LITERATURE IS MEANT TO RESIST THE FALL IN PUBLIC MORALITY AND UPHOLD STANDARDS OF LIVING AND THOUGHT: DR JERNAIL SINGH ANAND
Poetry is not about singing paeans to a beautiful belle, or praising the clouds or the rainbow. Literature is also meant to resist the fall in public morality and uphold standards of living and thought
The greatest author of our times, Dr. Jernail Singh Anand was interviewed by Dr. Shiv Sethi for the Heaven Mail.
Dr. Anand has authored more than 150 books. Apart from this, he has innovated the theory of Bio-text in critical theory. Dr. Anand is the only author after Rabindra Nath Tagore, to have been conferred Honorary Membership of the Association of Serbian Writers, Belgrade.
His Mahakaal Trilogy which features the great corporate demon, Lustus, and presages a new brave world under Queen Ultronia, is going to hit OTT as a web-series.
Dr. Anand, your contemporary writer Dr. Maja Herman Sekulic compares you to Daniel Defoe while commenting on your work as a great satirist of our times. What impels you to write? What is Poetic Impulse? And why you have not digressed into Prose or fiction?
You are right. There are internal pressures. The impulse comes from inside. And then, it keeps disturbing you until you get rid of it, in the form of a poem. I feel relieved, and happy, after a poem is born. The poetic impulse has no timing as such. It can visit you anytime. It is a fleeting moment and has to be captured in its nudity. Once the impulse passes off, it may not return to you for ever. So far as prose and fiction are concerned, I can say my essential genius is poetic. Poetry comes naturally to me, as Keats said, as leaves come to a tree. I have authored three novels. The Broken Narrative, which was translated into Persian, was my most successful semi-autobiographical novel. The others are The Trespassers and The Wolves of Malwadi. So far as prose is concerned, I have written quite a few books such as The Monster Within, Bliss: The Ultimate Magic, I Belong to You, Hard Talk [political theory] and they have clicked with the readers. I sometimes believe even poetry is fiction, rather highly charged fiction.
Which is your most ambitious work? Do you think it is written for the intellectual elite or for the reading public and how you connect the two worlds?
I have authored around 9 epics, which are my most challenging work, starting with Geet: The Unsung Song of Eternity, The Satanic Empire, The Plague: the Metaphor is Dead, The Mahabharata:The War of Words, The Master: The Prophet Returns, The Ganterbury Tales, followed by the Mahakaal Trilogy, Lustus: The Prince of Darkness, The Dominion of the Netherworld and The Ultronic Age: The Celestial Reign. I can say Lustus, which represents the Corporate Evil of our times, is the most charismatic work, which, in times to come, might pose a grave challenge to Satan. Generally, a writer addresses the intellectual elite for literary evaluation of his work. I strongly believe that all literature is aimed at human wellbeing. But if ordinary people with an average IQ cannot understand the work, half the job remains unaccomplished. The books are not meant for library shelves. They must flow to the people. I wish to ask: How many fishermen have read the Hemingway’s award-winning novel: The Old Man and the Sea. I see only intellectuals debating these novels in seminars, and research scholars writing dissertations, which do not access the mass consciousness, thereby creating a chasm between the writing elite, the debating few and the unconcerned, untouched, unaware millions. No wonder, literature has never become a mass movement, like politics and social service.
What is your take on the language of Poetry? What is the moral imperative in a work of art?
The words that a poet chooses mostly come to him in a state of passion, and he has not much control over them. Yes, after downloading it, he may make alterations. Conscious writing of poetry, like prose, at a definite time every day, is asking too much from the Muse. Poetry, unlike prose, does not say anything, it only suggests, much less didacts. It is a passionate rendering of a moment’s feeling. Call it escape, or release if you wish. Poetry grips you like a passion, and does not leave you until you have shared your vision with the readers. Every work of art is aimed at imparting pleasure to mankind, but this pleasure cannot be unmixed. Art, to be sublime, has to subserve the greater cause of universal wellbeing. Literature states the reality in such a way that even the tragic ends up elevating human consciousness. Art focuses on the beauty in human life, appeals to the aesthetic sense of humanity, without surrendering its moralistic commitments.
What is the idea behind the University of Ethics? Do you feel you have fulfilled your life mission?
I believe that only literature can save humanity from deterioration and self-destruction. But it is a pity, the modern universities try to peripherise literature, which is taught only for research purposes. Even research is entirely an academic pursuit, mostly unrelated to life. I also wonder at the increasing interest of the academia in the study of the past. Study of Literature in its Creative Form, rather than the research modules, must take the front seat. The University of Ethics aims at doing what education has failed to do: to connect the students with the affirmative aspects of living and being in the universe. We have to realize our cosmicity, and this job will be performed by the Univ. of Ethics. Yes, I feel I have expressed myself in my poetry and the Univ. of Ethics is also an act of my commitment with life. And I can say: I am happy and satisfied.
How do you react to the present state of literature? And how do you think your work has been rewarded?
If we go by the face-book, there is a great literary ferment. Thousands of portals are organizing as many contests and sending certificates and awards to each other. Too much of everything is bad. It seems the focus is less on creativity, and more on exhibition. One strange development is the IAS officers becoming Heads of Literary Organizations. No doubt they are good managers, but it does not make them good writers too. They are setting a narrative which impinges on the spirit of literature. Poetry is not about singing paeans to a beautiful belle, or praising the clouds or the rainbow. Literature is also meant to resist the fall in public morality and uphold standards of living and thought. I wonder it is possible if the administration is sitting on the head of a literary organization. About the second part, I don’t think people who think free and write not to please any dispensation should expect any state awards. Their only reward is the love of the people for whom they write.
Dr. BASUDEB CHAKRABORTI (INDIA-US)
Tries to grapple with the Ethical Questions in his interview by Dr Jernail Singh Anand
MEET Dr Basudeb Chakraborti
M.A. (Cal & Houston, Texas), M.Phil (Nagpur) 1/241/A, Naktala, Kolkata-700047
Ph.D. (Kalyani), PGDTE (CIEFL), Hyderabad West Bengal
Professor of English (Retd.) and Faculty Dean,
University of Kalyani, West- Bengal
Founder Professor of English, Sikkim Central email@example.com
University at Gangtok, World Humanist Scholar at Dt. 18.02.2023
University of Central Arkansas at Conway,
Arkansas, USA (2003) Mobile #: 8777791711
1. Adam and Eve suffered a fall. Have they ever risen after that or the fall is continual?
Answer: A careful Study of the creation myth in the Holy Bible (The Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible2:7) Eve and Adam representing Mankind were first created by the Almighty. For their corruptions they fell into the Earth from the Heaven. God created the Earth for their new settlement. Yes, they regained their former glory and status after their expiation and not committing some deadly Sins. Moreover, they did trust the Almighty. God granted of free Will to Eve and Adam but the weaker sex, Eve was persuaded by Satan to taste the fruit of the infinite Knowledge of the forbidden tree. The attempt to acquire the Knowledge Infinite She inspired Adam and they tasted that fruit. It was a machination of the evil force, Satan. The result was their fall from the Heaven. It was the decree of the Almighty. This mythological event has been presented in the Book 1V by the devoutly religious John Milton in his Paradise Lost. Paradise Regained Messages that steadfast belief in God and in Christian heroism, coupled with whole hearted surrender to Him are the ways to be eternally salvaged.
2. Gods have left the world to its fate. Why can’t men pick up divine signals?
It is because God definitely determines our fate according to our work we do as long as we live. To do something good or bad in mundane life is the option of Man. We are incapable to understand those signals. Society and Individual who can receive those signals are paid dividends for their works.
3. The people who push forward throwing ethics to the winds are richly rewarded. While those who take cautious steps, suffer deprivation and loss too. How can you explain this situation? Is ethical connection a losing game only?
Answer: In this connection I do refer to the name of Niccole Machiavelli “who was a 16th century Florentine philosopher”. I refer to one of his philosophical books, The Prince to the context of this question. Perhaps, Machiavelli is not an amoral pessimist. Bertrand Russell on one occasion said that The Prince is “a handbook for gangsters”. I do not believe that Machiavelli tries to empower tyrants. It is not a satire. For making any political or personal gain one may be in need of resorting to any immoral activity. Even Altruism is self seeking. Political leaders serve the people to be voted to power in the democratic elections. After all, sense of morality and the principle of Ethics are social construct. Ethics is not genetically transmitted. It is culturally transmitted. Ethical values are not unitary, indivisible and single. Ethical values change over times. In the name of Social Service why do most of the World Political Heads try to amass huge wealth? Is it for their personal interest? So, Dr Anand, Man’s animal instincts will naturally lead Man to forgo their sense of Ethics and they naturally follow the clandestine ways to be more and more greedy. Animality and rationally both are present in human beings. Man sacrifices his rationality. Man’s instinct of Animality vetoes Man’s rationality. Naturally those who will follow the so-called classical Principles of Ethics will be thwarted in every ethical move in their lives. Please remember that instinct for self preservation is of utmost importance.
4. A man who lives on Ethics is not on the top agenda of the human society. Why people in general are apathetic towards the idea of mortality?
Answer: Ethics cannot be permanent. The present world of neck and neck competition is marked by various crises. The most formidable crisis appears to be how to survive physically in our world. And this crisis is due to several reasons. Malthus’s theory primarily refers to Geometrical progression of population and corresponding Arithmetic growth of food. The growth of dynamic population is today is absent. Second, Mankind now has started to control Nature for their comforts in their lives. We can easily notice how we misuse Technology to establish our hegemony over others. As an example, every nation tries to build Weapon Industry. What nonsense it is!
No nation is lagging behind this mad race for destructive weapons. Is it for deterrence for Third World War? Is the concept of nuclear deterrence valid to the modern World? I have no answer to this question. Can anybody say that the amazing storage of Nuclear Bombs will benefit Mankind? Is there any guarantee that there will not be at least one mad ruler in the World? Maybe, we have forgotten the extent of Second World War! Last, why do we make our society mechanical? Why are we becoming robots day by day? Why are we known as numbers day by day owing to the disparaging growth of the mechanization of our societies? Why do we not use Science and Technology for the benefit of Mankind? Can’t we stop ourselves now to attain infinite Knowledge? In this connection, I do refer to an essay, “Technology for Mankind” written by Bronowski.
5. The society is replete with people who are apparently highly religious. Yet, they dabble in politics and amass wealth. Crime too is not a far off dream. Everyone wants high life. Who will bat for Ethics in a perverted world society?
Answer: One of the phrases in this question is “apparently highly religious”. The answer is embedded in this question. What does” apparently” mean in this context? The day society was formed, hypocrisy got intrinsically connected with Man. Religion was an instrument of a group of people with the help of which that group of people survived and became stronger and came at the helm of all mundane affairs. One should be aware of the difference between religion and spirituality. Institutional religions help groups of people to camouflage their greed-instincts in different manifestations. The medieval Europe Church Heads would profess one thing and practise different things. Think of “Monks Tale” in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales or the life of St. Joan in France. She was burned alive for her preaching that a man can make direct contacts with the divine without the help of the Church. Later, she was canonized by the Church. Here lies the irony of our man made institutional and ritualistic religions. Institutional religion divides Man into different creeds and society into different groups. This religion which is referred to is not the ‘Religion of Mankind’ in the broad spectrum in human life. Groups of people thus do not thrive on Ethics. They use religion to fulfill their animalistic greed. Honore de Balzac, one of the founder-members of European idea of realism in Europe, has said that ‘behind every successful fortune there is a crime’. A limited number of highly religious people (Not “apparently highly religious”) who are weak and disempowered may bat for Ethics in this perverted or greedy world; they are stupid in the modern civilized world.
6. This society has sorcerers, no prophets, only villains who are heroes too. Its poets run after official awards bartering their discerning voice. Where media stands compromised. Think of Ethics and you die. Where is the rule of ‘dharma’?
Answer: The prospect of the rule of Dharma is absurd in this “perverted World” to where we all belong. Villains who are now heroes, who are “apparently highly religious”, will dominate over the limited number of religious people (These people are not “apparently highly religious). In spite of all these despicable phenomena, a day will definitely come when a greed-free society will emerge and a New Era will welcome all Ethics-abiding spiritual persons. Man lives on hope. Life of a man without hope will be miserable .
DR MOLLY JOSEPH
RESPONDS TO AN INTERVIEW ON THE ETHICAL QUESTION BY DR JERNAIL SINGH ANAND
Dr. Molly Joseph, Professor – Poet from Kerala, had her Doctorate in Post war American Poetry. She writes Poems, Travelogues and Stories for children and is a renowned translator. She has authored 17 Books which include 15 Books of Poems and a Story book for children –Adventures of Billu, Dillu and Thrillu (which won The Best Children’s Book of the Year award 2022, from ALS Delhi ) and two Novels (translated from Malayalam). Widely anthologized, she serves as International Jury for Poetry competitions and is an insightful reviewer. She has won ‘Wordsmith Award 2018’ and India Women Achiever’s Award 2019 instituted by Asian Literary Society, New Delhi. In 2021 she won the Yan’nan Gold Medal -The Outstanding Poet’s Award, from the Yan’nan Literary Society, China. Her book ‘Where Cicadas Sing in Mirth’ won the ‘Master of Creative Impulse’ Award from ‘Philosophique Poetica & Grand Productions Canada for ‘ Experimental Poetry. Her indigenous diction is characterised as “Ribbon Poetry.” Her books “Water sings over the Stones and Songs of Silence” won The Best Poetry Book of the Year 2020 and 2022 respectively. Two of her Books were released in Kenya at the Kistrech Poetry Festival and her latest Book of 2022 “ Voice over the Waves” was released at World poetry Conference 2022 in Chandigarh.
She represents India at SAARC and BIMSTEC Literature Conferences.
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/user/mynamolly
1. How can we explain Progress in the context of the Ethical Question ?
Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves ‘systematising , defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour.’ Not straightjacketed by any religion it attempts to make life purposeful to usher in a kind world, rooted in the humane , genial way of looking at things.
But when we look at progress in the context of ethical questions . we find an erosion of values , inundating , sweeping all over. Progress if we take as growth or development, yes, there has been exponential growth in Science and technology superseding every thing . But humane values got dried up. Anthropocentricism held sway controlling , denying the existential and the cosmic balance. In the greedy urge for domination the tussle goes on between man and man , man and nature and nation against nation. Ethics is thrown to winds. We have not advanced holistically and our progress is lopsided.
2.How can we contend ethically with the idea of survival?
The more advances we make in these days of Artificial Intelligence, Astro Physics space exploration and all, the more daunting the task grows confronting newer level of challenges. Our innate human resilience, intelligence and emotions are held to ransom by new biochemical algorithms that well tell man more about him than he knows about himself. We live in an era when we are hijacked by automation and robotics. Look at the leaps made in techno chemical algorithms that make a quantum leap as Chat GPT with advanced AI system of Language Processing Mode. They assimilate knowledge, testing how valid linguistic patterns are going to use the text , the image and human action as well. How far will it go? Instead of allowing Google AI, or CCP AI to get control over man, studies are going on to create a distributive AI for each so that we can develop our own AI. But again how far it will go with each one vying for competition and domination? The endless greed to supersede again gets ignited . Before these New Data Religions of 21st century entrench themselves, high time we grounded ourselves on proper ethical ground, on bonding with each other, giving space for each other, respecting the inviolable space of everything in this multiverse.
3. Society defines Ethics . Are modern societies ethical in the context of life and its businesses?
Modern societies propelled by consumerist edges of corporate culture that permeates, are keen on masquerading untruth as truth, presenting evil in endearing costumes. Let us take a simple example, how humane thoughts get dried up in glamour and glitz. Caught up in the elixir of spending , you have had a grand dinner at a star hotel and are ready to give a huge sum as tip too, as G pay for the well attired attendant who served. While your car dashes off the gate of the hotel, you conveniently overlook the poor Watchman at the gate , who braves the sun and rain to gesture you in, direct you to the reception and parking. Who has time? Who cares? Neither you do have the change in your pocket. You serve only the Google Gods!
Even little children at primary and secondary school levels fall a prey to drugs through addictive sweets that are sold. Money making rackets are deviously at work. These days Academics is doled out perfunctorily without an iota of true ethical guidance . Children are tuned on survival strategy of money making, dominance, out beating each other. Ethics has to be made a serious subject of study to be incorporated in to the curriculum at primary level itself. Let it accrue from families, from a generation that fosters right thinking mindsets. The rot has to be stemmed in at grass root level. Parents and teachers have a major role here.
4. Why the study of moral science and religion has failed to stem the rot?
The institutionalisation of each religion necessitated the implementation of its dogmas through exclusivity and wall building. Then emerged the clamour cry of domination of one religion over the other. The essential creeds of universal love, brotherhood, peace and serenity somehow got smothered and pure dogmas unrelated to life, distanced people except the devout traditionalists . Communal thoughts and wild ecstasy of propaganda preceded, obliterating the core ethical values laid down by each religion. Thus divorced from religion and religious practices on pure practical plane, even the teaching of Moral Science lost its lustre failing to address the needs of the day. Life skills was given prominence to equip generations with zest for competition and dominance. Stagnation set in, in inculcating right moral, ethical values.
5. Why religion based teachings have not succeeded in making the people ethical and morally upright?
“Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is what you become.’ Living in these turbulent times of uncertainty, we are more prone to being self centred, seeking our own happiness, solace and safety. Yes, religions offer the lure of hope anchoring humans on faith. But parochial notions of interpretations blur even the meanings of the sacred texts of religion and practices flow through purely materialistic grooves. O course there are few exceptions. On the whole they fail to shed beacon light to the contemporary man floundering in confusion and dismay. If only all religions blended their core values to make a uniform code of precepts and practice, or if only true ethical concerns were the only focus of all religions…much of the disorder of present human society could have been alleviated.
6. Our human civilization is lost to morality. Ethics is nobody’s concern. Can we still claim we are God’s creation? Heading for Heavens?
In this age of multiple perceptions, the only unifying credo seems to be grabbing wealth, and power, be it in personal, political or religious front. Seldom do we realise, it makes us more insecure and inadequate. In fact we tailor out our ethical practices in tandem with our selfish interests , man being the master of the universe, the “ anthropocene” He has conquered the skies , earth and water. We are not God’s children now. We have out grown Gods to build our own Heavens. But with the decadence setting in values, human relations and our e relation with the cosmos , a new kind of spirituality has to evolve . There should be a new consciousness posited through a balanced approach to things.
7. Society is in a mess. What is the reason in your opinion?
History has encountered ‘mess’ in different forms. When Industrial Revolution set in with an emerging middle clas,s every ting appeared bleary . ( The poem Dover Beach by Mathew Arnold well expresses that) Some how man has got the resilience to sort out his pitfalls and embrace change. The paradigm shift is very visible through the ages. Today a new kind of scenario has risen. The God centre has been replaced by Man centre, and now the shift moves on to the new Data Religion Centre. Man’s individual human identity is hijacked by the new Data Religions . Your cognitive , creative and emotive capacity is well analysed and framed and decided by new bio chemical algorithms . Progressive studies in Genetics and Bio Technology recreate, redefine life and man’s place in this world. But is man, the reservoir of endless possibilities reducible to electro neuro algorithms alone? Still a big question. But we confront these days man’s frenetic game of revel, lacking empathy, not alone for fellow human beings, but for the cosmic order of things.
8. Is there a single act that can reset the apple cart?
While jumpfroging advanced levels of genetics, astrophysics, bio chemical experiments, on strengthening and sustaining life, let our focus fall on the quality of life envisaged. Ethics in the inclusive sense of the term should become integral to our growing wisdom. Education should mould young minds on it, to build a sustainable world, to look at everything with its place in the world. Let them be trained on organic farming, preserving soil and earth. Already efforts are on in establishing FRN, Food revolution Net work, in cultivation, to renew the soil with organic content, with enough supply of algae and microbes, so that nutrine rich food is available for man. Our prior concern in education should be fostering the human capacity to coexist, foster better intra, inter personal, value based insights and behaviour of Care and Share .
9. What are the causes of confusion among human ranks and the comparative peace among the non-human world?
What gave man the spurt of growth in the survival chain was his proper utilization of the 1336.gr brain matter he carried in his head, the focal centre of neurons and glia with amazing potential! He could outsmart other nonhuman beings, but in his craze he was treading over, crushing down the valuables, throwing to wind the cosmic, ecological balance. The greed to grab destroyed his peace of mind. The more.. the more.. It filled him with fear of losing, sense of inadequacy and fostered insecurity. The nonhuman world , it seems , was more sensible happy like the birds in the sky flying in abandon , not worried about their tomorrows. But it is not a far cry… peace can set in provided man can mend his ways.
Peace like the promise
The thundering clouds carry…