The Romantic and Realist eras were sharply differentiated in terms of style and content of art. Yet, they are united in being born as reactions to styles precedent to theirs. Romanticism, for example was born as a reaction to the rational-scientific emphasis of the Age of the Enlightenment. Where Romantic art differed from scientific disposition is in its novel approach to creation. While science seeks to “explain what exists, art seeks to create something new—but something that bears a distinct relationship to what exists.” (Benton & Diyanni 2011) Likewise, the Realist era was inspired by the perceived excesses of the Romantic style. It is not for us to judge if one stylistic movement is superior to the other. They both sprung from a natural artistic longing for novelty and experimentation. It is fair to say that Western civilization is richer for these periodic upheavals in art. Both Romanticism and Realism showcased different sets of tendencies and aspirations in art . . . Read More
Early educational experiences that shaped Emil du Bois-Reymond’s career in science
One of the important educational milestones for Bois-Reymond had been the experimental course he did in Berlin in 1838. His interactions with Jons Jacob Berzelius and other eminent scientists of the day shaped his formative mind. The exchanges he had with Johannes Muller served as an added apprenticeship for the young Bois-Reymond. Reading Carlo Matteucci’s essay “On the Electrical Phenomena of Animals” in 1841 had a profound influence on his ever inquisitive scientific mind. In 1843 Du Bois-Reymond was fortunate to have correspondence with and be appraised by Alexander von Humboldt. This culminated in his dissertation presentation to the French Academy of Sciences. Bois-Reymond’s academic life was thus filled with numerous fortuitous interactions with the leading scientific lights of the day.
Bois-Reymond’s personality, preferences and personal . . . Read More
Human Sex by LaLaLa Human Steps is a wonderfully choreographed and precisely executed dance performance. The piece is a celebration of love with all the interdependencies between the lovers. It brims with optimism and energy, colorfully portraying the physicality of love and ecstasy. The two dancers largely conform to gender stereotypes, whereby, the male dancer exhibits more energy and strength, while the female dancer excels in grace and swiftness. But the performance is punctuated with deliberate role reversals which serve to abstract the concept of gender from biological identification. There are women-on-top maneuvers that suggest female sexual prowess. In one movement, the entire weight of the male performer is borne by the female dancer’s back.
The other notable feature of this LaLaLa classic is how punk-rock music was adapted to a modern dance genre. This is a bold and novel innovation by the group, consistent with their reputation for originality and unique style. . . . Read More
Dear Mother and Father,
Humanity is mad! This is the truth that my experiences at war have taught me. We attribute such noble qualities as valor, patriotism, justice and morality with motivations for war. But whatever may be the ends of war, the means through which it is accomplished is highly questionable. During combat fellow human beings are turned into mere targets to be struck down. It strikes me as absurd that I am obliged to kill my German brethren merely because they were wearing a different uniform. After all, the differences between the troops in combat are nearly all superficial.
Tell me, what is it that separates us and German soldiers? They too were nurtured, schooled and raised with civil values that we provide our children. When they grow into adults, they show the same chivalry toward women that our young men do. They embrace the institution of marriage and take up family responsibilities like our men do. But the mere fact of being born on the other side . . . Read More
The House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place is a testament to the power of geographic location. Although purportedly an autobiographic work, it is equally a sociological treatise on the themes of ‘rootedness’ and ‘displacement’. Author Mindy Fullilove links these concepts to the process of identity formation. She contends that, on par with culture and language, the place in which an individual grows up, leaves a mark on their identity. The readings perused for this essay also cover the topic of ethnic roots and geographic displacement. The examples we glean in the readings underscore Mindy Fullilove’s thesis of the centrality of place to human identity.
In In Retreat, Fullilove talks about how her parents resorted to living in exclusive ghettos in New Jersey. It was a time when minority communities were suffering under social censures issued by General McCarthy. The inter-communal atmosphere during the 1950s America was far from . . . 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
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
While both authors comment on the significance of the event of the Resurrection, their emphasis is quite different. Wright bases the Resurrection to draw upon broader themes within Christianity, like “Why did Christianity arise, and why did it take the shape it did?” (p.111) Wright acknowledges the exceptional nature of Christianity, when at the time of its birth, so many new prophets and messiahs were being purged by pagan enemies. Yet, under such hostile circumstances a new faith was able to take root. To fully comprehend the magnitude of this achievement one has to consider the milieu of first-century Judaism in which Christianity was born.
As Wright points out, there were even social and political factors that hindered belief of the after-life, and by extension the occurrence of Resurrection. For example, kingdoms like that of the Sadducees discouraged such beliefs thinking that it would lead to ready revolt and sacrifice on part of dissenters. The socially prominent . . . Read More
John Wesley’s explanatory notes on Genesis-3 throws light on the intricacies of the relationship between Adam and Eve. At the outset, the choice of Serpent as the incarnation of devil is explained. The serpent is a sly creature that can operate with subtly in capturing its prey. Since the serpent can strike a fatal blow, its choice as the agent of Satan is apt. The first few stanzas of Genesis-3 also states how reason and speech are deceptive and can lead humans on the path of immorality. Adam and Eve, our first parents, were thus deceived by the serpent’s persuasive discourse of words. Eve, having thus been seduced by the power of reason, bit into the forbidden fruit, thereby condemning all further generations of humankind as bearers of that sin. Wesley’s interpretation is elaborate, in that, he lays out the methods of logic employed by the serpent. For example, the serpent spoke the following falsities in convincing Eve to commit the original sin:
“He . . . Read More