Moving Literatures…..


These days, less and less people are interested in books and literature due to the boom in internet, email and technology. And the quality of literature too, has come down from what it was years back. The imagery that poems, songs and other literature conveyed, like the song, “My favourite things” in the movie, ‘sound of music’ – “ Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings” are simply incomparable. Today we have mediocre poetry, prose and literature that gets rave reviews because of the person who wrote it, or because of the meaning behind the writing – the writing itself, is not very powerful. Consider this : “Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity, — the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven’s artillery, — but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggot’s life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him, — the hope of the Resurrection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence, — it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.” – Jack London in “White Silence”. ( He wrote this when he traveled ALONE across Alaska in the late 1800s – just a few years before his death)

Jack London had neither a computer nor a dictaphone – all he had was a simple pen and some papers – it is said that he used to hang up the papers after he had written on them, like clothes in the clothesline, using clips – so that the ink would dry fast, and not smudge. Because he was really traveled, he could write.

But with today’s generation, that is not the case. We see whatever country we want in our living room, using the computer. Today, Televisions, Computers, Laptops and more importantly, the ubiquitous CELLPHONES  have changed the way people live. Today, most of us live continuously envying the Jones next door, rarely bothered about self actualization or anything. This fast paced modern life has little or no place for literature, poetry, and quality prose. Slowly, people will forget what is literature – Computer web pages and blogs with inane writings will become classic literature. There will be no classic writers. No Shakespears, No Hemingways, No Mark Twain, No Emily Dickinsons, No Tagores, No Vikram Seths, No Arundati Roys. Only technical writers of prosaic emotions.

Today, technology is setting the agenda for language development. Any language that is more suited to the needs and requirements of technology, becomes more popular. And some languages, because of their rigid rules of formatting, may lose out on adaptability. One of the most compelling reasons for the adapatability of a language that I have seen is written in a blog by Mr.S.Gopalakrishnan, in his blog http://www.thanini.blogspot.com/ But whether technology can and will enrich language at the same time retaining all the present features and characteristics, remains to be seen.

But most of the time, technology seems to be cutting down on the finer use of nuances and feelings, sacrificing syntax for symbols, for wider use. The following humour story, taken from the Net during the formation of the European Union some years back, illustrates the point well:

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, it was accepted that English spelling had some room for improvement and a programme drawn in a five year phase-in plan that would be known as “Euro-English”

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”.

Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the second year, when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Goverments will enkorage the removal of double letter, which have always ben a deteremt to akurate speling.Also, al wil agre that the horrible mes of the silent “e”s in the langage is disgraceful, and they should go away.

By the forth year, people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords containing “ou” and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

When technology replaces culture, when gadgets and gismos replace emotions, we can be sure that language, literature, and culture could indeed become extinct… With technology producing Couch potatoes out of our next generation, we can only hope that sometime in the distant future, some technical writer somewhere along the line, will break the rules and go back to the basics of beautiful writing – simple prose

Hell hath no fury like nature scorned…..

Some time back, there was a discovery that the Global warming statistics and warnings itself were doctored by some people with vested interests. And suddenly, people all over are not so convinced about global warming and climate change, saying that the stats could be wrong, or that it is hyped. But whether they are right or wrong, one thing is for sure – Concerns about how exactly the world climate is going to behave in the next few decades, and how exactly it would impact the world, is here to stay.

Climate Change and Global warming – are the two key issues that the world has to deal with, collectively as well as on the individual level, in the days to come. 2012 is one popular movie that has fuelled the imagination of a world running amok with all kinds of fears. World Leaders of advanced nations are trying to lessen the impact of Global warming by adopting various strategies whereas developing and underdeveloped nations are asking the developed nations: Why should we alone be deprived of polluting the earth freely, whereas when you were developing, you had the whole wide world to pollute? Why should the rules be different when we are developing, as compared to when you were developing? That the developed world had one brand new world to pollute then, perhaps not knowing the consequences like global warming and climate change, and that the situation is completely different now, is escaping the less privileged nations.

The hold of oil over the world economy seems to be losing the grip increasingly to water. The new battleground, it seems, will be for water. Cities, especially in India, and other developing nations, are so busy undermining the groundwater resources that water tables are fast becoming hollow spaces, easy for seismological shifts to occur. Builders and real estate developers are making a fast buck, least bothered about the fact that concrete jungles are mushrooming like never before. High rise buildings are threatening the ecological balances like never before. All this and more, are the real concerns that the world has to look into. But unfortunately, the leaders are so busy readying themselves for a political dialogue with nature, which is never going to happen.

Nature is not going to sit and wait for us to start a dialogue. Nature knows that Man, with all his powers of science and technology, is nothing before its mighty powers. In answer to all the destructive things like pollution of the atmosphere, making animals and birds extinct, creating concrete jungles, denuding forests and destroying rich flora and fauna by quarrying mountains, Nature is responding in the only way it knows : Climate Change. Nilgiri Mountains in South India recently received 800 mm rainfall in one single day, an unparalleled gush of water from the heavens,that people were actually praying for the rains to stop. It did, after creating real havoc in the Nilgiri Mountains by landslides.

No longer do we see the ordinary swallows that adorned our window sills looking for food. For all we know, they might have already paid a price with their extinction, for our industrial advancement. Gandhiji was one person who knew the perils of industrialization, that he advocated self sufficiency at the village level. Villages are fast vanishing, and urban areas and cities are slowly swallowing the villages around its suburbs. All these and more, are the result of our ever growing neglect of nature. We yearn to control mighty nature – but when it hits back, like the 2006 Tsunami recently proved, we are nothing against nature.

We all wait for world governments to take the lead in resisting Global warming and climate change. We all hope that some nation, or leader, takes charge and battles climate change. Unfortunately, it is not going to be so, for any leader or nation to change or reverse what billions of people are doing around the world. The time has come for collective leadership and collective action – for that is the ONLY thing that is going to save planet earth from disaster. Every single individual who does countless things like taking a walk instead of the vehicle, or using public transport instead of private ones, etc, will be taking the lead in fighting global warming – the emphasis is more on individuals. Finally, Global warming and climate change has made the individual, very powerful – what he or she does determines whether the planet will be saved or not. And, given the grim scenario, No individual is going to do anything that will harm the planet he/she is living, once they know what each and every action of pollution, leads to. The onus, rests purely with the authorities, the organizations, and the MEDIA – to educate, and empower the ordinary citizen to know the ways and means to fight global warming. In this transformation, it is only the individuals who are going to matter, who are going to be affected. But unless they are empowered with the knowledge, unless they know, they are not going to act. And for them, to act, the media must use its powers of persuasion collectively, to ensure this transformation. But will the market driven media COLLECTIVELY do it for the sake of planet earth? Is the question.

Way back in the 1800s, the great explorer and writer Jack London tested the extreme depths of human emotions in journeys that he actually undertook and later wrote about. In his book, THE WHITE SILENCE, he writes about his solitary travel across Alaska, thus : “Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his finity–the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of the storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heaven’s artillery–but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizing that his is a maggot’s life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him–the hope of the Resurrection and the Life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence–it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.”

Jack London has shown years ago, what the media can do now.