Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kiran Desai's talk on the necessity of loneliness for writers

Kiran Desai from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
That was an uplifting lecture by novelist KIRAN DESAI. I missed her Saturday talk, absentmindedly thinking it was on Sunday instead.

Tonight she was present for the reading of the two AUC student short stories that were awarded prizes for the year.
She then gave a humane and wise talk on the necessity of loneliness for writers. There was an autobiographical component to it that one could call “frank” if not that I can’t imagine using as crude a word as “frank” to describe Kiran Desai. Her persona is quietly aristocratic and ethereal. She’s one of those people who seems to float into a room without touching carpet or wood.
She also has a unique ability, as you sit there listening to her, to make you feel liked as a person. Her demeanor is too private to make you feel like a friend, exactly, but you certainly feel afterward as though you could walk right up, introduce yourself, and get a hearing about pretty much any topic.
I’m not far enough into either of her novels yet to form a definite opinion about them, but I’ve certainly become a fan of Kiran Desai as a person. One is overwhelmed by a sense of kindness and goodness. 

How Mirra Alfassa went from being a French bohemian to an Indian goddess

In 1914, Mirra was 36, “a handsome woman, striking in her heavy makeup and high fashion,” in the words of Jeffery Paine, author of Father India: Westerners Under the Spell of an Ancient Culture. Soon, she and Aurobindo were working together intimately, pursuing a kind of East-West spiritual fusion, and under her organization, the Aurobindo ashram grew larger and more organized. As Mirra and Aurobindo became closer, they began to deify each other. “What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world’s history is not a teaching, not even a revelation, it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme,” she said at one point. Aurobindo, meanwhile, declared that Mirra was an incarnation of divine energy, the universal mother made flesh. In 1926, he gave her spiritual authority over all his disciples. Until he died in 1950, he communicated almost entirely through her.
Her teaching is almost indecipherable unless you’re willing to enter fully into her mental and symbolic world. One key event in her cosmology, for example, is “The Descent of the Supermind,” which is said to have happened on February 29, 1956. This involves a vision in which Mirra, in a “form of living gold, bigger than the universe,” shattered a massive golden door separating the worldly from the divine.
Yet as ethereal as all this sounds, Mirra, who died in 1973, succeeded in making some of her visions strikingly concrete.

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