Thursday, 21 September 2017

Postcolonialism and Ecology

Postcolonial reading of Ecology

One of the most persistent and controversial topics of contemporary politics is the issue of the environment. Global warming has demonstrated the devastating effects of the industrial revolution and the unfettered pursuit of capital expansion. The environment, and attendant topics such as ecofeminism, ecological imperialism, environmentalism,speciesism have all taken an increasingly prominent place in post-colonial thought because it has become clear that there is a direct connection between colonialist treatment of indigenous flora and fauna and treatment of colonized and otherwise dominated subjects and societies.The devastation of colonized place (and potentially of the planet) paved the way for the devastation of societies.Until now the destruction of the physical and human environments have become the same thing. (Introduction to the Second Edition: POST-COLONIAL STUDIES: The Key Concepts by Bill Ashcroft,Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Routledge. 2007.)

This animation by Steve Cutts explains in nutshell the encroachment and thus colonization of Ecology by Human Beings. The deconstructive hermeneutics of  helps us in developing the perspective necessary for both, the ecocriticism as well as postcolonial reading of relation between human and environment.

 

Friday, 15 September 2017

LaPreK - Micro Love Fiction - लप्रेक - लघु प्रेम कथा

LaPreK - Micro Love Fiction - लप्रेक - लघु प्रेम कथा

यह लप्रेक क्या चीज है?

What is the meaning of LaPreK?

These videos will help you understand the meaning of this new trend of literature which is growing in all languages. It can be seen as an influence of social media like WhatsApp or Facebook. It can be also seen as an influence of the reading habit of the contemporary readers. Today, people do not have patience to read longer narratives. It seems, the 'fast-food' effect has habituated literary readers to get instant catharsis. Now, people do not want to wait and give time to aesthetic delight to ripe. Now, the new readers want to taste delight instantly. 

Enjoy these videos:



हिन्दीभाषा के लिए  #१४सितम्बर भारत में #हिन्दी_दिवस मनाया जाता है.

'इश्क में शहर होना' - रवीश कुमार की फेसबुक लव कहानियां 'लप्रेक' का उत्तम उदहारण है.

लप्रेक के बारे में जानिये और एन्जॉय कीजिये कुछ एक लघु प्रेम कथाए, लेखक की जुबानी.




Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor

Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor


As India celebrates 70 years of its independence from colonial rule, this session debates colonialism’s claims of benefit and development despite evidence of its fundamental nature. The panelists discuss if this period — from the time of Vasco da Gama's arrival to the final emergence of the English as the principal colonisers of the Indian subcontinent — was one of acquiring as much and as many of India's riches as each European power could lay their hands on. Session co-hosted by the South Asia Centre, LSE and The British Library, as part of the series ‘Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall’


Shashi Tharoor was present on the Q & A Australian show. Here are his highlights.

0:00 - Shashi Tharoor on Loots of the British Empire and how that affected India
10:08 - Shashi Tharoor on Homosexuality and Trans-gender rights in India
7:56 - Shashi Tharoor on rise of the Right and the backlash against Liberlism
11:50 - Shashi Tharoor on North Korea and Kim Jon Un



The article on this video



The motion: This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.

ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Best of George Carlin

Best of George Carlin

George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, author and social critic.
Carlin was noted for his black comedy and thoughts on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects (Wikipedia).
The Kennedy Center posthumously awarded Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to George Carlin.

George Carlin on American Dream

"The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it."
Watch this amazing comedy with social satire on American education and dream:

George Carlin on Religion:


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Digdarshak - Hindi Play: दिगदर्शक - हिन्दी नाटक: Review

दिगदर्शक - हिन्दी नाटक - Digdarskhak - Hindi Play

Students watching screening of the play - Digdarshak

About the Play:

Digdarshak - Hindi Drama - One Act Play - eNatya Shodh 2017
Shortlisted For Enatya Shodh 2017 - Online One Act Play Competition.

Written By : Priyam Jani
Directed By : Rishit Jhaveri 

For More One Act Plays - Www.Youtube.Com/Oneactplaysindia

Visit - Www.Mumbaitheatreguide.Com
For More Information About Plays In Mumbai (From: YouTube link of the play)


The Film Screening Committee of Department of English, M K Bhavnagar University organised screening of this play. Thanks to all the committee members, specially to Alpa Ponda, for the show. 

Theme/s of the Play:

Though the central conflict in the play is about theatre vs cinema, it is richly layered to offer several universal themes.
The protagonist of the play, the Director, is in favour of theatre. He dislikes talented actors joining film industry / cinema.
We have several age old controversies in the field of art and literature.
Art for the sake of Art Vs Art for the sake of Life.
Is the prime function of literature to offer aesthetic delight or instruct / teach?
Is History or Philosophy better than Literature in the matter Truth / Fact?
We have no ultimate answers to these debates.

Theatre Vs Cinema : Stage Vs Screen

Coming of the age of cinema, we dabble with yet another equally interesting debate - Theatre Vs Cinema.
The Gardian's film critic Peter Bradshaw has written an interesting article on Stage Vs Screen. This is worth reading. The experiment he wrote about is amazing. He watched Kenneth Branagh's Romeo and Juliet till interval live performance in the theatre and the other half, on cinema screen wherein the play was live streamed. He realised that both the form of art have its own charm.
It is believed, and quite truly, that theatre is more difficult than cinema. Both for director as well as actors, not to mention the hard work people behind the screens do during Fade-in and Fade-out, have to painstakingly work during rehearsals. The effort put in live performance is far more rigorous and demanding than in cinema shooting wherein 'retakes' can help actors improve their performance and take enough rest in between.
It won't be exaggeration if we say that for a theatre actor, perfromance in cinema is child's play, whereas for cinema actor, it is a hard nut to crack (लोहे के चने चबाना) to perform before live audience.

There is yet another interesting difference between the Theatre and the Cinema. The Cinema is more democratic, whereas, theatre is authoritative, almost dictatorial. The Director is the dictator. Not only as per auteur theory, wherein director is the author, but actually, director is authoritarian, even in the sense of someone demanding obedience (here, not political). The cinema is collective work. The camera-man, the editor, the sound composure and other crew members can help director and also actor in highlighting the better part and hiding the weakness of the acting / performance. There is no need of strict obedience or military sort of discipline in shooting films. Anything can be re-shoot. The finished product can be changed.
The theatre does not allow this freedom. Even a slight weakness in voice modulation or body gesture is, strictly, not permitted. One has to overcome all sorts of weaknesses before final show. No changes are possible in final performance which happens before live audience. The discipline and obedience to Director, almost the sort of followed by soldiers is demanded in theatre. 
  

Art Vs Family

This is yet another interesting theme in the play. Now-a-days, there is lots of talk about balance between work life and family life / personal life. The protagonist, the Director, has sacrificed the joys of family life on the alter of theatre. His son almost hated him for not paying enough attention to his career or higher studies. The son's reaction turns out to be nemesis in the play. It is the son to urges one of the best actors of the theatre group to leave his father, expecting that this may turn father towards family. The father was more of Director. He never returned home from theatre.
In is universally acknowledged that the man in pursuit of success or passionate about Art or in quest of Spirituality or having higher goals for the better of society and humanity, must be in want of family grace and happiness. Both is not possible. The balance between these two lives only turns human beings to be satisfied with mediocrity. One can be 'Average' in both - the family as well as in work. Cannot excel in any. Why do this average or mediocre life is projected as something good and valuable. The play ends with the regret for the protagonist and he craves to go back to home. This is rather regressive. This turns great man potential humans into mediocre or average. One should always remember that Buddha, Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and the likes never went back to their homes. They lived . . . . and died for larger goals in life.
It seems that this idea of balance is the product of capitalist culture wherein the concept of 'work-more-and-sincerely-during-working-hours-so-that-you-can-go-home-and-enjoy-life-with-family is insepted. So that they may not work late hours and ask more wages for extra time. It saves money as well work gets done in due time. The corporates keep laddus in both hands. They kill two birds with one stone - एक तीर से दो शिकार.
If such a balance is not good for teachers, who live a rather leisure life, how can it be possible for those who are in pursuit of creative geniousness.
The play should have shown the Director happy and satisfied in his lonesomeness, celebrating solitude, rather than regretting and desiring for family life. Come what may, the Show Must Go On!

The Play about the Play

There is reference to 'Method Acting' and Stanislavski's system. We understand that the play wanted to say that the Digdarshak, the protagonist has lived what he was doing. Method Acting is not about 'art of representation'  but 'art of experiencing'. The play successfully represents the experience of the protagonist. Method acting is painful. It demands the actor to live in the character, days and nights. The actor is supposed to be evaporated like dew drop in the cloud of character. This is yet times harmful to the actor. It becomes difficult to come out of character even after the play. The protagonist of the play is suffering from these symptoms of Method Acting. There should have been a few more lines about this - but as it is said that true art lies in subtlety, the play achieves greater heights by not 'talking' but 'showing' it in action.
This play falls under the genre of the 'art about the art'. Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author' or 'Hamlet's scene where Hamlet guides actors about acting are examples of this genre. In such genres, the art itself becomes the criticism. The thin line between the creative writing and critical is blurred in such forms. The audience are enriched with both the aesthetic beauty / delight of an art and also learn how to appreciate art. 

Künstlerroman Vs Bildungsroman

Künstlerroman (German: “artist’s novel”), class of Bildungsroman, or apprenticeship novel, that deals with the youth and development of an individual who becomes—or is on the threshold of becoming—a painter, musician, or poet. The classic example is James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man(1916). The type originated in the period of German Romanticism with Ludwig Tieck’s Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (1798; “Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings”). Later examples are Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890) and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel (1929). Unlike many Bildungsroman, where the hero often dreams of becoming a great artist but settles for being a mere useful citizen, the Künstlerroman usually ends on a note of arrogant rejection of the commonplace life. (From Encyclopædia Britannica   https://www.britannica.com/art/Kunstlerroman).

This play has both these trajectories. The story of the Director was highly potential to be Kunstlerroman where he ends with arrogant rejection of the cinema life. However, the way he compromises is one of the weakest point in this trajectory. He should not have compromised. Uncompromising theatre director should have given greater heights to this play and his character.  The story of the Actor is that of Bildungsroman where he settles for being a mere useful Bollywood actor. 

Acting

I am neither trained actor nor an authority to comment on the acting. These are observations based on impressionistic criticism. The impressions left on my psyche of the two actors is what i try to express. I do not want to be judgmental. However, i cannot feel the shiver or tremble of an old man, who is helpless and vulnerable, in the voice modulation of the Director, the protagonist. The young Actor was able to move swiftly in his role. The point that i want to make will be clear if you compare the same song sung by a rather young Shankar Mahadevan and old Santosh Anand. Listen - and feel the shiver in voice modulation of old Santosh Anand. This was missing in the acting of the Director!
Also concentrate on the lyrics. There is fascinating parallel with the theme of the play -
दो पल के जीवन से एक उम्र चुरानी है ;

ज़िंदगी और कुछ भी नहीं, तेरी मेरी कहानी है।
घर फूँक दिया हमने, अब राख उठानी है;
ज़िंदगी और...... just awesome...

यह बेमिसाल है।
पढ़ो।

*तुम साथ न दो अपना*
*चलना हमे आता है।*
*हर आग से वाकिफ हु*
*जलना मुझे आता है।*

*ताब्दीर के हाथों से तकदीर बनानी है*

जिंदगी और कुछ भी नही
*टेढ़ी मेढ़ी कहानी है।* (my addition).
.

      





Final Verdict

This is the play which is strongly recommended to be watched. Congratulations to Writer Priyam Jani and director Rishit Jhaveri for this amazing experience. The play engrossed so deeply that the audience craved for the play to go on and on. The play ended with a hunger among the audience to want something more! The play took some time (10 minutes or so) to build an environment. But once it created an aura, it has magical sway. It engulfs. The play ends but the thoughts clicked by the play does not go out of us. It keeps hovering and buzzing like a bee in a bonnet.

Want to watch the play?

Here it is . . .


Friday, 4 August 2017

Yugpurush - the Play

The Banner of the Play:


Short Documentaries on the Play and the Person - Shrimad Rajchandra








The Official Website:

SHRIMAD RAJCHANDRAJI

Shrimad Rajchandraji is the epitome of an intense and incessant pursuit of spirituality. Shrimadji was born on the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima on 9th November, 1867 in Vavania, Gujarat. A perfect blend of pure knowledge, selfless devotion, and complete detachment, Shrimadji attained self-realisation at the age of 23. He spent months in seclusion, absorbed in the ecstasy of the Self. His compassion for the world flowed in the form of Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, a masterpiece in philosophical literature. On Chaitra Vad Pancham, 9th April 1901, at the age of 33, Shrimadji left His mortal body in Rajkot. His preachings have been published in an invaluable volume 'Shrimad Rajchandra', which continues to quench the thirst of true seekers. Through ashrams, temples, and institutions dedicated to Shrimadji around the world, lakhs of devotees are benefiting from His teachings and progressing on the spiritual path. (From www.yugpurush.org)

Responses of Students and Educationists:




Review:

The play is an excellent piece of art. One cannot find a space in any of the parts of the play and suggest any changes to make it better than this. The acting of all the actors is marvelous. The plot unfolds in very gripping way. The flashback technique and the frame within the frame adds beauty and harmoniously binds events from the life of Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi.The character of Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi are very well outlined.


 The dialogues (in Gujarati) are very apt. The diction preserves the auro of spirituality which is the central thought of the play. The central thought - the man who lived briefly on the Earth was so potential that he inspired Mahatma Gandhi who later on inspired innumerable world leaders and revolutions with the ideas of Ahimsa, non-violence which he got from his brief contact with Shrimad Rajchandra. The music of Sachin-Jigar is excellent. The title song is very soothing and appeals poignantly to the spiritual self. The spectacle is just amazing. The swiftness with which the setting changes, the use of light and shades, the props - everything is out of this world. The play should be watched, if not for spiritual legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, for the spectacle it creates on the stage.


The Critique:

However, the play also arouses twitchy and fidgety sentiments. When watched purely from the perspective of an art, we find that there is too much of goody- goody, sweety-sweety spiritual aura aroung both these protagonist - Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi. With absolutely no gray shade in the character of Rajchandra, the play turns out to be Morality play of the Dark Ages and protagonist, personification if moral spirituality. It is not possible that somebody can be out and out good. It is not possible that a person do not make anybody unhappy or jealous or . . . enemy. There were many who hated Mahatma. Didn't anybody disliked Rajchandraji? Where is that gray shade which make us all human beings?
The excellent artistic endeavor in acting, spectacle, and music is lost to too much of moralizing. The fine balance, which literary critics down the centuries from Greeks to the Vedic times maintained, between the aesthetic beauty and moralizing instruction is, more-soever, inclined towards moralizing. The art has desperately suffered because of this inclination.


Final Verdict:

     




Sunday, 28 May 2017

Review: Sachin: A Billion Dreams

Sachin: A Billion Dreams



Sachin A Billion Dreams 2017 is not a movie. Neither it is not a docu-drama. It is pure documentary. A traditional documentary. A dull, flat and insipid documentary. How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me this life story of Sachin Tendulkar.
Director James Erskine has made several docu-dramas on sport personalities and events. The battle of Sexes on Tennis, Shooting for Socrates on Football, Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist on Cycling. He is experienced in dealing with sports personalities and making documentaries on them. However, this is not so impressive attempt.
In his interviews he said he wanted to capture 'the boy who became God'; 'the human behind the God' and the culture of time.
Well, that sounds interesting!
This 'God' idea is though provoking. Who was the first to call him so and thereafter who went on celebrating him as God - and Cricket as Religion - the sports which unites all Indians who are like broken pieces of mirror? Was it merely Mark Mascarenhas's celebrity management gimmick which nested in collective consciousness of all cricket lovers? Had these questions been unearthed and interpreted, the documentary would have redeemed itself.
The economic culture of India - the LPG moment of 1991 - and rise of Sachin and along with it the billions of dreams of middle class Indians to be rich and successful. The documentary began well with this concept. Nevertheless, this stimulating concept neither had its 'middle' nor an 'end'. This fascinating metaphor is lost in the hagiography of Sachin Tendulkar.

The family culture of India wherein a good wife sacrifices her joys and career for the success of husband, makes his problems hers - is very well captured. It is director's success to make Anjali speak this in documentary. The middle class Indians grow their girls with such nonsensical stuff to condition their minds wherein they are constantly ready to sacrifice for husbands. Things are changing in India. Those were nineties. The cultural dynamics, so far as, man-woman relations are concerned, are undergoing tremendous upheavals. The director should be appreciated for this success.

The documentary gives a few more seconds to the frame when Sachin is out in 2011 World Cup Finals and Virat Kohli is entering to bat. Virat is today’s Sachin. Culturally speaking, Virat is not Sachin. That God-element is missing. One shall be culturally right, to be considered God in this country. Virat Kohli, with his 'insulting' temperament, love-affair, tatoo - cannot be God for Indians.

Something pinches. The way documentary mentions Mohammad Azharuddin as the conflicting ‘power center’ which did not allow Sachin to settle as captain when he was very young to carry the responsibility - and - the villainous portrayal of Greg Chappell; there is no mention of the much wanted aggression to Indian cricket team which was given by Saurav Ganguly and the charismatic victories in all forms of cricket under captain-ship of M S Dhoni. After all, the dream which has its beginning in 1983 World Cup win, ends in 2011 under leadership of M S Dhoni.

Indian cricket passed through one of the worst phase of match-fixing allegation and IPL corruptions. The documentary is completely mum on these controversial issues.

People like me share almost common birth year with Sachin. We have lived with Sachin and his batting. He has given great many cherishing moments. Even when i write this, it gives goosebumps. Whenever he batted well, and he did it innumerable times, we felt confident in what so ever we were doing. We thought, today Sachin has played well, things can’t go wrong.
However, it is disappointing to write that this documentary fails - absolutely fails - to recreate those moments.

Sachin, though was model of so many products, never had appealing screen presence except when he was on ground with bat in his hands - doing nothing but batting. He narrating his story is one of the weakest point of this documentary.
It seems the documentary is not scripted and edited with great precision. Somebody has hurriedly chalked out some dots and director wanted to connect with lines of economics, iconic personality and culture of India. Somehow, the dots are not connected so well.

Our wait, to watch a film on Sachin like M.S. Dhoni or Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, continues.
Among a few cherishing moments the documentary captured is the beginning of the documentary - motivating message:
"My father always told me you have chosen cricket to play, that is just one chapter in your life. But something that will stay permanently with you, is the person you are."
‘मेरे पापा हमेशा कहते थे तुमने क्रिकेट को चुना है लेकिन आखिर में तुम्हारे साथ जो बात रहेगी वो ये है कि तुम इंसान कैसे हो, और मुझे इससे ज्यादा खुशी मिलेगी अगर तुम एक बेहतर इंसान बन सको.’
And this is very powerful statement. Sachin Tendulkar, so far, has lived his life true to his father's wish. 
The Sachin phenomenon is much larger than life to be justified in documentaries or movies.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Report on Outreach Programme: Feb – March 2017

A Report on Outreach Programme: Feb – March 2017

If the pdf copy of the report is not visible, please click on this link for quick access. You can also download this report from this link:
https://www.slideshare.net/dilipbarad/report-of-outreach-programme-feb-march-2017


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Rubric for the evaluation of Digital Portfolio

Evaluation Rubric: Digital Portfolio

Digital Portfolios or ePortfolios are very useful pedagogical tool for the 21st century teacher. If the teacher wants to keep record of the academic progression of students, digital portfolios of students is an interesting idea. Having said that DPs are very important, it becomes very important to ponder on the parameters to evaluate DPs. As DPs are not widely practiced as normal academic evaluation, not many teachers or academicians or institutes understand the modes of evaluation. Here is one rubric for the evaluation of DP. If you are trying out DPs for your students, this may be of some help. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Modernist Literature: Online Test

Check your understanding of the Modernist Literature

Appear in this online test on The Modernist Literature.
If you cannot view test page properly, click here to open it in new browser.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Cultural Studies: Media, Power and Truly Educated Person

Short Lessons on Cultural Studies

It is nearly impossible to define Cultural Studies in definite terms. It is difficult because the concept of Culture itself has been made ambiguous. The pendulum of the definition of Culture ranges from Matthew Arnold's idea of "perfecting what was best thought and said" on one extreme to Raymond Williams and the likes of poststructuralist who would love to define it as "everyday life as really lived by one and all, including common-men".

The second problem with Cultural Studies is its scope of study. As it aims to transcend all disciplines and breaks the difference between the high and the low, the elite and the popular culture, it encompasses almost everything under its umbrella. This makes it confusing and the student / teacher with lesser ability to dig deeper in the artefacts to connect it with the 'discourse', sometimes, fails Cultural Studies.

Thirdly, as Cultural Studies reads 'power' with critical insights, it makes the students / scholars 'politically incorrect'. This also makes it difficult for CS to survive in the academia where 'political correct' and 'right-wingers' are in majority.

However, it is but sure that the study of Cultural Studies in incomplete without the study of 'Power'. In addition, as in our times, 'Media' is the tool to control the perceptions and the subject, the Power makes extensive use of Media. All forms of media. Print, radio, TV, electronic, digital, social.

Moreever, the critique of Media studied under Cultural Studies gives an opportunity to provoke our thoughts to understand the how power makes use of media. Here we will see What is Power and how power makes use of media. Watching these videos may help us read power, understand media and thus make us truly educated person.

First of all, let us understand 'POWER':



This video help us understand where power comes from, how it is exercised and how can one read and write power.

Secondly,let us see what Noam Chomsky has to say about Mass Media. He gives “Five Filters.” 
1. Media Ownership
2. Advertising
3. Media Elite
4. Flack
5. The Common Enemy

One must read these filters in detail to understand how power makes use of mass media to create the illusion of Democracy. Click here to read about it in details.

Chomsky and Herman’s book offers a surgical analysis of the ways corporate mass media “manufactures consent” for a status quo the majority of people do not actually want. Yet for all of the recent agonizing over mass media failure and complicity, we don’t often hear references to Manufacturing Consent these days. 

This videos explains this - 'Manufacturing Consent'. 




It seems that the media theory and criticism like Chomsky’s, or the work of Marshall McLuhan, Theodor Adorno, or Jean Baudrillard (all thought provoking critics of Culture), has fallen out of favor in a 140-character world. Never-the-less, we can understand our times in a better way with their cultural lenses.

Well, if this interests you and if you are hungry to know more, watch this amazing debate between Michael Foucault and Noam Chomsky on 'Human Nature and Power' (1971):



In ’71, at the height of the Vietnam War, the American linguist and French historian/social theorist appeared on Dutch TV to debate a fundamental question: Is there such a thing as innate human nature? Or are we shaped by experiences and the power of cultural and social institutions around us?
40 years later, you can find the classic debate on YouTube. If you need subtitles, make sure you turn on the captions function at the bottom of the video. Thanks Open Culture for this.
Lastly, Cultural Studies makes one truly educated person as the students cultivate the habit of questioning one discipline with the findings of another discipline; as the student unlearn what specific disciplines taught, and more importantly, it it teaches controversies.
However, it is enriching to listen what Noam Chomsky thinks about truly educated person. Watch this video:



Here is the highlights of what he said in this video:

  • The core principle and requirement of a fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively, independently, without external controls.
  • A true education opens a door to human intellectual freedom and creative autonomy.
  • It’s not important what we cover in the class; it’s important what you discover.
  • To be truly educated means to be resourceful, to be able to “formulate serious questions” and “question standard doctrine, if that’s appropriate”…. It means to “find your own way.
Thus to conclude, in this series of short lessons on Cultural Studies, it seems this is enough to understand Power, Media and what it is to be Truly Educated person.

Rivers and Tides: Documentary

Rivers and Tides

A film with Andy Goldsworthy 
Directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer

Read a brief about the documentary:

Official Website: http://www.riversandtides.co.uk/
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time is the most spiritually literate documentary. It won the Golden Gate Award Grand Prize for Best Documentary at the 2003 San Francisco International Film Festival[1].
Try to picture an art piece that cannot be put in a museum, purchased by wealthy collectors, or displayed in a corporate foyer or boardroom – because it disintegrates in less than a day, perhaps even within 20 seconds. Try to imagine executing artwork through the medium of iron oxide chalk, raw sheep’s wool, flower blossoms, leaves and grass, feathers, random sticks and stones, broken rocks, pieces of icicle, green iris blades and red berries, thorns, bracken, or handfuls of snow. Try to fathom the notion that an artist could a take stroll in the woods, along a riverbank, down a beach, and with no tools at all – no paint brushes, no sculptor’s chisels or knives, no canvases or pedestals or quarried granite or polished wood – manage to create unutterably beautiful art from the objects and materials he finds by chance.
Often it seems that contemporary art has become a largely academic exercise, with artists frantically carving out tiny niches of discrete subject matter or distinctive media in which to say something, show something faintly “original.” But for more than two decades, Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy has quietly been blowing that notion to smithereens. He’s the visual art world’s equivalent of Italo Calvino, who celebrated the wide-open choices available to him as a writer of short stories and novels while others lamented the death of the novel. Goldsworthy calmly demonstrates over and over that the forms, styles, and media available to the artist are approximately infinite.
In the documentary by German filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer, we watch Goldsworthy build man-sized standing “eggs” of stacked slate on a beach between tides; place a 50-foot spiral “worm” of leaves sewn together with grass in a pond, whence it begins to wend its way down a mountain stream; gnaw at icicle shards in order to piece them into a looping snake that seems to pass repeatedly through a stone promontory like a fat crystal thread; construct an “igloo” of driftwood that is carried away by the incoming tide in a stately galactic whirl.
“Art for me is a form of nourishment,” he tells us. Goldsworthy seeks the “energy that is running through, flowing through the landscape.” Not to capture it, clearly, but to participate in it. He speaks slowly, carefully, and the viewer adjusts to his pace. Not a single abstract spiritual or philosophical term turns up – the sculptor employs direct and concrete words only – but the effect is like a 90-minute session with a Zen master showing us how to “be here, now.”On an icicle job, he notes that heat and melted water created his artistic medium, while the rising sun will destroy it: “the very thing that brought it to life, will bring about its death.” Flying to a commission in Nova Scotia, he says he hates the sensation of travel, and having to go straight to work without getting any time to get the feel of the new locale. Yet he does: “I’ve shook hands with the place . . . and begun.”As we watch the artist make “something from nothing,” usually something startling and gorgeous; as serendipity and the elements (sunshine, wind, water) contribute to the process; and even as pieces he has spent hours on collapse in a heap – one’s concept of what is possible, what constitutes art, becomes as fluid as Goldsworthy’s natural media. Initially the viewer automatically thinks, “oh, it fell apart,” then realizes it doesn’t matter. One feels disappointment a project did not meet one’s expectations, yet rejoices in a different, unforeseen result.
Having isolated pieces of a new environment and formed them into an unexpected artifact, then watched it dissipate back to its component parts in the larger setting, Goldsworthy says, “You feel as if you’ve touched the heart of the place. That’s a way of understanding. Seeing something that you never saw before, that was always there but you were blind to it.” As the tide carries his driftwood igloo out to sea, spinning it slowly and dismantling its structural unity, he remarks: “It feels as if it’s been taken off into another plane, another world. . . . It doesn’t feel at all like destruction.”
The long worm of strung-together leaves reminds the viewer of an emerald green water moccasin, of Chinese dragons, of other references near and far. Subtly, the filmmakers join in the spirit of Goldsworthy’s labor to see things anew. Occasionally the camera takes note of lovely sights and events not immediately related to the artist’s work at hand: a fluff ball walking across the surface of a river, or the subtle prismatic colors in a spray of water.Several times, Riedelsheimer wittily shows us a work in progress, or a piece of the whole, that we don’t understand; or understand in one way, only to see it in a very different light when the camera pulls back. For example, a shockingly bright red-orange liquid trickles down a rock face, plashes into a river, and fans out in skeins of “unnatural color” that we cannot help but associate with blood. (Macbeth’s classic lines come to mind: “this my hand will rather/The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/Making the green one red.”)You think: He’s using applied color! But no, even as Goldsworthy makes the blood reference explicit, you find he has not violated his unwritten law of “all natural ingredients.” He has painstakingly collected red iron ore stones from the river bottom and ground them to a powder, commenting that iron is what makes our blood red as well. When he mixes the powder with water and trickles it across rock or into the stream, the color is a shock: it seems so alien to the river, yet is deeply rooted in it.“I think the color is an expression of life. I am in continuous pursuit of the red. That something so dramatic, so intense, could at the same time be so hidden, underneath the skin of the earth.” A single red Japanese maple tree on a hill of green in Japan “looks like a wound on the mountain,” he says. We set much store by the solidity of stone, he goes on, yet it is only a step in a process that goes from stone to powder to liquid and back to stone. The “stability of stone” is actually a snapshot of fluid, liquid life in which everything, including human beings, participates.This artist’s work might seem utterly apolitical, yet Goldsworthy casually identifies political elements in his projects. At first, when the camera lingers on a Scottish farmer helping a ewe to birth several lambs, it seems a digression into local color. Then Goldsworthy talks about how difficult it is to get past the “wooliness” of sheep to their “dangerous and powerful” qualities: Their status as an economic gold mine denuded the forest landscape of Britain and led to violent labor disputes. While he speaks, he constructs a long, glowing white river of raw wool that gilds the stone walls near his home.(In a similarly subtle political statement, Paul Hawken, founder of the Smith & Hawken gardening chain, chose a Goldsworthy “horn of plenty” sewn from leaves for the cover of his book The Ecology of Commerce: a Declaration of Sustainability.)Not all Goldsworthy’s labor is solitary. “Rivers and Tides” shows us several collaborative projects: one at Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York where stone masons build outdoor walls to the artist’s specifications, and another in Digne,France where a crew helps him build an indoor clay wall designed to crack into eye-catching patterns as it dries.With the Storm King project, Riedelsheimer’s camera again starts in close, watching hands place individual stones. Then we get a look at part of the finished wall slaloming between trees. Finally a helicopter shot pulls us high for a breathtaking view of the running wall, which wends its way through forestland for hundreds of yards, and appears to plunge into a lake and out the other side!The documentary is not perfect, by any means. It doesn’t “build a case”; though there’s a lovely coherence and wit to the unveiling of each piece or project, the larger structure seems episodic and disconnected. A brief sequence with Goldsworthy’s wife and kids comes across as garish and out of place. While it’s useful to know he has a family, he himself seems nonplused by them, and having been introduced, one yearns to know how they fit into his life as a professional artist.
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