History of Art Mystery and Artist in Motion with Emotion

colourfully artful

Art is all-encompassing.

Art is omnipresent.

Art is all-pervading.

Art is invigorating.

Art is intriguing.

So much in ART…

Is art then a mystery?

A quintessential question that intuitively haunts us. It does so, much deeper, the very moment we dive deep into the lanes and by-lanes of history, warily turning the silent chapters of art book we suddenly start figuring out the great artists behind these momentous work of art. They are indubitably the greatest (Leonardo Da Vince to Michelangelo to Pablo Picasso to Vincent Van Gogh); history has seen these genius at work and we as lesser mortal are very fortunate, though yet to fully fathom, we have humbly embraced their immense contribution into the world of creativity.

We are stupefied. We try to read the language of art. We try to decipher the coded message in the form of an apparently complex image represented in a simplified manifestation, the puzzle…it’s a creative composition on the canvas.

 

Art is an integral part of life.

Art plays its beautiful part in every aspect of our life.

Living a life without a sense of appreciation for art is like living a life eating bland food without the blended species that truly spice up our otherwise mundane life. Physicality has role in our life but not always a fulfilling role. It needs the supplement. Rationality has an inherent limitation. Our life is so much about the emotions, the expressions and the engagement of our senses that are constantly craving for the creative juices to flourish and the imaginative joy of cerebral bliss. Many such random thoughts takes it time to mature and few thoughts still at it infancy when they knock the door, nudge us and these new kids on the block wants to come out onto the big arena and prove their innate potential.

They are raring to go…

And so many other latent ideas that are yet to get the wings to fly but feel their time has come and they need to come out and command their rightful place. It is in this very transitory state and when umbilical cord is yet to be cut but the seeded idea that was impregnated, quite some time back simply cannot stay there any longer, further staying could endanger its existence, they break away…art and artists conspire together to come to a creative confluence. Once they do, they leave an inedible mark in the annals of history.

 

Why is that so many great art works are aren’t that simple to read? Does the mystery in the art acts as a knot and not give many artists the much-needed wings to fly far and wide? Does the component of mystery make the art a tad magical? What is the mythical role of mystery in an art? Or is it that we assume a mystery element in the artistic composition to keep the art lovers in a constant state of intrigue?

 

Finally, does these series of questions fairly leads us to some form of convincing answer that states that there is both an intrinsic value and an instrumental value within such great work of art. Art has never been an easy language to read and understand and more so with lesser mortals like us we need a proper explanation and we need a perfect translator to unravel the stuffed ideas that has been randomly flashed on the canvas. In the apparent chaos on the canvas there is a hidden layer of order that we are not able to decipher.

There is a perception to the reality of image plucked from the world of imagination.

We need a special instrument. We need the lens of the art connoisseur who can scan through subject and the surrounding on the canvas and convey the profound idea capriciously embedded and to recount the encapsulated story within the boundaries of the canvas beyond the composition.

It is captivating…

 

Artists today in this so called modern times are in real dilemma and art is involuntarily diluted with the demand of rampant use of technology, digital technology per se, the rigueur and photography in particular has put the creative visual art form painting in quandary.

Flash back to good old days. It was in the beginning of 19th century, as leisurely we rewind ourselves 200 years of history, we shall discover the places and people in those places who have set the creative ball rolling in the arena of art world.

 

There was a heavy inertia.

It needed a big push.

The efforts were not limited to few individuals but an entire group of great people spanned their efforts in a simply coordinated fashion to demonstrate innate power of art that can so effortlessly empower the society.

It took millions of years and only in a span of hundred years bridging two centuries defined the motions of human emotions. The motion built up over the decades and once again during the beginning of 20th century, art world underwent a churning and churn was loud and clear, and it was palpable and new perspective was profound.

 

For 50 years, it was (1800 to 1850), everything around that place was beautiful, and things were in natural symphony and people experienced the positive harmony…it was aptly titled as the period of Romanticism. When everything was perfectly in sync with the nature and humanity was in state of joy and happiness, it was at the cusp of history when things took a turn with the up rise, it was the 1847 French Revolution.

 

The dawn of reality and everybody landed back on earth and there was acceptance of hard facts and embracing the bitter truth in our life and it was once again back to basics and adhering to the routines of life.

 

Edouard Mante, Gustav Coubet, Edgar Degas to John Constable became the pioneers in breaking the romanticism and making the way for Realism. This movement lasted for almost 20 years and the period from (1850 to 1870) was when the realism literally ruled the roost.

Claude Monte, Pierre Auguste Renoir to Vincent Van Gogh contested the very idea of realism and created a new movement in the field of art and was quite impressively named as the period of Impressionism. It was indeed impressive and it inspired many others and it got its extension in a different form and the extended movement is called as the Post Impressionist. This was for almost 25 years from (1880 to 1905). Vincent Van Gogh played a significant role in nurturing both the movement, and there were the other stalwarts like Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, and George Seurat to Henri Rousseau.

Thereafter from (1904 to 1911), two very interesting art movements overlapped and during a short tenure made a big impact on the art world, changing the very contour and the concept of art and how artists looked at the canvas and the subject that denoted the creative art work. Fauvism (1904 -1910) and Cubism (1907-1911) two unique concepts swept the way art walked and crawled on the canvas, it was not merely an art when science entered the scene and the fusion of art of science took the art world with a storm and the strokes started striking in lightning fashion, and there was literally magic on the canvas.

 

Fauvism movement played with color whereas Cubism played with space, and both aspects are so vital to the composition of painting on a two-dimensional canvas.

 

Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, George Braque to Maurice De Vlaminck led the Fauvism movement and great artists like Pablo Picasso to his neighbor George Braque with Salvador Dali to Marcel Duchamp.

 

art and museum

 

Though art gets defined in a particular way, but by nature art is way to redefine our creative expression, a process of self discovery, a medium of visual delight, an concept conveyed in colors, geometry and a combination of pattern, rhythm and proportion. There are certain rules to create the composition but rules are merely a guiding mechanism, and great artists have their ways of breaking those rules, they do so boldly and beautifully and setting new ways, and we call them trends.

 

Accordingly to Leo Tolstoy, “Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits to others”.

 

Art is not merely an act of creative exercise but art is body of passion that pervades the conventional boundary and builds on an idea that influences the collective wisdom of the society. The impact is long and deep, society embraces it slowly but certainly the dynamics of thoughts undergoes a shift in its routine path. Every painting tells a story, artists are storyteller, they play with imagery and the stories has a rooting in the varied events and multiplicity of things happening in the society that have affected the fundamental working, living and thinking of people of that society.

 

Art is such an important aspect of any society, just that it is not easy to understand and not simple to explain, but the message it carries is deeply profound and the movement art brings in any society is powerfully driven. Great artist think from their heart and their art makes the other to change their mind and the connection of mind through such visionary ideas only multiplies over time, and we see the sudden onset of revolutions. But these revolutions had their seeded in such diverse art works of these great artists…the philosophers and the thinkers. Art makes a massive difference in the way society perceives and progresses in its journey of life…but it gets unduly underestimated when placed with the innovation of science and the impact of science are instantly visible and effects are vehemently vocal.

Art tells story about science, literature, history, mythology and civilization that has gone by and we human beings are perennially curious to know about everything from the quest to the conquest that has happened in our society over the centuries.

Curiosity is at the bedrock of human mind and it keeps questioning and the queries are interesting and mostly intriguing, just that we always don’t have an appropriate answer or a satisfying response.

 

Mona Lisa to Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, Sistine Chapel to Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, School of Athens by Raphael Sanzio, Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon to Guernica by Pablo Picasso, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee to The Night Watch by Rembrandt Van Rijn, Girl with a Pearl Ring by Johannes Vermeer, The Scream by Edward Munch to Café Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh are few of the masterpieces that has masterly crafted their way into the history book that has stood the test of time.

 

And it is motionless but it keep evoking the emotions even after many centuries and eras gone by…the stories resonates with equal vigor and vitality, are illuminated  without the light and the enticement, engaging us with the voice of color and space.

 

 

Art work is always a beautiful composition worked out of the creative imagination of artists. And these great artists imagine an image and then they manage to craftily transfer that fluid image from a state of imagination into a solid state of reality, and the canvas becomes their mirror.

Things keep happening around us and the society is witness to those events and few of these events then become the harbinger of major revolution, and we have history loaded with revolution that has crafted the course of our existence. Though scientific invention and innovation has changed the way we live life and the way life has lightened itself from the darker shades and lifted from the deeper state of problems, as human beings we need the sublime and surreal aspects of life…the sense of beauty, the sensory taste, appreciation of nature, the natural composition and the mystery of life and there is so much beyond the realm of science and rationality.

 

It is primarily through these subtle set of recourse, just by reconnecting with these great work of arts that makes us to pause and ponder, and then being able to deeply understand and profoundly appreciate the missing facets in our life, the nuanced life and a precursor to get spiritually connected…it’s all about holistically facilitating our inner consciousness, the art of acting meticulously, mathematically linking the missing moments on the magical canvas of our life.

Suddenly, the dots get connected.

The picture emerges…

Nevertheless,

Art is a jigsaw puzzle!!!

 


Nihar R Pradhan

Art Connoisseur

Factual Source and Cycle of Energy that Matters and Life is Matter of Fact

Solar Beauty

Matter that matters comprises of elements that make up this truly fascinating planet. These atoms and molecules of elements follow the basic rules of chemistry and physics. The rules make all the difference, oxygen and carbon are elements, so are gold and iron, and we know what oxygen does to us and gold means to us. Matter is anything that has mass and occupies a certain space. Everything around us that we see is matter, the plant to the planet that holds these plants. Energy is that inherent capacity that causes the change. Indisputable fact, energy cannot be created or destroyed. As a matter of fact energy can only be conserved and converted from one form to another; the total amount of energy remains the same. We play with its multiple forms. In Sanskrit, both ‘form’ and ‘name’ has the same word…is it a coincidence or is it a providence?

 

Is matter energy condensed?

 

Energy in science is used to describe how much potential a physical system has to change its state from one form to another. Particularly in Physics, energy is a property of matter. Albert Einstein has shown to us that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin, it is just that matter is frozen light, and light is matter on move.

 

The glowing of bulb, electrical to light. The ringing of mobile, electrical to sound. The growing of tree, light to chemical. The running of car, chemical to mechanical. The burning of candles, chemical to light.

 

These are means and mechanics of transforming energy from one form to another for practical use in our day today life…that’s what matters to us.

 

The fact of the matter is that the entire world is nothing but wholesome matter. Everything around us from soil to sand to rock to mineral to air to water to plant to animals to human all are nothing but a body of matter, some are tangible and visible and other intangible and invisible and it is the hand’s of the designer who shapes them differently. The Designer is the Almighty, the God and the Supreme Power. And we have given different names to the supreme power in different religions and we have different ways to pray and protect our life form. There, somewhere in the mystical world is the magical power we attempt to connect through our spiritual quest but in the practical world we keep harping on the logic in scientific queries to get our work done.

 

In every matter there is some energy and the form changes and there are natural and artificial converter or much like the language translators, converting one language to another, similarly the energy converter converts one form of energy into another. Just like the way Google Language Translator does the translation so simple and have made life tad easy. So are these man-made gadgets like battery cell to mobile phones to air condition to water coolers have made life technologically comfortable but nothing can beat the natural phenomena of plants. The energy converter and the energy transporter are such a vital cog in the sustenance of life and living in this world.

 

The ultimate source of power comes from the Sun God.

 

The world that we see brightens up with sunlight and there is so much greenery and glitter in faces of billion of species inhabiting the blue planet. We take Sun for granted and it is natural for Sun to rise in the morning and we wake up, and when Sun sets for us in the evening and we take a break and it is time for us to sleep, but that is not the case with Sun, it keeps glowing. The Sun is 150 million kilometers from Earth and the sunlight that comes to earth takes 8 minutes to reach and the light travels at 186,000 miles per second. The facts are well known to us only that we take it for granted and rarely sit back reflect the mind boggling mathematics that surrounds the ball of fire that it is the creator of life.

 

The fire that lit our life…

 

Our Sun is a very stable star and has been a long lasting star unlike many other stars in the universal galaxy. There are stars much bigger than our star Sun they are hotter and unstable and haven’t lasted long its set of planets to work like our planet. There are stars much smaller than our star Sun and they are lesser hotter and are unstable and blasts their planets with burst of radiation. It is the relative size of the planet and the absolute positioning it has with our Sun that makes us the magical planet with source constant source of energy for sustaining life. The planet receives the energy from the Sun is perfect positioned to keep water as liquid on the surface, if it would have been too far, the water would have converted into ice and if it was too close, the water would have been evaporated into gaseous form.

 

“It is Sun, the force behind our life.”

“No Sun, no Life.”

 

The amount of energy that Sun sends to earth every hour can be sufficient to mange the requirement of energy needed by mankind to sustain its life and living for an entire year. It’s that we haven’t build the reservoir and the mechanism that can collect the immense amount of solar energy and preserve it for future use, we have just been able to deploy solar panels to capture and convert the energy and extend its utility for a very short time period. This is in the context of human evolution and the invention and innovation that has happened in the field of energy management. At the heart of all energy converter is the plant that matters the most.

 

Solar Power

 

The production factory in the plant called as chloroplasts conducts the process of photosynthesis. This very plant factor takes up the water from the soil and absorbs the carbon dioxide from the air and it is the sunlight that facilitates the cooking and the conversion into oxygen and carbohydrates. The energy plant generates makes it grow and live its share of life on this blue plant. Similarly it is the production factor in the human cell that takes up the oxygen from air, carbohydrates from the plant and sunlight and produces the energy needed for the body parts to play their respective part in making our life move and living possible.

 

There is such a magical symbiotic relationship that has been established between the plant and the animal species, human being the torchbearers of the evolved life and living. The Human Body comprises of trillions of cells and the chemistry between these cells is what makes the life tick and living our life is a function of these cell and the cell chemistry that governs the working of different organs in our body. It is the nuclei acids in the cell, the proteins that matters. The body is nothing but a box of matter and the function of various body parts are to play their respective part in absorbing, converting and using the energy that the body needs to survive and stay its course on living. The heart has to pump blood to reach out to different cells and make the cell work out its set of instruction and these are connect and communicate to each other and see to it that the overall body function is performed as per the schedule.

 

The process of “Mutation and Selection” in species needs to follow a space and pace, if the process is extremely slow, certain species may not able to adopt to the fast changing environment in the future and if the process is extremely fast, certain species may lose the vital ingredient of the life that is essential for continuity of life form.

 

The human species as a matter of fact has evolved over millions of years and has done so with the process of mutation and selection…what we see as human species has gone through a prolonged evolution period. Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, contributed to the Theory of Evolution. It is the DNA that determines the design of human being, it is the body of knowledge that moves as a hereditary connect between one forms of species to another. The DNA that is made of two strands, a helix, like a spiral staircase comprises of the sequence of nucleotides that holds the information and instruction needed for the life to navigate its way in the journey of life. It is in fact the language of life. The amount of information if translated into written books would turn out to be in hundred of volumes that can fill up any decent size library. DNA is just not the language of life but also the library of human body…

 

Life as a matter of fact is made up of matters and the energy converter in our body makes the life do its daily activity and the center of these activities is the ultimate source of energy, the Sun.

 

Sunshine is the Lifeline…

 

Cell is the foundation of life, the basic building blocks of all living beings. The body structure comprises of trillions of cells and the chemistry between cells that matters and communication between different organs is a fascinating orchestra in harmony, we are simply left with awe and wonder at the complexity of the functioning of human body structure…

 

The quintessential question remains whether we are made of matter or energy, is matter and energy the same thing or is there a fundamental difference between matter or energy, or everything is energy and nothing else matters?

 

According to Quantum Physics, the deeper we dive into the inner world of atom, there is nothing else in the ultimate analysis; it is just the energy waves. It was way back in history when the great philosopher Socrates has said that human beings are made of energy and not matter.

 


Nihar Pradhan

Creative Writer

Story of Philosophy – The Basics and Beyond the Boundary

Wondering

“Everything around us is philosophy…”

This profound statement can be perilously branded as completely complex or sumptuously simple…it all depends on how we simplify or complicate our thoughts. The perspective that comes from our perception. It can be viewed in multiple ways as it may appear intriguing or interesting, or posing as invading or confounding, or deflect as compounding or confusing on our psyche, depending on how we painstakingly perceive the statement.

What is the universal truth or is there anything as ‘truth’, or everything is mere ‘matter’ and all that matters to us is what ‘mind’ really perceives, the paradox and the question, is philosophy playing between the rarefied space of perception and relative place of reality. Ultimately, the real need for qualification, what is ‘reality’.

 

It is just that over prolonged period, parts of this original subject have gradually come apart, though loosely connected and we have managed to much construct newer nomenclature and there after attached myriad connotation to these separated parts.

 

Science is a philosophy. Art is a philosophy. Mathematics is a philosophy. Religion is a philosophy. Education is a philosophy. Economy is a philosophy. Politics is a philosophy.

 

Medieval Philosophy was revolving around the community of Christianity in Europe to Muslim & Jewish in Middle East. There was this underlying process that was subtly progressing towards reconciling Christianity/Islamism with Classical Philosophy of Greece.  The movement called Scholasticism that combined Logic to Language, Metaphysics, Ethics and Epistemology into one unified discipline, Scholastic Methods then scanned through the volume of works created by various renowned scholars.  St. Anslem, proponent of ontological argument. Thomas More believed in Utopia, development of socialist ideas. Francis Bacon, truth requires evidence from the real world. All these efforts, including (analysis of language and use of formal logic) during the medieval period fostered the faster transition to the early modern philosophy that was then the harbinger of religious tolerance to rise of liberal thoughts and later led the advancement in science.

The confluence of multiple streams and discourse on divergent thoughts transported philosophy into a new world. It was Modern Philosophy with its umbilical cord that is still connected with the rich ancient philosophical thoughts that has manifested into myriad practices from these diverse bodies of knowledge.

 

The subject of philosophy is fundamentally about the body of knowledge and the love for wisdom.

 

The Curiosity.

The Enquiry.

The Hypothesis.

The Proposition.

 

The questioning of things as they are around us and why they are as they are, and no right and prefect answer to those questions and the answers varies and the answer carries different perspectives when it comes from different set of people. It is their observations, their experiences, their perception, their contemplation and their reflection. The process of thinking that goes behind these people’s perceptive mind.  Questioning emerges through the engine of thinking and thinking gets its fodder from the observation senses makes of the multitude of things happening in the surrounding.

Philosophy in a way is thinking about thinking.

 

Thales of Miletus the pioneer in philosophical thoughts who nurtured these profound ideas led the phenomenal subject to grow as plant of philosophy, and that was seeded way back during the 5th century B.C. The philosophers then thought of things composed of materials and nothing else. Thales thought of the universe composed of different forms of water. Heraclitus thought otherwise of fire not water. Empedocles combined these ideas into theory comprising of four classical components of air, water, fire and earth. Democritus thought of world as a composition of tiny building blocks known as atoms. Parmenides thought there is nothing as change and everything is permanent. Zeno, student of Parmenides put-forth the proposition known as the paradoxes of motion; motion is nothing but an illusion. Pythagoras, the father of mathematics that we know it today literally saw the world of philosophy through the prism of number and essentially believed the of reality governed the rules of number.

 

As the subject of philosophy evolved the divided parts got classified and categories into well organized and orchestrated into different schools of thoughts.

 

The aspect of the subject that deals with the study of existence and reality is termed as Metaphysics. The aspect of the subject that deals with the study of knowledge is termed as Epistemology.   The aspect of the subject that deals with study of morality and conduct is titled as Ethics. The aspect of the subject that deals with the study of art and beauty is titled as Aesthetics. These two aspects come under the umbrella term titled as “Value Theory” in philosophy.

In other words as we delve deep into the branches of this subject and scan through the finer prints we see the common thread that weaves this branches into a holistic tree preaching and teaching us how to live our life and how to make living much for meaningful and derive the true purpose of landing this very earth.

 

Question

 

Philosophy has its origin in the ancient land of Greece. In the 4th and 5th century much like the evolution of the art and literature, science and religion, the subject of philosophy has been subjected to the grind of mind of greatest thinkers of all times.

 

Socrates, the very name that is synonymous with the word philosophy and has profoundly defined the subject of philosophy. His philosophical system revolved around the proposition of critical reasoning and the difference between right and wrong. We simply cannot debate on philosophy without discussing Socrates. It is therefore stated about the world of philosophy in terms of pre-Socratics philosophy and post-Socratics philosophy. He had touched the pulse of philosophy by putting the art of questioning at the heart of everything we do and we can discover the solution to a problem by possessing the questions and there is art we need to learn to frame and formulate the questions that can fetch us the answers. “Method of Questioning” is the heart of the matter and the matter that makes us and the world around us, and the relation between us and the world around us is what philosophy attempts to study and satisfy our insatiable mind. The complexity of this subject lies in its simplicity of asking the questions.

Two other names that are spoken while discussing philosophy and Socrates are that of Plato and Aristotle. Though there are no written matters of the thoughts of Socrates, it was through his student Plato that the work of his mentor came to wider circulation of the world of philosophy. Phaedo, the most widely read dialogues where he recounts of the conversation that took place on the day of execution of Socrates in the hands of the state of Athens. It is a masterpiece of ancient Greek literature. Plato sets his distinctive philosophical doctrine, the Theory of Forms. One of the most famous works of Plato is The Republic; in this he describes Socrates vision of an ideal state and his method of questioning. It was the Plato Academy that set the stage for organized learning and it was here after studying for 25 years, arrived the next prodigy in the scene of philosophy as student of Plato was another important figure of philosophy we know him as Aristotle and who later started the school Lyceum. He believed that form and matter are inseparable. The term of “Syllogism” by Aristotle, where synthesis is is inferred from thesis and antithesis.

 

These Greek trio acted as three pillars of the tripod of philosophy triggered a tectonic shift in the planes of understanding and unraveling the intriguing mystery of our life and living.

 

The subject of philosophy has brought to fore some very intriguing array of terms and terminology and these have their powerful bearing to the proponent of those great philosophers who formulated these doctrines.

 

Rationalism, the power of intellectual thoughts and deductive reasoning. Empiricism, the origin of knowledge is sense experience. Immanuel Kant showed that “rationalism and empiricism” can be joined, and then later took the debate beyond these thoughts into a unified system of his own known as Kantianism.  Epicureanism, is about happiness and harmony through leading a simple life and moderate living, and limiting worldly desires. Interestingly, this term is contrary to the word we use ‘epicurean’. Hedonism, maximizing the power of pleasures the most important pursuit of humanity. Friedrich Nietzsche was proponent of Existentialism. Two other terms contrary to meaning of the parent words cynics and skeptics. Cynicism, postulates life free of all possessions and property to meet Virtue. Skepticism, postulates to suspend judgment from everything to meet Inner Peace. Realism, is the philosophical theory that believes that reality exists independent of perception. Pragmatism was conceptualized by C S Peirce and later popularized by John Dewey and William Blake. Idealism, is the philosophical theory that believes that reality is a mental construct and there exists no object without the observer. Romanticism, as a philosophical movement emphasized the emotional self awareness as necessary pre-condition to improving the society. Arthur Schopenhauer was a part of the “idealism and romanticism” movement. Humanism, humans can solve the problems through reliance on reason and using scientific methods.

 

Rene Descartes, French philosopher known as the father of modern philosophy postulated the theory of “Methodological Skepticism”. His famous quote; “I think, therefore I am”. Dualism, the mind-body problem. Human body is a kind of machine and mind is a separate entity. And the laws of physics governed both body and mind. Baruch Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher believed in self-contained “Metaphysical System”. Monism, mind-body is from a single substance and forms one system. According to him nothing by itself is good or bad and attachment of the meaning good or bad is a subjectively perceived. Gottfried Leibniz, the German philosopher believed in pre-established “Divine Harmony”, real world is a mere phenomena and composed of monads. He coined the term “Monads” which according to him are non-materials and harmony amongst these monads is a will of God.

Philosopher

Just like the trio of Greek philosophers, the trio British philosophers had a sizable contribution to the subject of philosophy in developing into a fascinating body of knowledge what it stands today for us absorb and analyzing for a building a better way of life and living. John Locke, all ideas in its different forms is derived from our experiences. Bishop George Berkeley, reality consists of mind and ideas, and one can know the perception through experiences, and an object exists when one can perceive and sense. David Hume, human experience and observation must be the foundation of any logical postulation, beliefs outside our realm of experience cannot be categorically established by reasoning.

 

Philosophy has constantly shaped the world around us and the evolution of humanity is intrinsically linked to the way philosophical thinkers of every generation contemplated and constructed path breaking body of practices from seemingly fluid theories and fractured postulation.

 

Jean Jacques Rousseau, work on inequality, the Social-Contract Theory influenced the French Revolution.

Henry David Thoreau, work on Civil Disobedience movement led a generation of social reformers in America.

 

Karl Marx the proponent of Marxist Theory led the development of Socialism and Communism.

Adam Smith, his metaphor of invisible hand of the free market led to the modern development of Liberalism and Capitalism.

 

The subject of philosophy has touched every sphere of our life and different fields of society have been differently influenced and distinctly engineered through the spectrum of evolving philosophical proponents. This doggedly deterministic process plausibly leads to concrete actions, a definitive action from the labyrinthine lanes and by-lanes of abstract thoughts and thematic themes.

 

There are these western philosophies and there is the eastern philosophies and further the eastern philosophy presented by the Chinese to Indian, Japanese to Korean, African to Tibetan…from Taoism to Confucianism to Buddhism to Hinduism. The Indian philosophy is a world by itself and when we dissect the world of philosophy, then the argument on Western Philosophy vs. Eastern Philosophy opens a Pandora Box in the context of Indian Philosophy from Vedas and Upanishads.

 

Isn’t the basics itself appears tad complex. Is there anything beyond the boundary of philosophy and if so, and when we do so, are we treading into the fictional world of mythology and realms of cosmology.

 


Nihar Pradhan

Storyteller

The Saga of Renaissance Period – Transition from Dark Age to Transformation into Digital Age

Renaissance, Story

Broadly between (500-1200 AD), 700 years after centuries of battles the world was badly bruised, it was war ravaged for a long time. It was under siege. It was hurt. It was emotionally drained. It was intellectually bankrupt. The human conscience was confined. Society was sapped of energy. The depletion was evident. The inspiration was missing from the scene. There was dearth of information, perceived period of intellectual darkness engulfed in the gulf of creative ideas and scientific thoughts. The world civilization was down after the downfalls of Imperial Rome and Ancient Greek. Though it was not fully out but was definitely in tatters, desperately trying to figure out the extent of damage and depth of destruction not just the physical count but the metaphysical conscience consisting of the state of the society. It was the new beginning. The much-needed breakaway. It was the awakening from prolonged slumber. Humanity was in a state of hijacked hibernation. Things had drifted. Minds were in disarray. Intellectual thoughts were forcefully endangered. Religious voices were irrationally vocal. The passion was missing. The spirit had substantially dwindled. The dark clouds were surreptitiously hovering. After all it was the Dark Age.

 

The dawn of light was frantically attempting to peep through doors of enlightenment. It was the liberation of intellectual imprisonment. It was the detachment of conscience from the religious tenets.

 

“The reformation.”

“The revolution.”

It was time for Renaissance…ushering a fundamental change.

 

Renaissance the French word connotes “rebirth” but the meaning denotes multiple things “revisit”, “recreate”, “revival”, and “reform” from being the harbinger of change to harvesting a tectonic transformation to engineering new ways of thinking, and to evolving new ways of working to making the world fundamentally change its look on its own outlook.

 

The period between the 14th to 17th century Europe witness a sea change in its own outlook and the epicenter of that change was cooking in the beautiful city of Florence in the city-state of Italy. It was not a unified Italy the way we know it now; it was a group of city states run by rich and powerful families like the Medici family. It was a transition period bridging between the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of the Modern Age. The world was struggling to detach from the clutches of the Medieval thoughts that had gripped the world for pretty long…the collapse of Greek and Roman civilization had then became a history and still nothing was changing. The change then for many centuries had been agonizingly slow and nothing was visible and nobody movement was making any headway and shift was far from being titled as paradigm in nature.

 

In the very beginning of 1400, Brunelleschi and Donatello, both young, excited and exuberant, were out on exploring the different parts of ancient Rome when they ventured inside the remains and ruins of the rich heritage and classical monuments, they were truly fascinated by the magnificence and magnitude of the masterly work undertaken by the greatest of people of the erstwhile civilization that included a galaxy of stars; the artists, the architects, the painters, the sculptor and the thinkers. Later Brunelleschi became a renowned architect and Donatello a famous sculptor. Against a salubrious backdrop of social harmony, political stability and economic prosperity, the society ushered in a gamut of development spanning the space of printing technology, astronomy to anatomy to exploration and experimentation in multi disciplinary subjects…these profusely manifested in magical munificence in the sphere of art, literature and philosophy.

 

Art is the mirror for the society and the scientist. The scientists envision their future work of scientific invention through the lens of artist work. It is in the work of art that the mind gets its thoughts sketched and skimmed to distill out those hidden pearls. The profound thoughts are a product of observation and imagination. The more the mind questions and queries, the more the thoughts get the meat to meet the requirement of demanding minds on constant prowl.

 

During the European Renaissance period art was at the epicenter of change, and the change was in the depth, the shadow and the perspective. Giotto Di Bonodone to Leon Battista Alberti to Piero Della Francesca was the forefront of these tectonic shifts in the way artist exhibited their art work. Adding depth into painting changed the way we interacted with painting. Adding shadow, changed the way light was looked in the painting. All these technical changes changed our perspective towards perceiving the colorful canvas. Leonardo the ultimate Renaissance man, it was not about his painting of Mona Lisa but his extended work on varied subjects ranging from anatomy to flight to botany to geology. The paintings moved from merely being a piece of symbolism to a masterpiece of realism. It was the golden period when greatest of artists like Leonardo Da Vinci to Michelangelo to Raphael took to center stage. Their work of art from Last Supper Painting to David Sculptor to Sistine Chapel to School of Athena till today even after more than 500 years still remains the defining movement in the revolution of art. Science had its umbilical cord with the work of art. Leonardo was an artist and a scientist. His scientist thoughts germinated in the artist canvas where he designed the sketches depicting the working machines to flying aircrafts.

 

Literature during the Renaissance period saw a cosmic change in its composition and exposition. This period has been considered as the golden period for the English literature and the greatest work of English literature from the greatest ever writer William Shakespeare. In the area of drama, nobody could match his caliber on intensity and exquisite use of language. His innate ability to fluidly shift and solidly shape between the sphere of comedy and tragedy was intensively ingenious. Painter Masaccio to Writer Giovanni had set a new benchmark for work of art and literature. The literary works were highly influenced by the cultural changes and intellectual churning re-calibrating the sphere of imagination, the creative writing transformed under the aegis of stalwarts like Dante, Petrarch to Machiavelli. The creation of movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg moved the way writing was connecting the community at large. These allowed the authors to write in their vernacular language capturing the ideas in its true form and ideas have no boundaries and it paved the way for the coming up of the translators who could take these profound thoughts embodied in these bodies of text far and wide using the language of region which the people of that region understood in its original formation.

 

Till then the world was viewed through the window of religion and mysticism where the religious bodies like the churches was dominating the public discourse. The Catholic Churches were at the helm of the affair. They doggedly controlled the way world was to be viewed and there was no scope for any review. Those who opposed the doctrines of the Church where instantly branded as heretic and were termed as heresy. They were then subjugated to rigorous punishment and were imprisoned indefinitely. It was the Earth not the Sun at the center of the Universe. Copernicus and Galileo had a contrarian view but the custodians of religious bodies vociferously refuted and rejected such viewpoints. The biblical thoughts were be questioned and there were not good enough answer to satiate the hunger of enlighten masses rising from control of dark ashes. Their dogmas and doctrines were considered the gospel truth and anybody denouncing or announcing or showing any signs of resistance were abjectly subjected to brutal subjugation, immediately put under house arrest or pushed to permanent exile. Little room for liberal thoughts and doors were shown to people attempting to change the things as they are dominating the society at large during the Dark Ages.

 

Renaissance marked the breakaway from the clutches of conformist society and carving a space for a more vibrant society and stimulating vivacious communities to blatantly question the age old assumptions and audaciously fight the impregnable citadel of religious preaching and spiritual beliefs.

 

Renaissance had its base in the continent of Europe, hence the European Renaissance encapsulating multiple flavors in terms of Italian to French to English Renaissance. The origin was in Italy. Post the decline of the ancient Greek and Roman civilization which dominated for many centuries before the dawn of the Dark Ages. The beauty and bounty of artistic and architectural splendors of the Greco-Roman civilization had deeply entered into the state of terminal hibernation. The Dark Age was deafening and dying any space for creativity or conversation on rationality. The prolonged period was perilously asphyxiating. People’s mind was in turmoil and the turbulent thoughts were desperately searching for ways to express and exhibit their artistic and scientific temper. Minds were pregnant with path breaking ideas and ideas are the bedrock for colossal changes and changes that can radically redefine the way the society looks at itself and the way it fashions its functioning and the changes that changes the very foundation of the contours of the civilization of a particular era, it was the Medieval Era. The Age that was finding itself miserably lost in the wilderness after the wonderful work of art, science, architecture and philosophy that mesmerized the Greek and the Roman civilization. Plato, Aristotle to Socrates had changed the way world looked at life, living, thinking to working that forms the basis of human existence and engagement with nature.

 

Science which was subservient to the religious forces started to force its way out of the state of deep hibernation and it was time for scientific discovery and inventions. Astronomy to Anatomy…the Outer Cosmos and the Human Body were the big mystery that was haunting the human mind and there were no outlet to get those ideas to come out and get tested. It was magical period for exploring the world outside us the Universe and the world very much within us the Human Anatomy. Andrew Vesalius to Isaac Newton changed the way we looked at the Earth and the Body that we all carry while living on this Earth an integral part of the Cosmic Universe. Astronomy was absolutely gaining its stronghold and the movement led to the shift from the geocentric view of the universe to the heliocentric viewpoint…a paradigm shift on the Cosmos and the Universe. Astrology was relatively losing its foothold as it was in the control of the religious preachers.

 

It was the invention of Telescope by Galileo which led to the establishment of the hypothesis of the distant world outside our world. The beginning of the voyage into the BIG world…It was the invention of Microscope by Leeuwenhoek which led the establishment of the cell, the world within us. The beginning of the voyage into the SMALL world…

 

Renaissance was also credited to as the “Age of Discovery”. It was literally the age of discovering new countries and continents until then unknown to the Europeans. Portugal and Spain were at the forefront of such exploration and explorers like Christopher Columbus to Vasco Da Gama ventured into the unknown territories and it guided to the discovery through the sea route of what is today known as America and India. In fact it was the great Marco Polo just before the start of renaissance in the 13th century had set the exploratory ball in motion to explore Asia, it was China and then other countries in search of spices and gems, and he was then the ultimate pioneer in the sphere of worldly exploration and that his exploratory venture significantly contributed to the rise of renaissance. He became the inspiration for later explorers who have changed the way we have been till then looking at the world map.

 

Renaissance, the period when the Europe’s classical past was revisited. The classical past was deeply entrenched in the rich history of culture and civilization spread across the geographies of Greece and Rome. It was the historical period when innovation and creativity gained its lost steam. The period when the art of questioning and the science of experimentation massively unfolded newer doors and opened many windows to the world at large…it was a commencement of a truly fascinating journey for humanity and people joyfully discovering the unknown, and knowing the logic behind the patterns and diving deep to deciphering the natural phenomena for protecting and predicting a better future for the mankind.

 

The winds of change that was created through the forces of Renaissance were all encompassing and it tenderly touched but tectonically transformed the canvas of art, the structure of architecture, the language of literature, the space of science and the sphere of philosophy…the indelible mark of those forces are still afresh and after almost 700 years once again time for the New Renaissance to blow a bout of fresh wind to widen the world view…IMAGINATION AGE (Digital Age).  

 

21st Century, it is Time for History to repeat itself…replaying in the period of 700 years.

Renaissance

 

 


Nihar Pradhan

Storyteller  

Story of Language and Languages in Life

Story of Languages

Everyday, everywhere and everybody uses language, one form or the other. The form remains but the face of language keeps changing from place to place, from time to time and from people to people. It is an integral part of our life and living. Language reflects our culture and language nurtures our nature.

 

Languages are the confluence of “culture and nature” that have become the bedrock of human society.

 

According to Noam Chomsky the ability to use language is innately specified in human brain. So the pertinent question, can there be life without language becomes puerile in its fundamental argument.  It won’t be a stretched statement to state that life is language itself…

 

There are thousands of languages that are used by billions of people spread across the different continents of the world. There are more than a billion people speaking a single language, the story of Mandarin language in China and there are less than ten million people in New Papua Guinea speaking 820 languages. The paradox of land and language, there is nothing that vast stretch of land and large population has anything to do with the number and usage of different languages. It is something in the culture and the nature of people and the community encompasses that multiple “diversity and versatility” through the usage of so many languages. How else can one explain the large spectrum of language in a small country like Papua Guinea?

 

Language is not just about the written and spoken words but it is also equally about the usage of different signs and symbols. Not just words. It is also about the art and music. The sound and the colour that are used by the artists to convey a set of message. It is also about the science and religion. The laws of nature promulgated by the scientists to the rules of philosophy preached by the religious philosophers. It is also about the physical gestures and body language. The scope and scale of languages are all-encompassing. It is about connection, communication and collaboration. It is not only about the language human understands but also about the language human and nature communicates and the language human and computer interacts.

 

Language keeps expanding its canvas and languages “connects and collaborates” between species and machines in making human expand and explore the larger ecosystem that makes life and living much more enlightening and enriching.

 

It is such a fascinating story to unravel the layered myths and locked mystery of the history of language itself. The genesis, how it started and the birthplace, where is that place in this wonderful world where the beautiful language commenced it eternal journey, the evolutionary journey that has truly revolutionized the way people live in this world. Candidly speaking, it’s anybody’s guess and there is logical speculation and loaded propositions on the origin of language. The thought of world today without the language, perhaps the world would not have come so far and perhaps there would not have been humanity in existence. Language has been the lifeblood of the humanity to have extended its life span on this very planet. The world would have gone wild and mad without the invention of language at their command to control their feelings and emotions, and giving thoughts a channel to connect with the world outside the mind.

 

Though it is anybody’s guess to estimate the numbers of centuries, and we do so and also to find out whether it took off from the land of sub-Saharan Africa is also not a certainty. The figure on total number of languages keeps changing as the language themselves are in a flux. As it stands today according to Enthologue catalogue there are 7097 languages. Merely 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population. It is estimated that one-third of total languages have lesser than 1000 speakers placing these languages in the endangered category. These numbers tell a story about what has happened to the languages and how languages longevity gets determined by the way we write and speak those languages.

 

Is it about the simplicity and usability of the language or is there some more to it that determines the durability of a language?

 

Why some languages have stayed for centuries and others have vanished in decades?

 

There are families of language and Indo-European language family remains a predominate family in today’s community of languages. The language that are genetically related and these set of languages had its origin and rooting in the lands of Europe to Iran to India. Mother of these families of language has their foundation and fundamentals from the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. The Indo-European languages are further divided into Romance, Germanic and Celtic branches. The Romance includes the popular languages of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to French. The Germanic includes the popular languages of German, English, to Dutch. The Celtic includes the Welsh, Irish Gaelic, and Scots Gaelic to Breton. The language of Uralic family rooted in the northwestern part of Eurasia and popular in the family is Hungarian language. The language of Altaic family dominates in the northern and central Asia largely includes the Turkish and Mongolian. The Niger-Congo family of language spread in the western and sub Saharan Africa comprises of thousands of languages and the well-known Bantu languages that includes the popular Zulu language.

 

Spanish is the most popular second language learned in the United States of America….418 million speaks Spanish. There is a history behind such large Spanish speaking Americans and it was Christopher Columbus in the 15th century who sailed to America brought with him the Castilian Spanish language. English remains the leader in the ladder of language in USA. India is the second largest English speaking country after the USA, as per different estimates it stands around 10% of the 125 billion Indians. English language played a crucial role during the struggle India Independence where it became the language of political awakening and resurgence for freedom. 490 million people in the world speak Hindi language. 510 million people world over speak the English language. It provides a perspective. Over one billion people speaks Mandarin Chinese makes it to the coveted position and is the most widely spoken tongue in the world. The population count matters. The case is different in the South America from the North America. Portuguese is in the most popular language of Latin America where Brazil makes up to the 81% of the Portuguese speakers. But Spanish is not far behind and it stands second on the language league table. A large part of Canada is French speaking and Quebec is the region in Canada whose official language is French…80% of 8 million people in Quebec speaks French. As many as 420 million people around the world speak the Arabic language predominately in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

Language is not merely a means for communication but it is the source of understanding the cultural nuances of people speaking those languages.

 

There is a storehouse of cultural heritage embedded in the language of the region it belongs. Learning the local language helps us to have a deeper and better understanding of the customs and traditions of the native people speaking those languages. For instance knowing the Arabic language helps us to dive deeper into the “culture and history” of the Arab world…dissecting the cradle of Mesopotamia civilization and similarly knowing the Sanskrit language helps us appreciate the philosophies of life written in the original Indian scriptures of Vedas and Upanishads. Language is synonymous with culture and philosophy and the more we learn different languages, the better we have the understanding and the appreciation of the culture of that region and society. Never easy to learn so many different languages and hence we depend on language translators and accessing and affording translator were a constraint until technology took over and today we have many popular languages gets instantly translated using the technology tool and we don’t have to depend on the human intervention.

 

The important role of sound in language though we keep saying silence speaks louder than words.

 

The story of sounds in language…Vowels and Consonants are the sound that goes into making of the language. These are not letters but the sounds. It is the play in our mouth, by placing our tongues and lips in different positions we are able to produce different sounds. The word vowel originally comes from the Latin word Vox meaning ‘voice’. The word consonant means ‘with sound’ originally comes from the two Latin words Com meaning ‘with’ and Sonare meaning ‘sound’.  A vowel is a speech sound made with mouth fairly open. A consonant is a speech sound made with mouth fairly closed. The consonants break up the sound that the vowels make. The story of speaking language is that of “makeup and breakup”. It is the sound of voice. Every language has vowels, all words to have vowels but not all words to have consonants. Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew are the Semitic language. Hebrew was often considered to be the language of Angels or Gods. It is the language of the Bible. Not a surprising fact that Bible has the world’s highest number of language translation. The alphabets in these languages don’t have the vowels. English word ‘alphabet’ is a product of the words Alpha and Beta from Greek.

 

The story of language family…all members of language family germinated from one single source and had a simple beginning, and over the years it has branched out in all possible directions and has become complex family structure, and today we have thousands of lively languages. A language family is a group of language having a descent from a common ancestral language. French and Spanish come from Latin family. Arabic and Hebrew represent the Afro-Asiatic language family. Persian and Kurdish represent the Indo-European family. Niger-Congo family has the largest number of language siblings. Sino-Tibetan language family dominates the Southeast Asian countries.  There are thousand of siblings who had died an unnatural death. They didn’t get the nutrition and the nurturing. Just like the evolutionary stories of species, many species have become extinct so has been the case with languages many have forcefully expired before that could complete their part of journey…span of life. Languages need a vehicle and it needs the support of flesh to hold on and sense of emotions to connect with large audience and continue to their journey in the complex map of the ever-expanding world population. The languages need a story to maintain and sustain their standing and stature in the rapidly expanding society.

 

The spread of languages have an inherent correlation with the “exploration and expedition” of the community speaking those languages.

 

The answer lies in the questions…

 

How Americans embraced Spanish?

How Indians embraced English?

How Brazilians embraced Portuguese?

Language is not independent of the impact of the social-political forces and potent power of economy. During the 16th-18th centuries, the political movement, military might and economic forces of the world were dominated by countries like Spain, France, German and Britain.  The spread of language has a lot to do with the economics of the nations speaking those languages. The way French and German dominates the European Union. The way Chinese Mandarin and Indian Hindi and other state languages like Tamil to Bengali of India are gaining the momentum in the language map of the world. Both countries are emerging economic superpowers.

 

Language is more than just a mode of communication it is a mirror to the deeper reflection of the way society thinks, works and lives during each era of human development…as societies keep going through various revolutions, languages keeps evolving through the process of evolution.

 

The story of languages keep creating new chapters…


Nihar Pradhan

Storyteller