Intellectual slumming with a genius: an essay by Adam Donaldson Powell (Norway) on T. Wignesan’s book “Poïetics : Disquisitions on the Art of Creation”


T. WIGNESAN : INTELLECTUAL SLUMMING WITH A GENIUS.

Literary criticism by Adam Donaldson Powell (based upon “Poïetics : Disquisitions on the Art of Creation”, published by Cyberwit.net, India, 2008, ISBN 978-81-8253-104-8, 214 pages, paperback, US$20.

What happens when a genius and a scholar and a writer compiles and publishes a series of essays and interviews on poïetics, with the aim of both presenting this all-too-obscure area of investigation on a level that is understandable to a non-genius and perhaps even to a non-scholar? For most readers the consequence is perhaps that of easily getting lost – much as in the process of digesting the long-winded sentence I have just presented. One needs to either quickly “learn” or “recognize” the language of multi-leveled thought processes and communication – or to give up, with the rationalization that the book is “boring” or “uninteresting”. The latter unwittingly reveal themselves as interesting subjects for the author and his interpretation of poïetics, as the experience of “boredom” is a central concept in his oeuvre. For those of us who share T. Wignesan’s interests in philosophy, abstractions, existentialism, surrealism, the development of literature, analysis of the difficulties in both artistic expression and translation etc. this book is more than mere “eye candy” – it is a walk through Wonderland. This walk together with Wignesan affords the consenting “genius” the opportunity to intellectually slum through a multitude of complicated, competing and converging presentations of reality and “sub-reality” … with accompanying elements of entertainment, including small commentaries that bring forth the occasional snicker, as well as hidden “checks” by which the reader can himself determine if he is truly still awake in the classroom, and even more importantly: the fun of following an otherwise academic presentation while subjectively being presented with the very points of the analysis in the writing form itself. THIS is where the true naughty genius of T. Wignesan makes itself evident, a genius not entirely unlike that of Jean-Paul Sartre, Voltaire and other masters of literary presentations of philosophical thought.

Many readers are possibly wondering ‘what the hell’ I am talking about – and quite understandably perhaps. It is therefore appropriate to define a few terms. The title of this book would be for some an abstraction in itself, but which is yet perfect when dissected. “Disquisition” refers to an elaborate analytical or explanatory essay or discussion; a formal discourse or dissertation; or a diligent inquiry. “Creation” refers to starting or introducing something new, everything that exists, the human act of creating something, the event of bringing something into existence, and a thing or artifact that has been brought into existence. And finally, “poïetics” is defined by T. Wignesan himself as “the science and philosophy of creation. It is the tie which links the creator to his work while the work, as Passeron (René) puts it, is in the process of being created. The study of this act of becoming is the object of poïetics. Once the work is created or the act of creation is consummated, three conditions (according to the French “school”) prevail:

1) that the finished product or oeuvre constitutes an unique entity;
2) that the finished product be invested with a personality of its own, and
3) that the finished product compromise the creator in that he is in some ways still responsible for the oeuvre through his role as the progenitor of the product.”

Fairly basic stuff actually. However, every philosopher has the burden of defining his/her concepts on both sides of the margin. As a discussion of ”being” necessitates a complementary discussion of “nothingness”, so does a discussion of creation require an analysis of what is or is not a creation. This larger discussion affords the author a wide range of opportunities to draw upon many related discussions pertaining to human perception and systems of thought, which he does with expertise. However, as indicated above, Wignesan also combines his artistic literary talents together with his love and understanding of philosophical analysis to make the reading experience itself an active illustration of his concepts. For example, Wignesan discusses at length the impulse and function of “boredom” in the process of creation and aptly manages to produce a book that is designed to illustrate and experientially convey both boredom and the desire to promote understanding of complicated universal processes in a simple way. (I can almost hear the snicker of a few readers at this commentary of mine. Yes, I did find the oeuvre both boring at times and often incredibly thought-provoking and stimulating.) His discourses on translation constitute yet another example of this active communication and active dialogue, in that the reader is invited into an active thought process triggered by Wignesan’s examples and writing style. To me, this is the highest form of creation and art: a work that entices the reader, viewer and listener himself/herself to think creatively.

This is an ambitious work. Does T. Wignesan succeed in making this analytical and literary experience accessible to the “uninitiated” and the layman? In my opinion, he both does … and occasionally does not. As an author and reviewer of books who shares many of Wignesan’s philosophical perspectives regarding the nature and function of creation and of existentialism, as well as an understanding of the difficulties of writing on many levels of comprehension in one work and attempting to simplify where possible … even I found myself getting “lost” a few times – having to go back and take a comprehension and reality “check” for myself. But then again, literary “entertainment” can also include self-reflection, new learning, academic language and abstractions to be explored. And not everything needs to be explained in entirety or in the simplest of terms.

Even the cynical or lazy reader who would dismiss this book as “uninteresting” or “folly” will be left with a nagging question that at least momentarily disrupts his/her inner peace: ‘have I – in fact – all too quickly set up barriers in self-defense against an important area of exploration and self-knowledge?’

By Adam Donaldson Powell, Norway.

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