Topic: Phoenix, a collection of poetry by Anupama Godakanda
Mediator: Prof. Sunanda Mahēndra (SM)
· Dr Pulsarā Liyanagē (PL)
· Mr. Shantha K Herath (SKH)
· Ms. Maduka Wijesinghe (MW)
· Mr. Priyankara Niwunhella (PN)
· Mr Bhoopathi Nalin Wickramage (BNW)
Date: 21st August, 2015
Venue: Sri Lanka Press Council, No. 150/15, Castle Street, Colamba 08
[…] Today we here to have a discourse on this book Phoenix. The poetess is Anupama [Godakanda]. The publisher is Kanchana [Priyakantha] … For a publisher to publish a collection of poetry in Sri Lanka is a perishable problem. Either you publish or you perish … She is bold enough to write poetry; she is bold enough to publish […] Why did you write this poetry [collection]? Tell us something about your writing? What made you write?
Tell us something about your writing. […] Ei me kavi liyanne?
I write both prose and poetry. è dekama mata prashnayak na. mage palaveni publication [is] a collection of short stories. ethakota mama … mage personal deval me collection eke thiyenne. mama issella kiwwa wagema. … They are my personal thoughts. I wonder whether you have watched this movie called Harry Potter?
Yes. It’s in Sri Lanka, now.
This particular scene [in it] had given me some idea of why I write poetry. There is this magician … the chief magician there … He’s called Dumbledore. He has this thing called pensive. He uses his magic stick … His magic stick and takes thoughts out of his head and puts them in this pensive. That is how he gets rid of happy thoughts and sad thoughts. When I saw that I … I thought, ‘OK, isn’t this what I’m doing with poetry?’ Because short stories and stuff … They are not about me. Maybe there is a little bit of me there but, you know, they are just imagined things. For me poetry is a way of dealing with my happiness or sadness … probably because I’m not a very social person. For me the highest of my … my …
So this is rubbish! … You are here, no?
Yes, but I’m very uncomfortable being here.
Why did you make us .. put us in trouble, then?
I was thinking the same thing.
Look what she is saying. This is poetry itself. This is poetry itself. You’ve put all of us in trouble and now saying I’m not a social being …
I’m not .. I don’t hate people. I think people, in their various ways, they are the most beautiful things you can come across [in life]. But they are very complex. With this complexity I’m afraid of hurting people. That is one of the reason I think I am … it is very difficult for me to .. to bond with people because I know that I get hurt easily [by] some things. People ask me, “OK, why did you get hurt by that?” But I’m sensitive to that fact. For me, words, seeing them there in black and white helps me to deal with my feelings … That’s it.
Danush Pradeep Kumara:
When did you start writing?
mam hithanne .. hithai mama hari panditha kathawak kiyanawa kiyala. mang hithanne mama danna dawas wala indalam liyana eka karanawa. mama liyanna purudu wechcha dawas wala indalama mama liyanawa. mama punch dawas wala liyapu kathawal ehema thawamath thiyanawa. Samahara ewa harima hasya janakai. è unata … I think I’ve been writing for a long time.
Danuka Pradeep Kumara:
Just imagine and write?
Yes! I was brought up by my grandparents. I have two younger sisters and I have my cousins but I’m a lot older than them … è hinda mama hariyata thaniyama hadichcha lamayek wage. è handa wenna athi [mama liyanne]. And being with grandparents can be a daunting task …
Eva .. Eva used to say this kind of things. I remember my good friend Eva Ranaweer … She used to say things like that … What about inviting Dr Pulsara to speak…
I’ll do so gladly because when I read Anupama’s book … I came across it only when she gave it to me. Maybe a week ago ... And I was very happy. Not because of the classical allusions in it at all but because I thought, “Ah! at last someone who writes poetry and calls it poetry.!” Because in English I see a lot of … vertical prose that goes for poetry. It is really words which a lot of people … because it is written vertically call it poetry. I’m very uncomfortable with it. Because … Now you’ll ask me, “What on earth do you mean?” I mean as I told Anupama the other day … Rabindranath Tagor, his Geethanjali is very popular in Sri Lanka […] Those are all written in the original also as prose. In English also they are prose. But the Irish poet Yeats … When he read this, he said, “This is poetry!” So we have the genre of prose poetry. Written in prose, horizontal or liner but the thoughts or the idea expressed, that is poetic! It’s an experience that you have. And I must tell … share with you that I had something close to that when I read her poetry. So I call this poetry without being polite. Just calling it what it is when I call it poetry … In many other cases I’m being polite when I say, “I read your book of poems” or when they say, “Did you read my latest book of poems?” I don’t say, “Which one? I didn’t know you wrote poetry.” [ …] So that’s … that was my first reaction.
And Anupama contacted me and wanted me to come because she said people tell her that there [are] a lot of classical allusions. And they say it is difficult to understand them. So I went through it. No, there are very few classical allusions, you know … and some of them are quite… have translated themselves into English …into the English language [and] into the English literature. Yes, there are a few. Now for instance ‘phoenix’ … Everybody knows phoenix. Yes, there are a few. Like …
Page 51 you find allusion to …
Like what you write on Achilles. “Fathers and Sons,” yes. 51. Then again 49.
57. She alludes to phoenix there.
The again Narcissus … That is 15. Poem number 15 … Even “Negative Capability”. Yes, I could understand, Sir, how “Fathers and Sons” could be a little troubling. Yes. This is … that is from Greek mythology. It is not for nothing that the world’s … recognized psychologists named an important childhood stage in growing up as Oedipus Complex … so … I often …though Oedipus in the Greek legend, as I tell the students who want to do drama, didn’t have a Complex! But psychologists called a particular human psychological condition after that name. And since then … once I’ve got to realize that … that I read the … I saw a lot in the myths … in the Greek myths. And I think Anupama is the first time I have seen using the Greek myth in this manner. The son-devouring father – yes, there were two generations of such gods! … Because of … You see, in the Greek mythology in both generations of the gods, the primal powers, feeling that they may be overtaken by there … the younger generation … made them suppress the younger generation. You can take it as political allusion You can take it as personal, familial … politics, anything. This suppression.
It is always … It is also interesting, Anupama, that it is always a mother who tells a son, “Please, do something about it.” And the children get together and a son … It is always a son who then controls the father. Binds him, cuts him, destabilizes him and banishes him, and gains the position of the leader. This happened twice. And it happened with the last of the Greek gods also. Zeus, he did the same to his father. And the father … When Zeus was …had cornered his father and getting him to disgorge all his siblings he had swallowed … The father, and the mother joined in telling him a forecast that the same will happen to him, too. “Do you think it won’t happen to you? You will also be overtaken by a son of yours, by a child of yours.” And so he was rattled by that and when his first wife known as Metis – Greek mythology describes her as a very old … ancient power of wisdom. When she informed him that, Zeus, that she was pregnant he swallowed her. And thereafter told everybody [that] Metis or wisdom is within him. And it is this child with … of whom she was pregnant that came … was born from his head. Fully armed and it was a female. And his favourite child, Athena. See. I don’t like to draw too many allusions here; it is for the writers to do so. But Greek literature itself has used myths and stories to convey a thought which is beyond words, like the poem itself. So I think that’s what the ancients were trying to say in their cataloguing of their myths at least … So Professor, that is the son … father- devouring son … that you find in Anupama’s poetry. You find it … find them twice. It’s a kind of a generational conflict. Yes. […] I don’t know why people find it … difficult?
I will tell you why.
Yes, tell me.
In the case of Greek myths, the average English or classical … student of classics … may know. But for the average English scholar, the difficulty is the allusions. For instance, Achilles. For instance, Oedipus. Narcissus … It’s difficult to know why these names appear here. I have been reading English poetry … the contemporary ones. You don’t find Anupama’s type.
That I think is the difficulty. It’s nothing wrong with her. It’s something wrong with us. We are this … eh … down to earth … But we know about Ambapali and Yashodara! She refers to Ambapali and Yashodara. The English reader will say, “We don’t know about Ambapali.
“Who is Ambapali? And who is Yashodara? Kisagothami?” (Most wonderful love poem written earth is “Nibbutha Pada” by Kisa Gothami. People say that.) As you’ve rightly pointed out Rabindranath Tagor had referred to Maha … Mahabharathaya … Arjun … Who is the other fellow? … Manushmruthi and all that . It’s very difficult to translate. I don’t … I don’t think it is easy to translate poetry at all. That’s my premise. But you, [Dr L] who have been teaching and acquainted with Greek literature, [are] the ideal person to write a preface to this book.
She writes critiques as well. Therefore, she is the ideal person.
I said to Kanchana, “My god I can’t understand some of these poems!” Why did I say like that? […] My son had given me a book called Greek Myths. Not the famous one by Robert Graves. Something else. Then I found that it’s easier to wade through this book. With the guidance of that book… So her stock in trade happens to be Greek myths. She comes automatically to it.
She comes to Ambapali and Yashodara also automatically.
Yes. But in writing this kind of poetry I thought you need a series of footnotes. Forgive me for saying this.
No, Sir, I think … I think the average reader, if [they don’t] understand they have … They can look into it … I mean there is a beautiful line by Hannah Arendt, you know, she is a German philosopher where she was following the Eichmann Trial. She wrote a three-hundred-page article about that and she had said certain things in the Greek language. And the editor looked at it … read it and said, “This word … This is not English. It is Greek. Do you think our authors understand? Readers understand? ” She said, “No, they have a right to. They should learn.” My opinion is too that if you don’t understand then you must go beyond the island’s horizons and perhaps understand what the Greek tradition is. It has a lot to offer.
Very well said!
There is a line in T S Eliot’s “Wasteland”. […] I’m trying to support what you [MW] said. “Om, Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!” T S Eliot says. … And what is the meaning? What is the book from where you can learn this?
I go to Yoga class. Everybody says this. Peace!
“But why do you take such … interest?” the average man will ask. I will take that interest. I would like to know what it means … Fire! Fire! …
Allusions have their own meaning. People know about them. This is what I believe in. I don’t know enough to approach the subject properly. But for the average English reader in Sri Lanka even the title Phoenix itself … Those who have read D H Lawrence will know who phoenix is!
It’s in the dictionary, too. The dictionary has it. It is there.
And if you look around …The other day I was looking … listening and looking around for the Greek words that are used in our everyday surroundings. There is an Olympus which is a housing complex somewhere. It is for … eh … middle-middleclass people, I think, Olympus. I don’t know why they called Olympus, though.
You have a lot of Greek words in the medical field. Oedipus Complex, the Electra Complex, the whole thing is there, you know.
Those are … Those are normal.
Yes, those are normal.
Those … whatever the language whether Sinhala or whatever the language …
[…] Prometheus, Icarus. All those are known.
Spartacus is a favourite of all radical people whatever language …
It was the very first beginning of Chitra Katha!
Exactly! Spartacus. The number of Greek dramas students produce in universities.
And in every drama […] I went to the festival this time and I saw in every drama - when it is contemporary Sri Lanka also - you have some references a Greek book, or a writer, or a playwright. So that is a part, I think, of our culture now.
And I think it’s all up to professors and teachers, you-all, to encourage people to understand that rather than saying, you know, asking the question, “Why have you written this?” … Because I think we should go beyond the island’s horizons and pick up, you know, whatever traditions … It is global … We are in a global world now.
Also, Sir, T S Eliot, we had to study for our A/Ls. There were a lot of allusions which we had to look up … So many books. Dictionaries did not suffice … A lots of biblical allusions, classical allusions … and the history of that period. We had to look up a lot of that … So I think poetry is an expression …
Of course! Of course!
It’s what’s in you!
It’s what’s in you!
So as you said if you don’t know try to get it known by a person who knows about it!
Yeah, Google! You know, Google has everything, nowadays, you know! Just type it in. And you haven’t a choice, you know, when I read the poems. You asked the question, “Why do you write?” …
You can’t blame her.
No! No! My good grief, I write just like her, you know! Coming from the heart. You have to understand woman! You understand woman and [then] you won’t ask why she wrote!
For a moment I said Anupama’s poetry I’m not …I’m sorry I can’t understand Anupama’s poetry, I said! But on the second reading … I felt it’s possible to understand something. So it remains to be said that poetry has to be understood as well. With difficulty also.
Sir, it has something to do with economy. When it comes to short story or a novel, you have a lot of freedom. Of course according to Chekov there should be economy of words there as well, but this is rather a very condensed variety, when it comes to poetry.
Whether the Subcontinent has a poet tradition or we are going on the Anglo-Saxon model … but we have the Sangam Literature. We have the Ahamadu Puram Poetry which takes about the glories of wars as they did after 2009. And then we have what you write, that is Aham Poems, personal poetry, that’s all about love. Nothing else but love. Love and the landscape. You know, those are beautiful things to read. And you have written for the 21st …for us the modern woman, you know. And […] you have an interest in history, you have studied mythology, you like the play of words like “pathi” “Paththini”, you know, that kind of thing. So you have many aspects and you have brought them into your poetry, you know. And if one knows it, it’s fine and good; if one doesn’t, then one has the freedom to figure out what it is. So that is it! And as a woman I understand why you write. You have two choices when you are unhappy: either you write or you go to a temple and wait! I have chosen the former. I write.
What is the fundamental access point of art? hïlsis idea tlla express lrkak hkjo. This the access point of art. There is a conflict between subjective and objective world. That is what you call ‘thinking’ … In Western Philosophy there is a concept called ‘being’. Anupama is touching this point - conflict between [the] outer world and inner world[s] – not deeply. [She] puts a great effort [sic.] on this. t,sh olsk foa wms m%;sks¾udKh lrkjd' fmkakkak W;aiy lrkjd - talg b;sydihla ;shkjd'
Art ri úÈkafka fldfyduo@ wo fjkfldg ideas j, evolution tl study lr,d ;sfhkak ´k artist flfkla' wkqmudf.a poetry collection tfla there are many inspirations from other work … many subjects … responses … not only emotional … intellectual and when taken to a broader end political. Ideas tl hq.hl fix fjkjd' Ideas j, border tlla ;sfhkjd' There are particular blocs, borders, which you cannot overcome related to a period. ta w;ska wkqmudf.a lú fix lrkak wudrehs'
Simply .;af;d;a fufla highly radical lú ;shkjd ta jf.au ideologically – this book is really political. Aesthetically whether this book is good or bad, I don’t know. fï hq.fha ;sfhk ideological trap tlla' wkqmud tl fj,djlg populist ideas j,g ,xfjk jd" tl`.fjkjd" lrg w;od.kakjd' ta jf.au wkqmud wks;a me;af;ka .sys,a,d fydogu radical positions j, ia:dk .; fjkjd' uu ys;kjd fïl álla ixlS¾K ;;ajhl lsh,d' This is my fundamental critique of this book.
No. 26, “Choices and Chances”, this represents the typical border of Sri Lankan artists’ ideology which is bordered by so-called Buddhist philosophy. When you take a poet ta f.d,a,kaf.a deep u idea tlg hk fldg, typical Buddhist. ta lshkafka Buddhidt idea tflka t,shg ta f.d,a,kag hkak nE' In the modern world fjk rgj,a j, religion fuflka art .,jkak W;aidy lrkjd' fïl ;uhs tlu lúh uu ±lal ta jf.a fï collection tfla'
I was very happy when I saw new metaphors in your book …That’s really political for me … When I take your ideas, they are really revolutionary … especially the poem titled “The Highway”. It is a really new metaphor. At least in Sri Lanka. ,xldfõ poets ,d agri-poets ,d' lDIs uQ,slhs f.dvla wh' Pre modern … In Sinhala poetry it is still dominant. It is a political trap Bandaranaike has made in 1956 for artists. All the artists are inside it. Ideas must challenge this …
fï lú fmdf;a paradox tlla ;sfhkjd' On the one hand, you are an extreme nationalist. For example, this poem called “Home” … ta hq.h bjrhs' l,dlrejdf.ka wjidk w¾:h wyk hq.h bjrhs' That age is over! l,d lD;shla l,d lD;shla fjkafka after it became a text … fïfl w¾:h l;Df.ka wykak hkak ´k kE' l;D lshkafk ;j;a tl reader flfkla ú;rhs'
This poem [“Home”] is really nationalistic! This is really political. [But] it does not repeat. biair artist flfkla .;a;yu f.dvla tfy fufy hkafk kE' thd tl ideological line tll bkakjd' society tfla ;snqkd ta balance tl' you should have as an artist some kind of a balance. If it [is] not [there there], then that is a representation of a crisis. Revolutionary artist flfkla lshkafka ;shk idea tl fjkia lrkak W;aiy lsÍu' Dominant idea tl change lrkakhs fight lrkafka, change lr hq;= kï''' ug ;shk .eg¨j ;uhs tl fj,djlg thd tl me;a;g lrg w; od.kakjd' wks;a fj,djg Thd wks;a me;a;g lrg w; od.kakjd This can’t happen if there is [no] crisis in her deep ideas. mokï iy.; woyiaj, f,dl= crack tlla ;sfhkak ´k'
On the other hand, “Black Box” …
Social dynamics objectively ne¨jyu ug yef`.k úÈy fï' Subjectively fmrjofk ;shk úÈyg Th;a tlal fjk .egqula' “I” lshk lúhg uu f.dvla u wdihs'
Tfí ±kquhs" uf.a ±kquhs fkfjhs .efgkak ´k Tfí yDoh idlaIshhs uf.a yDoh idCIshhs' tfyu ke;akï fjkafk ±kqu ;shk wh ±kqu jrm%idohla úÈhg mdúÉÑ lr,d ±kqu ke;s whg myr fok tl' ;j;a flfkla lshmq fohla lshkak kï fudkjdgo arts? lúh lshk tl úpdrhg w,a,kak lrkak yokfldg fail fjkak mq¨jka' á%,sxg wkqj úpdrh lshkafka hï lsis l,dlD;shlg lrk nqoaÈuh wdorh' wjdikdjlg ,xldfj úpdrlfhd nqoaêuh wdorh fkfjhs m%ldY lrkafka'
“Faces” wjHdcl;ajh m%ldY jk wjia:djla' Reclusive and introverted. ;u wNHka;rhg tì ne,Su'
idudkH uÜgu blaujd hkak ´k l,dlD;s' kuq;a idudkH uÜgfï tajd;a wms ú`Èkjd' tfyu ke;akï wms l=ylhs' lúh lshkafka tla;rd jrm%idohla f,i Ndú;d lsÍu jerÈhs' Deconstruction, Barthes jf. foaj,a accessible fjkak ´k' oekqu;a jrm%idohla f,i Ndú;d lsÍu jerÈhs' tajd YsIaG nj ms<sn`o m%Yakhla'
`.odkfhka wE;afjk ñksyd wdofrkq;a wE;afjkjd' ,xldfõ fï fol .,jk tl ;uhs b;d wudre'
PL: lúhla jerÈ úÈyg f;areï lr.kak mq¨jkao?
ks¾udKhla l,dg miafi wms w,a,f.k ;shd.kak ´k kE '' tl tlaflkdf.a YÍr fjkia' fï YÍr j,ska Wrd.kak m%udKh fjkia ''' ish¨ foa Wrd.; hq;=hs lsh,d ks¾udK Ys,amsfhla Wkdg ug mq¨jka lula kE n, mEula lrkak'
SM: lúj,g ;E.s fok tl jerÈ jevla'
lúhla lshkafk ;ud f.a wOHd;aufhka ys;,d ;uka olsk w;a±lSï ;=,ska ;udgu lshfjk woyila' t;fldg wks;a whg ;shkjd fjkak mq¨jka fjk;a w;a±lSï' ta f.d,a, Thdf.a lú lshj, tfla fjk;a w¾:hla .kakjd fjkak mq¨jka' kuq;a taf.d,a,kaf. csú;hg;a wduka;%Kh lrkjd' t;fldg tal lúhla iy iy uu ys;kjd tjeks lúhlg ;E.s fokak ´k lsh,d'
SM: iuyr lú f;afrkafka kE'
tl tl lÜáh bkakjd tl tl úÈyg yqiau.kafk' If you think you don’t understand it, you can’t appreciate it, lsh,d, let it rest and let somebody else [do it for you.] there is no one-size script. […] [In Western Philosophy we have the premise] Cogito urgo sum. I think therefore I am.[i] … Language has been created for political purposes. I think your poetry is wonderful but I agree with what he says about political because you go far then tl mdrgu lE,a,la w,a,.kakjd to defend the island. ta mentality tl ;shkjd' That is why I said don’t be this humble. Say what you have to say. She brings it in a streak. You go very far … but also … That’s … that’s island psychology playing a part. fïl ;uhs wms ysrfjkafk' Language has been created for this as a maximum … Because you have studied English you have been able to go for a certain extent … Go a bit further. Poems are beautiful. As a woman I can relate to them, but you can go one step further in that political aspect.
SM: Poems get written. No one can force a poet.
uu Ñ;% Ys,amsfhla yskaod uu lshkafka kE uu we`omq foa wx. iïmQ¾Khs lsh,d' uu fokafk uu w¨f;ka ±lmq uu wjfndao lr.kak mq¨jka jQ ta ;=,ska uu create lrmq hïlsis fldgila' ta fldgi Tng §mqjyu Tn ;uhs th iïmQ¾K lr.kafk' talg ksoyila ;sfhkak ´k wr uu lshmq tl tl Yßr j,g tl tl nqoaê uÜgï j, whg tal iïmQ¾K lr.kak' tal ksid ljqre;a tal f;areï .kak hk tl uu lshkafka kE fyd`o kE lsh,d ''' uu tl jpkhla mdúÉÑ lrkjd ''' uu lshkjd “WU fïl f;areï .kak W;aiy lrkak tmd' fïl ri úomka” lsh,d' tfyu fkdfjkjkï t;k l,djla kE' yenehs wo wfma rfÜ fï l,dj lshkafk fudllao lsh,d f;areï .;a; msßila kE' wr lshkak jf.a wOHdmfkka yß fjk fudkjhska yß tfyu fohla bIaG isoaO fjkafk;a kE' tfyu fjkjg leu;s;a kE' l=vd lKavdhï idlÉPdjka j,ska fï ;;ajh fjkia lrkak W;aiy l, yelshs'
yefudau isiagï tlla we;=f, bkafk' t;fldg thdj jgyf.k thd .ek m%;s ks¾udKhla lrkak kï wrjf.a part time l,dj lrk whg wudrehs ixlS¾K ks¾udK lrkak f,dafl .ek ''' wfma m%Odk .eg¨j ;uhs wms yefudau part time lrkafk ''' ixlS¾K fjkialï fjkfldg artist yeuodu ,sx ueäfhda jf.a .eñ iqj`ohs ù lrf, iqj`ohs l;d lr lr ysáfhd;a uu ys;kafk, “;=kqrejkaf.u irKhs!”
[…] wms l=vd lKavdhula ''' l=vdjgu l;djla ''' yenehs fïl f,dl= l;djla' f,dl= jevla' ±ka wfma wr ;shkjd fk¨ï fmdl=k' ±ka wmsg fï l;dj óg jvd myiqlï iys;j ta jf.a lr.kak ;snqkkï ''' wms l,dj ri ú`o,d kEfk'
What is new art? … In every art work, there is form [and] there is content … fï foflka tllaj;a w¨;a fjkak ´k' Content tal mrk jqk;a lshk úÈy w¨;a fjkak ´k' ñksfyl=g mq¨jka b;du mrK Wmudjka Wk;a wdhs reinvent lrkak' That’s art! … Thdf. Artwork tl .ek l;d lrkfldg ug no problem. uu ideology tl .ek fmkakqj' Bg jvd broad fjkak ´k'
mdúÉÑ lrk Wmud .ek l;dlrkfldg ug kx highway tll=hs blackbox tll=hs olskfldg fï fmd; u;la fjhs' ta lshkafka black box lshk tfla content tl .,j,dfka' tafl ;shk dominant ideology, tl Thd .,j,d ;sfhkafk' ug effective … ta effective[ness] tlu we;s' That’s art. tflka Thd fï f,dafl ms<sn`o m%;sm;a;s m%ldYkhla lrkak hkak ´k kE' That’s not art … ´kEu artist flfkl=g fï foflka tllska shock tlla vibration tlla b;=re lrkak mq¨jkakï … That’s art! That’s my aesthetic comment.
He sees some political aspects. uu hkakï as a woman into this. What I like is how you brought out the person who no one talks about in this country, as a woman. I see the poet in you … “[R]each deep within my being/And gather/That slow-burning Promethean Gift/Between my sheltering palms.” You have been gathering and pasting words … That element is there though I said earlier that this island being comes through …but you have exposed a lot which someone would not dare to expose.
uu leu;s Wfka N+m;s lsõj jf.a You don’t have that traditional temple-dageba-paddy field jf.a traditional beauty … Traditional is a creation of 19th century colonial period. We became Aryans at that time. We were not Aryans before that … tfyu race tlla kE' It was created … Manipulated. iqoaod ÿkafka wmsg Aryan thumbprint tl' wms tal ;ju Wiaif.k hkjd' So how can we change? … I like the fact that you have broken that traditional image … You have brought emotional things, but you have that intellectual thing. That is why you have mythology, historical aspects, play of words, you know … Patthini Culture […]. There is a balance between the heart and the mind. I liked your work.
That element of woman comes out strongly. And the question Sir asked was not very nice. “If you didn’t like, why did you appear?” I’m a writer myself. You might prefer to sit in a corner but we have to sell the book … fmd;la wÉpq .eyqjg miafi yex.s uq;a;x fi,a,ï lrkak nE' wms fmd; úl=kkak ´k' In some way or the other … So you did that. It’s difficult … But you have to make money for somebody else. You have to do a bit of publicity. This is a modern age we live in. Not like Virginia Woolf’s … You have done a great job of this. Therefore, hat off to you! That political bit is there. But as in the poem, “I am searching” … “I am gathering”, and you are searching for identity … There is no one way … There are many roads. wfma ,xldfõ wrx ;sfhkafka that Aryan road … But you have broken that traditional picture as in “The Highway”.
Even though this is a lesser audience I like what is happening here. Because most of the time ,xldfõ fï jf.a jev j,g .shyu .EKq flfkla Wkdu, protagonist .EKq flfkla kï ''' .Ekq flfkla yskaod smooth hkak' fuf;k tfyu fohla Wfka kE' That’s really nice. Because she is an artist. wms msßñfhlao .EKsfhla o ''' I like the way you entered subjectively, .EKq flfkla olsk úÈyg ''' It’s philosophical. uu olsk úÈyg jvd .EKq flfklaf. experience j,sx fïl lshjkfldg iïmQ¾kfhka fjkia' But uu f.dvla fõ,djg olskj ,xldfõ fï jf.a ;ekaj, thd .eyekq flfkla yskaod álla fyd`Èka l;d lruq' ys; ßfokafk ke;sj l;d lruq' wkak ta jf.a l;d' fu;k tal Wfka kE' That’s really fine … f.dvla fj,djg ta English literature audience tfla fjkafka kE' They have … Somehow they have that personality to accept critiques … uu ys;kafk ,xldfj isxy, audience tlg;a mqreÿ lrkak ´k'
AG: I think it’s a cultural thing … We prefer not to hurt other’s feelings …
MW: We have to overcome barriers created by language.
There are superior personalities […] There are many women … msßñkag jvd Yla;su;a .EKq bkakjd'
They have segregated us. We can’t cooperate because of languages […] fïl ys;,d lrmq fohla' ¥mf;a NdIdjla §,d fudÜgfhda lr, wr fjf,a bkak f.ïfnda jf.a lrkak' And the education system does not do anything to improve it … Exam pass lrkak ú;rhs' l;d lrkak W.kakfka kE' l;dlrkak nE ldgj;a'
BNW: ,xldfõ udr perfect grammar n,dfmdfrd;a;= fjkjd fï poet flfklaf.ka'
n,dfmdfrd;a;= fjkjdo l;dlrkak yok tlaflkd '' ks¾jHdc NdIdjla ''' tfyu tlla kE bx.%sisfh' There is no such [thing called] “perfect English” … tal l;d lrkak yok flkdf. tal udkisl m%YaKhla'
tal correct lrkafka kE education tflka English b.ekajqj;a ''' Language tlla tlal f,dl= tradition tll ;sfhkjdfka' Thdj criticize lrk fldg fyda uu fïlg enter fjkfldg, ug ;sfhk f,dl=u m%Yafk ;uhs uu f.dvla familiar isxy, literature iy isxy, work tlal ''' uu;a fïflÈ w¨;a jqkd uu;a' Thdf. fmd; lsfhõjg miafia uu;a confused ''' ta lshkafk fuÉpr range tlla fufyu fldfyduo tkafk lsh,d' isxy, fmd;la fufyu yïnfjkafka kE ''' Thdg tk iuyr u;jdÈ dynamics iy iuyr traditional blockages Thd overcome lrf.k ;shk úÈy ''' especially with metaphors.
When I spoke to her ug lsõj you grew up with a grandfather who knew a lot about history. tal ;shkjd' That is what she got from the education system … And of course she has studied History as well. That is very evident here. It is not the Bana Potha that you’d grown up with. You can see that. And that’s a beautiful thing about it, you know.
Danush Pradeep Kumara: What are the suggestions to improve the English language?
A child learns through listening … imitating. I speak a lot of languages. … You make mistakes … Grammar is not an important thing … Don’t depend on the education system. It does not equip us to face the modern world. The English language is not a difficult language. It is one of the easiest languages to learn. You have to make that effort on your own. Don’t depend on the education system because the the education system wants to give that lgmdvx system. Open your books and take notes. […] Everything is on computers. You can press a button and the spellings come. So they are wasting energy on old parochial things.
At the same time it’s interesting how technology and knowledge politics go on. It is not the way … moving as we are expecting. yeufj,dfju ys;kjd fïl fï úÈyg hkafk lsh,d' kuq;a fjkakE' 60s yß 70s j, jeäysáhka tlal l;d lr,d n,kak ''' Common sense tflx ''' úYd, ±kSula ;sfhkjd foaYmd,kh .ek idys;H .ek udOH .ek' ±ka bkak lÜáh basics j;a okafk kE' t;k f,dl= politic tlla ;shkjd' ug ysf;kafka úfYaIfhka wms jf.a rgj,a j,g tkfldg wms ys;kjd technology tlal ±kqu m%cd;dka;%slrKh fjkjd lsh,d ''' uu ys;kafka wms igka l, hq;af;a f;dr;=re ±k.ekSfï whs;sh fjkqfjka fkfjhs ;sfhk f;dr;=re ál ±k .ekSfï whs;sh fjkqfjka' uf.a suggetion tl talhs'
f;dr;=re ±k .ekSfuka wms fudkjo lrkafka ''' wkak t;kg wms ;du weú,a,d kE' t;kg wms ;du weú,a,d kE'
SKH: wvqu .dfk okak f;dr;=re fnod.kak'
iy tflka fjk krl foa .ek ±kqj;a fjkak' ta ms<sn`o fudkdyß lrkak' t;kg wms hkafka kE' uu wkak tal wfma iudfc ''' fïl w¨;a woa±lSula ug uu b.ekakqjg óg;a jvd nd, lÜáh;a tlal t;k ''' wo ;reK lÜáh woyia m%ldY lrkafka kE' wms ;reK ldf, úYaj úoHdf,a bkakfldg wms ;¾l lrkjd .=rejre;a tlal' kuq;a wo bkak ore mrmqr ;¾l lrkafka kE' ux okakE wehs lsh,d' b;ska wms ;reK ldf, ''' ´f.d,a,x bmÈ,d;a ke;=j we;s ''' ta 70 fõ 80 .kka j, ''' wms ;reK ldf, wfma rfÜ f.dvla fjkia ùï ;snqKd' wms ta fjkiaùï ish,a, tlal wms yq`.la related. iy ´f.d,af,d ''' uE; b;sydih ´f.d,af,d okafkj;a ke;=j we;s' kuq;a wms ta b;sydih;a tlal iDcqju .egqkd' wo ;reKfhda ;udf.a rfÜ fï ±x mj;sk foa tlalj;a .efgkafk kE' Th .eàu ''' Th iïnkaOh ''' uu lshkafk ''' .eàu lshkafk .y.kak tl fkfjhs' tfla nqoaêuh ixjdohla kE ''' tfla nqoaêuh ixjdohla kE'
wmsg .,a .ykak yq`.la ñksiaiq ysáhd' uu kï jYfhka m%ldY lrkafka kE fu;k' m%isoaO ;ekaj, ''' k.r Yd,dfõ ''' tajf.a ;ekaj, idys;H ;¾l lrkfldg ldf,da f*dkafiald ysgmq stage tfla ;j;a tlaflfkla ysáhd' ta ukqiaihd Ôj;=ka w;r kE' kuq;a ldf,da ;ju bkakjd' taf.d,a,kag wlue;s woyila ldf,da m%ldY l,d lsh,d ldf,daj stage tflx niai,d .y, f.or heõjd' ta jf.a .egqï ldÍ foaj,a j,g wms uqk ÿkakd' uqk §,d foaYmd,ksl jYfhka iEu ish¨ foa tlalu wms .egqkd ;reKfhda yeáhg'
wo ;reKfhda wrl n,kjd' úfkdao fjkjd' tÉprhs' f;dr;=re ±k.ekSfï whs;sh ms,sn`oj m%ldY lrkjd l;d lrkjd' kuq;a ta f;dr;=re;a tlal ''' wo ;shkjd' f.dvdla ;shkjd wo iudfc' kuq;a ta lsis fohla .ek ;reKfhda yeáhg l;d lrkafka kE' Thd lshkfldg zzwfma lÜáhZZ lsh,d ug ysf;kafka zzfudllao ta lÜáhZZlsh,' uu okafka lÜá .ek ±x ldf, kdgH lÜá ú;rhs' ta kdgH ''' wkak tafl uu w¨;a fohla olskjd' lsßn;af.dv fõjd .ïmy fõjd fld<U fõjd fmdä fmdä ;ekaj, fmdä fmdä ;reK lÜáh kdgH lrkjd' fï .shief¾ kdgH ''' b;du;au fyd`o kdgH zzfuh ;=jlal=jla fkdfõ'ZZ
pñ,' wo fjkfldg thd ta jf.a ;j kdgH lr,d ;sfhkjd' w¨;a woyila Tyq isxy, kdgHhg f.k,a,d ;sfhkjd' ta ;sfhkafk tal óg biair fj,d isxy, fõÈldfõ ;snqfka kE' kuq;a thd tal f.k,a,d ;sfhkjd' b;du;au oCIhs' Very political.
ta tlalu ug yïnjqkd isxy, øúv lj,ï ''' isxy, <uhs fou< <uhs ''' kdgH lKavdhula' taf.d,a,x ''' yßu ,iaikhs' taf.d,a,kag fk`Mï fmdl=K wjYH kE' fu;k lrkak mq¨jka' taf.d,a,kaf.a stage sets yßu simple. kuq;a tafla woyi b;du;au .eUqrehs' tajf.a w¨;a mrmqf¾ ''' wmsg ''' ´f.d,a,kag;a jvd ;reKhs'
BNW: w¨;a mrmqr lshkafka bkak lÜáh fkfuhsfka'
Thd fkfuhs' Thdg;a jvd ;reKhs' f,dl= ''' f,dl= Woafhda.hla tl;=jla t;k ;sfhkjd' f,dl= tl;=jla ;sfhkjd'
.sh ief¾ flá kdgH j, ''' ta f.d,af,d bÈßm;a lf,a flá kdgH ú;rhs' flá kdgH j, fï m,fjks ;ek .;a;d ''' tajf.a Woafhda.hg f.dvla foaj,a w¨;a ;reK lÜáhf.ka we;s fjkjd' ux jf.a flfkl=g tal yßu f,dl= fohla' bÈßhg wkd.;hg ;sfhk uf.a n,dfmdfrd;a;=jla' fudllao wr ±x ;sfhk wdKavqj? tal fkfuhs'
Wkak! […] fu;k ta ;reKhskaf.ka we;sjk ta o¾Yk ''' wr Thdf.a poetry jf.a' we;a;gu ta fmdä flá drama tl poetic. yßu poetic. […] tl flá drama tll ;snqfka wfma l`ÿlr j;=lrfha wr lxldkï wjÈ fjkak .yk rndkla jf.a tl '''' tal yok ukqiaih''' tl kdo lrk ukqiaih''' thdf.a mq;dhs thdf.a wifehs pß; ál' fuhd yeu;siafiu fïl kdo lrkjd' foúhkag jÈkjd' mq;d fvksï weof.k t-shirt weof.k' thdg fïl uy johla' thdg fïl uy lrÉp,hla' wïu;a wrhd <`. bof.k wr leäÉp tajd yokjd' yenehs f;a tlg iSks kE' b;ska fld,a,g iSks ke;=j f;a fndkak nE ''' Tlafldu fmkakqï lrkafka stage play tfla' mshd' uefrkjd mq;d hkjd' wïud mq;dg lshkjd zzurfKg bo,d m,hka'ZZ ux lshkjg jvd b;d kgHdkqidrhs' tfyu ;uhs tal wjika fjkafka' m%Odk pß; j, ysáfha isxy, wh' […] tl;= fj,d hula ks¾udKh l,dj ;=, ta ks¾udKh isoaO fjñka mj;skjd' wms tal W`Mmam,d .kakd ´fka kE' fuhd fou<' fuhd isxy,' fïl fou<' fï fudkjd yß l,dj' fïl isxy,' tfyu fkfuhs fïl' ,dxlsl l,djla fï w¨;au mrmqfrka ìysfjkjd' t;k wms w¨;a fohla ±lald'
MW: wms “Y%S” tl whska lf,d;a@
BNW: whska lf,d;a@
MW: álla f,ais fjhs fïl whska lf,d;a
PL: uu ys;kafka tajd Tlafldu msgia;r ornaments.
AG: Can I make an observation? … People have mistaken zzfoaYfma%uh ZZ iy zzracismZZ
AG: Yes, nationalism.
BNW: cd;sjdoh iy foaYfm%auh@
AG: cd;sldkqrd.h iy
BNW: cd;sl;ajh iy cd;sljdoh@
ta fol fjkia' lshkafk uu ys;skau úYajdi lrkjd uu isxy,' uu ta .ek uf.a lsisu doubt tlla kE' And I have the right to believe that.
PL: Of course!
In a way – [Boopathy] you are going to bite off my head for this – I think wmsg criticize lrkak mq¨jka SWRD nKavdrkdhl lrmq tl' But there are a lot of people who benefitted from it. We must remember that at the time he introduced the Language Act, for political gains maybe, only 4% of the population had access to English medium education. That means 96% of the population [Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslims, etc.] did not have access to what you call the standard English education … Nobody had any mobility with pirivena education [of that time]. These are things that I have in mind but then me being a Sinhalese does not preclude me from appreciating Sangam poetry.
MW: By the way they had good vernacular education.
Or English poetry or Polynesian war songs. biafi,a, uf.a launch tflaÈ Prof. Rāghavan g invite lrmqjyu uf.a university tfla u lecturers, lsh, ;sfhkjd Prof. Rāghavan g ''' uf.a university tl fï'
BNW: Rāghavan means Suren Rāghavan o@
Yes. He is a very nice person. And t;fldg Peradeniya University tfla … This is a very personal thing that I’m sharing with you. t;fldg Prof. Rāghavang lsh, ;sfhkjd uf.a university tfla lecturers ,d fokafkla uu extreme Sinhalese racist flfkla lsh,d' I was very hurt and I cried the entire day. But uu ys;kafka racist lshk jpfk krl kE' You love your race … ethnicity, or whatever. In the Greek society home – oikos, is it?
Then clan, then your polis, then the rest of the Greek speaking world. wmsg ñksiaiq yeáhg alliances ;sfhkak ´fka' fudlo wmsg È. kshfmd;= kE' yhsfhka ÿjkak nE' È. o;a kE' ta yskaod our ability to survive depends on collectivity.
t;fldg race theory ;sífn kE, during the Greek time. It’s a linguistic group. This belongs to a linguistic group.
PL: No. No. No. There were terrible race relations.
MW: But the city states were fighting.
The word ‘barbarian’ had come from Greek. Anybody who did not speak Greek was a barbarian.
MW: But that was not the race theory.
AG: Of course it is.
PL: Why not?
[…] f,dl= äfnÜ tlla wms talg fkdhd buq' ta tlalu fohla ug mark lrkak ´k' Thd mßiaika ke;s ;ekla ;sfhkjd' ±ka racism j, evolution tlla ;sfhkjd' yßo racism yeuodu tl ;ek ;snqk fohla fkdfjhs' kslx cd;sh lsh,d fmdä lÜáh;a tlal fkfjhs nation-state lshk tl yeÿkg miafia ;sfhk racism lshkafka' ta fol folla" wd'
AG: I know …
PN: Nationalism lshk Tagore f. fmdf;a ;shkjd' Deep study tlla fka'
ta fol folla' t;fldg wrl;a tlal compare lrkak nE' Politically, its wrong because that total era was over. That logic is no more.
MW: This is after the French revolution.
Yeah! t;fldg wr Thd .;a; WodyrKh jerÈhs' Greek WodyrKh fïlg compare lrk tl politically wrong.
AG: But the Greek example’s the best example because Greek poleis were independent.
BNW: No, Greek poleis were means it’s rather a different component than the nation-state.
MW: Polis is a city.
Compare lrkak j;a nE' Compare lrk tl yohs mD;=úhhs compare lrk tl jf.a jevla' Totally different. Totally different!
They were not nation-states. But the point is that they were states. They were independent states.
However small etc. they were, they were independent states … Modern thinkers prefer … even for ‘democracy’ they don’t go there … even for the rule of law, they don’t go there even though that’s where it came from.
BNW: That’s the origin. But it has transformed into many versions.
No, it has not transformed really into many versions. It is the same thing … But people see the modern evolution form the Medieval Times.
But the race theory evolved from the end of the French Revolution when feudalism came to an end. And from that point onwards they started creating race because all of a sudden people who used to live under lords, they had to find some kind of identity group.
PL: So it was after feudalism?
MW: After feudalism.
But where humans are concerned they had ideas of my race and the other race. That’s what she’s talking about … as a human being.
tal jrÈk ;ek ;uhs' Thd l;d lrk fldg jrÈk ;ek ;uhs ''' Thd tal .;af; nKavdrKdhlf. tlla tlalfka' f.dvd'''la comlpicated fj,d ;sfhkafka' Thd start lf,a ''' t;kskafka Th l;dj mgx .;af;a t;kska' uu okafka ke Thf.a ysf;a fudkjd ;snqko lsh,d' l;dj mgx .;af; t;ksx' So that’s why I told fïl fu;ksx kj;a;uq' fïl f,dl= debate tlla fu;kska tyd .sfhd;a' Politically wrong Thd facts arrange lrk úÈy' Politicall wrong. You can take metaphors like that. So I can’t challenge you. There is a big difference between art criticism and political criticism. Now you have stepped into political criticism. ta lshkafka doctrines fjkia' Academically, now you [have] overcome the border. Frist you comment on your book and Suren Rāghavan issue. And then you come to interpret what is racism. So now you are
PL: She said for her
BNW: Yeah! tfyu tlla' kE kE kE kE! bkak lshkak'
AG: We are subjective beings.
Subjective being ;shkjfk' yß' Objective being;a ;shkjfk' Racism lshkafka objective being tlla'[ii]
AG: There is nothing objective.
tfykx ux ys;kafka ux lg mshdf.k bkakkx' You can go on. You are getting much closer [to] Nalin de Siva. So you better not go ahead.
AG: But when you say you are objective, you become ‘God’.
kE racism itself has an objective meaning from the dictionary. To call yourself a racist might not …
ux ir,j lshkak ;sfhkafka fuÉprhs' Even though you are a racist or not Thd óg udi .Kklg l,sx fldfyo wïn,xf.dv fkao" w¨;a.u" w¨;a.u ysáhkx Thd racist jqk;a ke;s Wk;a Thd fou, ñksfyla kx Thd fmd¨ mdr jÈkjd' 83 Thd racist flfkla Wk;a ke;s Wk;a Thd fou, ñksfyla kx Thdg .sks ;shkjd' Subjectivity has nothing to do with it!
MW: Nothing to do with it!
BNW: That’s totally objective.
MW: That’s objective.
Thdg l;d lrkakj;a yïnqfjkafk kE' ;¾l lrkak fjkafka kE' You [would] have gone. That’s objective. Totally objective. There is a concrete objectivity. Always there is a concrete objectivity rather than our mind.
Had you been at Dollar Farm, whether you were subjective or objective you’d have been hacked to death.
PL: Yes, that’s true. Just like the other view. Both are very similar.
MW: That does not mean racism is divided into one category.
It’s good that we came beyond poetry. ta lshkafka Thd ±x lshk ldrfkkq;a Tmamq fjkjd uu f.kdmq criticism tl' ta lshkafka Thd ideologically constant kE lsh,d' tl we;a;gu example tlla'
AG: I’ve brought out that example because your examples were a bit biased.
MW: I don’t think ..
Because it’s always good to give multiple contexts because the moment you say that – I might not call you that – but people might question, “Where did the two examples come from?” Be careful.
BNW: What about the audience?
Ajith Nishantha: I think we are diverting from poetry now into racism.
AG: It is about a topic in the poem [collection].
But the thing is your … unfortunately or maybe fortunately, your poem on racism … it had something to do with … the emotional. You use the word in a different way. Different context and we came into this topic … It is not he who started it. You started it to defend yourself. That’s what happened. That’s how we’ve gone out of the track. And I’m fully of the opinion. I think if you were Muslim you’d have had no chance. Ify you were Tamil … and Sinhalese …
BNW: Simply tal ;uhs objective reality tlla ;shkjd lsõfj'
And I of course don’t believe in race at all. And whether I’m stabbed or a Muslim person’s stabbed, we bleed alike. And of course I’m totally for the elimination of race … I won’t stand up for a flag.
I’m not thinking that you are a racist for a moment. I mean, by your book. I don’t know you personally. But fmdf;ka ug kx ys;=fk kE tfyu fohla' I’ve just commented on your statement.
kE, you brought that Rāghavan thing. We would not have thought of it actually if you had not mentioned it.
BNW: Because I’m more flexible in that area rather than poetry
AG: People treat racism as a negative word. For me it is not a negative word because
tal ;uhs metaphysics lshkafk' wmsg jpk j,g in poetry you can give any meaning for a particular word. But when it comes to [the] real world there are particular terms. ta lshkafka Thdg lshkak mq¨jka fukak fufyu [showing a cup] zzfï yrld bkafkaZZ' That’s poetry. When it comes to the real world there is a meaning, right. zug yrlj fokakZ lsõfjd;a ljqre;a fïl [cup] fokafk kE' That’s the borderline between metaphysics and physics in philosophy - mdr fN!;slh yd fN!;sYh w;r fjkafjk br - yßmdr t;fldg' Racism lshk tlg Thdf.a notion jevla kE' There is a fixed meaning. [iii]
Meanings change, like you, you know, [iv] if you take the English word ‘villain’ – earlier in the 14th century ‘villain’ meant a peasant, a farmer. Today the word ‘villain’ means a person who is … bad. But in the 14th and 15th century word ‘villain’ referred to a peasant.. So you see, associations have changed.
The shift has a political background. wms t;fldg racism j,g fudlla o lshkafk@ Racism lsh,d fohla keoao@ cd;sh u; fight lrk ñksiaiq keoao f,dafl yß fyda jerÈ fyda @ t;fldg fudllao wms lshk jpfk@
AG: I don’t know.
MW: It’s racism.
BNW: It’s racism! That’s why I call it racism! Thd lshk tlg fjk jpkhla od.kak'
MW: Don’t use that word.
ta lshkafka racism j,ska t,shg hk whg cd;shg tl`. fjkak tmd lshk tlla kE' Linin kq;a *hsÜ l,d cd;sh fjkqfjka' cd;sl;ajh fjkqfjka'
AG: It’s people who impose …
No, no, no, no. I think you are ±x we;=,afjk area tl ;sfhkafka idudkHfhka ,xldfj wh lrk je/oaola' uf.a advice tl lrkak tmd' Thd study fkdlrmq area tlla .ek comment lrkak tmd' t;fldgu fjkafk Thdg fï poetry j,g ;sfnk jákdlula ke;sfj,d hkjd' ta lshkafk ,xldfj ñksiaiq oCIhs ;uka okake;s foj,a okakjd jf.a l;d lrkak' uf.a woyi Thd f.dvla foaj,a jroao.kakjd ±ka' Because there are basic notions.[v] And now you are not in an artistic area. Thd bkafka political area tll' t;fldg tafl Thdg ys;k ys;k tajd lshkak nE' tafyu lshkak mq¨jka b;sx' No problem.
What do you mean by that? There cannot be perimeters where you can step [over] and where you cannot step [over].
MW: Listen carefully. What he means is that the word racism has a set
BNW: Fixed meaning.
AG: So I’m challenging the meaning.
Yeah, you can do it in poetry. But you can’t do …. You can do! Bkshd m%cd;ka;%jdoh we;=f, Thdg ´kfohla lshkak mq¨jka' ´k foaj,a lshk rglafk fïl' iaj¾KjdysKsh Thdg jvd Ndhdkl tajd lshkjd' No problem. uu advice lf,a Thd l;dlrk area tl ;sfhkafka, it’s highly political. It’s not arts any more. t;fldg Thdg jrÈk notions m%udKh jeã arts l;d lrkjdg jvd' ±ka Thd nKavdrKdhlf.ka fuydg l;dlrkak tkfldg uu lsõfõ fmdâvla carefully study lr,d l;d lrkak'
It was a comment on something she [MW] said about language. I have that tendancy. I have things in my mind and I assume that people are on the same wave length and I make a lot of mess that way.
MW: Let me tell you one thing – Racism itself has a very negative meaning. So, I think you
AG: It’s imposed, isn’t it?
MW: It’s not imposed.
AG: It’s always been there?
Racism is relatively new word since after the French Revolution … People are given races. We become Sinhala race, the Tamil race …
AG: Are you sure?[vi]
PL: It’s how the modern world looks at the evolution of itself from the feudal world.
AG: So then we are being hubristic thinking that all those ancient people were primitive.
PL: We draw watermark … We keep borrowing from them.
Exactly! We are being very limiting in that sense. I believe words like ck, the Greek word Hellas, they are references to races. Races of people.
That’s actually … It’s race. The origine was language. ±ka wfmka fy< ni … fy< lÜáh ;shkjd' We come to a language group. We have brought it into a concept of race theory which began with the end of the French revolution. When people tried to fit themselves into new niches. “Where do we belong?” Major identity crisis. wmsg ;ju Th identity crisis tl ;shkjd' But what we are trying to say has nothing to do with the poetry. But when you use the term racist to describe yourself it has automatic negative … It comes to negative connections howevermuch you are trying to defend. Because the word has a set meaning.[vii] f;areKdo@ I’m not being critical or something like that.
PL: Let’s read the poem:
I am a racist
Unashamed am I to be racist,
To love my own,
For you and I,
Spring we from the same roots;
Share we the same legacy
Of tears of grief, betrayal, and joy.
We are not a line paradigmatically,
Or even syntagmatically, put together;
Arbitrary are our origins.
Blended into this wondrous nation
In a crucible of sharedness
Serendipitic hodgepodge of a ragtag dredge
Pushed and pulled by time and tide,
Yet have we stood the test of time
While many a mighty fell
I exist in a binary relation of ‘you’ and ‘I’;
Therefore, I am a racist,
MW: Her poem does not have that element.
BNW: Yeah! That’s the thing. ta poem tfla Thdf.a tal kE'
MW: Poem tfla tal kE'
BNW: Thd l;d lrkak .shyuhs jefâ jerÿfka'
kE' She says in the opening words. The title of the poem is “I am a Racist.” ... This is you! And your definition of racist!
But the thing is, yeah, very clear! Very clear! That’s why I said I’m totally into the poem. It is one of my favourites.ta lshkafka Thd racism lshk jpfkg w¨;a meaning tlla fokjd' You can do that in poetry. No problem.
PL: Don’t do it in prose.
That’s the thing! The mistake you’ve made …You have gone beyond this thing when you tried to explain. Thd l;d lrf.k hkfldg Thd fïl f.ksÉpd nKavdrKdhl ,`.g'
ux ys;k úÈyg wkqmud lshkak W;aidy lrkafka fou, whg lshkak mq¨jkakï wms fou, lsh,d wdvïnfrka lshkak' uqia,sï whg lshkak mq¨jka wms uqia,sï lsh,d wdvïnfrka wehs wmsg isxy, lsh,d lshkak neß?
BNW: kE kE wfka my dear, tÉpr ir, ;ekl fkfjhs kej;=fka'
KP: thdg lshkak ´k tal'
tal ;uhs uu lsõfj thdg lshkak ´k tl fkfjhs lshfjkafk lsh,d' t;fldg ir, kE' wysxil kE ' uu tal ;uhs fï fmdf;aÈ;a lsõfj uu lshmq tlg example tl lsh,d Thd l;d tl lsh,d' Thdf.a intention tl ;sfhkafka, tal fkfjhs Thdf.a w;sx lshfjkafka' ta fol w;r f,dl= gap tlla ;shkjd' When you are expressing it you are totally in [an] ideological trap. ta lshkafka Thd ±kgu;a ñksiaiq f.dvk.,d lshk language tll bo,fka express lrkafka, yß@
AG: Can you escape language?
BNW: Yeah! Definitely! Why not?
AG: You are referring to metalinguistics?
Yeah! Why not? Definitely. Not as a person. Not as a person. But as a … Historically, I mean, YsIaGdpdrhla úÈyg ´k ;ekl language j,g msg ;sfhkjd' ux ys;kafka f.dvla mg,jd.kakjd Thd' f.dvdla mg,jd .kakjd'
Of course there is an existence beyond language … language of the senses.[viii] We have, for example, a lot of things I understand on a sensory level which I cannot explain in words. You know, there is language of feeling, of the senses, of seeing, of exposing – Words are very abstract. That’s why we tried to stop you at that point when you said the word racism because …
BNW: wms okakjd Thd tal fkfjhs lshkafka lsh,d'
You know your poem is abstract. yßo? wrl … wr jpfka mdúÉÑ lrmqjyu It becomes concrete. It becomes political. It does not fit any more. fï poem uu lsfhõjd' And I thought, “That’s a lovely way she has used the word racist.”
BNW: Very creative.
MW: But then you strated with Rāghavan and went on a different topic.
Realistic world, when you come to it, ta lshkafka jdia;úl f,dalhg wdjyu f.dvla jrÈkjd' w. uq, ke;=j jrÈkjd' So you better think. No need to, ta lshkafka wms;a tlal tl. fjkak ´k kE'
SKH: uu ys;kjd fï idlÉPdj ;jÿrg;a hkak mqoa.,sl fõ,djl
BNW: uu uq,skau lsõfj talhs'
MW: But the poems are beautiful.
PL:Words j,g tyd ideas ;shkjd. You can’t put all the ideas into words. This iswhat playing with words means. Giving ideas that cannot be given in straight forward language and creating mind pictures. Those sometimes are beyond words.
[i] Renè Descartes (1596-1650)
[ii] Who has decided on the ‘objectivity’ of racism?
[iii] Althussar in his teory of ISA and RSA rejects this notion of objectivity and fixity. Common sense is no more than hegemonic imposition of the dominant ideology on the masses.
[iv] Roland Barthes’ theory on second order signification
[v] All notions are hegemonically imposed agreements supervised by those who hold power in order to maintain their control over the scares resources. There are no objective notions or universal truths.
[vi] The debate between L. Goonawardene and KNO Dharmapala on the notion of Sinhalese as a nation
[vii] Meanings are not divine – they are social agreements for the benefit of therefore supervised by those who hold power.
[viii] Even the sensory knowledge is given being by language. It is in the act of naming that something obtains referentiality