Sunday, April 6, 2008

An untimely art critcism of "Time, art and criticism"

After my first attempt at reviewing, here goes another....

Literary reviewing is itself an interesting task. For one thing, u shud read an entire book whether u like it or not. N if u wanna b a good reviewer, u must also b unbiased abt it. Now THAT is a very very difficult thing. Cos it means that, not only shud u remain unaffected by that book, but also by nethin els u mite ve read.. seems sorta humanly impossible... But then, there ve been a lot of such good critics. Neway, most critics take d easier way out n jus express their own opinions. It den rests on d reader to remember the nature of the critic while readin d review so as not to be prejudiced by him.

Anyway, all that banter abt reviewing was to tel u tat im gonna review a short story now.. yes, a short story.. Tat could be a lil interestin cos, reviews are supposed to b shorter than the "reviewed", n since short stories are, by definition, short, my review must b shorter than d story itself, yet must convey all the merits n demerits of d story. Wel, since all dis mite prove to b difficult, I request u not to chk word count etc.. C'mon... blogs are beyond the constraints of usual literature. "They are a new art form", u c... (allusion intended, of course).
N ya, before, u read d review, I suggest u read the story itself. Its too good to miss! :)
The link is:

Ok.. gettn to d review...

Science fiction is a very interestin literary form. While, on the one hand, it tells of the possibilities of science, positive or negative (so much that, it mite even b a wake up cal that awakens us to d dangers of science that v mite possibly ve overlooked); on the other, it confers the story, the one element unique to all short story writing--- the twist, or in dis case, the horror.
Neway, in science fiction, if the story can keep u dumbfounded for one minute, if it can make u forget urself n remain immersed in horror, the story can be written off as successful. (Remembr those Isaac Asimov ones that made u think abt em for d next half an hour n fear for d world???)

In this manner alone, "Time, art n criticism" is among the best stories ever written.

For a short summary of the story, Taran Vechery is a "temporal engineer" who has recently entered both Earth (after 65 years on a starship) and the world of art, with his innovative "temporal sculpture". This is defined as an object having a time frame different from our own, and oscillating wrt our own time.... Thus as we move ahead in time, (which we forever do anyway!), the object ages, then "de-ages"(meanin it goes back in time), repeatedly. Of course, this bein an entirely new medium of expression, Vechery expects the art world to turn around and look at him. However, he is left with no time(!) for that, as the "sun of the art world", De Soliel, trashes his piece. Vechery doesn't lose hope n continues to produce better stuff, only to be rejected by De Soliel. The grand finale?????? Ill leave it for u to discover!!! ;) Its too good to be revealed....

Neway, der re oder appreciable aspects to a story, such as language, expressions, n as De Soliel puts it, the "human element"! Going in that order, the language that the writer has used is one important factor for the success of the story. By mentioning the use of a "watch tatoo", "shuttleport", etc, the author has transferred us to the future indeed! (Tho, i'd say, some of his efforts are too obviously pronounced; it becomes quite obvious to the reader that he has used them to emphasize future tense!)

Special kudos for the statement- ' "O,sorry", he said, not sounding it! ' .... Beautiful piece of sarcasm....

Incidentally, the story is sorta poetic. The way time marches back and forth, and how the tree goes into spring when De Soliel arrives and is back in autumn when he leaves. Seems to reflect the mood... N his use of celestial objects in so many places... "Sun of criticism", picking up "satellites" etc.. Quite commendable..

N his statement about artists taking time to understand themselves... how true!!

N ya, about the "human element", there certainly is a great deal of it in this story.

The way Vechery has been depicted is quite touching. Our hearts automatically overflow with pity for him. The unrecognised genius has always been one of life's greatest tragedies.. How many masterpieces of creation are born in this world, who die unrecognised, just bcos ppl around are too mediocre to recognise them!!!

His analysis of the eternal conflict between artists and engineers is also quite insightful. It is pretty well known that most artists reject the idea of science being beautiful as a sorta comic joke. N Vechery's explanation is quite interesting - Do they refuse to recognise it cos it is beyond their understanding?? Or are engineers really (he)artless??

Remembering that short stories offer very less oppurtunity (read space) for the writer to paint a character completely, Trembling has done a good job. He has not only defined the mindsets of Vechery and De Soliel well, he has also clearly drawn the line between the two contrasting personalities- the nice, polite, man of immaculate behaviour n incomparable intelligence, yet scorned at by society; and the proud successful man, with his trite thinking, who looks down on anythin beyond his comprehension, the average man, his mediocrity glorified, and the genius laughed at.... Talks a lot about how we receive innovation in our societies..

The character of Gardine is also well depicted. An ordinary yet honest man, and hence with no fan following... :) Amusing...

However, unlike real life, Vechery doesn lose hope, even in the worst of circumstances, and the determination shown by him is almost inspiring. It also reflects his innocence in trusting the talent and integrity of De Soliel.

N of course, the best part of the story--- Vechery's answer!! Haunting as it mite be, it is also the best reply he could ve given under those circumstances.... And no amount of praise can match the ingenuity of the writer in creating this climax!

N abt d human element, dis review s already overflowin, y not keep it for some oder time??!! :)

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