Dear Friends and New Visitors,
I hope, despite the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, famines, and mindless war violence that spiral through the days and ways of the world, that this bright New Year will find a way to bring you happiness, peace, success, and love.
In this update to my website, I’ve included a new essay on the architecture of the novel, Shantaram. I’ve received a lot of requests from students at high school and university levels, who’ve decided to use Shantaram as their study or research text. Several universities have approached me about setting Shantaram as a study text, and while I’d like to see that happen one day, I’ve asked them all to wait until the sequel to Shantaram, called The Mountain Shadow, which is the third novel in the Shantaram Trilogy, is released, later this year. It’s my contention that at least two of the novels from the trilogy must be published, in order to facilitate, by comparative analysis, a study of my literary method.
For now, to help those students who’ve chosen to set Shantaram as their study text, I’ve written a comprehensive essay on the architecture of the novel. This is the definitive statement from the author on the various levels and layers of allegorical, symbolic, and imaginal depth that constitute the architecture of the novel. The essay begins with a general introduction on the development of some elements of my literary method, goes on to discuss the theme of the trilogy (of which Shantaram is the second novel) and the theme of each novel within the trilogy, then outlines my definitions of art, surpassing excellence and artistry, and finally outlines all of the constituent elements of Shantaram: theme, narrative, plot, characters, layers of literary allegory, and the 20 other layers that work within the structure of the novel. It’s a long essay, but I wanted those students who’ve chosen to use my novel as a basis for study to have the best study guide I could provide for them. And, hey, what can I tell you? I write novels with twenty three layers of allegorical, symbolic and imaginal depth: explaining that is always gonna be a page burner, na?
Please feel free to copy and paste the essay, or any elements of it, and to use the material in any of the essays and assignments you might have. And if any of my definitions (the definitions of words and terms such as “the novel” or “beauty” or “art”) work for you, please feel free to take them and use them as your own, without any attribution to me. Knowledge isn’t a private thing: it belongs equally to all, and anything you find in my website is yours to use as you will.
There’s also a new poem, called When Our New Love Began, in the poetry section. Like the others in this suite of poems, it proceeds from a free interpretation of the Sufi tradition of poetry, and is set in a desert environment.
Many readers have written, asking me to respond to the craven and pusillanimous efforts of the world’s “leaders” in Copenhagen. I’ll have a major response to the question of sustainability and alternative (that is, alternative to murderous) energies later this year, in the essay section. For now, I’ll just make the following bullet points:
1) Forget the debate about climate change: it doesn’t matter whether there is man-made climate change or not. What matters is global warming, and the accumulation of man-made combinations of toxic elements in our atmosphere. That’s enough, dammit.
2) Forget the “Western nations must pay” debate: of course the Western (or richer) nations must throw in big chunks of change, but the situation is so dire that it’s simply too late to play the blame game. EVERY nation has to make an effort, whether they’re “developing” or not. If the “developing nations” don’t clean up their act, all that they’ll ever develop into is a full-blown nightmare.
3) Slowly, one battleship and fighter plane at a time, convert all the “defence force” spending in the world into alternative, clean, green, sustainable energy technologies. Over time, take all of it, every tank and gun, every flame-thrower and landmine, and convert it into something useful, compassionate, and creative, instead of something uselessly and mercilessly destructive. And no new guns. No new tanks. No new bombers and drone aircraft. Not ever again. Convert the Businesses of Barbarism – all of the arms manufacturers – into Businesses of Beauty for the planet, or close them the hell down.
4) Slowly, one soldier at a time, convert all of the “defence force” service men and women into Energy-for-Peace activists, working to clean up all the mess that businesses and their government representatives made in the world, and to convert all energy sources on the planet into clean, green, sustainable energy technologies. Take all that courage, energy, devotion to cause, and ingenuity, remove it from the commerce of killing, and redirect it towards the peaceful prosperity of the planet and all its creatures.
5) Make all energy free, for everyone who uses it. Energy is at the heart of all power, and thus at the heart of all power-struggle conflict. Make it free. We can do that. The money used to bail out the banks in the USA was sufficient to convert the whole country to solar and wind energy. The money spent on armaments each year is sufficient to convert all of the world’s energy sources into clean, green, sustainable energy technologies. More about this in the essay, later this year.
There’ll be much more on all these and other points later in the year: What is sustainability? What is the new paradigm economy? How will it work? These and other questions will be tackled in the long essay. For now, I hope that the few points I’ve out down here have satisfied the curiosity of those readers who asked me for an expression of my position on the subject.
Finally, many more readers have asked me to make a suggestion as to what might help relieve the tensions that currently exist between the Indian students community and some others in Australia. Many readers have asked for my idea on some action or gesture that might help to bring the conflicted sections of the Indian and wider Australian community together.
My answer is that the Indian students, as representatives of one of the world’s most beautiful and exportable cultures, could hold a major cultural event with the idea of bringing people of all cultures together in celebration and understanding.
My suggestion is that the Indian students approach the Melbourne City Council (in the city of Melbourne, Australia) and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (a major open-air public venue in the city) with the idea of holding a day of dance and music celebration.
I suggest that the Indian students get hold of a Bollywood movie with a dance-your-legs-off dance sequence in it (the song, Jogi Mahi from the movie Ba Ae Hasseeno, with Ranbir Kapoor, comes to mind, hell yeah!). I suggest that as part of the day’s events at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the students should arrange to show the movie. BUT, before they show the movie, they should arrange to have some dance teachers take the entire audience at the venue through the dance steps that Ranbir Kapoor does in the movie. When the audience is ready, they should start the movie some way before the dance scene, then do a countdown, and get the entire audience dancing in time to the clip on the giant screen.
The bottom line with any situation of conflicts leading to violence is this: you can’t kill an idea with a bullet, you can only kill an idea with a better idea. And cultural celebration and understanding is a better idea than cultural conflict.
At the very least, such a Big Bollywood Day Out would show that there are tens of thousands of Australians from every part of the cultural spectrum who only have friendship and happy feelings for the Indian community. The event would show that there are thousands of people who embrace India and Indian people for every one who raises a hand in hatred.
I’ll check in again in about 2 months to this website. I’m in the final stages of the writing of the sequel to Shantaram, and if I’m to have it in the hands of my publishers this year, I have to use every minute that I can. Until next time, I send you my love and happy wishes, Greg.