Rebellion is innate in all art, says poet

Poet and Marxist thinker T.K. Ramachandran remembered.

Updated - July 22, 2015 09:01 am IST

Published - July 22, 2015 12:00 am IST

Poet K. Satchidanandan delivers theT.K. Ramachandran Memorial Talk at a functionin Kochi on Tuesday.— Photo: H. Vibhu

Poet K. Satchidanandan delivers theT.K. Ramachandran Memorial Talk at a functionin Kochi on Tuesday.— Photo: H. Vibhu

It’s not merely accidental that friends, students, admirers and ideological partners of the late academic, occasional poet and Marxist thinker T.K. Ramachandran got together at different parts of the State — more meetings are in the offing — on Tuesday to remember the affably recalcitrant man, a ‘classical Marxist’ in his own words, who died seven years ago.

For a man who held unwavering views against the rise of the Hindutva forces nationally in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, there wouldn’t have been a more fitting tribute than his death anniversary providing an occasion to articulate ideas and thoughts against the novae fascism that’s spreading its tentacles over the socio-political and cultural spheres of India’s multicultural, polyphonic society.

Poet K. Satchidanandan — friend of T.K., as the professor was fondly called, from their college days at Maharaja’s — delivered the first in a series of talks on ‘Poetry and Resistance’ organised by the H&C Readers’ Forum.

The talk, punctuated by references to the eternal rebel in T.K., an intense but childlike human being with an unconventional but humane worldview, figured out the idea of resistance as stemming from a perennial human desire for change and escape from prevailing iniquities and injustices.

While almost all well-meaning, ideology-driven revolutions have spawned the same authoritarian systems that they sought to replace, resistance is a state of fervent desire for change — which is universal and existing at all times, said Satchidanandan before reciting two of his powerful poems — ‘Mappu’, penned to protest the silencing of author Perumal Murugan by the Hindutva forces, and ‘Avar’, in solidarity with painter M.F. Hussain, who had earlier been forced by the same right-wing forces into exile.

Rebellion is innate in all art, born from a desire for a counter-system, said Satchidanandan.

Baudelaire’s ‘Loss of a Halo’ was cited along with Neruda’s path-breaking essay on ‘impure poetry’ to drive home the point that there’s nothing in the world that doesn’t lend itself to poetry. In a society polarised on identities drawn on caste lines, colour, belief, practice, religion, sexual preference and the like, the poet — and the artist by extension — cannot remain neutral and seek refuge in conventional aesthetic poetry. This is what probably Theodore Adorno, a favourite thinker of T.K.’s, suggested when he said it was “impossible to write poetry after Auschwitz” [the Nazi gas chamber episode]. Poets like Paul Celan drew energies and material from the horrific doings of Nazism, he said.

Hindu fascism

The Hindu fascism in India, as elsewhere, targets cultural and social institutions to further its agenda. It mixes myths and history, and parades a bogus nationalism carved out from a negative definition of what and who constitutes the nation state. But the dilemma that the contemporary writers have found themselves in is the realisation that any ideology could eventually turn into an instrument of torture, said Satchidanandan.

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