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Saturday, August 7, 2010



Team Nagamandala includes the following performers: Randheer OPT, Abdul Rasheed, Sanoop, Deepak kumar, Radesh, Josin, Shijith, Udaya Ramachandran, Aswathi Sairaj, and Kavyasree Prabhakaran. They belong to the 2008 - 2011 batch. Other students of the class extend to them all material and moral help in launching as well as developing the project further.
The first public performance of team NAGAMANDALA was in the National Seminar of the Department of English, Sree Narayana College, Kannur. We record our deep gratitude to Dr. N.Sajan, Head of the Department of English and other faculty for this kind gesture that inspired our students and prompted them to go forward with further performances in other institutions. They have been good enough to point out some ways to improve the performance also.




Friday, August 6, 2010

What you see is a snap of SUKLA SEN conversing with the students and faculty of the department of English on NUCLEAR ARMS. Also read the address by Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C. To Hiroshima International Conference, July 28, 2010*

A Nuclear Weapons Convention: The Time Is Now

A new moment has arrived in the long struggle to rid the world of nuclear weapons.*

For the first time, the subject of a Nuclear Weapons Convention - a global treaty to ban all nuclear weapons -- is on the international agenda with the agreement of all states.

Consider the progress that has so far been made:

Two-thirds of all national governments have voted at the U.N. to start negotiations on a convention. In 21 countries, including the five major nuclear powers, polls show that 76 percent of people support negotiation of a treaty banning all nuclear weapons. The governments of China, India and Pakistan, all with nuclear weapons, are committed to negotiations. The European Parliament has voted for a convention along with a number of national parliaments. Long lists of non-governmental organizations want it.
In Japan, 10 million people signed a petition for it. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has spoken repeatedly in favour of it. There is no doubt that historical momentum is building up.

No organization has done more to bring about a nuclear weapons free world than Mayors for Peace. This courageous group, led by Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, now embraces more than 4,000 cities around the world, which have joined in a common call for action to eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The unprecedented growth of Mayors for Peace, now representing more than three-quarters of a billion people, shows the
determination of local leaders to protect their citizens from nuclear annihilation. I take heart from this valiant work.

But we must not rest. The opposition is still strong. We must renew our work.

Nuclear weapons are about power, and governments have never given up that which they perceive as giving them strength. The powerful military-industrial complexes are still trading on a fear that has been driven into the public. There is a virtual mainline media blackout on the subject, which makes it all the harder to have national debates. Yet, despite these obstacles, the tide is turning.

The strong opposition to a convention at the 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by a powerful few shows that it is no longer ignored, but has entered the mainstream of governmental thinking. The Final Document of the NPT meeting said: "The conference notes the Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament of the Secretary- General of the United Nations, which proposes inter alia consideration of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or agreement on a
framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system of verification."

This language is weak, and the nuclear weapons states had to be dragged along to agree to this much. Yet the consensus reference to a Nuclear Weapons Convention that survived the diplomatic battles is far from toothless. For the first time in an NPT document, the concept of a global ban, with all the work necessary to achieve it, is validated. In fact, grudging though it may be, the reference is given more heft by the statement preceding it:

"The conference calls on all nuclear weapons states to undertake concrete disarmament efforts and affirms that all states need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons."

The concept of a convention is now embedded, and the advocates of a nuclear weapons free world have an agreed document we can build on. Our task now is to figure out the best way to get negotiations started on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Advocates tried to have the NPT Review Conference call for the Secretary-General to convene a conference in 2014 for this purpose, but their proposal was blocked by the powerful states. A conference to amend the NPT has been suggested, but since India, Pakistan and Israel, all with nuclear weapons, are not members, the NPT is not the most propitious route.

A special session of the U.N. General Assembly is sometimes proposed, but, with the major states voting no, it would be unlikely to get very far. Similarly, the Conference on Disarmament, a permanent body operating in Geneva, is stymied by the consensus rule. Short of mass demonstrations around the world demanding that all states convene to produce a convention, a comprehensive negotiation forum seems elusive at the moment.

The most likely practicable action would be a core group of countries calling their own conference to which interested states would be invited. This work could evolve, when some momentum is achieved, into the full-scale international conference called for by numerous commissions.

The crucial point is to start preparatory work now before the present window
of opportunity closes. In 1996, Canada called an open-ended conference of states concerned about the humanitarian, social and economic devastation caused by antipersonnel land mines. The "Ottawa Process," as it was called, demonstrated
a willingness to step outside the normal diplomatic process and work with a group of civil society experts. It was so successful that it produced a treaty within a year. It quickly entered into force and today 80 percent of the world's states have ratified or acceded to the Ottawa Convention, and many of those that remain outside have adopted its norms.

In 2007, the government of Norway followed a similar process to build support for a ban on cluster munitions, weapons that eject clusters of bomblets with delayed explosive force. Again, within a year, a legally binding treaty was produced, prohibiting the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions "that cause unacceptable harm to civilians." The signing ceremony in Dublin was attended by 107 nations, including 7 of the 14 countries that have used cluster bombs and 17 of the 34 countries that have produced them. The treaty was opposed by a number of countries that produce or stockpile significant amounts of cluster munitions, including the
U.S.,Russia and China. But when Barack Obama became president, the U.S. reversed its position and signed on. Opponents of the weapons hailed the decision as a "major turnaround in U.S. policy," which overrode Pentagon calls to permit their continued export. This action immediately started to influence other holdouts.

Some observers say that the "Ottawa Process" cannot be replicated for nuclear weapons, which are an order of magnitude beyond conventional weapons. But they may perhaps be too timid in their assessment. A global process of law-making against weapons of mass destruction is an inescapable requisite for survival in a globalized world. Non-nuclear states have not only a right but an obligation to build an international law based on safety for all humanity. Not to exercise that right would be to surrender to the militarism that drives the policy-making processes of the nuclear states.
If a national government's primary duty is to protect its own citizens, how can it rationally sit silently in the face of threats from outside its borders?

Neither the land mines nor the cluster munitions produced perfect agreements. But they overcame diplomatic roadblocks, raised international norms, and forced the recalcitrant states into a "pariah" mode. A Nuclear Weapons Convention, developed and signed by a majority of states, may well be rejected by the major states at the outset, but the opinion of their own populaces, seeing how other states are moving ahead, may then becoming a determining factor in approval.

The fact that China, one of the big five, has already voted at the U.N. for a convention and spoken out in favour at the NPT Review Conference means that the nuclear weapons states do not have a united front. The United Kingdom has accepted that a convention will likely be necessary in the future and has started the requisite verification work. Even India and Pakistan, opponents of the NPT, have committed themselves to participate in global negotiations.

Once a convention has become a reality, pressure will mount for all states to sign. Some, however, may not sign immediately, and there may be a few holdouts for years. It should be remembered that it took several years for China and France to join the NPT, which simply was started without them. Even if a Nuclear Weapons Convention does not come into effect until all the nuclear weapons states and nuclear capable states ratify it, the world would be far better off than at present. The risk of starting a disarmament process without knowing in advance its completion date is a far less risk than continuing the status quo in which a two-class nuclear world
acts as an incentive to proliferation and heightened dangers.

The process for nuclear disarmament, once it starts, will embolden many states, which have hitherto been deferential to the major states. NATO states particularly have been inhibited from acting to end the incoherency of maintaining their loyalty to the NATO doctrine that nuclear weapons are "essential," while agreeing in the NPT context to an "unequivocal undertaking" to total elimination.

Already, Norway, Germany and Belgium, all NATO members, are chaffing at the alliance restrictions. They are ready to join important likeminded countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Brazil and Chile, which have openly called for a convention. A group of non-aligned countries, led by Costa Rica and Malaysia, have already met to start the process. When significant middle-power states enter the discussions, a new compact will be in the offing.

Today, I am calling for middle-power countries, which have already declared themselves in favour of a global legal process to ban nuclear weapons, to step forward, and invite interested states to preparatory meetings.

This will reinforce the leadership of President Obama, whose aspiration for a nuclear weapons free world is thwarted by those within his own administration, who say such an achievement is not obtainable. Middle-power governments and publics must support leaders such as President Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who have taken strong stands for nuclear disarmament. The forthcoming visit to Hiroshima of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sends a historic message to the world that our hopes for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons are grounded in reality.

* * * * * * * * *
Now is the time for us to raise our voices to say for the entire world to hear: a Nuclear Weapons Convention is not just a vision, it is a work in progress. A model treaty already exists.

Shortly after the International Court of Justice rendered its 1996 Advisory Opinion stating that all nations have an obligation to conclude comprehensive negotiations for nuclear disarmament, a group of experts in law, science, disarmament and negotiation began a drafting process. After a year of consultations, examining the security concerns of all states and of humanity as a whole, they submitted their model to the United Nations, and it has been circulating as a U.N. document ever since. The model treaty was the basis of a book, Securing Our Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In the foreword, Judge Christopher Weeramantry,
who participated in the Court's Advisory Opinion, called the logic of the model treaty "unassailable."

The model treaty begins with the words, "We the peoples of the Earth, through the states parties to this conventionŠ" and continues with powerful preambular language affirming that the very existence of nuclear weapons "generates a climate of suspicion and fear which is antagonistic to the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rightsŠ" It lays down the obligations of states. "Each state party to this Convention undertakes never under any circumstances to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons." This is spelled out to ensure states will not "develop, test, produce, otherwise acquire, deploy, stockpile, retain, or transfer" nuclear materials or delivery vehicles and will not fund nuclear weapons research. Further, states would destroy the nuclear weapons they possess.

Turning to the obligations of persons, the treaty would make it a crime for any person to engage in the development, testing and production of nuclear weapons, and would facilitate whistle-blowers.

The model treaty specifies five time periods for full implementation.

In Phase One, not later than one year after entry into force of the treaty, all
states parties shall have declared the number and location of all nuclear materials, and production of all nuclear weapons components ceased. In Phase Two (not more than two years after entry into force), all nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles shall be removed from deployment sites. In Phase Three (five years), the U.S. and Russia will be permitted no more than 1,000 nuclear warheads, and the U.K., France and China no more than 100.

In Phase Four (10 years), the U.S. and Russia will bring their nuclear stockpiles down to 50 each, and the U.K., France and China down to 10 each. Other nuclear weapons possessors would reduce in similar proportions. All reactors using highly enriched uranium or plutonium would be closed or converted to low enriched uranium use. In Phase Five (15 years), "all nuclear weapons shall be destroyed."

All this disarmament activity would be supervised by an International Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons established by the Convention and verified by an International Monitoring System composed of professional inspectors. Baseline information would be gathered, prescribed disarmament steps monitored, and re-armament prevented through detection of any objects or activities indicating a nuclear weapons capability. Emerging technologies, including satellite photography, better radioisotope monitoring, and real-time data communications systems
provide increasing capacity for the necessary confidence-building. A country found in violation of the Convention would be brought before the U.N. Security Council and appropriate economic and military sanctions imposed. If a dispute arises between two or more states, it would be referred to the International Court of Justice and its mechanisms for compulsory settlement of disputes.

The model Nuclear Weapons Convention doubtless needs refinement. Perhaps there are other ways to frame the issues. As the process unfolds, new insights will be gained on the best way forward. The immediacy of the nuclear weapons problem demands that we start active work on elimination now.

The limited capacity of the NPT and associated safeguards, the deceptive arms agreements that are always accompanied by enlarged modernization programs, and the retention of nuclear doctrines have all undermined the non-proliferation regime. Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have joined the nuclear club. Iran is in advanced stages of uranium enrichment. Without a comprehensive plan to shut down all nuclear weapons, they are bound to spread further.

The list of immediate dangers includes terrorism. The opportunities for terrorists to acquire fissile material and fabricate a crude nuclear bomb are now alarming world leaders. A Nuclear Weapons Convention would make it very difficult for a terrorist organization to steal the materials for a nuclear bomb. Perhaps not impossible, but the verification systems under a convention would make it easier to discover a potential terrorist threat.

Another immediate benefit of a convention would be the strengthening of humanitarian law. The principle of one law for all, which a Nuclear Weapons Convention underscores, also bridges the ongoing debate about which comes first: non-proliferation or disarmament.

The holistic approach to nuclear disarmament through a Nuclear Weapons Convention has one other great, and perhaps determining, attribute: involvement of civil society. It will be states that negotiate and ratify the treaty, but the involvement of leading individuals and organizations in education, public policy, law, health, human rights, environmental protection, social justice, ethics, religion and other fields will bring a deep human dimension to work that has too often in the past been
dominated by bureaucrats and arcane terminology.

It was civil society leaders who wrote the model treaty. Now that the subject is on the international agenda, the way is open for scientists, engineers, technicians and corporations working in the nuclear field to contribute their expertise to ensure that nuclear bombs are banished. The combined efforts of citizens and non-nuclear weapons governments can lead the way in mobilizing public opinion for a global treaty.

A Nuclear Weapons Convention is understandable and attractive because it is a single-focused idea to get rid of all nuclear weapons in a safe and secure way. It provides a legal basis for phasing in concrete steps with a visible intent to reach zero nuclear weapons in a defined time period. The public can easily understand this clear notion.

The work of Mayors for Peace, already a powerful worldwide movement, is now clear. It must mobilize its powerful constituency of cities to demand that their governments start active work now on a Nuclear Weapons Convention. Mayors are increasingly speaking out, as the U.S. Conference of Mayors has done in calling on Congress to redirect spending on nuclear weapons to the needs of cities. Mayors for Peace are challenged at this opportune moment.

* * * * * * * *

Finally, we who are working in this field must have confidence in ourselves because we are on the right side of history. We take strength from the historical momentum now building up towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. Informed public opinion is with us. It is our job to energize the public at large.

We must constantly appeal to the conscience of humanity to take steps to ban the instruments that would destroy all life on the planet. Through art, films, books, the Internet, and all forms of modern communication, we must reflect, inspire, deepen and utilize the feelings within all civilizations that the threat of mass killings cannot be tolerated. The hibakusha animate us. Their suffering must never be in vain. In their name, we will succeed in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.


Read this story by Poe thoroughly and also read the coming post on how Lacan read this story in his famous essay THE PURLOINED POE.

THE PURLOINED LETTER (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe

Nil sapientiae odiosius acumine nimio. - Seneca.(Nothing is more hateful to wisdom than excessive cleverness). Seneca wrote this about his student, Nero.)

At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18--, I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation and a meerschaum (A tobacco pipe. A fine light white clayey mineral that is a hydrous magnesium silicate found chiefly in Asia Minor and is used especially for tobacco pipes), in company with my friend C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library, or book-closet, au troisieme (French for "on the third," but the meaning is the fourth floor, because the count starts after the ground floor), No. 33, Rue (street) Dunot, Faubourg St. Germain. For one hour at least we had maintained a profound silence; while each, to any casual observer, might have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of the chamber. For myself, however, I was mentally discussing certain topics which had formed matter for conversation between us at an earlier period of the evening; I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery attending the murder of Marie Roget. I looked upon it, therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the door of our apartment was thrown open and admitted our old acquaintance, Monsieur G--, the Prefect (the Chief Officer) of the Parisian police.

We gave him a hearty welcome; for there was nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the man, and we had not seen him for several years. We had been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now arose for the purpose of lighting a lamp, but sat down again, without doing so, upon G.'s saying that he had called to consult us, or rather to ask the opinion of my friend, about some official business which had occasioned a great deal of trouble.

"If it is any point requiring reflection," observed Dupin, as he forbore to enkindle the wick, "we shall examine it to better purpose in the dark."

"That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who had a fashion of calling every thing "odd" that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of "oddities."

"Very true," said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor with a pipe, and rolled towards him a comfortable chair.

"And what is the difficulty now?" I asked. "Nothing more in the assassination way, I hope?"

"Oh no; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the business is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt that we can manage it sufficiently well ourselves; but then I thought Dupin would like to hear the details of it, because it is so excessively odd."

"Simple and odd," said Dupin.

"Why, yes; and not exactly that, either. The fact is, we have all been a good deal puzzled because the affair is so simple, and yet baffles us altogether."

"Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing which puts you at fault," said my friend.

"What nonsense you do talk!" replied the Prefect, laughing heartily.

"Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain," said Dupin.

"Oh, good heavens! who ever heard of such an idea?"

"A little too self-evident."

"Ha! ha! ha! --ha! ha! ha! --ho! ho! ho!" --roared our visitor, profoundly amused, "oh, Dupin, you will be the death of me yet!"

"And what, after all, is the matter on hand?" I asked.

"Why, I will tell you," replied the Prefect, as he gave a long, steady, and contemplative puff, and settled himself in his chair. "I will tell you in a few words; but, before I begin, let me caution you that this is an affair demanding the greatest secrecy, and that I should most probably lose the position I now hold, were it known that I confided it to any one.

"Proceed," said I.

"Or not," said Dupin.

"Well, then; I have received personal information, from a very high quarter, that a certain document of the last importance, has been purloined from the royal apartments. The individual who purloined it is known; this beyond a doubt; he was seen to take it. It is known, also, that it still remains in his possession."

"How is this known?" asked Dupin.

"It is clearly inferred," replied the Prefect, "from the nature of the document, and from the nonappearance of certain results which would at once arise from its passing out of the robber's possession; --that is to say, from his employing it as he must design in the end to employ it."

"Be a little more explicit," I said.

"Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper gives its holder a certain power in a certain quarter where such power is immensely valuable." The Prefect was fond of the cant of diplomacy.

"Still I do not quite understand," said Dupin.

"No? Well; the disclosure of the document to a third person, who shall be nameless, would bring in question the honor of a personage of most exalted station; and this fact gives the holder of the document an ascendancy over the illustrious personage whose honor and peace are so jeopardized."

"But this ascendancy," I interposed, "would depend upon the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber. Who would dare--"

"The thief," said G., is the Minister D--, who dares all things, those unbecoming as well as those becoming a man. The method of the theft was not less ingenious than bold. The document in question --a letter, to be frank --had been received by the personage robbed while alone in the royal boudoir. During its perusal she was suddenly interrupted by the entrance of the other exalted personage from whom especially it was her wish to conceal it. After a hurried and vain endeavor to thrust it in a drawer, she was forced to place it, open as it was, upon a table. The address, however, was uppermost, and, the contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped notice. At this juncture enters the Minister D--. His lynx eye immediately perceives the paper, recognises the handwriting of the address, observes the confusion of the personage addressed, and fathoms her secret. After some business transactions, hurried through in his ordinary manner, he produces a letter somewhat similar to the one in question, opens it, pretends to read it, and then places it in close juxtaposition to the other. Again he converses, for some fifteen minutes, upon the public affairs. At length, in taking leave, he takes also from the table the letter to which he had no claim. Its rightful owner saw, but, of course, dared not call attention to the act, in the presence of the third personage who stood at her elbow. The minister decamped; leaving his own letter --one of no importance --upon the table."

"Here, then," said Dupin to me, "you have precisely what you demand to make the ascendancy complete --the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber."

"Yes," replied the Prefect; "and the power thus attained has, for some months past, been wielded, for political purposes, to a very dangerous extent. The personage robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every day, of the necessity of reclaiming her letter. But this, of course, cannot be done openly. In fine, driven to despair, she has committed the matter to me."

"Than whom," said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind of smoke, "no more sagacious agent could, I suppose, be desired, or even imagined."

"You flatter me," replied the Prefect; "but it is possible that some such opinion may have been entertained."

"It is clear," said I, "as you observe, that the letter is still in possession of the minister; since it is this possession, and not any employment of the letter, which bestows the power. With the employment the power departs."

"True," said G. "and upon this conviction I proceeded. My first care was to make thorough search of the minister's hotel; and here my chief embarrassment lay in the necessity of searching without his knowledge. Beyond all things, I have been warned of the danger which would result from giving him reason to suspect our design."

"But," said I, "you are quite au fait in these investigations. The Parisian police have done this thing often before."

"Oh yes; and for this reason I did not despair. The habits of the minister gave me, too, a great advantage. He is frequently absent from home all night. His servants are by no means numerous. They sleep at a distance from their master's apartment, and, being chiefly Neapolitans (Natives or inhabitants of Naples, Italy), are readily made drunk. I have keys, as you know, with which I can open any chamber or cabinet in Paris. For three months a night has not passed, during the greater part of which I have not been engaged, personally, in ransacking the D-- Hotel. My honor is interested, and, to mention a great secret, the reward is enormous. So I did not abandon the search until I had become fully satisfied that the thief is a more astute man than myself. I fancy that I have investigated every nook and corner of the premises in which it is possible that the paper can be concealed."

"But is it not possible," I suggested, "that although the letter may be in possession of the minister, as it unquestionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere than upon his own premises?"

"This is barely possible," said Dupin. "The present peculiar condition of affairs at court, and especially of those intrigues in which D-- is known to be involved, would render the instant availability of the document --its susceptibility of being produced at a moment's notice --a point of nearly equal importance with its possession."

"Its susceptibility of being produced?" said I.

"That is to say, of being destroyed," said Dupin.

"True," I observed; "the paper is clearly then upon the premises. As for its being upon the person of the minister, we may consider that as out of the question."

"Entirely," said the Prefect. "He has been twice waylaid, as if by footpads (Thieves who rob pedestrians. Muggers), and his person rigorously searched under my own inspection.

"You might have spared yourself this trouble," said Dupin. "D--, I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, if not, must have anticipated these waylayings, as a matter of course."

"Not altogether a fool," said G., "but then he's a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool."

"True," said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff from his meerschaum, "although I have been guilty of certain doggerel myself."

"Suppose you detail," said I, "the particulars of your search."

"Why the fact is, we took our time, and we searched every where. I have had long experience in these affairs. I took the entire building, room by room; devoting the nights of a whole week to each. We examined, first, the furniture of each apartment. We opened every possible drawer; and I presume you know that, to a properly trained police agent, such a thing as a secret drawer is impossible. Any man is a dolt who permits a 'secret' drawer to escape him in a search of this kind. The thing is so plain. There is a certain amount of bulk --of space --to be accounted for in every cabinet. Then we have accurate rules. The fiftieth part of a line could not escape us. After the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions we probed with the fine long needles you have seen me employ. From the tables we removed the tops."

"Why so?"

"Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly arranged piece of furniture, is removed by the person wishing to conceal an article; then the leg is excavated, the article deposited within the cavity, and the top replaced. The bottoms and tops of bedposts are employed in the same way."

"But could not the cavity be detected by sounding?" I asked.

"By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a sufficient wadding of cotton be placed around it. Besides, in our case, we were obliged to proceed without noise."

"But you could not have removed --you could not have taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which it would have been possible to make a deposit in the manner you mention. A letter may be compressed into a thin spiral roll, not differing much in shape or bulk from a large knitting-needle, and in this form it might be inserted into the rung of a chair, for example. You did not take to pieces all the chairs?"

"Certainly not; but we did better --we examined the rungs of every chair in the hotel, and, indeed, the jointings of every description of furniture, by the aid of a most powerful microscope. Had there been any traces of recent disturbance we should not have failed to detect it instantly. A single grain of gimlet-dust, for example, would have been as obvious as an apple. Any disorder in the glueing --any unusual gaping in the joints --would have sufficed to insure detection."

"I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the boards and the plates, and you probed the beds and the bed-clothes, as well as the curtains and carpets."

"That of course; and when we had absolutely completed every particle of the furniture in this way, then we examined the house itself. We divided its entire surface into compartments, which we numbered, so that none might be missed; then we scrutinized each individual square inch throughout the premises, including the two houses immediately adjoining, with the microscope, as before."

"The two houses adjoining!" I exclaimed; "you must have had a great deal of trouble."

"We had; but the reward offered is prodigious.

"You include the grounds about the houses?"

"All the grounds are paved with brick. They gave us comparatively little trouble. We examined the moss between the bricks, and found it undisturbed."

"You looked among D--'s papers, of course, and into the books of the library?"

"Certainly; we opened every package and parcel; we not only opened every book, but we turned over every leaf in each volume, not contenting ourselves with a mere shake, according to the fashion of some of our police officers. We also measured the thickness of every book-cover, with the most accurate admeasurement, and applied to each the most jealous scrutiny of the microscope. Had any of the bindings been recently meddled with, it would have been utterly impossible that the fact should have escaped observation. Some five or six volumes, just from the hands of the binder, we carefully probed, longitudinally, with the needles."

"You explored the floors beneath the carpets?"

"Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and examined the boards with the microscope."

"And the paper on the walls?"


"You looked into the cellars?"

"We did."

"Then," I said, "you have been making a miscalculation, and the letter is not upon the premises, as you suppose.

"I fear you are right there," said the Prefect. "And now, Dupin, what would you advise me to do?"

"To make a thorough re-search of the premises."

"That is absolutely needless," replied G--. "I am not more sure that I breathe than I am that the letter is not at the Hotel."

"I have no better advice to give you," said Dupin. "You have, of course, an accurate description of the letter?"

"Oh yes!" --And here the Prefect, producing a memorandum-book, proceeded to read aloud a minute account of the internal, and especially of the external appearance of the missing document. Soon after finishing the perusal of this description, he took his departure, more entirely depressed in spirits than I had ever known the good gentleman before.

In about a month afterwards he paid us another visit, and found us occupied very nearly as before. He took a pipe and a chair and entered into some ordinary conversation. At length I said,--

"Well, but G--, what of the purloined letter? I presume you have at last made up your mind that there is no such thing as overreaching the Minister?"

"Confound him, say I --yes; I made the reexamination, however, as Dupin suggested --but it was all labor lost, as I knew it would be."

"How much was the reward offered, did you say?" asked Dupin.

"Why, a very great deal --a very liberal reward --I don't like to say how much, precisely; but one thing I will say, that I wouldn't mind giving my individual check for fifty thousand francs to any one who could obtain me that letter. The fact is, it is becoming of more and more importance every day; and the reward has been lately doubled. If it were trebled, however, I could do no more than I have done."

"Why, yes," said Dupin, drawlingly, between the whiffs of his meerschaum (a tobacco pipe), "I really --think, G--, you have not exerted yourself--to the utmost in this matter. You might --do a little more, I think, eh?"

"How? --In what way?"

"Why --puff, puff --you might --puff, puff --employ counsel in the matter, eh? --puff, puff, puff. Do you remember the story they tell of Abernethy (John Abernethy was a British surgeon known for being very blunt or even rude to his patients.)?"

"No; hang Abernethy!"

"To be sure! hang him and welcome. But, once upon a time, a certain rich miser conceived the design of spunging upon this Abernethy for a medical opinion. Getting up, for this purpose, an ordinary conversation in a private company, he insinuated his case to the physician, as that of an imaginary individual.

"'We will suppose,' said the miser, 'that his symptoms are such and such; now, doctor, what would you have directed him to take?'

"'Take!' said Abernethy, 'why, take advice, to be sure.'"

"But," said the Prefect, a little discomposed, "I am perfectly willing to take advice, and to pay for it. I would really give fifty thousand francs to any one who would aid me in the matter."

"In that case," replied Dupin, opening a drawer, and producing a check-book, "you may as well fill me up a check for the amount mentioned. When you have signed it, I will hand you the letter."

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely thunderstricken. For some minutes he remained speechless and motionless, less, looking incredulously at my friend with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting from their sockets; then, apparently in some measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and vacant stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty thousand francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin. The latter examined it carefully and deposited it in his pocket-book; then, unlocking an escritoire (A writing table or desk), took thence a letter and gave it to the Prefect. This functionary grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with a trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then, scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length unceremoniously from the room and from the house, without having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested him to fill up the check.

When he had gone, my friend entered into some explanations.

"The Parisian police," he said, "are exceedingly able in their way. They are persevering, ingenious, cunning, and thoroughly versed in the knowledge which their duties seem chiefly to demand. Thus, when G-- detailed to us his mode of searching the premises at the Hotel D--, I felt entire confidence in his having made a satisfactory investigation --so far as his labors extended."

"So far as his labors extended?" said I.

"Yes," said Dupin. "The measures adopted were not only the best of their kind, but carried out to absolute perfection. Had the letter been deposited within the range of their search, these fellows would, beyond a question, have found it."

I merely laughed --but he seemed quite serious in all that he said.

"The measures, then," he continued, "were good in their kind, and well executed; their defect lay in their being inapplicable to the case, and to the man. A certain set of highly ingenious resources are, with the Prefect, a sort of Procrustean (Marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances) bed, to which he forcibly adapts his designs. But he perpetually errs by being too deep or too shallow, for the matter in hand; and many a schoolboy is a better reasoner than he. I knew one about eight years of age, whose success at guessing in the game of 'even and odd' attracted universal admiration. This game is simple, and is played with marbles. One player holds in his hand a number of these toys, and demands of another whether that number is even or odd. If the guess is right, the guesser wins one; if wrong, he loses one. The boy to whom I allude won all the marbles of the school. Of course he had some principle of guessing; and this lay in mere observation and admeasurement of the astuteness of his opponents. For example, an arrant simpleton is his opponent, and, holding up his closed hand, asks, 'are they even or odd?' Our schoolboy replies, 'odd,' and loses; but upon the second trial he wins, for he then says to himself, the simpleton had them even upon the first trial, and his amount of cunning is just sufficient to make him have them odd upon the second; I will therefore guess odd'; --he guesses odd, and wins. Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first, he would have reasoned thus: 'This fellow finds that in the first instance I guessed odd, and, in the second, he will propose to himself upon the first impulse, a simple variation from even to odd, as did the first simpleton; but then a second thought will suggest that this is too simple a variation, and finally he will decide upon putting it even as before. I will therefore guess even' guesses even, and wins. Now this mode of reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows termed "lucky," --what, in its last analysis, is it?"

"It is merely," I said, "an identification of the reasoner's intellect with that of his opponent."

"It is," said Dupin;" and, upon inquiring of the boy by what means he effected the thorough identification in which his success consisted, I received answer as follows: 'When I wish to find out how wise, or how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his thoughts at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face, as accurately as possible, in accordance with the expression of his, and then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or heart, as if to match or correspond with the expression.' This response of the schoolboy lies at the bottom of all the spurious profundity which has been attributed to Rochefoucauld, to La Bougive, to Machiavelli, and to Campanella."

"And the identification," I said, "of the reasoner's intellect with that of his opponent, depends, if I understand you aright upon the accuracy with which the opponent's intellect is admeasured."

"For its practical value it depends upon this," replied Dupin; and the Prefect and his cohort fall so frequently, first, by default of this identification, and, secondly, by ill-admeasurement, or rather through non-admeasurement, of the intellect with which they are engaged. They consider only their own ideas of ingenuity; and, in searching for anything hidden, advert only to the modes in which they would have hidden it. They are right in this much --that their own ingenuity is a faithful representative of that of the mass; but when the cunning of the individual felon is diverse in character from their own, the felon foils them, of course. This always happens when it is above their own, and very usually when it is below. They have no variation of principle in their investigations; at best, when urged by some unusual emergency --by some extraordinary reward --they extend or exaggerate their old modes of practice, without touching their principles. What, for example, in this case of D--, has been done to vary the principle of action? What is all this boring, and probing, and sounding, and scrutinizing with the microscope, and dividing the surface of the building into registered square inches --what is it all but an exaggeration of the application of the one principle or set of principles of search, which are based upon the one set of notions regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect, in the long routine of his duty, has been accustomed? Do you not see he has taken it for granted that all men proceed to conceal a letter, --not exactly in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg --but, at least, in some hole or corner suggested by the same tenor of thought which would urge a man to secrete a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg? And do you not see also, that such recherches (Exquisite, pretentious, overblown) nooks for concealment are adapted only for ordinary occasions, and would be adopted only by ordinary intellects; for, in all cases of concealment, a disposal of the article concealed --a disposal of it in this recherche manner, --is, in the very first instance, presumable and presumed; and thus its discovery depends, not at all upon the acumen, but altogether upon the mere care, patience, and determination of the seekers; and where the case is of importance --or, what amounts to the same thing in the policial eyes, when the reward is of magnitude, --the qualities in question have never been known to fall. You will now understand what I meant in suggesting that, had the purloined letter been hidden anywhere within the limits of the Prefect's examination --in other words, had the principle of its concealment been comprehended within the principles of the Prefect --its discovery would have been a matter altogether beyond question. This functionary, however, has been thoroughly mystified; and the remote source of his defeat lies in the supposition that the Minister is a fool, because he has acquired renown as a poet. All fools are poets; this the Prefect feels; and he is merely guilty of a non distributio medii (Fallacy of the undistributed middle. A seemingly logical reasoning that is not always true) in thence inferring that all poets are fools."

"But is this really the poet?" I asked. "There are two brothers, I know; and both have attained reputation in letters. The Minister I believe has written learnedly on the Differential Calculus. He is a mathematician, and no poet."

"You are mistaken; I know him well; he is both. As poet and mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all, and thus would have been at the mercy of the Prefect."

"You surprise me," I said, "by these opinions, which have been contradicted by the voice of the world. You do not mean to set at naught the well-digested idea of centuries. The mathematical reason has long been regarded as the reason par excellence.

"'Il y a a parier,'" replied Dupin, quoting from Chamfort, "'que toute idee publique, toute convention recue, est une sottise, car elle a convenu au plus grand nombre.' The mathematicians, I grant you, have done their best to promulgate the popular error to which you allude, and which is none the less an error for its promulgation as truth. With an art worthy a better cause, for example, they have insinuated the term 'analysis' into application to algebra. The French are the originators of this particular deception; but if a term is of any importance --if words derive any value from applicability --then 'analysis' conveys 'algebra' about as much as, in Latin, 'ambitus' implies 'ambition,' 'religio' religion or 'homines honesti,' a set of honorable men."

"You have a quarrel on hand, I see," said I, "with some of the algebraists of Paris; but proceed."

"I dispute the availability, and thus the value, of that reason which is cultivated in any especial form other than the abstractly logical. I dispute, in particular, the reason educed by mathematical study. The mathematics are the science of form and quantity; mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to observation upon form and quantity. The great error lies in supposing that even the truths of what is called pure algebra, are abstract or general truths. And this error is so egregious that I am confounded at the universality with which it has been received. Mathematical axioms are not axioms of general truth. What is true of relation --of form and quantity --is often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. In this latter science it is very usually untrue that the aggregated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also the axiom falls. In the consideration of motive it falls; for two motives, each of a given value, have not, necessarily, a value when united, equal to the sum of their values apart. There are numerous other mathematical truths which are only truths within the limits of relation. But the mathematician argues, from his finite truths, through habit, as if they were of an absolutely general applicability --as the world indeed imagines them to be. Bryant, in his very learned 'Mythology,' mentions an analogous source of error, when he says that 'although the Pagan fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences from them as existing realities.' With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the 'Pagan fables' are believed, and the inferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through an unaccountable addling of the brains. In short, I never yet encountered the mere mathematician who could be trusted out of equal roots, or one who did not clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that x squared + px was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q. Say to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if you please, that you believe occasions may occur where x squared + px is not altogether equal to q, and, having made him understand what you mean, get out of his reach as speedily as convenient, for, beyond doubt, he will endeavor to knock you down.

I mean to say," continued Dupin, while I merely laughed at his last observations, "that if the Minister had been no more than a mathematician, the Prefect would have been under no necessity of giving me this check. I knew him, however, as both mathematician and poet, and my measures were adapted to his capacity, with reference to the circumstances by which he was surrounded. I knew him as a courtier, too, and as a bold intriguant. Such a man, I considered, could not fall to be aware of the ordinary policial modes of action. He could not have failed to anticipate --and events have proved that he did not fail to anticipate --the waylayings to which he was subjected. He must have foreseen, I reflected, the secret investigations of his premises. His frequent absences from home at night, which were hailed by the Prefect as certain aids to his success, I regarded only as ruses, to afford opportunity for thorough search to the police, and thus the sooner to impress them with the conviction to which G--, in fact, did finally arrive --the conviction that the letter was not upon the premises. I felt, also, that the whole train of thought, which I was at some pains in detailing to you just now, concerning the invariable principle of policial action in searches for articles concealed --I felt that this whole train of thought would necessarily pass through the mind of the Minister. It would imperatively lead him to despise all the ordinary nooks of concealment. He could not, I reflected, be so weak as not to see that the most intricate and remote recess of his hotel would be as open as his commonest closets to the eyes, to the probes, to the gimlets, and to the microscopes of the Prefect. I saw, in fine, that he would be driven, as a matter of course, to simplicity, if not deliberately induced to it as a matter of choice. You will remember, perhaps, how desperately the Prefect laughed when I suggested, upon our first interview, that it was just possible this mystery troubled him so much on account of its being so very self-evident."

"Yes," said I, "I remember his merriment well. I really thought he would have fallen into convulsions."

"The material world," continued Dupin, "abounds with very strict analogies to the immaterial; and thus some color of truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma, that metaphor, or simile, may be made to strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a description. The principle of the vis inertiae, for example, seems to be identical in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true in the former, that a large body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent momentum is commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and more embarrassed and full of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress. Again: have you ever noticed which of the street signs, over the shop doors, are the most attractive of attention?"

"I have never given the matter a thought," I said.

"There is a game of puzzles," he resumed, "which is played upon a map. One party playing requires another to find a given word --the name of town, river, state or empire --any word, in short, upon the motley and perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game generally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them the most minutely lettered names; but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large characters, from one end of the chart to the other. These, like the over-largely lettered signs and placards of the street, escape observation by dint of being excessively obvious; and here the physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral inapprehension by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed those considerations which are too obtrusively and too palpably self-evident. But this is a point, it appears, somewhat above or beneath the understanding of the Prefect. He never once thought it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it.

"But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, and discriminating ingenuity of D--; upon the fact that the document must always have been at hand, if he intended to use it to good purpose; and upon the decisive evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was not hidden within the limits of that dignitary's ordinary search --the more satisfied I became that, to conceal this letter, the Minister had resorted to the comprehensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to conceal it at all.

"Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of green spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by accident, at the Ministerial hotel. I found D-- at home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, and pretending to be in the last extremity of ennui. He is, perhaps, the most really energetic human being now alive --but that is only when nobody sees him.

"To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, and lamented the necessity of the spectacles, under cover of which I cautiously and thoroughly surveyed the apartment, while seemingly intent only upon the conversation of my host.

"I paid special attention to a large writing-table near which he sat, and upon which lay confusedly, some miscellaneous letters and other papers, with one or two musical instruments and a few books. Here, however, after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to excite particular suspicion.

"At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a trumpery filigree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantelpiece. In this rack, which had three or four compartments, were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter. This last was much soiled and crumpled. It was torn nearly in two, across the middle --as if a design, in the first instance, to tear it entirely up as worthless, had been altered, or stayed, in the second. It had a large black seal, bearing the D-- cipher very conspicuously, and was addressed, in a diminutive female hand, to D--, the minister, himself. It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, contemptuously, into one of the upper divisions of the rack.

"No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was, to all appearance, radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so minute a description. Here the seal was large and black, with the D-- cipher; there it was small and red, with the ducal (Of or relating to a Duke) arms of the S-- family. Here, the address, to the Minister, was diminutive and feminine; there the superscription, to a certain royal personage, was markedly bold and decided; the size alone formed a point of correspondence. But, then, the radicalness of these differences, which was excessive; the dirt; the soiled and torn condition of the paper, so inconsistent with the true methodical habits of D--, and so suggestive of a design to delude the beholder into an idea of the worthlessness of the document; these things, together with the hyperobtrusive (Especially obvious. Excessively vivid. Garish. Poe made this word up and it was later added to the Oxford English Dictionary.) situation of this document, full in the view of every visitor, and thus exactly in accordance with the conclusions to which I had previously arrived; these things, I say, were strongly corroborative of suspicion, in one who came with the intention to suspect.

"I protracted my visit as long as possible, and, while I maintained a most animated discussion with the Minister, on a topic which I knew well had never failed to interest and excite him, I kept my attention really riveted upon the letter. In this examination, I committed to memory its external appearance and arrangement in the rack; and also fell, at length, upon a discovery which set at rest whatever trivial doubt I might have entertained. In scrutinizing the edges of the paper, I observed them to be more chafed than seemed necessary. They presented the broken appearance which is manifested when a stiff paper, having been once folded and pressed with a folder, is refolded in a reversed direction, in the same creases or edges which had formed the original fold. This discovery was sufficient. It was clear to me that the letter had been turned, as a glove, inside out, re-directed, and re-sealed. I bade the Minister good morning, and took my departure at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table.

"The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when we resumed, quite eagerly, the conversation of the preceding day. While thus engaged, however, a loud report, as if of a pistol, was heard immediately beneath the windows of the hotel, and was succeeded by a series of fearful screams, and the shoutings of a mob. D-- rushed to a casement, threw it open, and looked out. In the meantime, I stepped to the card-rack, took the letter, put it in my pocket, and replaced it by a fac-simile, (so far as regards externals,) which I had carefully prepared at my lodgings; imitating the D-- cipher, very readily, by means of a seal formed of bread.

"The disturbance in the street had been occasioned by the frantic behavior of a man with a musket. He had fired it among a crowd of women and children. It proved, however, to have been without ball, and the fellow was suffered to go his way as a lunatic or a drunkard. When he had gone, D-came from the window, whither I had followed him immediately upon securing the object in view. Soon afterwards I bade him farewell. The pretended lunatic was a man in my own pay.

"But what purpose had you," I asked, in replacing the letter by a fac-simile? Would it not have been better, at the first visit, to have seized it openly, and departed?"

"D--," replied Dupin, "is a desperate man, and a man of nerve. His hotel, too, is not without attendants devoted to his interests. Had I made the wild attempt you suggest, I might never have left the Ministerial presence alive. The good people of Paris might have heard of me no more. But I had an object apart from these considerations. You know my political prepossessions. In this matter, I act as a partisan of the lady concerned. For eighteen months the Minister has had her in his power. She has now him in hers; since, being unaware that the letter is not in his possession, he will proceed with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably commit himself, at once, to his political destruction. His downfall, too, will not be more precipitate than awkward. It is all very well to talk about the facilis descensus Averni;("The descent into Hell is easy",) but in all kinds of climbing, as Catalani said of singing, it is far more easy to get up than to come down. In the present instance I have no sympathy --at least no pity --for him who descends. He is the monstrum horrendum, an unprincipled man of genius. I confess, however, that I should like very well to know the precise character of his thoughts, when, being defied by her whom the Prefect terms 'a certain personage,' he is reduced to opening the letter which I left for him in the card-rack."

"How? did you put any thing particular in it?"

"Why --it did not seem altogether right to leave the interior blank --that would have been insulting. D--, at Vienna once, did me an evil turn, which I told him, quite good-humoredly, that I should remember. So, as I knew he would feel some curiosity in regard to the identity of the person who had outwitted him, I thought it a pity not to give him a clue. He is well acquainted with my MS., and I just copied into the middle of the blank sheet the words--

--Un dessein si funeste, S'il n'est digne d'Atree, est digne de Thyeste. ("So grievous a plan, if not worthy of Atree, is dignified by Thyeste." )

They are to be found in Crebillon's 'Atree.'"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

REMEMBERING SHELLEY: "Tea(r)s, Where small talk dies in agonies”

Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822; pronounced /ˈpɜrsi ˈbɪʃ ˈʃɛli// is an unforgettable name in the history of humanity. He is one of the inspiring English Romantic poets and a finest lyricist in the English language. Shelley is always remembered with Wordsworth, John Keats and Lord Byron. The novelist Mary Shelley was his second wife.

Shelley's life was very unconventional. A very sensitive child he was and he often opposed class differences in society, spoke against social evils and advocated the concept of freedom which caused him to be victimised even from the school days itself. It would suffice to say that 'Shelley Baiting' became a game for the bullies of the school who tortured this boy of progressive ideals. An essay on atheism written by him became so controversial that the university terminated his studentship and it is interesting to note that later the same university came forward to prescribe the essay for study. It is said that the government used to send spies after him and promoted a feeling of resentment against him for questioning the established and orthodox beliefs. Not surprisingly, Shelley lived a life which he describes as 'I fall upon the thorns of life and I bleed'. This revolutionary poet had a tragic death by drowning at the age of thirty but by that time he had already written enough to disturb the world out of its ugly complacence. One would be shocked to understand that even some of his published works were suppressed to the extend that around the time of his death he had about 50 readers as his audience and could make nothing more than 40 pounds from his writings. His body was missing for some days and was found cast ashore holding a book of poems by Keats close to his heart in a tight embrace.

Known to the readers of English literature for his works like Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, and To a Skylark, Shelley has also authored long visionary poems like Alastor, Adonaïs (a lament on Keats), and The Revolt of Islam. He has also authored dramatic plays.

Shelley became a figure of inspiration to not only poets but people who were otherwise creative and those included Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Upton Sinclair, Isadora Duncan, and Jiddu Krishnamurti ("Shelley is as sacred as the Bible.") Henry David Thoreau's civil disobedience and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's passive resistance were influenced and inspired by Shelley's nonviolence in protest and political action.

How Shelley inspires people can be sensed from these words taken from I became acquainted with Shelley in 1944. At the time I was eighteen years of age and a Republican remand prisoner in Belfast jail. I liked poetry and, searching for something readable in the prison library—a cupboard which they opened twice weekly to the accompaniment of bawling screws, who could see no justification for delay in lifting one of the books—I found a treasure: The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Eventually I got my own copy of Shelley and, over many, many years, I have prized it as the first real socialist literature I ever read. It is, I think, fitting that, on the bi-centenary of his birth, an appreciation of his life's work should appear in a socialist journal.

Poets, with their abstract notions of freedom and justice, can momentarily help a prisoner transcend the ignominy and degradation that the prison system imposes. But Shelley's ideas of freedom and justice were no way abstract; his was no mere solace for the soul. Yes, there were the odes To The West Wind, To A Skylark, To A Cloud; beautiful word music in the classical tradition of English metrical composition.

But, more importantly, there was the wisdom that stripped to its essential ugliness a system of society that dissipates, wastes and destroys wealth in order to make its rich richer while mentally and physically impoverishing the producers of that wealth. There was the vision of a new world, a world of dignity and equality where cash would not be the measure of human need. And there was the indignation, the anguish, even the pain—sometimes written in a spontaneity of anger that defied the discipline of well-marshalled prosody. Here was a text book of revolutionary thought that showed the futility of the cause for which I was imprisoned and extended my vision beyond the empty rhetoric of nationalism.

During his lifetime Shelley had come to Ireland to protest at the misery of the peasantry. Some Irish nationalists have equated this with sympathy for Irish nationalism but Shelley, whose constituency was the toiling masses everywhere, did not subscribe to the myth that the English working class were the beneficiaries of English imperialism. Thus, after hearing of the Peterloo Massacre at Manchester in 1819, Shelley wrote the Masque of Anarchy in which he describes the contemporary condition of the working class in England:

Asses, swine have litter spread

And with fitting food are fed;

All things have a home but one -

Thou, Oh Englishman, hast none!

This is Slavery—savage men, Or wild beasts within a den Would endure not as ye do—But such ills they never knew.

This poem, consisting of some ninety one short stanzas of varying lengths was written at Leghorn in Italy. According to his wife, Mary, when Shelley heard how the military murderers had waded into a peaceful reform protest "it… aroused in him violent emotions of indignation and compassion". According to some purists, that anger adversely affected the quality of the poem.

Whatever its poetic qualities, Shelley's Masque of Anarchy must rank, from a working—class standpoint, as the most chdactic of English poetical works. His verse castigates every rotten facet of capitalism: its law, its judiciary, its priests, its parasite class and the foulness of its oppression. His words bear the reader along the path of anger and frustration seeking, it would seem, retribution, revenge. But Shelley, in an age when violence was the tool of revolution, was too deeply perceptive of the need for democratic action if the revolution which he craved was to realise his vision. True, he makes us angry, makes us loathe this evil that murders people for profit but, on the crest of our anger, he stops us:

Then it is to feel revenge

Fiercely thirsting to exchange

Blood for blood -

and wrong for wrong -

Do not thus when ye are strong.

What then? What should we do when "we are strong"? Shelley, the democratic socialist says we should use the unassaila- ble power of our numbers. Poetically, he says we should think… decide:

Stand ye calm and resolute,

Like a forest, close and mute,

With folded arms and looks which are

Weapons of unvanquished war.

(… )

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you

Ye are many—they are few.

In 1888 Marx's daughter, Eleanor, and her partner, Edward Aveling published an appreciation of Shelley under the title Shelley's Socialisrn. The justification for their assumption is abundant throughout Shelley's poems and prose writings. In one of his notes to Queen Mab, Shelley quotes Godwin with approval: "there is no real wealth but the labour of man".

Prometheus Unbound, The Masque of Anarchy, Queen Mab, The Ode to Liberty, these, with his prose writings, his prologues, his sonnets and his songs chronicle the misery of the peasant and the wage slave but always, there is the optimism of the true revolutionary; the clarity of vision, as here in Prometheus Unbound, of a future where:

The Loathsome mask has fallen the man remains

Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man

Equal, unclassed, tribless and nationless,

Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king,

Over himself, just, gentle, wise.

Queen Mab is a vision of the past, present and future of mankind. In it Shelley attacks kings, war, commerce and, in particular, priests and religion. In fact the criticism of christianity, in the poem as well as in prose notes attached to it was so hard-hitting that when it was republished in the 1820s the publisher was sent to prison for blasphemy. Queen Mab became the work that publishers used in defiance of the restrictive press laws of the time. Each time they were convicted of blasphemy. But as a result Queen Mab, and thus Godwin's social ideas, came to be widely read in Chartist and radical circless.

In this passage from Queen Mab he criticises the way money contaminates all human relationships:

All things are sold: the very light of Heaven Is venal;

Earth's unsparing gifts of love,

The smallest and most despicable things

That lurk in the abysses of the deep,

All objects of our life, even life itself,

And the poor pittance which the laws allow

Of liberty, the fellowship of man,

Those duties which his heart of human love

Should urge him to perform instinctively,

Are bought and sold as in a public mart

Of undisguising selfishness, that sets

On each its price, the stamp-mark of her reign.

He saw money, "paper coin—that forgery of the title deeds", as capitalism's instrument of theft; he saw slavery as a natural result of property society; he saw the poverty and alienation of the masses and, especially, did he decry the intellectual poverty and deception which capitalism inflicted on its wage slaves.

In part V of Queen Mab Shelley attacks commerce which he sees as a product of selfishness in the sense of people wanting to sell their surplus for money rather than give it to others to satisfy their needs:

Commerce! Beneath whose poison-breathing shade

No solitary virtue dares to spring,

But Poverty and Wealth with equal hand

Scatter their withering curses, and unfold

The doors of premature and violent death,

To pining famine and full-fed disease,

To all that shares the lot of human life,

Which poisoned, body and soul, scarce drags

the chain,

That lengthens as it goes and clanks behind.

It is quite clear that Shelley was expressing Godwin's idea that, in a just society, producers would give away their surplus produce free rather than sell it for money. Hence his opening description of commerce as "the venal interchange of all that human art or nature yield; which wealth should purchase not, but want demand, and natural kindness hasten to supply". When he later describes what will happen when people are motivated by the "consciousness of good" he naturally states that they will have no need of "mediative signs of selfishness"—of money—and that "every transfer of the earth's natural gifts shall be a commerce of good words and works".

This commerce of sincerest virtue needs

No mediative signs of selfishness,

No jealous intercourse of wretched gain,

No balancings of prudence, cold and long;

In just and equal measure all is weighed, One scale contains the sum of human weal, And one, the good man's heart.

Part V of Queen Mab ends as follows:

But hoary-headed Selfishness has felt

Its death-blow, and is tottering to the grave:

A brighter morn awaits the human day, When every transfer of earth's natural gifts Shall be a commerce of good words and works;

When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,

The fear of infamy, disease and woe,

War with its million horrors, and fierce hell Shall live but in the memory of Time,

Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,

Look back, and shudder at his younger years.

In one sense this argument as to whether or not Godwin and Shelley were socialists is anachronistic since the modern idea of socialism, as the solution to the problems of a majority wage-working class within a capitalist industrial society, had not yet come into being. This is partly why in this article we have used the word "communist" rather than "socialist" to describe the moneyless equal society advocated by critics of the essentially agrarian class society that existed before industrial capitalism developed. It was of course the low level of development of the means of production that accounts for the fruga1, even Spartan, character which the pre-industrial communists were obliged to give to the egalitarian society they advocated, but it still remains true that people like (in England) More, Winstanley and Godwin and Shelley and (in France) Morelly, Babeuf and Buonarotti were forerunners of the socialist industrial society of abundance that we modern socialists now advocate.

DO NOT MISS THIS LETTER (from for it moves you with the fellow feeling and the interest to share the agony of one spout of life by the other:

Recipient: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), poet, atheist, nobleman and exile, was an early champion of Keats's work. They were introduced by Leigh Hunt, whose politics were already alienating Keats. Interestingly, Shelley was critical of Hunt's influence upon Keats's work; he believed Keats to be a natural talent led astray by mannerisms and affectation.

Upon learning of Keats's illness, Shelley graciously asked him to stay with his family in Italy. The poet politely refused. Shelley wrote the beautiful elegy Adonais upon Keats's death. The next year, Shelley himself drowned; a volume of Keats's poetry was found in his pocket.

I think Shelley's opinion can best be described in his own words, from a letter he wrote to Marianne Hunt on 29 October 1820 regarding Keats's latest work, Hyperion:

'Keats' new volume has arrived to us, & the fragment called Hyperion promises for him that he is destined to become one of the first writers of the age. - His other things are imperfect enough.... Where is Keats now? I am anxiously expecting him in Italy where I shall take care to bestow every possible attention on him. I consider his a most valuable life, & I am deeply interested in his safety. I intend to be the physician both of his body & his soul, to keep the one warm & to teach the other Greek & Spanish. I am aware indeed that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me and this is an additional motive & will be an added pleasure.'

Introduction: This interesting letter is a reply to Shelley's literary advice and kind offer of his home in Italy for Keats's recuperation.

August 16th

My dear Shelley,

I am very much gratified that you, in a foreign country, and with a mind almost over occupied, should write to me in the strain of the Letter beside me. If I do not take advantage of your invitation it will be prevented by a circumstance I have very much at heart to prophesy - There is no doubt that an english winter would put an end to me, and do so in a lingering hateful manner, therefore I must either voyage or journey to Italy as a soldier marches up to a battery. My nerves at present are the worst part of me, yet they feel soothed when I think that come what extreme may, I shall not be destined to remain in one spot long enough to take a hatred of any four particular bed-posts. I am glad you take any pleasure in my poor Poem; - which I would willingly take the trouble to unwrite, if possible, did I care so much as I have done about Reputation. I received a copy of the Cenci, as from yourself from Hunt. There is only one part of it I am judge of; the Poetry, and dramatic effect, which by many spirits nowadays is considered the mammon. A modern work it is said must have a purpose, which may be the God - an artist must serve Mammon - he must have "self concentration" selfishness perhaps. You I am sure will forgive me for sincerely remarking that you might curb your magnanimity and be more of an artist, and 'load every rift' of your subject with ore. The thought of such discipline must fall like cold chains upon you, who perhaps never sat with your wings furl'd for six Months together. And is not this extraordina[r]y talk for the writer of Endymion? whose mind was like a pack of scattered cards - I am pick'd up and sorted to a pip. My Imagination is a Monastry and I am its Monk - you must explain my metap [for metaphysics] to yourself. I am in expectation of Prometheus every day. Could I have my own wish for its interest effected you would have it still in manuscript - or be but now putting an end to the second act. I remember you advising me not to publish my first-blights, on Hampstead heath - I am returning advice upon your hands. Most of the Poems in the volume I send you have been written above two years, and would never have been publish'd but from a hope of gain; so you see I am inclined enough to take your advice now. I must exp[r]ess once more my deep sense of your kindness, adding my sincere thanks and respects for Mrs Shelley. In the hope of soon seeing you (I) remain

most sincerely yours,
John Keats

Monday, August 2, 2010



SNo Year Name Marks(800) Rank/place
1 1998 Sheniya Jose (Calicut University) 612 III
2 1999 Veena M (Kannur University) 620 I
3 2000 Jobin Thomas 671 I
4 2000 Mary Ann Sebastian 641 I
5 2000 Nidish Narayanan 591 III
6 2001 Sreetilak S 614 I
7 2002 Sreeja Sreedharan 529 Topper
8 2003 Nair Babitha Balakrishnan 557 II
9 2003 Deepa Damodaran 547 III
10 2004 Anu Maheswari 632 I
11 2005 Jibi Bhaskaran 596 Topper
12 2006 Praseetha P 587 Topper
13 2007 Navya V K 610 III
14 2008 Sukala P V II
15 2009 Aardra Topper
16 2010 Meera RU Topper

Sunday, August 1, 2010


The academic year 2009-10 has been a very significant one for the Department of English in many ways. The most remarkable academic achievement this year was the visit of Prof.E.V. Ramakrishnan, noted poet and critic in both Malayalam and English to the department to give a brilliant lecture on New Trends in Translation. Demonstration class of Navarasa by a renowned Kathakali artist, lecture on Indian Aesthetics by M.T.Narayanan who is on the faculty of Sree Sankaracharya university were other programmes of academic interest. The department remembers with gratitude the efforts taken by A C Sreehari, Meera R U, our final DC student and Dr V M Santhosh for making these programmes possible. Another programme of academic interest the department recalls with pride is the talk on Nuclear Arms Race and India's Nuclear Policy by the national figure of anti-nuclear activities Sri Sukla Sen and Viswanathan, the human rights activist from Kanayi. The discussions that followed all talks were highly productive and contributing to the formation of a better and earth-friendly community. Occasional visit and address by the former students who are studying and working elsewhere provided a sense of direction to our undergraduate students in the last year. The department would like to appreciate the ceaseless enthusiasm of Mr. A J Hareendran behind these creative Alumni interactions with our present students. The visit to the department and a class on the reading possibilities offered by the American Library, Chennai by a two-member team of that institution is recalled with gratitude to Ratnaprabha who helped a lot to realise it.

Achievements on the part of the students include the formation of a puppet play troupe and the adaptation of Nagamandala into a puppet drama very successfully for the first time in the history of Indian theatre regarding this particular play. The play is prescribed for study and the students were able to write the script, make the puppets and translate the drama into a puppet performance on their own. They were invited to SN College, Kannur to perform as part of a national seminar. Invited performances were conducted at a Rotary club function at Payyanur , Chinmaya College, Talap, Kannur as an item of educational entertainment during a seminar, Madai cooperative Arts and Science College and Gurudev Arts and Science College, Mathil. A four day tour to forest area in Wayanad covering about 40 km on foot a day was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience to students. They have conducted the whole trip with commendable managerial ability and economic viability with the guidance of Sri P K Kuriakose who has been instrumental in developing in them a sense of the beauty of nature and the need to keep the world around us clean through the activities of the Forestry Club which included the garden-tending and projects like the planting and maintenance of 500 teak saplings with the financial support of the Rotary Club of Payyanur and the Payyanur Educational Society and also of the FRUIT ORCHARD which includes about 25 fruit trees. It is to be noted that the first semester students devised reading project called BUY, READ, EXCHANGE and CONTRIBUTE by which they bought books worth Rs 1600 read them by exchange and contributed the books to the department. This highly innovative programme inspired students to read more and with a purpose. They came forward to present a review of the book in the class during leisure hours. The department is taking great care to introduce information and communication technology in the classroom to radically transform the teaching learning experience. The common course students were inspired to make powerpoint presentations for their seminar and this gesture in the context of the introduction of the CCSS and Grading system underscores the academic conservativeness and ambiance of the department of English. The initiative and guidance provided to students in this matter signals the innovative gestures of the members like Dr.V.M.Santhosh, A.J.Hareendran, Dr.K Premachandran and A C Sreehari.

One senior member, Elizabeth Xavier, retired from service and she made a remarkable contribution for visualizing the future projects of the department. The routine functions like Welcome Party for the Freshers, Farewell party for the final year students, classes by peer students, cleaning sessions, garden maintenance work, Tutorial sessions, film shows and extending services to the college office on demand are regular and were conducted as usual.