|Rock Music in Manipur
- Art of Creativity and Intervention -
- Part 2 -
|By: Ronid Chingangbam *
Whatever it may be,I have not come across any western poets, either the most radical of Irish, American or British poets speak to a generation so strongly like Thangjam Ibopishak [ + ] did. But the poem is known only in literary circles and the public rarely get a chance to read the poem. So there lies a gap.
The Beat Generation and Impact on Music:
Amusingly, many youths in the United States of America in the 1950s were dogged with a similar kind of anxiety. They had to find a way to retaliate seeking solutions or dealing with all the anxieties that gripped them.
A group of daring young American writers/poets emerged. This group introduced a new culture called the Beat Generation. The rejection of the prevailing academic attitude to poetry was one of their first engagements. They felt poetry should be brought to the people.
The poetry they had in mind were filled with themes like rejection of then prevailing American middle-class values, the purposelessness of modern society and the need for withdrawal and protest.
Whatever the beat writers/poets wrote, they read it out often to the accompaniment with Jazz. (What an amazing recitation it must have been). Eventually, hippies and anti-war movement followed Beat Movement and subsequent concerns with environmental issues in later part of the last century.
Radical poet Allen Ginsberg (Beat Poet) said that essential effects of Beat Generation artistic movement in America could be seen in a kind of liberation for spirituality, gender and racial inequality. The same movement also raised concerns about text censorship.
The Beat poets and writers also impacted on the spread of ecological consciousness, emphasized early on by Gary Snyder and Michael McClure and their understanding of the idea of a "Fresh Planet." The works of these radicals also infused respect for land and indigenous peoples and all forms of militarization and regimentation.
The foremost impact of the Beat Generation, I think was felt in the popular music scenario of the times. The evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll as a high art form with the advent of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other popular musicians.
If the Beat Movement had not emerged in 1950s there may not have been bands/singers like Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Country Joe and the Fish, Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Yes! These bands were heavily influenced by Beat Generation. And the effect is not over yet.
Just remember!! The radical band Rage Against the Machine (RATM) too recited and performed Allen Ginsberg’s poetry “Hadda been playin on the jukebox”. And for the seriously curious rock music fans, please read the lyrics to understand the content.
Even as the Beat Movement revolutionized American literature, the leading frontrunners were heavily influenced by Walt Whitman (father of American literature), William Blake and Henry David Thoreau.
This shows that the Beat Generation kept the indigenous America in their minds and knew exactly how and where to hit the then contemporary literary landscape. It built a delicate bridge between American literature and Rock n Roll music. There could not be a more beautiful synthesis.
Back to Rocking Reality:
I am sorry for dragging in an American experience when what I had in mind was Manipur. But I have a rationale for this. Are we not imitating America or Europe’s Rock and Roll music tradition?
Yes! We do but have missed out citing our own purpose of that imitation or the foundation to what we should be doing with rock music.
We can not shy away from the truth that we have lost our shelters. We are the runaway children. We seem to enjoy being lost.
The fortunate ones amongst us, the educated and rich ones are not bothered by the daily routine of turmoil in Manipur that have silenced the poor, the weak and the innocents.
Why are we in a state defined as disturbed? We want a meaningful home. We love peace. We will love to hear Sharmila succeeding in her struggle.
We will love to read newspaper every morning without the pictures of gunned down youngsters. And I believe no revolution is sagacious when its rationale weakens our strength and diminishing the frequency of our bloodcurdling voices.
We are yet to fully explore the power of music, poetry, painting and the pen. All we need is a Movement, our own Beat Generation to fuse poetry and rock music.
Let us sing of the Meira Paibis and see every woman that Alexandra talked off. Let us reflect our protests and on the blank canvases.
Let us not just paint or write for the sake of it or just to capture imagination of non sensitive. It is boring. We do not have time to get bored. Our blood is getting warmer and warmer.
Let us not miss the beats of our hearts. Let us play all our musical instruments on the streets where the Lanmee Phijon clad rule us with their Kalashnikovs.
Let us sing for Irom Sharmila and the mothers.
Remember, a protest which lasts forever comes out only from the heart of a creative woman or man. And who says Manipuri rock musicians are not creative.
Salutations to all the rockers in Manipur!!
Read Part 1 of this series here.
Browse Ronid Chingangbam poems here.
* Ronid Chingangbam contributes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at ronidchi(at)gmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on January 24th, 2008 .
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