Monday, December 22, 2014

Jaipur Literature Festival – Part 8 – Nobel Prize Winner and Vikram Chandra's Work

Harold Vamus 

A nobel prize winning medical researcher delivered a talk on the art and politics of Science at the Charbagh hall then. He presented scenarios on global health. But he also mentioned how his curiosity for life and his prolonged adolescence led to his research work. He described how several non – practical things had to be done to make progress in Science.

Vikram Chandra's Love for Coding

Vikram Chandra, a professor of Creative Writing at the Berkeley School than delivered a talk titled, ‘The Rasa of Language: On Art, Pleasure and Technology’. Mr Chandra was also one of my favorite authors and had written one of my all time favorite fiction books titled, ‘Sacred Games’. It is a detective thriller with cops and gangsters. When you read the book, it is like you live an entire life through the book. I was really looking forward to Mr Chandra’s talk at the festival. He surprised me, because the new book he was about to bring out was not about literature, but about his early days as a writer and the connections between art and technology.

He described how both computer hackers and painters were makers. There were so many unseen details in both these forms, that resulted in the making of something amazing. But in programming you get instant feedback, while in literature the feedback is delayed.

Panini's Grammer and Programming

He then spoke about linguistics and the structure of Sanskrit as a language. He desxcribed how Panini’s Grammer textbook for Sanskrit titled Ashtadhayi provided a framework for to create the language of Sanskrit as we know it today. He even mentioned how it helped create a similar algorithum for English and eventually formed a basis for modern linguistics. He also spoke about the influence of the Kashmir scholar of the ‘Shaivism school of thought’ Abhinavagupta on his work.

Process of Writing

A Student Learning the Writing Process of Writers' he Loves

He described his ring theory approach to writing where the beginning links to the end and connects the circle. This approach to writing was prevalent in all his books.

He came to the end of his speech by describing how exploration of the inner world was intimately connected to art. He described how when we watch a play, we are not feeling the emotions of the writers or actor.  He concluded saying how we are tasting the bliss of our own consciousness in everyday art. Sitting in the audience, listening to this modern scholar of the written world took me to a new world of philosophical thought and enquiry and sparker a light of curiosity for further discovery like no other. It was an incredible feeling. Learning never felt better.

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