Normal politics

By Arun Gupto

Normalcy is not always the need of the time.  For instance, if times are tense, agitated, confusing, and transitional, normal political behavior like take your time attitude does not help.  Customary attitudes can have dangerous consequences during crisis times.  Nepali political leaders handle times as if they are sitting in a drawing room comfort zones.  Let me clarify the situation with examples from the artists and their actions, especially from the Western abstract art.

When one talks about proportions in art, one thinks about ideal, natural, hierarchic, distorted ones in regard to the representations of the world in art.  Concerning distorted representations like we see in the abstract art forms, a student once commented about the uselessness of such art forms because they do not reflect the world around simply and comprehensively.  He was referring to the American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock and contemporary comic abstractions of Arturo Herrera and Takashi Murakami, and also some Nepali artists like Ramesh Khanal and Mukesh Malla who engage in abstractions.

Why did Pollock paint in such bizarre ways which meant almost nothing in terms of understanding reality?  How did his action paintings communicate?  Why did he need to spray colors on the canvas? Why do comic abstractions take comic models of representation, semiotics of mass media, perplexing questions about war and conflicts, and loss of innocence, by using abstract and radical stereotyping?  Why not use natural and ideal proportions to represent reality?  Why not take a brush and slowly paint the world as it looks in a photograph?  There are creative reasons for such apparent bizarre representations.

Pollock in his arts was representing one of the most charged times.  Similarly, Salvador Dali before Pollock had tried to manifest the loss of humanity and decay in the value of time in his distorted looking surrealist art.  The times determine artistic modes.  The ways artists engage with reality are the ways worlds live and act with us.  Pollock could not have painted ideal or natural art as the renaissance artists did in Europe.  Furthermore, a contemporary artist would not write love and nature poems in the stylistic modes of Laxmi Prasad Devkota.  Pollock thus was representing the velocity of time, the time that was witnessing the rise of science and technology, rapid progress in various walks of life.  His action paintings manifested the charged time he was living in.  He could not have painted like Raphael.  Dali could not have painted like Bellini.  Mukesh Malla would not work like Jamini Roy.   

If we equate Nepali politics with the purpose of art I referred to, the former behaves with normalcy whether it is a time of peace or crises.   The Nepali cultural time is not at all normal.  Why is the political behavior so customary? 

Old men sitting on the high thrones are seemingly solving problems one by one.  Plunging deep into forming a government and letting bandits roam the streets of Kathmandu cannot be hierarchical in terms of preferences.  There is no time for giving preferences.  Drawing room political statement of a normal time runs like this: let me solve the major problems and then the minor ones will be taken care of.  The attitude is pass me that plate of momo and give me a glass of lemonade.     

Delays and postponements in university exams, deferring careers of thousands of students, constant security problems, hydropower electrocution, sluggish business and technology have to depend on the normal politics of our dreary leaders. 

Political behavior needs educated generation whose eyes are open, who are exposed to global conditions, who have the knowledge of contemporary education, economy, science and technology.  Political parties belong to the old men and women, but political behavior of the political parties could have been conducted by younger generation who comprehend the world around in terms of education as necessity and knowledge as power, and more significantly, time as a winged chariot. 

The old masters of political parties are people who are genetically normal, psychologically vague, bodily half-sleep, and politically uneven.  They judge things by averages, they speak their moods, they do not read books, and they do not watch cricket or soccer.  They devote their time in politics and perpetually postpone decisions.

What is normalcy then?  Normal is something usual and customary, something regular and ordinary. Normal is some grandfather's set of teeth which he takes out and brushes and goes to sleep and puts it in again before breakfast.  Normal was the prabhatpheri (morning procession) we were forced to participate on Falgun 7 of the previous political system.  Normal is feeling lazy to get up for early classes.  I am just trying to cite some examples.

Is there anything normal these days except the behavior of the political pundits?  The long-awaited government pops its head out of slow witted political system.  Now what!  Let them form ministry by the principle of distribution, let them take oaths, let them go to their power locations, let them yawn, let Nepalis look at their yawning, let them say that they are not yawning but thinking, let them, and so on. (The Kathmandu Post, March 18, 2007)

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