a year ago

The circuitous route of the creative process

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A lot of people are born with an artistic self within the deep recess of their mind. As they grow up, many are found engaged in activating the artist who remains buried in their inner selves. They remain busy with this act throughout their life. As they continue their career, they go ahead with the process of honing their creativity. Many begin exploiting their dormant artistic identity quite early in their adolescence. Others remain indifferent, while many lose interest after exploiting a branch of the greater arts for some time.

To speak in nutshell, human beings are endowed with activities demanding creativity as they cross their childhood. Many authors, painters and performing artists begin showing their flair for engaging in the arts in their very pre-teen age. Although a few of them end up being a little misguided child prodigies, or enfant terrible, the rest prove to be genuine talents. Many a writer, artist, scientist or thinker has emerged from the later group. In the horizon of greater Bengal, the poets Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam or Sukanto have entered their respective areas of creativity in their tender age. There are others in the allied areas. Except the prematurely expired Sukanto, the two others were gifted with careers long enough to enrich Bangla poetry and music. However, illness stood in the way of Nazrul's creative journey. He had to stop writing in the early 1940s. Yet Kazi Nazrul's creative output left in a short span of his life is amazing.

In the world of the arts, the number of authors with short creative lives is considerably large. Despite their placing in the footnotes, they cannot be ignored altogether. Why the otherwise promising writers or artists do not take their genius to a certain height remains an enigma. The same is also the case with the general people, including habitual readers. According to behavioural scientists, a section of creative humans are lazy by birth. They are unlike those who remain restless throughout their life. The former of these two classes hardly emerge as pure writers. They are never prepared to take the mental and physical pressure required to employ in the process of becoming authors, painters, or artists in other disciplines. In the end, these young people with the potential for growing up as consummately creative persons remain in society like any other average person.

As the creativity of many a talented person stops progressing half way through, or much earlier, society remains filled with these creative people not fully blossomed or partly blossomed. Perhaps due to this every society has its share of part-blossomed or failed writers or other amateurs; though they are engaged in the greater realm of the arts. Side by side with these social segments, the readers comprise a distinctive class with its own pleasure and disillusionment. The disenchantment stems from their inability to continue their passion for reading. Like many talented writers, readers are also seen facing the deaths of their 'reading selves'. The noted Bengalee writer Banaphool's short story 'Death of a Reader' gives the scathing portrayal of how a passionate reader's bibliophilic self dies out thanks to the encroachment of external realities on his life. In the story 'Pathoker Mrityu', the protagonist finds a piece of writing, which had enthralled him a decade ago; and dull and insipid a decade later.

Pleasure-reading is fast vanishing from society. Even three to four decades ago, the habit of reading the materials outside textbooks was part of a large number of students' day-to-day routines. The trend would begin with schools and continue up to the university level. Thus of the students hooked on books during their early adolescence, many would emerge later as consummate readers. The habit of making books a pleasant companion would thus get stronger as the students entered the college phase. Many university students' pleasure-reading would include serious books of literature, and works on assorted topics like literature, travelogue, autobiographies, history etc.

 The main problem the students would face in those days was the meagre supply of books. Only a handful of schools and colleges back then could take pride in having a library. The senior fraternities of pleasure-reading students were mostly found turning to neighbourhood community libraries near colleges. Only a tiny few, those coming from affluent families, could muster the ability to purchase books from shops. Many of the financially insolvent students would be seen visiting footpath shops selling second-hand books. All this resulted in the forming of school or college-based informal readers' groups. Although these groups were supposed to remain focused on fairy tales and adventures at the school stage, and serious literary books at their college level, they eventually turned to detective or espionage stories. A section of serious guardians couldn't approve of these private reading clubs. They insisted that the student readers include Bangla classics in their collection of books. The students won't listen. The age they were passing through was one of loving thrill and suspense.

A section of liberal parents, however, favoured the students. According to them, detective, mystery and espionage fictions have little chances to derail innocent students. They were not wrong in their observation. Many of today's celebrated writers remained addicted to 'B-grade' books in their childhood and youth. In time, they attained the ability to wean themselves off their teenage and post-teenage passion for thrill and suspense. As they had already developed their reading habit and grew a liking for serious fictions, there were little chances that they would turn to cheap books again.        

     Nowadays, teenagers and youths have little idea about pleasure-reading. There is the Bangla Academy Ekushey Book Fair every year. Book loving youths hardly miss the event. But a highly notable feature is many of these youths are mere buyers of books; they lack the passion of the youths distinguished by the gift of pleasure-reading. Casual readers move round a book fair taking time, watching the books of their choice, and leafing through some before purchasing one or a few. Highly serious youths and adults visit the fair targeting particular books. Upon entering the fair, they go straight to the specific stall and collect the book or books. The hobby of reading has long been a universal feature. An amazing aspect of this practice is it also deserts a person. It's a highly common spectacle showing a person once obsessed with books draw a blank upon being reminded of this phase. In most cases, they grow a kind of apathy for books. Nowadays, a common excuse is found to be in circulation. They say they find the practice of online reading more convenient than the traditional style. In reality this is an excuse. They have extricated themselves from the joy of reading.

Like the readers, a section of writers also say adieu to their past they lived through as authors. There have been many such writers, like the readers, in the modern times. Many writers make confessions that they cannot write anymore, and their earlier Writer's Self has left them. This is a strange malady, but common among the writers and painters. Perhaps it explains the reasons behind putting a stop to the writing career by the French novelist Gustav Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, the French poet Rimbaud, novelist Franz Kafka, poet Sylvia Plath, the gifted Bengalee poet Samar Sen or the ten-year gap of Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet, and a number of other poets and novelists. Most of the authors start their career in an irresistible creative burst. Why they end up being stricken by depression remains a great mystery.

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