Membaca cerpen Mona Sylviana seperti membaca cerita detektif, kisah misteri. Benar juga kata profesor Inggris, CW Watson, di epilog buku ini. Ia teringat cerita-cerita detektif Sherlock Holmes-nya Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Membaca kisah misteri punya keasyikan sendiri. Pembaca ditantang untuk juga memecahkan masalah. Dari awal cerita, pembaca harus berperan aktif membangun logika cerita, menyusun data dan meletakkannya di garis waktu atas dasar sebab akibat. Di sini sebenarnya kita harus paham betul bahwa suara narator punya andil. Narator, baik sebagai karakter utama itu sendiri atau sebagai pengamat dari jauh, membawa pembaca sedemikian rupa agar suspensi terus terjaga, agar kejutan tetap utuh.
Tapi bukan hanya itu. Pembaca tidak sekedar digiring untuk sampai ke akhir dan membulatkan cerita. Cerita yang menyembunyikan banyak hal di sini membebaskan imajinasi pembaca, ketakutan mereka. Pembaca menjadi penulis-penulis sampingan. Sebut saja cerpen ‘Ningsih’. Setelah mendengar curhat panjang seorang laki-laki, yang kita duga keras suami Ningsih, tentang perempuan yang diperkosa lalu dibunuh dan mayatnya dibuang di hutan, meliarkah imajinasi kita sebagai pembaca untuk membuat simpul bahwa Ningsih bisa saja diperkosa lalu mengalami apapun yang menyebabkannya amnesia. Pembaca toh telah dipancing dengan disuguhkannya informasi bahwa Ningsih sering pulang malam, jalan kaki, sendiri dan sering tak luput dari godaan pengendara-pengendara mobil yang lalu. Informasi tersebut bukan keusilan narator semata, tapi menjadi stimulan bagi pembaca untuk membangun cerita lain, cerita cabang, atau cerita tandingan. Cerita bisa mendadak berakhir.
Dengan demikian, jalan cerita menjadi hal penting, kalau bukan utama. Kita bisa jadi menikmati (kesenangan atau kesedihan) proses bergulirnya cerita. Membaca cerita kalimat demi kalimat menjadi kebutuhan. Mungkin tidak seperti nonton sinetron sekarang, dimana penderitaan, dengan mudah ditebak, cuma menumpuk. Cerita-cerita Mona selangkah di depan film drama umumnya, yang sering ditonton ibu saya, misalnya. Kadang ketika dia harus berhenti menonton di tengah-tengah cerita, dia meminta saya tetap menonton dan memberitahunya akhir ceritanya. Jalan ceritanya secara detil jadi dinomorduakan. Segala cerita, baginya, cuma ada dua jenis. Happy ending atau sad ending. Tapi di sini, imajinasi berputar Mona memaksimalkan potensi sastra. Sastra bukan saja mencerminkan dunia yang sebenarnya, tapi dunia yang mungkin. Pertanyaan dan kritik dilancarkan pada nilai-nilai yang dianggap sudah kokoh.
Alur cerita tentunya tak harus mengalir. Menjajaki terkuaknya cerita-cerita di sini didistorsi dengan, di antaranya, nada staccato. Kalimat pendek-pendek, tak lengkap, kadang tanpa objek, lebih sering tanpa predikat, apalagi tanpa subjek. Narasi pun tak ayal bernada dapat bernada puitis, karena imaji yang cerdas, perumpamaan yang kuat.
Tapi tak selamanya petunjuk datang sejalan cerita. Kadang saya juga merasa seperti dicurangi karena tidak diberi cukup petunjuk, bahkan dibohongi. Misalnya, salah satu cerita favorit saya, ‘Aroma Mesiu’. Dopis, laki-laki berusia empat puluh lima tahun, beranak dua, duda dari perempuan yang bunuh diri, ternyata adalah ayah dari sang ‘saya’ sendiri. Sebab itu, kalimat bahwa ‘saya tinggal serumah dengannya’ sebenarnya hal yang sangat biasa dan tak perlu diberitahukan. Lumrahlah seorang anak tinggal di rumah orang tuanya, apalagi dia belum menikah. Inilah celah dari bangun cerita misteri. Apa detil akan sama menggugahnya saat dibaca kedua kalinya atau lebih?
Saya kira inilah tarik-ulur antara membuat kejutan dan narasi menawan. Salah satu tekniknya misalnya nama-nama tokoh yang aneh. Barok, Teja, Gahar, Garwa, Dopis, Warok, Geo dan San. Jenis kelamin pun jadi misteri, sebagai salah satu efek defamiliarisasi. Konsep yang dicetus formalis Rusia Victor Skhovsky ini membuat persepsi kita akan dunia jadi tertunda, tidak otomatis, atau klise. Dengan ketidaktahuan kita akan jenis kelamin tokoh, kita belum bisa menyematkan sifat-sifat, atau stigma-stigma. Kita juga sulit menentukan hubungan satu tokoh dengan tokoh lain, terutama suami-istri.
Seks memang satu isu yang disorot di buku ini. Seks adalah sesuatu yang laten, yang mendekam, yang merepresi sekaligus membebaskan. Menahan beban masing-masing, tokoh siap menerjang, melepaskan hasrat dan tekanan. Tak heran kebanyakan tokoh utama cerita-cerita di sini adalah perempuan. Tokoh Mona adalah tokoh yang ‘telanjang’. Perkosaan, kekerasan dalam rumah tangga—baik fisik maupun psikologis diumbar. Saya juga melihat ada formula kecil di akhir satu-dua cerita, yaitu monolog panjang, seolah ingin memberikan penjelasan atas tindakan tokoh, sebuah motif.
Selain kegamblangan seks, Mona juga mengekspos hal-hal ketubuhan lain. Hal-hal yang secara nyata dan kasat mata terlalu menempel dengan kita. Contoh, bibir yang seperti liang pantat, kotoran kuku yang diendus, kelamin yang terkena sipilis. Hal-hal yang tidak mau kita bayangkan, dengar, lihat, endus, apalagi sentuh. Kata-kata yang jorok, kasar, vulgar, yang mungkin bagi sebagian orang tidak pantas untuk diangkat dalam karya sastra. Namun hal-hal itu tetap bagian dari kenyataan hidup sehari-hari. Inilah realisme Mona. Kekerasan, organ tubuh, tabu terefleksi di cermin Wajah Terakhir. Dan menggambarkan hal-hal itu pun membutuhkan keberanian.
Ini mengingatkan saya akan sastra Dalit di India. Dalit sebagai kasta atau lapisan sosial di masyarakat Hindu, khususnya India, menempati posisi terendah dan bahkan dianggap bukan kasta. Kaum Dalit, yang secara harafiah berarti orang-orang yang tertindas, awalnya disegregasi melalui jenis pekerjaan. Mereka melakukan pekerjaan rendahan atau yang dianggap kotor, misalnya membersihkan bangkai atau kotoran manusia. Mereka dilarang masuk kuil, apalagi mempelajari agama atau kitab Weda. Pengalaman sehari-hari mereka mengais makanan basi layaknya anjing. Misalnya di otobiografi seorang Dalit asal Maharastra, Sharankumar Limbale, berjudul Akkarmashi digambarkan bagaimana ia dan keluarganya harus mengumpulkan bijih yang lolos dicerna hewan ternak layaknya kopi luwak, mencuci, memasak dan melahapnya.
Realisme semacam itu bisa dilihat sebagai yang ‘grotesque’, karnival, buruk atau aneh. Mengkritik Gereja Abad Pertengahan, Mikhail Bakhtin bilang karnival adalah perayaan atas yang profan. Dunia karnival tak mengenal batas sosial, tidak ada yang disucikan. Tubuh yang ‘grotesque’ atau menjijikkan adalah gambaran tubuh yang menjadi, metamorfosis yang belum selesai. Di dunia Mona, seorang suami bisa jadi raksasa yang menelan matahari, atau seorang perempuan melahirkan anak sebesar jempol.
Tapi, baik dongeng pengantar tidur atau riwayat di kitab suci, alusi menjadi alat bukti yang membantu kita menemukan kunci cerita-cerita di sini. Di karya terakhir, yang berjudul sama dengan buku koleksi cerpen ini, motif berlatar belakang politik Indonesia begitu terasa. Dengan patokan situasi politik tersebut, cerita jadi sedikit tertebak dan boleh dikata antiklimaks, meski Mona dengan gayanya tetap mengedepankan pergulatan tokoh dengan ingatan dan pengalamannya. Kilas balik, yang bagaikan video yang diputar ketika mata dipejamkan, berpadu dengan dilema tokoh dan waktu kenyataan yang memburu. Lalu, dapatkah Anda membuka lagi halaman-halaman ini setelah buku ditutup?
cats sleep when humans sleep, and more. if we are awake, we are afraid of waking them. when they wake up, and want to wake us up, too, how to tell them that we don’t want to get up? they’re indeed cute, but petting them means shriek meows — trouble in the middle of the night. my kittens are like bonsai cats. so small in size yet so mature in behaviour. they jump high, eat much, even beg you for food. yes, this is the real world. and they sadly grow so fast.
Go to foreign land ….
Knowledgeable and civilized people will not stay quiet in their hometown
Leave your land and go away to stranger’s land
Go, you’ll find a replacement from relatives and friends
Make efforts, the fruits of life taste sweet after a weary struggle.
I saw the water spoiled for being still
If it flows it becomes clear, otherwise, it is muddy and puddling
A lion, if it does not leave his nest, will not be able to prey
Arrows, if does not leave the arc, will not hit the target
If the sun stays in its orbit and does not move
Surely men will be tired of it and reluctantly look at it
Gold ores are like ordinary soil before being excavated from the mine
Aloes wood is like ordinary wood, when it is in the woods.
That is my translation of Al-Shafi’i’s poem, the Indonesian version is below…
Orang berilmu dan beradab tidak akan diam di kampung halaman
Tinggalkan negerimu dan merantaulah ke negeri orang
Merantaulah, kau akan dapatkan pengganti dari kerabat dan kawan
Berlelah-lelahlah, manisnya hidup terasa setelah lelah berjuang.
Aku melihat air menjadi rusak karena diam tertahan
Jika mengalir menjadi jernih, jika tidak, kan keruh menggenang
Singa jika tak tinggalkan sarang tak akan dapat mangsa
Anak panah jika tidak tinggalkan busur tak akan kena sasaran
Jika matahari di orbitnya tidak bergerak dan terus diam
Tentu manusia bosan padanya dan enggan memandang
Bijih emas bagaikan tanah biasa sebelum digali dari tambang
Kayu gaharu tak ubahnya seperti kayu biasa jika di dalam hutan.
But then I found a free translation from Google:
There is no peace of mind for the one with intellect and sophistication in remaining stationary – so leave homelands and and go to foreign fields,
You will find a replacement for what you have left.
Crash out! The sweetness of life is in crashing out,
I have seen that standing water stagnates, if it flows it nourishes,
and if it doesn’t run, it doesn’t nourish,
If the lion doesn’t leave his den he can’t hunt,
and if the arrow doesn’t leave the bow it won’t strike,
If the sun stood still in its course then people,
people would become bored,
Gold dust is as the earth thrown in its places,
and oud is a type of firewood in its ground
In this article I would like to compare Andre Breton’s Surrealism and Indian aesthetics. Then I will use the two traditions to approach Luis Bunuel’s film Un Chien Andalou, one of the best-known surrealist films of the avant garde movement of the 1920s.
Traditionally, art seeks to represent the beauty of nature. Aesthetics, both Western and Eastern, theory attempts to answer the question ‘What is Beauty?’ Beauty is an inspiration in the works of art, it is a subject. Beauty is represented in many kinds of medium, including drama, poetry and film. Anandavardhana argues Nature, when suggested, is more appealing than when plainly stated (in Krishnamoorthy 6). As we will see, Surrealism proposes unconventional concepts of beauty. The quest of beauty in Indian aesthetics deals with what is termed as alankara. It is the body of all art whose invariable property is beauty. Meanwhile, in Surrealist aesthetics the normative idea of beauty is undercut. Surrealism attempts to integrate primordial forces into our waking state in order to transfigure and enhance the way of our perception, communication and response of reality. The dream logic presents loosely related scenes, especially in film form.
Surrealism began as a literary movement in French, with its icon André Breton. In Le Manifeste du Surréalisme, 1924 Breton wrote that logic and reason can only be applied to our secondary interests. we actually filter knowledge based on our experience. even in modern era our minds are still clouded by superstition and myths. Under the light of Freudian psychoanalysis we view our mind as much deeper than « summary realities ». This is where imagination is a significant part of our selves. Breton calls on to capture what is hidden in our mind and then to bring it under rationalism.
Breton very much owes to Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud investigates into DREAMS as it is considered to contain our repressed desire and knowledge. In dreams these elements are represented with less obstruction and interference. Breton argues that in waking state humans succumb to their memory. In memory, dreams are vague and obliterated. dreams are secondary to human life. being the primary element, memory has the power over dreams. our will determines the distinct representation of realities. However, Breton sees that dreams are also a source of important reality. Furthermore, the waking state is interference into the suggestion of dreams. Dreams are freer and more expressive than the mind. It is also subjective. dream is constricted by moral values. In a dream humans can do anything even that is not imaginable in real life. They are released from identity and responsibility. Breton aims at the unification of dream and the mind, which he calls « a surreality ».
Surreality can be compared with Indian aesthetics in terms of words. Apart from dreams, another version of reality can also be represented in a waking state but under different mental state. For example the lost of control over speech in war victims due to trauma. Babble can also produce something expressive. Since it takes the form of words, it is related to literary aesthetics.
There was the illusion of an extra- ordinary verve, a great deal of emotion, a considerable assortment of images of a quality such as we would never have been capable of achieving in ordinary writing, a very vivid graphic quality, and here and there an acutely comic passage
The words are full of « immediate absurdity ». The coinage of the word surrealism–which Breton also defines–is an act to propose a new mode of pure expression. Anna Balakian quoted by Rattray said that « surrealism is in fact intoxication » (161) The “word” for Breton is a hallucinatory stimulant, apart from people, objects, nature’s manifestations. Images are opium. Liberating language paradoxically results in becoming enslaved by it. The poet is a mere vehicle of the words in the shaping of poetic images. Surrealism opens wide the doors of the unconscious. The energy within the unconscious is freed and thus creates poetic intoxication. Watching a surrealist film can be seen with Indian aesthetic theory in terms of the function of the poetic language. As proposed by Bhattanayaka, in addition to abidha or primary meaning, poetic language also functions as bhavakatva, or freeing oneself from vibhava and sthayibhava, and bhojakatva, or consuming the emotion in the performance/text (Kapoor 22).
Words, or images in a surrealist film are less interconnected. There is hardly continuation from one image to another. Surrealism is driven by automatism and its expression manifests in verbal or written. It relies on free association and the play of thought. Meanwhile, the notion of word is the subject of Bhartrhari’s sphota theory (5th century AD), which posits linguistic sign as an abstract reality (Kapoor 12). The difference here from Surrealism is that there is “fixity in the power of the words” (“Vakyapadiyam of Bhartrhari” 9). The words have eternal relation with their meanings.
We shall see the relation between sphota and surrealism in the film. Un Chien Andalou (1929), a 17-minute film, is the most analysed film ever. It is surreal as the stories are disjunctive. It brings up the themes of desire, androgynous gender and the unconscious. Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel wrote the film together based on their dreams. Bunuel states that in writing the script, they did not « accept any idea or image that might give rise to a rational, psychological or cultural explanation » (quoted in Russell). The disconnectedness between the word and the meaning can be seen in the movie for example in the image of razor. Razor, by dictionary, means an instrument with blade. In reality it is used to remove unwanted hair from the face or body. However, take a look at the opening scene of Un Chien Andalou, A man (Buñuel himself), smokes a cigarette while sharpening the blade of a razor. He steps onto a balcony and stares at an unobscured moon before prying open woman’s eyelid. A cloud slides across the face of the moon as Buñuel’s razor cuts into the woman’s eye. So the razor has a totally different function, beyond our expectation. Here Buñuel demands that we look at the world with what Vigo calls « a new set of eyes. » This scene may not be pleasant. It induces the viewer both to want to look and not want to look at the same time. We know that the man is about to cut the eyelid as camera goes close-up. It is also beyond our expectation that the woman seems calm as if nothing is going to happen, or the cutting is something ordinary and regular. As the cutting goes on, we may expect to see blood. Yet, what comes out is the transparent jellylike tissue that fills the eyeball behind the lens. This is something very technical and it may be a new knowledge for common audience. Yet, we can still feel beauty in this horrible scene. How the cutting is juxtaposed with the movement of harmless clouds in front of the moon is a creative metaphor that only an artist with pratibha can do.
Disconnectedness also comes to the devices of the film, such as the text that says “Huit ans après” (Eight years later). This information is meaningless because it is irrelevant with regard to the following scene. The same woman is there, with normal eyes, but the scene does not suggest continuity from the previous one. A slim young man bicycles down a calm urban street wearing what appears to be a nun’s habit and a locked box with a strap around his neck. The woman is in the house, not wearing nun’s habit.
Basically most of the images in this surrealist film are disconnected from each other. Their existence appear to be forced or coincidence. The actions are absurd. All this leaves the viewers in confusion, or even delirium. For example the scene where the man is looking at his hand. Ants are emerging from the hole in his palm. A cinematic device of transition is used to suggest the resemblance among the ants, an armpit and a sea urchin. Also the scene where the man drags two pianos by ropes with a dead donkey on top of each and two priests are also tied. Buñuel has said that Un Chien Andalou was the result of conscious automatism. However, the film is less a dream than an abstraction of a dream filtered through the logic of reality. The symbols in the film can be interpreted in as many ways as the viewer. Automatism contradicts Indian aesthetics in terms of subjectivity. The transfer of rasa from the poet and the director (scriptwriter, etc) to the reader or spectator presupposes dharanikarana, or universalization. They have shared experience (Krishnamoorthy 42). If surrealist images come from personal experience, their meaning are unlikely to be conveyed. The images of the nun, the priests and the Bible are subject to each viewer’s interpretation. From the side of the director, Buñuel was sickened by sex in general. His cinema is a spiritual fetishes. He wrote: « Our imagination, and our dreams, are forever invading our memories; and since we are all apt to believe in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truths. Of course, fantasy and reality are equally personal, and equally felt, so their confusion is a matter of only relative importance. » Buñuel’s surrealism became the cinematic vehicle for both Marxist ideals and Freudian psychoanalysis. However, the dual function of language in surrealism is paradoxical. The images and words would impact the viewer’s imagination in unpredictably. As words are in free association, they are no bearing in the viewer’s imagination. As the viewer attempt to deduce meaning the torrent of images floods his mind. The images, beyond the laws of reality, cause the viewer to be disoriented because he applies logic. Therefore surrealist images demand imagining consciousness in the grasping of meaning in reality.
If we see the dreamlike images in the film from the perspective of Indian aesthetics, the goal of rasaassumingly cannot be reached. This is because the lack of verisimilitude is one of the obstacles to the realization of rasa (Gnoli 62). The real is opposed to the dream. In Bharata’s Natyasastra (2nd century BC), the rasa theory is important to aesthetics. Rasa is primarily beauty in art. It is the soul of aesthetic emotion or sentiment. Furthermore, rasa can transform ugliness into beauty and give form to the formless (Krishnamoorty 12). There are nine rasa, including srngara, karuna and raudra. At the level of spectator, their emotion and feeling is called bhavas, which is important to perceive the rasa. The circumstance of time and place in the background is called vibhava. Then the strongly felt emotion is externally manifested, which is called anubhava. The durable emotions evoked are sthayibhava, while the auxiliary emotion that reinforces the main emotion is sancaribhava. Despite the binary opposition of the real and the dream, we can still apply the rasa theory to the film. In the opening scene we may identify the sancaribhava such as vitarka (trepidation), nirveda (indifference). The abhinaya can be angika, the body movement of the man and the stillness of the woman. The sattvikabhava is stambha, or paralysis. The sthayibhava may be jugupsa (disgust), bhaya (fear) or krodha (anger). Finally the corresponding rasa would be bibhatsa (odious), bhayanaka (terrifying) and raudra (wrathful, terribleness).
To come back to the inquiry of beauty in art, we recall that art of literary composition is aimed at giving pleasure by evoking some states of mind. It must have good aesthetic quality. Art is also about the representation of the state of mind. Art is deemed as successful if it can move and affect the viewers. This is linked to Indian aesthetic concept of kavyadosa, or fault (Kapoor 93). The faults are listed in Bhamaha’s Kavyalamkara. Surrealist film is not desirable and thus violates many dosas. These include contradictory meaning, redundancy, doubt, nonmaintenance of correlated sequence, and counter-factual. This is still linked to the issue of verisimilitude of artistic works.
Another feature that is comparable is religious and moral values. Kavya, or literary composition, is valued not for sabda (form, sound) nor artha (content), but rather the manner of expression. Kavya is even regarded as the fifth veda in Natyasastra, as it is expected to give guidance of life and serious thoughts to common people. thus it is also a means of knowledge (Kapoor 84). Philosophically surrealism also provides solution to the problems of life. This is because of the history of surrealism itself. The birth of Surrealism is due to the devastation of World War I and the revolution in science and technology. According to the Surrealists, the dream contains meaningful symbolic representations, and its analogical method of communicating truth is best approximated within the aesthetics of film. Thus, the Surrealists embrace the cinematic potential for channeling and reproducing the omnipotent “dreamlike” mysteries of life. Within film, much like the dream, the contradictory aspects of the universe intermingle, as life is at once death, illusion is truth, night is day, and opposites coexist in a state of unified tension, and all this without facing the tribunal of “logic”. Thus, the ninth rasa, santa (tranquil) can be also be achieved in a complicated way. This is because rasa experience is regarded as a cognitive process. Rasa theory is deeply rooted in the empirical human reality. And surrealism apparently can be the means of rasa realization.
Anandavardhana’s dhvani theory in Dhvanyaloka (9th century AD) is about verbal symbolism. Dhvani is the resonance of meaning that remains in the mind of the hearer, causing the continuous recovering of new meanings from the text. This theory poses that the indirect meaning of literary works, or suggestion, is the characteristic that distinguish the literary works from rational discourse. There are three levels of meaning: abidha, laksana and vyanjana. These are, respectively, literal meaning; socio-cultural meaning, and the meaning determined by situation, propriety, and form. In addition to the context, this tertiary meaning is also shaped by linguistic factors such as intonation, gestures and sounds. The poetry of suggestion becomes the highest kind of poetry (Kapoor 21). The departure from rational discourse in dhvani theory is also found in Surrealism. Surrealism rejects the ratio and produces images with so many layers of meaning. Meaning from artistic works becomes knowledge. In Indian aesthetics, what constitutes the knowledge of literary work is the understanding of bhava. Bhavas derive from the experience of events. No meaning is possible without rasa. Experience in a literary composition (rasa-bhava) is the structure of the states of being. As being comprises emotional conditions, the rasa theory is based on the non-opposition between emotion and reason (Kapoor 103). Thus surrealist art can evoke rasa as it blends the two factors, emotion and reason. The artist may be subjective in presenting the images, but the viewers can also select out of the images. The object of literary works is the emotional effect of human experience.
The comparison between surrealism and Indian theory may also be seen in terms of the objects in Nature. In Indian perspective, the object is imbued with Brahman. The artist’s mind attaches itself to the object in reverence and love. The creative process is yoga, the system of altering/heightening/unifying consciousness by freeing all cognitions through intense mental concentration that merges the subject-object and eliminate the sense from the process of knowledge (Kapoor 81). In Surrealism, the artist also frees himself from cognition. The difference is the emphasis of dreams.
Alquie, Ferdinand. The Philosophy of Surrealism. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1965.
Gnoli. R. The Aesthetic Experience According to Abhinavagupta. Varanasi: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1985.
Kapoor, Kapil. Literary Theory: Indian Conceptual Framework. New Delhi: Affiliated East-West Press Private Limited, 1998.
Koller, Michael. « Un Chien Andalou”. Senses of Cinema. 8 May, 2011.
Krishnamoorty, K. Indian Literary Theories: A Reappraisal. New Delhi: Meharchand Lachhmandas Publications, 1985.
Rattray, Jacqueline « The Hallucinogenic Power of Language: Jose Maria Hinojosa’s Textos Oniricos » André Breton: The Power of Language. Ed. Ramona Fotiade. Exeter: Elm bank Publication, 2000.