General thoughts on EN4880B Lecture 3

August 29, 2009 by ELIZABETH JOY TAN TIAN HEE · 1 Comment · Passage to India

Presentation (Hinduism in A Passage to India) 

-          Hinduism as complex, amorphous, representing relativity, very much in the same way India itself as a culture is complex and difficult to understand. Tolerance is then very important and valorised in the novel since not only is one objective truth impossible to obtain, but while each person / idea may be different, it is still part of a whole culture and therefore should not be othered.

-          Echoes in the cave: the echo always being only a semblance of reality and therefore considered evil. They are also a force beyond the control of man and have the capacity to work either for or against us, as indicated in the “dual-potential” of echoes in the novel.

-          See the pursuit of truth as the chasing after echoes in an attempt to get to the “real” truth – so is this actually possible or will we always find ourselves going in circles to discover something that cannot be found since the echoes in their persistence will always distract us from finding that one truth?

-          But then we ask ourselves, is the discovery of the truth as important as the process by which we attempt to discover the truth? Believe that to be closer to discovering the truth, to engage with the echoes and still not reach a conclusion is still valuable and worthwhile. 

Lecture (A Crisis of Political Economy)

-          discussing the relationship between Modernism and Modernity: important to bear in mind the context of changing political relations and freedom as parallel to the expansion of human thought and pursuit of the truth

-          just as man is entering modernity (through industrialisation and political liberalism), his pursuit of truth and understanding happens alongside this progress. Intellectual progress (modernism) then is part of a much bigger social (economic and political) change.

-          Yet the logical flaws in modernism as being confused with Westernisation (only the people of the West as “advanced peoples” are privileged to be Modernists) show up when we recognise the bias against foreigners and slaves

-          Modernity & modernism also gendered: only accessible to the men in society? Women considered inferior in intellect and social standing, much less economically and politically and therefore excluded from thoughts of modernity and modernism.

-          Thus at the end of the day we have the white male who stands a head above everyone else on all counts: social, political and economic progress (modernity) and intellectual pursuit (embodied in the concept of Modernism)

p.s: I apologise this is so late, I forgot to click on the publish button in my rush ):

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One Comment so far ↓

  • adelinekoh

    Generally very good. Some theoretical clarifications: modernism was an art movement, the lecture was about forms of “modernity” (remember to make the distinction). Also: important to highlight that modernity always had its contradictions. It was universal, and not universal at the same time. Modernity was a discourse used by people; obviously different people always highlight different things to suit their own goals; it is difficult to critique modernity on its own, rather, we should try and critique how it was used by people.