Newsletter November 2015

There is what we write, and there is everything else. November was already announced as a month of silence, at least as far as Samvriti would be concerned. Leaving the website for another exercise in “Samvriti” — about, and ultimately for the Samvriti of the Buddhists, Samvriti Satya, indirectly and in disguise, in a text presented within the Forum Transcultural Encounters “Differences” held by the Foundation FIND in Zagarolo, Italy. What we write, what we share, and what we don’t. Or just what is waiting, perhaps, for the better time, the opportune moment when the publication will actually find its readers. Samvriti was, would be, or had to be, at least initially, a place for my past reflections, recipient and capitaliser of all the lines written across degrees and projects. Always preparatory, they have been calling for newer and more relevant pieces, written since the launching of this platform, and all those which remain written-to-be. This partial selection constitutes a multiple introduction to a thought in the making. But this was before November 2015. The brief fortnight, simple promise of a pleasant break away from Delhi’s restless corners, left me torn. Returning to India’s capital, finally, but with scares more than one. Back in Paris, resting comfortably, literally opposite one of France’s greatest monuments, Pompidou, another giant of culture left my world. René Girard, last umbilical cord as I had escaped to India’s cosmos some seven years ago, and the first to depart, now, as I finally return to Europe, in body and even in mind. Last and long-awaited moments of glory for him, as I saw several of the French media I so long loathed, finally pronouncing the name of he who was once for me nothing short of an exception in meaningfulness. Time has passed since, the interest too, but the self of another time is always ready to return, just for a few instants, just to remind that it never is really gone. But it is when events hit even harder, that silence knocks at the door and affirms itself as the only solid response. The attacks of Paris, just one week later, left me in a state quite distinct from what the Charlie Hebdo killings had grown in me earlier this year. Beyond the shock, the surprise and the remaining nuances always to recall for all sides of the equation, the surfacing of the present at times takes you away from thought and projections, only to recall the imminence of history’s making. Moment of crisis, of krinein: moment of catastrophe, moment of the great decisions. Personally too, a couple of krinein found their way to me, to us, just to underline that no one could escape, in the most intimate of engagements and implications, this participation we all share to the larger pictures of our reality. Moment of decision, undeniably, but not necessarily of action, of positivity, of expression. Silence, too, can be a decision. Literal silence, on some topics, moderate silence, ambitions of a personal ethics, perhaps, and an indirect, or temporary silence, as one finds his way back to study. Reading — writing otherwise, writing elsewhere, letting oneself be written, when the temptation of writing more sounds precisely as the thing to avoid. Remain nonetheless the remants, les restes, leftovers, the archive, essays from a time when writing was not quite, yet, a risk:

Samvriti, Newsletter  November 2015.


Science and Interpretation:
Girard and the Scientific Discourse
Anthropology, Christianity, Theory, Science, Society,
Rituals, Mimetic Theory, Scapegoat

If the ToE or Theory of Everything is the Holy Grail of science, one may notice that such a wide enterprise could use certain recent works of the humanities to serve as a basis. Indeed, while they may not seem interested in providing an answer for all the physical events of the cosmos, a number of historians, anthropologists and philosophers have formulated their own version of a ToEH or Theory of Everything Human. In other words, their corpus of research and hypotheses claims to satisfactorily explain all that makes and that has constituted the history of human societies. Among them is René Girard, an interdisciplinary French thinker whose works span across the fields of psychology, literature, anthropology, mythology, theology, philosophy of religion, and politics…

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Is Buddhism a Philosophy ? Dalit Self-Affirmation
Religion, Philosophy,
Spirituality, Wisdom
Caste, Nietzsche, Ganguly, Marxism, Orientalism, Post-Colonialism

The teachings of the Buddha (5th-6th c. bc) and of later thinkers following his ideas, are usually seen as forming one of the families of Philosophy in India. But is Buddhism a Philosophy? This claim is not as obvious as we usually think. In the present essay, I shall try to address this problematic, through one particular entry: the classical 19th c. European misunderstanding of Buddhism as a nihilistic Philosophy…

Is ‘thinking outside the box’ necessarily opening another box? Such is the question that the reader could reflect upon after following Debjani Ganguly in her ambitious study Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity (2005). The book, subtitled ‘Notes on postcolonial hermeneutics of caste’, is meant as a profound questioning on the ways caste has been and is conceptualized, and how it could be understood differently…

The Poetic Fulfilment
T.S. Eliot, Poetry, Four Quartets, Mystic, God

Four Quartets has been considered as one of the major works of the naturalized British poet T.S. Eliot. It represents the later part of his life and creations, where his inspirations and themes reached mystical conclusions, contrasting with the overwhelming and suffocating atmosphere of the Second World War. After nearly three decades of career as an acclaimed poet, Eliot offers in Four Quartets a profound reflection not only on the nature of spirituality, but on memory and writing, two themes at the heart of his practice…

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Tragedies of Imprudence The Symbols of Early Buddhist Art
Wole Soyinka, Destiny, Fate, Sophocles
Aniconism, Buddha, Deer, Chakra, Footprints, Lotus, Representation

Foreshadowing is a classical element of tragedy. It generally consists of a character telling the main protagonist, early in the play, of the dramatic events that shall ultimately happen to her. This technique plays two functions. First, it permits to set the tragic tone of the story, through a recurring idea of predetermination and of a lack of free-will. Second, it unambiguously clarifies the stakes of the play for the audience…

Contrary to its later forms, ancient art used to be generally symbolic in nature. This particularity, found across the arts of various religions in the world, including in India, comes from various roots. It used to be common that a great historical figure would not accept to be depicted in a human form in artistic creations. Religious leaders were aware of the gap appearing between a being and the representation of that being, and the risks emerging from the latter…