Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Monday, January 10, 2005

Accomodating Perspectives...

I happen to be a TA for humanities course called The Making of the Modern Mind.
It deals with the way the Modern Indian mind is influenced mostly by the set up of the Colonial times. What a period that was! Studying this part of the history probably may sometimes drive the senses out a person if he is not careful enough to observe the common thread that lies to each of the ways in which one can look at it.
Despite all that is said and done, the person who does not lose the common sense is probably the person who has better sense of history.

A friend of mine, is a student of this course. There was a minor assignment on relating the movie "Shatranj Ke Khilari" by Satyajit Ray [story by Munshi Premchand]which is set in 1856 to this course. The notions with which the movie was chosen for the course was that it can be used to show the students a visual representation of the kind of things that happened in 1856. The assignment was to relate the movie in a given format for which a few scenes were given to the students and hints to which they can be related were also added - to make things easier for the students.There was a choice for the students to choose these things or come up with their own independent version on the movie or on particular scenes of the movie.

Now, my friend, saw the movie and came to some different conclusions. He starts with the point - What is it that is there in the movie that can be said to actually depict the state of affairs in 1856? It could as well be some fancy imagination or a kind of thought that emerges on viewing the thing in a particular fashion. [By the way, he starts off at a very seemingly alarming gesture (to me at least)- that the movie was about two gays and their life set at some time in the history!] I tried resisting his "atrocious" views in the beginning. And tried to bring in some other notions towards this aspect. But later felt that there was no point in doing so and in fact was fascinated by his arguments

His point rests on the point that whatever has been shown is a fancy imagination - since it does not have any direct significance in terms of relating it to a real occurrence at any point of time. And he has his reasons for it which start by questioning the ideas that make it appear to be doing justice to the "fact" of being that period itself.

The beauty in his point was to notice that the point where the arguments begin is where a new set of notions can begin. It is at the fulcrum that one can make the turns, however opposite in direction they are, to the tale.

Now coming to history or for that matter anything where there are some axioms and theories built on them, there are many things that one can start off spinning if one starts from the basic premise on which whole interpretations lie. And the interpretations however logical they are form only a part of the actual tale, but may never be the whole. Now, in case of the alternate interpretation, probably, one should appreciate the other side - given that it is a tale from the other side of the hologram. Trying for such a kind of accommodative spirit and accepting what we like yet not disapproving of what you don;t is something that one should try and do.

That is when we can say that we are actually "Accommodating Perspectives"


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