Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To be Human


I am taking 20th century literary theory, this semester. There is this professor called A.V.Ashok, who takes this class. It is at 9 in the morning and I have to wake up at 6:30 to take the 8:34 train. Even then I am usually 7-15 minutes late for class. Today I missed the train and had to take the bus, and thus was 20 minutes late. This beginning seems not good enough for what I am about to say, next. It���s like this; all your student life you are learning your math, physics, chemistry, economics, Hindi etc, and you wonder why? How is any of this going to make me a better human being? And then you decide, or perhaps your brain decides for you, and you take up literature and finish you bachelors���.blah blah, all was fine, so you are now pursuing you masters��在lah blah��� and then one day you are late to class and Ashok is already in class and has started teaching already. You sit down on this dusty chair, right at the end of the room, and then as you are feverishly taking down whatever he says, and you suddenly realise why you are doing this. This which many others make fun of. ���Why baba? What will you do with an M.A in literature? You could have done your M.B.A naa?���
Ashok started talking about somebody called Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911), who had propounded the triad of Principles.
1) Lived Experiences ��� erlebnis
2) Expression- ausdruk
3) Understanding- verstehem
(The words are German.)
According to Dilthey, A literary text is an expression of experiences or ���Erlebnisaustruk���, which means that through the literary text the author, externalizes the interior.
If this makes no sense then wait a sec. he said that there were 2 sciences;
Naturwissenscaften
Meaning natural science
Erklaren- explanation.
In this science, our
Faculty engages with objects
Which only have a surface.

Geisteswissenschaften
human science
Verst-understanding.
Our faculty recognizes that
the subject has depth.


Ok, if all this doesn���t make sense, look at it this way. We explain nature, and understand life. Many a times, some person or the other might have asked us to ���please understand me���, and we were unable to. Because in a way we were only scratching the surface of that person, and were then treating that person like an object, we were looking for an explanation, an excuse for that person���s action, but we could not understand him.
The human world has depth, but we are denying him his humanity, if we look at a person���s surface. E.g. surface, DNA. Depth, his heart and soul and his mind.

Thus, if we refuse to look beyond the surface of a human being, we are objectifying him.
This, Ashok did not say but I think, is what the imperialists, colonizers, and even slave traders did to fellow human beings.
And is it not wonderful, that today I learnt what it is to be a thinking feeling human being, and why I needed to take up literature. That is because, only the humanities, can actually teach you how to be a better human being. Cos business civilization is an oxymoron.

4 comments:

L>T said...

Yes, I think the most human one can be is to see themselves human. This seems obvious but is not. To know yourself as human is to see yourself as one with all humanity. To hell(it is hard to find the right curse) w/people who want to seperate themselves from the rest of humanity by being better, and thus deserving of heaven & the rest are not.
Fine, these people can have their own little corner, off by themselves and read their bibles or whatever, who needs them.

L>T said...

P.S. I love how you get your hackles in w/language guy's blog sites.

MinCat said...

you know something? somehow ashok's classes always inspire posts. as i sit here letting my work slide into the oblivion of missed dealines, i find i cant stop reading your blog, because often i find you speaking my mind.

Anonymous said...

hi i am frm CIEFL 97 batch. I completed my M.Phil(Amitav Ghosh's novel) U klnow what? AV Ashok was my guide:) i chanced upon this blog of urs today