Friday, November 05, 2004


Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar takes a step forward and times the swinging red leather ball through the open cover region for a scintillating boundary. He stands and nods. A million cheers go up. You stop yawning midway.

However, a certain S. Gavaskar may tell you that it was more about the precise length of the stride that took him closer to the ball, thus helping him to cover the swing; that his bat came down from an angle not wider than the first slip so that he presented the full face & the meat of his willow; that he met the ball right under his eyes; that the arc of his follow through was impeccable; that he was able to play that shot because the pitch offered even bounce; that he stood because he knew it was a fast outfield with the grass trimmed finely and that his heavy bat imparted enough momentum to carry the ball through.

Art or science, inspiration or method, dramatic awe or clinical routine?

Cover driving may perhaps never be considered an artistic expression outside the world of cricket enthusiasts, primarily male, but it can stir up emotions strong enough to manifest bodily as goose bumps, just like some of our finest poetry does.

Extending the analogy, therefore, was there a process behind our most melodious compositions, was the Monalisa painted with reasonable hues, and did Neruda think his poems out?


alistairig said...

slow-motion commentary :) very nice. However, despite having lived in the U.K. for a number of years and quite a few attempts, I have never understood cricket.

Huckleberry Finn said...

Ah, there we are again, old chap! Will not repeat my opinions, but just to spark off discussion -

I don't know about cricket and art, but in poetry, there are times words come to you in a state when you are "outside yourself" as the Greeks say, and you write as if someone is dictating to you - and later, you sit down and polish the poem, but at that moment, you are not planning, the words are just coming out of you. Kind of difficult to explain, actually! It's a very "felt" thing, any explanation will sound clich├ęd!

It might interest you to read the discusson between Socrates and Ion on inspiration and art in Plato's "Ion" - here's a section copied down in a yellowing notebook from my student days, and is now on the Net:

"For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind."

The whole dialogue is here:

Souvik said...


I am gravely dissapointed at the news. I was hoping that you'd be one of the few outside the subcontinent who will understand the connection.

I have linked your blog from mine & have called the link "Alistair's blog". Please let me know if I have your first name right.


Like you said, we have talked it over a million times. And yet, we do not buy into each other's opinion. Nevertheless, thank you for the windows that you have opened. I may not look through each one, but each one of them makes my room a little more bright!


Huckleberry Finn said...

Hey, I found this by chance while searching for something else (an untidy house is full of wondrous discoveries!) - a small bit from a literary criticism book on Robert Frost's poetry:

"...A living poem is one that stays alive because it is rooted in mortal things and deathless emotions. It is felt first and thought afterwards. "It begins," Frost once wrote in a letter, "with a lump in the throat, a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found the words."

Unfortunately this is a xeroxed page, no name of book/author.

WAP4 said...

Hey Souvik

Cool blog. Just saw it for the first time. Neat. Will add it to my reading list and will link it with mine.

To add to the discussion on "art or science". Let me give you another perspective. Recently, I read an article, which described programming as a "right brain activity". First thought, we think programming is logical thinking and structural and should be left brain right. ! THe article went on to describe how programming involves creativity and one can even be imaginative and artistic in this science . :) It did evoke some thinking inside me.

Usha said...

First of all - a fine piece of writing!
Though my knowledge of cricket and poetry are limited to the very basics, I am tempted to add my two paisa worth, purely based on the thoughts you have expressed.
It seems to be that the genius himself does it spontaneously and then it is the critic who tries to take it apart, understand it and document it. Even though there is a certain method to a particular artist's work, i do not believe he thinks it out. It is just his natural manner of expression.
Meantime here is a piece by one of my favorite poets jane Hirshfield which you may enjoy reading:

Souvik said...


Interesting remark about programming being a possible right brain activity as well. And it is probably right. I do not know the specific details of such a categorization but would definitely say that irrespective of the inner working, it is all one structure/network of physiochemical reactions ultimately. When science has developed more, we can better understand what exactly creates the creative spark & how exactly to replicate it. For now, I am open to the possibility of such a discovery. Its only a matter of time, methinks.


Wonderfuyl link that, thank you!

I think I am in complete agreement with what you have to say about the poet writing on inspiration & the critic dissecting it. However, writing on this "inspiration" may be what the poets did, more to the point I was making is if its neccessarily an "inspiration" that the poet waited for inactively, just passing his days like a sloth.

We may not understand right now the specific details of the creative spark, but I think that there is an effort we can make to turn it on, so to speak, without necessarily understanding how we do it. And such a gap in our understanding could be glorified no end as the poetic bent only until we do not understand what it is.

Like I replied to what WAP4 had to say, are we open to the possibility that it can be done or we are happy to interpret that it cannot be done when all we know is that it has not been done yet.


Prerna said...

Cricket, I understand it can be passion, like the poem for the poet and the art of the artist, the sound of strings for the musicians and cry of the first born for the mother.....but as any other passion can can be the craze, the wild thing....that can break people too, break things around, and break relationships....why value a sport above we humans....why this craze? please do not value it so much, do not compare it with the beauty of art and music that gives so much peace to the human mind unlike ur sport that can break hearts.....

Souvik said...

Interesting point, Scarlett. I had not thought of that particular aspect of comparison - passion manifest in sports as oppossed to that in the arts - which is, if I understand you, the substance of your thought.

My immediate point in this matter was more to do with creativity & whether there is a technique that underlies our creative moments. In other words, can a creative moment be replicated in its totality, or are we even looking to dissect creativity at all?

The role of passion, I think, is a vital input to the entire process & I definitely agree with you what you have to say. I do not know with what measure of certainty one can say that the bad sides of passion are seen more in sports compared to other arts. Perhaps, its a question of degree only. Arts, too, can be very corrupt.

As far as the beauty aspect of it is concerned, if beauty is what it does to you, then cover driving could be very beautiful as well.

And yes, I do not think that cover driving or sports, in general, could be peaceful. So I am in complete agreement with you there.

Thanks for your time & thoughts, Scarlett!