Saturday, June 26, 2010

Steady Erosion of Artistic Merit - II

Consigning amateurs and dilettantes to review art and books have its dangers. Clearly they aren't qualified to review what they don't know. But this is the age of "me" and "now." So we all need to be heard, understood and appreciated. Look at those reality shows. How much they talk. Yak, yak, yak, yak. They are reviewing. But unfortunately this leads to problems. First of all ignorance is rife and it's a case of the blind leading the blind. The lack of reviews or a surfeit of malevolent reviews can degrade artistic merit, sure as hell has fire. When I read a book in the train there's a lot of curiosity about the book. People borrow it to look at it, they ask me about it. I tell them I will lend the book if they read it. Then they say they don't have time. If you are interested you will find the time. I don't have time, but I read on the way to office, I read when I am waiting for someone, I read at home before the telly. I read almost anywhere. I have a book ready at all times of the day and night. That's what reading and understanding the human condition is all about. If you don't read literature or the very essence distilled from life that it offers, you turn back into an animal with lust and depredation as your only motivations.

So, once you have gotten rid of reviewers and meaningful critics of the human condition, it is easy to package a book and its author. It seems breaking into artistic market requires looks, money to begin the promotional campaign, and lastly talent. What talent? Talent can be bought. There are good sub-editors willing to re-write your book and make it presentable if you are presentable. If you are already famous then nothing like writing that book. A publisher said, "Do something, become famous." There are book packagers who can create a personality around you, guide you through the process, for a fee, of course. And if you look enigmatic and exotic like a curly-haired tropical nymph, even better. It wasn't always so. Was it? I don't know. I am told J.K.Rowlings didn't writer her name as Julianne because she didn't want it to be known that she is a woman. But that was in those days. These days a woman writer has better chances if she is beautiful and young too. You know why? The broadsheets look like tabloids and there are beautiful nymphets in the social supplement. The supposition here is that people like to look at and read about beautiful made-up faces. However this is not true. The reason why most people skip the social pages is because they do not want to read about the zombie-like made-up faces, they want human beings they can relate with. That's why Rushdie's and Ghosh's novels are about the dispossessed. They are documents of the human condition.

Someone pointed out to me that globalisation is nothing but corporatisation. True, corporations that believe in assembly line are churning out writers who have already been published and who are already known faces. An author is like a supplier these days. When corporations demand it, the supplier has to be ready with the content, the images, the juicy titbits. What about writers who are shy and aren't good talkers and good social mixers. Yes, what about them? You mean they are bad writers because they can't talk and socialise? However, that's the impression being created and this blogger is one victim of this perception.

My head is nodding with all this heavy stuff. So more of these in my next post. Remember, I am raving, but raving has its use, at least, to point out how flawed our thinking and our condition has become. The world needs people who live and work in isolation (like writers) to make them aware of the human condition.

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