Confluences: Forgotten Histories From East and West

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Confluences: Forgotten Histories From East and West (2012) by Ilija Trojanow and Ranjit Hoskote

Historical memory is an unwelcome guest at the banquet of belief, even in secular societies’, write Trojanow and Hoskote midway through this book on the myopic certitudes that have fed into mainstream understandings of Western and Indian civilizations.

  • page.7 Confluence is to culture what gravity is to nature. In other words: no confluence, no culture. When culture is alive, it alters itself through inspirations from the near and far, it changes of course. Culture is the eternal shape-shifter. Only by interacting with the Other, can culture keep itself alive. Thus, the greatest civilisations were built on confluence.
  • pag.14 [...] an element of freedom from complacent dogma, and a basic curiosity and intellectual generosity: an interest, over and above the motives of gain and advantage [...]
  • pag.190 What is of interest, in the study of civilisations, is not the differences that hold people apart, but the heritage that people are able to share across borders. A more tenable view than the "clash of civilisations" is that the battle-lines run through societies, not between civilisations or nations-states.
  • p.195 [...] we come to the Buddhist image of the world as the Net of Indra. Every knot in this net, where stings cross, is an individual; and each of these individuals reflects all the others around him or her. Individuals come into awareness of themselves through their relations with each other, and not in a limbo of exaggerated self-importance to the exclusion of the needs of strangers. When we look at ourselves in the Net of Indra, we are not only the selves who inhabit our own bodies, but also a series of reflections and possibilities -all the minds we could savour, all the bodies we could transit through, all the imaginations that could enrich ours.