Archive for the ‘art’ Category

On Austen legacy

September 13, 2011

There are three reasons why you should read Audrey Bilger’s piece Just like a woman at Los Angeles Review of Books.

The first is that it is about Jane Austen.

The second is that it talks about two books which try to show why Austen is a great writer.

And, the last, is for the painting Les invisibles en Tete-a-Tete, from the series Le Supreme Bon Ton, No. 16; artist unknown; published by Martinet, Paris, c. 1810-1815 that adorns the piece. A must-see!

Bilger strongly recommends one of the books under review, which I am adding to my to-be-bought-and-read pile right away!

A Jane Austen Education is aimed at a general readership. For those who have resisted Austen because of the chick-lit stigma or for anyone who wonders why reading matters, this book will give you reason to believe in the power of the word.

Take a look!

Photographs of nuclear explosions!

September 24, 2010

Great ones; via Doug.

Remembering Indira Menon

February 1, 2010

Sriram Venkatkrishnan, in his blog, posts the tribute that he wrote for Sruti remembering Indira Menon, who, I understand, passed away last November.

Artistic side of NASA

June 25, 2009

John Hawks:

The story doesn’t cover the artistic side of NASA, and thereby may leave the impression that Bean is more of an anomaly than he really is. An immense attention to scientific illustration accompanied the development of the space program, as photorealistic renderings of space (and very early on, animated computer graphics) were an important part of spreading the science to the public. Bean’s approach is, of course, very different and helps to extend the tradition outside the technical aspects into the humanistic sphere.

Sangeethe Sarvaartha Saara Sangrahamu

June 2, 2009

Sriram Venkatkrishnan writes about one of the earliest printed works on Carnatic music:

April 15, 2009, marks the 150th anniversary of what is perhaps the earliest printed work in Carnatic music, an art which till then had largely relied on oral tradition and to a lesser extent on palm-leaf manuscripts. The Sangita Sarvartha Sara Sangra hamu in Telugu, was the work of ‘Vina’ Ramanujayya of Tirunagari, who as the name suggests was a veena artist. Interestingly, he was a resident of Tiruvallikeni.

Although Madras had a newspaper tradition dating back a good hundred years previously, the print revolution came to the city in the 1850s and of the earliest presses, the Gantz Press was set up then. The Sangrahamu establishes that Carnatic musicians were then, as now, in the vanguard of adopting modern technology when it came to propagating their ideas.

The essay goes on to describe the lineage of Ramanujayya and the influence of his book. Take a look!

Brain as a sexual organ

May 20, 2009

Chat speculates!

Thirty-five thousand years ago is about the time that our direct Cro-Magnon ancestors were displacing Neanderthals in Europe. They had something going for them — more agile minds? language? imagination? Maybe the source of their success was not reproductive efficiency, as such, but eroticism. That is to say, maybe the conceptualization of sex was a driving engine of cerebral facility and language. The Playboy bunny. The Harlequin romance. Foreplay. Dirty dancing. Maybe sexual fantasy prepared the way for art and religion and technological innovation. Maybe the brain evolved as a sexual organ, and then found other things to do.

The relevance of Snow

March 26, 2009

And his Two Cultures ideas — Peter Dizikes at NY Times Book Review (link via John Hawks):

There is nothing wrong with referring to Snow’s idea, of course. His view that education should not be too specialized remains broadly persuasive. But it is misleading to imagine Snow as the eagle-eyed anthropologist of a fractured intelligentsia, rather than an evangelist of our technological future. The deeper point of “The Two Cultures” is not that we have two cultures. It is that science, above all, will keep us prosperous and secure. Snow’s expression of this optimism is dated, yet his thoughts about progress are more relevant today than his cultural typologies.

After all, Snow’s descriptions of the two cultures are not exactly subtle. Scientists, he asserts, have “the future in their bones,” while “the traditional culture responds by wishing the future did not exist.” Scientists, he adds, are morally “the soundest group of intellectuals we have,” while literary ethics are more suspect. Literary culture has “temporary periods” of moral failure, he argues, quoting a scientist friend who mentions the fascist proclivities of Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats and Wyndham Lewis, and asks, “Didn’t the influence of all they represent bring Auschwitz that much nearer?” While Snow says those examples are “not to be taken as representative of all writers,” the implication of his partial defense is clear.

Snow’s essay provoked a roaring, ad hominem response from the Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis — who called Snow “intellectually as undistinguished as it is possible to be” — and a more measured one from Lionel Trilling, who nonetheless thought Snow had produced “a book which is mistaken in a very large way indeed.” Snow’s cultural tribalism, Trilling argued, impaired the “possibility of rational discourse.”

A very interesting piece!

A poem on Muse and a musical musing

March 20, 2009

For the past couple of days, I have been reading (randomly) from Nissim Ezekiel’s Collected Poems; one of them, identified as a minor classic by Keki N Daruwalla, called Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher goes thus:

To force the pace and never to be still
Is not the way of those who study birds
Or women. The best poets wait for words.
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing;

This poem is what Scott’s post at Musical Perceptions reminded me of:

… reminding all of us that the defense is an opportunity for a well-informed group of people to sit and talk for 2 hours about a subject that they care about. This is what I want all my classes to be like, a conversation that helps everyone involved to learn more about subjects we love. Unfortunately enough of my students don’t like the subject, or haven’t prepared enough to contribute in a meaningful way, that I don’t often get that rush. I suppose that is the true joy of teaching graduate students. After all, I had many deep conversations with fellow students and with my professors when I was in graduate school. We had the time to study the one discipline that we cared about. We had the broader knowledge base from our undergraduate studies to apply to the conversation. And we all loved academia. I’m looking forward to this intense conversation about creative writing as an analytic response to music, learning at least as much as I teach during the process. That is why I do this.

May be we should add teachers also to the list of Lovers, Poets, and Birdwatchers!

PS: By the way, it is great fun reading Ezekiel; here is an excerpt from another of my favourite called Goodbye party for Miss Pushpa T.S.:

our dear sister
is departing for foreign
in two three days,
we are meeting today
to wish her bon voyage.

You are all knowing, friends,
what sweetness is in Miss Pushpa.
I don’t mean only external sweetness
but internal sweetness.
Miss Pushpa is smiling and smiling
even for no reason
but simply because she is feeling.

To call it spectacular is an understatement!

February 28, 2009

In the last ten days, we attended eight concerts: those of Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia (Hindustani Flute), Vidwan Prof. T N Krishnan (Carnatic Violin), Pt. Venkatesh Kumar (Hindustani Vocal), Pt. Rajashekhar Mansur (Hindustani Vocal), Ustad Asad Ali Khan (Hinudstani Rudra Veena), Vidushi Prof. N Rajam (Hindustani Violin), Ustad Chhote Ahmed Khan (Hindustani Sitar) and Ustad Rashid Khan (Hindustani Vocal); in addition, we also attended a dance programme by Smt. Sonal Mansingh (Odissi) — all this, thanks to Virasat of SPIC MACAY and Aravali Kannada Sangha (Ustad Chhote Ahmed Khan’s concert).

If the sheer numbers and variety is overwhelming,  the fact that this is the first time that we have listened to quite a few of them (and live too — Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, Pt. Rajashekhar Mansur, Ustad Asad Ali Khan, Vidushi Prof. N Rajam, Ustad Chhote Ahmed Khan and Ustad Rashid Khan) has added lots of excitement and rang to our musical lives; what is more, we have fallen in love with the music of Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, Ustad Asad Ali Khan, Ustad Chhote Ahmed Khan and Vidushi N Rajam — these days, even Maithri speaks and sings with longish pulls, drags, draws and stretches 😉

Soon, I am going to locate a good music shop in these parts, and you are going to hear a lot about some of these artists in these pages! Before I end this post, one Hindustani musical snippet that we learnt from Prof. Rajam — Bhairavi should be played towards the end of concerts — she refused to play the raga since there was another concert after hers!

PS: By the way, the programmes that we missed are numerous too — movies, puppet show, visit to the art gallery, painting workshop, yoga sessions, and, heritage walk. As you can see, even spectacularest might be an understatement 🙂

Alienation at the academy!

December 22, 2008

ArunN at Unruled notebook writes about his experiences with Madras Music Academy (I have visited the academy only once — to watch Chitra Visweshwaran’s dance programme — Shakthi-96? — and, pretty much felt the same way about the place):

The Academy, despite its cultural richness and music tradition, its free concerts and clean toilets, always makes me uncomfortable. A nagging feeling of not belonging, in spite of my interest in Carnatic music. That someone would catch me listening, chastise my inappropriate presence and evict me anytime. After about ten years of attending concerts at the Academy, encountering occasional officious snobbishness and holier-than-thou fragrance, I am never evicted. But the middle-class me is convinced my uncomfortable feeling is not by accident.

The piece itself has plenty of information, and at least one link to a blog that might be worth your feeds if you are musically inclined. Take a look!