Adam, Eve, Art – Neither Belief Nor Unbelief: Prasanta Chakravarty


Stephen Greenblatt has struck upon a sheer and stupendous idea: to retell the tale of the first couple of the Christian world, Adam and Eve. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is a sweeping work with a remarkably ranging scholarship, galloping through centuries in minutes. The tone and the expanse of the book successfully hide the vertical depth of laborious research that has gone into bringing such an ambitious endeavour into culmination.  This is also a book of reliving an ancient art: the bare act of telling a story, holding up the full panoply of its rich narrative contours. The book jauntily speculates as much as it reveals. The very subject matter allows Greenblatt to do so. But there is yet another dimension to this project— a life-long, intense personal engagement with the idea of how conscious human intervention may have altered man’s relationship with whatever is cosmic, mythical and animistic. To that end it is also an ideological book that tells the story of Adam and Eve as it tries to grapple with our modern condition.

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‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah

Ghalib has fascinated generations of people and they have tried to understand/ interpret his poetry in their own way. For any such individual it is really difficult to recollect when and how Ghalib entered her/ his life and ensconced himself comfortably in one’s heart.

This wanderer still faintly remembers how many of Ghalib’s shers were part of common parlance even in an area whose lingua franca is not Hindustani. His andaaz-e-bayaan, his hazaron khwahishein, his making fun of the priest etc. could be discerned in people’s exchanges – without most of them even knowing that they were quoting the great poet.

To be very frank, to me, it is bewildering that a poet – who died over 150 years back – looks so contemporary or at times even a little ahead of our own times. Is it because, he talks about primacy of human being, at times philosophising about life,  and on occasions talking about rebelling against the existing taboos in very many ways? But then have not many other great poets have dealt with the same subjects/ topics? Continue reading “‘Why Ghalib appears so contemporary even today ?’ : Interview with Hasan Abdullah”

Jignesh Mevani, The Meltdown of Modi-Men and Dadhichi’s Bones

[ This post is based on updates posted by me on my Facebook wall ]

Jignesh Mevani. Photograph by Siddharaj Solanki, HT (Hindustan Times) File Photo, accessed from the HT website

A great kerfuffle has ensued ever since the recently elected independent MLA from Vadgam, Gujarat and Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch activist Jignesh Mevani gave an interview in which he had some choice things to say about the Prime Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi. Mr. Mevani made some positive and gentle suggestions, to the effect that because Mr. Modi has stopped being relevant, has not delivered on even one of the promises made by him, he should retire, proceed towards the Himalayas, and in the phrase that has caused the greatest commotion, ‘melt his bones’.

Predictably, Mr. Modi’s personal broadcasting service, known as Republic TV has kicked up the greatest fuss. Arnab Goswami has been especially indignant, and he was joined in his rage by BJP spokesperson, the orotund television commentator and historical photo-shop scam artist, Mr. Sambit Patra. Mr. Mevani offered a robust and dignified  refusal to apologize for what he said about Mr. Modi, when Republic TV demanded that he do so. Continue reading “Jignesh Mevani, The Meltdown of Modi-Men and Dadhichi’s Bones”

Literature and Silence: Prasanta Chakravarty


“Then is Now. The star you steer by is gone, its tremulous thread spun in the hurricane spider floss on my cheek.”
~ Basil Bunting, Briggflatts


“He who writes the work is set aside; he who has written it is dismissed. He who is dismissed, moreover, doesn’t know it. This ignorance preserves him.”
~Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature


“Blanchot is even greater waste of time than Proust,” Georges Poulet had famously remarked. Poulet was hinting at the grandeur of wasted time. A ruthless negativity, a rigorous retreat must take on all forms of reparation and facile optimism of human agency. Unconcern must be at the front and centre of our concern. The work of art is. Nothing more. The very idea of elucidation—to dwell upon the actual object that a writer has to offer us—is aesthetically vulgar and politically reactionary. A deep futility marks all perfection. A creation, like Eurydice when Orpheus looks at her, must disappear. The work is remote from itself. It is the incapacity to stop feeling what is not there to be felt.

All quests are echoes. Foreign to presence. Any presence. Quests grasp us rather. But they exclude the writer. He is stupefied. He is idled out of his own work—hence he must go back to work, tirelessly. The lucidity of his insomniac regression keeps on emerging infernally in what we call art. Write he must. But only and solely by being on the verge of his ruinous look back.

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अरुंधति का निर्वासन: वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

अरुंधति राय के खिलाफ अपशब्दों की, गाली-गलौच की, आरोपों की हिंसा ने हमें एक बार फिर यह प्रश्न पूछने के लिए विवश कर दिया है – क्या हमने सचमुच अपने देश में सभ्यता व सहिष्णुता के महान मूल्यों की रक्षा करने के दायित्व से छुटकारा पा लिया है? कहीं हम पूरे राष्ट्र को ‘डिसोसिएटिव आइडेंटिटी डिसआर्डर’ (खंडित व्यक्तित्व मनोरोग) का शिकार बनते तो नहीं देख रहे हैं जिसमें किसी व्यक्ति नहीं बल्कि पूरे राष्ट्र के चरित्र में परस्पर विरोधी मूल्य इस प्रकार विषैले कांटों की तरह उग आते हैं कि राष्ट्र का पूरा व्यक्तित्व चरमराने या दिग्भ्रमित होने लगता है! एक सभ्य-लोकतांत्रिक देश के रूप में आत्मछवि और हिंसक बाहरी आचरण में जितना गहरा भेद पैदा हो जाता है, वह राष्ट्र की आत्मा मार देता है। जिसने भी स्वयं में अनूठी लेखिका को जीप के बोनट से बांधने की कल्पना की, उसे संभवतः अंदाजा भी नहीं था कि वह केवल एक वक्तव्य नहीं दे रहा है, बल्कि मनुष्यता के सभी संभव परिकल्पनाओं के विरुद्ध अपराध कर रहा है। ऐसी कल्पना में बीमार विचारशून्यता ही नहीं बल्कि भयानक सड़ांध, विकृति और मनोरोग की झलक मिलती है। परेश रावल के अरुंधति के विरोध में लिखे ट्वीट से उल्लसित सोशल मीडिया के एक समूह ने तो अरुंधति राय की सामूहिक ढंग से हत्या कर उनके शव को पाकिस्तान में दफनाने की वकालत भी कर डाली।

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कट्टरता के खिलाफ अज्ञेय: वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

सच्चिदानंद हीरानंद वात्स्यायन अज्ञेय हिंदी के ही नहीं वरन समूचे भारतीय साहित्य में निरंतर जिज्ञासा और पाठकीय आकर्षण पैदा करने वाले रचनाकार के रूप में देखे जाते हैं। विभिन्न किस्म की दासता-वृत्तियों, परजीवीपन और क्षुद्र खुशामद से भरे मुल्क में उनका स्वाधीनता बोध जितना गरिमावान लगता है, उतना ही चौंकाने वाला भी। इसी स्वाधीनता बोध ने अज्ञेय की दृष्टि को भारत के लोकतांत्रिक मिजाज के अनुसार ज्यादा खुला व अपने रचना संसार को स्वेच्छा से निर्मित करने लायक बनाया। उनके इस स्वाधीनता बोध का प्रभाव व्यापक रूप से सृजन के बहुत सारे आयामों पर पड़ा है।

अज्ञेय के साहित्य पर लिखने वाले कई आलोचकों ने इस प्रभाव के मूल्यांकन का प्रयास किया है। जैसे कि निर्मल वर्मा ने स्वाधीनता बोध से उत्पन्न उनकी इसी खुली, व्यापक दृष्टि को उनके संपादन कर्म से जोड़कर देखा था। अपने द्वारा संपादित पत्र प्रतीक व दिनमान  में उन्होंने मुक्तिबोध, शमशेर बहादुर सिंह व सज्जाद जहीर को जोड़ा तो तार सप्तक के विविध खंडों में अपने से पूर्णतया भिन्न दृष्टिकोण वाले कवियों को। स्वाधीनता के प्रति तीव्र संवेदनशीलता को व्यक्तिवाद के दायरे में रखकर समझने की सरल चिंतन-प्रक्रिया साहित्य में बहुतायत से मौजूद रही है। ऐसा मानने वालों की सीमा प्रकट करते हुए निर्मल वर्मा ने कहा है कि स्वाधीनता के प्रति अत्यंत सचेत अज्ञेय के प्रति लोगों को झुंझलाहट उस समाज में स्वाभाविक थी जहां लोगों को हर समय किसी ‘ऊपर वाले’ का मुंह जोहना पड़ता है। इन ऊपर वालों में परिवार, जाति, रूढ़ि, पार्टी, विचारधारा, संगठन आदि सभी कुछ शामिल रहा है। यहां तक कि गांव में जातिवाद-परिवार की गुलामी करने वाले लोग जब शहर आए तो उन्होंने विभिन्न पार्टियों, संगठनों व विचारधाराओं की गुलामी को बिना किसी आलोचना के स्वीकार कर लिया। जिन्होंने नहीं स्वीकारा उन्हें कुलद्रोही, जनविरोधी, परंपराद्वेषी, धर्मविरोधी, व्यक्तिवादी आदि आरोपों का सामना करना पड़ा।

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Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul

Everyone else’s father is in prison in Istanbul,
they want to hang everyone else’s son
in the middle of the road, in broad daylight
People there are willing to risk the gallows
so that everyone else’s son won’t be hanged
so that everyone else’s father won’t die
and bring home a loaf of bread and a kite.
People, good people,
Call out from the four corners of the world,
say stop it,
Don’t let the executioner tighten the rope
[ Nazim Hikmet, 1954 ]

Its best to stay as far aways as possible when two mafia dons meet to talk business. Especially when their deep state security detail has a disturbing tendency to shoot first and ask questions after. Today, Delhi’s roads are emptier than usual, even on a Sunday. And I am reading Nazim Hikmet, because a thug is coming to town.

Continue reading “Erdogan Gets A Degree from Jamia Millia Islamia and Everyone Else’s Father is in Prison in Istanbul”