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Monday, October 05, 2009

Creative Communication day 3

Day 2 of Creative Communication with Mr Anil Pinto began with a recap of what had been dealt with on the previous day. After recalling the material learnt in the first session, the class was asked to prepare an objective type question paper for themselves and then answer it. A discussion on a few topics followed. An interesting thought that was discussed was the adaptation of novels into cinema. The argument was that if novel and cinema are both individual play, then why do most cinema (adapted from novels) not offer a better experience compared to its reading practice. After the discussion, the class agreed to the point that both are different types of media that cannot be compared. While books offer the reader the freedom to imagine, it also does not require much of the reader’s intellectual effort as all things are in black and white before him. However, in a cinema, the viewer has to put in intellectual efforts to make connections between various scenes as every detail is not spelt out. However, cinema restricts imagination.
After the discussion, Mr. Pinto spoke on various Schools of Criticism. He presented these various ideas in the following manner-
Theories of Reading
Liberal Humanism Psycho-analysis
Formalism Cultural Studies
Post Colonialism
Theories of Doing/ Reading

Each of these theories has its own set of rules.
• Liberal Humanism
This theory came up with Renaissance. The etymological meaning of the word ‘Renaissance’ is rebirth/revival. Renaissance, was a period of revival of the classical arts and learning.
Mr. Pinto spoke about the movie-The Seventh Seal which depicts the period of Renaissance and the rebirth of knowledge.
Renaissance was a period of lack of faith in religion. Therefore, there was an interest in anything human (Lucy poems of Wordsworth ; Lucy which means light). The birth of knowledge brought about the loss of faith in God. This in turn, brought in birth of faith in human and human capabilities to withstand difficulties and to invent. This was a celebration of the ‘individual’ and ‘human ability.’
The term ‘liberal human’ was used in the 18th century to promote the middle class. After the 50’s and 60’s people refrained from using the term ‘individual’ and used ‘subject’ instead.

• Formalism
From 1920’s, formalism came into literature. Literature as a discipline was introduced in Cambridge University in 1912. People considered it a joke as they did not feel a need to study literature as a discipline.
Here, Mr. Pinto spoke about ‘science’ which gives importance to objectivity. According o Karl Popper, to call anything a science, it should fulfil two criteria-it should predict and it should be falsifiable.
Anything that can be experimented and arrived at the same conclusion is science. This is objectivity.
Formalism began in Russia. The idea here is to study the text irrespective of the author and his background. I.A. Richards had become the HOD of English at the age of 24 in 1921. He introduced the method of practical criticism.

• Structuralism
This came up during the 1930’s. It developed not so much from literature, but from Saussure. Saussure said that-
 Language is an implied order.
 Language is a sign system.
Mr. Pinto spoke about Levi Strauss (author of Myth and Music, Raw and Cooked Rice) who met Roman Jakobson and the latter speaks about Saussure to Strauss. Vladimir Proph studied folk tales and Roland Barthes studied culture and visual. Faucault , an important social scientist of the 20th century was also discussed. The class then discussed the story of Oedipus, the king of Thebes.
Semiotics is an off-shoot of structuralism. Saussure said that there are changing elements and unchanging elements. One of the important concepts in semiotics is syntagm and paradigm. Mr. Pinto suggested Daniel Chandler’s “Semiotics for Beginners” for reference. Paradigm is what changes whereas syntagm doesn’t change.
Neither myth nor drama are concerned about the message but dramatising the intractable questions about the meaning of human life. Structuralism requires more than one field.
• Post-structuralism
The word ‘post’ can have multiple meanings-
 After (time)
 As a result of experience
 Challenge ( as a response to)
Derrida sang the song of Western philosophy (brought the death of Western philosophy). Saussure had said that language is arbitrary. Derrida challenged structuralism and said that one can never get fixed meanings- There is no access to a definite meaning.
Saussure had said that we think in terms of binaries- Good and evil, Light and dark etc. Derrida said that one cannot exist without the other. He introduced the notion of ‘absent centre’. The concept of ‘God’ is beyond explanation. Here, it does not define itself, but everything in it.

This is the concept of Deconstruction. Derrida says that writing came before speech, contradicting the popular notion that speech came first. He used cave paintings to validate his point.
Derrida wanted to destabilize the centre but with no intention of establishing a new centre. His idea was to find the centre, critique it and establish multiple centres. It was all a play of meaning with no definite meaning.
Distinction between post-structuralism and deconstruction
Deconstruction was a theory proposed by Derrida which was similar to the philosophy of Nagarjuna in India. Deconstruction focussed on decentralising.
Structuralism is a tendency of thought. For example, in thinking that you are looking for a stereotype, you are creating them. It is not perceiving structure, you are conceiving it.
Derrida was Faucault’s student. Lacan, a psychologist would give lectures –‘In the name of the Father’ which would be attended by Goddard, Derrida, Faucault and others. Here he said, “ I must break the mirror which made me see myself”.
In 1964, Lyotard was asked by the Canadian government to do a study on Post-modern conditions. He reported –the nations will collapse and multi national corporations will become bigger.
There was a collapse of meta narratives and little narratives came up. In the 1960s and 70s, pop culture and gay and lesbian movements sprang up.
The class discussed “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day?” in the context of post-structuralism.
• Feminism
Feminism came into prominence in the 1960s and 70s. Feminists may be referred to as champions of post-structuralism in that they focussed on decentralising patriarchy.
Bentham’s idea of utilitarianism-‘greatest good of greatest number of people’.
The class briefly discussed Islamic Renaissance which provided food for thought to the European Renaissance.
Feminism is a social and political movement that asks for rights. Mr. Pinto suggested Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Home” for reading.
Simone de Bouvouir’s famous book “Second Sex” marked the beginning of the second wave. Here the idea was that- a woman is made, not born. It was a social process and not a biological one.
In the context of the radical wave, the bra burning movement etc was discussed as they were tools used to make women’s issues visible.
In the third phase, Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” gains importance as it deals with issues of sexuality. Judith Butler had questioned why Lauis was cursed in the story of Oedipus. She indicates that it shows 3 types of rejected sexualities-
 Lauis cursed for male-male relationship.
 Oedipus- mother-son relationship.
 Antigone- brother-sister relationship.
The Pink chaddi campaign that happened in India was discussed as a landmark in the history of movements and political organisations.
Gradually, ‘Queer studies’ came into the picture with LGBT-Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals. For reading on feminism in India, Mr. Pinto suggested books by Mary. B. John.
• Psycho-analysis
Psychology is a study on the psyche- the mind and the behaviour. Psycho-analysis is a study of the mind and its effects on behaviour. Here, the analysis is on the individual. According to Eric Fromm, psychology is the product of Protestantism and capitalism.
Here, the class discussed the concepts of id, ego and super-ego.
Psycho-analysis can function in three ways-
 Trying to understand the work by following up on the author’s life.
 By trying to understand the work, gain an understanding of the author.
 Understand the work through the audience.

• Cultural Studies
Cultural studies is the study of culture of the masses like film culture, procession culture etc. Culture is a meaning making process.Stuart Hall and Richard Hoggard started cultural studies in Birmingham University. Stuart Hall’s essay ‘Coding Decoding’ was suggested for reading.

• Modernism
Modernism is an aesthetic and not apolitical or philosophical movement. Surrealism is a part of modernism. It is a movement to shock people as it was considered that people’s senses had become dull. In modernism, it was more complex as it was considered that human life had become more complex. Only by depicting this complexity would we get access to reality. In post-modernism, there is no access to reality.

Mr. Pinto instructed the class on the following for compulsory reading-
• The Outsider by Albert Camus
• What is literature by Terry Eagleton
• Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
• Nagamandala by Girish Karnad
• On Poetics by Aristotle

G.V Iyer’s Hamsageethe was also recommended for compulsory viewing.

as written by Sajna Aravind

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