Sunday, January 28, 2007

Six divergent writers

Indian Imagination Critical Essays On by K D Verma More Books by K D Verma Synopses & Reviews Publisher Comments:
The Indian Imagination focuses on literary developments in English both in the colonial and postcolonial periods of Indian history. Six divergent writers—Aurobindo Ghose (Sri Aurobindo), Mulk Raj Anand, Balachandra Rajan, Nissim Ezekiel, Anita Desai, and Arun Joshi—represent a consciousness that has emerged from the confrontation between tradition and modernity. The colonial fantasy of British India was finally dissolved in the first half of this century, only to be succeeded by another fantasy, that of the reinstituted sovereign nation-state. This study argues that the two phases of history—like the two phases of Indian writing in English— together represent the sociohistorical process of colonization and decolonization and the affirmation of identity.
About the Author: K.D. Verma is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Table of Contents
Indian Writing in English: Structure of Consciousness, Literary History, and Critical Theory * Sri Aurobindo as a Poet: A Reassessment * The Social and Political Vision of Sri Aurobindo * Sri Aurobindo as Critic * Mulk Raj Anand: A Reappraisal * Ideological Confrontation and Synthesis in Mulk Raj Anand’s Conversations in Bloomsbury * Balachandra Rajan’s The Dark Dancer : A Critical Reading * Humanity Defrauded: Notes Toward a Reading of Anita Desai’s Baumgartner’s Bombay * Myth and Imagery in Nissim Ezekiel’s The Unfinished Man : A Critical Reading * Alienation, Identity and Structure in Arun Joshi’s The Apprentice * The Metaphysics and Metastructure of Appearance and Reality in Arun Joshi’s The Last Labyrinth

Monday, January 15, 2007

An Artist of Transformation

The Concept of the Poet in the Aesthetics of Sri Aurobindo
By Dr. Ranjan Ghosh Darjeeling Government College, University of North Bengal (India)
Sri Aurobindo is, like all true poets, an artist of transformation that extends the experiential self to embrace the reality of the world and obeying the higher law that has the body's cells holding the immortal flame. Like the vedic rishi, he climbs beyond himself where the Ineffable has a secret voice and the Imperishable burns through "Matter's Screen." His awareness knows the harmonious and the luminous totality of man's Being, the genuine voyant possessed with Samyakdrishti or Totalitatdenken (Joshi 52). So "all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony" (Aurobindo, Life Divine 4). However, this harmony cannot be monochromatic in the sense that intellectual knowledge and the will of action are not the ultimate instruments of our consciousness and energy.
The cognate of supra-rationality is vital for it creates the spaces of creation. Tagore believed that our realisation should not end with the reasoning mind, for it must acknowledge the creative imagination in the same breath. "The rational or intellectual man is not the last and the highest ideal of manhood. The spirit that manifests itself in man and dominates secretly the phases of his development is greater and profounder than his intellect" (Aurobindo, Human Cycle 124).
For Aurobindo, the rational is surpassed and left behind by the genius, for the rational only constructs, but does not create. In this light one must better understand Kant’s celebrated view that creations of the mind which do not owe their origin in any way to the spiritual faculty in man (freedom and autonomy) are only a product of mechanical operations, of association of ideas, or even of mere lucky accidents. "Rule and precept are incapable of serving as the requisite subjective standard for . . . the aesthetic and unconditioned finality in fine art" (Meredith 212). Kant finds the explanation of genius in "the supersensible substrate of all the subjects (unattainable by any concept of understanding), and consequently in that which forms the point of reference for the harmonious accord of all our faculties of cognition . . . ." (Meredith 212).
Despite obvious differences between Kant’s and Sri Aurobindo’s respective philosophical positions, the points of accord also are striking. It may be noted in this context that Sri Aurobindo is not an advocate of reductionism. Though art or the aesthetic impulse, properly speaking, springs from the infra-rational parts of our being, it does seek the help of the rational. Reason lays down the laws of aesthetics, purifies our appreciation and improves our taste. Within restricted bounds, reason corrects and sets aright our aesthetic instinct and impulse, by making it self-conscious and rationally discriminative. The rational as such may not also be the artistic but it is the creator of our aesthetic conscience, judge and guide.
So the super-existentialist Sri Aurobindo, manifests a supra-normal familiarity with the intensities of our subliminal and supraliminal being. Spirituality for him is a much wider thing than formal religion. Art reaches its highest self expression when it is pressed into the service of spirituality. And spirituality denotes a threefold line of human aspiration – divine knowledge, strength, love and joy. Art needs to reach beyond what the best European Art satisfies – "the physical requirements of the aesthetic sense, the laws of formal beauty, the emotional demand of humanity, the portrayal of life and outward reality" – to manifest the inner spiritual truth, the "deeper not obvious reality of things, the joy of God in the world and its beauty and desirableness and the manifestation of divine face and energy in phenomenal creation" (Aurbindo, National Value 46).
So Sri Aurobindo’s integralism delimits the content of art that clearly emphasizes the supreme intellectual value of art and his weltanchauung smoothes all the rough zones of our stratified existence. His theory of art is impregnated with the poignant belief that "what nature is, what God is, what man is, can be triumphantly revealed in stone or on canvas" (Aurbindo, National Value 48). So it is for the poet to realize the three tier use of art - aesthetic, intellectual or educative, and the spiritual which is the highest.
In the dead wall closing us from wider self,
Into a secrecy of apparent sleep,
The mystic tract beyond our waking thoughts,
A door parted, built in by Matter’s force,
Releasing things unseized by earthly sense:
A world unseen, unknown by outward mind
Appeared in the silent spaces of the soul. (Savitri, 27)
Sri Aurobindo. Collected Poems. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994.
---. Future Poetry, The. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994.
---. Human Cycle, The. New York, New York: Sri Aurobindo Library, 1949.
---. Hymns to the Mystic Fire. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1991.
---. Letters of Sri Aurobindo. Bombay: Sri Aurobindo Circle, 1949.
---. Life Divine, The. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin: Lotus Press, 1949/2000.
---. National Value of Art. Calcutta: Arya Publishing, 1936.
---. Savitri. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1996.
---. Synthesis of Yoga, The. New York: Sri Aurobindo Library, 1950.
---. Talks on Poetry. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, 1989.
Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram 1972 vol 15.
Heidegger, Martin. On the Way to Language. (trans.) Stambaugh, New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
Joshi, V.C. Ed. Sri Aurobindo, An Interpretation. Delhi: Vikas Publishing, 1973.
Nandi, S.K. Studies in Modern Indian Aesthetics. Simla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1975.
Purani, A.B. Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1970.
Sethna, K.D. The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1974.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Beauty is a ceremony of symmetry and form that turns into a ballet

A Philosophy of Beauty Emil Michelle
The first action of philosophy, the inital step, is to reduce uniformity to exception: what distinguishes one person from another is her/his beauty.
  • Beauty is unreachable, not because it is impenetrable, but because it approaches the infinite. Each beautiful person hides an infinity.
  • Beauty is deceptive, for essentially, we see ourselves in it, we never see the other person.
  • Beauty is concrete -- it rests upon its own reality. It only becomes abstract when we think about it. Thinking mutates beauty into an instrument or a concept -- it abandons reality. And by that I mean this: that a beautiful person cannot be turned into a thing without ceasing to be a person.
  • For beauty is not settled in itself. Beautiful people are not a reality -- they create their own realities. The beautiful person is neither a person nor a thing, but perhaps a relation, or more precisely, a function: a solipsistic autonomy that alters in accordance with the perspectives of those that determine it.
  • The victim of beauty is a function of the beautiful, not in the physioligical sense of the word, but in the mathematical sense: beauty has mutated into a number, a sign, a symbol. And mankind is seduced by numbers. Every number hides an infinity -- every number contains all the totality of all numbers, total enumeration. Beauty takes on a mathematical form.
  • The reality of beauty is cerebral. It is easier, almost, to think of beauty than to see it. Beauty represents magnitudes of sensations. Beauty is a ceremony of symmetry and form that turns into a ballet -- a mathematical, mystical sacrifice to the organs of sense. A situation, or perhaps, a demonstration -- a theater of pulchritude. But since beauty is mathetical, it cannot be destroyed because numbers are immortal -- it cannot be nullified by time or by age.
  • The whole of beauty is greater than all the beauty it contains. And in that sense, beauty is unreal. Beauty is supermortal, that is, a mortal who neutralizes all else -- insensate in sensation. It is the mystical paradox: the wonderment of insensibility which has its foundation in sensibility.
  • Beauty is hyaline matter. It is the supreme pleasure, the most natural of pleasures. All of history, legend, memoirs, and medical observation prove the point: beauty is a ferocious copulation of viewer and viewed. The recognition of beauty is a triumph of intelligence and sensation and emotion.
  • Beauty is immense and unique -- wherever it is discovered. Beauty is a tyrranical philosophy. For beauty postulates a curious despotism over all mankind -- beauty does not liberate, it tosses mankind into dungeons, it binds, it imprisons, it compels, coerces and enslaves. And it enthralls. It is an incubator for a whole congerie of neuroses. Although, what a way to go, huh?!
  • What, then, is beauty? What is the epistemology of beauty? In a sense, it is indefinable -- but it may be perceived: its only feature is that it is an exception, through this it may be isolated and determined. Beauty is an exception among the beautiful exceptions, a reflection among the beautiful reflections. A true consensus may be impossible. Still, I will make an attempt: beauty is a miraculous concatenation which tittilates my soul when I look upon it. posted by Emil Michelle at Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Heaven of Indra where Apsaras dance on gleaming crystal floors

RY Deshpande Fri 12 Jan 2007 05:32 AM PST
Savitri had brought with her power, wide consciousness, bliss, calm delight, the delight that the Upanishads would say weds one soul to all, the delight that is the key to the flaming doors of ecstasy. But the unfortunate fact is the littleness of life that is ours, ignorant and death-bound. It denied all that she had brought with her, did not use the key for the doors of ecstasy. Consequently life must suffer. The key to the flaming doors of ecstasy is to a life that is vaster and brighter than the life that is in heavens. It is also a life that does not remain static in its typal joy, confined to its own form of happiness, forms that are only expressive and not determinative of the world to which they belong...
In the Life Heavens is the music that wanders behind the mortal ear; the notes of rapture heap one over another; forms and senses are a-thrill there; beauty has her enchantment in the voluptuous and affective.
But suddenly there soared a dateless cry,
Deep as Night, imperishable as Time;
It seemed Death’s dire appeal to Eternity,
Earth’s outcry to the limitless Sublime.
(The Life Heavens, Collected Poems pp. 574-75.)
And the result is, Eternity gets broken into fleeting lives and Godhead pents in the mire and the stone. But beyond the flaming doors of ecstasy are forms that are at once expressive and determinative and progressive in their flaming moods and wide-sweeping manners of truth-and-beauty-and delight-and-life-and-spirit. That is the aspect of Savitri’s waking up on the fated day.
To which worlds do the flaming doors of ecstasy open? Surely, they are far beyond the frail or gossamer Life Heavens, beyond the celestial worlds, beyond swargaloka, the Heaven of Indra where Apsaras dance on gleaming crystal floors, with tiny jingling silver bells tied to their anklets, and their rich bosoms heaving in luxurious delight. Savitri’s flaming doors open to the worlds of the transcendent spirit. The Upanishad speaks of passing through the solar gate, sūryasya dwāra, into the world of immortality. Such must be the flaming gates of ecstasy through which Savitri can move in and out in her full freedom, in the joy that is and that shall be. RYD

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Muse of Poetry sighed and waited — to kiss me once in a while

Manoj Das, eminent author, talks about his work and the place of a writer in an era of cultural globalisation. Belief in the permanence of words: Manoj Das.
Sachidananda Mohanty is Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad.
A bilingual author who has received wide recognition, Manoj Das is perhaps the most influential writer in post-independence Orissa. Born in 1934 in a remote coastal village, Manoj Das has to his credit about 40 books in English and an equal number in his mother tongue. A critic, columnist, educationist and a devoted student of mysticism and Integral Yoga, he lives in Pondicherry and is a Professor of English Literature at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He has received numerous literary awards including the Central and Orissa State Sahitya Akademi Awards. Excerpts from an interview... The Hindu Literary Review Sunday, Jan 07, 2007
Your first book in Oriya was published at the age of 14. How did it happen?
Writing came to me like several other functions in life — beholding the splendour of a rainbow or the beauty of a garden. It mattered when the little book received attention and appreciation came from connoisseurs in the field of literature.
Although an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, you also wrote remarkable poetry early in your career. Why did you give it up?
Alas, for reasons quite pragmatic. Poetry and fiction came to me spontaneously. But certain themes could be worked out only through fiction. Not only the editors and publishers, but also the readership demanded more and more of fiction .The creative force of this mode made me its captive. The Muse of Poetry sighed and waited — to kiss me once in a while.
At 15, you launched Diganta a reputed literary journal in Oriya. What was your inspiration?
Few periodicals then existed in Oriya, unlike today. Diganta was my humble effort to improve the situation. I struggled, and was happy to see it growing as a forum where renowned talent mingled with the new.
What prompted you to join radical politics and the Students' Federation of India?
Mine was a charming village on the sea, inhabited by people kind and courteous. A terrible cyclone ruined all, ushering in famine and epidemic. The human misery kindled in me the search for a panacea. I found the answer in Marxism. That was an exciting time: the Communist movement was still undivided.
In 1956 you attended the historic Bandung Conference in Indonesia. How did this experience shape your literary imagination?
The Afro-Asian Students Conference following the great Conference of Afro-Asian leaders who formulated the famous Panchsheel. It had no direct impact on my creativity, but it changed my attitude to reality. 11:10 AM

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Finally arrives the Sun

Re: Savitri Awakes among the Human Tribes
by RY Deshpande on Wed 03 Jan 2007 07:12 AM PST Profile Permanent Link
Let us look into the first two lines of the above passage:
And Savitri too awoke among these tribes
That hastened to join the brilliant Summoner's chant
Savitri awakes and joins the brilliant Summoner’s chant. But who is this brilliant Summoner, and what is his chant? With that chant Savitri awakes from her sleep, the sleep of Prajna consciousness, of perfect knowledge. The Summoner calls her and she is here now to do her work in the dynamism of perfect knowledge.
Savitri’s waking is described as the beginning of the day on which Satyavan is to die. Narad has already foretold the exact place and time when this death is going to occur, and Savitri is aware of it. On the fated day she gets up early in the morning, offers her worships to Goddess Durga, the Protectress of the Worlds, and is now ready to face the God of Death. The death will occur by a kingly tree in the Shalwa woods and the Goddess is already present there.
The Sun-God is the brilliant Summoner. He is the divine Aditya beckoning her early in the morning. The second half of the night itself has two parts: between midnight and 3.00 am, tamasobhāga, the dark part, and between 3.00 to 6.00 am jyotirbhāga, the bright part. The divine Ashwinikumars appear in the sky on horseback heralding the advent of Light. Running through the night, they then hand over the charge to Usha, the Dawn, and the sky is aglow with her rosy light, the rosy-fingered dawn of Homer. She is then followed by Savita, the Progenitor of Light. After him comes Bhaga with his aiśwarya, with his majesty and richness. Finally arrives the Sun. The Sun himself attains the full form in Pushan the Nourisher. The highest form of Light reaches its zenith in the highest heavens presided by Vishnu. Sri Krishna in the Gita says that among the Adityas he is Vishnu. He then becomes the Summoner to whose call awakes Savitri.
And what is his chant? Narad is Vishnu’s devotee, bhakta, and he is always immersed in him. From his home in Paradise when he starts journeying towards King Aswapati’s palace in Madra, to deliver the Word of Fate, he sings on the way the Name of Vishnu. He sings in it of (Savitri, pp. 416-17) ...

Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication: short films festival

Publish Date : 1/2/2007 1:47:00 PM Source : Entertainment News
Cine buffs in the capital will get to see a selection of 50 short films at a three-day festival, Twilight 07, from Wednesday. The festival will start with the Indo-Belgian co-production "Akhnoor", a film on terrorism by Sudipto Sen, which stars Yashpal Sharma in the main lead. It will be followed by Anurag Kashyap's "When God said Cheers" featuring Tom Alter and Cyrus Dastur. The closing film Friday will be Gitanjali Rao's award winning animation film "Printed Rainbow". The 15-minute film won the critic's award at Cannes Film Festival in 2006.
Organised by the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication, 50 short films in the festival will be screened under two sections - open and competitive. All the screenings will be held at the India International Centre and Alliance Francaise.
"Twilight is primarily aimed at students and young filmmakers," said Shankhajeet De, festival coordinator and a teacher of filmmaking at the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Mass Communication.
"Our endeavour is to encourage young talent by providing a platform for budding filmmakers and filmmaking students across the country to showcase their creativity and tell a story in 30 minutes. The basic idea of the short films is to experiment with a little money and get recognised," Shankhajeet said in a statement.