November 24, 2013

Scientific Spirit in India

I posted a long comment on this Livemint article about the lack of a scientific spirit in India.

How does one even begin to comment about 'science' in India?

I wrote probably 1,000 words here in Disqus in half an hour or so and then 'lost it' as the power suddenly went off.

Enough said?

I will try to re-write it all but it might appear even more disjointed or incoherent than when I wrote it the first time. I will post the comment and then keep adding to it.

"Dare Mighty Things" is the logo the MSL Curiosity project uses. Indians, on the other hand, are probably more like 'should I dare mighty things?' or 'dare I? Mighty things??'

Nora Ephron, in her commencement address, urged the graduating females of Wellsley to 'break a few rules ... create a little trouble.' Indians are more inclined to 'leave no rule of *tradition* unfollowed' or 'break no rules that the *wise* old guys in the family have laid down.'

About Americans and their love affair with cars ... that's of course a unique and strange love affair.

November 17, 2013

Doris Lessing

Excerpt from Doris Lessing's Nobel Lecture:

We are a jaded lot, we in our threatened world. We are good for irony and even cynicism. Some words and ideas we hardly use, so worn out have they become. But we may want to restore some words that have lost their potency.
We have a treasure-house of literature, going back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. It is all there, this wealth of literature, to be discovered again and again by whoever is lucky enough to come upon it. A treasure. Suppose it did not exist. How impoverished, how empty we would be.
We own a legacy of languages, poems, histories, and it is not one that will ever be exhausted. It is there, always.
We have a bequest of stories, tales from the old storytellers, some of whose names we know, but some not. The storytellers go back and back, to a clearing in the forest where a great fire burns, and the old shamans dance and sing, for our heritage of stories began in fire, magic, the spirit world. And that is where it is held, today.
Ask any modern storyteller and they will say there is always a moment when they are touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back and back to the beginning of our race, to the great winds that shaped us and our world.
The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us -for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.
That poor girl trudging through the dust, dreaming of an education for her children, do we think that we are better than she is - we, stuffed full of food, our cupboards full of clothes, stifling in our superfluities?
I think it is that girl, and the women who were talking about books and an education when they had not eaten for three days, that may yet define us.

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