The List of Books for Final Semester

Ah! Its final semester of MA in English. Here is the list of books I am reading as my text books:

  1. American Studies: An Introduction (Collections of articles)
  2. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda
  3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  4. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Inferno – A Verse Translated by Allen Mandelbaum
  5. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
  6. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
  7. The Globalization Reader by Frank J. Lechner and John Boli
  8. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by  Joseph Campbell
  9. An Introduction to Visual Culture by Nicholas Mirzoeff
  10. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  11. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
  12. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
  13. The Story of My Experiments with Truth: An Autography – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Comparative Poetics in Chinese: Problems and Prospects

Xiaolu Wang and Yan Liu in their article “Comparative Poetics in Chinese”, point out two major problems in studying comparative literature. They are: the issue of translation of Western theories and the approaching foreign scholarship with narrow minded nationalism. The first problem related to the issue of translation is that not many Chinese scholars are able to read Western theories in the original language. As translation often regarded as a form of recreation, research based on translation will naturally lead to misunderstandings and misuse of western theories in the Chinese context. Second problem with study of comparative literature is discipline’s nation based orientation or even “narrow minded nationalism”. It’s because most of the concepts and notions are translated from the western language. As a result, an anxiety is seen among scholars about the theoretical discourses as they insist that there is a lack of such discourse in Chinese scholarship.

Xiaolu Wang and Yan Liu describe the development of comparative poetics, its current status and the core problems by sketching major publications and the general institutional situation of the discipline in China. The history of comparative poetics in China can be divided into three phases: the phase of translation and introduction of the parameters of comparative poetics, the phase of adoptation to adaptation of European and Anglophone forms of comparative literature to the study of Chinese literature and the phase of adaptation with stress on cross cultural interaction. In the first phase, from early 20th century to the 1930s, Chinese scholars in the field employed Western conceptions of philosophy and concepts from aesthetics in the study of literature. Similarly, in the second phase, during the 1930s to mid 1960s, the Chinese scholars attempted to find out the common effects behind the different Chinese and Western conceptions. Finally in the third phase, studies in the comparative poetics almost became suspended because of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In this phase overseas Chinese scholars’ work remains considerable even though they became influential after 1976 in Mainland China. Similarly, after 1990s, the publication of works in comparative poetics increased.

Wang and Liu posited that the role scholars working in Chinese ought to knowledge from the ways of how the issues and questions studied would cross cultural boundaries. It seems necessary for them to establish a Chinese School of comparative literature with its own Chinese based theoretical and methodological frameworks and taxonomy. However, the writers see such so-called “Chineseness” in comparative poetics makes no sense because, the importance and relevance of comparative poetics is to study and explore different cultures and literatures, thus maintaining and transferring knowledge.

Finally, the writers conclude that in comparative poetics, the issues and questions themselves are not ‘what’ are relevant; rather it is ‘how’ these issues and questions become subject of study. They have suggested that the role of scholars in China ought to play in the humanities in general and in comparative poetics in particular is to bring about knowledge from the ways of how the issues and questions studied would cross cultural boundaries.

Work Cited:

Wang, Xiaolu, and Yan Liu. “Comparative Poetics in Chinese.” Companion to Comparative Literature, World Literature, and Comparative Cultural Studies. New Delhi: Cambridge UP India, (Foundation ), 2013. Print.

Doubt and Fear: Emotions versus Conditions

Fear is an emotion whereas doubt is a condition. Some kind of physical, social, cultural, political and psychological fear is very natural since human beings are “social animals” and their mind is shaped accordingly. In one hand, fear and doubt can be source of strength, on the other hand, they can be source of tragedy. However, if one can keenly observe and analyze their causes and solutions, then strength and healing arise out of tragedy and loss. Similarly, the source of doubt and fear is different according to person.

In ‘Communist’, Richard Ford presents characters with full of doubt and fear. First, the narrator Les is full of doubt about the people and their action. He reflects, “I don’t know what makes people do what they do, or call themselves what they call themselves, only that you have to live someone’s life to be the expert.” Second, he is in dilemma that whether it is necessary to “live someone’s life to be the expert”. Similarly, he is skeptical about the relationship of Glen and his mother. He even “didn’t know why she was so mad at him”. However, he says that he doesn’t like “his mother being around the house so much at night and wished Glen would come back or that another man would come along and entertain her somewhere else.” We do not know why he is so fearful towards his mother.

Aileen might be so mad at Glen because he’s hunting animals and she probably doubts about his abilities to do that. After he succeeds at shooting geese, she’s nice because he actually accomplished something that was good. But she was against this whole idea of hunting. Les’s mother slowly starts questioning of Baxter’s whereabouts and the whole idea of hunting geese as she says, “they mate for life”. We don’t know whether “mating” is the relationship she would want with Glen but the way she behaved and responded to Glen is strange. She pretends to love Glen but in reality, she does not. At last she is able to express her unconscious feeling. “There’s nothing to love in you. You’re just a son of bitch, that’s all”, she says.

Fear of death is dominant in human life, so does in this story. There is a lot of reference to death in this story. Les even thinks that who would kill Glen. At the end of story, when she asks Len whether she is still feminine, he explains this situation as “the train is coming, and you know you have to decide”. This doubt whether to choose of not is solved quickly when he replied, “Yes, I do.” There is the fear of the son since he is very close with Glen, simultaneously the fear of the mother since the son doesn’t like his mother being close with glen Baxter. Moreover, the killing of the geese symbolizes the fear of living.

In Abdeslam Boulich’s short story ‘Cowrdice’, the Christian was afraid to get into heaven by telling lie. However, the Moslem and the Jew enters into the heaven by telling lie to Lord Solomon. The Christian “was afraid to try to get in by lying” reflects the fear within him. Through this short story, one can conclude that fears are sometimes cultural, sometimes religious, and sometimes social and so on. Thus, fear is nothing but what has been taught by our norms and values. What happens if we lie? Religious scripture may say one thing, social norms and value may define it in other way whereas legal system may act differently. Thus, if we are able to release fear from our mind, we can accomplish our works. Moreover, even impossible works are possible if we are confident and determined. But the confidence and determination comes when one can won the fear.

The short story entitled ‘Taking a Husband’ by Ha Jin is full of doubts and fear. The central amusing subject of the story “the first night” is presented as if it is very strange thing. It may be natural that unmarried girls are amused about the first night after marriage but the writer here takes help of a newspaper piece to show this. Hong and Lilian discuss the piece titled “Don’t Be Scared on your Wedding Night”. But Hong is really shy to share her feeling. On the other hand Lilian seems to be knowledgeable and matured person since she knows about marriage, relationship etc. If we compare these two characters, we can know more on what fear can do in our life.

Hong is a girl with conservative mind, even she fears to share what she knows and feels about this. One the other hand Lilian is open and rational. Even she helps Lilian to choose Husband because Pang Hai seems to be physically strong. However, Lilian is not happy with her physical beauty. She is not as pleasant as Hong. Even she says, “I wish lots of men were after me, and I’d do it with all of them. Too bad my parents didn’t give me a pretty face like yours.”

The fear within girls in this story is somehow cultural. They are always engulfed with the idea that if they act openly like boys, than they will be termed bad girls. This fear of patriarchy is dominant throughout the story. Similarly, this story mocks at the communist rule since all the people are treated only as the machine. Even small children are used for their mission to terrorize people as “Little Red Guard.”

Another major theme is the story is power. The fear of power is dominant in every society. Hong always dreams of marrying with the person who is able to get the position of commune’s vice chairman but because of the pressure she chooses Pang Hai. But he is not able to get this position. Why she wanted to marry with someone who is powerful? It’s because she will be able to get respect in society. She wanted to regain the political and social power she has experienced when her father was alive. But in the marriage ceremony, because they have organized banquet, the local authority blocked it. After she realized that it was solely her fault, Hong tries to kill herself. She wanted to kill herself because she is the one who insisted Pang to give banquet party even though Pang had already informed that banquet is illegal. It shows how “fear” can be destructive.

In Albert Camus’s ‘The Adulterous Woman’, Janine is in great dilemma whether to choose personal freedom or to be confined with the current social and family boundary. In one hand, she is not happy with her husband Marcel, one the other hand, she cannot leave him. Though Janine doesn’t like her husband and is even unwilling to see him and hesitantly goes with him in the journey, but the cultural value seems to be the net that has intertwined her about losing him unexpectedly. The fear of the culture and patriarchy is dominant in the story. Moreover one can find the fear of dependency in this story, since she hasn’t lived her life without her husband for more than 25 years.

In one hand, she does not want to show her as “bad woman”, on the other hand, she enjoys other males by seeing them. Camus presents symbolic adultery which is prevalent in Janine’s mind but not in action. “The years had passed in semi-darkness behind the half-closed shutters. Summer, the beaches, excursions, the mere sight of the sky were things of the past. Nothing seemed to interest Marcel but business.” It shows how lonely Janine is. This loneliness has created a problematic situation and this is the main cause why she is so fearful with the situation. The sudden glance of a French soldier and a couple of other feelings followed by a long and impassioned emotional storm inside her shows a doubt and complexity in the married life. She is not happy with the situation and she always wants to run away from her husband. Yet, she is not able to choose her way. At the end of the story, she even cries which can also be seen as the outburst of that fear through tears that may seem as a tool for herself to hide from the reality she is associated with.

In RK Narayan’s short story ‘Naga’ we can see fear within humans and animals both. Both father and son snake charmers have fear with each other. At nights the father used to beat his son bitterly. This physical punishment slowly affected the boy psychologically.  Similarly the son has the fear of living alone at the end, so he cries. Similarly, fear of the father was from his own son because he was doing better in earning money for the family. But because of the fear of losing money, the father at the end flees. Moreover, the cobra is also fearful. Though he was trying to leave the old cobra initially, later he rescue it. When the boy sees garuda, then he rescue of the cobra and saves its life. In conclusion, we can say that without associating with the nature, men cannot live. So, humans have the fear of being neglected from the nature, so they make themselves intact with the nature.

In Wolfgang Hildesheimer’s short story ‘Why I transformed myself into a Nightingale’ one can see the fear of the society. They are not morally and ethically obliged to what they are but they want to be what they are not. It is easy to see beauty in other creature’s life but hard to live their life.

What happens if one can overcome doubt and fear? If one can be released from fear and doubt, one can live real life. And, living in a real life is like liberation. Having doubts and fear can sometimes be an advantage because sometimes they can be source of strength for human beings.  For this one should be able to observe fear and doubt within us objectively, analyze their cause and tries to find the solution. If we are not bale instead of strength and healing, possibility is tragedy and loss.

Work Cited

Modernism: Tales From Around The Globe, 2015, IACER

 

How Human Relationship is Portrayed in Short Stories

Human relationship is the human’s capacity to make human contacts. Moreover, it’s about how we treat with people and how we connect our needs with relationships. The concept of love and its various dimensions are also come under human relationships. Love comes in many shapes and sizes. For example, a parent may be a child’s first love. After this family members, neighbors and different other environmental and cultural aspects can be the symbol of love. However, defining human relationships is very complex phenomena since the value of relationships is perceived in various way. Love is the central entity that develops, bounds and strengthen individual and social relationship. However, the concept of love is also very debatable.

Sometimes this intimate relationship is so ambiguous that, it is not clear whether “love” is the appropriate term to name this kind of relation. For example, Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Spring in Fialta’ centers on the adulterous relationship between two married people Victor and Nina. Their feelings are hard to explain exactly. Victor says, “I call her Nina, but I could hardly have known her name yet, hardly could we have had time, she and I, for any preliminary.” So, it is hard to name or explain Victor’s feelings for Nina since he doesn’t know even her name. Furthermore he say, “…and I was already kissing her neck, smooth and quite fiery hot from the long fox fur of her coat-collar, which kept getting into my way until she clasped my shoulder, and with the candour so peculiar to her gently fitted her generous, dutiful lips to mine.” We may say that their relationship is more physical infatuation than what we ideally call love. It shows people may sometimes knowingly or unknowingly confuse love with other kinds of feeling.

Though, both love and infatuation are intense emotions and feelings, they are not similar concepts and are often confused for each other. They differ in their intensity, faithfulness, loyalty, confidence and willingness to make sacrifices for one another. Moreover, love develops gradually over time; sometimes in unplanned way. However, infatuation occurs almost instantaneously. Infatuation commonly occurs when sexual attraction is in the center of relationship. However, sexual attraction cannot completely be ignored in love too. It shows love is complex phenomenon and never a clear-cut concept.

Family is the basic social institution where a strong love and relationship develops and flourish. However, In R.K Naraya’s short story ‘Naga’, the father ran away with someone else’s wife leaving his son with the cobra. Moreover, he takes the monkey along with him. The snake charmer boy misses the monkey very much. Generally, we cannot expect that a father can betray his own young son. The slum women say “awful strumpet, to seduce a man from his child” as she had saw a women in blue sari with him. This is the irony of human relationship that one cannot fully love and be faithful even with his or her blood. Another side of love ironically be seen when the young boy loves the cobra and save its life. Though he was trying to leave the old cobra initially, later he rescue it. The rescue of the cobra and saving of its life breaks the anthropocentric definition of love. Though his father abandons him, he saves cobra’s life. Thus, we cannot clearly define what love is and what its limitation is. Next, we can say that love not only accepts person’s flaws but also other creatures feelings.

Moreover this story mocks at the politicians, popularly known as “people’s representatives”. Though these politicians have beautiful slogans to uplift poor people, they just use slums as a vote bank. Instead of developing healthy relationship with public and solving the problems of poor people, they just sustain their political career and take benefit. But the situation of their “vote banks” remains pathetic forever.

Human needs have direct connections with our relationships with our surroundings. In one hand, having needs is not selfish, weak, or dependent. One the other hand, needs are only fulfilled thorough relationships. In other words, if we do not have any needs, we would not have maintained relationships with various dimensions of nature and valued this bond. The living was the need of snake charmers in ‘Naga’, they developed relations with monkey, and they performed in the streets and earned money. Similarly, the “unfortunate child” could get idlies with the help of a women who insists the seller to give him “fresh” and “extra”.

Albert Camus in “The Adulterous Woman” presents symbolic adultery which is prevalent in Janine’s mind but not in action. Marcel and Janine, a childless couple, married for 25 years are in a place of sand, Arabs. It seems as if their love is dying. They starry night skies and silent evenings signifies their gaps. “The years had passed in semi-darkness behind the half-closed shutters. Summer, the beaches, excursions, the mere sight of the sky were things of the past. Nothing seemed to interest Marcel but business.” It shows how lonely Janine is.

The sudden glance of a French soldier and a couple of other feelings followed by a long and impassioned emotional storm inside her shows complexity of love, relationships and marriage. It also shows the other side of human relationship when sometimes it can become personal and social bondage. She is not happy with the situation and she always wants to run away from her husband. Yet, she is not able to choose her way. However, in her thoughts, she enjoys this freedom whenever she gets attention from attractive men. The question is that why she is not happy? The answer is not clear. “They made love in the dark by feel, without seeing each other. Is there another love than that of darkness, a love that would cry aloud in daylight?” As Camus says, “She does not know”, we also do not know. However, she want to be free but ironically she says, “Hold me tight, and never let me go.” Her reply to her husband “It’s nothing” when she was weeping indicates her loneliness.

Similarly, Wolfgang Hildresheimer’s short story ‘Why I Transformed Myself into a Nightingale’ presents role of family in our lives. The speaker’s father was a zoologist and his mother was an actress. At the age of five, his parents gave him a magic set. Before he could read or write, he learned how to make “childish magic”. He describes the magic kit they give him to amuse himself with, which he soon masters and discards when he reads the condescending legend on it, “The Little Magician.”  Later, he asks for regular magic lessons and is caught up in giving performances for those who know him well. A noticeable change comes about in the magician’s attitude toward what he does, however, as he grows up:

As the narrator narrates, “This experiences had a decided influence on my letter development in that the joy of changing one useless object into another taught me to search for happiness in knowledge which serve no practical purpose.” However the narrator did not found this happiness before his metamorphosis.

“I outgrew my teacher and began experimenting on my own.  I didn’t neglect my academic education, though. I read a lot and went around with school friends whose patterns of development I observed.”  Not only narrator, but also other character in the story are shaped by their family circumstances. The narrator explains them, “One friend who had been given an electric train in his childhood was preparing for a career with the railroad; another who had played with tin soldiers decided on a career as a military officer.  In this way, the work force was regulated by early influences.” Even there is the indication that Mr. Werhahn, now a newspaper editor, had got a typewriter when he was young. Since he got this typewriter in his young age, presumably, he developed his interest in the printing industry. Nevertheless, the magician is at least convinced that he himself is not influenced by early training, though it becomes obvious through his later “choice of form” that he is deceiving himself.

In Richard Ford’s short story ‘Communist’, the narrator presents triangle relationship: intimacy and conflicts between him, his mother Aileeen and her boyfriend Glen Baxter. Les’s father has been already died. Meanwhile, Glen leaves Aileen following the conflicts between them, and the geese leave the wounded goose behind to die alone. Finally Les and his mother Aileen lost contact ad have not talked for years. The story repeatedly points to the fragility of human relationships. Even we are forced to rethink on the concept of love and human relationship, whether they really exists or they are merely illusions. “Sixteen is young,” Les says in the concluding lines, “but it can also be a grown man.” He is prematurely forced to come of age, “pushed out into the world, into the real life.” He seems to be a victim of having “too much awareness too early in life.” From the example from ‘Communist’, love is a distinctive mode of valuing a person, concept or idea. Glen could not value Aileeen, as a result, she left him.

In conclusion, love is the foundation of human relationships in which basic structure of society is based on. Similarly it is love that harmonize relationships. However, love can be destructive too if one could not value it. Finally, the above examples from various stories, love is more than just words, it is also a faith. Love for your community, family, neighbors, friends, environment and self is all about generating good will and good deeds

Work Cited

Modernism: Tales From Around The Globe, 2015, IACER

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Scholasticism

Scholasticism is the dominant western Christian theological and philosophical school of the Middle Ages. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Scholasticism as “a philosophical movement dominant in western Christian civilization from the 9th until the 17th century and combining religious dogma with the mystical and intuitional tradition of patristic philosophy especially of St. Augustine and later with Aristotelianism.” According to Dictionary of Philosophy, “it is the university philosophy; academic philosophy: philosophy of the kind cultivated in the schools i.e. the medieval Christian universities (Mautner, 558).”

The Middle Ages is marked by the influence of Christianity and many of the philosophers of the period were greatly concerned with proving the existence of God and reconciling Christianity with classical philosophy. The church was the most powerful institution. “The problems of the vast, dispersed organization of the continent-wide church, the relations between church and monarch, between church and state raised many doctrinal and legal matters (Tarnas, 325).” These matters were discussed, debated and resolved in the monasteries and the schools that were set up at this time. They were known as scholastic. Later these debate and discussions were developed as the system of philosophy and teaching and it dominated the medieval Western Europe. “Both masters and pupils travelled from all regions of Europe to these schools and took home the sciences which they had learned.”

Even by the year 1250 there were still very few universities in Europe: Bologna in northern Italy, Montpellier in southern France, Paris in northern France and Oxford in England. The aim of early teaching was to teach Christian theological concepts like the Creation, the Fall and Redemption of mankind etc. “By 1175, scholars saw themselves not only as transmitters of ancient learning, but as active participants in the development of an integrated, many-sided body of knowledge ‘rapidly reaching its peak’.” Similarly, the pope guaranteed independence for the University of Paris in 1215 following a long tussle between religious and political authorities.

Besides theologians, there were two scholars who contributed to the idea of the West. They were: Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus. “Both men were devoutly loyal to biblical theology, yet also concerned with the mysteries of the physical world, and sympathetic to Aristotle’s affirmation of nature, the body, and the human intellect (Tarnas, 137).” “Aquinas’s (c. 1225–1274) attempt to reconcile Christianity with Aristotle, and the classic was a hugely creative and mould-breaking achievement (Watson, 3300). “In all Catholic educational institutions that teach philosophy, his system has to be taught as the only right one; this has been the rule (Russel, 418).”

His “best known work is his ‘Summa Theologiae’, an attempt to replace Peter Lombard’s ‘Sentences’ as the standard text book for student of theology (Mautner, 37).” Aquinas insisted that there is a natural, underlying order of things, which appeared to deny God’s power of miraculous intervention. . He argued there is a ‘natural law’ which reason can grasp. Moreover, “he proposed that secular learning – focused on the sheer reality of the natural world – was a necessary grounding for religious contemplation (Watson, 330).” Before Aquinas the world had neither meaning nor pattern except in relation to God. After Aquinas, objective study of the natural order was possible, as was the idea of the secular state. ‘Learn everything,’ was his motto, ‘later you will see that nothing is superfluous.’ From this attitude grew the medieval practice of writing summae, encyclopedic treatises aimed at synthesizing all knowledge.

Albertus Magnus, a scholar at Paris and Aquinas’ teacher, “was the first medieval thinker to make the firm distinction between knowledge derived from theology and knowledge derived from science (Tarnas, 138).” He also asserted the value of secular learning, and the need for empirical observation. For Aquinas Aristotle’s philosophy was the greatest achievement of human reason to be produced without the benefit of Christian inspiration.

Previously, Augustine had thought that reason is the servant of faith. Saint Thomas, however, had argued that, although reason and faith were independent, reason may supplement but may not contradict faith (Gottschalk and Lach, 33). Moreover, he meant that philosophy was no longer a mere handmaiden of theology.

Man could only realize himself by being free to pursue knowledge wherever it led. According to Aquinas,” because God had designed everything, and secular knowledge could only reveal this design more closely – and therefore help man to know God more intimately.” Moreover he said “by expanding his own knowledge, man was becoming more like God (Watson, 331).” Thomas’ strong belief that faith and reason could be united at first drew condemnation from the church. The other scholars at that time argued that philosophy and faith could not be reconciled because they contradicted one another. According to them “the realm of reason and science must be in some sense outside the sphere of theology.” This was ‘resolved’ by positing a ‘double truth’ universe. However, “the church refused to accept this situation and communication was severed between traditional theologians and the scientific thinkers (Watson, 330).”

“With the introduction of Aristotle and the new focus on the visible world, the early Scholastics’ understanding of “reason” as formally correct logical thinking began to take on a new meaning: Reason now signified not only logic but also empirical observation and experiment—i.e., cognition of the natural world (Tarnas, 178).” Finally, Aquinas succeeded in persuading the Church that Aristotle’s system was to be preferred to Plato’s as the basis of Christian philosophy (Russel, 419). “In Christianizing Aristotle, Aquinas eventually succeeded in Aristotelianising Christianity (Watson, 343). A secular way of thinking was introduced into the world, which would eventually change man’s understanding for all time. Aristotle was accepted where he hadn’t been accepted before. Russel, however, comments on Aquinas, “I cannot feel that he deserves to be put on a level with the best philosophers either of Greece or of modern Times (427).”

Work Cited

Gottschalk, Louis, and Donald Lach. The Rise of Modern Europe. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1951. Print.

Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.

Mautner, Thomas. The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

Tarnas, Richard. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View. London: Pimlico, 1996. Print.

Turner, William. “Scholasticism.” Catholic Encyclopedia. New Advent, n.d. Web. 11 July 2014. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13548a.htm>.

Watson, Peter. Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud. London: Phoenix, 2006. Print.

“Scholasticism.” Merriam-Webster. n.d. Web. 10 July 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scholasticism>.

Beauty of Brilliant Blunders

Brilliant Blunders! Sounds funny?

Recently I read an article in Project Syndicate written about brilliant blunders. In this article (the one you are reading) I am going to recapitulate the article titled “Brilliant Blunders” by Mario Livio, who has also written a book on the same topic. The writer argues that mistakes are essential for scientific progress. Moreover, “discovering what does not work is vital to learning what does.”

The article starts with the statement of Thomas Alva Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This statement sums up a fundamental truth about scientific inquiry: “the progress in science is a complex, zigzag path, involving many false starts.” The writer further argues that blunders are inevitable for innovative thinking, because they search the way for other explorers too. According to writer, “the mistakes arise from thoughtful, meticulous experimentation based on bold ideas – the kind of ideas that can lead to major breakthroughs.” The writer raises an important question whether today’s highly competitive, funding-starved scientific atmosphere can accommodate such ‘brilliant blunders’. However, he has failed to answer why modern science has failed to find its way back.

At the beginning, a researcher may have a hypothesis but he or she still has lot of unknown factors as the writer argues, “any scientific theory must be falsifiable based on existing observations or experimental results.” A scientific theory must give “specific predictions of future observations or experimental results.” If those observations or results contradict the predictions, the theory is rejected, or at least must be modified. In order to reach perfect results and sort out “truth” from “false”, we have to search the whole of reality.

The writer presents some examples to support his/her arguments. Twentieth century astrophysicist Fred Hoyle proposed Steady State model of the universe. He argued that the universe did not evolve following the so-called “big bang”, instead, it was constant, remaining the same throughout eternity. The theory, later, proved wrong and falsified. It “energized the entire field of cosmology” and proved the universe started from big bang. Similarly, nineteenth century physicist William Thomson, later known as Lord Kelvin, calculated that the earth was less than 100 million years old. When falsified, Kelvin’s insight helped to resolve problem related to the length of time needed for Darwin’s theory of evolution to operate.

The writer, now, encourages researchers and funding agencies to be open for mistakes and take risk. He presents the data that 49 percent manufacturing startups and 37 percent information startups survive for four or more years who take risk to produce breakthrough innovations. The writer presents Tom Watson, Jr., who led IBM. He insisted that startups should have the courage to take thoughtful risks. He says “We must forgive mistakes which have been made because someone was trying to act aggressively in the company’s interest.”

The writers presents example of Robert Williams, director of Space Telescope Science Institute. In 1995, he turned the face of the telescope to the other side of the target. “The result was an image of more than 3,000 galaxies some 12 billion light-years away – the so called Hubble Deep Field.” The writer again presents another case of medicine claiming “half of discoveries of new medicines have originated from accidents.”

The writer concludes that the “space for brilliant blunders is vital to achieving the kind of creative breakthroughs that drive scientific progress”, thus, funding institutions should recognize the beauty of brilliant blunders.

The Haunted House

The main gate of the building is carelessly filled with scattered books and documents. The stairway is dark. The windows and doors on the both sides are worn out, damaged and rugged. Most of the rooms are empty. The rooms are full of scattered documents, rugged furniture. Dead silence. Spider’s waves can be seen everywhere.

The spiral shaped downstairs, which cannot be used without light, goes towards ground floor from the above storey. There is an unused library, an old kitchen including mountain of damaged tables, chairs and cupboards. A bad smell! There is the sound of water drops as if water has been leaked somewhere in the building. Many rooms are impossible to enter because of darkness.

The building seems to be a horror movie’s haunted house. The horrible building located at the Tribhuvan University (TU) premises in Kirtipur, Kathmandu is of Center for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA), one of the research institutes of TU. The building is designed and constructed with the blend of Nepali and western architecture. However, it has become rugged because of lack of utilization. Another building with CEDA’s office is also in the same condition.

But the situation was different some twenty years ago. Bhagawati Pandey, one of the cleaning staffs, who is working for three decade in CEDA, remembers how she used to be busy in wiping the building’s floor. “Foreigner guests including Nepalese used to come here. The program hall used to be busy with different training, seminars and so on.” Now, she is spending her leisure time in office talking with her colleagues. “We did not have free time in the past”, she says.

It has a library and a documentation section, to facilitate its researchers, teachers and trainers but it never seems to be opened. According to Dr. Ram Chandra Dhakal, the library has a collection of reports, mimeographs, periodicals and books related to development, public administration, business management, economics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science and geography etc. The centre publishes research reports, bibliographies, case studies, seminar reports and occasional papers. It has its own half yearly newsletter, “CEDA News” through which the progress of the ongoing projects/activities is made public but the organization has not able to publish its journals regularly. The centre has one auditorium hall accommodating 100 people and two other seminar halls of moderate size, each having the capacity to room 30 people. But they are not utilized too.

Dr. Hari Dhoj Khadka, recently retired researcher from CEDA observed both rise and fall of this once reputed research organization. “These building used to be full with researchers. It was the hub for national-international academic debate’, he says, “I do not think anyone will believe me.”

The Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) was established on May 15, 1969 under a tripartite agreement between His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, TU and the Ford Foundation. Started as an autonomous institution, the centre was later integrated into TU and given the status of an institute on December 15, 1975 after the National Education System Plan (NESP) was implemented.

CEDA has been serving as a policy-research centre contributing towards the national development policies and strategies. The centre’s activities are basically confined to research, consultancy and training programs. Since then, it is limited mainly in consultancy services to government, non-government and donor agencies rather than research and training. After the establishment of Republic, the research center was continuously became the political intervention and lack of policy.

CEDA has twenty supporting staffs and six office assistants but they are reluctant to manage office. Nobody cares and takes the responsibility of office management. “It has been more than 50 years since the construction of building. But government has not allocated any budget for its maintenance”, says CEDA’s Executive Director Dhakal, “Physical things need regular maintenance.”

CEDA’s staffs remember the busy organization with research and training. There was both work and money. Their view is clear- When we work more, need extra money! “There is nothing to hide. We need money on the basis of our work”, Pandey shares, “They (who heads organization) take benefits from organization. They do not think either about us and this institute.”