Literature in the time of capitalism

Mahmudul Hasan Hemal
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017


Over past few decades there have been vital shifts in the subject matter of literary art on which the writers and artists think themselves at home to reflect their inner tidings. As a matter of fact the change in trends is inevitable as time goes by. The invincible effect of the passage of time stimulates and modifies our ways of life. And this change in our life results in the way of our poetry, music, prose, our philosophy and overall Literature. Literature is a reflection of life. With the modification in lifestyle, there inevitably happens the modification in Literature. These two cannot be controlled separately; they are integrated and balanced within themselves. You change one, you change the other. So when you first dump your old ’86 model car and free yourself from the sentimental archaism to get an all new 2017 model, there is an implied shift in literature too. When you replace the yellowish neon bulb with a bright white CFL light, there happens the shift in literature. Therefore what I gonna say with my poor assessment of integrated change that comes within is that- the ingredients with which the artists down history works are basically taken from the very life of people; and changes in people is mirrored automatically in forms of literature. In every little change of your life there is the stimulation which changes the field and subject matter of literature.


The conventional paper pages are replaced by Kindles’ LCD screen, Pen by keyboards, Print by online; but the essence of literary appeal remains intact. As long as we remain humane, literature which tells of ourselves will keep accompanying us. Although I am quite agree with the disturbing truth that there have been a notable scarcity of readers. There are reasons. We have little time now-a-days. There are a whole lot of entertainment sources available to us. TVs, Playstations, Social-medias, swarming twenty first century love and datings and what-not!  So it matters. Why would you spend some time to read what is written inside low resolution, analogue scriptures while you have better choices to go for ultra  high definition movies. Why would you rather stay locked inside home with a book on your chest if you have scheduled disco and wine with friends, especially with female (in case you are in the male category) ones? In fact there are more colors outside the pages. There are no dazzling colors but black-white concentration in book. Their pages are dull, dry and monochromic. But you-know-what, with these dry, unattractive pages it is easy to draw a great panoramic integration of life. It can be inferred that literature is the reflection to your life. It mirrors you and me. It mirrors us.


Literature doesn’t decay; it changes forms. So when we see that the flower cannot appeal to people, it is equally observed that an i-phone appeals that much. So instead of nature literature will take the machine as its prominent ingredients. You see, some people prefer science fiction to pastoral poetry. For them literature has a wider range of stories including of Spacecraft, Nanotechnology, Time travelling, Robotics and Androids, and what not. Stories of Aliens and Mars and rocket sciences are there. If within a few years processors can reside themselves from sixty five to twenty two nanometers, why can’t literature changes its mind to focus on what is going on?  Going parallel Literature has established itself on the ground of science which has lifted the journey of literature in a non- polarized and diversified way. Rousseau’s bipolar debate on the discourse of Arts and Sciences has mitigated themselves; they are no longer the opposite entities they have long been before. But yes, some of us beat their breast that our trends have faded away. No one cares for the butterfly. Drone has charmed us every way. No one listens to Fateh Ali khan. Honey Sing disturbs our eardrum. No one has that taste of Symphony no.7. All the taste remaining are for the Pitball’s and Lady Gaga . What the fuck are these! Literature is dying for sure!


There are deaths to everything. Human dies. And beasts, and animals and chair, tables. Certainly they die. Languages die. Take an example from the classical Latin. So powerful a language died! Y’know why?


Because it went rigid. It stopped taking words and forms from other languages. And thus it died. The thing is like river. When a river can’t let the new water flowing through its breast, it clogs and dies. English is becoming powerful because it simultaneously takes words from a great number of languages available. Changes define the durability. Literature is not rigid. It is flexible and immediately shifts itself into a great number of subject matter to create a variety of genre.


Every single scientific invention has their preface in human need. When people died in diseases and the cries and murmurs of dying people brought tears out of life, then some people wiped their eyes and went into labs. They found the very little thing, and we call them viruses, bacteria and germs, that killed us. They passed sleepless nights to deal with them. Vaccinations were worked out. Now we see we are really bigger in power than those microscopic organisms. The way the transistors were invented, and later the ICs marking the era of micro-electronics are almost like stories. The thing is that they are the stories more real, more physical, more visible and somewhat more powerful too. And y’know literature represents stories from imagination and reality. All these comprise the heroic stories of human race. And reader, You speak of science, you speak of literature. The thing works like that.


In the age of literature’s dealing with sheer imagination and fantasy, science was seen a potential threat to it. A very common notion behind it was that, logic defies fantasy and therefore kills the very core of literary branches. But over times it has been seen through the symbiosis of Arts and Science that the two are non reactive; can go side by side. Imagination and fantasy are not opposed to logic. Rather they creates the very foundation of logic, science and modern enlightenment. Einstein emphasized Imagination to be more important than knowledge. The first step of technology and innovation, I believe, is comprehension. And this imagination or comprehension is literature. This imagination is the underlying philosophy that set people to take the first step for a scientist.


Well, people are making money. They don’t care about what happens in between pages. The art has confined itself in making more money out of money. These are the things we keep saying these days. The transition between a different economic scenario comprising of consumerism and capitalism has confused us and blurred our vision to be cynical about the course of art and literature. But it should not be forgotten that, Literature has evoked conscience of man down the human history. Till there is a man with blood circulating through his vein there will be literature, in the form required to the time relevant.


“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”


Mahmudul Hasan Hemal,  E-mail:

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