Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Non-Fiction Reads: A Time for New Dreams by Ben Okri

A Time for New Dreams by Ben Okri is a collection of essays on several diverse topics such as: Childhood, Writers and Nations, Seeing and Being, Plato's Dream, The Romance of Difficult Times, Photography and Immortality, Hospitality, Self-Censorship, One Planet, One People; London, Musings on beauty, When Colours Return Home to Light, Form and Content, Healing the Africa Within and a Time for New Dreams. The title is appropriate for this anthology. These essays are a peek and insight into Okri's thoughts. With wisdom and eloquence, he discusses thoughts and ideas that are universal in thought and timeless in appeal. His observations are hard-hitting too.

Here I have made an attempt to highlight some of his thoughts from this anthology.

On Childhood:

'Childhood: being under the care of those who are generally ill qualified to be parents. people ought to learn to be parents before they become parents. It should be more than just a biological inevitability'.

Childhood: focus of love - real love and confused love.

Childhood: a lottery, Chardin's game of cards, the luck of the draw, an unsuspected gamble, an obscure mathematics of destiny or karma; an unspecified punishment or an unnamed blessing - for deserving the parents that you have, the family you are stuck with, or the life you were born into'.

Childhood: the place of all society's experiments, its disastrous ideas of conscious engineering'.

101/2 Inclinations:

'Read outside your nation, colour, class, gender.
Read the books your parents hate.
Read the books your parents love.
Read what you are not supposed to read.
Don't read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
Read widely, for fun, for stimulation, for escape.
Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all

Plato's Dream:

'The universities of the future will do one thing we do not do today. They will teach the art of self-discovery. There is nothing more fundamental in education.

We turn out students from our best universities who know how to give answers, but not to ask the essential questions. They leave universities with skills for the workplace, but with little knowledge of the best way to live, or what living is for.

They are not taught the art of reading. True reading is not just passing our eyes over words on a page, or even understanding what is being read. True reading is a creative act. It means seeing first; and then a subsequent act of the imagination. Higher reading ought to be a subject in the universities of the future. As we read, so we are

(Article by Kabita Sonowal)

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