Thursday, October 31, 2019


Budhan Theatre

Founded in 1998, Budhan Theatre is an Indian theatre group composed of members of the Chhara tribe, one of India's groups of denotified or "criminal" tribal people in AhmedabadGujarat.The Budhan Theatre was founded by Prof. Ganesh Devy G. N. Devy, a renown linguist and professor of English Literature and Smt. Mahasweta Devi Mahasweta Devi a noted Bangla writer and Magsaysay awardee. The style of theatre practiced by the theatre troupe is theatre for community development and theatre for social change. They perform street play, Intimate theatre and other experimental theatres to raise awareness about discrimination and violence faced by Chharas and other denotified tribal people in India. Their influences include the Indian People's Theatre AssociationBertoldt Brecht, and the Indian aesthetic of Rasa.

Budhan Theatre takes its name from Budhan Sabar, a tribal man who was labeled a criminal, targeted, and murdered by the police in West Bengal. One of the iconic plays performed by Budhan Theatre is called Budhan. During the play, actors reenact the death of Budhan Sabar and demand justice for his murder.

The group had also conducted a one-year diploma course in journalism; a diploma in theatre arts, journalism, and media studies; and a certificate course in dramatics.

The group is led by the youths of Chharanagar. Some of the key people include - Dakxin Bajarange, Kalpana Gagdekar, Roxy Gagdekar, Akur Garange, Atish Indrekar, Alok Gagdekar. Many youths from the Chhara community - which was once stigmatized as the criminal tribe by the British - are living a successful life by joining Budhan Theatre. Few examples include Alok Gagdekar (the National School of Drama Graduate- 2006), Vivek Ghamande (2007- NSD), Kalpana Gagdekar, Dakxin Bajrange and few more.

The Budhan Theatre has been featured in Shashwati Talukdar and P. Kerim Friedman's documentary film Please Don't Beat Me, Sir. The film follows a group of young actors and their families, telling their stories against the backdrop of the history of India's denotified or "criminal" tribes.

Most Important Dalit Woman Autobiography Writer

Baby Kamble (1929-2012) was an Indian activist and writer. She was born into an untouchable caste, Mahar, one of the largest untouchable communities in Maharashtra. She was a well-known Dalit activist and writer who was inspired by B. R. Ambedkar. Kamble and her family converted to Buddhism and remained lifelong practicing Buddhists. In her community, she came to be admired as a writer and was fondly called as Tai (meaning sister). She is widely remembered and loved by the Dalit community for her contributions of powerful literary and activist work. She is one of the earliest women writers from the untouchable communities whose distinctive reflexive style of feminist writing setting her apart from other Dalit writers and upper caste women writers (Ramteke,n.d). who gaze was limited and reflexivity incarcerated in caste and masculinity.

Kamble is critically acclaimed and known her autobiographical work Jina Amucha, written in Marathi. Feminist scholar Maxine Bernstein was instrumental in encouraging Baby Tai Kamble to publish her writings which Kamble had kept as a secret from her family. Bernstien discovered Kamble interest and her writings in Phaltan where Bernstein was conducting her research. She encouraged and persuaded Baby Tai to publish her writings which soon became one of the best autobiographical accounts on caste, poverty, violence, and triple discrimination faced by Dalit women.This auto-narrative chronicles Baby Tai's life story in precolonial to postcolonial India. It is deeply embedded with two important critical moments in the Indian history: freedom from the British rule and anti-caste movement led by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar. Thus, Baby Tai's auto-biography is just not personal account of a woman's life history but it is a deeply political and a critical record of the making of the nation from the vantage point of a very precarious social location. Jina Amucha public contribution is it is a nation's biography chronicled from the untouchable woman's point of view. It is also therefore a critical account the nation and its margins: lives of untouchables in a caste Hindu society.

One of the major portions of the book articulates caste and gender discrimination and multilayered violence suffered by Dalit women at the hands of the savarna (caste Hindus) and Dalit men. Kamble writes from an untouchable woman's perspective, not deterring from naming patriarchy in the untouchable community nor sparing the internalized patriarchy by Dalit women. This honesty and reflexivity has been largely missing in upper caste women's writings. Kamble also underscores how the caste Hindu women and men treated untouchables with contempt, disgust, and hate. This work became one of the most powerful and poignant auto-biographical writing in Marathi. The book was translated into English titled The Prisons We Broke by Maya Pandit and published by Orient Blackswan.

Baby Tai wrote several articles and poems focused on Dalits and also ran a residential school for children from vulnerable communities. She died on 21 April 2012, aged 82, in PhaltanMaharashtra.

Early life and marriage

Sunday, October 27, 2019

who called sonnet a moment's monument and a coin?

A Sonnet is a Moment's Monument
A Sonnet is a moment's monument,--
Memorial from the Soul's eternity
To one dead deathless hour.
Whether for lustral rite or dire portent,
Of its own arduous fullness reverent:
Carve it in ivory or in ebony,
As Day or Night may rule; and let Time see
Its flowering crest impearled and orient.
A Sonnet is a coin: its face reveals
The soul--its converse, to what Power 'tis due:
Whether for tribute to the august appeals
Of Life, or dower in Love's high retinue,
It serve; or, 'mid the dark wharf's cavernous breath,
In Charon's palm it pay the toll to Death.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Hairy Ape

The Hairy Ape,

 a play by Eugene O’Neill, is about the negative effects of industrialization. A crew of firemen are drinking on the forecastle of a ship. Though they seem happy, there is tension between them, as though they might erupt into a brawl at any moment. The men sing—sometimes about alcohol and sometimes about home; Yank verbally attacks the idea of home, women, and emotional involvement. Long lays the blame for their miserable lot in life on those in first-class, which he identifies as the capitalist class. Yank says the workers are better than them.

Paddy launches into a bout of nostalgia for the days before engines, when, according to him, the ship, the sea, and man united as one. Yank tells him he is crazy—and dead. He thinks of Paddy as a relic of an age gone by, and says that he is steel.

Meanwhile, on the promenade deck, Mildred Douglas endures her aunt’s chiding as they chat and recline in the deck chairs. Her aunt teases her about Mildred’s attempts to help the poor through her efforts in social service. Despite the fact that Mildred enjoys the comforts and benefits of her family’s fortune derived from their steel business, she wants to make her own positive impact on life.

Her aunt tells her that her efforts to improve the lives of the poor are anything but altruistic. Rather, she says they are poor attempts at boosting her own social credibility. Despite her aunt’s recriminations, Mildred is determined to visit the stokehole below decks in hopes of meeting the workers there. She wants to experience their lifestyle. The captain of the ship has granted her permission, but only because she claimed that her father, the chairman of the ship line, had given her a letter asking her to inspect the ship. When the second engineer questions her choice in wearing a white dress when she is about to go somewhere dirty, she replies that she will just throw it away because she has plenty of clothes.

In the stokehole, the men are dirty and sweating. Paddy is tired, so Yank makes fun of him and boasts his own ability to work at the furnace without suffering exhaustion. His bragging rallies the other firemen, and they work harder to continue stoking the fire. When Mildred arrives, all the men notice except for Yank, who keeps working. When he does see her, he shoots a hateful look her way. Scared, she nearly faints. She asks to be taken away and calls him a filthy beast. Yank is angered by her insult and chucks his shovel at the door after she exits.

After their shift ends, most of the firemen clean up—except for Yank. He is out of sorts, and the other men tease him, saying he has fallen in love with her. He assures them that all he feels for her is hatred. The firemen determine that the engineer showed them off to Mildred like animals at a zoo, and call Yank “hairy ape,” which he likes because it allows him to imagine that their encounter led to violence directed at her. His temper rises, and the other men have to hold him down to keep him from acting on his fantasy.

After the ship makes port in New York, Long and Yank are walking the streets of the city. Long provides more political viewpoints, while Yank is angered by the exorbitant price of furs. He tries to start a fight with some wealthy churchgoers, claiming that it is people like him, with physical prowess, who make the world work. Before he can engage in any physical violence though, the police restrain and arrest him.

While in jail, Yank feels like an animal caged at a zoo. Initially, the other prisoners make fun of him, but after he mentions Mildred’s last name, they tell him about her father, who is the president of the Steel Trust. One of them recommends that Yank join the Wobblies, a group of labor activists. Through them, Yank decides he will exact his revenge. As his temper continues to boil and he thinks of the steel bars restraining him, he manages to bend them so that the prison guards have to subdue him.

After he is let out of jail, Yank goes to the office of the Wobblies. Wobblies, he finds out, is a nickname for the labor union known as the International Workers of the World. He wants to join, but has to stop and think when he is asked for his legal name. At first, the labor union is excited to have Yank because they want to organize other workers on the ship line. But when they ask him whether he wants to achieve his goals through dynamite or legitimate direct action, he answers dynamite. They reject his application because they think he is dangerous. Outside, he repeats a complaint that he truly does not belong anywhere. Thinking he is a drunk, two policemen chastise him.

Yank decides to visit the zoo. There, he walks into the monkey house, where he tells the animals about his experiences in New York. When a gorilla pounds his chest, Yank decides they belong together and thinks of their “club” as the “Hairy Apes.” He opens the cage door, releasing the gorilla, which grabs him and pulls him into a bone-crushing hug. As he crumples to the ground and dies, Yank realizes that he does not belong with the Hairy Apes, either.

Theodore Dresier. SISTER CARRIE

Dissatisfied with life in her rural Wisconsin home, 18-year-old Caroline "Sister Carrie" Meeber takes the train to Chicago, where her older sister Minnie, and Minnie's husband, Sven Hanson, have agreed to take her in. On the train, Carrie meets Charles Drouet, a traveling salesman, who is attracted to her because of her simple beauty and unspoiled manner. They exchange contact information, but upon discovering the "steady round of toil" and somber atmosphere at her sister's flat, she writes to Drouet and discourages him from calling on her there.

Carrie soon embarks on a quest for work to pay rent to her sister and her husband, and takes a job running a machine in a shoe factory. Before long, however, she is shocked by the coarse manners of both the male and female factory workers, and the physical demands of the job, as well as the squalid factory conditions, begin to take their toll. She also senses Minnie and Sven's disapproval of her interest in Chicago's recreational opportunities, particularly the theater. One day, after an illness that costs her her job, she encounters Drouet on a downtown street. Once again taken by her beauty, and moved by her poverty, he encourages her to dine with him, where, over sirloin and asparagus, he persuades her to leave her sister and move in with him. To press his case, he slips Carrie two ten dollar bills, opening a vista of material possibilities to her. The next day, he rebuffs her feeble attempts to return the money, taking her shopping at a Chicago department store and securing a jacket she covets and some shoes. That night, she writes a good-bye note to Minnie and moves in with Drouet.

Drouet installs her in a much larger apartment, and their relationship intensifies as Minnie dreams about her sister's fall from innocence. She acquires a sophisticated wardrobe and, through his offhand comments about attractive women, sheds her provincial mannerisms, even as she struggles with the moral implications of being a kept woman. By the time Drouet introduces Carrie to George Hurstwood, the manager of Fitzgerald and Moy's – a respectable bar that Drouet describes as a "way-up, swell place" – her material appearance has improved considerably. Hurstwood, unhappy with and distant from his social-climbing wife and children, instantly becomes infatuated with Carrie's youth and beauty, and before long they start an affair, communicating and meeting secretly in the expanding, anonymous city.

One night, Drouet casually agrees to find an actress to play a key role in an amateur theatrical presentation of Augustin Daly's melodrama Under the Gaslight for his local chapter of the Elks. Upon returning home to Carrie, he encourages her to take the part of the heroine. Unknown to Drouet, Carrie long has harbored theatrical ambitions and has a natural aptitude for imitation and expressing pathos. The night of the production – which Hurstwood attends at Drouet's invitation – both men are moved to even greater displays of affection by Carrie's stunning performance.

The next day, the affair is uncovered: Drouet discovers he has been cuckolded, Carrie learns that Hurstwood is married, and Hurstwood's wife Julia learns from acquaintances that Hurstwood has been out driving with another woman and deliberately excluded her from the Elks theatre night. After a night of drinking, and despairing at his wife's financial demands and Carrie's rejection, Hurstwood stumbles upon a large amount of cash in the unlocked safe in Fitzgerald and Moy's offices. In a moment of poor judgment, he succumbs to the temptation to embezzle a large sum of money. Inventing a false pretext of Drouet's sudden illness, he lures Carrie onto a train and escapes with her to Canada. Once they arrive in Montreal, Hurstwood's guilty conscience – and a private eye – induce him to return most of the stolen funds, but he realizes that he cannot return to Chicago. Hurstwood mollifies Carrie by agreeing to marry her, and the couple move to New York City.

In New York, Hurstwood and Carrie rent a flat where they live as George and Carrie Wheeler. Hurstwood buys a minority interest in a saloon and, at first, is able to provide Carrie with a satisfactory – if not lavish – standard of living. The couple grow distant, however, as Hurstwood abandons any pretense of fine manners toward Carrie, and she realizes that Hurstwood no longer is the suave, powerful manager of his Chicago days. Carrie's dissatisfaction only increases when she meets Robert Ames, a bright young scholar from Indiana and her neighbor's cousin, who introduces her to the idea that great art, rather than showy materialism, is worthy of admiration.

After only a few years, the saloon's landlord sells the property and Hurstwood's business partner expresses his intent to terminate the partnership. Too arrogant to accept most of the job opportunities available to him, Hurstwood soon discovers that his savings are running out and urges Carrie to economize, which she finds humiliating and distasteful. As Hurstwood lounges about, overwhelmed by apathy and foolishly gambling away most of his savings, Carrie turns to New York's theaters for employment and becomes a chorus girl. Once again, her aptitude for theatre serves her well, and, as the rapidly aging Hurstwood declines into obscurity, Carrie begins to rise from chorus girl to small speaking roles, and establishes a friendship with another chorus girl, Lola Osborne, who begins to urge Carrie to move in with her. In a final attempt to prove himself useful, Hurstwood becomes a scab, driving a Brooklyn streetcar during a streetcar operator's strike. His ill-fated venture, which lasts only two days, prompts Carrie to leave him; in her farewell note, she encloses twenty dollars.

Hurstwood ultimately joins the homeless of New York, taking odd jobs, falling ill with pneumonia, and finally becoming a beggar. Reduced to standing in line for bread and charity, he commits suicide in a flophouse. Meanwhile, Carrie achieves stardom, but finds that money and fame do not satisfy her longings or bring her happiness and that nothing will.


In the 1920s, twenty-year-old Lena Grove hitches a wagon ride to Jefferson, Mississippi. She's pregnant and in search of Lucas Burch, the father of her baby. On the way into town, the house of a town outcast, Joanna Burden, is on fire. Lena eventually learns that there is no one in Jefferson named Burch, but that there is a fellow named Byron Bunch. Bunch, a worker at the local planing mill, talks to Lena, telling her stories about a stranger in town named Joe Brown. Once Byron confirms that Joe Brown has a white scar on his face, Lena knows that this Joe Brown is the father of her baby, so she settles into town to try to find him. But Byron falls in love with Lena right after meeting her, and vows (to himself and the local Reverend Hightower) to protect her and see her through the pregnancy, with or without this Joe Brown fellow.

Through flashback, the narrator recounts the lives of Joe Christmas and Reverend Hightower. Joe Christmas was dropped off at an orphanage on Christmas day, as an infant. When he is five years old, Joe accidentally witnesses the dietician having sex with a doctor at the orphanage. The dietician freaks out, becoming convinced that Joe is going to tell on her, and so she plots to have him removed from the orphanage. She tells Joe that he is part black, and that she's going to get him kicked out of the orphanage. Instead, she sets Joe up with a strict religious couple named the McEacherns.

Mr. McEachern is a Calvinist who believes that hard labor and obedience are the only ways to assure salvation. He beats Joe regularly and does not allow much joy or laughter into the young boy's life. Soon, Joe begins to have sex with a prostitute named Bobbie who lives in town. He sells a cow that McEachern gave him and uses the money to buy a brand new suit, so he can take Bobbie to a local dance. McEachern finds the suit and follows Joe when he sneaks out of the house. When he shows up to the dance, Joe hits him over the head with a chair, possibly killing him. He steals money from Mrs. McEachern and runs away from home, never to see either of his foster parents again.

Christmas drifts for years, sleeping with various women and trying to deal with his racial identity. He arrives in Jefferson and begins working at the planing mill with Byron Bunch and other local men. Christmas takes up residence in a cabin owned by Joanna Burden, a white woman from a long line of local abolitionists. Due to her radical views on racial equality, Miss Burden is an outcast in the town of Jefferson. Miss Burden and Christmas begin a tortured affair that involves him sneaking into her house at night; sometimes they have physical fights. Christmas quits his job at the planing mill when he starts selling whiskey illegally; he takes another stranger in town, Joe Brown, as his business partner, and invites that Joe to move into Burden's cabin with him. When Miss Burden tries to make Christmas become more religious, though, he starts hating her, plotting her murder.

Reverend Gail Hightower's story is also revealed in flashback. Hightower came to Jefferson because his great-grandfather, a member of the Confederate army, was murdered there. He's therefore obsessed with Jefferson, which is his sole reason for coming to town. None of the parishioners approve of his sermons, which he delivers bombastically and egotistically, without regard for his parish. After years of being ignored, his wife begins having affairs with other men in Memphis. One day, she's found dead, having jumped or been pushed out of a hotel window in Memphis. Hightower is defrocked and forced to resign from the church after this, and becomes a town outcast.

In the present, one night, Joanna tries to shoot Christmas with a pistol; he retaliates by murdering her with a razor and nearly decapitates her. Miss Burden's nephew offers a $1,000 reward for the capture of her murderer. Soon after the reward is announced, Joe Brown comes forward and claims that Christmas is the killer. Christmas evades the police for days, but eventually they find him in Mottstown.

In Mottstown there lives a strange couple named the Hineses. When Joe Christmas is arrested downtown, Mr. and Mrs. Hines both have strange reactions to seeing him. When he is driven off to Jefferson for his trial, the couple follows him there. When they arrive, Mrs. Hines tells Reverend Hightower that Joe Christmas is her grandson. Years ago, she reports, her daughter Milly got knocked up by a carnival worker who claimed he was Mexican. Doc Hines, however, believed differently, becoming convinced that the man was actually black. This enraged him, and he murdered Milly's lover and let her die during childbirth. Doc Hines kidnapped the baby and dropped him off at a white orphanage, telling his wife that the baby was dead.

Meanwhile, Byron arranges for Joe Brown and Lena Grove to finally meet. Brown freaks out and jumps out of the cabin window, escaping police custody. Byron tracks him down and the men fight; Joe Brown wins and jumps on a passing train, leaving Jefferson.

Joe Christmas escapes from police custody and is hunted, and ultimately killed, by a white supremacist named Percy Grimm. Grimm shoots and castrates Christmas. Lena Grove and Byron Bunch travel together through Tennessee with Lena's baby, still in search of Joe Brown.

Light in August

Yoknapatawpha County (pronounced [jɒknəpəˈtɔfə]) is a fictional Mississippi county created by the American author William Faulkner, based upon and inspired by Lafayette County, Mississippi, and its county seat of Oxford, Mississippi (which Faulkner renamed Jefferson). Faulkner often referred to Yoknapatawpha County as "my apocryphal county".

From Sartoris onwards, Faulkner set all but three of his novels in the county (PylonThe Wild Palms and A Fable were set elsewhere), as well as over 50 of his stories.Absalom, Absalom! includes a map of Yoknapatawpha County drawn by Faulkner.

The word Yoknapatawpha is derived from two Chickasaw words—Yocona and petopha, meaning "split land". Faulkner said to a University of Virginia audience that the compound means "water flows slow through flat land". Yoknapatawpha was the original name for the actual Yocona River, a tributary of the Tallahatchie which runs through the southern part of Lafayette County.

The area was originally Chickasaw land. White settlement started around the year 1800. Prior to the American Civil War, the county consisted of several large plantations. By family surname, they were: Grenier in the southeast, McCaslin in the northeast, Sutpen in the northwest, and Compson and Sartoris in the immediate vicinity of Jefferson. Later, the county became mostly small farms. By 1936, the population was 15,611, of which 6,298 were white and 9,313 were black.

Richard Reed has presented a detailed chronological analysis of Yoknapatawpha County.Charles S. Aiken has examined Faulkner's incorporation of real-life historical and geographical details into the overall presentation of the county. Aiken has further discussed the parallels of Yoknapatawpha County with the real-life Lafayette County, and also the representation of the "Upland South" and the "Lowland South" in Yoknapatawpha.

Faulkner's imaginary county has inspired at least one other Mississippi author to follow his lead. Jesmyn Ward, who is the only woman to win the National Book Award twice for fiction,drew upon Faulkner for Bois Savage, where she placed her three novels

Literary Terms -4 APORIA

Literary Devices

Definition and Examples of Literary Terms


Definition of Aporia

Aporia is a figure of speech wherein a speakerpurports or expresses doubt or perplexity regarding a question (often feigned), and asks the audience how he ought to proceed. The doubts may appear as rhetorical questions, often in the beginning of the text.

Aporia is a logical paradox in which the speaker sows seeds of doubt on a subject. This rhetorical strategy can make the audience feel sympathetic toward the speaker regarding the dilemma he is in.

Features of Aporia

Aporia is used as a rhetorical device in literature.It is also called “dubitation,” which means that the uncertainty is always untruthful.It could be a question or a statement.It is often used in philosophy. It relates to philosophical questions and subjects which have no obvious answers.Plato and Socrates were well-known for using aporia.

Examples of Aporia in Literature

Example #1: Hamlet (By William Shakespeare)

“To be, or not to be: that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all…”

This is a prominent example of aporia available in English literature. This is an opening soliloquy, spoken by Hamlet in the famousplay. Here, the statement, “To be or not to be” introduces uncertainty that characterizes the paragraph.

Example #2: The Unnamable (By Samuel Beckett)

“Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on.”

“…or by affirmations and negations invalidated as uttered, or sooner or later?”

“…There must be other shifts. Otherwise it would be quite hopeless. I should mention before going any further…”

“Can one be aphetic otherwise than unawares? I don’t know.”

“What am I to do, what shall I do, what should I do, in my situation, how proceed? By aporia pure and simple…”

“It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

Beckett’s entire work is characterized by the use of aporia. These passages have a lot of questioning and doubts, and deferral of meaning. For Beckett, aporia can never be considered as an invariable condition of unknowing.

Example #3: American Buffalo (By David Mamet)

Don:        “We have a deal with the man.”
Teach:    “With Fletcher.”
Don:        “Yes. ”
Teach:    “We had a deal with Bobby.”
Don:        “What does that mean?”
Teach:    “Nothing.”
Don:        “It don’t?”
Teach:    “No. ”
Don:        “What did you mean by that?”
Teach:    “I didn’t mean a thing.”
Don:        “You didn’t.”
Teach:    “No?”

The above excerpt is an example of aporia that illustrates a great deal of doubt in the speech. There is uncertainty, and due questioning, but it is expressed in a lighter tone.

Example #4: The Road not Taken (By Robert Frost)

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

In the last two lines in the given poem, the poet uses aporia, which is a self-contradictory deadlock that cannot be resolved in the text. Similarly, in the poem the readers find themselves at an impasse, while the final evidence falls into a paradox.

Function of Aporia

Aporia is an expression of doubt or uncertainty. When uncertainty and doubt are genuine, it can indicate a real impasse, and stimulate the audience to consider different options for resolution. It could show the humbleness of a speaker if the doubt he expresses is genuine. However, it functions to provide guidance to the audience as to what the speaker wants to say if the doubt is insincere.

Aporia causes uncertainty, and makes the audience discover the certainty through subsequent statements of the speaker. The main objective is to provide the audience a chance to analyze and judge the situation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Birches poem



When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows—

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a term coined by psychotherapist Susan Forward, about controlling people in relationships and the theory that fearobligation, and guilt (FOG) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled. Understanding these dynamics are useful to anyone trying to extricate from the controlling behavior of another person, and deal with their own compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing for others.

Forward and Frazier identify four blackmail types each with their own mental manipulation style:

Punisher's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you or I'll hurt you.
Self-punisher's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you or I'll hurt myself.
Sufferer's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you. I was saving it for myself. I wonder what will happen now.
Tantalizer's threat
Eat the food I cooked for you and you just may get a really yummy dessert.

There are different levels of demands—demands that are of little consequence, demands that involve important issues or personal integrity, demands that affect major life decisions, and/or demands that are dangerous or illegal.

In popular culture

When Will Hunting from the movie Good Will Hunting is being choked by Sean Maguire, you can see the spine of the book I'm OK, You're OK in the bookcase that Will is being pinned against 

Thomas Harris's successful popular work from the late 1960s, I'm OK, You're OK, is largely based on transactional analysis. A fundamental divergence, however, between Harris and Berne is that Berne postulates that everyone starts life in the "I'm OK" position, whereas Harris believes that life starts out "I'm not OK, you're OK".

New Age author James Redfield has acknowledgedHarris and Berne as important influences in his best-seller The Celestine Prophecy (1993). The protagonists in the novel survive by striving (and succeeding) in escaping from "control dramas" that resemble the games of TA.

The twelfth episode of the third season of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is called "Games Ponies Play" as a homage to this work.

Singer/songwriter Warren Zevon mentions transactional analysis in his 1980 song "Gorilla, You're a Desperado" from the album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.

Singer-songwriter Joe South's 1968 song, "Games People Play", was based directly on transactional-analytic concepts and Berne's book of the same name.

TA makes an appearance in Antonio Campos'2016 biographical drama Christine, a film covering the events that led TV journalist Christine Chubbuck to commit suicide on TV. She is brought to a transactional analysis therapy session by a colleague, where they introduce her to the "Yes, But..." technique.

Singer John Denver references transactional analysis in his autobiography. His wife at the time, Annie Denver, was getting into the movement. John says he tried it but found it wanting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Passage to India poem

Passage to India

Walt Whitman - 1819-1892


Singing my days,  
Singing the great achievements of the present,  
Singing the strong light works of engineers,  
Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven outvied,)  
In the Old World the east the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spann’d,  
The seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires;  
Yet first to sound, and ever sound, the cry with thee O soul,   
The Past! the Past! the Past!  
The Past— the dark unfathom’d retrospect!
The teeming gulf—the sleepers and the shadows!  
The past—the infinite greatness of the past!  
For what is the present after all but a growth out of the past?  
(As a projectile, form’d, impell’d, passing a certain line, still keeps on,   
So the present, utterly form’d, impell’d by the past.)


Passage O soul to India!  
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.  
Not you alone proud truths of the world!  
Nor you alone ye facts of modern science,  
But myths and fables of eld, Asia’s, Africa’s fables,
The far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos’d dreams!  
The deep diving bibles and legends,  
The daring plots of the poets, the elder religions;  
O you temples fairer than lilies pour’d over by the rising sun!  
O you fables spurning the known, eluding the hold of the known, mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as roses, burnish’d with gold!   
Towers of fables immortal fashion’d from mortal dreams!  
You too I welcome and fully the same as the rest!  
You too with joy I sing.  

Passage to India!
Lo, soul, seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?  
The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,    
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,  
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near, 
The lands to be welded together.  
A worship new I sing, 
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours,  
You engineers, you architects, machinists, yours,   
You, not for trade or transportation only, 
But in God’s name, and for thy sake O soul.  


Passage to India!  
Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,  
I see in one the Suez canal initiated, open’d,  
I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenie’s leading the van,  
I mark, from on deck the strange landscape, the pure sky, the level sand in the distance,   
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen gather’d,  
The gigantic dredging machines.  
In one again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the same,)  
I see over my own continent the Pacific Railroad, surmounting every barrier,
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte, carrying freight and passengers,    
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the shrill steam-whistle,   
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest scenery in the world,  
I cross the Laramie plains, I note the rocks in grotesque shapes, the buttes,   
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions, the barren, colorless, sage-deserts,
I see in glimpses afar or towering immediately above me the great mountains, I see the Wind River and the Wahsatch mountains,   
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagle’s Nest, I pass the Promontory, I ascend the Nevadas,  
I scan the noble Elk mountain and wind around its base,    
I see the Humboldt range, I thread the valley and cross the river,  
I see the clear waters of Lake Tahoe, I see forests of majestic pines,
Or crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold enchanting mirages of waters and meadows,    
Marking through these and after all, in duplicate slender lines,  
Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,  
Tying the Eastern to the Western sea,  
The road between Europe and Asia.
(Ah Genoese thy dream! thy dream!  
Centuries after thou art laid in thy grave,  
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream.)  


Passage to India!  
Struggles of many a captain, tales of many a sailor dead,
Over my mood stealing and spreading they come,  
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreach’d sky.  
Along all history, down the slopes,  
As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the surface rising,  
A ceaseless thought, a varied train—lo, soul, to thee, thy sight, they rise,
The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions;  
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth,  
Again the knowledge gain’d, the mariner’s compass,  
Lands found and nations born, thou born America,  
For purpose vast, man’s long probation fill’d,
Thou, rondure of the world at last accomplish’d.  


O vast Rondure, swimming in space,   
Cover’d all over with visible power and beauty,  
Alternate light and day, and the teeming spiritual darkness,  
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above,
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees,  
With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic intention,  
Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.  
Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,  
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,  
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-happy hearts,   
With that sad, incessant refrain, Wherefore, unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life?  
Ah who shall soothe these feverish children?  
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive earth?  
Who bind it to us? What is this separate Nature, so unnatural?  
What is this earth, to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,    
Cold earth, the place of graves.)  
Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.  
After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)  
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,  
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,  
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true Son of God shall come singing his songs.  
Then not your deeds only O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified,   
All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth’d,  
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told,   
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook’d and link’d together, 
The whole earth, this cold, impassive, voiceless earth, shall be completely justified,   
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish’d and compacted by the true son of God, the poet,  
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,  
He shall double the Cape of Good Hope to some purpose,)  
Nature and Man shall be disjoin’d and diffused no more,
The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.  


Year at whose wide-flung door I sing!  
Year of the purpose accomplish’d!  
Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans!  
(No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,)
I see, O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given and giving all,  
Europe to Asia, Africa join’d, and they to the New World,   
The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland,  
As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.  
Passage to India!
Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,  
The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.  
Lo soul, the retrospect brought forward,   
The old, most populous, wealthiest of earth’s lands,  
The streams of the Indus and the Ganges, and their many affluents,
(I my shores of America walking to-day behold, resuming all,)   
The tale of Alexander, on his warlike marches suddenly dying,  
On one side China and on the other side Persia and Arabia,  
To the south the great seas and the Bay of Bengal,  
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes,
Old occult Brahma interminably far back, the tender and junior Buddha,  
Central and southern empires and all their belongings, possessors,  
The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,  
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the Arabs, Portuguese,   
The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor,
Doubts to be solv’d, the map incognita, blanks to be fill’d,  
The foot of man unstay’d, the hands never at rest,  
Thyself O soul that will not brook a challenge.  

The medieval navigators rise before me,  
The world of 1492, with its awaken’d enterprise,
Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring,  
The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.  
And who art thou, sad shade?  
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,  
With majestic limbs, and pious beaming eyes,
Spreading around, with every look of thine, a golden world,  
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.  
As the chief histrion,  
Down to the footlights walks in some great scena,  
Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself,
(History’s type of courage, action, faith,)  
Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet,  
His voyage behold, his return, his great fame,  
His misfortunes, calumniators, behold him a prisoner, chain’d,   
Behold his dejection, poverty, death.
(Curious in time, I stand, noting the efforts of heroes,   
Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?  
Lies the seed unreck’d for centuries in the ground? lo, to God’s due occasion,   
Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,  
And fills the earth with use and beauty.) 


Passage indeed O soul to primal thought,  
Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness,  
The young maturity of brood and bloom,   
To realms of budding bibles.  
O soul, repressless, I with thee and thou with me,
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin,   
Of man, the voyage of his mind’s return,  
To reason’s early paradise,  
Back, back to wisdom’s birth, to innocent intuitions,  
Again with fair creation. 


O we can wait no longer,   
We too take ship O soul,  
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,  
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,  
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,)
Caroling free, singing our song of God,  
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.  
With laugh, and many a kiss,  
(Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,)   
O soul, thou pleasest me, I thee.
Ah more than any priest O soul we too believe in God,  
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.  
O soul thou pleasest me, I thee,   
Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,  
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death, like waters flowing,
Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,  
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all over,   
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee,  
I and my soul to range in range of thee.  
O Thou transcendant,
Nameless, the fibre and the breath,   
Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them,   
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,   
Thou moral, spiritual fountain— affection’s source— thou reservoir,   
(O pensive soul of me— O thirst unsatisfied— waitest not there?
Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect?)  
Thou pulse— thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,  
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,  
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space,  
How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how speak, if, out of myself,
I could not launch, to those, superior universes?  
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,  
At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,  
But that I, turning, call to thee O soul, thou actual Me,  
And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,  
And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.  
Greater than stars or suns,  
Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth;  
What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours, O soul?  
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?   
What cheerful willingness for others’ sake, to give up all?  
For others’ sake to suffer all?  
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev’d,
The seas all cross’d, weather’d the capes, the voyage done,  
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain’d,  
As fill’d with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,   
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.  


Passage to more than India!
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?  
O Soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like these?  
Disportest thou on waters such as those?  
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?  
Then have thy bent unleash’d.
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas!  
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems!  
You, strew’d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reach’d you.  

Passage to more than India!  
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!  
Of you O woods and fields! Of you strong mountains of my land!   
Of you O prairies! of you, gray rocks!  
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!  
O day and night, passage to you!
O sun and moon, and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!  
Passage to you!  
Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!  
Away O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!  
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?  
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?   
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?   
Sail forth— steer for the deep waters only,   
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,  
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.  
O my brave soul!  
O farther farther sail!  
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

This poem is in the public domain.

Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass and, along with Emily Dickinson, is considered one of the architects of a uniquely American poetic voice. 

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More by Walt Whitman

To Think of Time

1 To think of time—of all that retrospection! To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue? Have you dreaded these earth-beetles? Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you? Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing. To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women    were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive! To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our    part! To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 2 Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an    accouchement! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse! The dull nights go over, and the dull days also, The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over, The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible    look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters    are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has    long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying, The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it, It is palpable as the living are palpable. The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight, But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously    on the corpse. 3 To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials! To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen,    and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us! To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking    great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them! To think how eager we are in building our houses! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent! (I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy    or eighty years at most, I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.) Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never    cease—they are the burial lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall    surely be buried. 4 A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind: Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river,    half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead,    the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month, A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral    of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers. Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate    is pass'd, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the    hearse uncloses, The coffin is pass'd out, lower'd and settled, the whip is laid on the    coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel'd in, The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done, He is decently put away—is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not bad-looking,    able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with    life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty,    drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited    toward the last, sicken'd, was help'd by a contribution, died, aged    forty-one years—and that was his funeral. Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather    clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,    somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before    and man behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet stock, mean    stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night; To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and    he there takes no interest in them! 5 The markets, the government, the working-man's wages—to think what    account they are through our nights and days! To think that other working-men will make just as great account of    them—yet we make little or no account! The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call    goodness—to think how wide a difference! To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond    the difference. To think how much pleasure there is! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems? Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a    nomination and election? or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful    maternal cares? —These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward, But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them. Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross'd you are! To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of    what avail? 6 What will be, will be well—for what is, is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well. The sky continues beautiful, The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of    women with men, nor the pleasure from poems, The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of    houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form,    location; Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them    phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of    his life, are well-consider'd. You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely    around yourself; Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever! 7 It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and    father—it is to identify you; It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided; Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes. The threads that were spun are gather'd, the weft crosses the warp,    the pattern is systematic. The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the    baton has given the signal. The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he    is now housed, He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of    those that to look upon and be with is enough. The law of the past cannot be eluded, The law of the present and future cannot be eluded, The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal, The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof    can be eluded. 8 Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth, Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the    Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all    through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth. The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and    good-doers are well, The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and    distinguish'd, may be well, But there is more account than that—there is strict account    of all. The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American    aborigines are not nothing, The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the    murderer or mean person is not nothing, The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as    they go, The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion    is not nothing as he goes. 9 Of and in all these things, I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law    of us changed, I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present    and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present    and past law, For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough. If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd! Then indeed suspicion of death. Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die    now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward    annihilation? 10 Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good. How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just    as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable    fluids are perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely    they yet pass on. 11 I swear I think now that everything without exception has an    eternal Soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!    the animals! I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is    for it, and the cohering is for it; And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life    and materials are altogether for it!

Walt Whitman


This Compost


Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.


Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
   none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Walt Whitman



OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
         to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
         there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
         human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are
         not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
         sons—and are not in any respect worse than I
         am myself;
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is
         equally criminal—and any reputable person is
         also—and the President is also.

OF waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the
         formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
         life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time
         has become supplied—And of what will yet be
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport
         in what will yet be supplied.

OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies,
         wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks
         away from them, except as it results to their
         Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and
         mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness,
         is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwit-
         tingly the true realities of life, and go toward
         false realities,
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has
         served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked son-
         nambules, walking the dusk.

OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not
         at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
         them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the
         same chances and rights as myself—As if it
         were not indispensable to my own rights that
         others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
         same ample law, expounded by natural judges
         and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
         to decisions.

As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while
         the music is playing,
To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral,
         in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations,
         founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
         down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on
         deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
         draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam
         spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on—
         And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?

OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
         less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
         be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of
         all the lives of heroes.

OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
         profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
         following the lead of those who do not believe
         in men.

Walt Whitman


Gender Discrimination in India

Gender Discrimination in the Indian Society

Gender disparity still exists in India. Being born as women in the Indian society one has to face gender discrimination at all levels. At the household level - females are confined to the bounds of their household chores, raising children and looking after families, irrespective of her education degrees or her job profile. At her workplace: women have limited access to job opportunities and are paid less for the same work.

Education and learning opportunities: gender-wise literacy rates in India showcase the wide gap that exists between men and women. As per 2011 census data, effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. The main reason behind parents unwilling to spend on girl’s education is the mindset that educating women is of no value as in the future they will only serve their husbands and the in- laws.

The Indian constitution provides equal rights and privileges for both men and women but still majority of women across India doesn’t enjoy these rights and opportunities guaranteed to them. This is because of a number of reasons.

Some of them are:
Poverty – This is the root cause of gender discrimination in the patriarchal Indian society as the economic dependence on the male counterpart is itself a cause of gender disparity. A total of 30 percent people live below the poverty line and out of this 70 percent are women.
Illiteracy - Gender discrimination In India had led to educational backwardness for girls. It’s a sad reality that despite educational reforms in the country girls in India are still denied a chance at learning. The mindset needs to be changed and people need to understand the benefits of educating girls. An educated, well-read woman ensures that other members especially the children of the house get quality education.
Patriarchal setup in our Indian society –Men dominate societal and family life in India, this has been the case in the past ages and still continues to be practiced in majority of the households. Though this mindset is changing with urbanization and education, still there is long way to go for a permanent change in the scenario.

Gender based discrimination across India can only be checked when girls are not denied their chance to learn and grow in life. Girls like boys should get a great start in life in terms of education opportunities. This will help them attain economic independence and will also help them to be rightly equipped to make a contribution towards their upliftment as well as that of the society they are part of.

NGOs like Save the Children are doing what it takes to uplift the status of the girl child in the society through a number of programmes across India. If you care to bring hope in the lives of thousands of girls in India by ensuring the right environment and opportunities for them, then support an NGO like Save the Children.

Monday, October 7, 2019



Georg Lukács uses the concept of reification (from the Latin ‘res facere’, literally ‘to make a thing’) to describe that people’s ‘own activity, [their] own labour becomes something objective and independent of [them]’ (from his ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat’, sec. I.1). For him, this phenomenon has two sides: (1) people fail to see that certain social structures, ‘relation[s] between people’ (ibid.), are established and sustained only by their own actions (classical social constructionism focuses on this side); (2) thereby the bond between the product and the producer is broken, the social relations that are embodied into the product by virtue of the process of production now appear as if they were natural properties, in other words, something abstract, the implicit assumptions on which these relations are based, now appears as concrete (the older Frankfurt School focuses on this side). Lukács holds reification to be caused by commodity fetishism, a social pathology described by Marx in the Capital (vol. 1, sec. 1.4): Because commodities are not produced in order to serve a purpose, but to be exchanged on the market, there is no foreseeable connection between needs to be satisfied and the work done by an individual; put another way, the social division of labour is not subject to intentional deliberation, but rather seems to always already precede any individual act of work. Consequently, people regard the way in which this division is organised, by exchange, as a ‘self-evident necessity imposed by Nature’ (ibid.) and therefore treat exchange value as if it was a natural property, much like colour; that is, as if it (1) existed independently of their actions and (2) was something concrete, while, in truth, it’s neither.

Marx’ concept of commodity fetishism is commonly conjectured to further his earlier reflections on alienation (a Hegelian concept the young Marx adopts from the Left Hegelians), which also describes how people fail to recognise the products of their own labour as such. Presuming that this is a common theme in the thought of Hegel, the young as well as the late Marx, and Lukács (which is disputed by some, most notably Althusser; see below), the concept of alienation is important to reification as well, so that a short discussion seems in order. Hegel (at least on Marx’ account, cf. his ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General’) regards alienation as essential to cognition, since objects are established as such only because of alienation: (1) the consciousness forms an abstraction of what is to be cognised and thereby a norm according to which what appears in perception can be evaluated to be of this or that kind, (2) but is unaware that this abstraction originates in its own thought, to the effect that the resulting norm appears to be inherent to the object cognised and the consciousness hence alienated from the object. But that object did not exist prior to being cognised, the two steps of alienation correspond to the two criteria for being an object: (1) to be one, in terms of being countable (different sensuous impressions are grouped into units by comparing them to the aforementioned norm); (2) to appear as external to the consciousness (the norm appears to be itself objective). Put simply, Hegel regards alienation as part of the cognitive process and as such as more fundamental than objectivity. (Cf. his System of Ethical Lifechap. 1Phenomenology of Mindchap. 2.) Marx, by contrast, holds that there are norms that are more fundamental than the cognitive process and hence also more fundamental than alienation: where Hegel tries to explain contradictions as immanent to cognition, Marx holds them to flow – at least in part – from differences between the norms developed by virtue of the cognitive process and the objective norms that are that process’ condition of possibility; where Hegel analyses this process – thought, Marx analyses the process of bridging the gap between those two kinds of norms – work (cf. ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General’; Capital, vol. 1, chap. 1). Marx and Lukács are therefore able to criticise certain objects to have been reified (i.e., to have been ‘made into a thing’ illegitimately, so to speak), for being at odds with norms that are more fundamental than those established by cognition itself. Because the contradiction inherent to reification, between norms contingent on and relatively independent of cognition, cannot – as in Hegel – be understood as immanent to the cognitive process itself, but is – by Marx and Lukács – understood to be related to work, reification must be explained as effect by the way in which work, that is, the process of production, is organised; in other words, by the fetishism of commodities.

With these similarities in mind, Louis Althusser – in ‘Marxism and Humanism’ (note 7) – accuses the theory of reification to be a mere ‘projection of the theory of alienation found in [Marx’] early texts, particularly the 1844 Manuscripts, on to the theory of “fetishism” in Capital.’ Althusser considers this problematic, since something can only be described as alienated by being compared to some kind of more essential, unalienated state of affairs – and where should such a state be found? Speaking of alienation, or reification, hence presupposes some kind of human essence, which, however, seems to be an ahistorical and idealisticpresumption. Correspondingly, Jürgen Habermas argues that criticising the reification of people presupposes an idealistic notion of subjectivity, because, put simply, only a subject that exists prior and independently of the objective world could be wronged by being made into a thing, that is, by being reified (cf. his Theory of Communicative Action, vol. 1, chap. 4). Whether these criticisms hold has been the subject of much debate. Above all, they challenge not only the neo-Marxist proposition that bourgeois society is unable to live up to its own political ambitions – freedom and equality for all – because of subjecting workers to reification (cf. Lukács, ‘Class Consciousness’; ‘Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat’), but also the concept of class struggle, which is, among others, based on the epistemological claim that the proletariat is more able than the bourgeoisie to see through the illusions caused by reification (cf. Marx, Capital, vol. 1, chap. 1; vol. 3, chap. 124849; ‘Results of the Direct Production Process’, 466; Lukács, op. cit.). Notable replies to these critiques include Christoph Demmerling’s ‘Language and Reification’ (1996) and Axel Honneth’s Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea(2008).

Further Reading: Demmerling’s ‘Language and Reification’ is hosted by the Sammelpunkt repository and Honneth’s lecture ‘Reification: A Recognition-Theoretical View’ (2005), on which his later book is based, by the Tanner Lectures of the University of Utah. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s entry on ‘Naturalistic Approaches to Social Construction’ includes a brief discussion of social constructionism. For those fluent in German, Martin Birkner’s ‘Der schmale Grat’ (2001), published in the Grundrisse, explores the differences between classical (Hegelian) and structural (Althusserian) readings of Marx. See also this encyclopaedia’s entry on Althusser’s view on alienation.

Today's Question

Arrange the following words of Chomsky in chronological order in which they appeared: (i) Current issues in Linguistic Theory (ii) Syntactic...