Faux realism
Pulakesh Upadhyaya

I won’t go so far as to call these watertight compartments ideological gas chambers but they do give me a sense of being suffocated. Do appellations or labels really matter? Does it matter if I am a realist in Marxist perspective or a magical realist as Marquez would call it? Would it matter if I am a surrealist? Or an existentialist or an absurdist? I am not sure.

Ideological straitjackets are more numerous than nationalities. So be it. But it is dangerous when ideologies shape our aesthetics. I am frightened when a Marxist takes exception to a work of Vargas Llosa only because he’s an apostate (he renounced Marxism and became one of the biggest proponents of right-wing economics in Latin America unlike Fidel Castro’s poodle, Marquez). I am also appalled when my Physics tutor living next door says only a student of Science can aspire to be on the top of the world. Or when a thespian of Utpal Dutt’s repute finds Ravi Shankar to be removed from the aesthetics of street radicalism, from ‘gritty reality’. Aesthetics shaped by ideology is bigotry.

Whatever sounds good is beautiful. It may conform to my opinions. Or may not. It may disturb me. Or may not. That is not to belittle or disparage new aesthetics or newer cults. If aesthetics were permanent, Victorian classics would be as popular today as they were a century earlier, Samuel Beckett would be just a war conscript, Jorge Luis Borges a partime book-keeper in a long-forgotten library and the novel would be called the ‘cliche’ rather than the ‘novel’. All I am saying is that novelty should broadly conform to our aesthetics so much so that the Iliad and Kraznahorkai live as happy bedmates.

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