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Book Review: Mechanisms of Desire by Rob Harle

  Mechanisms of Desire by Rob HarlePublisher: Spinning Spider Publications, Australia

Published in 2012

ISBN:978-0-646-57481-3

Price: Not mentioned.

 

Review by

Tarun Tapas Mukherjee

Bhatter College, Dantan, India

 PDF Version of the review

Evolutionary history of mankind is interrelated with the evolution of technology in a very complex way and so much so that in order to understand patterns of cultures of the distant prehistoric times researchers resort to understanding techno-complex, the archaeological imprint of technology to be found across scattered evidences. Technology, again, creates epochs and can cause massive changes in the ways of life. While people adopt new ways of life with every major technological changes, concerns about the outcome of application of a new technology are also are heard. It was, however, not until the implementation of digital technology in embedded systems serious moral and ethical questions would be raised about using technology in popular media and serious literature. In the present century, with the introduction of embedded systems, many of which function in networked environments, use of technology has increased at unprecedented rate. Even sometimes some gadgets are being treated as an extension of our bodily organs and mental faculties. This sometimes is interpreted as mindless rush for consumerism. On a more serious note, many see the human-machine proximity and even incorporation of digital parts as another stage of evolution, set to bring about unexpected and unpredicted changes.

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India

Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of exercise that has potential positive effects for physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. Dance therapy is based on the idea that body and mind are co-relational. The therapeutic approaches with various forms of Indian dances are a new entrant to dance literature. Ayurveda held dance as a power of healing (therapy) and inner awareness (psychology). Indian philosophy also supports the facts of Sangeet (song, dance and music) for benefit of human health physically as well as mentally. The powerful dance form of Bhangra (Punjab), Karagam (Tamilnadu), Chou, Rayabese, Dhali (West Bengal) gives good health and strength. The fast footwork of Kathak dance helps to release anger and tension. Manipuri dancers make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It gives them undulating and soft appearance, proper body control and peace of mind. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements. In India today the dance therapists are conscious about this matter and in therapeutic sessions they actually improvise different dance movements according to the need.

Three Book Reviews

The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga: Critical Essays

The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga: Critical Essays

Edited by Richard J Gray, Jefferson, NC: Mcfarland, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-7864-6830-0

Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal

Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal

By J. Jack Halberstam, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-8070-1098-3

Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays

Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays

By Bernadette Barton, New York: New York University Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-8147-8637-6

Review by Rohit K Dasgupta, University of the Arts London

Three Poems by Subhashis Das

Punkri Burwadih megaliths

THE MESSENGER1


Fly bird fly, through the timeless skies
transcending distances,
flipping back the illegible pages of history
fly bird fly.

Beyond the peripheries of the East India Company,
surpassing the magnanimous Mughal palaces,
the ruins of the Slave Dynasty,
the graceful Chola temples
fly bird fly. Pass over
the time of the establishment of the sacred Dhamas
of the revered Shankracharya,
beyond the theorems and the doctrines of
Varahamihira and Aryabhatta.
Fly over the deserted forts of the Munda kings and
through the courts of Vikramaditya, Ashoka and Ajatshatru.
Bird o bird
Touch respectfully the lotus feet of the
Sakya Muni and  the Vardhamana
and seek their blessings for me.

Fly bird fly
Crossing Magadha, Vaishali and Sasanbeda
onto the much beyond Harappa and Mehergarh.
Be a part of the great Santhal migration.
Little bird
fly past carefully protecting yourself
from the rising flames
of the iron smelting Asuras
and then plunge into the great unknown, when
the world was for the Great Mother and She for the world.
Arrive face to face with their
astronomy, mathematics and spiritualism.

When they raise their tall monuments,
Sit atop a nearby tree in Punkri Burwadih
and witness the timeless megalith in its making.

Fly back to me little bird, the enormous distances
fluttering your untiring tiny wings.
Bring me
your acquired wisdom of life.
I await, dear bird
your arrival.

 1This poem is on the Punkri Burwadih megaliths which has been taken from his book, The Sacred Stones in Indian Civilization.

 

REVELATIONS ON A STORMY DAY2

the storm blows

with the rage of an untamed mighty bull.

i hide beneath an old mango tree

which shakes reluctantly

as all her branches shriek grudgingly.

right now,

i stand soaking underneath this tree.

i find no other place for a shelter

all the fears of the aftermath of the wetness,

the probable falling of the lightning on this tree, or

a branch suddenly breaking down on me

has ended; abruptly…

…and then i lose myself.

here I stand drenched

without a name and a haunting past.

i have no future,

who am i?

i am forgotten by me.

this moment seems complete.

my life lived  to the full,

i have nowhere to go, nothing to do

save laugh louder

and experience Bliss.

2 Taken from his blog, Beyond Reflections (http://subhashis-das.blogspot.in). This poem is actually a personal experience during his trek from Khunti to Ranchi in one rainy afternoon.

 

THE HERDMAN’S FLUTE

Have you heard the legend

of the herdsman? He once

played a flute I am told,

which now resonates only in history.

The herdsman.

He drove his herd

 through the open fields,

 to the foot of the hills;

maneuvering his cattle

with his stick and a

language which only they could understand.

And when the hot summer winds blew, they say

he played his flute. The strain

merged with the dusty breeze

floated on  to the mud hut villages,

the traversing rivers, to the lonely traveller

who treaded slowly on the lonely winding path

which ran across the open fields.

While his herd sat and stood with him

 in the dark shade of the large banyan

chewing and fanning their tails,

driving away the disturbing flies,

and the egrets pecking in their ears for a mite or two.

The poetry of the hot and the rustic afternoon

which he, and only he could apprehend

impelled him to compose such masterpieces,

with which he once filled

the lazy afternoon meadows and

had his herd lulled to snooze.

Today. The herdsman lives.

So does his herd

but

the banyan and the hill has gone.

The poetry thus, has vanished;

the flute

 they say, is lost.

 

Subhahsis Das is an individual researcher of primitive megaliths of India. He has discovered many ancient megaliths across many states in India. He has also authored two books on his discoveries and has written many research papers in many leading journals. He is also an amateur poet writing both in English and Hindi.  Two anthologies of his poems are ready for publication. Whenever he gets time from megalith hunting and researching and writing on these ancient stones he pens poems for a few national newspapers and loves reading his poetry on the local radio station. He has written one poem on megaliths in his book, The Sacred Stones in Indian Civilization which has received rave reviews. One of his poem “The Messenger” now features in the webpage of the noted blog, Megalithic Poems of England’s The Heritage Trust (http://megalithicpoems.blogspot.in/2012/04/messenger.html). He has also taken out time to create a variety blog with a predominance of his poetry Beyond Reflections which he confides will be shortly updated with more of his poems: http://subhashis-das.blogspot.in.

Drama and the Politics of Climate Change in Nigeria: A Critical Appraisal of Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake Up Everyone

Norbert Oyibo Eze, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka

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 Abstract

Johnny Igbonekwu observes that ‘an obvious primal instinctive human quest” is to “conquer the world” but he equally notes that man has not been able to achieve this goal, in spite of his “formidable intellectual assaults on the multifarious stupendous mysteries of the world” (Talk About Man 1). The quest for all manner of domination-economic, political, territorial, and spatial, etc, has driven man into invention and mindless application of technology which in choking nature, cause it to frequently retaliate through global warming, tsunami, landslide, erosion, and flooding of different dimensions. The constant decimation of human lives, businesses, buildings, and municipal services as well as the emergence of perturbing diseases owing to these palpable effects of natural disaster, force the issue of climate change to occupy a significant place in the world of environmental studies and research. This paper seeks to explain the place of drama in tackling the problem of climate change through a detailed analysis and interpretation of Greg Mbajiorgu’s Wake Up Everyone considered to be a giant impact assessment study and provocative wake-up call.

Tipu Sultan and the Politics of Representation in Three 19th Century English novels

Ayusman Chakraborty, Jadavpur University, India

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 Abstract

Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the native state of Mysore. His fierce opposition to British rule in India earned him unrivalled notoriety in England. Colonial writings usually portray him as a cruel tyrant who tortured Indians and Englishmen alike. This article studies the representation of Tipu Sultan in three nineteenth century English novels – The Surgeon’s Daughter by Sir Walter Scott, Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore Wars by Captain Meadows Taylor, and The Tiger of Mysore by G. A. Henty . In these works, Tipu is painted in an extremely unfavourable light. Arguing that the politics of imperialism influences such representations, this article tries to show how the depiction of Tipu as a monstrous villain served to justify British rule in India. These novels seem to suggest that the British deserve credit for rescuing Indians from such egregious villain. The article also focuses on politicization of Tipu’s dead body. Colonial art and literature constantly return to the scene where Tipu’s body is discovered by his enemies. This article argues that colonial imagination converts Tipu’s corpse to a ‘grisly trophy’ which becomes a sign of British triumph over Oriental despotism.

“I was not certain where I belonged”: Integration and Alienation in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Avirup Ghosh, Bhairab Ganguly College, Kolkata

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 Abstract

The article will focus on the contrary impulses of alienation and integration in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist that the central character and narrator Changez goes through in America while working as an employee at Underwood Samson, a “valuation” firm and his subsequent return to his native Pakistan where he assumes what appears to be an ultra-nationalistic political stance. This is to argue that Changez’s desperate attempt at assuming this stance has its roots not only in the cultural alienation and racism that he is subjected to in America, especially in a post-9/11 America, but also in his futile effort to naturally integrate with a Pakistani way of life.  By uncovering certain ambiguities in Changez’s ideological rhetoric, the paper tries show how Changez’s critique of American corporate fundamentalism stems from his lack of a sense of belonging and from a feeling of problematized identity.

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary: Nationalism and the Concept of Woman in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power

Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia, Seyyede Maryam Hosseini & Shahid Chamran

University of Ahvaz, Iran

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Abstract

Foucault believes that people live in systems of power different from one era to another. He applies the term “power archives” to demonstrate that those inside an institute cannot be aware of the subtle ways of power imposed on them. Likewise, it would be oversimplification to think that with the apparent end of colonialism, the colonized subjects will be free from subjugating contexts. In the case of women, the situation is even worse since they are repressed by both the colonialist and the post-colonial nationalist. “Under the anxiety of the influence” of the former colonial father, the once-belittled colonial men turn to support their females in terms of their body and soul, and in this way define them inside a strictly demarcated roles of good wives, mothers, and households or vicious prostitutes. Bessie Head in her semi-autobiographical masterpiece subtly examines this idea and through her coloured protagonist, Elizabeth, attempts to re-deconstruct this notion.

The Semiotics of Violence: Reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies

Debamitra Kar, Women’s College, Calcutta, India

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Abstract

This paper attempts a reading of Italo Calvino’s novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) from a postmodern perspective. The novel has always been seen as structuralist experimentation, particularly because it was written at a time when Calvino was associated with the OULIPO, the group of the French philosophers like Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and others. The paper argues that the simultaneous reading of the words in the text and pictures in the margin, challenges the very practice and method of reading. The novel suggests that it can be read as a card game, a game that accentuates deferral and plurality of meaning. These conflicting readings create the semiotics of violence, which again is reflected in the theme of the stories. The paper cites example of three stories which show that the violence of language is codified as the violence of the feminine on the masculine, arguing that the feminine challenges the rules, laws, and structures of language as well as life and destroys things that adheres to any strict binary form. The conflict between the rule of the Father and the lawlessness of the Mother leads to no higher synthesis—it ends in violence that refuses all routes of communication or meaning.

Cities of Struggle and Resistance: The Image of the Palestinian City in Modern Arabic Poetry

Saddik M.Gohar, UAE University, UAE

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Abstract

This paper aesthetically articulates the representation of the Palestinian city in modern Arabic poetry in order to argue that while Arab -and non-Arab poets-incorporate  variety of attitudes toward the city ,  the presentation of the Palestinian city reveals a radical difference from the rest of Arabic and non-Arabic poetry  due to the peculiar history of struggle, resistance and victimization characterizing life in the Palestinian metropolis.  To the Palestinian poets, in particular, the city is part of a homeland they have lost or a refugee camp that has been resisting the invaders for decades.  Contrary to western cities  inhabited by alien residents such as Eliot’s Prufrock, or Arab cities populated by strangers, outsiders, whores, outcasts and political prisoners  as in the literary  cities of Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab  and Ahmed Abdul-Muti  Hejazi , the Palestinian city is inhabited by heroes and martyrs.  These heroes who appear in contemporary Palestinian poetry and take different shapes personify the struggle and resistance of a nation that has frequently refused to surrender at times of crisis.  Representing the spirit of the Palestinian people confronting  a world replete with  treachery and hypocrisy,  the Palestinian city and its nameless heroes , in contemporary Arabic  poetry, is an embodiment of  an eternal and unlimited Palestinian dream , the dream of return, rebirth and liberation.  In this context, the paper affirms that unlike Arab cities which are associated with decadence, corruption, exploitation and moral bankruptcy, the Palestinian city,  due to the Palestinian history of exile, resistance, victimization and pain, is viewed in Arabic/Palestinian poetry as a location of heroism,  struggle, defiance and martyrdom.

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