Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A conversation

A conversation between Ground Zero (GZ) and his colleague (TT) through chat network inside office. GZ's colleague is a seasoned follower of Christianity (I don't know which congregation he belongs to), and you know the religion of GZ, right? read on... The occassion mentioned in the conversation is a prayer ceremony at a Sikh Temple on the third day of the sad demise of our MD's mother. All the employees in Delhi office were invited for the prayer ceremony on this occassion.

TT to GZ: is your net working?
GZ to TT: no, not working for a long time
TT to GZ: yeah same here
GZ to TT: !!
TT to GZ: tommorow all r going to Sikh Temple Ist half
GZ to TT: yes, i'm thinking of going
TT to GZ: i won't be going
GZ to TT: whY?
TT to GZ: well does not agree with my faith
GZ to TT: man is mortal, be s/he a Christian or a Hindu.
TT to GZ: well i agree to this but going and praying in a temple does not ...... i don't agree all my sentiments are with the greiving family.
GZ to TT: there is no faith or religion cut off from man. What one practices itself is the religion. Praying or not praying is not the real thing that counts, but what matters is how much can one be complacent with the cultural psyche. for me, that's the crux of all rituals
TT to GZ: i respect ohters religious sentiments but for me my faith does not stand on pantheism. i respect the culture of the land but agreeing to thst whic is right is not waht i have learnt
TT to GZ: agreeing to taht which is not right i have not learnt
GZ to TT:yes, for me the single truth of God can be overlooked but many truths of man should be accepted as a reality. No attempts to unify, homogenize or reduce truth by defination means that which corresponds to reality.
TT to GZ: it is not all inclusive it is objective and not relative.
GZ to TT: I love to call 'they' rather than 'it'
TT to GZ: i am sorry i did not understand
pronoun for truth should be 'they'. Whereas you used the sentence 'IT is not all inclusive, IT is objective..." we're in a world of multiple truths.
TT to GZ: well if your truth believes that you shoud go to temple my truth says that ishoud not go. then you should be able to accept my truth as for yoyther are mant truths. as for you there are many truths
GZ to TT: good, asserting difference is a mature philosophical position. I appreciate it.
TT to GZ: relativism is a dageorous stand for any civilized society or an individual
TT to GZ: i hope the court of law does not practice the post modern school of thought then it would be difficult for any conviction as what the culprit did i was right according to him.
GZ to TT: in a discussion between absolute truth and relative truth i find the place of Court of Law at the rear end.
TT to GZ: why so?
GZ to TT: society is run by management techniques, not according to philosophical positions, be it Court of Law or sub-altern social movement. all workable truths..
TT to GZ: well even management techniques are based on some ideology. in a court the truth is quest and in such a setting the relativism cannotand should not have any space be it a court or any setting.... one cannot do away with absolutes if there is any absolute one cannot and one should not.
GZ to TT: but if there is none, then?
TT to GZ: the very statement thet you make that there is no absolute truth, is in itself a absolute statement. as you want me to believe that what u rsaying is the truths or even a relativist needs the absolutes to support his views
GZ to TT: indeed, a sound argument from your part. I need to study more.
TT to GZ: truth by nature is not all accommodative but exclusive
GZ to TT: but conflicts apart, i'm looking forward to some good philosophical discussions between us...not to reach at a conclusion but only to share our views.
TT to GZ: i m reminded of the story that says only a live fish swims acroo the current across
GZ to TT: not accomodative but exclusive, sounds like a foucauldian statement
TT to GZ: well Michel foucault was himself a relativist, post modern scholar, idon't support him
GZ to TT: good, down with all relativists!
TT to GZ: truth has to be there in any society and in every individual
GZ to TT: consider Derrida, for him everything is a text, and there is no reality outside the text.
GZ to TT: yes, foucault has never said that there is no truth... his genius is in saying that truth has always been constructed to exert power.
TT to GZ: the decostructionist are a part of the disillusioned groups. they were all disilussioned from Marxist approach that waited patiently of a truth
GZ to TT: following Nietzche he asked, \'why do humans need truth?\' it is jut to exert power, in social institutions, in sexual discourse, in morality etc.
TT to GZ: yes, Marxists waited patiently for a truth to unveil, i agree. How does a religious Christian differ from this?
TT to GZ: the disiciple of Nietzhe is the popular figure of History that remindseveryone of the dangers of postmodernism----Hitler
GZ to TT: all bookish interpretations, sorry for the direct statement.
TT to GZ: well that is the truth and not a mere interpretation well coming to ur question of why not a Xtian agree with marxists
GZ to TT: If Marxism after Marx and Christianity after Christ has become a unidirectional representation of the symbol, Nietzche\'s writings areinterpretable in several ways. end of interpretation is end of world.
GZ to TT: everything rests on interpretation not a single meaning of the symbol..
TT to GZ: well then interpettaion should correspond to that which is the truth. if not there would thousnad interpertations for a fact. in the 19 and the 20th cent.ies in the era of the knowledge boom the world has witnessed massacers and deaths more than all the massacres out of wars put toogeother in history and still we claim to be civilized
GZ to TT: i\'m not
TT to GZ: i hope that is just an interpretation and not the truth if then the (company name) would find it difficult to continue with you
GZ to TT: if I say \'yes\' interpret my \'yes\' in the way you want. I won\'t mind
TT to GZ: i hope u can understand the seroiusness of the issue....
are you trying to convice me of some truth, single truth? then please don\'t let us talk, talk and talk.. sometimes i\'ll lose my seriousness, i\'llblame myself, i\'ll curse the society...everything varies with mood. Mood is my philosophy,
TT to GZ: well i hope ur mood is always corrected according to what is right.
GZ to TT: not moods
TT to GZ: if u are a person governed by moods then tommrow ur mood may be to kill your apponent.
GZ to TT: a negative interpretation, just to keep me down!
GZ to TT: I\'ve never killed anyone!
TT to GZ: no brother that is just they way u r trying to tell me about urself and im not coming to any conclusion
GZ to TT: yes, there is always a possibility of the unexpected in everyone\'s life pure accidents are, in your words, \'absolute truths\' of life
TT to GZ: not clear
GZ to TT: there is always an element of unpredictableness in any social phenomenon, be it the behaviour of an individual or be it the outcome of a LokSabhaPoll.
TT to GZ: well even in the weather....the weatherman in india also makes mistakes
GZ to TT: which is supposed to be a scientific phenomenon!
TT to GZ: see the crux of the issue is that that unprdictablitiy is there even in my life at times i wrong but i go to the mirror of truth to always allign myself with the truth.
GZ to TT: I don\'t correct myself
TT to GZ: then there is no scope to learn in ones life its like trying to draw a straight line wothout a scale of course,
GZ to TT: i learn to avoid circumstances which i find harmful to me.
GZ to TT: Learning by intuition or by trial and error.
TT to GZ: wise is the man who learns from others mistake
GZ to TT: i agree
TT to GZ: well we need to conform at all times to what is right
GZ to TT: this is a good starting point: "well we need to conform at all times to what is right" note this sentence and we\'ll continue later.
TT to GZ: yes
GZ to TT: do you mind if i publish the whole conversation in my blog?
TT to GZ: please
TT to GZ: that would be great
GZ to TT: thanx

Friday, August 18, 2006

Gite Università per Stranieri

This post is aimed at providing information to those who would come to Università per Stranieri (University of Foreigners), Perugia - Italy to pursue course in Italian Language and Culture.

Tours are arranged to different parts of Italy all throughout the year. Indians who would be coming to this university mostly during the months of July, August and September can get a clear picture of the kind of tour packages offered to them.

Given below are the different tour-packages offered in August 2006.

Aug 6 Firenze (Florence): 40 Euro
Aug 12-15 Sicilia: 212 Euro
Aug 12 Todi e Orvieto: 27 Euro
Aug 16 Palio di Siena (city of horse-race): 27 Euro
Aug 19/20 Napoli-Pompei-Capri: 105 Euro
Aug 20 Ravenna: 38 Euro
Aug 26/27 Venezia e le Isole: 105 Euro
Aug 27 Roma-Musei Vaticani: 30 Euro

The rates do not usually include expenses on food except breakfast, but they often include accomodation charges and entry-ticket charges.

Address of the tour company that arranges the tours this year:

Giullis Viaggi - Via Fabretti, 35 Perugia
Tel: 075 5727666

You don't need to plan the trips ahead by calling from your home country. But you can of course plan your budget by studying the charge for each trip.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Perugia life progresses

Here boredom is slowly creeping into our Italian life with an exception of routine wine and beer. One of the Indian students who came here on scholarship left for India just after one month saying that it's just a waste of time being here for three months. The syllabus of Level 3 programme is largely based on language learning and grammar. All in general. But Level 4 has specialisations in translation, culture and techno-economical. Level 4 is more challenging. Those who expect more from the course, but who do not have sufficient knowledge of Italian language will get caught in Level 3. Of course, one can choose one level up and get into Level 4. But it would be risky. In Level 3 classes are good but the lessons don't pose a challenge to you, which means it is the problem with the syllabus.

I didn't go anywhere outside Perugia. With a nominal amount of scholarship I do not want to spend any Euro on trips. It's true that Italy is a live museum of the world. But everything what you see around you is antique enough to take you to Periodo Etruscho, Periodo Romano and Periodo Medeovale. There is a Arch or Fort Door called Arco Etrusco, beside our university building. It was built a few centuries before Christ. What else, here one hardly finds an archaelogical building later than 12th Century AD. After a few days you will not be fascinated by the antiquity of the buildings. Firenze, Torino, Venezia, Napoli all the cities will have the same historic tales to tell. About the grandeur of early Catholic Church, about the conflict between the Church and the noble families, about medieval art, about Romans and their civil and military life. I avoid them knowingly.

What to say about World Cup 2006 celebrations. Public celebrations are the same anywhere in the world. Those who enjoy, enjoy. For me, who loves football not by watching others play but playing it myself, the game between Italy and France was important. France played better than Italy. I still have faith in Zidane and still think that he would not have been provoked unless something seriously had happened between Materazzi and him. I was supporting France during the final because it was frustrating to see Italian good-for-nothing fellows watching the game with a bottle of beer in their hand while their native or foreign girl friends, who do not know anything about the game, encouraging the Italian team only to convince their boy friends and to show them that they too are passionate about the game. Worse were the intentions of some of my Indian friends. Some of them told me that they took photos with European or American girls only to get a friendly kiss from them.. so pathetic.

One litre wine or beer costs only 0.50 Euros (of course, there are costlier ones). But a daily newspaper costs 1 Euro. Rates are all absurd here.

More info on Perugia Click here

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wine and Women

Narrating my Perugia experiences I wrote in a mail to a friend: "Wine is cheap in Italy." He replied: "It is frustrating to know that wine is CHEAP there." He's right; wine cannot be cheap in Italy since it has been given high value in this country.

Vino Bianco (White Wine) and Vino Rosso (Red Wine) are the two varieties one can enjoy here. Their price varies from 1 Euro to 10 Euros per litre (i don't know whether there are much costlier ones). But why do I write all this. Wine is popular not only in Italy but in the Middle East, a region much familiar to an Indian. There is nothing new in knowing that Italians drink wine. But as an Indian, and particularly as an ex-JNUite I cannot forget the experiences with my lady classmates (with women) here. The difference in my experience is striking. In Jawaharlal Nehru University there is an air of gender sensitivity prevalent all along the campus, which is alleged to be one of the achievements of student community there. It is an air of suspicion, of anxiety and of neurosis. But here, a university in Europe, I have never come across a gender sensitive neurotic. Women are not here to nail you down if you stare at them. There is nothing like good relation or bad relation, nor is there anything outside the realm of 'enjoyment'. Everyone wants everyone else, perhaps always in an absolute sense. I know if one tries to comprehend this situation sitting in my subcontinent everything will seem to be problematic. But I don't think Europe has an answer for it. At least if what I see here is a cross section of European life. Are women cheap in Italy?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Italy's own 'Calcio'

Is there anything to theorize on Football? Once, one of my friends told me: football is a game in which one gets a feeling of "advancing". It is like eliminating your enemies in a war and advancing. And finally, reaching the goal. Football is a game that visually convinces the spectator that a team has really won or lost...

Some first hand pictures from Perugia on the day Italy won the World Cup championship 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Life at Perugia

Perugia, a city 220 kms away from Rome. Perugia is the "capoluogo" (like district headquarters) of Umbria, one of the 20 regions of Italy. I am here for pursuing a three months course in Italian Language and Culture in University of Foreigners, Perugia-Italy. Enrolled for the course on 3rd July. This is an intermediate level of language learning (we call it Level 3). Classes, food, accomodation, climate everything fine here as of now. The couse is partially funded.

We scholarship holders were asked to carry an amount to meet the expenses of at least one month. Moreover, we had to bear the flight charges from our own pocket. I didn't have sufficient money for all this. I had to borrow from home the amount for my to and fro air ticket. I really had a tough time with my family this time. It was very difficult to convince them about my plans (in fact "planlessness") for future. I did not go anywhere outside my house, did not visit any of my friends. In fact for the last two months I was facing a whole lot of techinical problems of life.

Now in Perugia, I have more time to spare. There are about 2500 students in this univsersity. All the 40-44 students in my class are non-Italians. We have 22 hrs of class every week, from Monday thru Friday. Academic work is not heavy. Only problem is to sustain oneself economically. I cook my food often alone and sometimes with my friends. A flat or room one avails on rent here will be fully furnished with kitchen, gas, and utensils. Water and electricity is assured for 24 hrs. The apartment is of the kind "Serviced Apartments" which I have seen in Delhi. We pay 200 Euros per month per head.

Climate here is more similar to Kerala than to Delhi. Temperature will not go above 32 degrees. We do not prespire at all. In short a good alcoholic weather. We do not have celing fans in our flat, surprising, no?

I will return to India in the beginning of October. During this period you can expect frequent updates...

I have a stupid post for you: it's about my experiences during my first air-journey: Click here to read the post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Enjoyed Kerala's Monsoon

I was back in Delhi on 6th June. Here I'm busy now completing the visa procedures. If everything goes fine I'll leave for Perugia on 29th of this month. Going through the entire process was a bit tiresome and boring. We don't really gain anything; and to spend days and weeks for completing the formalities of a 'two months' scholarship' is not advisable for someone who is of my age. In short the scholarship is not worth the labour we invest in it.

My stay at home was really memorable. Kerala had an early monsoon this time and I enjoyed a 4-day long continuos rain when I was at home. Later on rain vanished completely from the region and temperature shot up. I was really lucky to be at home at the appropriate time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Quit my job last week

Quit my job last week. I had some trifle with my boss in the last few weeks of my five months career in this company. I was even given a Corrective Action Notice which said that I had been rude to my boss on several instances, didn't bother to stay back for meeting dead lines, was poor at learning new skills etc. All crap. They gave me 10 days to improve. On the third day I resigned. Giving the Corrective Action Notice to my friend to read, I said to him: "You will not read newspapers if you would know how similar is the narration of this notice and the narration of day to day news in dailies which we all are acquainted with. You would be surprised to learn what had really happened in the office and what is said in this document."

There is no reality other than the one produced in the narrative. The notice given to me was highly convincing, so is the narration of day to day news. What it lacks is a 'problem'. Not doing something or doing what is not told is, for me, not a 'problem' for language. Instead what gets problematized in language is only the disallowance of incorporating an interpretation. Language of 'Law', in this way, is perfect in its disallowance of voices outside its realm. This closure is the problem which needs to be addressed prior to anything. The rest, whether the person is a criminal or an impotent, is only a tool for the 'Law' to standardize its assertive statements.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Feverish and Tired

When I debate or discuss anything, I feel that 'the abstract' is my most comfortable place. I consider it philosophy and the quest for a 'something'. How do you feel about it, this everlasting trap called life?

I'm ill today, feverish and tired. This could be the end of everything. I am not frightened by this thought. Endless and shameless hopes, the thought about them make me more dead.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

E-tutoring and Me

Tutoring a junior college student during the training programme for E-tutors organised by an American 'essay editing outsourcing' company, I wrote: "If it's a real life incident, I'm sure you were actually writing the essay when you were going through the experience, which means, experiencing and writing are not two different things for you. That's really great!" The essay was about recalling an incident in which you found yourself at discomfort with your friend. The student wrote the essay with too much involvement and it seemed that he really experienced it.

What was that I wanted to convey through my comment? If experiencing and writing are no two different things, why does he need an editor at all? Can any of my experience be edited the way it is done in writing? And now the tragedy, While I was writing this post, and when I completed the first paragraph and started the second, the chief-editor called me to her cabin and told me expressing her concern that the American company has informed her that they will not be able to take me along with their training programme anymore. Howzzaat!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Becoming-animal, Becoming-woman

Deleuze says, Literature stands for 'becoming-animal'. Literature also represents 'becoming-woman' and 'becoming-molecule.' What does 'becoming-animal' mean? Is it the traditional way of representing 'animality' as something which lacks restraint to biological impulses. Of course not. I understand 'becoming-animal' as something which is incapable of symbolizing anything other than what is present. For me 'animality' is incapable for symbolization and hence which is in presence always. Animal accepts what has presence and that which is not debated for being absent.

One may ask, why has Deleuze chosen only Literature among the multitude of texts which also deserves attention. Why didn't he say that those feminist writings are more like 'becoming-woman' than their less-hyped counterparts? My understanding goes like this, Deleuze's statement appears to be problematic for us when we first try to define 'woman' and then look for correspondences in literature. The pitfalls of such traditional methods of literary criticism are quite predictable; they configure texts as Feminist, Marxist or the like. Instead it should be through the activity of literature that a woman should be born. Alternatively if we try to symbolize woman, it becomes exactly the opposite of literature.

Literature is also 'becoming-animal' in the sense that it is beyond representation. For me, the 'becoming-animal' character of literature primarily has a footing on the non-judgemental nature of it.

A survey on Deleuze's philosophy:


Monday, January 16, 2006

The relevance of Jung

There has been a major shift in the realm of knowledge production with the advent of post-structuralism. Many of the concepts and methods of Psychology were also under attack when the monopoly of the knowing, perceiving subject was called into question. Psychoanalysis, in its Freudian way, faces criticism of its fundamental concepts of repression, unconscious, and the decisive role it gives to infantile sexuality. The general framework of psychology is shifting in a number of ways which in effect will be the future trajectories of Psychoanalysis. The shifts have taken shape in the following ways:

a) from neurosis to 'schizo' ('schizoanalysis' instead of psychoanalysis by Deleuze & Gutttari)
b) Many of the concepts like Oedipus Complex have been criticized for anchoring themselves in patriarchal culture. These concepts, which helped bringing in the whole discourse of Psychoanalysis itself, are undergoing a serious revision with new thinkers. (Luce Irigaray, …)
c) Language is now understood as the cultural constitutive factor of the 'self' (Lacan).

Without underestimating the initial endeavours of Psychoanalysis, it is important for us to read Jung in its Eastern philosophical underpinnings. Unfortunately, this is one of the efforts Indian psychology academia has long forgotten. Unlike Freud, for Jung, the time immemorial tradition of religion, spiritual and mystic experience of mankind is not a neurotic deviation. Nor for Jung, man is someone to be defined from the point of view of maladaptive behaviour. Thus, the crucial task of an encompassing explanation of human behaviour begins and progresses subscribing itself to different philosophies. Take for example the practice of Free Association whose genealogy has been located in the Christian practice of 'confession' by Michel Foucault. The never ending process of defining "who I am" is a play between knowledge and pleasure constituted by 'power'. But when Jung places confession as a fundamental tenet of psychopathology, it is about an originary relationship of the self to the "collective unconscious" of humankind.

I have in mind two projects:

1. Locating the two different philosophies of Psychoanalysis and Analytical Psychology, the former as a function of "capillary mechanisms of power" that attribute subjectivity and identity for the self, and the latter in relation to a "collective unconscious" that functions as a curative truth of the self.

2. Developing the concept of "collective unconscious" in order to reach out to the 'other'. I wish to develop this idea in order to read the post-structuralist texts. The fundamental question in this regard would be, is it possible to explain with the idea of 'collective unconscious,' the efforts of many of the post-structuralist thinkers like Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida to reach out to the 'other'? Is the idea of 'collective unconscious' a relationship to the 'other' beyond all moral and ethical structures of human knowledge?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dreams as Omens

Has Freud mentioned somewhere in his 'Interpretation of Dreams' that dreams are not to be interpreted as omens? For Freud, dreams are good study tools which must be utilized to study human sub-conscious. In his framework, the role of an individual person is greater since many of the variations in one's dreams are decided by the person's wishes and fancies and the dream itself is felt to him personally. But if we consider dreams as a kind of archaic writing, the role of individual person is less. No matter who sees a dream, it is the kind of writing that decides the dream; a writing of the world with communicative symbols. In this way, although an individual is free to decide whether his dream must be considered an omen or not, the fact that dreams are involuntary and that they have the characteristics of writing restricts any kind of individual intervention with it. And if it is decided by communicative symbols, the dream is not for the individual. A dream is an omen for reason that, and in the sense that, it is existent only as an archaic writing which is supplemented with the meaning shared by the 'other' in a community.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Of truth and other demons

Can the concept of truth claim an innocent history alongside human existence over centuries? Foucault has some insightful reflections on it. He has always challenged the idea of gradual unveiling of truth with human growth along history. According to Foucault, man has always created truths to exclude, homogenize, standardize and normalize the variety of discourses that occur around him. Truth has always been an instrument for veiling power. However, this idea will never be clear to us unless we consider the triangular reinforcement that has existed between power, pleasure and knowledge. Foucault, in his History of Sexuality: Part 1 uses a beautiful phrase to represent the mutual reinforcement that knowledge and pleasure makes: (correct me if I am wrong) The pursuit of power has always been "...knowledge of pleasure, a pleasure that comes out of knowing pleasure, knowledge pleasure." As far I can see there is not philosophy in it because the concepts he uses to establish his point is already known to us, knowledge, pleasure and power. And the parameters he sets, the meaning he assigns to each concept is taken from a common man's understanding.

If the concept of truth is discussed philosophically we will be taking a different approach altogether. Let's think about the division / the binaries that prevail in philosophy and sciences. Thought and judgement has always been divided between reason and madness, between truth and follie, between good and bad etc. Notwithstanding their possibility to attain meaning only through an interplay of their own absence and presence in language and discourse, these concepts have undergone a serious division among themselves. This divide is the 'author', it is also the history of logos. With the author everything has undergone a division. Life and death, pain and relief, stagnation and motion, sovereign and his subjects stare at each other with a new strangeness unknown to them.

Preserving Life

Anything that preserves life can be said to be poetic. If craving for aesthetic feeling is the only justification of life, what is the poetics of anti-poetic? Who will participate in this discussion, in a business point of view? Is rationality opposed to aesthetics, if yes can it be considered party to this blog, anti-poetic? If grammar of language itself has a poetics, how is writing possible in an anti-poetic blog? These are some of the concerns we will address in coming days.

New Ideas!!

New ideas are taking shape. It seems I have found my words at last...You will get to see new writings in the next few days///