Monday, 15 February 2016

Saunders & Daruwalla on Writing et alia...

Yesterday, as I was wistfully flipping through the pages of The Sunday Magazine of The Hindu, (which has  - sad to say - obviously degenerated from its prestigious, coveted pride of place it once used to hold for a long long time to becoming an Arnoldian ‘beautiful and ineffectual angel beating in the void his luminous wings in vain!’

And yes oh yes! To quote Wordsworth: ‘whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream’?

Dearth of writers, or writers having a writer’s block! Or a crises staring at the stakes? God knows!

Yet inspite of this Barthean ‘glissement’, two redeeming features on this week’s edition were -

First: George Saunders’ candid cut for Tishani. The MacArthur Genius Fellow, ‘considered one of the most inventive writers in the English language today’, opens up to Tishani Doshi in a freewheeling kinda chat…

Three essentials that he outlined where -

George Saunders
  1. He feels nothing less than nausea at the possibility of Trump becoming the next U.S President. 
  2. On writers engaging politically in their poetry or fiction, he says that one needs to be careful and exercise restraint! Propaganda is not literature. The primary stance of the artist, in my view, is one of curiosity and openness — not just “deciding” on an issue and then “demonstrating” it. So my approach is to try to feel my stories deeply — to come (through revision) to really care about the people in my stories, and wish the best for them (even if they are stinkers) and, in this way, try to generate some moral-ethical heft.
  3. When Tishani asks him on the ‘terrific loneliness’ syndrome that besets some of his characters, and if there is a loneliness in America unique from other kinds of lonelinesses in the world, Sanders admits to it full well, and says -
Yes, I think there is, and it’s a loneliness particularly inspired by how harshly we punish anyone who is not “making it” financially. People work so hard and tend to get very task-obsessed. We are generally a pretty affluent country, lots of opportunity — but our ethos means that if you do fail or falter, it is a very long drop to a very hard surface. So our sense of community suffers, I think. Americans tend to feel alone. Hence (maybe) all the shooting.
But also, ultimately, I think life is lonely. Lonely in the sense that we, many of us feel, deep down, that we are not good enough, not essentially loveable…Also, we are suffering all of the time… so that makes for a sort of existential loneliness. I hope my stories are about that type of loneliness too — a type of loneliness that is exacerbated by the kinds of competition that capitalism inspires and requires.

Secondly, Keki Daruwalla’s take on writers who’ve ‘crossed the floor’ and ‘lapsed into verse’.

Analysing the poems of ‘these Johnnies-come-lately-novelists’, Keki says that,
A good poet is nothing if not ambitious, and ambition means nothing if it is not prepared to pole vault rather than jump fences. Take ‘A Foliage of Sky Tongues’— the title is itself a declaratory of intent. ‘In this country unfamiliar/ where fishermen fish/ for the dreams of drowned men…’ How beautifully put. However, he adds to say that,

Both these poets - Anupama Raju (Nine) and K. Srilata (Bookmarking the Oasis) - are both stuck on windows – and they write too much about poetry. Not a good sign. I read somewhere that when poets are devoid of subjects, they write about writing. And in the end we return to windows!
# Dear II MAs, this is an extended dialogic augmentation to what we discussed in class today on the American ethos – the heightened importance on the concept of the Individual – ‘the Self’! Be it Emerson, Whitman, Frost, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, and the list goes on!!!

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