:: Arts in search of insights ::

Female poets in Pakistan have produced fruitful results. These poetesses have explained their situations expressively. As for some poetasters, their verses only address their own psychological, philosophical and emotional experiences and echo only clichéd concepts.

Dr. Saadat Saeed

The writer is a professor of Urdu Literature at Government College University Lahore

The messages which Eastern arts deliberately communicated to the audience lacked real insights. The dreams they portrayed for human beings were based on jugglery. The ethics they maintained seemingly analysed man through the criteria of human values but subjectively they exemplified only those individuals who were enjoying top positions due to their wealth and manoeuvring. The humanism of these artists of our past was a mere camouflage or delusion. No doubt we find there too the artists who in their thundering styles wanted to expose realities openly but unluckily could not do that as the autocratic systems had their own censors. They could only feel sorry for the lack of freedom of expression.

In the period under discussion the economy was working under the concept of private ownership. As far as livelihood was concerned, what to talk about the poets, writers, painters, architects, calligraphers, musicians and dancers, the common man too was fully dependant on their lords. The social system was based on unjust distribution of wealth. Even the scholarly poets and writers were frustrated. They had the feelings that due to their writings they were facing some kind of punishment. So their words were forced to praise traditional disciplines, checks and controls. Poets themselves, in their poetry, seem obsessed with the bonds of literary traditions. With reference to extensive subject freedom, achievement of comprehensive creative expression against the objective slavery and exploitative determinism, was not a common model of the artists of that period. In order to achieve their own glories some opportunist groups and classes had made the social system corrupt. Mowlana Abdur Rehman in his book Mirat ul Sher Says “Poetry becomes poetry only when it acquires colours and suggestions of consciousness.”

Who can deny this reality? But if the consciousness too is conditional; tradition oriented, maintainer of status quo, inclined towards compromise, and prisoner of the spheres shaped through centuries, then, even after exploring the depths of man, objects, universe and circumstances is it possible for man to comprehend the reality? Obviously the answer won’t be in affirmation. Giving consciousness through personal choice could be permitted to what extent in a society where disobeying the order had always been considered an evil practice? We all are fully aware of the situation I mean:

Artists were puppets…. Poets and writers were puppets! They were mere dancers as their string-mover was someone else! Encircled by platonic logic faith stricken!

The slogan suggesting the creation of one’s own fate was the invention of a later period when consciousness embraced freedom or struggled for its achievement.

As it is, what cannot be cured must be endured. The ruler said it was day, they wrote alike and if he said it was night, they wrote the same. Their ‘enchanting magnificence’ was in a position to dictate poets, writers and artists, its terms. No one could prevent culmination of habits of slavery, love for traditions and historical decadence. Following conformations and adapting uncreative methods could not help formation of consciousness. The colours and effects of consciousness have dominated the classical art and literature. Can we really call it a real consciousness? It lacked passion of refusal. What to mention passion of refusal, it never dreamt of it.

French critic Roger Caillois, who was fond of mixing literary criticism, philosophy and sociology together, declared that it was obligatory for a poet not to misguide simple and apprehensive people, to refrain from using the means of expressions improperly, to avoid ambiguity, to give human dreams and irrationalities proper place in his poetry, taking care of prevalent philosophical needs, not to have any link with the baseless panegyric of kings and priests, to write fair and truthful poetry, not to leave the path of dare and courage, to narrate unique matter, to explain the phenomenon in his experience, to furnish his feelings in proper logical expressions, not to follow anyone and to keep himself away from arrogance. For Roger Caillois, the poet constantly seeks pleasures, brings truths to the limelight and highlights the meanings of human sorrows. Have our poets tried to encompass the above mentioned level of consciousness? Here, too, the answer is not in the affirmative. But in these attributes, literature, at no place, could embrace the function, concerning the real portrayal of human consciousness. Though Roger Caillois has particularly stressed the points of human dreams and irrationalities in the fibre of poetry, it is not uncommon among poets.

We can trace dreams and irrationalities in the texts of almost every poet and writer. Instead, poets are expected to provide concrete and real perspective to their dreams and irrationalities. The dreams and irrationalities in their abstract shape could be dominated by the laws of human nature. But on the other hand Sartre says literature has no link with the laws of human nature. It relates itself to the basic human situations. Sartre in his book on Baudelaire explains Baudelaire’s phenomenon on the basis of his theory about the human situation, he says:

“His fundamental attitude was that of a man bending over himself, bending over his own reflection like Narcissus. With Baudelaire there was no immediate consciousness, which was not pierced by his steely gaze. For the rest of us it is enough to see the tree or the house; we forget ourselves completely absorbed in contemplation of them. Baudelaire was the man who never forgot himself. He watched himself see; he watched in order to see himself watch; it was his own consciousness of the tree and the house that he contemplated. He only saw things through this consciousness; they were paler, smaller and less touching as though seen through an eyeglass. They did not point to one another as a sign-post points the way or a marker indicates the page, and Baudelaire’s mind never became lost in their intricacies. On the contrary, their immediate function was to direct awareness back to the self. “What does it matter”, he wrote, “what the reality outside me is made of provided that it helps me to feel that I am and what I am?” In his own art his one concern was to show things only as they appeared through a layer of human consciousness.”

Albert Camus too writes in his book The Rebel: the matter in art, after embracing its vastness, lays a hand on human condition. For Sartre that literature, too, is harmful, which remains involved in representing man’s permanent conditions and has no link with the change and practice. He owns and signifies the literature of praxis. This literature motivates practice and brings changes in the world.

And now we can easily conclude that in a society, which concentrates on the fate and astrology, creation of literature concerning human conditions or situations is a difficult proposition. Where, cries remain hidden behind the iron curtains, an instrumentalist who is attuned to the musical instrument of life, remains deprived of tuning up his fiery tunes. He declares his fireless frozen fingers his absolute assets. In our social and political system people seem to drown in the sea of deep slumber and intoxication. They have made luxuriant living their way of life. Though they could be called live they sound worst than dead ones. Lust and tantalisation have become the title of existence. Spiritual, ethical and physical diseases have sniped at the living places. Death has become wild. Men are alert to destroy their own creations. They are passing their lives in the world of meta-thoughts. The marshes of Illusions and suspicions have engulfed them. Their consciences are fully subjugated by the national and international oppressing dictators. The plague of alienation, senselessness and poverty is killing human beings.

So in the situation like this if the tunes are buried in the stings of musical instruments or singers` melodies are imprisoned in their throats none is astonished. The flames of their melodious voices cannot put anything on fire. Their tears and passivity are putting their fire off. Dance and other fine arts too cannot bring out their essences so the cries of all the artists seem lost in their prison houses.