JK Rowling publishes debut adult novel, Casual Vacancy

JK Rowling publishes debut adult novel, Casual Vacancy

Sep 28 (TruthDive):  JK Rowling, a well-known fantasy author has published her next novel – Casual Vacancy yesterday. However, this is not a children’s novel but her debut in adult fiction. We are unsure if this 512-pages long adult book might pale her image amongst her fans, most of them who happen to be children.

JK Rowling posted on her website (http://www.jkrowling.com) that she needed to write more than wanting to write this book.

The Casual Vacancy is set in a small community, which involves writing characters who are adolescents all the way up to people in their sixties. I love nineteenth century novels that centre on a town or village. This is my attempt to do a modern version.  As a writer you have to write what you want to write; or rather what you need to write. I needed to write this book.”
~JK Rowling

The audio edition of The Casual Vacancy will be read by Tom Hollander, an experienced star of stage and screen.

J.K. Rowling talked about her new work at London’s Southbank Centre at 7.30pm UK time, Thursday 27 September.  The event was live-streamed on Southbank Centre’s Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/southbankcentre

Fifty Shades of Grey beats one million sales record

Fifty Shades of Grey beats one million sales record

London, Jun 29 (TruthDive): Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotic fiction written by EL James has become the fastest adult paperback novel to sell one million print copies.

The novel has smashed the previous record created by Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”.

Nielsen BookScan, a publishing tracking company figures out that the novel took only 11 weeks to reach the milestone, which is 25 weeks faster than the previous record holder, Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”. The Da Vinci Code took 36 weeks to pass the million marker.

Nielsen Bookscan stated the book has also broken the weekly record for paperback sales, selling 397,889 copies against JK Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which sold 367,625 copies in 2008. It gives the book a new record for the biggest weekly tally for a paperback in the UK.

The other sequels Fifty Shades Darker sold 245,801, and Fifty Shades Freed sold 212,832 across last week, with the entire series outselling the rest of the top 50 by about two to one.

Fifty Shades of Grey is now the 32nd bestselling book since records began in 1998.

The same way the sales of the novel through ebooks are also increasing. Publisher Random House told the exact digital sales could not be confirmed, but said ebooks were “at a similar level” to physical sales.

However, on Tuesday online retailer Amazon said Fifty Shades of Grey had become the first ebook to sell one million copies for Kindles.

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” is about a loving relationship between immature literature student Anastasia Steele and calculating businessperson Christian Grey. The novel was first published in 2011 and it was James’ first novel.

James is a former television administrator. Her real name is Erika Leonard and at present lives with her family in London. Movie rights were bought up by Universal and Focus Features, U.S. media reported in March.

Bhagavad Gita now translated into Polish

Bhagavad Gita now translated into Polish

Warsaw, March 25 (TruthDive): The sacred book of Hindus, Bhagvad Gita, has been translated in Polish language by a Polish lady, who has done her PhD in Sanskrit. Though there is a translation of the Gita in Polish, it was translated from English in the beginning of the 20th century.

The present translation has been done by Anna Racinska, who has spent almost a decade in Varanasi to master the nuances of Sanskrit.

Racinska is in her 60s and completed her doctorate from the Oriental Institute of Warsaw University two years ago.

Racinska, a mother of four grown-up children, took interest in Sanskrit on the prompting of her husband. Today in their home, all the children and parents speak Sanskrit fluently, and they converse normally in Sanskrit. It may seem odd to outsiders, but it is normal routine in their home.

“Her dedication and her labour of love have done wonders. It is a great achievement for Anna Racinska that she remained unknown for many years, and then all of a sudden she has obliged us in Poland with a great translation of a great book,” said Janusz Krzyzowski, a leading Indologist and president of the Indo-Polish Cultural Committee.

Even as Hindus fight a proposed ban on the Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita, in Catholic-dominated Poland the sacred scipture has for the first time been translated into the Polish language from its original Sanskrit text.

“We really feel proud of Racinska’s monumental work. No doubt her selflessness is visible in the way she has fulfilled her long-cherished wish at this stage of her life. But she deserves our praise and we feel proud of her achievement. We sincerely hope she will produce some more outstanding research books for the coming generations,” said Monika Kapila Mohta, Indian ambassador to Poland.

The Bhagavad Gita, often called the “perennial philosophy”, is already available in over 50 languages.

Imran Khan cancels his Delhi trip in protest to Salman Rushdie

Imran Khan cancels his Delhi trip in protest to Salman Rushdie

Islamabad, Mar 15 (TruthDive): Pakistani cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan cancelled his Delhi visit when learnt that Salman Rushdie would speak at the same conference.

Imran was planned to attend the India Today Conclave in New Delhi on Friday as a keynote speaker. He made public his decision to pull out of the event during a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal.

“Khan expressed his regrets to the organizers but stated categorically that he could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe,” the statement said.

The writer, who has Indian origins, is due to speak on Friday in Delhi at a conference, hosted by the India Today media group, in a talk called ‘The Liberty Verses’. Organisers declared on Tuesday that Rushdie would speak at the conference, two months after death threats forced him to withdraw from India’s premier literature festival.

Salman Rushdie pulled out of the Jaipur literary festival, amid protests from some Muslim groups over The Satanic Verses, which the Indian government still prohibits from being brought into the country. A video link, planned after he said he felt he should not be present in person after receiving threat warnings from the police, was also cancelled.

Rushdie’s 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ is still banned in India and Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming against Islam and the holy Quran.

The 64-year-old writer, who was born in Mumbai, spent a decade in hiding after Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death over the book.

In relation to Rushdie’s decision not to participate in the Jaipur festival, Imran Khan said that no-one had the right to “inflict pain on a society” and described the author’s works as “painful”.

On Twitter, Rushdie responded by saying: “30 yrs ago Imran Khan was a fan at my 1982 Delhi lecture and 100 per cent secular. Now my work “humiliates” his “faith”. Which is the real Imran?”

Naam Tamilar answers to Arundhati Roy

Naam Tamilar answers to Arundhati Roy

Chennai, Jan 19, (TruthDive): In a reply to noted writer Arundhati Roy, Naam Tamilar group in US and Canada pointed out that they were against the Brahminical outlook of “Kalchuvadu” the publishers of the book  “The Cage” by Gordon Weiss (former UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka). Roy faced protests by May 17  activists (May 17th is the day the war in Sri Lanka officially ended marking the death of several Tamil civilians and rebels)  at the Chennai book fair while releasing the book. She wrote in the daily news paper Deccan Chronicle

“The book indicts the Sri Lankan government for war crimes, but is also sharply critical of the LTTE’s tactics. The protestors did not mention the book, but accused the publishers of being RSS, anti-Dalit, anti-Tamil, anti-Kashmir and anti-Muslim.

I was a little puzzled, because the books being released were a collection of haunting poems by Cheran, the well-known Tamil poet, a book on Dalits and Water by Ko. Raghupathy, a book on Dalit politics and culture by Stalin Rajangam, Curfewed Night –  a memoir about Kashmir by Basharat Peer and Broken Republic about the Maoist insurrection by me, all of which completely belie the accusations being hurled at the publisher.

Whether Weiss is right or wrong in his analysis is not the point. After a war in which an estimated 40,000 Tamils, mostly civilians were killed, I cannot believe that people want to shut out the possibility of debate, of introspection about what went wrong.

It is an insult to the memory of those who were killed as well as to those Tamils who survived and have to continue to live in Sri Lanka.

The annihilation of criticism, introspection, debate, difference of opinion, is the annihilation of politics itself. It is a way of thinking and acting that could have been one of the reasons for the LTTE’s defeat.”

In an open letter to `Comrade’ Arundhati Roy Naam Tamilar states the following:

We, “Naam Tamilar” (translates to “We Tamils”) from America and Canada would like declare our support for the May 17 protesters and we are right along with them in their mission. We wish to clarify why Tamil liberators like us are against “Kalachuvadu“magazine. It seems like you were puzzled why the protesters were protesting in a Book-release event where books of prominent Tamil writers and revolutionary writers were released. Hence, it is our responsibility to clarify your doubts and isolate the focus to the issues that we are fighting against.

We are right along with the revolutionary writers in terms of issues like anti-Dalit mentality, anti-Muslim mentality, RSS and Hindutuva,  Maoist insurrection, Kashmir  freedom struggle etc.

However, our intention is to expose the hypocrisy of Kalachuvadu which is a magazine that hides its pro-Brahmanism agenda under the mask of opinion freedom.

Kalachuvadu is a magazine that carries bitterness towards Dalit community, portraits Muslims as terrorists, is always against the left-wing, is against Tamil and Kashmir freedom struggle movements, acts as a mouth-piece for the corrupt UPA government, always writes against social revolutionist and rationalists, down plays the sacrifice of freedom fighters of our Tamil Eelam, does not recognize or intentionally hides the moral reasons behind Tamil freedom struggle, lifts up Brahmanism in journalism.

In Tamil Nadu the intellectual politics is vertically divided between Brahmins and Non-Brahmins. Brahmins are everywhere in Tamil Intellectual environment from the extreme left to the extreme right not because of their intelligence, but their institutions and the general protection. They are entitled for their freedom of expression that the others don’t get. Kalachuvadu is a mighty Publication that has links even in Sankara Madam. It works cleverly to spread its Hindutuva ideologies and occasionally throws few bread crumbs to its forward minded readers and pulls them towards its beliefs.

The May 17th movement or all Tamil liberators had nothing against “The Cage” by Gordon Weiss (former UN spokesperson in Sri Lanka) because of his criticism of our freedom fighters. We all are open to criticism. But Kalachuvadu – a Brahminical outfit in its core disguising itself as a well-wisher for Eelam Tamil is the reason for their protest.

How can a protest of few, against a mighty publisher, that too a “Brahminical” one become “The annihilation of criticism”?

May 17th is not only the day the war in Sri Lanka officially ended but a day the Tamils will remember those who died in thousands when the entire world, left right north or south watched indifferently.

http://www.kalachuvadu.com/issue-145/page14.asp -In this article, Kalachuvadu justifies India’s stand on the final stages of Eelam war and emphasis on how Eelam Tamils need to be working for their freedom only under the advice of India and Israel.

http://www.kalachuvadu.com/issue-116/page47.asp – This article’s title translates to, “Last days of Eelam war- What happened in Vanni?”.  In this article, Kalachuadu provides a biased opinion of Tamil Tigers who were on the frontline in fight for a Tamil homeland. It portraits the Leader of Tamil Tigers, Prabhakaran as a dictator, who mass murdered his own people. It also shows Tamil Tigers as ruthless killers.

http://www.kalachuvadu.com/issue-144/page23.asp  – In this article, Kalachuvadu justifies Sri Lankan military targeting civilian targets (like hospitals) and holds the Tamil Tigers as solely responsible for the whole situation. It even goes as far as saying that it was the Tamil Tigers who provoked the Sri Lankan army to attack the civilians (as if they never attacked Tamil civilians in the past) by holding civilians as human shields.

We are advocates of free-speech but manipulating the truth is unacceptable. Tamil Tigers were not foreign to Eelam. They were native to the land and were forced to take weapons only after witnessing their family and friends raped, kidnapped, murdered, and tormented to the core. It is for the people that they were fighting for. It is for their freedom and security the Tigers chose to put their lives on the line.

The following youtube clip contains audio captured from Col. Soosai, head of Sea Tigers wing and one of the Tamil Tiger commanders to witness the finals stages of the battle. In the audio clip, Col. Soosai clearly expresses how tirelessly the Tamil Tigers tried to reach out to the International community in vain, to get the Tamil civilians out of the war zone. He expresses how they were safeguarding 26,000 injured civilians and uninjured civilians in same numbers, in bunkers and are desperately trying to get the civilians out of the war zone to a safe location:

http://youtu.be/eaM_E43ZVJ0

The following youtube clip shows an interview taken from the wife of Col. Kajan who was a senior commander who stood in the war zone during the final stages of war and was killed during that time. She and her child were along with numerous civilians who had stayed in the war zone with the Tamil Tigers until the final stages. She clearly expresses how there was a general fear among the people in going to the so called “safe zone”, which was constantly being attached my Sri Lankan government forces and how people chose to stay with the Tigers because they thought they were safe with them.

http://youtu.be/79TL-MRS0sY

It is also worth noting that ICRC personal shared his testimony in the Channel-4 documentary,  regarding how he was providing the geographical co-ordinates of the “safe-zone” where civilians were taking refuge (in order for Sri Lankan government forces to make sure they don’t target it by ‘accident’) stopped doing it because every time he provided the information an attack precisely targeting the safe-zone, followed.

Unfortunately, most of the media is controlled by the pro-Brahmanism fascists like Kalachuvadu who don’t allow the real truth to be exposed.

Hence, we feel that it is our moral responsibility to support May 17 comrades or anyone who protests against Kalachuvadu which continuously spreads false propaganda against Tamil Eelam freedom struggle. Fight for a sovereign Tamil Eelam is not just a necessity for Tamils living in Eelam, but also utmost important for Tamils around the world, especially for the ones living in Tamil Nadu (where there are around 7 billion Tamils). If we allow forces like Kalachuvadu to spread false propaganda, it will cause backlash in support for our Tamil Eelam freedom struggle, especially in Tamil-Nadu, where it is imperative to unite Tamils irrespective of their caste/religion/political associations to be supportive and help carry forward our freedom movement.

We hope that this letter might have clarified our intentions behind the protest and helped you understand the true identity of Kalachuvadu. These forces are playing their role the right way, in causing friction between us comrades and distract us from our mission in fighting atrocity. It is important that we understand who our common enemy is and focus on fighting them.

Yours Truly,

Naam Tamilar America  & Naam Tamilar Canada.

Lacan and his significance in Western Philosophy

Lacan and his significance in Western Philosophy

This is the transcript of voice interview with Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizai in  “Philosopher’s Zone” ABC Radio National Australia aired on  24 September 2011

Doctor Ehsan Azari Stanizai, Adjunct Fellow with the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney also teaches creative writing in Continuing Education at the University of Sydney.

The transcript of the interview is published with permission from Dr Ehsan Azari Stanizai

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Alan Saunders: Now, here on The Philosopher’s Zone we like to think of ourselves as pretty fearless. No idea is too arcane or too complex for us to have a crack at it. There is, though, one figure whose thought we have long crouched in terror from: Jacques Marie Emile Lacan, born in 1901, died in 1981, a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who has been called ‘the most controversial psychoanalyst since Freud’.

Hi, I’m Alan Saunders; and my guest this week has said of Lacan: “His unreadable writings and an extensive use of rhetorical devices particularly, puns, allusions, ellipses, pleonasm, hyperbaton,  metaphor, catachresis, allegories, metonymies and so on resemble in many ways the speech of the unconscious per se“. Sounds like heavy going.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Thank you very much, Alan.

Alan Saunders: Now, Ehsan, Lacan urged what he called ‘a return to Freud’. Of course, there are many Freuds, so what Freud did he think he was returning to?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: I think Lacan reread Freud creatively, and also he reoriented Freudian psychoanalysis from A to Z. Mainly, Lacan’s contribution is mainly on Freudian psychoanalysis in the light of structural linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure, and also structural linguistics of Jakobson, Russian linguistic, and he also used intensively philosophy, and also mathematics and also topology. In that sense he completely rewrote Freudia in a contemporary and postmodern context.

Alan Saunders: I mean, this is very different from the picture that I have of Freud. I think of Freud really in two senses which might be somewhat at variance with each other; but I think of Freud as a man who wanted to create a science of the mind in fairly classical scientific terms, in almost Darwinian terms. I also think of him as, to some extent, a creative artist, as someone who is writing narratives of people’s lives. This doesn’t quite seem the Freud that Lacan is returning to.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: I think you are quite right in that sense that Freud wrote: many of his works are like you are reading a novel. And also Freud was pretty much a thinker of his own age. If we look at late 19th Century and also early 20th Century, that was an age of radical science in a way that Western intellectuals thought that science was the only thing that gives us the ultimate truth that we are looking for. In that sense yes. But Freud was in a way ‘saved’by Lacan, because he reinterpreted Freud into our age, that is the age of postmodernity; that we are looking back at metaphysical discourse since Socrates: faulty, in a way; because it created a kind of illusion that we will reach the ultimate truth by means of our reasoning; because Western intellectual tradition was mainly centred on consciousness, so the Western tradition could not understand something outside of consciousness. So this ‘unconscious’ was inconceivable before Freud.

So now Lacan had more at hand, because he had structural linguistics. This was one thing that Freud himself had grappled with, because if you read Freud’s work, almost in every page he is talking about language, he is talking about speech figures, he is always talking about discourses in it, in a way. But Lacan reinterpreted the whole knowledge that was produced by Freud in a new, his own era. And I believe that Freud is still there with Lacan, because Lacan always said ‘what is the meaning of “return to Freud”?’ It means a return to word. Return to word, return to language, because he said that unconscious is structured like language, or by language. But Freud gives us a more or less Darwinian sense of human subjectivity. So I believe that Freud is completely there in Lacan, but unfortunately you are right in one sense that Lacan is inaccessible because of his baroque syntax, and also because of his difficulty and ambiguous or surreal style that he had.

Alan Saunders: Now, as you’ve already said, Lacan developed the Freudian concept of the unconscious with the help of modern linguistics, or what at the time was modern linguistics, particularly the thought of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, who died in 1913. What did Saussure have to contribute to Lacan’s thought?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Well, for Lacan it was mainly his redefinition of the language itself. Because for Saussure language was beyond being a means of communication: it was a system of signs, and also a system of differences.

Alan Saunders: And he thought that the unconscious was structured like language.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Yes. That phrase is a little bit contradictory, but if we look at it in a Lacanian sense we can make sense of that phrase. He says that ‘unconscious is a knowledge’. The knowledge that is not available for our consciousness. He thought that this unconscious is always producing its effect in these linguistic tropes and also in the gaps, and also in the lapses in our speaking, or in our written discourse, or in our spoken discourse; those things that we are not talking, or those things that Freud called ‘parapraxis’, or slips of the tongue for example. And if you put it in literary discourse, those gaps, those lacunae in the literary text; this was the place that Lacan enlisted on it as an effect of the unconscious, and Lacan said that when language fails to produce its effect as a communicative means, then that is the eruption of unconscious.

Alan Saunders: He also upended the great 17th-century philosopher Rene Descartes – I have to say, a particular favourite philosopher of mine – who famously said ‘I think therefore I am’. And Lacan says it should be ‘I think where I am not; therefore I am where I am not thinking’. What do did he mean by that?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Lacan was critical of Descartes because Descartes saw the human subject and the ego as consciousness. So he says that I am walking because I experience walking, therefore I am. So this consciousness for Descartes was an experience first of all… experience. So what Lacan says is that this is incomplete, because Descartes actually forgot about the whole picture of consciousness, because he ignored unconscious. Because, according to Lacan, the human subject, once it enters language… this is – as Lacan famously said – that a human being is caught up between two deaths. One death is entry into language, and the next death is the natural death that we have. He said that Descartes’ talk about consciousness from a position of certainty — so he was certain that ‘I think therefore I am’- so that what Lacan says: ‘I think where I am not’. So this means that there is something else that is out there. So there is two subjects for Lacan. One is speaking subject; and another is subject of unconscious, that is being spoken. So the whole discourses about consciousness, Lacan contradicts; and he is sceptical about Descartes.

Alan Saunders: It seems a bit hard on Descartes. I mean, you say that he’s critical of Descartes because Descartes is proceeding from a position of certainty… In fact, when Descartes says ‘I think therefore I am’, what he’s saying is that is in fact the only thing I can be certain of.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Yes, well, that is what I said, because he said there is an appendix in Descartes’Meditations, and he clears up this dictum. In that appendix he says that consciousness or thinking – the cogito – is for me like walking, because this is something that I cannot deny it, and I cannot be sceptical of it. So now Lacan says — this is the first scene of Descartes, that he called him ‘idiot Descartes’, because he says he’s forgotten the real dimension of our subjectivity – because our consciousness is not what is really our consciousness. This is just our speaking that we are talking about ourself. But the origin of that speaking is somewhere else.

Alan Saunders: On ABC Radio National, you’re with The Philosopher’s Zone, and I’m talking to Doctor Ehsan Azari Stanizai from the University of Western Sydney about Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Ehsan, for Lacan the genesis of human subjectivity comes with what he calls – in terms of human development – the ‘mirror phase’. What is that?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Well, he’s saying that something happens in the infantile life – from when an infant … from six months to sixteen, to eighteen months. So in this period, the human baby does not have the control of its own coordination. It’s like a piece of meat. So once he or she sees her or his image in the mirror – so that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a mirror in front of them; that means when they are looking at their first person – and mother, or father, or whoever it may be – so when he’s looking outside, Lacan says that his or her ego is structured on the basis of a specular image, outside of him. It means that the incoordinate state in a human life, that a human baby is not able to control her motor functions of her body, or his body; so at that time when she’ll see something outside of her– that is the source of her identification, or the source of self-alienation in the meantime as well. So the mirror stage for Lacan, that is now hugely influential in film studies, and also in theory of poetry, that why poets cannot speak anything outside ‘I and you’- ‘I and you’, or ‘you and me’, so they’re always living in this ‘I and you’ kind of discourse– every poet. So that means for Lacan, that preoccupation of infantile life – the ‘I’and the ego was on the basis of an image, on the outside of the human baby. In the meantime that image was a source of jubilation; and in the meantime a source of rivalry, and also even aggression; because the human baby sees that complete image, which is not in a par with her or his own, because there is discrepancy between the situation she or he is in, and also the perfect image outside.

Alan Saunders: What about the ‘Other’? What role does that have to play?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: That ‘Other’– with capital ‘O’. That is now a buzzword in almost all branches of humanities. If you go to culture studies, English, in philosophy department, they will always talking about ‘Other’. The ‘Other’ for Lacan was what symbolised that lack, that absence; so that absence that happens after our entry, or our ‘fall’ into language, that object that we had in pre-linguistic period that is no more available. So now this ‘Other’ with a big ‘O’is a kind of signifier; it is a signifier that signifies that lost object.

Alan Saunders: What sort of lost object is it? I mean, presumably it is not an object to which we can give any sort of linguistic expression, or description.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Well, we can have expressions, but symbolically. Because that object does not lend itself to symbolisation. That is not available in language for us. We cannot present it as it is, just we symbolically… or we can have a kind of allusion towards that lost object. But there is another ‘other’ as well, with the lower case ‘o’, which we sometimes… Lacan calls it ‘object a’ or ‘object petite a’. And that object for Lacan was the residue of that lost object; or that residue of that pre-ontological state of being. The object of my desire; in the meantime I am seeking it; a general name for the object that we are seeking in our life. And that is the residue of that lost object, according to Lacan and epistemology.

Alan Saunders: Is it through my desires for this ‘other’ that I can come to know my unconsciousness; I can understand what my unconsciousness is doing?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: If you follow Lacan… of course, Lacan himself claimed that when he is speaking he is producing an unconscious discourse, because that is why he said ‘I am not concerned to be understood’, as he always said, ‘because I want to recreate unconscious.’ But desire alone is a very tough, very difficult concept. For instance, we have needs; all kinds of needs. For instance, I am hungry, I need food. I am thirsty, I need water. So this water, these kinds of objects are needs, not desire. According to Lacan, desire will never be satisfied. It is insatiable, that is that we can never have access to it because that has gone already; that when we come to the world of language, we lost our basic — our source is gone, because we were alienated: we come into a different world, which is the world of language. And that language is pre-existing us; because that was before our coming into life, that was already there, in currency, that language.

Alan Saunders: You said that in his writing – because Lacan was trying, to as it were, recreate the unconscious – he was not concerned to be understood. There are some writers, and certainly some philosophers – and Immanuel Kant springs to mind here – Kant is really, really difficult to read. But he’s difficult to read because he was dealing with very intractable material and trying to make it as understandable as he could; and the result was still very, very difficult, but it wasn’t for the want of trying on his part. Are you suggesting that Lacan is not trying to do this, he’s actually not trying to be comprehensible?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Well, there is two things that I have to answer this question. First, although Lacan claims that ‘I am producing unconscious’, but in the meantime Lacan also says that style… ‘style is human being’, ‘I am my style.’So I am identified better not by anything – by my clothes, by my look – but by my style. This is in a tradition, particularly in contemporary French theory: all thinkers are like that, more or less difficult to understand. Derrida is another example. But for Lacan, difficulty is the concept.

I give you an example: when I was doing my degrees at Macquarie University, when I started reading Shakespeare, because one chapter of my thesis was on Shakespeare to find out – Hamlet, for instance – my supervisor told me, since Hamlet is very difficult even for native speakers, so what will be … so I told to my supervisor, that ‘you have the right to laugh at me, and you have every right to laugh at me, but I will tell you one thing: when I stopped reading Lacan, and then started reading Shakespeare, then Shakespeare becomes like a children’s book to me.’ And he laughed, because in Shakespeare the difficulty is the phrases, vocabularies, and some concepts. But with Lacan, difficulty is a whole bunch of concepts. So he is giving you the whole bunch of concepts, that each is correlated with every concept that he is talking about. So this is the most important thing that Lacan says.

But to come back to your point: Yes, I agree that Lacan to some extent might try to create a kind of unconscious discourse; but at the bottom of it, if we look at it I think Lacan… that was his style. Because he couldn’t help it. Because this was… he was torturing his readers. And sometimes his readings give you a good dizziness after reading it, because he does not share his knowledge with his readers. So he is always bombarding his readers with too many concepts, that all concepts are correlated with each other. So this is not only for readers of Lacan, but even for those people who are oriented… even specialists of Lacan have the same problem. Because that is why now there is different interpretations of Lacan; and there’s lots of controversies, and there is factionalism even among the Lacanians as well.

Alan Saunders: You’ve mentioned Shakespeare, so let’s talk about art and literature. What role does art have to play in Lacan’s view of the unconscious?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Lacan was pretty much in dialogue with art, and also with literature, with painting and all form of art. And he saw in art, in literature, a kind of parallelism. He said that in literature, for instance in poetry, there is a hidden knowledge, and that hidden knowledge which the writer, and a poet, and an artist articulated in his own ways; that is raw material for psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis brings them into a coordinated epistemology; or to bring it to a kind of knowledge. But that knowledge is always there. For Lacan, literature and art was a great source of not only inspiration, but he himself developed most of his concepts on the basis of art and literature. For instance, I give an example: his theory of desire and interpretation of desire was based deeply in Hamlet, in Shakespeare. His theory of ‘gaze’was deeply based in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy, Also there is a 17th Century painting called Ambassadors

Alan Saunders: This is the one by Holbein…

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Yes. You know… and in that picture there is two French ambassadors to England. But in the meantime, at the bottom of that painting there is a skull… so, the skull is looking at you back! So what Lacan says that – his theory of gaze is that there is a discrepancy there is a contradiction between the eyes and ‘looking’. What he says… ‘when I am looking for instance to an object of art; I enjoyed it and I looked at it. But in the meantime, the object is looking back at me.’So the gaze for Lacan was looking back, not my own gaze. The object itself is gazing back to me, like the painting which is called The Ambassadors.

Alan Saunders: So The Ambassadorsserves, for him, in the way that Velasquez’ great painting Las Meninas did for Foucault.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Yes, yes … and that is not the only painting; there is quite a lot of — for instance, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, that was another example for Lacan…

Alan Saunders: This is the Bernini…

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Yes, that was another example of when Lacan was speaking to his audience abou jouissance – the theory of jouissance, that is a kind of … most translators leave that word in English as well; that’s a French word which means, jouissance, it is close to something … enjoyment; so that is a kind of — for Lacan a kind of unconscious enjoyment, that is a mixture of pleasure and unpleasure, so that is a kind of transcendental, kind of ecstatic enjoyment. So Lacan says that if you want to go to a room and see that statue… because she is in a moment of mystical ecstasy. Lacan was very much… for instance, you can name it. I cannot see any great work of art that Lacan does not concentrate on it, or that there is no philosopher or philosophy that Lacan was not taking it.

Alan Saunders: Well just finally, then, what do you think was Lacan’s relationship with philosophy. You’ve mentioned that he was influenced by Merleau-Ponty, the great French philosopher; we also know he thought Descartes was an idiot; but how did he stand in general in his relationship to philosophical thinking?

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Although Lacan had a very ambivalent relationship with philosophy – he called himself ‘anti-philosopher’ in many places – but in the meantime his discourses… his writing is so much embedded philosophy. So he is criticising philosophy because of this love of knowledge, or that ‘ultimate truth’ that philosophy claims. That is illusion for Lacan. That is a kind of mirage for Lacan. Lacan think that obsession of philosophers, to go for… to find out that truth, is a kind of paranoia for Lacan. But in the meantime Lacan also psychoanalysed philosophical epistemology. He on the one hand developed his own concept on the basis of philosophers, and on the other hand he is also correcting philosophers. For instance, he speaks about Plato’s theory of forms: Lacan says that theory of forms that Plato describes as something invisible, something divine, something ultimate truth that one’s ‘soul’ was in contact with before it was imprisoned in the body – so that form that was origin of knowledge, for Plato, Lacan says that is unconscious knowledge. That is, a knowledge that is unavailable for us. So that is why he corrects Plato.

Alan Saunders: Well, if you want to tackle a bit of Lacan yourself, check out our website, abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone. I’ve been discussing Lacan’s thought with Doctor Ehsan Azari Stanizai, adjunct fellow with the Writing and Society Research Group at the University of Western Sydney. Ehsan, thank you very much for being with us today.

Ehsan Azari Stanizai: Thank you very much for being here.

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Team Anna movement a World Bank agenda-Arundhati Roy

Team Anna movement a World Bank agenda-Arundhati Roy

New Delhi, Aug30, (TruthDive) “Three of Anna’s core members ( Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia) are Magsaysay award winners which are endowed by the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller,’ said Arundhati Roy the Booker prize winner and social activist in an interview to CNN-IBN. She was first a supporter of Anna movement and termed it a Gandhian coup. She now feels that the Jan Lok Pal bill and the movement was a copybook  of the World Bank agenda to increase foreign capital penetration in India. Kejriwal asks Roy to give proof.

She says that Anna was only a figure head and the three men who organised the movement are not so clean.”Kabir, run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, key figures in Team Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years,” says Roy. Her opinion is that the Bill does not talk about the corporate corruption and NGO’s use of fund. The Bill is silent on how NGOs and corporations are taking over the traditional role of the government she adds.

“If what we’re watching on TV is indeed a revolution, then it has to be one of the more embarrassing and unintelligible ones of recent times.Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common — they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State”.

Meanwhile the props and the choreography, the aggressive nationalism and flag waving of Anna’s Revolution are all borrowed, from the anti-reservation protests, the world-cup victory parade, and the celebration of the nuclear tests,” writes Roy.She points out that  World Bank  alone runs 600 anti-corruption  programmes in Sub-Saharan countries as a means to increase the penetrations of foreign capital.
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Tamil version of UN report on Sri Lanka war crimes released

Tamil version of UN report on Sri Lanka war crimes released

Chennai, Aug 2 (TruthDive): A book “Por Kutravali” (War criminal) hit the stands today in Tamil Nadu. The book has reproduced the UN panel report on Sri Lanka war crimes in Tamil.

The publishing house Manitham Publishers released the book and it contains  328-pages of which 240 pages are devoted to the translated version of UN Panel report with extensive details to make the reader easily understand the report.Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, Prime Minister of Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE),  S J Emmanuel, president of Global Tamil Forum (GTF), Regi, President of Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) and R Durairathinam, a journalist from Switzerland  have written the preface. Peter Schalk of Uppasala, Sweden, and Dr Brian Senewiratne from Australia have contributed to the preface of the book.

The first part of the book contains articles like Blossom of Tamil Eelam-Sentencing of Rajapaksa team in International Criminal Court by Agni Subramaniam, Tamil Nadu, Fight between UN-Sri Lanka on Panel report by D B S Jeyaraj, Canada, Sri Lanka-Killing Fields and three other documentaries by Yamuna Rajendran, London, and “We Have to Use UN Panel Report for Our People’s Liberation” article by Thangavelu Velupillai, President of Tamil Creative Writers Association, Canada, Nimalka Fernando, president, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), Sri Lanka.

The second part of the book consists of 444 points and images of the Tamil translation of the UN Panel’s report in about 240 pages. In May end at the time when the AIADMK ministry came to power  Manitham Publishers sent about 1,400 books (on Tamil massacres in Lanka) in 45 cartons from Chennai through MV Hansa Stavanger  to Toronto. When the container carrying the books docked at Port of Colombo en-route to Canada, the Lankan government y confiscated the container claiming that the books were LTTE propaganda material. According to Indian port sources only the destination country (Canada, in this case) has the right to open the container, when it docks there unless it has arms or ammunition that is meant for an enemy country.

Tamil scholar Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby is no more

Tamil scholar Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby is no more

Colombo,July8, (TruthDive)  International renowned scholar Prof Karthigesu Sivathamby, who  stayed  in Sri Lanka to serve Tamil literature and the Tamil people through his writings, lectures and cultural campaigns, died here on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 79.

An Emeritus Professor of Tamil in the University of Jaffna, Sivathamby, along with the late K. Kailasapathy, is considered an outstanding Tamil scholar. He has written more than 70 books and monographs and presented and published 200 papers at international seminars and journals. In recognition of his scholarly achievements in Tamil Studies, the Tamil Nadu government conferred on him in 2000 the Thiru V. Kalyanasundara Mudaliar Award. Sivathamby is a Visiting Professor of Tamil to universities in India (the University of Madras and the Jawaharlal Nehru University), England (Cambridge), Finland and Norway.

In an interview to Frontline his comment on Dravidian parties coexisting with all India parties was “Yes. Without losing even a shred of your “Dravidianness” you are part of the all-India framework. Whether it was Kalaignar Karunanidhi or MGR [M.G. Ramachandran], they have done the same thing. I see it more conspicuously or effectively in the case of Kalaignar because he talks about Tamil and sangam literature and at the same time he is also part of the all-India combination. His family or the people who are associated with him have been able to establish in terms of capitalistic expansion what I would call, for want of a better phrase, a media empire, which covers the entire South India and even diaspora Tamils.”

Gandhian motto inspires World's sexiest woman

Gandhian motto inspires World's sexiest woman

Johannesburg,June 17(TruthDive): It is not Anna Hazare and team but also the Worlds sexiest woman who lives by the Gandhian motto – “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This motto  made South African model of Indian-origin, Sashi Naidoo, to be voted the world’s sexiest woman of 2011 by 1.5 million readers of a leading men’s magazine.

She said that in school she was an ugly duckling with braces and the last to be invited for a dance by the boys. She inched way slowly to be a top class model and improved her ratings till she won the title in the poll conducted by FHM magazine. She is an ambassador for Audi A1, has had some appearances on local TV and is running her own modeling agency, Alushi Model Management.

Shashi Naidoo is also a South African actress and television presenter best known for co-hosting the e.tv magazine show 20Something.

She made her way into the public eye in 2004, when she played Linda McGinty – Ziggy’s girlfriend – in the e.tv soapie Backstage.

Soon after she had a brief role in the SABC1 soapie Generations. She also appeared in a minor role in the 2007 mini-series Society.

She began co-presenting the youth magazine show EMS Volume 1 on SABC1 on 2 October, 2007.

Naidoo was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, matriculating from Alexander Road High School in 1997. She moved to Johannesburg to study chiropractic medicine and qualified as a doctor in 2007.