It was Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote that ‘without music, life would be a mistake’. Leo Tolstoy called music the ‘shorthand of emotion’. Beethoven thought it was a ‘mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life’ and Missy Elliott was content to declare that it must necessarily ‘be your escape’. To me all these definitions sound familiar to any worthy reviewer talking about a car. I mean, if I were to describe a car that I really loved to drive, I would surely use all these quotes and probably a few more to frame a definition that would survive the test of time.
Let me admit here that this morning as I opened the pile of newspapers that we subscribe to… the first thing that caught my attention was a full-page advertisement with a poem by Charles Bukowski. The words were more powerful than the news columns going on and on about terror or the new BJP president. No, not even the order talking about cops asked to keep an eye on trash burning caught my attention as strongly as the lines by a poet in the India Today’s ‘Art Awards 2016’ print media ad. The punchline ‘Let’s celebrate Art with Style’ was impressive but nothing could really beat the words of the poet. Feel the music in these words first:
“Style is the answer to everything.
Fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous day.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without style.
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what I call art.
Bullfighting can be an art.
Boxing can be an art.
Loving can be an art.
Opening a can of sardines can be an art.
Not many have style.
Not many can keep style.
I have seen dogs with more style than men.
Although not many dogs have style.
Cats have it with abundance.
When Hemingway put his brains to the wall with a shotgun, that was style.
For sometimes people give you style.
Joan of Arc had style.
John the Baptist.
I have met men in jail with style.
I have met more men in jail with style than men out of jail.
Style is a difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.”
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
Even though Charles has used words like ‘dangerous’, ‘boxing’, and ‘bull-fighting’, and mentions Hemingway blowing up his brain, and sneaks in Joan of Arc… he is able to connect them all to that one form of music that brings life to every moment. Music then becomes that sacred elixir that generates that bubbling feeling that life is all about… the art and the style that is intricately woven into the matrix of history is what real music is. So yes, there can be music in the way a war hero has blown up tanks or armoured vehicles of the enemy. There can be music in watching the Ocean Eleven team robbing a bank or even Charles Shobraj hopping from one con to another. Music isn’t the sole domain of saintly living or moments that have no blemish. There is more to music than most of us really care to know or understand.
Music isn’t only about beats and rhythm or lyrics and chants. There is more to music than just the fantasy of a flute or the fanfare of drums… music is about a healthy respect for creative expression, a synonym for anything and everything that reflects the output of human endeavour and of love when it is injected from the objective world straight into the sublime veins of human sensuality! Music can be the poorest of the poor sharing the last bite he has with a stranger who needs it more. Music can be a picture of the eyes of a bird reflecting the rising sun. Music can be a car with features that pleases the user. Music can be a caress, a glance or even a gesture. Believe me, there is music all around us… we just need to realise its presence beyond the songs that we hear on the radio.
Music is all about the communication of happy vibes and heartfelt smiles. I lovingly call it the ‘zica force’.
25 January 2016