Saturday, 12 March 2016

Why Rohan Murthy should stick with Sheldon Pollock.

Rohan Murthy, scion of Infosys founder, Narayan Murthy, has been asked to drop Sheldon Pollock from a prestige project to translate- I need hardly say, more stupidly yet- Indic texts which are already familiar to us in more scholarly or sensible form- or else are untranslatable simply save idiosyncratically by drunken scum like me.

The ostensible reason quoted by Pollock's enemies is his support for 'anti-National' forces but, the truth of the matter is, Pollock has only incurred ire because he has said some very stupid things about Hinduism and Hindutva which, but for the exculpatory circumstance of his ultracrepidarian career of unrelenting cloth-eared doltishness, might otherwise be evidence of a truly Anti-National, for Hate Speech based, agenda.

I have said Pollock is stupid- I will add that he suffers some aesthetic and hermeneutic cognitive incapacity or deficit- yet there are solid reasons why Murthy should stick with Pollock. These have to do with the fact that Murthy is a South Indian (Karnataka, Madhva) Brahmin whose Dad was forced to work abroad back in the Seventies when racial prejudice was rife. Thus, at that time, White guys who cooed to us about how our Vedic ancestors were also the nursemaids of Caucasian Culture and Civilization, counted among the nice guys- as opposed to noxious gobshites.

Thus Pollock says- 'At one end is an old and still dominant axiology foundational to Europe’s interest in Indian knowledge that assigned ultimate value to the ultimately archaic (India after all represented for many the cradle of Western civilization)'.

Nobody doesn't know Pollock is wrong- has always been wrong, that too longer than I've been alive.

I was born in Bonn- 'Benares on the Rhine'- in 1963. My parents, who spoke French and German (Dad had also studied Spanish and Russian) traveled the continent. Nobody- but nobody- believed the India 'was the cradle of Western Civilisation'. Instead they believed things it was useful or confidence-building for their young people to affirm.

German Indology, almost from its inception, rejected this too coarsely silvered Schelling or 'Sarmatian' delusion just as the German people rejected the less than golden liberties of mediatized Princelings.

Yes, an emaciated and bespectacled blackie like me, back in the Seventies, might be welcomed to dinner and encouraged to eat by an elderly, Almanach de Gotha, host by some flattering reference to my 'Brahmin' status and the notion that Sanskrit was older than Greek- but this was just Polite 'Preference Falsification' nothing more.

 People knew that India, thanks to Pundits like Nehru, was with pedantic precision, getting poorer and poorer. Even the persecuted Gypsies were loath to return to their status as Scheduled Caste Doms and decided to forget that India really was their ancestral cradle.

A lot has changed since then. Sub-Saharan Africans- unlike ugly South Indian males like me- have been a big hit with the opposite gender, or indeed, the same gender, wherever they have gone. But sexual jealousy has diminished because Women have thrown off their shackles and can be nobody's property. We have a better 'Preference Falsification' equilibrium because we are all better served by emphasizing our common African origin and forgetting that 'Aryan' bullshit- more especially, for Indian Brahmins, because it divides us from Jews and Dravidians and Khasis and so on. Still, Rohan should stand by this elderly Jew because his own grandparents may have taken comfort from the 'Aryan Brother' theory at the time they were first entering the Civil Service or the learned Professions under the Raj.

Pollock, unlike Witzel, is a nice guy- stupid, yes, but not intent on mischief. Since Rohan's PhD is in something worthwhile, he loses nothing by supporting this bankrupt and mendicant Research Program of this loquacious and elderly Jew who genuinely loves Kannada (though incapable of understanding the true greatness of the amazing Scholar-Saints of that region).

In any case, Rohan is a 'phoren' educated South Indian Brahmin like me. People like us have a duty to do the stupidest thing possible, if not in our business life, then certainly in the realm of cultural politics. Thus, if we have a good PM- like Modi- we should attack him on spurious grounds because high I.Q Brahmins of good character are incapable of recognising what is good for the common-weal- which includes themselves- instead always choosing to champion the most foolish and mischievous possible ideology or academic availability cascade that happens to be current.

After all, if Brahmins don't fuck up the Economy- forcing us to pray to God even for a little bread and clean water- then the only other way they could serve Soteriology is by actually practicing their ancestral profession.
Here again, Pollock comes in useful. He is the only person who still believes that Purva Mimamsa was and is the correct Hindu hermeneutic of Scripture. My ancestors were udgatrs. They knew from the Chandogya that no udgatr ever actually believed that God didn't exist but that rituals were efficacious anyway. No doubt, from time to time, an Atharvin or Tantrik or some other species of Sociopathic Swamy, claimed to possess Magical powers or God like abilities. So what? This is true of all Religions and personality cult based Ideologies. South Indian Brahmins, of whom I can speak from personal experience, are well inoculated against any such idiocy though no doubt they fall victim to charlatans from time to time same as everybody else.

There is a final reason why Rohan should stick with Pollock. Infosys, if it survives and evolves on the relevant fitness landscape, will essentially be about Knowledge Systems. But what are Knowledge Systems?
Godel has a compelling argument as to why a categorical answer to this question must be, to quote Pollock, 'the null set'. If Knightian uncertainty obtains- i.e. the relevant market isn't repugnant or rent extractive simply- then Knowledge systems can't be cybernetic or regulative and thus the notion itself is only useful if adding entropy.

Still, Rohan Baba, nil desperandum auspice deo- It is easy to say what Knowledge Systems are not- and here Pollock's bollocks about 'Indian Knowledge Systems on the eve of Colonialism' comes in useful.

Essentially everything Pollock thinks is a Knowledge System is no such thing and everything he finds problematic isn't at all.
Consider this introductory passage- 'At all events, the precise nature of the division of intellectual labor and associated forms of sociality among Sanskrit, vernacular, and Persianate intellectuals is almost entirely unclear to us at present. In fact, our ignorance of the Sanskrit knowledge systems themselves is hardly less complete, and this despite the dominance they exercised over scholarly life in seventeenth-century South Asia, and the intensification of intellectual production that, as just noted, marked the epoch.'
Why is this fucked? Well, start with 'division of labour'. Henry Ford, a barely educated farmer's son who worked for Edison, certainly created- or synthesised from pre-existing sources- a 'Knowledge System' based on the division of labour. He could do this because he was running a Coasian firm which 'internalized externalities' and displayed horizontal, vertical and lateral integration in a punitive and ruthless fashion.
Nobody- not even Akbar who introduced a new, syncretic, Religion based on 'sajda' to the throne- did anything similar in South Asia- even for its clerical 'ars dictaminis'  to what Henry Ford and his ilk accomplished for the global manufacturing 'Knowledge System' of which Indians were already a part.
Contra Pollock, Seventeenth Century India featured no relevant Intellectual 'division of labour'. Rather there were multiple co-ordination and dis-coordination games with Tiebout sorting and arbitrage opportunities of an essentially 'long tail' type. That's why printing didn't take off. In so far as 'Supply was creating its own Demand', it did so by increasing preference diversity- which by itself reduced systemic risk and was Muth Rational for that reason.

Pollock thinks 'it is unclear to us at present' why, for example, some Riti poets who knew both Persian and Sanskrit wrote in a particular way and not any other. This isn't true. Virtually any Indian of average- or below average- intelligence, like yours truly, can figure it out with a couple of Google searches or a chotta peg or two.

Pollock pretends the burgeoning of 'Knowledge Systems' is endogenously determined. This permits a certain faux Foucauldian stripe of rhetoric which, however, cashes out as nothing but ignorant Orientalist pi-jaw.
 Pollock, like everybody else, knows that Credentialized Systems consume resources and serve Ackerloff signalling functions. They may also be 'Knowledge Systems'- i.e. alethic and productivity raising- but only if they retain fitness with respect to exogenous constraints. Otherwise, they crash or survive only as satire or sociopathy.

Pollock, credulous dupe of the Foucauld-for-fuckwits 101availability cascade, says ' European knowledge claims for itself the infrangible aegis of science—social science, political science, and the like—and such a claim entails that all other modes of thought are mere forerunners (myth, magic, religion, pensée sauvage).
This isn't true.  European 'Knowledge Systems'- like that of Foucauld- were the paranoid rantings of tenured Professors who were either ignored or laughed at.
'Race Science', it is true, experienced a brief moment of Foucauldian 'Power' but it ended up with some blonde, blue-eyed Germans killing other blonde, blue-eyed speakers of Germans while recruiting dark skinned Senegalese and Socialistic South Indians, like Nambiar, into the S.A.
Marxist 'Knowledge Systems' met a similar ignominious fate as did the Straussian episteme. Contra Foucauld, all Societies- as opposed to fossil sects or antagonomic cults-  at all times, consider univocal 'Knowledge Systems' to be no better than Voodoo and consider Punditry to be fucked in the head.
Pollock says-
'At the same time comparison is essential because we cannot adequately grasp the fate of Sanskrit knowledge systems without understanding the character of the European counterparts and the conditions enabling their growth.'
 If this were true, then 'European counterparts' can't be adequately grasped without understanding the character of its Islamic counterparts and so on in an infinite regress.
. Having run more or less in parallel to those of India for a millennium or more, the European forms began to diverge dramatically in the seventeenth century.
Some European and Indian forms diverged, others didn't. Some of Pollock's Ashkenazi ancestors embraced Haskalah- their numbers have dwindled because the general rise in Mathematical knowledge means that the average Seventeen year old understands why Maimon was right about Kant being krap- others, destined to be more numerous, stuck with Haredi Halachah.
It was never the case that extinction events, as opposed to convergent epigenetics, characterised the relevant fitness landscape. 'Knowledge Systems' may self-consciously add entropy, they are never univocal or endogenously determined.

Pollock, like a broken record (I'm ashamed to say I'm ancient enough to remember record players) keeps repeating boo hoo! I iz Bleck, poor me! Po Co shite as though Ashenazis really are a 'pariah people' or Red fucking Indians or whatever.
 Hereby a very different, uncompromising modernity was produced that, disseminated by colonialism, would eventually contest and undo the Sanskrit intellectual formation. Obviously the very possibility of framing the end of Indian knowledge systems as a historical problem derives from the fact that European modernity in some way ended them.
Framing things as 'a historical problem' is what crap but sedulously careerist historians do to try to make out they aren't doing. pr pretending to do, donkey work. Such problems don't exist except for donkeys. In the case of the 'Sanskrit intellectual formation'- far from having been 'undone', it did well and spread to diverse continents thanks to the technologies and trade patterns productive of 'modernity'. Unfortunately, once Pundits like Nehru took charge, India got saddled with a soi disant Hindu rate of growth that permitted an apparent hiatus valde deflendum in which every Convent educated shithead too stupid to do Science ended up with a PhD in Pollock Bollock lifting.

Rohan Murthy is a bright guy- he'd have failed even the J.N.U MPhil in any Indological discipline,- and I read that he's putting a million into 'the first robotic laser adaptive optic system' which is cool coz it's Hannan Consistent or Regret Minimizing from the p.o.v of Social Choice because there genuinely is a 'Knowledge System' underlying the project which gains whether it works or fails- but, the question remains, should he break with Pollock on the basis that the latter's Research Program is bollocks?

Fuck no! Shite Availability Cascades ought to be advertised as shite because it improves Tiebout sorting and computational costs re. Schelling focal solutions for young people under information asymmetry. Not only is Pollock shite but so is Sen and Nussbaum and every other fucking soi disant savant dedicated to similar Sociable Sciences of Stupidity.

Henry Ford, knowing History to be bunk, did help found a 'Knowledge System' which isn't an availability cascade simply. But it wasn't Western, Eastern or any fucking thing other than itself. Knowledge is like that. Gobshittery, however, is never itself but always dressing itself up as 'X qua Y  post-Z' where X is what is shat upon, Y is the shittiest availability cascade and Z was never a genuine climacteric.

Pollock says- 'And it should go without saying that, absent a sound understanding of how Sanskrit knowledge functioned—its presuppositions, methods, objects of analysis, networks of exchange, and the rest—any account of the victory of colonialism as a form of knowledge will be seriously flawed.'

 America, like Britain, was colonised. No doubt, Pollock believes that 'absent a sound understanding of how Autochthonous American or British knowledge functioned- its presuppositions, methods, objects of analysis, networks of exchange and the rest- any account of what currently obtains as a form of knowledge will be seriously flawed.'
Pollock lacks a 'sound understanding' of how autochthonous American, British, European, Hebrew, Indian etc, 'knowledge functioned'. Thus his work is seriously flawed. But we knew that anyway coz he writes shite and is clearly as stupid as shit.
The fact is that if a country is colonised it is because one set of guys are better at killing than another set of guys. This has to do with weapons technology and incentive compatible organisation- not shite to do with epistemic 'presuppositions, methods, objects of analysis etc.'

Knowledge Systems do exist but only in so far as they evolve on a fitness landscape. The same is true of Corporations.  I don't suppose Infosys will be around as anything other that a pure comprador rent extractor in a decade or so. It is entirely proper, indeed it is Muth Rational, that Rohan advertise this by continuing to support Pollock because the fucker really will end up anti-national and rent-extracting which is also anti-Hindu, anti-Brahmin and totally in line with Pollock Bollocks and Witzel witzelsucht & c.

Pollock says- 'At the other end of the spectrum lies the epistemological consequences of the victory of colonialism itself, which not only marked the actual end of the Indian knowledge systems and the slow but steady erosion of scholarly competence in them, but produced a counter-critique in postcolonial (more exactly, postorientalist) thought. This latter moment has entailed extravagant, even absurd claims about the epistemic break purportedly marked by colonialism and orientalism (colonialism’s specific form of knowledge of Indian history and society), and the impossibility of attaining any secure precolonial knowledge whatever—claims that derive their strength from our very ignorance and serve only to reinforce it.'

So, kids, what have we learnt today? Pollock knows that postcolonial or 'postorientalist' thought is worthless shite yet he also believes that Indian 'Knowledge Systems actually ended even though they didn't but got a shot in the arm coz British Colonialism explicitly subsidised and valrorised those of which Pollock himself has knowledge. Indeed, in the case of Sanskrit and Pali, the Raj saw an enormous increase in the geographic spread of the underlying availability cascades.
Had this not been the case, Pollock would have had no Professorship.
Had there been no 'Pax Brittanica' certain 'Indian Knowledge Systems' would have diminished diversity and salience today.
Still, it is the higher rates of growth we have been experiencing for the last two decades- thanks to our abandoning Pollock's own regulative 'Knowledge System'- which has permitted the greater currency of the genuine and utile fruits of indigenous Knowledge Systems, like our Avadhani tradition, which Pollock is too fucking stupid and illiterate to grasp.

Is there any Hindu or Jain who can point to a single fucking foreign professor as having preserved or advanced the ethos of their sect? (White people employed by the Govt. of India don't count as foreign any more than Brown people employed by foreign Governments count as representing autochthonous knowledge.)

On the other hand, every Hindu or Jain can point to egregious and insulting errors perpetrated by soi disant foreign savants and their too sedulous, for deracinated, Indian disciples.

However, it was only with the rise of the BJP- and the Anti-National outcry against this- that such insults became obligatory and acquired the ring of sacred Shibboleths.

Rohan Murthy is quite  right to back Pollock. His own business model is likely to be equally rent extractive and of a comprador nature.

No wonder he wants to be valorised as a magical 'Brahmin' in blatant defiance of his ancestral Theism.


Anonymous said...

So... this is sarcasm? You actually think Rohan Murthy should stop funding Pollock?

windwheel said...

Murthy should fund Pollock because Infosys's business model is currently under threat w.r.t issuance of block H1-b visas. America will always be suspicious of effective and clean Prime Ministers in big countries like India. So Murthy gains if he has senior American Academics on his side pretending that his Dad's company is actually trying to cut Modi down to size and this is proved by a translation project aimed at undercutting the autochthonous nature of Indian culture and values.

There is nothing wrong in businessmen doing what is in their financial interest so long as it is within the letter of the law. It may be that Infosys does not gain if India becomes stronger and furthers its own intellectual and moral autonomy, because it is arbitraging Indian poverty and weakness. Understood in this light, the proper fulcrum can be identified upon which to apply pressure.