Tag Archive: ecosystem


The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.Albert Camus  

Iconoclast till the end – The Hindu.

………………. carved out a place for himself in the intellectual history of the modern world. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 and became a world icon with a lasting legacy.  Camus left behind an impressive crop of writings comprising fiction, plays, non-fiction, letters and essays that still continue to be read and widely admired. He pioneered a new literary-philosophical movement with a fresh idiom and a remarkable style of narration whose parentage he disowned. He introduced a new world view that was avidly picked up by the members of the counter culture everywhere, encompassing the conscientious objectors to the beat generation. He was inspiration to a whole generation of writers and translators in the postcolonial societies who saw in him and his art an effective antidote to the establishment.

 

Camus broke every stereotype and rule of the game. He survived an early attack of tuberculosis in 1930, and fought under the name of Beauchard (as the novelists George Orwell and André Gide did during the Spanish Civil War) for the underground Resistance in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. He opposed the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and was against the two power blocs during the Cold War. He gave up a lucrative association with the UNESCO in the 1950s for the world body granting membership to Franco’s Spain.

Charismatic and ebullient both in life and letters, Camus led a chequered life. Married twice, he was friend to some of the most illustrious men and women of his times including Jean Paul Sartre. It is with Sartre that he is generally associated for the literary philosophical movement best known as existentialism. In some quarters, Camus is also known as a major exponent of the Absurd Movement in literature and drama. Both claims have a ring of truth, and yet both must be open to necessary caveats.

 

On different occasions, both Camus and Sartre denied their affiliation to existentialism as it has come to mean in the literary-philosophical circles, while Camus shows a qualified and nuanced approach to the notion of the absurd in his literary works. The best treatment of the theme of the absurd in Camus is seen in his iconic works such as L’Etranger (The Outsider), 1942, La Peste (The Plague), 1947, L’Homme Revolte (The Rebel), 1951, the play Caligula, written in 1938 and performed in 1945, and several essays such as ‘Reflections on the Guillotine’ and the collection of essays posthumously published in 1961, entitled Resistance, Rebellion and Death.

 

To put the question simply: How does the individual deal with the sense of meaninglessness and the sense of the absurd in life? In his pivotal work, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus shows that ‘the total absence of hope’ has ‘nothing to do with despair’. It must not be ‘confused with renouncement and a conscious dissatisfaction’. And thus, Meursault, the protagonist of The Outsider who faces imminent execution for manslaughter and is offered the prospect of salvation by the Christian priest in the prison, makes a paradoxical affirmation of life as evidenced towards the end of the novel in Part Two. Similarly, Dr. Rieux in The Plague must serve the citizens of Oran afflicted with the dreaded disease and the ensuing horror. …………….. It is the need for personal responsibility that can finally redeem our life and add meaning to our actions.

 

 

Camus lived as he wrote — on his own terms. An iconoclast till the very end, he saw the need for action in a world beset by horror and the spectre of war. He believed in the need to change the world, but rejected the doctrinaire approach. Camus’ protagonist may have remained an ‘outsider’ to his world, but he remained true to his individual conscience. As Camus wrote in typically Blakean terms: “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t , and die to find that there is.”

 

Prose over verse 

At Shantiniketan, 1932.

The Hindu Archives At Shantiniketan, 1932.

 

 

The year 1913 was important for Rabindranath Tagore. It was the year four important works (including Gitanjali) were published in translation. His output during this period — innovative works in diverse genres (poetry, drama, novel, essays) — invites reflection, as does his contribution to the shaping of the modern Indian literary tradition. Tagore’s poetry has become the dominant lens through which we remember him. The Nobel citation spoke of “his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”, and acknowledged the “consummate skill (by which) he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”

This is why he was appreciated by modernist poets such as Yeats and Pound. But    But many of these poets eventually grew disillusioned with him. Often, they diplomatically blamed the translations. Perhaps it was always a little odd that some of these modernist poets lauded a poet writing in an openly spiritual register in the old lyric mode. Even if the beauty of some of these spiritual ideas could not be denied, this alone does not make great poetry. In poetry, there needs to be a closer marriage of the sound of words and the ideas they carry. The problem is compounded when poems travel between languages.

His prose, however, poses no such problem. And though there were extraordinary achievements in many prose forms (letters, memoir, essays, drama), Tagore’s most comprehensive achievement was, perhaps, his novels.

Tagore wrote around 12 novels, ranging from large, sweeping works such as Gora (1910) to miniature novellas such as Chaturanga (1916, translated as Quartet) and Dui Bon (1933, translated as Two Sisters). His novels span the period of the coming of age of the Indian novelistic tradition, which had its earliest beginning in the last quarter of the 19th century, and reached maturity in the first half of the 20th in almost all the major Indian languages.

The influence of Tagore’s novels is evident in the oeuvre of writers not only in Bengali, but also in languages such as Hindi. Premchand’s correspondence with Jainendra, another great Hindi novelist, is full of admiration (and some competitive envy) for Tagore’s imagination of the feminine voice. The novels are arguably Tagore’s greater legacy. They have too often been sidelined by the immediate beauty of his poems and songs. However, the novels travel further, unencumbered by Tagore’s brand of 19th century Advaitic spiritualism, which is not always intelligible or accessible to contemporary readers

  ………………..the more sublime Tagorean qualities — the facile creation and shifts of mood, the light touch with which he paints a world, the kaleidoscopic quality of his novelistic architecture.

Breaking free of the shackles of lyric spirituality, Tagore emerges a more lithe-limbed, incense-free contemporary novelist, with more concrete, more useful, more modest, and thus ultimately more powerful things to say to us today.

Slow food – Asia

  • Knead the dough. Photo: Shonali Muthalaly
    The Hindu Knead the dough. Photo: Shonali Muthalaly
  • Asia’s first big Slow Food gathering focussed on introducing children to a wide spectrum of flavours that will change their perception of food.

 

…………………Namyangju, in South Korea, may have been chosen to host Asia’s first big Slow Food gathering – AsiO Gusto — because of their organisational skills and exhibition space. However, over the six days that the festival runs, drawing more than 5,30,000 visitors, the locals also show the Slow Food movement the simplest way forward: Create a generation that cares about what they eat by introducing children to a wide spectrum of flavours.

Slow Food, an international member-supported non-profit organisation, which began in Rome in the 1980s has grown far beyond its original mandate, a simple opposition to fast food. Now this eco-gastronomic movement — once criticised for being Europe-centred and elitist — works with grassroots organisations around the world to fight for food that is “good, clean and fair,” and promote biodiversity.

………………………..“Think of your favourite food. Then think about eating it every day — breakfast, lunch, dinner. We need diversity. We love tasting something new.” Reade suggests that teaching people to appreciate quality food “removes much of the need to learn about sustainability, ecology, nutrition, distribution and food systems.” He adds, “People have to learn to taste. Learn to listen to the components to food. Taste enables you to recognise nutrients and toxins.” We are a generation biased towards sweet and salty flavours, thanks to a lifetime of processed food, layered with sugar, salt and fat. As a result our taste buds are so over-stimulated that we crave exaggerated and familiar flavours constantly. The market responds with dumbed-down food, creating a vicious cycle.

Former lawyer Heliante Heman, who supports Indonesian artisanal ingredients, talks of how her country once had 7,000 types of rice in purple, pink, black and white, all nurtured by indigenous wisdom-based agriculture. Discussing how she brought up her baby on food from her garden, she states, “You don’t need to be rich to bring your baby up on a healthy diet; you just need to be informed.” Then adds, “This is not just poetry… We need to go directly to the communities.  Build alliances and organic organisations. Demonstrate that sustainable agriculture on a small scale has a future. It’s the only way to ensure that everybody has access to food that is good and healthy.”

It’s worthwhile to remember that most farmers don’t eat what they grow for the market, because they know how pesticide-laden crops theirs are, choosing instead to keep a separate organic garden for their families’ food.

A Japanese farmer at the conference talks of how he realised the chemicals were making him sick, and then switched to organic farming, committing to protect and preserve native seeds. Seed-banks like these are an insurance against a future of flat flavours. Which brings us back to the children. Benedict Reade suggests it’s time to focus on educating them. And expanding their palates. “Teach them what a good carrot is. When you taste a carrot from the ground it can be an epiphany. I can tell when it was picked and where it was grown.” Introducing children to a wide spectrum of flavours will change their perception of food. “It will change what they like eating,” says Reade, adding, “And what future generations will eat. It will change what’s available in stores. If we have good taste we have a healthy ecology… Because the markets will respond as they always do.”

The new jungle drums

 

CGNetSwara Calling. Photo: Purushottam Thakur

A unique cell phone-based networking system in Chhattisgarh helps Adivasi Gonds share local news and air grievances.

The phone call that Bunkar made is part of a unique cell phone-based social media networking system called CGNetSwara, which operates inside sensitive territory termed ‘Maoist areas’. Set up by former BBC journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary, CGNetSwara gives the Adivasi Gonds of central India a voice that reflects their interests, their local news and events.

CGNetSwara’s Bangalore-based server was set up by Bill Thies, a researcher in Microsoft and a self-confessed IT geek whose interest in user-generated technology aligned with Choudhary’s ideas. Using open-source code and a simple desktop computer with a modem, Thies built a piece of software with 10 voice lines that automatically call the caller back and record his or her message. “It’s going to sound very strange for a computer nerd to tell you, however, that technology is not the secret ingredient here,” says Thies. “The secret ingredients are Choudhary’s social contacts and the community itself.”

CGNetSwara now gets up to 400 calls daily. The callers talk about local happenings, a lot of it related to their interaction with government schemes. Bunkar is very happy with CGNetSwara’s sphere of influence. He says that earlier efforts like dharnas in front of the Assembly in Raipur, agitating for land rights for Adivasis, had not worked,

“There is no need for a newsroom”, says Choudhary. “Geography is now history.”

In another instance of the government taking notice of CGNetSwara, Thies talks of CGNetSwara’s recorded reports of malaria cases in the villages. “CGNetSwara had more malaria incidents in a single year than what the government reported in a decade; we even had reports of government health workers dying of malaria”. The Swara reports made the government machinery pay attention to the malaria cases, and the reported figures rose more realistically thereafter.

But CGNetSwara appears to have taken root in tribal Chhattisgarh. Choudhary calls it citizen journalism of a different kind. In an area neglected by mainstream media (unless the news concerns Maoism), there is now a system to get across local Adivasi news to others in the community. CGNetSwara has spread, purely by word of mouth, to Adivasis in the central Gondwana belt in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Andhra Pradesh — an expanse that Choudhary calls the ‘media dark zone’. “We are trying to create another paradigm in the term ‘development,” he says. “This communication system could well become the ‘Google of the poor’.”   The area’s ‘Maoists’ have taken note, issuing threats to Choudhary, but he feels they are threatened by the concept of self-empowerment that CGNetSwara brings to its users. Bunkar, though, thinks the system works better in areas that are ‘Naxal free’, away from Chhattisgarh’s borders with AP and Jharkhand. He says, “Naxals gather strength from cross-border infiltration.”

Any wonder, then, that CGNetSwara is fast becoming India’s new ‘jungle drums’?

When you are grateful, you are happy

mindfulness…………gratitude

Zen Flash

“If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

Spiritual Ecology

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Excerpts from  http://laughingsquid.com/paolo-soleri-italian-born-architect-known-for-his-arcological-principles-1919-2013/     and  http://www.arcosanti.org/

What is arcology ? ‘ –a combination of ‘architecture’ and ‘ecology’– Soleri’s most visible arcological project is Arcosanti, an experimental dwelling in the Arizona desert.

Arcosanti is an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability

Cosanti, The Gallery, Studio & Residence of Italian Architect Paolo Soleri

In nature, as an organism evolves it increases in complexity and it also becomes a more compact or miniaturized system. Similarly a city should function as a living system. Arcology, architecture and ecology as one integral process, is capable of demonstrating positive response to the many problems of urban civilization, population, pollution, energy and natural resource depletion, food scarcity and quality of life. Arcology recognizes the necessity of the radical reorganization of the sprawling urban landscape into dense, integrated, three-dimensional cities in order to support the complex activities that sustain human culture. The city is the necessary instrument for the evolution of humankind.”                          —Paolo Soleri

Roadtrip 2002

We put solar panels on a single family home but can’t change the impact of inefficient construction or the consumption inherent to moving around the suburbs. We buy hybrid cars but must drive in the gridlocks of daily commutes. We buy “green washed” products but continue the same hyper consumption that sprawl mandates. These improvements produce a “better kind of wrongness.”

Soleri suggests instead of reformation, we need reformulation of the way that we think about living and design for habitats that get to the root of the problem. Do we have enough land and other resources to sustain the current types of development? Does green consumerism get to the root of the problem?

Arcology seeks to embody a “Lean Alternative” to hyper consumption and wastefulness through more frugal, efficient, smart, yet elegant city designs. Leanness is inherently obtainable via the miniaturization intrinsic to the Urban Effect.

 

Sustainable design

Pergola designs http://www.energyproductsanddesign.com/blog/tag/pergola/

Outdoor Great Room - Pergola

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-propertyplus/design-differently/article4563151.ece

A group of visionary civil engineers at the Indian Institute of Engineers, Bangalore, initiated ASTRA, abbreviation for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Areas. This simple motto led to pioneering research on mud walls, arch roofs, vaults and domes, besides relooking at vernacular designs for modern applications with their work still continuing under the name Gram Vidya.

The unique settlement at Auroville, though started with the spiritual blessings of The Mother, turned out be a world laboratory on alternative designs and constructions. A heaven for students and learners, people keen on exploring cost-effective, eco-friendly and energy-efficient models even today flock to Auroville. The Energy and Resource Institute or TERI has commissioned, collated and contributed a wealth of information towards sustainable buildings.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-propertyplus/building-with-a-view/article4565880.ece

When he discovered Auroville in 1992, he settled down and began his studio. Here, he converges contemporary living with vernacular principles of design, mainly the climatic, cultural and socio-economic characters of architecture.

Rooted in tradition:The ‘Auromodele’ aims at building for ‘community living’ and breaks the conventional mould of ‘four walls and a roof’

Jadeja also believes that Indian design supports minimalism in many ways, “I see minimalism in architecture as being minimal use of energy, minimal impact on environment, minimal intrusion on the social, aesthetical and cultural identity of the place.

To understand the deeper meaning of minimalism in architecture, architects need to create space for crafts, culture and identity and arrive at a more contemporary language for traditions. “There are positive signs in textile design, films, fashion, and furniture in different parts of the world. In India, I am still waiting for a big movement in architecture,” says Jadeja.

http://www.permaculture.org/nm/index.php/site/index/ –   Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.

Paper products made out of elephant and rhinoceros excreta

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/saving-the-planet-with-poo/article4493446.ece  –  ……………..“It was our intention to make this a completely eco-friendly product. The paper is made by mixing the dung with other waste products like hosiery rags. The paper is organic and acid-free. It further helps in the conservation of two endangered species — the Greater One Horned Rhino and the Asian Elephant. It is also wood-free, so it helps save trees. The paper is recyclable and biodegradable, and no chemicals harmful to the environment are used in making the paper. Finally, no toxic waste is generated.”

http://frenchbydesign.blogspot.in/2013/03/oh-la-la-jaime.html

architecture and other links

http://www.fincabellavista.com/        –  a residential treehouse community in its formative years in the south Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica

http://www.fincabellavista.com/learn-conserve/the-bellavista-initiative/ – assist communities throughout Latin America in regenerating rainforest assets and restoring native habitats to encourage healthier lifestyles, economies and opportunities. applying remedies to some of the most pressing ecological and social maladies impacting the Southern Zone of Costa Rica ………….

Our mission is to assist communities throughout Latin America in regenerating rainforest assets and restoring native habitats to encourage healthier lifestyles, economies and opportunities.

http://www.openculture.com    – Free educational media , interesting articles/videos  on psychology literature etc.

http://www.dumblittleman.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/20/how-to-read-a-poem-edward-hirsch/

gr8  vintage site – http://warymeyers.blogspot.in/search/label/Interiors

http://anthologymag.com/blog3/2012/04/25/wary-meyers/ https://excerptsandm.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/img_22921.jpg

another gud collection –   http://anthologymag.com/blog3/tag/interiors/

https://i1.wp.com/anthologymag.com/blog3/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/KK3.jpg

retro

http://warymeyers.blogspot.in/2013/03/knoll-londons-black-peter-playing-cards.html

 http://www.galinsky.com/buildings/experimentalhouse/   –   Alvar Aalto

  http://the189.com/         –  site featuring architects – classic and contemporary ……..found most of the designs  representing the  funcionalist ideology

https://i1.wp.com/the189.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Louis-Kahn-Visual-Archive-by-Naquib-Hossain-1.jpg

The despairing countryside – The Hindu.

…………………….A quarter century has lapsed since, opting for life as a farmer, he resigned his job as a banker and returned with his wife Uma Sankari and two daughters to his village Venkatramapuram in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. He tried to farm in ethical ways founded on multiple solidarities — with earth and water, with crops and trees, with his workers, and with dalits and women.

Until the 1970s, a third of the farmers irrigated their fields, with dug wells in which water was easily found at 30 to 50 feet, or through small tanks. The rest relied on rain-fed agriculture, and the soil was moist. But since then, the electric pump literally became a watershed in the history of their village. People started drilling bore-wells, and dug deeper and deeper to strike the elusive ever-receding water. In Venkatramapuram today almost all bore-wells have run dry. Some people in insane desperation have tried to drill bore-wells up to 700 feet without striking any water.

Until the 1970s, a third of the farmers irrigated their fields, with dug wells in which water was easily found at 30 to 50 feet, or through small tanks. The rest relied on rain-fed agriculture, and the soil was moist. But since then, the electric pump literally became a watershed in the history of their village. People started drilling bore-wells, and dug deeper and deeper to strike the elusive ever-receding water. In Venkatramapuram today almost all bore-wells have run dry. Some people in insane desperation have tried to drill bore-wells up to 700 feet without striking any water.

articles

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/04/24/stories/2011042450270600.htm

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2011/05/01/stories/2011050150120400.htm  – excerpts –

The forest cover is fast depleting and several species have become extinct and many more are threatened. The main reason is human greed furthered by machine. The culture of wealth at any cost and by any means has invaded forest land, the home of biodiversity as well as minerals.     Tagore saw this greed phenomenon clearly and wished that we draw lessons from forests. In Tapovan, he writes about the “culture that has arisen from the forest has been influenced by the diverse processes of renewal of life”. In the conflict between greed and compassion, conquest and cooperation, nature alone would “impart peace of the eternal to human emotions”.                In a poem entitled “The Sunset of the Century” written on the last day of the 19 {+t} {+h} century, Tagore observed: ‘the last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred’. The mood on the last day of the 20 {+t} {+h} century, however, was one of hope. Many viewed the termination of the Cold War as the end of major conflicts in global politics and emergence of a harmonious world. This was short-lived. The attack on the United States of America on September 11, 2001 established that religiously motivated violence is going to pose a major threat to world peace.

Rabindranath Tagore was opposed to every kind of religious fundamentalism and cultural separatism. He writes :

‘While God waits for his temple to be built of love men bring stones’.

The building of temple of love remains mankind’s unfinished agenda.

Tagore was never lacking in judgment or resolution in siding with the forces of peace and harmony, spirituality and freedom against religious discrimination, nationalistic arrogance, terrorism, and social discrimination. He wanted Indians to learn about how other people lived, what they believed in and so on, while remaining interested and involved in their own culture and heritage.

Rabindranath Tagore believed that true democracy and freedom alone would lead to realisation of the full potentialities of human beings. It was in this context, that he emphasised freedom of the mind. A poem in Gitanjali catches this ethos admirably:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words comes out from depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit…

Tagore wanted education to be an instrument of realisation of human potentialities. He raised Visva-Bharati as an international university aimed at assisting students realise the true character of our interlinked humanity and deeper unities of our civilisation in the West and the East. Could we not build a better world by teaching love and not hatred?

Biodiversity …..

  • There is still no bar on trying the corporate perpetrators of the Bhopal tragedy, including Warren Anderson.

When it comes to the U.S., international law is the vanishing point of punitive jurisprudence

Crime statistics almost wholly ignore corporate or business crime-  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article484527.ece

To generate awareness about genetic resources conservation, each year May 22 is observed as the International Day for Biological Diversity. The U.N. has designated 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. Leaders from 170 countries will gather at a U.N. Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010 to adopt a roadmap to stop biodiversity loss.

A tribal village in the Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu. These villages are leading the way in revitalising the conservation traditions of tribal families, without compromising on their economic well-being.

These villages are leading the way in revitalising the conservation traditions of tribal families, without compromising on their economic well-being.

Biodiversity loss is predominantly related to habitat destruction largely for commercial exploitation, and for alternative uses such as road-building. Invasive alien species and unsustainable development cause genetic erosion. How can we reverse the paradigm and enlist development as an effective instrument to conserve biodiversity?

During the tsunami, mangroves served as speed-breakers and saved people from the waves. He said everyone in the village now understood the symbiotic relationship between mangroves and coastal communities. The mangroves here are now in safe hands.

……………… adding value to primary products and finding niche markets for traditional foodgrains.  Commercialisation thus became the trigger for conservation.

In Biovillages, the conservation and enhancement of natural resources become priority tasks. At the same time, the Biovillage community aims to increase the productivity and profitability of small farms and create livelihood opportunities in the non-farm sector. Habitat conservation is vital to prevent genetic erosion. In a Biovalley, local communities try to link biodiversity, biotechnology and business in a mutually reinforcing manner. A Herbal Biovalley under development in Koraput aims to conserve medicinal plants and local foods and convert them into value-added products based on assured and remunerative market linkages. Such sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity leads to an era of biohappiness. Tribal families in Koraput have formed a “Biohappiness Society.”

REAP THE BENEFITS Pay attention to your  thoughts PHOTO: AP
REAP THE BENEFITS Pay attention to your thoughts PHOTO: AP