Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Ryder’s masterstroke is a proud moment for SEOF

Leibniz was a scribbler, a letter writer. Even his massive New Essays on Human Understanding was a letter to Locke, abandoned when he died. Leibniz was gregarious and communicative, craving, it seems, talk above all else (let’s not forget he was also a diplomat). … There is something beautiful in the epistle and in many respects blogging is, as Mel put it to me recently, the new epistlary. …
Rather, originality follows the logic of Lacan’s tuche or chance encounter. … An encounter with the unfamiliar, with alterity, generates an unassimialable kernel with respect to what I had previously been focusing on. That kernel functions as a seed to throw thought in motion, generate new conceptual spaces, form a weave of relations to make sense of these disparate worlds, thereby generating the work of writing.]

Dr. Ryder’s verdict on the Heehs imbroglio seems to be the final one. No one has been able to refute his formulation till now. This is perhaps an apt example of lateral thinking, and the way he traps Heehs by the latter’s own smart tricks is really a masterstroke. Thus, Heehs stands convicted even before the book has seen the light or anyone heard about it.

It is a proud moment for SEOF that in its pages a two years’ tussle has been resolved. Many are dismissive of the site for washing dirty linen in public, but we have always believed in the power of discourse. Dr. Ryder hit upon a gem in the course of such a dialogue without perhaps realizing it. Apart form the therapeutic potential of speech, the context of a conflict, paradoxically, also needs to be appreciated for such intuitive inventions.

Now that the book issue has been settled, our energies must be directed towards the Ashram. More discussions on its functioning and probable reforms can go a long way in bringing clarity to our understanding of it. May be some one like Dr. Tyger comes up with an innovative solution. [TNM] 


  1. Boldly and brilliantly stated sir. Dr Ryder is truly a scholar and a gentleman. He stated it so clearly and with finesse and it became very obvious now the intent of the author and how blind I was to not able to see the obvious.
    Dr Ryder I really appreciate your comments and request you to please comment more.

  2. Ryder's illogic has been exposed by "drraghu"!

    Ryder’s illogic fails to recognize that the ambiguity resides in the incident Peter is reporting on. His illogic leads him to think in this way:
    Peter mentions this incident involving Aurobindo and Mirra. This lends itself to a misinterpretation ascribing furtiveness to the incident. So, Peter ought not have mentioned this incident involving Aurobindo and Mirra.

    But if the incident actually took place, why shouldn't he mention it? And if the incident is ambiguous, and Peter is concerned with rejecting an interpretation which ascribes furtiveness, what else can he do but go on to deny that there was any furtiveness in the incident? If he had failed to do that, wouldn’t he still be under attack by Ryder for failing to dispel that misinterpretation? Ryder’s illogic leaves Peter in a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation and this is unfair to Peter.

    Ryder thinks that Peter should not have mentioned the incident since it can be misunderstood or misinterpreted in terms of “romantic, sexual, or emotional” elements. But this “thinking” rests on the absurd assumption that no incident involving Aurobindo or Mirra must be mentioned if it can even lend itself to misunderstanding or misinterpretation along those lines. It also has the implication that Nirod’s reminiscences of Aurobindo and Mirra must also be condemned because it mentions several incidents which can also be misunderstood or misinterpreted in terms of those “romantic, sexual, or emotional” elements.

    It is true that Peter is “insinuating”, or rather, implying that there is an emotive content to the incident. This is clear from his closing statement in the passage that “Neither Mirra nor Aurobindo were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly.” But only a dehumanized image of Aurobindo and Mirra would be incompatible with this implication of emotive content in the interaction of Aurobindo and Mirra. And the emotion in this context is highly likely to be, if not certainly, devotional in nature rather than romantic or sexual. That the incident in question could be interpreted in terms of something romantic or sexual doesn’t mean that it was actually romantic or sexual in nature, or that it was not actually devotional in nature.

    In any case, no biography worth the name would exist if biographers were subject to Ryder's bizarre rider that they mention only incidents which are unambiguous in their significance or meaning or that they refrain from denying or rejecting certain interpretations since this suggests that those interpretations could be entertained in the first place!