De- textualising knowledge


Presentation Description

The natural state of being is to be creative ,And in the creative state one is authentic and original. To be authentic and original means to be inventing all the time,


Presentation Transcript

De textualising knowledge: 

De textualising knowledge Re claiming sense and aesthetic sense to know the world


The biggest handicap in discussing anything is that textuality has not only created an illusionary world but within its paradigm has created several worlds. Without the unifying factor of senses and experience we live in disjointed worlds. Your world will depend on whose books you have read. We can only engage with living from our authenticity, from the depths of our true being, free from books and theories.


While studying engineering and later design I realised that something is really wrong with this whole idea of education. In design education even your sense of beauty is conditioned and colonised. This led me to work with rural tribal artisans inoredr to understand creativity,aesthetic sense and culture.


My journey into the world of the rural artisan communities was not with the intention of 'developing' them or educating them. I went to them to regain that which I had lost in the process of getting educated. To learn from them. Having escaped 'education' and 'development' they were still original and authentic and were holding on to the culture and world-view, which sustained them for centuries.


Modern knowledge has shifted the source of knowledge from Nature to human, collective to individual heart to intellect/mind intuition to reason creativity to memory experience to information Holistic/implict to compartmental/explict infinite to the limited.


Boredom,Alienation,Fragmentation,insecurity,fear of unknown all of these are creations of the textual culture.these are not implicit in tribal cultures.These are used to control through power. We create contra life values like


This shift could be due to codification and storing of knowledge instead of responding then and there as and when situation arises. So creativity was replaced by memory and later text replaced the memory to store knowledge.


Paradigm of the modern knowledge is the result of textualisation of experience far removed from senses ,experience and creativity.


So the questions we raise need not have experiential basis and so also the solutions. So due the environmental crisis if trees need to be planted we respond by writing a book or making a film or a painting but not by planting trees. Creativity need not arise from deep existential needs.


Hence we have selfish knowledge. We will not venture in to knowledge that is harmful to our personal,egoistic existence,disregarding even our own future. Objective knowledge is a result of selflessness . This knowledge supports all life forms.


Natural learning process While I was in the process of developing exercises and activities to help children learn pottery, I was intrigued by the way with which the master potters arrive at a form. I wondered how the things they make could be so beautiful. I was keen to know what guides them to arrive at a particular form . Mulling over it for several days I realized that there is a biological assistance that guides our sense of beauty. People undefiled by modern ways are far more open and receptive to this biological guidance.


Culture This internal capacity and the external natural systems collaborate in some manner to produce a distinct aesthetic quality to their lives. The rural, tribal or non literate communities seem to act holistically endowing an aesthetic quality to their every act. What we understand as culture is a result of this collaboration.


It is clear that in modernity this cultural distinction is totally absent. Therefore the modern artist, architect or a designer anywhere appears to be creating   with  a uniform and almost regimented aesthetic sense.


, Authentic creativity of indigenous communities.


Indigenous knowledge demonstrates a collaboration between people and their surroundings guided by nature’s need to preserve life.The biological element in human nature enables indigenous communities to create ‘life sustaining’ knowledge.


People of traditional non literate communities are holistic.


Notion of waste Waste is a modern phenomenon. It is a by-product of technological system. Notion of waste is non-existent in traditional cultures. They always are used till it disappears or disintegrates. Often all their technologies made use of bio-degrading materials.


The worldview of the traditional cultures did not allow them to waste and sustainability was part and parcel of their life style.


Appropriate technology


Sense of Beauty In a profound sense, it is a community's sense of beauty that delineates its culture. When a society or community loses its authentic sense of beauty or subjugates its sense of beauty to the corruption of alien influences, it  loses its authentic culture . Modern schooling has removed all traces of sense of beauty from us as we never use any of our sense in the process of schooling. A very distorted and theoretical version takes its place through the subjects called art etc.


everyday life of a healthy culture true art is indistinguishable from any other element of living.


Senses play a very important role in the process of learning and are a sort of a reciprocal device that helps creation establish communion with the inner self. This is the process of knowing the world. In the traditional societies every situation is a learning situation. Here to live means to learn. It was a rhythm followed from birth to death.


In one of the ancient on traditional architecture there is a chapter on quality of materials.It says a rock has taken millions of years to take its present form.So do not use it unless it is meant to last several years. Till about 17th centuary in India even the palaces were built using mud.Only temple were made of rock.


The rural, tribal or non literate communities seem to act holistically,  endowing an aesthetic quality to their every act. There seems to be a biological guidance both in beauty and knowledge which enables them to do the most appropriate act.


Words like heritage conservation, sustainability, holistic, waste, documentation, boredom, alienation are all modernity's creation.These are not the issues of intuitive cultures at all.


To truly understand the knowledge of these communities one needs to de-textualise. Intellectualization is a result of textualisation of knowledge. What we hold as knowledge is only notions as only experience can generate true knowledge.


Do nothing training method This method is to help the trainees to draw out their archetypal and authentic sense of beauty. As these people are not exposed to all kinds of theories and isms they are able to use their inner resources to create beautiful things. Not only there are no instructions even tools are not provided .




Initial explorations


Tree project


Some of the products


Architectural explorations


Children are born holistic . Where as the so called educated/literate people are fragmented. What is clear is that there is something in education that causes this.


Holistic education / spirituality in education / art in education are catogories created by our fragmented mindset. It is we who are not spiritual It is we who are art less and it is we who are not holistic


Our responses are also fragmented. The solutions to make the learning holistic is by adding more ‘sensitive’ subjects like ecology,gender,study of other cultures etc. Whole is not a result of adding fragments. The infinite is not the addition of finites. This is the quality of the mind which is not individuated but which is holistic, spiritual ,in communion with beauty all the time.


As I said earlier the children are by nature holistic,spiritual ,an artist and a scientist. Our job becomes much easier if we realize this because we need not do anything to them but leave them alone and try to learn from them to rectify our condition.


But the environment we have created are not child friendly-our homes,our schools and the whole modern living space. If we have to say no and don’t to a child then the place is wrong. The whole place is full of breakable and expensive things. The kitchen has gone 3 feet up.The crawling child has no access to cooking lessons.


Schools are definitely not a place where authentic learning can takes place.This is totally an artificial situation where no authentic question can arise out of children.


Children need to be left alone to explore the world around them in the process sensitise and awaken the senses devolop their bodily intelligence learn the laws that are basis of life on earth.Untill unless they are experintially mature have knowledge of abstraction second degree abstraction should not be introduced to children.


Developing instinct ,intuition , insight are to be re looked at as learning tools apart from senses and experience. These are the tools of nature to access knowledge.


Children in natural learning cultures are similar to any newborn living being and nature has its own precious pace to make them grow.


From natural farming to natural learning and do nothing farm to do nothing training method.


Senses therefore play a very important role in the process of learning and are a sort of a reciprocal device that helps creation establish communion with the inner self. All the games children play in these communities has to do with sensitizing the senses, planning, balancing, guessing, developing the mathematical sense etc.


Seeing the world


Instinct Instinctual responses especially in the early periods helps the child to draw out the innate knowledge. There for any help/assistance to the child is to be re examined as it could hinder the development of originality and authenticity. Just as holding hands to make the child walk might hinder the development of balance.


Work/play learn are divisions of modernity Just as boredom and entertainment


Action/experience is the basis for the development of intuition and knowledge


Number sense




Leaf whistle




Toys Children from sustainable cultures make their own toys. Toy need not be anything in particular but any thing that catches the interest of the child. The toy is most often incomplete without the toy maker. Most of these toys are made from materials found around the place.


Children are very good at abstraction. Drawing is a good activity for learning abstraction as the conversion of 3 dimensional objects to 2 d is a




I have also been documenting various toys children make with the ‘waste’ so generously generated by modernity.


 All art forms are a result of the development of one of the senses


Sensing nature Knowing nature


Colour scale with dry leaves Colour scale with poster colour Making the colour with poster colour


Sunil kumar ,class 8 age 13


Leave children alone Children are potential geniuses Doing and experiencing is the key to learning Memorizing is harmful Authentic and original capacity for experiencing is possible if parents respond sensitively to children's needs.

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