Reading List, November 2022
Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.
We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.
Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow. Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green
Archetype → Utopian
“I know, I know a place in the sun by the fountain of time,
where the air is kind.
I know, I know, because I hold it in my secret pocket—
a dream taken from between sleep and wake, never to be forgotten.”
There’s something acutely human about the idea of paradise. Other beings like animals and plants don’t seem preoccupied as we humans are with this idea of a place of never-ending peace and happiness. Perhaps, in the sense that they don’t question or compare the perfection of their reality, they never left promised land. Even children unacquainted with life’s harder facets or long-range worries remain in this blissfully innocent dream.
But, not all adult humans lose sight of utopia. Some of us hold on to the dream through the grind and still find ways to return to paradise through textures, tastes, sights, smells, stories, places, or people. These natives of promised land are known as the ‘innocent’ or ‘child’ archetype in Jungian psychology. When we use this archetype in storytelling to construct characters, we find it more appropriate to deem it ‘utopian’ to avoid biases. The utopians’ strength is their inextinguishable optimism. Their charm is their innocence. The core desire driving this archetype is returning to paradise—whether it’s something they held and lost, or have only dreamt of. This is the archetype that we used to construct Tanya’s character in this monthly story.
Complementing Tanya’s character, we chose the moods of wonder and beauty for this story. Moods like wonder (adbūtha rasa) and beauty (sringāra rasa) are storytelling tools that we’ve adopted from the eastern performance theory of Rasa, which describes nine elemental moods for all works of art.
This reading list will take you through the ideas, incidents, people, films, music and research that inspired us through the making of this story.
1944, Gamperaliya. Martin Wickremasinghe: One of the most iconic stories that communicate the timeless narrative of losing paradise in South Asian literature is Gamperaliya. It captures the story of changing times through a southern village going through a cultural and class system upheaval.
Translating between garden and paradise: Gardens have been used as models of paradise for as long as human civilization goes. After the beginning of agriculture, humans seem to have bridged their sense of separation from nature with fantasies of paradise that translated to gardening over time.
1955, Orson Welles interview excerpt. Persistence of Cinema: Welles talks about how his innocence of the film craft and naive optimism about what a camera could capture in cinema led to one of his greatest successes as a new director.
2009, Panpsychism in history, an overview. David Skrbina: Panpsychism is the idea that consciousness doesn’t stop at living things, that it did not develop to meet survival needs, nor that it emerged when animal brains evolved to be complex enough. Instead, consciousness is inherent to matter—all matter. Stones and stars, electrons and photons, and even quarks have consciousness.
2021, The Conscious Universe. Joe Zadeh. Noema Magazine: The radical idea that everything has elements of consciousness is reemerging and breathing new life into a cold and mechanical cosmos.
Love and erotic expression are perhaps the most widely explored emotions and experiences in all types of art forms throughout the world. Sringāra rasa ( the aesthetic mood described as romance, love, and beauty) is sometimes known as the mother of all rasas and has remained one of the most popular rasas of all time. It has two base points—union and separation.
The 43 Group led by Lionel Wendt was at the forefront of Sri Lanka’s modernist movement, depicting Ceylonese life at the time, and bearing witness to the culture of this country with great artistic truthfulness. Their work, depicting people, moments, fantasies, landscapes and everyday life played an important role in refreshing Sri Lanka’s reputation as an island paradise.
2022, Picturing Paradise, the hereafter in art and religion panel discussion with Pujan Gandhi, Amy Landau, Ben Quash, and Melissa Raphael: Our cultural and devotional imagination is enriched by the ongoing attempts artists make to visualize the invisible, and in this symposium, historians and curators specializing in Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian and Islamic art will account for the diversity of these beliefs about paradise through the lens of art both historic and contemporary. Scroll down to watch the video recording (documentation) of this online event.
1993. Expressionist utopias: paradise, metropolis, architectural fantasy. Benson, Timothy, O. Frisby, David. Calif, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
2011, Alison Carroll: Gauguin And The Idea Of An Asian Paradise: Paul Gauguin not only offered the world a fresh view of itself but also suggested that there may well be places where paradises existed. That place was the South Seas. Much inspired by Gauguin’s example, many artists sought out Southeast Asia as their paradise.
2021, Within the Known: Wonder That Comes from Understanding. Amanda Vick: Is understanding contradictory to wonder? There are two sub-moods of the Adbhuta Rasa (the mood of wonder) in the eastern Rasa theory. The first includes wonder that occurs when there is a lack of understanding of an experience that could be understood. The second sub-mood comes from not understanding experiences that cannot be understood. What is the possibility of understanding leading to or supporting experiences of wonder? To explore the concept of wonder, thirty interviews were conducted in this study.
Paradise is reflected in Islamic art and culture in distinctive ways with remarkable ideological continuity in the Muslim world. The concept of paradise, a part of the Islamic cosmos, is put forth in the Quran through ayat or "signs for men possessed of mind". The term used to describe Paradise often is Jannat or gardens. The Islamic garden mirrors this idea of paradise.
1808, William Blake. Illustrations for Paradise Lost: As a poet and artist, William Blake had a highly personal response to John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). He produced books inspired by the poet, designs for Milton’s Comus (1801), as well as pencil sketches, paintings and three sets of illustrations of Paradise Lost. These are archived in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Huntington Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
>> Read the previous reading list