What Is LITERATURE CRITICISM AND LITERATURE AESTHETIC MOVEMENT

In the history of world and national literature there are several literary or artistic events where a group of authors gather and issue joint statements, which are often called ‘manifestos’, to declare the initiation or establishment of a new aesthetic movement as a response to whatever the dominant school of thought at that time. . Declarations like this are usually a means to baptize the birth of a new literary or artistic “generation”, although not always the birth of a generation is indicated by a manifesto. Not infrequently, the appearance of a literary or artistic work that is unique and distinctly different from the dominant tendency of its time has an impact as important as a manifesto in marking the birth of a new school.

In Europe, one of the loudest proclamations of the birth of the aesthetic movement was the Surrealism Manifesto in 1924 in Paris, spearheaded by figures such as the poet André Breton, the artist René Margritte, the painter Max Ernst, and also Salvador Dali. They react to the expression of ideas shackled by moral censors, norms, and other filters. Instead, they offer “psychic automatism”, which allows the contents of the mind to be conveyed directly and “purely” in literary or artistic expressions so as to produce an “absolute reality” and excels against reality filtered by morality. [1]

This movement was born as a result of World War I which was full of violence and was a more subtle form of Dadaism, which protested extreme against war and made itself an anti-art art. Despite initial resistance, surrealism quickly expanded even to the United States and Central America. In literature, Surrealism is characterized by “spontaneous writing” which translates the processes that are happening in the mind directly into a verbal form and does not allow reason, logic or other sensors to interfere with the process.

In Indonesia, history records several moments of the statement of the birth of a movement, which in the history of the development of national aesthetics are recorded as a generation. Gelanggang Belief Letter appeared in Siasat magazine on October 22, 1950 as a statement by writers and artists who were members of the Gelanggang Seniman Merdeka group, whose founding was pioneered by Rivai Apin, Asrul Sani, and Chairil Anwar in 1946. Apart from these authors there are other authors, such as Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Mochtar Lubis, and Sitor Situmorang, as well as several painters such as Henk Nantung and Basuki Resobowo.

Through their letters, the artists “proclaimed” their sovereignty in the arts by claiming that they were the heirs of world culture, and as heirs, they continued world culture in their own ways without being dictated by anyone. Through their manifesto, the Gelanggang group firmly claims that the Indonesian cultural project is an inherent part of international culture rather than as an illegitimate child, as Jennifer Lindsay wrote in the introduction to her edited book. [2]The Gelanggang Belief Letter, thus, frees Indonesian culture from the shackles of inheritance and at the same time closes the pages of the Cultural Polemic debate that has been going on since the 1930s about whether Indonesian culture should be oriented towards Western modernity or to stick closely to tradition. [3]

Literary critics, including the Indonesian Literature Pope HB Jassin, often associate the signatories to the Gelanggang Belief Letter with the Generation of ’45, although this mention can be misleading because it makes the movement seem monolithic. Nevertheless, the birth of Angkatan ’45 as a literary movement cannot be separated from the manifesto of the artists of this Gelanggang group, with works that are freer in shape and language expressions that are more straightforward and direct when compared to the works of authors from previous eras.

Another manifesto moment that was no less impactful in the course of Indonesia’s post-independence literature was the Cultural Manifesto, which appeared in August 1963 and was published in the Literary Magazine number 9/10 in the 3rd year of that year. The Cultural Manifesto was initiated by figures such as Wiratmo Soekito, Goenawan Mohamad, HB Jassin, Soe Hok Djin, Taufiq Ismail, and Trisno Soemardjo in response to the intolerant actions of leftist artists who are members of the People’s Cultural Institute (LEKRA). The signatories of this manifesto stated that their priority was to build humanity through a national culture based on Pancasila as its cultural philosophy, and this affirmation at the same time served as a rejection of the communist ideology promoted by LEKRA. [4]

Some of the figures of the Cultural Manifesto are still alive and well. They play a central role in shaping and giving color to the development of Indonesian arts and literature to this day. This group is also frequently linked with the Generation of ’66 in the history of Indonesian literature, which again risks freezing or impoverishing the plurality of thoughts and the diversity of literary forms produced by its characters. This shows that the Cultural Manifesto was not just a momentary, reactive political response to their ideological opponents, but continued to grow as a cultural school that determined the direction of the Indonesian arts and literature movement long after the end of the ideological confrontation.

Apart from the two illustrations of the aesthetic movement that was manifested in the manifesto, the 1970s also recorded several other aesthetic events which were quite shocking when they occurred, although their life history was not long and what was initiated did not really become a dominant school in the future. For example, the ‘mbeling poetry movement’ which appeared in late 1971 in Aktuil magazine , was spearheaded by Remy Silado. Not long after that, in 1973 the poet Sutardji Calzoum Bachri announced his Poetry Creed, which was published in the Horison magazine.number 12 in the 9th year, published in 1974. Approximately at the same time as Sutardji’s poetry creed, on March 8, 1974, there was a “poetry trial” at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, at which time the latest Indonesian poetry was accused by a number of young poets as not again “healthy” and growing unnaturally. The “counter” trial was held at the Faculty of Letters, University of Indonesia, in September of the same year in response to the above lawsuit. [5]

There is not enough literature written yet to assess and conclude how much impact or contribution these events have had for the further development of Indonesian literature. However, what is important to underline is that thoughts, writing styles, and new forms in art and literature are generally born as a movement initiated by a group of artists or authors as a response to dominant phenomena that are considered to be no longer adequate or accommodating for development. -new developments. Abroad, movements like this often give birth to new schools or isms, while in Indonesia the pattern is to produce the mention of generations by critics in the arena of literary criticism.

Literary Criticism

Until now there has been no clear agreement about what role literary criticism actually plays and how much impact it has on the work or author that is the target of literary criticism. There are several things that cause this ambiguity. First, most, if one might say, literary critics are at the same time authorship. HB Jassin, Subagio Sastrowardoyo, Gunawan Mohamad are both author and literary critic. Do they write literary criticism based on their personal reflection as authors or are the criticisms they write the result of their analysis of the distance between them as critics and literary works as objects of criticism? Does the criticism they produce become the impetus for the birth of new ideas in literature or does their criticism serve to just preach new ideas that have been born in literary works? The question is not where the duality of these questions is correct but the dualism of the figure and the role of the author as critic. In other words, does literary criticism give birth to a movement of change in literature or play a role in developing literature or does it only serve to disseminate works and authors who appear with their various thoughts to a wide audience?

The second cause of the ambiguity is the fairly strong general view in literary circles in Indonesia that at this time the work of literary criticism and its activists is not as vibrant as in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, literary criticism is seen as incapable of keeping up with the enthusiasm that continues to peak in the publication of literary works, to the point that there is a suspicion that literary criticism in Indonesia is facing its death knell. The existing literary criticism is far less adequate in quantity, frequency and intensity than the number of new authors born, the works produced, and the fresh ideas they offer. The existence of various literary criticism writing competitions is apparently considered not effective enough to revive the fading world of literary criticism.

Third, what is the exact relationship between literary criticism and the aesthetic movement in the literary field? Are the two just running parallel as two unrelated activities or is there a relationship that cannot be separated from one another, but we still have difficulty knowing with certainty the nature or type of the relationship? If many literary critics are also authors, it should not be too difficult to imagine a relationship between literary criticism on the one hand and the literary thought movement on the other. The two of them become motors for each other, and what is happening is not just parallelism, but convergence: the two seemingly different activities are actually a unified process that keeps literature evolving and changing. However,tightness in countering the pace of literary development.

The answer to the first problem related to the dual role of literary critic and author can be approached from the activity of literary criticism itself. Not infrequently the way people solve this problem is by making it more cloudy. There have been attempts to make categories of academic literary criticism, popular literary criticism, lay literary criticism, and others, which are completely useless. A. Teeuw is an academic literary critic and not an author, while Seno Gumira Ajidarma or Sapardi Djoko Damono is an academic literary critic capable of writing non-academic literary criticism, and he is also an author. Gunawan Mohamad is not an academic, but he is capable of producing academic literary criticism and he is also an author.

It does not matter when the struggles of authors who are not from the academic world are not only aesthetically expressed in the literary works they produce but also in the form of an analytical evaluation of the various ways and forms of outpouring the anxiety. Likewise, a literary critic who is not an author, but is involved in the academic world and is not an author, is only natural if he has the analytical ability to study literary works, even though he does not produce literary works himself. A literary critic who does not come from an academic background and is not an author does not have to bear the label as a “lay” or “popular” literary critic simply because of these conditions. What is clear, he is still able to give birth to literary criticism,

Understanding literary criticism with this approach means not dividing literary criticism and literary creation activities. The two have an impact on one another, and we need not imagine any competition between literary criticism and literary production, which is more important, and which impacts which. The major changes occurring in the literary universe everywhere are the result of the integration between literary criticism and literature itself, as can be seen clearly in the birth of the Surrealism movement in Europe, as well as the Gelanggang Beliefs Letter and Cultural Manifesto in Indonesia. The same is the case with the phenomena of the mbeling poetry movement, the poetry creed, the poetry court, and others. Authors are not only busy creating, and critics are not only busy as referees on the sidelines.

The second problem is the indication that the current literary critic is not as active as the critics in the past. Is this true? Perhaps, we need to consider these things in order to decide whether the signatures are correct. After 1998, with the beginning of the Reformation chapter beginning, the Indonesian literary world quickly and surely experienced a flood of literature. So many new authors have sprung up, while the old ones have become eager to write again because of the speed of the winds of change. The variety of literature published is extraordinary. In the 1950s to 1990s, there were no Islamic literature, teenagers , and cyber literature, and the author is that same character. There are groups of productive female authors, such as Nh. Dini, Marga T. Mira W. In the 1970s and 1980s, a group of senior authors such as Mangunwijaya, Danarto, Taufiq Ismail, Sapardi Djoko Damono, Rendra, Motinggo Busye, etc., as well as young writers such as Yudhistira AM Massardi, Ashadi Siregar, and V. Lestari. Although they were classified as productive in their time, the measure of their productivity was far different from those of present-day authors such as Tere Liye.

The critics of that era had the time and opportunity to focus their critical work on writers whose number was not rapidly increasing, so it seems that literary criticism and literary creation activities can catch up without being left too far. Now, the number of authors is growing very rapidly, as is the number of works they produce. There are no fewer literary critics today than in past years, but it is still impossible to divide attention equally among all the authors currently in existence. There are already far more literary scholars capable of writing literary studies, and there are already many literary critics who do not come from an academic background. All of this cannot be compared with the increase in the number of literary works produced even if we only talk about Jakarta and Java Island. So, perhaps the activity of literary criticism does not die or decline, but the work of literary critics still sounds lonely when compared to the many works that demand the attention of these critics.

Finally, what should be the form of the relationship between literary criticism and literary creation? The world of literary creation has a mission to encourage the growth of literature as rapidly and as possible through the creation of an ecosystem that is conducive to this goal. In such condition, literary critic cannot help but be more selective because their capacity to be able to cover and accommodate everything is very limited. So, without hindering or hindering the growth of the literature, the function of the critic is to identify which literary works can be superior in terms of aesthetics, ideas, and novelty. Their function is not to inhibit but to encourage the good to continue to grow for the better so that they get the recognition they deserve from the literary reading audience. What about works that have escaped the attention of critics? In this technological age, authors have no shortage of means and mediums to confidently disseminate their own works. In fact, what will become smaller and less important is the writer’s dependence on critics because they are still able to self-promote and establish their name as authors in various literary forums.

Is this selective attitude of critics due to the nature of literary criticism? The answer is it doesn’t have to be. At least in the Indonesian context, this selective attitude has to exist because Indonesia is currently flooded with literary works. The impression that the shortage of critics is felt as if it was real due to the flood, because currently the number of literary critics in Indonesia should be far more than in the HB Jassin era. It should not be forgotten that the stock of literary critics does not only come from the academy world. With the increasing number of writers and works, the number of critics is also greater, considering that there are many literary authors who are also engaged in literary criticism or vice versa, many literary critics are now also producing their own literary works, such as Nirwan Dewanto, Ayu Utami, Yoseph Yapi Taum ,

All of this shows that the world of literary criticism is not an independent world outside the world of literary creation and vice versa. This paper invites us to start considering the possibility to see these two activities as a process that occurs together and can only exist in this unity. Therefore, if literary criticism really dies, then it also means death for literary creation, and the dryness of literary creation also naturally causes the aridity of literary criticism. The indication that literary criticism in Indonesia is dying is only true and acceptable if Indonesian literature itself is dying. If not, then it is possible that we may have misleading signals or impressions about the current state of literary criticism in Indonesia.

Because of this unique and inseparable relationship, it is not difficult to accept that literary criticism and the literary change movement are also two things that are essentially single. Literary critics will not be able to stop themselves from remaining passive when they see that a new aesthetic movement is being pioneered by several authors through a number of literary works. There is one example, although negative regarding this matter, namely when the phenomenon of women’s literature appeared at the beginning of the reformation and what critics called sastrawangi. For good or bad people’s judgment or the connotation this term carries, the women writers have clearly brought winds of change to Indonesian literature to this day. The authors and their works have received endless attention from critics in various forums and studies. The same thing has happened more or less with the phenomenon of Islamic literature which now fills bookstore shelves everywhere. There have been many studies and critical works produced regarding this type of literature.

The excitement of literary criticism and lively activities does not occur for all and all kinds of works, but in some works which later become a kind of separate cluster and develop into a new movement in literature. In the midst of it, the excitement of the creation of various types of literary works continues to occur every day and does not subside, even though it has not caught the attention of critics. At the same time, often the new patterns that emerge in some works are initially caught by the foresight of the critics who then show them to a larger audience so that the birth of a movement occurs more clearly and more quickly as a result. These critics are the ones who cluster and map outlines of thought, although the authors work independently and express them in works of different styles and forms. However, one important thing is that a new literary critic is able to effectively attract the attention of the audience to a particular literary work or author if he can see and place the author or work in a movement of change that will get bigger and bigger.

Even a very good critical work will find it difficult to raise a work to the surface if it appears randomly as a coincidence without being able to be linked to other works that move with it. An author who prefers to be preoccupied with his own individual uniqueness without regard to what is happening in the literary world around him will find it difficult to be brought up even by the most accomplished literary critic. Even if he produces works that change every time and are new, it is part of his own eccentricity that in the end will still be immersed in the flow of change even though he screams out loud.

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