Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mysticism in English Literature

                     Mysticism, Eroticism and Skepticism

Indian English Authors,Emerson,Mitch Albom,Paulo Coelho

Whatever is unexplainable in the cosmos is a mystery. Whenever an author is possessed by some spirit he writes a mystical novel almost in trance. Mysticism is like peels of an onion. The texture would change with every peel, but ultimately a hollowness would make a mockery of all the efforts.
All books based on Premonition, Sixth sense, Supernatural, Absolute, Macro and Microcosm, Holy Grail, Miracles, God and Guru can be classified as mysticism, though list is not exhaustive and is expandable by imagination.
Many authors make the mystery more complicated by the narration. Oftentimes, readers too expect application of mind to read the book. Simplicity of language and narration leads to disappointment. They think Mysticism is prerogative of certain intellectual minds.
An author should avoid writing a book on Mysticism unless he has some first hand experience of the events he wants to narrate. It can not be a Fiction without foundation of True Knowledge. Otherwise, any prudent reader would discard the book after a few pages.
On the other hand, if the book is Realistic and complications of Life and Philosophy are handled carefully a casual reader would not be able to appreciate it. Because he is not on The Path, the path that leads to self realization. So he looses connection with the plot and characters and throws the book out from the nearest window.
William Blake when he says "Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion..." Or the Emerson's notion that "...Different races will eventually mix in America. This hybridization process would lead to a superior race that would be to the advantage of the superiority of the United States" and Goethe when he says  “Where one day she'll be glimpsed: creature who'll scorch me with love?” are actually talking about their ability to observe and discern.
Mysticism in a way symbolizes Eroticism. The seeds of solution for Mysticism are hidden behind the curtain of lust that is the force that pulls in the opposite direction.
Tantra (Read my book Maya...) handles both the forces with care and make use of one Energy (Sexual) to attain another (Spiritual). Tantra is super mystic since the knowledge is said to be forbidden for a man of ordinary prudence. To practice rituals of Tantra without guidance of a Guru could be fatal.
Earnest E. Larkin in his essay Mysticism in Literature has talked about "I-It" Mystics. The Vedanta  talks about "That-Thou" concept to understand the mysteries. The inner consciousness being The real agent of perception, the senses being mere instruments.
The world of indefinable Extra Sensory Perception leads to Skepticism. The hidden power to read the future (Clairvoyance)  is a God Gift or can be attained (Awakening of Kundalini) is also a matter of an individual's opinion finding its way in many books of Fiction and Non-Fiction.
Some authors have come out with original solutions to the age old problem and their work is a master piece in the history of Literature. Khalil Gibran in his book The Prophet and Richard Bach in his book Jonathan Livingston Seagull have given the essence of Life.

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Simplicity Personified in Literature

                  Simplicity is not Stupidity

One of the side effects of rapid advancement and consumerism is the extinction of simplicity from society. The youth is sapiosexual and is aroused  by intelligence only. It is also taken for granted that all successful people are intelligent or vice versa.

The qualities like an opportunist, cunnings, street smart, hypocrite, snobbery which were once looked down upon by the society are now being appreciated. Some rich people act modestly and people take a note of it, but for too small of a man, modesty is in vain.

The word simpleton has originated from simple which means a foolish or gullible person. Homer describes a combination of socialist and simpleton as 'knowing many things, but knowing them all badly'.

The Idiot by Feodor Dostoyevsky is said to be an autobiographical novel. Prince Myshkin had spent time in mental sanatorium. He is subjected to many disasters just because he is a simple man. Author confirm the view that sanatorium is the only secure place for stoic saints who do not believe in the power of money and sex.

How bad it is to be innocent in this corrupted world? The command  'Let child be thy father' is in the praise of innocence and purity of heart. No child is born crook, we make him so. We don't want to take responsibility so we say he is born like that. The age of innocence of children is also thinning out fast. The time is not far when only a nascent child would be innocent.

Michael K in J. M. Coetzee's book "Life and Times of Michael K"  is such a person. He is a pure soul untouched by perils of the world and fails to understand why anybody would harm him when he does not want to harm anybody. Actually, this innocently simple man is a depiction of our inward journey that wants to take its dead mother (conscience) back to its rural home (purity).

Harper Lee in "To kill a mocking bird" suggests to kill a mockingbird could be a sin because mockingbirds simply provide pleasure with their songs, saying, "They don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us."

 To kill a mocking bird is to kill someone simple and harmless. What was once prohibited is now a treasured game of rich and affluent. The coming generation (not youth, but middle aged neo rich) is haunted  by the ruthless savagery of cut throat competition and has already put all values at stake to win the race. Simple people happily provide their shoulders to aid them in climbing the stairs of success.
William Barrett in his book "Irrational Man" writes about a story by Kierkegaard. The story is told of the absent minded man so abstracted from his own life that he hardly knows he exists until, one fine morning, he wakes up to find himself dead.

 The whole civilization is that absent minded man, busy in creating a weapon of its own end. Would you call it smart or simple?

Kalidas is an Indian Scholar who created literature in Sanskrit was simple to the extent that he cut the same branch of the tree he was sitting on, thus he would fall as soon as he cut the branch.
The modern society does not dare to be philosophical. 

Milan Kundera, who claims that Nietzsche's hugging of the abused horse to be a symbolic gesture against the dominance, the arrogance of the human mind over nature, against the blind worship of progress.

The cycle of comprehension goes like this. Simple to Complex to Simple. The initial Simplicity is of ignorance. When learning starts the things become complex, but with the dawn of ultimate knowledge the simplicity reoccurs. That is the Wisdom.

It is easy to be complex. In fact, everyone around us is complex. We have forgotten the taste of simplicity. A simple man is queer, incomprehensible and easily rejectable. His humble acceptance of rejection  proves our theory that he deserved to be condemned.

Authors tend to appreciate simplicity in their text. They want to save the world from the madness of so called progress.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said "In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity."

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

Friday, December 5, 2014

In The Honor of Oldest Profession

     Beauty of Fallen Women in Literature

Let us begin with Buddha and Christ. Two renowned Gods who have shown the path followed by millions. 

Buddha broke the rules of commune and gave entry to chief prostitutes of Vaishali (ancient state of India) called  Amrapali. Well, she was so extraordinarily beautiful that she was officially compelled to the profession so that many could enjoy the virtue of her beauty. The Buddha concluded "Being a prostitute is not an obstacle to enlightenment if she is willing and diligently practices Dharma. In fact, the experience of a prostitute could help her towards enlightenment sooner than otherwise".

Mary Magdalene was one of the most favorite disciple of Jesus Christ. She accompanied him everywhere. Saviour showered her with kisses frequently. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?" She was present at the time of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Mary Magdalene being a repentant sinner was found more worthy of enlightenment like Amrapali.

Osho after deep contemplation on Hindu philosophy wrote his spiritual marvel "From sex to the super consciousness."

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's "Jenny" rewritten many times is a poem of monologue addressed to dozing harlot in her surroundings.  The anxiety of 'speaker' for exposure to disease and social ostracism is also evident in the poem along with acknowledgement of his own absurdity as his "thoughts run on like this/With wasteful whims more than enough" symbolizes  emptiness of words by thoughtful man.

Elizabethan Era of Poetry was followed by prudish and repressed Victorian Era and passionate emotions were expressed in floral symbols. Even then a book like "My Secret Life" by anonymous author Walter were secretly read by many aristocrats.

After the second World War there was a lot of Holocaust Literature written as memories of sufferers or eyewitness of the holocaust. House of Dolls By Ka-tzetnik describes the Jewish women kept in concentration camps to quench the  carnal thirst of Nazi soldiers. Like Amarpali beautiful Jewish girls were also compelled to serve  the militia.

All over World beautiful women are admired and desired by everyone, but only mighty and wealthy people have a right to possess and consume them.
These fallen women are like "Light House" for the fallen authors (suffering from author's block), drifting in the ocean of life.

Garcia writes "Memories of My Melancholy Whores". May be  Delgadina of Garcia is the Jenny of Dante. Across every Era the characters come back with the same vivacity as if they had never left.

The collective psyche of all authors dead and alive and yet to born creates immortal characters.

Look at Nana by Emile Zola. Or at Adriana of A Woman of Rome By Alberto Moravia.

Adriana confesses "I had taken up a very hard profession..."
They are the women who have washed the sins of others at their own cost. They are the combination of Magic and Mystery. Divine Sinners. Stoic Streetwalkers.

Who could be a better character to suffer from existentialist angst than a whore.

Adriana felt a strange pleasure when money was thrust in her hand for the first time and that kind of description is only possible for Alberto who doesn't write the book as an author but becomes Adriana himself.

 The man from the underground meets Liza in a brothel in Dostoyevsky's Notes from the underground. His encounter with Liza is the climax of the book, after which this beautiful novel ends. As if Author wants to say I have nothing more to say. Liza was once humiliated for having a stained soul refuses to accept money and comes out to be a pure soul.

 Yoshikawa in his book  The Art of War says "People tend to be put off by the idea of selling sex, but if you spend a winter's night with one of them and talk with her about her family and so on, you're likely to find she's just like any other woman."

This idea of treating the all human as normal could revolutionize the gender equation and thus whole society. May be that would be the alternative Society we are looking forward to when what has so far been condemned would get appreciated by society. Imagine how it would diminish the load from society to tackle the repulsive crimes of illegal trafficking, and authorities who handle law and order would be profitably deployed for protecting the society in the real sense.

How does it matter what you sell? Your mind or your body?
Selling body for physiological needs, like hunger and sleep could be  less heinous  than selling your mind.

Golden has fictionalized the character of Iwasaki's true life story in "Memories of a Geisha" to the extent that the beauty of a literary figure is lost in the wave of overtly dramatized plot.

On the other hand Poly Adler makes most honest confessions in "A house is not a home". She says "It is traditional that prostitutes are a sentimental lot, and in the main, that is true." And "What it comes down to is this: the grocer, the butcher, the baker, the merchant, the landlord, the druggist, the liquor dealer, th...e policeman, the doctor, the city father and the politician--these are the people who make money out of prostitution, these are the real reapers of the wages of sin".

And who is the female who is not a prostitute and who is the male who is not pimp?

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

*Some quotes are from the forthcoming novel by the Author "From Under the Carpet"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Contemporary Pastoral English Literature

                      The glamour in rural life

The various aspects of rural life, its subjects, descriptions of countryside shepherds and cowherds and their vagabond lifestyle has always fascinated the readers.

Who can forget the famous character, Konstantin Dmitrich Levin from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. He demystified technology and used it in Agriculture. Of all the male characters in the book any urban girl would easily fall in love with Levin rather than rich, flamboyant  Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky or a powerful cultivated man like Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin.

The dehumanizing factor of technology and if it is possible to make use of technology for inner peace of mind is well explained by Robert M. Pirsig in his book "Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance". The combination of two diagonally opposite virtues "rationality" and "romanticism" could be devastating for future human civilization. The beautiful part of the story is protagonist opts for less traveled side roads rather than Highways to explore and appreciate the slow pace of life, that explains a lot of philosophy in itself.

In Wuthering Heights the conflict of its occupant who are wild and passionate with calm and refined, and setup of the story in the bleak hilltop is symbolic of the unbridgeable gap in the rationales and romantics.

Encyclopedia Britannica defines pastoral literature as a  class of literature that presents the society of shepherds as free from the complexity and corruption of city life.

The rural life is romanticized but the harsh reality of discomforts and malaise are overlooked. Exaggeration is allowed in the literature to make a point. The plantation literature romanticizes Old South in "Gone with the wind" by Margret Mitchell  but does not try to escape the harsh realities of life evident in childbirth and miscarriages.  Scarlett's love for Ashley, who represent Old South is like chasing an impossible dream that one knows in his heart would never be fulfilled, is romantic and she overlooks Rhett's love who represents New South that is opportunistic and strong willed to succeed is realistic.

This dilemma of realism versus romanticism has baffled the society for long. Though a champion of realism the human mind finds its solace in romanticizing.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez has undoubtedly been one of the best authors of our time. In his novel "One hundred years of Solitude" he has given vivid descriptions of banana plantation age and calamities in the imaginary town of Macondo. He weaves a dream that entangles readers who not only when novel is read, but even much after that has a hangover of the town and the characters who lived there refuses him solitude. That is called magical realism.

In his other novel "Love in the time of Cholera" the old age and death has same suffering as that of youth. Could death be romanticized in a better way?

Another best author is J. M. Coetzee. His widely acclaimed novel Disgrace draws a clear line of demarcation in the treachery of urban life and rustic yet peaceful ambience of rural life. David the professor is  humiliated and sacked from the University after complaints from his student (Melanie), though the act was consensual and on the other hand, in the rural farm his own daughter is raped, but she refuses to act humiliated shows that technically advance urban can lead to a disgrace which even a dog would not face in real and pure rural life.

One can read my book "Empty Cocoon" about conflicts in rural-urban life.

Overburdened, the super human would find the true values of life under the shadow of an old tree in the tranquility of a village pond where the dust of the  cattle and trailing herd man returning home would obliterate the view of sunset.

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

Friday, November 28, 2014

Authors can't afford to be a Hypocrite

                                 DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO

The false profession of desirable or publicly approved qualities, beliefs, or feelings, esp. A pretense of having virtues, moral principles, or religious beliefs that one does not really possess.~Dictionery

In Literature such protagonists are not uncommon who are hypocrites and are abhorred by readers. Sometimes such characters are successful in worldly sense, but the author does not like to establish supremacy of vices and shows how such characters burn in the fire of hell created by their own psyche.

That is why an author cannot afford to be a hypocrite himself. If he is good, he is good, if he is bad he is bad. There is no pretension, a desire to be respected for the virtues he does not possess. Many a times the personal life of authors are controversial, even to the extent that they are considered as a threat to the society. 

Authors usually do not follow the systems built by society and they have to constantly experiment with system and values of an Individual and the Society. They become a spectator and this neutral approach is the only source of their comprehension.
Author is a proletarian and has a matter-of-fact approach to solve the riddles of life. But his readers are aristocracy whose Hippocratic  life style  is exposed and criticized and in the heart they discard such books but admire openly in clubs and bars. 

Russians have a history of condemning hypocrisy. Putin has been alleged to have "Double Standard" when he attacked the Ukraine government for attacks action against pro-Russian separatist in eastern Ukraine while he has recently signed a   law criminalizing any act of separatist.

What would be 'height of hypocrisy' or who would be a 'hypocrite of the first order' could be a matter  of perspective or cultural thing, but some countries are definitely known for  hypocrisy which is part of their Diplomacy. The secret hegemonic ambition of a country or an individual are sometime so powerful that other nations (Canada, EU) which lack self-confidence find it secure to blindly follow them, shamelessly. Whether it is stand of Russia in Crimean case  or issue of Israel in Palestine the nations have no shame for double standard since it is accepted norm of behavior from politicians all over the world.

It is so surprising to see that even Religious leadership is also behaving duplicately, which is just opposite to the task entrusted by society on them. Whether it is a Hindu Brahmin who serves as a priest or a Muslim priest or a Christian Priest, they have crossed the limits of immorality while preaching morality to the public.
Some of them have been tried in the courts for rape, molestation, cheating, child abuse and even murder, but still the majority of the population of every religion has faith in their priest. If there is God, in all probability there is, He does not need a mediation of any kind to talk to us or solve our problem.

Andrew M. Greeley was an Irish-American Priest, and he wrote many fiction and nonfiction and never used contraception for his ideas. His deadly sin series and novels like The priestly sins were severely criticized for explicitly exposing religious catholic institutions.

In the end Greely says "I am a priest..Pure and simple.." And that is what every author has to be if he wants to create literature of the first order.

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Public Display of Affection

                                    "Shmoop!".... *kissing!!*


Public Displays of Affection, can be seen in the form of kissing, touching, groping, licking, nuzzling, cuddling, crossing hands into each other's opposite back pocket, etc. Usually spotted among new couples, frisky teenagers, and occasionally the "young at heart" (god help us). ~Dictionary

Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014 in Nigeria is anti-democratic law, and Section 377 of Indian Penal Code is a draconian law which criminalizes any activity which is against the "order of the nature", or the definition of obscenity and obscene acts in the  Section 292/293/294  of the Indian penal Code is intentionally kept vague and obscure to twist the law and give unlimited power to Police to harasses who are obstruction to the means of capitalist, bureaucrats and politicians.
Honorable Supreme Court of India in the case of Samaresh Bose v. Amal Mitra has differentiated vulgarity from obscenity.

 i) A vulgar writing is not necessarily obscene. Vulgarity arouses a feeling of disgust and revulsion and also boredom, but does not have the effect of depriving, debasing and corrupting the morals of any reader of the novel. Whereas obscenity has the tendency to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences.

Now we can overlook the legal aspect since If the police want to book  they have numerous provision of the Law, that they can use. Why they would go for cumbersome law when sedition law, and Cr.P.C. 107 has already given them unlimited power to detain anybody just on the ground of apprehension and its undefined threat to tranquillity. Courts are not made to define the law, they interpret the law made by legislation. The Act or Code itself should contain the definition of all ambiguous terms like unnatural act or obscenity. The democracy has lost it objectivity and is just another form of autocracy.

What kind of public display of affection is intolerable for society? Do the people react in the same way when an old couple is kissing on a bench in a park when reminiscences of golden days surges? The society does not find it harmful.We can shun it by saying a cultural thing, but if we believe in universal applicability of 'Law of nature', and accept human psyche as synonymous to "nature", we would be able to differentiate that all types of cultures are on the same racing track, and the one lagging behind is ready to gallop and surprise the audience.

The various acts of public display of affection are holding hands, embracing, kissing (hands, cheeks, lips, earlobes) or smooching, caressing, cuddling, fondling, hugging, petting, snuggling, necking-what is the exact stage when Police would shout 'STOP'- this act of yours is illegal.

Police Department runs shortage of staff, constables are chasing young couples in the bushes, theft, kidnap, rape and all other crimes remain uninvestigated, radicals and fundamentalist are getting stronger, and middle class is the only sector of the society obsessed with values and is happy with the moral policing their children are facing. So the youth, have become rebellious and enjoys doing what irritates the older generation.

Literature has reflected the sentiments of society.  "Seven Minutes" by Irving Wallace, "Eleven Minutes" by Paulo Coelho, "Bad Girl" by Mario Vargas Llosa, "Thy neighbor's wife" by Gay Talese are some of the examples when the issue of expression of sexuality has been taken up seriously but a universally acceptable code of conduct is still a distant dream.

There are exhibits' and voyeurs living symbiotically, chauvinistic males  who display affection to establish their possession, feminist females who want to win race and take initiative, people fighting with their own insecurities as if public display would seal the relationship, some are tempted by libido and some are fun-seekers, there could be numerous other types involved in the PDA.
What do I suggest?

I suggest stealing an apple and find out yourself if it is sweeter.

© Vipin Behari Goyal
Author is also Advocate at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur

Monday, November 24, 2014

McDonaldization of Literature

                                    Waiting for Age of Wisdom

George Ritzer the sociologist, first time used the word McDonaldization exhibiting the Fast Food characteristics adopted by society. The four primary components identified by him have also moved in the Global Literature. The Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey are the McDonald of Literature.
McDonaldization is nothing but another kind of rationalization emphasizing change in traditions and cultural values. The shifting of values is not in the positive direction. Even though the nature is doing its best to teach the predicament of advancement, man is not yet ready to learn any cheap lesson. The question is who would pay the price of costly lessons? Obviously The Poorest class of the mankind would suffer the disasters created by nature, and the rich would get another chance of proving their generosity.

An eBook can be published much quicker than McDonald delivers Pizza at your doorstep. So far as writing a book is concerned, it is just like McDonald doesn't grow the potatoes to make McFries similarly authors, hunt for ideas and plot of the story in published or unpublished literature of other authors. If authors could only learn to grow their own potatoes, they would never be labeled as McDonaldised.

How many copies Sold? Is the first question when you talk about a book. The Sell has become synonymous with quality, while once it was believed that quality always suffers in the hands of quantity. Why otherwise Carlyle should say 'There are nine fools in the world for one wise man..."One should write what people want to read or one should write what he wants to write and should not bother if his work is accepted or rejected by society. Is there any responsibility to refine the taste of people on the creative artist?

Predictability is a great asset for any product to win the heart of the customer. A book having clichés like Love, Girl Friend, Boy Friend, Heart, Friendship, Break Up along with an enchanting book cover of boy and girl, holding hands, crying, the monogram of a broken heart or walking in different direction have become the success formulas  in literature. Also, you have to encash the wave of theme or genre, if live-in relationship is in thing write about it and if semi-erotica is breaking the record of Sale, you must also try your hand on that. Many Indian Publisher would conform to the view that books are sold by name of the title and attractive cover design.

If we look further back at the post industrial revolution and the emergence of romanticism we realize that despite the advancement of science and technology man has remained spontaneous, irrational, imaginative and emotional. In the entire cosmos there is a cycle of the Age of Barbarianism,  Age of  materialism, Age of individualism, Age of industrialization, Age of enlightenment, Age of Romanticism, Age of rationalization and Age of Wisdom. We are only few centuries far from Age of Wisdom.

Literature is now mostly being read for entertainment. A novel is like a peanut you want to munch while travelling or waiting in a queue at the dentist. What we need is the De - McDonaldization of Literature. Micro-cosmos within man is harmonious with nature only when he shed off all that is artificial and learns to respect what is Original and Natural.

© Vipin Behari Goyal

Stealing the Ideas is The Idea

                                  Plagiarism is the worst kind of Theft

Whoever may steal whatever is most precious in the world is not as condemnable as the thief of literature. And there are lots. This is one of the most heinous, shameful and despicable kind of theft invented by the mankind. The original creator remains anonymous and thief who is apt in the management skills climbs the stairs of success. Constant repetition of a lie, and finding that no one has disputed his claim of authority, boost his self confidence, and he trusts the distrust created by himself.

Recent charges of Plagiarism against Chetan Bhagat by Dr. Birbal Jha an academician of Bihar (author of Englishia Boli) has once again raised the controversy which once began with "Snapshots from hell" which was copied into "Five point someone". Contemporary Indian authors have started claiming that they may not be sold as much as him, but at least they are original.

The irony is, just by changing few narrations, dialogues, descriptions and sequence of events the copyright authorities can be manipulated to issue you a copyright certificate of a duplicate or plagiarist work. So plagiarism is different from copyright infringement, since the later is a punishable offense. In modern age where communication is so fast and Global exposure is instant, such plagiarism is brought to light later or sooner, though by that time plagiarist has already enjoyed the fruit of his labor(?).

Unfortunately, such charges are levied against successful people, most of the plagiarist are not exposed till they are successful. Many films are made on the same subject simultaneously, but one is successful and others are flop, that is how if the same story is written by two different authors, one may sale like hot cake and other would stale. Language, thought, idea and expression and their representation in any literary work could also be a coincidence and judiciary may pronounce a clean chit to the offender.

There are of course different kinds of plagiarist depending upon the intention by which offense has been committed. A student while doing a research project or dissertation may omit to mention the source of his citations (University of Illinois at Chicago) or a Journalist may hide the source of his information, multiple publication of his own work by an author are various kinds of theft of artistic creativity.

So extrovertly a reader is the best judge to compare two works and decide if one is a copy of another, and introvertly  the conscience of an author can judge if he has lifted the idea and transformed it into a viable project in his own name. Many authors are the writers who consider it as profession to earn money and fame, while the true purpose of the literature is to create a work that develops a better understanding of human nature and the Universal determination of it. Once we acknowledge this, there would remain a chance when World would be a peaceful place to live without war, killings, poverty and hunger.

Remember what T.S. Eliot said "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. Bad poets deface what they take."

© Vipin Behari Goyal

Read  more at­­­­:

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Adultery in Literature

                                                  The kingdom of God on Earth

Adultery has remained a central theme in many popular and controversial novels of the world literature. The characters like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Connie Reid (Lady Chatterley's Lover) and Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) suffered the curse of felony and remain miserable, while male characters when they commit adultery, they enjoy a passionate life without much guilt and society forgives their stray behavior easily.

The chastity of woman has always been considered as  a prized jewel by the society, and the dignity and status of such woman is far superior to the woman who is tempted by passions. The Seventh Commandment forbids adultery, but the Tenth Commandment goes one step ahead and even forbids the desire of it.

Many a time and in many culture women was considered as property and her capability to progenration made her indispensable asset. Why society had a softer attitude towards crime of adultery done by men?. If a gross generalization is done male committed adultery with a prostitute and females with some friend or relative (mostly of her husband). So there is a degree of moral degradation in the crime, as to whom the crime was committed. Princess Diana was known to have several extra-marital affairs, some of them are still secret, and many of them are open secret like with James Hewitt, James Gilbey, Barry Mannakee, Oliver Hoare Bryan Adams and Dodi Fayed who were bodyguard or billionaire she did not care. Despite this fact, she was very popular amongst masses.

Remember how Bill Clinton who first denied having sex with Monica Lewinsky later on confessed an 'inappropriate' relationship with her before the Grand Jury. Moreover the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were dropped against him. The Americans (including his wife) forgave him, at least publicly.
Now these instances of two advance countries of the World, One of which once ruled the world and other is contemporary ruler (in one way or another), it is clear that society has given a ' clean chit '.

Literature is the reflection of society. Human nature across the boundaries of the nation is same, so when an author writes a book the description may help with the orientation, but the objective to understand the human nature is fulfilled only when and if the author wants you to like a character you like it, and he wants you to dislike, you dislike. So even if the main character is a sinner like Anna of Tolstoy the reader is sentimentally attached to her and feels a loss of dearest friend when she finally threw herself before a train.

Man is polygamous by nature and woman is monogamous or the entire race of Homo Sapiens is polygamous is a debatable issue, but it is sure two persons are sometimes so spontaneously 'hooked up' with each other that it would be a crime to keep them apart. Only goose is truly monogamous in nature. It will never cheat on its spouse, and even when its partner dies, it will not seek a new mate. And who does the moral policing for a goose?

Women are more "like nature' than "like culture' and hence they have 'concreteness' in comparisons to 'abstractness' of their partner. So while describing a woman character, even if she is an adulteress, she may have that modesty, dignity and pride that a chaste woman has.

Neither author nor the reader has a right to condemn a spouse because what they are doing is sinful. Even  the partner of the spouse should not be judgmental and should only exercise his right to decide if he wants to continue the relationship or break it.

Remember, the epitaph on the grave of Tomas, in 'Unbearable lightness of being ' written by his catholic son, reads "He wanted the Kingdom of God on Earth".

So Be It.

© Vipin Behari Goyal

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Irresponsible literature in the shadow of Mythology

                                Literature and Mythology

Nearly all oblong or circular, and as if traced with the compass, they seem to form one vast archipelago, equal to that charming group lying between Greece and Asia Minor, and which mythology in ancient times adorned with most graceful legends.~Round The Moon by Verne, Jules

Mythology is defined as "the body of myths belonging to a culture. Myths are traditional stories about gods and heroes. They often account for the basic aspects of existence — explaining, for instance, how the Earth was created, why people have to die, or why the year is divided into seasons. Classical mythology — the myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans — has had an enormous influence on European and American culture."(The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy).

Literature is "the best expression of the best thought reduced to writing." (Encyclopædia Britannica).

The comparative study of the mythology and literature of various cultures and countries has helped in drawing conclusions about philosophical and psychological changes that came with cultural advancement of civilization. Literature in context with mythology has potential to reach intellectual mind which may prefer or condemn the advancement of civilization over culture. The values of society are reflected in both mythology as well as literature, but mythology is closer to collective consciousness and as Emile Durkheim said "the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness."

He has used the word 'belief and sentiments' to appreciate the differences, yet an analogy that exists between an individual and the society, the interaction in them results in creativity. The object of study of Mythology is to support various Psychological theories, that is why it can be said that nothing new can be written in Literature after Ramayana and Mahabharata. The thin line of demarcation between normal and abnormal vanishes when human psyche is understood in the context of mythological stories. That was, in a way, an effort on the part of creator to make human mind free from guilty conscience, which is quite necessary to maintain an equilibrium in the society.

That literature which was once created orally, with the advancement of technology reached to present stage when paperback publishing is called traditional and the day is not far when it would become extinct and eBooks and audio books would take over the market only to save the future human race from hazardous consequences of paper industry. With the expansion of reach due to increased rate of literacy in third  world countries and advance technology author had to act more responsibly for the cultural advancement of the society, which he has conveniently overlooked.

Many authors do hard work and spend  years and decades to do research on a subject before they give final shape to a book. One great Indian scholar and author Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan traveled to many eastern countries like Nepal, Tibet, Russia and China to collect manuscripts written in Pali and Sanskrit and brought them back to India on several yaks to write fiction based on these books. William Dalrymple when writing his book 'City Of Jinns' collected many documents from survivors of British India.

Literature can and must be created out of Mythology but a great caution is required. The book when read after few centuries should not construe a wrong picture in the mind of the reader. Nobody gives that right to an author.

© Vipin Behari Goyal