''Have patience, and I'll make halvah for you from unripe grapes.''
- Persian proverb


A Theory of the Real

Memento from a mind-bending class on the philosophy of science at CSCS, Bangalore. Definitely one of the better courses I have taken to date.

One of the discoveries was the work of Donna Haraway.  In her book Primate Visions, among many, many other things she successfully makes the case that the natural sciences much like the human sciences are inextricably within the processes that give them birth. And so, like the human sciences, the natural sciences are culturally and historically specific, modified, involved.

Here is a nice quote that stayed with me from the introduction:
Both fiction and fact are rooted in an epistemology that appeals to experience. However, there is an important difference; the word fiction is an active form, referring to a present act of fashioning, while fact is a descendent of a past participle, a word form which masks the generative deed or performance. A fact seems done, unchangeable, fit only to be recorded; fiction seems always inventive, open to other possibilities, other fashionings.


Lift Kara De

I took the above images with my cellular phone while waiting for the elevator on my way up to a friend's place in Bombay. Every now and then it is worth reminding ourselves of just how naturalised spatial segregation is in our everyday world. Both, how we cut up and divide space and the justifications that we provide for the same, are, no doubt, a certain kind of politics.

Check out Hiland Sapphire, a luxury building project of the United Credit Belani group in Calcutta. The self-proclaimed "residence of choice for the manor born" lists on its website the characteristic features of the complex: Set in an "idyllic landscape" lined with foliage and fountains, the apartments have "capacious rooms of the bygone British era" fitted with "airy French windows". Further, the complex comes with a fully equipped "top-notch surveillance" system because "security, these days, has become an issue of foremost concern". All this is, of course, put together according to our very own "Vastu principles".

In case those gorgeous renderings haven't convinced you and you're still in two minds, there's more good news: your domestic help will not get in the way of your European manor dreams. I quote from an earlier version of their web-site (which has since been removed, but shows up in Google's cache memory when searched.):
Separate living quarters, toilets and washrooms will be provided for all domestic help employed by residents. Moreover, to render them 'invisible', segregated entrances and elevators have been constructed.
Whoever said Utopia was a place that could never exist? For the Great Indian Middle-Class Imagination Machine, it is very much here.

(Hat tip to Immanuel's Cant for the title of this post)


What is it with the letter B?

Borges, Ballard, Berger, Baudrillard, Barthes, Benjamin, Burroughs, Brakhage, Bradbury, Bergess, Balagangadhara, Bourdieu, Bauman...


Lens Culture

So glad that The Cinemas Project is featured in the latest volume of Lens Culture.

From their website:
Discover new photography from China, Australia, Cuba, India, the US, Canada, England, South Korea, and Brazil. This volume also includes new photobook reviews, a great video interview with UK photographer Simon Roberts, and more. So, settle in with a cup of good coffee, put your feet up, and enjoy!
(Remember to hit the "slideshow" button for larger images in all the series)


Because You Care

For the bleeding hearts... How (not) to write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.
Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African's cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.
Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation. 
Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can't live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

Read the entire text at Granta online