Monday, January 28, 2008

The Poet, The Philosopher and The Teacher

It is strange how people have misunderstood the poet to be either a philosopher or a teacher. Whats more even many philosophers and teachers and some poets themselves have nourished this fallacy. Actually, the poet is neither of the two. The reason, as I see it, is that unlike the philosopher or the teacher, the poet is not interested either in knowledge for its own sake or for the purpose of communicating that knowledge. What the poet seems to be interested in is the idea of philosophy for the sake of poetry and didacticism for the sake of poetic effects,rather than the other way round. Both didactisim or knowledge is put to poetic use in at least good poetry, rather than poetry being put to didactic or philosophical use. Same applies for the idea of the poet as a social reformer. The poet is interested in social reform as something that will fuel his poetry. The poet uses, misuses, abuses, knowledge, morality and didacticism for poetic purpose. Does it sound `formalist' position? Well, it cant be helped because poetry primarily is a form . A critical approach can be formalist or informalist, but that doesnt alter poetry as essentially a form.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Republisizing the Spirit of Republic: Owing up the Responsibility

Today is the fifty ninth Republic day for our country-one more festival and a holiday for most of us. Though we are keyed up over festivals and holidays, the spirit behind `republic' doesnt seem to have appealed to us. Hardly are we aware of what it is about, except for a vague notion of `giving' our selves a text called ` Constitution of India', most of us arent very sure of whats the big deal about it.

In theory, this day is about empowering the people of India. It also we are solely responsible for what we have done to ourselves. If India is a poor, underdeveloped, semifeudal and corrupt state, it is because we have chosen it to be that way. It is the day on which we should ownup the responsibility for the state we are in today. We have chosen and elected the people who decide the future for us and if they are not capable or if they lack will to take us ahead, we solely are to be blamed.

The constitution of India, that idealistic document, framed by some of the wisest people in our country has remained merely a paper tiger. I wonder if we were ever fit to be `republic' and it is high time we understood the notion and the spirit of republic once again. It is high time we republicized the spirit of republic.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Enter the Year of Rat

According to the Chinese calendar, this is the year of Mickey Mouse, the Rat. According to the Chinese zodiac signs, Sachin Ketkar, born in the year 1972, is also a Rat. Which means that this is my year. Only the Buddha knows how it will turn out for this Rat. It, indeed, has started on a happy note for some reasons best known to me. ( You dont expect me to make certain things public do you )

I lost my uncles, the last one to go was Jadish Kaka, who died yesterday. Not that I was particularly close to them, I had three uncles once and now I have none.

Baba was operated upon for cataract this year, thanks to vigilance of Ashwini who discovered that he could not differentiate between yellow and red!!

Baba sold off the house in Valsad that he had built and where we spent most of our life in Valsad in Diwali and we are on a frantic `House Hunting' mission ever since. Lets hope we succeed this year.

It was also the year of psychotherapy and anti depressants. I have been on anti-depressant for over a year now and it seems to be working. What have I got out of the treatment? Yes I dont crack up and go to pieces over touchy things. I have a better self esteem. There is lesser negativity in my thinking. I have been able to discover that I need to face the facts and not run away from them. That relationships, health and lifestyle should be given priority over the other things that I have been doing. As my doc says I need to have a better balance in my life.

At the workplace, I was given a pc, a net connection and a name plate last year. That enables me to spend more time in my cabin and it will also enable me to work upon that novel I have been dreaming of. Lets hope I succeed in that too.

I have started dabbling in things which I had stopped playing around with: Past life, occultism and what not. Reading Brian Weiss and practicing self-hypnosis and pranayama and the god knows what. The poet's shortcomings, after all. The poet Rat nibbling at many things.

Amid the fear of losing my creative powers, I actually ended up performing well as a writer and critic this year. Boy, I am raring to go..but at what???

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Poet Forays into the world of Moral Hacks

As a thirty five year old poet forays into the cacophonous society, he encounters overpopulation, overpopulation and corruption of all sorts. While pollution and population are measurable problems, corruption is a tricky issue, going down deep into the roots of our culture. What is meaning of the term `corruption' and what are the reasons behind it, I often think. Corruption probably means, demanding favours for simply doing one's duty, or bending the law in exchange of favours. It is commerce, illegal commerce.

Indians wax and wane eloquent when there is a discussion regarding `dharma', one of the meanings of the term is one's duty. However, in actual practice, `dharma' is not `dharma' but a form of illegal commerce.

Were we as corrupt since the earliest periods of our civilization? Look at the Mahabharata. Putting one's wife at stake, or five brothers marrying one girl, or a teacher demanding a thumb as part of his dues were not seen as illegal moral hacks. In fact, there are efforts to justify these acts.
In medieval period, the rebellious religious poets were tortured and even killed for daring the uppercaste and priestly mafia of all the religions. If this is our moral report card, then even the Lord God cant save us.

Is there any hope at the end of the tunnel? Or is it, as they say, the light of the approaching train?

On Blogging once again

Some days back, I chanced to see `We, The People' on NDTV, a programme anchored by Barkha Dutt. The issue of the day was whether blogs should be censored. What was more interesting however was the discussion on why people blog at all. There was this obvious paen to Freedom of Expression. But what was curious was the way people express their private lives in a public domain. They would not talk about many things to their friends, but the things would appear on their blogs. Blogs give a certain amount of anonymity and allow people to hide behind their confessional screen. This can take away the inhibitions.
My own experience with the Net is lot similar, though not directly with blogs. My friends tell me that I open up a lot and I am a different person while I am chatting. I am less inhibited and flirt and say things which I would not have said during face to face meeting. You see I am very often shy.My friend says that this is a symptom of multiple personality disorder. The Net and techology can indeed proliferate identities. Digital identities can act like a maskand liberate.
In the programme, there was also discussion about various types of blogs and bloggers. Blogosphere is ahetereogenous sphere where you have all sorts of blogs and bloggers. Like a library catalogue, you can locate and access the kind you are looking for.
As I have discovered lately as a writer, that blogs can be liberating even from suffocating literary culture. Pathare's diatribe against bloody blogging postmodern poets like us can be seen as an example of the bewilderment of the establishment to the liberating potential of the new media.
Blogging can even be a challenge to the traditional publishing business in future. Publishing houses worked asnewer forms of patronage and constraints on the writer. Blogging will be a threat to the older forms of literary politics and probably give rise to newer forms of politics. What form? Lets wait and see for ourselves.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

From the Room of One' s Own

Here I am in my cabin in Baroda with a PC of my own and connected to the Net. There were times when I used to be on-line from cafe or my home.

The new year has started and this is the season of resolutions. And I have recently acquired a habit of making resolutions. So here it goes:

i) To Exercise more and do a good deal of load shedding. That means to continue my swimming lessons , bicycle more and

ii) To have more sex

iii) To write better poetry

Narendra Modi has returned to power as expected and his opponents, that is the BJP is in trouble. There never was a Congress.

Last year in January I was in Hyderabad watching the New year celebrations.

This year I have just returned from Gondal and fought over the same issue I fought over last January in Kavyotsava in Mumbai: Free Verse and Meters. What bull shit.

Hey I have lectures to deliver and so I have to disappear into the classroom.

Goodbye 2007 We will never meet again!!!!