Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why Write?

Why does one write? I was once told that it is a form of expiation, but of what? In these words, that one chances to write and some other words elsewhere, that we are destined to read, what do we gather to spread?
True writing is never mundane but most writing is barely the essence of things true, something to go insane after. The truest lines are those that tell of saddest thoughts as a maxim is true but what is sadness?

I think there is an obvious difference between a great writer and one who is not, and nobody knows it more honestly than the writer himself. The essence of true writing must come out of a feeling for things native.......language, colours, emotions and ideas. The acid test of great writing is not topicality but permanence. Thus, a great writers work doesn't lose shine, it doesn't gather dust. However, most so-called great works of literature are great from a point of view, from a certain socio-cultural aspect. In other words, they become topical, after a while. But, the claim to immortality lies only in the context of universal themes, of certain experiences that are common between humans. The colourlessness of tears, the colour of pain, the heartache of first love, the tragedies of love and life, the politics of politics, the acknowledgement of politics, because without it there is no romance, no truth, no music in music or anything else.

I also find a cultural oppression in the way worlds apart from those that are accessible in English are ignored. In other words, works known to us are great because they were great when written and became great after they got known. The unknown author, the forgotten language, the inaccessible thought, the unvoiced love, the unseen oppression, the uncatalogued atrocity.......these exist but should they be denied.....?

Heard melodies are sweet, wrote Keats, but those unheard are sweeter. I find it unacceptable when so-called official lists and prizes are used to measure a writers worth. One must keep in mind the King Ozymandias and other such innumerable Kings, who don't even exist now, even on paper apart from Shelley's poem, and in that too the lone and level sands stretch far away.
True writing, I remember reading somewhere, must be a sweet remembrance of our own thoughts. Of course, one cannot claim a universal code for writers, a common language. Far from that, one asks for the sharing of similar pain, of the battles we battle, in our separate worlds, alone.

A language shrouded in metaphysics, difficult language, semantic verbiage, discourses and dialectics, enlightenment and existentialism, what use in front of a shattering sunset?
What worth arm chair schools of philosophy, of carnage with feelings, of acknowledging pain without balm?

We need synaesthesia, poetry, a rain of words, a reign of poetry. But I also remember, sadly though, the substance of clouds. In a short Pasolini film called What are Clouds?, this is the question asked. As a good friend said to me recently, What are books if not clouds?

2 comments:

Antonia said...

"The unknown author, the forgotten language, the inaccessible thought, the unvoiced love, the unseen oppression, the uncatalogued atrocity.......these exist but should they be denied.....?"
that's where mostly all the interesting stuff goes on.

KUBLA KHAN said...

yes, i agree.But, ackowledging it is not enough.
An unrecognized atrocity is no longer an atrocity.