Thursday, November 26, 2009

Phalanx

The new issue of Phalanx is out and I only just found out via Aditi (for some reason I seem to have dropped off their mailing list).

Lots to read: M K Raghavendra's editorial on why the Anglophone Indian wants to be a novelist; his essay on Bresson; Hans V Mathews on Jancsó's The Red and the White [pdf].

Oh, and a review of Inglorious Basterds as well, but since I'm on the film I may as well point you to this fantastic essay about it.

That should pretty much take care of the weekend, yes?

21 comments:

swar thounaojam said...

Interesting estimates in the new M K Raghavendra's editorial but why does the whole article read like a text written by an intelligent undergraduate?

Rahul Siddharthan said...

I wasn't impressed by that Raghavendra editorial. His observation is correct -- there is not much gradation in the "types" of English-language fiction in India: everyone seems to aim for "literary" writing -- but his analysis didn't seem very insightful, and I really don't think Indian English novelists are driven by a need to establish their superiority via their choice of language (nor do I see where he justifies that claim). It is undoubtedly the case that the English language is seen as having a wider audience -- but that doesn't explain the relative absence of "pulp fiction" in English.

Nilanjana recently had a (much more insightful, in my opinion) take on the same question, here.

Space Bar said...

swar, rahul: agree. i should have put a disclaimer; mk should have stuck with writing about cinema. it's just that i think he asks an interesting question (that he doesn't manage to answer well):

"The purpose of this editorial is [snip] to speculate on why Anglophone Indians wish to produce ‘literature’, especially when they are indifferent to what literature has traditionally been and done. The attraction to become a novelist in the English language is a difficult thing to understand because the financial stakes are paltry. Many young writers (some of them are personally well off) fly across India from city to city for book readings and ‘panel discussions’ when the copies they might sell of their novels are apparently not enough to take care of their travel expenses. Writing a novel is not an easy matter - it may take years, even, of hard work. The labor is so immense, but the rewards so small and the general eagerness of people to write so great that the novel in English is worthy of sociological speculation even."

Aditi said...

I was hoping someone would kick off a discussion about MKR's editorial, but nothing much yet.

Aditi said...

i.e. nothing much yet on my blog. Will try to follow the discussion here.

Falstaff said...

The editorial is just boring. The Inglorious Basterds review, on the other hand, is hands down the stupidest take on the movie I've read. Two characters in the movie sacrifice a certain amount of film stock in order to kill Hitler and the Nazi high command, thus essentially ending WWII, and this proves that Tarantino is indifferent to cinema??!! Never mind the distinction between character and creator. Never mind that anyone with the slightest perspective would see that the loss of a few copies of film is a small price to pay for the end of the Third Reich. You have to be both deaf and blind to sit through a movie where practically every scene pays tribute to some movie or the other and come to the conclusion that the director is indifferent to cinema.

I suppose this is what happens when you have a 'journal' where over half the articles are by the editors themselves.

Falstaff said...

P.S. on the editorial: one may as well ask, why do columnists wish to produce 'editorials' about Indian fiction in English, when they really don't have anything to say? Is it just to show that they're on top of current trends? Or because of the presumed superiority of English over other languages, which makes them want to write about Indian fiction in English, even though they (apparently) read a lot of vernacular fiction as well?

Cheshire Cat said...

Why does the Anglophone Indian want to be a novelist?

Hmmm, good question, but I think a better one is: why are there camels in Australia?

Space Bar said...

Aditi: You're just following and not making comments?!

Falsie: good qs - 'why do columnists wish to produce 'editorials' about Indian fiction in English' - and something I've been wondering about. I think Rushdie was only an excuse, no?

And yes, which is why I linked to the other review of the Tarantino; it's one of the best things I've read about the film.

Cat: We should ask Pratchett that qs.

Aditi said...

Dala,

I've heard most of MKR's complaints before, and as a bit of conversational whining, it's fine I suppose. I do it all the time. But as an editorial -- I don't know. I shall take it up with him the next time I see him.

A

Falstaff said...

space: That other review is interesting, yes, though a little ponderous. Personally, I don't care about the moral questions the film raises or what it can be deconstructed to mean; what I love about the film is the sheer brilliance of the film-making - the unbearable, almost Hitchcockian tension of each prolonged conversation, the glorious soundtrack, the sly little references. And am I seriously the only one who sat through the movie constantly thinking about To Be or Not To Be?

//word verification: aguess

Space Bar said...

aditi: i would love to overhear that conversation.

falsie: you know, lubitsch didn't specifically occur to me but i can see how it might turn up - that scene with the basterds in the movie hall and landa was superb.

for me, of course it was early cinema jackpot; i'd need to see the film several times over to get even one half of the references but what little i got made me dizzy with happiness.

Aditi said...

I don't get it. Why did everyone like Inglourious Basterds?

JP said...

'Normally, graphic novels are formulaic because they derive from comic books.'

Fantastic. The erudition of that statement made me blind and I have had to stop reading this idiotorial (forunately I have a braille keyboard at hand for moments like this and continue clicking away my own aspersions and comments).

Anindita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vani said...

Apart from Rahul's comment above, the rest of the comment space has largely been devoted to snide remarks and observations. I wasn't particularly happy with the editorial myself, but it might be useful for one to find out why exactly it fails instead of making personal comments about the author. Here the effort has largely been to crawl away from any intellectual engagement with the subject itself through denouncing or insulting the author. Easy way to pretend to know better.

JP said...

I don't believe an editorial which includes a poorly thought out statement like the one I quoted above is even worth responding to in detail, except in the interest of furthering the cause of verbal onanism, which I do realise is one of the things the internet was built to facilitate.

Falstaff said...

vani: So if I point out that MKR's claim that graphic novels elsewhere are formulaic and comics-based but in India are more autobiographical is nonsense because there are instances aplenty of international graphic novels that are

a) quasi-autobiographical (Alison Bechdel's Fun Home; Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis; Craig Thompson's Blankets; Harvey Pekar's American Splendor);

b) drawn from literature not comics (Eric Shanower's version of the Trojan War; R. Crumb's Book of Genesis; Martin Rowson's versions of Tristram Shandy and The Wasteland; Posy Simmond's Gemma Bovery; Peter Kuper's Metamorphosis; the graphic novel version of Paul Auster's City of Glass) and

c) anything but formulaic (Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan; Jason Lute's Berlin Series)

then can I call him a pompous and ignorant bore? Or do I have to discuss how utterly brain dead you have to be to think Spiegelman is either formulaic or cartoon-derived?

P.S. And to think I'm not even that interested in graphic novels.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Wow. What is it with you guys? Yes, someone is wrong on the internet -- lots of people are -- but you are not engaging in a conversation or even having a good old-fashioned give-and-take flamewar. You are bashing someone's alleged lack of cultural erudition and intelligence, in vicious language, on someone else's blog. Anonymously. There is a word for that and it isn't "cultured" or "erudite" or "intelligent".

If I knew MKR and liked him, I would probably phone him and discuss his article with him. If I knew him and disliked him, I'd stay out of his way. I don't know him so I don't particularly care. I do know SB, which is why I commented here, but I'm thinking I shouldn't have.

Falstaff said...

Oh, look, some guy with a REAL NAME thinks I'm behaving badly. I'm sssoooo crushed.

Vani said...

Philistines aren't affected by most things - that's why they are called as such.