Special

ISSUE 21

 

- Snigdha

Love in JaRs of Pasta Sauce

Even though I pride myself on knowing many words, there are some in the dictionary that just can’t be defined in simple ways. In the back of a book, I had read that people, by nature, seek stories and experiences; qualitative gateways into a world that is so seemingly rational and empirical, perhaps even defining some difficult words through those very stories and complex narratives that cannot be compressed into the mere lines in a dictionary. Then, I didn’t think too much of it, until that very evening, I opened a jar of pasta sauce and felt like the very manifestation of the word ‘love’ had wafted through my nose. I don’t think I stopped smiling that day.

As a self-labelled cynic, I believed that love as a notion is a faultless emotion, but that some types of it weren’t for me. I kept my family and few friends close, did the things I enjoyed, and carried on with my life. In that, I was happy. I felt love and gave love, in dutiful transactions, and saw the world around me become warmer and softer. It is one thing to feel purposeful love towards someone or something, but what about love for it all? For the fact that I am sitting here writing this article. For the lunch that I will eat today. For the ebbing and flowing of the endless passage of time that will rock me and usher me into the greatest events of my life.

Love comes in its endless forms and avatars, but sometimes it hits you with its full force (or the aroma of tangy arrabbiata sauce).

If I ever had to reduce love to an idea that I hold close to my heart, I think it would be pasta. A childhood friend, and a taste of comfort that will guide me to my impending adulthood. I remember the primavera from fourth grade after an award ceremony, the pesto spaghetti I’ll cherish perennially, long after its consumption. I believe that it is the truest manifestation of love in my life, because it has been by my side and held me up to the golden light of gustatory and all-around pleasure. You can call it reductionist to simmer down the significance of love to a dish, but I think it’s a step closer to feeling the trueness of it all.

To feel love, unencumbered, is impossible. As the purest and most deeply sought piece of the human condition, we find it in waves and bits and glimmers here and there, but never all at once. But love manifests itself and roots its presence in something ordinary in your life. A book, a trinket, a toy, clothes, or a perfectly-made plate of Penne Alfredo. Love is imbibed and kept in keepsakes of your past, and gateways to your future. Just because it is so difficult to feel completely doesn’t mean that it won’t manifest in physical forms all through your life. Give love, take love, and sometimes, feel it all at once, for anything and everything, because you can.

 

Paywall Problems: How Art Became About the Loot

- Shravan and Ananya

Guys, we get it. We know you’re all dying for more Between The Notes collab articles. And as much as we’d like to make your biggest dream come true, article writing is just incredibly difficult. Two hours out of our semi-busy schedules once every two weeks, doing something we love, helped by our wonderful editors, design team, and each other (aw)?

That’s just unfathomably unreasonable.

This isn’t helped by the fact that every time we try to do research for our academically rigorous articles about scholarly concepts such as Mark Zuckerburg’s bowl cut, MasterChef Australia, and the online multiplayer social deduction video game Among Us, we’re stopped from gaining limitless amounts of knowledge by these inconvenient, sussy barriers known as paywalls. 

Not only do these paywalls stop us from producing the most glamorous writing you’ve ever seen, they’re part of a larger culture that seeks to put a value on one of the most invaluable things ever: art.

 

I, Shravan, have been a fan of music for as long as I can remember. I've been through all the phases: the emo phase, the boy band phase, the EDM phase, but most notably, the 1800s phase, where I couldn't get enough of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. During that time, I saw a lot of admittedly stupid but harmless pretentiousness at the hands of classical music nerds (read: the previous sentence). But there's another facet to the development of music that a lot of us choose to ignore.

 

Classical music was high art. It was made for the rich Western nobility; for those who could afford an education luxurious enough to understand music theory, but not the masses. A lot of times, it wasn't meant to be good; it was meant to be exquisite and off-limits. It's what made music valuable. In a world that's developed so much since then, though, music has changed. It's accessible and real. It doesn't have its roots in some inaccessible harmonic theory that colonialists made to appease kings. But there's still those that revere it as the purest form of music; the most "musical" form of music, even. There's still those that think pop is too basic, too formulaic, too simple. There's those that think rap isn't music. That isn't some kind of objectivity. It's classism, and it's everywhere.

While Shravan developed the insane ability to jam out to Tchaikovsky, I (Ananya) flit from one hobby to another constantly. The only one that really stuck was Bharatnatyam - which is ironic since now I can only confidently do Fortnite dances. For a classical dance such as this one, maintaining tradition was of the utmost importance; everything from the emotion to the costumes was pre-mandated. And so, every time we put up a show, we would have to trudge to the costume rental places and buy authentic jewellery, dresses, makeup, and the whole nine yards. Growing up, I also had a short stint with ballet. My pirouettes were not the best, but the sparkly pink dresses were incentive enough. However, for more advanced dancers, pointe shoes cost upwards of $120, and they need to be replaced almost every 5 days, along with expensive training, physiotherapy, lavish costumes - basically, highway robbery but if the thief wore a tutu while ripping you off.

What I observed was that certain forms of dance, usually the ones like ballet and Bharatnatyam that cost a lot of money to practice, are deemed ‘sophisticated’ and worth someone’s time, as opposed to those forms which are more accessible to people - like hiphop. According to society, a pas de bourré was more technical and required more talent than a pop-and-lock; like Shravan said about classical music, it was blatantly classist and antiblack as well. 

 

Another example of the monetization of art is NFTs. We'll admit it - the first time we heard about it was its honorary mention on Spotify Wrapped, but other than being a marketing ploy for a multinational corporation, NFTs have been a major topic of conversation recently. According to Forbes, a non-fungible token is a "digital asset of real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos". The point of NFTs is for people to be able to own certain artwork in any form, and for sellers to be able to sell their content without having to pay royalties to third-party merchants like YouTube on advertisements.

 

Not only is an NFT a way to support the artists you like, but owning one also simply gives you the ability to say you own an NFT - a sign of wealth or credibility. Although anyone can look at NFTs, it's not the same as owning one. Even if it doesn't prohibit people from enjoying art for free, the idea that it is a sign of social status creates an economic and social hierarchy in the viewing and enjoying of art.


Let’s be real. As long as capitalism reigns, this isn't a mindset that's going to leave us. Here's the thing, though - it's getting better. The world's realised that art doesn't have to be a tool for the entertainment of the elite, it can be a way to uplift people and tell the stories that so desperately need to be told. One of my (Shravan’s) favourite bands is The Casteless Collective, a Tamil band that uses a blend of rap, rock, and Tamil folk music, to vocally oppose the injustices of the class system and advocate for equal treatment of Dalits, women, and religious minorities. Lately, I (Ananya) have come across several dance tutorials on social media platforms like Tiktok and Instagram that make classical dance easier on people, both technically and financially. These tutorials are free for anyone to watch, and especially in India, it has cultivated a wonderful kathak and krumping culture alike.

Art's becoming what it's always had the potential to be: transformative, fresh, and important. And we believe that its beauty should be accessible to all - regardless of their socioeconomic background. Art is meant to be a social force that brings us together, not another tool of capitalism that pulls us apart.

That being said, the two of us are proud to announce that Between The Notes has been acquired by Elon Musk Twitter (for the exact amount of money it takes to solve global starvation) and is now going to be under a paywall! The best of journalism, only for a small sum of...

*PAY TO READ MORE*

 

Having a Coke with You by Frank O’Hara

Frank O'Hara was a dynamic leader of the "New York School" of poets, a group that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler. The Abstract Expressionist painters in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s used the title, but the poets borrowed it. From the beginning O'Hara's poetry was engaged with the worlds of music, dance, and painting. In that complex of associations he devised an idea of poetic form that allowed the inclusion of many kinds of events, including everyday conversations and notes about New York advertising signs. (Poetry Foundation)

https://poets.org/poem/having-coke-you

 

Red Brocade by Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. She earned her BA from Trinity University in San Antonio. Nye is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work. Nye’s experience of both cultural difference and different cultures has influenced much of her work. Known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people, and objects, Nye has said that, for her, “the primary source of poetry has always been local life, random characters met on the streets, our own ancestry sifting down to us through small essential daily tasks.” (Poetry Foundation)

https://poets.org/poem/red-brocade

 

To Be of Use by Maggie Piercy

Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, into a working-class family that had been hard-hit by the Depression. Piercy was the first member of her family to attend college, winning a scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. She earned an MA from Northwestern University. During the 1960s, Piercy was an organizer in political movements like the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the movement against the war in Vietnam, an engagement which has shaped her work in myriad ways. Perhaps most importantly, though, has been Piercy’s sustained involvement with feminism, Marxism, and environmental thought.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57673/to-be-of-use

 

I've spent most of the past week commuting - I've had more exams than days. Somewhere between the calculus and the traffic, I stopped looking out the window and started counting my breaths. As I said in my last article, sometimes the extent of the living you can do is just keeping yourself afloat. 

 

At dinner the night before my calculus exam, a two hour drive away from the physics and computer science exams I'd taken that day, the restaurant started playing Michael Jackson's Billie Jean, and it felt like a breath of fresh air. I smiled at my mother for the first time in days. And then something magical happened - every time a new song came on, I would pause for a second, and yes, that was Michael Jackson again. The owner saw me dancing to Billie Jean, and decided to do what he could to give me a good day.

 

It didn't fix everything; I got nauseated in the car afterwards, I snapped at my parents, I couldn't stomach texting my friends, and my legs hurt all night. But it didn't have to fix everything. Someone had been kind to me, when they didn't have to be. And for those twenty minutes at the restaurant, Michael Jackson had been playing. Sometimes that's enough.

 

Today’s poems are about the ways in which we help each other. In difficult times, we keep ourselves afloat. This is not a solitary activity. Reach out. Look around. Pay attention.

Looking Around

- Brishti

- Chaand

131, 477, 280 feet 

131,477,280 feet of the world,

Yet six of an angel drags a smile out,

Out from the depths, seemingly infinite.

My grin glitters as he makes me laugh aloud.

 

How can one singular organism out of trillions

Be allowed to be make me jump in juvenile joy,

Avatar of an angel; no, the angel himself.

Eyes, smile, hair, face, energy, portrait of perfection.

 

His aura is enlightening, I can see, hear, smell, taste, feel it

A warm hug on a cold day and somehow, a cold on warm.

He is an enigma, and only I have the answers

Soft, sweet, he sews sugary happiness within me.

 

Presence like the soft fur of a kitten

Always purrs back, echos warmly

He electrifies every muscle within 

Geographically or not, he is always beside me

 

Across the table, at the edge of my sight,

He laughs, I smile as we lock eyes

A one-way elevator, always lifts people up

I laugh as he cracks a joke he doesn’t know I can hear.

 

High-fives, advice, help when I need. Cold?

Puts a glove around my fingers without asking.

Radiates humour, conducts it throughout

Both my anchor and my life raft.

 

Positively perky, perfectly precious,

Eradicates mundanity without even trying,

I’ll never get enough of his grounding touch
No amount of muscle memory could be too much.

 

- Grace

inventory

this is a list of all the plants i have had

 

dianthus caryophyllus

 

carnations

 

divine [dios] & flower [anthos]

 

they are flowers with jagged edges that seem like they’ve been roughly cut by a scissor but they’re so soft

 

the carnation symbolises socialism and the labour movements, and I have every species I can find. I am the softest with edges cut like they were done with a trembling hand I am not neat. I am not clean and interesting and perfectly drawn yet you cannot help but be drawn to me, you will buy bouquets of me & brush me against her as you press kisses to her collarbone.

 

tinospora cordifolia

 

heart-leaved moonseed


curative & a creeper

 

leaves shaped like hearts, they don’t have proven medicinal effects but my grandmother believes they help. the leaves are like yours & mine intertwined, and they are curling tightly around any support that I will put near it. I will curl around any support I get too, watch me climb & never come back down, I will find new iron, new wood, new bricks to hold on to, I have had enough & more of you.

 

monstera deliciosa

 

swiss cheese

 

monstrous / abnormal & delicious

 

aerial roots, large, glossy, heart-shaped, huge leaves, more holes/ “eyes” as they grow older. this is the only plant I don’t have but it is the only one I am. I am monstrous & my fruits could tear your mouth apart if you don’t wait long enough. I am still, somehow the most delicious thing you have ever seen. you will never see anything so simultaneously terrifying & I smell like pineapples & bananas. you will never want to taste anything more. I am just imperfect enough for you. come close.

 

aglaonema

 

chinese evergreen

blood-stained green leaves

 

luck-bringing ornamental plants, cannot tolerate the cold / excessive sunlight, has air purifying benefits. this one gets plant frostbite easily but I thrive in temperatures below 25º. take me to foreign lands with you & I’ll tell you how much I hate the cold, it seeps through your bones and holds you. still, I cannot live in any way but this.

 
 

O ACHILLES

- PRACHETA

The court of Menoetius,

Where my childhood pursued

Alas, banished from home

In Phthia, life renewed

 

O Achilles, son of Peleus

Who art thou so odd?

Recounting the times I’ve seen

You with your mighty sword

 

O Achilles, my companion

You showed me the light

Through your kind words, despite

My dishonouring plight

 

O Achilles, what’s this sensation?

A spark ignites my soul

When your gentle hands meet mine

Or in the gardens we stroll

 

The eyes of the beholder 

Tinged with lucent hues

Some say tis’ the devil

Whose mastery ensues

 

Am I truly imperfect?

Alas, what do they say?

Nay, we’re all unique

Beautiful in our own way

 

The clash of fine droplets 

And the sun so brilliant

Tis’ Achilles I love, near whom

My heart grows ebullient

DEATH GHOST-WRITES FIRE

- KUSHAL PODDAR

How death ghost-writes the memoir

for the fire bothers me;

I desire to edit it, and that I cannot fill

it with periods inlays my intestine with pain.

 

Leave my mother's name out of it.

I whisper hoping, my voice will

set a herd of butterflies on peregrination.

 

Springtime toddles towards a slide.

A few sparrows are born near 

one half devoured sandwich on the grass.

I wipe what death has written

on my eyes. Leave. I say 

staring at the dark foliage.

SIRENS

- LIV CAMPBELL

One manic summer when all three of us went blonde

 

And lightning struck us in our guts and below our feet,

 

We lived like flotsam, sipped on the sea, and kept it in our bellies.

 

We grew full of fish, deep ends, and sunken ships, 

 

Coral, sand dollars, and dead pelicans.

 

We got drunk on figures fallen under and forgotten things that use to soar.

 

 

Having been on land for far too long now, I make renderings of us, when I know of nothing else to do.

 

Into the wet shore with a stick, I etch things that burn, and things that swing, and things that chime,

 

Like in my grandmother’s garden, where we’d like to be buried 

 

In a hatching and green spring, 

 

Once we die of old age 

 

Because we eventually got clean.

 

 

I grow a tale when I swirl wine

 

And a gill when I get blue. 

 

I get a freckle with every seashell find

 

And another heart when I get to see you.