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.

Analysis of Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

rushdie

Salman Rushdie is known for his books: Midnight’s Children (winner of the Booker prize) and Satanic Verses which is banned in many countries because it blasphemes Islam.

The story begins with India attaining independence on 15th August 1945. Salim Sinai the chief protagonist comes out of his mother’s womb exactly at 12 AM when radios were proclaiming: India has made a tryst with destiny.

The story is written using the technique of Magic realism.

Salim Sinai is a special child gifted with psychic abilities. Apart from him there are various others who have the gift of clairvoyance.
I would like to proceed my analysis using: existential philosophy, psychoanalysis, postmodernism and Marxism.

View Point from Existentialism

Salim Sinai is a fictional self trying to project history and culture from a hyped individualism. The fictional self is glorification of Sartre’s being for itself. The story has abrupt time shifts which don’t connect with each other. The present in the novel is his relationship with Padma his wife. He is fond of belittling his wife by calling her the Goddess of dung. The past is a narrative about Indian attaining independence. Words become cultural monuments for shaping the narrator’s world. Reading the novel—one is forced to experience a blunt romanticism. Born in a rich aristocratic family, life is rather comfortable for Sinai. From an existential point of view it is hard to give poetic license about the narrator’s tryst with extra sensory perception. The self of the writer is skewed with myriad of thoughts.

Psychoanalysis
We find instances in the story where the protagonist suffers from the chronic aliment of the Oedipus complex. Padma his wife becomes a mother figure. History becomes a masculine camera, sporting the nuances of reality within a surreal lens. The character of the narrator is one of self contained narcissism. Does Rushdie want to escape the feeling of an average Joe? Looking at the story from an archetypal point of view we find that the actor of the story is a Scaramouch. Relationships in the novel are marked by tense irony. The motif a clown tries to synchronize history with fable in a witch’s cauldron. Interesting is the portrayal of Adam Aziz, the grandfather of Sinai who is a doctor who has come from Germany and who has roaring practice in Kashmir. He has totally imbibed the culture of the West. His marriage to Salim’s grandmother is so comic. Rushdie is a beast with vitriolic humor. There is a tendency to utter disparaging remarks about various characters. Is clairvoyance a voice of hope or chain of frustration? These are questions that can be gleaned from psychoanalysis.

Marxism
Looking at the novel from a Marxian perspective: one has to accept that the writing of the novelist is a bourgeoisie stunt, an aristocratic gimmick. The harsh reality of a newly emerged India is rather a crutch which could have deserved more attention. The settings of the novel are aristocratic and there is little mention of the proletariat. There is TAI the boat man. TAI is placed in fiction of the exotic.

Postmodernism

The flight of cultural imagery is shrouded in a mismatch of cultural signifiers. Reading the history of independence in the novel, one has to deconstruct the misrepresentation of History. The narrative is shallow and meanders with contrasting meanings. Aristocracy as a bourgeoisie narcissism has to be deconstructed with cultural perspective.

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.

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.

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.