Friday, October 29, 2010

De la part du MCUR/From the MCUR

This blog has become invested in the support of the MCUR, as an institution which promotes the meeting of cultures as well as the preservation of various cultural heritages. Here is an announcement from its organizers for an event more than appropriate on this All Saints Day:

Ce blog s'intéresse au sort du MCUR, puisqu'il s'agit d'une institution dont un des buts est de favoriser les rencontres et échanges entre cultures. Voici un communiqué de ses organisateurs à propos d'une cérémonie plus qu'appropriée pour la Toussaint:

( Recherche - Culture - Action)
Madam, Mésié,
Lo groupaz MCUR-CRA organiz lo 31 oktob 2010 in lomaz pou nout bann  zansèt lé mor san tonm. Lo sérénomi va espass dann simetièr « Père Lafosse Saint-Louis ». 9èr édmi apartir ziska midi.
Bann moune group « interreligieux » va di in fonnkèr, rant in lartis va shant in morso.
2ème lané La MCUR-CRA i mèt an plas sérémoni la mémoir-la.
Nou atann aou pou vni tienbo ek nou, invit out lantouraz.
In gran mersi aou pou out dalonaz.
Madame, Monsieur,

L’Association MCUR-CRA organise le 31 octobre 2010 une cérémonie en hommage à nos ancêtres morts sans sépulture. La cérémonie se déroulera de 9h30 à 12 heures dans le cimetière du Père Lafosse à Saint-Louis. Vous êtes invité à participer à cette cérémonie, et à y faire participer vos amis, vos relations, vos collègues.

                                       Le Président,
Jean-Claude Carpanin Marimoutou

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mystery of the non identical, in fact non fraternal twins at BAM

I mentioned in the previous blog entry about Deerhouse ( catching eye of two remarkable young men at BAM after the show. And wondering whether they were part of the show. I found them! They're called Andrew and Andrew, they're an act, and here they are, giving a much more tolerant review of Persephone, at BAM.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Polite? Persephone

I respect the efforts of creative people. It's hard to come up with something new and put it out there. It takes a lot of work and perseverance. Therefore I am not going to expand too much on the new show "Persephone" at BAM, out of kindness.

When I went to see Deerhouse a few weeks back, I came back with a well of questions about art and shows. What is nonsense? Is there good faith in art? What's a review? What is certainty?

Last night at BAM no questions  came swirling in my mind. Apart from: how many more seconds do we give this show to prove that it has a tiny spark of intelligence before we walk out? A minute nugget of meaning?

Uh. The projections were rather pretty.

The deconstruction of the play with actors and director seen behind the scenes is heavy handed. One of Julia Stiles' first line is:" the audience's going to think it's stupid. This is Brooklyn." Well, if the actors start reviewing the play in the first 2 minutes of the show...

I'll try to stay positive. Some of the acting in Persephone was bearable. The costumes were really quite pretty. A column near where we sat would hide Demeter from view from time to time.

If I covered my ears with my hands, the sound was less loud, the music less bland.

Below is a link to two people, the writer and composer, trying to make a convincing case the show has a meaning. Actually Ben Neil doesn't seem so sure, but is putting on a brave front.

There is one puzzling question: how does such a show make it to BAM? It must be some kind of machinery that, once it gets going, can not be stopped: the show gets a famous actress. The writer has gotten recognition in the past. The show gets financial backing. The show takes a lot of effort to put together. And finally, as what might seem a necessary last stage, is shown and seen. It is unfortunate that no one had the wisdom to stop this production at any of its various stages.

The NY Times reviewer is trying to be even more polite that I have been:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back and forth between cultures

The trend this blog has taken toward multiculturalism delights me. I feel it has happened by itself, thanks to contributions and influences from various people such as Animesh Rai, Astou Arnould, M. Gobalakichenane, Dominique Aupiais, and of course, Edouard Glissant.

Here are just a few photographs from an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, entitled Picturing The West: Yokohama Prints 1859-1870. It was forbidden for Japanese to travel outside Japan and the country was virtually closed to foreigners. In the mid19th century, trade was open with the West, and Westerners started traveling to Japan. Prints were in demand, picturing Westerners, as the Japanese were curious to find out what they were like. Some of the artists didn't actually see the foreigners, but inspired themselves from prints or from hearsay. An example of two cultures meeting and their cross fertilization. In the West the influence of many painters such as Van Gogh and Matisse by Asian art, and particularly Japanese print, is well known. It's interesting to see the reverse, and, as often in this situation, how people can project their fantasies onto the unknown other. I don't know how many American women from the Victorian era would have recognized themselves in the amazon galloping on a fierce horse through the snow, but what a beautiful image of wild femininity! It is in fact astounding to see how the image resembles Art Déco which would flourish decades later. Ironically as the influence from Asian art defined to some extent this early 20th century art movement, the Japanese touch in this depiction of a Western woman produced an Art Déco image before that movement existed.

An American Lady
American women were often portrayed with this head crown which
might have been inspired by native American head dress.

The images below show European prints which are not part of the Philadelphia Museum exhibit, just to show the interesting parallel between a Japanese print with Western influence, and European prints with Japanese influence. 


An English couple

A Russian couple

A French couple - with a bottle!

An American city


This blog offers more images and more information about this period:

Contributed by  - -  Arabella Hutter

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Secret of the Mysterious False Twins

Went to see the Deer House at BAM.
Will not expand on this much.  The reviews have not been good in Europe and BAM was practically paying people to see the show. Have never had seating that good for such a low price! Nonetheless I was intrigued by the show. By its mix of tones, something I have become very interested in. While I watched the show, many questions swirled in my head, and to that extent the show was successful if art is also about getting one out comfort zone. What is tone? What is nonsense (the show veered in that direction)? What is fraudulent (also in that direction)? What is a critic and a review? "The show was this and not that, it was successful in this and failed in that." Assertions. Certainty. The more I go the more uncertain I get. It takes more confidence - maybe - sometimes - to admit uncertainty than to bang on the table to assert opinions.

After the show two guys were ferreting around the lobby. Look: 50's dork. They had exactly the same jeans jacket with a label on the back, the same hair cut (see illustration), same docker jeans, same leather bags, same glasses with thick upper frame, known in England as National Health as they were the only model offered free to patients for several decades. Their faces looked the same. I had to look twice to ascertain they were not twins. One was taller. Brothers? Lovers? Performers? One of them would be a geek, two is a performance or a statement. Anybody knows them, please let me know ASAP. Because the show had been chaotic and sent me into a cycle of questioning and confusion, I wasn't sure if they were real. But I was hugely amused. Then a guy from the bus service to Manhattan (you will be wheezed from Manhattan to BAM and back without setting foot in Brooklyn practically! Smoked windows allows you to ignore ugly reality out there!) leaned in my direction and said loudly : "What a smile!". He was also part of the show? Was I? Was Brooklyn?

Contributed by  - -  Arabella Hutter  - -

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rencontres Afriqua Paris

Astou Arnould nous communique le programme remarquable d'octobre des Rencontres Afriqua Paris. Je ne sais pas si je pourrai faire un saut par dessus de l'Atlantique et y assister, mais j'en ai bien envie...

Publié par  - -  Arabella Hutter

Friday, October 8, 2010

Des précisions sur le manuscrit d'Anandaragappillai/Precisions on the origins of Anandarangappillai

Mr Gobalakichenane contributes below precisions about the Anandarangappillai, as well as the English translation of page 59. Mr. Gobalakichenane grew up in Pondicherry and studied at University in France. After graduating as an engineer in 1963, he taught physics in South Vietnam. During that period he started to get passionately interested in Tamilnadu history, and later in Buddhism in South India. He worked from 1968 to 1998 as a computer engineer, while he explored further his area of interest, contributing articles and readings. He is credited for discovering Tamil Viranaiker's manuscript at the Bibliothéque Nationale. He's also president of the association Cercle Culturel des Pondichériens ( At the end of this entry, you will find his complete bio.

Monsieur Gobalakichenane nous envoie des précisions sur le manuscrit d'Anandarangappillai ainsi que la traduction en anglais de la page 59. M. Gobalakichenane a grandi à Pondichéry et étudié à l'université en France. Après être devenu ingénieur en 1963, il a enseigné la physique au Sud Vietnam qui, sous occupation française, se nommait encore Indochine. C'est pendant cette période qu'il a commencé à se passioner pour l'histoire tamoulnadu, et plus tard pour le bouddhisme dans le Sud de l'Inde. Il a travaillé de 1968 à 1998 comme ingénieur informatique, tout en continuant à étendre ses connaissances et contribuant articles et conférences à son sujet de prédilection. Il découvre les mansuscrits en tamoul de Viranaiker à la Bibliothèque Nationale. Il est aussi président de l'association Cercle Culturel des Pondichériens ( trouverez à la fin de cette issue sa bio complète.

"In fact, Gallois Montbrun and Edouard Ariel (1818-1854) made copies from the original by tamil writers; Gallois Montbrun's has been recopied by the British in the end of 19th c. which was used for the English translation by Fr.Price helped by Rangachari, published in Madras from 1904 onwards –the first 3 volumes, the following nine others by H.Dodwell later. I asked to make a microfilm copy for Pondicherry which is now in IFP library. Gallois Montbrun's copy has been lost in Pondicherry in about 1916 while the original Diary has never been recovered afterward!  But after the demise in Pondicherry, at the age of 36, of E.Ariel who spent there his last 10 years (1844-1854), his copies have been brought to Paris and now preserved in Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand; so, the handwriting of the facsimile is the writer's one and not Anandarangappillai's. But, in few other documents, we find the latter's signature in Tamil), and how beautiful the original is.
Note: These explanations and other details have been published elsewhere by me some twenty years ago.

En fait, Gallois Montbrun et Edouard Ariel (1818-1854) levèrent des copies de l'original par des copistes rémunérés; la copie de Gallois Montbrun a été recopiée par les Britanniques à la fin du 19ème s., ce qui a permis sa traduction en Anglais et sa publication en 1904 à Madras par Fr.Price aidé de Rangachari – en ce qui concerne les premiers 3 vol., les autres l'ayant été par H.Dodwell plus tard. J'ai fait faire une copie en microfilm pour Pondichéry qui se trouve maintenant à la bibliothèque de l'IFP. La copie de Gallois-Montbrun fut perdue, alors que le Journal original ne fut jamais retrouvé! Mais, après le décès en 1854 à Pondichéry, à l'âge de 36 ans, de E. Ariel qui y passa  ses dernières dix années, ses copies furent rapportées à Paris et conservées à la Bibliothèque Nationale François Mitterrand: l'écriture en facsimile est donc celle du copiste et non celle d'Anandarangappillai. Cependant, dans quelques autres documents, on trouve sa signature en tamoul.

Note: Ces explications et d'autres détails ont été publiés ailleurs par moi il y a une vingtaine d'années.

Translation in English of the page 59:

(Year) Angirasa (Month) Vaiyâssi 30 (Day) Guruvâram – June 8th 1752 (Thursday)

Today I didn't go neither to see the Governor because of intestinal problems.

I heard today that the last inimical relations between the Tanjoreans and our Governor have gone down a little.

News came that Chandâ Sâhib who was in Seringapatam had sent all men and was staying with ten 'kisumdar'. I heard also that only Gundo Pandit refused to go and stayed there.

It was said also that, among Mr. Law and Sheick Hussein men, those wounded and dead together with those European and sepoys joining the enemy could number about 2 or 3 thousand. Moreover, rice, curd, ghee, salt were hard to find and the little available  was acquired at very high rupees  price. It was said also that d'Auteuil and few sepoys were  in Vâlikondâpuram and Ranjankadai and that cavalry men and 'jamedars' went away because they had not been  paid.

(From H.Dodwell's edition, Vol.8, p. 105)
Thursday, June 8, - (the passages given above in italics are examples of those contained in the E.Ariel's tamil copy of Paris but not given in the English translation set of 12 volumes published in Madras)
There is news of Chandâ Sâhib's writing to the Governor, that M. Law has gone over to Muhammad'Alî Khân and the English, and ruined everything. The Europeans, Muhammadans and Tamils are all saying that they have the same news from the officers who have quarrelled with M. Law. "

Retired IT Engineer, Historian (Second half of XVIIIth c. History of South India and Indian Ocean)
Up to 1958 - French College, Pondicherry 
1958-1963 - University of Paris and Grenoble (degree in Maths and Physics, Telecoms Engineer), France  
1964-1968 - Physics Professor in Dalat and Saigon (South-Vietnam)
After extensive travels in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, great interest in Tamilnadu History (including Later Buddhism in Tamilnadu and South India)
1968-1998 - Computer Engineer in the Netherlands and France
            As result of long time field research in Tamilnadu (during summer vacations, since 1968) and analytical study of selected manuscripts in Oriental and Western Manuscripts Dept, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris :
1986-87 Discovery of Tamil Viranaiker's Diary Manuscripts in Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris 
1987  6th International Conference-Seminar of Tamil Studies, Kuala Lumpur, two papers read :
            - Latin Character-Tamil Character Bilingual Text Processing (ISO2022 standard coding) on PC 
            - Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions in Tamilnadu
1989  7th International Conference-Seminar of Tamil Studies, Mauritius:
- Viranaiker II historian 
1989  9th IABS Conference, Taipeh, two papers read:
- Arittapatti Tamil-Brahmi Inscription
- Buddhism in Tamilnadu
1991  10th IABS Conference, Paris (UNESCO):
- Buddhism in Pondicherry region
1992  Publication of Irandaam Viranaiker's Diary (1778-1792), in Tamil
1992-1995 - Contacts with History Dept, University of Pondicherry and French Institute of Pondicherry for a critical edition of Anandarangappillai's Diary in Tamil (several passages remaining unpublished).
1997            M.Phil. History, University of Nantes, France
1997 35th ICANAS, Budapest:
- The 'French Revolution' of the Tamils in Pondicherry 1790-1793
1999-2000 Health problems which compelled, after 2 years research, to discontinue the Ph.D. thesis on
            - The Turmoil of the French in the second half of XVIIIth c. in South India (1761-1799) 
2000 Société Asiatique, Paris:
- The French account of Siege of Pondicherry of 1778 and its author    

2002 17th European Conference of Modern South Asian Studies, Heidelberg:

- The Diaries of Anandarangappillai, of Viranaiker II and of their followers: Their Contribution to 18th c. South Indian History.

After full retirement, critical editions: 
2004  Publication of Anandarangappillai V-Diary Prajothpathi Year (1751-1752), in Tamil (Mss. of BNF Paris)
2005  Publication of Anandarangappillai V-Diary Angirasa Year (1752-1753), in Tamil (Mss. of BNF Paris)
2005  Société Asiatique: The Sapiential literature in Tamil and Edouard Ariel's contribution    
2008  Publication of The Origin of the Nattukkottaiyars and their Communal Practices, (based on a Mss. of BNF, Paris) 
2008  Publication of Anandarangappillai V-Diary Srimuga Year (1753-1754), in Tamil (Mss. of BNF Paris)
Ongoing : Anandarangappillai V-Diary Bhava Year (1754-1755) publication works
   and other historical research papers