Thursday, April 30, 2015

Speaking of the Weather

They say it's in bad form to start off with the weather. But let's talk about the weather, form be damned. 

Is the mood determined by the weather? Yes, I hear you say. But maybe, in some ways, your mood manifests as the colour of the weather this evening, more so when you refrain from employing spoken words to express, which is what you really should do, they say. 

But then, they say a lot of things, don't they.

There is a storm outside my window. That should tell you enough. It has been raining very heavily. I can hear thunder and see the lightning light up these words I am typing.

Yes, sometimes mood and untimely weather are too similar for comfort. Neither shall bode well in the long run.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Room 000 by Kalpish Ratna: A Review in TNIE

Left to myself I would never have bought a book on medical history to read. But it seemed exciting enough when I was sent a review copy. Though the overly dramatic beginning left me a little wary, I had a good time reading it. Here is an edited version of the review, published in the magazine section of The New Indian Express on Sunday. See below for the slightly unedited version.


(Inside a plague hospital in Bombay, photo published in TNIE)

"On 29 September (1896), Lord Sandhurst, the Governor of Bombay, sent a telegram to Lord Elgin, the Governor General of India, notifying him of an outbreak of plague in Bombay city."

A few pages after a theatrical prologue set within buildings which had turrets that “were embarrassing - vestigial appendages to a building otherwise in good repair”, you read these ominous lines and the first thought is of high school history lessons. 

Elgin, Sandhurst and their grand designations sound familiar from some faint memories of learning who ruled after whom and what they did in British India. We must have studied about the plague as well, although I suspect it was reduced to a stray line somewhere. The sharper memory of the plague is that of the outbreak in Surat, 1994. The fear of this killer had percolated 1500 kms away to my tiny hometown in the hills.

Room 000: Narratives of the Bombay Plague by the doctor-writer duo Ishrat Syed and Kalpana Swaminathan details a world where the plague was discovered in the even then crowded city of erstwhile Bombay, the brave men – mostly men – who spent years trying to understand the disease and find a cure and most crucially, the lives of the thousands who died. In keeping with the crime fiction that the duo, who write their books under the nom de plume Kalpish Ratna, are well known for, they also solve a deep mystery.

The then Bombay that they describe is the Bombay that is still familiar, if not mightily overgrown with its excesses now. Crowded neighbourhoods and the crush of people, fed by the constant flow of labour that come to the city in hopes of a better life, the pockets where certain communities dominate and their tensions within, with each other are themes that are as contemporary about the city as they were over a century ago.

On what was otherwise a regular day, Dr Accacio Gabriel Viegas diagnoses the index case in what would bulge into an epidemic of the bubonic plague in the city. From utter disregard and outright dismissal by the ‘Sarkar’ - the British government - to hasty, unviable decisions to quarantine the patients and entire neighbourhoods to the inevitable fatalism of people to the many men, some women, who played key roles in the plague story, Room 000 details every stage of the epidemic. The title refers to the room number at Grant Medical College, Mumbai, where Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, a Russian, created the first vaccine against bubonic plague, injecting himself with it first and going on to save millions of lives across the country.

Alongside an array of doctors and scientists who spend their days and whole nights in the room trying to discover more about the killer disease, there runs a mystery that they must solve. The bubonic plague is always a step ahead of those that are trying to beat it. It knows no class, caste or status. They have to solve where this killer comes from, to know how they can prevent the next death. Incidentally, somewhere along the way, they invent a new science, research that still remains crucial for our understanding of medical sciences. The Holmesian quality to the way the scientists try to find highly elusive answers is a delicious touch to what could easily have ended up being just a drab account of an old half-forgotten epidemic. Room 000 is anything but that.

The book lifts the lid off deified names, going behind the legends they have become to tell stories of when they were mere humans. Haffkine has a firm place in history for his vaccine, meriting a plaque, and later an institute in his name. But the pages of this book show his vulnerabilities, his insecurities, his very-human personality, the competitions and politics that went behind his elevation to legend-hood. Culled from letters, announcements, research papers and innumerable personal accounts, each of the names who have become, if at all, footnotes in regular history books, are handed back their individual personalities and allowed to tell their own stories.

Room 000 is largely a narrative of medical history. In some stray places, you do yearn for a shorter, cheat-version. But then, nearly immediately, the monotony is broken by moving portraits of patients and their families, their very real fears and rare triumphs, people who historians have never bothered naming. Incomplete facts demanded the invention of peripheral characters or events, the authors say in their acknowledgements. These peripherals are what make the book the fascinating account that it is, elevating it from a book that only medical students and historians might have use for to a beautiful piece of literature. That it is speckled with lovely lines like “…daylight just a sigh away” is but a bonus of great reading.

The book is part medical history, part mystery novel, part drama and part poetry, in places. It is at its heart a story of human triumph. Multi-layered and highly entertaining, Room 000 is as much a narrative of a people as it is the story of the city they lived in.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Profiling Contemporary Artist Sudarshan Shetty: In OPEN Magazine

Art writing is increasingly becoming fun, alongside being rather stressful as well - no thanks to the beloved artist/s in my life. Here is a profile I did of contemporary artist Sudarshan Shetty. It helped too that he was utterly delightful to speak with, thoroughly professional and refreshingly respectful of my work. (Yes, I fawn, but such people are so rare, I find.) And that I personally liked some of his works. I have noticed that I respond a lot to text works, obviously because of my love for words, I want to say. Anyway, personal choices in art is another story for another day.

Read the story here on the OPEN magazine website or see below for a tad pre-edited version.


Image credit: Ronan Haughton

It seems rather tediously prosaic to begin a story by talking of the weather. But it is important, for our moods, our many negotiations depend on the weather's eccentricities. Very unlike what everyone, with a hush of near reverence, talk of, the weather in Bengaluru is disgustingly hot that afternoon. So the insides of GALLERYSKE, housed in a 100-something year old colonial style bungalow feels delightfully refreshing to be in. The polar opposite-ness nature of the outside and the inside, this and that, and other dualities are sentiments I will continue to meet with the rest of that afternoon walking through Sudarshan Shetty's latest solo 'who must write these lines'.

The duality in things and ideas, juxtapositions, stark contrasts that, despite their most recognised individual character, seem to marry with each other perfectly are descriptions that would fit Shetty's practice in its entirety. But descriptions are nearly always restrictive, the temptation to conveniently box a practice within a frame unjust, lazy. In that vein, his latest set of works are a marked departure from earlier pieces that had, what he once termed, a 'fairground spectacle' quality to them. "In 1995 when I did my first major show Paper Moon, I was very conscious about creating a 'fairground spectacle.' But now the idea of the spectacle is more symbolic, or conceptual in nature," Shetty tells me over the phone from Goa, where he has driven to, "for work, not holiday" from Mumbai where the now 54-year old lives and practices.

Antithesis crops up a lot in our conversation. He points out that a lot of the works from 1995 and for a few years thereafter were large installations. "There is a reference to the monumental, some are held together by ropes, precariously balanced and in a state of impending collapse. Where mechanics were used, you could see the machines. They were made with my limited understanding of the mechanics, so they could stop working anytime," he says. There is an object and its seeming meaninglessness of function that Shetty evokes in his exploration of the human-object relationship.

In 'who must write these lines', an old broken ceramic jar - the sorts grandmothers made and stored mango pickles for monsoon in - is made whole with brass, something fragile held together with something longer lasting. It is perched up on a tall shelf, reminiscent of traditional kitchens. There lies a carpet, intricately patterned, creased as if someone stepped on it in a hurry, and hence didn't straighten it. It folds up against the wall and you are tempted to pull it down and lay it out right. But for all its sense of movement and a moment caught in time, the carpet is made of reclaimed wood, stitched together painstakingly, taking two craftsmen a month to finish. Wood for this, and older works comes from demolished homes in Mumbai. "A door, a beam becomes something else. Does it symbolise the inclusion of stories (of people in those homes) that we don't know about? In the carpet work, what does representation mean? There is an artifice involved in setting up of a show. Can we make this artifice evident in the work?" Shetty wonders.

There is again the notion of the traditional paired with artifice, the ephemeral with permanence. Duality again. Shetty says that the juxtapositions in his works come from his interest in poetry from the 12th to 15th century AD, notably Kabir's dohas. "In the first line, usually an idea is presented and in the next line there is a counter idea. This gives rise to a speculative space, a duality or multiplicity of interpretation that I am interested in," he says. The son of a Yakshagana artist who moved his family to Mumbai when Shetty was but a toddler, poetry, and music and dance, has been a constant presence growing up, and perhaps a significant influence, in Shetty's life and practice.

What is home, the idea of home is a "subjective question," he tells me. I have asked him what home means to him, in a reference to his 2008 work 'House of Shades', commissioned by Louis Vuitton. The work places dozens of sunglasses around a steel chamber where the politics of viewing reverse when visitors enter - the eyeglasses turn to view the visitor, "placing them under the dispassionate surveillance of invisible viewers. Emotions are stirred and the idea of home as a place of safety and refuge, and the idea of a private sphere, is ruthlessly ruptured." The installation breaks away from the romanticized idea of home as a place for rose-tinted nostalgia. "It did not come from a personal experience," says Shetty, adding that it was more a generic notion of what leaving home could be for people. "In my show 'Love' (2006), the works were not from my own experience of love. I looked at a marketable idea of love there. Why does a Valentine's Day heart look like that, have that shape and that colour?" The video installation in that show loops the image of a biological heart becoming an artificial Jarvik heart becoming an image of a loved up pink V-day heart. "I suppose you can't avoid subjectivity," he says, circling back to my question to say that 'Leaving Home' (a solo in 2008) was "an oblique reference to the notion of home."

'Leaving Home' and several older shows before and after it feature skeletons cast in steel, knifes, scissors and the colour of dripping, running blood. Though perhaps subtler over the years, Shetty's works have a sense of the morbid, the macabre to them. If there were skeletons distorted in various angles earlier, in the new solo, the ritualistic crops up. A set of three untitled photographs show Shetty facing the Gateway of India and dropping a clay pot over his left shoulder, like in a Hindu funeral. The smashed clay pot, what was salvageable of it, is stuck back together and housed in a vitrine, museumifying something quotidian, something that comes with the baggage of culture and old traditions, yet by itself is impermanent in its fragility.

Image credit: GALLERYSKE
Shetty himself doesn't see a sense of the morbid, however slight, in his works. He says that it perhaps has its origins in a personal experience when, while working for his 2003 solo Consanguinity, he was also attending to his father who was dying of cancer. Mortality is a recurring thread in most of his works from then on. I ask him about his preoccupation, even fascination, with mortality. "All our negotiations with the world could be read as reflection of our own sense of mortality. There is an analogy I often repeat. When you buy a bar of soap, you buy into a promise of youth, and you are willing and a knowing victim to this deception. In the market place, more often than not, there is a gap between a promise and the function an object comes to deliver. As an object maker, I make an object and when displayed in a gallery, the function of the object becomes different. Making an object well takes a reasonable period of time, once having been made a distance can be drawn where the object can seem meaningless. The question is whether one can include the sense of its meaninglessness into the work” he says, explaining that his interest lies in exploring this gap between the promise attached to an object and its actual function.

Shetty's text works, from 2010 and thereafter are often ramblings, long breathless sentences that are monologue-ish in nature. I find in them a sense of premonition, loneliness even, that is inherent to his city, to every city, to modern existence in fact. I ask him about it and he remarks that doesn't know really, "maybe there is that sense of existential emptiness," he says, referring especially to a work from 2011 that talks of a lone woman in a small flat "in a building that housed sixty four flats in a city of a seventeen million."

From large room-filling installations to kinetic sculptures to text to photography to artifices to reclaimed objects, Shetty's oeuvre has been marked by a sharp absence of a signature style. He says that he works very hard not to repeat himself. "It comes from my need for multiplicity. Even if I am talking about the same thing, I am constantly looking for as many ways as possible to say it. There is no linear narrative to the materials I use or how the works are made," he says. He remembers his teachers telling him to develop his own style, but he was very conscious to veer away from it. "A signature style points towards ‘authorship’ and I try to avoid that. I believe that my works are not entirely and wholly mine because there are so many other factors involved than I could make something on my own, I see myself looking back at tradition and history and constantly drawing from it" he says. This preoccupation with multiplicity is again evident in the work 'Path to Water' where five translations of an Amir Khusrao line 'Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki' meaning 'The road to the well is much too difficult' are inlaid in plastic on teak wood panels. Being shown for the first time in India, the other side of the five panels feature carved wood reliefs of an idealised Indian landscape. The other part of the installation heaps store bought terracotta objects on a long low plinth, resembling those found in archeological excavations. Devoid of labels and details of provenance, the display gains an aura of antiquity. Set alongside the reliefs, they question ideas of the labour involved and values, perceived and real.

Image credit: GALLERYSKE
Shetty is today among India's most well-known contemporary artists. His works are in collections of museums both private and public. “Sudarshan’s practice is one that has an incredible depth of eastern historical and philosophical underpinning and it is very exciting that the artist chooses to express this successfully through a variety of mediums. This itself makes the practice unique in its position,” says Sunitha Kumar Emmart of GALLERYSKE. Along the way he has turned something of a collector too, though "not the sorts who will go looking to collect," he adds. "Friends have gifted me works. I have inadvertently been collecting works of people I know," he says. Asked what he looks for in a work he might collect, he says, "Most of them are from very different practices than mine. I display all the works I collect in either my studio or home. It is my selfish need for plurality, I suppose, and I get to participate and in some strange way be part of their processes as well."

The busy artist is currently working for a solo show in Brussels, this May. "I am also building a set of buildings for a longer video that I am working on. They may seem monumental but they can be erected inside a room," he explains.

Asked what his interests are outside of art, Shetty tells me that he reads a lot of poetry. The last few years saw him read a lot of translated works. He's venturing into new English poetry these days, he says, and when I say I read poetry, asks if I can suggest some names. I do. We have, along the way through this conversation, talked about shared half-hometowns, familiar languages and poetry. But like the storytellers of yore would say, those are stories for another day.

('who must write these lines' is on till 30 April at GALLERYSKE, Bengaluru.)

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Forager 3./2015, and My Erotica Piece on Figs

I am quite proud of the third issue of The Forager magazine. I think it is so power packed this time. We have P Sainath, of all people! It's so good to feature the writing of someone we so admire. Then there is Aruna Krishnamurthy, big sister, dear personal friend, old world intellectual and just one of the best people I know, writing about food in diasporic literature. Ahmad Makia writes a very personal account of tobacco and how he took to smoking at the age of 12. John Newling and Stephen Brandes are the artists whose lovely works we feature. 

And then there is the erotica I wrote, taking inspiration from the utterly talented Nadia Ayari's 'The Fountain and the Fig' series of oil on canvases. One of the paintings is on the cover image as well (Splitting, 2012, oil on canvas). It was a very hard piece to write because of the inhibitions I had regarding writing something so very personal and private. It took a while to arrive at the conceptual idea it carries now. The fig is both the fruit and its metaphors and has been used interchangeably, often it is up to the reader to choose what they want it to mean. The lines of poetry in italics are from a Charles Simic poem. There and several references to D H Lawrence's (rather sexist) poem Figs.

Erotica is a genre I have read a little of and enjoyed, mostly. While I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece, and am rather proud of how it turned out, I don't know when, if at all, I will write another one. Read Some Figs for After Dinner here, or see below.


An invitation to my lover.

For I have, I am a fig. And a fig wishes to be eaten.

It is just mid-morning, not the right time or proper way in society for a fig to be eaten. Apparently. Fruits, glistening wet in their ripeness, juicy and soft like satin pillow talk in a public square, have been ordained as dessert. Desserts are to be partaken off after an unhurried dinner.

The figs are in a glass bowl by the side, over there, covered in a blue, lacey cloth. By the time we are ready for dessert, they will be close to bursting with anticipation, the red in the blue, the blue embroidered by then with the leaking juices of the ripened fruits.

The table is set for many, though there are only two guests tonight. Red wine in translucent decanters is set aside two inches from the rose pink plates, to moisturize the tongue after a bite of the meatballs, perfectly round, as if they were formed on a lathe.

Here is how dinner, before dessert is served, is to be conducted.

In our part of the country, we eat carrots with the first drink of whisky, to loosen the tongue. I drink to unbridle the tight blouse I am wearing tonight, it did what I wanted it to do when I rang the bell. You opened the tall teak door and couldn’t raise your lascivious eyes to meet mine. There is a bowl of creamy mayonnaise to dip the raw, small strips of carrots in. Let’s have our usual conversation as I slip one strip into the mayo, twist it slowly in the bowl and bring it to my slightly open mouth, sliding it in while you talk of insurance or of drawing me nude. The carrot crunches, when I take a sharp bite….what was I saying, you will ask me, distracted.

Several fingers of whisky down from a full bottle, my hair open now and in disarray, let’s sit down to dinner. Of the pearly strands of rice I place for myself on a plate, one manages to sit against the hollow of my neck. I wonder how. Maybe I placed it there myself. You do want to wrap your tongue around it and eat it, don’t you?


I do like a fancy sit-down at times, languid servings of three and a half courses, even if we have to serve it ourselves. You want to get to dessert mid-way. Wait, my darling, let the torture of longing for something sweet on your tongue stretch a little more. The fig that we are having after this meal will ripen some more by then, fed on the wine, oiled by the creamy coconut curry with mollusks, make-believe oysters, that we are eating.

This curry is real good. So good that against etiquette, I want to put the fork aside and use my fingers to mix in the fleshy mollusk with the rice. I am certain the yellow of the turmeric will seep into my fingers, the smell of the spices will embed itself into my skin and mix with other smells later tonight. This makes me want to put each of my fragrant fingers into my mouth and suck the smells of you in. I have always loved the way you cook. Will you want to lick the spices off my fingers too? Shall we save it for foreplay, your tongue jogging lazily up and down each of my fingers?

Do we have curd for tonight, before the fruit? Curd is supposed to cool the body down. Figs in yoghurt must be a super food sometime.

The fig is a gorgeous fruit, wouldn’t you agree? Reddish brown, bordering on shiny black on the outside with a pinched bottom that makes its cheeks stand out against a hand. I like it best when it is split open though. The two lips part at the exact centre to reveal the fig’s secrets. They say, like a woman, the fig’s secrets must not be revealed, and that she must always fold unto herself, keep her body unuttered. They say that showing my secret will be the way I shall die. I laugh. I am a fig and for certain I shall keep, even when I am over-ripe and burst into your mouth in all crimson and velvet glory. Some might say the figs taste best when over-ripe.

I will not let you die either. Make way for my ecstasy, tonight and for every night we eat together. Hold the door open, I promise not to shut it behind me. I am a fig but not its wasp, and a world of mere women isn’t for me.

I am a fig and my secret is this. The night is suddenly upon us, a starless night/ You lighting a candle, carrying it naked/ Into our bedroom and blowing it out quickly,/ The dark pines and grasses strangely still. On such a glorious ink blue night, behind my parted lips are tiny jewels, transparent, shining in the dark, ready to be eaten, or worn around your waist. The honey, thick as sticky paste, lives within only when I am ripe. Fully, wholly ripe, glittering, rosy, honeyed, ready for you.

How will you eat a fruit tonight? Let me count the ways.

You could take it in your hand, squeeze it a little between your palm to release the juices within first. Break off the stem. The flesh is a shade of flaming crimson, the white milk surrounds the edges, nearly falling off now. Hold between two flimsy fingers the edge of the skirt and peel off, slowly. It is nicer that way, when slow. A ripe fruit will not be able to stand this measured torment, the moistness will seep through the flesh and drop into your hands. Lick away the juices, won’t you? Peel away my skirt, my skin and part my lips. Look at me and make me blush. I beg you, put two fingers in and hunt for your treasure, for the rubies, for the diamonds which hide away on a bed of cool fluids, communal like the other bodily fluids we share.

Or take me in your mouth, one gentle bite at a time, twirling your tongue around the very centre of me, there where I keep that translucent honey you like so much.

Or just be vulgar and put your mouth to the crack, and suck away the whole wet flesh in one large bite.

How will you eat a fig tonight?

Dessert is for after dinner, apparently. And it is only mid-morning now. But as I sit across you now in this room where the sun splits into thin slivers of warm gold and stardust, I couldn’t care less about the hour. I let the fig run through the gaps of my fingers just now. The ripeness is just right. Not too soft and lush that it will burst into fire and rain its secrets upon your first touch. Not too raw that you will have to tease her with nibbles all over and a sweet tongue before she yields almost reluctantly and lets you have your way.

So what if this hour is not the ordained hour? The fig is bursting with hues of crimson and fiery purple. Just at the perfect stage of full-flavoured maturity. Why wait till after dinner?

Let’s serve ourselves dessert. Right now.

All images courtesy of Nadia Ayari.

Are Indian Grossly Racist? I Wonder. In Kindle This Month

Kindle magazine has an issue full of judicial reform stories this month. In the light of Section 66A and so many other attacks of fundamental freedoms, the articles gain heightened sense of relevance. I write on racism and wonder if Indians are subtly more racist that everyone else we accuse of being. It comes a few weeks after the horrific mob attack on some African students in a Bengaluru neighbourhood. Read the column here or see below.

Are Indians subtly more racist than they like to believe? Are the innocent jokes and harmless stereotypes not so innocent and harmless after all? In a world where people are constantly moving between states and countries, Deepa Bhasthi takes a look at the idea of the ‘outsider’.

Heard that Mallu joke yesterday? You must have. It's an old one, about how there was a chetta on the moon manning a chai-kada when Neil Armstrong gingerly laid down his foot in his leap for mankind. It is an old joke, but never fails to elicit a snigger dressed as a half-hearted laugh. I want to think that the parties involved in the telling of and listening to this old hash anecdote form in their minds a clichéd image of the shrewd Mallu, the one who takes away the jobs, infuses everything and himself in coconut oil and wears the mundu. Then there is that famous mundu joke.

There are always jokes, stereotypes masquerading as harmless time-pass stories during lunch hour. We have laughed at them. We have our own versions of stereotypes. We are such clichés. But these are not meant to be just jokes, innocent caricatures, are they? Racism is much more than deeper than the shape of the eyes or the colour of the skin. And let it be said aloud today. Indians are about as racist as it can get out there.

A couple of weeks ago, some Africans were attacked by a mob, in the cosmopolitan metropolis of Bengaluru. The supposed New York-like town in this country, where there is always space for everyone, where every culture comes into the melting pot and permeates its unique flavour into the rest of the dish. At Byrathi, a far flung neighbourhood where there is a huge population of Africans, the 'locals' decided to 'teach a lesson' to the 'outsiders'. Dear John was attacked by a blood thirsty mob, and newspapers spent that week spluttering about how Bengaluru is a tolerant city and this is just the work of a 'fringe outfit.' Right, then.

It isn't the first such incident in this city, or any other city, for that matter. From seemingly innocuous jokes to baying for blood, it seems like a giant leap. But is it? I have often wondered. A mob is a set of people who wouldn't individually resort to such immense violence. It is the safety in numbers that triggers the latent beast in us all. Are we all mobs waiting to unite?

Which brings me to the question as to who the outsider is and why we don't like them too much. Racism is as much about the local/outsider as it is about my community/not my community. I am an outsider here, in this city. I moved here a month short of nine years ago. It has been a difficult relationship, for I have never been a city person. It took me several years to even begin to think of Bengaluru as anything more than a place of transit, between my home and where my new home would be. But I can tell you where to get the best idlis and where to shop for the cheapest kurtas. I suppose that insider knowledge makes it a reluctant home now. But certain fringe outfits will call me an outsider always. So what if I speak the language? It is still not the language of those born here.

This racism and the fear of the outsider is a rather funny thing. Funny being sarcasm. I suppose it is a remnant of a long-past time when a new member in the tribe meant lesser food to eat and added burdens. Strange were their ways - they spoke different, wore different things, ate different things and behaved weird, "not like us." And so the outsider was shunned. For it was the fear of the unknown and thus, by extension, the discomfort of not knowing how to respond to them.

Then began to creep in scant knowledge of their ways. Then came the mockery, which the outsider put up with because they were fewer in number. With safety in numbers for the 'local' came the arrogance of assigning stereotypes to everyone but themselves. Like the hard-wired gender roles that we assume often, like the hard-wired social conventions we are obliged to follow, subtle (and not so subtle) racism is just as imbibed in our psyche. Old habits die hard.

This argument has been presented scores of times, every time an 'outsider' is targeted by the 'local.' The law allows you to go and live where you please, no sena can do anything about it. But the argument still needs to be made, even if only with the hope that repeated pleas will make a fervent hope a natural reality. We live in a world that is more in movement than the human race has ever been in, both physically and digitally. With the millions of pieces of information available, with the option of selecting a side of the media to follow, with so much of everything, logic would be to think that people would be more open-minded. Logic would be to think people would mimic the rules of an ancient close knit village, not perfect, but a system that fairly functioned, sans the fears and rigidity of the unknown, the unfamiliar.

But perhaps I dream of a distant utopia. Manufacturing consent being the humungous industry that it is, it is a regressive strategy this global village seems to have chosen. If anything, the fear of the unknown is heightened by the more 'others who are unlike us' that we meet. By effect, the jokes are louder, cruder, more personal, more vulgar, and more disrespectful.

I want to spin myself around in circles with this train of thought now. One section of the argument leads to another path I want to tread on, just because there is so much to say. Yet, so little needs to be said. All that really needs to be said it that racism masked within rehashed jokes and loosely constructed stereotypes are funny sometimes, but the question we need to ask ourselves is where these biases are coming from. Because racism is

The simple truth is that beneath all our biases and stereotypes, we are all the same, trying in our ways to live through the day in the best way we can, in a way we think is right and workable for us. Like there apparently being only seven plots in story writing - all the stories in the world supposedly fit into these, one way or the other - there is only one kind of human.

For a race that is so advanced, this shouldn't be so hard to comprehend.