Saturday, October 24, 2009

There is an inherent philosophical pleasure to reading the prose of Nietzsche, Bergson or Latour

on intellectual correctness from Object-Oriented Philosophy

I just saw the following sentence in a story about a train accident outside Mumbai:

“India’s rail network, which crisscrosses the country, has been marred by a poor safety record.”

The typical language nitpicker might find fault with this sentence: after all, doesn’t any rail network, by definition, crisscross a country? etc. etc.

But I find it to be an excellently written sentence for a news story. Just saying “India’s rail network has been marred by a poor safety record” would be factually accurate, but completely bland.

Adding “which crisscrosses the country” may technically be redundant, but it adds intensity and special emphasis, and creates a sense (an accurate one, too) of lively sprawl about the Indian rail network, while dramatically contrasting it with a lingering sense of danger from the poor safety record.

Some people continue to think that “good writing” simply means conveying clear and accurate facts without contradiction and with as much economy as possible. That’s not true. Good writing means bringing things to life rather than merely abandoning them to clarity and economy.

And this is why good writing is perhaps the most important instrument of philosophy. To present something clearly and economically is at best only Step One of the philosopher’s job. We can see things clearly and economically while still seeing them purely externally and superficially. In every topic there is much that escapes exact definition, and you need to be able to hint vividly at it, to give additional texture and depth to your subject matter.

One professor I knew of would always smugly demand “good plain English” of student papers. Fair enough. Good plain English is better than muddled, obscure English. But it’s insufficient. The demand for good plain English assumes that fuzziness and lack of precision are the major problem with most people’s work. I would argue, on the contrary, that an excess of clarity and precision is often the problem, since not everything in the world is clear and precise– or at least not at the outset.

Clarity is merely a useful tool or means to an end. The real goal is lucidity. And lucidity demands that we admit the dark spots on the map when they are there.

False friends from An und für sich by Adam Kotsko

This week, Anthony and I have been discussing translation, specifically the question of whether translations from Romance languages tend to favor Latinate cognates over more common terms. The primary motivation to do this is laziness: I see a word that looks like “operate,” for instance, and so I type “operate” into my translation and move on. Although the meaning will probably be conveyed adequately, it might be better to just go with the more common word “work,” because here’s the thing: Romance languages don’t have the weird two-tier system that English and German (and presumably other Germanic languages) have where there are two parallel sets of synonyms that are either “common” or “Latinate.” This two-tiered system has its uses — for instance, it provided Heidegger with a simple way of designating the “originary” and “artificially philosophical” versions of concepts (Dasein vs. Existenz, for instance), and in English it’s more common to use the Latinate forms to “elevate” the discourse. But in Romance languages, the Latinate terms just are the common terms; the problem of how to deploy either set simply doesn’t come up.

Now it’s possible that I should translate Agamben with a bias toward the Latinate terms because it’s a scholarly work and the Latinate vocabulary would reflect its more “elevated” status — but I could just as easily decide that it’s stupid that scholarly work should use artificially “elevated” language that conveys no additional information and go with common terms. Perhaps Agamben himself has preferences in this regard (I’ve been told he’ll be going over the translation), but his text can’t force the decision. Whether I decide which way to go in the translation or Agamben does, one of us will be implicitly casting a vote in favor of a particular style of English scholarly writing.

Impressions And Comments by Havelock Ellis, 1859-1939 ... _November_ 22. --I note that a fine scholar remarks with a smile that the direct simplicity of the Greeks hardly suits our modern taste for obscurity.

Yet there is obscurity and obscurity. There is, that is to say, the obscurity that is an accidental result of depth and the obscurity that is a fundamental result of confusion. Swinburne once had occasion to compare the obscurity of Chapman with the obscurity of Browning. The difference was, he said, that Chapman's obscurity was that of smoke and Browning's that of lightning. One may surely add that smoke is often more beautiful than lightning (Swinburne himself admitted Chapman's "flashes of high and subtle beauty"), and that lightning is to our eyes by no means more intelligible than smoke. If indeed one wished to risk such facile generalisations, one might say that the difference between Chapman's obscurity and Browning's is that the one is more often beautiful and the other more often ugly.

If one looks into the matter a little more closely, it would seem that Chapman was a man whose splendid emotions were apt to flare up so excessively and swiftly that their smoke was not all converted into flame, while Browning was a man whose radically prim and conventional ideas, heavily overladen with emotion, acquired the semblance of profundity because they struggled into expression through the medium of a congenital stutter--a stutter which was no doubt one of the great assets of his fame. But neither Chapman's obscurity nor Browning's obscurity seems to be intrinsically admirable. There was too much pedantry in both of them and too little artistry. It is the function of genius to express the Inexpressed, even to express what men have accounted the Inexpressible. And so far as the function of genius is concerned, that man merely cumbers the ground who fails to express. For we can all do that.

And whether we do it in modest privacy or in ten thousand published pages is beside the point. Yet, on the other hand, a superlative clearness is not necessarily admirable. To see truly, according to the fine saying of Renan, is to see dimly. If art is expression, mere clarity is nothing. The extreme clarity of an artist may be due not to his marvellous power of illuminating the abysses of his soul, but merely to the fact that there are no abysses to illuminate. It is at best but that core of Nothingness which needs to been closed in order to make either Beauty or Depth. The maximum of Clarity must be consistent with the maximum of Beauty. The impression we receive on first entering the presence of any supreme work of art is obscurity.

But it is an obscurity like that of a Catalonian Cathedral which slowly grows luminous as one gazes, until the solid structure beneath is revealed. The veil of its Depth grows first transparent on the form of Art before our eyes, and then the veil of its Beauty, and at last there is only its Clarity. So it comes before us like the Eastern dancer who slowly unwinds the shimmering veil that floats around her as she dances, and for one flashing supreme moment of the dance bears no veil at all. But without the veil there would be no dance. Be clear. Be clear. Be not too clear.

William Watson's poem: Epigrams

Think not thy wisdom can illume away The ancient tanglement of night and day. Enough, to acknowledge both, and both revere: They see not clearliest who see all things clear.


Here are few examples of Amal-da’s humorous writings: ... “Anatole France can be summed up in his literary quality by the rule he has laid down for writers: ‘D’nabord la claret, puis encore la clarté, enfin la clarté’ _ ‘Clarity first, clarity again, clarity at the end.’ " Home > E-Library > Works Of Disciples > Jugal Kishore Mukherjee > The Wonder That Is K. D > The Wonder That Is K. D. Sethna Alias Amal Kiran

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dance combines in itself speed, stamina, dexterity, endurance and grace

Dance to remember, calculate and plan
Why dance is supposed to make you a better person Shanta Serbjeet Singh Hindustan Times Saturday, June 24, 2006

‘A sound brain in a sound body’ is not just a saying. It encapsulates the spiritual wisdom of our traditional societies. We know now that every cerebral activity like reading, writing or solving a mathematical problem may be primarily concerned with the brain but also has a direct impact on the body. And the emotions, feelings and sensory reactions created by brainwork have a bear ing, however subtle, on the body and its health.

Similarly, every kind of exercise has an impact on the brain and the nervous system. There’s the direct effect when we plan and think about exercise. At the same time there’s the indirect effect due to the release of adrenaline and other chemical substances in the blood from exercising.

Classical dance involves both the physical and the neurological halves of the body and dance students develop such a high ability to remember, calculate and plan that their academic record, too, improves significantly. In Indian dance training, the skills that are imparted are almost universal: from control of the body in every position and movement, except climbing, to a heightened sense of the body in space and overall alertness. There is also the refinement of the fine neuro-muscular adjustments of a whole host of cooperating nerve fibres.

Now, the autonomous nervous system connects with the involuntary organs like the heart muscles, blood vessels of the respiratory system and the muscles of the digestive tract. Through connections that dance creates between the autonomous and the central nervous systems, the exercises of the skeletal muscles have a tremendous influence on them and heighten the balance between the reciprocal nerve fibres regulating the heart muscles, blood vessels and the intestinal tract. This indirect effect is very important in helping a child grow into a healthy adult, free from disease.

In his book, The Function of the Human Body, Guy A.C.C says: “Repetition is the great secret of success, to allow the whole coordinated performance to become smooth and satisfactory.” He talks only of sports and such activity. Dance scores over them because it combines in itself a host of skills like speed, stamina, dexterity, endurance and grace, normally attained by different exercises for each benefit. This not only saves time but, as dancers swear, comes with a high degree of genuine enjoyment enhancing a holistic spiritual connect. Especially since the source of the drive to dance is in the emotional mechanism, invaluable in the nervous organisation of man! 10:14 PM Saturday, June 24, 2006

Friday, October 09, 2009

Classical dancers are eye candies; they are easy on the eye

Q&A: 'Classical dancers are eye candies'-Editorial-Opinion-The ... Anita Ratnam developed neo-Bharatam after years of research in classical and folk arts. She speaks to Rohit Viswanath on the motivations behind her creation... Neo-Bharatam is my humble attempt at this. I love traditional Bharatanatyam and I do not want to manipulate, mangle and distort it and still call my dance ...

Anita Ratnam - Indian Dance
Anita Ratnam - Performer – Choreographer – – Cultural Activist – Arts Presenter – Speaker – Transcultural Collaborator – Scholar – Writer - Television ...
Anita Ratnam conducted a series of Interactive theatre workshops for young adults ... Anita Ratnam in "One Day in Ashadha", play by The Madras Players in ... Ratnam-dancer-Anita Ratnam
Anita Ratnam, one of the India's most gifted artists is an accomplished classical dancer and choreographer. With a career spanning three decades and over ...
Anita Ratnam classical dancer - Anita Ratnam Bharatnatyam ...
Anita Ratnam classical dancer - Anita Ratnam Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Mohiniattam dancer -Anita Ratnam choreographer.
Anita wrote Natya Brahman, a book for dance students, and also served as the editor and publisher of 'Narthaki', a directory of Indian dance. She is the Founder-Director of 'Arangham', an organization based in Chennai that is involved in the promotion of performing arts. She regularly takes part in dance and theatre seminars in foreign destinations, right from the Far East to Europe to United States. Anita is one of the main persons responsible behind the initiation of 'The Other Festival', held in Chennai every December for promotion of contemporary Indian dance. In her career of three decades, she has given over 1000 performances in 15 countries and made immense contribution in the field of classical dance.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Deeper understanding of creative expressions and mass media

Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication
Home » Advisory Board

Mr. Anurag Kashyap (Filmmaker & Script Writer)
Mr. Anurag Kashyap is one of the most talented scriptwriters in Hindi cinema today with such popular and critically acclaimed films as Satya, Yuva and Water etc. Mr. Kashyap made foray into direction with 'Paanch' and has 'Black Friday', 'No Smoking' and 'Dev D' t and Gullal his credit.
Ms. Aruna Vasudev (Founder, Cinemaya Film Quarterly, Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival)
Ms. Aruna Vasudev is the founder of Cinemaya - The Asian Film Quarterly in 1988, which endeavours to create awareness of good cinema. She founded Osian’s Cinefan, the reputed film festival of cinema from Asia and Arab held every year in New Delhi. She is an active member of the Indo-French Initiative Forum and has contributed to building cooperation between the two countries in the field of cinema. Ms. Vasudev has recently been conferred France's top cultural award, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.
Mr. Bappa Ray (Ethnographic Filmmaker)
Winner of five National Awards, Mr. Bappa Ray is a filmmaker. He has contributed immensely towards documenting culture and life styles of various ethnic origins of India and filming them. Mr. Ray's films have been selected in panorama at various international film festivals.
Mr. Manoj Das (Academician and Eminent Writer)
Mr. Manoj Das, a writer par excellence writes with élan in both in English and Oriya. He has been honoured with several prestigious awards - Padma Shri, the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Sarala Puraskar and the Saraswati Samman.
Mr. Rahul Dev (Senior Journalist, CEO - CNEB Channel)
Mr. Rahul Dev is a well-known name in Hindi journalism. A bilingual journalist, he has spent 18 years in print in Hindi and English newspapers and magazines culminating in the editorship of Jansatta. In television, he has been associated with Aaj Tak, Doordarshan, Zee News, Janmat and CNEB TV.
Mr. Raghu Rai (Eminent Magnum Photographer)
Mr. Rai is an internationally acclaimed photographer. He emerged as one of the best photojournalists in India. Mr. Rai specializes in photographing people and capturing different faces of India. He was hounoured with the Padma Shri and his works are permanently displayed at the prestigious Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
Mr. Ram Sehgal (Advertising Professional and Ex- President, Rediffusion DY & R)
Mr. Ram Sehgal, considered an icon of the advertising industry was instrumental in moulding Contract into one of the finest agencies in the country. For his contribution, Mr. Sehgal was awarded the A & M Advertising Man of the Year in 1994.
Ms. Rani Jethmalani (Eminent Legal Consultant)
Ms. Rani Jethmalani is a Supreme Court advocate who has worked constantly to eliminate discrimination against women. On her non – professional side, she advocates yoga and has founded the Human Organ Procurement and Education - HOPE.
Mr. Santosh Sivan (Cinematographer and Film maker)
Santosh Sivan is a critically acclaimed film director and cinematographer. He has done Cinematography for acclaimed films such as Kalapani, Halo, Iruvar, Dil Se, Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities and directed films such as Tahaan, Prarambha, Navarasa, Asoka, The Terrorist, Malli, Halo. Films directed by him has been critically acclaimed in many reputed international film festivals. He has also won five National Film Awards, three Filmfare Awards, and ten international film festival awards.
Mr. Tarun Tejpal (Editor in Chief, Tehelka)
A leading journalist, Mr. Tarun Tejpal has been in several senior editorial positions with leading publications like India Today and Outlook. He now heads Tehelka and its various media operations. He has also written for several international publications, including The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Financial Times and Prospect. He is also a celebrated author.
Mr. V. Shanta Kumar (Advertising Professional and CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi)
Mr. Shanta Kumar, the Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi is an adman par excellence. Called the turnaround man in the ad world, his career graph includes agencies like Rediffusion and Contract, where he revitalised their creative product getting them ready for the future. Home About us Vision Advisory board Faculty FAQ’s Admission Alumni Projects Twilight Past events Symposium Courses Contact us Site map Resources © 2009 Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Goethe's version of Faust corresponded to the modern enlightenment

Goethe, Poet of Eros

It is well known, that Goethe was heartlessly indifferent to the fate of the nation, and Solon's wise law certainly applied to him. At the time when Germany was threatened with utter defeat under the assault of Napoleon's imperialist war campaigns, Goethe, unmoved, wrote the Affinities, a rather uninteresting piece about an exchange of partners, which appears in a favorable light only in comparison with today's soap operas. In 1811 he was still praising Napoleon, while during the entire scope of the Liberation Wars, he had nothing to say about this most sublime moment in German history, and remained utterly cut off from the general excitement. What was the reason for this coolness toward ideals, for which the heart of every ardent patriot was enflamed?

Goethe is the perfect example of an extraordinarily gifted person, who had the talent to become a genius, but who lacked the moral strength to realize this potential. What stood in his way was, quite simply, his vanity. The beauty of many of his lyric poems is incontestable, but what source does this beauty draw on? It was love, but not in the sense of Agape, but of Eros. According to Goethe's view, informed by his study of antiquity, Eros was the heavenly, productive power of life, the drive for pleasure and pain, to whose impulses one must at once surrender, as if to a higher authority. [...]

That Goethe worked up the legend of Faust in this way, rather than doing it differently, is doubtlessly a reflection of his character, for the story had been known for a good 300 years, and was originally intended to be a comparison with the fall of Lucifer, in which Faust ends in disgrace. In the second part of Faust, Goethe abolishes just this disgrace, saves Faust in a mystical way, and lets Faust challenge God with impunity, and even glorifies the deed.

Goethe's version of Faust thus corresponded directly to the philosophy of the modern enlightenment, but also that of the romantics, which was aimed not only at exterminating the moral influence of the church, but also the image of mankind of so-called German idealism, based on similar principles.

Already in the legendary version, Faust represented intellectually anti-church science and education, a trait which was to become dominant in Goethe's version. Goethe thereby created one of the most crucial points of reference for the gnostic satanism of today, and since then the battle between humanism and scientific materialism, or so-called "pure" science, has taken on many forms. It appeared, though not for the last time, in the form of Nazi ideology against the German classics, but just as much in the form of communism against Christianity.

The crucial point at issue in all of these succeeding forms is that of the image of man and the question of morality in social life, as well as in politics. Either the person is moved by Agape, and acts as a beautiful soul for the improvement of the conditions of mankind, or he lets himself be driven by Eros, and does everything to satisfy his own self-love — even if he has to sell his soul to the devil. How present this problem is, becomes abundantly clear from an interview which the liberal Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany gave on the subject. There still are people, Genscher said, who speak of the Soviet Union as "the Empire of Evil," but the Germans have something Faustian about them in any case, and so they might as well try to make a deal.

The fateful question for the German nation today can indeed be put in the following context: whether we decide, under extremely pecarious circumstances, to enter a Faustian pact with the devil; or whether there is still an echo of the greatness of Schiller among us, and whether moral resistance stirs in us, precisely in these times of need, from which alone that heroic courage can emerge, which is necessary to save a nation which has succumbed.

It is occasion of hope, that the power of love is richer than the poverty of self-love, and we owe it to our Schiller, that we not prove to be a small species in this situation. SCHILLER INSTITUTE Poetry and Agape: Reflections onSchiller and Goethe By Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairman, Schiller Institute (1988) Related Articles