Seven years have passed since Auroville Today ran a selection of writing by Aurovilians, reflecting the fact that original writing by Aurovilians does not get the same attention in the community as do the visual arts or theatre or crafts. Why this is so is unclear. Perhaps there are just fewer writers than artists. Perhaps writers, by their nature, tend to be less good at, or less comfortable about, projecting themselves. Perhaps what they are writing about is perceived as either too little connected to the immediacies of our lives here or, conversely, too modest for our soaring ideals. Perhaps, temperamentally, Aurovilians tend to be ‘hands-on' rather than ‘words' people (which might account for some of our perennial problems with communication).
Whatever the explanation, it's clearly time that we revisited our literary landscape. Seven years ago, we went for breadth rather than depth. This time we are running longer extracts and even some complete pieces to give a deeper insight into the sensibilities and preoccupations of different writers. We also extend our canvas to include writing from as far back as 1978. Regrettably, we have decided to omit good writing in languages other than English as the vast majority of our readership is English-speaking.
As to that old chestnut, “Is there a distinctive Auroville style or sensibility?” it's far from obvious. What is common to many of the writings here is a certain preoccupation with Auroville, Aurovilians or our neighbours, an intensity of gaze and feeling (coupled with humour) which is often expressed as a need to go beyond present limits, and an originality and amplitude of perspective which owes much to the discoveries of Sri Aurobindo and Mother.
Interestingly, while Aurovilians may have a muted interest in their own writers, others are beginning to take notice. Some of the selections here will be included in Writings from Auroville, an anthology of Aurovilian writing edited by Akash Kapur, to be published by Penguin in 2010.
Keeping to the ‘home-grown' theme, the selections in this issue are interspersed with artwork produced over the past five years by students from the Pyramids art centre.