Musings on Literature

When did the History of Literature begin? When man the nomad and hunter began to lead a settled life of cultivation, he had ample leisure time. We have to assume that the art of storytelling began than. It is hard to discriminate between religious-texts and fables. With the introduction of writing, storytelling took a new turn. Early day storytelling was filled with myth making. Examples of these are Greek and Roman legends who invented Gods and Goddesses as having supernatural qualities, and also very surprising is the fact they had an abundance of vices. The Gods and Goddesses of Greece and Rome were self indulgent sybarites and epicureans devoted to a life of pleasure. Along with the development of Storytelling, we find that ancient Greece contributed to the development of rhetorical devices and the most prominent of them being the metaphor and the simile. It is a mystery to know how these forms of literature have developed. Aristotle said: ‘the invention of the metaphor is the work of a genius’. How did these forms develop? They developed due to a collision between language and emotion. When language killed emotion, the stoic mind sought a catharsis in figures of speech. In the postmodern era, many of the tropes that are commonly used have become clichés.

Post Colonial Narrative about Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad an immigrant who got citizenship in the UK became a prominent bourgeoisie of European culture, traditions ideas. This essay seeks to construct Post Colonial Narratives about the novel: Heart of Darkness .
I have developed certain diagnostic tools for a post colonial narrative and they are: Philosophical Etymology, Psychological Pharmacology, Existential Ontology and Post modern theology.


Philosophical Etymology

The Heart of Darkness is a metaphor for understanding how the colonial mind connotes the unknown as the wild, savage and untamable. The Occident looks down upon the Orient as lacking a befitting civilization and as one of a misanthrope. Cruising down an African river, Conrad depicts the people living there with colossal ignorance. The motto: capture, tame and subdue rings the bells of the day. African culture is viewed as a macabre culture.
Next Conrad uses the term: NIGGER, a term of insult for black culture. We all know how much Black Culture has bequeathed to civilization. Especially reminiscent is Black Culture’s contribution in the field of Jazz, Blues and Gospel. Black culture has also infused the literary world with doyens like Toni Morrison and Chinua Achebe.
Conrad takes the view point that European ideas, customs and traditions have to be indoctrinated and thus there is a need of taming the savage.
Yes, the Heart of Darkness is a narrative wounding the ethos of Black Culture and its ramifications for civilization.


Psychological Pharmacology

Here I take into account Jacque Lacan’s Gaze. The gaze in Lacan’s conception is a metaphor for libido, for machismo. The gaze has a clinical effect. Let’s analyze how the gaze works in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The gaze is a clinically colonial one, wanting to pulverize the culture, values and traditions of the colonized. The gaze wants to confiscate, appropriate and tyrannize the colonized. The gaze is an instrument of a colonial Phallus.
Looking at novel from a Freudian point of view, we understand that the phallus creates seeds of anarchy, rebellion in its attempt to infiltrate black culture. The Oedipus complex takes a u turn and the father is valorized over the Mother. Ideas of the European mind are phallic and become that of conquering the fetishes of African culture.
Next we can look at the Novel from a Jungian point of view. The protagonist in the novel bears the archetype of the Devil. The Devil is a European pervert with a corrupt tool. The Devil is only interested in exploiting, dominating and ruining the resources of the Africans.

Existential Ontology
Existential philosophy with its brother (ontology) or being connotes three states of being: being in itself, being for itself and being for others. Being is a primeval consciousness. Being in itself is the direction of consciousness towards a goal. Being for itself is the gratification of desires. In the colonial World View: being for itself becomes a political philosophy of action. Europe and America have been notorious for slave trafficking. It is pertinent to ask: when was slavery annulled? It is a tide in the history of mankind.


Postmodern Theology

Postmodern theology understands how a binary divide is created. A sign is made up of a signifier (a thing) and the signified (idea). Suppose I say: Dove is peace: Dove is the signifier, the thing and Peace, the signified, the idea. The Binary divide that is created in this work is white versus black, savage versus civilized. The course of the narrative is strewn with spittle of contempt. The Europeans are light flaggers in the dark continent of Africa.

Pragmatopience a Post-Post Modern Philosophy

Pragmatopience is a post-post modern Philosophy. It is derived from the words: pragmatism, Utopianism, and Sapience.

I would like to explain how these words: pragmatism, utopianism and sapience (wisdom) alter the course of philosophy as pragmatopience.

Pragmatism refers to philosophy of putting theory into an application or process. How can new content be created through examining its philosophical etymology. One way to do it is by a process of Materialist-Humanism. In this world of today where cultures and economies go global, there is a greater range of cooperation and participation. Cooperation should involve the transfer of technologies and participation of cultures. Cultures become a practice of intermingling and sharing and thereby reaching a consensus of global catharsis. Technology should have a human face. Yes, the social media sites like Face Book, Twitter and Instagram helps to network people from all over the world. So too is Amazon, reaching out to parallel economies and markets and helping artisans and small traders to sell their work. News on Social Media becomes Viral and Markets merge with the adoption of technologies. Webinars and infotainment are so commonly popular. Materialism is to have economic gains and humanism is to have a human face.

The next ingredient of Pragmatopience is utopian becoming Pragmautopian. It’s is an ideal that is perfected to reality. This can occur through a process of dialogic-democratic-solidarity. Dialogism is the Philosophy of dialogue nurtured by Michael Bakhtin. Today there’s a shift of equilibrium from a nation to that of internationalism. Dialogue and Negotiation are done to solve recurring economic and political problems occurring in geo-politics. Workers, Unions, minorities and Pressure Groups protest with the majority and vie their presence using the dialogic tool as a narrative of struggle.

The next element of Pragmatopience is Sapience and Sapience means religious wisdom. Put in practice, it refers to the practice of finding solutions to problems. Sapience asks the questions should technologies should be patented or should they be used for the benefit of mankind. Some websites like Face Book, Twitter and Instagram offer a free service and they go a long way to support global democracy. Sapience deals with the rhetoric of persuasion. Sapience involves the Hegelian dictums: first a thesis, then an antithesis and finally a synthesis. First comes the protest or struggle, then comes the persuasion and finally darts the conclusion. Let’s look at the Palestinian problem from Sapience. They have reached a stage of Hegel’s thesis and antithesis. They are yet to reach a synthesis. Sapience looks at structures that create binary oppositions.

Romanticism Versus Realism in Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

Gustav Flaubert is the master of the Romantic/Realist novel and in his novel Madame Bovary, romanticism reaches a tragic crescendo. His novel is an avant-gardism one of his time. Emma Bovary, the maiden protagonist defies all traditions of Paris especially that of a middle class, petit bourgeoisie family and becomes immortalized into a leitmotif of that of tragic romantic heroine.
Gustav Flaubert’s Novel revolves around its protagonist Emma Bovary and its Antagonist Charles Bovary. The author is very adept in portraying the character of Emma as a die-hard, tragic, romantic and that of Charles as one of sentimental realist. It is poignant to wonder whether the characters Emma and Charles are fictional investments of the authorial self. Let’s look at how Charles and Emma are portrayed.

Charles the Stubborn Realist
Charles’ biography is steeped from early childhood by the training of his mother. It was her ambition that Charles should be a medical practitioner. He failed the examinations the first time and got through the second time. Emma the maiden is a second wife of Charles. Charles is very much rooted in the manner, customs and traditions of French Country Life. We can only guess Charles’ happiness and understand it was one of domination by his mother first and then followed by his wife. Charles’ relationship is of a Freudian Oedipal arrest. His relationship with Emma was mundane and that of routine. All attempts to please and cajole his wife ended in vain. When Emma was gifted with a beautiful child from Charles, her feathers were not shaken. There is an instance where Charles takes her to a soiree and Emma refuses to dance with him. As a family man Charles is kind and loving. But all this does not offer any solace for Emma. The character of Charles is a fetish of middleclass Utopianism. Charles’ character is one of a chaotic emotion which he is not able to control. Charles’ character resembles one of the murky Kafkaesque. Charles is the author’s unrealized self.

Emma the Diehard Romantic
Emma is an archetype of Flaubert’s animus, the woman persona of a man. Emma comes from a family of the upper class and class distinctions and their conflicts between Emma and Charles are so well enunciated. Emma’s childhood is one of rearing up in a good convent where she becomes transmogrified with legend and historical romances. This made her mind a receptive vessel for being a sentimentalist with being inclined to a romantic adventure. Her marriage with Charles is one of Ennui. She is not happy with her married life and lets loose a string of adulterous journeys. The lovers may have been able to satisfy her physically but were sour when it came to emotions. The author further casts her into a financial imbroglio from which she could not escape. In desperation she commits suicide by drinking arsenic. The idea of romanticism is celebrated in the character of Emma. The romantic character is a flawed one just like Romeo and Juliet. Madame Bovary is immortalized in the French Literary Cannon.

Analysis of Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments

Kierkegaard was one of the foremost Christian Philosophers and he is hailed as the forerunner to modern existential philosophy. Here I am analyzing his magnum opus: Philosophical Fragments.

His work is one of a literature within a literature and his tapestry of words is poetic form of prose. In this work he constructs a poetic dialogue between Christian thought and early Greek Philosophy. He dwells on the subjective realms of the Spirit. His writing is an aphoristic style called as Diapsalmata in Greek.

Greek Philosophers like Socrates have asked the question: ‘is truth knowable’? The method of Socrates was asked to ask questions and indulge in a dialogic rhetoric. Kierkegaard points out to the truth, that it, in a Christian sense was knowable and lies in the incarnated Messiah who came to earth as Christ and who rose up to save the entire world from their sins. The Socrates modes operandi of truth was a dialogic one which finally created an uncertainty of truth.

The teacher of truth is God himself—the Rabbi—the Messiah—the Christ who has laid the foundations of truth in the human consciousness of the individual.
The individual is given the choice to accept truth as a part of free will as God did not create a robot that he could manipulate. The knower of truth starts from a state of disbelief to a state of knowing.

The love of God or in Greek known as AGAPE is a love without any motives. The relationship of God and man is one that of a tutor and a learner.
Knowing oneself is a paradox in Greek Philosophy. The art of Knowing in Christianity is an empathic relationship with God the tutor and man the learner.
From the Christian point of view: faith is a compassionate surrender to the will of God. A genuine wisdom is one that of deciphering what God has bequeathed as consciousness in the spirit of man. As it is said in the Hebrews: ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen’.

The archeology of Christian thought is, Adam and Eve created the primeval sin and then God incarnated as the Son to redeem all humanity from Sin.
Freedom is a paradox—God has given free will to choose God or to depart from him. Yes, God does not like luke-warmers; he avowed to spit them out.
He further expostulates that truth is hidden in the Eternal, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. There should be a merger of self consciousness with the presence of God-consciousness.
The teacher who gives the truth is the Savior—the Messiah who incarnated as Christ. When truth is forgotten, the individual relapses back into solipsism.
The transition of truth refers to a process from a state of non-being to state of being. Here Kierkegaard lays the foundation for modern, existential philosophy.

God tended to reveal himself to humanity as love and that’s why he sent his son to earth to claim redemption for all.
The teacher—the Rabbi, has bestowed on the student a peace and joy that surpasses all understanding.
Divine Love—Agape is eternal and is the soul of God which he gave freely to the humans for partaking. Divine love surpasses the symbolism of the occult and other religions.

The character of truth in Greek Philosophy was always one of doubting but in Christianity it is one being with Christ the God and the King. And Christ as rightly said: ‘I am the way the truth and the life and whosoever believes in me will have eternal life.’
The meaning of a Christian God is a concept of reason and also a passion of emotion.

The author differentiates between the love of God and that of Self love. Love of God is immaculate, transcendental and forgiving where as self love is based on desires and passion. Can we balance self love and the love of God and attain equilibrium?

The coming incarnation as the Messiah, Christ was historical and the resurrection is trans-historical.

Evolution of Drama

Here in this essay, I would like to turn to the evolution of theater from Greek to postmodernism.

Greek drama revolved around kings and Queens and nobility. The roots of tragedy have their pinnacles in Greece. It is from there we have come to understand Aristotelian concept of catharsis, which means an emotional cleansing while watching tragedy. Famous is Oedipus Rex and in it we find Rex marrying his mother and murdering his father. For the Greeks, it meant a spectacle for pure entertainment. It is pertinent to ask whether Greek plays have probed the deeper questions of humanity. They do and they have done. Rich has been the culture bequeathing the props making drama an entertainment. The Greek play had belief in Gods and Goddesses and the supernatural. It was based on various festivals. The corybantic dancers danced in frenzy showing of their Epicurean credentials. The acts showed a gestation of Jungian archetypes. Great is the legacy and culture of Greece.

Next I would like to proceed to Elizabethan stage. Shakespeare was its greatest exponent and he was the master of both tragedy and comedy. Elizabethan plays also revolved around nobility, aristocracy and kings and queens. They carried on courtly intrigues and courtly love. Was it the symbolism of monarch going decadent? Let’s recall the play Julius Caesar. The murder of Julius Caesar showed the symbolism of a monarchic war. Brutus is a specimen of a valiant anti-hero. The murder is justified on grounds of insolvency of the regime of Caesar. Mark Antony is the hero of the play and he silences all of his detractors by his remarkable, eloquent speech. The Tempest shows the development of an artist—the kunstlerroman. The tempest also highlights the dawn of desire for colonialism.

Here I would like to trace the development of theater to modern and postmodernism. There are various trends like existentialism and Marxism. I would like to take an example from Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller. The death of Salesman is a strident criticism on the pitfalls of growing capitalism Willy is a classic example of itinerant salesman caught up with the vision of the great American Dream. Willy is an archetype of the fool, a delusional character. His wife Linda is more practical and efficient and she is an example of a typical American Middle Class Woman. She is an archetype of a mother Goddess. The dream of Bill to capitalize on the Great American dreams comes to rotten eggs and he commits suicide in the end. From and Marxian point of view, life of man in the theater of the absurd is one of irony, pessimism and angst. The working classes have no place in society. They are belittled and down-graded. Psychoanalytically speaking Bill’s ego is a wounded one with the horrors and vanity of pursuing an idol dream. We can further use Lacan’s Mirror Stage and when using it we look at a character is demented and living in a fictional world.

Mystic Realism A New Genre of Poetry

I want to humbly introduce a new genre of poetry called Mystic Realism. What is mystic realism in a nutshell? In mystic realism, images are romanticized as tropes and then adorned with transcendental meaning. There are two elements, the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the romantic image conveyed through tropes and the signified is the spiritual idea.

I would like to use some examples to explicate it.

The Brook bubbled in spiritual music. Here the Brook is being conveyed through the image of music and the idea signified is spiritual.
Lovers conveyed their romance through holding each other as psalms. Here romance is the image and psalms the idea.

The storm wept in grief. Here the imagery is wept and grief the idea.
Flock the sky as music; listen to their feathers in odes of joy.
Eternity flies as Saints in white: unveiling time on mystic flight. Saints here are white storks. The metaphysical element inherent in this verse is eternity.
Brook of beauty running through: gurgling salvation all the way through. Salvation is an idea inherent in religions. Gurgling is the physical tangible visual element.

Swaying pebbles glistening Karmic odes, life and death meanders pilgrimage blues. Pebbles are something which is tangible and life and birth is an idea of reincarnation in Hindu philosophy.

The waves frolicked in joy. Frolicked is the visual imagery and joy is the idea.
A lover hides in beauty’s deep feathers. Passion is the riddle of the body. Adultery I have sung you as a lyrical poem. A dog howling is a deathly hell. Poems crescendo in the sky. Psyche you are an ornament, a poet’s beauty; there you remain perched as poem on a flower so sweet. Psyche you marvel—you are the heart of desire. The lovers are passionate flowers. I soaked her fonts and she whimpered in ecstasy. Luck you are Cinderella’s shoes for me. The ornament of poetry is the heart of desire. Feelings are a rainbow of imagination. We trembled like rivers in frenzy. Passion, you are the echoes of the heart’s desire. Swim in a river of luck. I played with the fonts of imagination. A heartbeat is similar to the oceanic. She was a Medusa of selfishness. My shepherd’s crook is a pen. The lamp of a lamb that was slain on Calvary was Jesus the son of God. The sky became an angry warrior of pink light. The drama of life is unlike that of the stage.