Thursday, August 01, 2019

For the Net is full of holes


Sri Nisargadatta's teachings retain remarkable relevancy. Particularly this one, with its pertinent ambiguity:
The real world is beyond our thoughts and ideas; we see it through the net of our desires, divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is full of holes.
In 1967 George Harrison accepted a commission to compose the music for Joe Massot's movie Wonderwall. It was the first album on the Apple label and was released three weeks before the Beatles White Album in November 1968. But it is puzzlingly forgotten despite being an early and important essay in what eventually became World Music. George Harrison used the commission to produce a mini-anthology of Indian music, because, to quote him, "I wanted to help turn the public on to Indian music". In his sleeve essay he pays tribute to the then chairman of the Gramophone Company of India Bhaskar Menon, who generously made resources available for recording the album in the HMV Sudios in Bombay (now Mumbai) with Indian musicians.

Bhaskar Menon went on to be president of Capitol Records in Los Angeles, and then in 1978 he was appointed chairman and ceo of EMI Music Worldwide in London. Our time at EMI overlapped briefly and my path crossed his just once. Menon was a member of the White Elephant Club in Mayfair, then a popular dining destination for Hollywood stars and London’s elite. Over a three hour lunch there with Peter Andry and me, he delivered a lecture on what it takes to become the very model of a modern record company executive. The lecture obviously missed its mark as not long after I chose to leave EMI, and I watched from the sidelines the slow motion car wreck that eventually led to the Terra Firma fiasco and the acquisition of EMI's priceless classical catalogue by Warner.

Bhaskar Menon's Wikipedia entry is, as I write, a case study in hagiography. It states for instance that "He also worked with classical performers like Yehudi Menuhin, Herbert von Karajan, Maria Callas, Ricardo Muti (sic), Itzhak Perlman, and Daniel Barenboim". Yes, those musicians were signed to EMI during his tenure. But based on my experience I question whether he actually ever met, yet alone "worked with", many of them. This is a minor and relatively harmless example of the misinformation that is rife on the Internet. There is a convenient and dangerous myth that fake news is the sole prerogative of mendacious political factions. It grieves me that Wikipedia and similar resources are recommended without qualification as a primary sources by people who should know better, particularly teachers in schools and colleges. As Sri Nisargadatta told us, with added capitals: To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the Net. It is not hard to do so, for the Net is full of holes.

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