July 23, 2012

Women themselves want to be seen as seductive

He was the embodiment of romance, of that joy that comes from giving oneself to someone… But there was something in his voice and eyes that made his words go straight to his female fans’ hearts. Much of that persona was created by his directors like Shakti Samanta and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Rajesh Khanna was to a large extent a product of the Bengalis present in Bollywood at that time… It was their sentiments and thoughts that went on to make Rajesh Khanna what he was. Neither in Bawarchi nor in Anand was Rajesh Khanna playing a man in love. In these two films he was playing characters who were positive and creating happiness around them.
On every television channel the interviewees were being asked what made Rajesh Khanna so popular with women. The answer is very simple. The roles he played were always of men who were deeply romantic. In his films he put his lady love much above himself and was ready to do anything for her. He held her in such high esteem that every woman who watched him felt loved and respected. That is what is missing today from the screens. Women themselves want to be seen as seductive and are totally focused on their physical appearance because that must attract attention. In Rajesh Khanna’s films women were objects of adoration. India may have become wealthier than before but crimes against women are in the headlines every other day.
Aradhana and Amar Prem were out and out Sharmila Tagore’s films. And yet Rajesh is the one who shone so brilliantly because he was so worthy of the woman’s love. We are crying for the death of romance. Every woman in India wants her man to say that he can’t bear to see her tears. That is why the words “Pushpa, I hate tears.” have become almost an anthem. Please, can we have a little less violence and foul language and a little more affection and sweetness on the screens.

The tragedy of the Aurora massacre has now been before our eyes for a few days, piercing our hearts and unsettling our minds as we attempt to comprehend how and why this horrible event occurred… Sociologists, cultural theorists, and feminist scholars have written tirelessly of how our culture has become a culture of violence—not only violence but glorified and celebrated violence fed to our children and young people via video games, television, film, and various cultural narratives and gender stereotypes.
Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, taught that cultivating proper habits is crucial to one’s moral and intellectual development. According to this theory, a virtuous person is, among other things, one who has made intentional choices and who has engaged in purposed activities that enable him or her to both grasp (1) what it is to be courageous, generous, temperate, and the like, and (2) to actually live courageous, generous, and temperate lives.

But when these categories tell us what matter is made of, do they tell us what reality is made of? There is a certain circular sense in which reality is indeed made of matter; that is, material reality is made of matter. But not all reality is material. The testable phenomena of experimental psychology – behaviours and neurons – are material, but it’s more questionable whether subjective psychological phenomena, like emotions, are material. Even if one did wish to reduce those to matter, there are other things that cannot be so reduced. First among these is value, the subject matter of ethics, aesthetics and more…
But it’s still worth thinking with the premodern schemes to figure out those vitally important pieces of reality that cannot be reduced to matter and its movements. Science does not supersede them.
With that in mind, I want to return to the importance of categories for Aristotle and Rāmānuja. These two thinkers had a great deal in common. They each followed a thinker – Plato and Śakara respectively – who saw the everyday world of particulars as something of a problem, something to ideally be transcended in favour of a greater universal. Their own work tried to make room for that material world, but in a way that remained close to their predecessors. They were familiar with materialist worldviews – the Cārvākas, Democritus, Epicurus – but they understood the need for an understanding of reality that went beyond he material, as Plato’s and Śakara’s had done. A comprehensive scheme of categories allowed them to think the world – the whole world, not only matter.

I want to argue that art works enjoy a sort of autonomy from both their makers and audiences.  We know little about the author of the Epic of Gilgamesh or the creators of the French cave paintings, yet these things are still nonetheless able to resonate and act in the world.  There’s thus a way in which, I think, works of art are in excess of all contexts (author’s intention, historical setting, audience reception, etc); and it is because they are in excess of context that they are able to endure throughout the ages.  Works of art are perpetually escaping all historical and hermeneutic horizons, all regimes of attraction, and falling into new regimes of attraction modifying them in all sorts of ways.  They are examples of the Lucretian clinamen or swerve and are inexhaustible in their ability to produce swerves.  This is what the historicists and hermeneuticians miss in their approach to art:  the excess of art over any and all historical context or horizon, the constitutive being of art as clinamen.
This excess over every horizon is possible because art is a material being.  To my knowledge, Deleuze and Guattari do the best job of emphasizing the being of art as object or machine.  

What if we as a culture valued the cultivation of human virtues, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, rather than promoting essentialized views of masculinity and femininity that advance impoverished views both of males as brutes controlled by mere instinctual drives and females as inherently inferior rational creatures or mere objects existing for male sexual pleasure? Humans are far too complex for these oversimplified, facile, generalizations, whose supposed universal and “natural” properties are all-too-often the particular and constructed script imposed by those possessing the economic, political, and cultural “capital.”
So where do we go from here? Perhaps we should at least begin by asking the following questions: “What is freedom? How do our cultural, political, social, and “personal” habits shape us, and what kind of people are these structures, narratives, and personal choices shaping us to be?” Debate regarding the current gun laws is, no doubt, needed and tragedies like Aurora highlight why such dialogue must take place. However, we also need to interrogate the cultural narratives and socially acceptable forms of “entertainment” shaping the hearts and minds of Americans both young and old, as we engage in our mundane, so-called “normal” activities.

No country for women Livemint - THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2012. Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London. Your comments are welcome at
These actions invoke the worst images of Peshwa-era Pune, where tyrants enforced archaic rules, which Vijay Tendulkar captured in his play, Ghashiram Kotwal… Most men who should have stepped in to stop have turned their eyes away, expressing their inability to do anything, leaving Draupadi to the mercy of divine powers. And all that Krishna can do is to keep adding yards to her never-ending sari, prolonging the humiliation.
There’s a simpler solution: blindfold and restrain the men who can’t see women going where they want to go, wearing what they want to wear, doing what they want to do.
Break Her For The Goblet She Holds WOMEN: BIG CITIES Isn’t what a woman does her business alone? DEBARSHI DASGUPTAAMBA BATRA BAKSHI OUTLOOK MAGAZINE JUL 30, 2012
But as change seeps into most parts of the country, something that is making women break moulds, clashes are recurring with frightening regularity. Like other cities that have outgrown their shoes, Guwahati too is showing signs of trouble as it adjusts to this change.

Even before Mother’s so-called ‘demise’ friends, advisors, brokers, et al, slipped into the confidence of the Trustees adding to the yogic immaturity & spiritual unfitness of their decisions on admission, expulsion, punishment, etc. of ‘inmates’. The results of this association become obvious with even a cursory study of the quality & quantity of the inmates admitted by them, – the worst, in the opinion of one of Mother’s secretaries, being parasitical retirees who have made SAAT’s Ashram their “haven of splendid soft repose”. Posted by General Editor at 7/19/2012 09:25:00 AM

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