MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #13.

           HOW THE PLOT UNFOLDS.

          In last few blogs , I have discussed the theory of karma in some details.  I have described how the metaphor of reincarnation is a fertile theme for a novelist. I have also elaborated at some length how  the theme of reincarnation encapsulates our social mores , religious beliefs and ethics.  From  now on , I would focus on my second novel Itself. It is almost six months since I  began writing my second novel.  I am happy that it is shaping up very well.  From the way it is written , I think I have finished half the novel. I have finished eight chapters so far.  So I think  it would run into about sixteen chapters. In this  blog , I would focus on the creative process of weaving a plot of the novel. Since this is my second novel , I think I have sufficient insights into the creative process that enables a novelist to carve out a good story literally out of thin air.

        When I  began my first novel , I was not even aware of the creative process that makes fiction writing possible. I was simply prompted by an irresistible urge to write.  However , this time around , I am bit more analytical. So when I began my second novel , I was determined to reflect on my creative writing skills. So far , this approach has worked with me. I have a better understanding of how a novel is born. In next few blogs , I would describe my own reflections on the manner in which a novelist’s mind works . Of course , in the process ,I would also describe something more about my second novel.

           In this blog , I would focus on the weaving of the plot. In my younger days , I was an avid reader of fiction. Every Time , after finishing a novel  , I would be in awe of novelists.  I would wonder how can anyone create such a  complex and intricately woven plot by one’s imagination ? Even today ,  after finishing one and a half  novels , I am in awe of the plots that have unfolded in my own novels.  The  only difference between my earlier sense of awe and my current sense of awe is that now , I am not in awe of the novelist but the  creative process that enables a novelist to write fiction. I now realize that the  intricacies of the plot are  built into the  story itself. A novelist  merely allows these finer nuances to unfold. The core of a story has all these nuances folded within itself.  As a novelist progresses with writing , these nuances unfold. The only analogy I can think of  is that of a seed. The entire blueprint of the  plant is embedded within the seed. With the passage of time  the entire plant emerges from that small seed.  Similarly , the novel with all its intricacies sprouts from that story itself.  When I  decided to write a  novel on the theme of reincarnation , its core idea was a story about few characters who would meet again and again in different births.  To me , the  interesting part was emotional interactions between these selected characters. However , once I placed them in  today’s dateline in  Mumbai ,  some of the details of these characters were already decided by today’s Mumbai.  I did not  invent anything. It was the city of Mumbai  that provided the finer details of these  characters.

        However , it does not mean that a novelist is merely an instrument passively translating these details into a novel. I think that a novelist plays an active role. Just as a seed needs lot of  sustenance and materials from its surrounding soil , the story needs an emotional ecosystem to unfold itself.  This is where a novelist comes into the picture. A novelist , rather her/his sensibility and her/his subconscious mind ,  provides this sustenance and nurture. Thus , as the novel unfolds , it is a  novelist’s emotional ecosystem that manifests itself in the  form of nuances of the  plot.  For instance , in my second novel  my own background  surfaces in variety of  disguises.  In my case , the fact that I was born and brought up in  middle class  traditional  milieu comes out naturally. Similarly , the  fact that I have spent large part of my life in downtown of Mumbai also  comes through. Admittedly  , these are trivial aspects of my life and would be obvious to perceptive readers. But what about  the  substantive parts of my own sensibility ? How do they get incorporated into the novel ?

         Before  going into these serious aspects of creative writing , I would  also  like to make it clear that  although the  emotional ecosystem and subconscious mind of a  novelist define the unfolding of the plot , it does not necessarily imply that a  novelist is a  mere  puppet in the hands of her /his subconscious mind. This is where a sense of authorship  comes in. While  novelist’s subconscious mind  throws up  several options to  work upon , it is the novelist’s critical faculty that selects and refines these multiple nuances of the plot. Thus  the  intricacies of the plot are eventually shaped by inherent features of the story , novelist’s subconscious mind and finally , novelist’s critical aesthetics.

           I realized , while writing my second novel , that I have rather  conservative attitudes.  This realization came up when I noticed that my protagonist was too  conservative even by  my own standard. He appears as a chartered accountant  in the  novel. However , I did not realize when and how he turned out to be  that  conservative. Then it occurred to me that  he may have been created by my subconscious mind in response to my discomfort with the  protagonist of my first novel.  In that novel , the  protagonist was too dreamy and too abstract.  Moreover , his unrealistic dreamy nature arose from his unrequited love. So when I  began my second novel , subconsciously I might have gone to other  extreme. Thus creation of  conservative protagonist must have  come about as a way of  compensation by my subconscious mind.  This can happen only if  I was conservative.  However , once the novel progressed I found out that there was a reason why the  protagonist turned out to be that conservative.  It has something to do with his younger days when he experienced trauma. When that insight into reasons for his  conservativeness  was available to me , it  occurred to me that  somewhere in my  subconscious mind I must have  imagined two  emotional responses for facing a trauma. Though ,  I don’t think that  I would have behaved in either manner but these options must be  buried somewhere deep within my psyche.  I am  pointing out these  private observations because these are  the revelations that surfaced in the process of creative writing.  They are as much mine as they are yours because  deep within  we , the novelist and the readers , share a common human mind. More importantly  , when the readers would read my second novel ,  they would find out that the conservative nature evolves into something more profound.  That transition from being  mere  conservative to  being empathetic  represents my own  critical and  aesthetic  judgement.

          In my  next  blog , I would describe some more  details of my second novel and how are these related to my own  sensibility

           

MY  SECOND  NOVEL BLOG #12.

      MEANING OF THE THEORY

    OF KARMA.

             I have been writing on the theory of karma in my last few blogs. This is my last blog on this topic. In this blog , I would outline true significance of the theory of karma. There are two aspects of this theory that I would discuss in this blog. First aspect is that of collective wisdom of our sages that could crystallize out such a fine tuned theory. The second aspect is that of inherent wisdom of the theory itself. Both these aspects are connected to one another, but more importantly , they collectively demonstrate the depth of insights into human nature and the nature of reality available at that time. Let me begin with the collective wisdom behind the theory of karma.

           Considering the fact that this theory was articulated at a time when nothing much was known about psychology and natural sciences , it is indeed awe inspiring that we collectively could think of such a theory. Today , we might find fault with it and comment on its shortcomings( at least I do it ) , but we forget that we are able to do so because we have access to knowledge that was not available to them. In spite of this , the sages have been able to create a formal body of thought that is still relevant.  There are two possible reasons for this. Firstly , by the time this theory was articulated , we must have had a  very well developed value system . This value system must have been comprised of fine cultural  ethos, sense of  justice, notion of  good  and bad  and even knowledge  of  psychology.  To create   an elaborate  theory of such intricacy , the  prevalent  value  system must have had intellectual  depth of immense  magnitude. The sages who articulated  this  theory  did realise that these fundamental principles  must be  absolute.  They also  must have  realised that  their own  ability to  grasp  the finer nuances of the theory could not have been  a  matter of random  chance.  Therefore , in their  collective  wisdom, they created an explanation that even their own  understanding  of the  theory  must be a  consequence of  their own  individual  karma .This resulted in two consequences.  Firstly, they realised that they could not  claim  any credit for  understanding and interpreting the  theory of  karma.  Therefore , like most of our scriptures  ,  the theory of  karma has no authorship.  It is , like most of our  scriptures, a given wisdom. There is a beautiful  term in Sanskrit  for wisdom  not derived from  individual  authorship.  It is  called  “Apaurusheya” . While normally  this  term  is  usually  employed to denote absolute  and therefore  divine knowledge,  it’s  correct  usage is to denote  the non authorship of the  knowledge. The second consequence of this realization was that the notion of  karma was elevated from being a subjective entity to the level of being the objective truth. It is  the  cognition  of  this  objective  karma by individual  soul that alters it’s fate. We , rationalists, sometimes  argue that since  we do not  remember  our karmas of our  past births , the theory of karma is wrong.  However, it is  not  as simple as that.  What if  what psychologists call subconscious  mind is nothing but  those memories of  our  past  births ? I agree that  this is  not a  scientific  hypothesis  but  it  can not be  denied  right  away.  I can think of  one of the  pioneers of modern  psychology ,  Carl Yung who had similar  ideas. Irrespective of our belief  in  such arguments, the fact remains that  theory of karma  offers an alternative  explanation of  human  predicament. 

               From  this perspective, one can see why the  theory of karma  is still relevant. It is  relevant  because  it refers to basic  nature of  human mind. The basic  fact , that  we often  overlook , is that  human  nature  has not changed.  What  has changed  is its mode of  expressions.  Every  age finds its own  way of expressing  itself.  If it was scriptures  and theory of  karma  in ancient times  ,  it is science and  jurisprudence  in present  times.  The common link in all these ages is the constancy  of human nature. This is  true of not only  religious  texts , but  also  of all forms of  art.  A great writer finds her/his readers several  centuries  later. This is  again  because of  constancy of human nature.  Today  ,  we can identify ourselves with  the pathos of Greek tragedies  because  we share the emotions  experienced by those  characters  at a very  fundamental  level.  Similarly,  when Goethe was overwhelmed  with joy after  reading  “Abhigyan Shakuntal “ , it was the  same  constancy  of  human nature.  The credit  , of course , goes to the  genius of the  writers who could  express human  predicament  in such universal terms  but  the underlying  fact is that  human  nature  has not changed.

         Therefore one is tempted to view the  theory of  karma  as a psychological  theory .  In a sense , this is  true.  However  ,  there is a  possibility that  the  theory of  karma  is something  more than  that.  This  brings me to the  last point  that  I  wish to  make. The theory of  karma  hints at  something  deeper than its mere psychological  efficacy. It suggests that  the notion of  karma  is at par with  physical  actions.  By postulating  such an  equivalence  ,  the theory of  karma  is suggesting that  realm  in which  human  mind  exists is the same as the realm in which  physical  objects  exist. In other words , the whole  universe is  one single  entity. Human mind  is entwined  with  material  universe. The  science , however, does not  agree with  this possibility.This is  because  science  began by separating mind from the matter. I would  want all of you to think about  this  difference between  science and  the theory of  karma.  I think both paradigms  are only partly correct.  I am not sure  how to  reconcile  both.

          With this  observations  , I would  conclude my series of  blogs on the  theory of  karma.  In my  next  blog  ,  I  would  focus on  my second novel  which is  half way through.