Rukhaya M.K

A Literary Companion

Month: May 2015

Gopal Guru’s Egalitarianism and the Social Sciences: Theorizing Experiences or Experiencing Theory?

The Cracked Mirror presents broken images of attempts to marry theory and lived experiences that hitherto have been often perceived as divorced dichotomies. Gopal Guru expresses in his essay “How Egalitarian are the Social Sciences in India” how social sciences are divided into empirically inferiorized and the critically privileged domain of knowledge. From the last sixty years, academic experience within the Indian social science circuit has been placed within the hands of a privileged few giving rise to a cultural hierarchy: the elite theoretical pundits who are presumed to be endowed with a reflective capacity and people with empirical experiences who are deemed as the subaltern.  It comes across that though the theorizing of Dalit experience is supposed to invert the dialectical pair Brahmin/Shudra, it rather enforces it thereby strengthening power structures. It functions parallel to Said’s notion of the Orient who is constructed as the putative object, by the West and for the West. The practice of the TTB underlines Foucault’s assumption of how power is constituted in and through discourses; and how knowledge is born out of the critical relationship between the ontology of the subject and the object.

Sarukkai sums up Guru’s view of theory thus: theory is based on experience and universal reason, and “theory is to be felt, is to embody suffering and pain, is to relate the epistemological with the emotional, that is to bring reason and emotion together” (quoted in Satyanarayana 400).…

Poetry Analysis:Ted Hughes’s “Thrushes”

Ted Hughes’ “Thrushes” is one of his frequently anthologized poems. The poet is enamoured at the violent streak in the thrushes rather than their singing ability. He is amused at their ability to “stab”. They are by themselves ‘sleek’ or stylish. They are single-minded in purpose, and therefore very attentive. With their iron will, they come across as coils of steel rather than mundanely humane. The “dark deadly eye” foregrounds the scene fixed in its stare, and the poise they assume is indeed to be regarded. The fragile legs are triggered to stirrings beyond sense, that is, it is driven on instinct-“with a start, a bounce, a stab.” Swiftly according to impulse, they prey on the writhing thing. They indulge in no irresolution, no lethargy and no postponing; they are characterized by immense presence of mind.

No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states,

No sighs or head-scratchings

It just takes a rapacious second for this predatory being to satisfy ts urge.

Is it their single-mindedness characterized by their solid skulls, or their body that is inherently well-trained, or is it the undeterred genius, or the poet asks is it the “nestful of brats” or the lineage with the killer-instinct. The adjectives “bullet” and “automatic” exemplify how the act looks automated, mechanized and triggered.…

Poetry Analysis: W.H.Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen”

W.H. Auden’s “The Unknown Citizen” pertains to Auden’s middle period of creation. It was the time of authoritarianism in Europe, and amid dictatorship in the various countries in Europe, Man as a rational individual was losing his stance, distinctiveness and identity. The definition of the average citizen was confined to how well he conformed, how far he was predictable and how smoothly he rendered himself a cog in the wheel of society.

. The beginning of the poem in the passive voice is indicative of the citizen’s lack of initiative. The individual is paid a tribute by constructing a marble monument for him Just as, the Taj Mahal, ‘the poetry in marble’ was gifted by Shahjahan to his better-half Mumtaz Mahal. However, Mumtaz Mahal’s life was filled with blissful love. Here, the unknown citizen’s life is constrained by the dictums and doctrines of the state. The state is said to ‘construct’ him, as he is described, at the outset, in terms of statistics. Furthermore, he is acknowledged as ‘unknown’. Only his presence is acknowledged, not his individuality.

Subsequently he is attributed with certificates of conduct. ‘Saint’ is categorized as an old fashioned word that has lost the connotations that olden times gifted it with, in the modern day context.…

Raymond Williams’s Marxism and Literature: Tracing the Historicity of Literature

Raymond Williams has been praised by critics like Edward Said for his disregard for traditional academic boundaries, and the distinction between literature and Marxism. The connection between Marxism and literature has been debated from times immemorial.  Marxists claim that literature reflects the social system of the times as determined by the economic base. Yet Marxist critics themselves like Engels in a series of letters written in the 1890s recognized the relative autonomous nature of literature. Otherwise it would not explain how literary classics that were generated by earlier capitalist systems still held relevance for current generations.

Earlier on, it was deemed uncomplicated to categorize Marxism or literature as a static concept with known characteristics. In “Marxism and Literature,” Raymond Williams states how Marxism has experienced a recent revival– a related openness and flexibility of theoretical development, especially with reference to cultural theory. The concept of Literature, meanwhile, for related reasons, had become problematic in many ways. He states how the aim of the book is to trace this development. Williams traces his earlier conceptions of Marxism as he had been brought up in a working class family and how Marxism to him at that juncture had political and economic connotations. The cultural and literary arguments were merely an extension of the same.…

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