VIENNA CHAPTER: Kuenstlerhaus, Vienna
May 20th, 2005
2.15 – 6.00 pm (lectures part 1: The Other self)

Walking Through Mirrors: Reflections on the Spiritual Traffic between India and Europe

The late 19th and early 20th centuries mark a threshold moment in the history of encounter between Europe and the 'Orient'. This research reflects on four figures within this broader intercultural landscape of thought and activity: Two were of European origin and two were of Indian origin: Swami Agehananda Bharati (born Leopold Fischer in Vienna, 1923) and Carl Gustav Jung, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, Rabindranath Tagore and Jiddu Krishnamurti. It will be interesting to situate them in the context of mutually shared conceptions of self, nation, race, spirit, transcendence and freedom. We may find, that they may have been “walking through mirrors”, each side believing that it was addressing the Other, when it may actually only have been addressing its image. Thus, they worked together to produce a very interesting variant on the orthodox Orientalisms of academy and empire. I would situate this complicity as a ‘permitted paradox’ within the ongoing late-19th-century discourses concerning the inevitability of modernity, the exclusivism of race, the aggressiveness of nationalism, and the cultivation of the spirit by resort to the ‘purer’ and more ‘ancient’ traditions of the same colonial zones that were being despoliated by the forces of Western modernity.

Ranjit Hoskote (Bombay) is a cultural theorist, poet and independent curator. He is the author of numerous books and has contributed to several anthologies on contemporary global and Indian art. He is currently Assistant Editor to the Hindu.

Respondents: Axel Fussi is running transculture - communication for culture in Vienna
Christiane Hartnack is Deputy Head of Cultural Studies at the Donau Universitaet Krems


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