Sunday, February 03, 2008

We are like that only

[While other newspapers were dull and boring, Blitz was bright and energetic...While Indian newspaper prose was somnambulistic in its dullness, Blitz captured the energy of the best British tabloid writing. -- Vir Sanghvi
Karanjia and his Blitz, HT Home February 03, 2008]
The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. A new biography by Peter Heehs
Rich on Fri 01 Feb 2008 10:24 PM PST Permanent Link
Peter Heehs provides a portrait of Sri Aurobindo that is certainly more complex than so many other accounts and narratives we have of him since his passing in 1950. Some of these read as if they were written in the voice of that much earlier time. This all too authorial disposition to adopt the rhetorical form of the Master, so to argue as if in “his” own voice are the beginning of orthodox accounts of his biography...
From what I have read of Peter's work his style seems fittingly current, and post-structurally critical in seeking to understand its subject from a variety of perspectives, personalities, modalities, enactments, embodiments.] 6:24 AM 8:48 AM
Rich’s estimate of non-Heehs writings on Sri Aurobindo contains many perceptive pointers, but his uneasiness with their language and style is a bit intriguing. To say that they were all imitating the “rhetorical form of the Master” seems to be unsympathetic, and at variance with the reality. Indian English, with its fascination for the polysyllable and the poetic, has a special flavor of its own as it is concocted through the transcreation of a thought process forged originally in Oriya, or Telugu, etc. Sri Aurobindo too perhaps cultivated this preference, and when V.K. Gokak noticed it, Amal Kiran came down too heavily upon him, and incurred a rare glitch.
Upheavals introduced by Byron and Baudelaire or James and Wolff that modified expressions substantially might have gone too far in contemporary America, and taken many convoluted avatars in academic dissertations but there is no valid reason why everyone should “imitate” the pattern. The problem of language being what it is in a post-structuralist and post-modernist scenario, Rich’s hope that Heehs’ “fittingly current” style, itself, can present an authentic and accurate picture of the “complex phenomena that was Sri Aurobindo's” is far from convincing and suffers from the taint of a false privileging. New rhetoric adopt we must but also retain empathy for the Other, “for the act,” observes Larval Subjects “is a descendant of the scene just as the son is a descendant of the father (and is said to thereby share the father’s characteristics).” [TNM] 9:57 AM

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