Art Prose & Rhyme | mushtaq bhat

TRAVEL JOURNALS

Muse Polymnia

Concerning the richness, complexity and heterogeneity of the human social organizations and the biotopes of our planet and their transformations under the onslaught of mono-cultural homogeneity. An acclamation and a tribute to socio-anthropological- and eco-diversity.
Work in progress.

Zebra Lion Fish _ Drawing

INTRODUCTION

1986-1999

This is a period, when the anthropological globe was still divided sharply and _ so it seemed at that time_ permanently into some major mutually exclusive blocks like East/West, North/South and Third World/Industry Nations. Many of the countries and cultures that I visited and wrote about had either a conservative "Geist" or despots as ancestors, as neighbors, as parents or as heads of state, who censored, suppressed or in other ways inhibited the reception, exchange and free development of the new ideas, styles and ways-of-life celebrated by an almost explosively emerged new media especially the advertising, and the ideologies inherent in it and the "message", conveyed by means of long and short wave transmissions and other countless pulsations coursing through our stratosphere, the short- and long-wave transmissions imbued with trendy waves of styles, fashions and behaviors that would at many places make the methodology of bringing up children in inherited Weltanschauung _ for good or bad, redundant. Even Cinema was either not present or restricted. TV was a government organ.

Fishermen in Goa. Drawing
Fishermen in Goa. Drawing.

Many of the observations I wrote down have become meanwhile obsolete, and in such a short time! In a very noticeable contrast to the present scenario, wherein poverty does not necessarily impose the same constraints on access to information (nowadays people living in slums in Bombay have color TV and can watch CNN or Star or MTV ), as the conservative, restrictive and prohibitive local governmental regulations and policies of the foregoing decades in most of these countries, these people at the time had not much access to outside world. Now TV and PC have made within these increasingly deregulated, from instances of monarchical, feudalistic, semi-despotic, single-party dominated democratic or socialist Institutions and absolutist concentrated Power Centers, gradually or sometimes in an implosive manner unchained economies and social organizations, an unprecedented incursions in all fields of life of the people. In fact access to information has increased the awareness of the disenfranchised masses of humanity. For the first time in human history it has made for the vast majority of the peoples of the world the possibility of change viable. Access to information being a necessary prerequisite to access to pertinent economical, educational and cultural resources.

A country scene in Mpombe. Sketch.  Travel Journals
Noiseless & leisurely paced
life at Mpombe, Tanzania.
Drawing.

Probably the greatest influence on this transformation was exerted by the modern media rather than by any famous political theories of the past decades. The almost omnipotent modern media, that seems to invariably crush all walls of redundant or extant censorship, artificially imposed by those who are afraid of losing power or the monopoly on social and economical resources or the familiar traditions or are just scared of the future, and what it may bring or destroy. This modern Media has actually no pundits and no philosopher Gurus.1 However its greatest strength may prove to be its greatest weakness too _ the loss of quality of life, catering as it does to the lowest denominator. It is no more the question of creating brave and enlightened citizens in folds of historically proved and evolutionary certified facts and traditions but creating traditions through succumbing to the peoples fickle momentary idiosyncrasies and gullible beliefs, quite often manipulated by all sorts of vested interests of those, who really don´t care about the community, the common good of mankind or the planet or the future generations. Media, that to a large extent seems to be flourishing amidst the new paradigms of market economy. Many of these paradigms are however myopic, consistently and obsessively focused on present gains; they exhibit no inherent interest in anything exceeding a single generation. From this perspective much of the insights, depicted in the journals concerning the life of these people, who generally did think in larger time spans, have lost their relevance for the modern reader. There may appear as echoes of a distant past or a nostalgia for things more communal. Nevertheless the travels have left a mark, an impression of a disappearing mode of life...

A jet-age commuter at an Airport. Drawing
A jet-lagged jet-age Commuter
at a Swiss Airport.
Drawing.

However where I feel that a particular subject discussed in the journals, may be of possible interest for any reason, be it anthropological, social or because of it's intrinsic narrative characteristic, I hope to publish the material at this site. To start with my notes in the journal Galapagos are discussed in some detail in:

Heaven & Hell at Galapagos >>

Journal Africa
Journal Africa

Meanwhile the Slide Show (9 slides) is a sort of introduction and is meant merely as a visual hint to the themes present in the journals.

1 This is not meant to deny the pioneering work of Marshal McLuhan in this respect. But he possessed a critical attitude toward the Media and was certainly not it’s voice. In fact his coining of the term: Suppression of Disbelief implicitly reveals the awareness of the fictional aspect of the content that sensation devoted media in general and advertising in particular were increasingly disseminating _ a potential drug even more potent than all the previous opium’s of the religions (Marx). Although not a part of my discussion here, I must however add that I certainly do not believe that religion was just opium for Gandhi or Martin Luther, or for those who have somehow made the living together of human beings less of a club-wielding heads-knocking, willfully-destroying adventure of our species through the vagaries of time and history. In fact religion is one of the pillars on which social organizations, in fact whole civilizations stand or fall. More of that in realm: Words.

Journals | Slides >>

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a woaman with basket_ Indonesia