A new way into the forest
It’s been a tumultuous week for the Tagore corporation. It started with T stock hitting an all time high but then the market tanked midweek and since then I have been shorting the sage of the Sundarbans. It’s likely the book I am reading (Sadhana), where, besides the writing style, I am disappointed by Tagore’s focus on an unnamed past.
‘Remote past’ is not an acceptable premise for an argument. It locates the relevant events outside history. The remote past doesn’t tell us whether the inhabitants of the subcontinent continued to greet the world with expressions of kindred or whether they turned into extracters and exploiters like everyone else. A better test of Tagore’s commitment to a forest civilization is to see what he did in Visvabharati, the university he set up and directed. And read his novels and poems more closely for their evocation of the nonhuman world.
But trying and failing to glean any insights into forest civilization from Tagore taught me three lessons:
Why read Tagore speculating about the ancient past when you can read texts far closer to that time?
There’s no creating a forest civilization without engaging with the inhabitants of the forest, most of whom are non-human.
I am done with evocations of harmony and greatness in some bygone era.
So we need to head back into the forest and to the communities who live there - both human and non-human.As always there are a lot of books to be read and understood. I won’t bore you with their names, but you’ll start seeing their screenshots next week.