Tuesday, March 3, 2009


While I was trying to understand the following something written by Arthur Miller somewhere sometime—“…He was disintegrating. You seem to be alive in those days was to feel certain communal passions which everybody on the left and all the artists felt….that the country had come to a halt, .so to speak. The powers that be are morally bankrupt. The only alternative was to the explosion of authority in the outside classes, the lower middle classes and the working class. They were going to restore honour to the human race. Odet’s career starts fundamentally in1935 it’s over by 1940---the years of the depression outcry. As soon as life got more ambiguous, which soon happened, his style seemed to be inappropriate……….” (Arthur Miller talking or writing about Gifford Odet), Dr. Rudrangshu Mukherjee popped up in his essay on Victor Kiernan in the Telegraph of 22nd February, 09. Beside Dr. Mukherjee’s elegant, rotund and pedantic English Arthur Miller appeared disheveled, rustic and scratchy. Most probably Arthur Miller was speaking. I could not form a fuller idea about Gifford Odet try as I might. It could be that Odet was an eminent actor in films in those days. I only vaguely remember certain comments on Odet by Satyajit Roy in a small book of his titled probably Our Cinema Their Cinema. It was written after his visit to US and Hollywood.

Gifford Odet is not the point. The point is why an impressive section of the generation under consideration became left or got attracted towards Marxism. That is what Arthur Miller tells us while discussing Gifford Odet. And that is what Dr. Mukherjee misses or glosses over. While discussing the life of Kiernan he seems to be discussing the activities of a few complicits in a folly. That is why inspire of his halting way of speaking Arthur Miller touches a cord in our hearts, hearts of foot soldiers dreaming about a revolution.

More significant is Arthur Miller’s use of the word ambiguous without wasting time to describe his own version about the situation. The temptation to describe a situation which, some people feel, in a straightforward manner sometimes make a description clumsier instead. There are certain events which become more eloquent when contradictions are displayed. Today, confronted with a bigger depression than 1929-30 certain assessments demand a reappraisal. My personal feeling was that this hunky dory offered by technology, gadgets, outsorucing, handsome salary etc.and the culture centering it is going to dominate throughout my life time. Therefore farewell to all those heavy stuff of serious music, .poetry, painting, pure physics, pure mathematics etc. Chances are that I may prove wrong. So much degeneration is not quite natural. Day of judgement can wait. As a historian Dr. Mukherjee can wait a little before discovering the causes. Classical explanations may not be dumped urgently.


fleuve-souterrain said...

Dear Old Man
the day of judgment or being judgmental can surely wait. Degeneration has not occurred quite across the board, if i may use a "business" term... Literature, Physics, mathematics, music etc. are still the fundamental driving forces behind anything that needs to capture imagination. Some times there are aberrrations and short term flashes, but in long term, these will always guide our senses towards what may be a revolution for many of us.

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And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

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