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.

Looking at Foucault through Apologetics

foucault,

Foucault is the most widely read Philosopher belonging to the school of post structuralism. Notorious is his path breaking views known for his inter-disciplinary approach. Sad to say fate got hold of him lock stock and barrel and he became an innocent victim of the dreaded aids.
Here I would like to analyze the thoughts of Foucault from an apologetic point of view.

Foucault makes the assertion that the study of truth is inseparable from History. Let’s look at the statement from a Christian ontological point of view. Jesus is the most famous historical personality known in civilization for his ideologies of love, peace, tolerance and compassion. Jesus as a historical personality forms a realist paradigm of being a referential historical model. His ideology has been abundantly revealed in the gospels. However Christianity goes afar from Historical validation when we come across the divine nature of Christ. The divine nature of Christ is an inseparable mystery. The Philosophy of Christ is enmeshed in CHRISTABILIZATION, a new way of looking at Globalization. So far Globalization has a historicity of being that of economy driven countries. Globalization viewed as CHRISTABILIZATION (Christ and Able) is compassionate theology. There is a dialogic and creative intercourse between nations, a better love of the neighbor, a Greenomics (Green and Economics) for a compassionate and caring environment. The humanity of Christ merges with the divinity and that makes poignant part of History.

The next Foucault perspective calls into an issue the binary divide of madness and sanity. Foucault described madness as alienation produced by the capitalist society. Sanity (reason) is privileged over madness (unreason). Let’s view the life of Christ and his way of looking at madness. Christian approach to madness was one of compassion. It is borne out of the theology of love. When the madman at Gadarene encountered Christ: the legion in him cried out: Son of God why have you come before the appointed time? Jesus admonished the demons and they entered a herd of swine which rushed headlong and plunged into the sea. I would like to ask Foucault whether Madness is a psychiatric symptom. A Christian view holds that madness is cause by malignant demons. A medicinal cure is only partial. A cure of madness made through Christian prayer can be total in healing madness. Asylums now like regimented Prisons should become reservoirs of love and compassion.

Foucault again expounds a compassionate theology in Discipline and Punish wanting prisons to change to institutions of love and tolerance. Foucault criticizes Prisons which renege prisoners into recidivism. Prisoners can be made to do Socially Productive Work and also get their jail spans reduced.
Foucault makes a discourse on knowledge and power. In a postmodern society knowledge is the key to power. Power is both an institution and a concept. As an institution it lies with the government, the police and the big Moguls of industry. As a concept it lies with thinkers and scientists. Power has to become an organism for benefiting all citizens. With increasing surveillance made by the employers on the employees we find a democracy being infiltrated with the pandemic of suspicion.

Foucault’s view on Sexuality is rather idiosyncratic. Foucault claims that we are sexually repressed. This can be called the Foucault complex. Sex is a natural instinct of the body hence it is a valuable artifact. Sex lies beyond the oedipal complex. All come to a knowing of sexuality at puberty. I think that Foucault was confused about his own homosexuality. What does the Bible say about it? ‘They gave over to their lusts: men lying with men and women with women: God gave them over to their reprobate ways.’ Biblically speaking homosexuality is a sin. But again God is compassionate and he is there to forgive and all we need to do is to repent.

Foucault deals with the epistemic rupture that occurred in the 20th century. The major shifts in epistemology were the Darwinian Evolution, the mechanization of medicine, the Big Bang and changes in the structure of language. Does the development of knowledge change our worldviews on Christ? No, not at all! The historicity of Christ is epistemology and the divinity of Christ is biblical.
Foucault in dealing with language develops a fourfold explication of a statement. The statement is Philosophical (Socrates said Know thy self), cultural (Palestine is a hot volcano), and linguistic (all language is made up of signs).

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?

April 28th 2019

Morning mushroomed with a canopy of colors—little hymns made divine music—all is beautiful with me. I thank God Jehovah Jesus for his abundant blessings.

It is wonderful to think of how words acquire new cultural meanings with spread of the internet and globalization. A good example of that will be viral, selfie and web.

I am pondering on the art of writing. What could it be? Writing is primarily a narrative. In olden days dissemination was oral. Then there started the writing of texts. There are two types of writing. They are readable writing and interpretative writing.

Readable writing can also be called primary writing. It can be factual or literary. Readable writing is found in discourses like Philosophy, Math and Sciences are examples. Readable writing being literary can be a good story either in speech or in writing. Novels, Poetry, Drama, Films all belong to this genre.

Interpretative writing can be cultural, literary and philosophical. Let me use an example. Let me take the thoughts of structural and post-structural Philosophers.
Let me use an example to understand interpretative reading. Saussure is a famous structural Philosopher who introduced the Sign in Language. All language is made up of Signs. A sign is made up of the signifier and the Signified. A signifier is a visual tangible thing. A signified is an idea. For example if I say dove is peace, dove is the signifier and peace the signified. Then Roland Barthes who used the structuralist Sign to analyze fashions and culture. Philosophically speaking the sign was put into deconstruction by the philosopher Derrida. Deconstruction examines how signs privilege and marginalize people in texts. From Derrida I have developed a new idea of Philosophy called Binary Fusion. Binary Fusion is a text that does not marginalize or privilege anyone.