There are basically two types of art; and for that matter, artists. The first type of art is the one where every scene, every stroke, every note plays a part in the end result. Every moment takes us to that converging point. The artist in that case knows what he has to show and how he's set to doing it. A prime example for that kind of work would be books like Shantaram, like The Alchemist, where the author knows what all has happened and is trying to place everything in a pattern. Prasthanam is one such movie. Katta knows precisely what he is doing, and so(but for unnecessary songs and a romantic angle to it) every shot, sequence and the background score help us reach the pinnacle, the crescendo. On the other hand, there is another variety of artists. People who themselves don't know what they are trying to tell us, who, exactly like us, are trying to find a pattern to the art. And that would be something like The Catcher in the Rye, The Bicycle Days, like Gogol. And so, there is no converging point but a panorama of life.
For the artists belonging to the first set, cinema, or a book, or an instrument is a medium, that's it. Like a saw, a tractor, a wheel. All the medium drives is the idea. And depending upon what their idea is, they choose the suitable medium. On the other hand, for the other people, it is more about the characters, than the story. The plot, unlike in the previous case, is unimportant. The characters are more intriguing, their actions more interesting than the destination. There is no better way between the two. Its just that, in the first case, the artist has already undertaken the journey and is narrating everything looking back. So, what you necessarily get is a an experience, a philosophy. And in the other case, the author is still painting his strokes. He's still trying to find out why the colours act in the way they do. He is still undertaking that journey.
I'd like to believe that I belong to the second group. Right now, as I write this, I guess I have a vague idea of what I'm trying to achieve but what necessarily pushes me is the urge to write, the need to know. Its funny that yesterday I read about Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and Meta-Mathematics and today I talk about Meta-Art, if what I'm writing could be honoured with such a comparision. That was basically what I'd been thinking all day. The relationship between the Whats, Whys and Hows of writing, or for that matter any art.
I believe, either before or while undertaking a piece of art, the artist should ask himself these three questions: What am I trying to achieve? How should I go about doing it? and Why should I be doing it only what way. If the artist has all those questions answered and sets down to work, then he's like a Mathematician, in pursuit of the proof, because he already knows the end. And if the artist answers those questions while working on them, then that work of art becomes Meta-art. And in this case, he doesn't know what he's trying to achieve but works on knowing it. Its like writing a book on why you're writing. I guess I'm still high on the Hofstadter article on Godel and so all this but before I sat down, I don't think I was trying to achieve this. I don't know what it was, but this sure doesn't seem like that.
I was talking to Thatha over lunch today and we got into this discussion between various languages because he was watching a Tamil serial. I once read an article about the different natures of languages, how people are defined by the languages they use and all that and he didn't seem pretty convinced with that theory. What that article basically said was languages are reflections of the people who use it and vice versa. I believe, Telugu give me more poetic liberties than English does. Its like saying I have more space to express my ideas. Like this phrase, karige kalama; tacky I know but I can't think of anything else. Anyway, if the English alternative for that would be passing time or literally melting time. Stinks doesn't it. But in Telugu, its exactly what I want to. Infact, our imagination is confined to our languages. A lot of us think in terms of a language, Telugu, English, Maths. And that gives us a boundary, a periphery. Infact, right now, when I was searching for an example, I couldn't get beyond this because that's the limit of what I can express in words. But I believe I'm yet to rise to that stage where I can think and process in terms of colours or musical notes. For me, thinking in music, talking to myself in terms of high and low notes would be it, the peak. Because then the spectrum would be huge. If its English, I have 26 alphabet, their various legal combinations called words and their legal combinations called sentences. With Telugu, it might be the cube of it. But if its colours, I can atleast imagine 256 colours, so their combinations would be a huge number. And if it's musical notes, then there are millions of ways in which I can think, feel and express.
I don't know where all this came from. I think and imagine most when I'm communicating. When there is a conversation. And here, its a conversation I'm having with myself. Pushing myself to the limit of my imagination, expression.
Well, that's about it. I'll re-read it and post it. Looks pretty long. Not bad for a 25 minute conversation. Oh! in the first place, I wanted to talk about Prasthanam. Loved watching it. Amazing dialogue and cinematography. A tighter second half, a prettier heroine and a better background score would've made it brilliant. But then, unless we have something to live upto, there is no point living.
Just remembered this when I was reading my previous post. Thatha said Amuktamalyada and Srinathuni Kasi Khandam have been understood only by those scholars at the top of the pyramid and I realised that their greatness didn't lie in the words the authors used. The meanings of words can be understood but what marks a truly great writer is that leap of imagination he takes to string two seemingly unrelated words to bring out precisely what he means and in the best possible of ways. A few people tend to overdo it, mind you there's no error syntactically but overdoing it kills the affect of it, but then immortal writers know just where to stop. And such a work for me would qualify to sit at the highest pedestal of all literature, Poetic Prose. Yes, I'm talking about Marquez.