Thursday, August 03, 2006

A boy who took Photographs

Personality tests intrigue me a lot; give me a chance to introspect and make me face questions I forget to ask myself in the hustle bustle of routine life. Yesterday I received one such personality test through an email. I ticked all the answers and then convinced my younger brother to take the same test. After a little grumbling he agreed and I started asking him questions. He walked leisurely up and down the room answering. For almost all the questions I knew what to mark but I was letting him take the questions. After a lot of questions that questioned him whether he was messy, interactive, sociable etc. came this question. “Are you intellectual?” the question said. Instinctively my brother said no.

I asked him to reconsider his answer, but he was surprised that I was actually asking him to do so. I asked him to explain how could he be so sure of himself. He stopped pacing the room came closer to me and said, “I am not intellectual because I take photographs”.

Later I couldn’t decide whether it was the question or my brother’s reply that baffled me more. The word ‘intellectual’ like a stone in a placid lake formed several ripples in my thought pool. I did not remember the dictionary meaning of the word and wasn’t interested in recollecting it either. I was questioning my understanding of the word.

My brother had further explained that as he wasn’t scholarly in math and sciences he wasn’t intelligent. World has seen Thomas Alva Edison and also has seen Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine. Who is a true intellectual, a science scholar or a boy who takes photographs? I do not know how the world defines the word intellectual.

A degree in Fine Arts with photography as a special subject was my brother’s chosen course unlike many of his friends who took up different engineering courses, few took up medicine as their subject. While his friends were busy learning varied computer languages, my brother spend time experimenting with his camera.

Are the artists and the scientists similar or are they two polar ends? Artists are creative and intuitive. But if I got to compare them I would say the way a computer engineer or a doctor performs his task is very similar to the way an artist operates.

To write a computer code too a person needs an equally intuitive mind and has to think creatively. Like a photographer has to learn fundamentals of camera’s various functionalities any other science faculty also grasps the basics. There is no career where a person can be dispassionate and still be an intellectual.

After a lot of brain racking I defined the word ‘intellectual’ for myself. Intellectual for me is any individual who chooses a career that he is passionate about and creatively adds value to it. May it be a heart specialist or a kathakali dancer if every performance leaves a unique mark of the performer it means he applied his intellect.

There was this particular teacher I will never forget, there is this particular dentist whom I choose to go to, I still preserve the painting -my acquaintance’s creation which he gave me many years back. I now realize intellectuals are there in any and every field of work. No two people can duplicate their performances what ever is the nature of profession. Every individual has some characteristics that he lends to the profession and thus is unique in his performance.

But like those mice that followed the hypnotic tunes of piped piper, people blindly pursue careers. Then are born the stereotypes like the one that says only the sciences require application of intellect. At the end of this dialogue with myself and later with my brother I could convince him and myself that a boy who takes photographs is very much an intellectual.