Tag: Work Cited

Heaven and Earth (Ten To Chi To) by Haruki Kadokawa

The film in question is a Japanese period film released in 1990.  The main theme of the film is war and its impact on warriors and common people.  For a student of history, the film presents a fairly accurate presentation of costumes, art and architecture of 16th century Japan.  Watching the film was like going to a museum of history with an impressive assembly of artifact and costume in display.

The film is useful for the student of political science as well.  The bloody conflict between the warlords Takeda and Kagetora is typical of the fractious political atmosphere in medieval Japan.  Kagetora, though not a pacifist, is powerfully drawn to that idea.  He is shown in the film as someone with a compassionate heart and someone who cared for his people deeply.  He doesn’t want his subjects to suffer and is thus thinks thoroughly before going to war.  But circumstances, especially the claim to leadership of a unified Japan, greatly inspire him.  It is . . . Read More

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The Bagavad Gita: Q & A

  1. In refusing to fight, what is Arjuna calling into question?

Arjuna is troubled by various facets of his war mission.  The first and foremost is the killing of his kin and kith. Across the battle line in Kurukshetra stand his cousins, uncles and former gurus.  How heartless one needs to be to be able to desimmate one’s own flesh and blood, he asks Krishna.  Arjuna is also uncertain of the legitimacy of war itself. How can so much bloodshed be toward a noble cause, he queries Krishna. Moreover, Arjuna fails to see how the enterprise of war could lead to liberation from worldly existence. To his intuition it appeared as if war stood for all that was denounced in the Vedas.

  1. What is Arjuna’s duty according to the Vedic ideal?

According to the Vedic scriptures, Arjuna should act according to his Svabava and the resulting SwadharmaSvabava can be loosely . . . Read More

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Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

The book in question is insightful, thought-provoking and controversial.  One of the positive aspects of the book is its elaborateness.  Having taken up a challenging thesis, the author goes about proving it with a rigorous scholarly approach. But as with all theses there are problems of omission and commission.

The book presents an interesting view on the European dominance of global politics in modern history.  Questioning any inherent genetic superiority or innate industriousness of the European race, Diamond states that it was conditions of favorable geography and climate that accounts for this dominance.  The vast East-West orientation of the Eurasian landmass offered a degree of uniformity of climate along the same latitudes.  This allowed exchange of applicable agricultural technology across various parts of the continent.  Eurasia also had the good fortune of tameable animals which they could employ in agricultural production and also for animal farming.  . . . Read More

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Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee: Summary and Response

The novel in short is about the authoritative military interventions of the Third Bureau (a term resonating with the German Third Reich) in the imaginary frontier town.  The town is run by a Magistrate (apparently a civil servant appointed by the imperial elite).  But the Magistrate is humane and compassionate toward the people in his jurisdiction.  As a result the town goes about its business in a peaceful manner.  To disturb this peace, the troops of the Third Bureau (under the charge of Colonel Joll) arrive on town to put down an anticipated Barbarian uprising.  It is not known for sure how real this threat was.  But the Third Bureau goes about rounding up suspects and detaining them in a most ruthless way without due course to a fair trial.  The magistrate, whose sympathies are with the locals, witnesses scenes of gross violence and torture.  The town gets a respite when the Third Bureau packs up and leaves to the Capital, having temporarily quashed any Barbarian designs . . . Read More

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The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn: Review of Chapters 1 through 5

Howard Zinn is arguably the most important American historian. He brought a radical transformation to the construction of history that was previously unheard of.  By siding with the oppressed, the underprivileged, the victims, the poor and the weak, he made their voices heard through his writing.  The People’s History of the United States is a landmark scholarly achievement in this regard.  It ushered in the trend of subaltern study and analysis to history departments in American Colleges (although many major educational institutions have not yet embraced this book).  More importantly, the book has brought balance to historical recounting of events, where erstwhile only the elite point of view was accepted and made available to the public.  In this context it is interesting to scrutinize the rationale and the thought process of the author in his choice of chapter titles and their contents.  The rest of this essay is an attempt to do the same with respect to the first five . . . Read More

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During the period from about 1405 and 1750 why was religious toleration practiced in some places and not in others?

When we look at geo-political and social conflicts across the world today we can see how religion is a factor in most of the conflicts. In this backdrop, it is fair to claim that the world would be a more peaceful place to inhabit if more people practice religious toleration.  What is true today has been a fact for centuries past. A cursory look at world history shows how religious intolerance has played a major role in several calamitous military conflicts of the past. Just as there are these negative examples, there were also leaders who took a contrarian and compassionate position of practicing religious tolerance. The late medieval and early modern period, spanning from the beginning of the 15th century to the middle of 18th century was an era that is witness to both the tendencies.  This essay will showcase how religious tolerance was the dominant stance in this bygone era, where leaders in the fields of philosophy, politics, science and religion . . . Read More

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Critical Interpretation of Where Are You Going and Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates’

Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going and Where Have You Been? is a suspenseful and thrilling story.  I found some aspects of it interesting while others superfluous.  The following passages will lay out my critical interpretation of the story.

Firstly, the characterization of the two main characters is very impressive.  The mental makeup of Connie, who is brought up by a mildly abusive and critical mother, is spot on.  Her eventual decision to take a huge risk and go away with the dangerous suitor Arnold Friend shows both daring and weakness.  She perhaps opts for this course of action as she subconsciously realizes how the prevailing circumstances in her home are not very positive.  Hence, by taking a chance with a dangerous (yet attractive) stranger is a calculated gamble.  Similarly, the mental make-up of the wild and macho young male – Arnold Friend – is also impressive.  The heightened sense of machismo exhibited by him impresses Connie at some level.  . . . Read More

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A response to Jenni Russell’s ‘The Selfish Generation’

Jenni Russell’s article for the Guardian newspaper that appeared on 6th December 2003 raises contemporary problems in social interactions.  She laments the fact that as individual, isolated consumers of a capitalist society, people are gradually losing their humanity. In its place, they are acquiring rather unsavory social tendencies, the most blatant of which is lack of politeness in social interactions.  People are always conscious of their own image and social status that they act in an overtly aggressive manner.  Hence, there is a tendency for people to take offense where none was intended and inflict hurt where none was warranted.  Modern industrial society, as primarily represented by the United States of America and countries in Western Europe, place undue primacy to the superficial over the substantial.  This is nowhere truer than with respect to the Public Relations industry’s constant barrage of illusory imagery and ego-stroking message in the form of . . . Read More

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Film Review: The Station Agent

There are clear markers that set aside The Station Agent from mainstream American movies.  The limited budget, the austere production style and the modest profiles of the cast actors all identify the film as belonging to the ‘independent’ genre.  The off-beat story line and its central theme is also distant to conventional plots and themes.  But, despite all the hurdles that confront independent films, The Station Agent met both critical and commercial success.

The Station Agent breaks away from regular commercial fare in that it does not show typical, stylized relations between humans.  Rather, it explores the possibility and feasibility of strange equations between newly acquainted humans.  For example, when Fin moves to the old building left behind by Henry (upon the latter’s death), he suddenly finds himself forming an intricate network of social interactions.  In this newfound social atmosphere there are opportunities for creative exploration as well as for . . . Read More

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Review of the case study The Nez Perce Nation

The article titled The Nez Perce Nation talks about the history of one of the largest and powerful tribes to have inhabited the Plateau culture area. Once a flourishing indigenous civilization, the article documents Nez Perce’s decline and marginalization under the pressure of colonial settlers and Christian missionaries. As the commercial and territorial interests of European settlers slowly contracted the natural living domain of the Nez Perce, the proud but embattled Native American group slowly gave up its fight. Chief Joseph was the last of the Nez Perce warrior leaders to stand up to the occupiers. The article in question describes and analyzes the subsequent evolution of the rebels under Chief Joseph as well as the group that signed the treaty with the U.S. Army. After having surveyed the fortunes of the scattered Nez Perce in the course of the last century and a half, the article ponders over their importance to current environmental issues as well as the salience of their . . . Read More

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