RC – 35

Dear students,
RC constitutes a very important part of the Verbal Ability section in CAT. Here is a passage from CAT 1991 for you to practice. This will help you to adopt the correct strategies while solving a passage and improve your accuracy

Every civilised society lives and thrives on a silent but profound agreement as to what is to be accepted as the valid mould of experience. Civilisation is a complex system of dams, dykes and canals warding off, directing and articulating the influx of the surrounding fluid element, a fertile fenland, elaborately drained and protected from the high tides of chaotic, unexercised and inarticulate experiences. In such a culture, stable and sure of itself within the frontiers of ‘naturalised’ experiences, the arts wield their creative power not so much in width as in depth. They do not create new experience, but deepen and purify the old. Their works do not differ from one another like a new horizon from a new horizon, but like a Madonna from a Madonna.
The periods of art which are most vigorous in creative passion seem to occur when the established pattern of experience loosens its rigidity without as yet losing its force. Such a period was the Renaissance and Shakespeare its poetic consummation. Then, it was as though the discipline of the old order gave depth to the excitement of the breaking away, the depth of job and tragedy, of incomparable conquests and irredeemable losses. Adventurers of experience set out as though in lifeboats to rescue and bring back to the shore treasures of knowing and feeling, which the old order had left floating on the high seas. The works of the early Renaissance and the poetry of Shakespeare vibrate with the compassion for live experience in danger of dying from exposure and neglect. In this compassion was the creative genius of the age. Yet, it was a genius of courage, not of desperate audacity. For, however elusively, it still knew of harbours and anchors, of homes to which to return and of barns in which to store the harvest. The exploring spirit of art was in the depths of its consciousness still aware of a scheme of things into which to fit its exploits and creations.
But the more this scheme of things loses its stability, the more boundless and uncharted appears the ocean of potential exploration. In the blank confusion of infinite potentialities, flotsam of significance gets attached to jetsam of experience, for everything is sea, everything is at sea —
…The sea is all about us,
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation …and Rilke tells a story in which, as in T. S. Eliot’s poem, it is again the sea and the distance of ‘other creation’ that becomes the image of the poet’s reality. A rowing boat sets out on a difficult passage. The oarsmen labour in exact rhythm. There is no sign yet of the destination. Suddenly a seemingly idle man breaks out into song. And if the labour of the oarsmen meaninglessly defeats the real resistance of the real waves, it is the idle single who magically conquers the despair of apparent aimlessness. While the people next to him try to come to grips with the element that is next to them, his voice seems to bind the boat to the farthest distance so that the farthest distance draws it towards itself. ‘I don’t know why and how,’ is Rilke’s conclusion, but suddenly I understood the situation of the poet, his place and function in this age. It does not matter if one denies him every place — except this one. There, one must tolerate him.’

  1. In the passage, the expression “like a Madonna from a Madonna” alludes to
    (1) The difference arising as a consequence of artistic license.
    (2) The difference between two artistic interpretations.
    (3) The difference between ‘life’ and ‘interpretation of life’.
    (4) The difference between ‘width’ and ‘depth’ of creative power.
  2. The sea and ‘other creation’ leads Rilke to
    (1). Define the place of the poet in his culture.
    (2). Reflect on the role of the oarsman and the singer.
    (3). Muse on artistic labour and its aimlessness.
    (4). Understand the elements that one has to deal with.
  3. According to the passage, the term “adventurers of experience” refers to
    (1). Poets and artists who are driven by courage.
    (2). Poets and artists who create their own genre.
    (3). Poets and artists of the Renaissance.
    (4). Poets and artists who revitalize and enrich the past for us.

Solution :-

  1. Answer: Option (2) is the correct answer. The author uses the expression ‘like a Madonna from a Madonna’ in the last line of Para – 1. The lines, “… the art wield their creative power not so much in width as in depth. They do not create new experience, but deepen and purify the old. Their works do not differ from one another like a new horizon from a new horizon…” tell us that the works of art do not differ in their ‘width’ and ’depth’ (as mentioned in option 4) ‘life’ and its ‘interpretation’ (as mentioned in option 3), This eliminates options 3 and 4. The consequence of artistic license is not discussed in the passage so this eliminates option 1. According to the passage, these works of art are merely different interpretations of the ‘old’ experience as one painting of Madonna (Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus) differs from another version. Hence, the correct answer is option (2).
  2. Answer: Option (1) is the correct answer. Rilke’s conclusion as stated in the passage, is echoed in option 1. “I don’t know why and how,’ is Rilke’s conclusion, ‘but suddenly I understood the situation of the poet, his place and function in this age.” These are the concluding words of Rilke from the passage after the example of the ‘sea’ and ‘the other creation’ mentioned in the question. Hence, the correct option is (1). Option 2 quotes the example itself and not its purpose. Hence, it is ruled out. Option 3 is abstract, and the term ‘aimlessness’ cannot be attributed either to the oarsmen or the singer. So, it is negated. Option 4 ‘understanding the elements’ is not the purpose of either the oarsmen or the singer. Therefore, it can be eliminated.
  3. Answer: Option (3) is the correct answer. The term “adventures of experience” is mentioned in lines 4-8 of paragraph 2. The author states – “adventurers of experience set out as though in lifeboats to rescue and bring back to the shore treasures of knowing and feeling which the old order had left floating on the high seas”. Option (1) is ruled out as it states ‘driven by courage’ which does not express the author’s interpretation of the term in the passage. Similarly ‘create their own genre’ in option (2) states only a partial interpretation of what the author meant. So, both (1) and (2) can be ruled out. A reading of lines 6 – 8 of the second paragraph – ‘The work … of the age’; will reveal that the Renaissance artists are cited by the author as examples of ‘adventures of experience’. Hence, the correct answer is option (3). Option (4) states a fact which is not mentioned by the author in this context. So, it can be negated.

Set analysis:-
Level of difficulty:- Moderate to Difficult
Expected time to solve:- 6 to 8 minutes.

Hope you learnt!
See you with the next one tomorrow!
Happy learning!
Rita Ma’am
CAT Coach

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