Friday, August 31, 2007

The other four Pandavas represent the four purusharthas

The Symbolism in the Mahabharata:
At a symbolic level we can say that the Pandavas represent the daivi sampat, and the Kauvaras represent the asura sampat. While Arjuna represents the Jeeva, the other four Pandavas represent the four purusharthas: Yudhishtira representing the ethical values (Dharma), Bhima representing material values (artha), Nakula the social values (Kama), and Sahadeva the spritual values (Moksha). Draupadi symbolizes intellect depending on nothing in the world except the Supreme Self. They are led by the Divine Self of Krishna to the ultimate Goal.
Among the evil quartet “Dushtacatushtayam” Duryodhana is the embodiment of a mind filled with impurities, Karna is the embodiment of exaggerated egoism. Sakuni is the embodiment of falsehood. Duhsasana is the embodiment of evil servitude.
The incidence of Pandavas setting forth to build a new capital at Khandava prastha represents the mind going to explore the unconscious (represented by a verdant forest) rather than feeling contented with what only the conscious mind shows on the phenomenal world as done by the Kauravas led by the evil quartet. The burning of the forest by Krishna (Narayana) and Arjuna (Nara) represent the effort by the self, aided by Divine grace burning out the vasanas leading to the spiritual effulgence of a new city.
“ DELINEATION OF EVIL IN THE MAHABHARATA AND ‘THE GANG OF FOUR’ ”. Posted by sethurammohan at 3:05 AM Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vidyapati had propagated ideas of dharma in secular terms, emphasised on the irrelevance of caste, varna and ‘kula’

Dhanakar said...
Vidyapati;s time was of Muslim onslaught and it was only he who had described in his writings that Muslims force Hindus to remove 'tika' and force the Brahman to take water in the skin made vessel of dead cow. And Muslims break temples to make mosque.
No poet in India had written with such clarity and though Vidaypati was a poet of romance as well as devotion to god, I feel he was above Bhushan like nationalists too and true his contribution to Sanatan Dharm system is universal as Hindu (sanatan) dharm in itself is universally applicable and Vidyapati was son of the land of Mithila which had made foundation of Hindu Dharm even before the days of rajarshi janak to gautam (law), Kapil (Sankhya), Jaimini (Vaisheshik) and so Astavakra, yajnyavalkya-Maitreyee, Vachaspati-Bhamati, Mandan-Bharati, Udayanacharya, the great shastrarthi whom Buddhism could not face and practically in Mithila and Magadh everywhere they returned back to Sanatan Dharma..
And so Vidyapati's work and life should be seen in that context which has seen Man in a complete sense of Purushartha and Vidyapati was above any dogmas and narrow-vision and hardly any Indian poet could reach to his status as he was par excellence in every walk of life. 12:22 PM, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I suppose if I had to use a label, I'd tell you that I'm a Judaic-Vedic-Christian!

Persichetti is one of the major figures in American music of the 20th century, both as a teacher and a composer. Notably, his Hymns and Responses for the Church Year has become a standard setting for church choirs, and high school and college students' introductions to contemporary music are often made by way of his numerous compositions for wind ensemble. His early style was marked by the influences of Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, and Copland before developing into his own distinct voice in the 1950s.
Persichetti's music draws on a wide variety of thought in 20th century composition as well as Big Band music while remaining in his own distinct voice. His own style is marked by use of two elements he refers to as "graceful" and "gritty": the former being more lyrical and melodic, the latter being sharp and intensely rhythmic. He frequently uses polytonality and pandiatonicism in his writing, and his style is marked by sharp rhythmic interjections, but his embracing of diverse strands of musical thought makes characterizing his body of work difficult. This trend continued throughout his compositional career; his music is not marked by sharp changes in style over time. (Persichetti once proclaimed in an interview in Musical Quarterly that his music was "not like a woman, that is, it does not have periods!"). He frequently composed in his car, sometimes taping staff paper to the steering wheel.
His piano music forms the bulk of his creative output, with a concerto, a concertino, several sonatas, and a variety of other pieces written for the instrument, virtuosic pieces as well as pedagogical and amateur-level compositions; Persichetti was an accomplished pianist. Unlike many composers who restrict the mature output to heavier compositions, Persichetti wrote many pieces suitable for less mature performers, considering them too to have serious artistic merit. Persichetti is also one of the major composers for the concert wind band repertoire, with his 14 works for the ensemble; the Symphony No. 6 for band is of particular note as a standard larger work. He wrote one opera, entitled The Sibyl, which was a flop; the music was noted for its color, but the dramatic and vocal aspects of the work were found lacking. He wrote eight symphonies and four string quartets. Many of his other works are organized into series. One of these, a collection of primarily instrumental works entitled Parables, contains 25 works, many for unaccompanied wind instruments (complete listing below), and his 15 Serenades include such unconventional combinations as a trio for trombone, viola, and cello as well as selections for orchestra, for band, and for duo piano.
In addition to his frequent appearances as lecturer on college campuses, in which he was noted for his witty and engaging manner, he wrote the music theory textbook Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice as well as coauthoring a monograph, with Flora Rheta Schreiber, on William Schuman. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conversation with Vincent Persichetti Vincent Persichetti, Rudy Shackelford Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (Autumn, 1981 - Summer, 1982), pp. 104-133doi:10.2307/942408

A whole tradition in Rosenszweig and others that places emphasis on speaking and listening (on call and response) rather than seeing

Literature and Seeing
(When Deleuze reads literature, it is always to emphasise what is made visible by this 'one sees', even as it does so by way of the 'one speaks' of the written. This is what he writes very beautifully, in his book on Foucault, of Faulkner:
statements trace fantastic curves which pass through discursive objects and mobile subject-positions (the one name for several persons, two names for the one person) and which are inscribed within a language-being, in a reunion of all the language unique to Faulkner. But the descriptions conjure up a host of scenes which create reflections, flashes, shimmerings, visibilities varying according to the time and the season, which distribute the descriptions in a light-being, a reunion of all the light to which Faulkner holds the secret (Faulkner, literature's greatest 'luminist').
This reading sets Deleuze, I think, against Blanchot, an important figure in the Foucault book. For Blanchot, speaking, writing, have a primacy with respect to the visible. As Deleuze puts it, '... while Blanchot insisted on the primacy of speaking as a determining element, Foucault, contrary to what we might think at first glance, upholds the specificity of seeing, the irreducibility of the visible as a determinable element'. This seems to me exactly right, and can be understood in terms of the importance of Levinas to Blanchot, and to a whole tradition in Rosenszweig and others that places emphasis on speaking and listening (on call and response) rather than seeing.)

Let love motivate every action

An und für sich “This is more a comment than a question…” August 29th, 2007
William Gaddis is, I think, America’s greatest 20th-century novelist. Others come close, but none so close (or consistently close enough) to challenge him in that regard. This needn’t be a forum to debate this. I know many of you would disagree, and likely be able to make a very good case for somebody else. Let’s agree, however, that Gaddis’ insight into contemporary culture was incisive, exhaustive, and still relevant: whether it be his cynical (though hopeful) reflection on authenticity in The Recognitions, finance in JR, or law in A Frolic of His Own.
It is with this in mind that I preface some thoughts emailed to me from a regular reader of this blog, amongst others, about the theological contribution of Gaddis. I am convinced that theological discourse extends beyond the creeds and the sacraments, and even the sacred histories of the world’s faiths, and am always pleased to see literature/art thought not simply as theological accoutrement, as an anecdote or an aside, but as the the thing itself. Take it away, Gabe:
* * * * * *
I recently let a friend borrow my copy of William Gaddis‘ The Recognitions. Any one who happened to be spectating would have found the exchange strikingly similar to the scene in “Ghost” when Whoopi Goldberg goes to hand a check worth millions of dollars to a group of nuns taking donations on a busy New York street while the ghost of Sam Wheat (played by the sexy Patrick Swayze) stands by as an officiator. She grimaces in pain and cannot quite let go while the nun attempts to take the check from her.
I was hesitant to the lend the book out because since finishing the novel I continue to read it on a weekly — sometimes daily — basis. I found within its pages, particularly its latter pages, ideas and concepts that I continue to see as occupying unique and radical theological positions. The theological concepts of redemption and atonement are re-created and their re-creation is enabled via the devices of allusion and citation. (This is non-coincidental given Gaddis’ obsessional preoccupation with counterfeiting, forgery, originality, what becomes of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, the player piano, and what it means that others thought your thoughts before you.) Gaddis’ reader is ineluctably thrown into a loop where the motion of narrative to source and source to narrative is eternally circular. This phenomenon opens up — because it is the basis — of the singular creative truth: a truly creative act only occurs while imitating one’s masters: it is through the act of imitation and repetition that the world is created anew, and the Romantic notion / evaluation of newness and originality is descried in its truth as a nefarious pollutant to the project of material redemption in the here and now.
Gaddis loosely based his mammoth novel on several sources, most notably the Faust legend (Marlowe and Goethe), the Clementine Recognitions (the “first Christian novel”), and James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (which convinced the young Gaddis that Christianity was a counterfeit of pagan religions). The letters of Saint Paul and the works of Saint Augustine are also prominent, not to mention the most important. For, in their repetition in the voice of the great founder of Humanist Redemptionism, Wyatt Gwyon, the “fatal quest for truth outside the sanctioned avenues of, at first, Christian theology, and, in later renderings, Enlightenment thought” has been achieved.
Anyone who has read Agamben’s The Time That Remains is familiar with the debate over the meaning of Paul’s exhortation to “redeem time,” and the ensuing conversation apropos the nature of Messianic time. But, how does one do such a thing, assuming as Paul does that it can be done? This Paulism is verbalized a number of times in The Recognitions and is agonized over by the counterfeiting artist, Wyatt, until he is seen for the last time on a hill side in Spain. He is interrogated by the journalist Ludy, and in the greatest scene in all of literature (based on George Borrow’s missionary encounter with a madman in a Spanish cemetery: “the most vivid interview of desolation”) Wyatt — now going by Stephen — catches a bird in its upflight and holding it with an outstretched arm above his head as it flaps its wings and struggles for release, he re-petitions his interviewer: time is redeemed when man is atoned. Man is atoned through his acts of deliberate living, i.e. by living through the sin. Deliberate living is confronting the “essential fact of life” (Thoreau). The essential fact of life is that there are suffering people; and they are suffering because it is the offspring of sin, and suffering is sin abandoned and deserted by the sinner. Living deliberately, or going back to “live it through,” living through the created sin is the means by which man is redeemed. Now, not every man is a sinner, but every man must be redeemed. Even Christ, himself, didn’t know what sin was, thus not knowing what it meant to be tempted, and thus not being “fully man.” (Christ cannot know temptation because he never lived it through.) However, Christ is the ultimate redemptive figure speaking its unadulterated truth of necessity: in having no sins of his own to atone for he deliberately lived through, “took upon himself,” the sins of others and lived them through, though in a nuanced way. Redemption/Atonement/Salvation: One either lives through his sin or takes upon himself the sin of another who has run away from their creation of sin. The sin, in being “bought back,” the fullness of the monetary transaction / exchange image implied, returns to an owner and dissipates only along, in dance step, with its owner’s redemptive praxis. Wyatt / Stephen conditions this redemption when he repeats a meditation of that “ex-Manichee bishop of Hippo” quoting Augustine’s commentary On the First Letter of John: Dilige et quod vis fac. Love, and do what you will. Love, and do what you want to do.
Here one might be tempted to think that Gaddis is not making any remarkable theological point, but I would argue otherwise. He has just announced in a narrative-source weave the need to return to a radical understanding of love; the exigency of a radical re-defining of modern theological and philosophical notions of the concept; and that this radical return is an occurrence of redemption itself, a restoration of the original Pauline intention of working out one’s redemption in imitation of the master, Christ, himself the ultimate redeemer figure. Christ is unique and the ultimate figure of redemption because he has no sinful creations of his own. He both lives in Eden and Eden lives in him. He is completely free of any obligation to an other. This is where and how the dilige et quod vis fac conditions humanity’s redemption and why Christ exits an earthly subjectivity of perfection that is rightfully his (i.e. that he is both God and man).
Let love motivate every action. Love is the motivation of redemptive praxis. He who loves atones for his sins. The praxis of atonement is a natural result of love, and he who loves understands the magnitude of sin; meaning, that he who loves knows that atonement is an earthly activity that must not end. S/he who does not live through their own sins or live through the sins of an other does not love. S/he who lives through their own sins or lives through the sins of an other, redeeming those sins and redeeming the other in essence connected to them, and in recognition of accomplished redemption does not continue searching for other sins to atone for, whether he is an extremely sinful man and again lives through his own, or whether he is a good man and takes on the sins of an other to live through, does not love and does not understand love, nor the magnitude of sin and its offspring, the suffering creation. Posted by Brad Johnson Filed in Gaddis, Christian theology, literature

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We refuse to argue or agree to philosophic positions because we are afraid of where the argument leads

Dialogue Is Never Enough Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. October 25, 2005
The term "dialogue" is, of course, of classical origin. Literally, it means a conversation, particularly an organized written conversation between two or more people. The dialogue is about a given subject usually of some gravity or consequence, though playful dialogues are certainly part of the literature. The word comes from Greek and means "to gather," "to speak," "to reason." Logos, of course, is the philosophic word that refers to Christ in the Prologue of the Gospel of John. It signifies that a meaning is to be found in things. Each being has its measure or rule according to what it is, by which we know it to be this thing and not that thing. Logos always refers to intellect or reason, not to will.
Dialogue will be the disciplined, engaged exchange of ideas. Its purpose is to become more articulately reasonable. The end of dialogue is truth now spelled out in the light of all feasible objections to it, themselves manifested in the exchange. The knowledge of what is true includes the knowledge of what is not true.Dialogue, moreover–though it can, and perhaps should, be delightful and charming–is not a mere device by which we hear ourselves talk. It is not simply a babbling on. Its eloquence and style serve dialectic and syllogism. The phrase "locked in conversation" is closer to its meaning. Dialogue is for the purpose of arriving at a conclusion, a truth through honorable conversation or exchange of ideas. Dialogue should take place in an atmosphere beyond the threat or coercion, as Plato’s Gorgias reminds us. The rules of logic are themselves guidelines to arriving at the truth that is the purpose of conversation and controversy. But moral virtue, the honesty and courage to seek the truth, must be an intrinsic part of dialogue if it is to achieve its end.
Aquinas’ amusing remark in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics makes this point clear: "Those who love to listen to and tell stories, and who waste the whole day talking about all kinds of contingent remarks and deeds (unnecessary and useless affairs) are said to be garrulous" (#602). None of us wants to be accused of being "garrulous," a word that means "chatter" or pointlessly talkative. Though it does not deny a place for lightsome and casual humor in everyday life, dialogue is not a mere telling of passing yarns or tales as if they had nothing to teach us. It is not, to repeat, "garrulous." At its best, it is concerned with ultimate things, though this concern is by no means dull but close to the most exciting enterprise we can ever know.
The "Dialogues" of Plato, no doubt, are the most famous examples of this literary form, one imitated by innumerable writers, including Cicero and Augustine, who were also masters of this mode of discourse. The "monologue" or "soliloquy" means an inner "dialogue" of oneself with oneself, an effort to make things clearer by spelling out to oneself what the issues involved in the subject really are. The "dia-logue" always implies another, a listener, who responds to a speaker. The first speaker in turn himself becomes a hearer who responds back on the basis of the response to his initial position. We are both listeners and speakers.
In this sense, philosophy exists in conversation or dialogue where its terms and arguments become alive. The same issues, both ultimate ones and those of less import, keep coming up again and again among our kind. This recurrence is one of the reasons why we continue to read Plato and participate in his conversational dialogues, which, in their totality, cover much of what is at stake at the heart of mankind. Plato is the first and most delightful of intellectual adventures. But he is relentless in his pursuit of truth, even when Socrates tells us that the highest wisdom is to "know nothing." To know Plato’s "nothing" is, in fact, to know many things. It is not a skepticism about knowing anything but a realization of the inexhaustible nature of everything that is...
And Chesterton remarks that the purpose of argument or dialogue is not ultimately to disagree but to agree. The purpose of disagreement is in the end to agree. That is to say, dialogue is intended to achieve something beyond itself. It is well that we do not agree before we understand why we should agree. On the other hand, it is also true that we refuse to argue or agree to philosophic positions because we are afraid of where the argument leads, if it leads to a coherence in the universe between reason and revelation.
The world is not divided merely by intellect and its understandings of things. It is more fundamentally divided by will, by the thesis that, as Benedict XVI said, "we want unlimited possession of the world and of ourselves." To accomplish this latter ambition, we have to lie to ourselves about ourselves and about the coherence of the world. To protect our self-generated view of ourselves, we have to develop a theory that justifies what we do according to our own wills. This is why, however useful, dialogue runs up against our wills that enable us to choose another view of the world but the one that is.
Dialogue, however useful, is never enough. It always brings us face to face with that will that chooses not to serve, no matter what the evidence.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The true hero, the true leader, is one who is at home in his body, his gut attuned to aspects of the situation that language cannot capture

An und für sich “This is more a comment than a question…”
The American Language by Adam August 23rd, 2007
The characteristically American stance toward language is to attempt to minimize language as much as possible. I came to this conclusion through a series of associations starting from a quote from Rousseau in Of Grammatology, to the effect that students must learn only one language so as to minimize confusion–having multiple words to get at the same concepts would introduce an undesirable fuzziness. My mind immediately connected this to the perennial debates about official languages, bilingual education, ebonics, etc., etc.–all attempts to efface a certain confusion or lack of unity.
Unity is what’s at stake here: one nation, one language, one common task, one set of core values. Who is the leader who can unite us? Who can put partisanship aside and really bring the American people together? Who can put an end to all the division and confusion, the mutually incompatible visions mapped out into the colors Red and Blue (two primary colors, may I note — colors not produced by mixture)?
What does partisanship mean here? The trendy word currently is partisan rancor, but the more enduring word is bickering — unnecessary, petty, ultimately meaningless speech, a kind of hairsplitting grounded not in a quest for truth, but in an active quest to divide and confuse. George W. Bush’s inept speech is supposed to be somehow “unpretentious” — and what is he not “pretending” that other people are? That words matter. That eloquence is any measure of truth.
Look at the trope of “latte-drinking liberals,” those “effete” figures who fill the world with their rude and imperious blogs. As Craig recently reminded us, coffee is central to classical liberal values of a free and open public square, and so the attack on the new culture of coffee shops is first of all an attack on those values — but also an attack on the baroque distinctions among coffee drinks, the more concentrated caffeine offset by a fine-tuned element of milk with or without froth. The proliferation of gibberish surrounding coffee echoes the ennervated gibberish that caffeine itself produces, an ultimately synthetic flurry of activity signifying nothing.
The properly American stance is that of a taciturn man of action. So we set aside partisan bickering in favor of common-sense solutions. We forsake our divisions in order to move forward on some common project. This is of course the “liberal” take on the shared theme — the “conservatives,” of course, take it in a different direction: we need to put aside the endless negotiations when we know that the only language our opponents truly “understand” is force, that is, no language at all.
One can see this contrast reflected in popular culture all the time. On the one hand, there is the John Wayne stance, the hero who takes decisive action with a minimum of words. Even the figure of Jack Bauer, who is so irrevocably chained to the cell phone, must conform himself to this image through the rather clumsy device of a hurried and impatient style of speaking — set in contrast to the sidekick figure Chloe, a neurotic woman who talks too much, always says the wrong thing, concerns herself overmuch with rules. Think of the pop culture figures who talk a lot: the mouthy black sidekick in an action movie, the neurotic Jew, the yammering gay man, the pallid bookworm, all constantly trying to talk themselves out of situations even as the hero has intuitively seized the decisive moment.
The proverbial “nerd,” overconcerned with books and knowledge, is always asthmatic, always afflicted by allergies — somehow never properly at home in the world, never able even to breathe properly, producing a torrent of speech as a compensation for his inability to take things in. His own body attacks him, alienating him from the realm of action, condemning him to the “bad infinite” of speech.
The true hero, the true leader, is one who is at home in his body, at home in the world, his gut attuned to aspects of the situation that language cannot capture. I once read a newspaper article claiming that what most bothers liberals about George W. Bush is his comfort in his own skin, his very bodiliness — leading to the familiar comparisons with a chimp, etc. While we artificially stimulate ourselves with our needlessly variegated types of coffee, Bush directly lives, directly enjoys living, somehow gets what he wants without even the intermediate step of wanting it. We liberals want him to evacuate his body and occupy the realm of speech — and by contrast, when the liberal John Kerry, ever the orator, ever the master of “nuance,” is pictured wind-surfing, the impression is one of a ridiculous imposture, almost as though his head had been sloppily pasted into the photo.
Immediacy, action, unity — force is the only language we Americans understand.
Posted by Adam Filed in politics 2 Responses to “The American Language”
Bryan Klausmeyer Says: August 23rd, 2007 at 3:34 pm
I mostly agree with this. However, I think that “force” (or “action,” etc.) should be clarified. For example: In Hollywood films, the quintessential American hero is never the aggressor, but instead always defending–defending his honor, his people, his customs, women, etc. (and the heroes are, obviously, almost always men.)
Think of the film “Witness.” If you haven’t seen it, Harrison Ford plays a Philadelphia cop who goes undercover as an Amish person to protect a young Amish boy who witnessed a murder at a train station. In one telling scene, he and a group of Amish people are riding through a small town in horse and buggy when a group of teenage thugs start beating on one of the older Amish men. Harrison Ford grows upset, but the other Amish people say to him, “No, you mustn’t fight back, it isn’t our way,” to which he retorts, “But it’s MY way!” and then beats the kids up. Of course, what he obviously means is “It’s our way!”–the American way.
What makes Bush not fit into this heroic template, despite the fact that he’s laconic and “comfortable within his own skin,” is probably the most important aspect of the heroic figure: fighting must be in defense only. So it’s really now a question of what is considered defensive (and obfuscated by the fact that the former War Dept. calls itself the DoD…)
In regards to the “yammering,” nerdy character, I think what’s even more interesting is that they’re not always just weak or impotent figures, but often times villains–always giving long speeches on their diabolical plans or the ubiquitous “we’re not so different, you and I” soliloquy. So I think you could say that far from being these castrated liberal caricatures, their loquaciousness hints at something far more diabolical…
Adam Says: August 23rd, 2007 at 7:14 pm
The villain angle is interesting — the message being that the villain gets so caught up in explaining how brilliant their plot was that they end up undermining themselves.
I agree with you, of course, that Bush isn’t a real hero. For a lot of people, though, I feel like he really did seem to be, maybe up until Katrina — doing what it took to defend us. And now that it turns out to all be based on lies, he’s become one of the most hated presidents ever, though apparently that does nothing to constrain his actions.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Human intellect is the closest thing we have to the divine. It is the way we can join one another in spirit

The Holy Life of the Intellect
by George Bowering Weekend Edition Sunday, August 19, 2007 · George Bowering is Canada's first poet laureate and the author of over 80 books. A native of British Columbia, he has worked as a professor, editor and writer. Bowering is a member of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor. Above, he stands to be recognized in the House of Commons in Ottawa in 2002. Reuters/Corbis
“If we can experience another’s mind in our own, we know that love is possible.”
I believe that the human intellect is the closest thing we have to the divine. It is the way we can join one another in spirit.
Sometimes when you are listening to a great jazz musician performing a long solo, you are experiencing his mind, moment by moment, as it shifts and decides, as it adds and reminds. This happens whether the player is a saxophone player or a bass player or a pianist. You are in there, where that other mind is. His mind is coming through your ears and inside your mind.
The first time I heard Charlie Parker playing "Ornithology," I was delighted. I was about 11 years old. You are so much alone with your mind as a kid, so when you hear someone else's mind improvising, you feel an excitement you will never get from some music that just wants to keep a steady beat.
I got that delight again when I first heard great improvisatory poetry. When I read "The Desert Music" by William Carlos Williams, the book fell out of my hands and made a loud splat on the library's concrete floor. Later I would hear the poet Philip Whalen call this kind of poetry "a graph of the mind moving." Yes, it is.
It can happen with prose, too — sentences you hear in your head and know how they felt inside another's. I believe that if there is a god, this is what he wanted us to do. It is the holy life of the intellect.
If we can experience another's mind in our own, we know that love is possible. We understand why the great poet Shelley wrote a poem to what he called "Intellectual Beauty," and called it an invisible power that moves among the things and people of this Earth.
It descended on him when he was a youth looking for wisdom from the words of the dead. Intelligence literally means "choosing among." Shelley called it the spirit of delight. It is the gift of wit, which literally means the kind of seeing that makes you smile and clap your hands together. I believe that this provokes what the Greeks called agape, the Romans called caritas, and what we settled for as love. It's greater than hope and faith, according to St. Paul of Tarsus in an otherwise questionable letter to the Corinthians.
If you want to hear it happen rather than suffer any more of my apostolic prose, listen to the improvisation by John Coltrane in his immortal album called "A Love Supreme." There we are: A fine intellect, a tenor saxophone and a reach for perfect prayer.
This essay was produced by Anne Penman for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. NPR's This I Believe is independently produced by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

I've always perceived music as being a bridge between the Divine and the Human

Re: Max Roach a founder of Modern Jazz dies at 83: NY Times
by Kim on Sun 19 Aug 2007 11:31 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link I wish to add something about jazz and Max Roach. It's more of a story actually, without the once-upon-a-time.
I was very involved in the jazz scene in New York City in the late 70s and 80s, long before I knew anything about Mother and Sri Aurobindo. It was an especially vibrant time. There were many new jazz musicians making the scene then, and both newcomers and some older more established musicians were evolving the genre in original and unexpected ways. Julius Hemphill, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Bill Frisell, and Ornette Coleman to name a few - all contributed to changing the way we listen to and appreciate jazz. Their music took us places we'd never been. By hearing them perform, we were somehow drawn closer to the source that fed them.
Although I never would have described it this way then, I've always perceived music as being a bridge between the Divine and the Human, the Human and the Divine, and for me it was especially present in these innovative performances. Extraordinary musicians invited us into their worlds each time they played, and by entering in, or perhaps just by proxy, we changed. For a few moments out of time, we became like them - creative, original, inventive, and we touched those spaces within ourselves because of the openings their music inspired in us.
And their music was a wakeup call. Hearing Julius Hemphill's "Dogon A.D." for the first time and later "Blue Boye" changed me. Same with Zorn, Tim Berne, and Ornette. These were the mould breakers. Their music was not about the music and it took me a long while to realize that. It was about social change, about human oppression - their own and that of others, about injustice, about rebellion, about making waves and about freedom. Their music was also about the joy of intimate communication with other human beings, about many players reconfiguring as one, about the group consciousness, about love and respect for the masters on whose shoulders they stood. It was a conspiracy among souls who "knew" against those who didn't. These musicians played their hearts out not because they wanted to but because they had to. They were the chroniclers of their time and their music was the medium, read as easily as a book for those with the eyes to see. Their art was conscious and intentional, it was the music of evolution, and it reinvented their world.
But the music that could alter an age, with few exceptions, fell on deaf ears. For it was also a time when few jazz musicians of any stature got audiences in New York. Sadly, it was a city that shunned some of its greatest artists during a time when their creativity was exploding. Most of the musicians had to travel to Europe and Japan where there were more appreciative audiences. I can remember going to many jazz clubs where only 10 people would show up to hear great musicians play, and even at the Vanguard or SOB's or the original Knitting Factory, few people ever stayed for the second set. It was disheartening.
Interwoven into this rich musical scene was a successful artist who straddled many worlds - Mr. Max Roach. By the 80s I'd already heard him perform a number of times, with Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton & the amazing percussion ensemble, M'Boom. His virtuousity was blinding, but beneath it had already begun to emerge the deeper expression of social change. He used his music to embody the struggles of an age.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Anu has worked at Matrimandir and Pour Tous

Home > Journals & Media > Books & CD's > June '04 Refugees from Paradise - by Anuradha Majumdar
The paradise question is far from over. Does it still exist? What about those living outside it? Milton is still on the track, even if it means to reincarnate as a cat and take up lodgings at Casa Mira, an unusual house of tenants in London town. He adopts one of them as his protégé: Jonathan Ferry, an aspiring filmmaker, hunted by a story that he heard as a child. But when Anjali Mehra, a television journalist from New Delhi , arrives hunting after another one, Milton falls into unbiased adoration and adopts her at once. Spotting paradise is a complex affair. Jonathan and Anjali's stories merge inside an old man's eyes in a village fair in Bengal. All this because Krishnagopal, the great baul singer , once rescued a wounded pilot who fell out of the sky, and kept him alive. But when his co-pilot suddenly enters the story, everything splinters. Milton keeps track of every sticky detail, and as tea and terror brush past his whiskers, he discovers few remarkable things

Anu has lived in Auroville for the last 22 years. She began publishing her first short story series, The Dot-Matrix Report, in the Auroville News in the good old days of '94. Another series called A Human Race, appeared in The Eye, New Delhi ('96) follwed by her first novel, Parallel Journeys ('98). She edited Transcript for a while, Auroville's first experiment with an online magazine, but once an orange cat walked into her PC, a new novel began. This has just been published by Penguin India and is called Refugees from Paradise. Other than that Anu has worked at Matrimandir and Pour Tous and is also a choreographer. Published by: Penguin India see also:Anu's poetry page Contact:

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Indian narrative is layered. The how is more important than the what of the story

Hindustan Times Email Author New Delhi, July 23, 2007
Trained in Hindustani classical music, Joshi grew up in small town of Uttar Pradesh with strict parents who banned the film and pop stuff until he was a teenager. Somewhere, he managed to connect the dots of his roots with the shoots of globalisation.
"At times, cultural pride becomes a handicap. We don't have to be insular," says Joshi, who cut his teeth with Ogilvy's creative veteran Piyush Pandey, picking up the threads of an Indian idiom in a me-too ad world before building his own ideas that connected the seemingly unconnected.
Global confectioner Perfetti thrives in India on Joshi's ideas that include a near-impossible mix between Bhojpuri and Italian with catch lines like, "Alpenliebe, zara idhar deebey!"
Joshi says India has its own storytelling tradition, reflected best in Bollywood-style narratives and theatrical traditions that deserve their own place in the global milieu. He is quick to acknowledge the likes of R "Balki" Balakrishnan, Lowe's creative chief, for all-Indian slogans like "Hamara Bajaj" but affirms his own signature style that relies on melodrama, verbal tang and music.
"The Indian narrative is layered. The how is more important than the what of the story," he says. "And I have tried to tap into the classical rural traditions of this country."
For all that, Joshi is happy to sit on the international jury in places like Cannes and New York and in brainstorming ideas with creative colleagues from elsewhere in Asia. He takes inspiration from Indian classical musicians jamming with world music leaders, than local hip-hop artistes.
"I would rather have Ravi Shankar jam than a coroner from South Bombay who sings cover versions of Paul Simon or Bob Dylan," he says.
Writing lyrics for Bollywood songs on the side, the man whose career graph coincided with the rise of private television in India is now mapping the art of storytelling for a global digital world. As a Net and gadget freak, he has his own property on Second Life (, the Internet site where fantasies are created and sold like real estate.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It is assumed that there is a natural link between literature and left-liberalism

Terry Eagleton Saturday July 7, 2007 The Guardian
When Britain emerged as an industrial capitalist state, it had Shelley to urge the cause of the poor, Blake to dream of a communist utopia, and Byron to scourge the corruptions of the ruling class. The great Victorian poet Arthur Hugh Clough was known as Comrade Clough for his unabashed support of the revolutionaries of 1848. One of the most revered voices of Victorian England, Thomas Carlyle, denounced a social order in which the cash nexus was all that held individuals together. John Ruskin was the great inheritor of this moral critique of capitalism; and though neither he nor Carlyle were "creative", they influenced one of the mightiest of English socialist poets, William Morris. In Morris's entourage at the end of the 19th century was Oscar Wilde, remembered by the English as dandy, wit and socialite; and by the Irish as a socialist republican.
The early decades of the 20th century in Britain were dominated by socialist writers such as HG Wells and George Bernard Shaw. When Virginia Woolf writes in Three Guineas of "the arts of dominating other people ... of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital", she places herself to the left of almost every other major English novelist.
Not all rebukes were administered from the left. DH Lawrence, a radical rightist, denounced "the base forcing of all human energy into a competition of mere acquisition". Possession, he thought, was a kind of illness of the spirit. High modernism, however politically compromised, questioned the fundamental value and direction of western civilisation. The 1930s witnessed the first body of consciously committed left writing in Britain. Taking sides was no longer seen as inimical to art, but as a vital part of its purpose.
In the postwar welfare state, however, the rot set in. Philip Larkin, the period's unofficial poet laureate, was a racist who wrote of stringing up strikers. Most of the Angry Young Men of the 50s metamorphosed into Dyspeptic Old Buffers. The 60s and 70s - the second most intensively political period of the century - produced no radical of the status of a Brecht or Sartre. Iris Murdoch looked for an exciting moment as though she might fulfil this role, but turned inwards and rightwards. Doris Lessing was to do much the same.
It was left to migrants (Naipaul, Rushdie, Sebald, Stoppard) to write some of our most innovative literature for us, as the Irish had earlier done. But migrants, as the work of VS Naipaul and Tom Stoppard testifies, are often more interested in adopting than challenging the conventions of their place of refuge. The same had been true of Joseph Conrad, Henry James and TS Eliot. Wilde, typically perverse, challenged and conformed at the same time.
The great communist poet Hugh MacDiarmid died just as the dark night of Thatcherism descended. Rushdie's was one of the few voices to keep alive this radical legacy; but now, with his fondness for the Pentagon's politics, we need to look elsewhere for a serious satirist.
There are a number of factors in such renegacy. Money, adulation and that creeping conservatism known as growing old play a part, as does the apparent collapse of an alternative to capitalism. Most British writers welcome migrants, dislike Tony Blair, and object to the war in Iraq. But scarcely a single major poet or novelist is willing to look beyond such issues to the global capitalism that underlies them. Instead, it is assumed that there is a natural link between literature and left-liberalism. One glance at the great names of English literature is enough to disprove this prejudice. · Terry Eagleton is John Edward Taylor professor of English literature at Manchester University

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What politicians have failed to do, a universal love for music has been able to accomplish

Home > Boston Globe > A musical bridge for India and Pakistan By Swati Gauri Sharma August 6, 2007 SONGS ABOUT broken hearts and lovers lost are moving across the borders of India and Pakistan and taking the edge off the two nations' bitter history of three wars and a continuing nuclear standoff.
Because of the modern day blend of Hindi and Urdu spoken in both countries, songs sung by Pakistani artists and listened to by millions of Indians and Pakistanis have connected the two countries in a way they have never been able to before. The younger Indian generation's love of Pakistani bands has done what politicians find difficult -- reduced tension between the two countries.
Although some Pakistani artists have been extremely popular in India in the past, their popularity came and went and remained mostly among a limited group -- either intellectuals or older people. This is the first time that a number of different Pakistani artists have made such an immense mark on the Indian music scene within such a short period of time, and have been popular with people of all ages and classes. Pakistani musicians are topping the charts and winning both awards and hearts of youngsters in India.
In Bollywood, India's most popular film industry, directors have started featuring popular Pakistani rock bands and artists in their film soundtracks. Unlike Hollywood, almost every Bollywood movie has many songs featured and picturized in the film. Often, the popularity of the original soundtrack can determine the box office sales for a film. The songs are favorites both in Pakistan and in India. Some songs are remixed and are frequently played in clubs. In some cases, like the film "Kalyug," the movie wasn't very successful, but a song from it became a super-hit.
This type of collaboration between the countries is unprecedented. Tensions between India and Pakistan have existed since the Partition in 1947, when riots and massacres occurred throughout the subcontinent. The two countries are still at odds over Kashmir, a region both claim. Just last year, tensions boiled over when a series of train bombs in Mumbai, India, resulting in more than 200 deaths, was thought to be the work of terrorist groups who were said to be hiding in Pakistan.
Despite this, India's younger generations look past this unhappy history and have overwhelmingly accepted Pakistani music. Rekha Malhotra, who has been called the "pioneer of the South Asian music community" by The Washington Post, says that, although there have been Pakistani performers in India in the past, "Indians don't even know who they were." But now, this cultural exchange is possible because "there is a thriving music scene in Pakistan and it only makes sense because of the current political situation. A lot of it has to do with the liberalization between borders." Nevertheless, said Malhotra, who is also known as DJ Rekha, "it took a long time for this to happen."
In Pakistan, politicians have done little to help the countries connect culturally. But the people have spoken. Through pirated films and cable television, a large majority of the Pakistani population watches Indian films, even though the country has its own film industry, Lollywood.
In 2004, a Bollywood film featured a song by an extremely popular Pakistani singer, Atif Aslam. The song was remixed, giving it a more upbeat tone for clubs. As a result of its popularity, the song was made into a music video, featuring Aslam. After this song, Aslam went on to sing many other songs for film soundtracks. Although in some cases the movies Aslam sang for failed, his songs still were wildly successful in India and were most often requested on radio channels and television shows.
What politicians have failed to do, a universal love for music has been able to accomplish. Granted, it took 60 years for countries to be able to accept and share their music and culture, but younger generations are more independent, and more disconnected from the horrors of the partition, so this acceptance and celebration of Pakistani artists is possible. Although Pakistanis have long watched Indian films, never before has there been such a successful exchange in music between the two countries.
The future of relations between Pakistan and India depends on the younger generations. Although politically the countries are far from being friends, a conscious effort is being made for their people to connect on a cultural platform. The success of this effort shows the constructive relationship that Pakistan and India could have. Swati Gauri Sharma is a Northeastern student and intern at The Nation.

A complete yoga must make us all-embracing: outwardly active and committed to life but inwardly surrendered

Hindustani Classical Music is in Good Health by Lalit Uniyal
Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 33 Wednesday 8 August 2007
I have dealt with the technique of cricket in such detail because the point about core technique is relevant also to the realm of yoga, to which I now turn. Of course, I do not refer to the purely physical yoga which is so popular today, but only to the truer and deeper spiritual yoga. Traditionally, yoga was learnt under a highly demanding guru who, even more than in music sometimes exacted extreme personal service. But the modern masters, especially Vivekananda and Aurobindo, who were also modern men in every sense, have changed all that. Vivekananda’s basic opposition to traditionalists of all religions was expressed in his saying that it was good to be born into a religion but bad to die in one. He almost preached a religion appropriate to each individual, to be discovered by each one himself. Each soul is potentially divine, he declared; the goal is to manifest this divinity within. Doctrines or dogmas, or rituals or books, or temples or forms, are but secondary details, he asserted. Aurobindo was influenced by Vivekananda, had a life-span double that of Vivekananda, and had opportunity to fully articulate the humanistic and integral yoga that Vivekananda had first suggested.
All the traditional yogas are specialisations, said Aurobindo; they demand an abnormal concentration on some facet of the personality or a certain aspect of life; generally they take us entirely away from the world. A complete yoga, he declared, must make us all-embracing: outwardly active and committed to life like everyone else, but inwardly surrendered to the divine. In other wards, the core practice in yoga is to surrender to the divine, and in this is also implicit the end or goal of yoga.
This is not ‘yoga made easy’, because it is an extremely difficult sadhana, requiring the paring off of layer after layer of the personal self. What it accomplishes is of great consequence however. It focuses on the real intent of yoga and not its traditional trappings, like mechanically repeating a given mantra one lakh and eight times at one sitting. The effect of this clarity is to cut through masses of confusion and needless torture and unnecessary hardships. Consequently yoga comes across as a meaningful activity, acceptable to contemporary man. Moreover, both these great yogis maintained extremely informal relations with their disciples. It is well known that, in their letters to Aurobindo, some of his intimate disciples addressed him as “Dear Guru”. The traditionalists have not dared to censure either of these great yogis because of the immense spiritual authority they possess and the reverence they universally command.

WE may now return to the realm of classical music, which is our main concern. Here too the real issue is to meet the challenge of change with wisdom, by laying emphasis on the core of the musical sadhana, not its conventional trappings. The traditional gharanas were not quite what the purists make them out to be. At times they were less interested in the advance of classical music than in the jealous concealment of their special excellences. Similarly, personal service to the guru was always liable to gross abuse and could be destructive of the personality of the student. It is a common error in the understanding of the guru-shishya parampara to suppose that personal service is a right of the guru. Wherever a relationship is authentic, personal service will flow automatically out of the love and devotion of the shishya, once he has become conscious of being the recipient of treasures of incomparable value. The spiritual apprenticeship of Vivekananda under Ramakrishna is a prime example of this truth. In an authentic relationship, it is for the shishya to take the decision to undertake personal service, not for the guru to command it. To say that the student today does not offer personal service is to confess that there are no teachers capable of giving out treasures to their students—which is the exact opposite of what Arindam Mukherjee seeks to suggest. Classical music will be threatened only if two things happen simultaneously: first, if the core sadhana of music is forgotten in the midst of unintelligent efforts to blindly uphold traditional but non-essential details; and secondly, if non-classical musicians begin to imagine themselves musically superior to classical musicians and the latter succumb to this humbug.
What is the core of the musical sadhana?
Music is built out of the notes produced in a certain order. But those notes are fixed, hence non-livng. The sadhana of Indian music aims to impart life to those notes by penetrating into their inner, living side, which is called swara. The process of seeking the swara transforms a person’s inner world and takes him deeper into his own true self, towards what is unique and indestructible in him. Therefore the acquisition of the swara by a musician, or his entry into it, gives his music an altogether different quality of integrity and certitude and imparts to it an undying appeal.
Obviously, the first step in musical training is the development of certain essential skills. The notes must be practised in sequence up and down the scale, and then in various altered sequence. The intention here is to train the voice inter alia to move smoothly from one note to the other, without any abruptness or ‘jump’ in the movement, and to open up or ‘stretch’ the voice so that it can proceed to the highest as well as the lowest notes of the scale with relative ease, and in different ascending and descending combinations. Next comes the bandish (sutra or proto-raga), which requires the accompaniment of the tabla. Finally, there is the entry into the realm of the raga proper and its exploration and elaboration.
All this is extremely hard work, but it is still not sadhana proper. The wrestler too works untiringly to develop his skills, but no one supposes him to be engaged in sadhana. Sadhana is activity leading towards transformation of the inner being. What transforms the musician is the relentless pursuit of the swara, the inner and living side of the note, and this pursuit is the true sadhana of music. The distinction between skill development and sadhana can be understood by means of an analogy from yoga. In yoga practice too there are skills to be learnt, the first being physical techniques by which the restlessness of the body is overcome. Then there are the mental techniques, loosely and popularly called meditation, which are intended to diminish the restlessness of the mind. A person may become reasonably adept at these techniques and yet not be doing the sadhana of yoga. This will happen if, for example, the person’s aim is merely to become an effective executive or to become better equipped to face the tensions of daily life. But when a real aspiration for the divine exists the sadhana of yoga is truly set in motion. To be sure, techniques or skills do indeed present pathways, but proficiency in them does not by itself make one a genuine yogi or musician. For the path is in fact traversed only when there is a motive force driving the person ahead. And that motive force lies in the sense of the divine, or of the swara and the insistent seeking for it. The pursuit of the swara through all changes of history is the great strength of our classical music. Since this is an inner process, it is not under threat from external forces, but only from within. If the sadhana of music gets lost in the dreary sands of dead habit, then indeed all will be over with classical music.

CLASSICAL music has always been subject to change. Dhrupad is on the decline; Khayal and Thumri have become far more important, and some people prefer the Drut Khayal to the Vilambit variety. All living activity has its ups and downs: there are times when several great musicians seem to emerge out of nowhere, and there are times when the truly great are few. This is not a cause for despair.
Arindam Mukherjee makes much of the absence of successors to the top musicians of the day. Why the children of the great are not great is a question that has interested philosophers: Plato discusses it in the Protagoras. But where achievements based in sadhana are at issue, we need not ask the philosophers to explain the reason to us, because the reason is obvious. The actions and effects of sadhana are all intimately personal and cannot be externally transmitted by another person. In this realm, therefore, no one is born great, and no one can have greatness thrust upon him. Greatness has to be achieved by each musician on the strength of his or her own sadhana. It is slander to declare that the newer generation is not willing to take up the sadhana of music. Many of them have much the same passion for music as the earlier generation, only they face a unique set of new difficulties, which demand a response at the state-social level. It is certainly a good idea to have a DD channel dedicated to classical musical music. But difficulties will not stop the real seeker.