Sunday, October 17, 2010

The incident itself is problematic because of its ambiguity

from dr raghu to tusarnmohapatra@gmail.com date 17 October 2010 15:58 subject re: Ryder's Illogic
Pl. post without disclosure of e-mail address. Thanks!

Ryder's Illogic!

“At some of those meetings, people noticed a surprising development. After dinner those present tended to cluster in two groups: Aurobindo and Mirra on one side, Paul and the others on another. Sometimes when they were alone, Mirra took Aurobindo’s hand in hers. One evening when Nolini found them thus together, Mirra quickly drew her hand away.
On another occasion, Suresh entered Aurobindo’s room and found Mirra kneeling before him in an attitude of surrender. Sensing the visitor, she at once stood up. There was nothing furtive about these encounters, but they did strike observers as unusual.Neither Mirra nor Aurobindo were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly. (The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, p. 326)

"Dr. Ryder" launches his attack on this passage: "By stating that “There was nothing furtive about these encounters” the author is dispelling the suggestion that there was anything “furtive” between them. But why would he dispel it if he did not think or believe that his statement lent itself to interpretation, and that the thought that there was something “furtive” between them would actually arise in the mind of the reader."
Right here is this Ryder’s first error: he conflates the incident Peter is describing with Peter’s description of it. The incident Peter is describing, i.e., Mirra letting go of Aurobindo’s hand on Nolini’s entry into the room, does lend itself, since it is ambiguous in its significance, to various interpretations. Some of those intepretations might see something “furtive” in the incident. If Nirod, or Nolini, or even Mirra herself had described this incident, it would still lend itself to various intepretations including the one which ascribes furtiveness to the Mirra’s action or to her meetings with Aurobindo. So, the incident itself is problematic because of its ambiguity and this has nothing to do with Peter’s decision to mention it in his biography.

One could question the accuracy of his report, but given his sources, this has not been done on any persuasive grounds. Instead, the objection is to Peter’s decision to mention this incident.  Peter has pointed out that observers found such instances unusual because they involved expressions of emotions neither Aurobindo nor Mirra were normally prone to expressing. He has, of course, shown that on some occasions they did express them, e.g., Mirra expressing her affection and devotion to her Guru by holding his hand and her Guru’s acceptance of it, her gesture of surrender to her Guru, etc. Peter has also rejected the interpretation which ascribes “furtiveness” to such interactions between Aurobindo and Mirra. 

Again, it is the ambiguous nature of the incident Peter is mentioning which gives rise to different interpretations. Peter has clearly taken a stand against the interpretation which ascribes furtiveness to the event or incident.

Ryder’s illogic fails to recognize that the ambiguity resides in the incident Peter is reporting on. His illogic leads him to think in this way:
Peter mentions this incident involving Aurobindo and Mirra.  This lends itself to a misinterpretation ascribing furtiveness to the incident.  So, Peter ought not have mentioned this incident involving Aurobindo and Mirra.

But if the incident actually took place, why shouldn't he mention it? And if the incident is ambiguous, and Peter is concerned with rejecting an interpretation which ascribes furtiveness, what else can he do but go on to deny that there was any furtiveness in the incident? If he had failed to do that, wouldn’t he still be under attack by Ryder for failing to dispel that misinterpretation? Ryder’s illogic leaves Peter in a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation and this is unfair to Peter.

Ryder thinks that Peter should not have mentioned the incident since it can be misunderstood or misinterpreted in terms of “romantic, sexual, or emotional” elements. But this “thinking” rests on the absurd assumption that no incident involving Aurobindo or Mirra must be mentioned if it can even lend itself to misunderstanding or misinterpretation along those lines. It also has the implication that Nirod’s reminiscences of Aurobindo and Mirra must also be condemned because it mentions several incidents which can also be misunderstood or misinterpreted in terms of those “romantic, sexual, or emotional” elements.

It is true that Peter is “insinuating”, or rather, implying that there is an emotive content to the incident. This is clear from his closing statement in the passage that “Neither Mirra nor Aurobindo were in the habit of expressing their emotions openly.” But only a dehumanized image of Aurobindo and Mirra would be incompatible with this implication of emotive content in the interaction of Aurobindo and Mirra. And the emotion in this context is highly likely to be, if not certainly, devotional in nature rather than romantic or sexual. That the incident in question could be interpreted in terms of something romantic or sexual doesn’t mean that it was actually romantic or sexual in nature, or that it was not actually devotional in nature.

In any case, no biography worth the name would exist if biographers were subject to Ryder's bizarre rider that they mention only incidents which are unambiguous in their significance or meaning or that they refrain from denying or rejecting certain interpretations since this suggests that those interpretations could be entertained in the first place!

13 comments:

  1. You are standing the issue on its head. Why go to such lengths to make ambiguous what is starkly clear? Is this then a trifling matter? Would someone who claims to be a follower of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo muddy and obscure a relationship which should be absolutely clear to that sadhak? This deliberate introduction of ambiguity, which you have yourself admitted, is the clearest indication of ill-will. An ignorant by-stander such as yourself could come up with such drivel. But someone who claims to be a follower of Sri Aurobindo cannot. It gives the lie to his claim of being a Sadhak. Furthermore, tt is nonsense to suggest that biographers can introduce ambiguity and vagueness that can lead to SERIOUS MISUNDERSTANDING AND HORRID MISINTERPRETATION. If so, it is a bad biography and, in general, a bad book since an expository work of this sort is judged on the basis of its clarity. Furthermore, you deliberately ignore the fact that the hand-holding is only ONE element of several statements which ALL hint at the scandalous without really coming out and asserting it. Your arguments are simply rationalizations to deflect any responsibility from the author for his statements and his work. It is intellectually dishonest and logically muddled.

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  2. DrRaghu's mental retardation in splendid display.
    Judge for yourself. He quotes Dr Rider

    “There was nothing furtive about these encounters” the author is dispelling the suggestion that there was anything “furtive” between them. But why would he dispel it if he did not think or believe that his statement lent itself to interpretation...".

    Then Raghu arrogantly claims
    "Right here is this Ryder’s first error"

    and according to Dr Raghu's child-mind the error is because

    "Mirra letting go of Aurobindo’s hand on Nolini’s entry into the room, does lend itself.....to various interpretations. Some of those intepretations might see something “furtive” in the incident".

    So according to Raghu, Dr Rider's claim - that the author's statement does lend itself to the "furtive" interpretation - is in error because
    "it does lend itself" to the "furtive" interpretation.!
    Could we PLEASE have a separate blog for lame-brained imbeciles, pinheads and morons and another one for retards. You could post Raghus comments in either.
    Could you please request Dr Rider to treat him. Hopefully there is no lesion in Raghu's brain.

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  3. Your ongoing ad hominem (look up any elementary text on logic) attacks on Drraghu only show your increasing viciousness, irrationality, and intolerance to everyone.
    It is alarming to note your failure to understand the commonplace truth that all biographers deal with events, incidents, statements, etc., pertaining to their subjects which are ambiguous in their significance.
    It sounds like you have not read any biography other than a hagiography of Aurobindo!
    Apparently, you don't even understand the concept of an ambiguous behavior or incident.
    Heehs is simply reporting an incident, one among many, which is ambiguous SINCE Mirra could have held Aurobindo's hand to express a romantic or sexual emotion, OR simple affection, OR devotion, OR to seek reassurance and support.
    She could have withdrawn her hand on seeing Nolini because she respected Indian customs OR because she wanted to keep her emotions, whether romantic or devotional, private OR because she was nervous!
    One can challenge the accuracy of Heehs' account, but only those who want to maintain a dehumanized and "Avataric image" of Aurobindo and Mirra from the beginning of their acquaintance or association would quarrel with Heehs' decision to mention a fact which is at odds with that image.

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  4. Nonsense. Peter is not simply reporting an incident. You are talking as if authors have no responsibility for what they 1) choose to include 2) choose to exclude and 3) way they present what they include. You are pretending as if there is no "narrative" and that biographers are only stringing together random, disconnected report after report. Forget about hagiographies, you sound like someone who does not seem to have read ANY biographies or historical books whatsoever. But since I doubt that is the actual case, the fact of the matter seems to be that you are only persisting in denying the obvious. Anyway, there is no helping the willfully blind to see and no reasoning with fanatics. So much has been said about the incident and yet all we hear are more and more insane defenses for the beloved Guru.

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  5. Stick to the issue and don't ramble off in different directions.
    Is Peter accurately reporting what happened or accurately quoting some reliable testimony?
    It is interesting how you keep evading the issue of accuracy or reliable testimony and go off the ledge spouting invective on Peter's decision to mention the incident in the context of his account of the early association of Aurobindo and Mirra.
    Further, if Nirod had added after his descriptions of Mirra's nocturnal visits to Aurobindo that he did not see anything improper in these visits and that they were purely for Guru seva, would you and your ilk be indulging in the same hysteria and histrionics you exhibit toward Peter's account of one incident?
    Why wouldn't you and your ilk do that?

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  6. To the English-challenged Moron who wrote "So according to Raghu, Dr Rider's claim - that the author's statement does lend itself to the "furtive" interpretation - is in error because "it does lend itself" to the "furtive" interpretation.!":

    The error is his conflation of the fact and the description. It is the incident itself which is ambiguous and there is nothing specifically in Peter's description of it which creates the ambiguity.
    Learn to read English better. It might save you from hypertension!

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  7. Drraghu wrote "Right here is this Ryder’s first error: he conflates the incident Peter is describing with Peter’s description of it. The incident Peter is describing, i.e., Mirra letting go of Aurobindo’s hand on Nolini’s entry into the room, does lend itself, since it is ambiguous in its significance, to various interpretations. Some of those intepretations might see something “furtive” in the incident. If Nirod, or Nolini, or even Mirra herself had described this incident, it would still lend itself to various intepretations including the one which ascribes furtiveness to the Mirra’s action or to her meetings with Aurobindo. So, the incident itself is problematic because of its ambiguity and this has nothing to do with Peter’s decision to mention it in his biography."

    So my dear English-challenged Moron, Drraghu has clearly identified the error as one which "conflates the incident Peter is describing with Peter’s description of it."
    Again, if repetition can help your English comprehension skills, Drraghu is saying that it is the incident which lends itself to the interpretation that it was "furtive" (an interpretation which Peter rejects) AND NOT ANYTHING, CONTRARY TO "RYDER", IN PETER'S REPORTING OF THE INCIDENT! GET IT???

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  8. It is quite shocking to see that Raghu and his disciples (or maybe its Raghu writing as anonymous) go on a rampage of asininities as never before.
    Dr Ryder has ONLY STATED THAT THE TEXT LENDS ITSELF TO THE "FURTIVE" INTERPRETATION. That is so obvious that even a 9 yr old would understand that. Dr RYDER writes
    "...the author is well aware of the objection of “furtiveness” between Mirra and Aurobindo being raised in the minds of the readers upon reading his description, and in anticipation of it, the author attempts to dispel it".
    Its as simple as that. Now masquerading as anonymous the insufferable Raghu writes that it was "the incident which lends itself to the interpretation that it was "furtive"....AND NOT ANYTHING, ...IN PETER'S REPORTING OF THE INCIDENT!".
    Did Dr Ryder state that "PETER's reporting of the incident" lent itself to the "furtive" interpretation? And how can the act of PETER's reporting lend itself to the "furtive" interpretation?!! The act of reporting may be the cause of fatigue in the authors mind and body or necessitate careful handling of the material but how on earth can it lend itself to the "furtive" interpretation?
    The disease has clearly progressed and Raghu needs to be confined to a mental institution without any further delay. First he mocks Sri Aurobindo, then the Mother, then mocks their being regarded as the Divine by ardent devotees and finally is close to losing his mind.
    Perhaps its best that he continues. The author and his entourage certainly can use such supporters.

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  9. This is hillarious! Dr Raghu makes his own assumptions which has nothing to do with what Dr Ryder asserts and then goes on on refute them!. Seriously Dr Raghu might be losing his mind!.
    I loved the way you have shown how silly and stupid Dr Raghu is!

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  10. To all those of Peter's critics who are so concerned about "furtiveness" and the ambiguity that may or may not have been expressed about Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's relationship in his book:

    Did it ever occur to you that IF Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were EVER bothered about what others thought about their relationship, they would have in all likelihood been intelligent/wise/enlightened enough to have lived in completely separate buildings and would have done everything to make sure that nobody ever got even the slightest of doubts about their relationship?

    But thankfully, Sri Aurobindo and the Moter were least bothered about what narrow-minded and bigoted people such as Peter’s critics think, believe or worry about! Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived the life that they wanted to live in the way that they chose to, irrespective of the sea of ignorance that surrounded (and still surrounds) them.

    And if Peter has been accidentally or deliberately ambiguous (according to some people) about Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s relationship, how does it matter in any way, especially if this issue never even bothered either Sri Aurobindo or the Mother?

    To a third party, it certainly looks like that Peter’s critics are merely looking for some excuses to attack Peter probably because of personal reasons, prejudices or plainly bias.

    A.A.D.

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  11. The English-challenged moron strikes again and again!
    He doesn't know that reporting on an incident is NOT different from describing it. He needs to understand the meanings of "description" and "reporting". Perhaps, he is not learning well in his ESL (English as Second Language) classes!
    When "Dr. Ryder" wrote that "...the author is well aware of the objection of “furtiveness” between Mirra and Aurobindo being raised in the minds of the readers upon reading his description, and in anticipation of it, the author attempts to dispel it". he was stating that Peter's description is responsible for "the objection of furtiveness".
    "Drraghu" pointed out (How many times does one need to repeat the obvious to these English-challenged MORONS?) that the incident itself is ambiguous and the objection of "furtiveness" can be raised even if Aurobindo or Mirra themselves mentioned the incident!
    The Moron asks: "And how can the act of PETER's reporting lend itself to the "furtive" interpretation?!!"
    Who said that the mere act of Peter's reporting lends itself to any interpretation?
    The Moron himself quoted "drraghu" but didn't understand the meaning of that quotation!
    "the incident which lends itself to the interpretation that it was "furtive"....AND NOT ANYTHING, ...IN PETER'S REPORTING OF THE INCIDENT!".
    MARK THE WORDS " NOT ANYTHING IN PETER'S REPORTING OF THE INCIDENT"! So, "drraghu" was talking about the content of Peter's description or reporting of the incident, NOT THE MERE ACT OF REPORTING, and saying that the content pertains to an incident which is itself ambiguous.
    CAN ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND DENY THAT THE INCIDENT WAS AMBIGUOUS? SO, IF YOU AGREE THAT THE INCIDENT WAS AMBIGUOUS IN ITS SIGNIFICANCE, WHAT ARE YOU CREATING ALL THIS "SOUND AND FURY SIGNIFYING NOTHING" FOR?
    Anyway, How can you understand Peter's biography, or Aurobindo's writings, if you don't learn English well? Go back to your ESL classes and make sure you pass them first!

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  12. A good post, A.A.D. But your sane observations will again elude the grasp of the insane!
    I wonder if a pathological form of jealousy at the authorial achievements of Peter Heehs is at the root of it all.
    Ashrams are often asylums for failures and those with a pick-up truck load of insecurities!

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  13. "Is Peter accurately reporting what happened or accurately quoting some reliable testimony?"

    To Mrs.R (the better-half): And what exactly is your definition of accurate and reliable? That something that can be so easily misunderstood and misinterpreted should just be re-produced on the basis of one person's account? You are talking sheer nonsense. This is not physics or any other field where you are describing verifiable phenomena. There are reports you choose to reproduce and there are reports you choose to leave out. To verify a report it has to be corroborated by several people. If Nirod saw something and Suresh saw something then it is NOT accurate, NOR is it reliable. It is at the most a semi-fictitious and subjective account which may or may not be accurate or reliable. This cracked pot of your Guru has, for example, questioned even Sri Aurobindo's memory of His Own Past, challenging accounts and reports that Sri Aurobindo Himself has provided. Now suddenly he and you and your Mr.R think that a Nirod or a Suresh have omnipotent and omniscient memories?? Your ill-will and jaundiced motives are veritably oozing out of the selective application of double-standards. Secondly, I invite you to use a bit of your common-sense. The context makes all the difference as we saw in the comparison that Mr.R was trying to draw between Nirod's book and Heehs' book. The same incident when reported in the context of Marital relationships between Mother and Sri Aurobindo, and the Mother and Paul Richard takes on an entirely different color. I have tried to point out elsewhere to the objectivity-challenged that it matters how supposed facts are presented. For example the part about Richard muttering something like "it has happened". Do you, Mrs.R or your hubby Mr.R, or Heehs know what was going on in Richard's mind when he was allegedly muttering these things? No. But putting it right in the middle of the passage in which there is this alleged discussion with Sri Aurobindo about potential marriage with the Mother it takes on a definite meaning. While in reality it a) may not have happened at all b) did not happen in the way that someone reported it happening, since anything can come in the way memory, hearing loss, wrong identification based on poor eyesight... etc. etc. etc. etc. But Peter puts it into that passage like it was something that he himself was there to witness. This is utter nonsense. It only shows that the charlatan is more of a tabloid fiction writer than some sort of a historian. And for you and Mr.R and other Heehsians he is your guru. So you have to come up with all kinds of idiotic defenses to rationalize his errors away and to get all and sundry to accept his flawed and falsehood-ridden drivel as God's own truth.

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