#TPOD (The Process Of Decay, November 21, 2015):

Is 100% memory loss possible? Is the past ‘preserved by itself, automatically’? Is the notion of decay linked intimately to the concepts of order and memory? Does life grow towards order, even as physical systems go towards disorder? Does maintenance of order require a significant amount of energy? Is there a fundamental unit of order? Are rituals (say) the work required to reproduce social order? Is anomie or agonism the opposite of order? Is too much cohesion also a symptom of decay? Do systems decay when they go ‘out of context’ vis-à-vis the neighbours? Is memory the sense-organ to perceive time? Why does a fly develop a complex memory for a life of ‘just’ 1-2 (human) days? Do life-forces wax & wane? Are there different forms of decaying? Can some systems self heal or (erroneously) self destruct? Are perpetual systems possible? Do automata (or, human beings) always display highly rule bound behaviour? Is physical immortality (with selfhood) technically possible? Can machines introspect? How do you prove that you are not a machine? Why is it that some trees do not seem to ever die? Are myths ‘more’ futuristic? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from neurosciences & psychiatry (Prof. Sanjeev Jain, NIMHANS, Bangalore), computer science (Prof. Madhavan Mukund, CMI, Chennai), and anthropology & philosophy (Dr. Bhrigupati Singh, Brown University, Providence, USA).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TPOD show.

Prof. Sanjeev Jain (neurosciences, psychiatry) is Professor, Department of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, Bangalore, from where he also completed his MD in Psychiatry. His primary research interests include exploring the genetic basis and correlates of psychiatric and neurological diseases. His work extends to detection of rare variants and mutations, common variations, special clinical populations, founder effects and population admixtures, correlates between imaging and genetic variations  & ecological and ethological aspects of psychiatric & neurological syndromes. His other research includes documenting the history of mental health services in India (from colonial to the contemporary), mental health policy, and service oriented research in disadvantaged groups. He is the Principal Investigator for a DBT funded project, titled, ‘Targeted generation and interrogation of cellular models and networks in neuro-psychiatric disorders using candidate genes’. Some of his key projects in the past also included; ‘A study of the role of neurodevelopmental genes in schizophrenia’ (CSIR), ‘A molecular genetic study of special sub-groups of psychoses’ (ICMR) & ‘Family and Linkage studies of major psychoses’ (DBT).

Prof. Madhavan Mukund (theoretical computer science) has been a faculty member at the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), Chennai,  since 1992, where he is presently Professor and Dean of Studies. He studied at IIT Bombay (B.Tech.) and finished his Ph.D. from Aarhus University, Denmark. His main area of research is formal modelling and automated verification of computing systems using tools from mathematical  logic and automata theory.  His primary interest is in distributed computing systems, where multiple components need  to interact and cooperate. He is also deeply interested in computer science education. He is currently President of the Indian Association for  Research in Computing Science (IARCS) and Vice-President of the  Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) India Council. Some of the volumes co-edited by him include, ‘Perspectives in Concurrency Theory’ (co-ed, K Lodaya & R Ramanujam, Universities Press, 2008), and ‘Formal Models, Languages and Applications’ (co-ed, K G Subramanian & K Rangarajan, World Scientific, 2006). He  is also the National Coordinator of the Indian Computing Olympiad, a  school level algorithmic programming competition.

Dr. Bhrigupati Singh (anthropology, philosophy) is currently an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. He studied at Delhi (B.A., St. Stephen’s College), London (M.A, SOAS, University of London), and Baltimore (Ph.D., John Hopkins University). His recent book titled ‘Poverty and the Quest for Life: Spiritual and Material Striving in Rural India’ (OUP, South Asia; University of Chicago Press, US & UK, 2015) was awarded the Joseph W. Elder Prize for the Indian Social Sciences. He is the co-editor of ‘The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy’ (Duke University Press, 2014) and serves as an Associate Editor of ‘HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory’. He has published numerous articles on issues of religion, politics, media, and popular culture, in journals including Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, and Contributions to Indian Sociology. He is currently conducting research on religious and secular forms of healing for ‘common’ mental health disorders including depression and anxiety, as a window into contemporary India. He is also working on a book of essays with the working title ‘What Comes After Postcolonial Theory?’.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TPOD mentions: Nietzsche, Émile Durkheim, Henri Bergson, Wittgenstein, John Eccles, Eugene Wigner, & Arjun Appadurai,  among others.