Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Deshtyaag- proof that only the N.R.I is the true (Leela) Gandhian.

One of the funniest books of all times is 'the Chirala Perala tragedy- an episode of voluntary exile'. It is short and worth  savoring, preferably with a cold beer and a plate of galavati kebabs.

The extended quotations from Goldsmith's 'deserted village' are, in context, utterly priceless.

The story is about how the British Raj's determination to boost local government- i.e. impose a burdensome and costly bureaucracy- was resisted by the villagers because it meant that taxes went up from Rs. 4000 p.a to about Rs.20,000 p.a to finance the empowerment of a new tribe of rapacious officials requiring heavy bribes.
A young gentleman- an M.A from Aberdeen- takes a hand in organizing the peasants. Mahatma Gandhi, too, gets involved. He counsels 'deshtyaag'- voluntary exile. So the villagers ruin themselves for about a year before admitting defeat.
Bear in mind that the whole of the increased tax could have been paid off by one of the big lawyers of the day without breaking a sweat. But, the lawyer/politicians wanted the peasants to stand erect on their own two feet, so as to increase their own stature- their own feet being firmly planted on the heads of those same  peasants.
The point about this story is not that you need a qualification from U.K to really fuck up peasants and other poor people- by the time Raja Rao's Kanthapura came out, a High School matriculation would suffice- but that Mahatma Gandh (not yet sleeping naked with young girls 'to correct their sleeping posture') got one thing right.

Deshtyaag- sacrificing one's country and going into voluntary exile- is the only valid way of reconciling non-violence and Gandhian shite.

Ergo, only the N.R.I is the true Gandhian. No wonder India subsidized its own brain-drain so heavily.

As has happened with Leela Gandhi- an accomplished poet- consider this couplet-
'My grandmother, growing old, deciphers
'daughters are verbs, sons ciphers'
What's worse, Leela Gandhi is real cute. Ogle her here as she explains the Post Colonial Subject to starving ( or at least fashionably bulimic) Theater workers in some backward part of Pondicherry.
But what she has to say is 'from a queer perspective'- very queer indeed and not Edward Carpenter queer either.
Bizarrely, she claims that late eighteenth/early nineteenth century Orientalism was not highly regarded because it was the creation of 'really disreputable traders"- REALLY? Sir William Jones, Colebroke,  H.H Wilson- disreputable traders? RUBBISH! Orientalism was prestigious THEN not later. Notice that when Arnold quotes the Gita to Clough, he is using a text from that early Orientalism.
Goethe, Emerson, Schopenhauer (via Karl Krause who actually learnt Sanskrit) as well as poets like Tom Moore & Southey all owe a debt to that Orientalism- perhaps the impact of 'Empire of the Nairs' on Shelley might also be included under this rubric if only to point out the irony of people like Bharati coming under his influence later on. Compare this to the ridicule heaped on Max Muller by people like Wilde towards the end of the Century.
However early Orientalism would have been prestigious even if there had been no trade or imperialism in India. Look at how the Jesuit's forged Purana influenced Voltaire. The East India Company is irrelevant for Western reception of Indian texts. Okay maybe Burke's philosophy would have been different if there had been no 'Indianism'- which he considered a greater danger than Jacobinism. So, yeah there are already some negative influences.

To illustrate her point , Leela tells us that, in Thackeray's Vanity Fair- 'the first suitor to be rejected was from the Company (East India Company)'- this is extraordinarily ignorant even for a Professor of English at Chicago University. Jos Sedley could have married whom he pleased precisely because Collectors of Boghleywallah were rich THEN. Not later. P.G. Woodhouse's dad couldn't afford to send both sons to Oxford. Orwell has drawn a pathetic picture of the shabby genteel retired I.C.S officer who is glad to marry off his daughter to an Insurance agent whose dad was a butcher.
 Thackeray himself protests at the ease of upward mobility for the mulatto heiress and the Indian comprador. His big beef was the rousing reception given to Dwarkanath precisely because of the prestige that early Orientalism enjoyed.
The real problem with what was happening under Hastings- but which had already started previously- was that HERMENEUTICS changed to a literalist, bibliolatric, ultraconservative pile of shite and philological progress just added to the problem by making historicism the only game in town- even though this meant creating a totally artificial picture of the past. The dispensing with of the Court Pundit's in the 1860's is the symbol of Orientalism Mark II. This was the real damage done by Colonialism. Nothing to do with whether a Magistrate banned some devadasi's book or what the District Comissioner said to Bankim.
If a pompous asshole like Sir Bartle Frere could see that bad (or at least self serving) hermeneutics (w.r.t the interpretation of legal texts, sunnuds etc) caused or abetted the calamity of the Permanent Settlement and governed its subsequent trajectory, why can't Prof. Gandhi?
The answer is that Govt. of India still upholds that foolish hermeneutics simply so as to legitimize its own corruption.  But the Academy too is on side. How else could interminable whining continue to masquerade as a literary theory?
If these Post Colonial shit-heads really wanted to be relevant, rather than part of tokenism's gesture politics, they could do something like analyse the interaction between H.H Wilson and the young Bengali lads learning English who helped him with his translations. It would explain why Raja Ramohan Roy and his successors fucked up wholesale. But no, these guys can't do that- anymore than Edward Said could tell us about how W.S Blunt screws up the notion of an Arab Caliphate- why? Because these assholes are pig ignorant about their 'own' texts and hermeneutic traditions. Gayatri Spivak believes that India is called Bharat coz that was like Rama's younger brother's name? And like those Hindutva guys are trying to turn Ram into like a vengeful Semitic Father God? Or there is Maria Mishra who doesn't understand why there are so many statues of Hanuman popping up all over the place. No one told her about Madhavacharya. Why? Coz they really are that ignorant.
Leela Gandhi doesn't know Indian history and assumes we don't either. She does not know English literature  - at least not Thackeray- but is a Professor. I am dazzled by her. She is a true Indian heroine.
Of course she may just be pretending.
Perhaps it is all part of a cunning plan to revenge India upon Prof. Wendy O'Doniger Flaherty, Mircea Eliade (yes! that old Fascist fraud!) Professor of Indology at that same shithole.

Xenophilia is just vandalism if it means a rainbow coalition getting together to break shop windows and battle the police. Or intellectual vandalism of the Gandhian sort- i.e. a conspiracy theory of knowledge whereby any stupid fad is cool and any science or art is bad.
Only difficult stuff- like learning foreign languages, getting your head round different hermeneutic systems, doing lots of boring research- qualifies as real engagement with plurality. Ezra Pound's exile was Xenophilia as vandalism. Joyce's was different.
Pound's deshtyaag was treason. Joyce's deshtyaag was patriotism. Why? He worked hard. He rejected the facile. He got very very drunk very very often but he didn't ally himself with the vandals.


Anonymous said...

I think you are mentally sick. Get help.

windwheel said...

The trouble with Leela Gandhi's solution to the problem of binary opposition- viz. Xenophilia, a rainbow coalition of all the self-defined outsiders stroking each other and swapping sob stories of their imaginary rapes at the hands of... urm y'know, like the Dead White Male who jus' keep raping, who jus' keep raping on..- is that binary oppositions are invented by shit-for-brain academics and journalists just managing to hand on to middle class status by the skin of their teeth.
This not to say that no academic or journalist ever made money. They did- not by hawking their facile binary shite- but by some more remunerative type of mindlessness- such as buying a lottery ticket or competing for the contemporary equivalent of a berth on Big Brother.

Anonymous said...

You are a maniac, but you're very smart and know a lot. I like you.

कुकुकुकु इति ।