I recall a couple of years ago strolling back to my home after carrying out some menial task when suddenly my eyes caught this art exhibition a few blocks away. Although I had been excited by visual arts since an early age I hadn’t really delved into it, so I figured why not give it a try. On entering it I found myself being in this horizontal expanse of artworks ranging from impressionistic paintings, sometimes to the point of even being surreal, to bare minimalistic pieces which one could conveniently miss. No, that episode didn’t make a painter out of me. For that matter, I don’t even remember most of the artworks but it had an impact that was truly essential. In retrospect, that was the first time I understood what the humanities are really about. For me the humanities are explorations carried out by this very abstract side of the human mind which at times might be questioned by our rationales but in hindsight pushes the bounds of our understanding of the world around us. Adding on to it, even though these explorations might be intended to decode the mechanics of the world we live in, I feel it inevitably turns out to be the exploration of the beneath and not the beyond. I might not have a vivid image of the whole experience but it made me realize something about myself and which I believe is the essence of every endeavor in humanities.
Throughout my childhood, I wasn’t an active participant in sports and thus it was often difficult to find a common realm of interest with my peers.Consequently, i gravitated towards reading right from encyclopedias to abridged versions of plays by Shakespeare. I can’t say I latched on the any specific branch of humanities until I stumbled upon music. Essentially, music opened two avenues for me to venture into. The first one was this deep passion for the music itself which eventually became a primary way to express myself, and the second one was this desire for analysis surrounding the creation of it. Lyrical themes, context around the music, musical motifs, etc became crucial to understand the ideas being conveyed. Listening to artists like The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and their concept albums only accentuated it further. Having attended ICSCE board, I was lucky enough to be exposed to some brilliant short story writers and poets like Rabindranath Tagore,Saki,Oscar Wilde,Anton Chekhov,Maya Angelou,Robert Frost,etc who in turn were instrumental in introducing me to other writers who weren’t covered in our syllabus. I specifically found a passion for poetry which I feel is the perfect meeting ground for literature and music as it not only involves words but also the rhythm and meter in which it’s presented.
History played a major role in developing my general approach towards humanities. Although history is a subject which always has grabbed my attention, it wasn’t ever a center of focus for me. Nevertheless, it has seeped into the foundations of how I analyze in general. For example, if I am reading a poem or watching a movie, I feel I must have some idea of the social dynamics at the time, the time period it was made in and the culture of that period to fully understand the ideas behind it.
As I began exploring further I started stumbling onto other mediums as well. In recent years,I have been extremely interested in films. Film may be a relatively new medium but it may also very well be one of the most powerful artistic mediums.The combination of visuals and sounds propelled forward by carefully constructed narratives involve the general audience on a level which I find to be unprecedented. Moreover, films have an ability to convey very profound and complex philosophical notions seamlessly. One of my favorite movies “Taxi Driver” by Martin Scorsese is about this strained relationship between a taxi driver and the dark underbelly of New York, which eventually leads to him spiraling out of control, seen through the dense lens of existentialism,isolation,voyeurism,morality,violence,etc. I even find allusions to the concept of “Anomie” put forth by sociologist Emile Durkheim, but that may be purely incidental. Other filmmakers whose works I find to be inspiring are Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick,David Lynch, David Fincher,Coen Brothers,Wong Kar Wai,Vishal Bhardwaj,etc.
Although as a kid my antennas were slightly tilted towards the arts, the continued insistence on my parents’ part convinced me to opt for the stream of science in my junior college. In spite of being a little resistant towards it initially, I think it was probably the best move for me at the time as I realized the line between science and humanities isn’t as defined as we are led to believe. For instance, many classical mathematicians like Pythagoras and Eucleides were rather known as philosophers during their time.
Ultimately, most intellectual endeavors stream into philosophy to a certain degree. It’s all about the ideas being conveyed and study of ideas is essentially philosophy. Keeping aside the arts, I have dabbled into pure philosophy from Friedrich Nietzsche to Hilary Putnam, but I can’t really claim to have a well rounded knowledge of it, which I really hope to obtain as the years pass, as not only my interest keeps growing towards it but I also feel it will be conducive to my artistic pursuits.
At this point in time, I just wish to keep exploring and learning new concepts or theories without having a thorough foresight and I know your university would give me an excellent environment for the same thanks to the inter-disciplinary structure the university has. The freedom one can have due to the scope of learning your university is known to offer is a prerequisite for any true exploration. With that I would like to conclude by saying that I earnestly wish to be part of your dynamic and ever growing community in Manipal and I hope to get a chance for the same.