Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Monday, 18 November 2013

Novel Liberation: The Humble Postcolonial Wisdom of E.M. Forster

"If I have had any influence, I would be very glad if it induced people to enjoy this wonderful world into which we're born, and of course to help others to enjoy it too."

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

“They too entered the world of dreams- that world in which a third of each man's life is spent, and which is thought by some pessimists to be a premonition of eternity.”

E.M. Forster (the last quote is from A Passage to India)

The British Raj and the Indian Independence movement of the 1920s provide the setting for a poignant story between two principal characters in E.M. Forster’s 1924 novel, A Passage to India. The lives of Aziz, a Muslim doctor and Mrs. Moore, an older Englishwoman, represent themes of social constraint, in contrast with personal relationship. Constrained by title and culture, these characters manage to relate under unique circumstances. Aziz learns to respect Mrs. Moore unlike any Englishwoman he has ever known, while Mrs. Moore is, at first, captivated with the pride of knowing an endearing local closely.

Mrs. Moore, as with Miss Quested, is captivated by Aziz because he represents something of the “real India”, to use the words of Miss Quested. “Try seeing Indians” was the reply of the schoolmaster at the Government College, when Miss Quested asked how one might see their colony in its native authenticity. There is always room for remiss under the social umbrella of Indian-English relations; whether in the surprising first encounter between Mrs. Moore and Dr. Aziz in the mosque, or the arranged party at the tennis lawns, the tea gathering at Fielding’s or the excursion to the Marabar Caves, which, finally, proved more disastrous than any one had expected.

“May I know your name?” Aziz asks to Mrs. Moore, cautiously, in the mosque. His demeanor is one of near-desperation, as someone both protecting his native sphere, as well as struggling to see British humanity. “She was now in the shadow of the gateway, so that he could not see her face, but she saw his, and she said with a change of voice, ‘Mrs. Moore.’” This very revealing sentence emphasizes the obscurity of English presence from local, Indian eyes. In that moment, Mrs. Moore felt safe enough to share her name, the most important object of her title and superiority. Aziz remembers her generosity, as her fitful capacity to speak the truth becomes the apex of her story, truly a minor character in A Passage to India.

When after Dr. Aziz stands on trial for the assault of Miss Quested in the Marabar Caves, Mrs. Moore is decidedly frank in her stance on Aziz’s innocence. “Of course he is innocent,” says Mrs. Moore as Miss Quested begins to question her disillusioned experience on the excursion, all the while Mrs. Moore is quite fed up with India entirely. “She was by no means the dear old lady outsiders supposed, and India had brought her into the open…” writes Forster, who depicts her as a typical elder, uninhibited by the dramas of youth, and quick to speak the truth, even if it is unwanted. At this point, Mrs. Moore is on her way out of India, and the novel, where she soon dies in transit.

Regardless, Mrs. Moore is immortalized by the groundswell of Indian support for Aziz, who soon finds reprieve, as legends of “Esmiss Esmoor” soon manifest in the appearance of folk shrines in dedication to Mrs. Moore’s role in saving Aziz’s life. It is important to add that throughout the entire novel, Aziz is addressed by his first name only, while Mrs. Moore solely by her surname. Mrs. Moore’s name transforms when said by Indian voices. “It was revolting to hear his mother travestied into Esmiss Esmoor, a Hindu goddess,” thought Ronny, Mrs. Moore’s son, whose experience of India remained superficial, or, more accurately, guarded, throughout

Aziz and Mrs. Moore fail to truly connect in person, because English colonial formalities (and informalities) were too firmly laid beneath the foundations of imperial culture. During a scene of characteristic tension between the colonial masters and their subjects, Forster writes, “Aziz flamboyant, was patronizing Mrs. Moore.” The direct interactions between Aziz and Mrs. Moore are brief and sparse, as they are interceded by English formalities, typically mediation by a male authority – Mr. Fielding in this example. The scene, where Aziz and Mrs. Moore meet in more conventional circumstances, for a tea gathering at Mr. Fielding’s, reveals Aziz’s character (and Forster’s impeccable prose) as someone unable to speak on behalf of India. The scene also reveals the seemingly adventurous minds of Miss Quested and Mrs. Moore, on their search for the “real India” as a mere surface-level novelty.

Mrs. Moore, although agreeing to accompany Miss Quested on her excursion into the “real India” is soon overcome with the fundamental truth of her presence in the faraway land. As the excursion comes to a bitter close, it is said of Mrs. Moore, “…since her faintness in the cave she was sunk in apathy and cynicism. The wonderful India of her opening weeks, with its cool nights and acceptable hints of infinity, had vanished." While, from Aziz’s perspective, “…he agreed that all Englishwomen are haughty and venal.” Mrs. Moore is the stereotypical colonial British woman, whose curiosities for the rare and exotic life of India prove ineffectual to satisfy her experience of authentic India.

Their relationship reveals the meaning of liberation in colonial India, where Aziz’s fate becomes Mrs. Moore’s very undoing from India. For Aziz, he would come to know “…that an Englishwoman's word would always outweigh his own.” Generally, both characters speak well of each other, even if their personal, physical interactions are constrained. Conclusively, such is the larger relationship between the colonial British with India; ideal and positive on paper and second-hand experience, yet up close, absolutely ruinous.

This essay, entitled, "The Relative Liberation of India", was written for an acquaintance as part of his school curriculum. Consequently, I was reintroduced into the magnificent literary treasure troves of E.M. Forster's richly imaginative prose. 
An expanse over the marshland floodplain. The drifting current sways gently through sap-lined pine trunks and decomposed maple leaves. Ahead, the riverbanks motion with unspeakable gratitude, bittersweet, enjoined to the drunk swell of an upraised wetlands. 

Sunset over wetlands by Julian Falat
He speaks, a guide of the ancient St. Lawrence river basin, to reinvigorate the ground with the renewing tides of Mother Earth. She beckons the swallowing of a forgotten landscape. The land is to be reclaimed. Indigenous nationhood reinstated over the American-Canadian divide. 
Featuring a lyrical evocation from the collection, Sketches of Style and chapbook, Muse for the Wounded, Guise of the Beloved expresses thematic tides of visceral belonging amid landscapes both supernatural and inhuman in an age when the human body is more and more experienced only in its violent rending apart.

Yet, musical undertones, both electronic as acoustic, ring clear throughout, simultaneously presenting the source of human life, as our fate. In the commotion of bewildering psychic momentum, there the muse stands patient and waiting to receive the wounded, who with eyes of intoxication and skin of vulnerability, senses a way beyond and through the immense and spectacular Fear of Being.

The six poem chapbook, Muse for the Wounded, is comprised of selections from the larger collection, Sketches of Style. Here, the archetype of the wounded healer is redefined, wherein the muse becomes the healer in the mind of the poet-seer. The one poem, Guise of the Beloved is also featured as a sounding the artful designs of a musical elaboration on the Sketches of Style album

No comments:

Post a Comment