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Understanding censorship from the biased point of view of an ARTIST.

Censorship is like a predatory animal which hides behind and waits for the right time to attack the prey. This analogy delineates the ‘political’ aspect of censorship and how this politics dominates the realm of literature.

Literature is an area of study which provides a mundane man with the power to exercise his thoughts and concerns, irrespective of its radicalism. This sense of power comes as a threat for the censor and makes his position highly insecure and unstable. Thereby introducing the concept of censorship to hide the scars of various institutions which the radicalist thinkers seek to expose.

The two most prevalent institutions that gets challenged by censorship are –

  • The institution of religion
  • The institution of love

I.e. any artist who advocates questioning religion and exposing the fallacies of this institution is till date looked upon as something that is not “normal” like the heretics of the Elizabethan age.

Example: Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses”.

Similarly, the vast discourse of love which is attached to many other themes like- sexual politics, violence etc… too is considered “objectionable” by the censors; who in response delete a particular part which deals with it. Thereby disrupting the flow of the work or may be changing the entire sense that the artist wanted to convey. Sometimes the censors go to an extent and change the text completely and thus, becoming “co-authors”.

Example: Michael Foucault’s 1978 novel “Sexual Morality and the Law”.

 

Moreover, the common point between the two discourses is that both of them are ‘patriarchal constructions’ on which the society works. Therefore, the act of suppressing these constructs is in a way raising doubts on the most authoritative institution of the times. This is the only valorizing point in favour of “the censors”.

In modern times censorship is just an official term given to the practice which has been prevalent in the form of criticism and counter arguments since the age of Socrates.

Recent tactic implemented by the censors is to publish a negative “pre- publication review” which hampers a wide readership of the piece of work.

The function of literature is to express without any apprehensions however, censoring a work of literature is like imposing a creative sterility on the writer. It questions the skills and sensibility of an individual who has written something to make a difference. This in a way limits the “agency” of the writer and questions the notion of freedom and identity which the artist is possessed with.

Therefore, the function of the censors is to choke the voice of propaganda and thereby bringing the death of an artist!

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