  Seminar Announcement – Call for Papers - UGC Sponsored National Seminar with ISBN Book Publication [book will be released on the day of the seminar itself] - @ National College (Autonomous), Trichy, 22 – 24 September 2016. For more info, click HERE.   >

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Life Lessons from a tiny little Creature!

Well, today, I was literally bowled over by an array of a wonderful colony of ants, and i thought of jotting down my observations in a nutshell to ignite the spark in us all!!!

'All about An Arresting Army of Ants', could be a tentative title!

And nope, this is no ‘sermon on the ant’, - just an observation!

What a Wonderful Lesson they teach us – Humans!

worker ants standing 'guard'
It all happened last night, when I decided to open the French windows for a whiff of fresh air into the living room on a ‘hotty summer’y eve at that, which spontaneously spurred a couple of beetles to surreptitiously ‘drone’ themselves into the house!

Truanty trespassers that they were, I swiftly plunged into ‘fight’ mode and quickly brought down these ‘mosam twosome’  - a furniture beetle and a carpet beetle, with one swat [a handy newspaper doubled up for a weapon].  After these two little insects came down the floor and having made sure that their ‘hickety-rickety mustachios' had bitten the dust, I left them there, and the shikari shambu within me was exulting over my prize catch, going gaga over it, with some triumphal air, and soon, sluggish that I was, I quietly went about doing my other chores, forgetting all about my ‘game’!

Well, for those of you who might confuse ‘game’ with the Rio2016 Olympic Games, Game or quarry is any animal [or insect] hunted for sport!

Coming back to the story: This morning, while doing some chores, to my utter disbelief and surprise – I saw these two ‘martyrs for a boss’, (not cause!) being lifted up – higher and higher – by a colony of ants - hectically foraging here and there - to get these two ‘grand delicacies’ into their storage reservoir – where they are finely granulated before being shelved in their granaries for their sumptuous winter repast or banquet!

The amazing ‘swarm intelligence’ of these colony of ants, made me wonder at their resilience and at their non-stop-ever-active vibes that they exhibited without a moment’s rest! Not one ant was slothful or sluggardly.

Now, while around ten of these ants were standing motionless for about a minute around the pathway where the huge ant colony was ‘heave-ho’-ing their prize catch with resolute determination, some other ants, were studiously taking turns at guarding the vantage points [as you can see from the video for yourself!].

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

For Graduates in English

Vacancies for fresh Grads/Post Grads in English for the post of Project Editor [salary Rs. 25,000 plus], amongst a host of other jobs are on offer at SPI Global based in Porur, Chennai. For more details kindly click on the link HERE.

This job offer was referred by Ms. Sharon Frederick, who was with SPI Global.

Louis Althusser on 'Ideology'

Best known for his theories of ideology and its impact on politics and culture, Louis Althusser revolutionized Marxist theory. His writing changed the face of literary and cultural studies and continues to influence political modes of criticism such as feminism, post-colonialism and queer theory.

Luke Ferretter is a Sesqui Postdoctoral Research Fellow in English at the University of Sydney.

This wonderful excerpt has been culled from his book Louis Althusser.

Introduction

In The German Ideology (1845), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), his friend and intellectual co-worker for forty years, set out the basis of a new world-view. They called it the ‘materialist conception of history’. Marx goes on to explain a second fundamental principle of the materialist conception of history, namely that the sum total of the forces and relations of production in a given society constitutes its ‘base’ or ‘infrastructure’, which is its first and fundamental reality. Out of this economic base develops a ‘superstructure’, consisting of every other aspect of the life of that society. In the first place, the superstructure consists of the political and legal institutions according to which the society is structured – its constitution, its forms of government, its legal system, its judiciary, its defence systems and so on. In the second place, it consists of all the forms of consciousness in whose terms the members of society understand and represent themselves to each other, namely legal and political theories, philosophy, religion, art, literature, and every kind of cultural production. All these forms of consciousness comprise what Marx and Engels call ‘ideology’.

Clearly, the literary and cultural products of a society, according to this view, are aspects of its ideology – that is, of the forms of consciousness in which its members represent their lives to one another in a way determined by that society’s production relations. This is one of Marxism’s major claims to significance for literary and cultural studies. According to the materialist conception of history, the meaning of literary and cultural works is to be found in their relationship to the economic base of the society that produced them.

The Politics of Culture: Althusser on Ideology

Althusser’s most influential contribution to literary and cultural studies has been his theory of ideology. In this chapter, I will examine this theory, beginning with Althusser’s initial claim that ideology constitutes our ‘lived’ relationship to historical reality, or our ‘world’ itself. I will then examine his concept of ideology as an imaginary relationship to real conditions of existence, discussing the role of popular culture in representing this imaginary relationship. In the main part of the chapter, I will examine Althusser’s most influential essay, ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ (1969), a significant development of the Marxist theory of ideology, in which he advances the claim that ideology ‘interpellates individuals as subjects’. I will conclude the chapter with an examination of some of the ways in which this theory has been applied in literary criticism.

An Imaginary Relationship to Reality

Althusser first expounds his concept of ideology in the essay ‘Marxism and Humanism’ (1963). In the course of this essay’s argument that the only authentically Marxist view of humanism must be that it is an ideology, Althusser explains what he means by an ideology. This is his first definition:

An ideology is a system (with its own logic and rigour) of representations (images, myths, ideas or concepts, depending on the case) endowed with a historical existence and a role within a given society. … Ideology, as a system of representations, is distinguished from science in that in it the practico-social function is more important than the theoretical function (function as knowledge).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Countdown to GST - Public Lecture @ MIDS


Foucault's 'Incisive Insights' on Power

Michel Foucault is one of the most important figures in critical theory. His theories deal with the concepts of power, knowledge and discourse, and he has had a profound influence in post-structuralist, post-modernist, feminist, post-Marxist and post-colonial thought.

The following is an excerpt from Sara Mills’ popular book on Michel Foucault. She is Research Professor at Sheffield Hallam University. She has published on feminism, post-colonial theory and linguistics and is the author of Discourse, a highly successful volume in Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series.

And yes, as usual, this is just a ‘teaser’ or an ‘appetizer’ for you that would ‘tempt you’ into reading the wonderful book by Sara Mills. Happy Reading :-)

So here goes…

Power and Institutions

Foucault’s work is largely concerned with the relation between social structures and institutions and the individual.

Throughout his career, in works such as The History of Sexuality (1978), Power/Knowledge (1980), The Birth of the Clinic (1973) and Discipline and Punish (1977), he focused on the analysis of the effects of various institutions on groups of people and the role that those people play in affirming or resisting those effects. Central to this concern with institutions is his analysis of power. His work is very critical of the notion that power is something which a group of people or an institution possess and that power is only concerned with oppressing and constraining. What his work tries to do is move thinking about power beyond this view of power as repression of the powerless by the powerful to an examination of the way that power operates within everyday relations between people and institutions. Rather than simply viewing power in a negative way, as constraining and repressing, he argues, particularly in The History of Sexuality, Vol. I (1978), that even at their most constraining, oppressive measures are in fact productive, giving rise to new forms of behaviour rather than simply closing down or censoring certain forms of behaviour.

Foucault, unlike many earlier Marxist theorists, is less concerned with focusing on oppression, but rather in foregrounding resistance to power. Much of this work has provoked a critical debate among critical theorists and political theorists, as the exact mechanics of resistance to power relations is not necessarily clearly mapped out in Foucault’s accounts, but his work has, nevertheless, occasioned a very favourable response from a number of feminists and other critical theorists who have found in his work a way of thinking about the forms of power relations between men and women which do not fit neatly into the types of relations conventionally described within theorisations of power which tend to focus on the role of the State, ideology or patriarchy (Thornborrow 2002).

Power Relations

Power is often conceptualised as the capacity of powerful agents to realise their will over the will of powerless people, and the ability to force them to do things which they do not wish to do. Power is also often seen as a possession – something which is held onto by those in power and which those who are powerless try to wrest from their control. Foucault criticises this view, arguing in The History of Sexuality, Vol. I (1978) that power is something which is performed, something more like a strategy than a possession.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Hindu THEATRE FEST 2016 SCHEDULE
Date
Play
19-Aug
Friday
Motley
Sri Mutha Venkata Subbarao Hall, Lady Andal School
20-Aug
Saturday
J Production and Dur Se Brothers
Sri Mutha Venkata Subbarao Hall, Lady Andal School
21-Aug
Sunday
QTP
Sri Mutha Venkata Subbarao Hall, Lady Andal School
26-Aug
Friday
Theatre Zero
Museum Theatre
27-Aug
Saturday
Guduguduppakari
Museum Theatre
28-Aug
Sunday
Koothuppattarai
Museum Theatre

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Literary Rendezvous - Updates!

Our Weekly ‘Literary Rendezvous’ for this week was at Dr. K. Elango’s house in Nungambakkam. Aunty welcomed us all with her usual cheerful and pleasant smile, and made us feel at home the very instant  we stepped in.

After our customary poetry reading sessions, and sharing of anecdotal jokes that had us all in splits, Dr. Elango proceeded to share a few thoughts on his latest endeavors in the field of ELT.

As Secretary of India’s oldest ELT Organisation ELTAI, Professor Elango retired this past year as Head, Department of English, Anna University, Chennai, and coincidentally this was our first meeting with him post-retirement.

Professor Elango was all enthusiasm when he shared his experiences on his pilot project with a Corporation Middle School in Chennai. The project titled ‘Read and Lead’ was meant to inculcate the habit of reading in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.

As a prequel, the Std VI, & Std VII text books were completely audio recorded in a recording studio at Mylapore, with volunteered ‘voice-over’ from students of Ethiraj College.

Then, student volunteers from city colleges including Loyola (which have a mandated requirement, that involves all the 2nd year students of the college, in the integrated empowerment of the community, labeled LOP – Loyola Outreach Programme) do activities that will inculcate and instill the habit of reading amongst the VI and VII graders.

In concurrence with Dr. Kalam’s vision of setting up a home library in every house, parents of the VI & VII grade students were invited to meet up with the team members, and they were persuaded to set up Home Libraries that would encourage reading habit among family members.

Dr. Elango lamented the fact that the art of reading is on the wane among students, and it’s time we did something about it.

He said, they have come out with the concept of a Reading Journal and a Word Journal, that systematically chronicles the practice and hard work put in by each and every student.

Student volunteers do a graded assessment over a period of time, and then give them their scores.

Although we had initially planned this rendezvous over a Coffee, Dr. Elango, was so bowled over by the insightful insights, lively discussions and meaningful interactions, that he gently persuaded us all to a wonderful dinner in his honour for all his literary friends.

Dr. Elango also gave offers on Library/Journal access to Institutions. ‘Now, it’s just Rs. 3000/- for a ten year subscription for Institutions to access their awesome library repertoire’, he said.

Well, our next weekly ‘Literary Rendezvous’ will be held as per the original schedule in Ms. Rebecca Mathew’s house on 24 August 2016.

Agenda of a Literary Rendezvous includes,

Sunday, 14 August 2016

'Sampling the Pleasures of Thought' - Professor Culler on 'What is Theory?'

Well, this is an interesting and fascinating description of what Theory is all about, from the point of view of the renowned Structuralist, Theorist, Linguist, Intertextualist - Professor Jonathan Culler of the Department of English, Cornell University.

Over to Culler... 

Theory in literary studies is not an account of the nature of literature or methods for its study. It’s a body of thinking and writing whose limits are exceedingly hard to define. The philosopher Richard Rorty speaks of a new, mixed genre that began in the nineteenth century: ‘Beginning in the days of Goethe and Macaulay and Carlyle and Emerson, a new kind of writing has developed which is neither the evaluation of the relative merits of literary productions, nor intellectual history, nor moral philosophy, nor social prophecy, but all of these mingled together in a new genre.’ The most convenient designation of this miscellaneous genre is simply the nickname theory, which has come to designate works that succeed in challenging and reorienting thinking in fields other than those to which they apparently belong.
 
This simple explanation is an unsatisfactory definition but it does seem to capture what has happened since the 1960s: writings from outside the field of literary studies have been taken up by people in literary studies because their analyses of language, or mind, or history, or culture, offer new and persuasive accounts of textual and cultural matters.

Theory in this sense is not a set of methods for literary study but an unbounded group of writings about everything under the sun, from the most technical problems of academic philosophy to the changing ways in which people have talked about and thought about the body.

The genre of ‘theory’ includes works of anthropology, art history, film studies, gender studies, linguistics, philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, science studies, social and intellectual history, and sociology. The works in question are tied to arguments in these fields, but they become ‘theory’ because their visions or arguments have been suggestive or productive for people who are not studying those disciplines.

Works that become ‘theory’ offer accounts others can use about meaning, nature and culture, the functioning of the psyche, the relations of public to private experience and of larger historical forces to individual experience.

The main effect of theory is the disputing of ‘common sense’: commonsense views about meaning, writing, literature, experience. For example, theory questions

Friday, 12 August 2016

Where Literature meets up with food...

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
UNIVERSITY OF DELHI
DELHI-110007
INDIA
Culinary Routes/ Roots
2-3 November 2016

Call for Papers

What are the implications involved in making sense of food today? Commensality, consumption taboos and culinary literature that surround food practices and cultural history function as markers of the identity of individuals and communities. Grand narratives on the subject are more likely to render identity fragile rather than robust, and often need interrogation themselves. Food, even when relegated to the realm of the everyday, manifests its presence and pressures in complicated ways. Given this reality, can food or even the language and literature surrounding food be taken for granted?

pic courtesy: irishtimes.com
This conference aims to address literature, popular media and culture and the symbolic or metaphorical engagement with food inscribed within. In this context, the questions evoked are many:

  • Why is food central to language, literature and cultural modes of existence? How does one account for its representation? Is it merely the given or does it become a symbol or metaphor evoking epiphanies?
·         How does representation of food impact our existence and what are its links to identity – personal, collective, religious, regional and national? Can consumption of food as represented in various ways be read as consumption of culture?

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Intertextualists on 'Texts'

We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single “theological meaning” (the “message” of the Author-God) but a multidimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. […] [The writer’s] only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them. Did he wish to express himself, he ought at least to know that the inner “thing” he thinks to “translate” is itself a ready-formed dictionary, its words only explainable through other words, and so on indefinitely.

To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing.

“The Death of the Author” - Roland Barthes

It is not true that works are created by their authors. Works are created by works, texts are created by texts, all together they speak to each other independently of the intentions of their authors.

“Casablanca: Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage” - Umberto Eco

Kristeva coined the word ‘Intertextuality’ in an article which aimed at introducing the work of Mikhail Bakhtin in France. For this reason, intertextuality was first used with reference to what Bakhtin calls the dialogic aspect of language, which “foregrounds class, ideological and other conflicts, divisions and hierarchies within society.” Bakhtin lays the emphasis on the otherness of language, on its internal stratification, on what he calls polyphony, or heteroglossia – the coexistence and interplay of several types of discourse reflecting the social or class dialects and the different generations and age groups of society. For Bakhtin “the life of the word is contained in its transfer from one mouth to another, from one context to another context, from one social collective to another.”

“Intertextuality in Theory and Practice” - Adolphe Haberer

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Structuralist Critics - the 'famous four'

Dear Students of II MA English, 
Kindly try to gather as much information as possible on these renowned Structuralist critics and the main concepts that they put forth. Well, each of them has a unique set of concepts and an equally unique and interesting way of presenting them. 
All the best!
Regards, 
Rufus

Monday, 8 August 2016

Structuralism - Excerpts from Terence Hawkes

Dear Students of MA English, 

This is a follow-up, top-up, or supplement to what we discussed in class this past week. I request that you get for yourself a copy of Terence Hawkes' wonderful primer on Structuralism and start reading rightaway!

Excerpted from Terence Hawkes on ‘Structuralism’

Here we go…

Structuralism is fundamentally a way of thinking about the world which is predominantly concerned with the perception and description of structures. The ‘new’ perception involved the realization that despite appearances to the contrary the world does not consist of independently existing objects. In fact, every perceiver’s method of perceiving can be shown to contain an inherent bias which affects what is perceived to a significant degree. [Any observer is bound to create something of what he observes]. In consequence, the true nature of things may be said to lie not in things themselves, but in the relationships which we construct, and then perceive, between them.

This new concept, that the world is made up of relationships rather than things, constitutes the first principle of that way of thinking which can properly be called ‘structuralist’. At its simplest, it claims that the nature of every element in any given situation has no significance by itself, and in fact is determined by its relationship to all the other elements involved in that situation. In short, the full significance of any entity or experience cannot be perceived unless and until it is integrated into the structure of which it forms a part.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Impactful Tributes on a 'Conscience-keeper of our Times'

Of all the tributes, encomiums and homages in honour of an illustrious writer and a legend rightfully called the ‘Conscience-keeper of our Times’, – Mahasweta Devi, three stand apart –

one by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, [writer, thinker, and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi],

the other by Gayatri Spivak, [the doyenne of Postcolonial Studies, who has translated many of Devi’s works],

and the third by Ganesh Devy, [Tribal Activist, founder director of the Bhasha Research and Publication Center, Vadodara and Adivasi Academy at Tejgadh, Gujarat], whose association with her lasted more than 18 years.

Spivak’s glorious tribute – ‘a combination of force and charm’ gives a beautiful pen portrait of the life and times of Mahasweta Devi, - on her best piece of writing, on her best character portrait, on her influences, on her tribal characters as “too much the noble savage”, about Mahasweta - the personality, etc, etc. 

To us at MCC, this tribute has an added sense of interest, when Spivak says, “She [Devi] took me to Baroda — where she worked with Ganesh Devy’s project in Tejgadh and created public awareness of the history of the tribes that had been notified as “criminal” by the British in 1871”.

[Aside: Well, Ganesh Devy was our Invited Speaker for the TG Narayan Endowment Series, hosted by the Department of English, MCC, on 16 December 2013, where he specifically mentioned this incident, on meeting up with Mahasweta Devi and Spivak, who had come all the way to meet up with him, to know more about the work that he is doing among the Tribals, etc.]

Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s tribute to this ‘literary gadfly rather than a butterfly’, delves into issues close to her heart, and how he “was a recalcitrant recruit in her work for tribals, and for those who are generally down and out!”

Connecting her [rather than comparing her] with other writers, he says: “Mahasweta was Hannah Arendt’s kindred spirit. She was Nadine Gordimer’s soulmate.”

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Become a News Reader on TV

Television channels are growing at a steady pace by the day. In addition to hourly news in major channels, there are dedicated 24 hour News channels too, that have has created a huge demand for professional News Readers.

Mirage Film Institute offers a certificate course in TV News Reading which will teach you all the necessary skills and prepare you for this exciting job. 

The course will also help you do well in the interview and get the coveted News Reader job.

The chosen candidates [six] will be trained by Actor/celebrity David Solomon Raja, who has worked on Television and Radio industry for over 10 years. He has also worked as Anchor, Presenter and News Reader at leading Television channels.

TOPICS

The Art of Enlightenment...

Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Centre, Chennai,
and
Cholamandal Centre for Contemporary Art
organise
‘Film Festival on Visual Art — from the collection of Dorothea Machingal’
On
06, 07 August 2016

A total of 10 films will be screened as part of the festival days. This includes Never Sorry – Ai Weiwei by Alison Klaymen, which won the Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and Rembrandt Fecit 1669 by director Jos Stelling, which recreates the end of a genius with authenticity.

The line-up on the first day includes BBC documentaries on artists such as Antony Gormley, best known for his monumental sculpture Angel of the North; Chris Ofili, who installed a paradise-like garden with a glass dome for the Venice Biennale in 2003; Anthony Caro, who is known to have led a revolution in sculpture in Britain in the early 1960s; and Anish Kapoor, one of Britain’s most accomplished and popular sculptors. Apart from the documentaries, they will also screen a bio-pic on the Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance, El Greco.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Belsey on 'New theories arriving from Paris by the planeload' :-)

Dear II MA Students, 

This is in continuation of the discussions we had in class on Terence Hawkes and Catherine Belsey.

Well, Catherine Belsey’s Preface to the Second Edition is quite a compelling 'read of sorts'! I've reproduced below, excerpted passages from the Preface she has written to her wonderful book Critical Practice and a few 'passage-excerpts' from Chapter 1 as an appetiser :-)

Just read through these excerpts to see her awesome felicity of expression, and how she convinces her reader to partake of her vibrant thoughts on Criticism and Theory, in such an endearing way.

Now here we go…

Writing the first edition of Critical Practice was a learning experience for me. New theories were arriving from Paris by the planeload, giving rise to heated debate. They seemed to change everything we thought about culture in general, but there was only one way to find out what difference they made to the practice of reading in particular.

At that time the principal influences were Roland Barthes, whose scintillating S/Z represented my first encounter with post-Saussurean criticism, and Louis Althusser, who made clear that the educational institution was a place where cultural values were both inculcated and contested. Jacques Lacan was there, at least in the first instance, as an influence on Althusser. Michel Foucault was beginning to be there too, but not pre-eminently as a commentator on fiction or the literary institution. We did not yet know that his term, ‘discourse’, would come in English to mean everything cultural, and nothing in particular. Jacques Derrida had not at that time made much impact in the UK: I was under the impression that, in contrast to the Marxism of Althusser and Pierre Macherey, Derridean deconstruction was predominantly formalist. I could hardly have been more wrong: the logic of deconstruction has the effect of dismantling the founding assumptions of Western philosophy in its entirety.

Times have changed, and Critical Practice needs updating to take account of what we know now. Knowledge is like that: our current understanding will, no doubt, be superseded in its turn. To keep that temporal relativity in view, I have not tried to eliminate all elements of the period flavour of the first edition. But I have erased what would now mislead readers, and I have added a chapter on the critical implications of deconstruction, without seeing any reason to set it against the politics of Althusser and Macherey. Hasn’t Derrida himself acknowledged the contribution of revolutionary political analysis in Specters of Marx?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A Beatles Tribute.! In the city..!!

Yes! it's a pleasant surprise for all ye Beatles' fanzzz [including lukey boyyy!!!]

Mellow Circle presents ‘Beatles Forever’, a show in tribute to the rock band. It is directed by Prince ‘Sunny’ Abraham who was part of Disney India’s Beauty and the Beast.

The show will feature popular Beatles songs interspersed with audio visuals that will provide an insight into the lives and times of the band.

Proceeds from the show will go towards the running of Prathyasha, Mellow Circle’s home of hope for children with HIV. The show is to be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, 06 August and Sunday, 07 August 2016 at The Museum Theatre, Egmore.

Donor passes priced at Rs. 5,000 (admit 2), 1,000, 600 and 300 are available at Bookmyshow.com and Eventjini.com. For reservations, call 2822 6619.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Travel Stipends to Toronto for Graduate Students

Empire, Colonialism, and Famine in Comparative Historical Perspective

Toronto, October 28, 2016

*Travel stipends available (August 16 deadline)

The Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) announces its conference Empire, Colonialism, and Famine in Comparative Historical Perspective, to be held at the University of Toronto on October 28, 2016.

Travel grants are available (up to $800.00 Canadian) to support scholars in deepening their understanding of colonialism and famine through engagement with leading scholars in the field. Priority will be given to graduate students. Please see the application procedure below and on the HREC website:  www.holodomor.ca

Note that awardees will be eligible for funding to attend a larger conference on the same topic to be held in Kyiv, Ukraine, in the spring of 2017.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Is Deconstruction passé ???

Dear Students,

I 'really really badly badly' wish you read Professor Spivak’s latest ‘one-of-its-kind’ Interviews, that she gave to Steve Paulson recently.

PC: LARB
'An academic superstar - a prolific scholar and co-founder of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, now in her mid-70s, Spivak maintains the busy schedule of a globe-trotting intellectual'. Steve caught up with her shortly after she traveled to Lagos and before speaking engagements in London and Paris. Their chat ranged over a variety of subjects, on many things close to her heart: her translation of Derrida’s book, her views on her famous essay on the Subaltern, on deconstruction as critical intimacy NOT critical distance, on the hidden biases of the Western Intellectual tradition, on her studies, on her love for everything Indian, on wearing multiple hats, real education as an ethical practice, on her favourite theoretician Gramsci and finally on the crisis of the humanities today.

Well, as one of Spivak’s most ardent, craziest and devoted of fans, I find this interview quite a departure from her usual ‘ivory chair-types’, in that, this interview is simply ‘lovely’! [for want of a better word!]

A Gayatri Spivak is a Gayatri Spivak is a Gayatri Spivak Spivak Spivak! J

Do read this interview HERE,
and also
don’t forget to read HERE my transcript of her plenary talk in Assam, which I had the good fortune to be a part of, and transcribe it too!
In addition, you might also love reading Spivak’s wonderful article titled ‘Many Voices’ HERE.

I could find a lot of interesting correlations and ‘praxis-connect’ between the interview given to Steve and the talk that she gave in Assam. So here’s to you from Spivak’s Plenary talk.

Monday, 1 August 2016

A mythical trek of 'unearthy delights' it really was!

A memorable trek of awesome proportions... that will remain unfaded in our memories for a longgg longgg time to come!

Our trek team!
After we had narrowed down on our prospective trekkers, with only one prime condition – please assure yourself that you are medically fit for the arduous yet adventurous trek! – eighteen prospective trekkers had finalized their readiness to get into ‘trek-mode’, - and that includes one Research scholar from VIT- Vellore, two ladies - PhD research scholars from University of Madras, six MCCians, and four trek-enthusiasts each from Anna Nagar and Mogappair respectively, and last but not the least, this blogger – who is also the Asst Coordinator of the trekking expedition.

Ms. Deepa, the Coordinator of the trek, is a dynamic entrepreneur too! She has her own online Apparel Management Company and is an established multitasker of sorts! Her little daughter Phia was the cynosure of all eyes, and she instantly got into the best of vibes with me - her rufus uncle! (Well, by the time the trek was over, she called me over to her and said, you are my best uncle ever! Ha ha.. that’s a lovely compliment at that!)

this is waterfall-pool One!
Even as we started off exactly at six in the morning, and went around picking our trekkers at their allotted destinations, we could see – to our consternation - high above us, thick dark rain clouds hovering all over us, threatening to burst at the seams at any given point of time!

We were getting really worried!

All the more because, a trek with rain coats and umbrellas would be the last thing a trekker hopes for!

Even as we were crossing Pichatur town and entered Arai village, that borders the wonderful lush-green trekking mount, the sky was still overcast!

And to our sweet surprise, throughout the day it remained so, which made our trek all the more memorable!

The trek trail, winding through beautiful cascading waterfalls, sylvan and pristine jungles, crystal-clear streams etc etc etc… was literally an ‘unearthy sight’ for mortals like us to behold! At first sight, it looked like we had entered some mythical world of yore – with no pathways in sight – and yes! Your google maps or GPS navigation et al have no use whatsoever, here! No tower signals from base camp even! So literally you are cut off from the rest of the madding crowd before you embark on your once-in-a-life-time adventure of sorts!

Smooth, glistening, slimy, rounded pebbles of all hues n shades even at a depth of ten to fifteen feet within the pools, was clearly visible to the naked eyes in the crystal clear streams that flowed throughout the trek pathway!

Pool One, that came after an arduous yet adventurous trek, was for two youngsters to freak out - one was phiya n the other was rufus! And so did the others!

Since phia was an adept swimmer, she joined me in the deep waters – sometimes as deep as forty feet – and phia was literally freaking out amongst the watery cum slippery rocks that carried the waters down with such beautiful intensity n awe..!