Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Development of the Chola Empire in Southern India 900 AD - 1300 AD

Chola Empire Map: approx. 900 AD 1300 AD

   The [late first millennium AD] scene in the Indian peninsula was dominated by the Tamil identity, forged under the Cholas... The classicism of the Chola period drew less on political authority and more on the institutions established at this time, together with the articulation of cultural forms.  In many spheres of cultural life, whether of social institutions, religion, or the fine arts, the standards established during this period came to dominate the pattern of living in the south, and to partially influence the pattersn existing elsewhere in the peninsula.  There was also an active intervention in south-east Asia to a greater degree than before, in the commerce of the region and in its cultural forms.

Parantaka first empire of the Chola Empire

    The Cholas emerged as the dominant power in the south,  The core region of their control- Cholamandalam- was the area around Tanjavurup to the eatern coast, the Coromandal of later times.  Mention of Chola chiefdoms goes back to the turn of the Christian era in the Shangam poems.  Towards the middle of the ninth century, a chief claiming Cholla ancestry conquered the region of Tanjavur, the heart of Tamilaham.  In 907 AD the first important ruler of the Chola dynasty, Parantaka I, came to power and ruled for almost half a century.

Rajendra Chola: Clearly a huge pimp if this movie still is accurate.

  Chola power was firmly established with the acession of Rajaraja (985-1014) and his son and successor, Rajendra, which allowed about half a century for the Chola kingdom to be consolidated and stabilized.  The reigns of both father and son were filled with extensive campaigns in almost every direction.

Aziz Ansari was born in the U.S but his parents are Tamils from the Tamil Nadu.

  Chola power weakened in the thirteenth century.  In the south, the Pandyas had superseded the Cholas as the dominant power in the Tamil country.

M.I.A's famil is from Sri Lanka where they were part of the Tamil minority- the ethnic majority in Sri Linka is the Sinhalese.   Historically, the Tamils would have been colonial invaders similar to the role Rome played in the history of Northern Europe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley

The Water-Babies illustration- if you are into drawings of naked young boys The Water-Babies is the book for you.

Book Review
The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale For A Land Baby
by Rev. Charles Kingsley
published 1862-1863

The Water-Babies combines allegory, satire and children's literature in a similar fashion as books like Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland and Gargantua and Pantagruel.  It certainly hasn't fared as well as the other two examples of similar books- in that Hollywood has not adapted The Water-Babies with Jack Black starring or Tim Burton directing in the last five years.

The Water-Babies cover illustration- reoccurring motive of naked young dudes.

  To a contemporary reader, for example, me, The Water-Babies seems less like children's literature and more like an adult allegory.  Kingsley wrote The Water-Babies shortly after Charles Darwin published his seminal works outlining his theory of evolution.  The story of The Water-Babies involves a chimney sweep who is treated cuelly by his boss and his transformed into a "Water-Baby" by a fairy godmother type.

 After his transformation he has several adventures that involve him traveling up north and learning valuable life lessons.  According to the description in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, The Water-Babies is also complex allegory that explains the theory of evolution to children.  Well- I totally didn't get that part.  In fact, it was quite clear to me that reading The Water-Babies on a Kindle, without the benefit of full-color illustrations that accompany every printed edition of the book, is far from being the ideal format.

The Water-Babies illustration:  Look at the expression on the face of that fish in the background.  Don't you want your kid to have something like this in their room?

  I think The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley is a marginal title on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list and a good candidate to be cut in the second edition.

      I would say though if you are currently a parent of a young child this is a good look for the kid- guarantee you will wow the other parents during your next discussion of children's literature with your peers, "Oh yeah we got him/her The Water-Babies- by Charles Kingsley?  Not as well known as Snow White but our son/daughter has really taken a shine to it."  And then the other parents will be like, "The Water-Babies?  I got my kid an APP that lets him pretend to be one of the Cars, from Walt Disney's Cars movies."  Suck it, other parents.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tuesday Night in San Diego: Tamaryn, Young Prisms & Cathedral X @ The Casbah

Event Preview
Dream Recordings Presents
Young Prisms
Cathedral X
@ The Casbah San Diego, CA.  Tuesday, November 20th 2012.

  Cathedral X is a very weird scene and I like that about them.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in the 2012 film version of the musical adaptation of  Les Miserables

Book Review
Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo
p. 1862

   I've read some long books in my perambulations through the literature of the 18th and 19th century but none that FELT as long as Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  I've literally been reading this book- on the ole' Kindle- for over a month.  By virtue of numerous film/tv adaptations and one incomparably famous musical adaptation, Les Misérables has unquestionably earned a place as one of the most popular novels of all time, though after actually reading the book I questions whether even 1 percent of the people who are familiar with the musical or one of the film adaptations have actually read the book.

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in the 2012 film adaptation of the musical version of Les Miserables

  Published in 1862, Les Misérables take place earlier in the 19th century, telling the now well familiar tale of the convict Jean ValJean, his adopted daughter Cosette, her would-be lover Marius and of course the immortal Inspector Javert.   As a bonus, each of the five books that comprises Les Misérables contains not only the central narrative of Valjean/Cosette but also lengthy passages about historical events and philosophy.   These passages set Hugo apart from other contemporary writers like Charles Dickens.  

Amanda Seyfreid as Cosette in the 2012 film adaptation of the musical version of Les Miserbales.

   Generations of critics, scholars and fans have pointed to the "universality" of Les Misérables as being key to its enduring success with a global audience.   Hugo was a prolific author of poetry and prose, fiction and non-fiction.  Hugo was living in exile- in England- during the period when he wrote Les Misérables and it's hard not to impute some of the universal appeal of this book to his awareness of the success of novels like David Copperfield (1850),  Bleak House (1853),  Hard Times (1854), North and South (1855) and A Tale of Two Cities (1859.)

Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier in the 2012 film adaptation of the musical version of Les Miserables.

  To compare the style of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (published in 1831), his other big hit novel, with the style of Les Misérables is to see growth in the scope of what a Novel could accomplish within a historical setting.   The Hunchback of Notre Dame is squarely under the influence of Sir Walter Scott and his historical novels.  While Les Misérables also takes place in the past, it is much, much more then a historical tale with contemporary political undertones.   Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is a novel of ideas and more resembles Moby Dick and War and Peace then what Dickens was turning out.

  The initial publication was a huge hit with the Audience- on an international scale- but less so with critics, who took issue with a number of aspects- the sentimentality, republican sympathies and the "immorality" of the characters.

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