Debashish Banerji

Consciousness • Art History • Writing



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Here you will find short summaries and links to full reviews on the arts, media, consciousness and culture:

Derrida the Movie
Derrida deftly dodges attempts to disclose the traumas and ecstacies of his life (though of this more later) and his "philosophy" remains unexplored in its major aspects.

Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
A movie of moral courage and intelligence aimed at shaping public opinion and beyond that, at purging politics of its now ubiquitous criminality.The idea of "patriotism" is intimately tied to manipulation, and American idealisms of democracy and freedom for all can continually be invoked as justifications against this. But the hidden agenda of internal power control has bearing on the future trajectory of civilization in the US and should provide the keenest ground for exposure and critique which can open people to their own most important interests - the ability to breathe a free air and grow in consciousness.

Five Artists at the Cymroza Gallery, Mumbai
Five artists from Auroville exhibited their works jointly at the Cymroza Gallery, Mumbai, in September 2007. A German, an Italian, a Belgian and an Indian Parsi, four women painters and a Dutch male sculptor, made up the group. Apart from the shared inner orientation towards the discovery and expression of spiritual or cosmic realities and coherences or intensities, what makes up the specific contribution of these artists?

Arvind Akki's World of Liquid Fire
Arvind Akki has been able to contact and manifest a radiant and plasmatic earth – with its landscapes of liquid fire and its spirit forms of aspiration and floating or descending shakti. From flat gentle suspended washes of light through fields of colored sparks and fluid dunes to glassy molten rocks, forms of flight and powerful etheric storms, Arvind’s eye strips the inconscient materiality of the familiar earth and reveals another materiality which pulsates and glows beneath waiting its hour of manifestation – an earth at once of the primordial pre-human past of the gods and of the beckoning post-human future. His art is an invitation to this deepening of sight, the illuminated perception of the primal concentration of consciousness kindling the fire of tapas, tapo-agni, formative of sense and world and the symbols of the Beyond.

India and Europe by Wilhelm Halbfass
A plethora of publications have appeared in the last decade from the western academy, expressing alarm at the Hinduizing of Indian politics. A variety of foci have arisen from this attention, relating the congruence of a national identity with Hinduism as an Orientalist-Nationalist construction of the 19th century. A number of 19th c. ideological inventions are seen as the fruits of this labor, with its localized concentration among the bhadralok intelligentsia of Bengal. Among the more extreme of these views is the consideration of "Hinduism" as an unitary religious phenomenon itself as a 19th c. invention, specifically reified for nationalistic purposes. Undoubtedly, a number of revisionary crystallizations developed in late 19th/early 20th c. Bengal, spurred by the catalytic inserton of alien colonial cultural, economic and political factors, but not all of these were explicitly nationalistic in intent nor can they all (or even mostly) be unequivocally considered "inventions". Nevertheless, the complex east-west idea-forces availing in late 19th/early 20th c. India in their mutual trajectories and entanglements have been brought under scrutiny as never before and the implications of modern Hinduism in its political effects begun to be positioned in an expanding field.  In this burgeoning discourse, one of the most influential books to appear in recent years is Wilhelm Halbfass' "India and Europe".

Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo ed. Indrani Sanyal & Krishna Roy
Sri Aurobindo became the first principal of National College, Calcutta, now known as the Jadavpur College, about a hundred years ago. In the century which has elapsed since then, humankind has experienced its most intense period of collective growth and crisis throughout the world. Human consciousness is poised on a brink where it is faced either with the specter of oblivion, the horror of the abyss or a leap into another modality of being, the integral consciousness of the overman. Mediating this critical choice is the life and work of Sri Aurobindo, throwing a powerful beacon ahead of us into the century to come. Aster Patel draws out some of the implications of this work ahead of us in following the light of Sri Aurobindo in the coming century. Can we equal in consciousness the integral vision of reality which contemporary Science is indicating to our minds and our technological practice? Are we even ready to engage with the fullness of the term “integral”? How can we draw together our past and our present, our fractured personalities, our fragmented disciplines, our physical matter and our mental, vital and spiritual substance into the Oneness of integral being which Sri Aurobindo lived and wrote about? His integral consciousness is still fully alive in his words and each word is an invitation and a fire to kindle in us his life and reality. This is the ever-living fire of Heraclitus, the living legacy of the “thoughts” of Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo and his Contemporary Thinkers ed. Indrani Sanyal and Krishna Roy
Following the publication of “Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo,” Indrani Sanyal and Krishna Roy of the Centre for Sri Aurobindo Studies, Calcutta have complied a set of eighteen scholarly essays on Sri Aurobindo and his contemporaries in the ideational context of what has been called the Bengal Renaissance. Sri Aurobindo’s physical involvement in the politics and culture of early Bengal nationalism was of relatively short duration (1905-1910), albeit an intense and all-sided participation which internalized the entire regional history of the movement and left a powerful creative impress in the milieu of its time and space. Moreover, the discursive background of this involvement continued to develop organically and find voice throughout his life in his subjective articulation just as his own situated contribution continued to resonate in later Indian nationalism. Thus this collection of considered interpretive contemplation fills an important need in our historical understanding. But more importantly, it is the post-colonial legacy of these engagements which draws us today by their fertile and future-gazing content, inviting reflection not merely for India’s but the world’s re-generation at a time of global ferment.

The Religious, the Secular and the Spiritual by Robert Minor
In this slim paperback, Robert Minor sets out with a double intention: (a) to tell the legal story of the power struggle between the Sri Aurobindo Society and Auroville; and (b) an exploration of the legal and cultural epistemological ambiguities surrounding the terms "religion", "spirituality" and "secularism" and their shaping of the discourse of modern political contestation in India, as exemplified in the story of Auroville.

Mysteries of Death, Fate, Karma and Rebirth by Jugal Kishore Mukherjee
As in all his other works, Jugal Kishore marshalls a most impressive set of quotes from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to make his points. He clarifies the closely knit ideas relating to death as part of the perpetual process of life and to the evolution of consciousness through the progressive growth of the psychic being in its mastery over mental, vital and physical nature and the further infinite expression of higher powers of consciousness that form the bases of Sri Aurobindo’s description of life, death and rebirth.

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