Myths and fables come alive in today’s world

Book facts: “Balancing The World” by Michelle Karunaratne. Reviewed by Carl Muller

In 1975 Paul D. Maclean, Chief of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution in Maryland, USA, pointed out that there lay in the human creative process an interplay that he called “Bisociation” – making a distinction between the routine skills of thinking on a single plane and the creative act.

As he explained: “The Creative Act connects previously unrelated dimensions of experience. It is an act of liberation and habit is defeated by originality. Also, it involves levels of the mind separated by a much wider span than in any other mental activity.”

This may be no way to begin what I hope to be a study of a book written by Michelle Karunaratne who began writing when she was 13; but I’m taking a serious look at a production that holds fast to Paul Maclean’s Bisociation.

What Michelle Karunaratne has done is taken the pith of Greek mythology, the invisible ink of some oceanic wonder, and made her readers aware of the fact that she is doing what she is determined to do – not what we feel she is not doing.

History, we are told is a new branch of literature – but to take the marvellous legends of the Mediterranean and blend them to become a “something else” focus of man, both picaresque and picturesque, is something not often, indeed rarely, encountered in Sri Lankan writing. But stay. There is Merlin Peris and his “Greek Story Motifs in the Jatakas” and we see how wonderfully he has presented his case.

In Michelle we have both pulsing breadth and unity of purpose as the characters glide together!
Michelle has fertilised and reinvigorated the ancient soil of star-encrusted space, the underworld of Cronus, and, like a five-in-one blow, tailor-made her space-earth environment to fit us. There is no rationalising of age-old attitudes and how we act today. What you will find is an underlying consonance – both youthful genius and the commonsense of the child.

Michelle has taken the myths and fables concerning the human and godly and introduced them to the more understandable heroes of today – and given us quite a level playing field.

This is a book for old and young alive. It is not meant to shock. It is meant to entertain and also stand tall as a new, fluent, neat and most informative production.

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