Scratch A Rock

Posted in Videos, Writing by Bharat Iyer on April 30, 2010
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  1. Vasudha said, on May 1, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Amazing speech! Thanks for sharing the link.

  2. Soitsnotrequired said, on May 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Damn video doesn’t open. My internet connection should be buried. I heard him speak for half a minute. Transcript much?

    • Bharat Iyer said, on May 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Damn shame.

      «Having no facility for speech-making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this Prize.

      No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.

      It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart. Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.

      Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

      For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

      How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

      I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.»

      That’s the speech.

      • Soitsnotrequired said, on May 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm

        :D These writers, honestly. I think their levels of eccentricity are directly proportional to how good their writing is (Please let’s not get into what my definition of “good” is — it’s a very tiresome discussion to have!) And all of them — no exceptions, as far as I know — have these “black and white” truths about life. It’s very exhausting to try and get inside their heads.

  3. Bharat Iyer said, on May 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    The best writers were also frequently very tortured souls. Hemingway shot himself, Virginia Woolf put stones in her pocket and jumped into a river, Raymond Carver struggled with alcoholism all his life, John Kennedy Toole couldn’t get A Confederacy of Dunces published and committed suicide. It’s slightly alarming.

    What do you mean by “black and white” truths?

    • Soitsnotrequired said, on May 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      Absolutely, and in fact — artists, really. Diane Arbus and Van Gogh come to mind and — Sylvia Plath? Anyone creative — the more brilliant they are, the more…yeah, tortured they are. In a strange way, these people committing suicide — it gives me hope. Hope that it is still possible to recognize the peak of creative excellence and freeze oneself into it. A shirt life well lived is so much more fulfilling and meaningful (for me) than a long one that doesn’t mean a thing. Because these people really pushed themselves to the limit, and didn’t try to delude themselves into thinking that they could survive it. The human mind is such a dangerous thing — what would have followed their climax of infinite genius would have been an anti-climax of sorts, that they would have found to be a pathetic and weak place to be — a letdown after that exciting, painful struggle.

      By black and white truths, I mean that — they all had this particular view of the world that they lived in. This is ambiguous so let me explain. For an average person like me, the world is very grey. I struggle to find absolute truths for myself, truths that work for me. I haven’t succeeded yet. And because my world view is so distorted (shall we say, still in development?) I am unable to do anything particularly creative WITH it, because in the midst of the “beauty is truth and truth, beauty” struggle, I have no concrete truths or ideas to portray, anywhere. life is grey and full of non-absolute truths — this is what I know, AS of now. But these people — they had a particular set of beliefs that developed over time. They believed in certain things — whatever those “things” may be, ideas, moral stances, views of life, views on people, it’s all ridiculously defined. Today, if you start looking up these artists one by one, they all have a definite way of looking at life and they can say “I write because so-and-so”, or “I paint so-and-so because of this-and-that.” They have their own set of answers.

      And this is ironic, because it probably never reflected fully in their art, you know? Not necessarily. Greyness is a truth for me, but it needn’t be a widely acknowledged truth. And it’s not like every character in every novel/poem by a certain writer is a reflection of herself.

      (It’s pseudo-late, and I have no energy to read through this again, so feel free to poke and laugh at grammatical errors and everything else)

      • Bharat Iyer said, on May 4, 2010 at 1:12 am

        It is ironic that Sylvia Plath is now more widely known for the graphically creative way in which she chose to end her life than her writing. For me the trend is a little more terrifying. I don’t see them as having recognized their creative peak and sought to preserve it by ending their lives. The correlation between creative talent and mental instability and suicide indicates the kind of despair that comes with a heightened sense of creativity and the awareness of the world one requires to create art. I think they wrote or painted or composed music to deal with their despair; and killed themselves when that didn’t work.

        But then, for every Sylvia Plath, you have a John Updike who had a fairly content life, wrote a ridiculous number of books, and died of natural causes at a ripe old age.

        I don’t think they did. I find the best writing to be that which doesn’t deal in absolutes, which acknowledges and tackles the grey. They wrote because they strove to find truths, not because they already had them. I think that is the best reason they could’ve given for what they chose to create. By holding up human existence and the world to scrutiny they sought to find truths but I think most of them realised there aren’t any.

        Or maybe I’m just a cynic.

        Or I’ve completely and magnificently misunderstood you.

        Either is possible; stranger things have happened.

  4. Soitsnotrequired said, on May 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Or both are. I wouldn’t go as far as to say “magnificently” but I wish i could explain things better, there is a subset that we have entered that I overlooked. This is the part where I diss the internet because it makes everything, including expression, difficult.

    On a (slightly) related note: http://www.hindu.com/lr/2010/05/02/stories/2010050250040100.htm

    You seem to be a bibliophile, so I thought you’d like this :)

    • Bharat Iyer said, on May 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Or both, yes. Do you mean something like the Hemingway ‘Code Hero’? Oh, the internet isn’t all that bad, really.

      Interesting. I’ve been trying to figure out the meaning of the cover but I don’t know who the woman is or who painted it.

      I’m actually not much of a bibliophile. I’m not very attached to books; they’re just a means to an end.


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