02 December, 2020

Valmiki’s Exile To The Petrified Forest

The story-teller is again a renegade. Pasteurised, cleansed and rid of all human flaws, our gods will be frozen into lifelessness.

Valmiki’s Exile To The Petrified Forest

India is heir to a mythos that has rebirth as a central motif. Even divinity appears in the world of mortals again and again. But now a curious modern inversion seems to be taking hold—it’s a certain kind of death that is rhythmically repeated, like a perverse rhyme scheme. The chosen one for this periodic ritual sacrifice is the figure of the writer-scholar. That the figure perhaps embodies one of the purest realisations of Homo Sapiens, Thinking Human, may seem like a grand evolutionary idea. But a kind of species survival indeed seems to be at stake; a cult of anti-thought washes over everything. To speak a little grandly could be pardoned, for the signs are all over the place. The word ‘intellectual’ is practically a cussword now—it elicits, at best, derision and mirth; at worst, it could be a bullet between the eyes. “Direct brain,” as a snarling crime lord on screen said once. Entire libraries can be ransacked for the presence of a scholarly text that disturbs received legends. Novels can be banned from university libraries by...



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