-Shrutismriti Changkakoti |
Ever since the infliction of Covid19 , the world has lost more than 1.5 million human beings . Many reports carry the death toll reaching 1,77,000 and morbidity touching 2.5 million across globe till 18/04/2020 . World is phasing through a pandemic that has created fear of death among each and every intersections of people. We are living in a dark oblivion and uncertainty even though history says people have crossed deadly pandemics . The economy of the world is going through a tailspin. At this point the whole world community is understanding the inadequacies of health-care support system. Many less developed countries are facing indemnity to powerful countries by supplying pharma stocks like the one India falls into prey by hydroxychloroquine to America. Albeit , people have not loose the spirit to live in this quarantined time. What makes us keep going is the question? We are fighting against the pestilence every second of the day now and we will. Where does the hope comes from ? How do we find ways to finish a day to begin a new day inside the same space without being stepping out? What do we call this spirit?
Bertrand Russell in his book “In Praise of Idleness” has explained in favour of idleness. He is criticising the famously believed thought, “an idle mind is a devil’s room” by denouncing the idea of work culture , especially of the modern industrial period. Russell has said in his essay, the modern world has enough to produce by machines and hence men should have some time spare for him from all professional dealings. Russell’s argument comes to the point of work as much as a nation needs not to generate exhaustion. If every one irrespective of class, caste, developed, underdeveloped possess some kind of own idle time the whole mankind could experience difference in living spirit. I am resonating this particular period of quarantine with what Russell says as the idleness. When he mentions the word idle, he doesn’t mean it to be worthless spending but to be precise in bringing meaningful productive growth of happiness and peacefulness. Russell views when people will have their time to think for things apart from arduous struggle of life, there will be dissemination of good thoughts and the taste of war will die out for the reason of involving heavy work during and after the war . There will be loss everywhere in the name winning a battle. These are some trivia of goodness of being idle at some time by Russell. We can’t be less agreed on him . When the world ends at only inside the four walls of home in current milieu , our generous idleness can only save us. It’s getting more prudent in the age of digital media. We no more find ourselves in a literal cage like situation. Perhaps that’s the reason why more numbers of people are rejuvenated to show back the communication in artistic ways. Even before new age media appears we get to read stories of artistic expressions in quarantine. World’s revolutionary master pieces see light in reclusion from pandemic. Many online articles and social media memes have been circulated on Newton’s creation of calculus during his isolation from Black death. We may think that people with heavy brain can only sprout brilliance in history. Many great creations are the off shoots of pestilences and hardship. When the bubonic plague force London theatre to close down in 17th century, Shakespeare is left with no regular income and bogs himself into writing. He composes King Lear, Macbeth and Anthony and Cleopatra . Edvard Much, the classic Norwegian expressionist witnesses the world around him during the epidemic of Spanish flu. He himself gets contracted by the disease. Munch doesn’t let the flu blow over his artistic mind, instead he continues making art. Once he feels physically capable he begin to illustrate his own state of sickness. He creates,” Self portrait with Spanish flu” shows him with thinning hair and haggard wrapped in a blanket. The Decameron, is a famous expression of 14th century Italian writer, poet Giovanni Boccaccio. It is a collection of novellas structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death. Sardis Medrano-Cabral states in a write up titled The Influence of Plague on Art from the Late 14th to the 17th Century, “ The trauma of Black Death gave rise to the most popular artistic channel for the representation of death, the Dance of Death. There are indications that first the dance macabre was performed, then poetized, and finally painted.” Again he states towards the end of the article, “Most historians interpret the emergence of the radical death iconography as a manifestation of the traumas that people suffered during the plague epidemics. However, the iconography also can reflect the passion for life, how strongly people were attached to it, and how bitter it was to lose it.” There are numerous examples of how people have been taking solace in artistic world in different stages of pandemic out breaks. What we see centuries after centuries people in pandemic quarantine react to escape the solitude is the same today also. People find solace in creation of beauty. Beauty of their artistic liberation and incarnation.
During Covid19 lock down electronic media across globe is acting proactive in reaching out to people. People around are streaming online to watch movies, musicians collaborating online across internet breaching walls of borders through music. Artists from all the corners are addicting more into the canvas and installation . They are posting through online cajoling more artists to jump in the ocean of art. Probably the world is observing best form of poetic release through the moment. The valour of health workers is beyond appreciation and their relentless commitment to the cause has also stimulated many imaginative souls. 18th April, edition of The Hindu news paper publishes a story on such an artisan who has never made anything that resonated as much with the times as his latest creation on COVID-19. He is P.K. Soman, a 66-year-old artisan from Panachiyam near Perumbavoor, who handicrafts a finished ensemble objects, including the virus sprouting red needles, a cop in face mask, a couple of open palms under a sanitiser, folded palms under a tap, stethoscope, and a clothesline dotted with face masks. “The virus was created as being caged, to convey how deadly it can be if let loose, with the cop spotting a gun which is supposed to prevent its spread. The stethoscope was in honour of the selfless work being done by medical and health workers,” said Soman. Having said that men in different art forms sending their expressions are the only warriors of isolation would be injustice for those who don’t look like an artist. Experiments in cooking, arranging homes, gardens and enjoy cleaning surroundings, watering indoor money plants are also expressions of love, appearing artistic behaviour in silence. Those labourers quarantined in a school of Rajasthan have done that to the community school that otherwise would have never thought of even by government. Painting the school walls is the biggest gift by the lock down labourers reciprocated as love towards benevolence of the community care towards them. Such kindness stands out as example of to be echoed in days to come. Where does this kind of love come from in days of machines and gun? Russell would have thought of the mutation in human behaviour by being idle in this way.
The quarantine state starts on 25th of March and ever since people have found out means to live with that. At the beginning celebrities quarantine dairies flooded the internet. In some daily news papers too stories come out of celebrities passing time in lock down period. The videos mostly carries the house cleaning, house keeping chores in the absence of their helpers. These videos attempt to entertain many office workers who too have had a house keep assistant at their doorstep. Anyways, these exercises would have pushed those who blindly seeks celebrity encouragement. Instagram fitness videos are of great boon to all, at least by seeing them people get motivated for a healthy lifestyle. People are now expressing the time through fitness activities, gardening, singing, painting, dancing, reciting poems, writing stories, making quarantine short films and photographing the lock down in many moods. Singing songs of freedom and playing musical instruments on the balcony shows that hope never dies in catastrophe. We are fortunate enough to experience each of the activity sitting at the bedside corner in our personal system. Mobile phone turns out to be the best platform for all our creative exploration . In the time of social distancing we are actually connected with the miracle of technology and all we admit is our immense desire for life by sharing pieces of art forms. We get immense pleasure recording and sharing our small creations via social media tools. Virtual becoming real is the art of living now. That is so powerful to herald hope of being alive. Fighting a war against an invincible world by expressions of creation in quarantine is the most honest self-proclamation of resistance in mankind cascading through the times of perils and pandemic. There is no escape except refuging in the galaxy of art , where home isolation and forbidden physical proximity are called upon by the nature. But what about them constantly struggling to meet their ends at this juncture? Are they too singing songs, dancing, writing, reciting, painting and all the domains of art we believe in? Perhaps the artist inside them is in continuous war with perilous reality. Maybe that’s the way they show up their artistic vigour.