Saturday, June 30, 2007

A passion for empire-building?

Niranjan Mohanty in his reflections on the current scenario has raised certain vital issues that must be debated before it is too late. I agree with his view: “At times I feel that the colonial, deconstructionist and postcolonial discourses have elusively alluded to the construction of a passion for empire-building, for erecting boundaries, for perpetuating the dialectical, often subvertive relationship between the center and the periphery, between the privileged and the marginalized.” INDIAN ENGLISH WRITING: POLITICS OF REJECTION? Published by R.K. SINGH April 2nd, 2007 in Poetry Discussion and Poetry India.
For those of us born after Independence, postcolonialism should have ended in fifty-five years of romance with democracy. With the current politics of empowerment of the socially and economically deprived and too much Hindu and Muslim, or majority and minority, only the signs of a new colonialism are visible. At national and international level, after the fall of the USSR and the rise of the processes of globalization, the postcolonial societies everywhere have been experiencing a new dominance under the control of the USA. It seems to me that postcolonialism is not devoid of colonialism. It is rather continuation of colonialism with certain added features to suit the perpetrators of colonialism, be it art, culture, commerce, or politics. Or, we are heading back to colonialism by not resisting the politics of tyranny of a handful of zealots who have virtually consolidated their brutal power and are now out to obliterate the “marginalized”.
I think it makes sense to talk in terms of revival of colonialism after post-colonialism. And this is what we face in the first three years of the 21st century: the totalitarian morality of Information Technology, the manipulated fear of war/disaster/doom through globalization, multi-national capitalism, corporate economy, WTO, environmental concerns, various rights, war on terrorism, etc.; through political orthodoxy in the name of democracy, religious fanaticism, ethnic dominance, and repression of the liberals and the simple, and through the new processes of fossilization of the precolonial/colonial/postcolonial that may render many of us irrelevant. I wonder if we are not terribly dislocated in our world divided into North/South and First/Third world today, just as many postcolonial writers, settled abroad, have been communicating with a colonized mind/subjectivity and getting media recognition.
A new colonialism of the right wing, the American and the British, is taking its hold in developing countries, which have become a playground for long-term exploitation by the newly empowered colonialists within. A process of re-colonization is going on in the name of decolonization, as evident from post-September 11 developments, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Against such a perspective, new writers and poets, be it in India or in any other country need a positive mediation on the basis of equality rather than “us vs. them” treatment which is geared to separate or ignore talents that await discovery and recognition. With empathy, recognition, and responsiveness, the literary scholastic orthodoxies of the earlier decades can be replaced with fresh contexts, unaffected by monopolistic approaches. Instead of pronouncing the demise of Indian English Writing or lamenting over its poor quality, if academic critics could demonstrate professional dedication and commitment, they would be able to locate good poets/fiction writers, and playwrights besides fostering the art, harnessing the taste, and developing the talent. –R.K. SINGH
REFERENCES Niranjan Mohanty. 2003. Sirs/Madams, This is the Indian Poetry in English Scenario for you. The Journal of Indian Writing in English, Vol.31, No.1, p.12-17. M. K. Naik and Shyamala A. Narayan. 2001. Indian English Literature: 1980-2000.Delhi: Pencraft International, p.183.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Intuitive discrimination is more keen and precise in its sight than the reasoning intelligence

The soul of beauty in us identifies itself with the soul of beauty in the thing created and feels in appreciation the same divine intoxication and uplifting which the artist felt in creation. Criticism reaches its highest point when it becomes the record, account, right description of this response; it must become itself inspired, intuitive, revealing. In other words, the action of the intuitive mind must complete the action of the rational intelligence and it may even wholly replace it and do more powerfully the peculiar and proper work of the intellect itself; it may explain more intimately to us the secret of the form, the strands of the process, the inner cause, essence, mechanism of the defects and limitations of the work as well as of its qualities.
For the intuitive intelligence when it has been sufficiently trained and developed, can take up always the work of the intellect and do it with a power and light and insight greater and surer than the power and light of the intellectual judgment in its widest scope. There is an intuitive discrimination which is more keen and precise in its sight than the reasoning intelligence.
What has been said of great creative art, that being the form in which normally our highest and intensest aesthetic satisfaction is achieved, applies to all beauty, beauty in Nature, beauty in life as well as beauty in art. We find that in the end the place of reason and the limits of its achievement are precisely of the same kind in regard to beauty as in regard to religion. It helps to enlighten and purify the aesthetic instincts and impulses, but it cannot give them their highest satisfaction or guide them to a complete insight. It shapes and fulfils to a certain extent the aesthetic intelligence, but it cannot justly pretend to give the definitive law for the creation of beauty or for the appreciation and enjoyment of beauty. It can only lead the aesthetic instinct, impulse, intelligence towards a greatest possible conscious satisfaction, but not to it; it has in the end to hand them over to a higher faculty which is in direct touch with the supra rational and in its nature and workings exceeds the intellect.
And for the same reason, because that which we are seeking through beauty is in the end that which we are seeking through religion, the Absolute, the Divine. The search for beauty is only in its beginning a satisfaction in the beauty of form, the beauty which appeals to the physical senses and the vital impressions, impulsions, desires. It is only in the middle a satisfaction in the beauty of the ideas seized, the emotions aroused, the perception of perfect process and harmonious combination. Behind them the soul of beauty in us desires the contact, the revelation, the uplifting delight of an absolute beauty in all things which it feels to be present, but which neither the senses and instincts by themselves can give, though they may be its channels, - for it is suprasensuous, - nor the reason and intelligence, though they too are a channel, - for it is suprarational, supra-intellectual, - but to which through all these veils the soul itself seeks to arrive.
When it can get the touch of this universal, absolute beauty, this soul of beauty, this sense of its revelation in any slightest or greatest thing, the beauty of a flower, a form, the beauty and power of a character, an action, an event, a human life, an idea, a stroke of the brush or the chisel or a scintillation of the mind, the colours of a sunset or the grandeur of the tempest, it is then that the sense of beauty in us is really, powerfully, entirely satisfied. It is in truth seeking, as in religion, for the Divine, the All-Beautiful in man, in nature, in life, in thought, in art; for God is Beauty and Delight hidden in the variation of his masks and forms.
When, fulfilled in our growing sense and knowledge of beauty and delight in beauty and our power for beauty, we are able to identify our Selves in soul with this Absolute and Divine in all the forms and activities of the world and shape an image of our inner and our outer life in the highest image we can perceive and embody of the All-Beautiful, then the aesthetic being in us who was born for this end, has fulfilled himself and risen to his divine consummation. To find highest beauty is to find God; to reveal, to embody, to create, as we say, highest beauty is to bring out of our souls the living image and power of God. Page-135, Document: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > Social And Political Thought Volume-15 > The Suprarational Beauty

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Focus on sharing art rather than selling art

Jewish Musicism By: Doni Joszef Published: Friday, June 22, 2007
There is a concrete divide between the worlds of “Jewish Music” and “Secular Music,” and when presented with the two options, many of us tend to cling to art that touches us in a deeply meaningful way. We want to be moved, inspired, and excited. The art of music can open the heart in a uniquely Divine way. Music has a key to the inner chambers of our souls. This truth does not have to be proved or developed—personal experience with the power of music speaks for itself. Indeed, Rebbe Akiva compares the Kodesh HaKedoshim to the book of Shir HaShirim—“Song of Songs” (Mishnah, Yadayim 3:5 ).
We can explain the comparison to teach us—just as the Kodesh HaKedoshim was the innermost domain of the Beis HaMikdash, so does the power of shir—song—dwell in our innermost essence. And, so, we look to fill this inner realm with the song that taps into that personal spot. The tastes, styles, and genres of music vary—each appealing to a different personality—but they all have a common spark of creativity that triggers something within...
Our desire remains constant—to share our art. An artist who uses his creativity to sell himself sabotages his talents and stunts the natural flow of creative expression. This challenge—to focus on sharing art rather than selling art—is a significant nisayon for every musician. As the velt says, “Never become a sell-out!” That is, share from the heart rather than from the internal desire to please the outside world. Any writer, musician, artist, lecturer, etc. is surely in touch with these nisyonos.
Music is the “soul’s art.” Many have termed it the language of the soul. Experience has taught us that we can only flourish when our intent is to naturally share what has sprouted from the accumulated seeds of the jam sessions. From Pinny’s basement, to the Danbury Lake, to my garage, to Shaya’s upstate cabin, to Matt’s studio, we have accumulated hundreds of hours of jamming and have finally turned potential into actual at Eitan Kantor’s Hyperstudio.
The search for a deeper, fresher, more sincere musical experience presents itself to a large majority of our communities’ youth. Although this inner struggle may not pertain to everyone, the underlying principles and roots of the issue certainly touch the core of who we are and how our souls seek the sparks of creativity to guide us in our spiritual journey. The essence of this matter is quite relevant to us all...
Does this struggle represent a sense of corruption? Has our exposure to the evil forces of secular music polluted, defiled, and mutated our Jewish minds to the extent that Jewish music no longer stimulates the Yiddeshe neshamah? Perhaps.
Such is certainly the case with regard to certain secular philosophies. For instance, a century ago, the deceptive lures of Communism took captive thousands of Jewish souls. These individuals were so enamored by the ideas of revolution that Toras Hashem no longer penetrated into their hearts. Interestingly, the Vilna Gaon (Biyur HaGra, Yoreh Deah, 179:13) actually accuses the Rambam of being pulled too deep into secular philosophy that he became misguided in certain Midrashic explanations. (If this strikes you as controversial, you’ll have to consult with the Vilna Gaon).
So, maybe the fact that some secular songs touch us in a deeply meaningful way is just an unfortunate result of modernization and unhealthy exposure. Maybe Jewish music is inherently perfect, while English music is inherently evil, and it is we who have the problem.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It is the rose that conquers

Re: 14: This Outbreak of Perfection's Law by RY Deshpande on Tue 19 Jun 2007 04:10 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Rose of God
We shall conclude the present set of postings on the Outbreak of Perfection's Law with Sri Aurobindo’s Rose of God. The poem was written on 31 December 1934 and, in response to Parichanda’s query, he wrote a letter on 2 January 1935; in those days Parichanda was looking after the gardens in the Ashram. A typed copy must have been kept in the Reading Room where he must have read it and asked Sri Aurobindo about the significance of the flower: “Does the rose of all flowers most perfectly and aptly express the divine ecstasies or has it any symbolic allusion in the Veda or the Upanishad?”
Sri Aurobindo answered: “There were no roses in those times in India—roses came with the Mahomedans from Persia. The rose is usually taken by us as the symbol of surrender, love, etc. But here it is not used in that sense, but as the most intense of all flowers it is used as symbolic of the divine intensities—Bliss, Light, Love, etc.” It is remarkable that Sri Aurobindo had written the poem in one go and no further corrections were made afterwards. A part of the poem in his own handwriting can be seen in slide 5 at
Bliss-Light-Power-Life-Love, Ananda-Prakasha-Shakti-Jivan-Prema, are the five divine intensities mentioned in the stately incantatory Rose of God. About the technical aspects: Rose of God is written in pure stress metre. In it quantity and accent are subordinate and it is the emphasis which gives the force to the rhythmic success. Each line in the poem has six stresses and the arrangement of feet varies freely to suit the movement of thought and feeling, as the poet-critic tells us. The whole poem is built of five stanzas, each containing four lines...
Sri Aurobindo himself had given the example by marking stresses in the third stanza. The poet is definite that there are only six stresses in each line and any attempt from the point of view of melody or singing or any other consideration to make departures by stressing all the three syllables in the repetitive phrase “Rose of God” will amount to ignoring the demands of his poetry. It might make the invocation effective and living, as is claimed, appealing also perhaps but it will be more dramatic than natural.
One must bear in mind that, this poem is based purely on hexametric form with six stresses in each line. Therefore, putting stress on “of” of the phrase will make half of the composition with seven stresses and the other with six. I am not inclined to accept this, stressing of “of” also. Surely, Sri Aurobindo’s ear sees everywhere six stresses and this is important, his aesthetic perception in terms of sound value too. Very likely, we will be missing something subtle if we have the hybrid 7-6 stress-combinations...
Rose of God is the symbol of perfection and, full-blown, it must bloom here, manifest itself here upon our sorrowful and transient earth, Reality take possession of the Phenomenon. “Rose of God, damask force of Infinity”—Sword of Damask steel is unbreakable; also, damask rose is a bluish-red variety of rose. It is the rose that conquers, makes possible for the Law of Perfection prevail in every circumstance. Let us live in it, in its perfection, in the Rose of God. RYD

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Imagination can make even the Unknowable tangible, true, graspable, knowable

Re: 14: This Outbreak of Perfection's Law by RY Deshpande on Fri 08 Jun 2007 07:13 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link The magical spell of imagination
If over there, in the perfection’s house, in the House of the Spirit, mind is a sun of vision’s rays and if it can shape substance by the sheer brilliance of its thoughts, imagination has the power to cast its spell on the unknown and make it dwell in it. Under its gainful charm truth wears rich and bright colours of the rainbow; or else it sings dream-notes and brings closer to us all that is far, makes all that is inaccessible proximate, known, makes the Real familiar. The wonder is, the power of imagination can make even the Unknowable tangible, true, graspable, knowable. It builds a temple wherein the One as the single deity of all can be installed and worshipped. Countless aspects of this God in his mood of manifestation are brought into play, the aspects of the Supreme himself.
That indeed is something remarkable of imagination’s power, to make the potent the actual. Its speech voices the ineffable, its ray reveals the hidden presence, its forms disclose the formless, its ideas hold the Idea of the Infinite, divine in the house of the divine, it is the Word which has the mantric supremacy to usher the divine experience, to set things in its rhythm and movement, set all that is ready en rapport with the Law of the Truth in the strength of its Time, in the Dynamics of Ritam... RYD

Friday, June 08, 2007

Irrigate these energies so that others share in the sensations

« The grammar of art « Home » Great Artistry Posted by Matthew
Great Artistry requires the ground of disciplinary study. In my case, for example, Great Artistry begins when I commit deeply to my discipline of music composition. It is traditional to use the organizing principle of the Trivium to understand disciplinary study. The Trivium consists of Grammar (the rules), Dialectic (the relationships) and Rhetoric (the representation). So for the discipline of music composition, there exists the Grammar of tone, the Dialectic of harmony, and the Rhetoric of orchestration.
Every discipline can be seen as working on these three levels — of Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric, and successful disciplinary creation, where the artist cuts his teeth, integrates the three into a whole work of art, which provides a mimesis (or full experience) for the audience.
Art from an interdisciplinary point of view anchors study in the transferring of methods or practices from one discipline to another. For example, the method of “jump cutting” in film can be transferred to music (such as artfully changing tonal center, dramatically but persuasively), creating a analogue mimesis in this different art discipline. In this way, disciplines learn from one another by allowing new methods to shine new or deeper perspectives on ways to accomplish the making of the art object.
There remains the dimension of transdisciplinary to round out Great Artistry. The transdisciplinary aspect of artistry requires rigorous training in a discipline, and requires the capacity to accrue methods and perspectives from an interdisciplinary approach, learning in a community of artists in other mediums. Transdisciplinary artistry goes further, to involve the expanse of the “great conversation” of “great ideas”, “great themes”, “great sensations”, “great myths”, and so on, that one finds in the body of the greatest works of art and thought, both literary and non-literary. All that makes the deep subjects of the Humanities are a part of a flowing continuum, of oceans to rivers and back again. The Humanities, which I organize as the arts, languages, history, theology, and philosophy (including natural philosophy), comprise a vast treasure of perspectives on the human condition deemed inspirational, insightful, and intuitive.
The point is not merely to make, say, a piece of music that works as music, in the normal, conventional expectation. That is a good goal, of course. And an interdisciplinary perspective can raise the work of music beyond conventional expectation and be clever, innovative, or novel. But to make timeless art, that speaks in many ways, many times over and thus is inexhaustible, to make art that offers full and enriched experiences, even when returning time and time again — this is what the transdisciplinary dimension offers because it offers to the artist content: the source material, as, for example, the Geneva Bible was for Shakespeare, or as Hildegard von Bingen plainchant was for Bach, or Rembrandt was for Picasso, and so on. It is about swimming through the rivers into the ocean of our tradition of cultural achievement that is the Humanities, and then building one’s own boat to sail its waters based in part on the models of the greats, using what they found, seeking what they sought.
Inspiration, insight, and intuition flow. The artist not merely submits to these, but also seeks to irrigate these energies so that others share in the sensations of these, themselves. The artist, rigorously disciplinary and interdisciplinary, and having developed her relationship with the great works of art, those that unmistakably evoke the great conversation, has received inspiration, insight, and intuition from these works of art, and in making their sailing vessel that is their own original object of art, pass on these three levels of energy to their audience, and future generations of artists.
Thus Great Artistry is holonic — making art objects both whole in experience evoked, and a part of tradition, and a part of what makes future works of art. Great Artistry incorporates disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary attitudes and practices. It is inherently a means of sustainability in the world of art. And it is, I believe, the only authentic means of genuine aesthetic originality, because originality means not merely novelty of style or character, but having traced back to the origins, plumbing the depths to ultimately return to the surface to share the transformation that can be shared in no other way than to make this electric object. Originality is a reaction, born of learned immersion.
Great Artistry is not limited to mere self-expression. Which, don’t misunderstand, is important and valuable, something all ought (and do) participate in, in some capacity. But, make no mistake, mere self-expression without transformation from the bathing in greatness probably won’t be timeless, classic, or an example of sustainability. For these qualities are not given to every person, but deserved by anyone who does, and thus evokes, the great work, the great elaboration, the great exploration of the common ground of the human condition. This entry was posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2007 at 4:24 pm and is filed under Art. HomeThe WoodshedElegant Thorn ReviewThe Bookshelf About the Authors Great Quotes