Monthly Archives: May 2012

Modern Linguistics: An Obituary

 


Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

Linguistics Today, Vol. III, No.1, pp. 57-81, 1999 

Abstract:      
It is obvious enough as per title of the paper, it may be assumed that I am going to write a paper not to praise “modern” linguistics but to bury it. However, in my culture, to which I once belonged to, there is no concept of burial of a deceased body, instead it is being burnt after the death with a belief that though the corporal body has been destroyed, the trace of the soul remains and the “soul” is constructed by the internalization of others’ threat and violence. On the other hand, in case of burial, the concept of which I have colonially derived from other cultures, body and soul both remain, though the body is gradually decaying under the closed universe of the coffin. That is, though the body is put under erasure, the trace must be out there in the physical world. 

However, in our culture, the body is erased totally and the trace of the soul remains. 

However, instigated by modern science, I do not venture into these types of cultural discourses as I have pledged my body so that it can be utilized for humankind after my death. So, I will leave my physical trace1 in this world, though there will be no trace of my soul, the concept of which is “unscientific”. With this new scientific culture, I am supposed to help “truth-seekers” (doctors, who will dissect my body) to investigate on my body for developing the future healing system for the humankind as well as to help handicapped human beings. 

According to the “modern” scientific method, formal inquiry begins when the human subject is dead. Though in the modern system of pathological investigation, human subject in a laboratory is thoroughly and formally investigated to understand the distortion in the body, the modern lab-system has metamorphosed the human as a de-human by objectifying “it.” This technological control over the body under the purview of modern science creates a “Ulysses Syndrome”, in which the human subject like Ulysses, does not return to the position, after pathological test, from where s/he has started. In this connection, I cannot help but quote Lakatos (1976:3).

We the pupils of Vesalius, as modern scientists follow the same footsteps by analyzing formally as well as metamathematically the human corporeal by treating them as dead bodies. This paper is not an exception — it also FORMALizes the concept of context-free creative speaking subject by making “it” context-sensitive. Thus, one of the goals of “modern” reductionist science that reduces human to a de-human will be problematized in this paper. 

This paper switches over to the third revolution in linguistics: Grammatology.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: speaking subject in a laboratory-state, crippled creativity

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‘Kirtana: Speaking in Musicking’

 


Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

JOURNAL OF INDIAN MUSIC, MOVEMENT FOR UNDERSTANDING SANGEET – THE INDIAN CONCEPT, pp. 32-54, Tanika Bhattacharya, ed., Kolkata, 2007 

Abstract:      
This is a paper on the kirtana, a musical genre of Bengal and the author of this paper explored his distant past with the narrative of his subjective experience of musical exposure in the context of the cultural explosion of industrial noise, unintended sounds or non-discursive sonority of his surroundings. The author started with his understanding of kirtana as bhana, which, according to Bharata, the initiator-commentator of bharatiya natyasastra, is an individual performance of an actor, who at a time plays many roles as a self and as many others. Secondly, the author elaborated the problem of folk-classical songs dichotomy that, according to the author, is socio-politically motivated. Thirdly, he tried to understand the codes of kirtana as well as code switching in the discourse of kirtana in reference to non-formal linguistics without being bothered about the fragmentation of externalized arbitrary signs or atomic levels of linguistic analysis. An n-glossic situation was observed in the discursive formation of kirtana. This code-analysis ended with a discussion on the difference between speaking and musicking. One of the focuses of this paper is the particular part of the kirtana: akhar, which is betwixt or in between speaking and musicking. There are several steps in the kirtana: speaking, musicking, dialoguing, rhythmic gaps, well-constructed pauses or silencemes, simultaneous dancing, acting etc. and akhar is at a time an insider and an outsider. Thus, akhar is a liminal or threshold point of the song, which is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. Moreover, the complicated role-playing of single interlocutors had made the author think about the preparation of a kirtaniya in the rehearsal room. Though Volosinov (1986) found this type of multi-layered performance by a single reader/performer is difficult in the context of Russian narratives, the Bengali kirtaniyas showed the path by performing such difficult text with professional precision. The reporting of the reported speech in the bhana of kirtana had become quasi-direct discourse with the full non-authoritarian participation of the three: composer, performer and the audience. If linguistics is considered to be a “discipline” for establishing dialogue without manipulation, the performance of kirtana as an open text might be cited as an example of such dialogue. And lastly, the author raised a problematic question regarding the use of kirtana in the parody-songs: how did such performance had become the vehicle of parody in Bengali culture of the 20th C.?

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

Keywords: musicking, liminal ritual, Gestus, Bhana

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‘Folksong and Classical Song: The Discursive Formation of Dividing Practice’

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

Pondicherry Institute of Language and Culture Journal of Dravidian Studies, pp. 63-70, 2000 

Abstract:      
When Guha (1985) narrated the Rahu-narrative in the light of some sub-altern-oral texts, we found that the hero-villain relationship between Bisnu, the god and Rahu, the anti-god or demon was totally inverted from the subalterns’ gaze. What is more important was that the supposed hero from the standpoint of super-ordinates’ dominant and fantastic gaze is turned out to be the “hero” of thieves or rather dacoits (thus a villain from the subalterns’ gaze) who could subsume the others’ share of the property (nectar that comes out of churning the ocean) without acknowledging others’ toil. The same case of “snatching nectar” is also visible in the classical-folk song dichotomy. A type of hegemonic and coercive selving or subsumption from the part of super-ordinate is seen in the category of “classical song” in contrast to so-called folk-song. The problem is with the imaginative boundary between these two types of songs. We must keep in mind, from the standpoint of enlightened science, that the limit or boundary of different epistemological fields needs to be enumerated or well defined, i.e., in this case, determination of folksong and non-folksong must be determined according to the existing enlightened logic. However the construction of such boundary, diachronically, is not always transparent, but rather fuzzy; and on the other hand it reflects a tension of maintaining the boundary, though it cannot eliminate the fuzziness of boundaries. 

Reiterating the “logic” of such dividing practices from Bandyopadhyay,1995, the Folk song-Classical song dichotomy will be (re)examined by analyzing the epistemological discourse on such divisions in the context of Vedic and Bangla songs mainly taking references from Rabindranath Tagore- D. P. Mukherji correspondences on this issue. 

Furthermore, songs, from the epistemological perspective, can be seen as thing-in-itself (ding an sich) or can be seen as a permutation and combinations of physical notes. Different schools permute and commute these notes to give birth to different genres of music. This type of objectification of songs needs no such division such as classical-folk. In this exposition, I will examine two broad genres of music, viz. classical and folksongs, though this division does not consider the physical notes as thing-in-itself, instead some other criteria are deployed to make it visible.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 5

Keywords: Dividing Practice, birth of disciplines, hegemonic selving

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Blurring the Divide: Folk Art and Classical Art

 


Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

Bilingual Annual Research Journal of Folklore (Lokodarpan), Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 181-193, 2005 

Abstract:      
Manomohan: So, I decided, after finishing my graduation, I would join Art College. Suddenly, one day I got a foreign magazine. After opening it, what I saw is a full page picture of a bison! It was not a photograph — but a drawing! … (the bison is) charging by its horn. You know, it was a wonderful picture — what strength, what a vigorous gesture, as if de Vinci is defeated. Who did draw such picture– who is that artist! The caption says that twenty thousand years ago, in the stone age a primitive human drew this picture in the wall of a cave in Spain’s Altamira. The event was so surprising that I said in myself that I saluted you, my dear brother, bison, whatever I would be in my life but not an artist. No Art School of the world can teach me to draw like this. From this point, I was curious about the dividing practice — the divide between civilized and uncivilized…
–An excerpts from Satyajit Ray’s film ‘Agantuk’ (The Stranger)

Binodbihari Mukhopadhyay, an almost blind artist (on whom Satyajit Ray, a student of Mukhopadhyay, made a documentary film, “The Inner Eye”), once (1978) depicted an incident, from which he had learnt something extraordinary. At the time of drawing a herd of Buffalos at the bank of the river Khoay, Santiniketan, some Santal (a so-called “tribe” of India. I am reluctunt enough to call a ‘group’ of Homo Sapiens as “tribe”.) women intervened and commented, “babu, you have drawn the group of buffalos excellently, but why do you not put a buffalo-kid in your picture?” 

Taking cue from the problems inaugurated by Monmohan in “The Stranger” and this narrative depicted by Mukhopadhyay, we can problematize the issues of this paper from two standpoints: 
A. Art school cannot teach art per se; 
B. The division between civilized and non-civilized is not tenable and can be reverted. 
In this paper, I will concentrate to these two problems by further problematizing the art-science division in connection with A and B by reinterpreting and questioning the folk-non-folk dichotomy in the realm of Art. The organization of the paper is as follows:

• Section-2 starts with a small reiteration of my earlier stands on the construct of “Folk”. 
• Section-3 deals with the Art-Science divide by only concentrating on Foucault’s statements regarding the division between Ars erotica and scientia sexualis.
• Section-4 will discuss problem B in connection with the polemic on “Indian” Art as well as Folk-Classical Art dichotomy.
• Section-5 will briefly comment on the schooling in relation to artistic creation.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: Dividing Practice, hegemonic selving/othering

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Folklore: Searching for Logistics


Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

CULTURATION, pp. 26-34, U.N. Singh, ed., CIIL, 2001 

Abstract:      
This paper mainly concentrates on the (a) genesis of Folklore as a colonial subject, where subjectification of a discipline as well as subjection (in Foucauldian sense of the term) of an exonymous group called “folk” has taken place; (b) non-tenable distinction between folk-drama and classical theater that otherwise reflects the power-relation; (c) examination of the oral-written distinction in course of distinguishing between folk and non-folk.

As (a) was elaborated in Bandyopadhyay (1995, 1999), the logistics of the hypothesis will be briefly discussed in the section-1, reiterating only the main arguments; Bandyopadhyay (1995, 1999, 2000) showed the illegitimacy and mythical (in Bartheian sense of the term, which is “at a time true and unreal”) character of Folk language and folksong-classical song dichotomy. This is further elaborated here concentrating on the folk-drama and classical theater distinction on the basis of subsumption-hypothesis. Thus (b) will be elaborated in section -2. Section- 3 questions the literate-illiterate distinction to discuss (c); The construction of the category “folk” was born out of super-ordinate’s gaze that de-sign-ates otherness in the form of a discipline. The dichotomous divisions between folk-non-folk, tribe-non-tribe, sastriya-loukika typically reflect the colonial pedagogy that constituted otherness by deploying different exonyms to peripheral other ignoring the ethno/endonyms as used by subalterns. In fact, these divisions between dominant centre and dominated periphery gave birth to some surrogated subjects like “Folklore” or “Anthropology” in contrast to the white men’s epistemological fields like History, Sociology or Physiology. These subjects subjectify as well as objectify dominated and peripheral “other” in the way of surrogating “human beings”. Reiterating the “logic” (!) of such dividing practices from Bandyopadhyay, 1995, literate-illiterate or oral-spoken dichotomy will be (re) examined by analyzing the epistemological discourse on such divisions.

The problem is with the imaginative boundary between this dichotomy. One must keep in mind, from the standpoint of enlightened science, that the limit or boundary of different epistemological fields needs to be enumerated or well defined, i.e., in this case, determination of folk drama and non-folk-drama must be determined according to the existing enlightened logic. However the construction of such boundary, diachronically, is not always transparent, but rather fuzzy; and on the other hand it reflects a tension (this tension will be revealed in section-3) of maintaining the boundary, though it cannot eliminate the fuzziness of boundaries.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 5

Keywords: Colonialism and disciplinary technology

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“বাংলা ক্রিয়ার যোজ্যতা ও যৌগিক ক্রিয়ার সমস্যা [Valency of Bangla Verb and Problem of Compounding]”

“বাংলা ক্রিয়ার যোজ্যতা ও যৌগিক ক্রিয়ার সমস্যা [Valency of Bangla Verb and Problem of Compounding]” Download (.pdf) Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়  Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata* Abstract: This paper is on the Bangla verb type and especially on compound verbs, the … Continue reading

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Folklore and Folklanguage: Myth or Reality?

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

FOLKLORE AND FOLKLANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY?, West Bengal, Kalyani University, 1995 

Abstract:      
The author maintained that the construction of the category “folk” was born out of super-ordinate’s essentialist gaze that de-sign-ates otherness in the form of a discipline, “Folklore”. The dichotomous divisions between folk — non-folk, tribe — non-tribe, civil-savage, sastriya–loukika typically reflect the colonial pedagogy that constitute otherness by deploying different exonyms to peripheral other ignoring the ethno/endonyms as used by a community from their subject-position. These divisions between dominant centre and dominated periphery gave birth to some surrogated subjects like “Folklore” or “Anthropology” in contrast to the white men’s epistemological fields like History, Sociology or Physiology. These subjects subjectify as well as objectify dominated and peripheral “other” in the way of surrogating the “scientific” construction of “human beings”. 

The problem is with the imaginative boundary between these two. One must keep in mind, from the standpoint of enlightened science, that the limit or boundary of different epistemological fields needs to be enumerated or well defined, i.e., in this case, the binaries like Folk language/language, folk-art/non-folk-art, Folksong/Classical song, Folk drama/theatre must be distinguished according to the existing enlightened “scientific” logic. However the construction of such boundary, diachronically, is not always transparent, but rather fuzzy; and on the other hand it reflects a tension of maintaining the boundary. 

The author showed the nature of linguistic imperialism as evident in the terms like “dialect”, “folk-language” or “standard language”. The author also showed the constitution of Folklore and Anthropology as colonially derived disciplines that surrogate white men’s History and Sociology. The author illustrated the fuzziness of such boundaries that reveal the nature of subsumption through subjectification (birth of a discipline), objectification (a group of people are treated/categorized and analyzed as a stable object) as well as subjection (others’ bodies are under the control of the centre).

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