Monday, October 8, 2007

Prufrockian conundrum and Graphomania: The Great Reversal

The pain of impossibility to express, when the whole being is overflowing with what has to be conveyed, is a deep one. The way in which Prufrock says “That is not what I meant at all./That is not it, at all.”, has absolutely no note of calmness we find in the classic Upanishadic negation of "nethi,nethi". The pain is unbearably acute and the constantly alive feeling of passing time renders it an urgency which the protagonist finds hard to overcome. The expression of this pain is, interestingly intermingled with the realization and challenging of, his capacity to express itself. Eliot published Prufrock in 1915. The world has changed infinitely hence. Perhaps, if one can shed off the common way of approaching the Waste Land and read it as a piece of poetry rather than German metaphysics, it is not hard to hear the flapping of the wings of being against the walls of the mode and medium of expression. His life was a struggle against what is meaning there are times in history when the medium of expression finds itself stretched to the limit and yet fails miserably in the avalanche of experiences. As exepmlified in,

'Words strain,Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish...'

One cannot convince oneself of the idea that by breaking off decisively from the tradition of romanticism, Eliot could give vent to his being in its fullest form.

It is in this context that the expounding of the concept "Graphomania" by Kundera becomes extremely revealing. Kundera is a writer who introduces interesting concepts in the midst of story telling. We still vividly remember his concepts like 'Kitsch' and 'Litost'. Actually he is not really inventing the terms but he is giving them meanings which becomes handy in exploring the dynamics of life as we know it in our times. His attempt is essentially one of stretching the meaning. He goes on with a detailed explanation of what 'Graphomania' means in the novel The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting. Graphomania has at it's roots the tendency to make oneself heard, to present oneself before an audience to the extend of being forceful. He goes on to state that Graphomania takes on the proportions of a mass epidemic when a society engenders an environment giving ample free time to devote to useless activities, an atmosphere of isolation caused by increasing atomisation and a radical absence of significant social changes. Are we not witnessing all these in our society? And what of the results from this mania of 'writing'? Am I ,or for that matter anyone, being heard? We just go on speaking...speaking and speaking...Endlessly but the person sitting next to me as well is doing..what? There are as many universes as there are men in this world. The journey from Prufrock to Graphomaniac is one of catastrophic proportions..'And we drown..'