When I finished my two unread books after a few days of lockdown, I nearly panicked. I soon started thinking of that desert island game that went, “If you had to choose only three books to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island, what would they be?” This way I could at least re-read things. So, I naturally thought of Complete Shakespeare because his work is so funny as well as profound and always up-to-date. Remember how, even in a cyclone, the opening lines of Tempest are comic with the cabin boy telling the King to get back indoors! Then I thought of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which I recently re-read after watching the TV series, and found that, as well as the rich tapestry of characters in history, perhaps it was what, at 17, helped me see morality as the ability to predict the effect of one’s actions or inactions on others rather than to follow a list of “don’ts”. So, that’s two. The third one would be the Complete Kurt Vonnegut which does not yet exist to my knowledge. But I am in the middle of a re-re-read of his Hocus Pocus and I could die of laughter at its description of life right now in the world. So, I am so thankful William Shakespeare, although he was not awarded the King’s contracts to translate The Bible into English, he nevertheless made a living by entertaining his fellow-actors as well as all social classes of Londoners in theatres for 24 years from 1589 and 1613, and I am thankful Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in serial form and then as a book, written and published from 1856-69 with a first edition of only 1,225 copies, and I’m thrilled that Kurt Vonnegut, although he had trouble, like Shakespeare had getting paid contracts from the King, getting any of his books past even PTA committees in the USA, wrote novels from 1952 – 1997 and articles until he died in 2007. What I think they have in common, these three, is a high degree of intellectual integrity, brilliant insights and intuition, a critique of conventional morality as bankrupt, and an awful lot of hard work gone into their work over the course of years. And they all wrote for real people’s enjoyment, and not to please any Powers-that-Be.
So, when I write even this blog, I am both humbled and also reminded of the standards of honesty required for good writing.
But I have to confess, from honesty, that these lines come to you with the help of others.
I write “for LALIT, a personal view”, which is a strange formula, but let me explain. I need to explain before the Powers-that-Be, who I do not write for, suddenly lift the lockdown and my contract with you to write a daily blog comes to an end – by the way, every day I wake up thinking I’ll never be able to think of a new approach to tomorrow’s diary – and I haven’t got a chance to confess.
Every day, after my first draft of the blog that tomorrow, god-willing will be on its 50th day, first Ram reads it, and gives a reaction and some corrections. Then Kisna reads it – and reacts and corrects, too – then translates it into Kreol. Now, that is a new bit of creativity. Rada, who is our web and Facebook editor, then reads the English before up-loading. And finally, Alain the Walking Kreol Academy, checks the Kreol translation, and sends it to Rada, who checks it out, too.
How’s that for making even the most individual thing like writing, a collective thing. And today will be the third time I include a poem by a friend, as an addendum.
I know that Shakespeare changed his texts as his fellow actors rehearsed, that Tolstoy relied on reactions as he wrote his episodes, and that Vonnegut realized, on his sister’s death, that he had written, in large part, for her. So, at least I share that flexibility with them. I know I write for, first and foremost, my close friends. But now you, too, know that there’s more to it, than just me and my 9 fingers (until the jab I gave my left index finger recovers completely) typing.
a personal view.
PS While drafting this I just burnt the onions and garlic and ginger, with the water added (if you can believe such a thing) for buyon bred morung I was making. I mention this to say how hard I concentrate (alternatively how scatty I am.)
Here is the poem:
Son Laklos la li Zis
Enn sel kut fosi mardi aswar.
Premyer nuvel lor televizyon
dokter la finn mor.
Pasyan 0 ti konsilte kot li.
10yem lor lalis Coronavirus.
Enn lapli kulu
lao lalinn bankal
zekler ape sifle dan lizye
labuzi finn teyn –
napli ena zalimet.
travayer lopital ape plore,
andan busol anba-lao
zot rakont par sakad Dr lor:
dis ledwa bonn volonte.
Dan to travay peyna triaz
to finn ris nu pavyon lao lao
to finn fer nubannzil tus zetwal.
Zis swasant an – le 10 aswar
to finn rapel lakrwa to bann anset.
Enn tur finn fini – enn lot kumanse,
to finn plant lagrin par pake,
semans pu nu bann zanfan lavenir –
Laklos ape sonn to lanterman,
peyna bare – son la li zis!
Floréal – 28-29 Avril 2020