Prem Chandavarkar on Wed, 15 Jul 2020 09:47:44 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> "Consume revolutionary media"

Dear Brian,

Thanks for taking the trouble to listen to the podcast and your thoughtful response.

On metaphors, I was referring to  poetic metaphors.  The example from politics that comes readily to mind is the Indian freedom movement against British colonialism, and the say Gandhi was able to capture the spirit of freedom through metaphors such as the spinning wheel and salt.  

The philosophy that would best explain this is Italo Calvino’s essay on “Lightness” in his book “Six Memos for the Next Millennium”.  He talks about his early days as a writer and how the lightness and energy of good writing eluded him in his attempt to write about the world.  Whenever he thought about what he wanted to say about the world, another thought would occur, and the thoughts would keep coming, given the world is a complex place.  Eventually, he would feel pinned down by such a mass of information, that writing, and everything he attempted, would feel overwhelmingly heavy.  It was as though there was an unavoidable and inexorable petrification that subsumed everyone.

Thinking of petrification, he starts recollecting the Greek myth of Medusa, whose gaze, if it caught your eye, would turn you into stone.  The person who eventually slays Medusa is Perseus, who is the embodiment of lightness - he has wings on his sandals and can step on clouds.  He is able to slay Medusa, by never looking at her directly, but only  indirectly, seeing her reflection on a polished shield.  Calvino says that this indirect of the poet’s relationship with the world, achieving lightness by never looking directly, but only indirectly through metaphor.

It is this poetic strategy that I feel the left must adopt, moving away from the overwhelming reliance on rational argument.



PS: A correction - the informal sector in India is over 80% of working labour, and not 80% of people living in India.

> On 15-Jul-2020, at 11:36 AM, Brian Holmes <> wrote:
> Thanks to all those who answered my questions, both onlist and off. I want to answer Prem right now, and Max a bit later.
> Since media is about looking and listening, Prem, I was glad to listen to your podcast interview, a compelling voyage through your life, your sensibility, and what seems to be a socially complex and multiple architectural practice involving lots of reflection on Indian national life. As well as some comments about international norms and trends - what a journey!


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