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Nepal Carya Nrtya of Nepal

Nepal Carya Nrtya of Nepal

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Caryā Nŗtya of Nepal: When "Becoming the Character" in Asian Performance Is Nonduality in"Quintessence of Void"Author(s): Syed Jamil AhmedSource:
TDR (1988-),
Vol. 47, No. 3 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 159-182Published by: The MIT PressStable URL:
Accessed: 19/11/2009 00:41
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
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TDR (1988-).
http://www.jstor.org
 
Carya
Nttya
of
Nepal
When"Becomingthe Character"nAsianPerformance IsNondualityin"QuintessenceofVoid"SyedJamilAhmed
Enquiringintowhatitmeans forAsianperformersto "become thecharac-ter,"PhillipZarrilliexamineskalarippayautuaSouth Indianmartialart),ka-thakali,andnoh,andconcludeswiththefollowingnote: "Asianperformanceisfoundedontheassumptionthat the worldconstituted in theperformanceisnotseparatefrom theworldoutside theperformance"(I99o:146).He thencitesJamesBrandon whosays,"The[Asian]performingarts are notviewed asbeingdifferent fromsome realworld;theyareone manifestation ofthe oneworld whichencompassesall"(inZarilli1982:2-3).Unfortunately,Zarrillidoes notclarifyordwell atgreaterlengthon the na-ture of "theworld"-constitutedintheperformanceoroutsideofit. How-ever,Brandon's referencesto "somerealworld,"and "one world whichencompassesall" do seemto indicatethat bothBrandon'sandZarrilli's as-sumptionsarebased on theatma-doctrine of theUpanisadic-Brahmanicaltra-dition ofSouthAsianphilosophy,which"conceive[s]realityonthepatternofan innercore or soul(atman),mmutable,and identicalamidst anouterregionofimpermanence,andchange,to which itisunrelated or butlooselyrelated"(Murti[1955] I998:IO).Indeed,Zarrillidoes touchuponthe"Indian under-standingof the self" inthepenultimate stageof hispaper byquotingaconceptfromtheChandogya Upani?ad(chapter6,sections 8-16),which is tattvamasi,translated as"that artthou"(Radhakrishnan1953:456-67):Tat tvamasiis agiantphilosophical/cosmologicalbackdroponwhichIndian lifebothordinaryandesotericisprojected."You are that"assertsafundamentalidentitybetweenmicrocosm andmacrocosm,the indi-vidual selfandtheuniverse: apersoncanbecomeone-withandjoin-with;there is noobjectsetoveragainstasubject.(Zarrilli1990:145)Then Zarrillirefers toDiana Eck'sexpositionoftheconceptofdarsan inordertoshow-orattempttoshow-that"[t]hisjoining-withsuffusesdailylife.A
The DramaReview47,3(T179),Fall2003.Copyright?2003New YorkUniversityandtheMassachusetts nstituteofTechnology
159
 
I60SyedJamilAhmedHindufromchildhood takes thedeityintoherself/himselfinthe act ofdar-san-seeingthedeity"(I45).Akathakaliperformer,in hisview,doesthesame"seeing."Forhim,the"correspondence"and "resonance"betweenthemicrocosm and themacrocosm,theself andthe universe-which anIndian(traditional?)performerjoinswithease-providesa vital "culturalcontextfortheperformer'spsychophysicalprocess."Suchacontext,Zarrilli seemstoim-ply,isprofoundly importantforthe"fundamentalpsychophysical unityintheact ofdoing,"anda"senseof ineffablepresencewhichtheaccomplishedAsianactorembodies when he 'becomes thecharacter.'"Insuchmoments,heclaims,"throughthe interiorpsychophysicalprocess,he is thatcharacter"
(I990:I46).
WhenSouth Asian Is NotIndian=HinduTo be fair toZarrilli,he offers newinsightsintothethreeperformance gen-res.However,certainassumptionsabout the"Asianperformer"and thepro-cess of"becomingthecharacter" need tobecloselyexamined.Tobegin,ZarrilliassumesthatIndian=Hindu.What about theBuddhists,the Mus-lims,and the Christians?ConsiderwhathappensifyoureplaceHinduism withBuddhisminZarrilli's vision of India.Buddhism deniesatman,andshows that"there is no inner andimmutable core ofthings;everythingis influx"(MurtiI998:IO).Contrastingthepositionsof theBrahmanicalandBuddhist tradi-tions,Murtipointsout:TheBrahmanicalsystemstookthe real asBeing,Buddhism asBecom-ing;the formerespousedtheuniversal,existential and staticviewofRe-ality,the latter theparticular,sequentialanddynamic;foronespace,forthe othertime,isthearchetype.(Murti
I998:I2)
Immediately,Zarrilli andBrandon's "worlds"begintocrumble,"correspon-dences" and"resonance" meltaway.For,ifthereisnoatman, i.e.,no innerandimmutable core orsoul,then whois"you"and who is"that"intheUpa-nisadic statement oftat tvamasi? Zarrilli'sproblemisthathereducesa com-plexinterplayofinnumerablesystemsofSouth Asianphilosophyintoonestatement from theUpani,ad, which,ifImayadd,Iampersonally quitefondof. Butwhen the mostvocal elementsof theEuro-Americanacademecia aregoingfull-steam atdeconstructingandchallengingmonolithicconstructswhendealingwith theirowncultures,whythis fondnessforconstructingmonoliths whendealingwith Asianperformances?Also,ofcourse,India isnot thewhole ofSouthAsia,historicallyor cultur-ally.NeverintheentirehistoryofSouthAsia,includingtheempiresoftheMauryas,theGuptas,and theMughals,hasSouthAsiabeenunited-untiltheBritishconquest.The"India" Zarrilliisreferringtounconsciouslyencom-passesall of SouthAsia.That Indiais acolonialconstruct.The 20thcenturyhas seenthedeconstructionofOrientalismand thereconstructionof "Indi-anness,"whichequatesthe cultureof allthepeoplesofSouthAsia withthenationthat hasNewDelhi as itscapitalandHinduism asitsundeclaredstatereligion(clearlyreflectedinthewaytheultra-right BharatiyaJanataPartygov-ernmentrulingthecountryhasdealt withthe BabriMosque issue).'OnecouldspendalifetimewritingnewerversionsofOrientalism oshowhow Gor-donCraig'smelodiousflute ofKysnaandArtaud'sBalinesedance stillhauntcentersofEuro-Americanacademeciadevotedto theineffablemysteriesofIndian/Asianperformances.Those who areardentdevoteesofthemysteriesshouldheedJoanErdman's

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