The two documents in question are well regarded for their political and historical comment. Both talk about Athenian democracy and its pros and cons. While Pericles Funeral Oration is an elogé to martyrdom and democracy, the Old Oligarch (Pseudo-Xenophon) takes a rather pessimistic view of democracy.
In the Funeral Oration, Pericles pays rich tribute to warriors, who commit the supreme sacrifice for maintaining the sovereignty of the Athenian state. In the wake of the Peloponnesian War, scores of Athenian soldiers were pressed into duty who they readily endured the hardships of warfare. Though acknowledging their bravery and sense of duty, Pericles notes that one individual’s words cannot sufficiently capture the magnitude of their feat. Pericles goes on to mention how the very foundation of the Athenian kingdom was based on valour and patriotism. He cites the example of martyrs from previous generations to identify this tradition.
Pericles assures the audience that . . . Read More
Almost every theoretical type of propaganda was employed by Saddam Hussein. Some of the prominent types are agitation, white, black and vertical propaganda. As the example of mass funeral of dead babies illustrates, Saddam intended to appeal to the emotions of the audience, circumventing deliberation on fact and logic. It served to agitate the minds of sympathizers and rally them behind his cause.
Vertical propaganda is identified with government missives given to international press, which were full of exaggeration and fabrication of facts and events. For example, Saddam perpetrated misinformation about how American missiles targeted hospitals and civilian areas. This was dictated to journalists in a top-down fashion. After the media carried these dubious official stories without cross-checking facts, it was disseminated horizontally among Iraqi citizens as well as abroad.
There are also instances of misattribution of sources (black) as well as intended ambiguity with . . . Read More
As philosophers like Frederic Nietzsche have pointed out, Christianity tends to curtail the full meaning of human existence by making it devoid of spontaneity and adventure. In other words, faith in God is made incompatible with ‘seeking’ in its broadest sense. Faith, it would then seem, is merely an “illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.” (p.1) As a result, faith is referred to as darkness. Yet, an attempt was made to accommodate faith with the light of reason. Such room would open up in those areas and moments where the light of reason alone proved insufficient. Faith was thus understood “either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation…” (p.2)
With faith thus relegated to a role subordinate to that of reason, it’s value will have to be revived, for when faith fades away, true . . . Read More
Newman finds fault with a certain tendency among the faithful, whereby they are complacent with what is given in scriptures. As a result, they no longer inquire and seek to acquire new knowledge. In other words, they are “not persuaded thereby to see and hear more, are not moved to act upon their knowledge. Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; they are contented to remain as they are”. (p.1) Newman argues that faith does not preclude rationality. Yet, he equally condemns those who lack faith at the cost of embracing rationality. These people, lacking in the faculty of religious belief, can only acquire incomplete knowledge.
According to Newman faith is about assenting to a doctrine as veritable, even when faced with lack of sensory evidence to back up its claims. Since God cannot lie, what is revealed will have to be true. At the centre of Divine faith is the total lack of doubt in the heart and mind of the believer. This is so because “God is true, because . . . Read More
In His Steps is a rare work of fiction, which achieves a perfect balance of theology and social comment. The important characters in the novel each add their own perspectives to the town of Raymond. We find areas of convergence as well as divergence between their views on the town. But in synthesis, a composite picture of Raymond emerges.
Reverend Henry Maxwell, around whom the whole plot revolves, is an influential figure in the town, which is populated mostly by Christians. He was a sincere and honest clergyman, albeit with a degree of prejudice, as demonstrated in his initial attitude toward the shabby stranger. With Raymond hinted to be located in interior Illinois, this kind of class prejudice is not uncommon at the time of the novel’s setting. In this vein, Raymond’s distrust and distance toward the stranger is a statement about semi-rural America at the turn of the twentieth century. Moved by the shabby stranger’s passionate appeal to the members of the . . . Read More
1. BBC Matisse
Matisse was an artist who followed a rigorous work ethic. This is true even toward the fag-end of his career, when he conceived and created his monumental chapel. It is ironic that his architecture should garner such popularity, when for most part of his career he gained fame as a painter. He was not a believer in Christianity, or any other religion, for that matter. Yet, as a token of gratitude for a Christian nun who took care of him during his convalescence, Matisse set upon this final artistic work. The chapel he built was unconventional in many ways. Symbolic scultures were preferred over regular iconography. Instead of murals and frescos, huge translucent sheets of window panes were chosen as mediums of art. In these, using brilliant combination of colors and patterns, Matisse was able to invoke an atmosphere of optimism and regeneration within the enclosed space.
2. Wassily . . . Read More
Michel Houellebecq has the distinction of being the best known contemporary French litterateur across the globe. Houellebecq had never hesitated to call a spade a spade in his works of art, be it his novels or poems. The latest offering Serotonin is almost prophetic in that it deals with a phenomenon in France that is topical at the time of release of the book. We are talking about the Yellow Vest protests that have rocked France towards the end of 2018. Houellebecq could not have anticipated such events unfolding so as to coincide with the release of the book. But the fact of this coincidence nevertheless gives more context and urgency to the central themes of the book. The decision by the author to not give interviews or have media interactions in the lead up to the publication has heightened intrigue among French literature aficionados as well as followers across the rest of the world. The French government’s bestowing of Legion d’honneur (the . . . Read More
At the heart of Proslogion is the expression of the idea of ‘faith seeking understanding’. In the very first chapter Anselm implores “Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek You, where and how to find You. If You are not here, Lord, where shall I seek You who are absent?” (p.90) Hence, even a firm believer will have to go seek God, for it is this spiritual journey which leads to salvation. The challenges facing the seeker are obvious. Omnipresent as God might be, he is yet non-corporeal and difficult to behold – God dwells in the light inaccessible.
‘Faith Seeking Understanding’ is also linked to the concept of Original Sin. It was Adam’s ill-advised satiety that has burdened generations of Eve’s sons with repentance. In other words, “Adam burped with satiety; we sigh with hunger. He abounded; we go begging…But, alas, unhappy me, one of the other unhappy sons of Eve who are far removed from God.” (p.91) But gaining God’s grace through . . . Read More
Anselm makes it clear in his preface that his contemplative work seeks to demonstrate that a. God truly (i.e. in reality) exists, b. That he is the Supreme Good and the Divine Substance. One of the ontological proofs of God’s existence is due to the fact that God cannot be thought not to exist. Adding merit to the thesis of God’s existence is his omnipotence, even though He does not impose his will on many natural phenomena.
It is only the proverbial Fool who could ever doubt God’s existence. It is only the Fool who in his heart cannot conceive of that which is the greatest. The Fool would also think that since God is not found in any corporeal form, he does not exist. But “”alone existing through Hmself, He makes all other things from nothing.
Further evidence for God’s existence comes from the fact that he is merciful and impassible. Only the supreme authority governing the cosmos can deliver mercy upon various life forms graced to live on earth. Indeed, . . . Read More
Both the films, Amelie and Ikiru, are in essence about individuals. The characters of Amélie Poulain and Kanji Watanabe negotiate and overcome their share of life’s travails. But there is great variation with respect to the nature and complexion of their challenges. Amélie’s life was not as precarious and grave as Watanabe’s was poised toward the end of his life. Hence the standards applied to evaluating their qualities will have to be adjusted accordingly. Watanabe finds himself in an imposing and impossible situation, where he feels betrayed by his family, his work as well as his failing health. Amélie’s issues are that of loneliness and longing for love. Both the protagonists eventually succeed in overcoming the hurdles and finding meaning in their lives. They do so by looking within and unearthing solutions from the depths of their souls. This essay will elaborate on this thesis.
In Amélie, we have a fresh-faced young woman who finds joys in small pleasures of . . . Read More