Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Albert Camus-The Nobel Prize in Literature 1957 –The Stranger

Albert Camus

Albert Camus' speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957

In receiving the distinction with which your free Academy has so generously honoured me, my gratitude has been profound, particularly when I consider the extent to which this recompense has surpassed my personal merits. Every man, and for stronger reasons, every artist, wants to be recognized. So do I. But I have not been able to learn of your decision without comparing its repercussions to what I really am. A man almost young, rich only in his doubts and with his work still in progress, accustomed to living in the solitude of work or in the retreats of friendship: how would he not feel a kind of panic at hearing the decree that transports him all of a sudden, alone and reduced to himself, to the centre of a glaring light? And with what feelings could he accept this honour at a time when other writers in Europe, among them the very greatest, are condemned to silence, and even at a time when the country of his birth is going through unending misery?

I felt that shock and inner turmoil. In order to regain peace I have had, in short, to come to terms with a too generous fortune. And since I cannot live up to it by merely resting on my achievement, I have found nothing to support me but what has supported me through all my life, even in the most contrary circumstances: the idea that I have of my art and of the role of the writer. Let me only tell you, in a spirit of gratitude and friendship, as simply as I can, what this idea is.

For myself, I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed it above everything. If, on the other hand, I need it, it is because it cannot be separated from my fellow men, and it allows me to live, such as I am, on one level with them. It is a means of stirring the greatest number of people by offering them a privileged picture of common joys and sufferings. It obliges the artist not to keep himself apart; it subjects him to the most humble and the most universal truth. And often he who has chosen the fate of the artist because he felt himself to be different soon realizes that he can maintain neither his art nor his difference unless he admits that he is like the others. The artist forges himself to the others, midway between the beauty he cannot do without and the community he cannot tear himself away from. That is why true artists scorn nothing: they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides in this world, they can perhaps side only with that society in which, according to Nietzsche's great words, not the judge but the creator will rule, whether he be a worker or an intellectual.

By the same token, the writer's role is not free from difficult duties. By definition he cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art. Not all the armies of tyranny with their millions of men will free him from his isolation, even and particularly if he falls into step with them. But the silence of an unknown prisoner, abandoned to humiliations at the other end of the world, is enough to draw the writer out of his exile, at least whenever, in the midst of the privileges of freedom, he manages not to forget that silence, and to transmit it in order to make it resound by means of his art.

None of us is great enough for such a task. But in all circumstances of life, in obscurity or temporary fame, cast in the irons of tyranny or for a time free to express himself, the writer can win the heart of a living community that will justify him, on the one condition that he will accept to the limit of his abilities the two tasks that constitute the greatness of his craft: the service of truth and the service of liberty. Because his task is to unite the greatest possible number of people, his art must not compromise with lies and servitude which, wherever they rule, breed solitude. Whatever our personal weaknesses may be, the nobility of our craft will always be rooted in two commitments, difficult to maintain: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance to oppression.

For more than twenty years of an insane history, hopelessly lost like all the men of my generation in the convulsions of time, I have been supported by one thing: by the hidden feeling that to write today was an honour because this activity was a commitment - and a commitment not only to write. Specifically, in view of my powers and my state of being, it was a commitment to bear, together with all those who were living through the same history, the misery and the hope we shared. These men, who were born at the beginning of the First World War, who were twenty when Hitler came to power and the first revolutionary trials were beginning, who were then confronted as a completion of their education with the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the world of concentration camps, a Europe of torture and prisons - these men must today rear their sons and create their works in a world threatened by nuclear destruction. Nobody, I think, can ask them to be optimists. And I even think that we should understand - without ceasing to fight it - the error of those who in an excess of despair have asserted their right to dishonour and have rushed into the nihilism of the era. But the fact remains that most of us, in my country and in Europe, have refused this nihilism and have engaged upon a quest for legitimacy. They have had to forge for themselves an art of living in times of catastrophe in order to be born a second time and to fight openly against the instinct of death at work in our history.

Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. Mine knows that it will not reform it, but its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself. Heir to a corrupt history, in which are mingled fallen revolutions, technology gone mad, dead gods, and worn-out ideologies, where mediocre powers can destroy all yet no longer know how to convince, where intelligence has debased itself to become the servant of hatred and oppression, this generation starting from its own negations has had to re-establish, both within and without, a little of that which constitutes the dignity of life and death. In a world threatened by disintegration, in which our grand inquisitors run the risk of establishing forever the kingdom of death, it knows that it should, in an insane race against the clock, restore among the nations a peace that is not servitude, reconcile anew labour and culture, and remake with all men the Ark of the Covenant. It is not certain that this generation will ever be able to accomplish this immense task, but already it is rising everywhere in the world to the double challenge of truth and liberty and, if necessary, knows how to die for it without hate. Wherever it is found, it deserves to be saluted and encouraged, particularly where it is sacrificing itself. In any event, certain of your complete approval, it is to this generation that I should like to pass on the honour that you have just given me.

At the same time, after having outlined the nobility of the writer's craft, I should have put him in his proper place. He has no other claims but those which he shares with his comrades in arms: vulnerable but obstinate, unjust but impassioned for justice, doing his work without shame or pride in view of everybody, not ceasing to be divided between sorrow and beauty, and devoted finally to drawing from his double existence the creations that he obstinately tries to erect in the destructive movement of history. Who after all this can expect from him complete solutions and high morals? Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road. What writer would from now on in good conscience dare set himself up as a preacher of virture? For myself, I must state once more that I am not of this kind. I have never been able to renounce the light, the pleasure of being, and the freedom in which I grew up. But although this nostalgia explains many of my errors and my faults, it has doubtless helped me toward a better understanding of my craft. It is helping me still to support unquestioningly all those silent men who sustain the life made for them in the world only through memory of the return of brief and free happiness.
Thus reduced to what I really am, to my limits and debts as well as to my difficult creed, I feel freer, in concluding, to comment upon the extent and the generosity of the honour you have just bestowed upon me, freer also to tell you that I would receive it as an homage rendered to all those who, sharing in the same fight, have not received any privilege, but have on the contrary known misery and persecution. It remains for me to thank you from the bottom of my heart and to make before you publicly, as a personal sign of my gratitude, the same and ancient promise of faithfulness which every true artist repeats to himself in silence every day.

-Albert Camus-

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Voice of Solitude [Manjula Wediwardena]

The Voice of Solitude

Even a gun can
make a dream smile
Even a dream can
Stop a furious bullet

Who can stop?
If the sun rises
In the middle of the darkest night
Who’s going to stop?

If it heavily rains
In a full moon night
Yet, there’ll be no moon
Only the darkness…
Rain, rain and rain

Only the finger
That presses the trigger
Points back at the conscious
Only the fist
that hardly twisted
Knows the dreadful
Pain of the death

Ask a man
who walks with his head down,
 what he eagerly searches
on the ground

He may answer…..

At times….
Solitude can be enchanting
for a poem
A poem may be reminiscence
at the end….
Then there is death….
But one thing is certain
Death is immortal
to a weapon…

Manjula Wediwardena- (හුදෙකලාවේ කටහඬ )
[Translated by: Malathie Kalpana Ambrose]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Viragaya the Inimitable Psychological Novel

Viragaya the Inimitable Psychological Novel

-Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge MD

Viragaya novel is a turning point in Sinhala literature. Literary genius Martin Wicramasinghe vibrantly portrays Aravinda s character in Viragaya digging in to the inner psyche. Therefore Viragaya can be considered as one of the first and best psychological novels in Sinhala literature. Aravinda was a virtuous character trapped in biological instincts and cultural pressure. The complexity of Aravinda s character reveals the inner world of a man who was brought up according to the Buddhist village traditions and how he struggles to fulfill his hidden desires leading to a dramatic transformation.

According to the mundane eye Aravinda was a failure. His ambition to become a doctor and apparent haematophobia and aversion to dissect dead bodies prevented him from pursuing his goal. The untimely death of his father and subsequent financial problems forced him to engage in a petty job and to lead an insignificant life. When his girlfriend Sara offered her love and gave her consent to live with him Aravinda faces a moral dilemma. His Indecisiveness jeopardized the relationship and he becomes lonely for the rest of his life.

Aravinda s loneliness makes him to get close to Bathie. His unusual love for the adopted girl Bathie makes him a jealous man. It was a fatherly love which gradually transformed in to a hidden desire without any physical intimacy. He becomes furious when Bathie finds a young lover. The sociobiological perspective agrees that men tend to react more strongly to sexual indiscretion while women tend to find emotional infidelity more distressing. Hence Aravinda s reaction concurs with this idea.

Aravinda was an outlandish character who repressed his sensual desires due to ethics and moral pressure from the society. Psychoanalytic notion of ethics serves philosophical, religious, and moral causes. In Moses and Monotheism Freud showed that ethics originates in "a sense of guilt felt on account of a suppressed hostility to God”. He further states thus.

Analyse any human emotion, no matter how far it may be removed from the sphere of sex, and you are sure to discover somewhere the primal impulse, to which life owes its perpetuation. ... The primitive stages can always be re-established; the primitive mind is, in the fullest meaning of the word, imperishable. ... Mans most disagreeable habits and idiosyncrasies, his deceit, his cowardice, his lack of reverence, are engendered by his incomplete adjustment to a complicated civilisation. It is the result of the conflict between our instincts and our culture.

Freud argued that people have always known that at one time they had a primitive father and that they put him to death. The resulting "nostalgia for the father" reflected an insatiable need to appease a sense of guilt by changing the father's prohibitions into ethical obligations. This idea was represented in Aravinda s character.

Aravinda struggles between morality and biological instincts which leads to a generalized melancholic condition in him. This could be a universal feeling. In the Republic; Plato undertakes the most famous integration of morality and mental health. Mike W Martin Professor of Philosophy at Chapman University argues that moral values are inevitably embedded in human conceptions of mental health. In the end, he shows how both morality and mental health are inextricably intertwined in pursuit of a meaningful life. Nevertheless Aravinda fails to fulfill his heart desire. No one can claim that he was a loser. Hence Aravinda had a meaningful life in the existential point of view.

He was alienated from the society and critical about the social traditions. He was personally free and able to criticize the social values of the world around him. This is more similar to Jean-Paul Sartre s Philosophy which offers an account of existence in general, including both the being-in-itself of objects that simply are and the being-for-itself by which humans engage in independent action. Throughout his life Aravinda wants to find self and the meaning of life through free will.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Departure of Prometheus [Prasad Nirosha Bandara ]

Departure of Prometheus

Adamantine chains
shivering with cold chilly winds
As they miss you Prometheus
Why only the chains
feel this dreadful pain
Where are the mermaids
Cried at the foot of rocks

Jupiter plays
with arrows of thunders and light
Hermes the cohort with
The Power and the Terror
spreads all over
“The Fire” you stolen,
the precious treasure
for the sake of mankind
from above, the heaven

Eagles!!! Here, they come!
gobble the livers and hearts
Under the mounted sun
In the trembling dark nights
Alone at the end of the world
Down here at the foot of the rocks
Only the gloomy darkness
Wrapped with frightening fear
The heart aches and throbs
As it misses you Prometheus

Why only the chains
feel this dreadful pain
Where are the mermaids
Cried at your mournful gain

The entire body of society
It’s spirit and essence are sucked
Tasted by the gadflies
With such a greedy rush

Who will utter the good and bad?
Of the vicious forecast you told
To Io the beautiful
maiden from far-away Argos
Who captured by the greedy eyes
of His highness in the mountains
and made the Queen Hera
fumed with envy and spite

Oh! The great poet Aeschylus
Today, if he’s here
He will write this grand play again
Sure will forget the Prometheus bond
And it’ll be on something else
The concept of highest and great god

Why only the chains
feel this great difference
Where are the mermaids
Cried at your mournful gain

Did you see a hazard free tomorrow?
Before the dawn you departed
A dark skinned child coming
A prince with a bow
To put down the voracious eagles
To unchain the ties
To liberate the world
After thirteen generations
Did you see?
Prometheus you, the forethought?

Why only the chains
feel this great difference
Where are the mermaids
Cried at your mournful gain?

Prasad Nirosha Bandara -ප්‍රොමිතියස්ගේ නික්මයාම
[Translated By: Malathie Kalpana Ambrose]

Friday, December 4, 2009

So Long My Blind Friend....[Malathie Kalpana Ambrose]

So Long My Blind Friend....

[Written for the World White Cane Day-(2009-10-15)]

Kneeling and worshipping
Seeking her blessings
You may have mouthed
“I will be back soon mom...”
On the day you left home

To wander up the path
Over whelmed with heartaches
Countless sicknesses
Feeding on nothing
But sorrows and tears
So many around you
Mending constantly
The fragile cloth of life
Friendly and not so friendly
May have guided you
The 'one who could not see'

But they sure did not know
That your world of darkness
Is brighter than the full moon
Even without a tiny spark
Of a wandering firefly
Because of all the roses
Void of any thorns

Wandering around
Feeling the surface
Failing to understand
The vast book of life
We may part in a moment
Your distinct murmur
Saying me good byes

No my friend
Since we have touched
And we saw each others hearts no...
I cannot say my good byes
Neither can I
Let you leave
Leaving empty...
my aching heart..!

ආයුබෝවන් අඳ සකි- මාලතී කල්පනා ඇම්බ්‍රෝස්
Translated by: Angelo Ransirimal Fenando