Friday, June 25, 2010

Capitalism and literature!

I am so lazy... specially in writing but perhaps the positive side of that is the fact that when I do write I am very excited and full of hate! Ya hatred motivates me specially for the wave of capitalism now sweeping through India. I always wondered what suddenly happened that our literature, good literature that is, suddenly died! I do not want to be Mr know all but English literature seems to have just died! It is no more produced by artists, it is now produced by craftsmen! Now you would say what is the difference or may be you wouldn't but I will explain anyway. An artist has new ideas, now that was easily said but 'new' is something rare! 'New' here means really new and new almost certainly does not mean stuff that is produced to cater to a certain section or clientèle like for example you will find certain 'famous' NRI Indians writing novels from the perspective of a 'western' tourist. They are 'famous' because capitalist publishing houses made them 'famous' because if they are not made 'famous' their stuff would not sell. When I was a student such fiction was rammed down my throat and even then I wondered whether there was any literary merit in those works. They are craftsmen. A craftsmen can make a painting you want but an artist can only paint one that he has in mind- ideally that is !Now how does a writer become famous? Most of the people cannot think for themselves - they must have a good word from some 'established' some page 3 'celeb'. So well all that the publishing house had to do is to network with those page 3 people, you know how it is..... Also I have a feeling that to be a successful Indian writing in English you must criticize your country you absolutely must, I know I am being simplistic in this, but that is what will please a reviewer from the west and the big thing is that most of the Indian reviewers do not have the ability to think independently they more or less ditto what a western reviewer writes about works of Indians so if you really want to be successful criticize India its history and its culture. Emphasize on the poverty the corruption the class divide. That could win you millions not in rupees but in dollars. Only thing is that in your heart of hearts you will know that you are a conman/woman. For example there was one lady an NRI from UK who wrote a novel on Rani Laxmibai - so ... well she painstakingly tried to prove that she had an affair with an English officer- I can't tell you all the contents of it because it was banned in UP. But I only wonder whether the novel was centered only around that affair or was there something else in it - well if you read the reviews and what that writer had to say about her novel that is the only main thing you would have the impression, you were expected to think about.
But what effect does it have on literature, that is what we were talking about, my feeling is that in late nineteenth century and early twentieth century the big publishing companies overdid it! They churned out so much stuff often of little value that the reader out there was simply fed up, somewhat like TV/Cable/Satellite TV guys are doing today. Around the 60s the public just wasn't interested in reading - so they started this sex thing. And we had all 'those' kind of writers willing to make their contribution to the pool of depravity. Unluckily it started with D. H. Lawrence's novel but in all of Lawrence's work I could never find morbidity anywhere they are highly artistic works and not so easy to read either.
Now even the 'sex' thing is not working so what do the capitalistic publishing industry do - the next thing is controversy - Satanic Verses style that sells! But I have a feeling even that is not going to work soon with literature so the publishing industry has switched over to non-fiction in a big way. Like my novel was rejected by 'big' publishing houses because they said they were not really interested in fiction anymore. So what will happen to literature I wonder? Have you read a novel that you really enjoyed recently I mean one that was written recently and published by a 'big' publishing house? You have to ask yourself that question and yes by commenting on this post do let me know where all I have gone wrong.
I read a lot of stuff published by publication houses based in Moscow when I was a teenager, awesome books and at throwaway prices - because their agenda was not just business perhaps! I do not know for sure but I only know they were cheap and the stuff in them was full of innocence. I do not see books like those around. So little fiction is getting published these days because publishing fiction is a gamble and capitalist publishing houses do not want to try that specially when people are reading so little these days. I wonder what is the future of literature, English literature that is ......