Category Archives: endorsements and reviews
The number of self-help books being churned out by presses both small and big is skyrocketing. Some have speculated—reasonably enough—this can be seen as a manifestation of popular [res]sentiment coming to grips with socio-economic and geo-political realities that make it difficult to nurture, and preserve a coherent self-concept. The surge in the genre’s prolixity and chutzpah can seem impressive if one doesn’t know that several of the glossiest Bestsellers are often books that experts have on their “Not Recommended” lists. The wicked spawn of self-improvement books that adorn our bookstores and discount retail chain stores is as much a haphazard monument to our restless ambitions as it is a symptom of our merely nominal existence. If we were having the best sex of our lives we would perhaps have no need for How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale (2012) by Neil Strauss [and Jenna Jameson], and the legion that is other such titles.
On the one hand we have a fixation with the idea of youthful longevity through lifestyle change and the over-eager technological utopianism offered us make us giddy, and on the other hand we face the imminent danger of ecological catastrophe, an earth too fragile to bear our continued exploitations of its resources. Indeed, as Philip Auerswald puts it “As the fact of global climate change alone indicates, Malthusian spectres of demographic doom are regrettably still very much with us”. It is not that we do not wish to change the world but that the world changes without our help; slowly ever more globalised market mechanisms leave more and more of us behind on sinking ships earmarked for the unemployed, the unemployable, and the underemployed. Without the slightest irony, thrown between pleasure and near certain extinction we are obsessed with lists like Five self-help books that want to change [y]our life. This is no exaggeration…one could be more observant, more pessimistic…
The urban chic set that keeps abreast with the latest fashionable causes to vent its self-projections and insular anxieties seems to be staking a rather hazy claim to civic consciousness in India. A jejunating gerontocrat with an Oedipal grouse against corrupt politicos, and who wants to discipline drunkards by the lynch ‘em dry method, here gains prominence and lingers like a tepid stench long after his garrulity is spent achieving sweet fuck-all—with relative ease in our media saturated epoch. Adding vacuity and loquacious fanaticism to the masses’ burgeoning discontent are tabloids, blogs and television chatterati screaming shrilly their manifestos geared at [in]voluntary political quietism. When one’s attention is driven to his own pecuniary lack he is quickly driven to chagrin about black-money he hasn’t any means to extradite from subterranean governmental hands. This personal-frustration-driven politics is dangerous inasmuch as personal agendas are apt to end in rash manipulative gestures of political will. In a diverse country like India individualism would be the straw that broke the bullock’s back.
That the desire to improve one’s lot to the point where spending several hours a day on a treadmill is not only acceptable but profoundly desirable bespeaks a very peculiar attitude towards life, and what might be wrested from it. For one, it is a morbid obsession with a self-image, it is also a vain commitment to a self isolated from any substantiality beyond its commitment to its own image, reflected through a prism of phantasms and Aunt Dianaesque discourses. From the hives of our identitarian commitments we all clamour for audience and control, [we the Liberals/ Conservatives/ Nationalists!] , and in our unwieldy synchrony with the zeitgeist of these communities, we are stabbed cold by the rabid devotions of our mobs. The idea of improving the self sounds deceptively salutary, even ethical these days; no, but can’t we see this slick, new self contrasted prejudicially against gits who weren’t addressed by our self-style-guides’ target demographic cohort?
Opportunism, hedonism, and activism seamlessly blend into the mediated space of national and international discourses among informed consumers; there is conversation, but there is also lies, chaos and oligopolies of branded guff. Each nation becomes an individualist cohort driven towards an ever-becoming-Galt, striking the globally ghettoised masses—figuratively—unionised in their dire straits as plunderers.
The more we try to reclaim individuality the more we find ourselves fractured between odds and ends of the selves we had long taken for granted, shorn for convenience, or from shame. NRIs settled in cosy Silicon Valley apartments send their patriotism packed avowals in jingoistic emails tweeting their approval of desi tyrants; personal activisms quickly precipitate national travesties. Influence also enslaves us; as we wait on the beck and call of the new fad we might as well read about how we can outsmart that thickly accented son of the soil @ the call center job, with grooming tips and One-Month-Guarantee Speak English classes.
Originally posted Here : < https://sites.google.com/site/scene46/home/self-help-is-the-worst-help >.
Auerswald, Philip. (2012). The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Fresco, Jacques & Meadows, Roxanne. (2008). The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty and War. Québec, Canada: Osmora Publishing.
Kennedy, Dan, S. (2008). No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent: No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Guide to Getting Really Rich. USA: Entrepreneur Press
Lomborg, Bjørn. (2001). The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.
McGee, Micki. (2005). Self-Help, Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
Norcross, John, C.; Campbell, Linda, F.; Grohol, John, M.; Santrock, John, W.; Selagea, Florin; Sommer, Robert. Eds. (2012). Self-Help That Works: Resources to Improve Emotional Health and Strengthen Relationships. New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
 See McGee, Micki. (2005). Self-Help, Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life. New York, USA: OxfordUniversity Press.
 See Norcross, John, C.; Campbell, Linda, F.; Grohol, John, M.; Santrock, John, W.; Selagea, Florin; Sommer, Robert. (2012). Self-Help That Works: Resources to Improve Emotional Health and Strengthen Relationships. New York, USA: OxfordUniversity Press.
 See < http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Love-Health-Self-Guide/dp/1591200261 >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://www.flipkart.com/sex-your-questions-answered-01/p/itmdyuzr88ayheya >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See Kennedy, Dan, S. (2008). No B.S. Marketing To the Affluent: No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Guide to Getting Really Rich. USA: Entrepreneur Press. p. 23.
 See Fresco, Jacques & Meadows, Roxanne. (2008). The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty and War. Québec, Canada: Osmora Publishing.
 Auerswald, Philip. (2012). The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy. New York, USA: OxfordUniversity Press. p. 36.
 See < http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-03-05/ahmedabad/37469380_1_unemployed-youth-unemployment-figures-claims >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/11/23/young-jobless-and-indian/ >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_india-has-the-most-unemployable-population-report_1587604 >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/unemployment-rate >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2013/jan/07/five-self-help-books-change-life >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 “Armed with diplomas and aspirations for upward mobility, a rapidly expanding consumer class is said to be driving political activism and, thanks to its media savviness, forcing the government to listen”. Fontanella-Khan, Amana. 24, January 2013. “India’s Next Revolution”. The New York Times. Accessed 22, March 2013. Available from < http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/opinion/indias-next-revolution.html?_r=0 >.
 “…[t]hey often pay hired help just Rs 4,000-5’000 per month, and complain if servants demand more. Middle class folk don’t want to calculate the per capita daily spending of their servant’s family. They resent servants constantly wanting more pay, even if this falls short of the very level they find outrageous when specified by the Planning Commission. This double standard is not restricted to paying servants. When middle class folk go to Dilli Haat to buy a sari, they will beat down the weavers to the lowest price possible. If told that the weaver earns only Rs 4,000 per month, will they change their attitude or agree that they have helped keep the weaver poor? No chance”. Aiyar, Swaminathan, A. “Middle class hypocrisy on the poverty line”. The Times of India. 02 October 2011. Accessed 22, March 2013. Available from < http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes .com/Swaminomics/entry/middle-class-hypocrisy-on-the-poverty-line >.
 See < http://www.ndtv.com/photos/news/top-20-surfer-comments-supporting-anna-hazare-10166 >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://www.indiatvnews.com/politics/national/anna-hazare-too-demands-death-penalty-for-rapists-7398.html >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-11-22/india/30428675_1_anna-hazare-ralegan-siddhi-alcoholics >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
 See < http://lokpaldissent.wordpress.com/tag/anna-hazare/ >. Accessed 22, March 2013.
The biocentrist and the Bright Green Environmentalist are siblings. They compete to save their mother, but also mankind’s, from themselves. The oneiric image of ecstatic union with the mother—at her breast as a child—is a memory constantly threatened by the forgetfulness of appetites; made more and more spectral, hallucinatory by everyday spent in her possession. If we do not act today it will have been too late tomorrow: “we cannot harm any part of her without also harming ourselves“. Mother Nature relies on us! For something we, perhaps, cannot give her; our very selves. The day to day existence of everyone depends on a usurpation of Mother Earth’s bounty, how much more must the environmentalists’, whose delicate sensibility abhorring the incestuous depredations of smokestacks and bullpricks yet must thrive on the power of her resources; food, electricity, a tree mulching environmentalist discourse? Some poet, driven by the same psychism of the incestuous gardener, made the ethereal pronouncement that only men cut down trees to make paper on which they express their desire for saving them. Between the competing brothers the very mortality inscribed in the consumption of Mother Earth through human use of her resources, attested by the indigenous and the apathetic rival to the fount of her nourishment alike in the complaints about her limited nature and the need for responsible consumption, there comes to be a solipsism; an absenting from distress to grasp, if only, at the memory of her heaving clefts, mounded hillocks and delicate foliage laid out for all her sons in a prelapsarian hunter-gatherer totem meal. In the raging rectitude of their desire to protect her they half realise that their contestation is not all there is to the matter; Mother Earth is also a mother-whore to a whole indifferent world of despoilers, legions of deflowerers who rival for her incestuous predilection of necessity in their arch and environmentally hostile ways—perverts, sinners, rapists, tribals taking firewood from forests for a living after being dispossessed of their livelihood by industries. They are loathe to name the apparent, but devastating, truth available to their own, and humanity’s instinctually desirous, oral-phallic vacillation: Mother Earth is a slut. Then, our own “conscience does make cowards of us all” but, how much more does the conscience of the Others’.
Flight from these dire exigencies and drives, for and against human satisfaction—through technology, but also through ecological rape—has created an atmosphere where the underlying genital circuit of Mother-Whore Earth and a spontaneous revulsion from incestuous desire are paralleled in the sexual mores of humanity as such, and a radicalisation of these mores established on the shifting grounds of man’s relation to the environment too. In India the idea of Bharat Mata, or India Mother is held up as an ideal of feminity, fecundity, fideism to the Hindu faith. A very popular Bollywood film Mother India (1957) has been described, rather too obviously psychoanalytically, by Sumita Chakravarti—is not the stock in trade of films the peddling of oneiric imagines; as a pathway to sublimation, or regression?—:
“[The] Radha of Mother India … has already become the mother of the whole community at the beginning of the film. Heavily garlanded, with the aura of distance conferred by ‘greatness’, she is persuaded by her ‘good’ son, Ramu, to inaugurate a dam built for the mechanised irrigation of their fields. The era of technology that independence is ushering in (symbolised by shots of tractors, machines, and dams…) promises relief and a new era in village life as well. What better figure to mark the transition from the old to the new than the culture’s feminine principle incarnate?” (Srinivasan, Bina 2007).
The images of a son compelling the damming and irrigation of his mother needs scant illustration in the primeval privates of the mind. The domination of women is also the domination of Mother Earth, the archetypal woman; whether her son coercers her or seduces her he still remains culpable for desiring; is not he also her choice suitor, ordained for her express satisfaction, doesn’t Freud say so? The mutuality between symbol and signified, thought and deed, ecological conservation and the thriving of life as such is tenuous, soft, compelling and irrevocable. Mother must stop desiring all these children, these phallic consumers of goods possessed of moral depravity. If we cannot stop these cruel suitors perhaps we can defy them, become better than they and abandon this lust for the mother. But how must this be done? Castration! The Western idea of symbolic castration as impinging upon individuality wrested from the parental stead does not hold universally; Alan Roland (2011) and Sudhir Kakar (2011; 2012) propose that symbolic castration not only defuses a morbidly charged situation in the familial hierarchy of Asian subjects but also becomes an act of self-improvement with social and personal benefits, where the subject sublimates his distressing and disapproved desire with a supplement that satisfies the innate motivating principle of his desire.
The Peoples’ Park incident in San Francisco Bay area further punctuates the parapraxis involved in the articulation of ecological peace through libidinal frustration. The area divided between conservative Hippy-hating Republicans of East Bay and the pot-smoking revolutionaries of Haight-Ashbury; a plot of land used to hang out and carouse by the revolutionaries came to be espied for purpose of infrastructural development. This usurpation moved the hippies to raise picks and shovels and tractors in protestation and outrage on April 20, 1969; eventually, after many denouements of the conflict reached their climax, the establishment had decided to let the revolutionaries settle in there, which they did; growing vegetables that were picked prematurely and flowers that, DeGroot insists, were never quite pretty. Picks and shovels are obvious symbolisations of genitals and fertility come specifically to rescue the modesty of Mother Earth from hungry bullpricks of her rivalling suitors, and their promises of bacon and biscuits sold on discount. Incest consummated, or thwarted, thrives under the vigilance and goading of the mind’s primeval censors, a mysterious guilt plagues the would-be-usurpers of the parental bed. While the histrionics that were usual on Peoples’ Park came to a screeching halt the land was taken over by a playground for children, amidst moribund flowers and jaded revolutionaries who once cocked a snook at society’s disapproval of mother-love, intoxication and unalloyed sexual liberty toking to the chagrin of conservative Republicans. While the orgy-revolution had been rebuffed more discreet and socially legitimised consummations of the Peoples’ Park continued unabated. Here, a protestation wins a symbolic victory, a reinstatement and verbal nod to their phallus and yet they are castrated as they sleep; not being allowed to live their ideological dreams the hippies are effectively neutralised whether or not they can engage in casual sex at the People’s Park, or any public place for that matter.
For the anthropocentric ecological crusaders the Earth is an oyster but the biocentrist holds that oysters are as important as anthropos. Insofar as both these groups must collide in their championing of the Mother’s mound their intentions stem from the same filial desire: protect her from spoilage. But, the anthropocentrist is cognisant of the position he is in when he rescues the mother; he proceeds to claim an ordained right to possess her felicity and gratitude. They, in psychoanalytic parlance, identify with mother Earth as servitors of her secret and symbolically inexhaustible fecundity: they identify in the Earth an aspect of man that begs preservation. Identification, though a detour of the narcissistic ego, allows a greater lightness and transparency to overcome the probable consummation of the slavery which desire demands from the ego-object. The biocentrist seems to efface the self from this master-slave movement inherent to all love relationships: the lover surrendering himself to the beloved comes to fear from his own loss of self, but this loss of self allows him to be projected into the beloved such that his inexistence takes on the density of his idealisation of the beloved. This de-centring of the self is castration; the ironic consummation of idealisation begins with the castration of the lover, and by this possession without ejaculatory inevitability, “…in Masters and Johnson’s terms…”, the coitus will never be foreshadowed by an interruptus. Castration has potential to become a priapic gesture of the libido, persisting beyond its effacement. Can this priapic gesture not be read in the absurd cosmology of the biocentrist which is not propounded by any of the other indispensable and irreplaceable species but him and his rivals? The deed of castration becomes more properly priapic, or hallucinatory, when it purports to elaborate that castration alone is the guarantor of love for Mother Earth.
Indeed, the identifying anthropocentrist environmentalist dissembles when enunciating his deposition of his desire for Mother Love, but the biocentrist turns his desire inward, like a corrosive acid in mortification reminiscent of the Catholic Church. The anthropocentrist is Protestant, believing in the sufficiency of the work of his hands and divine grace, Earth’s never exhaustible bounty. At this juncture, it must be admitted that were Earth doomed then man too would be, and there would be no anthropos to centre or even any conservation discourse. The biocentrist is Catholic, requiring a beating of breasts and the small of the back in mortificatory moral paroxysms. If the environment were rescued by human extinction, as some extreme biocentrist movements like the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement hold to be the case with utmost moral urgency, who pray would the ecology be possessed by? Is it not only the human discourse of ecological conservation that envisages the restoration of ecological diversity? These styles of devotion are merely ruses of Mother Love gone incognito; “by their works shall ye know them”. Do the anthropocentrists who profess the need to conserve ecological integrity affirm their culpability in desiring to possess the produce of their love of the Earth? Yes. Are the biocentrists ready to eschew their lifestyles dependent on the products of civilisation that are rooted in the marital bed of Mother Earth and father superego? Perhaps, but it remains to be seen! And, they have not acceded that man is privileged, a superegotic despotism persists in their posturing. The former sheaths his desire in the honesty of the profligate, given to his irremediable dependance on Mother Earth’s bounty while the latter cuts off the throbbing organ of his morally repugnant desire; these styles of consummation, these appropriations of the desire and its elusive object are both awkward attempts at safe sex, as if there were such a thing.
To be Continued…
See previous part here: http://skepoet.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/psychoanalysis-and-environmentalism-part-ii/
Bachelard, Gaston. Trans. Jolas, Maria. The Poetics of Space. New York, USA: Orion Press, 1964.
Chew, Matthew, K. & Laubichler, Manfred, D. 2003. “Perceptions of Science: Natural Enemies–Metaphor or Misconception?”. Science: Essays on Science and Society. 4 July 2003: Vol. 301 no. 5629 pp. 52-53. DOI: 10.1126/science.1085274. Web. <http://www.sciencemag.org/content/301/5629/52.full>.
DeGroot, Gerard. “The Sixties Unplugged. London, UK: Pan Books, 2008.
Freud, Sigmund. Trans. Hall, Stanley, G. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York, USA: Horace Liveright, Inc., 1920.
Kakar, Sudhir & Ross, John, M. Tales of Love Sex and Danger: Second Edition. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Kakar, Sudhir. Book of Memories. New Delhi, India: Penguin, 2012.
Nordgren, Anders. Responsible Genetics: The Moral Responsibility of Geneticists for the Consequences of Genetic Research. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001.
Ricoeur, Paul. Trans. Savage, Denis. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 2008.
Roland, Alan. Journeys to Foreign Selves: Asians and Asian Americans in a Global Era. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Scholarly Editions. Issues in Mechanical Engineering: 2011 Edition. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholarly Editions, 2012.
Sheldrake, Rupert. The Greening of Science and God: The Rebirth of Nature. Cochin, India: Editions India, 2007.
Srinivasan, Bina. Negotiating Complexities: A Collection of Feminist Essays. New Delhi, India: Promila & Co. Publishers, 2007.
 “‘There’s a schism emerging between two camps within the environmental movement. On the one extreme, the dark green non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—such as Greenpeace USA and Friends of the Earth—seek radical social change to solve environmental problems, most often by confronting the corporate sector. As Alex Steffen explains it, they tend to “pull back from consumerism (sometimes even from industrialization itself)’. On the other extreme, the bright green NGOs—such as Conservation International and the Environmental Defense Fund—work within the market system, often in close collaboration with corporations, to solve environmental problems. Again, as Steffen explains: This “is a call to use innovation, design, urban revitalization and entrepreneurial zeal to transform the systems that support our lives’.” Hoffman, Andy. See, <http://erbsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/the-dark-greenbright-green-divide/>
 “The view that hunter-gatherers are not responsible for environmental degradation is mistaken. It is widely believed that they were responsible for the extinction of the woolly mammoth, large land tortoises, and possibly even neanderthals (see “Overkill Hypothesis”). It is not necessarily a peaceful way of life, it encourages tribalism and competition over resources with other humans and predatory animals”. Case. See http://howlingwaste.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/hunting-gathering/
 Golubiewski, Nancy & Cleveland, Cutler, Eds. “Perverse subsidies”. The Encyclopaedia of Earth. Web. < http://www.eoearth.org/article/Perverse_subsidies>
 Soetomo, Greg. “Ecological focus in the Archdiocese of Jakarta, Indonesia”. ECO. Web. < http://ecojesuit.com/ecological-focus-in-the-archdiocese-of-jakarta-indonesia/2360/>
 Freidman, Sharon. “Face it: All Forests are Sluts”. High Country News. Web. < http://www.hcn.org/hcn/wotr/face-it-all-forests-are-sluts>
 Shakespeare, William. “Act 3, Scene 1, p. 4; 84”. Hamlet.
 Srinivasan, Bina. “A Disciplined River: The Case of Narmada Valley and its People”. Negotiating Complexities: A Collection of Feminist Essays. New Delhi, India: Promila & Co. Publishers, 2007. p. 141- 79.
 “The nature of the symbol relationship is a comparison, but not any desired comparison. One suspects a special prerequisite for this comparison, but is unable to say what it is. Not everything to which we are able to compare an object or an occurrence occurs in the dream as its symbol; on the other hand, the dream does not symbolize anything we may choose, but only specific elements of the dream thought. There are limitations on both sides. It must be admitted that the idea of the symbol cannot be sharply delimited at all times — it mingles with the substitution, dramatization, etc., even approaches the allusion. In one series of symbols the basic comparison is apparent to the senses. On the other hand, there are other symbols which raise the question of where the similarity, the “something intermediate” of this suspected comparison is to be sought. We may discover it by more careful consideration, or it may remain hidden to us. Furthermore, it is extraordinary, if the symbol is a comparison, that this comparison is not revealed by the association, that the dreamer is not acquainted with the comparison, that he makes use of it without knowing of its existence. Indeed, the dreamer does not even care to admit the validity of this comparison when it is pointed out to him. So you see, a symbolic relationship is a comparison of a very special kind, the origin of which is not yet clearly understood by us. Perhaps later we may find references to this unknown factor”. Freud, Sigmund. Trans. Hall, Stanley, G. “Tenth Lecture. The Dream: Symbolism in the Dream”. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York, USA: Horace Liveright, Inc., 1920.
 See Kakar, Sudhir & Ross, John, Munder. Tales of Love Sex and Danger. Second Edition. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2011.
 DeGroot, Gerard. “The Sixties Unplugged. London, UK: Pan Books, 2008.
 Kakar, Sudhir & Ross, John, M. (2011). Also, see Ricoeur, Paul (2008).
 Kakar, Sudhir & Ross, John, M. (2011).
 Matthew 7-16. The Bible.
Ricoeur’s reading of Freud is a rare and sympathetic attempt to grapple philosophically with the anti-philosophy of psychoanalysis. In successive movements between Freud’s explicitly developed triads of id, ego and superego; unconscious, preconscious and conscious; cathexis, anticathexis and hypercathexis; Eros, Thanatos and Logos Ricoeur locates an occult dualism of human desire which defines the project of psychoanalysis as a working through of desire, against a social field of desires of the other. The project of psychoanalysis is purely diagnostic: to arrive at the truth beyond the pleasure principle is the working through of life in the analytic session. These various triads Ricoeur demonstrates, with peerless clarity and rigour, to be the interplay of an energetics, an economics and a series of topographies of psychisms that constantly stand in for reality in the mind of the analysand, and which are held together as a calculable interpretation only by the work of analysis which fuses each triad with its corresponding function in the service of the pleasure-ego. Only under the shifting gaze of the analyst who is aided by the process of transference can the work of interpretation begin because the analysand has only a very distorted access to his resistances. The truth, for Freud, is a thankless thing which comes with the collapse of all illusion. But illusion itself is a necessary prelude to any conception of a truth.
The Analytic Reading
The Energetics implicit in Freud’s word, often ignored by commentators, is much indebted to the naturalist ethos of his own time and draws heavily on a speculative quantity of neurons as contingent agents of repression and sublimation. This energetics is important to Freud inasmuch as he sought to differentiate his work from rival schools that held consciousness to be a parallelism of the neural system or a mere epiphenomenon by modifying the findings of biology to furnish an archaeology of instincts. Freud was interested in showing how quantitative tendencies of neurons effected qualitative changes in consciousness: “[d]esires and wishes enter [t]his mechanistic theory (pp. 383- 84) through the intermediary of the traces left behind by pleasure and unpleasure” (Ricoeur, P. 77) in the form of neuronal charges. But this quantity-to-quality conversion begs the question of how these quantities don’t get annulled by the minds relentless impetus towards pleasure and/ or unpleasure in an affective entropy. Freud’s answer radicalises this problem by positing the work of quantitative neuronal movements to be the regulation of affective states to preserve an inertia, a nirvana principle. Rather than running their course in surplus pleasure or unpleasure towards a total expenditure of affect/ neuronal charges they tended to a preservation of their initial state of libidinal investment. An affective homeostasis. But this answer eliminates the anatomical basis for the instinct’s quantitative transformation into indeterminate tendencies mainly because these neurons and their charges cannot be counted. They are of an uncertain number, and in the words of a commentator on Freud, possessed of a phlogistic character in psychoanalytic theory; in response to a constancy principle that is fundamentally at odds with the reality principle a homeostasis of affects demands a way to calculate neuronal charges if psychoanalysis is to be treated as the science Freud insisted it was. Reality is, Freud says, that which persists despite the Conscious system’s “peculiar cathexis”: it is classified in opposition to the Unconscious that is timeless and non-negative, and is “…classified with negation and contradiction, the tonic binding of energy, and reference to time” as an end of illusion and the maturity of man (Ricoeur, P. 268).
The periodicity and self-consistency of ideas in relation to a nirvana principle come to define the quantitative neuronal constitution of the triad unconsciousness, preconsciousness and consciousness; in this capacity they work as a spatial dimension where pleasure-seeking psychisms reacting with the conscious world of objects, and a strategy for working through of life in this world, can be understood by interpreting the representations of ego-instincts as they appear in comparison with a semiology of desire constructed from an archaeology of ego-instincts—arrived at by the detours of analytic session, the free association method and experience. The topography of psychoanalysis, then, is a spatial translation of the indeterminate and timeless qualities of the unconscious under a metaphorical mien; it allows for the analytic understanding of motor impulses pushed backwards into intentions, i.e. traces of unconscious neuronal impulsions in search of pleasure, as the cause for hallucination when the object of its desire is absent, or as conscious action when the object is present; “…motility and perception…” are its directional poles (Ricoeur, P. 107). Now, from the side of earlier ego-instincts an action can be read as a regression to hallucinatory union with a lost object, but from the side of the object to which the ego cathects by the detour of an ego-instinct an integration of impulses marked by a renunciation to necessity becomes discernible, and this process can now be read as sublimation—whatever repression and sublimation are defined as in qualitative terms. On the side of reality, in the Freudian topography, are Logos and Ananke the gods of the disillusioned and on the side of the neurotic ceremonials of desire are the archaisms of Eros and Thanatos marked by their tendency for a pleasure-seeking-unto-death; although it is Eros that impels men to action it is only the gaze of Thanatos that these actions come to bear their allegiance to Ananke, overcoming the ruses of infantile desire.
The triangulation between the lust for joyous survival, the stratagems of this lust for survival and the more, or less, realistic behaviour that emerges in response to this renewed understanding of reality become the definitional criteria which situate the disparate field of human desire under the purview of psychoanalysis. After enumerating the facts of discourse that constitute the sphere of personal desire under these three criteria we must analyse them by reading them against the bare facts of the analysand’s behaviour, the relation of this behaviour to a certain understanding of the world he occupies and the degree to which the analysand gives credence to his behaviour in light of the gap between bare facts and personal affects. This level of psychoanalytic discourse couched in the terminology of id, ego and superego comes to take on an economic aspect in that what the unconscious desires comes to be sought out by the conscious, i.e. in Freud’s words, “where the id was the ego shall be”. The gap between these occult movements of personal desires—impelled by the regulatory energetics of pleasure, and unpleasure—and the actual outcome of these desires pursued or repressed to their end becomes most coherent when it is read as an economic relation between the impersonal, personal and suprapersonal aspects of the psychism. The impersonal is the id because it desires without the knowledge of consciousness; the suprapersonal superego is a ruse of the id which convinces the conscious part of the mind by its rationalisations and order words, or the representatives of conscious thought in the ego, about a danger that must be averted by capitulating to its, or the id’s, dimly perceived demands; egoity or consciousness and rational behaviour is then in a triply precarious position right from its inception, buffeted by the impersonal and the suprapersonal, and insulted by the residual reality which resists the ego-instinct’s errands of pleasure.
The Dialectical Reading
It is evident that psychoanalysis only serves to guide the analytical reconstruction of the analysand’s psychisms or, an archaeology of human desire if you will, and a synthetic, or prescriptive, teleology is beyond the scope of psychoanalytic theory. This is simply because each successive reality can be read as an object-choice, or adequation of the ego formation to allow for pleasure, and is to be treated as a compromised choice of perceptual information and the way it relates to the demands of the id constellated in the interpreting authority of the superego with its ruses for maximising satisfaction. Here, Ricoeur offers a corrective to the solipsism of the psychoanalytic theory outside the session in proposing to pare down psychoanalysis with a phenomenology of reflective consciousness; this he achieves by a superimposed operation of the Hegelian dialectic over the Freudian epochȇ in reverse. “Where phenomenology begins with an act of ‘suspension’, with an epochȇ at the free disposition of the subject, psychoanalysis begins with the suspension of the control of consciousness, whereby the subject is made a slave equal to his bondage, to use Spinoza’s terms” (Ricoeur, P. 391). Thus the act of a conscious recapitulation of perception is not apt to survive the acid test of psychoanalysis; instincts that are discerned in affects of the conscious mind are reified as necessity and reason in the Hegelian grasping of man, he becomes the subject of his needs, which are only interpretable as representations [Freud's reprasentanz] of instincts: “…a realism of the knowable…a mythology…” (Ricoeur, P. 435). Thus, Ricoeur opposes the search for interpretation in the mythology of the instincts with the projection of a teleological destiny that Freud implicates while thematising the primal history of man and society.
In the first stage of the dialectic consciousness itself stands in place of a symptom that imposes representations of the instincts as a mythos, or hermeneutic approach, backward over the facts of perception. “Whereas Hegel links an explicit teleology of mind or spirit to an implicit archaeology of life and desire, Freud links a thematised archaeology of the unconscious to an unthematised teleology of the process of becoming conscious” (Ricoeur, P. 461). The reduplication of consciousness, the abortive or premature Cogito, in the movement of consciousness becoming conscious of itself in itself and in another is to be opposed to the exegetical movement of consciousness into representations of its own investment in the pleasure principle—this movement eludes the Freudian notion of narcissism involved in identification, or object-choice, since it is in itself a figure of necessity [Ananke] that deflates the abortive Cogito’s innate narcissism; brute necessity [Ananke] is inscribed in the external world of objects before its translation into psychisms which are merely ego-instincts that stand in for the world. This dialectic between archaeology and teleology is an “…opposition to the Freudian economics” of libidinal investment read into the metapsychology from without, as a procession of spirit that educates desire in transformation beyond regression towards the inertial vortex of an original “object-loss”, or primary repression, whose presence in absentia sets psychoanalytic re-interpretation in motion (Ricoeur 481). Since psychoanalysis does not make this synthetic move towards elucidating its normative field of desire beyond the pleasure principle, hinted at obliquely in the notion of sublimation which it fails to elucidate, it risks falling into the troubling inability to differentiate between progression and regression; movements of desire that psychoanalysis has so strongly opposed in the economic and topographic scheme of the analytic session as a measure of truth beyond illusions; the argument for the id’s prefiguration of the ego or the ego’s curtailment of the pleasure-ego’s, or abortive Cogito’s, formation respectively. Thus, the corrective of the dialectic of the phenomenology of spirit on the [psycho]analytic regression of the epochȇ in reverse comes to open up a field that is beyond the ruses of the pleasure principle and is simultaneously the condition of both regression and progression.
Ricoeur’s contribution to the elucidation of Freudianism as an epistemological enterprise opposed to the observational sciences and in opposition with the phenomenological school of philosophy opens the ground for a reflective philosophy which can proceed by the dialectics between an archaeology and a teleology of the psychisms of desire.
Ricoeur, Paul. Trans. Savage, Denis. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 2008. Print.
“‘To read what was never written.’ Such reading is the most ancient: reading before all languages, from the entrails, the stars, or dances. Later the mediating link of a new kind of reading, of runes and hieroglyphs, came into use. It seems fair to suppose that these were the stages by which the mimetic gift, which was once the foundation of occult practices, gained admittance to writing and language. In this way language may be seen as the highest level of mimetic behavior and the most complete archive of nonsensuous similarity: a medium into which the earlier powers of mimetic production and comprehension have passed without residue, to the point where they have liquidated those of magic”.
-Walter Benjamin, Ed. & Trans. Demetz, Peter. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (1978)
Much of what is appealing in the literary form of the novel pertains to its formal contour; its limitations allow a, more or less, tardive revelation to enunciate itself only in a trajectory of participative ambivalence on part of the reader, who must invest his time at the text’s own leisure. The expectation of being paid in kind by the novel, then, is a most natural one: the pleasure of the novel is gotten at by capitulation to its logic of sense. Colours, shapes and shadows must become indeterminate, or overdetermined, not by the fixative predestinations of our expectation from the work but by the revelatory impetus of the text-in-itself and for-oneself; in a slow alchemy, of ideas turned into imagines, the novel’s fidelity to a reader proves itself a germinal idée fixe retrospectively only when its fruits have been apprehended at long last on its final pages. With movie adaptation of novels this scheme of natural unfolding, of genesis, genericity or gendering if you will, takes on a short-circuitous realisation: the atmosphere of auratic descriptions that bleed into objects in a peculiar authorial timbre and pitch, due to her uniquely ambiguous/ subjective enunciation, becomes more than an accessory to understanding—which is its rôle proper in a narrative—, it becomes the very content of understanding understood. The visual medium is, in this constitutively polemical sense, the self-satisfied imago of form; an interpretation of content entailed necessarily and externally imposed by the filmmaker onto a more or less eidetically labile text. When Benjamin called cinema anti-auratic, perhaps, he was onto something larger; not just, that cinema allowed art to become detranscendentalised by allowing more distracted viewing and absorption, but also that something about cinema in-itself could well nigh eliminate what may have natively belonged to a text before it was imprisoned in filmic imagines. Filming a novel, then, is an act of eliminative [re]creation. Having said that…
Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children (1981) performs the auratic task with an ease and giddiness that betrays the formal inadequacy of the film, its namesake, (2012), in a way that succeeds in effacing the lexically potent and, perhaps, visually inconceivable magic of its literary progenitor. The characterisation is invariably more jaded and inadequate than the eccentrics and full-blooded paladins in the book: Salim Sinai, in the book a precocious boy with influenza and telepathic powers, becomes a snot-nosed puppet in Deepa Mehta’s bradykinetic directorial hands. His powers, and those of the Midnight’s Children bestowed by Indian independence, intrude upon both the child protagonist’s performative incontinence and the cinema-goer’s incredulity in a market where even bad movies have superb post-production values. Not satisfied with having eliminated the magic from a magic-realist narrative by use of bad-special effects and montage laced overkill, Mehta goes great lengths to dilute the thaumaturgy of mantric formulae and genuflections, used willy-nilly by Parvati or the snot-sniffing Salim, by having the unfortunate actors vocalise, and indicate with jejune twisting of hands and wringing of nostrils: abracadabra, sniff sniff ad nauseam. The discovery that Salim was possessed of these melodramatic conceits, telepathy and empathy galore, becomes a cloying distraction in the settings where this fact is laboured over by the turgid pleroma of noisome midnight kids who convey nothing of the pathos and mystique the book once bestowed on them as fellow compatriots of Sinai’s fate.
The pace of the movie was adequate but what it walked alongside, instead of the book, was its own muddled prepossession; the rich interweaving of subplots were ad hoc sacrificed by Rushdie’s consent, and much to my dismay. Because of this free-handed truncation of plot the remaining fare of meaty story became too entirely dependent on the narratological capabilities of Deepa Mehta; she did her best at mediocritising the rich cultural context of the story by having a bunch of midgets dance, amidst rope-walking children and snake caressing geriatrics, before the equestrian bridegroom of the pregnant Parvati riding serpentine toward the marriage bed. The momentous self-congratulations of attaining independence from a bankrupt, post-war battered and willing Great Britain, which continues to echo as chief token of Indian rhetoricians and rabbles alike, was reduced to the belligerence of nautch-girls on trucks and stalky, dark men beating crude drums in a negative space all negated by fireworks and panorama. Stylistically, the movie was to the book what the British were to India for four centuries: vituperation and anacoluthon. The sole redeeming moment of the movie was a visual of Indira Gandhi’s lips munching away some endlessly juicy titbit as news of the declaration of emergency, to protect democracy, is broadcast: the satire here is caustic, but the acid quickly trickles down on the director, who loses all track of the necessary agents of her disparate rendition of the novel as they must rush pell-mell to their foreclosed end, smarting and scathed by her distracted, anti-auraticised gaze. The filming of this novel alas destroyed not only its labile excess but also its integral holism, leaving both the narrative scheme and its visual poverty divorced from Midnight’s Children’s (1981); its sense of fidelity to the mimetic productive capacity of the text and reproduction of its comprehensible substance in the film, lost, liquidating the very magic it had potentially made available to readers through three decades.
Ashis Nandy’s controversial point that the lower castes are the most corrupt is controversial only insofar as its context is elided, evaded or ignored with an agenda.
The blending of ideal totalities of thought and deed in the brutal melting pot of our diverse, often divisive, Indian people has been long drawn on as a resilient, and, indeed now, a robustly commonplace philosopheme by her commentarial, emblem bearing khidmatgars. In fact, long before freeing herself from the yolk of Colonial subjugation, popular Indian sentiment, and its ascendant political jingo of saffron stained Nationalism, had developed in her people an avidity for this syncretic unitarianism of thought— as much in symbolism and rhetoric as could fail to translate into practice, even. Our politics have been a testament to this tradition of abrasion and richness in turn. We continue to be a nation of many chugged along an inertial, expedient, One: Bharatavarsha. Srinivasa Ramanujan’s mathematical prowess, for instance, Nandy argues not surprisingly, was rooted as much in the tradition of Western natural philosophy as it was in an indigenous, para-European [pathological/ anal-regressive?] culture imbued with the constellating torque of theotechny, astrology and the honing of technics pertaining to extrasensory perception. The dizzying plasticity and substantive force of medieval Indian logical traditions stands testimony to the heteronymous and collative business of our modern discursive practices; where else may one find admixed sublime notions of valour to be obtained in logomachy attended simultaneously by a strong distaste for epistemological consistency? In the surviving clamour of ricocheting, and ever-revivifying-reifying, Indian traditions of logic mired in ancient, plural originations of course [!] The Nyāya-Śhāstra school, for instance, finds place for categories of logical disputation such as intentional quibbling [chala], wrangling for victory at the cost of Truth [jalpa], ad hoc attacks on debaters [vitanda] and outré forms of the analogue like the varnya-sama— balancing two questionable axioms such that a conclusion may nevertheless obtain. An example of varnya-sama:
Sound is non-eternal,
Because it is a product,
Like a pot.
The leisurely and anodyne practices of intellectual jousting cultivated with great fervour in ancient India, through centuries, have all but petered out in deference to the narrow proprietary template of the mediatised sensationalisation of our information age. No more do the media have the time or inclination to tackle any discursion a tad removed from punctual dotage to the average, illiterate demagogue’s fiery sound bite. The gap toothed maw of local traditions of reason, once sharpened by the insatiable Indian appetite for knowledge pursued hotly by competing clans, is now emptied out for fear that it might puncture the official bag of wind beloved to some partisan electorate; gerrymandering of course defies catagories of traditional, and reasonable, logic and is its own totem and taboo. Ashis Nandy’s strident rhetoric, begging to differ with the contours of our mediatised information society, demands a more thoroughgoing involvement with contextual nuances. His own indubitable record as a champion for the emancipation of lower classes and castes in India by exposing the complicity of apparently rivalrous political combatants vying for their vote, through –sociological and psychological analyses, rankles with the po-faced, straight laced expediencies preferred by the heirs of a sterile Nehruvian secularity. The aforementioned sterility of this secularity, perfectly emblematised by the rivalry between the Congress as self-appointed benefactors of minorities and the BJP as heroic brigands out to restore the lost glory of Hindutva, is best understood through Nandy’s critique of their mutual need for and benefit from the perpetuation of manageable instances of communal violence— is not the very idea of the political the idea of an ineradicable enmity that justifies the Law and its punitive sovereignty and excess, the idea of a polémios or hostis that a government alone can resist?
Now, the defence of minorities is no simple matter of taking sides in a political establishment that functions in line with ancient wasms, myths and cultural pasts which have seeped into the very [un]conscious ego structures of its principal actors. There are several polarities occulted between seemingly binary embattlements. The Hindu upper castes feel entitled to their privileges by descent while the lower classes, Dalits included, are grudgingly ceded to by way of reservations in government employment and education sectors, but the consequences of this allegedly salubrious interaction between puritanical and postlapsarian Hindu ideology on one hand and the reality of legally empowered lower castes on the other are mixed at best. While the idea behind reservations for lower castes in governance, education and employment was to secure their representation, equal status and reintegration into a chronically hierarchically stratified Indian society it has led to the development of sub-classes among the lower castes and the perpetuation of bad faith among Hindu hegemons who see affirmative intervention on behalf of minority communities as de facto anti-Hindu. The irony is incontestable: the Hindu Nationalist political outfits uphold Hindutva ideology as an ego ideal that will not only restore a mythical, imaginal glory and pre-eminence to Hindu cultural values but also emancipate the oppressed classes in a soteriological telos; of course, both assertions are problematic given Indian history is replete with records of violence meted on cultures by colonising, invading others: Hinduism of the historically accurate variety is by its form hierarchical and exclusive, shaped as it was by invaders and repeated subjugation to cultural others, but the symbolic efficiency of its rhetoric gaining gravity from sheer persistence continues to be exploited by RSS and BJP ideologues. The use of linguistic, cultural, religious and mythical differences between communities continues to be dominant in the will to power; dividing electorates by caste lines makes political sense if power is its sole motive. Is it surprising that governments have endorsed particular versions of history to be taught in schools and universities, at variance not only with established or inadequate, unequivocal, facts but also with each other? Ashis Nandy thinks the use of controversial historical revisions in officially endorsed versions for pedagogical use to be a tactical instrument of power: it establishes means for legitimating and enforcing negative social attitudes towards persistently marginalised minority communities, and lower castes.
The problem runs deeper still: emancipatory provisions like reservations to ensure the gradual improvement of the economic and social standing of the lower classes, e.g. Dalits, Other Backward Communities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes etc., have led to pockets of prosperity while leaving the rest of their communities marginalised. And, if this was not problematic enough, the newly enfranchised and prosperous beneficiaries of reservation and other alleviating government interventions among the lower castes, also, have historically tended to re-christen and acculturate themselves as Hindus proper; adapting Hindu religious practices and beliefs once their economic marginalisation was redressed, and dissociating from their erstwhile class peers from their original communities— adding a twist to the casteist logic by identification with their upper caste oppressors, in a process sociologists have called sanskritisation. To state controversially a very necessary observation: the symptomal tendency of the condemnation Ashis Nandy’s ironic, innocuous and constitutionally privileged speech act has garnered from the lower castes belies another occasion of identifying with the aggressor: in calling out Nandy’s provocative defence of their cause, offended lower caste representatives have allied themselves with their higher caste oppressors who would like to get rid of Nandy’s scathing exposé of their cultural chauvinism. In this way they can continue to subjugate lower castes in a system that appears legitimate, in an almost fatalistic pre-ordination as Kancha Ilaiah would point out. In light of these endemic and long abandoned fault lines the fashionable brouhaha about sensitivity towards the historically oppressed classes, political correctness and the rule of communal vote banks take on a life that is parasitic upon the body politic of a deferred, and truly representational, democracy. In its place we have a semiosis with sound and fury betraying an unresolved psychic deadlock at the heart of our divided lower classes and their unified oppressors. When Nandy said, at the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2013, —during the talk entitled “Republic of Ideas” which the present author was fortunate enough to attended with his wife, —that the Dalits, O.B.Cs, S.Cs and S.Ts are the most corrupt class of governmental officials he was formulating the dominant psychological and adversarial consciousness of upper class elites that informs the formal and institutional communalism of Indian governmentality. The persistent outrage against reservations in premier colleges for students from marginalised Dalit, O.B.Cs, S.Cs and S.Ts communities, who have been put to disadvantage by dominant higher castes for several centuries of India’s history as a Republic based on the principle of equality accountable to constitutionally privileged Law, bears witness to what the privileged classes and castes think of the lower castes and the oppressed: precious little. Nandy has shown both the oppressive Hindutva hegemons like the Sangh Parivar; RSS; VHP; the BJP and their symbolic adversary the Congress, with its Nehruvian secularity, mirrored obliquely in several identitarian political parties, are only concerned with a will to power, and their predilection for a status quo that legitimates their own political sovereignty.
The modifying apogee of Nandy’s ironic formulation— which most media failed to convey along with their ad hoc sensational and irresponsible reportage of [mis]quotation, repeated ad nauseum in loops— was to come later in an elaborately qualified agreement with his interlocutor Tarun Tejpal, founder of Tehelka; where he said, he saw corruption among lower classes as having an ameliorating effect; he thought it was an opportune symptom that belied lower caste consciousness having reached a stage where they were better equipped to redress their systemic suppression by the armatures of our ingrained casteist governmentality. His underlying thesis being: what the upper classes had done with impunity has now become available, in however insular and specific instances of corruption among lower caste governmental and bureaucratic actors, as a counterstrategy against a traditionally upper caste governmental culture. Behind his deadpan pronouncement that corrupt lower caste governmental agents restored his hope in the possibilities of a robust Indian Republic and a democracy to come was a well worn career of forty years spent theorising and empowering the subaltern, the oppressed and the peripheral selfhood of Colonial and Post-Colonial subjects. But this defence which may have taken many an odd hour everyday for years on end to formulate, as discourse, as clarion call and vitanda cannot be conveyed without Nandy’s seemingly egregious irony. Without irony there could be no ironing out of differences irreducible to a few seconds of vocalised order words, no longer coherent in a social space alienated from its communal meaning and being. There is, of course, no time for such nitpicking and responsibility towards the veridical in the Indian republic of mediatised democracy. Sound arguments are loudly, quickly and efficiently supplanted by sound bites that turn around the very purpose of dissensus and defence. I stand behind Nandy, not to be contrarian, offensive, insensitive or casteist but because I believe he said what he did in good faith and as an ally of the oppressed, with the weight of traditions of logic, reason and rhetoric that go back and forth from Pre-Vedic to post-modern India, behind and before him as a warrior-theoretician of the Indian subaltern.
Derrida, Jacques. Trans. Collins, George. “On Absolute Hostility: The Cause of Philosophy and the Spectre of the Political”. The Politics of Friendship. UK: London, Verso, 2005.
Gottlob, Michael. History and Politics in Post-Colonial India. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Kakar, Sudhir. Indian Identity. India, New Delhi: Penguin India Ltd. 2004.
Ilaiah, Kancha. Post-Hindu India: A Discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Knowledge. India, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2009
Michael, S., M. Ed. Dalits in Modern India: Vision and Values, Second Edition. India, New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2007.
Nandy, Ashis. Return From Exile: Alternative Sciences; The Illegitimacy of Nationalism; The Savage Freud. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Nandy, Ashis. Exiled at Home: At the Edge of Psychology; The Intimate Enemy; Creating a Nation. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Sarangi, Asha. Themes in Indian Politics: Language and Politics in India. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Vidyabhusana, Satis, Chandra. A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Medieval and Modern Schools. India, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. 2006.
 Ashis Nandy in his essay “The Savage Freud” discusses the prevalent attitudes of European intellectuals about Indian cultural mores and ways of thinking and being as, psychoanalytically, anal-regressive.
 See Nandy, Ashis. Return From Exile: Alternative Sciences; The Illegitimacy of Nationalism; The Savage Freud. “Alternative Sciences: The Other Science of Srinivasa Ramanujan”. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004. P. 120.
 See Vidyabhusana, Satis, Chandra. “Contents of the Nyāya-Śhāstra. 32. The Categories: Their Definition”. A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Medieval and Modern Schools. India, New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. 2006. § II. P. 55- 69.
 Krishna, Sankaran. “Death of Irony in the Age of Media”. The Hindu: Editorial. P. 10. Thursday, January 31, 2013.
 See Nandy, Ashis; Trivedi, Shikha; Mayaram, Shail; Yagnik, Achyut. “Creating a Nationality: The Ramjanmabhumi Movement and the Fear of the Self”. Exiled at Home: At the Edge of Psychology; The Intimate Enemy; Creating a Nation. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005. P. 1- 207.
 The idea of public law demands that there be a transgressor of public law, necessarily and chronically: the public enemy is a structural necessity as the basis for a judicature that can punish and discipline. For an enlightening discussion on this theme see Derrida, Jacques. Trans. Collins, George. “On Absolute Hostility: The Cause of Philosophy and the Spectre of the Political”. The Politics of Friendship. UK: London, Verso, 2005. §5. P. 112- 137.
 Jogdand, P., G. Ed. Michael, S., M. “Reservation Policy and the Empowerment of Dalits”. Dalits in Modern India: Vision and Values, Second Edition. India, New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2007. P. 315- 335.
 See Kakar, Sudhir. Indian Identity. India, New Delhi: Penguin India Ltd. 2004. Also, Ilaiah, Kancha. Post-Hindu India: A Discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Knowledge. India, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2009.
 See Gottlob, Michael. “Scientific and Political Claims in the Rewriting of Indian History”. History and Politics in Post-Colonial India. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012. P. 1- 80.
 See Sarangi, Asha. Themes in Indian Politics: Language and Politics in India. India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.
 ibid. Gottlob, Michael. P. 23
 Ibid. Ed. Michael, S., M. (2005)
 See Ilaiah, Kancha. “Symptoms of Civil War and End of Hinduism”. Post-Hindu India: A Discourse on Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Knowledge. India, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2009. P.232- 266.
 Ibid. Nandi, Ashis et al. 2005. P. 1- 207
Derrida’s The Politics of Friendship (1994) is as fine an act of deconstructive tightrope traipse as any of his other works; combing through quotations from known philosophers, through tendentious citations severally removed from the original locutions, in unknown light, and situating in them the inscrutable intentionality embedded in language [langue] as such. As ever, his reading of almost trite, or Canonical, texts bringing about a moment of alterity native to them, and so surprisingly impugning the judgment of their conventional senses, is entertaining, vigorous, prolix and fecund. And, after all these qualifications one must get to the brass tacks, irreducible takeaways tacked onto all iterations hung on his every word: what of the irreducibility that cannot be recovered and yet latches onto what does get said, even beyond the speaker? In so many words, why do people say what must by nature betray them? It is perhaps necesary…
It is easy to sympathise with the death of coherence via meaning as such [a handy philosopheme], and with the entire post-modernist camp which here lights bonfires to undecidables that outlast their urgency, but being tied as we are to finite contexts that both define us and are defined in tangential, even aporetic, ways the motivation for tarrying with imponderables— or, as is the wont of Derrida, the constitutive imponderables which circumscribe the meaning of speech— must remain so long as it is tarrying with ineluctability an impossibility of determination, theory as everlasting hesitation. The impasse of all Derridology [po-faced post-modernist malingering, of which Derrida is less guilty than Derrideans], in the ethical sense of such a nonce word, is that seeking to eliminate the temerations and abuses that speech is liable to is no excuse for a longwinded avoidance of the ineliminable community of meaning which persists despite its impossibility, despite its deconstruction, as the arché-stencil from which traces must incessantly derive themselves. One may say, such spectator position theory theorises itself always-already and is either beast or sovereign, but not human.
The denial of permanence of meaning denies also that such permanence be sought out, infinity paradoxically must end— after what infinite fashion may such a token be sought [such that it is never found]? In summary, even as Derrida says, “infinite différance is finite”, and may one be loathe to rejoinder, sufficiently: finitude is the stuff of the infinite, and insofar as speech, both apt and abortive, is finite, finitude must be privileged? This deflationary movement reduces the deliberation of imponderables to mere preponderances that eliminate finite responsibility, which remains necessary for action; though it risks being misguided action, one must concede, it exceeds theory infinitely in differing from theories’ impasses. Here, one must become, again, a naïve Kantian if only to understand Derrida, Others and their communities to come, to affirm in their cacophonous and wily witnesses decidables that impinge on many a finite existence, finite well being and finite ethics. Infinite responsibility is the ruse of those who must deny finite justice, it is gentrified hubris patient with its ear to the ground, stuck there.
Derrida, Jacques. Trans. Collins, George (2005). The Politics of Friendship. London, UK: Verso.
Yesterday was Adorno’s birthday [peace be upon him!]. And, while it remains enduringly fashionable among left-wing types to dismiss Adorno, and no less The Frankfurt School, in a single remonstrating gesture, it also remains a verifiable fact that few bother to engage him from beyond the miasma of elitism, essentialism and arrogance which our spectacular age has mounted on his diagnoses of culture. The general response to his work bespeaks a fear of raising the patina of intellectualism over praxis, of alienating popular culture, of subverting reasoned criticism to shirk the unconscionable biddings of political immediatisms where art has lost its frame of coherence and has become yet another product for popular consumption- a respite with sound and fury but no signification- yet such was never Adorno’s own project.
Among his copious folios of work there is one particular stream in which his thought permeated the very heart of the matter, and though he may have fallen off his hobby horse now and then into the pits of assumption and error, his reconnoitering remains exemplary in its scope, perspicacity and endurance. His critique of the nexus between artistic expression and the cultural trends that it capitulates to is damning and remains all too painfully pertinent; when we admit to ourselves and others that music means no more than entertainment, which may be as it may, do we really escape the indictment of abandoning the task of our own escape from the strictures of oppressive culture? It is highly suspect. Among the basic axioms of his procedure, Adorno gave special place to the unique recursive structure of thought applied to thought, one expects no less from a dialectician: he posited that a deep dissatisfaction with one’s culture presumed an immersion worth the name into its substance. Only those who partake of its products, paradoxically, are allowed the luxury to see in it the detritus of their conscience, the dregs of their resistance waylaid by the trite melodies of popular dance music and as they are struck petrific by the entrancing thaumaturgy of film. Today, were he around, he would most probably be goaded into citing himself- Simon Critchley calls self-citation an act of narcissism, but I digress- and pronounce upon us our dishonest evasion of our predicament. It is not that merely our desires are stifled by the culture that enables us our habituated libertinage but even their symptoms are effaced by the apparatus of “…a lavish display of light air and hygiene…[produced] by the gleaming transparency of rationalised big business…” (Adorno 2005, p. 58).
Our complicity with contemporaneous conditions makes us culpable for its failings, for the slippages of desire and damage incurred by acceding to the despots’ machinery of causeless effects. If indeed art were produced in vacua there would be no need for its justification but only since we are swarmed by it in a reciprocal configuration of desire versus desire we owe more than wrung hands to its integral form. It behooves us to draw strength from this involvement “…to dismiss it” in so far as it fails to arouse our sympathetic epiphany, our rising beyond the material conditions of the commoditised world to reclaim the tenacity of despoiled, alienated and thereby mystified desire. “What is true of the instinctual life is no less true of the intellectual: the painter or composer forbidding himself as trite this or that combination of colours or chords, the writer wincing at banal or pedantic verbal configurations, reacts so violently because layers of himself are drawn to them. Repudiation of the present cultural morass presupposes sufficient involvement in it to feel it itching in one’s finger-tips…” (Adorno 2005, § 8. p. 29).
The import of his critical project would not have us wash our hands off art’s lifeblood at the scarce font of immediatisms accommodating the brutality of indifferent social systems. The mystical and poetical flourishes most contemporary artists employ to exonerate themselves from the duty of explaining their motivation only serves as a foil for the abject regression of the artistic self, which has miscarried all artistic intent before it can strive to redeem itself by its own toil. The artistic subject removed from ipseity at home in his milieu, thrown into the being of the market system which homogenises all in the currency of its one-all, has become a blight to the possibility of a conscience that has power to elevate art above human conditions and, so in due inversion, the possibility of also man’s elevation above the artefacts of [a]historical conditioning. “… [Herein] lies music’s [indeed, all arts’?] theological aspect. What music [art] says is a proposition at once distinct and concealed. Its idea is the form (Gestalt) of the name of God. It is demythologised prayer, freed from the magic of making anything happen, the human attempt, futile, as always, to name the name itself, not to communicate meanings” (Adorno 2002, p. 114).
The logic of the day, which makes so much of its clarity, has naively adopted this perverted notion of everyday speech. Vague expression permits the hearer to imagine whatever suits him and what he already thinks in any case. Rigorous formulation demands unequivocal comprehension, conceptual effort, to which people are deliberately disencouraged, and imposes on them in advance of any content a suspension of all received opinions, and thus an isolation that they violently resist (Adorno § 64, p. 101).
So, briefly, why read Adorno today? Because, it is imperative to act against the reactionaries, though they be ourselves. If we say too much has happened that has incontestably altered the course of art and its equation with consumption, thought and its relation to things are we not merely begging more reasons for surrendering to the beast that is already astride us? Read Adorno because, precisely because, he angers you with his obstinacy, his clinging to a hopeful differentiation from the abject form of alterity imposed upon popular consciousness. To fight the abstractions which generalise the self, artistic and otherwise, Adorno’s critical apparatus remains a worthy weapon, -though it sometimes is a knife all blade- what hurt is spared the self which cannot define art but can seek out a hadron’s theotechny? Wherein rests the aura of artistic inspiration; wherein the magic of its immaculate conception; wherein the titanic moment of its articulation and production through the very engines from which we derive our existence, let us inquire therein of the precise psychical automatisms that move us thusly to procure for its occult, atemporal archaeology the produce of our bodily culture, our arts. If our art is all sensuousness and corporeality what then is the mystery of its immaculate inspiration, how can we rest assured in the rejection of all inquiry and criticism of its material epigenesis? To do so is dishonesty shown home, in ourselves, in a world where selcouth artistic essences threaten the very existence of the thing itself; the world where art is two birds in a bush and we are left with age-old platitudes in our hand, kneeling before the disembodied flash which animates it with a cataclysm. In the end, to mystify the moment of our deepest impulses with the rhetoric of romance or respectable forgetfulness is to disavow the pompous claim history lays upon our culture: justify yourself despite your existence. Why must rational consciousness coil itself like an illusion, effacing its discernable origins, if it comes ascendant on Dickinson’s nimble winged hope? The emancipatory potential of art lies in the understanding of its brutal prehistory and natal experience, which must be unearthed and come to terms with on its own terms; thought, in order to be made intelligible and not mystical or sophistically narcissistic, must break free its jaw from its own tail. Adorno invites us, despite the neutralising haze of our critical conscience that settles itself on his work, to recreate the topology of desire and study the imbrications and scarifications lathed upon it as so many warts only so we may excise them now, though it is too late. For, we are moving in the circle of unreason so long as we attribute to some divine preordainment the subordination of art to both commerce and magic, the repression of self to the bad infinity of the body which speculates about the end of history. The end of history situates itself in our aeon, and we must resist becoming anachronisms in this inauthentic becoming. Else, why art at all?
Theodor Adorno. Trans. Gillespie, S. Ed. Leppert, R. “Music, Language and Composition (1956)”. Essays on Music: Theodore W. Adorno. USA: University of California, 2002. Print.
Theodor Adorno. Trans. Jephcott, E., F., N. Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life. UK: Verso, 2005. Print.