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Symbolice Forms and Human Encounters

Roshni Sengupta

Edited by Bernard Bel , Jan Brouwer, Biswajit Das, Vibodh Parthasarathi, and Guy Poitevin Sage
Sage, Delhi, 2010, pp. 504, Rs. 850.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 12 December 2010

The function of communication to shape the dialectics of the time provides it with a rare power. Defined as the interplay of various, often conflicting, images and symbolizations, the process of communication as well as the import of that process hold within them the innate will to move thought-processes in a particular direction. Communications, therefore, is the conglomeration of symbolic forms that tend to embody and promote dialogue, interaction, links, rapports, and human encounters. These symbolic forms can be grouped together under the category of the cultural or cultural forms. The volume under review addresses the contextual and physical forms of these symbols as integral markers of culture. The overarching strain of the argument posited encapsulates within its boundaries the primordial and earliest definitions and characterizations of the means, processes, and ends of communication. Cultural patterns, systems of representations and knowledge and cognitive structures contrive modes, forms, and means of communication within given communities and between communities. This communication may be both cordial and conflictual. Collective forms of communication convey the essential moorings of a peoples cultural practices. Songs, tunes, drama, images at home, posters on the streets, narratives, films, rituals, deities, occupational skills, village festivals, pilgrimages to holy places, carnivals, folk art forms, bazaar art forms, street plays are some of the recognized forms of communication that draw heavily from local and primordial cultures. Herein lay the seeds of conflict. The editors have, in this volume, drawn on arguments that contextualize the conflictual nature of cultural communication and the reception of that communication by the receiver of the same. In his article, Guy Poitevin draws on the nature of language to be the primary vehicle for communication and, hence, cultural exchange, leading to both positive and negative impacts. Further, he argues that the popular in culture is construed as a by-product of duly certified mental operations. Thus, the popular occurs outside the intellectually ordained. The popular is often connoted a peripheral identity. Fables, for instance, are part of popular culture. Folk music can be the other valid example. It is imperative to draw a distinction between high-culture classical forms of music and the more popular folk forms to explain the differences that pervade the core of the definition of the acceptable and the peripheral. Poitevin also makes an important point in saying that the political has often marked out the popular as a site of repression, as the popular ...

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