DEH & DLF-2018

Special Cover

Fairoz Anika


Tales of Wonder: Myths and Fairy Tales


In the session of “Tales and Wonder: Myths and Fairytales” of DLF 2018, there were three renowned and versatile figures, Professor Kaiser Haq who is a poet, essayist, translator and Professor of English, and The Dean of the Faculty of Arts at ULAB; Sally Pomme Clayton who is a pioneering story-teller, writer/trainer and creator of many ground-breaking oral performances across the UK; and Sumon Rahman, the moderator of this session is was also a poet, fiction-writer and  Professor of MSJ at ULAB held a fascinating discussion about how myths and fairy tales differ from each another and one complements the others, delving deeper into their connection with the human psyche.

In the opening of the discussion, Sumon Rahman asked to the panelists, “What is the basic difference between myths and fairy-tales? How do they act on each other?” in reply, Kaiser Haq said, “Myths have to do with the foundational stories over culture”  emphasizing that, “Myths take into the world actually that is beyond our reach” whereas “fairy-tales and folk-tales belong to a different aura” because “they are much closer to our life as we know it.” But the most common thing about both of them is the use of super-natural dimensions where even a folktale could be transformed into a fairy-tale by the means of adding super-natural elements to it. On the other hand, Sally compared fairy-tales with a ‘diluted myth’ and recommended that, “fairy tale has a very strong structure of repeating 3 s’” since each and every single heroic quest/plot-line mainly follows on three scenarios. Sally quoted, “Usually in the fairy-tale something is lost at the beginning or broken, then by the end it’s found again.” Getting intrigued Sumon Rahman says whether she is referring the famous Vladmir Popp’s “Morphology of Structuralism” which amused Sally and so, she regarded “3” as the magical number where in each phase the audience becomes more and more immersed into the story. Then by giving an example of A.K. Ramanujan’s “300 Ramayanas,” Kaiser Haq implied that there are about hundreds of versions of myths which often go against the official stories. While bringing on his translation about the tale of Manasamangal, Kaiser Haq humoured how the off-springs of God are born without sperms.

Agreeing to Kaiser Haq’s analogy where he compared how stories travel and get transformed like the people, Sally implied story-telling is a process that compels one to travel where she refers, “When story-teller is telling a story then the listener and context are remaking the story, that can have local version of that story.” While Sally expresses her worries about how story-tellers are not given the proper recognition, Kaiser Haq refers to myths and humors, “Wonderful Myths come from anonymous sources, so do dirty jokes!” retorting that these jokes are an important aspect of human creativity”.

Thus, after discussing how similarly as well as differently fairy tales and mythological characters exhibit the same ideology as is prioritized in literature, Sally Pomme Clayton thanks DLF for helping us see the oral tradition of written literature and wishes that storytellers should be given at least one tiny status in the history of world literature as life goes on and they keep a record of it.


Tales of an Art Lover


In this pubic session, the most prominent scholarly figures of Bangladesh, Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam from ULAB and Dr. Fakrul Alam, the Pro-VC of EWU, talked about the book of Mario Palma, Tales of an Art Lover regarding which the famous Bangladeshi social activist, feminist and environmentalist, Khushi Kabir quoted, “Everybody who likes reading and who likes life, painting, drawing and art in various forms could relate to this.” Mario Palma who is an Italian Ambassador was also present in the panel and Dr. Fakrul Alam was the moderator of this session.

Though the title of this book seemed mundane, reading it carefully will enable us to detect some underlined meanings behind the surface and increase our capability of thinking, said the keynote speaker as it started. For this reason, Khushi Kabir referred that it mainly depends upon the readers or the audience to comprehend what really the artists want to say. Fakrul Alam, on the other hand, showed how the stories portrayed the cross-connections or crisscrossings of various parts of the world and termed it, “movements in the space.” In reply, Dr. Islam said, “Space and time are two co-ordinates,” for in the book also, it seems that traversing through the spaces offers an individual experiences that are related to various artistic traditions- a process that in turn, helps one to know the human history in general and judge his/her own artistic traditions. Dr. Islam then went on to discuss the important role memory plays in making one feel the experience of reality through imagination. He emphasizes that through the book, one can broaden their vision which will allow the mind to travel in certain places. Dr. Alam follows the same thread and describes art from the point of view of an observer.

Dr. Islam then proceeded, “Abstract paintings somehow represent the crisis of representation” and this can be expressionistic. For him, the protagonist in the book prefers landscapes since an abstract or figurative art does not contain any image, and therefore, is unable to provoke the mind. He thinks that the purpose of arts varies since the graffiti on Dhaka walls raise consciousness, while the cave-paintings captivate ones’ vision. So, he quoted, “Art energizes you every day.”

Similarly, Mario Palma stated, “Figurative mode is more apparent” in her work because of the dispersion of colours which resembles different meanings. Hearing that, Prof. Alam concluded Mario prefers distillation art than instillation art. He also assumed that the reason perhaps lies in our depthlessness. On the other hand, Khushi Kabir pointed out the relativity of our perspectives, “While you are critiquing it, you are doing that from your perception, which I may not be in favour of.” Thus, the program came to end, leaving the audience immersed in newer thoughts and newer possibilities about art.

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