L’art pour l’art, Seniku dalam Belajar


Saya pertama kali mengenal frasa l’art pour l’art ketika saya mengikuti kuliah Perkembangan Kesusastraan Belanda di semester ketiga perkuliahan saya. L’art pour l’art dapat diterjemahkan secara etimologi menjadi seni untuk seni dalam bahasa Indonesia atau art for art’s sake dalam bahasa Inggris. L’art pour l’art adalah slogan dalam bahasa Prancis yang populer di antara para penyair di Eropa abad ke-19 yang berusaha memaknai seni sebagai sesuatu yang murni. Dengan kata lain, seni harus merupakan sesuatu yang murni dan bebas dari segala unsur didaktik, moral, dan utilitarian. Sederhananya seni tidak boleh memuat unsur politik apapun.

Edgar Allan Poe sempat menyinggung mengenai konsep ini dalam esainya yang berjudul The Poetic Principle (1850):

“We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem’s sake […] and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force: – but the simple fact is that would we but permit ourselves to look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem’s sake.”

Hakikat kemurnian seni ini menjadi sesuatu yang penting pada zaman itu. Ada pula suatu pendapat yang mengatakan bahwa seni itu dapat dijadikan suatu indikator bagi perkembangan peradaban. Semakin maju sebuah peradaban, seharusnya semakin berkembang pula karya seni pada zaman itu.

Sampai kemudian saya sampai pada suatu pendapat bahwa konsep seni ini pun ada dalam belajar. Seni harus murni dibuat untuk seni itu sendiri, maka menurut saya dalam belajar pun kita perlu melakukannya murni karena kita ingin belajar. Learn for Learn’s sake!! Karena bukan sekali dua kali saya menemukan orang-orang yang belajar karena alasan-alasan yang kurang membuat proses belajar itu berlangsung dengan baik.

Katakanlah, mungkin kita sendiri termasuk dari beberapa di antaranya. Ada orang-orang yang belajar karena mengejar nilai di atas kertas semata, atau demi mendapat pengakuan dari masyarakat. Sebenarnya hal itu tidak menjadi masalah, tetapi ketika kita berusaha keras mempelajari hal-hal yang tidak kita sukai, hal tersebut akan menjadi sesuatu yang membebani pikiran kita.

Let me ask: are you curious about something right now? when was the last time you felt curious?

Rasa penasaran itu yang menggerakkan kita untuk maju. Kapan terakhir kali Anda merasa penasaran dengan apa yang Anda pelajari? Mungkin Anda seringkali melihat sesuatu dan bertanya-tanya mengenai asal-usulnya, tetapi apa rasa penasaran itu hanya berhenti menjadi rasa penasaran? Karena ada begitu banyak pertanyaan yang masih belum terjawab hingga kini, menunggu ada jawabnya.

Salah seorang Imam Mazhab dalam Islam, Imam Syafi’i pernah mengatakan: Jika kamu tidak dapat menahan lelahnya belajar, maka kamu harus sanggup menahan perihnya kebodohan.” Menuntut ilmu itu penting, dan untuk bisa menjaga intensi kita dalam belajar, kita perlu terus memantik rasa penasaran kita pada hal-hal baru. Curiosities is important, bro-sist. Lalu bagaimana cara menjaga rasa penasaran kita agar tetap ada? Kita bisa memulai dari hal-hal sederhana, sesederhana meng-google sesuatu yang ada di keseharian yang menimbulkan pertanyaan di kepala kita. 

René Descartes mencontohkannya dengan Teori Keragu-raguannya yang mempertanyakan segala sesuatu dan meragukan apa yang ada di alam ini. Seperti misalnya, ketika kita sedang pergi dengan naik KRL Commuter Line, kita coba mencoba mencari tahu sesimpel bagaimana KRL bisa berjalan, kapan KRL mulai beroperasi di Jabodetabek, atau bagaimana pantograf pada KRL berguna untuk menerima aliran listrik dari gardu listrik. Konsep 5W+1H (What, Why, When, Where, Who, How) yang dulu kita pelajari di pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia semasa sekolah dapat diaplikasikan di sini.

Belajar lah karena kita memang harus belajar. Dan jangan sampai Anda merasa terpaksa karenanya. Ikutilah rasa penasaran Anda, sampai rasa penasaran Anda hilang karena Anda sudah tahu jawabannya!

Lust for Life: The Stories of the Great Song, Book, and Film

The phrase lust for life gives me goosebumps when I first reading it. The phrase which contains three letters made my heart pounds as I began to think of its meaning. The first word, lust, has a mean of a strong desire for something to be completed soon. It also works for both concrete and abstract objects, i.e. wanderlust could be interpreted as someone who has a strong desire to wander. Hence, I came to a conclusion that lust for life could be meant as a strong desire to get what life could offer, to fully experience what life is and to get its very meaning.

I first ran across the phrase lust for life some years ago while I was reading a manga called BECK by Harold Sakuishi. It was a manga about a junior high sophomore called Tanaka Yukio (Koyuki) who did not experience much of his life while he was longing to write an autobiography someday later in his life. His life changed when he met a guy called Minami Ryusuke who is fond of music and later introduced him to musical world and even formed a band called BECK with him (The series title originally derived from the name of the band that they formed). This series eventually became the second bible of my life, since the story told the details of Koyuki’s struggle to the path of success.

The cover of the 1st volume of BECK tankoubon manga.

The story centered around Koyuki and his relations with the band members. Although it is basically a manga about a band, Sakuishi-sensei has inserted some comedies and romances. Including the relationship between Koyuki and Minami Maho, Ryusuke’s half-sister. The main conflict started when BECK made an enemy of Ran, the major Japanese music producer in the story, who played a major role in the everlasting struggles that BECK has to face. It was also the reason why they had to sign a contract with infamous Lust for Life indie label for their first and second single to be produced.

There are various musical influences on BECK name for characters and places. Such as Morrison Hotel, the hotel where Jim Walsh was staying in Tokyo, originally derived from the name of the 5th studio album of the late the Doors. Another example is the name of the indie label Lust for Life which originally came from the song with the same title by Iggy Pop which was released in 1977. The song performed by Iggy Pop and co-written by the late David Bowie. The song itself was a big hit at the time and even ranked 149th on the list of Rolling Stone magazine “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

There is a background story to this song, which Pop told in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song :

I was living in Berlin in the ’70s. David Bowie came over to see me and stayed. The wall was still up; Berlin was an occupied zone. Every Thursday night, the Armed Forces played Starsky and Hutch and we could pick it up on rabbit ears. Armed Forces TV had an audio signal like the Morse Code.

David picked up his son’s ukelele one day and knocked out the chord progression for this song and suggested the title. Lust For Life was my mom’s favorite book. It is a biographical novel about Vincent Van Gogh, written by Irving Stone, that was turned into a movie. It was a metaphor for my career at that point. I wasn’t enjoying success yet, much like Van Gogh who never saw any of the money or fame that his work did after he died.

Certain lyrics in the song, like “Johnny Yen” and “hypnotizing chickens,” refer to Williams S. Burroughs’ novel The Ticket That Exploded.

What the song talks about is how indispensible it is to be alive and excited but, ironically, our joys also make us vulnerable. Perhaps the people who aren’t too excited about things do better.

The funny thing was that the music was very bouncy and up. The band’s track had a great feel. We recorded it in a studio over there and we all hit it out of the park in one night. It was released in Holland in 1977 and became a #1 single. Then it sat on the shelf for awhile. It bubbled under the radar for about 20 years until the youth movie Trainspotting played the song loud in its entirety to open the movie. I was back in America then. The record became a multi-platinum soundtrack and it was a hit video here for me. It changed my life. “Lust For Life” was in other films as well, including Desperately Seeking Susan, but they weren’t as good for the song.

The most interesting thing about it is that as time goes on, the public will make of something what they want to. It’s a happy song. People don’t care about the irony in the verses. Whole families come up and thank me.

[Taken from http://www.chickensoup.com/book-story/30747/lust-for-life ]

From that story, I found out that the song has a reference to the book and film of Lust for Life. The book is written by Irving Stone, first published in 1934, while the movie adaptation released in 1956. The movie, as well as the book, became an initial success at the time.

The story of Lust for Life centered about the life of infamous yet famous Dutch-painter Vincent Van Gogh. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) never experienced success even once during his 37-years life. He has shifted from various career such as painting dealer, Evangelic pastor before settled down as a painter. As a painter, he even faced various problems and rejections from his neighborhood, acquaintances, other painters and even his families.

The one who never stops supported Vincent was his younger brother, Theo Van Gogh, who was a paintings dealer living in Paris. He gave Vincent 100 franc per month at first and raised it when his salary raised to support his brother who had not sold his paintings yet. Theo even backed up and gave Vincent good advice when all other Van Gogh family members were thinking that Vincent is a disgrace to the Van Gogh name.

Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait (1889)

Lust for life, as Iggy Pop described in the above-mentioned passage, has become a metaphor of a strong will which Vincent Van Gogh bore. It described well of a person who worked hard yet never ever encountered success in his life. It is important to note that success is just a bonus which you will get through your hard work. What is really important is not about enjoying your success, but it is to share your passion, something that you valued highly, to the outside world. That was what Van Gogh did, by sharing his feelings through his works. Even though he never experiences the fame and money his works have brought. So do not forget to live your life to the fullest.

Two Moons to Describe Someone 

​I often think that humans are enjoying the judgments of others about themselves. They enjoy being appreciated for what they have done and their good personalities. But it also occurred that humans have fear of judgments by others whenever their bad side are being exposed. 

Whenever humans in this state of “fear of judgments”, they will try their best to evade the consequences by acting according to what society think is the best. As they are trying to fit, it will create some kind of alter ego and develop other fake personalities which often trigger humans to feel like they are not being themselves. 

That is why I think that there is a possibility that people who we know (or when we think personally that they know us), are not acting with their original scripts. They are trying to find the script within other people around them. They will become original men who try to comfort others, but actually hurt inside. 

It is hard, but it will not be hurt to try it. 

Sharon Creech once said, “Don’t judge a man before you walk two moons using his moccasins.” The term “moccasins” could be interpreted as an idiom to explain about seeing from the perspective. You have to become that person and gain knowledge about sales-marketing for about 2 months. 

So let’s drop the subject now by trying to focus! 

People’s Needs to be Appreciated 

One of the wonderful lessons which I have learned through meeting with new people in my life is about humans need to be appreciated by others. It never occurred to me that I begin to think about how slightly important it is to be appreciated by others. Both of appreciation and acknowledgement are two basic human needs. Humans need to be appreciated for who they are is an important matter which contribute to their desire to continuously improve their qualities of life.

To be surrounded by people who acknowledge us for the way we are is not an easy task. It requires effort to make the circle of those people. The question is how do we find it? We can find it by expanding our networks through various events. Networking events or traveling could contribute to this. We should try to find other people who share similar values to us. It is not necessary to have all of our values blend together, but we have to make sure that most of our values are there within these people.

The first case which I found was in a peer group while you are studying at the class. It often occurs to us that we have a gang or two as a student either at school or in university life. These peers are people who understand the most notable things about us, the one who give us rooms to become ourselves. Some people are failed to get the most of them because they chose the wrong peers. They thought that they have a good peer while actually the peer is the one who destroy them.

The second case is the dangerous one. Some people who seek to acknowledgements sometimes do not care about what they do either it is bad or good. The results of this matters are various cases which we witnessed in newspapers and social media sites. I am pretty sure that some evil doers do not actually do bad things because they are evil. Some people are in the case to fulfill their economic situations, some others seek for acknowledgement or we could simply call it popularity. It is not hard to find people like this. They are all around us and we need to try to appreciate them for what they are, not by what society demands. Sometimes it is the norm pressure in society which prevented this kind of people to achieve good results in life.

I am not trying to blame the norms. The norms are there to guide us on becoming a better society. But trying to press the norms to some people who can make a greater contribution by adapted to a different norms is not a good thing to do. We should give people rooms to become themselves. People are looking for some ways to be appreciated and we could not change the fact.

A Late Night Chat in Omegle 

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

You both like anime.

Stranger: Hello

You: Hi!

Stranger: How are you?

You: Not so well, not so bad either…

You: How about you?

Stranger: I can relate.

Stranger: Got any big plans going on this week/month/year?

You: Doing some essay competitions, even if my chance of winning is few

You: Do you have some big plans ongoing?

Stranger: Ooo, I wish you luck sir/madam. I’m sure you’ll do great.

You: But procrastinating is a part of my daily life, like what you witnessed here when you chat with me

Stranger: Absolutely nothing I’m invited to. But that doesn’t mean I wont crash the wedding I wasn’t invited to! But shh, I’m dressing up as a ninja.

Stranger: Oh, so the delay was on purpose, subtle!

Stranger: But hey, at least you replied. Half the time I get no feedback, or just some sex hungry dude.

You: I could imagine, like what Ranchoddas and his two friends doing. Sneak into a wedding party and get free snacks from there lol

You: Well, it’s not really on purpose. But just without I realized it.

Stranger: Maybe, but this is one I should have been invited to. Sadly it’ll be the second one I’m not invited to.

You: Why don’t they invite you? Did they have some grudge on you based on a problem or two?

Stranger: Nah, one said family only, I can respect that, also probably couldnt go anyways so no big deal. This one, no clue, maybe they just havent yet.

You: Only for family, eh. Is it some kind of tradition or norm in your place?

Stranger: No, just what they wanted. keep it close.

You: I see. It’s pretty sad not being able to attend it when you want to.

Stranger: It varies based on the way someone grows up here, and the money, and just generally who they wanna invite. Some dont invite family, some get eloped etc.

Stranger: Yeah, but it would have just been the thought of an invite that counted for me, even if i couldnt make it.

You: It’s pretty complicated. In my opinion, one should invite all of their families and friends if they could afford it.

Stranger: of course, but weddings are for the bride and groom, should they not want people there, thats their choice, they would have known i couldnt go so she coulda said you would be invited if you could come

You: I think I get the point now

Stranger: So, where do you live?

You: I live in Indonesia

You: How about you?

Stranger: Ah! First I’ve met from there. the USA.

You: Ah, the USA

You: It’s pretty far from here

Stranger: Quite far!

Stranger: What’s your name and how old are you?

You: My name is Bagus and I’m 20, but I’ll turn 21 this July

You: And what’s your name sir/madam?

Stranger: Happy early birthday! Mine’s Sebastien and I turn 23 next month.

You: Happy early birthday too, haha

Stranger: Ty

You: You’re welcome

You: Where do you live in the US?

Stranger: Louisiana

You: Lousiana, I recalled that city is in Johnny B. Goode lyrics by Chuck Berry

You: But I don’t know where it is exactly in America

Stranger: It’s a state actually. It’s the part that has a boot shape jutting into the gulf of mexico

You: So it’s located in the south, eh

Stranger: Yes

You: I’d like to ask your opinion

Stranger: Sure

You: What do you think about Donald Trump? Does he qualified as a president from your perspective?

Stranger: He honestly shouldn’t even be alive. He’s a racist, sexist, rapist, he thinks money can fix everything because it fixed his mistakes and he absolutely is an A-Class idiot. Hillary is better than him but has her own issues. Bernie Sanders swould be way better.

You: I think so too, it’s like he pulled some strings to begin WWIII. Even prohibited Moslems to go to the US. I think that it’s going too far 😦

Stranger: Everything out of his mouth is him going too far.

You: Under today circumstances, do you think that he’ll win the trophy?

Stranger: Honestly, he got this far in, it makes me worry america is occupied by idiots who don’t deserve the gift of life.

You: It’s like the media keep pushing him up

You: I’m afraid that too

Stranger: I think I’ll be moving to canada if he wins. Hopefully he thinks all white/orange (cough fake tan cough) people live in canada and wont nuke it

You: Is it that easy to immigrate from the US to Canada?

Stranger: I was born in canada, so hopefully I’ll just be let in lol.

Stranger: But generally easier to do that then any other country.

You: Haha, I see

Stranger: I had fun chatting with you, viva la revolution if trump wins, gunna go look for more interesting chats! You have a good one Bagus.

Stranger has disconnected.

The Problem of Development 

We tend to judge part of the society who lives in a lower standard than us as incapable to gain better lives. Then we offer them some helpful advices and resources which going to benefit them in our way of thinking. We don’t even bother to ask whether they enjoy being themselves or it is just our prejudices to judge them for living in a lower standard. Will our help strengthen them or just make their lives become harder? Modernization brings up a new advantage as well as more disadvantages for the society.

To be able to define whether something is good for the society or not is not an easy task. That is why we need to carefully examine what society really needs. We can’t press our knowledge which can differ from the reality to the society.

Firstly we have to come up with the same framework with the one who we are willing to help. By trying to keep the empathy on them, we can dig up some basic information on our targeted people. As we are not judging, they will give some input to our insights. This will benefit both sides of the project, between the doer and the target audience.

As it has finished, we need to define what really best for them. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just keep the status quo, but it is not uncommon for the input to become a useful resource for our project to be done. We can contribute to the maximum potential of ourselves, because we can concentrate on the part which was defined before by both parties, not just one sided.

By doing the project accordingly with an intent to know what we can provide, not what we thought we can provide, we could strike to the point where the society lacks the most. It could strengthen the environment, the world and also the people.

Hai Februari! 

Ketika terbangun melihat kalender di layar handphone pagi ini, kulihat angka 31 sudah berganti menjadi angka satu, begitu juga dengan Januari yang telah berganti menjadi Februari. 32 hari telah kulalui di tahun 2017 ini. Februari menjadi sebuah bulan penentu keberhasilan di tahun ini. Karena setelah beristirahat selama sebulan setengah, akhirnya badai akademik akan kembali menerjang dan berbagai tanggung jawab lain akan datang menghampiri. 

Melihat sebulan ke belakang, aku jadi ingin sedikit melakukan evaluasi terhadap kegiatan di keseharianku. Di Bulan Januari, aku telah melakukan perjalanan ke tempat baru, yaitu Banten Lama yang merupakan situs sejarah peninggalan peradaban dari Kesultanan Banten yang dahulu sempat besar di abad ke-15. Dengan melakukan perjalanan ke tempat baru, aku telah belajar untuk menjadi independen dan mengambil keputusan dalam situasi yang belum familier. 

Selain itu, aku telah mengunjungi Bontang, kampung halamanku selama beberapa hari. Walaupun sebagian besar waktuku di rumah dihabiskan untuk tidur dan menonton film-film picisan, aku belajar untuk menguatkan komitmen. Ya, 7 Januari lalu adalah hari dimulainya 30 Days Writing Challenge yang menuntut komitmenku untuk bagaimanapun caranya menghasilkan tulisan,  apapun topiknya, selama 30 hari berturut-turut.

Januari juga bulan ketika aku mencoba menuliskan resolusi-resolusi yang ingin aku capai ke depannya. Jika Gretchen Rubin memulai The Happiness Project di Bulan Januari, maka aku memulai Januari dengan mencoba menjadi bahagia dengan caraku sendiri, yaitu memperkuat kecerdasan emosionalku (emotional intelligence). Sehingga orang-orang di sekitarku juga ikut tertular virus-virus kebahagiaan, mulai dari hal kecil sesimpel memberi mereka perhatian untuk hal-hal yang mungkin bagi kita bukan apa-apa, tapi begitu bermakna untuk mereka. 

Lalu bagaimana dengan Februari? Jika Januari adalah tahap memulai, maka Februari adalah bulan dengan sejuta kesempatan. Ia akan menjadi suatu katalis yang membawa kita untuk memenuhi apa yang jadi keinginan kita di Bulan Januari. Asalkan kita bisa menjaga reaksinya terus menerus dengan mengisi bahan-bahannya yang ada di pemikiran kita.