Nov 192010

The most important, most extreme, and most incurable dispute is that waged in us by two of our most basic strivings: the one that desires form, shape, definition and the other, which protests against shape, and does not want form. Humanity is constructed in such a way that it must define itself and then escape its own definitions. Reality is not something that allows itself to be completely contained in any form. Form is not in harmony with the essence of life, but all thought which tries to describe this imperfection also becomes form and thereby confirms only our striving for it.

That entire philosophical and ethical dialectic of ours takes place against the background of an immensity, which is called shapelessness, which is neither darkness nor light, but exactly a mixture of everything: ferment, disorder, impurity, and accident.

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Nov 192010

There is no use in multiplying examples. The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield. When one looks at the all-prevailing schizophrenia of democratic societies, the lies that have to be told for vote-catching purposes, the silence about major issues, the distortions of the press, it is tempting to believe that in totalitarian countries there is less humbug, more facing of the facts… Actually, however, the avoidance of reality is much the same everywhere, and has much the same consequences… To see what is right in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.

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Nov 192010

A story from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, “The Whole Brain”.

It was the seventh day. God had finished making the world when he realized he had forgotten to give human beings their brains. So he filled a jug with brains, called an angel, and said, “Go and give human beings their brains!” The angel flew down to Earth and found so many people that there were not enough brains to go around.

So the angel gave each person a drop of brains. When God looked down on creation he saw war, jealousy, hunger, and tears. “Human beings have only got a bit of a brain each,” he said “I need someone with a whole brain to sort them out.” So God made one more person and filled that person’s brains right up to the top. He filled those brains with stories, songs, poems, and sparkling words. He sent the storyteller down to Earth, to tell and sing wisdom into foolish human hearts.

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Nov 192010

Rasas = flavours; tastes; to relish

To appreciate a work of art is to relish it. In talking about a work of art – painting, sculpture, music, poetry or drama – it is judged as fulfilling the requirement of rasa.

The objective aspect of rasa is the presence of the essential totality of the aesthetic qualities in a  work of art. The subjective aspect of rasa are the emotions evoked in the individual.

Any kind of art, to achieve excellence must be able to stimulate the viewer or  reader’s sensitivities and his susceptibilities, and his empathy. Works of art are therefore judged by whether there is realization of ‘rasa’, both  objectively and subjectively.

A work of art  must have the power to evoke the realization of one or more of the nine  rasa in the viewer or audience. There are nine varieties of rasa:

1. Love and beauty (Srngara rasa)
2. The comic (Hasya rasa)
3. The compassionate (Karuna rasa)
4. Anger (Raudra rasa)
5. The heroic (Vira rasa)
6. The terrible (Bhayanaka rasa)
7. The odius/loathsome (Bibhatsa rasa)
8. The amazing and wonderous (Adbhuta rasa)
9. Serenity (Santa rasa)

 Comments Off on Note on Hindu aesthetics and the rasas
Nov 192010

from The Book of Disquiet (translated by Richard Zenith)

We were born into a world that has suffered from a century and a half of renunciation and violence – the renunciation of superior men and the violence of inferior men, which is their victory.

No superior trait can assert itself in the modern age, whether in action or in thought, in the political sphere or in the theoretical sphere.

The downfall of aristocratic influence has created an atmosphere of brutality and indifference towards the arts, such that a refined sensibility has nowhere to take refuge. Contact with life is ever more painful for the soul, and all efforts are ever more arduous, because the outer conditions for making an effort are forever more odious.

The downfall of classical ideals made all men potential artists, and therefore bad artists. When art depended on solid construction and the careful observance of rules, few could attempt to be artists, and a fair number of these were quite good. But when art, instead of being understood as creation, became merely an expression of feelings, then anyone could be an artist, because everyone has feelings.

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