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ISSN: 0974-892X


July, 2022



The Creator and the Critic

P C K Prem, Former Academician, Civil Servant and Member PSC HP, Shimla


Poetry finds its origin in lonely moments but it speaks of heritage, culture and history in totality and as such expresses the essence of civilization. Man is just a medium as a poet, who gives expression to the entire age as he perceives. He is an unregistered voice but worth listening. Creativity expresses contemporary times without ignoring past and possible calculated prophecy about future with a few intercalated experiences and expressions.  A creator understands man, relations and the value of time. How these adjust to some moments in time, and speak of existing character of unpredictability, explosive nature and suppleness is the question. Modernism is an insight to absorb new thoughts in life and culture with open mind, and is a symptom of growth with possibility for adequate candidness to accept innovation if looked at from the Indian point of view and cultural heritage with a few indications of moralistic undertones irrespective of its indistinctness or blatancy.

Indian consciousness is present in nearly all forms of literary genres and arts and if one discerns elements of western culture, language and lifestyles, it is ephemeral cultivation of newness without hurting what is Indian in spirit. One can look at the early literature, medieval period and thereafter, the years of white rule. Indian spirit speaks of total humanism and imbibes virtues that elevate and strengthen love, peace and harmony in humankind and so is its universality.     

Creativity if understands spirit of age and moves with the time, it touches modern thought and it is a little different from modernism, which also changes the mood, phrase and lexis of art. Therefore, it is better to understand age. It is good to look into history that is close to the present. Creativity expresses age in entirety and its anxiety is for the current times. History takes you to the past. In India, the present generation is comfortably aware of the times before independence and a part of it is quite conscious of the growth and development of the nation after nineteen Forty Seven. If Indian culture assimilated fine features of language, living styles and culture of foreign forces in the past many centuries, it also accepted with open arms the white man’s language and living styles, and cultivated some of its cultural traits. These attributes speak of Indian Consciousness, purity of thought and its capacity of absorption and genial adjustment despite some irritations and unfocused dissonant notes.

The period before the First World War and after (the time between the 1st World War and the 2nd World War  was disconcerting, crisis-ridden and intolerant to forces that loved peace and harmony. The turmoil, chaos and uncertainty affected people internally and externally.  Culturally, it was period to save ancient values and cultivate alien humanitarian outlook and thoughts, which were conducive to growth and ambiance of tolerance.  Historically, it was an age when faith and genuine efforts toward bringing reformation, rejuvenation and re-assertion of ancient Vedic spirit and nationalism without hurting righteousness in the religious thoughts of other people, were gaining impetus and encouragement. Politically, it was an age of reaffirmation of independent thought, and therefore, efforts to secure autonomy while Indian thoughts stand up against injustice, prejudice, social evils etc, and colour and caste discrimination within society continued, references about which already exist.

It is important to observe that Indian consciousness notwithstanding alien intrusion, invasion and governance. Its spread of language, culture and living styles demonstrated courage and the spirit of accommodation in incorporating humanitarian outlook on life of other religions without prejudice or discrimination, for none could hurt its secular and universal pragmatic viewpoint on life and existence. During the last centuries, language, culture and living styles of white man entered life of Indians and it was a change going to stay but it did not deter determination of people to secure freedom and grow freely after a period of bitter experiences, violence, communal disturbance and ruler’s acts of atrocities.  

Creative and critical faculties of men work in different situations and evaluate impact of outside life while not ignoring what goes on the landscape of ‘inside of man’. At the same time, the creative writers and the critics not only looked at life in entirety notwithstanding bitter struggle for freedom but also did not hesitate to articulate alien influence on life. If the spirit of nationalism, patriotism and freedom were the objectives before Nineteen Forty Seven, it was overall growth and development of the country afterward that governed mind of people.

Now, it was time to reconcile, readjust, transform and unify ancient strength of theology and mysticism, the cultural impact of western life and its bitter memories that had vastly hurt and humiliated psyche of people. Along with the encouraging effect of tremendous growth in industrial and other sectors namely technology, science and medicine, it granted extra stimulus and enthusiasm to further momentum and promptness in various activities of life. It was naturally to corrode old beliefs as society opened that influenced relations, and emphasis on individuality gained primacy.

At this time, the elite and intellectually awakened Indians were conscious of flaws in societal set up namely – social and economic frustration and sense of disparity and inequity, social evils, gender issues, ideological urgings, and urgency to go ahead in developing the national fabric so that justice, uprightness, truth, peace and harmony triumph. It was the consequence of knowledge of native history and culture together with the language and culture of other countries. It was responsible for maintenance of symmetry and steadiness among various divergent opinions. No creative mind or critical faculty can afford to ignore situational and restrictive access to flight to regions of absolute liberty. Here, one ought to fight out and adhere to the philosophy of creative freedom and critical psychiatry sans reference to any predetermined theories on critical art.

Those witness to the freedom movement in the first half of the twentieth century, in most of the cases, were quite aware of two Wars, which changed not only individual perception of the world but collectively it altered the outlook on the system of government in vogue. The rulers and revolutionary movements going on in other nations against the oppressive and unjust regimes were obviously causes of serious anxiety. The history of Revolutions is long and is full of sacrifices and violence. One can recall American Revolutionary War that continued from 1775 to 1799, the French Revolution of 1789 to 1799. Then, the Revolution in Russia in the year 1919, an uprising against the cruel regime of Tsar II resulted in a big change, the end to monarchy.

It was time of social and political upheaval in Russia where peasants and workers protested against the cruel and unsympathetic government, and the struggle continued for long six years from 1917 to 1923. After the end of Civil War, the Communist government created Soviet Union.  After years, War of Liberation, known as Chinese Communist Revolution – a struggle between the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman Mao and later, an intense conflict began even while the peasants of the country fought for rights and freedom. It resulted in the declaration of People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 after five years (1948-52). To strengthen the perspective and growth of revolutionary thought one can go back to other countries –America, France, South Africa etc that grew out of the comparable social, economic, political and philosophic thought which were, in the initial stages, mere voices of protests against justice and gradually these grew into massive collective resentment.

These historic events of colossal dimensions caused wide spread social awakening and provoked people to deliberate on the ubiquitous economic and political structure. Such events gave birth to social thought spurring reformatory movements even as literary areas also depicted resentment and antipathy among the downtrodden and exploited, particularly the workers, the farmers and the poor against the powerful rich and other influential classes. In the meantime intellectuals termed the fall out as Marxism and Leninism, and there was a reaction that led to the study of inner world.

All these historic events of far reaching changes influenced mindset and conduct of people in totality and as such a class of thinkers slowly emerged to give voice to the downtrodden and the exploited –an opportunity to probe the reasons of slavery, violence, social and economic problems and man’s status. These issues found expression in various arts –from literature to painting to music to abstract art to cartoons etc. Thus, various forms of art forms obliquely at times, and clearly many a time, expressed the convoluted social continuum.

Emphasis was on spirituality, religion and other intellectual questioning. Marxism influenced many creative writers that resulted in socialistic literary output in nearly all genres and even art. Indian consciousness was and is still aware of the sufferings, miseries and deplorable living conditions of the poor, the vulnerable people including farmers and workers. Industrial growth brought a different class of social problems and therefore, entry of socialistic thought in India became the subject of literature quite late even as creative writers took up issues of the ordinary man, and whether it was neglect and iconic celebration in modern context that lost relevance, appears doubtful. Subtle efforts continued to idolize some so that they look larger than life. Such minor deviations in thoughts continued to arise and then, after a short time disappeared, and were invariably subjects of critical dispensation.  


Socialistic thought if demonstrates capacity to bring about a social structure where equality of rights is the theme it also speaks of the obligations toward man and society.  Creative artists exhibit conviction in socialistic pattern of society that grants equal rights to food, shelter etc. To think of man’s wellbeing is the fundamental principle of socialistic pattern of society. To what extent man has attained, the objective is contentious and the arguments still distress intellectuals, politicians and creative minds. Some self-promotional interests definitely intervene to usurp the finer points of any system. In such situations, man is no more an image of god but focus is man and plans regarding his growth and prosperity where material consideration overwhelm.

The man is a social animal is also a truth many dispute. That man is an image of god contradicts its very existence, as some time a man refuses to recognize existence of god. Socialistic thought proves man as materialistic. It was time, when western thought forced man to reconsider certain attitudes toward inner emotions and outer world of man. Stark realism and love for it and going beyond it was where man rejected or ignored social elegance in words and acts. Time of War taught man how to be cruel and the thought originated from some ambitious small nations of Europe after the end of monarchy in Russia and changes in China through a revolution, and materialization of power of the proletariat that was against bourgeoisie culture.

It was an age when progressive movement took concrete shape as socialistic thoughts spread. It was time when assertion of individuality, protection or perpetuation of ‘the self’ and such propensities took strong roots and independence sought to attain new meaning without caring for societal norms. Man did not recognize any civilizing or cultural ethics, and so, the self-destructive outlook continued its search to find a complete human being. 
From the brief mention above, one can imagine that as science and technology broke new grounds, it created challenging living situations for man. Existential issues disturbed man amidst the inner crisis and external chaos, and expression of pessimism and loneliness increased man’s dilemma of existence. Growth and expansion of scientific temper raised questions of validation of ideals and long-established values, as the whole lot appeared empty and insignificant.

A man certainly understands that in the name of humankind, he loves to boast of deadly power as weapons of destructions display lethal tendency to drive humanity to annihilation. Is it preparation of the Third World War in the name of peace…where superpowers are engaged in demonstration of land, air and sea power, which will finally lead to total disaster if it does not stop? Thus, science is only showing the ugly face of destruction and little it does to cultivate values religion teaches. It has treacherously hurt Indian psyche, which fails to prove man as man. Thoughtful people and creative minds are aware of the dilemma, is good for human race. 

If science attacked the root of faith and positive attitude toward life and existence, man had began to understand sensibilities that filled him with disintegrating, cynical, and negative thoughts. Industrial culture spread slowly, began to destroy structure of feudalism and encouraged industrial growth that harmed not only agricultural farming and related activities but also economy based on village-oriented small-scale industries suffered about which creative people have written adequately.

With short or long period in time, man’s realization, sense of perception, knowledge, wisdom, social and economic anxieties, political and philosophical thoughts and impact of science, technology and medicine were almost similar everywhere with slight distinction. Industrialization, technology, science and medicine in fact, affect life all over, and man’s sense of inquisition, exploration, capacity to find what is available, and what exists beyond the cosmos is greater than before everyone knows. Hunger and thirst for more whether materialistic or unforeseen, stays unabated despite hazardous and brutal psyche taking roots in modern lifestyles and culture of intolerance, terrific assertion of individuality and revolt and undermining collective wisdom of ancient times or modern age. If man’s hunger for the irrational and indefinite continues, he will only encounter death and destruction, a situation he ought to avoid. Humankind knows about the purported wisdom of one man that ultimately, brings death and devastation and as at present, what is happening outside gives adequate signs of probable destruction. Creative artists often depict such a dismal scenario quite often in work of art –literary or otherwise.

A man is not away from truth. Social and economic disparities exist while class and caste prejudices are alive even as Constitution tells differently. Political structure is just a huge farce, for those who operate it, work with ulterior motives and so perpetuate caste, creed and colour.  If society cultivates enmity or jealousy with the communities, it speaks of ineptitude and ulterior motifs of the rulers, for it is a mechanism to purchase and sell legislators in what journalists call ‘mandis (markets). Here, democracy becomes a huge charade, as legislators do not carry immaculate conduct rather they are traditionally unethical with just negligible exceptions and so ordinary citizens, artists etc enjoy the stuff in words.

Dimensions of ‘art of life and existence’ are multiple. What man does, exhibits his capacity to know more whether good or wicked. For obvious reasons, in India, industrialization, technology etc rapidly began to spread after freedom in a democratic form of government where wellbeing of people was the dominant theme. People had begun to forget the earlier sufferings, discrimination, injustice etc the alien or colonial system perpetrated. Plans of development carried the impact of foreign powerful countries because of natural inclination of the rich and powerful people with capitalistic tendencies to control economy. It was a path to control and guide social, economic and political structure, which did not stop. Therefore, economy is not so much people-oriented but somewhere in a restrained technique, the rich industrialists wield the stick of power, and organize and assert authority in political thought as politicians fail to guide people rightly, where even politicians have become wealthy industrialists or businesspersons…the less said better it is.  

Law exists for the poor, and the rich enjoy immunity and thus, eat up the vitals of people earnings and hard work. Exploitation, victimization and violence against the weak are prevalent. The corrupt deposit people money and labour in banks abroad and the most corrupt nay those who emerge in public eye run away and enjoy life out of country and rest is history. To capsule history and bury it does not grant legitimacy rather it causes doubts among historians and public. It is a bad political strategy to celebrate mortals and …it is a treacherous act against people.

In fact, system faces decadence, as guardians of law obey not the book of rules but individuals. Rulers often tell lies and act as if gurus of supreme wisdom but are corrupt, immoral and liars. They act mostly as if Krishna in Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana or Gita. What a tragedy! Eating public money is dharma of public servants and many consider elected people as public servants for they get salaries, pension etc…as public pays taxes and so on but irony is they are immune to any flaw and still emit crooked smile and tell that they will do so for years. They waste public money on projects without thought that take years to complete. A corrupt heritage is in the making. It is wake up call to the few noble souls to protect values in life, for the more educated or a class of celebrities have nothing to offer in terms of ethics.  

Historians, sociologists, political analysts, creative artists, academics etc have wasted countless pages (even while some of them being part of the corrupt practices maybe) on this aspect but it is futile. It is spirit of age and man ought to reconcile for the time being. Intellectuals or thinkers rather everyone should realize the vacuum in moral conduct. To live and earn honestly is an ideal even so-called religious people –sadhus, saints etc…understand it. How luxurious life they live is another truth. Motto is –work hard, produce, take care of the wealthy and the powerful, get paltry compensation or assured work for a few days, obtain ration, eat, suffer and die…it is destiny of a poor worker.  Authors and poets speak eloquently but the words hardly obtain effective sanction.

Creative artists understood inbuilt skepticism, lack of faith, disintegrating forces, intolerance and impatience and little sincerity and honesty in life, and so felt intensely, and depicted it.  The style, idiom and expression they used carried novelty as the creative artists employed contemporary metaphors and symbols to say truth of age. They thought and observed outside, and realized the agony inside and so, they gave adequate space to disillusionment, possible ray of hope, anguish and suffocation a modern man felt.  However, they never lost hope in man. Therefore, they promptly articulated faith in man and the values and principles of life he cherished. Invariably, the creator, the creative man cannot stay away from the visible or invisible growth, slipups of downfall and changes taking place around.

Literature carries the impact of total spirit of age and its environment where the creator knows that various incidents, events, happenings, and conflicts arise out of different streams of thoughts in the minds and hearts of men, outside at the level of nation and the world, continue sans cessation, and he cannot remain indifferent. These occurrences provide adequate thoughtful moments where he deliberates on the destiny of man. Man’s inquisitive nature is restless and it continues to inquire into regions unknown or at times, these open up with a flash of light.

It is going beyond the unknown even. Differing opinions crop up as horizons of knowledge expand and so, contradictions and conciliations in viewpoints arise in the form of movements –social, economic, ideological and philosophical, and the creative artists if absorb everything, it gives effective control over the subject. To widen horizon of experience, impression and knowledge distracted or inclusive adds to the process of growth.     

That life and existence of man is supreme, and efforts in this direction continue and still in real essence, man tries legitimately to ascertain identity in the present existential situation not only theoretically but also realistically. If lofty and virtuous thoughts elevate and consider man in the image of god, it is equally true that negative outlook also turn him iniquitous and perfidious. To aspire for an ideal situation, is nearly impossible as observed elsewhere. Creative art assimilates the physical and the cerebral - the outer and the inner dimensions of the worlds that still survive as the subject of intensive study, enquiry and valuation, and whatever man creates in the world is the region of creative artistes.

Contemporary times in any frame of mind are transitory, pungent, disquieting, distressful, torturing, mind numbing and grieving in the interior and the exterior bring disillusionment. Lack of belief, vacillation, irresolution and edgy psychological and physical state lead to pessimism and interruption and therefore, strengthen its roots of negativity though short-lived. Even then, a man continues to endure momentary pangs and works with confidence toward heartening and inspirational life with feelings of faith, ethics and principles, confidence and humanism so that he is able to reiterate and reestablish cultural and religious values and from here, creative artists pick up the lost thread of sequences again.   

In this discourse, the spotlight is on those characteristics of creation and criticism, which did not find that much depiction earlier. It speaks of the possible course of creation and appraisal of works of creative art in view of the various perspectives a man holds about life and existence.