chapter  4
48 Pages


Given the Mughal prioritization, in conceptual terms, of mimesis over idealism, the aesthetic specificities and stylistic conventions of the different pictorial modes used in Akbari book art appear more or less severely reshaped depending on their level of suitability for minimal imitative expressivity. Inherently possessing the properties necessary to produce imitative effects or signs, some figural idioms of Indic and Sultanate origin did not require much reshaping, while the European element was effortlessly incorporated into the Mughal repertoire. But how could the impetus to give pictures a quality of concreteness cope with the contradictory desire to fashion them according to Persian aesthetic criteria? The answer lies in the Mughal acceptance and versatile application of the concept of hyperdialectics in the material domain of painting. “Hyperdialectics” (or the “hyperdialectic”) is a Merleau-Pontian notion that, adapted to this book, describes the intense form of aesthetic dialectics resulting from these Mughal deconstructive processes of the Persian paragon. It is a free and unrestrained dialectic, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty explains:

The only good dialectic is the hyperdialectic. The bad dialectic is that which does not wish to lose its soul in order to save it, which wishes to be dialectical immediately, becomes autonomous, and ends up at cynicism, at formalism, for having eluded its own double meaning. What we call hyperdialectic is a thought that on the contrary is capable of reaching the truth because it envisages without restriction the plurality of the relationships and what has been called ambiguity.1