October 26, 2005

Umberto Eco leaves JNU priests squirming

The JNU high priests must have cursed the moment they decided to invite
Umberto Eco to speak. Says this report

Celebrated Italian author Umberto Eco left many academics and students at Jawaharlal Nehru University squirming with embarrassed ignorance on Monday.

The reason for ignorance is explained in the same report. Delivering a lecture on " Rasa and Taste", Eco spoke with great scholarly confidence and even greater scholarly tentativeness about Bharata's Natyashastra, Anandavardhana and Avinavagupta, which he had read in translation but few in his audience seemed to be acquainted with.

Few? I dare say that almost none in the "red" audience would've read *about*these Masters leave alone their works. For it is taboo in the Citadel of Indian Marxism. They're banned there for their feudal, backward-looking ideas. Eco heaped further agony on the crowd:

As he constantly struggled, *with a spirit of genuine inquiry, to understand the rasa theories in relation to Western philosophers - St Augustine, David Hume, Kant and Aristotle* - many in Delhi's academia looked as if they were completely at sea.

"You would know, according to Abinavagupta, the ninth rasa is peace and tranquility?" He looked up to find mostly blank faces staring at him in the audience.

If Prof Eco had only begun on Marx and Engels. No wonder no major newspaper has given his visit extensive coverage. Contrast this with for example, Vikram Seth's recent visit<>. Google searches of various keyword combinations pointed me to just two papers: the Statesman<>and Pioneer (from where I've quoted).

Says Eco:

Research is not about shedding all your background books. It's about throwing away the embarrassing ones. Of course, the JNU luminaries would quickly infer this to mean that they were right in their zealous pursuit of obscuring, misinterpreting and destroying everything Indian for Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta are embarrassing. But, says Eco:

*Are we trying to shed the baggage of all our background books without even bothering to read them?* Or is it that as a nation we are always already so plural, that there is no one intellectual tradition?

The background books that Professor Eco mentions are not needed-therefore no question of bothering to read them-because they come in the way of imposing the JNU ideology aka Marxism.

Anyway, let's leave the Marxist relics to their writhing and read about Umberto Eco . Quite an accomplished man, I should say. For some related reading:

Abhinavagupta
Anandavardhana (PDF)

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