ISSN: 20590660
First published in 2017
2 issues per volume
Volume 1 Issue 2
Cover Date: October 2017
Tasteful screams: Sense, nonsense and Kathakali vocal performance
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Authors:  Seth Powers 
DOI: 10.1386/itj.1.2.135_1

affect theory,rasa,Kathakali,taste,Asif Currimbhoy,Gilles Deleuze

In Kathakali performance, the speech of characters and the narrative are conveyed through multiple channels – verbal text is sung by onstage vocalists while the dancer interprets the story through hand gestures, body movements and facial expressions. Through engagement with the work of Gilles Deleuze and analysis of the play The Dumb Dancer by Asif Currimbhoy, the co-presence of vocal sense and nonsense on the Kathakali stage is investigated as a phenomenon by turns sensationalized and de-legitimized in a postcolonial context. Sneja Gunew’s project of decolonizing affect theory, which raises the question of how to think meaningfully about affect beyond European concepts and terms, is taken up with regard to rasa theory, a key element of the performance aesthetics of Kathakali. Rather than viewing rasa as merely a prefiguration of Deleuzean (or post-Deleuzean) sensation or autonomic affect, a comparison between rasa and Deleuzean sense, defined as the evanescent boundary between propositions and things, is offered. Deleuzean sense presents an intriguing, albeit partial, analogue to rasa, a term that encompasses the process of tasting along with the essentially immanent nature of that which is tasted.
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