Of Detachment, Falsehood and Absurdity
Professor. DR Saadat SAEED
Urdu and Pakistan studies chair Ankara University Turkey
In contemporary Urdu literature, the trumpeting of the motifs such as detachment, falsehood and absurdity seems to be the order of the day. One gathers that we have a long way to go before questioning the rationale of such philosophic position.
Whereas the original menace of a straitjacketed totalitarian approach is gone with the collapse of Communism. These concepts have two clear forms in our literature.
1. Their use as a fashion under the influences of new western literary movements.
2. Their natural growth in the background of the contradictions prevalent in the body politic.
The second form becomes more meaningful when it is juxtaposed with the local conditions.
As we know, it is impossible for an individual to achieve absolute freedom in a class society. The artists entertaining self-interests cry over their unfulfilled personal longings and corners.
According to Allama Iqbal, this situation presents the reality of disappearance or weakness of one's self. The artists, who lose their accurate path, face several types of mental diseases. They face circumferences of inaction. The true artists and writers, on the contrary plan for such a society where collective, personal and natural aspirations would be fulfilled. In this respect, they struggle through pen to realize the possibilities of optimum human freedom. Instead of substantiating the ethos of the society based on vested interests and passing a life of faithlessness, they struggle for the hopeful fulfilment of the needs fraternal to free human character.
The stormy attack of Western Absurd literature or the philosophies with the hues of scepticism or the literature with pronounced emphasis on craft, detached from the social structure has been alienating us from our problems. The thoughts and culture in affluent societies differ entirely from those of backward or underdeveloped societies. For us, the social and literary experiences and styles from great writers of our age such as Eugene lonesco, Saint John Perse, Albert Camus, Samuel Backett, Jean Genet, James Joycs and several others can be acceptable only as a reference point, though it is not mandatory for us to follow them.
Afore-mentioned western writers and poets lived in the domain of scientific and technical progress. In those societies computer has come to replace obtuse intellectual debates. Space technology has widened the horizons of human flight immensely. Their daily grind is much more comfortable than the arduous living conditions in the less privileged tracts on the globe. Those societies are incomparable as far as precious cars, personal helicopters, centrally air-conditioned buildings, Sky-scrapers and prismatic variety in entertainment go. These privileges in themselves may not be considered negative but their manipulative use has brought the situation of crisis to West. The individual in those societies is facing the predicament of detachment, falsehood and absurdity.
A glance on the history of inventions can guide us that basically these new scientific and mechanical inventions came into existence for the betterment of man and to make society peaceful, comfortable and gratifying. How ever the monopolies of the opportunist groups hindered humanity to achieve its primary goals.
The motifs projected in contemporary western literature and arts reveal that western man has become disrespectful, impatient, uncultured, angry, aloof, hostile, hopeless and humiliated. He is a victim of various agonies.
Nonetheless, he himself invites oppression in favour of racialism. Drugs, alcohol, mindless obsession with sex and war are considered to be his destiny. Quite a sizeable portion of modern western literature is spun around eroticism and psycho-neurotic feelings.
Franz Fanon, George Luckas, Herbert Marcuse, Jean Paul Sartre, Eric Fromm and several other writers and theoretician have criticized the western cultural scenario. They all agree that because of the industrial and technical revolutions in western societies, socio-political monopolies are in practice on grand levels. Only upper classes have gained social respect. The monopolists from the affluent world have captured the economic resources and business markets of backward countries. Political gimmicks are at their peak. Through their political mechanism, they can even steer the internal policies of a third world country. To execute their designs, they divide local populace on critical issues. Problems concerning language, race and culture get importance. Unwittingly native writers and people under pressure, whether fake and genuine, become the victims of meaninglessness, slave perception, imported scepticism and interest-stricken alienation. They ruin their creative talent.
The man in the trap of crisis and problems after running away from life, seeks solution in suicide, becomes detached from the situations, takes the path of compromise. Under the tensions emerging from various fears, he tries to collect his trash and at last various subjective diseases encircle him. The problems activated under the shadows of aristocratic perception and detached psyche, are, entirely different from the hindrances under the burden of slave perception.
Western absurd Literature has no link with our concrete existential dilemmas. We are living under the charisma of our particular indigenous meaninglessness detachments and mistrust. Abdul Ala Ma'ari, an eminent Muslim scholar, writes, "Trust has disappeared from our time. Now the only origin of our wisdom left back, is guess and presumption. We ask the lion "Are you a lion?" He replies hesitantly "Probably I am a lion."
The reason behind the stability of the dispositions projecting meaninglessness, detachments and mistrust in literature is obvious. The writers remaining disinterested in concrete problems or entangling themselves in the psychic complexes coming out of their cowardliness, fear and mental poverty, try to encounter universe, society and things in a meaningless way. According to Iqbal, this situation represents the reality of disappearance or weakness of one's self. The artists who loose their ego or self face several types of mental diseases. In other words, their mental diseases develop from the situations concerning emotional and subjective repressions, existential and moral inhibition and political and economic suppression.
The looting in the fields of industry and agriculture has ensnared badly not only our common people but also paralysed our artists, mentally and emotionally. Several of them are able to resolve their inner contradictions, which lead them to the intolerable tendencies of indifference and thoughtlessness. Then they consciously avoid their real issues. They don't write their true selves. The attitudes of indifference, exaggeration and shallowness have produced teenager's romanticism, unworthy commercialism, strange idealism and erroneous experimentalism in our literature.
Our most modern writers endeavour to produce imitations of latest western trends. They disseminate in the fields of local literature the seeds of those mental disorders, which are prevalent in advanced societies.