What happens when we read a passage from Homi Bhaba while holding to the belief that he has actually 'gone “outside the sentence” in a movement beyond any possible logocentrism... opening up the debate about representation into an unforeseen hybridity.. thus trying to cancel out any possibility of falling into the trap of the politics of binaries, that he felt had considerably weakened Edward Said’s argument'?
Let us try the experiment-
'European imperialism took various forms in different times and places and proceeded both through conscious planning and contingent occurrences;.
European is a false binary associated with the indefinable notion of the non-European. Imperialism too is a false binary. It implies that there is some form of political power wholly different from Imperial power. Conscious planning and contingent occurrences are also a false binary. Either one can have confidence in a conscious plan under conditions of Knightian Uncertainty, in which case no clear cut distinction can be made between endogenous and contingent triggers- i.e they are fuzzy- or some 'animal spirit' supervenes such that planning has no salience in a world which has evolved by natural selection.
Having cancelled out all the false binaries is there anything left to Bhaba's sentence or has he truly gone beyond it?
A naive answer would be- yes, Bhaba says European Imperialism existed though it may or may not have had anything to do with either conscious planning or with reactions to contingent occurrences.
However, if we substitute the word 'Colostomy' or 'Sadducee' for 'European' no great epistemic loss or gain would be sustained. People affected by Colostomy or who have an interest in the Sadducees would recognize it as an perfectly conventional opening remark of the sort routinely made pseudo-intellectual gobshites among their own number.
Thus Bhaba hasn't really gone beyond the sentence- Bhartrihari's sphota- to achieve 'para Vak'- an utterance worthy of omniscient God.
Unless, that is, he goes on to say something not as shite as his first sentence. Does he? Let us see.
'As a result of this complex development something occurred for which the plan of imperial expansion had not bargained: the immensely prestigious and powerful imperial culture found itself appropriated in projects of counter-colonial resistance which drew upon the many different indigenous local and hybrid processes of self-determination to defy, erode and sometimes supplant the prodigious power of imperial cultural knowledge'.
Once again cancelling out binaries- like complex/ simple, development/retrogression etc- we are still left with sentences of the following sort (where X can stand for Western Imperialism or Colostomy Aggrandizement or Sadducee Hegemony etc)
1) X underwent a process resulting in increased Kolmogorov complexity.
2) This increase in complexity caused X to fail to predict that a particular type of not-X would challenge or supplant it.
3) The reason for this strange turn of events is that the non-X was a hybrid of X and fed upon its own drive to complexity
These 3 sentences make sense in speaking of Systems incapable of mounting a Red Queen defense to Trojans. These are Systems which crash very quickly and leave no progeny, let alone hybrids precisely because they have mounted a complexity gradient without first investing in defenses that co-evolve with Trojan threats. This is not to say that epigenetic effects are ruled out, just that progeny and hybrids are not viable because the System was too fundamentally flawed.
What if a System is artificially shielded from Trojans? Then we get Spiegelman monsters- complexity declines.
What Bhaba is describing can be said with equal truth about Colostomy imperialism- i.e the fucking NHS's attempt to make all us Hindutva intellectuals wear colostomy bags when we visit India coz Narendra Modi has done a deal with David Cameron in the name of 'Svaccha Bharat' and is determined to prevent us N.R.Is from crapping all along Raj Path next time the Hindu Hitler invites Obama over for the Republic Day parade.
The problem here is the N.H.S can't distinguish- because Medical Science can't distinguish- between a full colostomy bag and us N.R.I bags of shite. Thus Colostomy Imperialism is not a real threat and scarcely worth talking about.
What about Western Imperialism? Surely that existed? Yes, it did indeed exist but only because it had very good Red Queen defenses against Trojans. The Brits learnt a lesson from 1776 as did the French from Haiti and so on. Gandhi and others may have become barristers and bought themselves top hats but no one was fooled. The Bar Association had no difficulty spotting a nigger and expelled first Savarkar and then Gandhi.
Has Bhaba 'gone beyond the sentence', and awoken the Para Vak laughter of the Olympian Gods, by his delicious suggestion that Western Imperialism became so complex that it couldn't differentiate between Whites and Coloreds?
No. He hasn't gone far enough. He ought to have suggested that monkeys overthrew the British Raj by stealing the King Emperor's crown or the Chief Justice's wig and ordering the Red Coats back on their boats with the providential help of a parrot or two.
The truth is, the Raj could always tell even the difference between an argument written by a Ben-golliwog barrister, secretly representing pukka Scottish indigo planters and another, equally well argued screed, penned by a Bihari barrister with political ambitions.
The 'immensely powerful and prestigious' Imperial episteme only became so by squeezing dry 'indigenous local and hybrid processes of self-determination'- like the Munshis and Court Pundits and so on- before heartlessly abandoning them as heteronomous husks of humanity.
What about the Japanese? Surely they imitated the Europeans- they still wear top hats and tail coats on formal occasions- surely, that's a good example of 'hybridity'?
Nope. Japan was never colonized. They relied on their own native bakufu episteme- as exemplified by people like Ninomiya- to mobilize their own resources to their own sovereign ends.
But, perhaps Bhaba is aware of all this and will make some caveat in what follows. Let us read him and see-
'Post-colonial literatures are a result of this interaction between imperial culture and the complex of indigenous cultural practices. As a consequence, ‘post-colonial theory’ has existed for a long time before that particular name was used to describe it. Once colonised peoples had cause to reflect on and express the tension which ensued from this problematic and contested, but eventually vibrant and powerful mixture of imperial language and local experience, post-colonial ‘theory’ came into being.'
Saiichi Maruya writes a novel at the same time as people like Chinua Achebe or Abdullah Hussein which treats of what Alok Rai calls 'damaged modernity'. But Japan was never colonized. Clearly, what matters is that one culture- that which produced the modern novel- interacts with another culture- Igbo or Japanese or Tamil, it doesn't matter- and the same theme of relative heteronomy (by reason of hysteresis) will be highlighted.
Post colonial literatures aren't the result of Vulgar Marxian super-structure/sub-structure interactions- because as Stalin pointed out Language is relatively autonomous. Of course, there may be an artificial market for shite and that market may indeed be characterized by sly subversion and hybridity but that market really doesn't matter at all. It was always wholly meretricious. When the stick or carrot is taken away, it collapses on its own much to the chagrin of worthless Credentialist hacks who still have their PhD's to get or quota of gesture political papers to write.
Thus Bhaba, far from 'going beyond the sentence', is a prison sentence in a windowless cell fabricated from stupidity and lies.