Sunday, January 29, 2012

Genius under contruction

I've been quiet on the blogging front for a while now. Been writing lots of drafts but I don't seem to be getting enough motivation to sit down and spend time on the thoughts in my head.

Long discussions with Bujji Mama have resulted in me coming down from my exulted bubble and face reality. People won't give a shit if you don't prove them what you are worth. All the artistic blah-blah one side, if you want to be a part of the system and live on your own terms, you cannot be one among the crowd, yell and say nobody is listening to me. There's a reason people who've reached a certain level in life, are asked to step on stage and tell the world what they want to. And beyond this is the simple fact that without technical prowess never will yours be truly great art. Artistic genius is very fleeting. And if you want to shine in its glory, you have to be technically, mentally ready to face it. Einstein's e=mc^2 was genius, true, but then a lot of people must have already dreamed of traveling at the speed of light. Einstein had the ability to show the world what exactly his intuition told him. Now, that capability was unique. Messi might see a hole in the defense 40 yards off the post, but if he didn't practice day in and day out, he wouldn't be able to show the world that display of stunning art.

Producing glimpses of genius is no big deal. Like Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to fly, it'll live all its life thinking that it is stupid." When I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude, I thought Garcia Marquez was the most gifted writer of his generation. Only after I read of his struggle in Living to tell the tale, writing for more than 10 hours everyday despite not making enough money to buy food, did I realize the amount of diligent preparation that catapulted him into immortality. In fact, Malcolm Gladwell argues in his Outliers that when somebody studies the life of any genius, the most under appreciated trait is their discipline and hard work. He argues that any man who spends more than 10,000 hours truly practicing his art will be a master in it. I remember once having read that whenever JD Salinger was writing something and couldn't get the right word, he stopped wherever he was and painstakingly went through every word in the dictionary until he found what he was looking for.

All along I had been under the impression that talent was inherent. Maybe it is but it will take you only that far. When people praise Federer for his artistic imagination, they tend to forget that for that idea in his head to be translated to reality, he must have practiced that forehand slice millions of times until it reached clinical precision. Without technical know-how, no artist or athlete can do justice to his ideas or abilities. And if you're wondering why I always compare athletes to artists, it is because a great backhand is equivalent to an exceptional interlude.

That through ball, that cover drive, that ace, that maneuvre are so good to look at and so awe-inspiring precisely because they've been worked upon over and over again until they've reached perfection. It is only after turning up every morning to train, pushing every muscle until it can do no more but still pushing, that every cell in the body turns into a living entity, breathing, thinking, understanding and responding. And that is what we call artistic intuition.

This life is to be explored, to be pushed to the brink, to be experienced and to be loved and the only way to do it is by pushing yourself to the edge of your capabilities. I recently read somewhere that God has not given us this body to preserve it to the coffin. Any man in the coffin should be battered, spent and exalted.

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