BLRC: A poignant mission
Some of our talented enthusiastic friends living in Toronto have formed a literary organization named Bengali Literary Research Centre (BLRC). Their dream is to create a mechanism which will introduce Bengali literature in Canada and abroad by entering into the local culture. We all know that modern literature and its voice have a universal mission in the global village. Due to the amazing speed of communication human emotion is not confined to its origin only. Messages good or bad can't hide anymore in any single place. The entire world reacts and responds quickly and shows interest in it.
BLRC has a two pronged mission: one is to bring Bengali literature into stream of western thoughts through translations and events, and the other is to make the local literature accessible to the Bengali readers. There is another interesting feature which is to promote universal Bengali literature, not Bangladeshi or West Bengal but the entire gamut of it. There are a sizeable number of immigrants from Bangladesh and West Bengal around the world maintains deep interest in the culture and there are many talented writers among them. These talents enjoy a unique advantage when they write. Their writing style enjoys a versatile and cosmopolitan atmosphere. This has made a unique brew of oriental and occidental experience. It has brought a wide and wise vision which is contemporary and also long lasting.
Subrata Kumar Das, an author of twenty six books and an organiser of literary events realized this opportunity and took the challenge to make a bridge between the two. There is a deep fundamental and emotional difference between styles of expressions here. If literature is the mirror of a society, Bengali literature can be a prime example of it. On the other hand western literature due to their early transformation from rural to mechanical society there is a varied literary presentation which is tough, practical and less emotional impact. This is a profoundly interesting situation for Bengali literature.
BLRC has already contacted a huge group of writers interested in showing their vibrant talents. It's interesting to note that the world demography is fast changing. Divergent people from various cultures and faith are constantly shifting from place to place. When we think of globalization and forms of entertainment, we immediately think of the Internet, social media, movies, or television shows. But, contrary to popular belief, literature also holds an important place in the flow of entertainment media that is coursing through the veins of public consumption in our globalized world. The new generations coming up and growing in the mixed societies does not believe in any parochial culture anymore. The technological advances that are connecting people worldwide through shared information are also serving as a medium to disseminate books across national and cultural boundaries. People's ideas, perceptions and visions are changing. Therefore the perspective of literature is also changing. BLRC keeps all these transformations in their mind and forging ahead for a new dimension.
In a recent study by Harvard University the following observations has been made: "Many societies have experienced a flood of information from diverse channels originating far beyond local communities and even national borders, transmitted through the rapid expansion of access to mass communications. This is a core component of the broader phenomenon of globalization. The late twentieth century witnessed a decisive shift in the scale, density, and velocity of cultural interactions which cut across the territorial boundaries of the nation-state. These profound changes are widely observed. But the consequences - especially the impact on geographically-isolated cultures which were previously stranded at the periphery of modern communication networks - are far from clear. What happens to communities living in distant rural villages in Bhutan, as well as far-flung districts and remote provinces in Burkina Faso, Burma, and Afghanistan, once the world connects directly to these places and people living in these places learn more about the modern world?
There is a common assumption that global media will help expand human understandings which usher in a new dimension of global communication. This hope is partially correct but not wholly. The world media has its own agenda very often corrupted with conflicting interests and political opportunism. To achieve this lofty aim of a healthy global communication there is only one acceptable option, world literature. This can bring colourful different human cultures for a common consumption.
BLRC is poised to assume that historic role in its humble but encouraging movement. There is no doubt that mankind has come forward a long way from the medieval dogmatism but some very vicious and poisonous chapters are still active and has become a matter of serious concern. Religious extremism is one of them. A vast segment of the world population is still suffering from that vicious dogma. Literary personalities with their secular views can shed light in this issue which is ravaging the contemporary world. The fear which is whipping up this extremism must be faced with intellectual prowess. There is no other alternative.
This analysis has amply underscored the importance and necessity of bringing global literary talents in an open space available to anyone who is interested in literature. It's hard but an important mission BLRC has embarked upon with a lofty hope that this unique assimilation will usher better understanding, appreciation among various people apparently separated by language and culture. This will promote peace and freedom of thinking which is facing daunting challenges in many societies. Bengali literature is the true picture of its culture and society. Due to a long colonial rule, cultural cross currents and religious animosities freedom of thinking is often suppressed and under brutal pressure in Bengal. But despite all these restrictive and inimical conditions Bengali literature is always a rebel. Its writers are fearless and always challenging. They spoke their mind without any reservations and tried to keep the light burning. This is going to be welcomed by the outside world who hardly has noticed such endeavours by the writers to keep the doors of knowledge open. They gave life, imprisoned and even banished from their home for following this path.
Literature is not a bunch of words or a pack of emotions only. It's a live war to depict the picture of a society reeling in deprivation and oppression. The pages are not just filled with words and emotion; it's a raging battle against a sea of troubles and obstacles. BLRC is on the threshold of a time when knowledge is under pressure and censure. The effort is to wage a global war against the parochial vision of literature. We believe all doors will be opened and all the windows will pass fresh breeze.r
Akbar Hussain is a Bangladesh-born freethinker
now living in Toronto