THE PROBLEM OF CONTINUITY IN    
              .               REINCARNATION.PART 1.

                 In my previous blogs , I had suggested that my next novel would be on the theme of reincarnation. I had discussed in those blogs why the theme of reincarnation is a rich source for fiction. It was suggested that the theme of reincarnation has an inherent metaphorical depth for creative writing. In this blog , I would deal with difficulties that theme of reincarnation presents to a novelist. I would share my own problems in devising various characters passing through several births.

                When I began writing this novel , I had no fixed plan. My idea was to use reincarnation as a metaphor. I was also aware of the fact that people believe in reincarnation not because they are convinced about its logic , but they believed in that idea because it offered them some solace in their difficult times. Therefore ,  I was hoping to use the idea of reincarnation as a tool for analyzing human mind. After having written few chapters , I have realized that my approach was based on intellectual arrogance. When the plot started unraveling, I realized that the inherent psychological and metaphorical depth of this idea is so immense that mere cleverly crafted narrative would not be able to do justice to the idea of reincarnation. Therefore I have decided to let the plot unravel itself without any shallow cleverness on my part. However , the problem of detailing the characters still demands lot of planning. Therefore I was forced to think of several clever strategies. Thus my writing tries to strike a balance between my subconscious impulses and careful planning. In my next few blogs , I would discuss several problems that arise in maintaining a balance between these two contradictory requirements.. In this and the next blog , I would focus on continuity.

                    When I began writing this novel , my idea of continuity was the emotional continuity of a character going through several births. I was thinking about a protagonist who would feel vindicated after fulfilling his own desires after several births. Therefore  I thought of using unrequited love as a constant emotion which would run through several births of the protagonist. I also thought that the novel could end with the protagonist finally reuniting with his lady love. My choice was based on the fact that this theme has enjoyed immense popularity in pulp fiction and commercial cinema. I was thinking that I could take intellectually superior stance and try to deconstruct its popularity. The trouble with this storyline is that it really requires emotional continuity not only of the protagonist but also of his lady love and perhaps of several other characters.

             The emotional continuity of several characters in a single novel is not easy to achieve. Not only various emotions of all such characters in  a single birth must compliment one another , but it must remain congruent for every character through its several births. Thus , for instance , the emotional interaction between the protagonist and his lady love must be matched to create a credible love story. After having done that, the novelist must ensure that both these characters must have consistent emotional growths spanning several births. One can imagine how difficult it would be , if the novel involves say five characters. As my writing progressed , I realized the enormity of the task. More importantly, I also realized my own inadequacies of handling such  a enormous task. At that point, I decided to hand over these intricacies to my subconscious mind. I have, since then, restricted my conscious mind to remove logical inconsistencies in the plot. I can confess that barring first chapter, which was planned , the entire novel is a product of my subconscious mind. My critical faculties have played a role of a moderator.

                After having finished few chapters , I can see the wisdom of allowing writer’s subconscious mind to shape the creative output. I realized that the very insistence of emotional continuity is , in itself , a requirement of our subconscious mind. In that sense ,a novelist is really communicating with the subconscious minds of readers. Therefore it is imperative that writer’s subconscious mind sends the message to the reader’s subconscious mind directly. Art may be analyzed by our critical faculties , but it must be acknowledged that art is created and understood by our subconscious minds.

            In my next blog , I would deal with continuity of time while writing a novel on reincarnation.

(To be continued.)



                         REINCARNATION AS A METAPHOR.

    In my previous blogs , I had discussed reasons why the idea of reincarnation appeals to us. I had suggested that the idea appeals to us because it fulfills our emotional and religious expectations. The idea of reincarnation somehow expresses a compromise between our own conflicting emotional requirements. In this blog , I would examine this idea purely from literary perspective. There are two aspects to this perspective. Firstly , if an idea , such as this one , is really an expression of our subconscious mind , then the question is whether literature , particularly fiction , could be used to deconstruct this subconscious mind. Secondly , whether this idea of reincarnation has necessary depth to be a good literary device.

           Let us look at the idea of reincarnation as an expression of our subconscious mind.  I think it is reasonable to view this idea as a vehicle for our subconscious need to exist forever and for our delayed wish fulfillment. In that case , popular fiction ought to describe stories that demonstrate this. Try to think of popular stories that we have grown up with. There are two basic themes in popular fiction that are most enduring. One theme is about unrequited love and the second theme is about meting out justice. Both these themes are forms of delayed wish fulfillment. When the protagonists , or central characters , are deprived of what is rightfully theirs , our subconscious mind identifies with their plight by projecting our own sense of being deprived what ought to have been ours. However , we know , somewhere back in our minds , that we may not ever get back things that is rightfully ours. However , if those characters in the literature do indeed get the things they always yearned for in their next births , we feel happy and vindicated. Fiction offers a way to fulfill our wishes by the process of transference. The moral victory that these characters in the fiction  achieve become our victory by proxy. If this reasoning is valid then one can deconstruct all the popular fiction to understand what kind of sensibilities we , as a culture , have.

         In addition to the major themes of unrequited love and justice , there is another theme that runs through this idea.  This theme , in fact , elevates the idea of reincarnation to a literary device of metaphor. Hidden behind these two themes of unrequited love and justice lies the third theme of stoicism. If the first two themes were personal in nature , the third theme of stoicism i. e.  acceptance of one’s destiny as inevitable ,is social in nature. If we , at a cultural level , had strong feelings about injustice , then we would have found ways and means to remove  injustice. However , theory of Karma is so deeply ingrained in our sensibilities that we have learnt to accept injustice as part of the destiny. It is this stoicism of accepting whatever destiny has in store for us that finds expression in the idea of reincarnation. In reincarnation , the characters who are born again , do not actively avenge the injustice inflicted on them in previous births. They get avenged because destiny conspires to get them justice in their new births. In some sense the destiny also represents society as a whole. Just as a society changes with time , the balance of power within the society changes. The oppressed becomes free. The oppressor becomes oppressed. It is this turmoil in social dynamics that indirectly delivers the justice.  Thus the idea of reincarnation  acts as a metaphor for individual sensibilities. At the same time , this idea of destiny also becomes a metaphor for social dynamics. Just as social dynamics turns a complete circle by interchanging the roles of the oppressed and the oppressor , the destiny also turns a full circle.

    Thus the idea of reincarnation draws its metaphoric potential from our psychological , moral and sociological undercurrents of our culture. The question that I hope to deal with in my second novel is whether a writer can consciously tailor a plot to deconstruct the our cultural sensibilities or that creative processes are too powerful for any writer to master. It may happen that my creative processes may be in total control of my subconscious. Therefore the novel may not turn out to be the one  I wanted  but it may turn out to be an account of how my own subconscious mind works and , by extension , how our cultural sensibilities , that shape our individual subconscious  minds ,operate. In either case ,  this novel would hold mirror to  our own sensibilities.

               In my next few blogs , I would discuss the practical difficulties in weaving a very intricate plot that the theme of reincarnation demands.