start – I finally sat down.

The Walk – to Zaka’s, Nabeel’s, Omer’s, off to Ahmer, Bilal through Bahadrabad and the streets that ran within.

The Music – with the curtains drawn, seized by the music, dancing across the room – not on a single beat did I miss a step.

Achievement - THAT is easy, I can do it, what's all the fuss about!

The Realization – Act followed by intense pain followed by the realization that now it has no power over me; I have escaped it!

Understanding – yes it makes sense now. Cool! Does everybody else know this??!

God – He alone is the Judge, Jury and Executioner. Bring it on!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Corrupt art and why it is dangerous

Negative thoughts and negative emotions in every form unrealistic are dangerous food for the heart.

Now food and water consumed properly add up to a wholesome appetite. Parallel to this negative thoughts and negative emotions manifested in forms of depression, jealousy, lust, and panic among other forms are a diet whose consumption is purely destructive.

Unfortunately most people have still to figure this out and so not only do they fail to consciously protect themselves from these emotions they often indulge in them.

A student of literature and a scholar on Allama Iqbal, Khurram Shafique said “Art is a mirror to the soul” i.e. art helps you see your inner most self.

The function of art thus revealed has helped me differentiate between good art and bad art. Naturally if we indulge in art that will leave us ‘gasping for breath’ – exasperated, it will disturb us as long as we are left thinking that our soul is as dark as the art that we witnessed.

Given how hope, love, self-respect and hard work resonate with us much stronger than despair, hatred, low self-esteem and lethargy we should be able to tell from this dynamic in our own nature that our soul is good and pure not vile. [If we follow our own nature we will realize we are not vile either and that we can always turn back to the road of hope and positivity.]

We should never be confused about this. It would be our greatest failing.

As for art a gauge that is useful to tell good art apart from bad art is: “Good art makes a statement proclaiming “Nature is Beautiful” whereas Bad art diabolically injects the notion ‘Nature is not beautiful’.”

Be careful then what you watch and what you read. You should protect yourself from trash whether in the form of corrupt people or corrupt art.

A comment made by somebody follows:
With due respect, Faraz, I have to completely disagree with you, on this one.
Use of the word 'corrupt' indicates that you are making a moral judgment. To do so regarding works of art, be they visual art, literature or any other kind, is laughable, at best.
Art mirrors life, but not necessarily in a way that means your life will be 'influenced' by it.
I'll talk about writing, since I do. One writes what one knows, one writes about life - whether it is beautiful, dark, uplifting or terrifying.
The best literature, you will find, is not always the one with a happy ending, but the kind that finds both darkness and light that resonate.

The reply:
Art can represent experiences and by extention a certain state of mind.

This state of mind can be uplifting in itself or interestingly one that is bent on self-destruction such as the mind of a person suffering from depression.

Work so produced should be recognized as work of such a state of mind.

Unfortunatly every individual exposed to art is not mature enough to protect himself/herslef from its influence.

Through an accident of glorification, through art, to internalize this state of mind would be a corruption one should avoid.

Interestingly by means of imagination, at times, art goes into realms darker than most people's experiences.

A lot of people are not even able to detect an ethical wrong in glorifying or pursing self-destruction in its many forms.

This is also true of the glorification of lust.

An addendum to the reply:
Art produced by a mind [that is in a state of corruption] is what I call 'corrupt art' and because everybody cannot identify it so I therefore call it dangerous.

Another comment made by somebody:
Faraz! Excellent piece indeed..but who is the final authority to decide what is GOOD and what is BAD..what is CORRUPT and What is UN CORRUPT ...The theory of RELATIVITy is at work..if we write 6 on a piece of paper and sit opposite each other ..I wl say its 6 while u on the other side may bet your life that its not 6 but where is the TRUTH then...what we may percive as GOOD today may become BAD...the 1857 war for muslims of Indo Pak was "War of Independence" while European History calls it"The Mutiny"....the Talibans were hero for US and welcomed in White House as special guest but what now....Terrorist! There is nothing absolute so no judgement shud be given as to what is good and Art,Literature, politics etc....More follows..

First Reply:
At the root of your query is the question: "Is anything Real?"

My observation is that there are certain patterns in Nature that are:
1. Singular i.e. one set of rules
2. Universal i.e. exist in all parts of universe
3. Constant i.e. these rules don’t change with time

And we can see this in the alternating of the Day and the Night. In fact it is only because of this that we have any faith in Science! Only because of this that science has been of any use to us.

The question then is does "Human Nature" follow patters just like the rest of the Universe?

It seems Iqbal seems to think so for he said:
"Khudi ko kar buland itna kae har taqdeer sase pehlae
Khuda bandae sase khud poochae, bat teree raza kya hae"

I think if everything about human nature was relative how could i possibly evolve to such a point? In fact how could I evolve at all?

A reply by Khurram Shafique:
I agree with Faraz. Besides, I guess, things can be judged from their good and bad EFFECTS. Literature too has effects, and they can be guaged.

An addendum:
The following is a link to a post that contains - An Excerpt from Iqbal's -The Secrets of the Self.

Here he talks about the "true nature of poetry".

Monday, August 10, 2009

The reward I got for doing good

I wrote in my previous email about 'getting a kick' out of doing good. I recently wrote an email to a friend. This email is reproduced below and it will show you what that kick was.

It was great to get your request. I personally feel I have tread little on the journey my self. There are people who have travelled it much.

That said, I have discovered a few simple facts that have made my quality of life better. It turns out that as things get simpler so do I.

I have tried to reason things out with myself. It seems that everytime I am honest with myself and give a 100% to whatever I think the next step should be, I get some interesting answers.

The question I keep asking my self is: The world has to be a beautiful place if God made it [I personally believe in God] then why is it not beautiful for me?

The answer is always a beautiful one.

A parallel dialogue in my mind is: "The world was a great place when I was a kid. I still feel like a kid at heart. What then has happened to the world? I just seem lost. I need to figure this out. Every time I have ever learnt anythign it has always simplified things for me. I need to learn enough things so that things get back to normal."

To open my eyes to a more beautiful way of looking at things: I think at the most abstract level and work my way down. At the abstract level things are always more beautiful. But this beauty is always fleeting till you make it manifest in your life i.e. at the concrete level.

I think I have made progress and then people around me tell me I have. But I still have doubts. Doubts about whether such a positive world view is real or in fact imaginary.

The deeper I dig into it the more real I find it and the more imaginary the world I am leaving behind.

At present I have made a tremendous breakthrough. I have managed to leave behind the whole debate whether negativity/doubts have any credibility. I am now taking life a bit more seriously. Now I need to know what is the next right thing to do and do it.

Things are getting better and I know [after this breakthrough] that the actual journey has just begun.

Negativity and Doubts occupy our minds in various forms. They are like an addiction. The way I got around them was that I undertook a "fast" - a fast from non-sensical thinking. It was nerve wrecking in the begining. At times I was consciously trying not to think. Gradually over two or three days all such thoughts were nearly gone.

Interestingly by doing this I have managed to change the way I feel by changing the way I think.

A more structured way of doing the above is called "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy". What I understand of it is: Any thing that is bothering you should be put down as a "problem statment". The next step is to break your problem statement down into its component parts and write alternative solutions to these "problem parts". [You already know atleast one answer for each problem part but you are probably stuck with just this one answer. The CBT exercise will help you come up with alternative solutions that just weren't popping up.]