Literary criticism

The stream of consciousness vs today

The stream of consciousness, I’m sure, is not an unknown term to my literary pals. It is more of an academic thing to discuss about a literary term. But this is something that attracts me more than anything. I fell in love with this term back in the college days. As you know that It is a narrative style that emerged fast at the dawn of the 20th century. I’ve heard about it a lot, pondered upon it, tried to identify its practicability in day-to-day routine. So it is not about thinking of those difficult-to-comprehend scenes in James Joyce’s and Verginia Woolf’s novels. It is about delving into the psyche, understand the sensitivity of thoughts and experience their random overflow. The term is also known as  ‘Interior monologue’, which means conversation with the self.

In simplified words, the stream of consciousness can best be described as a trail of random thstream of consciousnessoughts that fly hysterically from this place to that, from gardens of love to deserts of wickedness, from caverns of goofiness to pleasures of heaven. It is a technique which behaves like a wayward kite in the sky. To illustrate through my scrambled thought process that usually captures my psyche when I commute to the office, I would say that starting with a thought of coffee to ending up with thoughts of travelling to exotic lands is something that often happens.

Yet, more than confusing the literary term drove me to explore several books written in this genre. I loved to read those books. I ploughed through ‘Ulysses’, ‘Sound and Fury’ by William Faulkner and many others. I understood little but I liked the pattern of thoughts jumbled into literary pieces. Still, my fascination is caught around the stream of consciousness. My fascination caught wings when I read through Joyce’s ‘The Portrait of an artist as a young man’. I feel ineffable to put the magic of this term in words.

In the modern context, the term has evolved a lot. Hollywood’s and Bollywood’s influence on fiction, classified as the stream of consciousness, can be clearly seen. A number of movies are a key in immortalizing stories on the big screen in which the characters are caught in severe psychological patterns.

In essence, the stream of consciousness or interior monologue has moved up the ladder. But the genre is going out of fashion. The reason why this genre is less perceived is because the modern publishers are less convinced on the commercial aspect. The complex structure of the narratives is often challenging average readers who believe in quick, racy books and from whom the most money comes.

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