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Singing Specters: Phenomenology in the Performance of Music

Dan W. Lawrence, Michigan Technological University

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 Abstract

In this article, I write along with key 20th century thinkers—Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Derrida—to understand how a phenomenological examination of the performance of music can contribute to a meaningful exploration of the roles of consciousness and presence in the process of rhetorical invention. I begin by looking at Plato’s Phaedrus and assess the notion of “fit” as it relates to rhetoric and performance as well as the mythical trope of the cicadas. I will then explore how Plato’s rendering of madness in this piece might help us understand Derrida’s almost paradoxical construction of the voice in Voice and Phenomenon. From here, I move to analyze the figure of the ghost as presented by Derrida and relate this to the non-presence of presence while asking: how might this notion better help us understand how rhetorical decisions are made by performing artists? The argument I put forth is that there is a subtle difference between the aleatoric moments of invention that occur in the process of solitary composition and those that occur on the stage. My conclusion points toward further research that would analyze these elements in recorded music and digital recording technologies which further problematizes the notion of non-presence: what would it really mean to have a ghost in the machine? Do we perform a séance each time we press “play”?

Performing “Fine Arts”: Dance as a Source of Inspiration in Impressionism

Johannis Tsoumas,  Hellenic Open University, Athens

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Abstract

The proposed article aims to highlight the importance of the most significant performing art which, according to the author’s opinion, is dance, in influencing one of the most magnificent movements in world art history: Impressionism. Through an diachronic and deep cut in time, namely, the last decades of the nineteenth century France, a period commonly known as fin de siècle, this article attempts to illuminate the unseen sides of this magical “physical ceremony” which was meant to affect dramatically not only art, but also the social status of the country. The process of human movements, especially female ones, through the interaction of body and music was ultimately the cornerstone of the configuration of not only the aesthetics, but the overall ideology of some of the most prominent representatives of Impressionism, but also Post-Impressionism, as in many cases it determined their own lives. The imposing and much debated waltz, the classical ballet as well as the charming can-can and, its ancestor, the playful quadrille, were harmonically blended with the enchanting tools and materials of the Impressionist artists and the result was some of the most astonishing works of art in the world art history.

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.

Unheeded Caveats: Examining Pax Americana in the Light of Tagore’s Nationalism

Abin Chakraborty, University of Calcutta, India

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Abstract

Rabindranath Tagore’s much discussed opposition to nationalism has often been seen as a source of consternating confusion which not only invoked the ire of many contemporary nationalists who interpreted his vision as one of helpless inaction as well as by certain contemporary critics who have considered Nationalism to be a disorienting product of “impassioned myth-making” which falls within the tradition of English liberalism[1]. This paper seeks to analyse Nationalism, as well as other related texts, in a different light, by comparing Tagore’s assessment of ‘Nation’ and Nationalism in the West’, with both the Communist Manifesto, as well as Lenin’s Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism in order to reveal how Tagore’s explorations constitute a sustained and scathing critique of capitalism, as manifested through the European bourgeois nation-state which is also relevant for this present age of U.S. imperialism and its consequences as many of the crises unfolding around us were presaged by Tagore’s unheeded caveats. The paper also suggests that whatever post-imperial vision we may imagine for our future, they must always be based on those values that Tagore championed throughout his life and which have often been dismissed as sentimental naivety.

Open Texture of Nationalism: Tagore as Nationalist

Gangeya Mukherji, Mahamati Prannath Mahavidyalaya, Mau–Chitrakoot, India

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Abstract

“The attempt to evaluate the relationship of Tagore with the phenomenon of nationalism is hardly uncomplicated and defeats easy categorisation, naturally drawing attention as it must, to the porosity of the concept of nationalism. Although it is the received wisdom in many quarters that Tagore unlike Gandhi was opposed to nationalism, a close analysis may reveal why in his obituary of Tagore Gandhi chose to say: ‘In the death of Rabindranath Tagore, we have not only lost the greatest poet of the age, but an ardent nationalist who was also a humanitarian’.  Was there a nationalist hidden in Tagore which appealed to Gandhi’s nationalism? This paper will try to examine Tagore’s nationalism and his different understanding of the constituents of the nation – culture, language, history, idea of nationhood, memory, non violence – which led him to occasionally take stances that appeared to strike at the roots of the conventional notion of nation, exploring in parallel the extent to which the category of nationalism can be stretched without becoming something of its opposite. Waismann’s idea of open texture, more generally used in the philosophy of language, indicates that notwithstanding definitions there still remain possibilities of a definition being inadequate, although being different from vagueness insofar as the definition may be fairly accurate. This paper on the nation of Tagore will look at the open texture of nationalism.”

Perspective: Exile Literature and the Diasporic Indian Writer

Amit Shankar Saha, Calcutta University, West Bengal, India

Abstract
The essay takes a holistic view of the word “exile” to encompass a range of displaced existence. It illustrates through John Simpson’s The Oxford Book of Exile the various forms of exiles. The essay then goes on to show that diasporic Indian writing is in some sense also a part of exile literature. By exemplifying writers both from the old Indian diaspora of indentured labourers and the modern Indian diaspora of IT technocrats, it shows that despite peculiarities there is an inherent exilic state in all dislocated lives whether it be voluntary or involuntary migration. More importantly, a broad survey of the contributions of the second generation of the modern Indian diaspora in the field of Indian writing in English depict certain shift in concerns in comparison to the previous generation and thereby it widens the field of exile literature.

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