Cosmology & Cultural Cognition – Prelude

posted in: LILA Blog | 2
head image lila blog trans framed


Cosmology & Cultural Cognition – Prelude

29 June 2016・Giti Thadani

One of the major difficulties in translating from different languages is not simply finding the equivalent word but that of finding equivalent linguistic architectures that shape how one cognates cultures and languages. What exactly are these linguistic architectures and how does that part of the brain conceptualize, think, organize, process and cognate. Further what is the relationship between sound and its graphic inscription. What is the relationship between speaking-writing-reading-thinking and memory. How does their relationship affect the evolution of language and its cultural evolution. The dev-nagari script evolved through a long passage of time. The name dev+nagari is a compound word. Whereas dev derives from the dyu root = light, nagar means city. Hence the script itself is embedded in a cosmological context. On the other hand the Latin etymology of the word alpha bet derives from the first two greek letters alpha-beta which in turn derived from Phoenician aleph and Egyptian beta which was  a pictogram. Unlike dev-nagari there was no precise sound-graphic equivalence and its sequencing adhoc. Sequence is of vital importance in the devnagari script. It maps out a highly complex sound architecture. The first part of the sequence is designated as svar (root sv(self). These are sound particles that are based on pure self sufficient vibration( a - i- o). Vibration exists in time - hence any letter/sound has duration – short, long & even half.  The second part of this svar series is li/lri (tongue vibration) and the last part is a combination (sandhi) of a+i = e & a+o = au (short or long) Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 5.37.05 pm The subsequent part (sparsh-touch) is based on the tongue touching 5 different levels of the mouth.  Each sound string touchs the same level in the mouth - first front than back interspaced with the same sound aspirated, (short breadth and great(maha) breadth) ending with its equivalent nasal. Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 5.36.28 pm The next part is the inter-place y=i+a ri +a = r lri l and o +a = v. The last part is ushman sh-s-h line (sibilants) ending with the h. Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 5.35.13 pm Thus sequencing creates the space of the mouth-nose-throat-tongue. Each sparsh line through breadth and oscillation indicates the wave properties of sound. The combining of different sounds is based on principles of sound harmony (dhvani).  This is a far cry from the limited vowel consonant framework of the linguistic model followed today. Instead embedded in the script is a composite cosmology of time/duration, sound mathematics, physics and musical harmony. Another main feature of the script is the precise graphics.  The visual sign carries not only the exact phonetics but its duration in time – hence there is notation for even half letters, doubled letters or combined letters (ksh, shr etc). The potential of this acoustic-visual matrix is immense in how one thinks,  perceives and hears. This capacity to abstraction, associative logic and visualization is evident in the evolution of the script. This takes language beyond functional communication. Instead it strives to evolve the potential of sensory intelligence and open up the linguistic interface with the cosmos.
Next article: Puzzle Me Complete
Giti Thadani studied several languages – Sanskrit, Hungarian, French, German and Italian. On a visual level worked as a researcher, archivist on ancient temple graphics, figurative and architectural traditions and aspects of experimental cinema. As a visual composer made several silent films for a joint dance performance with Bharatanatyam dance (Vyuti) and Drops from Nowhere with the piano. Had several exhibitions, inter disciplinary seminars on different aspects of the above and the role of different kinds of sensory intelligence.

LILA Foundation | The Luminous Idea of Life Appreciation

2 Responses

  1. A Roomful of Silence

    […] The left corner of the chamber has an air conditioner. The only aid that the contemporary times have provided him and his art with. All other potential is lost in a convenient abyss of ignorance. How many of us have wondered where our musical instruments come from? We all jump straight to learning the chords of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’. DU is such a big university. People die to get their kids admitted. Are you aware of the Music Department? Are you aware that there are no harmonium course as of now? They say they will introduce them in the future. But really… it is such a big country, but no institutional aid for our field of work! Sab PHD’s le lete hain! But who knows how to make instruments? There is not a single institutional appointment for people like me. This is all I can do. I realized I hadn’t even considered that there is a department of music in the university. Aren’t extra curricular endeavors and achievements merely the appendage that facilitates students into another godforsaken quota? Sadly, it is majorly so. Kaarigars have stopped coming. Who can blame them? It is too less for money in exchange for their long hours of delicate craftsmanship. So why indeed do do you do it? I inquire to myself. The truth is that there is no reason. Nothing that would provide an incentive or reward or gratification enough. An underappreciated, furthermore, unrecognized art form is dying. He keeps it alive till he can. We turn a blind eye for our eyes are solely reserved to gaze at the bright future of our developing country. Meanwhile, we are too busy caging our traditions into museums and limiting our art to short, stagnant performances. The future shall be built on a foundation and that foundation exists. But, inexplicably, we seem to be too eager to discard it. Next article: Linguistic Architectures – Prelude […]