look how i plagiarise!!! guess who wrote this??? honestly people, don't you get tired of seeing a blank blab?
Dreamland in B/W
“Literature affects our lives”, said my father beatifically, “by making our lives illusory. Everyone thinks he’s great. Which is a good thing.” The Megalomaniac Effect. When I was young(er?), the source of all my dreams and nightmares was Enid Blyton. Kirrin Island and the Enchanted Forest, I now find, are my retrospective halcyons. Indeed, so great was their effect on me that I once indignantly decided to stop reading Blyton for I knew I’d never be able to swim to Kirrin. With age, thankfully, such stupid notions have vanished, as have my swimming abilities. But the faraway trees of the mind renew their vigour with nostalgic chunks of childhood. Literature makes me happy.Sometimes, of course, literature can have unhinging effects most detrimental to body and soul. People seem to go insane after experiencing what is now in most psychoanalytical circles called a “Shock of the Rings”. Victims start having mock-epic delusions of grandeur (every third statement is followed by a bellowing “Today we fight!”) and an abhorrent propensity to speak in tongues. A note to you, dear reader, if you are an hapless Elf-apparent – you are not J.R.R.Tolkien. Nor are you descended from a Numenorean prince. So spare us the nazg1. As the Harvard Lampoon puts it, we’re bored of the rings.Once in a long while, literature springs up behind us and takes us unawares by creating out of airy nothing great wisps of life we simply cannot do without. Conan Doyle was bombarded with abuses and requests to bring his hero back from the oblivion of Reichenbach. Such was the impact of Holmes on the late Victorian mind they could not imagine a London without him! Even today, the National Abbey Building Society, which occupies the near-mythic address of 221B Baker Street, employs a secretary to look after the personal effects and answer the private correspondence of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Holmes has fosbury-flopped his way over the narrow domestic walls of literature and stepped into sacral reality. Like Santa Claus, he has become a quasi-cultic figure ingrained for ever in the popular consciousness. Holmes is dead. Long live Holmes.The plot, as they say, thickens.2The trouble with Thomas Carlyle (other than his sentences, which are purpler and longer than most modern abridged histories of English literature) is his failure to include that most earthshaking of revolutionaries in his list of heroes3 – the Literary Critic. In Gustave Flaubert’s words, “A man is a critic when he cannot be an artist, in the same way that a man becomes an informer when he cannot be a soldier.” The effect literature has on this distinguished breed is Harmful bordering on the Fatal. Every theory seems to have a counter-theory, every new fiction is but a footnote to existing texts, and if they had their way, Post-Structuralist critiques of the Motionlessness of Pseudo-Modern Lyric Poetry would be part of the school curriculum. Of course, the cumbersome task of eliminating the author altogether troubles critics no more – Roland Barthes did that years ago4. In fact, that is what a critic is. A critic is a dead author. We need more critics.Bestsellers affect our lives in various ways. Three of my Sidney Sheldons keep the dresser from tippling over, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix serves as heavy artillery in deterring pesky little cousins from nosing about my room. Strange thing this, about Harry Potter. Three absolutely brilliant books, and then that Rowling woman had to give in to that “most vulgar of art’s temptations: that of being a genius”5, or being called one, at least. Which is why her books have started setting benchmarks in the paperweight industry. In this respect they receive tough competition from those immortal Mills ’n’ Boonses that make me appreciate the comforting, mundane, tall-dark-handsome-enigmatic-lover-who-turns-out-to-be-a-Bolivian-guerilla-less life I lead. Flannery O’Connor once said, “Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.” And that seems to be that.Perhaps literature makes us all better human beings. It sensitizes us, perhaps. Makes us thinking, intellectually-greased people. Helps us understand the plight of our fellow man, woman, child and small furry creature from Alpha Centauri.Then again, maybe not. Reading literature may often be a health hazard. Wodehouse leads to apoplectic fits if taken in large doses, Joyce can be optically debilitating after Chapter 1 (“Bronze by gold heard the hoofirons, steelyrining imperthnthn imperthnthn.”6), and Jane Austen is almost as effective as Auschwitz7. There are remedies, of course. Sleep and rest. Charles Dickens. Lewis Carroll. Sleep and rest. And poetry.“Poetry makes nothing happen”, wrote Auden. Perhaps it doesn’t. But it is beautiful. It is liquid bright and sparkling. Literature need not stop a tank. It needn’t even try. Literature is, and that is all. The rest, as they say, is silence. W.H.Davies, in his poem “Leisure”, writes “A poor life this is if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.” In Shaw’s words, “If I could live my life over again I’d catch more butterflies.” Literature lets me stand and stare. It whisks me away to the realm of the Dreaming. And most importantly, it allows me to catch more butterflies.8
1 ‘Ring’, in Elvish or Gibberish or something.
2 Holmespeak. Using such phrases in quotidian speech affords the impression of schizophrenia.
3 Thomas Carlyle. Of Heroes and Hero Worship. Bring your own pillows.
4 See Roland Barthes’s “Death of the Author”. Then see a reliable shrink.
5 Read Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Approach to Al Mutasim”. On second thought, don’t.
6 James Joyce. Ulysses. p. 256. Any other page will do admirably. Every page is equally incomprehensible.
8 “Those out may pout.Those in will grin.”From Henry Carey’s “A Lilliputian Ode On Their Majesties’ Accession”. Desperately wanted to put that in somewhere!