Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore

Most of us, even those who speak favorably of pluralism and credible multiple perspectives , believe that for a substantial part of our world, there is a singular reality, something out there that is context-free, and is perceived identically by Protestant and Buddhist, patriarch and matriarch, Italian and Costa Rican, and by sick and healthy.

Hence, I think it is especially threatening to our standard beliefs to consider the limits to any perceptions allegedly shared by all with their heads screwed on straight. Kurasawa’s film Rashomon, Hadley Cantrill’s “They Saw a Game” and the Nobel-prize winning Indian novel I am suggesting here all challenge the claim that one interpretive framework is correct, and its competitors are wrong.

Three independent narratives embed us in a marriage threatened by the insertion of the husband’s fervent nationalistic friend into his marriage.  The wife finds the friend’s passions both intellectually and physically seductive. The husband requires of himself that he allow the wife to choose husband or friend without her having to endure traditional pressures ordinarily presumed to be the right of a husband.

But perhaps more interesting are the debates among the trio about nationalism, reform, and the hubris of rebellion—all variously reminiscent of debates between Trotsky and Lenin, Rosa Luxembourg and Eduard Bernstein, W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Sartre and Camus.


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