Thursday, July 23, 2009

Of Love and Foucault

We had the third meeting on July 22nd Wednesday(postponed from tuesday due to some technical difficulties) on a Michel Foucault essay, What is Enlightenment? This was an essay written partially in response to Immanuel Kant's essay, 'What is Enlightenment?'
The people who attended the meeting were: Sowmya, Aparna, Bipin, Viju and Praveen.

Viju, initiated the discussion summarizing the main points of the essay. The essay announces Foucault's project of a archaeological and genealogical (in Foucault's usage of these terms)analysis of a historical ontology of ourselves. Kant's essay is responded to in brief, but mainly it serves as a preface to the main points foucualt tries to elucidate in the essay.

Aparna said that the main project is an inquiry into the attitude of modernity, and the non essential study of Enlightenment for such an inquiry.

Foucault's resistance to anything universal and global was pointed out by Sowmya.

The essay was not easy and the discussion turned to the cultural studies register itself and many examples of bad writing, from many foremost critical social science thinkers were pointed out and criticized. Praveen commented on the obscurantism of many writers. The problems of translation, usage of foreign vocabulary, practicality of cultural studies were all commented upon.

During the tea session after the main session, issues of Dev D was discussed which further lead to a discussion of love. And thus Praveen gave us a theme for another month, love! And we are not discussing love poems of fourteenth century, or sentimental mush from mainstream movies or from our own lives(they can be there). But love, theorized. This is, of course, tentative. But I am sure everyone will have their own say in this, like in, presenting a paper on love?!

Won't we love it? :)

- Viju

P.S. Purists who who abhor such topics being discussed in the group may treat this is a joke and can take a vacation on the LOVE month. :D

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seeing Dev D

Our second meeting happened on 14-07-09 in the Mphil Classroom. The numbers dwindled to just five: Aparna, Bipin, Sowmya, Shyma and Viju were present for the meeting
The subject of the discussion was the Bollywood movie, Dev D directed by Anurag Kashyap. The movie was screened the previous friday.

The meeting started off with Aparna initiating the discussion. She compared the multiple adaptation of Devdas something akin to the adaptations of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The indecisive character of Hamlet, the protagonist of Hamlet, the play seems to be reflected in the poster of Dev D too.

Viju commented on the Dev D's characters meeting at the murky depths signifies their temporary stay there.

Shyma said that there is some steering away from the traditional binaries of modern and traditional as well as the london educated devdas and the image of dev d

Sowmya observed that the movie had too much colour and featured a debased hero. The role of chanda by a white woman and the NRI-ness of Dev D was highlighted. Again the movie was not trying to perpetrate that love is all innocent. Rather it is about the self. The inherent macho-ness present in Devadas characters was also commented on. She also tried to make a connection between the character's name, Devdas and the practice of Devadasi system prevalent in India.

Bipin made some amazing observations which seemingly everyone else missed. He said while in the original Devadas Paro is hurt by Devadas and gets a scar on her forehead. here Dev D hasa scar on his face by an accident which he himself is responsible. He also said about the possibility of many loves.

There were minimal discussions after the meeting. There is some uncertainty on tomorrow's meeting. I think Sowmya will update us on that.

Please post your responses as comments for this post below. Sorry for the delay.

- Viju

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Kalyan

I am sure everyone has heard about Kalyan's father's death. He died of a heart-attack yesterday evening. This news has been shocking for all of us and we do share his incommensurable grief. Condolences from the deep of our hearts.

Kalyan, May your father's soul rest in peace.
And you, shall be in our prayers.

- the reading group

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Reading

We had our first meeting and it was great!

The venue was changed from CIL lawn to our dear musty Mphil Classroom.

Participants: Shyma, Bipin, Praveen, Ambili, Sowmya, Sreebitha, Rathan and Viju

The meeting started off with Shyma's presentation. She introduced Kant, his obscure scientific discoveries and responded to the religious premise of the essay.

Bipin had issues with the initial passage itself saying how 'the self imposed immaturity' is not quite self-imposed, but rather a result of social conditioning.

Praveen brought in Ambedkar's perspective on enlightenment here.

Rathan tried to connect the spiritual nature of enlightenment, relating it to Buddha's nirvana.

Sowmya elaborated on the assumptions of the essay about the mind/body and nature/reason dichotomies.

Sreebitha pointed out that the 'intellectuals' were the only ones capable of enlightenment according to Kant. Though at the beginning of the essay, the mass seems to have included in the 'men', they seem to be missing towards the end.

Viju saw a major public sphere/private sphere divide that Kant seems to make in the essay.

The many discussions evolved out of this include
* Shyma said that while we are aware of the political readings of the essay, the religious interpretations of this are unavailable or inaccessible. Why?
* Bipin commented on the balancing act which Kant attempts at, which was a disappointment when considering the initial promise he holds out in the essay.
* The religious aspect branched off to several mini-discussions that involved issues like western enlightenment, Kant's intentionality, the essay's original premise, and 'Nirvana' as enlightenment.
* Foucault's essay, which we are discussing along with this one on 21st this month may probably give more insights on the essay and its implication

Praveen suggested that the topic of the next month to be 'Pulp Fiction' and everyone agreed heartily.
Fiction: A Mills and Boon Romance
Theory: Janice Radway on romance novels
Fiction: A translated pulp fiction from any local languages
Movie: Pulp Fiction

The movie screening (Dev D) is on Friday, 10th July, 1.30 pm at New Lecture Hall. Everyone is invited!

People! Put your typed responses to the essay as comments after this post. The discussions can continue after the responses.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

First Post

Welcome to all!

This is the official blog of our unofficial reading group,
Under the theory tree.

The reading group is an unofficial community of a bunch of enthusiasts from the Centre for Comparative Literature in Hyderabad Central University to read theory and fiction, watch movies, discuss them and have lots of fun in the process.

The reading group meets every Tuesday from 3.30 pm - 5.00pm. The tentative venue is the lawn outside CIL

There is no quorum to be maintained. The meeting starts with whoever has come and others join in.
Though everyone has to participate equally, an Initiator is selected to ... ahem, initiate the discussion.

We have tentatively decided to fill the month in the following manner:
First Week: Theory
Second Week: Movie Discussion
Third Week: Theory Again
Fourth Week: Fiction

The Schedule for July 2009

7th July - Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment by Immanuel Kant
Initiator: Shyma

14th July - Discussion of the Movie Dev D
Initiator : Sreebitha
This movie will be screened on 10th July afternoon. For more details contact Sowmya.

21st July - Discussion of both Immanuel Kant's and Foucault's What is Enlightenment.
Initiator: Viju

28th July - The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Initiator: Sowmya

Click on the titles to view/download the respective document or movie.

What you can expect in the blog:
* Readings for each week
* Responses from the group on each reading
* Interesting movie and article links
* News and updates about the reading group
* and more!

Absolutely pissed by the retro looks, the design, the stupid caption? Well you are stuck with it unless you come up with something cooler, :P

- Viju


Group Name: Sowmya and Aparna
Blog Design:
Blog Header: Viju
Header Image: Dan Morelle through Flickr