The Sunday Leader

Carl Muller’s Many Bulls Sing The China Shop Blues

By Jerome de Zoysa

It was startling to see yet another Carl Muller Collection in the bookshops and at such an affordable price as well. These are days when one can ill afford to buy the books one wishes to read at prices that keep floating around the Rs 1,000 mark. Anyway Muller, who seems to be pouring out his talent, has not only given us yet another good collection but done so with a spread of topics to be savoured, bulls or no bulls.

This book, Many Bulls In My China Shop – Views And Reviews needed explanation and I’d like to quote from his Preface if only to clear the air “This China Shop is my mind, my soul, my inner self. My Bulls.., thrive in the pastures of my emotional self and they are only spirit creatures I can rely on to soothe the turmoil within me. They are my views, the bearers of my distaste, criticisms, rants, my approvals and disapprovals, and they are the instruments of my sanity.”

Further down he adds:

“I beg no pardon for what my Bulls must do, for no writer I know of has been known to crawl before and seek the forgiveness of his or her own mind …for in the end there is only Mind — answerable to none but to the star-dusted conscience of Nature that fashioned us.”

He may ride his favourite hobby-horse with his first view: ‘Christmas And The Godhood Of Man ‘but I find nothing to really fault him. He can be blunt in expressing himself but I found that many Christians (and I am a churchgoer too) thought there was a lot of sense in this new Christology and a Buddhist Jesus.

I’ll say this much: Muller is quite a scholar of religion and he deserves listening to.

Serious? Of course! Every one of these views and reviews quiver with anger, annoyance, and there is also much joy and uproarious laughter (read Homo Sapiens Erroneus ) and of the writers and poets who impressed him. There are many personal tales as well. One asks, “How would you write a novel?” and another: “And the Word is revealed and dwells amongst us.  These are superbly and so simply crafted”.

His reviews of the works of Anne Ranasinghe, Yasmine Gooneratne and Jean Arasanayagam are compelling and so are the staider, and more challenging pieces by Avtar Singh Bhasin, Donald Chandraratna, and Nath Yogasundran.
In Michael Robert’s Narrating Tamil Nationalism: Subjectives and Issues  he brings in two other voices and there is that wonderful Spirit Powered Poems of Stephen K.Roney, that becomes a very personal story too.

The beauty of this collection is the way Muller dips ink the Classical age and the Elizabethan Era as well. He is certainly a reader of everything he can get his hands on — from Venus and Tannhauser to Plato, the Bible to Michelangelo, Lewis Carroll to Voltaire, Tennyson to Christina Rossetti.

It is a pity that the book has been printed on paper that I found had been imported from Tamil Nadu and of such quality that it threatened to blot letters if tracings were to be sponged with care, but all in all, that meant little when I found, even in the faintest of type, so much to read and enjoy.

When I phoned him he assured me that he would be sending a couple of his bulls to that particular print-shop and getting on with his next collection with somebody he could rely on. “So what?” he said. “Homo Sapiens Erroneus!”

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