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The Importance of English-Arabic Translation

The Importance of English-Arabic Translation
The Importance of English-Arabic Translation

This article is devoted to the English Arabic translation; it will lay the light on the definition of translation, the importance of English Arabic translation, the difficulty idioms impose to translators, the qualities of a good translator and the necessity for translation in general.

Translation in Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed’s words is: “the action or process of delivering from one language into another. It is the expression or rendering of sense of words, sentences, and passages etc from one language into another.” Ulm-ul-Qur’an, Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed, I.A.S.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines translation as the rendering of a text into another language.

Katharine Barnwell (1986, p. 8).defines it as follows: Translation is re-telling, as exactly as possible, the meaning of the original message in a way that is natural in the language into which the translation is being made.

Translation is much more than the interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language and the production of a new, equivalent text in another language , or the substitution of the words of one language with the words of another language, or the rendering of meaning of a text or whatsoever in one language into another, it is the bridge of appreciation and understanding among people of different cultural groups , it is the means of communication among different groups of people, the means of cultural exchange, the means of preserving cultural heritage of any nation, the means of forming ties and friendships among different groups of people, and the means of understanding and peace.

Human beings are after all not living alone and, every human being has the need and desire to know about one another, man tries to learn what other people are doing, how they are living, and how they have lived. We would like to know, apart from our different ethnicity, color, language, and culture, whether we share the same understanding of love, passion, sorrow, aspiration, sympathy, jealousy and many other respects of human nature. So as long as the desire to exists, translation will be the only bridge across which our aims are reached and our desire realized.

In the general sense, the goal of translation is to build bridges among different groups of people, but the goal of translation in the theoretical sense is to establish a relationship of equivalence between the source and the target language; it should ensure that both texts communicate the same message.

There has been debate as to whether translation is an art, a science, or a Skill. I think Translation is a combination of all of them. It is a science in the sense that it needs complete knowledge of the structure, grammar, semantics, and syntax and in general the make-up of the two languages concerned. It is an art since it requires artistic talent to reconstruct the original text in the form of a product that is presentable to the reader who is not supposed to be familiar with the original. It is also a skill, because it requires attention to detail the meaning and a thorough understanding of the relationship between syntax and semantics, coupled with extensive cultural background and the ability to provide the translation of something that has no equal in the target language.

Also being a human skill, it enables human beings to exchange ideas and thoughts regardless of the different languages they use. Man is endowed with the ability to convey his feelings and experience to others through language. For this process of communication man acquired both spoken language and the written language, but when human beings spread over the earth, their languages differed and they needed a means through which they can communicate and interact with each others. Thus necessity for translation to convey one’s feelings and experiences into the other language was felt.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, why is translation between English and Arabic important? Both Arabic and English are of the world great languages, in the book ‘The Spread of English, on page 77 the writer says: “the great languages of today are languages of empire, past and present. Only two, Mandarin Chinese and Russian, continue as languages of administration within single, ethno linguistically diverse states. The others -Arabic, English, French, and Spanish-are imperial legacies, having survived the disintegration of the empires that fostered them.”

Arabic language is one of the great world languages. there have been great languages of great empires that did not survive as a great language , like Turkish for instance, when we compare Turkish with Arabic, we find out that Arabic survived the disintegration of the Arab Islamic empire and it continues to be one of the great languages of the world till today, while the Turkish language which was the language of administration and authority in the middle east , Balkans, and different parts of the world that was under the Ottoman rule for a thousand years ,but Turkish in the words of Fishman on page 77 in the book ‘The Spread of English” ‘flowed back to Anatolia with the collapse of the ottoman empire’. But these words are not 100% accurate because Turkish is spoken all over Turkey and in Northern Cyprus, not only in Anatolia which is only a part of Turkey. Also Turkish minorities in the former Soviet Union republics, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, and Romania use Turkish as their mother tongue. Moreover the languages of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, are all branches of the Turkic language family. Yet, no denying that Turkish language lost a lot of its importance after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Returning to Arabic, it is one of the six official languages adopted in The United Nations. Arabic is the language of a rich culture and civilization dating back many centuries; it was the language of Muhammad, the Messenger and Prophet of Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God), and it is the language of the Holy Qura’an. It has produced great figures such as Averroes(Ibn-Roshd), the medieval Aristotelian philosopher; Ibn Khaldun, the first social historian; and Khalil Jibran. Between the eighth and the fifteenth centuries, the volume of literary, scholarly and scientific book production in Arabic and the level of urban literacy among readers of Arabic were the highest the world had ever known to that time. Islamic artists have used Arabic script as their principal art form for centuries; the beauty of their work will be revealed to anyone through the study of Arabic. Arabic is a member of the Semitic group of languages, closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, the language the Christ spoke. Moreover, Arabic is widely spoken; total speakers of Arabic exceed 350 million.

According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, Arabic was also a major vehicle of culture, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy during the middle ages, that is why many European languages have also borrowed numerous words from it.

Pamela J.Farris says in her book Language arts on page 99

“English has borrowed from Arabic algebra, candy, lemon, orange, sugar, and magazine.”

Not only these words English borrowed from Arabic, but there are hundreds of other words borrowed from Arabic, there are some hundreds of the words English borrowed from Arabic in Al Mawrid English-Arabic dictionary, such as typhoon which means in Arabic 7HA’F , Spinach 3(‘F. , and sesame which means in Arabic 3E3E.

So Arabic being one of the world great languages makes translation from and into that language very important, especially English Arabic translation.

No doubt that English is a world language; nowadays it is the language of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy, and tourism. It is listed as the official or co-official language of numerous countries .As well as Arabic, it is one of the six official languages in the United Nations

Consequently, the knowledge of the English language is one of the most important tools in achieving scientific and technological knowledge; moreover it is a tool of communication between countries, different cultural groups, various companies and organizations, communities and friends.

Translation is the tool to make use of the new technology and science. Science knowledge coupled with multiple languages and cultures are increasingly important in an expanding global economy and world welfare. It is clear that Britain and the USA are the forefront of new ideas in science and technology. USA has pioneered in all fields of technology and science; accomplishments of Britain and US technology are in English, so it is very essential to know English to make use of such technology and science.

Also Political relationships, wars, and conflicts make translation so important to have access to what is going on in different parts of the world, especially Arabic English translation, as English is the language of the big powers of the world, and the Arab region is the theatre, where vital events take place at present.

No denying that English is the cornerstone of the world media, many important news sources are in English, on page 34 of the book The Spread of English the writer says: “English newspapers in non English mother-tongue countries are another indication of the world wide status of English”.

If one knows English, one can read the news and points of views of several writers around the globe, by doing so one can expand his knowledge, and get a broader outlook on the surroundings, and to look at issues with a broader perspective. In my opinion, knowing any language is an international passport specifically English.

English is also the language of communication, with the spread of internet, English appeared to be the language of communication, hundreds of millions of different races communicate with each others via the internet in English, thus English helps to strengthen ties, and make friends among different cultural groups of people on different spots of our planet.

So being the language of science technology and communication, in the age of the internet, English spread so widely, there has never been a language so widely spread in so short a time as English.

As mentioned above, both Arabic and English are great world languages, so translation between this pair of languages is important and essential because of the many reasons mentioned previously.

Translation has been and continues to be the means of cultural and knowledge exchange among people throughout history, and the means of preserving cultural heritage.

As the Islamic Arabic Empire spread, the Arabic language and, indeed, culture was enriched by contacts with other civilizations: Greeks, Persians, Copts, Romans, Indians and Chinese. During the ninth and tenth centuries, a great translation movement, centered in Baghdad, was in force, in which many ancient scientific and philosophical tracts were transposed from ancient languages, especially Greek, into Arabic. Many were enhanced by the new wisdom suggested by Arab thinkers; other texts were simply preserved, only to re-emerge in Europe during the Renaissance.

Modern European languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and English owe a great debt to Arabic. The English language itself contains many words borrowed from Arabic: algebra, alchemy, admiral, genius, ghoul, mare sherbet, soda and many others. “

By the means of translation cultural heritage is preserved and new civilizations evolved and flourished; the western civilization for instance, was established on the Arabic and Islamic civilization; scientific books were translated from Arabic into different European languages, and it was the core for the current western civilization.

In the book of “Muslim Contributions to World Civilization” On page 118 we will find that, “From 1154 AC to the sixteenth century, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars from Western Europe and Spain translated books from Arabic into Latin in the Toledo Academy established by Alfonso, Sabio the Wise. The translations were then distributed to academic centers in Europe, where they became the basis of the Renaissance, the revival of knowledge in Europe.”

Stanwood Cobb says:” Europe was indebted for all of its beginnings in alchemy and chemistry to the chemical science of the Arabs, which reached them through translation of Arabic works into Latin. In this science, as in other arts and sciences which they practiced, they developed an objective and experimental method as opposed to the purely speculative method of the Greeks.”

“The science of algebra owes much to gifted mathematicians of the

Islamic era. Its very name proves the magnitude of this debt, for the name itself is Arabic, al gebr, “a binding together .”

“In addition to the volumes of Greek science, many scientific works of the Arabs-Avicenna, Averroes, and Rhazes in particular-were translated.”

So English-Arabic translation has been and continues to be of great importance, the causes in the past and present are only different. Currently, it is well known that English Arabic translation is increasingly becoming a topic of much concern and importance these days. Oil, strategic location, history of the Islamic and different other civilizations that took place in the Arabic region, and the current events in the Middle East on the Arab side and the western desire to possess the oil and dominate the region on the Western side, contribute to this importance. This paper highlights the importance of English Arabic translation, mainly the translation of the two word English idioms into Arabic; as English language is full of idioms native speakers of English use a lot of idioms and expressions in everyday conversations, books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows on the Internet because idioms add color to the language, but at the same time, idioms are difficult to understand because their meaning is not what it appears to be at first sight. This imposes a major difficulty to translators from English into Arabic.

For example in the Telegraph newspaper dated 19/09/2006 one of the headlines reads “Police patrols at churches stepped up in Pope Row”

The Idiom ‘step up is used in this article, the Idiom Connection defines the idiom’ step up ‘as follows “rise to a higher or more important position, be promoted”

Al Mawrid dictionary translates the idiom ‘step up’ as J2J/- J6’9A- J2/’/- J*6’9A- JF/A9- J*B/E

In the context of the previous article, the idiom ‘step up’ can be translated as – J2/’/ , it is the translation of the meaning of the idiom.

A Second example in The Sunday Times dated April 30, 2006, the Idiom ‘back down’ is used in the following articles:

Iran’s psychopath in chief, by Israel

“Britain, France, Germany and America hope to pass a resolution at the United Nations Security Council this week mandating Iran to suspend its work on uranium enrichment. If Iran refuses to back down, the security council could impose targeted sanctions.”

Also in the Mail guardian online dated 07 November 2005 we will find the headline

‘Blair to back down on anti-terror laws’

British Prime Minister Tony Blair reluctantly accepted on Monday that he would have to back down on proposed anti-terror laws that would enable police to hold people for up to 90 days without charging them.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke, announcing what amounts to a climbdown, said, however, that the new time limit would not be as short as the 28 days sought by critics of the new Terrorism Bill, which faces a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

“We do not want to compromise on the 90 days at all. It will be a compromise with this nation’s security,” said Blair at his monthly Downing Street press conference, where he held out hope that he could yet minimise the impact.

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms – defines the idiom’ ‘back down as ‘Reverse one’s upward course, descend. For example, When she saw the wasps’ nest on the roof, she hastily backed down the ladder. This literal usage usually refers to something one has climbed, such as a ladder or mountain. [Mid-1800s]

Al Mawrid dictionary translates the idiom ‘back down’ as –J*F’2D 9F E7D(

Also 9F J*.DJ 9F – J*1′,9 is a proper translation

In the previous articles, it can be translated as 9F J*.DJ 9F – J*1′,9, and it is the translation of the meaning of the idiom.

Idioms are one of the factors that makes translation remain a human activity; although attempts have been made to automate and computerize the translation of natural language texts, or to use computers as an aid to translation, but translation remains mainly a human activity that needs skill, intelligence, human feeling that keeps the life and spirit of the original language to the translated text, idioms pose a challenge to any translation program. Since a lot of idioms cannot be translated literally.

The right understanding of Idioms is the key to have a good translation from English into Arabic. English is full of idioms; native speakers of English use a lot of idioms and expressions in their speech and writing, in other words, native speakers of English use idioms all the time. Idioms are the grease that makes language flow, but at the same time idioms are difficult to understand because an idiom is “An expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up.” Webster’s Online Dictionary, but some are easier to guess when they have some association with the original meaning of the individual words. So the translator should be aware of the idioms.

The idiom ‘cold feet’ which the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary defines as:”to suddenly become too frightened to do something you had planned to do, especially something important such as getting married” , whereas the American Heritage Dictionary defines the idiom ‘cold feet’ as

“Fearfulness or timidity preventing the completion of a course of action”.

It is used in an article in the guardian newspaper on Saturday March 25, 2006 as follows:

‘Iraq hostages ‘were saved by rift among kidnappers’

o Guards got cold feet after American was shot

o Returning Kember ‘failed to say thanks to rescuers’

Jonathan Steele in Amman, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor

Saturday March 25, 2006

The Guardian

The British hostage Norman Kember and his two Canadian colleagues owe their freedom to a rift among their Iraqi kidnappers, a western security source close to the rescue operation said yesterday.

This idiom used in the previous article can be translated as AB/’F ‘D-E’3 DA9D 4& E’- FB5’F ‘D4,’9G #H ‘D+B) DA9D 4& E’, the translation is the paraphrase of the idiom according to definitions given above. So the right understanding of idioms is the key to translate well.

An idiom is learned and used as a single unit of language; and should be translated in the same way. To translate idioms the translator , first of all needs to recognize idioms , understand them, know the culture from which the idiom comes, the origin, the atmosphere in which it is used , then the translator should do his/her best, at first to find an equivalent or a corresponding idiom in the target language that keeps the flavor of the original, if there is not such corresponding idiom or phrase the translator analyzes the idiom and translates the meaning of the idiom in words that keep the color and flavor of the idiom in the source language

Every language is idiomatic; each language has a certain set of rules that govern the way words are put together to express facts, ideas and feelings. The rules and their exceptions are unique to the language, despite possible similarities with other languages. In this sense, a language is always idiomatic. Within this general consideration, we usually think of ‘idioms’ as unique phrases: we use them to express something that other, more general sentences can’t express just as well. It is important to learn idioms to be able to communicate well. They are also interesting to study because of the insight they give us into the language and the people who use them. These expressions originate in the history, literature, religion, and traditions typical of a certain community. For this reason, idioms reveal much of the way of thinking of a community.

Since idiomatic expressions are so frequently encountered in both spoken and written discourse, they require special attention in translation

the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘idiom’ as : a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words:. This means even if one knows the meaning of each word; one may not understand the idiom itself. So we cannot translate the idioms correctly unless we understand their meaning. If we take into account the idiom ‘ New blood and translate it into Arabic (/E ,/J/) word by word, (/E ,/J/) is sometimes used in Arabic to mean young people. On one hand, it can be viewed as an equivalent, on the other hand sometimes it is hard to guess that the expression actually means ‘ people with a lot of energy or fresh ideas who are brought into an organization in order to improve it’ as defined in Cambridge advanced Learner’s dictionary, as in F-*’, ‘DJ /E ,/J/– it can mean the need for new blood in a hospital for instance, but sometimes it can be misunderstood.

Based on the previous definition in Cambridge advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the appropriate translation for this idiom is #4.’5 EDJ&) (‘D7’B) H ‘D-JHJ) H ‘D#AC’1- ‘AC’1 H 7’B’* ,/J/) .The translation here is a paraphrase.

As a matter of fact, the literal translation of an idiom is often absurd or comical. The idiom ‘Back burner ‘ literally translates into Arabic as ”D-‘1B ‘D.DAJ’

The literal translation in Arabic sounds comical. The Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions defines it as follows: If an issue is on the back burner, it is being given low priority is ‘ then the right translation is -‘D EF 9/E ‘D’G*E’E-BDJD ‘D’GEJ)

sometimes The image created by the literal meaning of an idiom is comic but sometimes it can help to remember that idiom.

Here is an example of English idioms that can be easily understood from the images they evoke. The English idiom double faced translates literally in Arabic as 0H H,GJF- (with two faces) in Arabic. So the image created by this idiom helps us to remember and understand it. So we can translate it as EF’AB ‘hypocrite’ in Arabic- or -E.’/9 deceiver (in Arabic), which will be an adequate translation. The image created by the idiom double faced can make us think of a person with two faces , which means hypocrite .Even though using the images of the literal translation is an effective and fun way to learn English idioms, the literal translation alone is deceiving in many cases

The real meaning of the English idiom has to be learned in context to be correctly understood. It is necessary to study idioms within sentences. A proper example makes the meaning and the use clear. For example the idiom sitting duck which means ‘an easy target’, when we learn this idiom in a sentence as in “His arguments were so simple, she was able to knock them down like sitting ducks.” It will be easy to understand that the idiom means ‘an easy target’ and translate it into Arabic adequately, if we translate it literally in Arabic it would be (7) ,’D3) which does not make sense in Arabic, but the adequate translation is a paraphrase translation of the idiom which is G/A 3GD

Translation of ideas and meaning from one language to another leaves much freedom to the translator , but translation of idioms does not need only translation of ideas and meaning , the translator should keep the effect idioms give to the language as possible as the translator can. To translate idioms word-for-word” translation is inadequate and confusing, To translate idioms well, the translator must recognize idioms to be idioms, the translator must understand the goals and intents of the author of the original work; and the context in which idioms are used, then s/he should understand the meaning of the idioms, s/he should look it up in dictionaries, search on the web , ask native speakers, and understand the massage of the idiom and in what context it is used . It is good to find a similar idiom in Arabic that carries the same meaning of the English idiom, if the translator cannot find so it is good to parse the idiom apart into its meaning and translate the meaning.

Katharine Barnwell says: The task of the translator is to translate the meaning of the message, rather than the words.

Bible Translation, Katharine Barnwell, 1986, p. 12.

In order to have a good translation, there must be a good translator, who should be fluent in the two languages he seeks to translate between. He must understand the language which he is translating from, as well as the language in which he is translating the work into. Moreover, a good translator must specifically be a good communicator in the target language. A good translator must have the knowledge, skill and experience in this business; In fact the translator has a very serious responsibility not to change the meaning in any way. He must be careful not to add anything to the meaning, or to leave any part of the meaning. Actually the task of translator is more difficult than the writer himself, the writer is free to express his ideas and views in the way he sees suitable and in the vocabulary he likes, but the translator confines himself to the words the writer used and he must be careful not to add anything to the meaning, or to leave any part of the meaning.

Conclusion:

From what has been mentioned above, it is obvious that translation is the bridge of appreciation, love and friendship among nations, it is necessary for progress and prosperity .By the means of translation new civilizations evolved, the western civilization was established on the Arabic and Islamic civilization; scientific, books were translated from Arabic into Latin, and it was the basis for the western civilization.

English Arabic translation has been and continues to be of great importance, because both languages are great world languages, moreover current events, wars, conflicts and struggles in our world add to this importance ; English is the language of big powers and Arabic is the language of the region where conflicts take place for many reasons mentioned previously

Idioms pose a challenge to translators from English into Arabic. English is full of idioms which cannot be understood from the individual words .A translator of English idioms into Arabic needs good knowledge of the two languages and a good knowledge of both cultures .Idioms reflect culture traditions ,cultural identities and history of any nation. They give us insight into history , culture , traditions, and values, morals. So idioms reflect our common humanity through language.

This article is devoted to the English Arabic translation; it will lay the light on the definition of translation, the importance of English Arabic translation, the difficulty idioms impose to translators, the qualities of a good translator and the necessity for translation in general.

Translation in Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed’s words is: “the action or process of delivering from one language into another. It is the expression or rendering of sense of words, sentences, and passages etc from one language into another.” Ulm-ul-Qur’an, Dr. Hasanuddin Ahmed, I.A.S.

The Columbia Encyclopedia defines translation as the rendering of a text into another language.

Katharine Barnwell (1986, p. 8).defines it as follows: Translation is re-telling, as exactly as possible, the meaning of the original message in a way that is natural in the language into which the translation is being made.

Translation is much more than the interpretation of the meaning of a text in one language and the production of a new, equivalent text in another language , or the substitution of the words of one language with the words of another language, or the rendering of meaning of a text or whatsoever in one language into another, it is the bridge of appreciation and understanding among people of different cultural groups , it is the means of communication among different groups of people, the means of cultural exchange, the means of preserving cultural heritage of any nation, the means of forming ties and friendships among different groups of people, and the means of understanding and peace.

Human beings are after all not living alone and, every human being has the need and desire to know about one another, man tries to learn what other people are doing, how they are living, and how they have lived. We would like to know, apart from our different ethnicity, color, language, and culture, whether we share the same understanding of love, passion, sorrow, aspiration, sympathy, jealousy and many other respects of human nature. So as long as the desire to exists, translation will be the only bridge across which our aims are reached and our desire realized.

In the general sense, the goal of translation is to build bridges among different groups of people, but the goal of translation in the theoretical sense is to establish a relationship of equivalence between the source and the target language; it should ensure that both texts communicate the same message.

There has been debate as to whether translation is an art, a science, or a Skill. I think Translation is a combination of all of them. It is a science in the sense that it needs complete knowledge of the structure, grammar, semantics, and syntax and in general the make-up of the two languages concerned. It is an art since it requires artistic talent to reconstruct the original text in the form of a product that is presentable to the reader who is not supposed to be familiar with the original. It is also a skill, because it requires attention to detail the meaning and a thorough understanding of the relationship between syntax and semantics, coupled with extensive cultural background and the ability to provide the translation of something that has no equal in the target language.

Also being a human skill, it enables human beings to exchange ideas and thoughts regardless of the different languages they use. Man is endowed with the ability to convey his feelings and experience to others through language. For this process of communication man acquired both spoken language and the written language, but when human beings spread over the earth, their languages differed and they needed a means through which they can communicate and interact with each others. Thus necessity for translation to convey one’s feelings and experiences into the other language was felt.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, why is translation between English and Arabic important? Both Arabic and English are of the world great languages, in the book ‘The Spread of English, on page 77 the writer says: “the great languages of today are languages of empire, past and present. Only two, Mandarin Chinese and Russian, continue as languages of administration within single, ethno linguistically diverse states. The others -Arabic, English, French, and Spanish-are imperial legacies, having survived the disintegration of the empires that fostered them.”

Arabic language is one of the great world languages. there have been great languages of great empires that did not survive as a great language , like Turkish for instance, when we compare Turkish with Arabic, we find out that Arabic survived the disintegration of the Arab Islamic empire and it continues to be one of the great languages of the world till today, while the Turkish language which was the language of administration and authority in the middle east , Balkans, and different parts of the world that was under the Ottoman rule for a thousand years ,but Turkish in the words of Fishman on page 77 in the book ‘The Spread of English” ‘flowed back to Anatolia with the collapse of the ottoman empire’. But these words are not 100% accurate because Turkish is spoken all over Turkey and in Northern Cyprus, not only in Anatolia which is only a part of Turkey. Also Turkish minorities in the former Soviet Union republics, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, and Romania use Turkish as their mother tongue. Moreover the languages of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, are all branches of the Turkic language family. Yet, no denying that Turkish language lost a lot of its importance after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Returning to Arabic, it is one of the six official languages adopted in The United Nations. Arabic is the language of a rich culture and civilization dating back many centuries; it was the language of Muhammad, the Messenger and Prophet of Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God), and it is the language of the Holy Qura’an. It has produced great figures such as Averroes(Ibn-Roshd), the medieval Aristotelian philosopher; Ibn Khaldun, the first social historian; and Khalil Jibran. Between the eighth and the fifteenth centuries, the volume of literary, scholarly and scientific book production in Arabic and the level of urban literacy among readers of Arabic were the highest the world had ever known to that time. Islamic artists have used Arabic script as their principal art form for centuries; the beauty of their work will be revealed to anyone through the study of Arabic. Arabic is a member of the Semitic group of languages, closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, the language the Christ spoke. Moreover, Arabic is widely spoken; total speakers of Arabic exceed 350 million.

According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, Arabic was also a major vehicle of culture, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy during the middle ages, that is why many European languages have also borrowed numerous words from it.

Pamela J.Farris says in her book Language arts on page 99

“English has borrowed from Arabic algebra, candy, lemon, orange, sugar, and magazine.”

Not only these words English borrowed from Arabic, but there are hundreds of other words borrowed from Arabic, there are some hundreds of the words English borrowed from Arabic in Al Mawrid English-Arabic dictionary, such as typhoon which means in Arabic 7HA’F , Spinach 3(‘F. , and sesame which means in Arabic 3E3E.

So Arabic being one of the world great languages makes translation from and into that language very important, especially English Arabic translation.

No doubt that English is a world language; nowadays it is the language of science, aviation, computing, diplomacy, and tourism. It is listed as the official or co-official language of numerous countries .As well as Arabic, it is one of the six official languages in the United Nations

Consequently, the knowledge of the English language is one of the most important tools in achieving scientific and technological knowledge; moreover it is a tool of communication between countries, different cultural groups, various companies and organizations, communities and friends.

Translation is the tool to make use of the new technology and science. Science knowledge coupled with multiple languages and cultures are increasingly important in an expanding global economy and world welfare. It is clear that Britain and the USA are the forefront of new ideas in science and technology. USA has pioneered in all fields of technology and science; accomplishments of Britain and US technology are in English, so it is very essential to know English to make use of such technology and science.

Also Political relationships, wars, and conflicts make translation so important to have access to what is going on in different parts of the world, especially Arabic English translation, as English is the language of the big powers of the world, and the Arab region is the theatre, where vital events take place at present.

No denying that English is the cornerstone of the world media, many important news sources are in English, on page 34 of the book The Spread of English the writer says: “English newspapers in non English mother-tongue countries are another indication of the world wide status of English”.

If one knows English, one can read the news and points of views of several writers around the globe, by doing so one can expand his knowledge, and get a broader outlook on the surroundings, and to look at issues with a broader perspective. In my opinion, knowing any language is an international passport specifically English.

English is also the language of communication, with the spread of internet, English appeared to be the language of communication, hundreds of millions of different races communicate with each others via the internet in English, thus English helps to strengthen ties, and make friends among different cultural groups of people on different spots of our planet.

So being the language of science technology and communication, in the age of the internet, English spread so widely, there has never been a language so widely spread in so short a time as English.

As mentioned above, both Arabic and English are great world languages, so translation between this pair of languages is important and essential because of the many reasons mentioned previously.

Translation has been and continues to be the means of cultural and knowledge exchange among people throughout history, and the means of preserving cultural heritage.

As the Islamic Arabic Empire spread, the Arabic language and, indeed, culture was enriched by contacts with other civilizations: Greeks, Persians, Copts, Romans, Indians and Chinese. During the ninth and tenth centuries, a great translation movement, centered in Baghdad, was in force, in which many ancient scientific and philosophical tracts were transposed from ancient languages, especially Greek, into Arabic. Many were enhanced by the new wisdom suggested by Arab thinkers; other texts were simply preserved, only to re-emerge in Europe during the Renaissance.

Modern European languages, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and English owe a great debt to Arabic. The English language itself contains many words borrowed from Arabic: algebra, alchemy, admiral, genius, ghoul, mare sherbet, soda and many others. “

By the means of translation cultural heritage is preserved and new civilizations evolved and flourished; the western civilization for instance, was established on the Arabic and Islamic civilization; scientific books were translated from Arabic into different European languages, and it was the core for the current western civilization.

In the book of “Muslim Contributions to World Civilization” On page 118 we will find that, “From 1154 AC to the sixteenth century, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars from Western Europe and Spain translated books from Arabic into Latin in the Toledo Academy established by Alfonso, Sabio the Wise. The translations were then distributed to academic centers in Europe, where they became the basis of the Renaissance, the revival of knowledge in Europe.”

Stanwood Cobb says:” Europe was indebted for all of its beginnings in alchemy and chemistry to the chemical science of the Arabs, which reached them through translation of Arabic works into Latin. In this science, as in other arts and sciences which they practiced, they developed an objective and experimental method as opposed to the purely speculative method of the Greeks.”

“The science of algebra owes much to gifted mathematicians of the

Islamic era. Its very name proves the magnitude of this debt, for the name itself is Arabic, al gebr, “a binding together .”

“In addition to the volumes of Greek science, many scientific works of the Arabs-Avicenna, Averroes, and Rhazes in particular-were translated.”

So English-Arabic translation has been and continues to be of great importance, the causes in the past and present are only different. Currently, it is well known that English Arabic translation is increasingly becoming a topic of much concern and importance these days. Oil, strategic location, history of the Islamic and different other civilizations that took place in the Arabic region, and the current events in the Middle East on the Arab side and the western desire to possess the oil and dominate the region on the Western side, contribute to this importance. This paper highlights the importance of English Arabic translation, mainly the translation of the two word English idioms into Arabic; as English language is full of idioms native speakers of English use a lot of idioms and expressions in everyday conversations, books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows on the Internet because idioms add color to the language, but at the same time, idioms are difficult to understand because their meaning is not what it appears to be at first sight. This imposes a major difficulty to translators from English into Arabic.

For example in the Telegraph newspaper dated 19/09/2006 one of the headlines reads “Police patrols at churches stepped up in Pope Row”

The Idiom ‘step up is used in this article, the Idiom Connection defines the idiom’ step up ‘as follows “rise to a higher or more important position, be promoted”

Al Mawrid dictionary translates the idiom ‘step up’ as J2J/- J6’9A- J2/’/- J*6’9A- JF/A9- J*B/E

In the context of the previous article, the idiom ‘step up’ can be translated as – J2/’/ , it is the translation of the meaning of the idiom.

A Second example in The Sunday Times dated April 30, 2006, the Idiom ‘back down’ is used in the following articles:

Iran’s psychopath in chief, by Israel

“Britain, France, Germany and America hope to pass a resolution at the United Nations Security Council this week mandating Iran to suspend its work on uranium enrichment. If Iran refuses to back down, the security council could impose targeted sanctions.”

Also in the Mail guardian online dated 07 November 2005 we will find the headline

‘Blair to back down on anti-terror laws’

British Prime Minister Tony Blair reluctantly accepted on Monday that he would have to back down on proposed anti-terror laws that would enable police to hold people for up to 90 days without charging them.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke, announcing what amounts to a climbdown, said, however, that the new time limit would not be as short as the 28 days sought by critics of the new Terrorism Bill, which faces a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

“We do not want to compromise on the 90 days at all. It will be a compromise with this nation’s security,” said Blair at his monthly Downing Street press conference, where he held out hope that he could yet minimise the impact.

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms – defines the idiom’ ‘back down as ‘Reverse one’s upward course, descend. For example, When she saw the wasps’ nest on the roof, she hastily backed down the ladder. This literal usage usually refers to something one has climbed, such as a ladder or mountain. [Mid-1800s]

Al Mawrid dictionary translates the idiom ‘back down’ as –J*F’2D 9F E7D(

Also 9F J*.DJ 9F – J*1′,9 is a proper translation

In the previous articles, it can be translated as 9F J*.DJ 9F – J*1′,9, and it is the translation of the meaning of the idiom.

Idioms are one of the factors that makes translation remain a human activity; although attempts have been made to automate and computerize the translation of natural language texts, or to use computers as an aid to translation, but translation remains mainly a human activity that needs skill, intelligence, human feeling that keeps the life and spirit of the original language to the translated text, idioms pose a challenge to any translation program. Since a lot of idioms cannot be translated literally.

The right understanding of Idioms is the key to have a good translation from English into Arabic. English is full of idioms; native speakers of English use a lot of idioms and expressions in their speech and writing, in other words, native speakers of English use idioms all the time. Idioms are the grease that makes language flow, but at the same time idioms are difficult to understand because an idiom is “An expression whose meanings cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up.” Webster’s Online Dictionary, but some are easier to guess when they have some association with the original meaning of the individual words. So the translator should be aware of the idioms.

The idiom ‘cold feet’ which the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary defines as:”to suddenly become too frightened to do something you had planned to do, especially something important such as getting married” , whereas the American Heritage Dictionary defines the idiom ‘cold feet’ as

“Fearfulness or timidity preventing the completion of a course of action”.

It is used in an article in the guardian newspaper on Saturday March 25, 2006 as follows:

‘Iraq hostages ‘were saved by rift among kidnappers’

o Guards got cold feet after American was shot

o Returning Kember ‘failed to say thanks to rescuers’

Jonathan Steele in Amman, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor

Saturday March 25, 2006

The Guardian

The British hostage Norman Kember and his two Canadian colleagues owe their freedom to a rift among their Iraqi kidnappers, a western security source close to the rescue operation said yesterday.

This idiom used in the previous article can be translated as AB/’F ‘D-E’3 DA9D 4& E’- FB5’F ‘D4,’9G #H ‘D+B) DA9D 4& E’, the translation is the paraphrase of the idiom according to definitions given above. So the right understanding of idioms is the key to translate well.

An idiom is learned and used as a single unit of language; and should be translated in the same way. To translate idioms the translator , first of all needs to recognize idioms , understand them, know the culture from which the idiom comes, the origin, the atmosphere in which it is used , then the translator should do his/her best, at first to find an equivalent or a corresponding idiom in the target language that keeps the flavor of the original, if there is not such corresponding idiom or phrase the translator analyzes the idiom and translates the meaning of the idiom in words that keep the color and flavor of the idiom in the source language

Every language is idiomatic; each language has a certain set of rules that govern the way words are put together to express facts, ideas and feelings. The rules and their exceptions are unique to the language, despite possible similarities with other languages. In this sense, a language is always idiomatic. Within this general consideration, we usually think of ‘idioms’ as unique phrases: we use them to express something that other, more general sentences can’t express just as well. It is important to learn idioms to be able to communicate well. They are also interesting to study because of the insight they give us into the language and the people who use them. These expressions originate in the history, literature, religion, and traditions typical of a certain community. For this reason, idioms reveal much of the way of thinking of a community.

Since idiomatic expressions are so frequently encountered in both spoken and written discourse, they require special attention in translation

the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines ‘idiom’ as : a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words:. This means even if one knows the meaning of each word; one may not understand the idiom itself. So we cannot translate the idioms correctly unless we understand their meaning. If we take into account the idiom ‘ New blood and translate it into Arabic (/E ,/J/) word by word, (/E ,/J/) is sometimes used in Arabic to mean young people. On one hand, it can be viewed as an equivalent, on the other hand sometimes it is hard to guess that the expression actually means ‘ people with a lot of energy or fresh ideas who are brought into an organization in order to improve it’ as defined in Cambridge advanced Learner’s dictionary, as in F-*’, ‘DJ /E ,/J/– it can mean the need for new blood in a hospital for instance, but sometimes it can be misunderstood.

Based on the previous definition in Cambridge advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the appropriate translation for this idiom is #4.’5 EDJ&) (‘D7’B) H ‘D-JHJ) H ‘D#AC’1- ‘AC’1 H 7’B’* ,/J/) .The translation here is a paraphrase.

As a matter of fact, the literal translation of an idiom is often absurd or comical. The idiom ‘Back burner ‘ literally translates into Arabic as ”D-‘1B ‘D.DAJ’

The literal translation in Arabic sounds comical. The Dictionary of English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions defines it as follows: If an issue is on the back burner, it is being given low priority is ‘ then the right translation is -‘D EF 9/E ‘D’G*E’E-BDJD ‘D’GEJ)

sometimes The image created by the literal meaning of an idiom is comic but sometimes it can help to remember that idiom.

Here is an example of English idioms that can be easily understood from the images they evoke. The English idiom double faced translates literally in Arabic as 0H H,GJF- (with two faces) in Arabic. So the image created by this idiom helps us to remember and understand it. So we can translate it as EF’AB ‘hypocrite’ in Arabic- or -E.’/9 deceiver (in Arabic), which will be an adequate translation. The image created by the idiom double faced can make us think of a person with two faces , which means hypocrite .Even though using the images of the literal translation is an effective and fun way to learn English idioms, the literal translation alone is deceiving in many cases

The real meaning of the English idiom has to be learned in context to be correctly understood. It is necessary to study idioms within sentences. A proper example makes the meaning and the use clear. For example the idiom sitting duck which means ‘an easy target’, when we learn this idiom in a sentence as in “His arguments were so simple, she was able to knock them down like sitting ducks.” It will be easy to understand that the idiom means ‘an easy target’ and translate it into Arabic adequately, if we translate it literally in Arabic it would be (7) ,’D3) which does not make sense in Arabic, but the adequate translation is a paraphrase translation of the idiom which is G/A 3GD

Translation of ideas and meaning from one language to another leaves much freedom to the translator , but translation of idioms does not need only translation of ideas and meaning , the translator should keep the effect idioms give to the language as possible as the translator can. To translate idioms word-for-word” translation is inadequate and confusing, To translate idioms well, the translator must recognize idioms to be idioms, the translator must understand the goals and intents of the author of the original work; and the context in which idioms are used, then s/he should understand the meaning of the idioms, s/he should look it up in dictionaries, search on the web , ask native speakers, and understand the massage of the idiom and in what context it is used . It is good to find a similar idiom in Arabic that carries the same meaning of the English idiom, if the translator cannot find so it is good to parse the idiom apart into its meaning and translate the meaning.

Katharine Barnwell says: The task of the translator is to translate the meaning of the message, rather than the words.

Bible Translation, Katharine Barnwell, 1986, p. 12.

In order to have a good translation, there must be a good translator, who should be fluent in the two languages he seeks to translate between. He must understand the language which he is translating from, as well as the language in which he is translating the work into. Moreover, a good translator must specifically be a good communicator in the target language. A good translator must have the knowledge, skill and experience in this business; In fact the translator has a very serious responsibility not to change the meaning in any way. He must be careful not to add anything to the meaning, or to leave any part of the meaning. Actually the task of translator is more difficult than the writer himself, the writer is free to express his ideas and views in the way he sees suitable and in the vocabulary he likes, but the translator confines himself to the words the writer used and he must be careful not to add anything to the meaning, or to leave any part of the meaning.

Conclusion:

From what has been mentioned above, it is obvious that translation is the bridge of appreciation, love and friendship among nations, it is necessary for progress and prosperity .By the means of translation new civilizations evolved, the western civilization was established on the Arabic and Islamic civilization; scientific, books were translated from Arabic into Latin, and it was the basis for the western civilization.

English Arabic translation has been and continues to be of great importance, because both languages are great world languages, moreover current events, wars, conflicts and struggles in our world add to this importance ; English is the language of big powers and Arabic is the language of the region where conflicts take place for many reasons mentioned previously

Idioms pose a challenge to translators from English into Arabic. English is full of idioms which cannot be understood from the individual words .A translator of English idioms into Arabic needs good knowledge of the two languages and a good knowledge of both cultures .Idioms reflect culture traditions ,cultural identities and history of any nation. They give us insight into history , culture , traditions, and values, morals. So idioms reflect our common humanity through language.

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Book Review – Amrita Suresh's "When a Lawyer Falls in Love"

Book Review – Amrita Suresh’s "When a Lawyer Falls in Love"
Book Review – Amrita Suresh’s "When a Lawyer Falls in Love"

Amrita Suresh’s “When a Lawyer falls in Love” is an exquisite piece of hilarious fiction that reflects originality in experience, and truthfulness in expression, to unravel the intricacies that lie beneath human thought and action.

The writer seems to make capturous use of the layering technique, where-in the mind’s eye and maturity coincide with the layers of meaning to be expressed. On the visible layer, it is legal campus life, with law graduates-in-pairs are fixed in a ‘to be or not to be situation,’ with only one couple actually witnessing a real-life wedding, when Jaishree turns Jaishree Bose and ravishingly presents the charms of a Hindu married lady.

The writer quite graphically presents this “For the first time in her life perhaps, Jaishree Subramanian decided to openly assert herself in college. She came for the Farewell wearing sindoor and a mangalsutra. Even some of the guys in the class actually felt their jaws fall to the ground. Even some of the lecturers were shocked. Yet it was the final send off and Jaishree didn’t want to do any more hiding”.

The writer presents truthfully the concerns of man for woman’s love. Men as children are blessed by the comforts and warmth of the mother’s lap, and later in youth shown to be lost in gauging woman’s beauty, “Ankur remembered well, the first time his lawyer brain got enmeshed in Sonali’s freshly shampooed hair s she swayed with the gay abandon of a seventeen year old, during the Fresher’s party.”

A woman appears man’s sole concern for all generations to come. She becomes his breath and mind, the lone purpose in life, making life itself worth living. “She is actually the reason behind him actually maintaining a rank in class and not selling his law text books to a recycling unit, which Ankur every other day was tempted to do. Sonali Shah, in a word was his life”.

It is action that is celebrated over thought, with Souvik being declared a man of action and Jaishree garlanding him for a whole life ahead. Jaishree wants Souvik to take the first step, giving expression to the Indianness in an Indian lady allowing her to-be-partner to take the first step, inspite of being doubly sure of her boldness to do on her own. At the lake-side finally Jaishree gives Souvik the strength to spell out, before which he confirms

“Will you swim with me?” and then poses the question, a question that jittered the whole of man’s world, for the excitement or depression that follows, with her reply. Souvik pulls himself together, symbolically presented as “adjust his pants in an effort to kneel sit” and then Souvik quietly asks “the most beautiful girl in the world, will you marry me?”

If thesis is love at first sight, antithesis is coming close to one’s partner, but it is synthesis which as a marriage bonds couples for a life of joy and happiness. All the young legal couples, are shown rather anxiously graduating from thesis to antithesis and later to synthesis. If Jaishree and Souvik have been blessed to achieve synthesis, though “Ankur drove the nervous groom to his final”, Ankur is still to graduate, and the writer leaves it open for the readers to decide. Ankur, it appears still seems confused to choose between marriage as “Bossed over for the rest of his life” or “Sonali meanwhile, had different plans up her pretty sleeve. Having known her for over half a decade, Ankur have known.”

This indecision in Ankur is carved into Ankur’s words to Sonali “a woman’s love should never be trusted…since it has no empirical evidence to support it” and Sonali retorting “You ought to find yourself a guy then…” leaving “Ankur turn to be slightly ruffled” and this kit-pit appears to continue for long self-hurdling in escalation towards Synthesis. Indeed, the writer couldn’t have drawn a better comparison between the two young legal couples, Jaishrees and Sonalis.

The thesis of ‘graveyard’ love of Vyas, and his lover-girl Caroline’s desperation to reach out to him, rather begins with an ending note. The first chapter announces the death of love even before life actually took birth. This is rather humorously presented, with the criminology Professor Prakash questioning Vyas in the dark of the night “So you have already made plans of meeting in your after life.” He continues to faithfully laugh away at the youthful passion rather misplaced “I must say the stress levels of students has seeped through their heads. Imagine hanging out at a graveyard!”

The writer reflects on accepted belief, that life is full of suffering. As one grows older there is a realization of pain constant due to illness or disease. All make efforts at every age possible to be without pain, and to make fellow humans become free of pain. If we could choose to be without pain we certainly would. Souvik’s desperation to give relief to his ailing mother, through his marriage with Jayashree seems to be a cure from all illness that torments her.

By presenting Jaishree to Bose’s house-hold, Souvik considers giving it a new lease of life. He faithfully tries to return the care and happiness blessed on him by his mother all through. Jaishree for Souvik is the “Nibbanam paramam sukham”, meaning “Nirvana is the highest happiness” and Jaishree is sure to deliver this to her just kidney-transplanted mother-in-law. The announcement in the hospital “A match has been found” awakens Souvik to the realization that Jaishree’s coming to the hospital and later into his life will bring fresh rays of hope “Jaishree had come visiting for the fourth consecutive time.”

With her care and respect for elders Jaishree “touched the old man’s feet and vanished from the room” leaving Souvik to re-affirm himself of how much his mother needs Jaishree, with thoughts of “Jaishree was truly the sunshine of his life” occupying his mind, totally. Even before this, he firmly announces his wedlock with Jaishree, even if it meant upsetting his plans to go abroad. “Ma will approve of Jaishree…I know it.”

Astrology and obsession of common human lives to know what is in store for them in the future is very well captured all through the novel. The Leo Sonali sounds very assertive when she lectures her way through the importance of astrology. It really bugs her when Caroline rather sarcastically points out “it doesn’t make much sense, does it?…But how can one’s future depend on the movement of some star and moon and other such crap?” She starts “Astrology is based on bio-rhythmic cyles…Positive energy and Negative energy…has to come back to you.”

By saying that “everything depends on everything else” she confirms that it is focus that is really missing in many human lives, with every scope to create or negate one’s life, she says “the cosmic force has ordained, that if a person genuinely wants to make amends, circumstances are arranged to provide for evolution of the soul.” Change and diversion has to be met with consistency and focus.

Sonali wants Caroline-like beings to realize this fast, she says “The human body, as also the world, is in a constant state of flux. Therefore astrology in its truest form, involves going deep within through meditation, to uncover the answers that the soul already knows.” Finally there is a message for all “astrology is all about bringing out the best in a person. Since one’s future or career depends on doing something one is inherently good at. After all, most catastrophes are caused due to human failings.” This hints at the catastrophe of the love life of Caroline, to leave Vyas as cheated and wreaked, and also to lead a life in an alien land self-imprisoned in a self-imposed heartless marriage in times to come.

Astrology is also employed as an avenue to announce the ‘iceberg’ in us all. Caroline’s rather practical approach towards life, her deserting of Vyas for her Dubai cousin is very well prophesied through the medium of astrology. Sonali notes, “You can try doing some business of your own, working under someone won’t suit you…If you run a business it will be successful, since you have rather shrewd business skills.” Bringing the ‘profit motive’ into human lives and relationships is sure to make one materialistic and inhuman, finally to be isolated from people, near and dear, and Caroline is sure to meet her fate.

Sonali’s rather frustrated flirtation with Rohit, and his gross misbehavior, much to the anxiety and anger of helpless Ankur evokes neither laughter nor sorrow. The writer means to convey that, every individual is a slave of circumstances, which bury us many a time, before we are actually buried. It is not whether Sonali’s self-interests have served her internship, but what happens along the way is the causing of intense pain and anxiety in her undecided lover.

Starting from the day when “Sonali called Rohit to come sit next to her…For Ankur, the line between normal and abnormal had begun to blur. He could still be abnormally obsessed with feelings he had for the Sonali he once knew…A Paradox. That’s just what love was.” No doubt the middle classed Sonali might also have been carried away by the “farm house” charms of Rohit, where all play “Let’ play spin the bottle” game, prophesying Sonali’s life is sure to spin from Rohit to Ankur again.

The writer weaves the comic and hilarious intricately into the thick of the plot. Ankur questioning Vyas, as Vyas is busy searching for a gift amongst darkness ridden graves in the first chapter “What did she gift you…a space in this grave yard?” Pavan’s ambassador car which breaksdown at the slightest of movements appears to be a perpetual source of humour.

“The car groaning was under understandable, but the collective groans of the lawyers as they tumbled out of the car, was something that even the best mechanics couldn’t rectify.” Vyas’s annoyance on finding that Caroline has been moving closer to her cousin from Dubai evokes more humor than pity in the readers towards him.

On being advised to stop her from doing so, he complains his lost case “she says I am being stupid.” Legally Ankur is the most eligible bachelor to suit Sonali. But he is not sure of his singing abilities, rather humoursly he says “forget courtship, if he ever sang to his girl during their honeymoon, she’d make the lawyer himself draft divorce papers.”

Even little happenings and the fall-out can evoke laughter, this is what the writer aims to prove when Ankur’s teeth-focus is elaborat
ed. Ankur “took good care of, it was teeth.

Infact as a six year old Ankur remembered holding a solemn burial ceremony each time he lost one of his milk teeth. A welcome party would follow, with the first traces of his new tooth. That’s why probably his teeth served him well, accentuating the smile on his chubby face.”

At the VJ hunt the comic is compounded by Ankur’s spontaneous replies triggered off by his “art of sounding intelligent while speaking nonsense.” For the female judge’s question “If you are invited for a pool party and you arrive wearing your swimming trunks only to realize it is a billiards game in progress, how would you react and why?” Ankur ventures further to erupt the party to cheers saying “I will pretend like it is my normal outfit… after all presence of mind is what counts the most in life.” The expected crowds’ cheers may be due to Ankur’s pool party outfit like mind, which exposes him dumb, or may be his outfitting to pose smart that ends in an expose of ignorance. Whatever, the end-result is rib-tickling laughter.

Pavan is a world apart. He is typically different from his fellow legal graduates. In one way he is ahead of the generations with whom he shares the same classroom. His humoruous narrative is sure to split all to laughter. “There was this one time when I was seated at a fancy restaurant next to a girl who ordered ‘fresh salted crabs,’ I was accompanying my dad for a business do and this girl was probably his boss’s daughter. Yet she was just so hot!! When her crab arrived, I thought I was being very smart when I said, “Wow! Even the crab still has his yes… probably he wanted to watch you all through dinner! That was it! The girl got delusional! She actually felt the crab was looking at her and probably that’s why she simply refused to look at both the crab and me…!!”

The man and woman relations in the Indian context are to be dominantly decided by the society. The young legal graduates naturally question this state of affairs. They look for an air of change, with Sonali laughingly says “After all a guy and girl alone on a terrace at dusk, is never a good sign!” The system of arranged marriage is debated “the most annoying thing about arranged marriages, thought Jaishree, everybody knew the precise reason for which everybody else was here, yet there was a forced facade of casualness.”

All through the novel, the writer’s concerns for trust in man-woman relations and for creation of a healthy and positive thinking in the tradition bound Indian society are expressive and evident. Before you convince your elders and society, convince yourself first. This is what the author seems to convey to the rather displaced-minded youth who wish to love, and marry the person of their choice. Many youngsters cannot do this, the resultant is failure in love and of marriage.

The secret to love’s marriage success is very well unraveled. If one partner fails, other should stand rescue by offering a helping hand, this is what sustains love, this is what sustains marriage, and this between couples is a blessing for children to have a happy and congenial home environment.

When Jayashree is confused about a marriage proposal, Souvik comes to her mental rescue says supportingly “Listen, I am not going to let them happen…you somehow put off the engagement for a year… we are getting married the first thing after college” that is it, she gets the focus, the inner strength to counter argue her father saying “Appa, I don’t want to get married now!” Finally the couples’ strength to stand together survives their relationship, and become one forever and ever. When your thought is right, you action is sure to yield the result.

Uniquely, this young writer presents the essential harmony of the mundane and metaphysical, by condemning all intellectual pride says, “Since those who make predictions, begin to believe they are celestial bodies themselves, given the amount of reverence they get. They forget that they are mere post men and that the letter has been drafted by the Highest Power there is. The very Power which has created the mosquito as also the mighty mountains.”

Amrita Suresh employs an idiom which is evidently expressive of her thoughts and beliefs. In addition to strict adherence with the common everyday expression of young legal graduates, she leaves no stone unturned in inventing altogether a new phraseology. This is clearly seen in the description of the Dean’s presentation, “IT’S LEGAL of course ‘kick start’ ed with a lengthy formal speech by the Dean, which the collective crowds wanted to ‘kick stop’…”

If the College Festival at AIU heralds the celebration of final year’s legal graduates’ college life, Bhoomika’s arrival brings in a wiff of fresh air, for the new graduates to start afresh as legal professionals. Bhoomika rather in a ridiculing tone of male’s ego says “A bulb is easy to fix… A male ego isn’t.” This leaves to the readers thought, that the legal graduates are sure to carry forward with unquestionable pride their irrational and age-old legal practices, giving no scope for creativity or modesty.

The writer sums-up the message even before eight chapters are still to be read, by saying “Ankur would be the best man. The legal and practical aspects that were tickling the lawyer’s conscience could be dealt with later.” The message is loud and clear. If life is an opportunity to better one’s self, indecision hurdles the process, overcoming which by focus and good efforts means happiness all the way.

Amrita Suresh’s “When a Lawyer falls in Love” is an exquisite piece of hilarious fiction that reflects originality in experience, and truthfulness in expression, to unravel the intricacies that lie beneath human thought and action.

The writer seems to make capturous use of the layering technique, where-in the mind’s eye and maturity coincide with the layers of meaning to be expressed. On the visible layer, it is legal campus life, with law graduates-in-pairs are fixed in a ‘to be or not to be situation,’ with only one couple actually witnessing a real-life wedding, when Jaishree turns Jaishree Bose and ravishingly presents the charms of a Hindu married lady.

The writer quite graphically presents this “For the first time in her life perhaps, Jaishree Subramanian decided to openly assert herself in college. She came for the Farewell wearing sindoor and a mangalsutra. Even some of the guys in the class actually felt their jaws fall to the ground. Even some of the lecturers were shocked. Yet it was the final send off and Jaishree didn’t want to do any more hiding”.

The writer presents truthfully the concerns of man for woman’s love. Men as children are blessed by the comforts and warmth of the mother’s lap, and later in youth shown to be lost in gauging woman’s beauty, “Ankur remembered well, the first time his lawyer brain got enmeshed in Sonali’s freshly shampooed hair s she swayed with the gay abandon of a seventeen year old, during the Fresher’s party.”

A woman appears man’s sole concern for all generations to come. She becomes his breath and mind, the lone purpose in life, making life itself worth living. “She is actually the reason behind him actually maintaining a rank in class and not selling his law text books to a recycling unit, which Ankur every other day was tempted to do. Sonali Shah, in a word was his life”.

It is action that is celebrated over thought, with Souvik being declared a man of action and Jaishree garlanding him for a whole life ahead. Jaishree wants Souvik to take the first step, giving expression to the Indianness in an Indian lady allowing her to-be-partner to take the first step, inspite of being doubly sure of her boldness to do on her own. At the lake-side finally Jaishree gives Souvik the strength to spell out, before which he confirms

“Will you swim with me?” and then poses the question, a question that jittered the whole of man’s world, for the excitement or depression that follows, with her reply. Souvik pulls himself together, symbolically presented as “adjust his pants in an effort to kneel sit” and then Souvik quietly asks “the most beautiful girl in the world, will you marry me?”

If thesis is love at first sight, antithesis is coming close to one’s partner, but it is synthesis which as a marriage bonds couples for a life of joy and happiness. All the young legal couples, are shown rather anxiously graduating from thesis to antithesis and later to synthesis. If Jaishree and Souvik have been blessed to achieve synthesis, though “Ankur drove the nervous groom to his final”, Ankur is still to graduate, and the writer leaves it open for the readers to decide. Ankur, it appears still seems confused to choose between marriage as “Bossed over for the rest of his life” or “Sonali meanwhile, had different plans up her pretty sleeve. Having known her for over half a decade, Ankur have known.”

This indecision in Ankur is carved into Ankur’s words to Sonali “a woman’s love should never be trusted…since it has no empirical evidence to support it” and Sonali retorting “You ought to find yourself a guy then…” leaving “Ankur turn to be slightly ruffled” and this kit-pit appears to continue for long self-hurdling in escalation towards Synthesis. Indeed, the writer couldn’t have drawn a better comparison between the two young legal couples, Jaishrees and Sonalis.

The thesis of ‘graveyard’ love of Vyas, and his lover-girl Caroline’s desperation to reach out to him, rather begins with an ending note. The first chapter announces the death of love even before life actually took birth. This is rather humorously presented, with the criminology Professor Prakash questioning Vyas in the dark of the night “So you have already made plans of meeting in your after life.” He continues to faithfully laugh away at the youthful passion rather misplaced “I must say the stress levels of students has seeped through their heads. Imagine hanging out at a graveyard!”

The writer reflects on accepted belief, that life is full of suffering. As one grows older there is a realization of pain constant due to illness or disease. All make efforts at every age possible to be without pain, and to make fellow humans become free of pain. If we could choose to be without pain we certainly would. Souvik’s desperation to give relief to his ailing mother, through his marriage with Jayashree seems to be a cure from all illness that torments her.

By presenting Jaishree to Bose’s house-hold, Souvik considers giving it a new lease of life. He faithfully tries to return the care and happiness blessed on him by his mother all through. Jaishree for Souvik is the “Nibbanam paramam sukham”, meaning “Nirvana is the highest happiness” and Jaishree is sure to deliver this to her just kidney-transplanted mother-in-law. The announcement in the hospital “A match has been found” awakens Souvik to the realization that Jaishree’s coming to the hospital and later into his life will bring fresh rays of hope “Jaishree had come visiting for the fourth consecutive time.”

With her care and respect for elders Jaishree “touched the old man’s feet and vanished from the room” leaving Souvik to re-affirm himself of how much his mother needs Jaishree, with thoughts of “Jaishree was truly the sunshine of his life” occupying his mind, totally. Even before this, he firmly announces his wedlock with Jaishree, even if it meant upsetting his plans to go abroad. “Ma will approve of Jaishree…I know it.”

Astrology and obsession of common human lives to know what is in store for them in the future is very well captured all through the novel. The Leo Sonali sounds very assertive when she lectures her way through the importance of astrology. It really bugs her when Caroline rather sarcastically points out “it doesn’t make much sense, does it?…But how can one’s future depend on the movement of some star and moon and other such crap?” She starts “Astrology is based on bio-rhythmic cyles…Positive energy and Negative energy…has to come back to you.”

By saying that “everything depends on everything else” she confirms that it is focus that is really missing in many human lives, with every scope to create or negate one’s life, she says “the cosmic force has ordained, that if a person genuinely wants to make amends, circumstances are arranged to provide for evolution of the soul.” Change and diversion has to be met with consistency and focus.

Sonali wants Caroline-like beings to realize this fast, she says “The human body, as also the world, is in a constant state of flux. Therefore astrology in its truest form, involves going deep within through meditation, to uncover the answers that the soul already knows.” Finally there is a message for all “astrology is all about bringing out the best in a person. Since one’s future or career depends on doing something one is inherently good at. After all, most catastrophes are caused due to human failings.” This hints at the catastrophe of the love life of Caroline, to leave Vyas as cheated and wreaked, and also to lead a life in an alien land self-imprisoned in a self-imposed heartless marriage in times to come.

Astrology is also employed as an avenue to announce the ‘iceberg’ in us all. Caroline’s rather practical approach towards life, her deserting of Vyas for her Dubai cousin is very well prophesied through the medium of astrology. Sonali notes, “You can try doing some business of your own, working under someone won’t suit you…If you run a business it will be successful, since you have rather shrewd business skills.” Bringing the ‘profit motive’ into human lives and relationships is sure to make one materialistic and inhuman, finally to be isolated from people, near and dear, and Caroline is sure to meet her fate.

Sonali’s rather frustrated flirtation with Rohit, and his gross misbehavior, much to the anxiety and anger of helpless Ankur evokes neither laughter nor sorrow. The writer means to convey that, every individual is a slave of circumstances, which bury us many a time, before we are actually buried. It is not whether Sonali’s self-interests have served her internship, but what happens along the way is the causing of intense pain and anxiety in her undecided lover.

Starting from the day when “Sonali called Rohit to come sit next to her…For Ankur, the line between normal and abnormal had begun to blur. He could still be abnormally obsessed with feelings he had for the Sonali he once knew…A Paradox. That’s just what love was.” No doubt the middle classed Sonali might also have been carried away by the “farm house” charms of Rohit, where all play “Let’ play spin the bottle” game, prophesying Sonali’s life is sure to spin from Rohit to Ankur again.

The writer weaves the comic and hilarious intricately into the thick of the plot. Ankur questioning Vyas, as Vyas is busy searching for a gift amongst darkness ridden graves in the first chapter “What did she gift you…a space in this grave yard?” Pavan’s ambassador car which breaksdown at the slightest of movements appears to be a perpetual source of humour.

“The car groaning was under understandable, but the collective groans of the lawyers as they tumbled out of the car, was something that even the best mechanics couldn’t rectify.” Vyas’s annoyance on finding that Caroline has been moving closer to her cousin from Dubai evokes more humor than pity in the readers towards him.

On being advised to stop her from doing so, he complains his lost case “she says I am being stupid.” Legally Ankur is the most eligible bachelor to suit Sonali. But he is not sure of his singing abilities, rather humoursly he says “forget courtship, if he ever sang to his girl during their honeymoon, she’d make the lawyer himself draft divorce papers.”

Even little happenings and the fall-out can evoke laughter, this is what the writer aims to prove when Ankur’s teeth-focus is elaborat
ed. Ankur “took good care of, it was teeth.

Infact as a six year old Ankur remembered holding a solemn burial ceremony each time he lost one of his milk teeth. A welcome party would follow, with the first traces of his new tooth. That’s why probably his teeth served him well, accentuating the smile on his chubby face.”

At the VJ hunt the comic is compounded by Ankur’s spontaneous replies triggered off by his “art of sounding intelligent while speaking nonsense.” For the female judge’s question “If you are invited for a pool party and you arrive wearing your swimming trunks only to realize it is a billiards game in progress, how would you react and why?” Ankur ventures further to erupt the party to cheers saying “I will pretend like it is my normal outfit… after all presence of mind is what counts the most in life.” The expected crowds’ cheers may be due to Ankur’s pool party outfit like mind, which exposes him dumb, or may be his outfitting to pose smart that ends in an expose of ignorance. Whatever, the end-result is rib-tickling laughter.

Pavan is a world apart. He is typically different from his fellow legal graduates. In one way he is ahead of the generations with whom he shares the same classroom. His humoruous narrative is sure to split all to laughter. “There was this one time when I was seated at a fancy restaurant next to a girl who ordered ‘fresh salted crabs,’ I was accompanying my dad for a business do and this girl was probably his boss’s daughter. Yet she was just so hot!! When her crab arrived, I thought I was being very smart when I said, “Wow! Even the crab still has his yes… probably he wanted to watch you all through dinner! That was it! The girl got delusional! She actually felt the crab was looking at her and probably that’s why she simply refused to look at both the crab and me…!!”

The man and woman relations in the Indian context are to be dominantly decided by the society. The young legal graduates naturally question this state of affairs. They look for an air of change, with Sonali laughingly says “After all a guy and girl alone on a terrace at dusk, is never a good sign!” The system of arranged marriage is debated “the most annoying thing about arranged marriages, thought Jaishree, everybody knew the precise reason for which everybody else was here, yet there was a forced facade of casualness.”

All through the novel, the writer’s concerns for trust in man-woman relations and for creation of a healthy and positive thinking in the tradition bound Indian society are expressive and evident. Before you convince your elders and society, convince yourself first. This is what the author seems to convey to the rather displaced-minded youth who wish to love, and marry the person of their choice. Many youngsters cannot do this, the resultant is failure in love and of marriage.

The secret to love’s marriage success is very well unraveled. If one partner fails, other should stand rescue by offering a helping hand, this is what sustains love, this is what sustains marriage, and this between couples is a blessing for children to have a happy and congenial home environment.

When Jayashree is confused about a marriage proposal, Souvik comes to her mental rescue says supportingly “Listen, I am not going to let them happen…you somehow put off the engagement for a year… we are getting married the first thing after college” that is it, she gets the focus, the inner strength to counter argue her father saying “Appa, I don’t want to get married now!” Finally the couples’ strength to stand together survives their relationship, and become one forever and ever. When your thought is right, you action is sure to yield the result.

Uniquely, this young writer presents the essential harmony of the mundane and metaphysical, by condemning all intellectual pride says, “Since those who make predictions, begin to believe they are celestial bodies themselves, given the amount of reverence they get. They forget that they are mere post men and that the letter has been drafted by the Highest Power there is. The very Power which has created the mosquito as also the mighty mountains.”

Amrita Suresh employs an idiom which is evidently expressive of her thoughts and beliefs. In addition to strict adherence with the common everyday expression of young legal graduates, she leaves no stone unturned in inventing altogether a new phraseology. This is clearly seen in the description of the Dean’s presentation, “IT’S LEGAL of course ‘kick start’ ed with a lengthy formal speech by the Dean, which the collective crowds wanted to ‘kick stop’…”

If the College Festival at AIU heralds the celebration of final year’s legal graduates’ college life, Bhoomika’s arrival brings in a wiff of fresh air, for the new graduates to start afresh as legal professionals. Bhoomika rather in a ridiculing tone of male’s ego says “A bulb is easy to fix… A male ego isn’t.” This leaves to the readers thought, that the legal graduates are sure to carry forward with unquestionable pride their irrational and age-old legal practices, giving no scope for creativity or modesty.

The writer sums-up the message even before eight chapters are still to be read, by saying “Ankur would be the best man. The legal and practical aspects that were tickling the lawyer’s conscience could be dealt with later.” The message is loud and clear. If life is an opportunity to better one’s self, indecision hurdles the process, overcoming which by focus and good efforts means happiness all the way.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Sanjay_Nannaparaju/145734

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God's Essence And Qualities, Or Attributes

God’s Essence And Qualities, Or Attributes
God’s Essence And Qualities, Or Attributes

God’s essence must be distinguished from His qualities or attributes. The former is denoted by the word deity (theotes, Col. 2. 9), the latter by divinity (theiotes, Rom. 1. 20) The former means absoluteness and simplicity, the latter the state that manifests His character in Creation. God’s qualities, which must be infinite in number, are all one in His essence. God is not dividable into qualities as if God were a conglomerate. He is pure simplicity.

I believe that, in our mind, God’s simplicity and qualities keep each other in balance. If you stress the former too much then His qualities are harmed, and the other way around. For instance in rationalistic deism God is mainly simple. He has only a finite number of qualities, it seems to me. For His simplicity is His pure act of reason, His state is characterized by the qualities that are the various outcomes of His rational mind. Now this is really a compromise position between only simplicity and the balanced truth of both simplicity and an infinity in infinitudes. But if the number of God’s qualities is limited, then everything is not possible with God. So He is not really almighty, it must be concluded.

Many deists have been caught in this vicious circle. God is not omnipotent, because His qualities are finite (in number). And His qualities are finite, because He is not infinite in power. But the careful observer notices that this position is fraught with tension. For if God is not almighty, then He is guilty of creating us in an imperfect world of trouble. To escape this conclusion one could make a double break away from the truth into the extreme position that God is only simplicity. This is atheistic materialism. God is altogether lost in a simple chemical projection of the human mind. Thus many atheists have been caught in a vicious circle as well. God is just an invention of the human mind, because a limited Creator is a farce. Because He is a farce, He is just an invention. However a new, ever worse, tension arises as a result. For if God does not exist then I am truly alone. And my life ends in nothingness when I die. One can hardly escape this tension. Most atheists just develop a pluck-the-day attitude. Others abuse substances, some start doubting everything.

I realize that I have left out many things on this slope into despair. Many people don’t slide down all the way, though they are aware of the possibility.

I have tried to show you that when you overaccentuate one side of the truth, your belief becomes lopsided. Inherent trouble results. If you try to escape the impasse, you are only pulled down further, and so on. In the end you lose even the very thing you cherished–God’s simplicity. On the other side of the scales exactly the same thing happens. For in pantheism God’s qualities, as they appear in His emanations, are stressed. His essence is only a mysterium tremendum, worshiped as a wonderful thing. But the real joy comes from the enjoyment of the variety of Creation. His qualities override His simplicity here. However if God’s very essence were dividable into equal or unequal principles, then He would be composite. In that case He cannot possibly be fully Himself, like the sun and the moon do not make up the solar system. God is not the sun of His qualities. All His qualities are fully divine. Moreover compositions are always caused to be united. But God is not caused by a higher principle. Pantheists have simply accepted the position that God depends on Creation like the sun is part of the sun’s rays. This is again a compromise, weaker than the slight emphasis on qualities. They get stuck in a vicious circle. God is part of creation because God is the sun of His qualities, which make up Creation. Together they form reality. God is not fully himself because He is part of reality. Because God is the sun of His emanations, he is part of Creation. Notice that this position is implied in the claim that God’s qualities override His simplicity. Because if God’s essence consists in His being made up of different qualities, then He is really caused by these. But then His qualities are really a higher principle. God is just a result of them.

I know this train of thought may sound simplistic to a scholar of pantheism, there being so many different kinds of pantheism. But these are really compositions of various principles. So I know that there are also pantheists that say that Creation depends on God, like the rays of the sun result from its nature. I argue however that that belief is a dualism of rationalistic deism and mysticistic pantheism. In mysticistic pantheism God’s qualities override His simplicity. But these qualities are only seen in His created emanations. So His essence depends en these. Of course pantheism is a contradiction in terms really. For how can something created make the Creator depend on it? Ultimately God lives in Himself, as the Bible says that He lives “in an unapproachable light.”

The same thing happens in deism. For there God’s qualities flow forth from His simplicity, not the other way around. Dependence is a one way street here also. But then His qualities are like acts or results. They are not divine in themselves. If God’s qualities are not divine then His simplicity is not either. That is a contradictio in terminis of deism. For each quality of God qualifies or characterizes His absolute deity. And His absolute deity or simplicity guarantees the divinity of all His qualities. The conclusion is that God is not really infinite or omnipotent, which is a mark of deity. In deism God is not really God. He is just a rational mind that created a rational mechanism. I would not dare state this, were it not that the Word itself talks about deity and divinity. But of course that does not imply that God is a duality. He is the ultimate mystery.

The tension in pantheism is seen in the argument that if God is part of creation, then He is part of its imperfections, even evil. So God is also evil. To escape this tension one could make a double break with the truth and conclude that “God” is only different qualities. But then of course there is no God left at all. So polytheists have concluded that all the forces in creation are different gods. They may still believe in a chief God like Zeus or Jupiter, who rules them all. But God’s absoluteness is all torn to shreds. They are stuck in a vicious circle. There is no one God for reality consists only of different spiritual powers. Because reality consists of different powers only, there cannot be an absolute God. The worst tension arises. If there is no supreme God, then there can be no supreme solution to the conflicts of reality. Everything will remain a hopeless mess.

The two roads that lead off from the truth, by tipping the scales on either side, in the end converge into the same point of madness. I hope to make this gradually clear.

The upwards spiraling virtuous circle moves between the two poles of simplicity and variety. The two increasingly strengthen each other. The vortices, however, pull one down off to one side. It seems that the two vortices can also unite to a certain extent. The result is a very disharmonious dualism.

We have seen the mutually opposed sides of deism and pantheism. However both have in common that God is not omnipotent. The two extreme positions of atheism and polytheism obviously share the same identity as well, in that both deny God’s existence.

There is a hidden motivation behind these four corrupted beliefs. It is the desire to create God in one’s own image. By nature we do not tend to worship God’s greatness. But we cannot totally get rid of Him. So we reverse the matter and imagine a God after our own understanding. It is our pride that makes us do this. We cannot stand the idea of a God towering infinitely above us. So we incorporate Him into our limited belief in order to have the (unconscious) feeling that we are in control. For to comprehend God means that He is not above us. He is just one of the boys.

What confuses the matter is that many religions combine various elements from different posi
tions. So Hinduism is a combination of spiritistic polytheism and mysticistic pantheism. Brahman is the ultimate oneness; all the spiritual powers are just ways to reach him. Neoplatonism (early Christian era) is a dualism in which God’s rational oneness is stressed, but is combined with His pantheistic emanations in the material world. There have been deists who did believe in God’s omnipotence. However this is just a mix-up with monotheism. Many “ists” don’t fully realize what their “ism” really is.

One of the strongest reasons to hold to both God’s essential simplicity and His qualities is that if you don’t, you land on a slippery slope that leads into the corrupted positions we have briefly mentioned, and will still analyze over and over again. Another reason is that the diversity of creation (love, light, justice and so on) is necessary to show all God’s qualities. The unity of creation shows God’s Oneness. If you tip the balance one side is hurt and the other blown out of proportion. But they depend equally on each other. If God is only simplicity, or mainly so, then how can He manifest the fulness of His qualities? On the other hand if He has mainly a fulness of qualities but His simplicity is not pure, then how can He be fully Himself. No matter what side you overaccentuate, in the end you lose not only the other side completely, but also the side you embraced as the ultimate truth.

The reason people have a tendency to overaccentuate one side of the truth, is that they feel a tension between the two. This feeling is false, and caused by pride. Everything, even God, must be explained as simple as possible. Mysterious ‘dualities’ are incomprehensible, and that is a humbling thought. However faith can keep the balance.

Notice that I do not call God a dualism. He is not a composite of two ultimate principles. But He seems to have two sides in His manifestation, His simplicity and qualities. The back of His face is the former, the front the latter.

There is indeed a great mystery in all of this. For who can fully understand that God’s love, life, light, just ire, beauty and so forth, are all one in His absolute essence? Deuteronomy 6.4 says “… The Lord our God is one Lord.” And 1 Kings 8.27, “… Behold, heaven, yes, the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee!” These are the two sides of God!

Having discussed briefly the relation between God and Creation, we will now look superficially at God and man. God is at once like and unlike us. The Bible says “… Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness (Gen. 1.26),” and “for I am God, and there is nobody further like me (Is. 46.9).” Again these two sides must be kept in equilibrium. However also here we have a false feeling of tension. So we start tampering with this truth. The rationalistic deist dares not reduce God outright to our limits. But He does believe that God is mainly like us. A proud deist does not tend to say that God is an unfathomable mystery, like a mystic would. He believes that we are just as rational as God. Only God has or is pure reason, or intellect. This is the first real break with the truth. For if God is mainly like us, where is the infinite Greatness of His person, the divinity of His qualities? Deists have an attitude of presenting God with a cigar, and tapping Him on the shoulder for the good job He has done. But now they can do without Him. But if this is true then God is just a mad genius who has no real future for us. To solve this tension one could make a double break with the truth and conclude that God is wholly like us. However if God is really completely like us then He is just a human being. How then can He be our Creator? Every artist transcends his composition. God doesn’t? We may as well accept the extreme conclusion that God just does not exist. Man has invented Him in His own image. The vicious circles here are practically the same. To break out of them is nearly impossible. If God does not exist then I am my own God. But then I carry the weight of my own world, which is way too great for me. I can only exist by living in arbitrary decisions. They become meaningless, seeing that everything ends in death. Thus a person or society ends up in the worst tension. Everything turns sweetly sour.

We started out cherishing God’s likeness, but wound up losing it. At the other side the scales make the same tip of the balance towards God’s unlikeness. This also is a break away from the truth. For if God is mainly unlike us, how then can we fully relate to Him? Then there will be for ever a frustrating gap between Creator and Creation, unless we or God changes. Hindus indeed say that we must shed all our humanness. But then why did God create us in such a way that we forever are to be alienated from Him, unless our humanness is just a coat? But what are we then? Not really human! But this is all madness. In this way we run into a maze of problems. To escape this maze one might conclude that we as well may face the music and say that God simply is the wholly other. But if God is really completely different from us, then there is just no way we can relate to Him. How then can He be our Creator? Every artist leaves his stamp on his handiwork, God didn’t? Such a God is wholly unreal. We may as well break with the truth altogether and become polytheists. Perhaps the gods can help us to become gods in our own right. But what then does it mean to be God? God is infinite, absolutely good, and altogether lovely. To be God means to be unique, absolutely unique. The “gods” are just powerful spirits. But if I can become a god, what does my power serve for? Just to feel great? But if that is the goal of life, then I will never be completely satisfied. For it is clear that not everybody can be the greatest. I just cannot be like God, if He exists. How can I escape this mess?

And also on this side the vicious circles are clear. This side of the scales converges into the same Slough of Despond. Whether we embrace God’s likeness or unlikeness, if we neglect the other side we lose even the side we embraced.

It seems paradoxical that the genius God of deism and the mystery God of pantheism could have something in common. However both share the same underlying identity. They are both impersonal, the one in His cold rationalism the other in His alienating mysticism. The hidden motivation behind these beliefs again is the human pride that likes to imagine God after his own liking.

Greek polytheism, because of its anthropomorphism (belief that God or the gods have a human form and/or personality), may make the matter seem confused. But that is because it is a dualism of the mainly like emphasis and the mainly unlike, or wholly unlike extreme.

The reason that God is both like and unlike us, is that we only bear His image. This image is very reliable though. I think we not only represent His essence but also His qualities. Perhaps the word for ‘image’ represents God’s essence. For in Hebr.1.3 Christ is said to be the image of God’s Being (hypostasis, ‘substance’, ‘nature’, or ‘essence’). In the modern Hebrew translation the same word is used here as in Gen.1:26. Of course the question is whether the word for ‘image’ here denotes Christ’s divinity or humanity, or both. It is perhaps safest to hold to both possibilities. (But then you run into the problem why Christ, in whom dwells all the fulness of the deity (theotes), is “just” called an image. I am inclined to apply this only to this humanity. In the Hebrew passage His two natures are alluded two in one breath because they are one in His person. Others say that the word for ‘image’ here means exact representation; so that Christ as the eternal Son, as to His divinity, is the exact mirror image of His eternal Father. Perhaps this is the better exegesis). If the word for substance denotes God’s deity, then perhaps the word for ‘likeness’ (Gen.1:26), represents God’s divinity.But this is a conjection. It is hard, if possible at all, to get a better grip on the difference between God’s deity and divinity, and the meaning of the word ‘substance’. It is interesti
ng to see that the Greek word for ‘image’ in Hebr.1.3 (character), comes from a verb meaning ‘to engrave’. If we take the liberty to apply this word to us, then we might say that man is a living statue of God. He put His artisanship into us personally. However He is also unlike us, because His essence is absolute, ours relative, and His qualities are infinite and ours finite.

There is great mystery in this. Of us, unlike other creatures, in the bible, namely animals or angels, these things are said. Therefore man has been said to be the crown of Creation, as if God has lent him the dignity to represent Him personally. Who can fathom the meaning of all this!!

Let us now zero in on God’s Being. The bible says that God is a spirit, or simply God is spirit (John.4.24). However God also has a soul (Lev. 26.11), a mind (1 Cor. 2.16; or Is.40.13) that has thoughts (Is.55.8,9), and a spiritual body; for He is seen sitting on a throne (Is.6.1), and He has a face (Mt.18.10). Other references to body parts are simply metaphors, such as in “a stretched out arm”(Ex.6.6). However the quoted verses are definitely not metaphors, or symbols. Anthropomorphism, to a point, is certainly scriptural.

As to the Isaiah (40.13) passage, the translators of the King James version might have done better to translate “ruach” (‘spirit’) with ‘mind’; as the Greek translation of the O.T. the so-called Septuagint, has. For the N.T. follows it in this verse. The Hebrew does not have such a pinpointing word as the philosophical Greek. The Hebrew however shows that God’s soul, mind and body are all different facets of His spirit. Therefore we must not say, it seems, that God is a soul, mind, or, body, but that He has these. But He is (a) spirit.

In this context we will briefly disarm different proofs that people have come up with for God’s existence. This is done here because they are intimately related to His being.

It is the monotheists that have tried hardest to prove God’s existence, because they have the greatest love for Him. Thus Thomas Aquinas has pointed out that there must be a first cause. For if you go back far enough in the array of causes in the universe, then you must end at the very beginning. God is this beginning. He is the causa causans, the causing cause of all things. The universe shows design. And just as a watch points to its intelligent maker, so the universe points to its Maker. Good as this proof is, it is lacking. For Thomas applied it to the rational aspect of Creation only. If this would really be sufficient proof, then God is just a super mind, a great rational computer, a thinking machine.

To escape this tension one might embrace something like Epicureanism ( which is a mixture of deism, atheism and polytheism.). Epicurus taught that the gods have human form, and that they enjoy themselves free from sorrow, toil and any occupation with humankind. Their bodies are material, and the proof of their existence is that everybody has an impression of their blissful state. This kind of materialism however reduces everything, God’s wisdom, power, and love, to the physical level. It turns God into a fortuitous accumulation of atoms. His wisdom, love and pleasure are just atoms hitting upon atoms. If God is human, not withstanding His happy life, then He is really nothing but mindless matter. The vicious circles on this side should be obvious.

Mysticists have claimed that God is mainly or ultimately a mystery. His mind is subject to, or taken up into His mysterious Being. Proof for His existence is the mysterium tremendum that we can experience in Creation. If we see a beautiful flower, or enjoy a magnificent view from a mountain, then our feelings become one with God. However if this is true then our feelings are mainly what we have, to become one with God. We will never be able to relate to Him fully rationally. Morever if God is such, what are we? Also mainly an emotional mystery? To get out of this impasse we may claim that God is only a mystery. We must simply forsake reason as a cold calculating agency that spoils the mystery of it all. But does that mean then that God does not have a mind at all? But then He cannot even do something rational. Then His mysterious Being is just an emotional puppet that dances an irrational dance. One might break away from this and pose God as a spirit with great magical powers. Occultists have tried to use God as such. But if God is just an agency of magic, and we also, then what is the meaning of life? Power only? But we have already seen that that also leads to madness.

The vicious circles here are also plain. At both sides we end up in the same nightmare. On the one hand you have the extrinsic experiences of God, starting with reason and on the other hand the intrinsic experiences of God, starting with idealism and even mysticism.

The upward spiraling virtuous circle is strengthened by the poles of extrinsic and intrinsic experience, matter and reason, soul and spirit.

The paradoxical identities here are the same again. Rationalism and mysticism make God impersonal, and materialism and occultism make His Person totally meaningless. The hidden motivation is clear as well. We like to imagine God after our own fancy.

However God’s spiritual Being, and His soul, mind and body must all be kept in equilibrium. The atheist says that God is just the Big Bang, but He is more than that. The Creation of the material universe does indeed show incredible physical energy being formed by God. Feuerbach said that God is just a chemical projection in our mind. But indeed He is a lot more than that. The Rationalist claims that God is one pure act(uality) of intelligence. And indeed God does not have ordered trains of thoughts. He does not think discursively (having different subjects in succession). His mind contains eternity past, the present and eternity future, in one pure mental act. But He is more.

The mysticist claims that God is the ultimate mystery. But He is more than that. The occultist vows by spiritual power. But God is more than that. Take them altogether and voila you hold a picture of God that makes a lot more sense. Practically God is the source of all the physical energy in the entire universe. Rationally all the intellectual laws are established in Him. Mystically God given us the purest feelings. Spiritually God is the source of all spiritual powers, which are all subject to Him.

To try to prove God by means of one aspect of Creation causes nothing but lopsidedness. In the end you lose the very thing you started to favor so much. The beauty of the human body points to a great Artist. The Rational laws in Creation point to a great mind. The mysterium tremendum experienced in bright moments of emotion point to a great Mystery. The spiritual power of angels and demons, yogi and magicians, points to a great spirit. What makes the God of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas somewhat deistic is that these great rational theologians have overaccentuated God’s mind. They did this after the example of Aristotle and Plato. However such a God becomes cold in His impersonal, unemotional greatness. All God’s aspects must be kept in balance.

There is indeed a great mystery in all this. Anselm said, “Deus est id quod nihil maius cogitare potest”. “God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. Such is God indeed. I would like to paraphrase on Anselm’s definition. I would like to describe God as follows. ‘He is not simply infinite. He is infinite in infinitudes! And each infinitude is infinite in details, and each detail infinite in hues, and each hue infinite in intensity, and each intensely infinite in richness, and so ad infinitum! However the Bible itself states that “God is Love!”

God’s essence must be distinguished from His qualities or attributes. The former is denoted by the word deity (theotes, Col. 2. 9), the latter by divinity (theiotes, Rom. 1. 20) The former means absoluteness and simplicity, the latter the state that manifests His character in Creation. God’s qualities, which must be infinite in number, are all one in His essence. God is not dividable into qualities as if God were a conglomerate. He is pure simplicity.

I believe that, in our mind, God’s simplicity and qualities keep each other in balance. If you stress the former too much then His qualities are harmed, and the other way around. For instance in rationalistic deism God is mainly simple. He has only a finite number of qualities, it seems to me. For His simplicity is His pure act of reason, His state is characterized by the qualities that are the various outcomes of His rational mind. Now this is really a compromise position between only simplicity and the balanced truth of both simplicity and an infinity in infinitudes. But if the number of God’s qualities is limited, then everything is not possible with God. So He is not really almighty, it must be concluded.

Many deists have been caught in this vicious circle. God is not omnipotent, because His qualities are finite (in number). And His qualities are finite, because He is not infinite in power. But the careful observer notices that this position is fraught with tension. For if God is not almighty, then He is guilty of creating us in an imperfect world of trouble. To escape this conclusion one could make a double break away from the truth into the extreme position that God is only simplicity. This is atheistic materialism. God is altogether lost in a simple chemical projection of the human mind. Thus many atheists have been caught in a vicious circle as well. God is just an invention of the human mind, because a limited Creator is a farce. Because He is a farce, He is just an invention. However a new, ever worse, tension arises as a result. For if God does not exist then I am truly alone. And my life ends in nothingness when I die. One can hardly escape this tension. Most atheists just develop a pluck-the-day attitude. Others abuse substances, some start doubting everything.

I realize that I have left out many things on this slope into despair. Many people don’t slide down all the way, though they are aware of the possibility.

I have tried to show you that when you overaccentuate one side of the truth, your belief becomes lopsided. Inherent trouble results. If you try to escape the impasse, you are only pulled down further, and so on. In the end you lose even the very thing you cherished–God’s simplicity. On the other side of the scales exactly the same thing happens. For in pantheism God’s qualities, as they appear in His emanations, are stressed. His essence is only a mysterium tremendum, worshiped as a wonderful thing. But the real joy comes from the enjoyment of the variety of Creation. His qualities override His simplicity here. However if God’s very essence were dividable into equal or unequal principles, then He would be composite. In that case He cannot possibly be fully Himself, like the sun and the moon do not make up the solar system. God is not the sun of His qualities. All His qualities are fully divine. Moreover compositions are always caused to be united. But God is not caused by a higher principle. Pantheists have simply accepted the position that God depends on Creation like the sun is part of the sun’s rays. This is again a compromise, weaker than the slight emphasis on qualities. They get stuck in a vicious circle. God is part of creation because God is the sun of His qualities, which make up Creation. Together they form reality. God is not fully himself because He is part of reality. Because God is the sun of His emanations, he is part of Creation. Notice that this position is implied in the claim that God’s qualities override His simplicity. Because if God’s essence consists in His being made up of different qualities, then He is really caused by these. But then His qualities are really a higher principle. God is just a result of them.

I know this train of thought may sound simplistic to a scholar of pantheism, there being so many different kinds of pantheism. But these are really compositions of various principles. So I know that there are also pantheists that say that Creation depends on God, like the rays of the sun result from its nature. I argue however that that belief is a dualism of rationalistic deism and mysticistic pantheism. In mysticistic pantheism God’s qualities override His simplicity. But these qualities are only seen in His created emanations. So His essence depends en these. Of course pantheism is a contradiction in terms really. For how can something created make the Creator depend on it? Ultimately God lives in Himself, as the Bible says that He lives “in an unapproachable light.”

The same thing happens in deism. For there God’s qualities flow forth from His simplicity, not the other way around. Dependence is a one way street here also. But then His qualities are like acts or results. They are not divine in themselves. If God’s qualities are not divine then His simplicity is not either. That is a contradictio in terminis of deism. For each quality of God qualifies or characterizes His absolute deity. And His absolute deity or simplicity guarantees the divinity of all His qualities. The conclusion is that God is not really infinite or omnipotent, which is a mark of deity. In deism God is not really God. He is just a rational mind that created a rational mechanism. I would not dare state this, were it not that the Word itself talks about deity and divinity. But of course that does not imply that God is a duality. He is the ultimate mystery.

The tension in pantheism is seen in the argument that if God is part of creation, then He is part of its imperfections, even evil. So God is also evil. To escape this tension one could make a double break with the truth and conclude that “God” is only different qualities. But then of course there is no God left at all. So polytheists have concluded that all the forces in creation are different gods. They may still believe in a chief God like Zeus or Jupiter, who rules them all. But God’s absoluteness is all torn to shreds. They are stuck in a vicious circle. There is no one God for reality consists only of different spiritual powers. Because reality consists of different powers only, there cannot be an absolute God. The worst tension arises. If there is no supreme God, then there can be no supreme solution to the conflicts of reality. Everything will remain a hopeless mess.

The two roads that lead off from the truth, by tipping the scales on either side, in the end converge into the same point of madness. I hope to make this gradually clear.

The upwards spiraling virtuous circle moves between the two poles of simplicity and variety. The two increasingly strengthen each other. The vortices, however, pull one down off to one side. It seems that the two vortices can also unite to a certain extent. The result is a very disharmonious dualism.

We have seen the mutually opposed sides of deism and pantheism. However both have in common that God is not omnipotent. The two extreme positions of atheism and polytheism obviously share the same identity as well, in that both deny God’s existence.

There is a hidden motivation behind these four corrupted beliefs. It is the desire to create God in one’s own image. By nature we do not tend to worship God’s greatness. But we cannot totally get rid of Him. So we reverse the matter and imagine a God after our own understanding. It is our pride that makes us do this. We cannot stand the idea of a God towering infinitely above us. So we incorporate Him into our limited belief in order to have the (unconscious) feeling that we are in control. For to comprehend God means that He is not above us. He is just one of the boys.

What confuses the matter is that many religions combine various elements from different posi
tions. So Hinduism is a combination of spiritistic polytheism and mysticistic pantheism. Brahman is the ultimate oneness; all the spiritual powers are just ways to reach him. Neoplatonism (early Christian era) is a dualism in which God’s rational oneness is stressed, but is combined with His pantheistic emanations in the material world. There have been deists who did believe in God’s omnipotence. However this is just a mix-up with monotheism. Many “ists” don’t fully realize what their “ism” really is.

One of the strongest reasons to hold to both God’s essential simplicity and His qualities is that if you don’t, you land on a slippery slope that leads into the corrupted positions we have briefly mentioned, and will still analyze over and over again. Another reason is that the diversity of creation (love, light, justice and so on) is necessary to show all God’s qualities. The unity of creation shows God’s Oneness. If you tip the balance one side is hurt and the other blown out of proportion. But they depend equally on each other. If God is only simplicity, or mainly so, then how can He manifest the fulness of His qualities? On the other hand if He has mainly a fulness of qualities but His simplicity is not pure, then how can He be fully Himself. No matter what side you overaccentuate, in the end you lose not only the other side completely, but also the side you embraced as the ultimate truth.

The reason people have a tendency to overaccentuate one side of the truth, is that they feel a tension between the two. This feeling is false, and caused by pride. Everything, even God, must be explained as simple as possible. Mysterious ‘dualities’ are incomprehensible, and that is a humbling thought. However faith can keep the balance.

Notice that I do not call God a dualism. He is not a composite of two ultimate principles. But He seems to have two sides in His manifestation, His simplicity and qualities. The back of His face is the former, the front the latter.

There is indeed a great mystery in all of this. For who can fully understand that God’s love, life, light, just ire, beauty and so forth, are all one in His absolute essence? Deuteronomy 6.4 says “… The Lord our God is one Lord.” And 1 Kings 8.27, “… Behold, heaven, yes, the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee!” These are the two sides of God!

Having discussed briefly the relation between God and Creation, we will now look superficially at God and man. God is at once like and unlike us. The Bible says “… Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness (Gen. 1.26),” and “for I am God, and there is nobody further like me (Is. 46.9).” Again these two sides must be kept in equilibrium. However also here we have a false feeling of tension. So we start tampering with this truth. The rationalistic deist dares not reduce God outright to our limits. But He does believe that God is mainly like us. A proud deist does not tend to say that God is an unfathomable mystery, like a mystic would. He believes that we are just as rational as God. Only God has or is pure reason, or intellect. This is the first real break with the truth. For if God is mainly like us, where is the infinite Greatness of His person, the divinity of His qualities? Deists have an attitude of presenting God with a cigar, and tapping Him on the shoulder for the good job He has done. But now they can do without Him. But if this is true then God is just a mad genius who has no real future for us. To solve this tension one could make a double break with the truth and conclude that God is wholly like us. However if God is really completely like us then He is just a human being. How then can He be our Creator? Every artist transcends his composition. God doesn’t? We may as well accept the extreme conclusion that God just does not exist. Man has invented Him in His own image. The vicious circles here are practically the same. To break out of them is nearly impossible. If God does not exist then I am my own God. But then I carry the weight of my own world, which is way too great for me. I can only exist by living in arbitrary decisions. They become meaningless, seeing that everything ends in death. Thus a person or society ends up in the worst tension. Everything turns sweetly sour.

We started out cherishing God’s likeness, but wound up losing it. At the other side the scales make the same tip of the balance towards God’s unlikeness. This also is a break away from the truth. For if God is mainly unlike us, how then can we fully relate to Him? Then there will be for ever a frustrating gap between Creator and Creation, unless we or God changes. Hindus indeed say that we must shed all our humanness. But then why did God create us in such a way that we forever are to be alienated from Him, unless our humanness is just a coat? But what are we then? Not really human! But this is all madness. In this way we run into a maze of problems. To escape this maze one might conclude that we as well may face the music and say that God simply is the wholly other. But if God is really completely different from us, then there is just no way we can relate to Him. How then can He be our Creator? Every artist leaves his stamp on his handiwork, God didn’t? Such a God is wholly unreal. We may as well break with the truth altogether and become polytheists. Perhaps the gods can help us to become gods in our own right. But what then does it mean to be God? God is infinite, absolutely good, and altogether lovely. To be God means to be unique, absolutely unique. The “gods” are just powerful spirits. But if I can become a god, what does my power serve for? Just to feel great? But if that is the goal of life, then I will never be completely satisfied. For it is clear that not everybody can be the greatest. I just cannot be like God, if He exists. How can I escape this mess?

And also on this side the vicious circles are clear. This side of the scales converges into the same Slough of Despond. Whether we embrace God’s likeness or unlikeness, if we neglect the other side we lose even the side we embraced.

It seems paradoxical that the genius God of deism and the mystery God of pantheism could have something in common. However both share the same underlying identity. They are both impersonal, the one in His cold rationalism the other in His alienating mysticism. The hidden motivation behind these beliefs again is the human pride that likes to imagine God after his own liking.

Greek polytheism, because of its anthropomorphism (belief that God or the gods have a human form and/or personality), may make the matter seem confused. But that is because it is a dualism of the mainly like emphasis and the mainly unlike, or wholly unlike extreme.

The reason that God is both like and unlike us, is that we only bear His image. This image is very reliable though. I think we not only represent His essence but also His qualities. Perhaps the word for ‘image’ represents God’s essence. For in Hebr.1.3 Christ is said to be the image of God’s Being (hypostasis, ‘substance’, ‘nature’, or ‘essence’). In the modern Hebrew translation the same word is used here as in Gen.1:26. Of course the question is whether the word for ‘image’ here denotes Christ’s divinity or humanity, or both. It is perhaps safest to hold to both possibilities. (But then you run into the problem why Christ, in whom dwells all the fulness of the deity (theotes), is “just” called an image. I am inclined to apply this only to this humanity. In the Hebrew passage His two natures are alluded two in one breath because they are one in His person. Others say that the word for ‘image’ here means exact representation; so that Christ as the eternal Son, as to His divinity, is the exact mirror image of His eternal Father. Perhaps this is the better exegesis). If the word for substance denotes God’s deity, then perhaps the word for ‘likeness’ (Gen.1:26), represents God’s divinity.But this is a conjection. It is hard, if possible at all, to get a better grip on the difference between God’s deity and divinity, and the meaning of the word ‘substance’. It is interesti
ng to see that the Greek word for ‘image’ in Hebr.1.3 (character), comes from a verb meaning ‘to engrave’. If we take the liberty to apply this word to us, then we might say that man is a living statue of God. He put His artisanship into us personally. However He is also unlike us, because His essence is absolute, ours relative, and His qualities are infinite and ours finite.

There is great mystery in this. Of us, unlike other creatures, in the bible, namely animals or angels, these things are said. Therefore man has been said to be the crown of Creation, as if God has lent him the dignity to represent Him personally. Who can fathom the meaning of all this!!

Let us now zero in on God’s Being. The bible says that God is a spirit, or simply God is spirit (John.4.24). However God also has a soul (Lev. 26.11), a mind (1 Cor. 2.16; or Is.40.13) that has thoughts (Is.55.8,9), and a spiritual body; for He is seen sitting on a throne (Is.6.1), and He has a face (Mt.18.10). Other references to body parts are simply metaphors, such as in “a stretched out arm”(Ex.6.6). However the quoted verses are definitely not metaphors, or symbols. Anthropomorphism, to a point, is certainly scriptural.

As to the Isaiah (40.13) passage, the translators of the King James version might have done better to translate “ruach” (‘spirit’) with ‘mind’; as the Greek translation of the O.T. the so-called Septuagint, has. For the N.T. follows it in this verse. The Hebrew does not have such a pinpointing word as the philosophical Greek. The Hebrew however shows that God’s soul, mind and body are all different facets of His spirit. Therefore we must not say, it seems, that God is a soul, mind, or, body, but that He has these. But He is (a) spirit.

In this context we will briefly disarm different proofs that people have come up with for God’s existence. This is done here because they are intimately related to His being.

It is the monotheists that have tried hardest to prove God’s existence, because they have the greatest love for Him. Thus Thomas Aquinas has pointed out that there must be a first cause. For if you go back far enough in the array of causes in the universe, then you must end at the very beginning. God is this beginning. He is the causa causans, the causing cause of all things. The universe shows design. And just as a watch points to its intelligent maker, so the universe points to its Maker. Good as this proof is, it is lacking. For Thomas applied it to the rational aspect of Creation only. If this would really be sufficient proof, then God is just a super mind, a great rational computer, a thinking machine.

To escape this tension one might embrace something like Epicureanism ( which is a mixture of deism, atheism and polytheism.). Epicurus taught that the gods have human form, and that they enjoy themselves free from sorrow, toil and any occupation with humankind. Their bodies are material, and the proof of their existence is that everybody has an impression of their blissful state. This kind of materialism however reduces everything, God’s wisdom, power, and love, to the physical level. It turns God into a fortuitous accumulation of atoms. His wisdom, love and pleasure are just atoms hitting upon atoms. If God is human, not withstanding His happy life, then He is really nothing but mindless matter. The vicious circles on this side should be obvious.

Mysticists have claimed that God is mainly or ultimately a mystery. His mind is subject to, or taken up into His mysterious Being. Proof for His existence is the mysterium tremendum that we can experience in Creation. If we see a beautiful flower, or enjoy a magnificent view from a mountain, then our feelings become one with God. However if this is true then our feelings are mainly what we have, to become one with God. We will never be able to relate to Him fully rationally. Morever if God is such, what are we? Also mainly an emotional mystery? To get out of this impasse we may claim that God is only a mystery. We must simply forsake reason as a cold calculating agency that spoils the mystery of it all. But does that mean then that God does not have a mind at all? But then He cannot even do something rational. Then His mysterious Being is just an emotional puppet that dances an irrational dance. One might break away from this and pose God as a spirit with great magical powers. Occultists have tried to use God as such. But if God is just an agency of magic, and we also, then what is the meaning of life? Power only? But we have already seen that that also leads to madness.

The vicious circles here are also plain. At both sides we end up in the same nightmare. On the one hand you have the extrinsic experiences of God, starting with reason and on the other hand the intrinsic experiences of God, starting with idealism and even mysticism.

The upward spiraling virtuous circle is strengthened by the poles of extrinsic and intrinsic experience, matter and reason, soul and spirit.

The paradoxical identities here are the same again. Rationalism and mysticism make God impersonal, and materialism and occultism make His Person totally meaningless. The hidden motivation is clear as well. We like to imagine God after our own fancy.

However God’s spiritual Being, and His soul, mind and body must all be kept in equilibrium. The atheist says that God is just the Big Bang, but He is more than that. The Creation of the material universe does indeed show incredible physical energy being formed by God. Feuerbach said that God is just a chemical projection in our mind. But indeed He is a lot more than that. The Rationalist claims that God is one pure act(uality) of intelligence. And indeed God does not have ordered trains of thoughts. He does not think discursively (having different subjects in succession). His mind contains eternity past, the present and eternity future, in one pure mental act. But He is more.

The mysticist claims that God is the ultimate mystery. But He is more than that. The occultist vows by spiritual power. But God is more than that. Take them altogether and voila you hold a picture of God that makes a lot more sense. Practically God is the source of all the physical energy in the entire universe. Rationally all the intellectual laws are established in Him. Mystically God given us the purest feelings. Spiritually God is the source of all spiritual powers, which are all subject to Him.

To try to prove God by means of one aspect of Creation causes nothing but lopsidedness. In the end you lose the very thing you started to favor so much. The beauty of the human body points to a great Artist. The Rational laws in Creation point to a great mind. The mysterium tremendum experienced in bright moments of emotion point to a great Mystery. The spiritual power of angels and demons, yogi and magicians, points to a great spirit. What makes the God of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas somewhat deistic is that these great rational theologians have overaccentuated God’s mind. They did this after the example of Aristotle and Plato. However such a God becomes cold in His impersonal, unemotional greatness. All God’s aspects must be kept in balance.

There is indeed a great mystery in all this. Anselm said, “Deus est id quod nihil maius cogitare potest”. “God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived”. Such is God indeed. I would like to paraphrase on Anselm’s definition. I would like to describe God as follows. ‘He is not simply infinite. He is infinite in infinitudes! And each infinitude is infinite in details, and each detail infinite in hues, and each hue infinite in intensity, and each intensely infinite in richness, and so ad infinitum! However the Bible itself states that “God is Love!”

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Categories
Beauty

Creator And Creation

Creator And Creation
Creator And Creation

Some of God’s qualities are discussed here, as they must be kept in balance by His ability to act in time. So God can change His acts and attitude, even though His Being is unchangeable. He can change His emotional response towards us, ever though His being is changeless. He can act in time, ever though He Himself is timeless. He can be immanent in all things, ever though He transcends creation infinitely. God is able to do this because He is a divine Person. An impersonal force does not have ideas and cannot steer information. If God were a pantheistic force simply then He could never control Himself, let alone creation. For a force is always controlled by a higher power. For instance man has power over electricity, nuclear energy, and so on. An impersonal force is meaningless in itself. It receives its purpose from the power that controls it. If God were just a force then the future will be forever left to chance, and so there can be no hope for order, peace and perfection. Moreover if humans are persons, wouldn’t God be? He would still be able to communicate with us, and certainly love us.

God is absolutely perfect, creation was relatively perfect when God made it. The difference is that God is perfect to the infinite degree. Creation was made perfect, but there was room to grow, just as a baby could be called perfect, and at each stage afterwards in its development. God is infinite, creation is finite. God is unchangeable, creation changes. God is timeless, creation is temporal.

What does it mean, that God is infinite and creation finite? In order to understand God’s greatness, we must get a grip on the meaning of infinitude. It is certainly not simply an indefinite prolongation, elaboration or extrapolation of the properties of creatures or creation in general. Creation can be expressed in numbers. So there must be a smallest particle and a biggest star. There is no such thing as a really infinitesimal particle, or an infinite number of stars. Numbers are always definite. A specific number therefore can never be infinite. There is no such thing, then, as an infinite number. God, however, cannot be given a number. His strength, beauty and other qualities transcend all numbers. Ours are finite, and measurable for God. Infinitude actually is a poor concept for God. For it denotes endlessness. But God is not like a line. Yet Paul speaks of the length, breadth, and depth of Christ’s Love (Eph.3.18,19). We simply have no other way to talk about God. For we know nothing that is infinite but the imagined idea of an endless space as in a line, for example.

The matter however is not as simple as this. For the infinite creator can create something that is finite for Him, for He is absolutely infinite, but infinite for us! Our finite conscious minds will never totally grasp the relative infinity of creation. Creation is relatively infinite (relatively, because related to God it is finite, but related to us it is infinite), and as such it

is a worthy handiwork of the infinitive Creator. God’s absolute infinity transcends the relative infinity of creation infinitely. That one infinity transcends another is known from mathematics. The set of positive integers 0,1,2,3,… ∞ï is a smaller set than the one that includes both positive and negative integers ∞… -3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,… ∞.

These considerations are important, for we can infer from them that creatures, even mighty angels, will never fully understand Creation, not even if it is studied for an eternity. For the relative infinity of creation always transcends the creature’s finite mind. This also means that we, humans, transcend our conscious minds with a relative infinity. Our conscious minds will never fully come to terms with ourselves as a creature. There are always deeper things to probe after. Then our mind will grow for all eternity, without reading a point at which it can say,” Now I understand creation and myself fully.”. And of course we will never be able to say that of the Almighty. Then eternity will never be boring, as we will never run out of material to praise God Himself for Himself and for His works.

That creation is relatively infinite can even be seen in an irrational number such as √18. Your mind can never hope to grasp an irrational number fully, yet God can! I personally wouldn’t call such numbers “irrational”, they are suprarational. For who can grasp their non terminating nonperiodic decimal and work with them perfectly!

The bible teaches that God is changeless. Mal. 3.6 says,”… I change not… ,”, James 1.17,”… with whom there is no change or shadow of turning… ,” Hebr. 13.8, “… Christ is yesterday and today the same, and forever… “. Philosophically this makes

sense as Thomas Aquinas adequately explained. According to him God is pure actuality. Now anything that changes passes from a potential state (in which change is possible) to a state of actuality (in which the change has been actualized). However in God there can be no potential state, for then He could not be fully God. Moreover anything that changes consists of something that changes and something that does not. The latter thing guarantees the continuation of the former, else there is no question of change but of annihilation and recreation. However God is not a composite being, as if He were the sum of His parts like a car. He is absolutely simple. Also anything that changes takes on something new. However God is absolutely perfect. For these reasons God is absolutely immutable. From this follows also that God is timeless. For anything that changes goes through a series of temporal states. For time is a concomitant of creation. God created time. Therefore He is timeless, or eternal. This is the meaning of Gen. 21.33,”… eternal God… ,” and Ps. 90.2,”… from eternity to eternity Thou art God.”.

However the qualities of God’s Being must be kept in balance by His ability to change His acts, and to do them in time. It is not God’s mood that changes, as if God has moods like we do, but He can change His relation, or attitude to us. So it says in Gen. 6.6, “And Jihweh regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and it grieved Him at heart.” What we have here is a metaphor to denote a shift in a relation between God and man. For God, who is omniscient, foreknew this anyway. So He did not regret as having an afterthought.

God then is pure actuality living in a timeless, eternal now. All things of the past, present and future are fully transparent for Him. Yet God is capable of relative, changeable and finite acts in time. So the creation of the garden of Eden is an act of a relative infinity of love, in comparison with the absolutely infinite love manifested on the cross. God’s acts can change, for the time of grace is different from the time of Moses’ law and the new heaven and earth of revelation is different from the present. God’s acts are usually, relatively infinite, whereas He is invariably absolutely infinite. These two sides of the truth must be kept in balance. Let us see what happens when people start tampering with them. And they do that, as said before, because of a false feeling of tension, which true faith does not feel. It is because the proud mind wants to force an explanation that rationalizes the mystery of God, and His works away.

So in the deism of Isaac Newton time and space are absolute. The universe is some kind of absolute mechanism that does not deviate from its course fixed by God. The result of such a belief is that everything in the universe is considered to be determined by absolute laws. Miracles and indeed any measure of freedom are impossible here. It is a mark of deism to overaccentuate the rational character of the universe, to the point of making it as absolute as God. However deism is not just Isaac Newton’s unitarian rationalism, but deism is really any kind of overaccentuation of matter, also Einstein’s. So the notion of substance in Roman catholic scholasticism is really deism, for it accords a certain independence to matter.

At any rate modern science, even tho
ugh it still bestows a certain deistic independence on the universe, has unnerved the mechanistic view of Newton. Einstein’s relativity theory and modern physics teach differently. So modern physics has shown that the life of radium atoms cannot be explained by any known physical mechanism, electricity, magnetism or any of the other forces. There is no explanation why one radium atom lives longer than the other. Then, black holes (stars that cave in under their own gravity, and become so dense that not even light can escape) present a horizon event where the laws of time and matter seem to end.

If God really created the world as an absolute mechanism then the conclusion is unescapable that humans are just machines determined by its fixed laws. To escape this tension one might claim that the universe is eternal. However if matter is eternal, and God does not exist, then we land from the frying pan into the fire. Our emotions would be nothing but nonsensical chemical reactions.

Where deism elevates the universe, there pantheism degrades God. So at the other side of the scales there is panentheism (everything is in God). Panentheism is really a form of relativistic pantheism (God as the principle power that penetrates the relative universe). According to this philosophy God is bipolar. One side of Him is actual, eternal, changeless, and absolute, the other side is potential, temporal, changeable, and relative. However this would make God and creation look like siamese twins. God however is absolutely separate from creation. Creation is fully dependent on God, not one with Him, or one side of Him. If God were bipolar then one side of His Being would be creaturely. But if God is not infinite, perfect and so on, but partially finite, imperfect, changeable, subject to time, and not at all omnipotent, then how could He be fully in control? Such a God is tied down with one hand behind His back. Moreover the idea of a bipolar God both immutable and mutable, defies all logic. It is nonsense, and irrational emotionalism. For how could A=1 be simultaneously A≠1? Panentheist scornfully label the God of traditional monotheism as static, and therefor unable to interact with creation, or unable to create in the first place. However God is not static, but dynamic. Panentheism turns Him into a finite, imperfect, uncompleted, shackled cripple. However who but a totally free being can hold any hope for us?

To escape this tension one might conclude that God is simply the same as the world. We have already seen into what kind of a vortex this leads us. For He would be part of evil. One may as well become a polytheist. Indeed panentheism also makes God part of evil, for an imperfect God cannot create a perfect world, not even a relatively perfect world.

Also here on both sides of the scales we are led into the same convergence of madness. The vicious circles are obvious, as well as their virtuous solution. The more we understand, the greater the harmony between God’s absolute Being and His relative acts in time.

On the extrinsic side of deism and atheism (rationalism and materialism), Creation is lifted up towards God. On the intrinsic side of pantheism and polytheism (mysticism and occultism) God is dragged down. The paradoxical identity of both sides is that Creation is deified; in the first case by making the world like God, in the second case by making God like the world.

It should be clear then that the idea of God’s absoluteness be maintained, as well as the notion of His acting in time. He that created all things, even time, can communicate with temporal beings. For if we start tinkering with God or with Creation then we will end up losing both. We must remain satisfied that this is simply too great a mystery to fathom.

Let us now discuss briefly God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. These three must be balanced by His transcendence and immanence (the former of which is too much stressed in deism, the latter in pantheism ). The following trick question seems to refute these divine qualities. “Can God make a stone so big that He cannot lift it up anymore!?” Whether you answer in the affirmative or in the negative, in both cases it seems that God is not omnipotent. Yet the right answer is —–no! God who has created the entire universe with all his gravitational harmony, within and between the galaxies, cannot make a stone so big that He is unable to lift it up! It is because all His powers are infinite. The power to craete is absolutely infinite, as well as the power to move. Thus no matter how great the stone or planet, God can always move it. This question then is unmasked by seeing that all God’s powers are equally infinite. The one is not greater than the other. It is a pity to see unbelievers use such sophistry to refute God, who with one word could fill the entire infinity of space with solid matter! Then indeed no movement would be possible anymore. But then, God’s omnipotence does not depend on such a hypothetical case.

The reason that God’s powers of performing, knowing and presence are balanced by His transcendence and immanence, is the same as the balance of His absolute Being, divine qualities and His usually relative, finite, and changeable acts. If you overaccentuate God’s transcendence, as in deism, then God cannot be perfectly immanent. In pantheism it is the other way around. In both cases His omnipotence is belittled.

God’s omnipotence is also balanced by the following pair. God can do everything that is like Him, and nothing that is unlike Him. So there are deists that define God’s omnipotence as His capability to do anything that is within the limits of His power. But His power is limited. However such a God is an unresponsable daredevil, a mad gambler that hopes the throw of his dice will break the jackpot. To escape this dilemma others have defined God’s omnipotence as the power to do anything He wants, and to want only what He is capable of. But in that case God is just a human. The vicious circles on this side are obvious. They all turn around God’s being capable of all that is like him. The lack lies in who God is, and what is like Him.

On the other side of the balance there is the pantheistic notion that God is capable of all things that are absolutely possible, However evil is also absolutely possible. But if God is capable of evil then He is schizophrenic. Certain mysticists actually believed that God even created evil in order to purify their souls or spirits; or at least this is what their belief implies, for God sent their spirits into the evil material world in order to long back all the more for the heavenly bliss. At any rate there have been sects that believed that God created both good and evil. This is really pantheism. Worse is the definition that omnipotence is the capacity to make absolutely all things possible. It would not only make sin possible in God, but also it would mean that God could create beings that are clones of Himself. certain gnostics more or less believed this. This clearly is a form of polytheism.

The best definition therefore is that God is capable of everything that is like Him, and of nothing that is unlike Him. What is like Him includes all His divine qualities, what is unlike Him includes anything that is sinful.

As to God’s omniscience and omnipresence, they must be, as said, balanced by His transcendence and immanence. In certain forms of deism God is so transcendent that He does not know, or care about tiny humans on planet earth. In certain types of pantheism God is so immanent that He knows everything that is going on, but He cannot transcend infinitely above it. So He cannot freely consider all future possibilities, let alone steer them.

In deism God only wants to know what He can know, and He can only know what He wants to know. You and I are types of this kind of God! In certain types of polytheism, as well as certain types of pantheism, God, or the gods know the “mysterious” behind-the-scenes link between good and evil. Good and evil here are dualistic principles part of God’s or the gods’
nature.

There is a great mystery in all this. For if God knows all things then one might conclude that all eternity has been determined Bible makes clear that humans and angels have their own responsibility, which is really fully their own. Therefore God does not determine our course as if we were robots. God’s omniscience does not derive from determinism, but from His spiritual Being that lives in a timeless now. He does not just foreknow all things. He really knows them as it were at a single glance. God’s eternal now is of a spiritual nature. This is all a great mystery indeed!

Let us now take a closer look at God’s transcendence and immanence. In deism God is mainly transcendent, that is, He is in His own place. Jehovah’s witnesses believe this also, by the way. However if God is mainly or only transcendent then how can He hear our prayers or read our thoughts? Such a God is clearly limited in His power. In atheism god is nowhere, or “God’ is simply the physical-mathematical law that explains all other laws.

In pantheism God is in all things, or is all things. This clearly makes Him schizophrenic. For He would also be in, or be part of somebody’s fatal cancer. In polytheism there is not one God, but two, three or many, who are everywhere.

The truth however, is that God is in all things by His power, in that all things are subject to it; by His presence in that all things are transparent for Him; and by His divine Being in that all the things are upheld by Him constantly. (See respectively Hebr.2.8, 4.13, 1.3). This is God’s immanence. His transcendence means that He thrones infinitely above Creation. If these two sides are not held in perfect balance, then nothing makes sense. The two sides are not complementary, that would make God a dualism; they are two sides of the same Being, and that makes Him a duality. It is a mystery faith is glad to be content with!

For your interest and information I would like to add a few things to this section on God and Creation. Certain fantasts have plaid with the idea of going back in time. Could God undo the past? Since He is omnipotent I suppose He could. The universe lives by His grace, and therefore He could simply annihilate all things or undo them partially. In the Bible even a case is recorded of the sun going backwards. However even though time and space are relative things, the time order has an absolute character, because the order of temporal events are subjects to God’s will, which is absolute. Clearly God cannot undo Himself, He would make a mockery both of Himself and of us. This does not make the universe absolute, as in deism, but the relative universe is upheld by an absolute Being. Perhaps one could say that the universe is indirectly absolute. Therefore the idea of a time machine is the height of folly. It is an insult to both God and man. For the Work of Christ on the Cross is an absolute event, it can never be undone. The idea of a time machine would contradict that, at least in part.

John Kepler, the well known scientist, claimed that geometry is eternal, that it existed from all eternity, before creation, in God’s mind. In this way one could idolize mathematics, logic, language, ethics and so on. For instance one could say:

“Unlike matter the laws of mathematics were never created. They are part of God’s mind and He uses them to regulate the universe, and indeed used them to create it. Mathematics therefore is divine. Although we cannot say that God is mathematics, as Scripture says that He is love, we might say, with all caution and reverence, that mathematics is part of God. For 1+1+1=3 must have been true from all eternity not just since Creation. Mathematic in eternity past was one of the basic carriers of God’s thoughts. On them was drawn up that grand edition——the universe!”

It is true that all things, and indeed all future eternity, has been in God’s mind from all eternity. Humanly speaking this is foreknowledge (A poor concept as I explained already). Thus also mathematics has been in God’s mind from all eternity.

However if mathematics (or geometry or any other thing ), is part of God’s eternal mind, then God does not transcend mathematics. Math, however is part of Creation. It could be said, perhaps, to transcend matter, which it seems to govern. If math is part of God, then God becomes again the sum of His qualities. If math is divine, like God’s love, then God is math. But this is all madness.

The hidden motivation behind all this is that humans want to have something as tangible as possible in order to worship it. If geometry is eternal and divine then John Kepler can lay his hands on it, cherish and hold it. However the divine is infinitely transcendent above all things.

The desire to worship some things tangible or intangible, is really the desire to worship oneself. For both matter and abstract things are part of ourselves. John Kepler unconsciously wanted to feel divine. This is behind all the corrupted beliefs. Newton’s absolute universe makes him as rational as God. Marx’s materialism makes him as free as God. Plato’s pantheism makes him as mysterious as God. And the occultist’s polytheism makes him as magical as the gods. What a tragic parody, what a melodramatic play, and also what a silly comedy we humans stage in this sublunar vale of tears! Knowledge leads to sorrow indeed…

Aristotle, the well known Greek philosopher, thought that matter is eternal. This kind of dualism however clearly is God dishonoring. Only God is eternal. How could something impersonal and lifeless as matter be eternal? Moreover if this were true then God is not uniquely God, that is existing in solitary greatness. Matter would be an equal principle, divine and self-existing. This is really ditheism. If there are two Gods from all eternity, fully existing in themselves, then how can there ever be full harmony in the universe? Because of this belief, moreover, ancient philosophers came to regard matter as something degrading and worthless, something evil. “Soma sema, “they said, “The body is a tomb. ” However matter is a glorious creation of God.

Tertullian, one of the Church’s first great thinkers, thought that God is a form of very fine matter, as already mentioned. He adopted his view from the Stoic pantheists. However how can matter create more matter? Matter is something that “simply” is there, it cannot produce more matter. For matter in itself has no life.

What about pantheists that believed that matter is one of the lowest emanations of God, reason, the logos, being the highest? Just like a spider produces a web, so God produced the world. This means that the world was hidden in God. Matter however is something visible, it cannot at all exist in an invisible state. If the universe is an evolution, not a Creation, then it somehow existed in God as part of Him. This again makes God the sum of His parts, and it implies that the universe is divine. We have already seen that this makes God the author of evil.

There are further many other forms of deism, pantheism, atheism and polytheism, as well as dualistic cross philosophies of these. Scholars have come up with terms like acosmism, pantheism (matter is an illusion, only spiritual ideas exist), absolutistic pantheism (the world is absolute, God relative) relativistic pantheism (vice versa), immanentistic and hylozoistic pantheism. But all these scholarly analyses go beyond the scope of this essay. The most important thing is that we have caught the gist and marrow of these things from their theological perspective.

Some of God’s qualities are discussed here, as they must be kept in balance by His ability to act in time. So God can change His acts and attitude, even though His Being is unchangeable. He can change His emotional response towards us, ever though His being is changeless. He can act in time, ever though He Himself is timeless. He can be immanent in all things, ever though He transcends creation infinitely. God is able to do this because He is a divine Person. An impersonal force does not have ideas and cannot steer information. If God were a pantheistic force simply then He could never control Himself, let alone creation. For a force is always controlled by a higher power. For instance man has power over electricity, nuclear energy, and so on. An impersonal force is meaningless in itself. It receives its purpose from the power that controls it. If God were just a force then the future will be forever left to chance, and so there can be no hope for order, peace and perfection. Moreover if humans are persons, wouldn’t God be? He would still be able to communicate with us, and certainly love us.

God is absolutely perfect, creation was relatively perfect when God made it. The difference is that God is perfect to the infinite degree. Creation was made perfect, but there was room to grow, just as a baby could be called perfect, and at each stage afterwards in its development. God is infinite, creation is finite. God is unchangeable, creation changes. God is timeless, creation is temporal.

What does it mean, that God is infinite and creation finite? In order to understand God’s greatness, we must get a grip on the meaning of infinitude. It is certainly not simply an indefinite prolongation, elaboration or extrapolation of the properties of creatures or creation in general. Creation can be expressed in numbers. So there must be a smallest particle and a biggest star. There is no such thing as a really infinitesimal particle, or an infinite number of stars. Numbers are always definite. A specific number therefore can never be infinite. There is no such thing, then, as an infinite number. God, however, cannot be given a number. His strength, beauty and other qualities transcend all numbers. Ours are finite, and measurable for God. Infinitude actually is a poor concept for God. For it denotes endlessness. But God is not like a line. Yet Paul speaks of the length, breadth, and depth of Christ’s Love (Eph.3.18,19). We simply have no other way to talk about God. For we know nothing that is infinite but the imagined idea of an endless space as in a line, for example.

The matter however is not as simple as this. For the infinite creator can create something that is finite for Him, for He is absolutely infinite, but infinite for us! Our finite conscious minds will never totally grasp the relative infinity of creation. Creation is relatively infinite (relatively, because related to God it is finite, but related to us it is infinite), and as such it

is a worthy handiwork of the infinitive Creator. God’s absolute infinity transcends the relative infinity of creation infinitely. That one infinity transcends another is known from mathematics. The set of positive integers 0,1,2,3,… ∞ï is a smaller set than the one that includes both positive and negative integers ∞… -3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,… ∞.

These considerations are important, for we can infer from them that creatures, even mighty angels, will never fully understand Creation, not even if it is studied for an eternity. For the relative infinity of creation always transcends the creature’s finite mind. This also means that we, humans, transcend our conscious minds with a relative infinity. Our conscious minds will never fully come to terms with ourselves as a creature. There are always deeper things to probe after. Then our mind will grow for all eternity, without reading a point at which it can say,” Now I understand creation and myself fully.”. And of course we will never be able to say that of the Almighty. Then eternity will never be boring, as we will never run out of material to praise God Himself for Himself and for His works.

That creation is relatively infinite can even be seen in an irrational number such as √18. Your mind can never hope to grasp an irrational number fully, yet God can! I personally wouldn’t call such numbers “irrational”, they are suprarational. For who can grasp their non terminating nonperiodic decimal and work with them perfectly!

The bible teaches that God is changeless. Mal. 3.6 says,”… I change not… ,”, James 1.17,”… with whom there is no change or shadow of turning… ,” Hebr. 13.8, “… Christ is yesterday and today the same, and forever… “. Philosophically this makes

sense as Thomas Aquinas adequately explained. According to him God is pure actuality. Now anything that changes passes from a potential state (in which change is possible) to a state of actuality (in which the change has been actualized). However in God there can be no potential state, for then He could not be fully God. Moreover anything that changes consists of something that changes and something that does not. The latter thing guarantees the continuation of the former, else there is no question of change but of annihilation and recreation. However God is not a composite being, as if He were the sum of His parts like a car. He is absolutely simple. Also anything that changes takes on something new. However God is absolutely perfect. For these reasons God is absolutely immutable. From this follows also that God is timeless. For anything that changes goes through a series of temporal states. For time is a concomitant of creation. God created time. Therefore He is timeless, or eternal. This is the meaning of Gen. 21.33,”… eternal God… ,” and Ps. 90.2,”… from eternity to eternity Thou art God.”.

However the qualities of God’s Being must be kept in balance by His ability to change His acts, and to do them in time. It is not God’s mood that changes, as if God has moods like we do, but He can change His relation, or attitude to us. So it says in Gen. 6.6, “And Jihweh regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and it grieved Him at heart.” What we have here is a metaphor to denote a shift in a relation between God and man. For God, who is omniscient, foreknew this anyway. So He did not regret as having an afterthought.

God then is pure actuality living in a timeless, eternal now. All things of the past, present and future are fully transparent for Him. Yet God is capable of relative, changeable and finite acts in time. So the creation of the garden of Eden is an act of a relative infinity of love, in comparison with the absolutely infinite love manifested on the cross. God’s acts can change, for the time of grace is different from the time of Moses’ law and the new heaven and earth of revelation is different from the present. God’s acts are usually, relatively infinite, whereas He is invariably absolutely infinite. These two sides of the truth must be kept in balance. Let us see what happens when people start tampering with them. And they do that, as said before, because of a false feeling of tension, which true faith does not feel. It is because the proud mind wants to force an explanation that rationalizes the mystery of God, and His works away.

So in the deism of Isaac Newton time and space are absolute. The universe is some kind of absolute mechanism that does not deviate from its course fixed by God. The result of such a belief is that everything in the universe is considered to be determined by absolute laws. Miracles and indeed any measure of freedom are impossible here. It is a mark of deism to overaccentuate the rational character of the universe, to the point of making it as absolute as God. However deism is not just Isaac Newton’s unitarian rationalism, but deism is really any kind of overaccentuation of matter, also Einstein’s. So the notion of substance in Roman catholic scholasticism is really deism, for it accords a certain independence to matter.

At any rate modern science, even tho
ugh it still bestows a certain deistic independence on the universe, has unnerved the mechanistic view of Newton. Einstein’s relativity theory and modern physics teach differently. So modern physics has shown that the life of radium atoms cannot be explained by any known physical mechanism, electricity, magnetism or any of the other forces. There is no explanation why one radium atom lives longer than the other. Then, black holes (stars that cave in under their own gravity, and become so dense that not even light can escape) present a horizon event where the laws of time and matter seem to end.

If God really created the world as an absolute mechanism then the conclusion is unescapable that humans are just machines determined by its fixed laws. To escape this tension one might claim that the universe is eternal. However if matter is eternal, and God does not exist, then we land from the frying pan into the fire. Our emotions would be nothing but nonsensical chemical reactions.

Where deism elevates the universe, there pantheism degrades God. So at the other side of the scales there is panentheism (everything is in God). Panentheism is really a form of relativistic pantheism (God as the principle power that penetrates the relative universe). According to this philosophy God is bipolar. One side of Him is actual, eternal, changeless, and absolute, the other side is potential, temporal, changeable, and relative. However this would make God and creation look like siamese twins. God however is absolutely separate from creation. Creation is fully dependent on God, not one with Him, or one side of Him. If God were bipolar then one side of His Being would be creaturely. But if God is not infinite, perfect and so on, but partially finite, imperfect, changeable, subject to time, and not at all omnipotent, then how could He be fully in control? Such a God is tied down with one hand behind His back. Moreover the idea of a bipolar God both immutable and mutable, defies all logic. It is nonsense, and irrational emotionalism. For how could A=1 be simultaneously A≠1? Panentheist scornfully label the God of traditional monotheism as static, and therefor unable to interact with creation, or unable to create in the first place. However God is not static, but dynamic. Panentheism turns Him into a finite, imperfect, uncompleted, shackled cripple. However who but a totally free being can hold any hope for us?

To escape this tension one might conclude that God is simply the same as the world. We have already seen into what kind of a vortex this leads us. For He would be part of evil. One may as well become a polytheist. Indeed panentheism also makes God part of evil, for an imperfect God cannot create a perfect world, not even a relatively perfect world.

Also here on both sides of the scales we are led into the same convergence of madness. The vicious circles are obvious, as well as their virtuous solution. The more we understand, the greater the harmony between God’s absolute Being and His relative acts in time.

On the extrinsic side of deism and atheism (rationalism and materialism), Creation is lifted up towards God. On the intrinsic side of pantheism and polytheism (mysticism and occultism) God is dragged down. The paradoxical identity of both sides is that Creation is deified; in the first case by making the world like God, in the second case by making God like the world.

It should be clear then that the idea of God’s absoluteness be maintained, as well as the notion of His acting in time. He that created all things, even time, can communicate with temporal beings. For if we start tinkering with God or with Creation then we will end up losing both. We must remain satisfied that this is simply too great a mystery to fathom.

Let us now discuss briefly God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. These three must be balanced by His transcendence and immanence (the former of which is too much stressed in deism, the latter in pantheism ). The following trick question seems to refute these divine qualities. “Can God make a stone so big that He cannot lift it up anymore!?” Whether you answer in the affirmative or in the negative, in both cases it seems that God is not omnipotent. Yet the right answer is —–no! God who has created the entire universe with all his gravitational harmony, within and between the galaxies, cannot make a stone so big that He is unable to lift it up! It is because all His powers are infinite. The power to craete is absolutely infinite, as well as the power to move. Thus no matter how great the stone or planet, God can always move it. This question then is unmasked by seeing that all God’s powers are equally infinite. The one is not greater than the other. It is a pity to see unbelievers use such sophistry to refute God, who with one word could fill the entire infinity of space with solid matter! Then indeed no movement would be possible anymore. But then, God’s omnipotence does not depend on such a hypothetical case.

The reason that God’s powers of performing, knowing and presence are balanced by His transcendence and immanence, is the same as the balance of His absolute Being, divine qualities and His usually relative, finite, and changeable acts. If you overaccentuate God’s transcendence, as in deism, then God cannot be perfectly immanent. In pantheism it is the other way around. In both cases His omnipotence is belittled.

God’s omnipotence is also balanced by the following pair. God can do everything that is like Him, and nothing that is unlike Him. So there are deists that define God’s omnipotence as His capability to do anything that is within the limits of His power. But His power is limited. However such a God is an unresponsable daredevil, a mad gambler that hopes the throw of his dice will break the jackpot. To escape this dilemma others have defined God’s omnipotence as the power to do anything He wants, and to want only what He is capable of. But in that case God is just a human. The vicious circles on this side are obvious. They all turn around God’s being capable of all that is like him. The lack lies in who God is, and what is like Him.

On the other side of the balance there is the pantheistic notion that God is capable of all things that are absolutely possible, However evil is also absolutely possible. But if God is capable of evil then He is schizophrenic. Certain mysticists actually believed that God even created evil in order to purify their souls or spirits; or at least this is what their belief implies, for God sent their spirits into the evil material world in order to long back all the more for the heavenly bliss. At any rate there have been sects that believed that God created both good and evil. This is really pantheism. Worse is the definition that omnipotence is the capacity to make absolutely all things possible. It would not only make sin possible in God, but also it would mean that God could create beings that are clones of Himself. certain gnostics more or less believed this. This clearly is a form of polytheism.

The best definition therefore is that God is capable of everything that is like Him, and of nothing that is unlike Him. What is like Him includes all His divine qualities, what is unlike Him includes anything that is sinful.

As to God’s omniscience and omnipresence, they must be, as said, balanced by His transcendence and immanence. In certain forms of deism God is so transcendent that He does not know, or care about tiny humans on planet earth. In certain types of pantheism God is so immanent that He knows everything that is going on, but He cannot transcend infinitely above it. So He cannot freely consider all future possibilities, let alone steer them.

In deism God only wants to know what He can know, and He can only know what He wants to know. You and I are types of this kind of God! In certain types of polytheism, as well as certain types of pantheism, God, or the gods know the “mysterious” behind-the-scenes link between good and evil. Good and evil here are dualistic principles part of God’s or the gods’
nature.

There is a great mystery in all this. For if God knows all things then one might conclude that all eternity has been determined Bible makes clear that humans and angels have their own responsibility, which is really fully their own. Therefore God does not determine our course as if we were robots. God’s omniscience does not derive from determinism, but from His spiritual Being that lives in a timeless now. He does not just foreknow all things. He really knows them as it were at a single glance. God’s eternal now is of a spiritual nature. This is all a great mystery indeed!

Let us now take a closer look at God’s transcendence and immanence. In deism God is mainly transcendent, that is, He is in His own place. Jehovah’s witnesses believe this also, by the way. However if God is mainly or only transcendent then how can He hear our prayers or read our thoughts? Such a God is clearly limited in His power. In atheism god is nowhere, or “God’ is simply the physical-mathematical law that explains all other laws.

In pantheism God is in all things, or is all things. This clearly makes Him schizophrenic. For He would also be in, or be part of somebody’s fatal cancer. In polytheism there is not one God, but two, three or many, who are everywhere.

The truth however, is that God is in all things by His power, in that all things are subject to it; by His presence in that all things are transparent for Him; and by His divine Being in that all the things are upheld by Him constantly. (See respectively Hebr.2.8, 4.13, 1.3). This is God’s immanence. His transcendence means that He thrones infinitely above Creation. If these two sides are not held in perfect balance, then nothing makes sense. The two sides are not complementary, that would make God a dualism; they are two sides of the same Being, and that makes Him a duality. It is a mystery faith is glad to be content with!

For your interest and information I would like to add a few things to this section on God and Creation. Certain fantasts have plaid with the idea of going back in time. Could God undo the past? Since He is omnipotent I suppose He could. The universe lives by His grace, and therefore He could simply annihilate all things or undo them partially. In the Bible even a case is recorded of the sun going backwards. However even though time and space are relative things, the time order has an absolute character, because the order of temporal events are subjects to God’s will, which is absolute. Clearly God cannot undo Himself, He would make a mockery both of Himself and of us. This does not make the universe absolute, as in deism, but the relative universe is upheld by an absolute Being. Perhaps one could say that the universe is indirectly absolute. Therefore the idea of a time machine is the height of folly. It is an insult to both God and man. For the Work of Christ on the Cross is an absolute event, it can never be undone. The idea of a time machine would contradict that, at least in part.

John Kepler, the well known scientist, claimed that geometry is eternal, that it existed from all eternity, before creation, in God’s mind. In this way one could idolize mathematics, logic, language, ethics and so on. For instance one could say:

“Unlike matter the laws of mathematics were never created. They are part of God’s mind and He uses them to regulate the universe, and indeed used them to create it. Mathematics therefore is divine. Although we cannot say that God is mathematics, as Scripture says that He is love, we might say, with all caution and reverence, that mathematics is part of God. For 1+1+1=3 must have been true from all eternity not just since Creation. Mathematic in eternity past was one of the basic carriers of God’s thoughts. On them was drawn up that grand edition——the universe!”

It is true that all things, and indeed all future eternity, has been in God’s mind from all eternity. Humanly speaking this is foreknowledge (A poor concept as I explained already). Thus also mathematics has been in God’s mind from all eternity.

However if mathematics (or geometry or any other thing ), is part of God’s eternal mind, then God does not transcend mathematics. Math, however is part of Creation. It could be said, perhaps, to transcend matter, which it seems to govern. If math is part of God, then God becomes again the sum of His qualities. If math is divine, like God’s love, then God is math. But this is all madness.

The hidden motivation behind all this is that humans want to have something as tangible as possible in order to worship it. If geometry is eternal and divine then John Kepler can lay his hands on it, cherish and hold it. However the divine is infinitely transcendent above all things.

The desire to worship some things tangible or intangible, is really the desire to worship oneself. For both matter and abstract things are part of ourselves. John Kepler unconsciously wanted to feel divine. This is behind all the corrupted beliefs. Newton’s absolute universe makes him as rational as God. Marx’s materialism makes him as free as God. Plato’s pantheism makes him as mysterious as God. And the occultist’s polytheism makes him as magical as the gods. What a tragic parody, what a melodramatic play, and also what a silly comedy we humans stage in this sublunar vale of tears! Knowledge leads to sorrow indeed…

Aristotle, the well known Greek philosopher, thought that matter is eternal. This kind of dualism however clearly is God dishonoring. Only God is eternal. How could something impersonal and lifeless as matter be eternal? Moreover if this were true then God is not uniquely God, that is existing in solitary greatness. Matter would be an equal principle, divine and self-existing. This is really ditheism. If there are two Gods from all eternity, fully existing in themselves, then how can there ever be full harmony in the universe? Because of this belief, moreover, ancient philosophers came to regard matter as something degrading and worthless, something evil. “Soma sema, “they said, “The body is a tomb. ” However matter is a glorious creation of God.

Tertullian, one of the Church’s first great thinkers, thought that God is a form of very fine matter, as already mentioned. He adopted his view from the Stoic pantheists. However how can matter create more matter? Matter is something that “simply” is there, it cannot produce more matter. For matter in itself has no life.

What about pantheists that believed that matter is one of the lowest emanations of God, reason, the logos, being the highest? Just like a spider produces a web, so God produced the world. This means that the world was hidden in God. Matter however is something visible, it cannot at all exist in an invisible state. If the universe is an evolution, not a Creation, then it somehow existed in God as part of Him. This again makes God the sum of His parts, and it implies that the universe is divine. We have already seen that this makes God the author of evil.

There are further many other forms of deism, pantheism, atheism and polytheism, as well as dualistic cross philosophies of these. Scholars have come up with terms like acosmism, pantheism (matter is an illusion, only spiritual ideas exist), absolutistic pantheism (the world is absolute, God relative) relativistic pantheism (vice versa), immanentistic and hylozoistic pantheism. But all these scholarly analyses go beyond the scope of this essay. The most important thing is that we have caught the gist and marrow of these things from their theological perspective.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Chris_Bouter/14441

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Beauty

What Burns Our Thirsty Souls

What Burns Our Thirsty Souls
What Burns Our Thirsty Souls

The soul is the place where the life force resides, from the first life breath that began our lifetime to the moment our last and final breath is expelled. This is the most sacred place in the human body; yet all too easily its existence is ignored as it thirsts for the best we can become to materialize. A thirsty soul is the result of ignoring and failing to cultivate the traits that set us apart from other life forms. Compassion, empathy, kindness, sympathy and even remorse for wrong actions all provide the nourishment that refreshes our soul. Our highest consciousness exists within our soul. Ignoring these traits effectively burns our soul, leaving a seared consciousness that has no conscience. No integrity, morality, principles or ethics exist in the person with a seared conscience; the very best any person could be becomes buried in the rubble of resistance to those higher traits.

It is against human nature to violate the behaviors that set us above the animal kingdom. Our instincts are to first survive and then to thrive in our environment. We were all born with the ability to dream bigger dreams, to believe in things we could not see and to achieve what appeared to be an impossible dream. Only when we have lost our way do we reach a state of seared conscience. If you think all is lost, take counsel; your cries are heard, passing through the darkness, filtered by the clouds they mingle with starlight and find their way to the touch of the Master’s hand. Be at peace; be calm.

Though you have no memory of the hand that was placed on your soft brow as you inhaled your first breath of life, know that dreams and seeds of great hope accompanied that first breath. The child who was you was uncorrupted by failure and knew it was all possible. It was this which inspired you to lay your head on a soft field of grass, look into the fluffy clouds above you and see what no one else could. This was dreaming, the earliest from of seeing what could be.

Where did it all go, the grace that was your style, the agile figure, the precision of your movement, the clarity of your mind, the brilliance of your words? It was not a thief who stole these treasures from you but you and you alone who bartered them for something far less than you ever dreamed of. Doubt, fear anxiety and hate fill a life corrupted by failure; one that is filled with quick fixes, an easier path, greed and a thirst for power become the foundation for these losses that result in a thirsty soul. There is no room for those joyful memories where these emotions reside. This is a dark path filled with sorrow. The path back to your own personal greatness requires new choices.

Only when you are willing to relinquish these human traits of failure can you return to the dreams and promise that was instilled in your first breath. These learned habits, like every human habit, must be replaced with a healthy and joyful one to release the control they hold over you. It is a return to the light of your existence. Is it possible? Light always overcomes darkness. It is the reason a single candle light can be seen on the darkest night up to three miles away. We were created to see the light!

The soul is the place where the life force resides, from the first life breath that began our lifetime to the moment our last and final breath is expelled. This is the most sacred place in the human body; yet all too easily its existence is ignored as it thirsts for the best we can become to materialize. A thirsty soul is the result of ignoring and failing to cultivate the traits that set us apart from other life forms. Compassion, empathy, kindness, sympathy and even remorse for wrong actions all provide the nourishment that refreshes our soul. Our highest consciousness exists within our soul. Ignoring these traits effectively burns our soul, leaving a seared consciousness that has no conscience. No integrity, morality, principles or ethics exist in the person with a seared conscience; the very best any person could be becomes buried in the rubble of resistance to those higher traits.

It is against human nature to violate the behaviors that set us above the animal kingdom. Our instincts are to first survive and then to thrive in our environment. We were all born with the ability to dream bigger dreams, to believe in things we could not see and to achieve what appeared to be an impossible dream. Only when we have lost our way do we reach a state of seared conscience. If you think all is lost, take counsel; your cries are heard, passing through the darkness, filtered by the clouds they mingle with starlight and find their way to the touch of the Master’s hand. Be at peace; be calm.

Though you have no memory of the hand that was placed on your soft brow as you inhaled your first breath of life, know that dreams and seeds of great hope accompanied that first breath. The child who was you was uncorrupted by failure and knew it was all possible. It was this which inspired you to lay your head on a soft field of grass, look into the fluffy clouds above you and see what no one else could. This was dreaming, the earliest from of seeing what could be.

Where did it all go, the grace that was your style, the agile figure, the precision of your movement, the clarity of your mind, the brilliance of your words? It was not a thief who stole these treasures from you but you and you alone who bartered them for something far less than you ever dreamed of. Doubt, fear anxiety and hate fill a life corrupted by failure; one that is filled with quick fixes, an easier path, greed and a thirst for power become the foundation for these losses that result in a thirsty soul. There is no room for those joyful memories where these emotions reside. This is a dark path filled with sorrow. The path back to your own personal greatness requires new choices.

Only when you are willing to relinquish these human traits of failure can you return to the dreams and promise that was instilled in your first breath. These learned habits, like every human habit, must be replaced with a healthy and joyful one to release the control they hold over you. It is a return to the light of your existence. Is it possible? Light always overcomes darkness. It is the reason a single candle light can be seen on the darkest night up to three miles away. We were created to see the light!

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Alexa_Keating/1883665

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Beauty

Never Cut Your Nails on a Sunday

Never Cut Your Nails on a Sunday
Never Cut Your Nails on a Sunday

According to an old European superstition, you should never cut your fingernails on a Sunday. If you did evil stories would be told about you for a week. Even worse the devil would follow you all week. Cutting fingernails was considered not only work, but also being preoccupied with your outer beauty. This was something that was not tolerated on the day of rest and worship.

Cutting your nails on a Friday was equally unlucky. It was said bad luck and sorrow would strike the home if anyone in the household dared to cut their fingernails on a Friday.

Friday and Sunday were certainly ruled out for cutting fingernails. Playing it safe, many would wait until Monday before cutting their nails. It was told that Monday before noon was a good time to bring out the scissors and cut those nails. Cut your fingernails early Monday morning and you could expect a gift. The saying went on like this. Cut on a Tuesday for thrift, cut on Wednesday for news, cut on Thursday for shoes, cut on Friday for sorrow, cut on Saturday to see your lover tomorrow, cut on Sunday for evil.

In the 19th century it was common superstition that if a mother cut the fingernails of her baby before the child was twelve months old, that child would grow up to become a thief.

Even the Vikings had strong concerns about fingernails. It was believed the ship called Naglfar (nail-ferry), was made solely from fingernails and toenails taken from dead humans. When Naglfar was completed, the Jotunns would sail this ship in battle against the gods. This was the final battle. This was Ragnarok, the end of the world. No dead man was to be buried with uncut fingernails. Every precaution had to be made to unsure that the corpse did not supply more material for building the Naglfar. But all was not lost. After Ragnarok a new world arises. Whatever happened to Naglfar, I do not know.

According to an old European superstition, you should never cut your fingernails on a Sunday. If you did evil stories would be told about you for a week. Even worse the devil would follow you all week. Cutting fingernails was considered not only work, but also being preoccupied with your outer beauty. This was something that was not tolerated on the day of rest and worship.

Cutting your nails on a Friday was equally unlucky. It was said bad luck and sorrow would strike the home if anyone in the household dared to cut their fingernails on a Friday.

Friday and Sunday were certainly ruled out for cutting fingernails. Playing it safe, many would wait until Monday before cutting their nails. It was told that Monday before noon was a good time to bring out the scissors and cut those nails. Cut your fingernails early Monday morning and you could expect a gift. The saying went on like this. Cut on a Tuesday for thrift, cut on Wednesday for news, cut on Thursday for shoes, cut on Friday for sorrow, cut on Saturday to see your lover tomorrow, cut on Sunday for evil.

In the 19th century it was common superstition that if a mother cut the fingernails of her baby before the child was twelve months old, that child would grow up to become a thief.

Even the Vikings had strong concerns about fingernails. It was believed the ship called Naglfar (nail-ferry), was made solely from fingernails and toenails taken from dead humans. When Naglfar was completed, the Jotunns would sail this ship in battle against the gods. This was the final battle. This was Ragnarok, the end of the world. No dead man was to be buried with uncut fingernails. Every precaution had to be made to unsure that the corpse did not supply more material for building the Naglfar. But all was not lost. After Ragnarok a new world arises. Whatever happened to Naglfar, I do not know.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Johanne_H./393383

Categories
Beauty

The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa

The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa
The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa

Rupa Bajwa’s “The Sari Shop” set in the little city of Amritsar captures evocatively, the social atmosphere of small-town India. Her narrative encapsulates the spirit of the sari-shop environment with its spirited, intimate, interaction between shop personnel and regular patrons. In the background, the rustling silk, soft cotton and shiny synthetic saris reach out to us so realistically that we long to hold and caress them in our hands. Apart from that, the unplumbed pathos of Ramchand, an assistant in Sevak Sari Shop, whose world revolves around selling saris to the women customers, deadens our heart with sorrow. Ramchand’s life and his isolation in the indifferent world are effortlessly carved out in fine detail. Is it surprising then, we are drawn to empathize with his empty, monotonous existence?

Ramachand’s loss of his doting parents at a tender age is very moving. He is forced into menial work by his uncle who grabbed his inheritance. His desire to master English language is noteworthy, as it is rekindled one day, when he is sent to display sarees for the trousseau of a wealthy man’s daughter. Suddenly, his life seems to acquire a purpose as he meticulously sets about learning new English words from “Radiant Essays” and “A Complete Writer” assisted by an old Oxford English dictionary. As he reads, he seems to grasp the meaning of his life and the avidity of life around him. It was a sad moment, when he began to understand the pathos of the underdog and the aggression of the conqueror; in this case the one on top of the social hierarchy. The transformation in Ramachand is to make him humane to the hurts of society and the woes of the secondary sex, women. Kamala, the wife of another sari shop assistant Chander, inadvertently opens his eyes to the double standards lived by men in the patriarchal society. At the end of it, Ramachand realizes the futility of trying to turn the system around and instead, finds comfort in lapsing into his routine existence. Our journey is outward with Ramachand, into the stagnant, oppressive social system and inward with him into his suffocating, futile ruminations. I could only throw up my hands in utter despair, at the futility of it all, when nothing materialized. I wished that Ramachand would have persevered.

The characterization in the novel I feel is pertinent to the trivial rivalries that seethe beneath the surface of life lived by petty traders and class-conscious, middle-class wives. The wives of rich industrialists with their empty lives and the educated class with their snobbish intellectualism, is skillfully caricatured. The lives of the lower middle class, their resigned acceptance of poverty, their escape into filmi world and their aspirations to higher things through English speaking jobs, brought a lump into my throat due to the streak of desperation that intertwined hope.

I found wonderfully comical moments in the novel as, when Hari, another shop assistant imitates the portly shop owner or when Ramachand sneaks into the wealthy wedding reception to taste the forty desserts set out on the table or his surprise when he sees all the women customers and the sarees from the shop on them. The laugh aloud moments are, when I took in the spiteful chatter of the ladies on a saree buying spree or observe Ramachand’s sensual day dreams revolving around Sudha, the young wife of his landlord or see him ticking off his shop manager in a perfectly structured droll English or view his attempts to combat his smelly feet with lemon juice. It is laughter mixed with pathos, when I glimpsed Rina interviewing Ramachand to exploit his naïve, comical appeal in her debut novel, while Ramachand imagines himself as suave with Rina.

Is it not utter duplicity of the world where law exists for the rich while the poor timidly accept injustice? The brutal rape of Kamala, the involvement of the rich Guptas, the apathy of the educated, articulate and empowered Mrs Sachadeva, the police who pocket the bribe and punish the victim, the anguish of Ramachand who is just a bystander, left a lasting impression on me. Ramachand’s new found perception, battles to bring some order into the skewered justice system in the society. His sanity rightfully takes a beating, withdraws into insanity with the intensity of its demoralization and returns to the present deceitful world to maintain its status quo. I honestly salute Ramachand’s efforts, even though brief, to challenge the social hierarchical system of rich and poor.

Ramachand’s attempts to imbue his life with some imagination and beauty by buying English books and trying to educate himself is very moving. At that particular moment, I recalled the mania of the Indians for the English language and their use of it as a benchmark to judge a person’s knowledge and place in community. I believe, the novel is very perceptive in giving a social commentary of the society which reflects the existentialist torment of every human creature. At the same time, there is a fine balance between reality and expectation, as the incongruities of life is deftly woven into the story,

I found the novel darkly humorous as it effortlessly drew me into the lives of the characters as they go about their business of living. I feel, without our volition we can empathize with Kamala or Ramachand or sneer at the hollowness of Rina or Mrs Sachadeva. It may not possible for us to break out of our boundaries or change the world around us but sometimes it is necessary to just try and understand ourselves and our life. The novel definitely does that. Kudos to Bajwa for her sensitive effort…

Rupa Bajwa’s “The Sari Shop” set in the little city of Amritsar captures evocatively, the social atmosphere of small-town India. Her narrative encapsulates the spirit of the sari-shop environment with its spirited, intimate, interaction between shop personnel and regular patrons. In the background, the rustling silk, soft cotton and shiny synthetic saris reach out to us so realistically that we long to hold and caress them in our hands. Apart from that, the unplumbed pathos of Ramchand, an assistant in Sevak Sari Shop, whose world revolves around selling saris to the women customers, deadens our heart with sorrow. Ramchand’s life and his isolation in the indifferent world are effortlessly carved out in fine detail. Is it surprising then, we are drawn to empathize with his empty, monotonous existence?

Ramachand’s loss of his doting parents at a tender age is very moving. He is forced into menial work by his uncle who grabbed his inheritance. His desire to master English language is noteworthy, as it is rekindled one day, when he is sent to display sarees for the trousseau of a wealthy man’s daughter. Suddenly, his life seems to acquire a purpose as he meticulously sets about learning new English words from “Radiant Essays” and “A Complete Writer” assisted by an old Oxford English dictionary. As he reads, he seems to grasp the meaning of his life and the avidity of life around him. It was a sad moment, when he began to understand the pathos of the underdog and the aggression of the conqueror; in this case the one on top of the social hierarchy. The transformation in Ramachand is to make him humane to the hurts of society and the woes of the secondary sex, women. Kamala, the wife of another sari shop assistant Chander, inadvertently opens his eyes to the double standards lived by men in the patriarchal society. At the end of it, Ramachand realizes the futility of trying to turn the system around and instead, finds comfort in lapsing into his routine existence. Our journey is outward with Ramachand, into the stagnant, oppressive social system and inward with him into his suffocating, futile ruminations. I could only throw up my hands in utter despair, at the futility of it all, when nothing materialized. I wished that Ramachand would have persevered.

The characterization in the novel I feel is pertinent to the trivial rivalries that seethe beneath the surface of life lived by petty traders and class-conscious, middle-class wives. The wives of rich industrialists with their empty lives and the educated class with their snobbish intellectualism, is skillfully caricatured. The lives of the lower middle class, their resigned acceptance of poverty, their escape into filmi world and their aspirations to higher things through English speaking jobs, brought a lump into my throat due to the streak of desperation that intertwined hope.

I found wonderfully comical moments in the novel as, when Hari, another shop assistant imitates the portly shop owner or when Ramachand sneaks into the wealthy wedding reception to taste the forty desserts set out on the table or his surprise when he sees all the women customers and the sarees from the shop on them. The laugh aloud moments are, when I took in the spiteful chatter of the ladies on a saree buying spree or observe Ramachand’s sensual day dreams revolving around Sudha, the young wife of his landlord or see him ticking off his shop manager in a perfectly structured droll English or view his attempts to combat his smelly feet with lemon juice. It is laughter mixed with pathos, when I glimpsed Rina interviewing Ramachand to exploit his naïve, comical appeal in her debut novel, while Ramachand imagines himself as suave with Rina.

Is it not utter duplicity of the world where law exists for the rich while the poor timidly accept injustice? The brutal rape of Kamala, the involvement of the rich Guptas, the apathy of the educated, articulate and empowered Mrs Sachadeva, the police who pocket the bribe and punish the victim, the anguish of Ramachand who is just a bystander, left a lasting impression on me. Ramachand’s new found perception, battles to bring some order into the skewered justice system in the society. His sanity rightfully takes a beating, withdraws into insanity with the intensity of its demoralization and returns to the present deceitful world to maintain its status quo. I honestly salute Ramachand’s efforts, even though brief, to challenge the social hierarchical system of rich and poor.

Ramachand’s attempts to imbue his life with some imagination and beauty by buying English books and trying to educate himself is very moving. At that particular moment, I recalled the mania of the Indians for the English language and their use of it as a benchmark to judge a person’s knowledge and place in community. I believe, the novel is very perceptive in giving a social commentary of the society which reflects the existentialist torment of every human creature. At the same time, there is a fine balance between reality and expectation, as the incongruities of life is deftly woven into the story,

I found the novel darkly humorous as it effortlessly drew me into the lives of the characters as they go about their business of living. I feel, without our volition we can empathize with Kamala or Ramachand or sneer at the hollowness of Rina or Mrs Sachadeva. It may not possible for us to break out of our boundaries or change the world around us but sometimes it is necessary to just try and understand ourselves and our life. The novel definitely does that. Kudos to Bajwa for her sensitive effort…

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Geetha_Kariappa/794182

Categories
Beauty

The Relevance of Arts to Practical Living

The Relevance of Arts to Practical Living
The Relevance of Arts to Practical Living

INTRODUCTION

For the avoidance of doubt, the concept of the arts can be viewed from two perspectives. On the one hand, the arts could be understood to mean the subjects one can study at school or university which are not scientific, which do not employ scientific methods. Subjects such as history, languages, religion, literature, and so on, would be appropriate examples. On the other hand, it could be interpreted to encompass a wide range of creative activities bordering on the skillful and imaginative expression of ideas, feelings, actions or events. Music, literature, theatre, and art (in the sense of painting, drawing, sculpture, etc) are what make up the arts in this sense. For the purpose of this discussion, however, our focus is on the second understanding of arts as proffered above.

The arts can then be classified into literary arts (poetry, prose, and drama), performing arts (music, dance, theatre) and visual arts (encapsulating the entire creative activities covered in the field of fine and applied arts: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, textile, etc).

WHY THE QUESTION OF RELEVANCE?

In developed economies of the world where the basic necessities of life seem to have been met, the question as to whether the arts are relevant or not to practical living is no longer an issue. Thousands of American citizens would troop down to the auditorium in Bard College to hear Chinua Achebe’s reading of his Things Fall Apart, not minding that they have heard the same reading over and over again, not minding that the book is over fifty years old; the same way the English audience would cluster at The Royal Theatre in London to watch the presentation of Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero or any of the plays of Shakespeare, not minding that Shakespeare wrote centuries ago. In the same vein, even though Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are long dead and gone, Italians would pay their very last lira to watch an exhibition of their paintings.

In our own context, economic hardship and the search for basic necessities of life have meant that only a few have had the time to appreciate the arts for what they are worth. In other words, the problem is not whether the arts are relevant or not, for it is not in doubt that the arts are relevant to practical living as much as any profession, or even more so. The real problem lies in the fact that people are too hungry or too busy to see the real worth of the arts. A man who lives on a monthly salary of paltry ten thousand naira, with seven mouths to feed, and so many other family problems to solve may not easily pay five hundred naira just to watch a drama presentation; a Nigerian graduate who has walked the streets of Abuja, Lagos, or Port Harcourt in search of a job for three years without success would know what to do with money rather than spend it on a piece of landscape paintings; likewise, a young man who has had nothing to eat for days, and has no hope of where the next meal is coming from, would not possibly be coordinated enough to read, not to talk of appreciating, works of poetry. If arts cannot satisfy hunger or thirst, can they still be said to be relevant?

THE RELEVANCE OF THE ARTS

The word ‘relevance’ presupposes usefulness and value. So the right questions should be: are the arts useful in any way? And our answer: yes, they are. Do they have value? Our answer again: yes, they do. If the arts have use and value, and those are the things that relevance implies, then we can say that the arts are relevant. That conclusion raises another vital question: in what ways are the arts relevant? The relevance of arts can be found in the following areas.

Entertainment/Relaxation: The various forms of the arts mentioned above provide one form of entertainment, amusement and relaxation or the other. In Biblical times, when the spirit of God deserted King Saul and he was tormented by evil spirits, David was employed to play his harp. The sound of music produced by David’s harp kept Saul’s mind at peace, for whenever David was not around to play his harp, the evil spirits came back. In ancient Mali too, court poets/historians called Griots were known to entertain the audience during national festivals by reciting long narrative poems recounting the heroic achievements of their forebears. At a time in history, court jesters were employed to entertain the king or the queen and their visitors by telling funny stories and jokes (as can be seen in most of Shakespeare’s plays). In traditional African societies, moonlight tales were a veritable source of both entertainment and relaxation for both old and young. Praise singers and dance groups entertained the crowd during communal ceremonies.

In modern times, in the not too distant past, the late Sani Abacha was alleged to have employed the famous comedian, Chief Zebrudaya, to provide entertainment for him and his cohorts through his funny jokes and stories. It was also reported that the former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo, is a great patron of stand-up comedy. Besides, at least one out of every three people in the world today find peace of mind in music; one out of every four Nigerians relax at home at the close of work to watch a home video; and one out of every five relax in bed with a literature book. Since the advent of stand-up comedy in Nigeria, even though hardship has continued unabated, a lot of Nigerians have begun to look at the lighter side of things. Mere listening to a single volume of ‘Nite of A Thousand Laughs’ would drive away sorrow in people’s hearts. Since these developments began, I bet that had the medical practitioners started taking stock, they would have discovered that high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions have reduced by more than half over the past decade.

Financial Value: The arts are equally a very lucrative venture for serious-minded artists. All arts practitioners who are worth their salt make a living out of their practice. So many examples of such people could be found around us. The famous Osuofia (Nkem Owoh) is a living example. The majority of the practitioners in the movie industry today were not even originally artists. Their professions could not provide for them, and so they switched over to the arts. Besides, works of art, especially paintings, are considered very highly valuable intellectual property that can be accepted as collateral the same way that gold or diamond or buildings would be accepted.

Didactic: The arts are known to teach practical moral lessons. The old folklores about the tortoise and his craftiness always ended with one moral lesson or the other. The story of the feast in the sky where the tortoise claimed that his name was Mr. All of You, for example, ended with the lesson that greed always landed one in disaster, just as the story of the beautiful girl who refused to marry all the young men approved by her parents only to finally fall into the hands of a ghost taught that it was not good to disobey one’s parents.

Exposing and Correcting Societal Ills: All aspects of the arts are deeply involved in the crusade against societal ills like corruption and bribery, ritual killing, etc. They have all been involved, for instance, in ridiculing the excesses of political and religious leaders as well as the gullibility of the followers who fall victims to the whims and manipulations of the tricksters. This they achieve through satire. By so doing, offenders who had earlier thought that their activities were unknown would begin to retrace their steps when they discover that their so-called secrets have been exposed. Intending offenders would think twice, while would-be victims whose eyes will have been opened by such exposition would come to terms with reality and become wiser. Cultism on our university campuses has been fought to a reduced rate through the instrumentality of the arts: music, drama, novels, etc. All these have made society a better place to live in.

Aesthetic Value: The arts have beauty and face value, in addition to their intrinsic qualities. We talk about the beauty of a poem, a play, a story, a piece of music, but this beauty applies more to the visual arts, the ones one can see and admire their physical outlook, like drawing, painting or sculpture. People go to art exhibitions to discover, behold and admire the beauty of art works. Those who can afford them buy them and use them for interior decoration. How wonderful it is to walk into a well furnished sitting room to behold art works exhibited on the walls! They equally serve as status symbol for those who can afford them.

Preservation of Culture: The arts serve to preserve a people’s culture. Art itself is an integral part of culture, that is, culture in the sense of customs, beliefs, practices, art, way of life, and social organisation. So many aspects of Nigerian cultural practices, for instance, that would have been lost and forgotten are recaptured through the arts. Before the appearance of Things Fall Apart in the world literary scene, Western writers like Joseph Conrad and others had led the world into believing that the African continent was one long night of darkness and that Africans themselves were uncultured and barbaric monkeys who had tails and lived on tree tops, and who had no souls worthy of salvation. But Things Fall Apart and other works after it joined in the crusade and changed the world’s perception of Africa by presenting the true picture from the inside. Africans, the world came to see, were after all a reasonable people with heart, body and soul, created by one and the same God. They had culture and a mode of worship guided by norms and regulated by the principles of human relations even before the advent of the Europeans. Continuously, African poems, novels, plays, music, paintings, and so on, as much as possible portray life in both traditional and modern African societies. The rest of the world has continually shown increasing interest in African arts and culture. Some of us with a sense of history would remember that during the early colonial period, some of Nigerian artifacts were stolen by the colonial masters and taken to the British National Museum. An example of such is the Benin bronze mask.

Fame: It is incontestable that the works of Chinua Achebe and the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, have brought more fame to Africa than the achievements of all the African political leaders put together. It could be argued that before the emergence of these men, the continent was only a dot on the map of the world. But their works and the works of others after them proved to the world that something good could after all come out of Nazareth.

THE CHALLENGES

The challenges facing Nigerian artists are multifaceted: lack of encouragement and patronage at both the home front and outside, disparaging comments about artists, the neglect of the arts by the government, among others. Many homes today discourage their children from going into the practical arts simply because they do not believe that a man can feed his family just writing literary works or just drawing and painting. Until recently musicians were seen as wayward people and children who opted to sing were disowned by their parents. People still see actors and actresses in the light of the roles they play in movies or stage plays. One particular actor was nearly mobbed at Aba in Abia State of Nigeria for his role in a movie: a wicked man who killed his brother.

For the literary artist, it is really a trying time. Reading culture is at its lowest ebb. Students of literature would rather watch a half-cooked film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth than read it in print. Many of them do not even know the recommended texts. So, for those who write, they face the lowest patronage. The books never get bought. Even when the books eventually find their way into the syllabus, pirates quickly swing into action. The same predicament faces movie makers and musicians. The government on its part does not help matters. The dilapidated state of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, is a pointer to this fact. Since FESTAC ’77, no concerted effort has been made towards the promotion of the arts or the encouragement of artists. Concerned citizens and corporate bodies have been crying out, but the government has turned deaf ears to all the yells.

In the face of all this, I still believe that arts practitioners in Nigeria could make a head way the moment we begin to look inwards. The sooner we begin to see the arts as a serious business, the better for us. Names like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Enweonwu, John Munonye, J. P. Clark, Niyi Osundare, Odia Ofeimun, Chimalum Nwankwo, Chimamanda Adichie, and so on became household names because they believed in the arts and in themselves and took the arts seriously. No one can save us but ourselves. At a time when Communist Russia faced one of its greatest trials, when the nation was far behind the West in technological advancement, Stalin rose to the challenge. ‘We are more than fifty years behind the rest of the world’, he told Russians. ‘We have only ten years to catch up with them. We either do this or they will exterminate us’. Pious pronouncements were backed up with positive actions, and within the next ten years Russia was on the verge of being pronounced a world power.

In the same spirit, arts practitioners, both established and intending, should stand up to the challenge and not be discouraged because those who question the relevance of the arts are themselves among the greatest patrons of the arts, one way or another. They must hold their heads high, and hold their own against other professions. They must begin to think of who to replace the Achebes, the Soyinkas, and so on. They must always remember how esteemed above other professions they are because they are co-creators with God, who himself is the foremost artist. Until this is done, people will continue to question the relevance of arts to practical living.

INTRODUCTION

For the avoidance of doubt, the concept of the arts can be viewed from two perspectives. On the one hand, the arts could be understood to mean the subjects one can study at school or university which are not scientific, which do not employ scientific methods. Subjects such as history, languages, religion, literature, and so on, would be appropriate examples. On the other hand, it could be interpreted to encompass a wide range of creative activities bordering on the skillful and imaginative expression of ideas, feelings, actions or events. Music, literature, theatre, and art (in the sense of painting, drawing, sculpture, etc) are what make up the arts in this sense. For the purpose of this discussion, however, our focus is on the second understanding of arts as proffered above.

The arts can then be classified into literary arts (poetry, prose, and drama), performing arts (music, dance, theatre) and visual arts (encapsulating the entire creative activities covered in the field of fine and applied arts: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, textile, etc).

WHY THE QUESTION OF RELEVANCE?

In developed economies of the world where the basic necessities of life seem to have been met, the question as to whether the arts are relevant or not to practical living is no longer an issue. Thousands of American citizens would troop down to the auditorium in Bard College to hear Chinua Achebe’s reading of his Things Fall Apart, not minding that they have heard the same reading over and over again, not minding that the book is over fifty years old; the same way the English audience would cluster at The Royal Theatre in London to watch the presentation of Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero or any of the plays of Shakespeare, not minding that Shakespeare wrote centuries ago. In the same vein, even though Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are long dead and gone, Italians would pay their very last lira to watch an exhibition of their paintings.

In our own context, economic hardship and the search for basic necessities of life have meant that only a few have had the time to appreciate the arts for what they are worth. In other words, the problem is not whether the arts are relevant or not, for it is not in doubt that the arts are relevant to practical living as much as any profession, or even more so. The real problem lies in the fact that people are too hungry or too busy to see the real worth of the arts. A man who lives on a monthly salary of paltry ten thousand naira, with seven mouths to feed, and so many other family problems to solve may not easily pay five hundred naira just to watch a drama presentation; a Nigerian graduate who has walked the streets of Abuja, Lagos, or Port Harcourt in search of a job for three years without success would know what to do with money rather than spend it on a piece of landscape paintings; likewise, a young man who has had nothing to eat for days, and has no hope of where the next meal is coming from, would not possibly be coordinated enough to read, not to talk of appreciating, works of poetry. If arts cannot satisfy hunger or thirst, can they still be said to be relevant?

THE RELEVANCE OF THE ARTS

The word ‘relevance’ presupposes usefulness and value. So the right questions should be: are the arts useful in any way? And our answer: yes, they are. Do they have value? Our answer again: yes, they do. If the arts have use and value, and those are the things that relevance implies, then we can say that the arts are relevant. That conclusion raises another vital question: in what ways are the arts relevant? The relevance of arts can be found in the following areas.

Entertainment/Relaxation: The various forms of the arts mentioned above provide one form of entertainment, amusement and relaxation or the other. In Biblical times, when the spirit of God deserted King Saul and he was tormented by evil spirits, David was employed to play his harp. The sound of music produced by David’s harp kept Saul’s mind at peace, for whenever David was not around to play his harp, the evil spirits came back. In ancient Mali too, court poets/historians called Griots were known to entertain the audience during national festivals by reciting long narrative poems recounting the heroic achievements of their forebears. At a time in history, court jesters were employed to entertain the king or the queen and their visitors by telling funny stories and jokes (as can be seen in most of Shakespeare’s plays). In traditional African societies, moonlight tales were a veritable source of both entertainment and relaxation for both old and young. Praise singers and dance groups entertained the crowd during communal ceremonies.

In modern times, in the not too distant past, the late Sani Abacha was alleged to have employed the famous comedian, Chief Zebrudaya, to provide entertainment for him and his cohorts through his funny jokes and stories. It was also reported that the former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo, is a great patron of stand-up comedy. Besides, at least one out of every three people in the world today find peace of mind in music; one out of every four Nigerians relax at home at the close of work to watch a home video; and one out of every five relax in bed with a literature book. Since the advent of stand-up comedy in Nigeria, even though hardship has continued unabated, a lot of Nigerians have begun to look at the lighter side of things. Mere listening to a single volume of ‘Nite of A Thousand Laughs’ would drive away sorrow in people’s hearts. Since these developments began, I bet that had the medical practitioners started taking stock, they would have discovered that high blood pressure and other stress-related conditions have reduced by more than half over the past decade.

Financial Value: The arts are equally a very lucrative venture for serious-minded artists. All arts practitioners who are worth their salt make a living out of their practice. So many examples of such people could be found around us. The famous Osuofia (Nkem Owoh) is a living example. The majority of the practitioners in the movie industry today were not even originally artists. Their professions could not provide for them, and so they switched over to the arts. Besides, works of art, especially paintings, are considered very highly valuable intellectual property that can be accepted as collateral the same way that gold or diamond or buildings would be accepted.

Didactic: The arts are known to teach practical moral lessons. The old folklores about the tortoise and his craftiness always ended with one moral lesson or the other. The story of the feast in the sky where the tortoise claimed that his name was Mr. All of You, for example, ended with the lesson that greed always landed one in disaster, just as the story of the beautiful girl who refused to marry all the young men approved by her parents only to finally fall into the hands of a ghost taught that it was not good to disobey one’s parents.

Exposing and Correcting Societal Ills: All aspects of the arts are deeply involved in the crusade against societal ills like corruption and bribery, ritual killing, etc. They have all been involved, for instance, in ridiculing the excesses of political and religious leaders as well as the gullibility of the followers who fall victims to the whims and manipulations of the tricksters. This they achieve through satire. By so doing, offenders who had earlier thought that their activities were unknown would begin to retrace their steps when they discover that their so-called secrets have been exposed. Intending offenders would think twice, while would-be victims whose eyes will have been opened by such exposition would come to terms with reality and become wiser. Cultism on our university campuses has been fought to a reduced rate through the instrumentality of the arts: music, drama, novels, etc. All these have made society a better place to live in.

Aesthetic Value: The arts have beauty and face value, in addition to their intrinsic qualities. We talk about the beauty of a poem, a play, a story, a piece of music, but this beauty applies more to the visual arts, the ones one can see and admire their physical outlook, like drawing, painting or sculpture. People go to art exhibitions to discover, behold and admire the beauty of art works. Those who can afford them buy them and use them for interior decoration. How wonderful it is to walk into a well furnished sitting room to behold art works exhibited on the walls! They equally serve as status symbol for those who can afford them.

Preservation of Culture: The arts serve to preserve a people’s culture. Art itself is an integral part of culture, that is, culture in the sense of customs, beliefs, practices, art, way of life, and social organisation. So many aspects of Nigerian cultural practices, for instance, that would have been lost and forgotten are recaptured through the arts. Before the appearance of Things Fall Apart in the world literary scene, Western writers like Joseph Conrad and others had led the world into believing that the African continent was one long night of darkness and that Africans themselves were uncultured and barbaric monkeys who had tails and lived on tree tops, and who had no souls worthy of salvation. But Things Fall Apart and other works after it joined in the crusade and changed the world’s perception of Africa by presenting the true picture from the inside. Africans, the world came to see, were after all a reasonable people with heart, body and soul, created by one and the same God. They had culture and a mode of worship guided by norms and regulated by the principles of human relations even before the advent of the Europeans. Continuously, African poems, novels, plays, music, paintings, and so on, as much as possible portray life in both traditional and modern African societies. The rest of the world has continually shown increasing interest in African arts and culture. Some of us with a sense of history would remember that during the early colonial period, some of Nigerian artifacts were stolen by the colonial masters and taken to the British National Museum. An example of such is the Benin bronze mask.

Fame: It is incontestable that the works of Chinua Achebe and the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, have brought more fame to Africa than the achievements of all the African political leaders put together. It could be argued that before the emergence of these men, the continent was only a dot on the map of the world. But their works and the works of others after them proved to the world that something good could after all come out of Nazareth.

THE CHALLENGES

The challenges facing Nigerian artists are multifaceted: lack of encouragement and patronage at both the home front and outside, disparaging comments about artists, the neglect of the arts by the government, among others. Many homes today discourage their children from going into the practical arts simply because they do not believe that a man can feed his family just writing literary works or just drawing and painting. Until recently musicians were seen as wayward people and children who opted to sing were disowned by their parents. People still see actors and actresses in the light of the roles they play in movies or stage plays. One particular actor was nearly mobbed at Aba in Abia State of Nigeria for his role in a movie: a wicked man who killed his brother.

For the literary artist, it is really a trying time. Reading culture is at its lowest ebb. Students of literature would rather watch a half-cooked film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth than read it in print. Many of them do not even know the recommended texts. So, for those who write, they face the lowest patronage. The books never get bought. Even when the books eventually find their way into the syllabus, pirates quickly swing into action. The same predicament faces movie makers and musicians. The government on its part does not help matters. The dilapidated state of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, is a pointer to this fact. Since FESTAC ’77, no concerted effort has been made towards the promotion of the arts or the encouragement of artists. Concerned citizens and corporate bodies have been crying out, but the government has turned deaf ears to all the yells.

In the face of all this, I still believe that arts practitioners in Nigeria could make a head way the moment we begin to look inwards. The sooner we begin to see the arts as a serious business, the better for us. Names like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Enweonwu, John Munonye, J. P. Clark, Niyi Osundare, Odia Ofeimun, Chimalum Nwankwo, Chimamanda Adichie, and so on became household names because they believed in the arts and in themselves and took the arts seriously. No one can save us but ourselves. At a time when Communist Russia faced one of its greatest trials, when the nation was far behind the West in technological advancement, Stalin rose to the challenge. ‘We are more than fifty years behind the rest of the world’, he told Russians. ‘We have only ten years to catch up with them. We either do this or they will exterminate us’. Pious pronouncements were backed up with positive actions, and within the next ten years Russia was on the verge of being pronounced a world power.

In the same spirit, arts practitioners, both established and intending, should stand up to the challenge and not be discouraged because those who question the relevance of the arts are themselves among the greatest patrons of the arts, one way or another. They must hold their heads high, and hold their own against other professions. They must begin to think of who to replace the Achebes, the Soyinkas, and so on. They must always remember how esteemed above other professions they are because they are co-creators with God, who himself is the foremost artist. Until this is done, people will continue to question the relevance of arts to practical living.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Chuks_Oluigbo/535392

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Beauty

Standing Tall In The Shadows Of A New York Tragedy That United The World: September 11, 2001

Standing Tall In The Shadows Of A New York Tragedy That United The World: September 11, 2001
Standing Tall In The Shadows Of A New York Tragedy That United The World: September 11, 2001

It has been almost a decade now and there’s much to remember when it comes to the tragedy that befell New York, The United States and the world at the hands of Islamic terrorists on September 11th, 2001. The catastrophe itself was a real horror for those killed and injured as well as for the family of those attacked in New York City, in planes, in the air, and at the mighty Pentagon. Those people should not ever be forgotten. Pain fades but it creates scars and scars never disappear, but for those who survive, it takes plenty of help to move forward. In light of the apparent death of Osama Bin Laden, there is some closure in regards to the actual crime that was committed against humanity that day, but from every great tragedy, there comes stories of extraordinary heroism, bravery, hope and humanity. September 11th was no exception. A decade later I want to remember the good that came from the aftermath of this tragedy, the help, solidarity and compassion shared by New Yorkers and the rest of the United States in the face of such a tremendous man-made catastrophe.

Most people know the heart breaking details of what happened on 9/11. On a cool, crisp autumn morning, a handful of terrorists kidnapped several commercial jetliners. One crashed on its way to Washington D.C., killing all aboard, including a few brave passengers who tried to take the plane back from the terrorists. The plane plunged into the ground, thus saving hundreds or perhaps thousands more lives than if the aircraft had reached its destination. Two more planes flew into the World Trade Center, toppling and forever destroying the wondrous man-made towers. Many that were inside, simply going through a seemingly normal day at work, died in their attempt to escape the destruction or in their efforts to save people from the catastrophe. A third plane plunged into the Pentagon, killing many more people working to protect American lives and interests.

When all was said and done, 2819 people died in that tragedy. Over 400 firefighters, policemen, paramedics and civil servants died saving many people, and trying to save many more. We have been at war with terrorism ever since. This was an unabated attack on innocent civilian lives, affecting many more than those killed or wounded in the attack itself. It also affected many more than just New Yorkers. Over 100 different nationalities lost citizens in the attack. The Twin Towers were more than just a few extremely tall buildings. The World Trade Center complex was a beacon illuminating hope in the city from 1973 to that fateful day in 2001. The designs were finalized in 1964 for the 7 building project with the Twin Towers to be the heart of the finished complex. Construction began on August 5th of 1966. The completed towers were 1368 and 1362 feet tall respectively, 110 stories in height, once and the tallest buildings in existence. They housed approximately 50,000 employees and saw 20,000 visitors per day. People came to see the grandeur of New York. The towers were part of the financial hub of the country and the world. To many around the planet they were a symbol of freedom. Many people from many nations went there to build a better existence for themselves, as well as for their families and their communities.

That is America in a nutshell, opportunity and hope, where anyone can come and enjoy the freedom. We are a nation built of immigrants, and New York is the epicenter of the melting pot. This was no more evident than when such a large number of people from so many nations died along with thousands of New Yorkers in those buildings, and when the intrepid New York public workers, firefighters and policemen went into that building facing death or injury, they went to save anyone that they possibly could, not just New Yorkers. People from around the nation streamed to New York in the days that followed, making extensive attempts in whatever way possible to offer their help, as well as searching for survivors and victims. America always has unified in times of crisis, even if we squabble when there is no crisis. However, that’s the beauty of America. We argue and fight to find the best way for all, so we can each enjoy our own freedoms without hurting others, and if need be when push comes to shove, we will even help each other out. America often gets a bum rap, as do New Yorkers. We are often labeled burly, loud, grumpy, and so forth, but September 11th perhaps more than any other tragedy exposed the true heart and character of Americans and New Yorkers. The love and sympathy and unity that grew from that tragedy showed who we are.

New Yorkers, in spite of their many differences, attitudes, and famous lack of patience, have always managed to come through for each other and the world. Believe it or not, New Yorkers are one giant family of dedicated citizens that help each other out in times of sorrow and need. We always have. Although New Yorkers are accustomed to social, political and economic upheavals, crime, overcrowding, deterioration of neighborhoods, intolerable housing, outrageous rents and high taxes, they accept the turbulence that is associated with daily life as a normal and inevitable way of life. However, it still doesn’t stop them from being aggravated with these issues and complaining about them, as well. There are a few rotten apples in the Big Apple too, but then there are rotten apples and chronic complainers everywhere.

But what about all the emergency workers who bravely sacrificed their lives in the face of enormous endangerment that day and what of thousands of other emergency workers and New York citizens who faced the same peril that day and survived? Those terrorists didn’t just violently take down the Twin Towers and kill thousands of hard-working people they attacked the American Dream personified.

Keep in mind that when we remember 9/11, we must remember New York and America’s response to that attack. The bravery, the unity, the poise that was displayed, and love and human bonding that formed. In place of the victims and the towers that fell that bloody day stood a unified city and nation, united to seek justice against terrorism wherever it might run and hide. The commercial hub of the United States, the epicenter of trade, fashion, entertainment, banking, publishing, and shipping was assaulted, as were freedom and hope. Nevertheless as always, we persevered.

Leaders like Mayor Giuliani displayed resolve and poise. He guided the city through the horrors that we endured. Like him or not, he was a picture of leadership during that crisis. He did not sway but remained calm and focused. He gave the city and the nation the stoic, resolved face that it needed to see at the time. What of the united policemen and emergency workers who lost friends and relatives, who stood together exhausted as the President, addressed them and vowed justice. What of millions of New Yorkers who donated time, energy and resources to help the survivors get through the crisis?

It wasn’t just New Yorkers who displayed the unity that the country and the world felt in the aftermath of 9/11. At the first home Boston Red Sox game after the sports world resumed as all pro sports ceased for days and weeks after September 11th, thousands of Red Sox fans stood and sang “New York, New York” to honor the victims of 9/11 and the citizens that survived. The fact that Boston fans, die-hard fans of a team with a 100 year heated rivalry with the New York Yankees, would show such love and support to such a hated rival says a lot about this nation, its true feelings for its fellow citizens, and its understanding of true priority.

Numerous nations around the world held a unified moment of silence to honor the victims. Many nations sent donations and assistance to aid in the recovery. In New York, as in the rest of the United States and most of the world, humanity exists, even in this day and age. We must always remember this.

We must also always remember September 11, 2001. We must remember the 400 emergency workers that gave their lives to save others to protect the symbol and ideal o
f hope, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We must remember the brave passengers on flight 93 that gave their lives to stop the hijackers from attaining their goal. The famous last words of a heroic victim, Todd Beamer, who died aboard that plane, were: “Are you ready? Let’s roll.”

Those words must not have been uttered in vain. Let’s roll means to move on, to take action, and they hold more contexts in regards to September 11th and its true meaning than to take a plane back. We must move on and forward. We must learn from the heroism displayed by victims, by New Yorkers and Americans during that tragedy and its aftermath. We must roll on in the name of hope and freedom. We must roll on in honor of those victims. We must remember the unity, support and love that New Yorkers and the nation shared. We must always remember and pay homage to the wreckage and destruction of the symbol of the American Dream that were known as the Twin Towers. We must always remember and pay homage to the victims caught in that destruction and to those that have died since, protecting the very American Dream that the Twin Towers personified. That’s the irony of it all. By destroying the symbol of freedom and the American way, the terrorists utterly failed. They united us in the name of those principles, strengthening our common bond. We must continue to build on that strength when we honor and remember those that died on September 11, 2001, and we must continue to prevail.

How about it America, are you ready to roll? Let’s go build upon the American Dream that the terrorists tried to destroy on September 11th. Let’s continue to protect and honor freedom, and lead the world by our actions and deeds, not our words.

Let’s roll.

It has been almost a decade now and there’s much to remember when it comes to the tragedy that befell New York, The United States and the world at the hands of Islamic terrorists on September 11th, 2001. The catastrophe itself was a real horror for those killed and injured as well as for the family of those attacked in New York City, in planes, in the air, and at the mighty Pentagon. Those people should not ever be forgotten. Pain fades but it creates scars and scars never disappear, but for those who survive, it takes plenty of help to move forward. In light of the apparent death of Osama Bin Laden, there is some closure in regards to the actual crime that was committed against humanity that day, but from every great tragedy, there comes stories of extraordinary heroism, bravery, hope and humanity. September 11th was no exception. A decade later I want to remember the good that came from the aftermath of this tragedy, the help, solidarity and compassion shared by New Yorkers and the rest of the United States in the face of such a tremendous man-made catastrophe.

Most people know the heart breaking details of what happened on 9/11. On a cool, crisp autumn morning, a handful of terrorists kidnapped several commercial jetliners. One crashed on its way to Washington D.C., killing all aboard, including a few brave passengers who tried to take the plane back from the terrorists. The plane plunged into the ground, thus saving hundreds or perhaps thousands more lives than if the aircraft had reached its destination. Two more planes flew into the World Trade Center, toppling and forever destroying the wondrous man-made towers. Many that were inside, simply going through a seemingly normal day at work, died in their attempt to escape the destruction or in their efforts to save people from the catastrophe. A third plane plunged into the Pentagon, killing many more people working to protect American lives and interests.

When all was said and done, 2819 people died in that tragedy. Over 400 firefighters, policemen, paramedics and civil servants died saving many people, and trying to save many more. We have been at war with terrorism ever since. This was an unabated attack on innocent civilian lives, affecting many more than those killed or wounded in the attack itself. It also affected many more than just New Yorkers. Over 100 different nationalities lost citizens in the attack. The Twin Towers were more than just a few extremely tall buildings. The World Trade Center complex was a beacon illuminating hope in the city from 1973 to that fateful day in 2001. The designs were finalized in 1964 for the 7 building project with the Twin Towers to be the heart of the finished complex. Construction began on August 5th of 1966. The completed towers were 1368 and 1362 feet tall respectively, 110 stories in height, once and the tallest buildings in existence. They housed approximately 50,000 employees and saw 20,000 visitors per day. People came to see the grandeur of New York. The towers were part of the financial hub of the country and the world. To many around the planet they were a symbol of freedom. Many people from many nations went there to build a better existence for themselves, as well as for their families and their communities.

That is America in a nutshell, opportunity and hope, where anyone can come and enjoy the freedom. We are a nation built of immigrants, and New York is the epicenter of the melting pot. This was no more evident than when such a large number of people from so many nations died along with thousands of New Yorkers in those buildings, and when the intrepid New York public workers, firefighters and policemen went into that building facing death or injury, they went to save anyone that they possibly could, not just New Yorkers. People from around the nation streamed to New York in the days that followed, making extensive attempts in whatever way possible to offer their help, as well as searching for survivors and victims. America always has unified in times of crisis, even if we squabble when there is no crisis. However, that’s the beauty of America. We argue and fight to find the best way for all, so we can each enjoy our own freedoms without hurting others, and if need be when push comes to shove, we will even help each other out. America often gets a bum rap, as do New Yorkers. We are often labeled burly, loud, grumpy, and so forth, but September 11th perhaps more than any other tragedy exposed the true heart and character of Americans and New Yorkers. The love and sympathy and unity that grew from that tragedy showed who we are.

New Yorkers, in spite of their many differences, attitudes, and famous lack of patience, have always managed to come through for each other and the world. Believe it or not, New Yorkers are one giant family of dedicated citizens that help each other out in times of sorrow and need. We always have. Although New Yorkers are accustomed to social, political and economic upheavals, crime, overcrowding, deterioration of neighborhoods, intolerable housing, outrageous rents and high taxes, they accept the turbulence that is associated with daily life as a normal and inevitable way of life. However, it still doesn’t stop them from being aggravated with these issues and complaining about them, as well. There are a few rotten apples in the Big Apple too, but then there are rotten apples and chronic complainers everywhere.

But what about all the emergency workers who bravely sacrificed their lives in the face of enormous endangerment that day and what of thousands of other emergency workers and New York citizens who faced the same peril that day and survived? Those terrorists didn’t just violently take down the Twin Towers and kill thousands of hard-working people they attacked the American Dream personified.

Keep in mind that when we remember 9/11, we must remember New York and America’s response to that attack. The bravery, the unity, the poise that was displayed, and love and human bonding that formed. In place of the victims and the towers that fell that bloody day stood a unified city and nation, united to seek justice against terrorism wherever it might run and hide. The commercial hub of the United States, the epicenter of trade, fashion, entertainment, banking, publishing, and shipping was assaulted, as were freedom and hope. Nevertheless as always, we persevered.

Leaders like Mayor Giuliani displayed resolve and poise. He guided the city through the horrors that we endured. Like him or not, he was a picture of leadership during that crisis. He did not sway but remained calm and focused. He gave the city and the nation the stoic, resolved face that it needed to see at the time. What of the united policemen and emergency workers who lost friends and relatives, who stood together exhausted as the President, addressed them and vowed justice. What of millions of New Yorkers who donated time, energy and resources to help the survivors get through the crisis?

It wasn’t just New Yorkers who displayed the unity that the country and the world felt in the aftermath of 9/11. At the first home Boston Red Sox game after the sports world resumed as all pro sports ceased for days and weeks after September 11th, thousands of Red Sox fans stood and sang “New York, New York” to honor the victims of 9/11 and the citizens that survived. The fact that Boston fans, die-hard fans of a team with a 100 year heated rivalry with the New York Yankees, would show such love and support to such a hated rival says a lot about this nation, its true feelings for its fellow citizens, and its understanding of true priority.

Numerous nations around the world held a unified moment of silence to honor the victims. Many nations sent donations and assistance to aid in the recovery. In New York, as in the rest of the United States and most of the world, humanity exists, even in this day and age. We must always remember this.

We must also always remember September 11, 2001. We must remember the 400 emergency workers that gave their lives to save others to protect the symbol and ideal o
f hope, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. We must remember the brave passengers on flight 93 that gave their lives to stop the hijackers from attaining their goal. The famous last words of a heroic victim, Todd Beamer, who died aboard that plane, were: “Are you ready? Let’s roll.”

Those words must not have been uttered in vain. Let’s roll means to move on, to take action, and they hold more contexts in regards to September 11th and its true meaning than to take a plane back. We must move on and forward. We must learn from the heroism displayed by victims, by New Yorkers and Americans during that tragedy and its aftermath. We must roll on in the name of hope and freedom. We must roll on in honor of those victims. We must remember the unity, support and love that New Yorkers and the nation shared. We must always remember and pay homage to the wreckage and destruction of the symbol of the American Dream that were known as the Twin Towers. We must always remember and pay homage to the victims caught in that destruction and to those that have died since, protecting the very American Dream that the Twin Towers personified. That’s the irony of it all. By destroying the symbol of freedom and the American way, the terrorists utterly failed. They united us in the name of those principles, strengthening our common bond. We must continue to build on that strength when we honor and remember those that died on September 11, 2001, and we must continue to prevail.

How about it America, are you ready to roll? Let’s go build upon the American Dream that the terrorists tried to destroy on September 11th. Let’s continue to protect and honor freedom, and lead the world by our actions and deeds, not our words.

Let’s roll.

http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Miriam_B_Medina/796126

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Beauty

Exploring the Breath, Range, Character, Scope and Reception of Cyprian Ekwensi's Writings

Exploring the Breath, Range, Character, Scope and Reception of Cyprian Ekwensi’s Writings
Exploring the Breath, Range, Character, Scope and Reception of Cyprian Ekwensi’s Writings

Ekwensi one of Africa’s most prolific writers who died late last year and was buried early this year, maintained a vibrant writing activity throughout his life, publishing a collection of short stories, Cash On Delivery, his last work of fiction and completing work on his memoirs, titled, In My Time for several years on to his death. With over twenty novels, collections of stories and short novels to his name, Ekwensi’s thematic preoccupation equally covered the Nigerian Civil War from the perspective of a journalist and life in a pastoral Fulani setting in Northern Nigeria.

Ekwensi’s first published work was the novella, When Love Whispers, published in 1948, ten years before the great African novel, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, appeared in London. He was inspired by sorrow over his unsuccessful attempt to court a young woman whose father insisted that she makes a marriage of convenience to write it. This short, light romance formed part of what became known as the Onitsha Market school of pulp fiction, and its success inspired Ekwensi to continue in that same mode.

Ekwensi had already distinguished himself by the several short stories he had written for broadcast on radio. These he later put together, within ten days, while on his way to Chelsea School of Pharmacy, London, to realize his first novel, People of the City, which Nigeria’s premier newspaper, The Daily Times, published in installments before it appeared in book form in 1954. but which was not published in the United States until 15 years later. People of the City (1954) was the first West African novel in modern style English to be published in England. It’s publication thus marked an important development in African literature with Ekwensi becoming one of the first African novelists to receive much exposure in the West and eventually the most prolific African novelist.

The fact that Cyprian Ekwensi started his writing career as a pamphleteer is reflected in the episodic nature of People of the City (1954) a collection of stories strung together but reading like a novel, in which he gives a vibrant portrait of the fast-paced life in a West African city, Lagos. People of the City which recounts the coming to political awareness of a young reporter and band leader in an emerging African country is filled with his running commentary on the problems of bribery and corruption and despotism bedeviling such states. In it and several others, Ekwensi explores the lure, thrills and challenges of urban life, and the extreme permissiveness and impersonal relationships permeating the lives of migrants to the city, where close-ties normally fostered by the extended family system of their traditional societies constitute a serious check on the deviant lifestyles that find full expression in the city.

According to, Bernth Lindfors, none of Ekwensi’s numerous works is entirely free from amateurish blots and blunders. Lindfors therefore concludes that he could not call any “the handiwork of a careful, skilled craftsman.” On his portrayal of the moral irresponsibility in city life, Bernth Lindfors, argued that “because his sinful heroines usually come to bad ends, Ekwensi can be viewed as a serious moralist whose novels offer instruction in virtue by displaying the tragic consequences of vice. But it always seems as if he is more interested in the vice than in the virtue and that he aims to titillate as well as teach.” While this view may be contested, it is undeniable that he always strove hard to reach his audience in the most immediate and intimate style. Indeed, it was to maintain this that he clung to those themes that afforded him the mass readership he so much craved

In a 1972 interview by Lewis Nkosi, Ekwensi defined his role as writer thus: “I think I am a writer who regards himself as a writer for the masses. I don’t think of myself as a literary stylist: if my style comes, that is just incidental, but I am more interested in getting at the heart of the truth which the man in the street can recognize than in just spinning words.”

Ernest Emenyonu, a Nigerian critic noted for his sympathy towards Ekwensi, charges that Ekwensi “has never been correctly assessed as a writer.”

Another sympathetic critic,the long-standing American convert to the study of African Literature, Charles Larson, describes him as one of the most prolific African writers of the twentieth century. According to Larson, Ekwensi “is probably the most widely-read novelist in Nigeria–perhaps even in West Africa–by readers whose literary tastes have not been exposed to the more complex writings of Chinua Achebe and other more skilled African novelists.”

Kole Omotoso past President of Nigerian Association of Authors and Drama professor at University of Ibadan confessed a lifelong fascination with him after reading his novelette The Yaba Round about Murder as a child, for, as he confesses, it taught him the importance of space in writing fiction. Omotoso goes on to state that Ekwensi’s major importance in Nigerian writing is because he believed in himself and ‘made us believe in ourselves.’ The pan-Africanist slant of his writings and his publications being mostly in Nigeria were found commendable. When many other African writers were in self-exile, he chose to remain in his native country, rather than live abroad where publishing opportunities are more abundant.

While some scholars discounted Ekwensi’s novels, others valued their social realism. Charles R. Larson put his work in historical perspective: “Local color is their forte, whether it be Ekwensi’s city of chaos, Lagos, or Onitsha … ; the Nigerian reader is placed for the first time in a perspective which has been previously unexplored in African fiction.”

Placing Ekwensi’s work firmly in the popular idiom, Douglas Killam explained their importance: “Popular fiction is always significant as indicating current popular interests and morality. Ekwensi’s work is redeemed (although not saved as art) by his serious concern with the moral issues which inform contemporary Nigerian life. As such they will always be relevant to Nigerian literary history and to Nigerian tradition.”

Ekwensi told stories that, like well-cooked onugbu (bitter leaf) soup, left a pleasant after-meal tang on the palate. Through his works Ekwensi told us that a work of fiction does not deserve that honourable name if it does not at first sight-…-arrest the reader like a cop’s handcuffs….. I read many of Ekwensi’s books, and save for ‘The Drummer Boy’, which was a recommended text when I was in junior secondary school in Plateau State, the others were read because they are what a book-hungry soul needs for sustenance. Who can, having been initiated into the cult of Ekwensi, forget the revenge-driven Mallam Iliya, the sokugo-stricken Mai Sunsaye, the skirt-besotted Amusa Sango, the raunchy belle, Jagua Nana (they don’t create women like that any more, whether in fiction, on the telly, and probably in real life); and the heart-rending Ngozi and heroic Pedro? They are my friends for life.

Ekwensi did much more than create ‘airport thrillers’. He told great stories that live on in the hearts of all who encountered them. ( Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama a Lagos-based writer and teacher)

An Ibo, like Chinua Achebe, Ekwensi was born in 1921 in Minna, Niger State, in Northern Nigeria, but attended secondary school in a predominantly Yoruba area, Ibadan. He is very familiar with the many major ethnic groups in his country, and thus possesses a knowledge often well exploited in his novels. He went on subsequently to Yaba Higher College in Ibadan and then moved over to Achimota College in Ghana where he studied forestry. For two years he worked as a forestry officer and then taught science for a brief period. He then entered the Lagos School of Pharmacy. He later continued at the University of London (Chelsea School of Pharmacy) during which period he wrote
his earliest fiction, his first book-length publication Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tale (1947) , published in London. His writings earned him a place in the National Media where he rose to Head of features in the Nigerian Broadcasting Services and ultimately becoming its Director.

Several events in Ekwensi’s childhood contributed later to his writings. Although ethnically an Igbo, he was raised among Hausa playmates and schoolmates and so spoke both tribal languages. He also learned of his heritage through the many Igbo stories and legends that his father told him, which he would later publish in the collection Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales. In 1936 Ekwensi enrolled in the southern Nigerian secondary school known as Government College, Ibadan, where he learned about Yoruba culture as well as excelling in English, math, science, and sports. He read everything he could lay his hands on in the school library, concentrating on H. Rider Haggard, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and Alexandre Dumas. He also wrote articles and stories for numerous school publications, particularly The Viking magazine.

During the later part of his stint as a forest officer Ekwensi started yearning for the city. So beginning in 1947 he taught English, biology, and chemistry at Igbobi College near Lagos. To his classes he read aloud manuscripts of books for children, Drummer Boy, Passport of Mallam Ilia, and Trouble in From Six, and short stories. Finally, after decades of supplementing his writing career by working in broadcasting and doing other public relations work, Ekwensi gave up his day jobs in 1984 to pursue writing full time. He returned to writing adult novels, picking and choosing from his personal “archive” of earlier written manuscripts much of which he revised into the novels Jagua Nana’s Daughter, Motherless Baby, For a Roll of Parchment, and Divided We Stand, which were published in the 1980s. For example, in For a Roll of Parchment he recounted his trip from Nigeria to England, as he had in People of the City. He did, however, update his material to portray post-World War II Nigeria, with its faster paced life.

Sex, violence, intrigue, and mystery in a recognizable contemporary setting most often in the fast-paced melting pot of the city were common diet in Ekwensi’s works especially in Jagua Nana, in which a very worldly and highly attractive forty-five year old Nigerian woman with multiple suitors falls in love with a young teacher, Freddie. She agrees to send him to study law in England on the understanding of their getting married on his return. Around this beautiful and impressive prostitute, Ekwensi sets in motion a whole panoply of vibrant, amoral characters who have drifted from their rural origins to grab the dazzling pleasures of the city.

And the novel itself shows us the seedy underbelly of the big city, Lagos, where Jagua’s favourite haunt, the Tropicana bar, sets the scene for much of the story.

Sometime, back in the 1950s the Onitsha Market ‘literary’ mafia, strarted producing and marketing openly, a semi-nude picture of a buxom Igbo teenage beauty, with the sassy caption, “Beateam mee lee” – I dare you to beat me!

Those were the prudish days of high moral values in Igboland and indeed Nigeria , of Elizabethan fashion with cane-wielding primary school teachers and headmasters. The offending picture sent shockwaves right down the spines of the public who, nonetheless, rushed to buy copies. Men who turned up their noses at the pictures in public, secretly bought, viewed and relished copies. And..school boys did odd jobs for parents, and the money they earned were saved up to the one shilling cost of the picture, which they used to purchase it and then usually tucked it away, in-between books, away from the prying eyes of parents or the class teacher, from where curious peeks of the treasure could be sneeked occasionally, at its owner’s risk, even in the middle of a lesson. Noted for churning out almanacs, with pictures of the famous, unfolding events, folk art, as well as such literature as those of Ogali A. Ogali, author of the legendary “Veronica My Daughter”, the mafia knew where to draw the line. Sex, however, sold any day and age and the mafia knew this. But nobody wanted to be identified with anything even remotely pornographic. “Beateam mee lee” was therefore, at the time, the mother of all daring.

It was against this backdrop that Ekwensi took the Nigerian literary scene by storm with the publication of the raunchy Jagua Nana. Ekwensi’s most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, published in 1961 returned us to the locale of People of the City but with a much more cohesive plot centered on Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive as reflected in her name itself, which was a corruption of the expensive English automobile, Jaguar. Her life personalizes the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Although Ekwensi had earlier shown the direction of his works with the publication, in 1954, of People of the City, it was Jagua (the lead character in this novel) that built the Ekwensi legend and assumed a life all its own, becoming a folk hero of sorts. Jagua dared the reading public. Ekwensi the artist, also had the magic of picking out names of his characters that were instant hits. They stuck like glue in the reader’s memory and helped animate the fictional personality. Bold, defiant, imaginative and rendered with uncommon technical finesse, Jaguar Nana totally established Ekwensi as the ultimate chronicler of Nigerian city life.

Published in 1961, the novel Jagua Nana, tells the story of an aging prostitute named Jagua who tries to provide for herself security in her later life through her relationship with a younger man. Yet while this young man is studying law in England, Jagua involves herself in various activities, some dubious, some not. Jagua Nana, witnessed some improvement in plot quality and control, unlike what obtained in People Of The City, chronicling the adventures of an ageing prostitute in Lagos, in love with her work and the expensive lifestyles, but who ends up in grief and disappointment.

Ekwensi’s attempt to dust her up later and usher her into some form of happiness and fulfillment introduces the quest motif in his work, which manifests itself fully in the sequel, Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1987), where Jagua, after a long search, was able to reconnect with her educated, socially elevated daughter, who had also had her own fair share of loose life. Both daughter and mother were at the same time engrossed in a quest for mutual fulfillment and healing until they met fortuitously. In the end, after she suffers sufficiently, Ekwensi allows her to have happiness.

As was to be in several of his other novels, Ekwensi’s moralizing is evident and reform is possible for some characters. For example, in the later novel Iska Ekwensi portrayed a young Ibo widow, Filia, who moves to Lagos after her husband’s death. There she tries to lead a respectable life. While she tries to get an education and responsible employment, she encounters numerous obstacles, which allow Ekwensi to show readers a wide range of urbanites. Yet this novel, published by a European press, could not compete for popularity with its predecessor, Jagua Nana, which caused controversy for its frank portrayal of sexuality. When an Italian movie company wanted to film Jagua Nana, the Nigerian government prevented this effort fearing negative media portrayals of the country.

Talking about what inspired him to write the work in an interview, Ekwensi said: I was a pharmacy student at the Yaba Higher College those days and I lived in the same compound with a young man who was very romantic. He would never miss his night club for anything. We had a night club then, called Rex Club, run by the late Rewane – the two Rewanes are dead now, by the way and one of them was
at Government College, Ibadan while the other one was a politician.

Now, many years later, I was called upon to do a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about night life and I found out that I had so much material about this subject that I could really build it into a whole book. That was the inspiration.

Yet another of his novels is Burning Grass (1961) a collection of vignettes giving insight into the life of a pastoral Fulani cattlemen family of Northern Nigeria..The novel and the characters are based actually on a real family with whom Ekwensi himself had previously lived. For after studying forestry at the Yaba Higher College in Lagos during World War II, Ekwensi began a two-year stint as a forestry officer which familiarized him with the forest reserves,from which he was enabled to write such adventure stories in rural settings as Burning Grass..

“In the days in the forest, I was able to reminisce and write. That was when I really began to write for publishing,” he told Nkosi. The several months spent with the nomadic Fulani people, later became the subjects of Burning Grass.where he follows the adventures of Mai Sunsaye, who has Sokugo, a wanderlust, and of his family, who try to rescue him. While seeing his protagonists through varied adventures, Ekwensi portrays the lives of the Fulani cattlemen. This early work, considered one of his more “serious” novels, was published by Heinemann educational publishers and reissued in 1998

Two novellas for children followed in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia which were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.

Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966).

Beautiful Feathers (1963) reflects the nationalist and pan-Africanist consciousness of the pre-independence days of the 1950s and how the young hero’s youthful commitment to his ideal leads to the disintegration of his family, thus underscoring the proverb alluded to in the title: “however famous a man is outside, if he is not respected inside his own home he is like a bird with beautiful feathers, wonderful on the outside but ordinary within.”

From 1967 to 1969, during the Nigerian civil war, when the eastern part of Nigeria attempted to secede, Ekwensi served as a government information officer the experiences from which he used to write the 1976 picaresque novel Survive the Peace. which realistically portrayed the activities of a radio journalist in the wake of the civil war in Biafra.who in his effort to reunite his family, encounters the violence, destruction, refugees, and relief operations that such chaos engenders. Through flashbacks, Ekwensi also depicts the war itself giving a post-mortem on the just-concluded , interrogates the problems of surviving in the so-called peace. It looks for instance at the pathetic fate of James Odugo, the radio journalist who survives the war only to be cut down on the road by marauding former soldiers.

In such early works as the collections Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales, and An African Night’s Entertainment, the novel Burning Grass, and the juvenile works The Leopard’s Claw and Juju Rock, Ekwensi told stories in a rural setting.

Ekwensi continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980) in which he lampooned the Nigerian civil war, the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).

Ekwensi also published a number of works for children.such as Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard’s Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night’s Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966). Over time, Ekwensi produced other books, mostly for children, which though they may not have been internationally acclaimed, were nonetheless well known and read all over Nigeria and Africa. They included Rainmaker (1965), Iska (1966), Coal Camp Boy (1971) Samankwe in the strange Forest (1973), Motherless Baby (1980), The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), Gone to Mecca (1991), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992). In 2006, he completed work on two other books; “Tortoise and the Brown Monkey”, a short story and “Another Freedom”.

Gratifyingly Ekwensi is still writing, He has published several titles as When Love Whispers, Divided We Stand, Jagua Nana’s Daughter and King for Ever! all related to earlier works.

When Love Whispers like Jagua Nana revolves around a very attractive woman with multiple suitors. But whilst she thinks she has won the love of her life her father expects her to get married to an older man in an arranged marriage.

Divided We Stand (1980) was written in the heat of the Biafra war itself, though published later. It reverses the received wisdom that unity is strength, showing how ethnicity, division, and hatred bring about distrust, displacement, and war itself.

Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1986) revolves around Jagua’s daughter’s traumatic search for her mother leading her to find not only her mother but a partner as well. She is able to get married to a highly placed professional as she, unlike her mother, is a professional as well. She thus gains the security and protection she desires.

King for Ever! (1992) satirises the desire of African leaders to perpetuate themselves in power. Sinanda’s rising to power from humble background does not prevent his vaulting ambition from soaring to the height where he was now aspiring to godhead

In the decades since Ekwensi began writing, the Nigerian readership has changed. Unlike the days of the Onitsha Market fiction, when books were printed inexpensively and sold cheaply to suit popular tastes at the turn of the millennium few publishing companies controlled the choice of books published; book prices made books often go beyond the reach of the masses, restricted mostly to schools and libraries, which cater to nonfiction and instructional materials. With various forms of media increasing in popularity, the incentive to read has fallen. With fewer people reading for pleasure, novels are in little demand. Because of these circumstances, creative writers suffer. Of this downside, Ekwensi told Larson, “Journalists thrive here, but creative writers get diverted and the creativity gets washed out of them if they must take the bread and butter home.”

At a public lecture in 2000, quoted by Kole Ade-Odutola in Africa News, the elderly but still vivacious Ekwensi expressed his desire to “build and nurture young minds in the customs and traditions of their communities” through his writings. He explained, “African writers of the twentieth century inherited the oral literature of our ancestors, and building on that, placed at the centre-stage of their fiction, the values by which we as Africans had lived for centuries. It is those values that make us the Africans that we are–distinguishing between good and evil, justice and injustice, oppression and freedom.” In tune with the times, he had started self-publishing his writings on the Internet. Despite the vagaries of the African publishing world, at age 80 Ekwensi was still pursuing his goal because as he wrote in his essay for The Essential Ekwensi 15 years earlier, “The satisfaction I have gained from writing can never be quantified.”

References

Beier, Ulli ed., Introduction to African Literature
(1967);

Breitinger, Eckhard, “Literature for Younger Readers and Education in Multicultural Contexts,” in Language and Literature in Multicultural Contexts, edited by Satendra Nandan, Uinveristy of South Pacific, 1983.

· , Volume 117: Caribbean and Black African Writers, Gale, 1992. Dictionary of Literary Biography

Dathorne, O. R. The Black Mind A History of African Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, Cyprian Ekwensi. Evans Brothers, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, editor. The Essential Ekwensi. Heinemann Educational Books, 1987.

Larson, Charles R., The Emergence of African Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1971

Larson, Charles R. The Ordeal of the African Writer. London: Zed Books, 2001.

Lindfors, Bernth, ‘Nigerian Satirist’ in ALT5

Laurence, . Margaret Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists, 1952-1966 (1968).

Mphahlele, Ezekiel

Palmer Eustace. The Growth of the African Novel. Studies in African literature. London: Heinemann, 1979.

Ekwensi one of Africa’s most prolific writers who died late last year and was buried early this year, maintained a vibrant writing activity throughout his life, publishing a collection of short stories, Cash On Delivery, his last work of fiction and completing work on his memoirs, titled, In My Time for several years on to his death. With over twenty novels, collections of stories and short novels to his name, Ekwensi’s thematic preoccupation equally covered the Nigerian Civil War from the perspective of a journalist and life in a pastoral Fulani setting in Northern Nigeria.

Ekwensi’s first published work was the novella, When Love Whispers, published in 1948, ten years before the great African novel, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, appeared in London. He was inspired by sorrow over his unsuccessful attempt to court a young woman whose father insisted that she makes a marriage of convenience to write it. This short, light romance formed part of what became known as the Onitsha Market school of pulp fiction, and its success inspired Ekwensi to continue in that same mode.

Ekwensi had already distinguished himself by the several short stories he had written for broadcast on radio. These he later put together, within ten days, while on his way to Chelsea School of Pharmacy, London, to realize his first novel, People of the City, which Nigeria’s premier newspaper, The Daily Times, published in installments before it appeared in book form in 1954. but which was not published in the United States until 15 years later. People of the City (1954) was the first West African novel in modern style English to be published in England. It’s publication thus marked an important development in African literature with Ekwensi becoming one of the first African novelists to receive much exposure in the West and eventually the most prolific African novelist.

The fact that Cyprian Ekwensi started his writing career as a pamphleteer is reflected in the episodic nature of People of the City (1954) a collection of stories strung together but reading like a novel, in which he gives a vibrant portrait of the fast-paced life in a West African city, Lagos. People of the City which recounts the coming to political awareness of a young reporter and band leader in an emerging African country is filled with his running commentary on the problems of bribery and corruption and despotism bedeviling such states. In it and several others, Ekwensi explores the lure, thrills and challenges of urban life, and the extreme permissiveness and impersonal relationships permeating the lives of migrants to the city, where close-ties normally fostered by the extended family system of their traditional societies constitute a serious check on the deviant lifestyles that find full expression in the city.

According to, Bernth Lindfors, none of Ekwensi’s numerous works is entirely free from amateurish blots and blunders. Lindfors therefore concludes that he could not call any “the handiwork of a careful, skilled craftsman.” On his portrayal of the moral irresponsibility in city life, Bernth Lindfors, argued that “because his sinful heroines usually come to bad ends, Ekwensi can be viewed as a serious moralist whose novels offer instruction in virtue by displaying the tragic consequences of vice. But it always seems as if he is more interested in the vice than in the virtue and that he aims to titillate as well as teach.” While this view may be contested, it is undeniable that he always strove hard to reach his audience in the most immediate and intimate style. Indeed, it was to maintain this that he clung to those themes that afforded him the mass readership he so much craved

In a 1972 interview by Lewis Nkosi, Ekwensi defined his role as writer thus: “I think I am a writer who regards himself as a writer for the masses. I don’t think of myself as a literary stylist: if my style comes, that is just incidental, but I am more interested in getting at the heart of the truth which the man in the street can recognize than in just spinning words.”

Ernest Emenyonu, a Nigerian critic noted for his sympathy towards Ekwensi, charges that Ekwensi “has never been correctly assessed as a writer.”

Another sympathetic critic,the long-standing American convert to the study of African Literature, Charles Larson, describes him as one of the most prolific African writers of the twentieth century. According to Larson, Ekwensi “is probably the most widely-read novelist in Nigeria–perhaps even in West Africa–by readers whose literary tastes have not been exposed to the more complex writings of Chinua Achebe and other more skilled African novelists.”

Kole Omotoso past President of Nigerian Association of Authors and Drama professor at University of Ibadan confessed a lifelong fascination with him after reading his novelette The Yaba Round about Murder as a child, for, as he confesses, it taught him the importance of space in writing fiction. Omotoso goes on to state that Ekwensi’s major importance in Nigerian writing is because he believed in himself and ‘made us believe in ourselves.’ The pan-Africanist slant of his writings and his publications being mostly in Nigeria were found commendable. When many other African writers were in self-exile, he chose to remain in his native country, rather than live abroad where publishing opportunities are more abundant.

While some scholars discounted Ekwensi’s novels, others valued their social realism. Charles R. Larson put his work in historical perspective: “Local color is their forte, whether it be Ekwensi’s city of chaos, Lagos, or Onitsha … ; the Nigerian reader is placed for the first time in a perspective which has been previously unexplored in African fiction.”

Placing Ekwensi’s work firmly in the popular idiom, Douglas Killam explained their importance: “Popular fiction is always significant as indicating current popular interests and morality. Ekwensi’s work is redeemed (although not saved as art) by his serious concern with the moral issues which inform contemporary Nigerian life. As such they will always be relevant to Nigerian literary history and to Nigerian tradition.”

Ekwensi told stories that, like well-cooked onugbu (bitter leaf) soup, left a pleasant after-meal tang on the palate. Through his works Ekwensi told us that a work of fiction does not deserve that honourable name if it does not at first sight-…-arrest the reader like a cop’s handcuffs….. I read many of Ekwensi’s books, and save for ‘The Drummer Boy’, which was a recommended text when I was in junior secondary school in Plateau State, the others were read because they are what a book-hungry soul needs for sustenance. Who can, having been initiated into the cult of Ekwensi, forget the revenge-driven Mallam Iliya, the sokugo-stricken Mai Sunsaye, the skirt-besotted Amusa Sango, the raunchy belle, Jagua Nana (they don’t create women like that any more, whether in fiction, on the telly, and probably in real life); and the heart-rending Ngozi and heroic Pedro? They are my friends for life.

Ekwensi did much more than create ‘airport thrillers’. He told great stories that live on in the hearts of all who encountered them. ( Henry Chukwuemeka Onyeama a Lagos-based writer and teacher)

An Ibo, like Chinua Achebe, Ekwensi was born in 1921 in Minna, Niger State, in Northern Nigeria, but attended secondary school in a predominantly Yoruba area, Ibadan. He is very familiar with the many major ethnic groups in his country, and thus possesses a knowledge often well exploited in his novels. He went on subsequently to Yaba Higher College in Ibadan and then moved over to Achimota College in Ghana where he studied forestry. For two years he worked as a forestry officer and then taught science for a brief period. He then entered the Lagos School of Pharmacy. He later continued at the University of London (Chelsea School of Pharmacy) during which period he wrote
his earliest fiction, his first book-length publication Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tale (1947) , published in London. His writings earned him a place in the National Media where he rose to Head of features in the Nigerian Broadcasting Services and ultimately becoming its Director.

Several events in Ekwensi’s childhood contributed later to his writings. Although ethnically an Igbo, he was raised among Hausa playmates and schoolmates and so spoke both tribal languages. He also learned of his heritage through the many Igbo stories and legends that his father told him, which he would later publish in the collection Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales. In 1936 Ekwensi enrolled in the southern Nigerian secondary school known as Government College, Ibadan, where he learned about Yoruba culture as well as excelling in English, math, science, and sports. He read everything he could lay his hands on in the school library, concentrating on H. Rider Haggard, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Walter Scott, and Alexandre Dumas. He also wrote articles and stories for numerous school publications, particularly The Viking magazine.

During the later part of his stint as a forest officer Ekwensi started yearning for the city. So beginning in 1947 he taught English, biology, and chemistry at Igbobi College near Lagos. To his classes he read aloud manuscripts of books for children, Drummer Boy, Passport of Mallam Ilia, and Trouble in From Six, and short stories. Finally, after decades of supplementing his writing career by working in broadcasting and doing other public relations work, Ekwensi gave up his day jobs in 1984 to pursue writing full time. He returned to writing adult novels, picking and choosing from his personal “archive” of earlier written manuscripts much of which he revised into the novels Jagua Nana’s Daughter, Motherless Baby, For a Roll of Parchment, and Divided We Stand, which were published in the 1980s. For example, in For a Roll of Parchment he recounted his trip from Nigeria to England, as he had in People of the City. He did, however, update his material to portray post-World War II Nigeria, with its faster paced life.

Sex, violence, intrigue, and mystery in a recognizable contemporary setting most often in the fast-paced melting pot of the city were common diet in Ekwensi’s works especially in Jagua Nana, in which a very worldly and highly attractive forty-five year old Nigerian woman with multiple suitors falls in love with a young teacher, Freddie. She agrees to send him to study law in England on the understanding of their getting married on his return. Around this beautiful and impressive prostitute, Ekwensi sets in motion a whole panoply of vibrant, amoral characters who have drifted from their rural origins to grab the dazzling pleasures of the city.

And the novel itself shows us the seedy underbelly of the big city, Lagos, where Jagua’s favourite haunt, the Tropicana bar, sets the scene for much of the story.

Sometime, back in the 1950s the Onitsha Market ‘literary’ mafia, strarted producing and marketing openly, a semi-nude picture of a buxom Igbo teenage beauty, with the sassy caption, “Beateam mee lee” – I dare you to beat me!

Those were the prudish days of high moral values in Igboland and indeed Nigeria , of Elizabethan fashion with cane-wielding primary school teachers and headmasters. The offending picture sent shockwaves right down the spines of the public who, nonetheless, rushed to buy copies. Men who turned up their noses at the pictures in public, secretly bought, viewed and relished copies. And..school boys did odd jobs for parents, and the money they earned were saved up to the one shilling cost of the picture, which they used to purchase it and then usually tucked it away, in-between books, away from the prying eyes of parents or the class teacher, from where curious peeks of the treasure could be sneeked occasionally, at its owner’s risk, even in the middle of a lesson. Noted for churning out almanacs, with pictures of the famous, unfolding events, folk art, as well as such literature as those of Ogali A. Ogali, author of the legendary “Veronica My Daughter”, the mafia knew where to draw the line. Sex, however, sold any day and age and the mafia knew this. But nobody wanted to be identified with anything even remotely pornographic. “Beateam mee lee” was therefore, at the time, the mother of all daring.

It was against this backdrop that Ekwensi took the Nigerian literary scene by storm with the publication of the raunchy Jagua Nana. Ekwensi’s most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, published in 1961 returned us to the locale of People of the City but with a much more cohesive plot centered on Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive as reflected in her name itself, which was a corruption of the expensive English automobile, Jaguar. Her life personalizes the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Although Ekwensi had earlier shown the direction of his works with the publication, in 1954, of People of the City, it was Jagua (the lead character in this novel) that built the Ekwensi legend and assumed a life all its own, becoming a folk hero of sorts. Jagua dared the reading public. Ekwensi the artist, also had the magic of picking out names of his characters that were instant hits. They stuck like glue in the reader’s memory and helped animate the fictional personality. Bold, defiant, imaginative and rendered with uncommon technical finesse, Jaguar Nana totally established Ekwensi as the ultimate chronicler of Nigerian city life.

Published in 1961, the novel Jagua Nana, tells the story of an aging prostitute named Jagua who tries to provide for herself security in her later life through her relationship with a younger man. Yet while this young man is studying law in England, Jagua involves herself in various activities, some dubious, some not. Jagua Nana, witnessed some improvement in plot quality and control, unlike what obtained in People Of The City, chronicling the adventures of an ageing prostitute in Lagos, in love with her work and the expensive lifestyles, but who ends up in grief and disappointment.

Ekwensi’s attempt to dust her up later and usher her into some form of happiness and fulfillment introduces the quest motif in his work, which manifests itself fully in the sequel, Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1987), where Jagua, after a long search, was able to reconnect with her educated, socially elevated daughter, who had also had her own fair share of loose life. Both daughter and mother were at the same time engrossed in a quest for mutual fulfillment and healing until they met fortuitously. In the end, after she suffers sufficiently, Ekwensi allows her to have happiness.

As was to be in several of his other novels, Ekwensi’s moralizing is evident and reform is possible for some characters. For example, in the later novel Iska Ekwensi portrayed a young Ibo widow, Filia, who moves to Lagos after her husband’s death. There she tries to lead a respectable life. While she tries to get an education and responsible employment, she encounters numerous obstacles, which allow Ekwensi to show readers a wide range of urbanites. Yet this novel, published by a European press, could not compete for popularity with its predecessor, Jagua Nana, which caused controversy for its frank portrayal of sexuality. When an Italian movie company wanted to film Jagua Nana, the Nigerian government prevented this effort fearing negative media portrayals of the country.

Talking about what inspired him to write the work in an interview, Ekwensi said: I was a pharmacy student at the Yaba Higher College those days and I lived in the same compound with a young man who was very romantic. He would never miss his night club for anything. We had a night club then, called Rex Club, run by the late Rewane – the two Rewanes are dead now, by the way and one of them was
at Government College, Ibadan while the other one was a politician.

Now, many years later, I was called upon to do a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) about night life and I found out that I had so much material about this subject that I could really build it into a whole book. That was the inspiration.

Yet another of his novels is Burning Grass (1961) a collection of vignettes giving insight into the life of a pastoral Fulani cattlemen family of Northern Nigeria..The novel and the characters are based actually on a real family with whom Ekwensi himself had previously lived. For after studying forestry at the Yaba Higher College in Lagos during World War II, Ekwensi began a two-year stint as a forestry officer which familiarized him with the forest reserves,from which he was enabled to write such adventure stories in rural settings as Burning Grass..

“In the days in the forest, I was able to reminisce and write. That was when I really began to write for publishing,” he told Nkosi. The several months spent with the nomadic Fulani people, later became the subjects of Burning Grass.where he follows the adventures of Mai Sunsaye, who has Sokugo, a wanderlust, and of his family, who try to rescue him. While seeing his protagonists through varied adventures, Ekwensi portrays the lives of the Fulani cattlemen. This early work, considered one of his more “serious” novels, was published by Heinemann educational publishers and reissued in 1998

Two novellas for children followed in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia which were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.

Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966).

Beautiful Feathers (1963) reflects the nationalist and pan-Africanist consciousness of the pre-independence days of the 1950s and how the young hero’s youthful commitment to his ideal leads to the disintegration of his family, thus underscoring the proverb alluded to in the title: “however famous a man is outside, if he is not respected inside his own home he is like a bird with beautiful feathers, wonderful on the outside but ordinary within.”

From 1967 to 1969, during the Nigerian civil war, when the eastern part of Nigeria attempted to secede, Ekwensi served as a government information officer the experiences from which he used to write the 1976 picaresque novel Survive the Peace. which realistically portrayed the activities of a radio journalist in the wake of the civil war in Biafra.who in his effort to reunite his family, encounters the violence, destruction, refugees, and relief operations that such chaos engenders. Through flashbacks, Ekwensi also depicts the war itself giving a post-mortem on the just-concluded , interrogates the problems of surviving in the so-called peace. It looks for instance at the pathetic fate of James Odugo, the radio journalist who survives the war only to be cut down on the road by marauding former soldiers.

In such early works as the collections Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales, and An African Night’s Entertainment, the novel Burning Grass, and the juvenile works The Leopard’s Claw and Juju Rock, Ekwensi told stories in a rural setting.

Ekwensi continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980) in which he lampooned the Nigerian civil war, the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).

Ekwensi also published a number of works for children.such as Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard’s Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night’s Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966). Over time, Ekwensi produced other books, mostly for children, which though they may not have been internationally acclaimed, were nonetheless well known and read all over Nigeria and Africa. They included Rainmaker (1965), Iska (1966), Coal Camp Boy (1971) Samankwe in the strange Forest (1973), Motherless Baby (1980), The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), Gone to Mecca (1991), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992). In 2006, he completed work on two other books; “Tortoise and the Brown Monkey”, a short story and “Another Freedom”.

Gratifyingly Ekwensi is still writing, He has published several titles as When Love Whispers, Divided We Stand, Jagua Nana’s Daughter and King for Ever! all related to earlier works.

When Love Whispers like Jagua Nana revolves around a very attractive woman with multiple suitors. But whilst she thinks she has won the love of her life her father expects her to get married to an older man in an arranged marriage.

Divided We Stand (1980) was written in the heat of the Biafra war itself, though published later. It reverses the received wisdom that unity is strength, showing how ethnicity, division, and hatred bring about distrust, displacement, and war itself.

Jagua Nana’s Daughter (1986) revolves around Jagua’s daughter’s traumatic search for her mother leading her to find not only her mother but a partner as well. She is able to get married to a highly placed professional as she, unlike her mother, is a professional as well. She thus gains the security and protection she desires.

King for Ever! (1992) satirises the desire of African leaders to perpetuate themselves in power. Sinanda’s rising to power from humble background does not prevent his vaulting ambition from soaring to the height where he was now aspiring to godhead

In the decades since Ekwensi began writing, the Nigerian readership has changed. Unlike the days of the Onitsha Market fiction, when books were printed inexpensively and sold cheaply to suit popular tastes at the turn of the millennium few publishing companies controlled the choice of books published; book prices made books often go beyond the reach of the masses, restricted mostly to schools and libraries, which cater to nonfiction and instructional materials. With various forms of media increasing in popularity, the incentive to read has fallen. With fewer people reading for pleasure, novels are in little demand. Because of these circumstances, creative writers suffer. Of this downside, Ekwensi told Larson, “Journalists thrive here, but creative writers get diverted and the creativity gets washed out of them if they must take the bread and butter home.”

At a public lecture in 2000, quoted by Kole Ade-Odutola in Africa News, the elderly but still vivacious Ekwensi expressed his desire to “build and nurture young minds in the customs and traditions of their communities” through his writings. He explained, “African writers of the twentieth century inherited the oral literature of our ancestors, and building on that, placed at the centre-stage of their fiction, the values by which we as Africans had lived for centuries. It is those values that make us the Africans that we are–distinguishing between good and evil, justice and injustice, oppression and freedom.” In tune with the times, he had started self-publishing his writings on the Internet. Despite the vagaries of the African publishing world, at age 80 Ekwensi was still pursuing his goal because as he wrote in his essay for The Essential Ekwensi 15 years earlier, “The satisfaction I have gained from writing can never be quantified.”

References

Beier, Ulli ed., Introduction to African Literature
(1967);

Breitinger, Eckhard, “Literature for Younger Readers and Education in Multicultural Contexts,” in Language and Literature in Multicultural Contexts, edited by Satendra Nandan, Uinveristy of South Pacific, 1983.

· , Volume 117: Caribbean and Black African Writers, Gale, 1992. Dictionary of Literary Biography

Dathorne, O. R. The Black Mind A History of African Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, Cyprian Ekwensi. Evans Brothers, 1974.

Emenyonu, Ernest, editor. The Essential Ekwensi. Heinemann Educational Books, 1987.

Larson, Charles R., The Emergence of African Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1971

Larson, Charles R. The Ordeal of the African Writer. London: Zed Books, 2001.

Lindfors, Bernth, ‘Nigerian Satirist’ in ALT5

Laurence, . Margaret Long Drums and Cannons: Nigerian Dramatists and Novelists, 1952-1966 (1968).

Mphahlele, Ezekiel

Palmer Eustace. The Growth of the African Novel. Studies in African literature. London: Heinemann, 1979.

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