Writing by Reddy

Surendran Reddy as writer
 
Although known primarily as a performer-composer, writing was an extremely important personal outlet for Surendran Reddy. He wrote intermittently throughout his life, but between 1998 and 2007 his need to write increased, even though he was at the same time continually preoccupaied with composition. The writing is playful, humorous, autobiographical, erotic, philosophical, political.
 
There are a number of handwritten books of poems, compilations such as no offense, and the poetic cycle the miaow, written in 2007 after a discussion with his friend Florian Schiertz about the Tao. This combines Dada and philosophy in a tongue-in-cheek way. It consists of 42 parts - 42 being the answer, Surendran wrote, to the
ultimate question about life, the universe and everything [in] one of my favourite books, douglas adams's the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, 5 books actually - a trilogy in 5 parts as he referred to it, with his typical irrepressible sense of irony that came to my rescue time and time again in some of the darkest moments of my life; and that were always a sheer delight in some of its brightest (from ‘madiba: a novelette in sonata form’, 4 December 2007).
Profoundly ironic humour and tragedy were intimately connected in amost everything he said or wrote, so that little of his writing can be taken purely on face value: it is immensely layered. He wrote philosophical and reflective texts about his humanitarian values, artistic and spiritual concepts, and epic poems, humorous or serious autobiographical texts, and he compiled multi-art-manuscript-books, spiral bound with a glossy cover, and reproduced them privately.
 
The multi-art books mix his own texts and those by other people with photos, designs, artwork, and music scores. One, called 10 principles expressing my concept of art (2008) gives a deep insight into Surendran's artistic visions. He describes in a half-fictional, half real introduction how this document was inspired by a personal encounter. Another one, a short hisTory of the past, the present AND the future (2008), is an unfinished manuscript about physical and  mathematical phenomena, gravity and antigravity, time as a magnet, rationality and intuition, concepts of infinity, god and the universe.
 
The multi-art book truth, beauty, sadness, love and death (2007/08) contains a text called 'madiba – a novelette in sonata form' which is a plea for freedom and humanity, and for respect towards artists. Passages about art and the situation of artists in society alter with autobiographical passages of Surendran's own life mainly in South Africa during apartheid. The novelette is embedded in a composition of artworks, poems, a music score and many other 'snippets' revolving round the main topics of the book. the life and opinions of surendran reddy, gentleman? (2009) is a collection of memories mainly from early childhood but also from other periods of his life. it is autobiographical in nature but on many occasions also fuses fiction and reality in a playful poetic way. 
 
The books in Surendran's own personal library are an eclectic assortment: all the books by Douglas Adams and lots of other SciFi; novels by Kafka, Coetzee, Breytenbach, Edmund White, and many others; poetry; non-fiction covering a large range of topics, some in German, which he spoke and read fluently, most of them in English. And he once had many mroe books, leaving an extensive library in South Africa when he left in 1995.