Tradition and Change in Literature

Literature existed somewhere in the beginning of civilization. The oldest known texts are the Vedas known as hymns for God. The consisted of reciting mantras and offering fire sacrifice to appease the Gods. Most of these texts contain poetic language. One of the texts deals with sorcery and black magic and is called the Atharva Veda. The texts perpetrated the heinous caste system according to which Brahmans were considered to be superior to all other castes. The Vedas assumed that Gods have to be placated to makes humans live-able on earth.

There were also other texts from India mainly the Ramayana and the Mahabartha: the twin epics which consist of fables relating to war between the forces of good and evil, where the forces of good triumph. Then there is also the Bhagvat Geeta, a text of moral scripture. The text speaks about man’s origin and man’s purpose in life. The texts emulate man to tide over the cycle of birth and rebirth and merge oneself to the eternal Brahman (God).

Then the most important text of literature, an all encompassing one is the sacred one, the Bible. The Bible is historical, literary, poetic and scriptural and also eschatological. Historically it represents the struggle of the Jews between exodus and Diaspora. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph are noteworthy. The Jews are a nation which struggled a lot for existence and they needed supernatural force for appeasement and comfort. There are many books in the Bible which are poetic and literary. The Song of Songs celebrates the love between the husband and wife. The proverbs are instructional literature and form a collection of wisdom books. The Gospels are richly clad the robe of man’s relationship with God and the perfect way to be happy in Godliness and happiness. The Sermon on the Mount is a work of poetic prose. Notable is the verse: Blessed are the Meek: for they will inherit the earth. The proverbs are a text of scriptural wisdom and address the issue of how to lead a good life. Christian eschatology relates to death and final judgment and forms a part of apocalyptic literature.

Next I would like to comment on the Elizabethan school of literature of which Shakespeare is a giant. Most of Shakespearian dramas are written about courtly life, intrigues, political turmoil, and the establishment of justice on the earth. The dramas provoke the human mind and to engage the same in a state of catharsis.

The medieval period is also significant in the work of Cervantes: Don Quixote. Don Quixote was in medieval times a lampoon on courtly traditions. How far is her relevant now? In the period of postmodernism, he rated as tragic hero who made the soul of life a rich trigger of passion

Next comes the tradition of the Realist Novel. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are its finest exponents. Man began to be portrayed with the essence of humanism. The essence of the soul was to be not perfection but being fallible. The realist tradition paid a rich homage to the physical surroundings. The characters were put in the furnace of being smelted with a soul.

Next type of fiction that emerged was the psychological novel. This type of fiction was influenced with the psychology of Freud and Jung. The minds became an array of Jungian archetypes. The novelist experimented with the Freudian Oedipus complex and the Electra complex. The vices and virtuosity were balanced on balancing pan.

The novel which emerged during the war period was the surrealist novel. A surrealist novel took shape as a rebellion from established forms of fiction writing. Surrealism is juxtaposition between fantasy and reality. Art became escapism and forged identities which rebel with human consciousness.

The contemporary novel is based on a philosophy of Magic Realism where fictional elements are real and absurdly phantasmagorical. The postmodern novel is also characteristic of extreme irony, a manifestation of consciousness as streams of consciousness, the unreliable narrator, lampooning and pastiche. There is a tendency to paint words and plentiful play with figures of speech.

Advertisements

Conventionalizing Tropes

Conventionalizing tropes is a systemic effort made to categorize tropes which occur in different disciplines of thought.

Tropes can be Literary, Philosophical, Political and Psychological and according to the way in which they are embedded in the sculpture of the text.
What are literary tropes? Literary tropes adorn a poetic form. Here are some examples: The Chirp that floats in air is a serene music. Our love became a blossom of flowers. My tongue is hidden in a poetic garden. Streams murmur a poetic heart. The wind howls in sorrowful misery. My thoughts are a flowing river. Green is the magic carpet enveloping nature. The waves bring forth mirth and laughter. The wind that strikes the cheek is a metaphor. Metaphors gather honey from a beehive. Nature is a lover at heart. What songs of beauty do flowers sing? Rainbow colors the chords of happiness. Angst is a withered plant. Gandhi was an ocean of peace. They clung together like flowers of ecstasy.

What are political tropes? Political tropes express a political theme. Some examples are: Palestine is a hot volcano. The dawn of peace is always in the refugee’s heart. The Indian fanatic party is assassinating democracy, freedom and liberty. UK is the Brexit that failed. We need to clean the Augean stables of corrupt politicians. Jihad is a demon of democracy. The IS is a sword of Damocles. Marx is an ideology that died. The pen is the liberator of democracy. Democracy what an ideal? How much blood has been shed in your name? Contemporary capitalism is rich bacon of a few elites and poor stale bread of the masses.

What are psychological tropes? Psychological tropes are those tropes which express some psychological content. Here are some examples: Narcissism is a poison of the body. Dreams are content of language signified. Hamlet’s killing of his stepfather was based on the oedipal complex. The mirror stage is a booklet to decipher narratives in texts, films and music. Deify the ID, Liberate the Ego and subvert the Super Ego.

What are Philosophical figures of speech? Let’s take Plato’s allegory as an example. There is a dark cave in which there are hordes of people. From the wall of the cave there emanates a shaft of light. The people grapple for the light. What Plato means here is that there is an ideal world of forms, a reality that exists in the Metaphysical world. Let’s take the Philosopher Nietzsche’s theory of art. Art is the salmagundi of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The Apollonian elements are harmony and melody and the Dionysian elements are rhythm and beat. Art occurs at the confluence of these elements.

Philosophical Fiction

Philosophical Fiction
I have started a new genre of writing called as Philosophical Fiction. Philosophical Fiction represents the savory Biryani (rice mixed with meat and vegetables. Philosophical Fiction aims to created an art-novel with dissemination of ideas. In one sense, it is a written painting with the splurge of colors that a encompassed by a maverick novelist it. Tropes in the novel bear a highest degree of art. Some tropes used are metaphors, similes, metonyms, synecdoche, oxymoron, zeugma, rhetorical question and many others forms. Some examples are: Picasso howls on a Cubist canvas. Beethoven melodies electric sandwiches. Beauty thy figure is a trope. The students filtered out of the classroom in hullaballoo. Marx’s religion is dead. The sea is tranquil and violent. Pearls twinkled in the sky. Both James and his religion died. The warlock’s earrings twinkled like a bell. Oh Democracy: what crimes are committed in thy name. Shame is fractured in a skin that’s repentant.

Again Philosophical Fiction distills ideas. Here I am starting from the Existential Philosophy of atheistic nihilism. For them life has no meaning and living is a chaotic absurdity. I am creating in my fiction a philosophy called as value ontology. I affirm that life has a meaning and purpose and we are living and leading our lives as purposists with a philosophy of Valeuablization. I shift my ontological perspectives to a constructivism. I adhere to the view of life being preciousness.

Again Philosophical encompasses character sketches. Character sketches are resonances of the soul. Yes, Characters indulge in the libidinal beauty of the soul. Characters leave ashes of existential fetishes. Characters are liberated narcissists. In Philosophical fiction character’s inner consciousness is given more importance and purpose. Characters dance in the eclecticism of the pen. Little value is given to physical looks.

Plot in fiction belongs to the old genre of fiction the who -done -it novels. There are only two plots in fiction, one a narrative plot and the other a symbolic plot. In a narrative plot the reader knows what is happening but the characters don’t. In a symbolic plot, the readers are kept in the dark and learn to identify the plot in the end

The narrative device which is popular in Philosophical Fiction is the streams of consciousness dialogue. Everyday incidents and trivialities are narrated with the style of epiphany. Here is an example: Oh Psyche—your wings are in celestial rhythm—how you dance, a soul come alive—you are a monument of beauty—you are a symphony come true—there now you perch on tree—what profound thoughts of beauty, you generate—you dance for the soul to delight—you offspring of poems—you music of prose—you are angel forming a pulchritude to the eyes—I am gazing at you— I am filled with joy and my passions running high.

Epistemic Fusion

Epistemic Fusion gave birth out of my own thinking and my interactions with 8th 9th and 10th graders. Their science and social science textbooks depict an onslaught of a mechanistic, scientific and rationalistic worldview. All these world views are presented as half baked formulas. I wondered how to maneuver and not ruffle the feathers of their already established Theo-centric worldview. I became a tight-rope-walker not disturbing their water of faith and let them adjust to both the worldviews. This I call as Epistemic Fusion a term I got from Foucault’s epistemic rupture.

Forms of Poetry

In this essay, I would like to focus on the various forms of poetry and not the types about which there is plenty of narratives.

The forms of poetry are nature poems, sentimental poems and cathartic poems.
What are nature poems? Poems describing the soul of nature are nature poems. The emotion of the poet penetrates into the inanimate world and re-echoes nature as a personification. Visual imagery of nature is transmuted as an echo of the poet’s soul. Objects are rendered with beatific nuances. Here are some examples. Stones breathe with a soul. The brook murmurs with passion. Flowers blossom in the nectar of verse. Mountains echo a music in pulchritude. Rivers wander into erotic depths. The sky resonates as a twinkling ornament. Butterflies dance as a musical symphony. Thunder roars with rage. Waves frolic in mirth. Oceans shudder in orgasmic ecstasy. The flower that blossomed is a delicate heart. Lightning streaks pink with desire. Ecstasy you are a gorgeous fruit. Wind has the soul of art. Mist is a mystic’s beard. Birds are gay when they are dancing with nature’s tunes. Trees radiate sparkling voices in splendor. Radiance you are a twinkling eye of the night. Green trees are a banquet of nature. Birds sing in good cheer. Honey is the nectar of music. The chorus of rain is heavenly music.

The next classes of poems are sentimental poems. They are resonances of the soul. They speak with beatitudes of the heart. Sentiments can be happy or sad. The wellness of my soul is like the waves the heart. She has a sculpture of adorable music. Soul bursts with joy. Her body is a fountain of music. I adorn her body with a fountain of poems. Desire is a gladiator of the body. Poems are spoken with love. It is angst that plagues the heart. Worms have eaten my body up. I am contaminated with poison of hate. Misery weaves an ornament of poison around me. Profligacy falls on me as a dirty object. Let the dead sleep serene. Death is a bitter pill to taste. Dawn is rising in my sentiment of faith. Hope, you are a rock that stands firm. My heart is a shady tree. Leaves, you are clothes of the body. The body is a fountain of joy. God gives pardon the humble soul. Please cling on to the harvest of achievement. Loose not hope as it comes to you like a running brook. Soul is thrilled with cosmic wonder. Pain, you are an enemy cast into hell. Angst, you are a diabolic fiend. Rage, plunder not the mind.

The Third Class of Poems are cathartic poems. They can be visceral or cerebral or both. Some examples are given here. Reading the Sermon on the Mount is a beatific experience. Watching Macbeth cleanses the soul. The mirror that lies in the heart is one of stained glass. Feelings rebound with hope. Faith is a sun that never sets. The mind thinks like a sword. I want to let my heart speak true words of hope. My heart is a mystic wandering in the ocean of faith. Cruel words are opium for the soul. I have found a ray of hope in God Christ. Passion should not abide in adultery and fornication. Satan is a thief of the heart. Envy you are a poisonous fang. I have a mind that does not fear death. God—Jesus, I am your adored devotee. Unleash your feelings with gusto. I would like to live an art of poetry. God will eradicate from my mind, ill will and sloth. God make me temperate in my desires.

Methods of Literary Criticism

I have discovered some tools for the methodology of literary criticism. They are:
a) Philosophical Etymology
b) Cultural Anatomy
c) Psychological Pharmacology
d) Ontological Nebula

 
Philosophical Etymology
What is philosophical Etymology? Philosophical etymology is a cross examination of literary and cultural meanings in the light of Philosophy. It seeks to give newer shades of meaning to older thoughts. Let’s look at some examples. The school of structuralism coined that all language is made up of signs. A sign consists of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is a visual tangible thing and the signified is an idea. Let’s use an example: I blossomed in her garden. Here blossomed is figurative and an idea and hence it is the signified. Garden forms the signifier.

 
Postmodern Philosopher Derrida developed the idea of Binary Divide. A Binary Divide is a text that privileges some and marginalizes others. Let’s look at an example. It is said in an advert: Wanted only Native Speakers to Teach English. This narrative privileges Native Speakers over English spoken by the colonized people. Using the Binary Divide we can deconstruct texts.

 
From Derrida I have developed an idea called Binary Fusion. Binary fusion is a text that promotes equality. Let’s look at an advert. We do not discriminate people on the basis of gender, color or orientation. This text contains a Binary Fusion. Let’s look at another example. Black Culture, Black Gospel, Jazz and Blues are universally epitomized binary fusions of culture. A literary interpreter can analyze texts and bring out notions of marginalization and privilege and also write a narrative of Binary Fusion.

 
Then comes Kristeva’s texts of the semiotic and the symbolic. A semiotic text omits grammar and punctuation. Such a kind of text can be found in streams of consciousness narratives, in drama, film and music. A symbolic text on the other hand adheres to the strict conventions of language. Doing a literary analysis we can classify texts into semiotic and symbolic elements.

 
Form a Marxian point of view we can analyze texts by looking at class values like the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Do texts privilege the Blue Blood or monitor the interests of the working class. Does the text promote the interests of the Capitalist society? What is the dialectic materialism embedded in the text. This refers to political and historical problems created by Social tremors. The narrator can find out how various social institutions have contributed to the writing of literature.

 
Philosophical Etymology also takes a look at Feminist Theology. Do social, cultural, political and historical institutions promote gender equality and support Feminism. How are the roles of a working mother enacted in s society? Does the intrusion of masculinity affect the reading of texts? To what levels of subversion are meanings of the feminine in a text?

 
Psychological Pharmacology
Psychological Pharmacology looks at the theories of Freud, Lacan and Jung. From Freud we have the three states: ID (passion and the libido), Ego (language and culture assimilated from parents) and Super Ego (the laws of the society). While doing textual interpretation the author can find out how these mechanisms are working in a text. Texts can also be phallic and vaginal that is texts promoting the language of the feminine and the masculine. Is the language of the text phallic or vaginal?
Next I would like to take the theories of Lacan into consideration. Prominent are the Mirror Stage and the Gaze. The Mirror stage consists of the child’s entry into Language. Mirror stage can be a psychoanalytic tool to gauge level of subversion in a text. It’s an analysis of psychological symptoms in a work of literature. Gaze for Lacan has sexual connotations. What kind of gaze is present in a text? Gazes can be feminine, masculine and gay.
Next I would like to take Jung’s theories into account. Jung has classified the psyche into archetypes (personality types). Some archetypes are the Wizard, the Witch, the lover and many more. We can analyze how and why and for what these archetypes are created.

 
Ontological Nebula
Ontology a study of being comes from Existential Philosophy. Here I take the traditional ontology and the ontology created by me into consideration. Traditional Ontology, the one espoused by Sartre and Camus is destructive as it condemns life to be absurd and chaotic. Constructive Ontology created by me states that meaning of being lies in Valueblization (from Value and Realization). We can analyze texts and examine whether texts are favoring destructive ontology or constructive ontology.


Cultural Anatomy

What Cultural Functions does a text serve? For who is the narrative intended? Which cultural institutions are prominent? Is there a culture clash or a culture divide?

What is Literature

Probing into the meaning of literature is an interesting thing. I have classified the meaning of Literature as Art, Life, Culture and Philosophy.
Literature as Art

Literature as Art resembles a painting. The tropes or figures of speech used in the literary language ornament it. Literature as art belongs to the realm of aesthetic appreciation. Art of Literature uses various literary devices like Metaphors, Similes, Puns, Parables, Hyperboles, Allusions, Allegories, hyperbole, rhetorical question, Metonymy, Zeugma, Oxymoron, Fables and many more.

When it comes to life, what is literature? What does literature do? Life of Literature is a character sketch. Character is the revelation of biography and autobiography. Character also includes the plot of the novel or the mystery hidden in the novel.

How can literature become culture? Looking at literature from the cultural point of view, we have to take a plunge into structuralism. Structuralist thought divides all language into signs. A sign consists of the signifier (a visual tangible element) and the signified (an idea). When we say Rose is love, we mean that Rose is the signifier and love the signified. A writer will write culture into signs. As culture, literature also dwells on the socio-cultural institutions.

How can we look at literature from the philosophical point of view? Philosophy of the novel contains ideas in the novel. For example: in Camus’ Myth of the Sisyphus, we find that Sisyphus is condemned by the Gods to roll a boulder all the uphill, only to find it rolls down again. What Camus meant was life is chaotic and absurd. The literature of Camus paved the way for the philosophy of existentialism.