Looking for porn in Ikkeri

A long time back I’d gone to Sringeri, and tried to use insights from Tyler Cowen’s Discover Your Inner Economist, which I had then just read. Cowen had written that the way to get interested in things you’re not normally interested about is in engaging in side bets.

So if you’re watching a game where you don’t know which team to root for (which makes it less interesting), you place a bet. When you go to an art gallery, think about which painting you would want to steal (if given a choice).

And a corollary is that when you visit a medieval Indian temple, you get yourself interested in the sculptures by looking for porn in them. At Sringeri I hadn’t had that much luck. Either I was bad at spotting figures (no pun intended) back in 2008, or the temple there is simply too “sanskari”, but I had completely failed to find porn there.

Last week, we did a family road trip through West-Central Karnataka. We went close to Sringeri but didn’t actually go there. Instead, we visited seven (I think) other medieval temples in that region, most of them off the beaten tourist track.

All seven temples (IIRC) are under control of the Archeological Survey of India, though all of them also see daily prayers (basically, the idols haven’t been destroyed). In many of them, we were the only people at the temple at the time of visit. We didn’t spend too long in each temple (30-45 minutes at max), and they weren’t particularly close to each other, so it was a real “road trip” that way (most time being spent in the car).

In any case, we were in luck at the Aghoreshwara Temple in Ikkeri.

It was the wife (who, you might remember, is a relationship guru) who first noticed this. “Is this guy shagging?”, she asked, looking at a sculpture on the side of the temple. “Oh wow! This woman is touching herself”, she went on.

We only looked closely at one side of the temple (we had gone in the afternoon and the floor on the other side of the temple was too hot so we didn’t spend much time there), but there was plenty of “good stuff”.

One series of people touching the penis of the guy in front. One person tugging at the penises of two people at the same time. Women sprawled out in an inviting manner. People getting anal. Interesting “positions”. The sculptor surely had superb imagination.

The wife diligently documented a lot of things we saw and put them on Instagram. You can check the stuff out here.

Most of our temple visits on the trip came after this one, and so we kept our eyes out for “interesting stuff” there. Unfortunately we didn’t come by much stuff. Some of the temples we visited later on (like the one in Banavasi) were much older. Other temples didn’t have that much sculpture around the outside walls (which is where this kind of stuff usually goes).

Nevertheless, this “discovery” early on in our trip made all our subsequent temple visits that much more interesting.

Art

I spent this evening at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). They have this concept of “target free friday nights” where they allow visitors free entry after 4pm on Friday evenings (on Friday alone, the museum is open till 8pm), so I happily went to take advantage of it. It was already 630 by the time I got there and I had to make a pit stop at the museum cafe since I was awfully hungry, yet it allowed me more than sufficient time to inspect all that I had to inspect.

I have a confession to make. I’m not a big fan of art. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate art. Just that I don’t have the patience to look at a picture from several thousand angles and make several thousand interpretations and then pass judgment on it. In that sense, for me, art is not like writing, it’s more like the cinema. See it once, form judgment, maybe blog about it and move on. I’m mentioning this here because I don’t want you to form wrong impressions of my while reading this essay.

I had a bit more than an hour to cover the museum and I spent most of my time on the fifth floor, in the “paintings and sculpture 1” section. This had a fair bit of hifunda stuff, but my level of interest in art is such that apart from Picasso, I don’t remember any of the artists’ names. Even if some of these pictures were to be shown to me in some quiz some day I don’t think I’ll recognize them. Some of it was brilliant, though, and I regret not taking along my new camera (I went straight from work). I hope to make amends by taking along my camera when I visit the Metropolitan Museum tomorrow.

I found most of the work underwhelming, though. I felt that this whole idea of “sculpture” is a complete fraud, and the biggest fraud of them all is Marcel Duchamp (no, I didn’t see “fountain” but saw some of his other “artwork”). Looking at everything it felt like I too can assemble a bunch of random objects, call a bunch of brilliant friends and ask them to interpret, and I have a great piece of art! I felt similarly underwhelmed by looking at Piet Mondrion’s paintings. Just felt  like a random collection of lines.

Ok so now I’ve got this fantastic idea – of “art parties”. Basically the hosts have to collect a set of random objects, or draw some random stuff on a canvas and get in a bunch of intellectual friends. Liquor should be served and under the influence of alcohol, the brilliance of the friends will flourish, and important insights about the art will be made! New interpretations will come up, new art will get formed. Then, all guests together create another piece of art, and all together will interpret it. Great art will be produced in copious amounts by this process!

I continued my way downwards through the museum. Nothing else worth of mention here was found. There was some brilliant stuff which I wanted to hang on my walls. There was mostly stuff that I considered ordinary. Oh, and I must mention that the most underwhelming stuff (in my opinion) was in this hall sponsored by Richard S Fuld Jr. Now you know why a certain company went under a year back!