owards Responding to Maiden Novel of Hiranya Borah
Let me enunciate a brief theoretical analysis of guilt and gift that appears to be the essence of narrative line of the novel. At the outset I congratulate the writer on his maiden novel as an anglophone in characterization of certain number of characters. These characters are interwoven with lust, sin, guilt, ' immoral 'sexual relations in a strange tapestry. First of all, in so far as sexuality and sexual union is concerned, it never the immediate contact at the level of the 'physical'. Human sexuality , however physical it may appear, is never physical. Spirit no matter what its form and intent, moves in the physicality of physical relation. It is veritably permeated with fantasies of guilt, pleasure, enchantment, happiness, even of violence, jealousy, envy, greed ,etc. Fantasies and particularly sexual fantasies are a product of irremediable cracks in our existential relations. We should know, and it is established in clinical theory and practice, that everyone feels depressed after mere physical coitus that leads to release of tension. Let me recollect that people do not feel guilty after an act of crime whether of murder or of rape,etc. They commit crime out of burden of accumulating guilt.( Freud). Crime releases somehow, temporarily though, guilt. It is not only that man has inherited guilt from primordial murder of father to enjoy women the father monopolized exclusively but also that through building civilization guilt has been universalized and shared . May be murder of primeval father who monopolized woman unto himself was theoretical and historical fiction . But this event has had to occur for passage to culture from blind law of nature. Whatever the case, GUILT is the answer to the question without the knowledge of what the question was. In this sense guilt is a memory response to some indeterminate fault that lies buried in us. In this sense guilt is protective. And we as individuals are speaking and promising beings in fulfillment of duty towards other and repaying debt to others . That is why we are always hooked to the future as promising beings. Our perpetual questioning to ourselves is arrested at the door of guilt. Nonetheless many a time anxiety attacks in clinical case or in normal human beings signal breakdown of the barrier of guilt. In anxiety, world around us melts away in the twinkling of an eye. Holes in our solidly assumed world in which we move around with a sense of certitude and definiteness stand out in wide yawning abyss. Oh God! how man could have survived without pleasures of guilt or sin. Guilt is protective in that it is a filler that fills the existential angst( anxiety) with some sort of fantasy formations. These FANTASY formations in our psyche vary with our experiences. Even fantasy functions differently with differences in individuals. This Novel is one typical response --- fantasy loaded at that---- to guilt. Inverted, guilt turns to gift (awards, pleasures of love, ideals of figures of mother, father, son, brother,etc) . Sin is turned into redemption. Debt is turned into write-off with docile behavior of debtor. Guilt is pardoned by God in confession, Is this NOVEL a ritual of confession in modern times? What a beautiful balance sheet of pleasure and pain or guilt and gift or awards and punishment! Let us not forget that society or culture for that matter is a phenomenon of shared guilt of which we may not be aware. As for love, alas, how one can put it in language? It defies language, but again and again we go on writing on it, failing each time and again writing on it. In saying this, I have nothing to object to writing on love. Love is a shattering phenomenon in which nobody can figure himself/herself out, with identity of each one that one one holds about oneself is always at risk of dissipation. This is perhaps the reason for fear of love despite its fatal attractions. In love anything can happen not earlier imagined or imaginable. Range of love experiences is between Himalayan peak and bottomless valley. Blossom in the air and its opposite---- ugly, diabolical and absolutely evil Sexuality traverses in love relations and even without love relationship. In the Novel, the love and sexuality that is portrayed through characters is narcissistic. In other words, one loves the other if one loves oneself in loving other. In that sense, one becomes mirror image of the other and vice-versa. On the contrary, in real life mutual mirroring of each other never happens perfectly well: curvature takes place in relationship and this derails precarious homeostasis of" love" relationship. And therefore love is a perpetual war of sexes and even traumatic and tragic. In saying this, one has to be welcome to it. No one intends trauma to descend on one's life. It happens as if from nowhere and to which one is intellectually and practically defenseless and helpless. Love is impossible, but alas ' possible Love may pose as utilitarian but is not it. If by any stroke of chance utilitarian relation goes by the name of love , it degrades to everyday vulgarity. To us it is vulgar that creates claustrophobia in the midst of functional utilities and goods. It is experienced that we feel claustrophobic surrounded by piles of functional pleasures including sex. Let us begin with a sensualist who is drawn irrevocably towards sexual charms of a beautiful lady and spends night with her. Kant, the German philosopher, propounded that subduing the lust in a sensualist person is only possible if he is faced with threat of death. That is, in the balance sheet of pleasure, if pain of imminent death after spending lascivious pleasures of night with the lady outweighs the pleasure of lust, then he will be dissuaded from satisfying his lust. In opposition to this Kantian view, psychoanalysis sets up the following situation " There is in the bedroom the woman the sensualist lusts after. He is granted the freedom to enter that room to gratify his desire, but next to the door of the bedroom through which he will leave there stands the gallows on which he will be hanged" For Kant gallows will serve as a deterrent. But psychoanalysis problematises the nature of choice between the woman and the gallows And if the woman in the bedroom is overvalued/ over desired object of a pathological subject (neurotic, sensualist, for example), perhaps the threat of execution is insufficient to deter him from satiating his urges/lust. In fact, in real life situations, neurotics enjoy sex if there is an immediate threat attached to the act. This gratification is beyond the balance sheet of pleasures and threat of pain, even of death. This gratification is enjoyment---excessive pleasure in pain. Guilt, sin, debt, duty form the same semantic chain. The moment we say we have committed sins, then we are called upon to perform penance in terms of some rituals( like obsessive fasting , devotion to God,etc) or duty to father , God, nation or any other ideal or daily sacrifices. Only through powerful mechanisms of sin, society demands injustified sacrifices of us. Like in Novel, feeling of sin is so acute and acerbic that the the protagonist makes futile but necessary search for mother in Namita Bau and daughter in Ajanta. And why not in ideal of family, and ideal of father in elder brother,etc. Even punishment, it is said in the novel, is proportionately less in scale and depth than the sins. Is it not that the protagonist undergoes the spells of moral masochism ( i.e, pleasures of self infliction of punishment) to redeem himself of ‘sins’. What object lessons one can derive from reading this novel?
One can be cofident here that life is not mere balance of awards and punishments, though it is so to a greater degree. Moral order and its precepts in place , if one is sensitive enough, invokes temptation to transgress it so that one suffers guilt/ bad conscience . Is it not due to law that we are always and already guilty. The question is not to break the sinews and bones of the law in secret and again in turn to be held tightly in the strings of moral law. Law itself is sinful: in living under the morals of law we are always tainted with sin. Law from the beginning is sinful and law is outlaw. Its origin is interspersed with the blood of murder or any horrendous crime. That is why Kant warns that we should not seek the origin of law or moral order of society. Once we stumble on the origin of law ( Of course , no historical and anthropological evidence of origin is not available) in a daring act of theoretical speculation we discover the law all dripping with blood from head to foot.
Awards are as much a pleasure as punishment in a calibrated scale of measurement. We have to go beyond it . The writer of the novel both reveals infringement of moral order and again shrinks back in fear and takes shelter in guilt, another mode of pleasure.. He conceals every step he has taken to unconsciously break morals. He ended up where he was. Rather by setting up ideal figures of father, mother, etc, he has come in his main character to accepting more strongly that he violated unconsciously though. The protagonist ultimately consoles himself in the balance tilted in favour of ideals . ………… Actual review made By Anjan Jena
(reviewed the day of purchase)