Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dr. Shreena Gandhi- Yogi or Viyogini?

Dr. Shreena Gandhi is well educated- her undergraduate degree was from Swathmore and her Masters was from Harvard. Obviously, she is of Indian origin and would know a thing or two about Hinduism.

Yet, she has put her name to an astonishingly ignorant essay claiming that Yoga has something to with White Supremacists.

Every single sentence of the essay is egregiously wrong. It is as though she is determined to write as stupidly as possible.
Take the first sentence-
The origints of yoga can be traced back to South Asia, a space colonized by the British and Portuguese.
South Asia was not colonised by the Portuguese. They, like the Dutch and the French had small enclaves on the coast. The British exercised paramountcy over South Asia. The term colony is misleading. America was a colony. People from the mother country came and settled there and eventually displaced the indigenous population. Nothing similar happened in India.

The origin of Yoga is in the indigenous Religion of India. It is by itself a school of divinity within the fold of orthodox Hinduism. The British and the Portuguese are wholly irrelevant to its history.
The reasons why yoga became popular, and why various Indian yogis started travelling to England and the United States to “sell” yoga, is also tied up with colonialism.
This isn't true at all.  Awareness of Jiu-Jitsu and other East Asian martial arts spread at the same time as Yoga to Europe and America. However,  it was only from the Sixties onward that they developed a mass following. This was demand driven- a product of a globalised market- it was never the case that poor Yogis or Kung Fu masters were exported for a political or economic reason. Slavery and Colonialism were wholly irrelevant.
Yoga was often used as a tool to show the British that Indians were not backwards or primitive, but that their religion was scientific, healthy, and rational.
In A.C Benson's 'Mapp and Lucia' stories- the Yoga Guru is a drunken curry chef. He runs away when he discovers he is to be presented to the wife of a former Governor of Madras. This is because he has been passing himself off as a Brahman and fears the lady will detect his low caste origin.

Benson's story accurately captures both White and Indian attitudes to any purely physical system of training. Such things were always considered inferior to mental or spiritual techniques. This is still true in India. Baba Ramdev has been very successful both commercially and, more briefly, in a political capacity. But he isn't in the same class as Swami Adityanath- the new Chief Minister of India's most populous province. Why? Standing on your head tends makes you look ridiculous. Wearing robes and meditating is dignified and impressive. Witnessing the feats of acrobats or bodybuilders from a different country does not militate to the conclusion that the country in question is scientifically advanced or more rational in its conduct. On the contrary, we think of its people as either monkeys or meatheads. Meditation is a different matter as is swanning around in flowing robes pontificating upon Transcendental Wisdom or Quantum Consciousness or Spiritual Science or some other such oxymoron.

It was not Yoga, but translations of Sanskrit texts which showed Europe and America that Indian religions and philosophies possessed merits complementary to or in excess of those of their own Religion. There was no need to show that 'Indians were not backwards and primitive' because the accounts of travellers and merchants and officials- as well as the goods exported by India to Europe- stressed the high standard of Indian material and ethical culture.

The study of Paninian Sanskrit brought about a revolution in philology and linguistics starting from the late eighteenth century and carrying on to the work of Saussure or, more indirectly, Chomsky. But then Indian grammarians had a profound influence on Chinese thought for the same reason.

 The writings of an Indian polemicist of the first half of the nineteenth century- Raja Ramohan Roy- were seized upon by the Unitarians. That is why Emerson wrote a poem called 'Brahma' and the term 'Boston Brahman' gained currency. The Gita, which identifies the Creator with the Lord of Yoga, influenced many European, British and American thinkers and writers. Thoreau could be called a Yogi though he had no first hand acquaintance with either Indian texts or Indian people.
By contrast, Fredrick Schlegel had a profound influence on the Romantic movement. Indeed, the seminar system of facilitating Research based Universities was pioneered by Indologists.
Similarly, Liberal thought was influenced by Indian texts. Karl Krause, who had a big influence on Spain and Latin America tried to teach Schopenhauer a little Sanskrit. Though this failed, Schopenhauer, like Goethe, was very open in his admiration for Indian thought and philosophy.

I should explain, Hinduism pairs Yoga with the Samkhya philosophy. The founder of the latter school was Lord Buddha's teacher. The Gita too features a strong 'Samkhya-Yoga' theory. Thus a thirst was created for Yoga- as practiced by the gymnosophists mentioned by the ancient Greeks- before any actual Yogis appeared on the scene. The demand pre-existed the supply.

Darwin's theory of Evolution caused a scandal for Christian believers. Something of Buddhism was already known, but it was then that it started gaining more and more converts or, if not converts, at least 'Theosophist' fellow travellers. Why? That Religion dispenses with a Creator or Revealed Texts and is compatible with Evolution. Sadly, it was painted as an 'Aryan' Religion as opposed to 'Semitic' Christianity. Needless to say, Buddhism is free of any such prejudice. An African Lama would receive the same reverence as a Tibetan one. Hindus like me sought the darshan of Swami Ghanananda, in Ghana, because he was a perfected teacher of Vaishnavism. Of course the same is true of genuine Christians in Europe or America. England has a Black Archbishop of York. Did this cause any backlash? Don't be silly!

At this point, in fairness, I should point out that African origin people were subject to genuine 'epistemic violence' and that type of thinking is still around for base mercenary reasons. This was not the case with respect to India- however much we like to moan about our economic decline and blame others for it.
It should be remembered that the Greeks had reached India and thus the country had always been considered to be materially and ethically advanced- not primitive or backward.
Soldiers prized Indian swords because Indian metallurgy was ahead of Europe in that respect in the eighteenth century. In the days of sail, Indian shipyards, managed by Indians, produced excellent ships.
If the Indians declined in military and material terms, it was for political, not technological reasons.

No doubt, India languished under the British Raj. More and more of its people starved or barely subsisted. The Princes and compradors, however, lived very different lives. Some supported Yoga practitioners. They did not encourage them to go to the West to display their skills. Why? People who stand on their heads look ridiculous. By contrast, the King of Mysore did support a vegetarian bodybuilder- Professor K.V Iyer- who gained a following in America. In that instance, the aim was to show that a vegetarian diet did not have an enfeebling effect. B.K.S Iyengar, of course, was even more successful. He was an extraordinary personality.

Some Anglicised Indians from the middle class who turned to Religion did tour the West from the late nineteenth century onward. They were bitterly anti-colonial and were gathering funds for Nationalist organisations. They saw both the utilitarian and spiritual value of Hatha Yoga and did sometimes prescribe a specific 'asana' for health reasons. However, they never identified Yoga with any narrowly chauvinist cause. On the contrary, they were Internationalists and inclined to Socialism. They felt that any good thing should belong equally to all the people of the world. To their minds, Yoga could no more be 'misappropriated' than Physics or Mathematics.

Dr. Gandhi takes a different view. She says
This was a position they (i.e. nonexistent Yogis who went West to try to prove Indians weren't primitive) were coerced into, and unfortunately reified colonial forms of knowledge – that knowledge must be proven or scientific to be worth anything.
There were no 'colonial forms of knowledge'. There was some propaganda, paid for by the Imperial authorities, to depict Indians in a bad light so as to reduce support for Indian Nationalists. But such propaganda backfired. The same happened to epistemologies instrumentalised for Imperial purposes. Consider the case of ethnographic tabulation of populations- as expressed by the Indian Census. The attempt to categorise people backfired. Initially, caste based associations arose but they quickly morphed into a National movement.
It is true that after Independence, some crackpot Ministers from time to time endorsed the work of other crackpots to prove 'scientifically' that some indigenous mumbo-jumbo actually worked. This too backfired.

Rural India always had and always will have Yogis who have their own networks and 'peer review' processes. Middle class, urban India became increasingly interested in 'Hatha' Yoga for health and building strength from the 1880's onward. This fed into and was fed by the rise of Nationalistic sentiments which was closely associated with Hindu Saints and Gurus. This was also a period when Physical Education in the West and elsewhere was being systematised in a scientific fashion. In some cases this was explicitly linked to 'subaltern' Nationalism- e.g. the Czech 'Sokols' emulated by the 'Anushilan Samitis' sponsored by people like Sri Aurobindo or Swami Vivekananda.

 Swami Kuvalyananda was probably the most influential figure in systematising and empirically testing this type of patriotic cultivation of Physical Education. Yale sent a researcher to study under him who returned and published a 'Scientific Evaluation' of Yoga in the late Thirties. Some fifteen years previously, another Yogi who had the same Guru as Kuvalyananda had travelled to America and taught hatha yoga to some Americans. He couldn't return because of a tightening of 'colour bar' racialist immigration laws- the main reason few Indian Yogis went to America prior to 1965.

It is not the true that Indians ever proselytised for Yoga abroad in an effort to show India wasn't backward. In the case of America, Jim Crow type racism prevented them from entering in the first place. It is a different matter that professional wrestlers and strong-men from India had managed to make an impression on Europe and America at an early date. The practice of swinging 'Indian clubs'- which German immigrants brought to mid nineteenth century America- has, however, a more complicated history. European soldiers- including Hanoverians- employed in India by John Company had picked up the practice from local pehelwans and took it back with them. The thing became a craze but such training had genuine benefits which is why the US Army adopted it during the first World War. This had as little effect on the standing of India as the European adoption of Native American swimming styles, or their game of lacrosse, on their standing.

The truth is physical culture has no racially coded 'bio-politics'.
Dr. Gandhi disagrees-
Beyond its utility, yoga became popular, in part, because it reinforced European and Euro-American ideas of India.
Rubbish! Nobody cares about 'ideas of India'- not even the vast majority of Indians. Why? Such ideas are fatuous. In any case, for the West, in the Sixties and later, India simply wasn't important. There was no War there and Economically it was punching far below its weight. China, by contrast, is exciting- indeed astonishing- as was Japan before it.

In the late Sixties, it is true that sitar music and the Maharishi and so on had cultural salience. But it was in connection with psychedelic culture and the sexual revolution. Similarly during the Romantic period in early Nineteenth Century Europe, India had been briefly associated with sexual mysticism and Liberal politics. However, the dominant idea of India in the Fifties and Sixties was of a country on the verge of starvation. But, this was only because independent India's elected rulers chose mendicancy. Truman snubbed Nehru when he produced a begging bowl out of the folds of his Savile Row suit. India was overwhelmingly agricultural. Why could it not feed itself? Unlike Europe, it had been untouched by the War. Later on, American farmers forced the US to dole out PL 480 grain shipments. Europe too looked to rid itself of its wine lakes and butter mountains. Indian diplomats quite happily painted a picture of a nation of farmers starving in the interregnum between such shipments. Why? It was because they were trying to challenge traditional European notions of India as a richly endowed country with an ethically advanced populace- so richly endowed and ethically advanced, it would be worth trading with or even conquering.
Under Indira Gandhi, India repented its folly in painting itself as a basket case. Dr. Shreena Gandhi, however, remains true to the older Nehruvian tradition of depicting the country as a shithole. It is sad to think that she is a prophet without honour in her own ancestral homeland.
Early Indian yoga missionaries played on the orientalist construction of the “west” as progressive and superior and the “east” as spiritual but inferior.
There were no 'early Indian yoga missionaries'. There were White disciples of Indian Yogis who could appeal to a market which took its view of India from Hindu and Buddhist sacred and literary texts. Consider Professor Charles Lanman of Harvard. After studying Sanskrit, he spent a year in 1889, travelling in India. His students- people like T.S Eliot- were amused by his practice of hatha yoga on the banks of the Charles. By contrast, Acharya Kosambi- whom Lanman recruited- did not make himself ridiculous in any such manner. Why? He gained nothing by showing India as 'spiritual but inferior'. Instead he studied Russian and took up a Professorship in Leningrad.

Nehru knew Yoga- he'd interrupt a dinner party to go stand on his head- and he certainly helped perpetrate the notion that India was spiritual but inferior. But, unlike Modi, Nehru wasn't the missionary of anything Indian. Like Dr. Shreena Gandhi, he was only happy when scolding Capitalist countries for having lots of food. They should repent their vulgarity and quietly starve. It would be so much better for their souls- don't you see?

This is not to say no Indians ever exported Indian techniques to the West. The term 'shampoo' is Indian and was introduced into the English language by an Indian, who also wrote an autobiography, back in the early years of the Nineteenth century. He also ran a physical training and fencing academy.
Yoga became — and remains — a practice which allows western practitioners to experience the idea of another culture while focusing on the self.
The same may be said of karate or judo or Zen. But Japan was never colonised.

Hinduism and Buddhism do contain spiritual and literary marvels and Yoga is associated with those marvels. This has nothing to do with India as a modern political entity.

Back in the Seventies, any kid who looked a bit Chinese would be asked in the playground to demonstrate a big of kung fu. Why? Kung Fu is cool. Indians weren't asked to demonstrate Yoga- and were wary of doing so because- truth be told- a lot of us have very pudgy tummies. We need to do a lot of running and weight training just to fit into our pants. The alternative is cutting down on the ghee and rasmalai.

In today’s consumerist age, yoga thrives because one can produce many products and start businesses using yoga as the foundation.
Why did Yoga thrive in India thousands of years ago before there was any consumerism or 'branding'? The answer is that Indians faced certain moral and spiritual problems which affected their bodily health. Some of these problems were 'affluence' related. Thus the earliest mention of diabetes is in Indian medical texts. Our ancestors too had a problem with the ghee and rasmalai which we class as 'satvic' foods but which cause a lot of us (perhaps because of a 'thrifty gene') to have jiggly tummies and man boobs.
Some physical exercises improved both bodily and psychological health. These are part of Yoga. Anyone at all can benefit from this whatever their spiritual beliefs or ethnic origins.
The explosion of yoga studios, yoga videos, apps, yoga pants, and other yoga swag over the last two decades is evidence of this. Yoga contributes to our economic system, but never forget this system is one built upon exploitation and commodification of labor, often the labor of black people and people of the global south.
The authors paint a picture of yoga pants being produced by dusky people paid a starvation wage. By voting for Trump, Americans have already addressed the problem. Ban the import of stuff made by poor coloured people. Let robots at Lululemon's American factories do their job instead.

Why not ban Yoga as well? After all, some Indian Yogis may be making money off 'intellectual property' in the field. The market for the thing won't disappear if we rename it after some Native American system of physical conditioning. Replace 'Namaste' with an equivalent word from Algonquin. Perhaps, traditional narratives of Thanksgiving could be rejigged to show the indigenous people teaching the Colonists how to sit 'Indian fashion'. But why stop there? Why not reclaim the term Indian for America? Let Modi's people be called 'Bharatiya'- which in fact, officially, they already are according to their own constitution.
Yoga, like so many other colonized systems of practice and knowledge, did not appear in the American spiritual landscape by coincidence; rather, its popularity was a direct consequence of a larger system of cultural appropriation that capitalism engenders and reifies.
So, America must give up Capitalism. It's not enough that they must call Yoga by some Algonquin name or give it up in favour of some Cherokhee practice. Not till Capitalism is extirpated will Americans stop that naughty 'cultural appropriation' which the two authors of this piece so deplore.
While the (mis)appropriation of yoga may not be a life-threatening racism, it is a part of systemic racism nonetheless, and it is important to ask, what are the impetuses for this cultural “grabbing”?
You just told us. The answer is 'Capitalism'.
In order to delve deeper into this question, it’s useful to look at the roots of U.S. white dominant culture, the foundation of which is rooted in enslavement of West Africans and settler colonialism.
The root of white dominance must lie in some natural or acquired superiority in 'colonising' and 'enslaving' others. You can't colonise a land whose people can defeat you. Also you need a method of getting to that land. The root of Western European dominance lay in superior maritime technology and praxis. That's why European ships could carry colonists to America- where a large portion of the indigenous population had no resistance to 'Old World' germs- and also take slaves from African potentates to work in their newly acquired domains in the New World.
 Decades of assimilation and the cultural stripping of Europeans as they arrived to the U.S. produced a white dominant culture. People of European descent replaced their ethnicities (i.e. German, Polish, English, Italian, etc.) with whiteness and the privileges that came along with that identity. This history is especially relevant right now as we are seeing white men taking to the streets in mobs shouting, “We will not be replaced.”
Okay... so is what you're saying is these guys should also be demanding the closing down of all Yoga or Kung Fu studios because these should be replaced by something from the dominant American culture?
We would argue one of the goals of White Supremacy is to buffer white people from the pain that comes from the process of exchanging cultural grounding for the unearned power and privilege of whiteness.
Why would you argue anything so foolish? Do White Supremacists really strike you as being such bleeding hearts that they want to shield people from the pain of knowing they are privileged? Did Hitler kill the Jews and the Gypsies and the Gays and so forth so as to spare the Herrenvolk the pain that comes from exchanging their class or regional identity for the unearned power and privilege of belonging to the Master Race?
This looks like the hoarding of material resources and wealth into the hands, pockets, and bank accounts of white society.
White Supremacists very explicitly say that their hateful ideology will result in White people hoarding up wealth. Nobody believes them because they are obviously stupid sociopaths. Germany was once top dog academically speaking. Then stupid Nazis got rid of the Jews and the country never recovered its academic hegemony.
Meanwhile, in order to uphold the foundation and on-going functioning of white supremacist and racial capitalism, white people are taught to be ahistorical and emotionally repressed.
Really? By whom? Swathmore College? Harvard Divinity School? The University of Florida?

Why would anyone spend money teaching white people something which will destroy their ability to think and to function? Emotions are 'Darwinian algorithms of the mind'. Repress them and decision making worsens. A historical sense is vital for defeasible Jurisprudence and Economic rationality. Without it, hsyteresis effects can't be dealt with by Muth Rational processes. There's a reason, Darwinian evolution has endowed us with memory and historicity.
In order to maintain the status quo, white people are taught to sublimate and anesthetize feeling.
Which is why the Civil Rights movement failed and Jim Crow stalks more and more of the country.
Feelings are salutary things. It is good for a collective when individuals act on their feelings. Why? Because those feelings are self-regarding even in an eusocial way. I feel pleasure when I gorge on cake in the middle of the night but soon feel shame and disgust and nausea. I feel joy and happiness when I share cake with others to celebrate the birthday of a friend or family member.

White Americans achieved dominance because they were taught to express their feelings. Don't like your place in the world? Go West young man- or woman! Is American culture really about 'sublimation' and 'instinctual renunciation' and being a self-effacing cog in the machine?For some people of colour perhaps.  Not for wealthy White people. Melania may have to sublimate. She is an immigrant from some East European shithole. Donald, by contrast, has never had to so much as filter his thoughts. Loving yourself means never having to say you are sorry.
To feel — whether joy, sorrow, or grief — is to be counter cultural in this country. Dominant culture teaches white people, as well as People of Color, to numb through materialism, consumerism, entertainment, prescription and hard drugs, and alcohol. It also socializes white people to consciously or unconsciously misuse power and relate to others from a false sense of superiority. Because most white people are not taught to confront and examine the painful and uncomfortable realities of racism, and their complicity in it, the cycle of oppression, repression, and consumption continues.
Wow! White people are truly horrible! OMG, Granny was right. One mustn't marry a leprous Mleccha! Better kill Sonia Gandhi! And get rid of her son- he is half White. No wonder Dr. Gandhi hates Nitin Gadkare. The fellow is no better than a race-traitor! This so called 'Hindutva' consists of hugging White people, not exterminating them!

Dominant Culture means Hollywood. I don't know which ethnicity has done most to build up the film and television industry but, clearly, those people have to be purged from the system. We must reeducate White People to develop Strength through Joy. For too long Europeans have felt inferior to Sub-Saharan Africans who out-sprint and out-box and out-fuck them. This is the uncomfortable reality of racism. We must re-educate white people to feel physically stronger and sexually more potent than African Americans.
This complex socio-political reality of the U.S. is key to understanding how the cultural void of white society is intimately mixed with white supremacy, capitalism, and globalization; and it is within these oppressive structures that cultural appropriation and the yoga industrial complex flourishes.
Eisenhower warned against the yoga-industrial complex. Did you know Norway has banned Yoga in prisons because it made the inmates too violent? Those Nordics are onto something.
People are grasping for something to belong and connect to outside of the empty and shallow societal anchors of materialism and consumerism, which do not nourish or empower people in any sort of meaningful or sustainable way.
Quite true. People nourished and empowered in a meaningful and sustainable way are immune to death and anomie. That is why nothing meaningful is sustainable. Everything dies. Life is a Red Queen race in which you have run faster and faster just to stay in place. What could be more unmeaning and unsustainable than this brutal truth which encompasses all co-evolved processes?
People are searching for these things without even understanding why there is a void in the first place. Few white people make the connection between their attraction to yoga and the cultural loss their ancestors and relatives experienced when they bought into white dominant culture in order to access resources. Many Europeans did not fully grasp what they were giving up and what they were investing in, yet many did, and most who arrived on these shores chose to stay here rather than return to their home country. Few white people make the connection between their love of yoga and their desire and ability to access traditions from historically oppressed communities of color.
Yup! That's the truth, sho' nuff.  Seventy million people of Irish descent want to return to the Emerald Isle to dig for potatoes and die of starvation. Ten million Jews are just queuing up to return to Aushcwitz or Putin's prisons.

Indians are not a 'historically oppressed community of color'. Who oppressed BKS Iyengar of Prof. K.V Iyer? What about the Maharaja of Mysore? Why pretend India endured anything similar to what the indigenous people of America did?

Yoga has only begun to flourish quite recently in America. But Hindu Indians in America have never been oppressed and have doing very very well in recent years. They actually have the highest median income of any group. It is shameful for an Indian American to compare her plight with that of the African American.

Dr. Gandhi's co-author is Jewish. They aren't exactly starving in America.

What these two women are doing has a name in Psychoanalysis- 'extractive introjection'- they are confiscating the psychic pain which properly belongs to historically oppressed, long indegnized, groups in America so as to extract a reputational rent, or to gain interessement, for themselves. This article is egregious click-bait. They are deliberately trying to garner publicity for themselves by parodying post-colonial theory of the most self-pitying and paranoid stripe.

This brazen behaviour is Aziz Ansari level repugnant, though the motive of our two authors is not sexual but rather gesture-political.
Most yoga teachers in America do not learn about Hindu tradition or Indian cultural history.
According to Yogic philosophy, what matters is 'suhrit praapti'- the gaining of like minded fellow seekers. The Lord of Yoga will Himself be 'the third where any two such are gathered' to ensure that they become firmly established on the true path. In India, countless Mahatmas and Parmahansas have been of very humble origins and lacked any opportunity of educational advancement. Even observing an animal, in the right spirit, can cause that animal to uphold the role of Guru! Service to the weak and suffering- Daridra Narayan- is itself the 'padadakshina' by which discipleship to the Lord, who appears in this word as lonely and poor, is secured.
Generally in the United States, people practice the physical aspect of yoga, the postures or asanas, which comprise only one-eighth of the practice as a whole. The physical practice — think flowing from one pose to another with awareness of the breath — does help many people decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. However, when “Western” yoga teachers train other practitioners to relate to yoga only on a physical level, without exploring the history, roots, complexity, and philosophy, they are perpetuating the re-colonization of it by diluting its true depth and meaning.
For God's sake, Dr. Gandhi, India became free before you were born! Get over it!
The British Raj was created by the courage of 'Jolly Jack Tar'. The brave North Atlantic fishermen of Portugal and Brittany and Holland and Britain laid the foundations of 'White dominance'. But those days are long gone. Navies don't matter much anymore. 'Re-colonisation' simply isn't on the cards. China is now establishing enclaves in Europe. Even Democratic India is shaping up.
People who do a bit of Yoga aren't really 'perpetuating re-colonization' at all.
This modern day trend of cultural appropriation of yoga is a continuation of white supremacy and colonialism, maintaining the pattern of white people consuming the stuff of culture that is convenient and portable, while ignoring the well-being and liberation of Indian people.
The liberation of Indian people? From whom? Sonia Gandhi- that dastardly White person? But, Dr. Gandhi, your fellow Gujerati, Narendra Modi is now very solidly entrenched as Prime Minister.

You say a modern trend continues something associated with ignoring the liberation of Indian people. But that trend started some twenty years after Indian people were liberated. Nowadays, everybody has access to Wikipedia- even these very stupid, brainwashed white Americans you have spoken off. Why write such obvious nonsense?
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the far too few practitioners who go much deeper than just the physical, into the ancient yogic teachings, and do their best to humbly honor and learn from the lineage they have the privilege of accessing. It is possible for authentic, respectful, and accountable cultural exchange to occur, and for the practices to have a profound healing effect on the practitioner. Herein lies the invitation for white yoga practitioners to go beyond an unaccountable surface level relationship with yoga to a deeper, more transformative place of practice, awareness, contemplation, and engagement.
So, you are only concerned with white yoga practitioners. You say they should learn Sanskrit and observe Hindu samskars or Buddhist orthopraxy (which is the only way to 'humbly honor and learn from' genuine Yogic lineages). Why not add that they should perform shuddi and convert to Hinduism, or take diksha and enter the Shramanic order?
Savitri Devi became a Hindu. She was also a worshipper of Hitler. Serrano was an Ambassador to India. He wrote a book claiming that Hitler was alive and was the final incarnation of Vishnu.

White Supremacists aint nice people. But horrible people can learn a lot about a foreign Religion or Spiritual practice while retaining their horrible hate-ideology. They too fulmine against 'materialism' and 'consumerism' and 'Capitalism' (which they associate with the Jews) and the Media (also supposedly Jewish) 'manufacturing consent' and so forth. It is noteworthy that far Right ideologues claim to feel great sympathy for poor and starving people in the Global South. They claim to be staunch environmentalists (indeed, Savitri Devi was a prophet for some 'Greens') and link 'globalisation' to 'rootless cosmopolitans and 'Planetary Technology' and the forgetting or erasure of 'folk-ways' and so forth.

This is dangerous ground for both the Indian origin and the Jewish American- more particularly for women. Why? If there really is some difference between white people and the rest of us then there must be an even bigger difference between men and women. The latter are clearly guilty of 'gender appropriation' by taking on originally male roles- like that of the Professor or Lawyer or Legislator.

Yoga, however, has nothing to do with such 'second order' discourse. It is 'first order' wholly. Doing good does not need to wait upon a discourse of what is good about goodness. Just do it already and you will know it better and better.

One final point- India decided that there was a being higher even than the Yogi- viz. the Viyogini- who pines away for denied union with the beloved. White Americans, like Black Americans, indeed, like all sentient beings, know this pain of separation to some degree. This is a mark of election not some spiritual pathology for which mindless consumerism bears the blame.  The pain of separation perfects one upon Yoga's quotidian path of doing good quietly.

I have no doubt, Dr. Gandhi and her Jewish co-author, are good people. They are Viyoginis because they are parted from the Good they wish to see their country collectively pursue. However, the proper Yoga- and Yoga only means 'Union'- which addresses this 'vishada' (anxiety or akrasia) is TRUTH.  One must confine oneself in one's discourse to what is alethic and fair minded. The temptation is to say, since Love motivates me, my tongue is that of angels though my words are brazen lies. The Viyogini must resist this temptation. Love will prevail, but only by means of the Truth. Not, however, in my case because I love only ghee and rasmalai and will die of diabetes unless, mebbe, I pull on my Yoga pants and sing 'Look at me, look at me; I'm so good at Yoga!'


What? You don't believe that's me in the video? That's just sexist. And, actually, a bit racist as well.

Why Anwar Shaikh's theory of Capitalism fails.

Anwar Shaikh's magnum opus, Capitalism; Competition, Conflict, Crises, is not to be dismissed lightly. It is a work of genuine scholarship which repays attention in certain respects.

However, the project is fundamentally misconceived,

Shaikh says-
The goal of this book is to develop a theoretical structure that is appropriate from the very start to the actual operation of existing developed capitalist countries. 
Why develop a theoretical structure for this purpose? What good would it do? Developed capitalist countries seem to be faring well. Either they already have a theoretical structure or the thing is unnecessary. Indeed, it could be argued that theoretical structures are bad for countries. They militate for collective irrationality. As for developing countries, capitalist or socialist or whatever, the truth is the presence of 'theoretical structures' is correlated not with good trajectories but bad ones. Good intentions pave the path to Hell using 'theoretical structures'.

This is not to say that there isn't a market for 'theoretical structures' concerning the Economy just as there is a market for Oracles or Astrologers or interpreters of Dreams. However, what the customer wants, more often than not, is to know what the guy he is paying will say in advance. If the guy has a 'theoretical structure' of laughable simplicity which corresponds in no way with reality- so much the better! There is also a Newcombe's problem type psychological effect here. The idiot Economist with his ludicrous 'theoretical structure', who always says the same thing, nevertheless adds value.

By contrast, a guy with expert cognition who makes good Bayesian predictions might also be worth his wage provided he does not have a 'theoretical structure' as opposed to a bunch of quick and dirty heuristics.

Second, although the book attempts to demonstrate that the capitalist economic system generates powerful ordered patterns that transcend historical and regional particularities, the forces that shape these patterns are neither steely rails nor mere constellations of circumstance.
What is this shit about 'transcending' stuff? No transcending every actually occurs at all. Historical and regional particularities are the only things which exist. Ordered patterns are either historical and regional or else they are an artefact of the theory and thus delusive and egregious.

Every paranoid hate-monger talks about 'forces shaping patterns'.
They are, rather, moving limits whose gradients define what is easy and what is difficult at any moment of time. In this way they channel the temporal paths of key economic variables.
We know life evolves by Natural selection. All Shaikh is describing is adaptation on a fitness landscape. It occurs everywhere there is life. There is nothing teleological about the process. The forces Shaikh thinks he sees have no 'genidentity'- they don't exist in Time. Nothing shapes evolution. There is an uncertain fitness landscape not some oceanic chess board constituted by 'Black' and 'White' struggling for dominion over the Soul of Man.
Indeed, these shaping forces are themselves the results of certain immanent imperatives, such as the “gain-seeking behaviors” that define this particular social form in all of its historical expressions.
Immanent imperatives can't exist if our current theory of Evolution is correct. Nothing defines any social form in all its historical expressions because expressions can be strategic, psychotic or otherwise antagonomic.
It is not a matter of contrasting ahistorical laws to historically contingent outcomes. Agency and law coexist within a multidimensional structure of influences.
In which case McKelvey chaos obtains. This theoretical structure is 'anything goes' and not falsifiable.
But this structure is itself deeply hierarchical, with some forces (such as the profit motive) being far more powerful than others.
So what? That isn't the condition for breaking McKelvey chaos or resolving Djikstra concurrency.
The stage on which history plays out is itself moving, driven by deeper currents.
Then it isn't a stage at all is it? All we have is an uncertain fitness landscape it is pointless to have a 'theoretical structure' for, unless we make our living as charlatans or pedagogues.
Third, the resulting systemic order is generated in-and-through continual disorder, the latter being its immanent mechanism.
If there is an 'immanent mechanism' why not discover what it is and then tinker with it till it does something really cool? A systemic order generated by a mechanism is of no great interest. Finding out how to use that mechanism to generate a systemic order we prefer is the only game in town. The fact that the car is back in the garage at the end of the day is an example of 'systemic order'. It isn't interesting. Finding out how to drive the car to go somewhere cool is interesting.
To attempt to theoretically separate order from disorder, or even to merely emphasize one over the other, is to lose sight of their intrinsic unity, and hence of the very factors that endow the system with its deep patterns.
Cool, if you're into Zen or are writing a poem or something of that sort. Otherwise, why bother? Screw theoretically separating shite. There's an 'immanent mechanism' we need to master so as to do cool stuff.
Yet order is not synonymous with optimality, nor is disorder synonymous with an absence of order.
No one thinks 'order' is synonymous with optimality. A noisy class may come to order if teacher swishes his cane. But it won't perform optimally.
Disorder, on the other hand, is synonymous with the absence of order- at least in the English language.
Order-in-and-through-disorder is of a piece, an insensitive force that tramples both expectations and preferences.
Nonsense. It is an oxymoron which can't trample anything because it does not exist. This is just worthless verbiage of a theological stripe.
This is precisely the source of the system’s vigor.
It is also the source of its rigor, as well as being its digger and jigger and that Aunt of Sligger Urquhart who tended to wax Hegelian when of strong waters taken.
Fourth, if one is to demonstrate how order and disorder are intimately related in given circumstances, it is necessary to identify particular mechanisms.
If a particular mechanism exists then we can make it do something we want by changing its inputs or adding or subtracting operations or something else of that sort. Understanding the intimate relations between 'Order' and 'Disorder' does nobody any good. Changing things for the better is where the action is.
And here, the central goal of this book is to demonstrate that a great variety of phenomena can be explained by a very small set of operative principles that make actual outcomes gravitate around their ever-moving centers of gravity.
The central goal of David Icke's books is to demonstrate that all phenomena- including the Syrian Refugee crisis and the fact that my neighbor's cat is spying on me for Mossad- to a very small set of operative principles- concerning different species of extra terrestrial shape shifting lizards- that cause outcomes to gravitate around their ever-moving centers of gravity.
This is the system’s mode of turbulent regulation, whose characteristic expression takes the form of pattern recurrence.
Yes. David Icke repeats himself too. Paranoia does that to you.
The theoretical and empirical applications of these two notions are woven into the structure of this book. Turbulent regulation and pattern recurrence apply to the system’s various gravitational tendencies. Of these, the first set consists of those that channel commodity prices, profit rates, wage rates, interest rates, equity prices, and exchange rates. These processes have two aspects. Equalizing tendencies driven by the restless search for monetary advantage, whose unintended outcome is to narrow the very differences that motivate them.
An Muth Rational arbitrageur- i.e. one who knows the correct Economic theory- does intend to do what his actions will cause to happen. Does George Soros really not know what the effect of his actions will be? Does any hedge fund boss?
And shaping tendencies which direct the path around which the equalizing tendencies operate. For example, equalization processes make individual wage and profit rates gravitate around the corresponding averages. 
Competition among workers and capitals plays a key role here. At the same time, the average wage rate itself depends on productivity, profitability, and the balance of power between employers and employees, while the average profit rate depends on wages, productivity, and capital intensity.
The average wage rate may rise though productivity, profitability and the balance of power between employer and employee all worsen for an exogenous reason. This could take the form of a 'Resource curse' or windfall transfer or a change in the property regime such that rents are redistributed such that the Labor supply curve contracts. Remittance economies could also see something similar- e.g. Kerala after the Gulf boom.
The averages emerge from individual (micro) economic interactions in which competition plays a central part. Both of these processes therefore fall within the domain of real competition, in which the profit motive plays the central role.
This is only true if you define 'profit' in a circular fashion. There are competitive non-monetary markets where no profit arises. When our son was born, we joined a baby-sitting circle of ill paid academics in a similar predicament. We advertised our availability at different times so as to earn points which we could use when we wanted a night out. Competition forced sub-standard baby sitters to up their game or exit the market.

As we shall see, the notion of real competition developed in this book is very different from that of perfect competition and its dual, imperfect competition. Real competition does not fit on some sliding scale between these two theoretical markers.
It also does not fit in a world where entrepreneurs are rational and can read Economics textbooks. Shaikh is talking about a world where everybody joins a Ponzi scheme confident the thing will crash only after they've been paid off.
The second set of gravitational tendencies arises from the system’s turbulent macro-dynamics with its characteristic expansionary processes, waves of growth and slowdown, persistent unemployment, and periodic bouts of depression including the global crisis that began, very much on schedule, in 2007.
What global crisis? There was a shakeout and a bailout and then...urm.. nothing much happened.
Once again, it is the profit motive that is the dominant factor in the regulation of investment, economic growth, employment, business cycles, and even inflation.
The eating motive and the fucking motive and shitting motive are even more important. If a motive is important, we human beings must have evolved very sophisticated ways of expressing it and forming judgments on the basis of that expression. Shaikh's theory covers only stupid, ignorant sociopaths.  Why have a shite theory of a motive most people have a far more sophisticated pre-verbal understanding of?
Why bother?
The centrality of the profit motive has several implications.
A motive has no implications unless it is linked to means and opportunity. A Profit metric may have explanatory value if it regulates entry and exit. A profit motive can have none absent such a metric. However, Shaikh has defined profit in a manner such that it has no metric.
First of all, the theory of profit, and hence of the theory of wages, takes on special significance.
Profit is the reward for risk. But not all risk can be specified by a probability distribution. Knightian Uncertainty is of this type. There can be no 'theory of profit' because of it. Wages too have some measure of uncertainty and thus are examples of 'incomplete contracts'. There is no way of decomposing this risk related aspect of a worker's emoluments. To construct a theory when we know no theory can be comprehensive is a type of misology.
Second, it becomes important to delineate the precise role of profitability in the theory of real competition, because it affects all aspects of the behavior of the firm.
The behaviour of firms can and should be studied. A range of different theories are useful in describing such behaviour. However these theories delineate nothing precisely. They are merely heuristic.
This influence extends to the theory of competitive price setting and the theory of (endogenous) technical change.
These theories are a crock of shite. Only a small number of academics bother with them.
Third, the notion that (expected) profitability regulates both investment and growth implies a particular mode of interaction between aggregate demand and supply.
Only in classroom models.
We shall see that the resulting dynamic is neither neoclassical, nor Keynesian, Kaleckian, or Harrodian but rather fundamentally classical: profit regulates both supply and demand.
Being 'fundamentally classical' means being Aristotelian- that is teleological and un-empirical. One may as well say 'Allah determines everything' or 'Money is Satan and perverts everything' or  speak of the 'genius' of this Race as opposed to the 'cunning' of that race.
Profitability also plays a critical role in the theory of persistent unemployment, through the channel of endogenous technical change and a correspondingly endogenous “natural” rate of growth.
Once again, this theory is a crock of shite. It can prevent sensible measures being taken on the basis of 'first order' knowledge.
Finally, we will see that newly created purchasing power can pump up output and employment, just as Keynes argued, but that this can lead to a reduction in the rate of growth.
D'uh! Growth is something real. It depends on doing smart and useful things. In the short run, stupid and useless measures can create an evanescent fool's paradise.

Keynesians suggested that useless work- e.g. digging holes and filling them up- could be a good thing in a Depression. They were being silly. A useless type of work won't be subject to the same market forces militating for quality control. So, at the margin, resources will move from useful industries to useless ones. Rent seeking behaviour will reinforce the underlying misallocation.
Then while short-run output will be higher than it would otherwise have been, long-run output will be lower than it would otherwise have been. Empirical evidence plays so large a part in this text that it is important to note that data is never just a collection of pre-existing facts. Theory always intervenes, not merely in the interpretation of events, but in their very representation (and occasionally in their suppression, as we know only too well). For instance, no analysis of unemployment can proceed very far without recognizing that in all official accounts in the advanced countries, a person is counted as “employed” if she/he “did any work at all for pay or profit” during the week.1 It was only in the last three decades that US agencies have begun to publish measures of partially employed and discouraged workers, which, of course, reveal a much bleaker picture of the economy. We will see that a similar problem exists in official measures of the stock of capital, which have changed considerably as neoclassical constructs have supplanted classical and Keynesian ones in this field. Not just the levels and trends, but the very notion of capital itself, has been transformed. This is of some importance because the capital stock plays a critical role in the calculation of the rate of profit. Unlike Candide, data is never innocent. 
This is quite true. It explains why 'Econophysics' won't be able to pull any 'Scientific' rabbits out of an essentially Ideological hat.





whack off to this beaver shot!

Image result for simone de beauvoir

Well...at least it was quick.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Barthes's S/Z & Theory as terrorism

'Only when we know what we are doing when we read, are we free to enjoy what we read. As long as our enjoyment is instinctive it is not enjoyment it is terrorism'.
Richard Howard makes this extraordinary claim in the introduction to his translation of Barthes's S/Z. Howard thought Freud's 'instinctual renunciation' militated for a lemming like mimetic of semiotic stupidity. It meant, for lovers of literature, killing the thing we would otherwise love- viz. the author.

What is terrifying is that neither Howard nor Barthes understood Balzac's short story, Sarassine,  despite shitting all over it in the name of some spurious enjoyment of a supposedly intellectually superior kind.

Briefly, Balzac's story is about a specific type of ostentatious wealth (at the bottom of which might lie a great crime or the cover up of something inherently repugnant) which buys itself a glittering place in Society so as to burgeon by corrupt means in the chimerical realm of Chrematistics, the hybrid sterility of High Finance & Factionalist Politics, such that the State is suborned, Civil Society subverted, Savants are seduced and the Press prostituted.  In this case, the plot twist is that the original 'crime' has to do with Beauty, not Use- Aesthetics not Industry- and it is Idealistic philosophy- more particularly in its Romantic, 'storm & stress' incarnation- which prompts the foolish pharmakos, or satyriasis shaped scapegoat, to discern a Christian benefaction in a Cardinal's order for his own peremptory slaughter.

A beautiful Italian castrato from a comely and musically gifted family- one probably so very poor that they sacrificed a golden voiced son or little brother to the gelder's knife so as  not to see him starve- made a fortune. His niece is beautiful and her lovely daughter a sublime singer.

 Sarassine, a sculptor of genius from a solid middle class provincial family, enraptured by the young castrato, too could have made his fortune. It would be natural for a shapely soprano to take a great sculptor as a lover so that the latter might capture her form and increase her fame. However in Balzac's story, the castrato makes eyes at the sculptor merely by way of a practical joke to please his patrons- chief of whom is a Cardinal. Sarassine does produce a superb female sculpture but fails to destroy it as he also fails to kill the castrato who led him on. He is himself killed by the Cardinal's bravos.
The castrato- now very old- is a mysterious presence at his niece's mansion. However, it appears, he is responsive to beautiful girls, not beefcake. Thus this story is about castration being repugnant merely but not otherwise fundamentally changing the tropisms of the heart. It was an option, like taking clerical orders, motivated by kin selective altruism, and thus purely economic, in a milieu which took the Biblical text 'some made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven' at face value. Whether an attractive young castrato is also homosexual is of no account. Homosexuality isn't a crime against nature and castrating a pre-pubescent male does not cause that crime. People who live by 'games against nature'- i.e. who wrest a living, feeding and clothing us in the process, from Gaia's stony breast are not rendered homophobes on that account.  On the contrary, all they ask is that you leave their sheep, or chickens in my case, alone.

As for those whose labour is of 'first order' aesthetic or intellectual value- i.e it can feature as Schelling focal solutions to coordination problems- all that matters is excellence in one's Art and providing for one's family and Guild.

Sarassine, though no journeyman, is a shithead because he gets himself killed and doesn't end up enriching his family or passing on his craft. He- who could have made himself worthy of the Cenacle!

Balzac's story isn't about missing ball-sacks. In any case, there is no such thing as 'castration anxiety'. Freud was a fool.  Money matters. Testicles- meh.
Come to think of it, Freud was charging money: so not so much a fool, he was a fraudster- the Cardinal of a bogus Church.

Now let us look at Barthes's theory of the story-
It is Mme de Lanty who reveals the proper structure: in opposition to her (passive) daughter,  Mme de Lanty is totally active: she dominates time (defying the inroads of age); she radiates (radiation is action at a distance, the highest form of power); bestowing praises, making comparisons, instituting the language in relation to which man can recognize himself, she is the primal Authority, the Tyrant, whose silent numen decrees life, death, storm, peace; finally and above all, she mutilates man (M. de Jaucourt loses his "finger" because of her). In short, the precursor of Sappho who so terrifies Sarrasine.

This is a crock of shite. The castrato's niece is a smart and sensible hostess who knows who to sleep with and how to throw a party. Clearly she has husbanded the castrato's fortune to good effect. The family has risen and will continue to rise. Her daughter will be married off very advantageously  while her son too will have his pick.
Incidentally, 'action at a distance' must be the weakest form of power. Gravitation is much much weaker than the other fundamental forces.

The depiction of Mme de Lanty, it seems to me, changed the naive 'dancer' whom the narrator had brought to the party and who becomes the foil to the now decrepit castrato, into the type of  destructive, High Society, 'unhusbanded' young Marquise.

Balzac, whatever authorial personality was attributed to him, appreciated- as every ambitious man must- the virtues of a 'managing' woman. No doubt, La Rochefide's misadventures earn the novelist's advances, still it is La Lanty- perhaps resurrected by Charles Rabou?- who conserves it as a mise en scene.
Consider what Balzac actually says-' Have you ever met one of those women whose startling beauty defies the assaults of time, and who seem at thirty-six more desirable than they could have been fifteen years earlier? Their faces are impassioned souls; they fairly sparkle; each feature gleams with intelligence; each possesses a brilliancy of its own, especially in the light. Their captivating eyes attract or repel, speak or are silent; their gait is artlessly seductive; their voices unfold the melodious treasures of the most coquettishly sweet and tender tones. Praise of their beauty, based upon comparisons, flatters the most sensitive self-esteem. A movement of their eyebrows, the slightest play of the eye, the curling of the lip, instils a sort of terror in those whose lives and happiness depend upon their favor. A maiden inexperienced in love and easily moved by words may allow herself to be seduced; but in dealing with women of this sort, a man must be able, like M. de Jaucourt, to refrain from crying out when, in hiding him in a closet, the lady’s maid crushes two of his fingers in the crack of a door. To love one of these omnipotent sirens is to stake one’s life, is it not? And that, perhaps, is why we love them so passionately! Such was the Comtesse de Lanty.'
In medieval Provence, such a person might be the 'midons' of a Court of Love. In the long eighteenth century, she might manage a Kingdom or raise up a school of philosophy. In Balzac's time, her salon might form Cabinets as well as Industrial Cartels or Colonial Enterprises. If 'lives are staked' by her admirers, it is for very tangible returns.
M. de Jaucourt, in Balzac is a stereotype of the chivalrous gallant of the ancien regime. He might hide in a closet for weeks to be close to the woman bearing his child or allow his fingers to be crushed without uttering a sound so as to protect a lady's reputation. Barthes thinks this legendary figure was the actual lover of La Lanty and that the crushing of his fingers was a symbolic castration. This is an extraordinary blunder for a well read Frenchman to make. But then the fool had been masquerading as some sort of Marxist since the Fifties and this habit of mendacity had destroyed his skills in even the most basic sort of literary comprehension.


Barthes, as the canonical mise en abyme of every Marxist Freud's asshole continually buggered by its own coprolite, also says there is a Sappho who ' terrifies Sarrasine' coz, for some reason, she wants to chop his goolies off.

This is a stupid lie.

 The castrato had feigned a fainting fit apprehending brigands. At that moment, Sarrasine's fate is sealed. Previously he had disliked this sort of female affectation of helplessness.  Now, his sentiments are reversed. He says he would now flee a strong and courageous Sappho- because he is captivated with this frail and trembling creature endowed with a divine voice.
What had actually happened was that the Frenchman had tried to rape the Italian who produced a knife and threatened his life causing him to back off. Later the Frenchman tries to kill the Italian but is killed. Nobody is interested in castrating him because he is not a pre-pubsecent boy with great singing ability who has a higher commodity value once gelded. There are people who want to make the Frenchman a laughing-stock- but to do so he has to have a dick and let his dick do his thinking for him. There are also people who will be quick enough to stab him to death. What is lacking is any desire on any one's part to chop off his goolies.
This French dude's destiny, in Rome, is to end up being knifed. Why? He thinks with his dick. At one moment he tries to rape an attractive girl at a party, at another he kidnaps her though she clearly has powerful protectors. Perhaps, in late Victorian England, he would have been arrested by the constabulary and incarcerated. In Eighteenth Century Rome, he was stabbed. Such is the destiny of rapists and kidnappers who aren't experts with the stiletto or wealthy enough to command a superior bunch of bravoes.
Balzac has mercilessly dissected the pathological amour propre of this rapist who backs off when his life is in danger but who gets killed when he botches a kidnapping intended to avenge a cock-block of a pathetic type. This worthless piece of shit cares more about being made to appear ridiculous- though the thing could happen to anybody- than the terrible crime that had been committed against a child who, in talent and spirit, in character and vivacity, could be that very predestined friend of the spirit who might have enabled him to rise in not just the mathos but the pathos proper to his techne. There was possible a 'suhrit praapti'- a spiritual friendship- between the singer and the sculptor such that what is frozen in Music or musical in wrought marble overtops the Sublime by the mere sentiment of Pity- such being the only Mercy the Creator affords creatures wretched in every respect save that of cherishing each other- a loving care which, in Balzac's story, the hideous cadaver of the castrato yet receives in the bosom of his family and from the touch of his great-niece's hand and the trill in her voice. This is the Yoga sung off in the Gita which saves from futile foreknowledge's gelding hand- all doom being but abandonment's atomised akrasia- by asserting the supremacy of loving service which abides its own pathetic inadequacy or motivating passion's abrupt passing away.

Turning back to Balzac's story, the truth is- supposing the singer had really been a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl as the boyish part of us hoped- then she would have displayed courage, in the unblustering manner of her sex, when the  brigands threatened. In that case both might genuinely have come to love each other- for shared danger brings together people of mettle, no matter how differently constituted, by a salutary discovery of complementary virtues .

Sadly, the whole thing was a practical joke. Only a Frenchman would be stupid enough not to spot a dude in a dress and only an arrant provincial would be so ignorant as to think girls were employed as singers by Cardinals.

Barthes was writing this shite around the time a French diplomat commenced an affair with a Chinese opera star by whom he fathered a son despite the singer having testicles. True the diplomat was a very junior one- a courier or accountant- and probably drunk off his head; still Balzac was right about French men being a tad unobservant when it comes to genitalia.
 Mme de Lanty is the castrating woman, endowed with all the hallucinatory attributes  of the  Father: power, fascination, instituting authority, terror, power to castrate. Thus, the symbolic field is not that of the biological sexes; it is that of castration:  It is in this field, and not in that of the biological sexes, that the characters in the story are pertinently distributed.
On the side of active castration, we must include Mme  de Lanty, Bouchardon (who keeps Sarrasine away from sexuality), and Sappho (a mythic figure threatening the sculptor).
Mme de Lanty may fuck dudes who can help her family's social ascent. For this to happen, dudes need dicks. She is not a castrating woman at all.
I didn't know Dad's had the power to castrate. Is that a French thing? Nope- it is a Freudian fraud. Barthes's close reading consists in finding things that aren't there in the text by ignoring what is actually written.
Bouchardon is a good mentor keeping a young genius away from the brothels- where he'll get the pox and his dick will fall off. He gives his protege a fine sword. This is scarcely a castrating act.

Once the young man has mastered his craft and is making good money, this mentor will help him find a good wife who'll run his household and raise a family.  That's something you need a dick for.

Neither mentors nor matrons want to chop the bollocks off talented young men. They want them to work hard and do research and establish themselves epistemically before pairing off in Eros.

On the passive side, whom do we find? the "men" in the story: Sarrasine and the narrator, both led into castration, which the former desires and the latter recounts.
Stupid lies! Sarrasine may be said to desire death because he'd just failed to destroy both the statue and the castrato who memorialised his absurd folly. But he doesn't desire castration. Nor does the narrator. If they did, they could go under the knife.
As for the castrato himself,  we would be wrong to place him of necessity among the
castrated: he is the blind and mobile flaw in this system; he moves back and forth between active and passive: castrated, he castrates; the same is true of Mme de Rochefide: contaminated by the castration she has just been told about, she impels
the narrator into it.
Nonsense! The castrato really was castrated but did not impel anyone into the same condition which he could have done by laying out a little money so as to have a money maker of his own to train up. What Sarrassine actually said was 'Have you no sisters who resemble you? No? Then die!'. In other words he wasn't castrated at all. He wanted to fuck, if not a cute dude, then a similarly cute sister of the dude.

At the end of the story, the anonymous dancer who turns into the Marchioness, Mme de Rochefide, decides not to put out to the narrator.  She doesn't chop his dick off. She just doesn't want it in her. She echoes the words of Sarrasine about some 'fatherland of   the heart'- which for him, was a woman's but for her- because OMG Paris is so corrupt!- is in Heaven.
Why? She's a bit of a shithead- like the sculptor. After all, the sculpture of the castrato was quite good. He should have sold it to the Cardinal and then wryly told this story against himself and been the first one to chuckle over it. That would have established his reputation as a true Olympian.

Similarly, this Rochefide dame should have fucked the narrator and been immortalised in one of his stories. As a dowager, it would be an excellent tale against herself to tell other grandes horizantales made good who, mollified, will advertise her as a sly minx equal to themselves in their prime. It is by the cultivation of such legends that ageing chatelaine's renew their lease upon the hearts' of a new generation of scribblers.

In Ballsack's Sarrasine, the only castration is of the female ball breaker. Stories are like the scenarios used by the blade runner to detect an android. In this case, both the manner of telling the story and its reception excise the very faculty that is human and generative.
The next evening we were seated in front of a bright fire in a dainty
little salon, she on a couch, I on cushions almost at her feet,
looking up into her face. The street was silent. The lamp shed a soft
light. It was one of those evenings which delight the soul, one of
those moments which are never forgotten, one of those hours passed in
peace and longing, whose charm is always in later years a source of
regret, even when we are happier. What can efface the deep imprint of
the first solicitations of love?

"Go on," she said. "I am listening."

"But I dare not begin. There are passages in the story which are
dangerous to the narrator. If I become excited, you will make me hold
my peace."

"Speak."

"I obey.
Though Love's solicitor, the narrative, nevertheless,  is subject to a purely conventional Justice-of-the-Peace.
Balzac, in 1830, writing up a droll anecdote, but doing so in an esoteric manner, is certainly taking a risk by explicitly equating a faithless Marquise's sensation seeking excursions with a castrato becoming a, socially atomised, utterly abandoned, catamite, as opposed to an inspiring & scrupulous reinforcer of, not Patriarchy, but the Family's, Friendship's, Fraternity's Platonic or Patristic values in which anhedonia is evidenced by but promiscuous rutting and all that is hedonic is also hermeneutic of mutuality, tenderness and love.

“‘Now that we are alone,’ cried the artist, ‘and that you no longer have reason to fear the effervescence of my passion, tell me that you love me.’
“‘Why?’ said she; ‘for what good purpose? You think me pretty. But you are a Frenchman, and your fancy will pass away. Ah! you would not love me as I should like to be loved.’
“‘How?’
“‘Purely, with no mingling of vulgar passion. I abhor men even more, perhaps than I hate women. I need to take refuge in friendship. The world is a desert to me. I am an accursed creature, doomed to understand happiness, to feel it, to desire it, and like many, many others, compelled to see it always fly from me. Remember, signor, that I have not deceived you. I forbid you to love me. I can be a devoted friend to you, for I admire your strength of will and your character. I need a brother, a protector. Be both of these to me, but nothing more.’
The castrato's words are those of a circumcised heart. They teach the faithless flirt how to live in Society in a manner constructive, not destructive, of character and wisdom.

Alas! The narrator is naively preaching to the damned! The dictum- 'To talk of danger to a man in love is to sell him pleasure'- is Patristic though at best 30 pieces of silver changes hands. This is that theory, similar to Origen's, that Judas so loved the Lord, he hanged himself so as to be beforehand in welcoming him to that Hell, He would soon harrow.

"You have disgusted me with life and passion for a long time to come.
Leaving monstrosities aside, are not all human sentiments dissolved
thus, by ghastly disillusionment? Children torture mothers by their
bad conduct, or their lack of affection. Wives are betrayed.
Mistresses are cast aside, abandoned. Talk of friendship! Is there
such a thing! I would turn pious to-morrow if I did not know that I
can remain like the inaccessible summit of a cliff amid the tempests
of life. If the future of the Christian is an illusion too, at all
events it is not destroyed until after death. Leave me to myself."

"Ah!" said I, "you know how to punish."

"Am I in the wrong?"

"Yes," I replied, with a sort of desperate courage. "By finishing this
story, which is well known in Italy, I can give you an excellent idea
of the progress made by the civilization of the present day. There are
none of those wretched creatures now."

"Paris," said she, "is an exceedingly hospitable place; it welcomes
one and all, fortunes stained with shame, and fortunes stained with
blood. Crime and infamy have a right of asylum here; virtue alone is
without altars. But pure hearts have a fatherland in heaven! No one
will have known me! I am proud of it."

And the marchioness was lost in thought
The narrator told a 'cheap talk' anecdote so as to send a 'costly signal'. Civilization does advance and the Marquise could chose a Uranian path. By contrast, subjective idealism is a 'pooling equilibrium'. Since everything is the same, nothing can make anything better.

 If Paris is hospitable to fortunes stained with shame, then the fortunate should be shameless.
What do women want?
A child is being castrated...
Yeah right!

Balzac's story is interesting for economists for a reason I will explain- if you haven't already worked out what it is for yourself.
Let us see what the idiot Barthes makes of this passage-
This mysterious family had all the attractiveness of a poem by Lord
Byron, whose difficult passages were translated differently by each
person in fashionable society; a poem that grew more obscure and more
sublime from strophe to strophe. The reserve which Monsieur and Madame
de Lanty maintained concerning their origin, their past lives, and
their relations with the four quarters of the globe would not, of
itself, have been for long a subject of wonderment in Paris. In no
other country, perhaps, is Vespasian's maxim more thoroughly
understood. Here gold pieces, even when stained with blood or mud,
betray nothing, and represent everything. Provided that good society
knows the amount of your fortune, you are classed among those figures
which equal yours, and no one asks to see your credentials, because
everybody knows how little they cost. In a city where social problems
are solved by algebraic equations, adventurers have many chances in
their favor. Even if this family were of gypsy extraction, it was so
wealthy, so attractive, that fashionable society could well afford to
overlook its little mysteries. But, unfortunately, the enigmatical
history of the Lanty family offered a perpetual subject of curiosity,
not unlike that aroused by the novels of Anne Radcliffe.

Vespasian's maxim is 'money does not stink'.  He was a good Emperor whose fiscal reforms included a tax on urine (which was used for some commercial purposes). His son complained of the odious nature of the tax. The Emperor asked if a gold coin had any bad odour. Hence the maxim.

Tax is the price we pay for civilisation. When the Roman Empire decayed because its tax system became 'incentive incompatible'- i.e. killed its golden goose- it was replaced by 'feudalism'. Essentially, land was  given to a soldier who farmed it out or otherwise managed it so that he could furnish his Lord with a certain number of soldiers. The problem with feudalism is two fold- firstly, subordinate lords might declare their independence and anarchic warlordism might prevail, secondly, economic development might languish. A superior system would be centralised taxation. Both feudalism and centralised government use an 'Index' to decide how much money or how many soldiers or other produce each province should yield. As the economy develops and becomes monetised it is necessary to move to an equitable and efficient system of taxation. Obviously, entrenched elites will resist paying their fair share. Thus class conflict is a feature of fiscal policy not the capital market. It is necessary to accurately survey or 'index' the actual resources of the Country before fixing any sort of tax- be it in money or kind. The modern State has both a 'real' system of National Income accounting- tracking physical quantities and locations- as well as monetary taxes- like Income tax. From time to time, depending on what is happening in the real economy,  money taxes have to be reconfigured.
All this is common sense. But not for Barthes who wrote-
In the past (says the text), money "revealed"; it was an index,  it furnished a fact, a cause, it had a nature; today it "represents" (everything): it is an equivalent, an exchange, a representation: a sign.
The text says no such thing.  Rather it points to the scandal that the manner in which the  National Debt had been capitalised created arbitrage opportunities for 'insiders'. These guys with big mansions and flashy lifestyles were busy corrupting officials as well as the Press and rising politicians. They also engaged in outright stock market swindles. Balzac understood these things but a lot of his contemporaries were still talking Physiocratic or Rousseau type shite.

At no time has money revealed anything. It is memoryless simply. Transactions, however have historicity and hysteresis effects.

Indices have always existed. A gangster 'laundering' his money has to show ledgers and receipts of actual transactions. The real economy is what every type of due diligence has to focus on- not just that of Tax inspectors or the Police. Auditors, Notaries, Broker's Analysts and Credit Rating Agencies too always have to exercise vigilance to ensure that monetary flows correspond to 'real' indices.

Signs are worthless unless they are constantly being audited and verified as  relating to something real or useful. Balzac knew this- which is why Marx rated him. Barthes didn't know it because he was a stupid academic caught up in a wholly bogus availability cascade.
Between index and sign, a common mode, that of inscription.
Fuck off! I can inscribe any sign I like, including signs I don't know the meaning of. I can't tamper with an index in the same way. Indices are protocol bound. Signs aren't. Kids and lunatics can play around with them to their heart's content. Indices, on the other hand, are computational and subject to internal, algorithmic, checks for conjugacy and consistency. Double entry book-keeping is a simple example.
Shifting from a monarchy based on land to an industrial monarchy, society changed the Book, it passed from the Letter (of nobility) to the Figure (of fortune), from title deeds to ledgers, but it is always subject to a writing.
Rubbish! The Book of 'Political Arithmetic' hadn't changed at all. Nor had the Social Register. What changed was the Law Book. Industrialisation was a force in changing the Law. It had nothing to with writing or literary theory.
The  difference between feudal society and bourgeois society, index and sign, is this: the index has an origin, the sign does not: to shift from index to sign is to abolish the last (or first) limit, the origin, the basis, the prop, to enter into the limitless process of equivalences, representations that nothing will ever stop, orient, fix, sanction.
Nonsense. There are no runaway economic processes because the economy is wholly material, not symbolic at all. There can be runaway chrematistic processes but they quickly crash whether the economy be agricultural or industrial. A wholly despotic slave economy can have hyperinflation same as a bourgeois society.
Parisian indifference to the origin of money equates symbolically with the non-origin of money;
Fuck off! All money has a well documented and verified origin.
a money that has no smell is money withdrawn from the basic order of the index
Right! Coz bank cashiers have strict instructions to wipe their arses on every newly delivered note before handing it over to a customer.
from the consecration of origin:this money is as empty as being-castrated: for Parisian Gold, what corresponds to the physiological impossibility of procreating is the impossibility of having an origin, a moral heredity: the sign (monetary, sexual) are wild because, contrary to the indices (the meaningful regime of the old society), they are not based on an original, irreducible, incorruptible, immovable otherness of their component parts
If Barthes is correct, then a Black ex-slave woman in Restoration Paris would have been equal to a White nobleman with the same amount of money. She would have had no difficulty getting elected to Parliament or buying a house in the Faubourg St. Germain if she had the cash.

Why does Barthes believe that using money that isn't actually smeared with shit will cause your dick to fall off? Why is procreation impossible for our species which has no exact consecrating date of origin according to Darwin?
What was so incorruptible about the ancien regime? Wealthy families could always buy their way into the nobility. Equally, nobility could be derogated for an offense or economically constrained mode of living. Why is Barthes writing in this naive fashion? He can't possibly be so ignorant of French history.
_in the index, what is indicated (nobility is of a different nature from what indicates (wealth):there is no possible mingling; in the sign, which establishes an order of representation (and no longer of determination, of creation, as does the index),
Nobility can be created and destroyed like title in land and this did happen for purely pecuniary reasons. There was plenty of 'mingling'. As in England, Aristos did marry the daughters of wealthy families who had thrived in trade or the professions. But, the reverse also happened. Wealthy men had been rising into the nobility since the Thirteenth Century. Barthes is describing a fairy tale world- not Balzac's Paris.
the two elements interchange signified and signifier revolving in an endless process: what is bought can be sold, the signified can become signifier, and so on.
WTF? Jacques Coeur- the great merchant- was ennobled in the early fifteenth century. Did the sign or nobility turn into the man as the man turned into a patent of nobility? Did this interchange continue till his fall from grace? Do words ever become things? Do things ever become words? What fairy tale world is this?
Replacing the feudal index, the bourgeois sign is a metonymic confusion.
There is no bourgeois 'sign' corresponding to Money. There is fiat currency- meticulously checked by the state- and there is specie currency which is checked by qualified assayers. Credit is not a sign- it arises out of protocol bound operations based on verifying real economic transactions.

The 'metonymic confusion' here is only that of Barthes who does not understand the difference between a sign which means something verifiable and one which means anything you like because nobody bothers to verify it. Thus if I call myself a Medical Doctor, I might be prosecuted. If I say I have a Doctorate in Semiotics nobody will care. The thing is worthless.

Signs and Values and Stories are solutions to coordination problems.They are associated with protocol bound indices but the fit is never very good. This does not matter because our instinct, in any case, is to hedge on discoordination games. In every act of Socialisation, there is a corresponding investment in, or damming up of, ontological dysphoria. Meanwhile some things do change for the better. Kids needn't be castrated so Religion can pretend to possess a choir of angels. Still, that pretence of a 'kingdom of heaven' or 'fatherland of the heart' is kept up. There is a Red Queen race here between Sarassine's pathology of idealising egotism and the pathos of the realistic castrato's redeeming family values.

Balzac had some esoteric theory- like Malfatti's- about the union of the genders and the mystical mathesis of the hermaphrodite and so forth. He mobilises it effectively in his stories, which however can be read in a wholly materialist way. For this reason, though all texts wither and die with their range of reference- and Barthes's S/Z died before its author because its Semiotic codes were immediately known to be horseshit- Balzac burgeons and yet lives.

By contrast, terrorism- which is a theory- is evanescent and defeats itself. Consider the following fustian-
The symbolic field is occupied by a single object from which it derives its unity
A semantic field may have a number of objects. It is still unified. Words can be used as symbols- like Sumerian logograms in Old Persian. Why should the symbolic field be different from the semantic field? In any iconography, there are multiple symbols with the same semantic value. Equally, the same symbol may have very different meanings. If I return home to find a Swastika daubed on my front step then either I'm a victim of a Hate Crime or else my Hindu neighbour has very kindly rendered my home auspicious in accordance with our common ritual calendar.

Barthes's unilateral assertion is terroristic- it can only be believed, or entertained as other than unspeakably silly and self-defeating, for that first moment in which it is apprehended.
(and from which we have derived a certain right to name it, some pleasure in describing it, and what may pass for a privilege granted the symbolic system, the symbolic adventures of the hero, sculptor or narrator).
We have an absolute right to name things. This right does not 'derive' from anything at all. I can take pleasure in naming Barthes a bleedin' cunt. No privilege is granted any symbolic system save in the same manner that all privilege entrenches itself. That means actual violence, or actual utility- not verbal violence or wordy claims to worth.

Heroes have actual adventures- these may be imaginary, like those of Walter Mitty, or delusional, like those of Don Quixote- but they are still real because some psychological advance or effect of pathos is achieved. Sculptors make tangible statues. Narrators tell stories. Symbolic systems may supervene but do so only symbolically.
This object is the human body.
The human body does not determine anything. Ontological dysphoria is ubiquitous. Symbolic systems, in particular, are ontologically dysphoric. They are wholly divorced from the body.
Sarassine recounts the topological transgressions of this body.
Topology is about the deformation of objects into other objects. The topological deformation of the body- e.g. reconstituting it as a chair- is certainly transgressive because it involves murder or the defilement of a corpse.
Amputation or other surgical operations are not topological because the whole body is not deformed in a continuous manner. The operation is not measure preserving.
The antithesis of inner and outer: abolished.
Even gender reassignment surgery does not 'abolish' the distinction between inner and outer. It is not the case that we could every walk around with our veins or spleens outside our bodies.
The underneath empty. The chain of copies: interrupted.
The underneath is not empty. It is full of shit. Human beings aren't a chain of copies- i.e. clones. Celibates or infertile people nevertheless contribute, generally in a kin selective manner, to reproductive success. No interruption to this has occurred.
The contract of desire: falsified.
Desire is not a contract. It could be the motive for acceding to a contract. It isn't 'falsified' though it may be resiled from.
Now we can enter this symbolic field by three routes, no one of which is privileged:
Symbolic fields can only be entered symbolically. They don't actually exist.
provided with equal points of entry, the textual network, on its symbolic level, is reversible.
Texts involve non commutative operators. They are not time-reversible. Even Derrida, the fuckwit, recognises this.
The rhetorical route discovers the transgression of the Antithesis, the passage through the wall of opposites, the abolition of difference.
 Fuck off! Rhetoric can allude to a discovery made by some other discourse. It can discover nothing itself. Certainly, it can consist in telling stupid lies. That is terroristic, because it fails immediately- unless a battle is genuinely won, in which case War not Terrorism is what prevailed.
The route of castration, strictly speaking, discovers the pandemic void of desire, the collapse of the creative chain (bodies and works).
Quite false. Castrated people still feel desire and have successful relationships. If the castration is post puberty, some are better, not worse, in bed after the operation. No creative chain collapses. Bodies and works continue to burgeon. In this story, the castrato's genes multiply themselves more successfully (albeit though his siblings' families) than would otherwise have been the case. This is something predicted by the theory of kin selective altruism- which was taking its current shape at about the time Barthes wrote this shite.
The economic route discovers the disappearance of all fake currency, empty Gold, without origin or odor, no longer an index but a sign, a narrative corroded by the story it bears.
Economics has long known that 'bad money drives out good'. Fake currency drives out the genuine article because the latter is hoarded. Gold is not empty- it has intrinsic value. No 'narrative is corroded by the story it bears'. All money- even fake money has an origin and is discounted accordingly. During the early Nineties, five different printing presses, operated by different Governments or factions, were busy printing the Afghan currency. It did not thereby become valueless. Why? It still solved a coordination problem. Schelling won a Noble Prize in Econ for the discovery. David Lewis used it for his theory of Conventions. Both these things happened before Barthes wrote this ignorant shite.
These three routes are all conducive to stating the same disturbance in classification :  it is fatal, the text says, to remove the dividing line, the paradigmatic slash mark which permits meaning to function (the wall of the Antithesis), life to reproduce (the opposition of the sexes), property to be protected (rule of Contract).
The text says no such thing. It shows a castrato who fulfills his reproductive duty to his ancestors in a better and nobler (for self-sacrificing) manner than is normal. We know that high status males have more progeny. The castrato has helped ensure that his grand nephew will be very high status indeed.
Clearly this family's property wasn't just protected it grew by leaps and bounds despite Wars and Revolutions. Napoleon had been impressed by an Italian castrato whom he loaded with honours. Barthes knows this. Yet he tells us this stupid lie.
In short, the story represents (we are in a readerly art) a generalized collapse of economies: the economy of language:-usually protected by the separation of opposites,
WTF?! Balzac's language is perfectly clear. There is no collapse. We are touched by the heart-felt words of the singer to the sculptor. We understand that a Platonic friendship between the two would immeasurably advance both their art forms. We are appalled at Sarrassine's stupidity and egotism.

I suppose, if we were homophobes and believed that castration turns one into a catamite, then some 'collapse' would occur. But being a pig ignorant fucking homophobe is not a good thing. Don't fucking do it mate. You're better than this.
the economy of genders (the neuter must not lay claim to the human),
Wow! Why is Barthes not banned for such naked hate-mongering against asexual people!
the economy of the body (its parts cannot be interchanged, the sexes cannot be equivalent),
Fuck me! This guy hates transgender people! Ban the cunt!
the economy of money (Parisian Gold produced by the new social class, speculative and no longer land-based-such gold is without origin, it has repudiated every circulatory code, every rule of exchange, every line of propriety-in French, a justly ambiguous word propriete, since it indicates both the correction of meaning and the separation of possessions).
WTF! Paris does not have gold mines. The new social class did not dig it out of the ground. It is true that, thanks to the manner in which Reparations were financed, the Financial sector had taken off. But, then as now, securities were based on mortgages on land, or quarries, or fisheries, or factories etc. It was the redoubtable French notary who laid the foundation for the expansion in credit and economic activity. This class of people understood and understand propriete very well. The documents they draft are a model of accuracy and diligence. Barthes's theoretical posturing on the other hand is adolescent terrorism of a sort that terrorises no one. It provokes mirth- or the desire to purchase whatever it is they are smoking.
This catastrophic collapse always takes the same form: that of an unrestrained metonymy.
The only 'unrestrained metonymy' is this sort of pig ignorant pseudo Marxist, faux Freudian, bullshit.
By abolishing the paradigmatic barriers, this metonymy abolishes the power of legal substitutions on which meaning is based:
The first lesson you learn in Law or Accountancy or Engineering or Medicine or any other non-shite subject is that you can't use words in a Humpty Dumpty manner. You have to use the exact term specified by the Profession's governing body.
It is quite true that 'unrestrained metonymy' could cause a Judge to disregard a legal document on those grounds alone. However, the Judge will then look at what the intention behind the document was.
Meaning is not based on 'legal substitutions'. Unrestrained metonymy does not render a poem meaningless. Suppose I have written some garbled nonsense in my Will. This may make it legally invalid but the Judge will still try to discover my intent and rule accordingly.
it is then no longer possible regularly to contrast opposites, sexes, possessions; it is no longer possible to safeguard a system of just equivalence;
Sheer nonsense! I may talk utter shite but people can still look at my intention- or the intention a good and reasonable man might have in my position- and consider that in order to represent my utterance.
in a word, it is no longer possible to represent, to make things representative, individuated, separate, assigned;
This is always possible if we act in good faith. The bad faith of the stupid, self aggrandising, academic who thinks he can do Theory, on the other hand is merely an absurd type of terrorism.
Sarrasine represents the very confusion of representation, the unbridled (pandemic) circulation of signs. of sexes, of fortunes. 
It represents this only to racist, elitist, homophobes who dream of a return to a world of serfs and Grand Seigneurs.

Reactionary assholes may, from time to time, discern, in a hike in the rate of Capital Gains Tax, the imminence of the end of days when dogs will say meow and fine upstanding gentlemen, unbuttoning themselves at the urinal, will cry out in despair at encountering not a penis but a vagina.  But, outside such circles, nobody fears 'the unbridled circulation of signs, of sexes, of fortunes' because History shows no such thing has ever occurred.

What was Barthes's major malfunction? Unlike most current academics, he had literary talent. He actually liked reading books and did so for pleasure. Why did he succumb to the most witless academic availability cascades of his period? Why did he himself become part of one, which still trundles on, dedicated to the proposition that to take pleasure in reading is a most heinous type of Terrorism? Why did Barthes end up as the French precursor to Boko Haram?