Circadian Poems

A place to celebrate poetry, poets, and the creative spirit.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Tuesday’s Essay: “Means Literature Deigned to Employ”

By Aamir Aziz

There is no dispute that literature is the reflection of life. The relation of literature with society is to be considered in the two fold aspect of source and aim. The question arises whether art should arise from and reflect social conditions or be the subjective creation of the artist’s fancy. Its natural corollary is whether art should have any social role to play, painting the society as at present and leading the mankind towards its betterment. From this controversy arises the question whether literature should create only beauty and create delight by playing upon the eternal instincts of love and hatred, or shall have any relation with the conditions of life as lived in society.

If it is to play any social role it must reflect social conditions as they exist. It must be born out of the interaction of social forces. Hence the relation of literature to society is firstly one of its source and secondly of its aim. It is man who creates literature. God creates life; man reproduces it in the form of literature with the help of his imagination. It is man for whom literature is created .God is creator of the universe. He has created man in his own image making him a demi-creator.

He has made man an imitating animal. In the process of creating he not only imitates but also improves upon it. To appreciate a piece of art is as delightful to man as to create it. When we find a literary piece life-like and realistic, we enjoy this feeling. A man of literature not only presents life as it is but also as it should be. As a comprehensive subject literature encompasses, the present, past and future of a community and of humanity at large, it is the mother of all sciences. A man of literature looks before and after and weighs and considers something.

He possesses subjective as well as objective vision. His treatises bear his mind and personality. Objective realities do exist in his creative work along with personal or subjective outlook. What his imagination seizes as beauty that is rightly compatible with truth. Absolute truths are found in literature in the form of quotations. Such sayings and common parlances are quoted everywhere by scholars to further elucidate their points. Literature has no comparison with history which is merely chronological record of past events based upon second hand knowledge.

Sir Philip Sidney was right to say that nothing is true in history except names and dates; nothing is untrue in literature except names and dates. Often laymen ask the question whether such and such a story is factual; I am obliged to be amazed at their innocence that they do not know what a piece of literature aims at. Literature is a subject of probability and symbolism. When we name somebody ‘tiger’ we expect the listener to think of its attributes. Just like symbols used in mathematics, physics, chemistry and other physical sciences, we are expected to read a literary piece between the lines and find in it something said after our hearts. Truths in the domain of literature are truer than truth itself. I have the audacity to say that poetic truths are an improvement upon scientific realities.

It is the penetrating vision of the literary artist which lends various colours and shades to an ordinary scientific reality. A man of literature passes for a common man undergoes trials and tribulations of life. He universalizes the personal findings .The reader finds in them his own feelings defined and represented. Literature alone entertains and tolerates the opposite opinions. It is very much republican in its approach: Emphasis, dogmatism, self-assertion, egotism, didacticism etc find no place in a piece of literature. A single man of literature looks at a thing and incorporates all his expressions in a pleasurable and melodious way of saying. His imagination is just like a prism which refracts various colours and shades giving a wide birth to Methodism, fanaticism and egotistic sublime. An artist passes through a garden, a thorn runs into his heel, he describes the whole history of garden, it is called macrocosmic approach.

To his seeing eye a grain of sand is nothing but a desert in miniature. A drop of water is an ocean in the literary sense of the term. To an artist the proper study of mankind is man [pope].Likewise he lives among men, studies them minutely and claims to be the doctor of human nature. It is the literary vision that determines the status of a literary artist. Literature is nothing but a philosophy which aims at the love of mankind. How can you report about men and matters unless you possess negative capability and emotional involvement in men and matters.

Literature raises its voice above season, climate, territory, race, colour, creed and culture. Safety and well-being of a community lies not in the hands of the scientists, politicians and technocrats, but in the hands of men of ideas through whom a social group sees. Wordsworth has rightly said: “One impulse from the vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good Than all the sages can.” In my view study and teaching of literature can be a panacea for all our social and political ills. It is literature that both teaches and delights you.

It kindles your curiosity, creates In you quest for the unknown and enables you to learn something new with a palpable design. In this context, Naziri Neshapuri, the Persian poet says: If the lecture of a litterateur were in the language of love, even the truant boy would attend the school on Friday, the weekend holiday. Nature’s world is brazen but that of literature is golden, the gardens of nature see autumn but those of literature are evergreen.

Lovers of the world of nature are fickle minded, false and untrue whereas those of literature are constant. Literature denies euphemism, hypocrisy, affectation, half baked realities, one sided facts, half truths and truth seeming lies. A spade is called by its own name without circumlocution. In short the study of literature has an ennobling effect on man’s personality, heart and mind.

Copyright (c) 2005 by AAMIR AZIZ

Aamir Aziz is 21 years old, serving as a lecturer in English, in Pakistan. “ In the world of materialism and anarchy, I always seek room for seeds of aesthetics and moral virtues which can sprout unmatched flowers in the times to come. I always wish to be in the forefront while doing this holy business in my poetry.” Mr. Aziz’s work has been featured in nearly two dozen international anthologies, and in his prose works, the same search for eternal sunshine continues. He will pursue his PhD in English Literature in Holland during 2006.


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