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Teju Cole's instagram feed just gave us a masterclass on human behaviour

Sneha Vakharia | Updated on: 20 August 2015, 2:09 IST

He's a writer, photographer and artist. Salman Rushdie has called him one of the most 'gifted writers of his generation'. His writing has been described as a 'powerful and unnerving inquiry into the human soul'. Open City, his 2011 novel, won the PEN/Hemingway Award.

But Teju Cole's real genius may be his use of social media - he has close to 200,000 followers on Twitter - to tell stories in new, contemporary ways - without in any way losing the complexity and insight so intrinsic to his work.

Except, sometime last year, he took a Twitter sabbatical. And quietly, started to tell stories on a different medium.

Earlier this month, we started to notice on his Instagram a slew of bad - in some cases terrible - photographs of the Mona Lisa.

The first few pictures had no captions. The next few did. And while his 3700 odd Instagram followers scratched their heads to figure out why he would do such a heinous thing, he put out the disclaimer.

The photographs aren't his.

Over a few weeks, Cole has created what can only be called an essay on Instagram using reposted images of the Mona Lisa - and, through them, has thrown into sharp focus a range of human behaviour, from the profound to the side-splittingly funny.

Here, a curated snapshot of insights from this ongoing series.

01
Teju Cole on keeping an eye on the big picture
02
Teju Cole on understanding one's place in the world
03
Teju Cole on perspective
04
Teju Cole on the inescapable human need to do the Been There Done That
05
Teju Cole on the affection for ugliness that accompanies nostalgia
06
Teju Cole on our constructed realities
07
Teju Cole on narcissism, and our deep-rooted fear of irrelevance
08
Teju Cole on finding dignity in the invisible
09
Teju Cole on intellectualism
10
Teju Cole on mass action
11
And fittingly, on Beyonce
12
Teju Cole on how he's just like everyone else
First published: 20 August 2015, 2:09 IST
 
Sneha Vakharia @sneha_vakharia

A Beyonce-loving feminist who writes about literature and lifestyle at Catch, Sneha is a fan of limericks, sonnets, pantoums and anything that rhymes. She loves economics and music, and has found a happy profession in neither. When not being consumed by the great novels of drama and tragedy, she pays the world back with poems of nostalgia, journals of heartbreak and critiques of the comfortable.

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