Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Shahrukh Kant

I still recall my first exposure to Shahrukh Khan. I was in Standard Eight and the movie was 'Kabhi Kabhi.' Shahrukh played a fat lady on her wedding night. She was crying like anything because she was a great tub of lard and, in consequence, had every reason to fear that her husband (played by Amitabh) terrorized by the proximity of her vast juddering folds of fat, might lose bladder control and urinate profusely upon her- something similar happened to me on my own wedding night- thus occasioning that vast whale of a woman's plentiful piping of her eye while singing a song about Diet pills. 'I am poet of one or two diet pills. But due to I is a great big fatty I should have swallowed the whole fucking bottle. Boo hoo, Amitabh looks very much like he is going to urinate upon me. Of course, that might be his fuck face. Either way, I'm screwed.'
Since then, Shahrukh has made a name for himself as a versatile actor with a post modern, ironic, style such that he takes the audience into his confidence, tipping us the wink and disarming criticism in advance, as if to say, "I know, I know, isn't it ridiculous for me to be hamming it up like this? But, hang on a tick, do you see this totally over the top mannerism or tic that I'm selling? I bet you think this is me trying to be all 'method' or Artsy Fartsy or something.? Not a bit of it. Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this bit of business. C'mon yaar you know I'll come through when it really matters!"
Shahrukh is a female friendly actor precisely because he doesn't have to dominate the screen all the time. He husbands his resources and only goes Super Nova when the Script demands it.

However, I do feel that Shahrukh is acting contrary to the Kantian Categorical Imperative when he insists on putting on a fat suit and a wig and then replacing, in my video collection, the big lard ass fatty la bola actresses of the film heroines of the 70's with his own deeply sexually ambiguous performances.
My own cameo in the St.Columba Middle School Max Mueller Centenary Play is given below.

Shahrukh, who was a few years junior to me at School, did not, unfortunately take the hint provided by me (I'm the one in the diamond sequins) and for this reason, though I am not endorsing Shiv Sena stand against him, still, I do feel Army should take action.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Theory of the ghazal

The Ghazal is a bunch of stand alone couplets threaded together by a common end verse.
In apearance it is mimetic rather than diegetic in that moods or states of mind are invoked or performed while no actual narrative of events is being pushed forward. However, the ghazal's prestige derives by its reversal of appearance and reality- in other words its apparent mimetic form conceals a diegesis at the level of spiritual reality. Hafiz of Shiraz, perhaps the greatest Ghazal poet, strategically identifies himself with the 'rind' (the sly seeming hedonist) who uses a sort of jiu jitsu to cleverly turn the great Vital and Spiritual forces- which demand martyrdom, madness and utter nihilation- against themselves such that no higher price for a sort of Eudaimoniac Gnosis is paid by the poet than perhaps a slight hangover or some wine stains upon his robe.
To a Westerner a poem like Farib jahaan qissah roshan ast/ sehar tha che zaid, shab aabastan ast/ dar ain khu nafishan arsah-rastakheez./thu khoon surahi beh saaghar bar eez- looks like the Anacreontics he or she translated at School. Arberry's translation is
'tis a famous tale the deceitfulness off Earth
The night is pregnant, what will dawn bring to birth?
Tumult and bloody battle rage in the plain
Bring blood red wine and fill the goblet again!

My translation is quite different - viz
That the World is Fair, remain a fable Bright
Break not Dawn nor the waters of Night!
That Resurrection regather what our Armageddon's spill
From thy blood red, Saqi, my cup refill!

This is because I think of Hafiz as strategic- rather than mimetic or diegetic- and his Divan as a sort of Kung Fu manual to use against Eros and Thanatos and other such blue collar, Ethnic stereoptype, bullies when they try to shake you down for your lunch money. Later in life, of course, when Eros and Thanatos are relegated to stuff like delivering your pizza or doing your dry-cleaning, you come up against the vastly worse internalized WASP bully of the Liberal Conscience against which nothing will avail except fantasizing about teaming up with Sarah Palin to become like a pair of renegade bounty hunters?...
Drunkeness as an excuse to preserve one's personal integrity during difficult times- a sly passive aggressive strategy- might not seem particularly heroic to us and, moreover, devalues such ideals, affections or romances as the poet professed. But Juan Chi, who stayed drunk for half a year to avoid entanglement in a political marriage, is considered one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo grove and with the Sinitic Bureaucratization of Capitalism in its Imperial phase, that all round swine, Petronius Arbiter gained a surprising cult status in the first half of the last century.

However wine by itself could never become in China or Europe- where it was a dietary staple- what it must always be for an Islamic Society, viz. a beverage the very consumption of which constitutes a rebellion. The Ghazal then, linked as it is to khamriyat (wine poetry), has a far greater interest in maintaining a hermeneutics of reversal whereby 'I got drunk' means 'I spent my time in prayer and fasting' and 'my mystic state overtops that of Moses' means 'that rent boy had a prolapsed rectum'.
Unlike the Goliards, for whom safety- daggers concealed in breviaries- lay in flocking together, the Ghazal poet necessarily cultivated an individualist strain- the over-riding danger being that of squandering one's talents as a sort of human juke-box- and actively sought antinomian themes so as to gain a sort of counter currency amongst the pullulating esoteric or schismatic sects that, much more than the Caliphate, knit together the Islamic oikumene.
The truly dreadful and horribly perverse aspect of Islam, that Secular Liberal that I am, I feel bound to now deplore, is its treatment of women and ephebes. Briefly, no matter how much one desires them there really is no barrier to having a relationship with them, or if not them precisely, then someone virtually identical or if not identical then still much more interesting and rewarding to know than one's pale fantasy of them. It is a damning indictment of Islam that women were not taught that sex with their husbands was dirty or some sort of horrible desecration or that (this was a big theme in Tamil movies back in the 50's and 60's) they owed it to their sex to have a permanent head-ache and nag the husband to death and so forth.

Ghazals- 'talking to women' is actually 'talking like a work shy ho' or more generally an usurpation and pre-emption of what are perceived as feminine strategies of manipulation- indeed the poetic afflatus is strictly speaking nothing but good-for-nothing men whining about their P.M.S and threatening to reveal horrible gynaecological details about your birth to make you eat your greens- 'eat your greens- millions are starving in Bangladesh' 'Well, if this is what they get to eat, can't say I blame them. How's about we order a curry from the local Sylheti Tandoor? That's something even those finicky Bangladeshis can chow down on!' 'Why you little shit! I was 36 hours in labour with you! ' 'No you weren't. You don't have a uterus.' 'Well metaphorically I have a uterus- vide my ghazal on the subject-
'My birth pangs bitter fruit was this daughter Aqleema
Born so Cain might of Abel make Post Colonial Kheema

'By 'eat your greens' wot I means is that ironic Iwo Jima
Whereby Spivak's Naga Saqi got drunk on Hiroshima'

'Okay! Enough already! I'll just eat my greens shall I?'
"Too late! Your dinner is in the dog."

Anyway, fascinating as this glimpse into my domestic life undoubtedly is, I must now turn to a generalized theory of the 'triangular structure of the Ghazal- with a series of three-part relationships: a desirer, an object of desire, and a blocker or barrier to fulfillment. For some of the imagery-sets you can almost make it happen, but basically it soon breaks down via the third term, which is always fragmenting into many barriers, but some of them illusory, others transitory, others fungible, others frangible (hah!), etc. But you can always bring it down to the desirer and the desired, and in between them something like a nest of snakes.'

No doubt, you think I will now go on and on in Girardian vein about 'mimetic desire' and the sacrifice (korban or pharmakos) it requires, the drawing lots for which the Ghazal poet cunningly excuses himself from by pointing out that his entrails have long ago been torn out and burnt up in the fire of celestial passion and anyway I've got a note from Mom that I'm off games coz like I'm totally on the rag.
But, that would be too easy- or, at any rate, the sort of shite that might be mistaken for actual academic work- so, good Iyer that I am, I invoke Ramanuja who, trying to rescue the Puranas and therefore a historicist, diegetic, Temple based devotionalism introduces the trinity of - Bimba, pratibimba and Darpan- object, reflection and mirror- as all having some ontological distinctness.
A little thought, which my own status as a poet thankfully excuses me from personally undertaking, would show that any diegesis must subscribe to such a trinity with the result that the mirror is also a wall with the result that only the Sin against the Holy Ghost is unpardonable, or to put it another way the indwelling of the Shekinah is partitionable, separable and has some other more inviolable locus and trajectory such that even a Lefty nutjob like Walter Benjamin can get off a couple of good lines.
The Ghazal world, being wholly intentional- wholly 'insha' rather than 'khabar'- and moreover wholly intensional (i.e. each term used is defined wholly within itself rather than extensionally with reference to the outside world)- is free to run amok breaking all mirrors, breaching all barzakhs, dissolving that portion of deontology which does reference the outside world, so as to become a sort of jiu jitsu manual of strategies to escape all reciprocal obligation or historicist imperatives.
Which is kind of cool.
Well, its kind of cool if you don't actually have a life.
But as Villiers de l'Isle Adam said- 'living? our servants can do that for us.'
Well, for gen x slackers like me- not servants but maybe some downloadable i-phone app for Twitter..

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Is Vandana Siva a triffid?

Is Vandana Siva- great globetrotting Greenie that she is, photosynthesising the 'facts' that support her arguments out of pure air and sunlight- actually a Triffid?

I asked this handsome pair of breeding Triffids pictured above.

Iyer- "How do you do, you large lovely vegetables you? Kindly don't eat me due to I is nice Indian person from the land of Vandana Siva- tell me, she is one of you isn't she?"
Triffids- "Hiss, hiss, slither, slither."
Iyer- " Well, I'll take that as a yes then shall I? Excuse my running away from you, it's just that... was that a cow you just ate? Bastards! You're not even remotely related to Vandanaji are you? I must escape to tell the world."

This actually happened when I popped down to the local Fulham Farmer's market earlier today.
Personally, I blame David Cameron. That boy aint right.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

My getting drunk tonight I thus excuse

"Thy babe, unweaned, did it die today?!"
No. Nor its Memory's milk will dry for aye
For, if the Saqi drinks, she draws ireful abuse
My drunken tonight, in advance, excuse.

Spivak and the Genesis of the Post Colonial Subject-

'Spivak, like Sen, is no leaden doctrinaire pundit but, being engaged in mere maidenly fending off of a historically inevitable Marxist deflowering, actually quite nimble and inoffensive in her affectation of meretricious Methodenstreit which might intimately seductive seem- as to a Jock a cheery cheerleader's mime of sucking Satan's cock, while Satan choose to remain unseen - so to excite that drunken old Noah, detritus of Capitalism's deluge, thus bringing to birth the episteme of the dark skinned Post Colonial Subject- by means, the Talmud tells us, of his own sodomy and (by reason of too rough a reach-around) castration at Ham's ham-fisted hands. '


Frankly, I think this sample of the sort of question they're asking at Common Entrance (Religious Studies) is just Political Correctness gone mad! I blame David Cameron. Well him and that other bloke. You know the one I mean. Kept going on about Sheffield during the debates. Whatever happened to him? Shifty looking feller. Probably ponced off to Australia or someplace they still have an Economy to ruin. Good riddance is what I say. They're all bum-boys you know.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Bhoodan, Bihardan and other achievements of Vinobha Bhave/

Mahatma Gandhi's greatest disciple was Acharya Vinobha Bhave. He initiated the bhoodan (gift of land) programme in 1951 under which over 4 million acres, some of which actually existed, was offered up gratis for redistribution, often to its original owners. One step up from bhoodan was gramdan (gift of the entire village) which was even less successful though, in its watered down, 'sulabh' form, more openly fraudulent. Finally, in August 1969, Acharya Vinobha Bhave (who had vowed not to leave Bihar till the problem of land re-distribution was solved) gained the most spectacular success of any Saint in World History when the entire state of Bihar (98% at any rate) was offered up as 'Bihardan'.

Over the next three decades, Bihar went from being considered one of the best administered States in the Union to becoming a byword for Backwardness, Crime and Corruption.

Vinobha Bhave has a written a book about the true meaning of the Bhagvad Gita. This gift of his is worth as much as his Bhoodan, Gramdan and Bihardan.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Freedom as Development?

What is Freedom? It's what we have- as subjects/devotees of a State/Faith- and what everybody else conspicuously lacks.
What is Development? Well it's about the place of an economy on a time-line w.r.t adoption and innovation involving technological advances.
Combine the 2 notions- speak of Freedom as Development, or 'good' Development as being about more Freedom- and you have a teleology based on some overt or covert historicist essentialism.

Is it licit to speak of Freedom as Development? No, because Development does not arise from more Freedom nor more Development lead to Freedom- unless you cook the books after the fact.
What is the point of cooking books when, at this moment, hundreds of thousands are literally starving, hundreds of millions seriously malnourished and billions all over the world are too stoned to do the washing up?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Vikram Akula vs. Muhammad Yunus

Everybody has heard about Nobel Laureate, the truly noble, Muhammad Yunus's Grameen bank.
McKinsey wunderkinder, Vikram Akula's SKS Micro finance has also garnered a lot of publicity.
Akula, backed by savvy investors like Vinod Khosla, has tapped the capital market very successfully pointing to Micro-finance as a highly profitable venture.
However, the question Yunus asks is whether for-profit Micro-finance might not tarnish the whole movement and render it a source of exploitation rather than empowerment for poor women.

Since Akula has a PhD from Chicago, we should respectfully refer to him as Dr. Akula - and not just any old blood sucker fastening his fangs on the necks of poor women.

DrAkula is locked in a custody battle with his wife- a lawyer in the U.S. She alleges domestic violence- it appears DrAkula has a conviction for this- and a sort of kidnapping by fraud of her son.
In piteous terms she contrasts the millionaire life-style the father can offer their son in India in contrast to the middle class life-style of her own home in the States where, however, the child can at least be brought up a proper Catholic. (His mother converted from Hinduism some years ago because Catholicism is known to be the most successful religion in fighting off Vampires)
This noble and courageous woman has launched her own non-profit Domestic Violence N.G.O. (to be clear, she is against it- not for it) which, perhaps in the fullness of time, may work productively with DrAkula's own Company which focuses on very poor and marginalized women. It is important that these females not be beaten domestically due to habituation to pain makes the job of the Micro-finance recovery agent/goons more taxing and time consuming thus negatively impacting profitability and p/e ratio.
In divorce we should always put the child first. Maximizing the value of his inheritance should be the priority.
We hope that if the husband and wife can not be reconciled then at least the organizations they have founded will be able to work hand in hand. This would be a beautiful example of symbiosis between the non-profit and for-profit sectors of the Poverty Relief industry.
True, Yunus Sahib has expressed some reservations. This due to his old fashioned ideas and failure to keep up with the spirit of the times. To paraphrase, P.M Manmohan Singh- kya karen? these Muslims are like totally backward yaar. Govt. sponsored Reservations is the only way to deal with Indians of that stripe- except Yunus escapes that fate being from Bangladesh.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

more marvels of mystic poesy

My spirit, amongst books, I squandered so
Too late, my knock, upon her brothel door
& for that Salome's veils the Word baptize
Death drowns in my Jordan eyes.

The Trojan War as a allegory of mystic Love.
Conscripts to what her Creed demands, for War is a glorious game
Unflinching we, as Love commands, at our own hearts take aim
Which, beating but in Beauty's breast, our Achillean Arts defame
Till our pitiless necrophilias attest Penthesilea's nuptial claim

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The parable of the Hermit and the priest

Once upon a time a learned priest, seeking knowledge of the highest mysteries of Holy Scripture, retired to a hermitage in the forest. Pious folk from a small village in a clearing nearby came to to seek his blessings and see to his simple needs.
A strange, solitary boy, who delighted in killing birds with stones and whacking bush rats with a stick, haunted the vicinity.
The old hermit chanted aloud chapters of the sacred text. The boy, drawn by the melodious sound, would abandon his cruel sport to come and listen to the holy man.
One day, while chanting the last verse of the last chapter, the hermit died. When the villagers came to bring food for the hermit they were amazed to find that the boy was chanting the holy book in place of the hermit.
Believing this a miraculous occurrence, the villagers showed the boy the same reverence they had shown the hermit. In time, he grew old, and it was as though the old hermit was still alive, chanting the sacred text in his accustomed manner.
Meanwhile the village had become prosperous for, believing themselves especially favored by proximity to the hermitage, the villagers had grown confident and enterprising.
At this time a young graduate of a prestigious seminary thought it worthwhile to set up house and institute congregational worship in the village.
The villagers showed the ambitious young priest every mark of veneration and built a splendid house where he could lodge students and acolytes of his own.
However, the villagers did not discontinue their practice of seeking the hermit's blessing and this galled upon the learned priest.
He hinted to the villagers that there was nothing very marvelous in an idiot boy learning to repeat, parrot fashion, verses of the sacred text. The point about holy Scripture is to understand it and to be able to draw correct inferences from it.
Finally, the priest and his acolytes decided to challenge the hermit to a scholarly debate.
At first, the hermit appeared to be holding his own for no sooner did the priest quote a verse of Holy Writ than the hermit proceeded to recite the entire chapter from memory.
However, when the priest began to display his knowledge of the syntax and vocabulary and hermeneutics of the sacred language, the hermit fell silent.
The priest said, 'the learned jurists disagree as to the exact meaning of this verse. I have related what the commentators have said and the manner in which the theologians have erected radically opposed philosophies based on rival interpretations of the text. Perhaps you, oh holy hermit!, can resolve the battle of the schools and dispel the confusion of the seminaries by granting us your insight into the true meaning of the piece of Holy Writ?"
Without a word, the hermit rose swiftly from his seat and beat the priest to death with a stick.
'Why such violence?' the villagers cried out.
'I like killing things with a stick,' the hermit replied grinning happily, 'It is most enjoyable. Mom discouraged me from playing with the other kids only for this reason. However, when the strange words that the old Holy man used to utter became lodged in my mind, my taste for beating things to death departed from me. Today, since this man was kind enough to explain the meaning of that nonsense, its hold on me has been broken and so I can resume my favorite pastime.'
The priest's acolytes then spoke up- 'In truth, this is a miracle! The highest mystery of Holy Scripture has been revealed!'
After everybody had run away from the village- those, that is, not nimble enough to avoid the Holy Man's stick- they spread far and wide as Evangelists of the True Gospel and also Media Personalities with a side-line in Pizza delivery.