Flowers in forgotten books...
After my post on Shivaji theatre,
That brings me to the “kitAb mein phool” debate.
When you find a flower pressed in the pages of a long-forgotten book…memories come rushing back in a torrent, some which have been buried so long that you didn’t know you remembered those things.
But what is nostalgia? Isn’t it the memories associated with that pressed flower, and not the flower itself? But you need the flower to bring back those memories…
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new”, wrote Tennyson, and he used these thought-provoking words, “lest one good custom corrupt the world”. He certainly made a valid point there. What was correct and apt some time ago may be irrelevant today, and indeed, harmful sometimes. So many things are relics of history, which should fade away with history…
But there is the great value, too, of what is old, inherited, tradtional and venerable. We pride ourselves as a land of ancient culture and unbroken traditions.
So…how does one separate the wheat from the chaff? What to let go of, what to hold on to? We may think that we are the only ones facing this dilemma…but I am sure every generation must have thought about it too. Here again is a dichotomy..on the one hand, one tends to assume that rapid change is something that is only happening in the present time…and yet, there is also a tendency to think that evolution and change have already finished happening that history is something that happened before we were born. Witness the vanity of those who started categorizing art and fiction , and called the art and fiction of their time “modern”…“modern” joined the pages of history, too, and now we have to classify things as “post-modern”…what will we do thirty years from now, I wonder!
Well..an eternal debate…a good example is the excellent road from Bangalore to Hosur. Once (well, not too long ago) it was a lovely but not very wide road, shaded on both sides by majestic trees. Obviously a broader road was needed, and today, a really good road DOES exist (never mind the extreme difficulties that the road-users have undergone, that is a separate topic.)So…what is good? The beauty, the serenity of the old road? The efficiency, the good construction of the new road? I am hard put to decide.
The past or the future? Perhaps all of us should be Janus, after all…with one face looking each way, and mixing both in the present.