The Thing About Creativity Is…

The Thing About Creativity Is...
Quote taken from one of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at TED: Ideas Worth Sharing, “Sir Ken Robinson said school kills creativity.”

If you’re interested, please visit also my page containing my sketches. There’s also another sketch page dedicated to my drawings for my students, usually put together along with my corrections or feedback of my students’ writings. However, as of this post, I’ve decided that I won’t add another picture in My Sketches Page. Instead, I am going to post my future sketches one by one as I drew it on the post page here. Feedbacks or comments are still welcomed, of course. As for now, ciao!

P.S. FYI, this is my very first time drawing in this kind of style. Previously, I always draw a more childish, comical figures, like the ones in my comic post (click here and here). Despite trying to draw a real person’s face, I have to tell you that I don’t really think this resembles Sir Ken Robinson at all. Sigh.

Sang Pemula by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

So, after months of procrastinating, as well as distraction from my guilty pleasure of Amanda Scott’s Scottish historical romance, I finally finished my reading on Sang Pemula, another masterpiece by Pramoedya. Literally means “The Pioneer,” Sang Pemula is a non-fiction works containing a biography of Raden Mas Tirto Adhi Soerjo, the father of Indonesian press, and dubbed, if not by Pramoedya alone, as the one who sow the seed of Indonesian national movement in the early 20th century.

If you’ve read, or familiar already with Pram’s famous masterpiece the Buru Quartet, it might delight you to know that this is book is the very biography of the person who became the inspiration of Pram’s main character, Minke, in his famous quartet. I sure got very excited when I found this book in my aunt’s bookshelf. I never thought this book even existed!

Due to the lack of available, preserved articles and sources, most are far from intact and in good condition, Pramoedya could only seemed to gather so much.

The R. M. Tirto Adhi Soerjo (or also famous as T. A. S.) really existed in the late 19th century of Indonesia. Born in 1880, he was of a Javanese noble family who went so far to a medical school only to drop out later. Already writing series of articles from the early age, he started out as a journalist and later published and circulated his own newspaper. His articles were known to consist of harsh critics and very bold, creating a lot of enemies, especially from the government he definitely opposed. His newspapers were the first to use Malay, and amongst these were Soenda Berita (1903-1905), Medan Prijaji (1907), and Poetri Hindia (1908). Too modern for his time, he stuck me as not only open minded and critical, he was as well a humanitarian and feminist. However, just as depicted in the last part of Pram’s Buru Quartet, Rumah Kaca (House of Glass), those opposing him were determined to shut him up and erased his name of the history. In some ways, this might be true. Not as many people know him as they do Ki Hajar Dewantara despite his just-as-important contribution. And even though the Indonesian government finally acknowledged him and his effortless works, even named him the father of Indonesian modern press, Pram clearly thought that he hadn’t got the recognition and reward he’d deserved.

The book includes several news articles and opinion written by T. A. S. himself, as well as two short stories (one with missing parts) and one incomplete serial–all fiction works. Those works, along with his biography provides us many insights of the life of people, especially the oppressed natives, at that time.

What really interests me, as well as amazes me is the language used in the book, varying from the older style dating back from the late 19th century up to the ones from not so long ago during Pram’s era. I can’t believe how fast the language is evolving that even though Pram’s tried to simplify some of the words and sentences, it struck me that I still find the language used by Pram (which means that it’s also the Indonesian language used during the time Pram compiled the book) very different from the ones I’m seeing and using right now, and it’s only with difficulty that I finally grasp partly, if not fully, what each of the sentences mean.

All in all, I’d highly recommend this book to those who are a fan of Pram’s works, as well as those interested in Indonesian linguistics and history. But this book is a very serious reading that I actually feel like procrastinating once in a while whenever I’m in need of a lighter reading.

Nyepi 2013: The Ogoh-ogoh Festival – Denpasar, Bali

March 12, 2013 was a Nyepi day for the Hindus. Earlier in late February my granddad called me to invite me to come and see the Ogoh-ogoh Festival. He knew me too well, tempting me with religious, and culture festival to get me to come visit him in Denpasar. I’ll explain further, of course, and write more about my latest visit there, but I want to apologize first for procrastinating. As usual, procrastination always get the better of me, so instead of writing this as soon as I got back to Surabaya, instead I lingered and only now I that I finally typing this down as I’m sipping down my hot Americano at the nearest Starbucks.

The Ogoh-ogoh Festival I was talking about took place one day before the Nyepi day. Just in case you have no idea what “Nyepi” is and what is there to celebrate, please check or google it first, because I don’t plan to explain the detail here. You can also click the link here that’ll direct you to the Wikipedia description of Nyepi.

Briefly, during Nyepi the whole city is dead. No lights, no electricity, nothing at all. The ideal Nyepi would be for the Hindu-Balinese to literally do nothing. Even eating. Ideally, they would fast for 24 hour, starting from 6 AM (although the blackout would start the day before when sun set and it’s dark already) to 6 AM the day after. And during that silence, they would pray, or for the less religious ones, they would ponder, and do a self-reflection, thinking about their sins and giving thanks for things that they’re grateful for. Or something like that (please correct me if I write the wrong information). “Nyepi” itself means “quiet.” The streets would be literally empty since no one is supposed to go outside their house, except for the Pecalang, few people who are chosen to guard the streets, making sure no one’s out there to dishonor the Nyepi day. Exceptions are made only for emergency, life-threatening and security reasons (e.g. a security guard guarding a building). Even at night, I heard that the Pecalangs are still out there, making sure the lights are all off. Yet, my grandpa told me that now only very few people still do that. Most people would just stay at home idling, but they would still eat and do their routines at home. Of course, if they eat, most food would be prepared the day before, so on Nyepi, they wouldn’t have to cook.

As for the Ogoh-ogoh festival I referred to earlier, Ogoh-ogoh refer to a huge figure, created months before Nyepi, usually take their form of a scary monster they refer to “Buto Ijo,” which would later be paraded around the neighborhood in the afternoon until dark, and meant to be burnt by the end of the festival. I heard this is to symbolize the rid of evil. I suppose they believe that the evil, sometimes represented by the scary “Buto Ijo” would be scared with the fire burnt by the people, and when he meant to return the next day, he’d meet instead a dead city (everyone would “Nyepi” inside their houses) and so he decided not to return and move on. Depends on how big it is, an Ogoh-ogoh is usually paraded by a group of young people (varied from teenagers to adults), and for the smaller size, kids would take over the parade. Nowadays, though, there are a lot more variations to the shape and size of Ogoh-ogoh. I actually saw one resembling Spongesbob Squarepants, along with his snail, Gary, and Plankton. However, a few years ago apparently the Denpasar governor made a competition to exhibit these Ogoh-ogohs at Lapangan Puputan (Puputan Field). I suppose this is also created for a tourist attraction (and perhaps explains why it’s not getting any quieter or less crowded even though Nyepi is coming). The Ogoh-ogoh created for the competition usually take more conventional form. They usually made to look like the a huge monster, or a knight from Pewayangan riding a monster, or it would take form of two monster dueling against each other. Then another group of people would follow behind, bringing traditional musical instrument, playing traditional music. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the announcement, because I heard the winner would be announced the week after. But it gets better. Apparently, aside from the Ogoh-ogoh made for the competition, other Ogoh-ogoh takes more varied forms, from Spongesbob to a giant Mummy, and the background music following them are also much more modern. As I walked back home from Lapangan Puputan, I saw a massive parade of Ogoh-ogoh, with giant speakers on a separate “carriage”, playing dub-step and techno music. The people parading them would stop to dance for a while as they stop to wait for the Ogoh-ogoh in front of them to move.

Of course, there are a lot more to my trip than just the Ogoh-ogoh festival, but that’ll be another post. As for now, I hope you enjoy the photos of Ogoh-ogoh I took.