Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 23-24 (Jan 1993) p. 3.


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Introduction

'Realism and the making of gods do not fit together. Representational problems of the gods remain unresolved and, as the decades pass, a devolving ethic that makes these gods more serviceable to ends is created/ (So ends Anuradha Kapur's essay on the Parsi theatre, in this issue.)

Early in 1992, Satyajit Ray died; and at the end of the year, in a small Indian town named Ayodhya, a vision of India died too.

Death requires rebirth of, at any rate, a way of comprehending (or even of coming to terms with) what we have lost, in order that what still lives may emerge the stronger. Realism requires a way of comprehending (or even of coming to terms with) what we have lost, in order that what still lives may emerge the stronger. Realism requires a way of mature seeing: so we may open our eyes not only to mirrors and idealized fetishes but also to things around us. It renders in the symbol-ogy of social formations the potential of speech, for the recording of social discourse (or, as now, the unremitting struggle to sustain one).

The new year began in New Delhi with the programme Anhad Garaje, organized by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust. Diverse singers reflecting what one kind of historical teleology might see as representing different stages of our history, together and at the same moment of cultural and political time opened out key directions in which a reparation may be made for what happened at Ayodhya. If at that point and in the carnage of the days that followed, the brute affirmation of a collective phantasy was located in the 'real', and had come to mean physical destruction, then the Sufis and Qawals, the Bauls and Khayaliyas, the Gurubani singers and the Keertankars showed us once again what our reality principle could be through showing us what our symbols could be.

'Matters of reality and illusion get all the more complex when spectacle is transformed in the "miracle" of mythological drama', says Anuradha Kapur; and elsewhere, 'Realist narrative and idealist portraiture chafe against each other. . . . Ideal portraits seek to create an image that hypostatizes and holds still the essential qualities of the figure represented. ... It is this stillness that gives them their temporality takes them outside time.' The problem of the Indian mythological, like all use of religious symbols for political purposes in twentieth-century India, has been a continuously vexed encounter between norms/icons/languages of 'the tra-

Numbers 23-24


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