Monday, June 28, 2010

Ivo Coelho's, Philosophical Musings blog

Three interesting posts below from Ivo Coelho on his blog


Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.3
नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो
न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन।
यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्य-
स्तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनूं स्वाम्‌॥ ३॥

nāyamātmā pravacanena labhyo
na medhayā na bahunā śrutena |
yamevaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhya-
stasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṁ svām || 3||

You cannot have the knowledge of the Supreme Soul by
means of reasoning, erudition, or studying of the Vedas;
Only through causeless mercy does He reveal His own
person unto him whom He does accept as His own.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of “Phile” and Philia culturally speaking

Many of us have love, or have a deep fondness for other cultures, and countries; yet, others are besotted or have afflictions for cultures equally or more—other than their own. The suffix "philia" expresses these sentiments to convey the object of said interest/desire. A Sinophile is one who has strong admiration/affection** for Chinese culture, its language/s, dialects, the history, and so forth. Related to interest in cultures known and earlier imbibed by empires, part of the Old World., etc, as in the Greek, Irish, Spanish, Persian, more recently Japanese. Of course cultures are fluid and the meanings and implications get layered and compounded, giving rise to newer philias, and their corresponding enthusiasts.
** as in more than a glancing interest

Portugal/ Lusitania:
Lusophile (Lusophila); Lusophonia, Lusomania, Lusitanian (Lusitani), Lusophobe, Lusophobia, Lusitanic, Lusophones, Lusotopic, Lusitic, etc. Also, Indo-Lustanian, etc.

Some not so obvious "philes/philias" are
Lacanophile, love of things/ideas Spanish
Slavophile, Slavs, Slavic. Slavophillsm developed in Russia.
Russophile, Russia
Scandophile, Scandinavia
Persophile/Iranophile, Persia/Iran
Armenophile, Armenia
Hibernophile, Irish
Scotophile, Scottish
Estophile, Estonia
Hellenophile, Greek

Indophile, India.

Btw, a wine connoisseur would be known as a oenophile. Onenophilia, may be used to refer to the generic fondness towards good wine by normal people, not a sommelier, or an aficionado.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Anjali Phyllis Mendes (niz Goeakan; a true Goan) passes away.

"I am an ugly duckling who transformed into a swan on her own."

The snide among the pish-posh Indians called her kali-kaluti. Pierre Cardin cut his clothes on Anjali (a jolie) Phyllis for a little over twelve years. She was his muse.

From, Frederick Noronha via Goanet:
Anjali Mendes passes away
MARK MANUEL , Jun 19, 2010, 12.00am IST

Modelling world stunned by death of first Indian supermodel and Pierre Cardin muse

The modelling world in Mumbai woke up to depressing news yesterday even as the skies turned dark grey and weepy. Anjali Phyllis Mendes, the first dark-skinned model to grace the Parisian ramp and become Pierre Cardin's muse, had passed away. She was 64, and India?s first supermodel on the international stage, a tall and dark Goan girl with long legs who opened fashion shows and walked the ramp with models including Shobha Rajadhyaksha -- now Shobhaa De, and Zeenat Aman.

On a whim, in June 1971, taking the money she had made on an assignment with Shobhaa, Anjali flew to Paris on a one-way ticket. "She had an extreme sense of adventure," said Shobhaa yesterday, "and she went at a time when black models didn't exist and she was considered black. There was no question of her coming back. Dressed in a saree, she staged a dharna at Pierre Cardon?s salon and demanded to see him, sitting eight hours without food and water until the great designer condescended to giving her an audience... and instantly a role as his house model! She had made it. Cardin cut his couture collection on Anjali for 20 years. She was the toast of not just Paris, but all of Europe, but she had her own desiness... she remained a Goan girl who served Goan meals with French champagne at home."

Anjali, who returned to her roots periodically, was in India (especially Mumbai, where she had friends, and Goa, where she had family), only last month. She had come to recuperate after moving home from Paris to Provence... where she had what she described as a chateau. It was at this chateau that Anjali passed away after falling suddenly ill and being rushed to hospital with a low white blood cell count on Thursday. In an interview to The Times of India in 2004, she had said, "I am an ugly duckling who transformed into a swan on her own. I have proved all that I had to prove to myself and there are no regrets. Focussing on yesterday and tomorrow serves no purpose. I always live for the present."

* * *

Anjali Mendes, Pierre Cardin's muse, dies

Mendes, 64, passed away on Thursday in a hospital in Aix-en-Provence after suffering from an unidentified stomach infection

Anindita Ghose

New Delhi: In 1971, before Parisian ramps had seen women of colour, before Grace Jones and Naomi Campbell, a dark, 6ft- 1-inch tall, sari-clad model waited in French designer Pierre Cardin's salon for eight hours. Cardin's assistant called a manager, telling him that an Indian princess had come to buy clothes. When Cardin finally met her, she was hired on the spot. He called her "a jolie" (Anjali), and Phyllis Mendes became Cardin's muse for a little over 12 years. She also modelled for designers such as Ungaro, Scaperelli and Givenchy. But the former supermodel remained a Goan girl who served her sorpotel with champagne at her apartment in Paris.

Mendes, 64, passed away on Thursday in a hospital in Aix-en-Provence after suffering from an unidentified stomach infection. She had just moved from her apartment in Paris to a chateau in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.

Her friends from the fashion and advertising fraternity in India are shocked. Several of them met her during her last visit to India about three weeks ago. "She was remarkably healthy and disciplined. She did her yoga and prayers everyday and ate carefully. This is all toosurprising," designer Wendell Rodericks said over the phone from Goa.

Mendes returned to India frequently to visit friends and family. She was the fourth of seven children born to Cajetan and Flo Mendes. While in college, she worked as a secretary to ad guru Bobby Sista. "She was extremely sharp, had thick glasses, long limbs and hair that went down to her knees," Sista recalls. One day, while on a bus to office, a magazine editor suggested that she apply for a forthcoming fashion show.

Mendes went on to walk the ramp with the likes of Zeenat Aman and Shobhaa De, but the Indian fashion industry largely rejected her for being "too tall, dark, gawky and skinny" all unattractive traits to the industry back then. The press even called her an "Ethiopian princess". In a 2004 interview with The Times of India, she had said: "I am an ugly duckling who transformed into a swan on her own."

De recalls becoming fast friends with Mendes from the day they met around 40 years ago at an audition. "Those were the early, heady years when modelling was just about coming of age in India. She was ridiculed here and going to Paris was one of her best decisions," says De, adding that Mendes rose rapidly to become something of a cultural icon, feted and adored by the press in Europe, courted by visiting royalty, movie stars and the international jet set that famously included the late Princess Margaret.

Mendes never married, but while in Paris, she met an English aristocrat who groomed her for Parisian high society. He succumbed to cancer shortly before they were to be wed.

Friends remember Mendes for her humility and gregariousness. "She may have been the toast of tout Paris and presiding deity at the House of Pierre Cardin for decades, but her heart remained in India," says De. Ad man Gerson da Cunha adds that though she spoke fluent French, she never attempted to hide her strong Indian accent. "I think she betrayed her most noteworthy quality by getting into modelling," says da Cunha. "She was so smart and focused that she would have made a great manager." Cardin believed so too. So, after Mendes quit modelling, he asked her to look after the India side of his operations, which she did for 18 years. When the design house completed 50 years in 2000, it shut down the overseas offices. Mendes then moved on to her other great love?gastronomy. In 2004, she also published a Indian cookbook calledCuisine Indienne De Mere En Fille.

Indian models found substantial work overseas after the 1970s, but the successes of Mendes and later, Shyamoli Varma, were exceptions. The fashion world only really noticed when models such as Ujjwala Raut and Laxmi Menon followed in the 1990s, earning substantial global experience.

De shares that her friend was working on an autobiography. "It is one book I would love to publish," said De, who?s launching her own publishing imprint with Penguin. "Phyllis was like a rare and precious black diamond, whose real value is only known to connoisseurs and lovers of beauty."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some thoughts on Yūgen (幽玄)

There is an unassuming word in the Japanese language— Yūgen (幽玄), an aesthetic concept that is anything but simple, it expresses a deeply “refined elegance” (Zeami):indeed, context dependent. It contains in its Kanji a swathe of signifiers that convey a complex of aesthetic references: Vagueness not ambiguity, subtle yet profound, nuanced yet gently hinting an attitude, a quiet elegance, “shadows within emptyness” (Jun ’ichirou Tanizaki). What could these words be describing. There are those objects, ideas, sounds, darknesses, shadows around us that our minds can barely pin down. The sensate experience they evoke can hardly be explained in absolute terms, leave alone even in a relativist manner.

Yūgen pervades all Japanese arts including the budo of the martial arts. A word to signify “a profound, mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe… and the sad beauty of human suffering.”(Ortolani, 325). Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1995).

Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture (New York)
Yugen is a compound word, each part, yu and gen, meaning “cloudy impenetrability,” and the combination meaning “obscurity,” “unknowability,” “mystery,” “beyond intellectual calculability,” but not “utter darkness.” An object so designated is not subject to dialectical analysis or to a clear-cut definition. It is not at all presentable to our sense-intellect as this or that, but this does not mean that the object is altogether beyond the reach of human experience. In fact, it is experienced by us, and yet we cannot take it out into the broad daylight of objective publicity. It is something we feel within ourselves, and yet it is an object about which we can talk, it is an object of mutual communication only among those who have the feeling of it. It is hidden behind the clouds, but not entirely out of sight, for we feel its presence, its secret message being transmitted through the darkness however impenetrable to the intellect. The feeling is all in all. Cloudiness or obscurity or indefinability is indeed characteristic of the feeling. But it would be a great mistake if we took this cloudiness for something experientially valueless or devoid of significance to our daily life. We must remember that Reality or the source of all things is to the human understanding an unknown quantity, but that we can feel it in a most concrete way.

As with Zeami’s yūgen, there is Rikyuu’s wabi (a sense of tranquil solitude), and Basho’s sabi. A world of aesthetics where all the forms evolved in the Muromachi period or descended directed from it.

Yūgen is exceeding hard to convey—it eschews the linear thought processes, and cannot be grasped, however much the logical capacity of our minds; but it does manifest upon encountering creativity, within ourselves, others, as also in insentient objects. And of course, creativity too is a source hard to fathom. Yūgen in that sense is the becalmed self free of anxiety, strategy, machinations, doubt—a self that expresses a form, a shape, a space, a movement, discovers a formula—which truly appears to evoke wonder in the one who experiences. An idea of mystery pervades the comprehension and feeling of seeing into something of the unknown that remains unknowable.