Sunday, July 24, 2005


Great artists are extremely intelligent people. It is so in history, in my experience and in my mind, as a budding rule. Great artists are purveyors of beauty (even though the subjects of their work may not necessarily be sunny, aesthetically there is visual harmony) and true beauty I believe is an extension of Truth. That ever-elusive abstract that is only ever understood through experiencing it (recognition requires no preparation, we have an in-built talent to detect it. Whether we trust and allow that intuition is another matter).

That said, often to project Truth, you are aware of it. Beautiful accidents do appear to happen but in such cases, I believe that the creator is somehow in tune with the Truth, albeit subconsciously. And intelligence is just another word for being of mind open enough to question, challenge, assimilate, deconstruct, filter and then reassemble information. That is what artists do.

They stop and breathe. They surrender to their senses allowing them to pick up sensations that most people are too busy striving to absorb. In this way they are able to find beauty in the mundane, in the horrific, in the misunderstood…seeing the God in everything. They translate these available visions in ways worthy of no other label than ingenious, allowing the numbed masses to behold more accessibly that which they had missed.

Am I presuming that art is accessible? Yes. There is also pretentious overly calculated obsequious work devoid of passion. Effusive saturation of flourishes for flourishes sake. Who decides what is art and what is not art? Who decides what art is great and what is not? You do. I can only speak for myself and thus of my own opinion. Nonetheless, I like to think that, if people are honest with themselves and not bent on trying to sound one way or another in order to impress, there is some level of universal consensus when it comes to quality. "Some level" I stress because, on the other hand, if we all had the same preferences, life would have no seasoning. So perhaps the word "quality" should be ingested with consideration to myriad different interpretations from an infinitely diverse range of voices.

Art is alive in every of our breathing moments. From the device that wakes us up to the clothes and adornments we wear to the vehicle we are transported in to the reading material we hold in front of us. Design is art. Typography (oh how I love the possibilities for play that letters and symbols afford!) is art. The way in which food is prepared and presented is art. The form, packaging, and science of products are art. The exploration of the different ways of moving, using, connecting, sharing and transcending the body, is art. The experimentation with different sounds and timbres in an infinite number of combinations and variations is surely art. The way you carry yourself, the way you move, the way you express yourself, is art. It is there for all of us, at every moment.

There is no greater satisfaction I have found than that that comes from creation. Misconception claims that only artists are creative. But artists are merely problem-solvers who favour visual, musical, theatrical, cinematic, literary (and so on) solutions. People are constantly being posed with problems and continually have to dig deep to find innovative ways to solve them. This is creation too. Creation is our gift from God, the universe and/or whatever it is that you believe in. To live and not to create, is not to live at all. It is to be an ungrateful passive bystander of an exciting and elaborate game. You have the capabilities required but are too lazy to figure out how to play.

There's this one line I've been quoting all over the place, by a certain Eastern yogi:
"Without space, creation cannot take place."

I guess that's what we need to always be aware of if we want to be in the game. The requisite of space. Everybody needs space if they are to be in touch with their Selves. Oh that so-frequently used line that releases parties from the potentially self-erasing grips of an unhealthy relationship! It originates from a real and profound place. The site where creation buds and desires nothing but to be let be.

"He who does not, in this world, follow the wheel of creation thus set in motion, is sinful in nature and indulges in sensual pleasures and lives in vain."
-from the Bhagavad Gita

Book Tag!

Thank you Luna for indulging me in one of my favourite (guilty-pleasure-like) pastimes: answering questions about myself!

# of books that you own?
I think that if all the pals who've borrowed this and that here and there would facilitate their reappearance back to where they were found, we could possibly be in view of the 100-point mark.

Last book you bought?
In My Father's House by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Five books that mean a lot to you?

The Fountainhead---Ayn Rand: The most "selfish" thing that I could have ever done was to read this book. I wish I hadn't waited 22 years! If I were to have a personal bible, this may just be the strongest contender. I'm so anxious to read more of her work but given the density (literally, intellectually and spiritually…), I've been tiptoeing the mission!

Veronika Decides To Die---Paulo Coelho: PC is a winner and every book of his is another insight on how to win; mixed in with magic, intriguing characters, unusual settings etc. Actually perhaps my favourite of his books is "Confessions of a Pilgrim" which is actually an interview where he tells amazing tales of his life experiences. However, Veronika was where my fascination began so she shall always hold a place in my heart.

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born---Ayi Kwei Armah: This book reintroduced me to the richness, uniqueness and wonder of African literature. Beautiful imagery emerges from misery in a way that can only be described as lyrical. And that's how I think the book manages to make such a powerful and profound political statement. Every African should read it. Heck, every person should!

One Hundred Years Of Solitude---Gabriel Garcia Marquez: I believe in magic. I really do, just not perhaps the kind that fits the description of that in your Oxford or Webster Dictionary. The father of magical realism intertwines reality and fantasy without a flinch in ways that may make you question for a moment, whether perhaps indeed this could all really happen. I read this book in the dead of a Balkans winter and if you haven't experienced one, may you endeavour never to even think about doing so! What a brilliant escape I was afforded by being transported to the lush mystical Macondo. There is something about his writing that really resonates with the African experience that makes it all the more involving.

Siddhartha---Hermann Hesse: I dodged this book for years because of presumptions and preconceptions-boy did I learn a lesson! Transcendental on a personal level for it offered me answers right when I was having a lot of difficulty understanding how to reconcile seemingly-conflicting ideologies I was toying with. So simple, so complex, a poem of sorts, a journey.

And a huge shout out to The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangaremba, Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker, Jivamukti Yoga by Shannon Gannon & David Life and not to forget The Joy of Sex,

Last book(s) you've read?
Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson to school myself further on some Kenyan History, hmmm… Currently juggling the Bhagavad Gita, The Famished Road by Ben Okri and the last book I bought…oooh and not to forget The Joy of Sex.

Pick 5 Bloggers
Mr. Kambo, The Thinker, The mwanamke mwendawazimu, Afromusing and The mental acrobatic. If this is redundant for any of you, oh well, cheers!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Daily Gospel

"the truth is a powerful thing that haunts you when you don't let it be."
– Sanaa @ Pressure Makes Diamond

Bon Appetit

"To belong is to have a place from which to face the world. To belong is to be a part of something. To belong is to realise the luxury and peril of both being able to reject and the possibility of being rejected. To belong is to actively repudiate that which dares to question the basis of one's belonging. To belong is not to be an alien in place, person, or practice."
—Raimi Gbadamosi

Curator, Mixed Belongings: Eight Contemporary African Makers

A must-see exhibition for anyone interested in art, identity and all the conversations that join and polemics that attempt to disconnect the two.
@ the Crafts Council, London, UK until 21 August '05

Flowers for Russell/ Always Everything

I'm sitting in Bloomsbury Park by Russell Square. Not too far way, on the grass, there is a memorial—flowers, candles, cards, and sentiments for the victims from last week's explosions in London. People keep venturing there, absorbing it for extended periods of time. It's quite interesting to watch this human behaviour. I assume that most are random opportunistic spectators who are drawn by the commotion and colourful display. Drawn by curiosity and it is the nature of this curiosity that intrigues me.

Sometimes I fear that I’m heartless but surely, if I were to care deeply about everything, I would have nothing left within me to carry on even just basic survival. It would take too much out of me — the grief, the sorrow. So I gaze, somewhat distanced, across at the moving crowd.

What draws them?

Does the display remind them of their mortality? Does it remind them that, whatever they may be going through, it could be worse (presuming that most view death as a bad thing, which is also an unfortunate fact. And why does it take negative events to remind us of how positive every day and every breath is, or can be?)? Is it out of sympathy that that they are compelled to come and look?

Personally, I despise the concept of sympathy. One can never feel another’s pain unless they go through it exactly themselves, from the same perspective too. You can claim to ‘know’ how it feels but this knowledge is pieced together from social mores and probably from a lot of media absorption/propaganda. And what does sympathy do anyway? Nothing I can think of with any great consequence. The victim of your sympathy will probably not significantly alter their perception of you because of this expression. (I feel a lot of people extend their sympathies because it is “the right thing” to do. Because it is expected.) Actually, if you are indeed a close and special associate, they might begin to doubt your genuineness for, in my experience, overly-conscious sympathy comes across as phony as it can get! Just be there, as yourself. That’s all anyone should ever expect from you anyway.

So back to the commemoration in question. I cannot help but think that it is, after all, done in the spirit of exhibitionism. The families and friends of the victims have perhaps placed pictures and eulogies there for the world to see and feel their loss. Is it out of that common human drive to show and share your love. The families and friends may not live anywhere near this display. Its location is only guided by proximity to the scene of the crime. Who and what does that really serve? I don’t know. But then again, I feel that way about cemeteries too. Nowadays, with people being buried at cemetery grounds I wonder, why should I have to travel to ‘spend time’ with my deceased. That traditionally people were buried in their villages, near the homes that their families had and would continue to live for generations, makes a little more sense to me. However, nowadays with landlessness and movement being more the norm, that no longer holds. Why are we so fixated with physical space? So skeptical of and resistant to the intangible? Why do we limit ourselves so? Our people are with us everywhere and at every moment.

I would like to be cremated and have my ashes thrown in the Indian Ocean — left to travel to wherever they will. Left to once again become anonymous, just another in a universe of particles. Each relatively insignificant, nothing, and yet always everything. And that is what I can fathom to truly be a resting place.

I think I’ll take a close walk by this commemoration. Perhaps it will bring new insight and understanding.

For all the victims and their people — peace.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Location is an amazing thing. It can play such profound tricks and games on the mind. Or to be specific, on the mind that chooses to, even momentarily, lose focus. Everything about life is so delicate. Any slight change in the conditions that keep something in one state can significantly alter it. And since change is inevitable, consistency is hard to hold on to. And it all reminds me about the dangers of attachment. Attachment is like a heavy parasite that becomes so much a part of you that you begin to depend on it almost as much as it depends on you. In the spirit of annihilating any and every instance, occurrence, example of this certifiably ludicrous behaviour, I embrace the great unknown knowing that Complacency (Attachment’s favourite vice) will not be able to keep up with me on the journey. I embrace Newness and it’s great mentor Growth. I challenge Nostalgia knowing that she can never bring me down and if anything, will only push me closer to Total Conviction. Always climbing, always breaking through.