Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: Primitivism in 20th century literature

Friday, September 23, 2016

Primitivism in 20th century literature

Primitivism in 20th century literature

Primitivism is a belief in the value of what is simple and unsophisticated, expressed as a philosophy of life or through art or literature.
Simple is described as having few parts or features; not complicated or elaborate, easy to understand, do, or carry out, having or composed of only one thing, element, or part.
Primitivism is an internally coherent set of images and ideas that shape perceptions of the primitive.
Primitive is 1. Of or belonging to the first age, the period or stage; earliest, original.
2. Having the quality or style of that which is early or ancient.
3. Original as opposed to derivative; primary as opposed to secondary.
Benevolence is anti-thesis of intellectualism. Primitiveness helps them in being benevolent without posing as intellectual.

The subjects of "civilization" are trapped in the "primitive" hidden within themselves. Patrick White in his novel “The tree of man” has delineated the poetry and mystery in the lives of the simple farming couple Stan and Amy Parker. They deal with complex situations and the chain of events in an unsophisticated manner. The elements in the form of flood and fire are bravely fought and conquered. The bravery is the natural outcome of simplicity. Those who pretend aggression to scare the people is basically cowards. Simple life is far from any kind of pretension.

The simplicity of true grandeur found in tree transcends in the human being who live their life in the proximity of nature. The act of adultery by Amy, not only once by twice reflects that it is not impulsive but a deliberate act to overcome the boredom or an act of rebellion against a husband who had become unromantic. Their marriage was not a consequence of a decision, but an outcome of a certainty. They had a highly romantic honeymoon.
The writer says “the whole night had become a poem of moonlight…. Flesh is heroic by moonlight. The man took the body of the woman and taught it fearlessness.” Mystery and poetry of real life are revealed in an extraordinary within the ordinary. The Author has rationalized Amy’s act of adultery by concluding “Sometimes her simplicity would blaze electrically.”

Stan also makes a brief encounter with passion when he rescues Madeleine from fire. Flavor of the incident is romantic, but passions are sublimated by conviction and values. Moreover, simple deserves forgiveness. Madeline once admires the crude furniture in the house of Stan for it had reality.
For anything that is grand and simple, even the end is a new beginning. The grandson of Stan wants to write a poem of life, of what he did not know, but knew. So that in the end there were trees.

Eliot as a primitivists talked about inverting the hierarchy of savage and civilised since he spoke from a position that was, "deeper" and "older" than - and uncontaminated by - their culture.

James Clifford stated "primitives were fundamentally all the same, and important primarily as a window onto suppressed aspects of the civilized personality."

Eliot's theories of poetic imagination to his and Woolf's ideas of the importance of "impersonality" and Lawrence’s adaptation of “Psychoanalysis” were an attempt to strike a balance in their dual responsibility towards society as wells on their own-self. Primitivism is the criteria by which the work like “The Wasteland” (Eliot), “The Voyage Out” (Woolf), “The Plumed Serpent”(Lawrence) can be understood.

Do the earliest condition of man society was best? Human race treats the nature as an enemy. The human relationship has been deteriorated by an advancement of technology. Is it possible to return to primitive life we once had? We have come so far from nature, would nature forgive and accepts us?
Should native red-Indians forgive genocide when we are not ready to even apologize for Hiroshima. The harmony has been damaged beyond repair.

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©  Vipin Behari Goyal

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