The late Professor M. Krishnan Nair was perhaps one of those few people whose erudition had no bounds. And of the living, Justice Krishna Iyer is one such.
The profound knowledge and dexterity over language that was/is special to these two cannot be confined into some words.
Professor Krishnan Nair was familiar to all those who would zealously devour his literary reviews and critiques that used to come out every week. I was amazed by the intensity with which he used to read and dissect literary creations, no holds barred. Can a man read with such profligacy? I wondered. So did many. And Professor Krishnan Nair did! A very familiar demure figure on MG Road Thiruvannathapuram, and at the D.C and Current Books , until he became confined to bed and faded away.
There were rude, unkind, tongue in cheek, vulgar comments and opinion that the professor based his reviews on synopsis of the books he critiqued. He did not read as he claimed. And he was a false,haughty literary reviewer and so on. Professor Krishnan Nair ignored these comments,sometimes rubbish has to be dealt as such and left in the confines of the bin.
It is furore and false pride that make these people claim to be scholars in reading a J. Krishnamurthy, a James Joyce, an Osho, an Albert Camus, a Khalil Gibran and so on.The first name basis with which they refer to these literary giants seems to be funny,impolite and shocking. “Well have you read JK”, will be the intone. And honestly with the very cursory reading I have had of Krishnamurthy it would be embarrassing and unease to comment. As I move on, the glance of derision will follow me. Also I found Krishnamurthy’s video and audio lectures discernible than his books.So, though I have a few books in collection haven't read much.
The pretensions and nature of people who claim to the legacy of thinkers like J. Krishnamurthy was glaringly revealed when I went to a school run by the Krishnamurthy foundation. Just to put forth my point- spirituality if exists in us need not be ostentatiously exhibited or reminded to the world, If true spiritual nature exists in us it tells in the glow of the mind. A well read person has an aura, a halo that can be seen when you are near him. It tells in his gaze, his words. And that is vivid to all. What happened in that school, be it teachers or parents was kind of contrived dazed speech and elevated walking around. They seemed to have the air of zombies. Was Krishnamurthy one such? I felt rubbished.
Then there are people who quote extensively from the classical writers.They may not have read the work, but they capture the catchy parts to flaunt their erudition . It is amazing how they manage to retain awesome memory. And quotes are brought forth during appropriate and inappropriate occasions. They are desperate to convey the message that they are scholars who alone can comment on the literary giants, and great thinkers, men of philosophy and political sciences from whom they think they have bequeathed their philosophy.
I met this guy who was from Kerala, who also claimed to be an MBA graduate. His English had a deliberate accent - but was pure mallu- english and he seemed to be in desperate mood to convey that he was erudite and a walking encyclopaedia. He claimed to have read poetry. I forced myself and listened to his monologue. The only poetry he seemed to recite verbatim was “Kunnjunni kavithakal”. What he did not realise was that camouflage is an art that has also to be supplemented by an act as well. To act you need substance, dressing up and attire alone may not help. He began talking about the books he read. He said he was a voracious reader. And he has devoured most of the English writers .I enquired if he liked the books of Graham Green and P.G.Woodehouse. He brushed my question aside and said that he has read world classics; I asked him if he would suggest a few. He said he has read “Hunchback of Notterdam”. I felt like someone slap me in the face. I hurriedly bade him and moved on.
The shallowness of their self can be easily discerned if we care to be in conversation with them for a while. James Joyce, JK ,and the lot would run away in embarrassment.It is apparent that a person has not read a sentence of Hemingway if he is a person who dislikes the wild, and is an armchair explorer.
But why do people fake? What gratuitous pleasure will one achieve if one falsely claim to have read a book of repute? The lie will be seen as soon as the person begins the conversation. Because even if it is rubbish that we have read the dust that catches our persona is there to stay through the life. That is, what I see as the power of literary creation -the power of words, the power of the pen.It is the same with a Enid Blyton,a James Hadley Chase, a Kant, a Neruda,a T. Padmanabhan , a SKP or a Marquez.