About Sanjay

Languages

English, Hindi

I'm passionate about

the public architecture of the private experience; contested history and identity; distance and its manufacture; processes of radicalization & deradicalization; lateral building in a vertical world.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted over 3 years ago
If you could make a wish on behalf of The City 2.0, what would it be?
The City 2.0 has many responsibilities: socio-economic // environmental // spatial // short-term & long-term design // better adapted buildings & materials // embedded supply networks with cradle to cradle design // changes in governance // a less colonial relationship with rural areas & inner cities // provide stability while allowing change // promoting the public & democratic over the private & unaccountable // proper size // population // biopolitical // more useable, embedded & relatable // differently assembled // better understanding of human behavior & learning // and so on, forever and ever. So, it seems the rallying call of the TED Prize will be "Maximize benefits, minimize costs!" That hardly stirs the soul, but maybe it's practical enough, considering TED wants to invest $100,000 in something. It's true that "what benefits" is controversial, as well as "what costs" & "which costs are acceptable" are similarly so. Passionate arguments can develop around different ideas of efficiency: what should exist & what should not. However, it seems that change requires something more emotional, visceral to catch the passionate imaginations of us all & move us toward a better arrangement -- in addition to the practical aspects of max/min. So, those considerations would be: the internal architecture within humans of the proper city & it's proper relations to other things // changing the mental image of the city & what it should be // ideology of a city's form // changing expectations & associations // and so on, relating to the political & artistic experiences of living in spaces with others. Same problem. What can we rally around? I wish The City 2.0 would rally around happiness as a way to connect these diverse responsibilities & considerations into one human-sized goal. Efficiency is important, no doubt. However, using happiness as our end-goal will give us more room to be human as we are compelled to seriously rethink ourselves & our environment.
110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted about 4 years ago
Why do civilians think we as military personnel should not speak our minds? We fight for our liberties, yet many prefer to silence us...
Johanna, I don't think the question is about silencing the military. The military is outspoken, has defined generation after generation with both inventions and violence. It's more a question about who the military silences. Moreover, for those informed, there's a distrust of the charged political language of militarism. Technical terms like collateral damage, counterinsurgency, and so on can pacify our anger at actions done in our name that could be described otherwise. However, once we realize the history and context of the language, we develop a distrust of those who would speak from the perspective of the military. And for many, that takes the form of anger or censorship if they could get the chance, to try to push away what has already been done in their name by not having to listen to the calculated half-lies from a General's mouth. So, I must reject your premise that military personnel don't get enough airtime. Intellectuals have always had a disdain for the military, but that doesn't mean that the military is generally silenced or isn't respected by many. Indeed, often it is respected more than one's government. However, I think if there was any disdain for McChrystal at TED, it was not because he was in the military - but because of his actions in the military. Thus, it's not about the military per se, but about him. Sneering and jeering a lesson in leadership from McChrystal is thus not based in his militarism, but in his actions. So, it's not about silencing the military, but about censoring him for his actions and his willingness to overlook their consequences to give a glib talk on leadership.
110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted about 4 years ago
What quotes move you?
A random selection of some of my favorite quotes: “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” f.n. “I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it” m.w. i'll love you, dear, i'll love you till china and africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street." w.h.a. “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself.” m.b. “Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities - that's training or instruction - but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed” t.m. “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer” d.a. “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” - albert(o) camus “champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. the victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character” - t.a.a. “If you've chosen egocentricity for your career path than you've chosen to live with the illusion that your surroundings will serve you continuously.” m.d. “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.” g.g. "we need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. for holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it." r.m.r. "once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit." e.e.c. "i have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - m. t. “he lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.” o.w. "ambition makes more trusty slaves than need." b.j. "Spend the years of learning squandering / Courage for the years of wandering / Through a world politely turning / From the loutishness of learning." - s.b.
110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted about 4 years ago
What's your opinion about the Arab's revolution?
I think what's important here is not to look for any single narrative of Arab revolution. One has to understand that such a characterization of these revolutions is political rather than objective. All of these countries are contested spaces themselves and a political revolution is not necessary going to lead to any kind of emancipation, no matter the brave rhetoric surrounding many of the revolutionaries. Indeed, how many of those revolutionaries are in political power now in these countries? How many people in these countries attempted revolution and received a well gift-wrapped reshuffling? Egypt is no more democratic under its military than it was under its former political leader. But most of that doesn't seem to matter if they don't have any control over their economics, no economic democracy. They can shuffle their leadership all they want, but they and other countries won't control any aspect of their lives without becoming more self-reliant and more able to deal with the structural issues of being a country and region of limited industry and many potential resources with moderate exposure to global economics. To make a choice to coordinate with the global economy and other structural issues is a luxury, however, so I suspect many of these political revolutions will be ineffectual insofar as they attempt to provide more democracy. Now, this assumes that democracy is the goal. Yet, even if it wasn't democracy and they were pursuing but something else, even then it would be tough unless, especially in Egypt's case, it could be attempted through militarism. But then that creates its own problems, as most modern nation's history will suggest. So, I see certain problems in these revolutions. What I care about here is the narrative that people can change their government's actions if they just get involved. I think that's something we need to preserve and promote. However, we need to back that up with practicalities that follow through on these promises.
110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted about 4 years ago
What poems are most powerful to you?
This is a poem I care about, by Walt Whitman -- Word over all, beautiful as the sky! Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost; That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world: For my enemy is dead - a man divine as myself is dead; I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin - I draw near; I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.
110961
Sanjay Seth
Posted about 4 years ago
Let's have mandatory military service in the U.S.
Erik, With all due respect, it seems you treat militarism as something apolitical and something exceptional. To you, it seems there's a vision of militarism as something apolitical, something everyone should participate in without recourse to preference, cultural norms, and so on. Further, you understand it as exceptional in that you see the military as a panacea for a many particular modern problems and at the same time divorce it from its own issues of soldiers' trauma, the violence they are trained to participate in, and so on. You are right to say that immersive experiences are behavior modifying, but to focus on militarism as the ideal immersive experience misses the point, I think. The reason some people won't develop marketable skills, don't have a sense of duty or service, or who don't have a sense of being part of a whole is because their own lives and identities aren't immersive. Indeed, they are incredibly fragmentary and spliced together - and the only immersive quality is the sense of mixed metaphor present in one's life. To say that the solution here is to remove this necessary confusion with the sureness of a military experience is to lash out at a symptom rather than a cause. On a more practical level, though, this idea is bankrupt. Our generation has remarkably little nationalism and exceptional patriotism like yours did. And that kind of cultural change didn't happen in a vacuum. To try to renationalize a youth disaffected with the violent projects of older generations and get the sense of meaning you felt in WWII, when the enemy to you was clear, your cultural place was clear, and so on, is missing the point. We aren't going to get that back (even if I don't agree 'we' even had it in the first place). So, I disagree with the idea that militarism is the solution to these problems. Indeed, they come from many places and to attack this problem with militarism just exacerbates the larger disaffection of youth to these large projects.