Gandhi: Social Innovator

Over at 3quarksdaily, Aditya Dev Sood gives a compelling account of Gandhi’s life, experiments, aesthetics, and social contributions.

Gandhi described an ideal social community as one in which those involved in the composition and combination of foods would have the same status and goals as those involved in the inspection and evaluation of the qualities of stool created by the members of the community. Both groups would view the object of their inquiry with the same point of view — the amelioration of the individual and collective health of the community as a whole. For Gandhi at this point, food is equivalent if not identical to shit — from the point of view of the health of the community. This monistic theory of aesthetics seem to be based on his discovery that ‘the real seat of taste was not the tongue but the mind,’ by which he must also have meant his will. The taste of the tongue was based on habit, routine, context, and social normativity. It can easily be trained to taste otherwise, if only the mind could exert its will over the organ, and allow it to experience life other than it is habituated to doing. Gandhian aesthetics, therefore, involves a drawing away from the direct and uncritical experience of pleasure — no matter what the body tells you, it is only when experience is further interrogated and tasted by the mind that the stimuli of life can be acknowledged as beneficial and giving of health, even if not quite sweet. All kind of food, non-food, other kinds of stuff, fabric, spaces and people must therefore be experienced uncritically and without prejudgement. Each must be considered, masticated, and then known and evaluated in terms of the larger social effects and resonances that they bring about on account of their production, distribution and eventual consumption.

3quarksdaily – The Aesthetics of Change

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