Sundays are the momentary transient days of reflection, calm and retrospection where time never seems enough. As I sit here this Sunday and think back, think ahead while immersing myself in the moment I needed a soundtrack for the day that echoed my longing and roots and so I went thorugh my collection to find something I hadn’t heard in a while.
This album is something close to home. A beautiful body of work and piece of music that inspires and transports. I’ve been a longstanding admirer of Ry Cooder and in this masterpiece “A Meeting By The River” he effortlessly combines and amalgamates his guitar within the enveloping of VM Bhatt’s Mohan Veena(an instrument he created similar to the classical Veena) along with the tabla back bone to the inspiring flowing album. Indian instruments are inherently embedded in my soul also more so in this strange life where my parents would always play Indian classical music in the house when I was growing up.
This album is where east and west collide, meet and reconcile in amalgamation in the eternal art form of their musical roots. This album was recorded less than an hour after Ry and V.M. first ever met each other.
A Meeting by the River is an album recorded by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt; it was recorded in September 1992 and released in April 1993 through the record label Water Lily Acoustics. This improvised, collaborative album features Cooder on slide guitar and Bhatt on the Mohan veena, a stringed instrument created by Bhatt himself. A Meeting by the River was produced by Kavichandran Alexander and Jayant Shah, engineered by Alexander, and mastered by Kevin Michael Gray and Paul Stubblebine. It peaked at number four on Billboard’s Top World Music Albums chart, and earned Cooder and Bhatt Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album at the 36th Grammy Awards (1994). The album is included in Tom Moon’s 2008 book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.(Source:Wiki)
May this album stir your soul the way it does mine.
The delight of the immersed experience of our reality would not be possible without the mystery brought by constant change, ever more so typified by the change of seasons. Seasons give new hope and usher in the remoulding of our thoughts to attune to new beginnings. Summers though, hold a special place in my life.
Summer is a long forgotten renaissance of the spirit, to go back to and recollect, especially after it ends. Summers brought with them a sense of glory and fulfilment. I always enjoyed the summers, especially as a child because it meant no school, vacations with the family, and endless time to spend playing football, cricket and other games with the kids in the area, binge-watching television, playing computer games and blasting my favourite music on my CD stereo system.
My memory shifts back to the some of my most memorable summers back in college. In 2009, it was a one month trip to Europe where we were exposed to European culture, their lifestyle and their history. A summer well spent in enthralling wandering, roaming the cobblestone streets of Le Europa in a haze of wine, beer and shots of local alcohol, leaving us in a daze of intoxicated merrymaking and discovery.
Another one in 2011 was when a few of my friends had subject backlogs to clear in college. We became closer as friends, had tiny barbeque scenes on our penthouse terrace and the DeeTee(pub) nights were more of a close-knit and personal thing. And of course, the preliminary mind-expanding experiences on the shores of Goa and on the terrace. Those were summers I would never forget. Summers that I would always long to recreate. Those were the summers of soul searching. Those were the summers that cleansed the old and brought in the new and breathed a renewed lust for life into our hearts and changed our perception forever.
Later when I had to go back to college to clear exams after all my friends graduated in the summers of 2014 and 2015, I made it a point to go and revisit Gokarna a few times on my own, a place where I found a lot of peace. It was beautiful and serene. And I would leave with a heavy heart because of how much peace that little coastal town brought to me. As that line by Led Zeppelin goes, “My shangri-la beneath the summer moon, I will return again.
But I also hated summers because they showed me what life would be like outside the constructs of human society. Life outside the systems that we’re forced to abide by.
That’s why I have a love-hate relationship with summers because they always showed me what life would be like if we were free to do anything we wanted. Summers were freedom. Freedom to do as we pleased. Freedom to bask and bathe in the tropical weather and live a life as close to the heart as we desired. Summers were what I wanted life to be like. Summers were the times I looked forward to. Summers were golden. Summers were freedom.
The title of this post is taken from Bill Gates’ book titled “The Road Ahead” which has been lying in my house forever, since my childhood days. While I never really understood too much of the book back in the 90’s when I was a kid, I did try reading it and liked how Bill Gates wrote a book charting the future of his company Microsoft, the industry and the dawn of the information age. I thought it was really boring at the time( I was really young) but I liked the thought. I’ve always liked planning and strategizing(something my dad is a huge advocate of), but from my experience, life almost certainly never goes according to plan. However, it’s always good to pen down your thoughts and make a rough blueprint of how to proceed, everytime life throws you back. Writing has helped me considerably since I discovered that it was the most significant and constructive outlet to express what’s inside my head. I learned this first hand back in 2016 when I had to shut down stockbroking business that I spent a lot of my savings on. It was a failure, just like my late graduation from Engineering college, but my first foray into entrepreneurship taught me a lot.
So this is my plan, but first a bit of calculated looking back and references.
I was gutted this year after my dream of studying music and becoming a music producer was shot down by my inability to get a student loan passed in time to take up my admission into a music school. I got into every music school I applied to – SAE Institute London, Nimbus School Of Music, Vancouver Canada and my preferred destination Los Angeles Recording School, LA. What can I say, I write pretty well and nailed the applications. But the Indian education loan system is too stringent and they don’t consider applications in the arts, as their main focus is only on S.T.E.M(Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) courses. I even applied for grants and tried a lot of options but it was all in vain. So my day dreaming about life in Los Angeles and walking along the iconic avenues of LA’Merica, the birthplace of my favourite band, The Doors, or the effervescent streets of “London town”(Dire Straits) and watching my favourite football club Chelsea FC live at Stamford Bridge SW6, had to end, I had to bounce back.
I’ve seen quite a bit of low points in my life despite being only in my 20’s, but as is the case with football, the sport I grew up playing, I just get back up on my feet and keep running towards my goal. #KeepGoing (My mantra)
I knew this setback wasn’t the worst thing ever and my past experiences have taught me that there is always something greater waiting, provided I remain strong and persevere.
So I had to adapt and re-think again. I’m pretty adaptable when it comes to life. I’ve been through enough highs and lows to know that harping on a missed opportunity isn’t worth the time or the effort and that you’ve just got to make your next move. Harping on stuff that doesn’t go your way and getting into the trap of pity as mentioned in this book by Friedrich Nietzsche called “Aphorisms On Love & Hate” that I read a bit of, is really the worst thing. It’s just a downward spiral.
I was stuck in the pity trap for a while at one point of my life and the drinking magnified it even more, but then I broke out of those past-pain narratives on loop and learned to enjoy my life, the moment and focus on a better future. Apart from writing, reading books, articles and essays by eminent thinkers helped me a great deal too. There’s a treasure chest of knowledge out there to absorb and the right stuff will surely help you.
Coming back, Nietzsche warns to guard against pity. Self-pity, wanting pity from others and feeling pitiful towards others.
While I don’t completely agree with everything Nietzsche writes(I’ve only begun the book and it’s quite heavy), he does explain some interesting social observations, rather eloquently I might add, despite living in the 19th century. As a reader, you have to think critically, instead of blindly accepting everything you read. It’s better to apply what you read, observe them in your life and then come to a conclusion as to what is to be accepted or discarded.
So again, it’s given me time to think and assess as to what my next move would be, but of course, the bills have to be paid and at 27, some stability was something I really needed, so I picked up a job which I’m happy with. Although I completely enjoyed my short break away from work for a few months, I like the diverse role and responsibility given to me by my boss and it’s fine for now. It’s in finance, but what the heck, I’m in Bombay, the financial capital of India, so I don’t really have a plethora of options.
I’m learning new things too which will help me with my ultimate goals. Like Steve Jobs said in that Stanford speech, “connect the dots”. You just have to believe that everything you do, learn and experience in your past is a dot in the giant matrix of possibilities and your ultimate purpose and you just have to look back and connect them and utilize them.
I’ve improved quite a bit since I bought my guitar and piano a year ago and I love that I can play okay-ish now. I need to practice more and while time is a bit of an issue, I’m happy with my progress so far. However, I need to get to the next level because I’m a bit stuck in the doldrums right now, so I’m going to get new teachers.
Here are the avenues that I’d like to explore:
I think I’ve realised that it may be a little too late for me to make it as a musician. But part of me wants to live that dream. So I will continue to progress slowly with my instruments, continue writing songs and instrumental ideas and maybe attempt at playing a few gigs later when I’m more proficient. I think I’m about 5-6 years away from my first solo gig. It should be a great experience but it’s a long way down the line. Till then slow progress and a lot of practice when I can. (Damn, I really need to prioritze my time from now on)
I love to DJ. It’s my thing. It’s something I’ve done during my college years and it’s something I keep doing on my YouTube channel BOMBEATS. I have a good ear for music and I think in general, people really enjoy my mixes and playlists. I’ve been wanting to DJ in India professionally for a while now, but unfortunately, all the event management companies I’ve contacted haven’t responded. I think the reason is that there isn’t much of a market for the kind of music I would like to play, in the major cities at least. The majority of gigs in cities in India are mainly played by techno artists. Of course apart from live bands playing rock-n-roll, alternative, indie whatever. The party scene mainly consists of techno music, which is a genre I’ve dabbled in, but don’t know much of and don’t like too much. There’s a bit of electronica going on too, so there is a small window I could work in.
But when it comes to DJing on a turntable I’m more inclined towards Downtempo/Chillout/Electronica/Lounge/EasyListening/Bossanova etc. I’m really about that peaceful vibe which is perfect for beaches and scenic locations like the mountains and such. So I will attempt to visit some tropical and mountainous regions and DJ there. You know chasing the horizon, chasing sunsets while playing beautiful live sets and meeting amazing people. From a worldwide perspective, Downtempo and it’s offshoots are well received and loved, so I will aim to travel more around the world and see if I can meet some people in the music scene there and DJ live at cafes and bars in scenic locations. Europe is my preferred continent to travel to and play live. So rest assured, I will be taking a DJ controller on my solo travels! I would love to have some kind of management but I think if I play enough gigs, things could lead to the next.
Music Production and becoming a producer was my plan. Those were the courses I applied for. It’s something I’d love to do and wanted to do. But at this moment, I’m finding it hard to learn the DAW(Digital Audio Workstation) software(s) and successfully implement my musical ideas on them and naturally the doubts have started to creep in. I’ve been doing an online course but I’m finding it really hard to apply the stuff on the software and plus my laptop is really sh*t, so it just isn’t working for me.
Maybe it’s because I was never really good at picking up stuff from these online courses and need a practical teaching experience to learn, this just isn’t working. I know this may sound funny, but I’ve spent a year on instruments and they seem easier to me than these complicated DAW’s. I wanted to become a producer and work with a studio and work my way up from there but from what I’ve read it’s pretty hard to get a break, establish credibility, get contacts and become an eminent producer. You have to start way down at the bottom and time isn’t exactly on my side so it could be a huge risk to take.
So an alternative I found was doing a 6-month course learning a DAW in detail and then to see if I can make my own music in my spare time. It’s a very intrinsic process and difficult, but it’s something I would like to do at some stage when I have the time and can afford the course. Personally, though, at this stage, I prefer just an acoustic guitar or piano and making acoustic rock/folk and the singer-songwriter kind of music.
BOMBEATS: The International Label
So coming to the final plan. This is my dream, this is what I want to be my life’s work. I want to make my YouTube channel BOMBEATS an international record label. I want it to be a diverse, multi-genre, artist-centric, great music releasing label. I’m not after massive profits, and I plan to give the artists under my label a good deal on royalties. But the main focus is the music. Just pure, brilliant, world-class music, not limited to any genre. Music that’ll stand the test of time and give people something beautiful to gravitate to.
What started as a simple outlet and YouTube channel for my mixes and a platform to share my music taste with the world is now something that’s grown considerably and I want to turn into a proper full-fledged record label. I’ve got a great ear for music, it’s this innate ability I’ve got, I can just tell what music sounds great and what kind of music people will respond well to. It’s perfect to run a record label. It’s a no-brainer. I want to work on that, I want to build on it.
So the key is to make it popular online first. I need to have a set audience and a loyal customer base. So I’m working as much as I can, when I can, to keep up the quality of the channel and gain more followers on all social media channels. I’m doing a bit of digital content and marketing in my current job and reading all the resources I can about marketing digitally, so it’ll help too. Like I mentioned earlier, connect the dots.
In my experience with music, quality sells. If it’s great quality it will get recognized and do well even if it’s different. Think Radiohead etc. But on the flipside, having a strong product(album) is great, but it needs to reach a lot of people and get heard. So that’s where popularity, a set audience base on digital/social platforms comes in. The massive fan base is also my bargaining chip and what I can bring to the table.
But first I need to understand how labels function, all the intricacies to them and go in depth and study them. I need to understand all the aspects of a successful label. My goal is to become as big as some of my favourite labels like Ninja Tune, XL Recordings, ESL Music(Run by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation) and the slightly smaller !K7 Records(Of DJ Kicks fame), Brownswood Recordings etc.
I’m studying all these labels and their stories. Here’s a link of the biggest independent labels: https://pigeonsandplanes.com/in-depth/2013/02/best-independent-record-labels/
The plan is to work hard in whatever jobs I can do, save up as much as I can, (if that means lesser nights out partying or dining out that’s fine with me, of course travelling will be great to interact and connect with new musically inclined folks from all over the world while I DJ, so that counts as part of the process too), and save, save, save and invest. I need to get some amount of financial freedom and substantial capital with me to execute this.
Firstly though, I need to work on getting out of my country India. Establishing and running a successful label can’t happen here. So first things first, get out of India as soon as I hit the prerequisites for a visa and ticket out of here.
Then work in my current field of content and digital marketing when I get abroad and again save, save, save so I can do a course in music business from a reputed college and get hired by a big label abroad. So the major decision was to deviate from a Music Production Diploma course to a Music Business Dimploma/Degree course.
Then once I get hired by a big label and I’m in the music industry, I can learn the 3P’s – Process, Product and People, learn how they function and get connects. I need to understand every aspect of a successful label and perhaps crucially surround myself and meet like minds and people passionate about music who are driven, share similar musical inclinations to me, and who are also more intelligent than me. Maybe some of my old friends from college as well could be partners with me, I don’t know who exactly as of now and it depends on where everyone reaches in their journeys and their lives, nevertheless, I’ve already begun the process and started the conversation with some people.
Who knows what will transpire but I’m determined. For now, though, I’m just focussing on my job, learning as much as I can, saving money and trying my best to make BOMBEATS popular.
It’s a long hard road ahead and there’s so much to do, that at this moment it’s a bit overwhelming. But I will work on it slowly. I will have to make sacrifices at various points but this is my blueprint, my plan, my dream and my goal. There’s so much to do and there’s so little time. I’m approaching my 28th birthday in five days and I’d like to see it as a turning point, the next phase, the next step, the next adventure, the start of the climb to the summit.
Personally, I wish I had a girlfriend who liked me a lot, believed in me and guided and directed me through all this. Someone who I can have as an anchor in my life, a support system because it’s hard doing this alone. It’ll be so brilliant to have someone like that in my life. But if I have to do it all alone in the end and there’s no other way, I’ll do it by myself. That’s how I am. Having someone who you can share it with will be really nice though.
There’s this one girl I really like, like I really like her (she’s so cool and cute and not to mention really intelligent) and I want to get to know her. I want to have some killer trips, times and conversations with her, it’ll be so fucking chilled and brilliant, but she hasn’t responded to me so I don’t know what to do at the moment. But being the absolute idiot that I am I’ve made a lot of playlists for her, hoping she’ll listen. I want to write to her again but I don’t want to be told to fuck off, so I’m just waiting and hoping she responds. I hope she does. Here are some twitter ramblings though haha:
This is why you need a woman in your life… direction in life. They always seem to know… even if they're lost.
A gf who's well versed in the "Art Of Chill"😊Now that'll be set, like a smoov set. I'm a PhD holder in the art form with years of experience ahaha! 😎 Make some music, a nice view, sip something and nice conversation. I'm a sucker for good conversation. Full☮️ #artofchillchick
A gf who I can discuss my hatred for 80s synth sounds and commercial pop music at length. We can then plot our first album as a duo while trying not to get arrested for binge drinking and disturbing the peace. If she can sing it'll be perfect #idealrelationship#relationshipgoals
Goals: Lotsa vinyl records,rock n roll(unless im drinking alone in the den then a lot of blues), DJing at bars & everywhere, live performances on the piano guitar, lovin', songwriting, poetry, art, football, travelling, randomness, laughs, jokes,smokes, fitness(a bit), library😉
So yes, I have to do all of the things that I’ve mentioned here, but of course, I’m so confused and don’t know where to start. That being said, I like to view people and their journeys through life like galaxies in the cosmos, the very stuff we’re made of. Galaxies are in a constant state of turmoil and confusion, with explosions and colliding mass(planets, stars and asteroids), dust storms and gaseous storms and all kinds of deadly cosmic phenomenon, but that’s how they are and if it wasn’t for that they wouldn’t be as awe-inspiring to look at or shine so distinctly and brightly for the beholders of their majesty. “Look up” as Stephen Hawking said.
Here are the links to #BOMBEATS online so do follow and be part of the journey!
NOTE: Skip The Personal Intro For The Information In The Other Parts Of This Post Or Read On……
My latest obsession for the last few months has been to dig deeper and uncover as much as I can about surrealism and understand surreal art. I’m not an art buff at all, I do enjoy looking at great works of art, purely from the aesthetic point of view, you know, to have something nice to look at whether at galleries or online, but I barely understood it. I didn’t know that there was so much to art that revealed worlds, ideas, philosophies, captured emotion and had so much depth and meaning. Art, to me, has always been an expression of the soul and its way of capturing the artists’ way of thinking.
It all started after a conversation with my sister about politics(her thing) which then eventually led to a conversation about art as we debated on how to give our lives meaning and purpose by pursuing something in our lives that enriched the world and satisfied our souls and as I put it, “…That’s why I like music and the arts, they’re a true form of expression and freedom, freedom to create and articulate inner workings of the spirit & mind into something beautiful, money isn’t the ultimate goal, it’s just a by-product of exploring your inner creativity and it’s also a way of making something tangible out of a deeper connection with your soul and subconscious, you know which isn’t your mundane 9-5 number crunching, selling bullshit”
As soon as I said that(or something like that), she began to tell me about Surrealism in art and Salvador Dali. I was immediately fascinated and excited(as I usually am to learn something new), I didn’t know there was so much going on behind it and it as a movement and about the mercurial Dali and his life. I had been to the Louvre in Paris when I was 18, I was an idiot, I didn’t understand anything at all, my friends and I made jokes the whole time about paintings and sculptures and were waiting for the tour to finish so we could get drunk on French beer and wine. Something that you can expect from an 18-year-old freshmen college student.
What Is Surrealism?
André Breton, founder of the Surrealism movement and leader of a new grouping of poets and artists in Paris, in his Surrealist Manifesto(1924), defined surrealism as:
“Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation i.e. the dictation of thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason and outside any aesthetic or moral concerns”
A Brief History Of Surrealism
Founded by the poet André Breton in Paris in 1924, Surrealism was an artistic and literary movement. It proposed that the Enlightenment—the influential 17th- and 18th-century intellectual movement that championed reason and individualism—had suppressed the superior qualities of the irrational, unconscious mind. Surrealism’s goal was to liberate thought, language, and human experience from the oppressive boundaries of rationalism.
Breton had studied medicine and psychiatry and was well-versed in the psychoanalytical writings of Sigmund Freud. He was particularly interested in the idea that the unconscious mind—which produced dreams— as the source of artistic creativity. A devoted Marxist, Breton also intended Surrealism to be a revolutionary movement capable of unleashing the minds of the masses from the rational order of society. But how could they achieve this liberation of the human mind?
Automatism, a practice that is akin to free association or a stream of consciousness, gave the Surrealists the means to produce unconscious artwork.
Automatism: “A term from the field of psychology that denotes the separation between a person’s behaviour and his or her consciousness of it, which the Surrealists applied to techniques of writing and artmaking that they believed unlocked the creative forces of the unconscious. Many later artists—notably the Abstract Expressionists and Tachists—adopted the idea, resorting to chance, hallucination, hypnosis, and intoxication to guide their production.”(Source: Artsy)
Surrealism aimed to revolutionise human experience, rejecting a rational vision of life in favour of one that asserted the value of the unconscious and dreams. The movement’s poets and artists found magic and strange beauty in the unexpected and the uncanny, the disregarded and the unconventional.
Its aim was to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality”(Source:Wiki)
Surrealism was meant to jolt the average citizen out of a normal chain of thought and awaken his/her subconscious with the hope that this would spark his/her mind to reject the rational and subjugated version of reality and the human experience and enable them to delve more into a deeper meaning of the subconscious.
The Dada movement or Dadaism was the influential movement that lead to the formation of the Surreal movement in post-WWI Europe.
“Dada or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical left.”
“Dada was a movement in which artists stated their disgust with the war and with life in general. These artists showed that European culture had lost meaning to them by creating pieces of “anti-art” or “nonart.” The idea was to go against traditional art and all for which it stood. “Dada” became the movement’s name as a baby-talk term to show their feeling of nonsense toward the art world (de la Croix 705). Art from this movement was often violent and had an attitude of combat or protest. One historian stated that, “Dada was born from what is hated” (de la Croix 706). Though the movement was started to emphasize nonconformity.
The Surrealist movement started in Europe in the 1920’s, after World War I with its nucleus in Paris. Its roots were found in Dada, but it was less violent and more artistically based. Surrealism was first the work of poets and writers.”(Source: Art History Archive)
“Though Surrealism is indeed most associated with such flamboyant and irreverent figures as Salvador Dalí, Breton recruited a wide group of artists and intellectuals already active in Paris to write for and exhibit under his banner.
But Breton was notoriously fickle about who he admitted to the movement, and he had a habit of excommunicating members who he felt no longer shared his particular view of Surrealism. Desnos and Masson, for example, were tossed out of the group via Breton’s “Second Manifesto of Surrealism” in 1930 for their unwillingness to support his political aims. Bataille, whose Surrealist viewpoint differed considerably from Breton’s, went on to form his own influential splinter group, the College of Sociology, which published journals and held exhibitions throughout the 1930s.”(Source: Artsy)
Perhaps the most revered proponent of Surrealism was without a doubt, Salvador Dali. “Salvador Dalí was born on May 11, 1904, in Figueres, Spain. From an early age Dalí was encouraged to practice his art, and he would eventually go on to study at an academy in Madrid. In the 1920s, he went to Paris and began interacting with artists such as Picasso, Magritte and Miró, which led to Dalí’s first Surrealist phase. He is perhaps best known for his 1931 painting The Persistence of Memory, showing melting clocks in a landscape setting. The rise of fascist leader Francisco Franco in Spain led to the artist’s expulsion from the Surrealist movement, but that didn’t stop him from painting. Dalí died in Figueres in 1989.”(Source: Biography)
Salvador Dali’s most famous painting is the Persistence Of Memory(1931) which show predominantly four clocks pictured in a desert with a slab on one side surrounded by the ocean and a cliff on the other side. Dali’s painting symbolizes a lot. For instance, the melting clocks signify a dream state(underpinning surrealism) where time quite literally melts away. In dreams, we have no concept of time and it flows in a strange manner, very incoherent and flowing strangely through images. The erratic passage of time in a dream is symbolised by the melting away of clocks. By painting the distorted melting clocks Dali aims to highlight the difference of how we keep time so tactfully while we are awake but in the dream-state time has no overriding power.
Some scholars, however, believe that “Dali’s melting clocks may symbolize Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking Theory of Relativity, a new and revolutionary idea back in the culture of the 1930s. Through the theory of relativity, Einstein proposed a new concept of time as being relative and complex–not something fixed and easily tracked with as crude a gadget as a pocket watch. In Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali shows the clocks melting away and thus losing their power and stability over the world around them. Through his melting clocks, Salvador Dali might be saying that simple machines like wall clocks and pocket watches are primitive, old-fashioned and even impotent in a post-Einstein world.”
“Salvador Dali uses sarcasm in the title of the clocks painting, Persistence of Memory to add a darker meaning to the painting. They are literally melting away, and thus seem anything but “persistent” in Dali’s depiction. Likewise, the ants eating away the face of the red clock also symbolizes the decaying and therefore impermanent nature of our arbitrary way of keeping time.
The desolate landscape where the clocks melt is also barren and infertile. Some art scholars notice the resemblance that this and other Salvador Dali landscapes have to his own beachfront hometown of Port Lligat. The possibly autobiographical meaning of the painting’s title Persistence of Memory could very well refer to Dali’s own memory of his own childhood surroundings. An autobiographical reading could account for the abandoned and uninhabited quality of the landscape in the painting, not visited since Dali’s childhood. One watch hangs on a tree branch like laundry left out on the line to dry; the branch is not flowering or covered in leaves and green, but is sapped and dried out. Dali painted The Persistence of Memory at the age of twenty-seven years old. If we are looking for the autobiographical meaning of Persistence of Memory, the clocks might be representative of his adolescence and are fading or melting away because Dali cannot remember them accurately now that so much time has passed.”(Source:Lego Menon) MORE DALI PAINTINGS:
Why Does Surrealism Matter And Why Is It Relevant?
Surrealism is more and more relevant these days with our worlds revolving around our dependence on technology(for better or worse). It offers a delve into our own dreams and subconscious and makes us question and think about the nature of our world around us. The psychic realm of the subconscious and it’s revelations offer deeper insight and meaning to our everyday lives. Surrealism also helps in evoking that necessary detachment from the mundane routines and banal trials of everyday life to go deeper into the unseen or the only seen a dream. It provides a spark of curiosity for us to go deeper into ourselves and really connect with the inner workings of our minds and understand them which in turn helps us to connect with our souls, which is very much needed in this spiritual crisis. The fast-paced nature of our life is a mere incandescence in the scheme of the entire worlds we visit in our subconscious state and they often give us a glimpse on the power of the human mind. It also helps in people question everything around them and not accept what is merely presented on a platter. A deeper learning, curiosity and the questioning of our very fabric of reality and our subconscious will help us enrich our lives with purpose and present a world which is much more in tune with ourselves. No dream should go unquestioned and a deeper delve into our dreams could provide unknown breakthroughs. Surrealism could be the spark we need to elevate and awaken ourselves from the usual and ordinary perception.
What is life about? Why are we here? What is reality? What is in our perception and how does it affect the world we perceive? What is the universe? What is our purpose? – These are not your regular questions to put forth to people in everyday situations in life and very few can answer them, yet I’ve found myself to be deeply contemplative of these basic questions of existence for as long as I can remember, to understand more about the reality we live in and our role in it. I’ve tried to explain that here. Read on….
The world lost a brilliant mind and a true fighter in all senses of the word in Stephen Hawking this year, on the 14th of March and he left behind his life’s work in relics of information behind about our universe. That was his legacy – to simplify mankind’s questions about the cosmos. I often feel that people glorify people in the wrong professions. Movie stars, Sports, and Music icons are fine, but to me, the real people who should be glorified are the innovators, thinkers, and inventors of the newest breakthroughs in the ever progressing world, like scientists, physicists, academians, writers, poets and people who left behind treasure chests of knowledge behind for us to learn and quench our curiosity. I believe the phrase I came across about reading and feeding your curiosity was, “Standing on the shoulder of giants”. Elon Musk, however, is perhaps one of the few who has managed to break the norm and is a rare celebrated innovator. But I digress.
It’s the 14th of May 2018, a warm enveloping summer night where the humidity and the heat from the hot afternoon is still contained in my room(The air conditioner isn’t functioning properly at the moment) but I still got the urge to write at 2:30am.
This part is about one chapter from the book “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawking.
At the beginning of the chapter, Hawking provides an elegant analogy to base the rest of the chapter. He talks about a goldfish in a fishbowl and how it observes the world/universe around it, based on its frame of reference inside the fishbowl. He writes, “… A fish in a bowl with curved sides, gazing out, has a distorted view of reality. But how do we know we have the true, undistorted picture of reality? Might not we ourselves also be inside some big goldfish bowl and have our vision distorted? The goldfish’s picture of reality is different from ours, but can we be sure it is less real?”
He goes on to explain how the goldfish would formulate its scientific laws from its frame of reference inside the fishbowl. Like for example, a freely moving object that we would observe to be moving in a straight line would appear to the goldfish as moving along a curved path.
He writes further, “Nevertheless, the goldfish could still formulate scientific laws from their distorted frame of reference that would always hold true and that would enable them to make predictions about the future motion of objects outside the bowl. Their laws would be more complicated than the laws in our frame, but simplicity is a matter of taste. If a goldfish formulated such a theory, we would have to admit that the goldfish’s view as a valid picture of reality.”
He goes on to explain about theories from the formative years of Western thought. In Greek thinker, Ptolemy’s model of the universe, around 150 AD, the earth was spherical, stationary, motionless and positioned at the centre of the universe.
He writes, “In Ptolemy’s model the earth stood still at the centre of the universe and the planets and stars moved around it in complicated orbits involving epicycles, like wheels on wheels. This model seemed natural because we don’t feel the earth moving under our feet… It was not until 1543 that an alternative model was put forward by Copernicus. Copernicus described a world where the sun was at rest and the planets revolved around it in circular orbits.”
Of course, these were early theories of the great thinkers from ancient times, but it has since been proved or rather observed that the Copernican theory is accurate, except that the planets orbit the sun in elliptical orbits. However, Hawking argues that Ptolemy’s theory cannot be dismissed.
He writes, “Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. As in the case of our normal view versus that of the goldfish, one can use either picture as a model of the universe, for our observations of the heavens can be explained by assuming either the earth or the sun to be at rest. Despite its role in philosophical debates over the nature of our universe, the real advantage of the Copernican system is simply that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest.”
Hawking goes on to write about the theory proposed in the hit movie ‘The Matrix’. We’ve all seen the movie and they propose that we are living in a computer simulation controlled by machines. Which is somewhat related to Prof. Nick Bostrom’s actual theory suggesting that we are living in a computer simulation, which is called the simulation argument.
Bostrom’s paper states, “Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious (as they would be if the simulations were sufficiently fine-grained and if a certain quite widely accepted position in the philosophy of mind is correct). Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones.”
Coming back to The Grand Design, Hawking writes, “These examples bring us to a conclusion that will be important in this book: there is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality.”
I’ll repeat that statement. There simply isn’t any concept of reality which isn’t a theory, picture or a model. There is no absolute true fundamental explanation of reality.
He writes further, “Instead we will adopt a view that we will call model-dependent realism: the idea that a physical theory or world picture is a model (generally of a mathematical nature) and a set of rules that connect the elements of the model to observations. This provides a framework with which to interpret modern science.”
Hawking goes on to explain about philosophical realism and anti-realism.
Realism can also be a view about the nature of reality in general, where it claims that the world exists independent of the mind, as opposed to anti-realist views (like some forms of skepticism and solipsism, which deny the existence of a mind-independent world). Philosophers who profess realism often claim that truth consists in a correspondence between cognitive representations and reality.”(Source:Wiki)
While Anti-realism by definition is: “In anti-realism, the truth of a statement rests on its demonstrability through internal logic mechanisms, such as Frege’s context principle and Heyting’s intuitionistic logic, in direct opposition to the realist notion that the truth of a statement rests on its correspondence to an external, independent reality. In anti-realism, this external reality is hypothetical and is not assumed.”(Source:Wiki)
Hawking writes about the debate between Realism and Anti-Realism, “Though realism may be a tempting viewpoint, as we’ll see later, what we know about modern physics makes it a difficult one to defend. For example, according to the principles of quantum physics, which is an accurate description of nature, a particle neither has a definite position nor a definite velocity unless and until those quantities are measured by an observer.”
I remember studying this in my first year of engineering in quantum physics about wave-particle duality and how the observer changes the outcome of a quantum experiment by observing the particles differently.
Here is a small video explaining wave-particle duality and the effect of an observer on the experiment:
Hawking writes on, “It is therefore NOT correct to say that a measurement gives a certain result because the quantity being measure had that value at the time of the measurement. In fact, in some cases, individual objects don’t even have an independent existence but rather exist only as a part of an ensemble of many.”
So the realists’ view is false, which is proven by modern physics, despite it being the way most of us view reality as something that exists independent of anything else. But this is wrong.
About anti-realists Hawking writes, “Traditionally those who didn’t accept realism have been called anti-realists. Anti-realists suppose a distinction between empirical knowledge and theoretical knowledge. They typically argue that observation and experiment are meaningful but that theories are no more than useful instruments that do not embody any deeper truths underlying the observed phenomena. Some anti-realists have even wanted to restrict science to things that can be observed. For that reason, many in the nineteenth century rejected the idea of atoms on the grounds that we would never see one.”
Which again is false, atoms exist and they are the building blocks of everything we see. So the anti-realist viewpoint is false as well. So where do we turn?
Hawking writes, “Model-dependent realism short-circuits all this argument and discussion between the realist and anti-realist schools of thought. According to model-dependent realism, it is pointless to ask whether a model is real, only whether it agrees with observation. If there are two models that both agree with observation, like the goldfish’s picture and ours, then one cannot say that one is more real than another. One can use whichever model is more convenient in the situation under consideration.”
He goes on to explain how if we were inside the goldfish’s bowl we would have to turn to the goldfish’s theory. But we’re outside, so we have to turn to the theories inside our fishbowl i.e. the earth.
The next and very interesting part is about how our brain perceives reality. I’ll add parts by the infamous Aldous Huxley as well. But let’s just go along with Hawking for the moment because he’s got the drift 😉
Hawking writes, “We make models in science, but we also make them in everyday life. Model-dependent realism applies not only to scientific models but also to the conscious and subconscious mental models we all create in order to interpret and understand the everyday world. There is no way to remove the observer – us – from our perception of the world, which is created through our sensory processing and through the way we think and reason. Our perception – and hence the observations upon which our theories are based – is not direct, but rather shaped by a kind of lens, the interpretive structure of our human brains. Model-dependent realism corresponds to the way we perceive objects. In vision, one’s brain receives a series of signals down the optic nerve. Those signals do not constitute the sort of image you would accept on your television. There is a blind spot where the optic nerve attaches to the retina, and the only part of your field of vision with good resolution is a narrow area of about 1 degree of visual angle around the retina’s centre, an area the width of your thumb when held at an arm’s length. And so the raw data sent to the brain are like a badly pixilated picture with a hole in it.”
That’s all our brains can handle and process. Here’s where it gets interesting…
Hawking continues, “Fortunately, the human brain processes that data, combining the input from both eyes, filling in gaps on the assumption that visual properties of neighbouring locations are similar and interpolating. Moreover, it reads a two-dimensional array of data from the retina and creates from it the interpretation of three-dimensional space. The brain, in other words, builds a mental picture or model.”
Taking a slight detour and a psychedelic twist, I will now quote the words of Aldous Huxley, from his book “The Doors Of Perception”
Huxley’s brilliant book, for those who don’t know, is about his ingestion of Mescaline – a powerful psychedelic drug and him describing his mescaline trip as part of an experiment. Mescaline is defined thus, “Mescaline is a hallucinogen obtained from the small, spineless cactus Peyote (Lophophora williamsi). Mescaline is also found in certain members of the Fabaceae (bean family). From the earliest recorded time, peyote has been used by natives in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States as a part of traditional religious rites. Mescaline is used primarily as a recreational drug and is also used to supplement various types of meditation and psychedelic therapy.”
Coming back, to correlate what Hawking was talking about i.e. the human brain and it’s process of perceiving the world, Aldous Huxley writes, “Reflecting on my experience, I find myself agreeing with the eminent Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C.D.Broad, ‘that we should do well to consider much more seriously than we have hitherto been inclined to do the type of theory which Bergson put forward in connection with memory and sense perception. The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive.”
Huxley continues, “Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful’. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out of the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet.”
So in essence, our brain perceives only a measly trickle of reality.
Huxley continues, “That which in the language of religion is called ‘this world’ is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed and, as it were, petrified by language. The various ‘other worlds’, with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of bypass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others, temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate ‘spiritual exercises’, or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception ‘of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe’ (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.”
Now there is an interesting TED Talk I came across by neuroscientist Anil Seth that suggests that our entire reality is a controlled hallucination. He seems to concur with Hawking and Huxley, saying that the brain gives us it’s best guess of what we perceive. According to Seth, we’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “reality.” He argues that the reality we see is as much to do with inside out i.e. from the brain to view as much as outside in from view to brain.
Have a listen to this:
So to summarize Hawking, Huxley and Anil Seth there is no fundamental and real, absolute reality. Our hypotheses of explaining it are simply our theories based on our frame of reference here on earth which is similar to the goldfish in the fishbowl. Model-dependent realism suggests that either view is accurate based on convenience and observation. The particles within our universe change with our observation as proved by quantum physics. Our reality is a mere trickle of information being processed by the brain in an eliminative fashion i.e. it’s best guess of what’s out there. And according to Seth, what we see is also dependent on inside out (from the brain to vision) rather than just outside in.
That’s some glimpses of Western thought right from the 50’s and Huxley to the millennium and Hawking and a few years ago with Seth. They’re all trying to explain reality.
But what about the self? Seth does touch upon it. What about the experience of you being you and me being me? What about our purpose and why we’re here? For that, we will have to look East and go into some old Indian knowledge.
This time last year I was in Pondicherry, a small coastal town in Tamil Nadu, South India where I went to drop my sister off for her internship with Auroville Consulting. Auroville is a self-sufficient and self-sustained township just outside Pondicherry which is home to people from all over the world, some foreigners have even been born there and have Indian names and speak Tamil better than me. It was quite a fascinating place to behold when I went there. While I stayed inside Auroville for just a couple of days, there was something unerringly calm, a pervading silent energy about the place, that echoed into it’s nearby surroundings as well. I stayed in a beach resort by the sea just outside the township and had one of the most peaceful vacations I have had in the longest time.
While I was there, I picked up perhaps one of the most profound books I’ve come across thus far by Sri Aurobindo. The founder of Auroville was Sri Aurobindo and he was a highly educated man who lived from his birth on 15th August 1872 to 5th December 1950. The book is called “The Integral Yoga” which has his perspective based on Indian teachings. It’s very little to do with the yoga people are usually familiar with i.e. the exercises (asanas) and so on. It’s more to do with the awakening of the self.
In the chapter “Planes Of Consciousness and Parts of the Being”, Sri Aurobindo writes, “In my explanation of the universe, I have put forward this cardinal fact of a spiritual evolution as the meaning of our existence here. It is a series of ascents from the physical being and consciousness to the vital, (i.e) the being dominated by the life-self(soul), thence to the mental being realised in the fully developed man and thence into the perfect consciousness which is beyond the mental, into the supramental consciousness and the supramental being, (i.e) the truth-consciousness which is the integral consciousness of the spiritual being. The mind cannot be our last conscious expression because the mind is fundamentally an ignorance seeking for knowledge; it is only the supramental truth-consciousness that can bring us the true and whole Self-knowledge and world-knowledge; it is through only that, that we can get to our true being and the fulfilment of our spiritual evolution.”
But what is the Truth-Consciousness that brings Self-knowledge and world-knowledge. Well, it’s the same state of being realised souls have reached, whether Buddha or any other such realised soul in history. India is home to a number of ancient spiritual texts that speak about self-actualization as the purpose of a soul on earth, right from the Vedas and Upanishads to the Bhagwad Gita and so on.
Aurobindo explains, “There is a Truth-Consciousness as it is called in the Veda, a Supermind, as I have termed it, possessing Knowledge, not having to seek after it and constantly miss it. In one of the Upanishads a being of knowledge is stated to be as the next step above the mental being; into that the soul has to rise and through it to attain the perfect bliss of spiritual existence. If that could be achieved as the next evolutionary step of nature here, then he/she would be fulfilled and we could conceive of the perfection of life even here, its attainment of a full spiritual living even in this body or it may be in a perfected body.”
Aurobindo further compares Western and Indian thought saying, “The science of the west has discovered evolution as the secret of life and its process in this material world; but it has laid more stress on the growth of form and species than on the growth of consciousness: even, consciousness has been regarded as an incident and not the whole secret of the meaning of the evolution. An evolution has been admitted by certain minds in the East, certain philosophers, and scriptures. There it’s sense has been the growth of the soul through developing or successive forms and many lives of the individual to its own highest reality.”
Aurobindo further writes that our cycle of evolution i.e the series of births and deaths of the soul in different forms, that it may not be necessarily upward and it can be upward and downward and upward again, a series of ascents and descents, until it has fulfilled all it’s wishes and is ready for the next step in its evolution. He writes that the soul re-emerges in new forms suitable for new ages. That would explain why some people are already ready to give up the materialistic world and world of various pleasures for one of spiritual growth and meditation and so on. It’s simply a soul in a more advanced stage of the cycle of evolution.
And eloquently ending that part he writes, “The ascent of the human soul to the supreme spirit is that soul’s highest aim and necessity, for that is the supreme reality; but there can be too the descent of the spirit and its powers into the world and that would justify the pursuit of the material world also, give a meaning, a purpose to life & creation and solve its riddle. East and West could be reconciled in the pursuit of the highest and largest ideal, (i.e) Spirit embrace Matter and Matter find its own true reality and the hidden reality in all things in the Spirit.”
Confluence In The Void Of Oneness: So there you have it, a few interesting explanations to life’s questions and certainly interesting perspectives from some great thinkers of the 20th and 21st century. While Western and Indian thought are very different, there is an inherent confluence in the void, i.e. in satisfying of the soul and quenching the mind’s curiousity. It’s further proof to the old saying that things are not quite as they seem.
I almost forgot about my blog this year because it’s gone by so fast and it, well, just slipped my mind. The dream has been unfolding slowly for me and I’m stoked to be finally leaving my country India to study music abroad. FINALLY, damn, it took a while getting to this moment. I am so excited and kicked for this year it’s not even funny.
BOMBEATS(My YouTube channel) has been my outlet as always and I’m excited to finally embark on the journey of following my true calling and passion and ending up in my role behind the glass on the console – producing great music.
So I’ll just leave this short and get straight to it then. Here are the cream of the crop of the playlists I’ve made so far this year which should keep you going till the next post.
2018 Be Brilliant x Be Smooth
Mini playlist thingy
Drown The Noise
Here is the best mix of 2018 so far
Boards Of Canada Tribute
As always the #BOMBEATS family and subscriber base is growing and increasing every day. So, be sure to check out the mixes, videos and the playlists and do subscribe and so I can share my journey with you!!
I headed on a road trip with some old friends to a beach area close to Bombay recently and as always I was on DJ duties for most parts of the trip. It was a lot of unravelling excitement for sure but when I got back I just wanted to sit back pour a drink and enjoy the cold seclusion that comes with the winter season when you’re on your own and looking to build a career from scratch. Music has been it for me and after a long time struggling with what to make of life, I’m taking a leap into the unknown and it’s as scary as it is exciting. That being said I got back to making a couple of playlists for the winter season this year, as is the case with all the years since I started my YouTube channel BOMBEATS in 2015.
I hope the tunes make you enjoy your winter break and relax. The first one is a bit heavy but the second one is mellow. At least music makes the soundtrack to those moments of life as it drifts by. I’ve got so much on my mind these days but the good old music helps me wind down. I hope it relaxes you too.