Below are excerpts from writings by C. F. John. If you want to read the entire article, please send an email on cfjohn23@gmail.com
Aesthetics Embalmed, Vijaya Times, 2003
.....Cows these days know they are meant to give milk and they give in abundance. People milk them not in bowls anymore, but in buckets.  All of us have our identity, similarly cows too have recognized their identity based on its role, that it is to give milk. Or we have manufactured the cow according to our vision of a cow. It gives milk with joy and with a sense of pride. ... 
(The article reflects on how we instrumentalise both the living and non living to  fit into a taste and purpose constructed by the time, which blinds us to see the true beauty they bare)
-----------------------------
Art in the child’s world, 2010
(This reflection was first presented during the national level conference on Arts Education jointly organized by India Foundation for the Arts and Goethe institute – Max Mueller Bhavan. Later published in Art Connect – India Foundation for the Arts  2010)   
I feel it is time to engage more meaningfully to understand what arts can do / contribute to the integral
development of children and hence to our larger society. Education in arts and through arts are more than teaching drawing skills or how to apply colours  in visual arts, or teaching steps and choreographed pieces in dance classes,  ragas and music in music classes and acting skills in theater…    It can be a way of seeing, medium and guiding philosophy that help in child’s holistic development.    An arts education with a broad vision can include not only creativity, intuition, freedom, originality, flexibility and aesthetic appreciation but also enhancement of critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and interpersonal and collaborative skills. 
(The article reflects on the role of arts in education) 
-----------------------------

Big ideas for Bangalore
Sunday Times of India, 2008 

       
Small ideas for small changes with large implications. Can we travel together?  
If one does not know to arrange the items in a single cupboard efficiently, purchasing additional two would not solve the problem... 
Most of us in Bangalore are looking forward to the days when the major projects we have on traffic solution are placed on ground.  These heavily invested projects (in terms of money) may be necessary but if we fail to do the necessary investment on people to be responsible and committed to help the efficient use of what is available (for the common good)  all would remain in vein...
(the article reflects on the need to look into small details for greater efficienty)  
-----------------------------

Body.  Art.  Spirituality, published in Journal of Dharma, January – March 2015, Vol. 40, No.1
paper presented  at “Dharma: Interface of Secular and Sacred” -An international conference Investigating the Interface of Religion on Literature, Media, Ethics, Law, Economics, Politics, Science and Philosophy. Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore, India  2015
What is common in relation to both art and spirituality is creativity. A way of seeing. 
Spirituality is concerned with experiencing life in all its relations as non-fragmented reality.  It aims to see all phases of life in this connection.  So also today is the role of art. It seeks to enter the realms that were once the domain of religion.  The inner realm - the realm of mystery.  
The creative mind of the artist and the creative mind of the spiritual seeker both participate intimately in the world they observe. Both serve to understand the nature and function of reality as a whole...
( A reflection on Art and Spirituality rooted in Earth and Life)
-----------------------------
Child and World
Malayalam Translation first published in Ezhuthu Magazine. 2018
...There were multiple factors during my childhood within and around my village, Vellattanjur in Thrissur district, that helped me to see what it means to uphold the honour of the Land, Community, and Life. As an artist and one who engages with the reality around me, my childhood experiences and learnings hold the most important bearing for me. Towards the end of my academic education, I realised that all the arguments and fights that I had within the classes and institutions were to uphold something that I was dearly holding within from my childhood. I realised that it bears a philosophy of life, having its own understanding of culture, community, economics, politics, and spirituality, all rooted in Earth and Life…
(a biographical note reflecting on my childhood experiences, and how it guides me today)
-----------------------------

From the Nether the Ceaseless Dance
Vijaya Times 2003
This search (into subaltern traditons) gains multiple dimensions in the present cultural and political scenario. At one level it helps the subalterns to regain their control over their life, livelihood and identity and celebrate their existence. At another level, it affirms the significance of their world views in the present day context: crises of livelihood systems, biodiversity, question of self, identity and alienation.  At the same time a search into the deep matrix of the subaltern only from the point of signification for the modern day would be reducing it into our knowable. This instrumentalist approach held by many toady would drain out the magic of the matrix for a fuller life. 
(The article reflects on the notion of  Eros and Abundance from the perspective of indegenous communties)
-----------------------------
The subaltern - An expression of perceived realities. 
Sunday Vijay Times, 13 April 2003


Communities have migrated from time to time. They have fought for space for settlement. Inhabitants have protected their territories. But conquering was never a concept. Annihilation was condemned. The migrants and the original inhabitants would arrive at newly woven fabric, sharing tastes, beliefs, knowledge, notion of beauty and resources, also rights and responsibilities. Every turbulence ended with realisation of something mysterious. The revelation is set in tension constructing and deconstructing mind and territory. 
Though set in tension, union and reunions, the grand saga of diversity is celebrated. The much talked about biodiversity patches, the sacred groves, have taken its root from these cosmologies, in the notion of sacred grove, humans , earth, trees, hills, air, fire, space and water, things animate and inanimate all go to make up the one body of thayi the universal mother goddess.
(this paper is the continuaiton of  From the Nether the Ceaseless Dance)
-----------------------------

Yusuf Arakkal 
malayalam - Ezhuthu Magazine. 2016
(reflects on yusuf as a person and artist)
-----------------------------
The ‘dark room’ by Sheela Gowda. 
Master takes, Tehelka

We are at a time when art strives to stay in conformity with the world of image making. But we also see parallel compulsions driving some to unknot the threads in head and do something and see it oneself.   What emerges from it could be more compelling and complex than what we think the matters are. 
(the note prepared for MASTER TAKES by Tehelka on the ‘Dark Room’, an installation- sculpture by  Sheela Gowda,  previewed in her studio recently before moving it to the Bose Pacia Gallery, New York.)
-----------------------------

Motion - Time – Art 
Sunday Vijaya Times 2003
...Along with most motions/time come a narration too. This narration could be seen as the light in which a people at a particular stage of history see, interpret and evaluate reality and how reality thus seen, interpreted and evaluated appears. It may bear social, cultural, moral, political, or economic compulsions... 
-----------------------------

Paper is to art, what word is to meaning 
Sunday Vijay Times, 27 April 2003 
...Along the religious/ spiritual pursuit art found its expressions on paper. Earlier paintings on paper used  minimal lines and colours  retaining the graceful natural hues of the paper/ material.  Here the paper enhanced the painting.   As a temple sculpture sets forth the stone and stone, the sculpture.  ‘ The art opens up and exhibits a dimension of reality, a deeper dimension Heidegger calls the ‘ Being of beings’. What mattered was not  ‘what a thing is’ but rather ‘that it is’... 
(the article reflects on the matter of materials in art) 
-----------------------------

Rowing through uncertain waters
Sunday Vijaya Times,19th, January 2003. 

...Our overtly narrow political engagement and politicizing of day-to-day life situations have taken centrestage today. These have blinded us to the essence of time - blinded us to the timelessness of moments we share in our life. The expressions of the time we perceive today are nothing but the headlines in the newspaper and political rhetoric. In this grand saga of political narrations, one often misses out the language of art, freed from its own jargon, but help grapple and transcend human predicament. The social significance of art has not necessarily come from it's accordance with the political narration. But emerged from specific social context. Where a talk about the trees in some context would imply silence on so many wrongs but in another, the most meaningful thing to do...
(the paper reflects on the problamatics of meaning and the meaning of meaningfulness, contributing towards a new weaving of the landscapes of the minds) 
-----------------------------

Thinking of Him is a Joy
malayalam translation published in Ezhuthu Magazine 2015
The last conversation I had with Fr. Sebastian Kappen was in the evening of 28 November 1993, two days before he returned to Mother Earth.  The conversation was around one of his paintings.  It had a pond in the center, with a crane on its bank, and was surrounded with flowering trees, creepers and grass. The painting presented calmness, peace, joy and celebrated the diversity of life.  My question was about the presence of the crane.  “It stays calm and meditative. But on second thought we would realise that it is waiting to devour a fish from the pond. Isn’t that something unsettling?!” I asked him. He said, “The crane must be thinking that the fish in the pond can attain mukti only if she devours it,” and he laughed.
(An article on S.Kappen - the Person) 

-----------------------------

Craft - Museums 
Sunday Vijay Times , 11 May 2003
Indian craft one time known all over the world and respected for its finest sensibility and perfection today find its survival on the edge. A tactile understanding of nature, its rhythm and relationship of natural elements was mirrored in the Indian craft. A song line connected the life of artisans with the rhythm of nature and an artistic sensibility evolved from it. The elements of craft found expressions beyond artisans and their products to everyday life of varying communities. On floors in the courtyard or at the gate, on the walls either plastered with mud, cow dung or lime, on the doors, or even on human body - face, palm, foot all were drawn with lines of fine interwoven relationships. 
(Ponder on the concerns that artisan’s communities face today in India) 
-----------------------------

The art of praying
Sunday Vijay Times - 18, May 2003
During the last few years the world has been witnessing an increase in the practice of social prayers. During the Kargil war, during the abduction of Dr. Rajkumar by Mr. Veerappan, when Bush decided to attack Iraq. And of course, during the world cup cricket 2003, prayers were offered in temples, churches, mosques and on the streets as well. 
People from all faiths participate in these prayers, the question that interests me here is how we perceive the other, the opponent, in these prayers. 
-----------------------------

The trodden paths al(on)g high definition roads.
wrote for Sunday Times of India 2008
...Even we, with our long associations with the roads of modern times, have not really learned to make the necessary negotiations. The statistics show around 1.2 million people die every year in India in road accidents.  There is big divide between our living culture of streets and the traffic that runs through it.  In fact to say further there is also a big divide between the mind of people who drives in the vehicle and the mind the vehicle demand.  We drive vehicle as freely as we walk in a carnival ground. The difference is that it is the consuming, competing, striving to survive, striving to win individual that drives the motor vehicle.  
When the aspired system is not getting grounded we tend to bring forces of control.  We tend to believe in rules of control. Rules set their own systems of accusations and responses to it. It not only serves no purpose but in the long run it also becomes counter productive. .. (Read..)
-----------------------------

My Mother
First published in Chicken Soup for the Soul – Indian Women, edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Reema Moudgil, Westland publishers. 
Published again in The New Indian Express , 2 September 2014
Being forced to starve is something almost unthinkably remote to most of us. I saw people in our village doing things I had never seen before.  Nothing seemed to matter to the people but food. Everyone was out foraging, gathering, and converting things to make them edible. Parts of plants normally left to rot back into the soil were picked up carefully by hand and taken home. Things that until then had been at the margins of our awareness—creepers, plants, shrubs, palm trees, everything that grew at the edges or between the crops—all of these things came alive to our attention.
(On my mother)
-----------------------------

Pond, Lily Pod and the Golden Fish
malayalam translation published in Ezhuthu Magazine 2019
...One day a smart-looking young man came to fish in that area. His hair was oiled and combed. He cast a net in the stream and soon noticed a golden fish sporting at the mouth of the net. He was excited and waited for the fish to enter. After a long wait, when he saw that the fish had still not entered the net, he rained abuse upon the fish. Soon thereafter the fish entered the net, and he caught it and left the place...
The wicked and evil have their fields all the way. The Divine wanders like an orphan, gets wounded and dies moment after moment, in land after land.
(The article ponder on the nature of Seekers who wander away from the security of community, religion and even the constructed meanings of the time)
-----------------------------

River and Well
part of a collection of reflections on River (nadhi - malayalam) compiled and Edited by P. Surendran and P.Sudhakaran.
(A meditative reflection on the flow of River in the Well and the Stillness of the Well in the River, narrated as a folklore tale)  
-----------------------------
Of True Beauty and Sensibility
Sunday Vijaya Times, 
2 March 2003
An eight year old girl wanted to have a younger sibling . Her friends from school told her that her parents would have to do something among themselves for her to get a baby sister or brother.  They warned her that her parents won't do that if she or any other children were around! With this in mind, she girl planned out a situation for her parents what was conducive for the act. She pestered them to allow her to spend a weekend with her best friend from school. Not finding any other way out the parents finally relented. After the weekend the girl got back home and asked her parents, did you do what you were supposed to do? The parents wondered what this meant. Not bothering to beat around the bush, the girl asked them straight, “Did papa give mamma sperm”? 
(The article reflects on appearances that are forced on us as signs, symbols and materials in our day-to- day life and how it comes in conflict with a vision of beauty)
-----------------------------

Agriculture – a Life of Inter-Connectedness
the place for seeds is soil not museums
LEIS INDIA, India edition, 2018
...With the increasing alienation from soil and life processes that we experience today, our thoughts and forms of living have become increasingly abstract, diminishing our capacity to engage with the immediate and physical. It is almost absurd: what is alienated and abstracted have come to feel immediate and real for us, dishonoring the real processes that sustain our life.   I think only a true engagement with soil and the ones who work with it and help sustain our bodies can allow all other works that we do today to become whole and complete…
(The article wish to share on the beauty of the sustaining efforts of FTAK. About twenty-five thousand people from four districts of Kerala, (Kozhikod, Kannur, Wayanadu and Kazarkod)  for the last 15 years have been procuring, preserving and exchanging all sorts of seeds, planting material, indigenous livestock, medicinal plants, indigenous and wild trees, and other living things in a focused and sustained manner) 
-----------------------------
Back to Top