Edit- apparently this old ignoramus is wholly wrong about Eliot's Anglicanism. He was close to the great and good Bishop Bell not Cosmo Lang.
This is one of the best articles in the Guardian I've ever read.
Slowly, in between my domestic chores and dutiful visit to the gym, I've been looking up some of the poets mentioned by this marvelously erudite and engaged author.
This is one book I'll buy in Hardback.
Still, in all candor, the more I look things up the more I'm confirmed in my middle-aged certainty that modern poetry is an oxymoron.
The author says Eliot became a global presence quite quickly. Compared to Tagore- post Gitanjali- this is scarcely true. Nishiwaki was an eccentric egghead- an academics' academics. His volume of English verse (unlike Tagore's own Gitanjali) sank without trace. By contrast, Tagore influenced popular Japanese and Chinese poets and song writers- indeed, he still does. I recall reading a poem by Li Chin Fa in an anthology and asking my learned Chinese friend to transcribe the original for me. He shook his head sadly and said 'the original is Tagore. ' I was amazed. I thought of Tagore, much as I think of Eliot now, as a sexless bore who dabbled in Soteriology coz it was a shameful, but ancestral, vocation.
Both Eliot and Tagore were of Unitarian/Brahmo stock. (Emerson was a Unitarian. Recall his 'Brahma'? He'd been reading Raja Ramohan Roy- an Islamicized polyglot scholar and deeply boring Benthamite of the sententious, Amartya Sen sort) Indeed, it was an elder brother of Tagore, a Science guy who regrettably died early, who prevented a crazy (literally) American Unitarian (Charles Dall- look him up and laugh your head off) unifying those two virulently vacuous Victorian sects by, quite properly, expelling non-Brahmins from his Daddy's new Adi ('primeval', therefore pre-Casteist) Brahmo sect.
Eliot, by birth, a Boston Brahmin, soon turned Episcopalian and became the Chesterton of Cosmo Lang's wholly corrupt High Church.
Tagore, however, had moved in the opposite direction. He transcended that bogus 'Brahmin' label. Muslim Bangladesh reveres him. He has written the National Anthem of 2 nations- though Hindutva India hates his wholly secular 'Jana Gana Mana', preferring instead Bankim's 'Hail to the Mother'.
Tagore could become a global poet much more quickly than Eliot because his culture was already global- not the special pleading of diverse sects of precociously drivelling autochthones inhabiting the unlovely littoral of that most atrocious of Oceans- the ungovernable Atlantic.
By contrast to such uncouth, storm tossed, 'Jahilliyat', China and Japan and South East Asia had assimilated Sanskrit and Pali fifteen hundred years previously. Latin America, through 'Krausismo' (Krause actually knew Skt. and tried to teach Schopenhauer a little bit)- not to mention Jesuit scholarship- was already fertile soil.
Indeed, they had easy access to the Sufi-Bhakti synthesis through notions like 'saudosismo'- which is the Sufi 'sauda' or 'suvaida'- so there was nothing surprising about Tagore, himself the student of a Peruvian monk, being so well received on that continent.
The connection between Greece and India, of course, is 2500 years old. Anglo-American pedants say 'Dharma' is untranslatable. Ashoka translated it as Eusebia and Greek people living in India said 'fair dinkum, mate.' (What? Ancient Greeks had Australian accents and were sun-tanned and had washboard stomachs and lived in the vicinity of Earls Court as I still shudderingly recall)
In any case, for purely commercial or geographical reasons, Tagore was far closer, culturally, to China and Japan than Eliot. His family, like Titsingh, had grown rich in Calcutta and it is a fact that many cultivated Indians, like that Dutchman (who had a Bengali son) showed themselves prepared to ' willingly exchange their residence for Japan,' if not to 'sneer at all Indian greatness' (though that greatness departed even before Victoria became Empress) and like Titsingh (but not promiscuously or for sensual pleasure) espoused Japanese wives than whom, indeed, none better exemplify 'pativrata' Beauty, Grace and Fidelity.
Tagore and Aurobindo, briefly, were paired as the poet-prophets of Revolution in India. M.N Roy was the Comintern's man in China, tasked with fomenting an Agrarian Revolution. Young Sarojini Naidu, who sold better than her elders, Eliot & Pound, in England, gave Fenellossa's m/s to Pound to trans-create. Her brother 'Chatto' was a Comintern agent killed during one of Stalin's purge. All the people I mention had imbibed Tagore with their mother's milk.
By contrast, though Auden and Isherwood translated Hindu Scriptures at the behest of Hindu Swamis- Yeats started this horrible trend- they neither inspired nor were connected with any great Revolutionaries.
The Academy claimed Auden. Bengalis chant his verse, but they are all queuing for tenure in some particularly insalubrious 'Social Science'.
Eliot may have studied under Paul Elmer More- whose leonine, Landor like, heroic couplets translating Bhratrihari remain till today of the sort, Richard Rorty, in articulo mortis, found salvific to recall- but it is noteworthy that Crawford's vaunted scholar, whom he says engaged with 'Advanced Mathematics'- remained indifferent to 'Vakyapadiya'- in other words, this shmuck could have anticipated the 'linguistic turn', but didn't, preferring to stick with a but Bradleyian foreskin while throwing away his manhood.
Tagore, Thomas Mann says, came across as an old woman- unlike his muscular son. But filial piety constrained Tagore. He was the son of a self proclaimed 'Maharishi' and had to swan around in a Christ-like kaftan because his faux Pundit of a Pater Pantocrator had done so even into his own Forties.
In any case, he wasn't the Science guy in his family. Nevertheless, later, after meeting Einstein, he wrote a popular book for kids about Science. He wasn't a high I.Q guy but, with every decade, he got closer to the people- i.e. became less and less of a holier-than-thou Brahmin c-word.
Robert Graves, by contrast, was a genius. Crazy? No- just a case of genus irritabile vatum. I can't re-read Eliot without sneering a little. I know so much more than him. So do we all, thanks to Google Search. But Graves? Take his 'love without hope as when the young bird catcher'- okay, I get the 'Celtic' reference and thus could have secured a pass-mark in the Indian U.P.S.C Eng Lit paper- which would have translated into a safe job as a clerk, supposing a question had been posed on that topic, BUT Graves wrote so lucidly, so much for the common man, I'd have read his 'White Goddess' gratuitously. Even if I got my Govt. job and was kept busy collecting bribes, I'd always be haunted by the knowledge that the forest is a text in the only language of my salvation. English forests, Greek forests- such Holwege as arise in Hindustani Forests- but are birds which escape and fly, though 'tis but a SUV which drives by.
Eliot, as neutered by Pound, but natal to School Marmish/Social Workerish American Browningian Femininity- his Mum's 'Savanorola' could scarcely be more hilarious than his own sophomoric detournement on the 'smara- mara' syzygy- represents not Modernism but the Credentialized Academy's rodeo which features only its own gelding.
Tagore can't be taught. Bengali kids memorise him coz Mum croons his verses in the kitchen when Granny condemns her cooking.
In that vast, salt pillared, masturbatory desert of my adolescence- where, not Christ was betrayed but barely tempted- Eliot whispered to me. But whispered to me of a career as a Casteist, Credentialized, poseur or pundit.
Eliot indeed is that Buddha of the elite whose 'Fire sermon' distinguishes between Brahmins- who tend a sacred fire to glorify their own genealogy- and Sati, the Fisherman's son, who obviously is just an idiot and thus to be ostracized, unlike, Upali, the barber, who is properly obsequious and parrots what you say.
Eliot has 'taste'. I don't. I'm now a Curry & Chips Cockney. I relish conversations in pubs which turn on obscure gynaecological problems amongst the older of my neighbours. Me being very black and wearing glasses- it's like these Mothers of the Community are able to say what they can't in the G.P's surgery or the underfunded NHS Hospital.
Okay, I just heard myself there. T.S. Eliot is great coz he helped this 'bullshitting' immigrant to turn into a real Londoner over the course of 30 years.
I now love him unreservedly and will definitely buy the hardback edition of this book. As for understanding its contents- why not? That could happen. It's like David Cameron said to me- well, if it wasn't him it was some other French Cambodian lady boy such as abound in these parts- should of gone to Specsavers innit?
The theory of Prakaasha deals with how we can know what is in our consciousness as well what portion of that consciousness constitutes 'knowledge' falsifiable or otherwise. The related theory of Praamaanya inquires into the origin and apprehension of the truth of that knowledge. Svatah (lit 'from inside')-Praamaanya theorists agree that that truth of an item of knowledge has the same origin and is apprehended simultaneous with that knowledge- a strange doctrine, prima facie, since knowledge may be ab ovo speculative, oneiric, or, indeed, florid and figurative in a manner essentially fugitive from Truth, though some later event, experiment or external authority may reveal it to be purely alethic.
One workaround, that of the Prabhakara, is to make Truth a purely instrumental criteria. What works is 'true', what doesn't is 'error'. However, the desirable property of not relying on Memory but independently manifesting its object, or apprehending something not apprehended before, which is sought for Praamaanya, is lost thereby. Two methods- one Platonic, the other Occassionalist- exist to repair this lacuna and, as a practical matter, we are welcome to tune into the Sufi-Bhakti synthesis from any point on the spectrum thus defined.
Another approach, that of the Bhattas, is to consider 'jnaatataa' (knownness) as an imperceptible activity of an inferential type operating on something otherwise subliminal and not the subject of Praamaanyaa theory.However, this raises in acute form the question as to how such 'knownness' could be 'svatah'- i.e. arise at the same time and from the same cause as that which it qualifies? We may think we mistake a rope for a snake till the snake bites us. Apprehension and the truth of apprehension surely can't be simultaneous? Once way round this is to simply recast Knowledge claims as being of a Bayesian, Statistical nature. To do so, however, is to encourage us to consider ourselves citizens of a Multiverse. Suddenly, the Yoga-Vashista gains salience. We are the Bhikshu who dreamed he was a King who dreamed he was an Apsara who dreamed she was a doe in the forest who dreamed she bit off Walt Disney's head for killing Bambi's mum. All woke from their dream to find they were all each other. At this point, Yeats goes and sits at the feet of Mohini Chatterjee or some other such Chatter-box and starts translating the Gita. We can quit reading him and go order a round of Guinness with a Jameson chaser.
My own ancestral Vedantism, however, re-opens the question of how empirical truth can be 'svatograhya'- i.e. apprehended as such intrinsically and at the same time as cognized. The workaround here is facile. The subject is always false or sublatable in a long series asymptotically approaching her own 'true' self itself qualified as the 'sakshi' or unimpeachable witness.
Let us take an everyday example. I walk into the bar at the local Hilton and have a few pints. I see a young chap who went to Modern School on Barakhamba Road and go over to ask which year he matriculated. His initial hesitancy is removed when I explain that I'm an alumnus of St. Columba's and, in my day, our two schools enjoyed a friendly rivalry. On hearing my surname he becomes friendly and goes off to get me a drink leaving me with his lovely lady wife who, it turns out, is a fellow Tambram.
I am astonished when I hear that she too attended Modern School, though she quickly explains she met her older husband at Wharton.
I say to her 'Akka (elder sister) why you are telling me such a shameless lie? From his face, I could immediately tell your husband attended Modern School. It is a scientific fact that people who go to Modern have penis like physiognomy. Your face, on the other hand, is beautiful. Why you are punching and slapping me? OMG, how did nice lady like you learn such filthy type Tamil abuse words!'
Anyway, I went and hid behind her husband who was a U.P bhaiyya some twenty years younger than myself. He said 'Darling, please don't hit this fellow with your naked hand. Everyone knows St. Columba's boys have their arse where face should be. Chee, chee- kindly go and wash with dettol!'
Anyway, we have a couple of drinks while lady is in the powder room. I say 'Yaar, Shahrukh Khan is from St. Columba's. Shehkar Kapoor went to Modern.' 'How do you think Shah Rukh got his start?' he shoots back. 'After Kapoor Sahib was finished with him, Shah Rukh's features became almost human.'
Suddenly I realized that this brawny U.P bhaiyya, with the characteristic penis like face of a Modern School alumnus, was gazing upon my moon like visage in a lascivious and lustful fashion. Where was his wife when I needed her? Just I giggled nervously, paid for the drinks, and quietly slipped away.
Pop Quiz Q 1. The author gained two types of knowledge simultaneously- viz. that a person had a penis like face and that he must have attended Modern School, Barakhamba road. Is this a valid instance of 'svatograhya' empirical knowledge? a) Yes. Having penis like face is an intrinsic property of Modern School alumni. Apprehending a penis like face was the origin and also the truth maker for the knowledge that the dickhead in question was indeed from Modern School. b) No. His wife also attended Modern School. She did not have penis like face. Thus the truth-maker for 'x attended Modern School' can't be 'svatah-praamaanya', i.e. intrinsically provided and must therefore be, if at all, 'paratah-praamaanya'- i.e. arising from an external authority, experiment or event. c) The question is framed in an impredicative manner and is therefore undecidable. The truthmaker for 'x is a valid instance of 'svatograhya empirical knowledge' can not itself be empirical because svatograhya is intrinsically self-referential. Nor can it be otherwise for that begs the question. d) Of course it is completely valid! Abishek Bacchan went to Modern. Just look at that horrible thing growing out of his neck. Enough to scare anybody straight. Even Karan Johar.
This is a picture of Aamir Khan before he worked with Abhishek in Dhoom 3.
This is him now.
Case closed. Q.E.D
Shankaracharya of Dwarka has condemned the movie PK. Was it because Aamir spoke out openly (parrhesia) against fraud perpetrated in the name of Religion? Not at all. The Shanakaracharya, jailed during Quit India, has never condoned fraud of any type because it destroys the Nation.
Still, it may be that Aamir relied upon some paratah-praamaanya argument or authority inadmissible for a Vedantin.
Having watched the movie, I am the 'sakshi' - that too PK- possessing 'svatograhya' empirical knowledge that such is not the case.
Acharyajee possesses not just Praamaanya shakti- ratocinative power- but also intuition of underlying Prakaasha truth. Yet it is not decent to mention the fact that there are hordes of these Modern School alumni with huge penis like faces roaming around. Acharyajee shows great 'upaya kausalya'- tact in instruction- such that by condemning the effect he warns against the truly too-horrible-for-words cause- viz. deleterious consequences of spending any lengthy period of time in proximity to Abhishek's horribly throbbing phallus of a physiognomy.
Bacchan Sahib should have sent his son to Nainital. How much grief we would have all been spared, say what you like the boy can act, had he done so!