The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

More Than Just an Adornment

Sometimes it is the adornment that makes the impression, not the basic content of the things we observe. I have this generalisation to make as I remember my text book in Software Engineering. [Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach--Roger S. Pressman, ISBN 9780071202510]. While explaining the requirement elicitation process, he turns a bit romantic.

Romantic narratives in a computer text book? Oh yes, it is so. Let me quote him:

"The most commonly used requirement elicitation technique is to conduct a meeting or interview. The first meeting between a software engineer (the analyst) and the customer can be likened to the awkwardness of a first date between two adolescents. Neither person knows what to say or ask; both are worried that what they do say will be misinterpreted; both are thinking about where it might lead (both likely have radically different expectations here); both want to get the things over with, but at the same time, both want it to be a success."

Ah, Mr Pressman, we'd love you to pen a fiction for us...and a romantic one at that!

Text books tend to be drab but the technique of quoting proverbs, narrating anecdotes, presenting far-fetched examples do work miracles. Say the book I was following for my C-language [C: How to Program, H. M. Dietel and P. J. Dietel, ISBN 9780132883337]. It has quite a few interesting samples of quotes. They match the context and sometimes import essential humour into the context. Let me quote a few.

Things are always at their best in their beginning. --Blaise Pascal

High thoughts must have high language. ---Aristophanes

Our life is frittered away by detail...Simplify, simplify.---Henry Thoreau

How many apples fell on Newton's head before he took the hint! ---Robert Frost

The used key is always bright. ---Benjamin Franklin

Addresses are given to us to conceal our whereabouts. ---Saki (H. H. Munro)

The end must justify the means. ---Matthew Prior

Creative text is not only about writing something totally new, absolutely fresh and out of the world. Knowing what others have said on the point and quoting them right in the context make it interesting. That's why children are encouraged to mug up poems, proverbs, sayings. It is part of the process of acculturation. One cannot dream of being an orator until he internalises the writings of a host of famous writers.

Thus there are twofold demands on the faculty of a poet--to create and to mug up. Creativity cannot be a lone bird!

Coming back to the issue of adornment, I cannot agree that it is a sure recipe for a successful creation. Don't we come across meaningful songs dumped into the depth of inaudibility by a lot of high-decibel music accompanying them? Economy of strokes have produced masterpieces in paintings just like economy of words have created enduring poetry.

So, where is the limit? On the one hand we have voluminous narratives creating masterpieces and on the other there is demand for crisp things. Really I don't know.

Now I'm just reminded of an oft-repeated cliche about creative writing: The only rule that stands is that there is no rule!
A. N. Nanda



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