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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Guest Lecture/ Kant and Aesthetics/ Anup kumar Dhar

Lecture notes: 18th Sept, ‘10 Notes by: Basreena Basheer and Surya Simon


The Judgement of the Beautiful Enlightenment marked the beginning of a transition. It was during this time that people began to represent themselves, i.e. the house of commoners was beginning to dominate the house of the lords. There was some kind of freedom that was afflicted from mature thinking that is from the enlightenment. It came around 1790 after the French revolution which was in 1789. The French revolution is a political act which gave rise to a quasi parliamentary democracy and decrease in monarchy. Thus, enlightenment is also, a cultural act. It was around this time that Kant began writing. In fact, he was the first philosopher to write a newspaper article, “What is enlightenment”. Kant regards enlightenment as a stepping out of the whole of humanity from immaturity to maturity. This transition mainly focused on not following orders. The universities tried to produce subjects of such mature kind. Kant couldn’t complete his education in the university at first because of financial crisis. He became a teacher, earned money and then completed his education in philosophy. An interesting fact about Kant is that he always stayed within a radius of 70 km and never travelled beyond that. In Kant’s entire pre-critical years, he studied Newton’s works very closely. Newtonian physics studied physical nature. So, he first began by studying nature closely. The general notion during the time was that nature leads to life which in turn leads to consciousness which ultimately leads to morality, ethics and aesthetics. Basically, consciousness leads to value rationality which essentially comes with aesthetics. Kant’s entire pre-critical years were in physics and he tries to understand the physical world. Now, if we break down the human body into its various constituents:- Human Body- Organs- Cells-Nucleolus- DNA- Helix- Amino Acids- Nitrogen and Hydrogen. Amino acids are nothing but made of nitrogen which brings us to the conclusion that man is nothing but packets of nitrogen! But, how does this packet of nitrogen begin to think? Thus, derivation of word faculty comes from science. So, how does one have aesthetic judgment? Thus, the two major questions he puts forth in the beginning of his study are:- 1) How does man think critically? 2) How does man have a sense of aesthetics? Kant took the help of physics to answer the above questions. Kant wanted to find out what is there in this world and constantly questioned himself, “how do I know?” This inquisitiveness led him to reflect on the faculty of reason. During his critical years Kant wrote three books: Critique Of Pure Reason Critique Of Practical Reason Critique of Judgement According to Kant, nature as well as the mind has an order. Now these two orders match and thus one is able to know the world. Now this also reflects Des Cartes notion that one has an inherent faculty to know. Elaborating on this Kant writes that knowledge comes from experience but at the same time there is an ‘a priori’ in our mind which is a critical faculty that organizes chaotic perception into knowledge. Now this chaotic perception is infinite. The knowledge that is produced out of the world of experience is known as ‘conceptual schema’. But this conceptual schema as well as our sensory system is limited and thus we will never know nature. Basically we live in the world of phenomena and appearance. However we try to approximate this, there will be a philosophical gap. Also, reason, as well as our critical faculty are limited but should be developed. In short, Critique of Pure Reason deals with the perception of the natural world and he tries to address the question of ‘what is?’ Through the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant was responding to Newton ( physics), Des Cartes (rationality), Humes, Locke (empiricism) and Liabl. Through Critique of Practical Reason he was responding to the aestheticians. The second work, however tries to answer the question of ‘what ought to be?’ or ‘what should be done?’ that is the question of ethics and morality. This question of ethics and morality was very strongly addressed during the French Revolution (1789) by Rousseau as well as Voltaire, the question of doing away with monarchy and the like. We just don’t inhabit the planet but also do something to it. So, critique of practical reason with is about what is modern, rational and what should be practiced. In short, it deals with action. Now we have looked at the two questions what is and what ought to. But there is a gap between the two. There is also the essential question ‘what can I hope for?’ The second part of the third book connects the first and the second questions. The first part of critique of judgement deals with aesthetics. Kant however has limited the contours of reason: Practical Reason and Critical Judgement. According to Kant, knowing and doing has an apparent certainity. Kant believes that one must be trained in three critical faculties: rationality, values and judgement. He talks about three functions which are connected to these faculties respectively: truth function, ought function and the aesthetic function. Aesthetics basically deals with the beautiful, sublime and fine arts. So in his three critical works, Kant addresses three questions: What is truth? What should it be? Is it beautiful Let’s look at an example of a pen in water. Due to refraction, it looks bend. So, the first question would be is the pen straight or bend? The second question would be if it is supposed to be bend or straight? The third question would be is the pen beautiful? Kant then, would try to explain the truth of the pen, ought of the pen and beauty of the pen. He attributes truth to natural science, ought to social science and beauty to aesthetics. In other words, reason, talent and aesthetics. But beauty doesn’t necessarily concern the truth of the object. In the case of arts and aesthetics there is beauty within itself; there is beauty without the ought function. Literature studies basically constitute the domain of aesthetics. This domain of aesthetics constitutes the third question in human critical faculty. There are three worlds of physics: - Quantum, Newtonian and Einstein. Quantum physics deals with the smallest of particles such as atoms, etc. Newtonian physics deals with larger objects such as pen, coffee, etc. Einstein’s physics deals with larger heavenly bodies. They are different world but are all interconnected. In Quantum physics, the argument is about where exactly is the electron present. There is no fixed location. It is then, not about being here and there but somewhere in between. It is not Newton’s inertia of rest or inertia of motion but that of moment. Kant tries to do the same thing. He tries to bridge rationality and values placing beauty somewhere in between them. This is one reason Kant writes critiques and not criticisms. Beauty for Kant shows the limits. When a fish jumps out of water and takes a look around before falling back into water, it will see and get a better understanding of the world. But, it has to fall back into the same environment and that’s its limit. Similarly, beauty also acts within limits. In between cannot do this and cannot do that, lies what I can hope for. This hope lies in the a-proximate – as-proximate. For Kant, aesthetic judgement is based on disinterestedness. Interest depends on two things: one that it should be agreeable and two, it should have a good concept. The moment one develops some sort of an interest in the object and then judges, the judgement would either fall under pure reason or practical reason. The moment one likes something, an interest is generated which can be because of two reasons: the object is agreeable or appealing to sensations and the second because the object has a good concept. In the first case, Kant says it cannot be aesthetic judgement because it is judged on the basis of one’s rationality or knowledge (pure reason). Kant says that the second one falls under practical reason. Kant also, talks about purpose (end) and purposiveness (finality). The beautiful is purposive without any definite purpose. For example, a child without hands and legs is beautiful. Here, it is an aesthetic judgement because we do not look at what it can do or ought to do. Just the form itself is looked at. For Kant, it is the form that helps in aesthetic judgement and not the content. Content leads to interest. An atom bomb explosion is beautiful because of its form and not the content. Here, the rational or the moral side is not looked at. Judgement should result in pleasure rather than pleasure resulting in judgement. The judgement is on the basis of the form, arrangement, etc. But, this is not universally accepted because it depends on the taste. For Freud, Art is related to will. For Marx, Art is political and for the expressionists, Art is an offensive response.

Dhar, Anup Kumar. Guest Lecture Notes. Christ University. Bangalore.

Richard Shiff's essay, " Defining 'Impressionism' and the 'Impression' "

Report on Richard Shiff's essay, " Defining 'Impressionism' and the 'Impression' "
(Based on class lecture by Anil.J.Pinto on 27th September, 2010)

There is no proper generic approach to defining 'Impressionism' and the way Impressionistic style in art can be attributed to artists. Richard Shiff illustrates this idea by elucidating that it is difficult to define Impressionistic art, or for that matter, how artists can be classified according to the strictness of the genre. Art historians have rendered the title impressionism that rarely gives any exclusive definition that can be readily appreciated. There is no historical fixity or a continuum that can be assigned to be impressionistic. To consider who the real impressionists are, historians have looked into a simple classification: (1) Social group (2) artist’s subject matter (3) style or technique (4) purpose. Yet each of these categories has presented their own difficulties.

An artist must, in order to be Impressionistic, associate with the group of artists who render similar thoughts. An artist might be labeled an “Impressionist” if the artist participates, voluntarily, in one of the social groups to get conferred. Artistic styles then may develop and become group styles, and if a person is too deviant, may become an individualist impressionist. Such professional association and personal sympathy made Degas an impressionist and Cezanne, another Impressionist, even though, modern critics find his style antithetical to Impressionism. Yet, Impressionism also existed outside the circles of the groups; the circle of the elite, such as the society of Salon. By such association, the Salon society declared Corot as a superior “poetic” kind of impressionist.

It is in the subject matter of the art that art can be classified in genres. When they are classified in such a manner, Shiff comments, they lead to awkward inclusions and exclusions. By this standard a Stanislas Lepine was included with later impressionists, but today, he is rarely discussed as a genuine impressionist, because he lacks the the major stylistic characteristic of the impressionists – the unconventional bright colours. Theodore Duret who tended to use stylistic criteria in order to classify the various painters, excluded Lepine for just this reason when he wrote his early account of the Impressionist movement. Duret and Riviere implied that it had simply been necessitated by the concern for a more accurate observation of nature. Impressionism allows for individuality in to the perspectives of nature but also tends to depict that the colours drawn are from nature directly, to make it as close to nature. It is this “verisimilitude” that makes Impressionism a difficult genre to categorize because the particular sensation is all pervading.

Impressionistic art, thus, is sense observation and self interpretation of the ultimate aesthetic goal. The definitions of the goal of impressionist art may indeed inform more purposeful distinctions in the other areas of investigation; yet one must take in account that early observers of the impressionists like Jules Castagnary and Theodore Duret, said that these artists hardly spoke about the goals and aims of their works. Castagnary in 1874 observed: “the object of art does not change, the means of translation alone is modified”.

Shiff, throughout his essay, establishes the idea that an artistic theory, like Impressionism, cannot classify the modulus of art or bring into a strict pattern an artist’s intent and creation. Impressionism, as a analyzed from the essay, is thus a style of depicting, creatively and instinctively, not professionally, creating the first impressions that comes to mind when a particular strain of thought gets depicted. This manner or style was directed at something, at the expression of a fundamental truth, the “verite”, so often mentioned in theoretical and critical documents of the period. When impressionism was considered as depiction of naturalism, which was not new, these artists seemed to set the art apart by their technical devises. For the impressionist, as the name applies, the concept of impression provided the theoretical means for the approaching the relation of individual and universal truth.

It may be just depicting the shallow waters or the primary layer of thought that a particular event or an aesthetic consciousness generates in an artist. Shiff is commendably exemplary when he distinguishes photography and Art in the context of Impressionism, as defining it to be an “imprint”. The elementary difference between photography and art is in the medium of reproduction, which is the essence of all art. Photography is capturing the moment in time as an imprint but art is always contoured by artists ego, the creative psyche and personal interpretation of the flux from where the artists draws inspiration. The "Impression" is always a surface phenomenon, immediate, primary, and undeveloped. Hence the term was used for the first layer of an oil painting, the first appearance of an image that might subsequently become a composite of many such impressions.

It is in the ability to catch the primary idea of the flux that inspires the artist’s creativity that impressionistic art becomes successful. As primary and spontaneous, the impression could be associated with particularity, individuality, and originality. The artist’s ability to infer from the facts that generate aesthetic thought gives art its ingenuity. Impressionism is in the synthesis of nature and original sensation. In Deschanel’s usage, the term “impression”, which one might first regard as reference to very concrete external events, is extended into the more internalized realm of character, personality, and innate qualities. The romantic critic Theophile Thore similarly allowed the term to bridge the gap between the external and the internal, the physical and the intellectual or the spiritual, when he used it to explain how poetry differed from imitation. Poetry is not nature but the feeling that nature instills in a poet, the impression that gets recorded in a special language. In other words we can never have absolute knowledge of the external world in the manner one does have absolute knowledge of an impression: it would reveal as much truth about the world as an impression does.

The self of the artist in any form of art cannot be denied because it forms the essence of all artistic interpretation, though the artist plays the role of an observant spectator, which also entails an investigation into the concepts of the genre. The ‘impression’ then can be both a phenomenon of nature and of the artists own being. It was not until the nineteenth century that psychology, the study of sensation, emotion, and thought came to be recognized not only as a branch of metaphysics, but as natural science, as an area of empirical research, into the physiology of perception and then in turn, to impression. A standard definition of impressionism was in accord to David Hume’s use of the term that "impression is the effect produced on the bodily organs by the action of external object." Shiff also warns us about us misjudging impressionism with symbolism, where the latter depends more on hidden layers of meaning or interpretation. Shiff does this by drawing a clear distinction between Manet and Monet’s artistic depiction of thought patterns. Where Manet’s depiction of impressions on the mind was objectively portrayed by solid brush strokes, monet was subjective to his aesthetic rendering.

The essay is conclusively remnant of the theory that art is a projection of the artists self and this must be true to the nature of creation. Impressionism is then, perhaps the artist’s impression on nature and not nature’s impression on the artist.

Pritha Biswas
I MA in English with Communication Studies
Christ University

On Sociolinguistics/ Anil Pinto

Lecture notes: 25th sept,'10

Notes by: Sneha Sharon Mammen

Socioloinguistics is a study of language in relation to societies that is language that functions within a society. Mr Pinto says that sociolinguistics is all about the power game where language always finds something superior to its standards, unlike Phonetics which takes a neutral stand.

Within Sociolinguistics we study three broad categories :

1) Language Variety encompassing

a) Dialect

b) Accent

c) Register

d) Jargon

e) Style

f) Gender

g) Ideolect and

h) Taboo words

2) Language Change, encompassing the followings contexts of change:

a) Bilingualism

b) Multilingualism

c) Code Switching

d) Code mixing

e) Pidgin/ Creole

3) Saphir- Whorf Hypothesis

The question as of now is what exactly is the difference between Linguistics and Sociolinguistics? While the former deals with the form and structure of language like Morphology, Phonology, Syntax, the latter studies language within its societal context and largely in the domain of the spoken language.

However, in a society there is no one language. For example, you might be acquainted with the 44 sounds of English (UK) but in reality who knows it might far exceed this number. Even if one looks at the Daniel Jones book of pronunciations, at the back of your mind you know that it is just referring to the pronunciations which people majorly follows, it doesn’t at any point mean that it is the fixed form of pronouncing words. BBC opts for readers educated from the Oxford or Cambridge Universities, but even these are but simply a minority.

Language therefore keeps changing with respect to time, gender, area, sex and so. We ourselves are not speakers of either chaste Hindi or English.

Under the former categories, we study the following divisions:

a) DIALECT: is a variety of language distinguished according to region and social class.

Region---------) All languages have regional varieties.

Social class-------) 1) on the basis of literacy (educated or not)

2) language of the rustic. ( as also caste structures and special varieties.

In Karnataka itself you could identify people on their geographical grounds in terms of the kind of language variation that they speak.

b) ACCENT: variation in pronunciations that might either be because off regional differences or cultural. Even in England, there is the existing difference between the Received Pronunciations and the language of the working class- cockneyed.

c) REGISTER: is the topic oriented varieties of language, commonly occupational varieties such as that of lawyers, medicine, in educational systems (the terms of Literary Theory is specific: mimesis, catharsis etc). It is also important to note that the registeral variety uses a lot of jargons.

d) JARGONS: As mentioned above, registeral language also uses a lot of jargons that is technicalities with respect to activities. It aids to decide who is an outsider and insider of a trade. The terms ‘subject’ or ‘subjectivity’ or other jargons like that used among the naxals, lawyers, journalists, psychology students and the like.

e) STYLE: is the individual usage of language depending on situations and role relations. Martin Joos in 1962 had propounded the five styles used in the English language.

a) Frozen- “ Visitors should make their way straight upstairs”

b) Formal- “ Visitors should …… at once”

c) Consultative- “ Would you mind taking the way upstairs..”

d) Casual- “ Its time you go upstairs”

e) Intimate- “Up you go chaps”

The style varies according to the relations, official relations, parent-child relations etc. Style could be morphological, lexical and the like where the structure changes but the verb order remains the same.

f) GENDER: According to researches, women use more prestigious, formal language when compared to men.

The men and women ,Amer- Indians in Alaska speak nearly different languages altogether. ( Reason: less contact between men and women, even today we have the concept of men and womens schools and colleges in the country where the elite used to send their children, areas which catered to a particular gender.

In research again, it was noticed that men and women discuss varied topics during a conversation. While women gave vent to their personal feelings, men took to talking about news, politics, sports etc. Interestingly, it was also seen that if a third person talked of his/her problems to a man and a woman at the same time, the man would rationally try to advise while the woman took to recalling situations of the same kind which might have happened to her or heard in the past.

Also, hidge words (‘a kind of’, ‘a sort of’) and tags (isn’t it) were used more by women.

g) IDEOLECT: personal dialect of an individual speaker, (the I-DIALECT that is). It consists of gestures, words, pronunciations and voice quality.

h) TABOO WORDS: words which are forbidden in the socal context.

It could be categorized under filthy and clean or pure usage of words. For example while ‘fuck’ is the filthy usage, ‘intercourse’ remains the clean way. Interestingly, English being a Germanic language credited to have emerged from the Anglo Saxons, many of the raw and filthy words we hear today were the actual English version of the euphemisms we currently have been using. For example, the terms ‘cunt’, ‘cock’, ‘prick’, ‘tits’ or ‘shit’ today have been modestly replaced by ‘vagina’, ‘penis’, ‘nipples’ and ‘faeces’, however it does not sideline the real origins of the original words.

It has much to do with the social hegemony and the power of language to push the ‘other’ ‘low standard’ usage aside and therefore even the terms filthy and clean are quite regionally decide. Swear words in themselves are not pan Indian which is a result of our differences in cultural experiences.

Another reason why taboo words were forbidden was because many a times it was considered inauspicious to use it. For example, a tribe in Mangalore does not call a cobra by its name, rather they think it wise to call it ‘the good one’ so that it helps prevent unfortunate incidents and mishaps/ calling it a good one in their belief ascertains that it might not harm anyone.

Similarly, the hindi usage of the term ‘woh’ as in ‘pati, patni aur woh is generally used for a mistress and is sometimes carefully avoided so as not to appear disrespectful.

‘Babe’ ‘Chick’ have social taboo orientations while the usage of ‘They’ or ‘them’ corresponding to ‘woh log’ to discriminate between people of another sect or religion are religious taboo words.

Again, in some parts of the country people do not call certaion illnesses like chicken pox, small pox or measles by names. They generally find it favourable to call it by terms like ‘mataji’ perhaps to seek her blessings and escape the threat of suffering.

We now come under the second broad category: LANGUAGE IN CONTEXT/ LANGUAGE CHANGE OR LANGUAGE VARIATIONS. Under this head we study the following:

a) Bilingualism/ Multilingualism- When people with different cultural linguistic backgrounds reside in the same geographical space sharing the same socio-economic and political activities, bring in the functioning of bilingualism and multilingualism. For example, Bengaluru today is a multilingual state with Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, English, Bengali and Kannada speaking people residing here in large numbers. Canada too has French and English, so is the case with Brazil or even Singapore where people talk Malay, English, Tamil etc. The question is: who speaks what language and to whom. Whereas at home we might use our mother tongues, in official and institutional circles, we tend to use the official language of communication.

b) Code Switching/ Code mixing: Individual switching from one

language to another in a conversation. While code mixing means using words from another language, code switching means usage of an entire sentence in a different language. Example: “You are right. Unlogo ki angrezi achi ho jati hain, lekin ye jo subjects hain, science, mathematics, they become very weak”

c) Pidgin/ Creole: simplified link languages which arise due to

contact between the ruler and the ruled or when languages of two groups of people come in contact for reasons of trade and commerce. Schuchardt in 1891 in his reading talked of :

1) The Butler English of Madras

2) Pidgin English of Bombay

3) Boxwallah English of Upper India

4) Chee Chee English

5) Babu English.

Later in the 1980’s even Priya Hosani talks of the varieties of Butler English.

If a large number of people talk Pigin, it becomes Creole. Amitav

Ghosh in his ‘Sea of Poppies’ also mentions about the Lashkari

Language which was again a language used for trade purposes.

The last broad category is the Saphir-Whorf Hypothesis where Edward Saphir and Benjamin Whorf come together to highlight a proposition that language shapes a person’s worldview. For example, certain communities have every word in its language designed either to be an animate or an inanimate. As in Hindi yu have either masculine or feminine, English takes into consideration even the neutar gender and has terms like ‘it’. Talking of this community, the inanimate are those that do not have life and hence could be hurt. The animate whereas are supposed to have life and should not be inflicted with pain. For this reason, they might even consider a stone as animate and hence not use it in an uncaring fashion.

Therefore, it is the construction of language in a certain way and the cultural understanding of language that frames our thought. Even to this date, the Christians believe that the Eucharist is animate and hence you should take the bread and wine, the supposed flesh and blood of Christ in a manner that projects reverence.

Worship of images of Gods and Godesses could also fall under this category.

Pinto, Anil. Lecture notes. Christ University. Bangalore.

Friday, September 17, 2010


AsiaCALL International conference on CALL, Web 2.0 and Beyond

Call for Papers: UGC National Seminar on Language and Technology

Theme:  Application of technology in modernizing teaching context

Organized by Department of English, Malabar Christian College, Calicut

DATES:  4-5 October 2010

VENUE: Malabar Christian College, Calicut, Kerala

The English language is always evolving to meet the demands of its global users. As an international language, English accommodates the unique needs of world communities. This uniqueness has been enhanced with the introduction of new technology. English language teachers are on the threshold to exploring new frontiers and possibilities. The younger generation is equipped with content-rich gadgets. As teachers we need to help them hone their skills and make them better citizens of tomorrow. We need to bring technology into the language classroom as we celebrate diversity while ensuring intelligibility.

The seminar intends bring together English Language Teaching professionals from around the country to discuss, reflect on and develop their ideas. The program will offer many opportunities for professional networking and development. It will involve two days of talks, workshops, and panel discussions on the following theme:

Application of technology in modernizing teaching context.

For more information regarding submission of papers and registration, please contact:

Dr Premanand ME
Conference Chairman

Email: nsltcalicut at
Phone: 09496217778

International Conference on Language Development and Computing Methods 2010 - Home

International Conference on Language Development and Computing Methods 2010 - Home

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Young Housewife

William Carlos William

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine, having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Williams "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician"; but during his long lifetime, Williams excelled at both.

“The Young Housewife”

The poem follows a chronological order and it is in a narrative style. It consists of four sentences and follows a first person narrative. This poem comes under the genre of experimental poetry. Carlos is often known as an “Imagist Poet”.

“THE” young housewife refers to a particular women; it is a pictorial story/representation of a women’s life. This woman is “gazed” as a desirable object by the narrator. Negligee worn by her can also be compared as “negligently” dressed. The narrator claims that he passed solitary on his car; referring to a possibility that he is not generally accustomed to travel alone.

In the first stanza, we see her within the boundaries of her husband’s house wherein she is wondering about in a negligee. A question which arises is, how does the poet know about this fact. Then again she came out to meet the ice-man and the fish-man; there is emphasis on the “man” she meets in the absence of her husband.

Her dressing has been elaborately described by the poet. She was un-corseted with her hair unkempt to which he compares her to a FALLEN LEAF. There is two possible explanations for this- one refers to her aesthetic body, to which she pays no attention to. Another refers to the possibility of her being “fallen” from grace as she is no longer fresh, not a virgin anymore. There is a sexual imagery wherein the poet might consider her to be a commercial sex worker (reason might be her contact with other man and also as she was un-corseted). Also another point to notice is that sexual organs or sexuality is present in terms of shrubs, “Leaf”.

The last stanza has an imagery of sound/auditory, “crackling sound over dried leaves”. There is a silence in the ending which might indicate the sexual intercourse between the poet and the woman. The silence is mysterious and the poet offers no reason for his smile. Also, the fact that he drove his car over DRIED LEAVES might indicate that his use or need for her was over. It displays a derogatory image of women as previously he had considered her to be a fallen leaf.

There is a conflict whether the poem is “De-feminising” in nature due to the status given to the women by him; i.e as a fallen leaf and dried leaf. On the other hand, few critics consider this poem to be from a feminist point of view as the poem is based on a woman’s life, there is a lot of importance given to her; The poem deals with a WOMAN’s and not a man’s sexual conquest.

Pinto, Anil. 'Analysis of 'The Young Housewife.'' Christ University. Sep. 2010. Lecture.
William Carlos William. 'The Young Housewife.' N.p. N.d.

MA English - Western Aesthetics CIA III - Audio-Visual Presentation

Following are the links to the presentations uploaded by students of the 1st year MA English with Communication Studies programme as part of their Continuous Internal Assessment of the Western Aesthetics Course. This is perhaps the first class in India to broadcast their presentations online via YouTube, exploring the possibility of a digital classroom.

1) Rohit S Nair's presentation on Terry Eagleton's "Capitalism Modernism and Postmodernism".

2) Sebin Justine's presentation on Dick Hebdige's "Postmodernism and the 'Politics' of Style".

3) Ankita Das' presentation on Hal Foster's "The Primitive Unconscious of Modern Art".

4) Arya Augustine's presentation on Peter Burger's "On the Problem of Art in the Bourgeois Society".

5) Basreena Basheer's presentation on Raymond William's "When was Modernism?"

6) Mariya Izzy's presentation on Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbel's "The Love of Art".

7) Pannaga S.G.'s presentation on Raymond William's "The Works of Art Themselves".

8) Pritha Biswas' presentation on Richard Shiff's "Defining Impressionism and the Impression"

9) Ritu Kedia's presentation on Clement Greenberg's "Modernist Painting- An Essay".

10) Ruchira Dutta's presentation on Edward Said's "Orientalism".

11) Shanthi Joseph's presentation on Serge Guilbauts' "Adventures of Avant Garde in America".

12) Shilpi Rana's presentation on Lucy R Lippard's "Mapping".

13) Sneha Roy's presentation on Walter Benjamin's "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction".

14) Sneha Sharon Mammen's presentation on Timothy Clark's "Olympia".

15) Sreetama Ghosh's presentation on Stephen Eisenman's "The Intransigent Artist".

16) Surya Simon's presentation on Antony Giddens' "Modernity and Self Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age".

17) Triveni Waikhom's presentation on Frederic Jameson's "Aesthetics and Politics".

18) Vachiraporn Pharin's presentation on Alan Wallach's "The Museum of Modern Art Past's Future".

19) Vandana's presentation on Benjamin H. G. Buchloh's "Figures of Authority: Cipher's of Regression".

20) Ananta Pradhan's presentation on Yve Alain Bois' "Painting: The Task of Mourning".

21) Anjan Behera's presentation on Philip Leider's "Literalism and Abstraction: Frank Stella's Retrospective at the Modern".

22) Geeta Lakkannavar's presentation on Griselda Pollok's "Vision, Voice and Power- Feminist Art History and Marxism".

23) Chandu's presentation (Part 1 & Part 2) on Theodore Adorno's "Art, Autonomy and Mass Culture".

24) Shushma Patil's presentation on Philip Leider's "Literalism and Abstraction: Frank Stella's Retrospective at the Modern".

As per YouTube's requirement, your web browser must have the Adobe Flash Player plugin to view the videos. For downloading the software, click here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Digital Initiatives in Higher Education

Following is my 17th blog! It's yet another step towards a major project that I want to take up shortly. Suggestions are welcome
Digital Initiatives in Higher Education

Guest Lecture on Indian Psychology by Anup Kumar Dhar

Dated: 3rd September '10.

Notes by: Sneha Sharon Mammen

..And quite naturally as we understand talking on 'Indian Psychology' is quite a herculean task because of the specific dimension it seeks to explore. Mr Dhar faced two problems: first, whether to deal with the 'Indian' as in an adjective (to see it as an adjective in front of 'Psychology' does trigger minds!) or to talk of it in an Americanized sort of a concept, that is, does 'Indian Psychology mean psychology in India? The class affirms a resolute NO! If it were that way, is it to be seen in terms of the Buddhist or a Vedantic selves? There is a third problem of getting at the exclusivity of the topic, does India really have something of a psychology to its credit?
Psychology as we popularly understand today is a nineteenth century Western European concept. Where does India feature that way? What has India today to its credit? Science, Feudalism or psychology? Meaning to say whether it can claim something like 'Indian psychoanalysis' to its benefit. The question is raised and a junior scholar assumes that Abhimanyu's example as per the epic, Mahabharata could be an attempt to see through Indian psychoanalysis. However, 'Memory' says Mr Dhar 'is not unconcious' and there is no theorisation of Mahabharata per se.

As Romila Thapar enquired whether India had slavery as much was prevalent in Rome; it is to ask whether India had Science as much as the West could claim for itself or even did we ever give to the world what Freud, Chomsky and Skinner have been credited for? Where then lies the logic of this part of the world? The basic historical problem haunting us thereby is the fact that most of us ponder as to whether there was any Indian counterpart to psychology!!

Supposingly, this nation did have psychology. Assuming it that way, can we have a benchmark too? Which of the following therefore is Indian:
1) Psychoanalysis - repression
2) Behaviourism - behaviour
3) Phenemenology- subjective
4) Cognitive -computer
5) Biological-brain ???

And the doubts prevail, Birth of psychoogy in India---- Buddhist period? Shankaracharya? Medieval? Modern period? WHEN!

There are however ways to look at it. There apparently are many logics of looking t the psyche with respect to the historical perspective. However the problem with history is 1) where you dont look back ( no respect for India?) SIMPLE- Seamless and continuous flow from origin to end? As step ladders? Fake/ Folk/ Faith leading to psychology where all preceeding steps are falsified or COMPLEX- with fundamental shifts, turns and breaks.

As an example, consider looking at the perspective of reaching heaven (in the Mahabharata). Here Heaven is equated to truth. The idea of ' dont look back' engulfs Draupadi as she is the first to fall while Yudhishthira is lucky to have not looked back at all and thus attain heaven with all its goodness.

Another example, how do you drive?- You drive ahead indeed. However, the rear view is an important component. You drive in the dialectic, between the windscreen and the rear view. Combine the two together, you get a fine driver/psychologist that is the one who merges history and the contemporary.

History (options to look at it)-- Modern
Pre historic
Non sense!

Mr Dhar shows the complex thread of time as a cluster of unkempt wool ball, Indian psychology being one such thread running simultaneously.

Freud in 1895- accredited with birth of psychology in Europe, to be specific, Germany alone. Interestingly in 1905, a committee is set up in Calcutta discussing the beginnings of a psychology department in its university. Thus, Brajendranath Sree develops psychology (1905-15) and works up a syllabus. The confusion thereby creeps in as to whether the syllabus to be introduced should be experimental or psychological, introspective?

With the coming up of asylums in 1758, 1805, 1921-22 in Bhawanipur, Bombay and Ranchi and the psychology department of Calcutta University( the first of its kind in India), where does psychology after all rest?

The first batch of M.Sc Psychology in Calcutta had a doctor as its student, G.S Bose, brother of novelist, Rajshekhar Bose. S.N Bose accredited for the famous 'Bossons', as also a critic of Einstein who differed in his own approach and G.S Bose with his thesis on the concept of repression against Freud, in constant correspondence with him to an extent that even his daughter went to Berlin to meet Freud, as also being a part of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis-- this was indeed the Glorious period of psychology which the common man often forgets to acknowledge.

'A New Theory of Mental Life' published in English for everyone to read forms an important assessment arena. Our mindset has always been to take theory from the west and apply it here. Ever wondered what we gave unto them? Ever dared pointing out where they went wrong?

G.S Bose:

Hypnosis--) Magic--) Medicine (1910)--) Psychology (1917)--) Psychiatry( National Medical College--) Concept of Repression (1921)

Yogasutra (Patanjali) (--- PSYCHOANALYSIS ----) swapna
Bhagvad Gita (1948) Puranapravesa (1934) Lal Kalo (1930)


Therefore, birth of psychology in India is also birth of medicine and psychiatry.

What was Bose's concept of Repression? A rebel against Freud's thesis. Bose meant to show that in India we cannot soak in each of Freud's theory. His theories were but possible in the circles of Christianity where you are supposed to repress your sin, flesh, carnality and guilt or you go confess. Therefore, repression was not a framework. Behaviourism too was not a framework because we are by nature reflective/ ambivalent self. The theory of double wish prevails--wishing and not wishing something at the same time.

Logic of the psyche is thus an intraceptive self. Ashish Nandi in 'Antarmukhi', a translated work showed how we are intraceptive in front of the mirror- reflected self-- 'twoness of the self'.

Therefore it is not repression rather ambivalence that is, to be or not to be. 'Swapna' as aforementioned is the writing of Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams'.
Lal Kalo is the battle between the red and black ants ( the red ants had ridiculed the black ants' queen!) Indignity of woman? Parallels could be drawn towards either a Sita or Draupadi. It is not guilt that comes into scene. It is but hurt and indignation for which Draupadi had rebelled with all her life.

Fundamental psychic drama is not premised on guilt. However, for Freud it was always guilt (consider: Oedipus Rex). For practical reasons it has on the contrary been the element of hurt.

Also, time moves cyclically in our psyche. Re read Patanjali and it shows that.
a 600 page book- psychiatrist's writing- re writing the Bhagvad Gita- an attempt to show that there were no Kauravas or Pandavas. Arjun's famous dilemma- How can I kill my kinsmen and to what good?- shows conflict of self with self- reflecting on self.

How do we become gendered man and woman?

The West came up with 'Oedipus Point'- gendering. He was trying to answer a foundational question.- Universal Psychology by an Indian.

Resource drain from India?

Tagore- Logic of Psyche- Sufi, Bhakti Movements
Gandhi - Bhagvad Gita (1921)
Aurobindo- Bhagvad Gita (1921)
Lokmanya Tilak -Bhagvad Gita (1921)----) Quite a contested field, open to examination!

Indian Psychology as according to the west is either being spiritual, transcedence, connectedness, inner self or God/Gods. (Religious-belief, worship, cultural attributes)
More of a Guru-Shishya Padhati (combining religion plus education or medicine plus religion)

Carl Jung's idea of ' a natural religious function', for Freud was the 'universal neurosis of mankind'.

Indian Psychology basically then traces itself back to six schools:

1) Vedanta
2) Vaisheshika
3) Nyaya (epistemology)
4) Sankya (Existence, what we are and where we come from)
5) Yoga (practice)
6) Buddhism/Jainism (knowledge/ existence/ethical living)

Amazingly, none of the above have a conception of God! Why then is India called a religious nation? The above, all of them have different mandates. As Buddha believed, one should be interested in the pot and not the potter/ never answered he believed in a 'one' almighty power. To top it all, Buddhist texts too are in a dialogic pattern. Brahma in the Upanishads is also not God, is rather a helpless person gazing up to the stars wondering!

As Amartya Sen puts it, the Indian tradition is a rational, argumentative form. He thus cracks the received idea of India.

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Response to Jijo's write on Zizek

Following is a response to Jijo's Write on Zizek's address in Kochi this year.
 Click here for Jijo's write up

Left always blossoms

Dear friends, I am extremely sorry for the delay. This article was prepared once I read the article of Jijo written on February 10, 2010. But my mental illnesses due to the losses of few of my friends havestopped me from finally editing this article. I believe Jijo cannot remember me because I have met him before three years in a conference. Any way I take this opportunity to meet and talk with my friend Jijo virtually. Jijo has not only written about the Comrade Slavoj Zizek but also about the communism and its future. Personally I believe his long time desire of attacking communism and its class perspectives came true by this seminar and he has done it successfully but not scientifically.The following can be considered as a response to his so called response to the Comrade Zizek.

There are differences between the Marxian theory and early Christianity though early Christianity was considered as the relaxation of the people those who suffer in the hands of feudal lords. So religion was addressed as opium by Karl Marx. It is really a deliberate attempt of reductionist understanding of Jijo comparing both Marxism and early Christianity though Christianity mostly relies on the socialstructure that is the superstructure of the society but the Marxism focuses mainly on the base of the society [for our understanding we could say Marxism is for capturing the statepower for the betterment of the majority of the people and before capturing power it would run a parallel government with the sea changes in the modes of production and in the productive relations that would change the depriving conditions of the poor simultaneously and radically]. So comparing the contours and the very aim of manifesto of communist party with the Apostles Chapter 4 and 5 of Bible is nothing but the childish act or a deliberate attempt of confusing the readers [even I could say this is nothing but revising Bible] conveniently carried out by Jijo. Apostles Chapter 4 and 5 rely on the mutual consents of all people to distribute the things equally. There is nothing mentioned in the Apostles what would people do if a few people is not ready to give up their unneeded surpluses when the majorities are suffering.

Thanks to Jijo. Because normally the allegation on Communism is it considers only the men in action but not their thoughts (Refer the arguments between Robert Pereira of Erstwhile Communist party of Chilon (Srilanka) and Krishnamoorty, a notable philosopher from India). The understanding of Jijo of a man is really pathetic that he considers that men in action are an individual. His arguments were not substantiated by the solid evidences but he has written mere sweeping sentences. Normally and apparently the human beings in idle always be considered as the individuals not the men in action. Since from the hunter gatherer society, men in action group themselves with their own identity rather than idle sitting hermit like. In order to separate people individually, religions especially Hindu religion preach inactions(All the happenings are going on as per the wishes of God i.e. Keep quiet). Same time let me quote few examples from the history of socialist states. Teacher Lenin is the one who strives hard to confirm the existence of individuality of all the dialects of USSR. Even the anti-communist writers who are from USSR itself could not conceal the individual importance given to people by the erstwhile USSR in their writings.  Let me request Jijo to compare the severaldepartments of languages and linguistics of universities of erstwhile USSR with so called democratic countries of present day. Marxism is never afraid to consider individuals as individuals but it was forced to divide the society into various classes by the ruling classes of rich core. Still no one forgets the importance given to various nationalities, dialects in the regime of Teachers Lenin and Stalin. (Read Stalin’s Book on “Nationalism and Language”)
Next let me deal with Jijo’s scathing attack on annihilation policy followed by the communist parties in action [in no way I mean the parliamentary communist parties or pseudo communists]. Let me say one thing that communists believe that all men are born as human beings not as rich or poor. But the brought up and their environment make the impact on them. I don’t know why Jijo conveniently forgets a word DECLASS that is very much famous and familiar among the communist parties and also among the critics of communism. Even Marx and Engels were born in the rich families but they declass themselves to live as equal to common beings. It is in the history that many chances are given and being given to the capitalist classes to declass themselves but they are adamant in exploiting the poor that put communists, the representatives of the poor people to annihilate them sometimes but not virtually always. [I still remember the words of Teacher Mao and how it was translated by friends like Jijo. At the time of The Great Cultural Revolution, Mao says “Bombard the Headquarters” that means throw away the leadership from its current position since they lost their moral responsibility to be the leaders of proletariat and revised the principles of Marxism- Leninism; but it was translated by revisionists as “Mao asked his comrades to demolish the headquarters of Communist Party of China”. Let me remind the story of how Lenin responds to his comrades when they try to demolish the Kremlin palace at the time of new democratic revolution of Russia]. So annihilation shouldnot be taken literallybut contextually. Same time I too accept that communists do annihilations literally too. But for that let me put forth a question to Jijo: Do you know what happened to Roman Catholic ‘father’ who asked people to go peaceful procession to beg bread from Louis XVI of France and his queen? Sometimes annihilation is unavoidable. Because we cannot decide what weapon we shouldtake up; that all will be decided by our enemy.For this Jijo may comment “Love all”.True human beings cannot have such patience, tolerant, compatibility and aesthetic sense to love a man who is raping an innocent girl. Still I remember my revolutionary Jesus Christ and his Silver Whip.

            Jijo tried his level best to revise the Marxism [though many tried; they could not succeed but still Marxists are waiting for such criticisms to reanalyse themselves again and again and correct themselves; So better luck next time Jijo]. He deliberately propagates that Marxism relies on hatred. But that is not the contour of Marxism. Love is the core and contour of Marxism. Marxists fight for the fight free world. Communists love people, so they could not see their own people suffering, they analyse and find out the reasons for the sufferings of the people and find out that few handful people exploit en masse of people, They persuade the capitalists but meet failure; (I request Jijo to read the autobiography of Bo Yee, the former king of China who spent his life in rehabilitation centre set up by Communist party of China) at last with no further words to persuade they start hating handful of people in order to protect en masse of people.  Dear Jijo, why don’t you ask capitalists to get rid of hatred? Because the history shows that they are the one who started hating first. Remember Jijo, we cannot ask Muslims and Christians to get rid of their defensive attacks though their defence seems like violence because they are not the ones who started the violence first but the Modi’s started it.

I request Jijo to avoid the sweeping statements and let me request him to give the quotations and evidences from the Marxist literature where he gets the knowledge that “Marxism has an unspecified assumption that there is extremely bad humankind”. There is no such saying in Marxism and its literatures.  When talking about violence, let me repeat it to my readers that violence is not communists’ wish but they have no options. (DearJijo, Ask MedhaPatkar, she will narrate a bundle of stories of peaceful demonstrations and their untold stories. Jijo tells communism is a fiction. If a theory based on such an unscientific assumption is to be read as a fiction or theory, then what would be the name of the sweeping statements of Jijo without any evidences? But still I request Jijo to write more; because communists are very tolerant to receive comments and criticisms from Jijo like people because these comments and criticisms alone can help communists to reanalyse and correct themselves as their teacher Mao advises. (Read Mao’s Collected Volumes)

Jijo speaks that capitalism has no ideology at all and it is the natural inclination of the human kind. But anthropologists and all historians of the mankind speak against that and it is well proved that communism is the natural inclination of the mankind. (I request Jijo to read The Origin of Family, Private property and State by Engels and I request him to counter it scientifically if he can). Pre communistic society is the first societal structure and the base of human beings.Human beings were born with the natural inclination of communism since they are social animals and so it is well proved that communism will come not because of the economic depression and all but because of the science and nature show our way there.

I could not understand the logic of the argument put forth by Jijo. He says the reason for the failure of Marxists in India is the distance between theory and praxis. In the last criticism, he points out that Marxism as anunscientific assumption and Utopia. But here he charges the Marxists for their impractical ability to implement it. If Marxism is the utopian principle, then in no way it can’t be successful. Jijo’s confused mind is revealed in his writings apparently. It is written in his article that the experience of applied communism was not available to Marx. But I would like to remind that the pre communal society and Paris commune had the rudiment form of earlier stage of communism and new democratic revolution respectively.

Understanding of democracy, capitalist parties and even the Marxist parties of Jijo is really funny. Because India is not at all a democratic country but it strives hard to become a democratic but this ruling class cannot give the leadership to a democratic society and it will not allow India to become a democratic country (If Jijo has any doubts of it, I request him to ask few of his friends in Gujarat and Mangalore, they can narrate the stories of democracies of our India). Obviously India is semi feudal and semi colonial country. There are no capitalist parties in India. Because capitalist parties won’t follow the structure of monarchy that is fatally followed in Congress party, whichJijo believes as a capitalist party.I personally believe and I can say it boldly what is followed in Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura is not communism. If this is communism, then I ll be the first enemy of communism. The real embryo stage of communistic state is inside the forests of Dantewada [May be Jijo is in the faraway corporate cities like Bengaluru to see the realities. I request Jijo to read all the recent articles related to Dantewada published in EPW].

Jijo has to understand a point that Communists have not come to power because of the economic depression of 1930’s. The communist parties of Italy and Germany were stronger than the Communist parties of Russia but still Italy communists could not grasp the victories though the economic depression rate of Italy and Germany are higher than Russia. So here the fact of economic depression cannot create a revolution but it can increase or decrease it. Economic depression is one of the ends of capitalism and also one of the factors for new democratic revolution but it is not the deciding factor of new democratic revolution. Communists never rely on the economic depression of the capitalism for their revolution because Marxism has the understanding that capitalism will end up in the no way place, so communism is the scientific start of the humanbeings. It’s not like the Utopia but it is well proved in Das Capitals [I request Jijo to read all the communism literatures or at least the basic principles before he starts commenting on it]. Communists understand the realities correctly, so they are considered as the biggest threat of India. Though communists do not have the clear cut idea of how the communism will be, they have already proved that their model societies are much better than other capitalist models comparatively. Let me request the readers to compare and contrast the facilities given to people in erstwhile socialist countries and capitalist countries. India’s ration system and five year plans are none but the cut and pasting from erstwhile USSR. Though we do not have any socialist states currently in the world, it does not mean the failure of communism because ups and downs are always in life. Finally why to be afraid if the communism slowly moves to the university curriculum?[So Jijo means university curriculum is far away from action. Huh? Thanks I too believe so. Because these capitalistic institutions and curriculums are not meant foractions or action oriented syllabi]. Wherever communism goes, it has the same class struggle as its content till the communistic philosophiescome to prevalence. Because this is scientific philosophy and it’s the future of the mankind. Left never withers; but always blossoms.
Thanks to all the readers, my beloved friends Jijo and Anil.

Comradely yours,
Charles Antony

P.S: Comrade Slavoj Zizek is a philosopher [even the communist movements have their own internal contradictions with him; but they respect him for his writings] rather than an activist. Zizek is described as the living Patriarch of Marxism; but I could say one thing that even Comrade Zizek will not support this statement because it’s not the proletarian tradition. Let me quote the words of Comrade Lalhoj of Nepal “Communists are just the tools of people to accomplish the duties of communism”. May be they are the front runners, but as Teacher Lenin says “Revolution is people’s festival”.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

II Year JPEng Questions from American Literature Course

What is knowledge? Is there a difference between knowledge in sciences and knowledge in social sciences? Is social science knowledge not sound? 

Is all knowledge, including that generated by science, male knowledge? If so is feminist epistemology possible/conceivable? 

What is language? Can we think of thought and language as two independent domains. Can language truly capture all our emotions and feelings? Are feeling and thought separate cognitive domains? what is the difference between idea, concept, thought?