Sunday, May 30, 2010

Achilles, Duryodhana, Hitler et al.

[Epic of the Day Indian Express M Veerappa Moily Sat May 29 2010 
Abridged translations often fail to capture the nuances and the emotions of all the characters. An unabridged translation of the Mahabharata is therefore welcome and it is surprising that Bibek Debroy, who is known more as an economist (though I have personally known him as one interested in law reform), should have embarked on this venture. It is another matter that he has already translated the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and the Gita.] [Sarama and Her Children: The Dog in Indian MythThe Rig Veda (Great Epics of India)]

In 2009, India’s largest English language publisher Penguin released CEO-turned-philosopher-at-large Gurcharan Das’ examination of the epic, The Difficulty of Being Good. While the book received mixed critical response, it was a runaway bestseller that surpassed most pre-launch expectations. Now, Penguin has followed that up with what can easily be described as one of the most ambitious Mahabharat projects of the 21st century in India. The publisher will bring out a 10-volume unabridged translation by well-known economist Bibek Debroy of the epic based on the Critical Edition compiled at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune.] 

I was thinking about Achilles and suddenly the Duryodhana character from Mahabharath came to my mind, they both share something in common. Achilles heel and Duryodhana's thigh are more or less the same story. ...]

as a child i heard the story of duryodhana's thigh, and as i grew older, achilles and his association with the heel was something one read about and wondered. One tends to think very respectfully about folks after whom things are named. But Achilles was different. And Duryodhana still needs to have a thigh muscle named after him, I should think.]

Hitler and His God: The Background to the Hitler Phenomenon (2010) by Georges Van Vrekhem is the right mythology for the modern times. [TNM]

Outmeasuring Space, outlasting Time

[on wriggling from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek
From Moby-Dick §86. Take note:
“Being horizontal in its position, the Leviathan’s tail acts in a different manner from the tails of all other sea creatures. It never wriggles. In man or fish, wriggling is a sign of inferiority.”]

Ahab, said K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in his 1953 lecture on Moby Dick, is much like the Aham, the ego. Anderson, in taking up Deleuze’s treatment of the theme as an instance of "becoming" in the sense of Sri Aurobindo’s “Knowledge by Identity” or by linking Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” to Sri Aurobindo’s “Transformation,” has attempted to make these concepts accessible to the western audience.][the valley of the false glimmer 9 Sep 2009][the Orchid and the rOse: Venter and the Adventure of Consciousness Friday, May 28, 2010]

With Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett and What Is Posthumanism? By Cary Wolfe, the plot gets thicker. Unlike "Leviathan’s tail," Levi's vacillation persists to the delight of the gallery. [TNM]

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Concrete folklore

[Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi by Robert Grant Irving - July 1, 1983. The best book on the planning and design of New DelhiApril 9, 1998 This review is by (Delhi, India) - See all my reviews
New Delhi's systematic lay-out is the highest evolution of rational principles. The Vicregal Palace together with the Secretariat blocks occupies the highest point- Raisina hill. In defence of !this site Lutyens quoted from the Bible ' the city on the hill cannot be hid'…
Lutyens deliberately avoided an 'Indian style' because he felt that there was none such- each ruler had merely imposed his conventions and indeed Indian buildings are modest in their structure and ground-plans. Most cover this up with a profusion of decorative elements, but again Lutyens shunned this over-richness for a more austere and formal style. This was also necessitated by the raging controversy over whether Delhi should have a Muslim or Hindu architecture, which threatened to incite communal riots. Insofar as Lutyens borrows form Indian structures it is from Buddhist stupas such as the one at Sanchi, for their bold simple lines struck a chord. For the rest, the wealth of floral and geometric patterns, not to speak of animal carvings that India has produced are subtly woven into the whole. This book covers the entire history of the evolution of New Delhi.  
By giving the ramp a steep incline, Baker (intentionally or not) succeeded in masking the Viceroy's House so that only its dome is visible from Kingsway, while the pillared Secretariat stands out supreme. Lutyens broke off the ...
It may not be too fanciful to suggest that the famous quarrel between Lutyens and Baker possessed symbolic overtones. Lutyens had supposed that a gently sloping ramp between the two wings of the Secretariat would serve to reveal the ...
Lutyens maintained that Baker had agreed that Viceroy's House should be visible along the whole of the approach, ... At the root of the quarrel lay conflicting views of empire and of art.
Journal of the Royal Society of Arts Royal Society of Arts (Great Britain) – 1981
Lutyens and Baker, originally friends, quarrelled over the gradient of the approach to Viceroy's House between Baker's rwo ... As a result of this unhappy quarrel, Baker's contribution to the city -which as well as the Secretariats ...
Bandobust, a raj experience 2003 - 362 pages
The incline of the wide road that leads up to the Viceregal Palace and separates the North and South Blocks was the subject of an acrimonious controversy between Lutyens and Baker, both erstwhile friends. Very few Indians know about ...
Lutyens wanted to remedy this, with a gently inclined ramp channelled between the Secretariats. Baker opposed him — and won. And the conflict became a classic architectural quarrel. The parallel is not exact; for it is one thing (by all ...
But Lutyens was no match for Baker in dealing with officialdom, the more so as changing the gradient would have ... a decision made at Baker's instance to which he had willingly agreed. For Lutyens the quarrel did not end there. ...
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London. School of Oriental and ... – 1982
The confusion about the treatment of the ramp leading up to this complex resulted in the celebrated quarrel between Lutyens and Baker. The author outlines this unfortunate incident while acknowledging the monumentally of Baker's designs ... Robert Grant Irving: Indian summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial ... by G Michell – 2009
Lutyens had really only himself to blame over the 'disappearing climax' quarrel. ... But Lutyens and Baker are still there. The President of India ...
India's Theaters of Independence by S Khilnani - 1997 - Cited by 2 - Related articles
altitude explains something of Lutyens's rage during his famous "gradient quarrel" withBaker. So eager was he to acquire the actual summit ...
As you head towards the west, on the broad Rajpath, you will experience an elevation in the gradient, and so in your spirits. And that's when you think of Sir Herbert Baker, a South African architect, and a quarrel. Sir Lutyens knew he would be overstressed by the Raisina Hill project and had urged the appointment of Baker, who had fostered reams of praise for his Union Buildings in Pretoria. Ah! yes, the hump and the infamous squabble. That little miscalculation simultaneously led to an irreversible dent on the face of the palace together with an epithet to Baker by Lutyens, describing the whole incident as 'Bakerloo'.]

The imposing Rashtrapati Bhawan remains invisible to tourists on Rajpath because Lutyens lost and Baker won. The dispute over Matrimandir construction also, despite prima-facie validity, is destined to circulate as folklore or legend of its mythology, or at best, float as a footnote to its history. Watch out for travel brochures, folks. [TNM]    

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ownership & propriety

from Tusar N. Mohapatra to Aru Divine date 27 May 2010 13:23 subject Re: indiscipline & Mismanagement in Pondicherry Trust
Dear Aru Divine,

The Ashram Trust is a duly constituted legal body and the trustees are the owners like in a private limited company. The bye-law tilts a bit too much in favour of the managing trustee, and as a result, he has been successful in defying the popular sentiment against him.  The residents are at his mercy for their livelihood and hence incapable of expressing their resentment in a forceful manner.

Outsiders too are mere spectators as they can’t interfere in the internal affairs of the trust. The legal route, as Rout contemplated, is too protracted and uncertain. In such a scenario, therefore, it is difficult to expect any favourable rectification. You are, however, free to voice your opinion on the matter. [TNM]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Sun from which we kindle all our suns

Empiricism in Economics is madness masquerading as science. It is the chosen method of Central Planning and Keynesianism (and the two are related). The opposition in Parliament call Chacha and his CONgress party "pseudo-secular." I would prefer to call them "pseudo-economists." Don't believe in inflation and growth rate forecasts - they are nonsense… My advice to all of you is to read Human Action beginnning at the beginning, paying special attention to the discourse on method.]

[Beware of Social Engineers from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) described civilization – including each component part, such as language, law, and the economy – as being “the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.” (An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), Part Third, Sec. II, Para. 7) 
Failure to understand not only that undesigned social orders are real, but also that these undesigned orders are superior to any arrangements that could be consciously designed and engineered, is perhaps the greatest source of tyranny and disorder of the past 200 years. Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux]

Deleuze got it wrong. In his "Postscript on Control Societies," Deleuze speaks about the transition from disciplinary societies to control societies:
But discipline would in its turn begin to break down as new forces moved slowly into place, then made rapid advances after the Second World War: we were no longer in disciplinary societies, we were leaving them behind. We're in the midst of a general breakdown of all sites of confinement-- prisons, hospitals, factories, schools, the family.” (Negotiations, p. 178)
However, there has been no generalized breakdown of sites of confinement and spaces of enclosure. Quite the opposite, we have seen a generalized expansion of sites of confinement… (I suggest Julia Sudbury's edited volume Global Lockdown for more on this last issue)…
Consider this post a reminder that disciplinary power hasn't gone away, and that the problems and issues raised by that concept have only increased since Foucault's Disipline and Punish. We need to keep such issues at the forefront of our political thinking and work.]

I have no idea how to solve the problem so I just wanted to see if you had a solution.  The businessmen will not commit capital without subsidies or ROI and the govt does not have the money to do everything.  Its just the nature of the game.  We are evolving in a bootstrapping manner and we have to accept some imperfections.]

Benthamite reasoning is hard to escape.  Everyone relies on it when making decisions in everyday life, whether it be voting on a job candidate or buying one car rather than another or putting a bus line on one road rather than another.  Even a lot of the arguments for following rules rely on an ultimate Benthamite judgment about good vs. bad consequences…
Benthamite reasoning is inescapable, though it is a big mistake to make cardinal utility the only relevant value.  We're all pluralists now, but cardinal utility should be a major part of the relevant pluralist bundle.]

The ontological implications of “undesigned orders are superior” points to the direction of “A conscious beingno larger than a man's thumbstands in the centre of our self; he is master of the past and the present... he is today and he is tomorrow.” [TNM]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The magnet of our difficult ascent

Sri Aurobindo's highly articulate vision of a spiritual society, initiated during his nationalist days, thus came to find concrete embodiment in this ...
Contemporary spiritual art in India is a diverse and exciting field, and Divine Carriers modestly attempts to introduce international viewers to it. All the work in this exhibition was created after 1965; all are informed with a concern for communicating visionary messages in the context of a national and global community of seekers for deeper living solutions in the contemporary world. Debashish Banerji, Curator, Divine Carriers.]

“Wilber differentiates basic and transitional structures, the former being included while the latter are transcended. So it is a question of what is defined as each kind of strucutre. Here’s an excerpt from ‘Ladder, climber, view’ by Ingersoll and Cook-Greuter:
‘As the self develops (climbs the ladder and increases its altitude), each rung reveals a broader, deeper view or perspective that replaces previous views or perspectives…. In one sense, these views are permanent for the period that the self is on a given rung. In another sense, the views are transitional in that once the self moves from a given rung to the next rung on the ladder, the previous view is replaced by a new, expanded view.’
“Wilber references his own article ‘ladder, climber, view’ on p. 66 of Integral Spirituality but says he won’t discuss it in the book…”]

I'm not too concerned that some academics are talking past each other, that's to be expected. But I wonder about the people who set up universities and fund them, expecting that the universities will teach the humanities or liberal arts. Are they aware that their philosophy departments are not teaching classic philosophers nor philosophy in general, but are instead teaching a very specialized subject that isn't recognizable as philosophy to most of those outside of that domain?]

Secondly, Graham is such a fun writer. I particularly think the section in which he demolishes the analytic philosophers and Meillassoux on the issue of ‘rhetoric’ is a tour de force. I’d like to pass it on along to some of my analytic friends, and see what they make of it. His use of ‘passages A, B, C, D, D1, D2′ is pretty great. But I’ve got to say, the excursions and diversions are a ton of fun, but trenchant as well. The flipping of correlationism with the twins, for example, but especially the excursion on rhetoric, and how it leads to general thoughts on philosophy as an enterprise.
I also REALLY like the way Graham redefines time, space, ontology, and metaphysics AROUND this overall project. I think the redefinition of things like ontology and metaphysics happens each time a truly new philosophy comes along, but this is often done implicitely. Kudos to doing it openly! And the redefinition of time and space around objects is I think also a great move. Creates a whole new set of lenses via which to view the world, and isn’t that what philosophy is for?]

The overall scene is chaotic, to say the least. But the quest is on, that’s the solace. [TNM]

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Odisha demonstrates a complex fusion of cultural practices

From Tusar N. Mohapatra date 14 May 2010 19:07

Having grown up amidst countless rituals akin to the ones delineated by the author, I was rather startled to see that a book can be written about them. What is too familiar to us turns in her hands an outsider’s search for exotica and an academician’s penchant to string them in theory.

The festivals and the ceremonies that she has selected to fill various chapters of the book are authentic and that she prefers to see them in their spontaneous milieu vis-à-vis gender is a welcome approach. Odisha demonstrates a complex fusion of cultural practices prevalent in the North as well as the South and also in South East Asia. A documentation of select lived traditions, therefore, is not without its merit when they radiate a certain sense of uniqueness about them. [TNM] 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blind Fakir begging for alms

“Once I saw a friend of mine reading an appeal at one of those great meetings, and I asked him about it; he replied, 'Nothing particular, only the blind Fakir begging for alms'. In my small judgement the politics of today is nothing but blind Fakir begging for alms.” (Rajani, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay)]

Sri Aurobindo’s tirade against the moderates for their policy of prayers and petitions is straight out of the pages of Bankim’s novels. [TNM]