Sunday, 7 October 2012

Silly Billimoria & his hilarious Hermeneutics

Is dialogue a good thing? Gadamer's hermeneutic shtick gained purchase in the Sixties coz, sure, dialogue sounds like a good thing- it's caring sharing and everybody holding hands and being deeply deeply empathetic and continually offering gratuitous rape counselling to each other. But, dialogue isn't actually a good thing. Talking to a shit-head is bad enough. Listening to him is worse. 'Limited arbitrage'- gossip- 'marking services'- is what makes Language useful. It gives you the option of saying- 'well, mustn't monopolize you. Gotta mingle. See you round shithead (unless I see you first).'
In contrast, dialogues- like the dialogues of Plato or the Upanishads or whatever- are a fucking shite-fest. Either it's all a straightforward con- a business of having a card forced on you- or it's a marriage- without the penny pinching and  nappy changing but your ass sure gets sore real fast all the same.
Still, there is something worse than dialogue and that is what Indian scholars in the Mehta, Matilal, Spivak, Billimoria tradition are guilty of. What is it? Essentially, it is shitting in everybody's shoe while pretending you were actually out burning buses or doing something else equally progressive.
This is Billimoria on the Brahman.
 'I wish to conclude this essay with a brief discussion of the possible areas of application of the creative hermeneutic of suspicion especially in the non-Western contexts. The examples I draw upon take in seriously both the hermeneutic of tradition and the critique of ideology, which becomes paradigmatic in post-colonial critiques of Western ethnocentrism and other (more indigenist) kinds of authoritarial elitism. To take up the latter first, one could argue that the impersonal, abstract, ahistorical, atemporal concept of 'Brahman' much dear to Vedanta philosophy is a 'dead' metaphor, in as much as it is grounded in eidos, logos , and ousia and therefore has its life or sustaining significance entirely within the discourse of metaphysics (as Heidegger would say of all grand metaphors of the subject). A culture or rather ideology of brahmanical hegemony and renunciative restrain bordering on the obsessive denial of the lived experience, was built or idealised on the basis of this dominant and powerful transcendental signifier. 

Its social praxis legitimated the rule of the priest, a strident and pervasive caste hierarchy, marginalisation of women, the under-class and foreigners as others. A wondrous evocation that may have arisen in the poetic musings of the Vedic (nomadic Aryan) bards, which in the altar of later Vedic sacrificial fire is transmuted into a substantive being (in the disguise of language), and which finally under the anvil of speculative philosophy ascends to assume the throne on highest rungs of metaphysics. Thus Brahman stands to be destructured, dismantled, disseminated (WTF?) , deconstructed by being subjected to the same rigours of the hermeneutic of suspicion and critical ideology as Ricoeur has suggested. It may then be possible to recover the latent and to reanimate the tradition in more creative ways than has occurred either through the revivalism of neo-Vedanta or the Romanticism of 19th century philological Indology. (Bilimoria, 1997a).
So, children, what have we learned today? The learned Professor has told us that 'the Brahman is a dead metaphor' and that it was used to shore up the power of priest-craft and to keep women and the underclass in their place. The same thing could be said about 'God', 'Allah', 'Tao', Justice, Beauty, Education, Wisdom, Democracy, Racial Purity, Communism, Capitalism, Biscuits, TV, Idli Sambar, Jennifer Aniston, Breakfast, Cars, Disco dancing, the Second Law of Thermodynamics and everything else in the Universe.
The fact is, what the Twentieth Century did was the reverse of Heidegger's 'Europeanization of the Earth'- Europe was shown up as a festering bog of deeply provincial pedants who wouldn't play nice till America and Russia divided up the continent between them and put those cunts back in their playpen.
True, some fucking assholes unfit for the Hard Sciences participated in a Credentializing Ponzi scheme under the rubric of 'Hermeneutics' or other such shite- not that J.L Mehta quite fits the bill, but then his people were illiterate dehatis so his getting the hots for Heidegger was like a return of the repressed dehati in him- the instinct to take a crap on the open highway, or Holwege, rather than use a flush loo- but, so what? Far larger numbers of people were travelling in the other direction to get their genitalia stroked by bogus Babas and pay handsomely for the privilege.
 'Limited arbitrage'- not 'grand narratives'- & 'bounded signalling'- not a totalizing hermeneutic- are the engine of Social change. Talk of 'intellectual genealogy' is foolish when considering convergent evolution. Indeed, when coupled with bogus breast beating of a emasculating Leftie sort, the whole exercise stinks to high Heaven.

 Prof. Billimoria says that a creative 'hermeneutic of suspicion' may help recover the latent and reanimate the (Advaitic) tradition in a different way. How? The baby was thrown out with the bathwater- what more harm is there left to do?
 The answer, of course, is that a proper Habermasian deconstruction of Ricoeur as self sodomization of the eye sockets of class enemies during an ongoing beheading with a sickle or hoe or other agricultural implement constitutes a creative re-reading of Vedas  just as fucked as stealing everything in sight, talking shite, and fondling the genitalia of all and sundry.
 However, Billimoria isn't sufficiently creative to see this. Instead he writes-  The last remark brings me the second example. The large body of texts produced and translated in Europe since around the 16th century on the cultures prevalent, literature, and peoples inhabiting the vast land mass to the east and south-east of Europe have nowadays been recognised to be suffused with "orientalism". This marks a peculiar hermeneutical act which the West ingressed upon the East. More specifically, the discourse of Orientalism underscores the wilful romantic construct of the East (the Orient or Asia) in the imagination of the West as Europe's "other", and destined to be converted, civilised and controlled by the burgeoning Western religious, economic and political might. But if we leave out any part, conscious or complicitous, involved in the formation of the text or the supplemental discourse we could be doing grave "epistemic violence" to the text. An incisive judgment along these lines has, for instance, been said of the 19th century British Raj's novel statutory judgment on sati, the Indian practice of widow burning, as constituting a legal "crime", which however failed to register the social motivations of the Hindu patriarchal order that perpetrated this culturally aberrant practice for so long. (Spivak). It is not as though such a censor was not possible within the Hindu and Pan-Indian tradition itself; indeed, there was evidence in traditional moral texts against such practices and indigenous leaders had rallied against the act on the grounds that sati violated women's rights: but is that tantamount to a criminal act under English Common Law? (see, Bilimoria, 1997b)
The story about Suttee was well understood by everybody except people like Billimoria. Essentially, wasteful status competition- burning widows rather than selling them to a brothel- was in danger of becoming normative so it was in everybody's interest to get the State to introduce a license system. This is Coasian Law & Econ 101. As for the English Common Law- it didn't ingress by a hermeneutic act but established itself by right of conquest.  To talk of epistemic violence is silly. Hitler did not do epistemic violence to the Torah- he killed Jews. The Colonial powers did not do epistemic violence to natives- they conquered them and then beat them or shot them if they got out of hand. No doubt they said unpleasant things as they were doing it but what was objectionable about this wasn't 'Orientalism' but the fact that they were beating and shooting people in a manner which turned their own Social rate of return on Capital negative.
By focussing on the discourse of Orientalism we understand better the Occidental-West, its logocentrism, and its failure to bring about genuine dialogue with the East and generate authentic methods for reading, translating and understanding the "other". The same can be said about the early British settlers judgment that the colonies of terra australis were not inhabited by any people (thus rendered as terra nullius) because the nomadic native Aborigines appeared not to have cultivated the land or invested any labour in it or asserted an instrumental interest in it. It took a Ernie Mabo to challenge this "interpretation" of another tradition in place. This massive legal and political prejudice, in the Gadamarian sense, is finally turned back on the incoming tradition for its own self-reflection, and to demonstrate that it misjudged "interest" in individualistic-utilitarian rather than in communicative-communitarian terms; and it perhaps paves the way for corrective reparation or "Reconciliation" of First and Second-Third Nations' respective claims.
 Once again, it is Coasian Law & Econ which explains why and how property rights get redistributed- nowt to do with some fuckwit Professors getting all dialogic up each others' assholes.
Third World studies and feminist movements more widely have capitalised on such insights and trans-boundary critiques, which was given a heavy political emphasis by Foucault's theorising premised on the generalisation that all knowledge is inextricably linked with power (and power is invariably corrupting). They have advocated, and developed methods for a re-reading and "de-construction" therefore of much of the past history and "civilising" or literary productions, translatory enactments, etc. resulting from the basically liberal-individualistic, imperial and patriarchy-propelled intrusions into the lives of women, slaves, marginalised groups, the "other", the outcastes, and the colonised subjects, both within the history of Western-European societies but more damagingly in various countries throughout the world. History might be more authentic and closer to the truth were its voices to emerge, as it were, "from below" rather than from the pens of the privileged, the elite, the experts, and bow-tied academic researchers who have a vested interest (unwittingly perhaps) in perpetuating certain myths — "paradigm" — of the dominant cultural force in a society or tradition at large. The requisite hermeneutics for (re-)writing history from below has been technically popularised by South Asian radical social theorists as the "Subaltern" stance or voices of the submerged subject-positions.
Last but not least, cross-cultural philosophers of religion have claimed that the Western invention of the sub-discipline or discourse of philosophy of religion with its expectations of a solid, irrefutable and logically profound "proof" (or, for that matter, "disproof") of the existence of God has triggered much unnecessary anguish, mimicery, and irreparable damage among non-Western, non-Christian peoples. (Bilimoria 1996b) When directed at the "other" this trenchant discourse has in part also helped erode local traditions, folk understandings, indigenous hermeneutics, law and social wisdom developed over many centuries in non-Western religious cultures by which they have sustained themselves. Such and more sophisticated critical analyses have arisen in recent years from movements in philosophy and the human sciences, particularly from Europe and now increasingly influential in North America, India, and Australasia.
Eddie (not Ernie) Mabo was an Australian man whose deep study of Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas et al led him to challenge the notion that native owned land was a 'terra nullius'. Thanks to great European scholars- who had already taken similar measures with respect to their own disenfranchised peoples- Australian law was changed so as to give the natives back their land. 
Actually, that's not what happened at all. The Europeans never did do anything for their own disenfranchised though once they had the shite beaten out of them they did pay some small reparation to Israel. Eddie Mabo was a gardener who got talking to some lawyers who brought a test case under Australian Common Law and that's how native land rights were vindicated. No fucking European cunts were involved at any stage. Not philosophers but lawyers and the Common Law tradition triumphed.
 Similarly in India, the Subaltern Studies gobshites & Post Colonial cunt-queefers achieved absolutely nothing. Lawyers and Accountants and Economists and good old fashioned parish pump politics, on the other hand, aren't all bollocks.
  So what is the moral of this story, children? Hermeneutics is shite . Books may or may not be shite in themselves but Hermeneutics is a turd which gets its grubby prints over all it reads. 
  Hermeneutics may claim that books are all a bunch of stupid lies and only exist to fuck over poor people but that's only because Professors have to continue to write books, and since dark skinned Professors wot are crap at thinking got to whine about how being black is so-ooo horrible, this is the sort of shite they are gonna write.

  Oddly enough this message is perfectly in conformity with Advaita. The Vyadha Gita teaches us that women and low castes should constantly tell high caste male Pundits to go fuck themselves because they are all a bunch of worthless cunts. Yet the Vyadha Gita was revealed to a King- that too one who was the incarnation of Dharma. The corollary is not far to seek. Fuck the Professors. 
  Mind it kindly.

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