Monday 31 May 2010

Why the Autism/Psychosis spectrum fails.

W.D. Hamilton thought humanity was roughly divided into people concerned with other people- the florid psychotic representing one extreme- and people concerned with things- with the autistic savant at the the other end of the spectrum.
Of course, any binary opposition can be used to construct a continuum- for e.g cat people vs. dog people- but the same thing can be done with a single
signifier, e.g. buggering a Brummie. Everybody falls along a continuum defined by their tropism, under circumstances of equal endowment, to bugger the said Brummie. However, this continuum describes a boustropheodonic time-path because the subject with least tropism to bugger the Brummie at time t is precisely the person most deeply up said Brummie's arse in the previous period. (Making the entirely reasonable assumption that Brummies feed exclusively on highly spiced Balti curries.)
Now rates of 'tunneling' through the continuum for any individual will differ considerably and thus the instrumental cognitive or heuristic benefit of retaining the continuum is likely to be low.
True, one can create an ideal of the continuum to exclude this cyclicity but such ideals are not robust to small changes in the specification of exclusion.
For this reason, the autism/schizophrenia dichotomy fails quite independently of the success or failure of scientific hypotheses re. imprinting.

Killing cows and Quantum Karma- Temple Grandin and Christopher Badcock

Temple Grandin suffers from autism. Unable to have close emotional ties with other people, she uses her great intellectual gifts to re-design slaughter houses, making them more efficient and profitable for their operators, but only so as to minimise the pain and suffering of the cows in their last moments of life.

She has a theory of karma based on Quantum theory.-
'Doing something bad, like mistreating an animal, could have dire consequences. An entangled subatomic particle could get me. I would never even know it, but the steering linkage in my car could break if it contained the mate to a particle I disturbed by doing something bad. To many people this belief may be irrational, but to my logical mind it supplies an idea of order and justice to the world.
‘My belief in quantum theory was reinforced by a series of electrical outages and equipment breakdowns that occurred when I visited slaughter plants where cattle and pigs were being abused. The first time it happened, the main power transformer blew up as I drove up the driveway. Several other times a main power panel burned up and shut down the plant. In another case, the main chain conveyor broke while the plant manager screamed obscenities at me during an equipment startup. He was angry because full production was not attained in the first five minutes. Was it just chance, or did bad karma start a resonance in an entangled pair of subatomic particles within the wiring or steel? These were all weird breakdowns of things that usually never break. It could be just random chance, or it could be some sort of cosmic consciousness of God.
“Many neuroscientists scoff at the idea that neurons would obey quantum theory instead of old everyday Newtonian physics. The physicist Roger Penrose, in his book the Shadows of the Mind, and Dr. Stuart Hameroff, a Tucson physician, state that movement of single electrons within the microtubules of the brain can turn off consciousness while allowing the rest of the brain to function. If quantum theory really is involved in controlling consciousness, this would provide a scientific basis for the idea that when a person or animal dies, an energy pattern of vibrating entangled particles would remain. I believe that if souls exist in humans, they also exist in animals, because the basic structure of the brain is the same. It is possible that humans have greater amounts of soul because they have more microtubules where single electrons could dance, according to the rules of quantum theory.
“However, there is one thing that completely separates people from animals. It is not language or war or toolmaking; it is long-term altruism. During a famine in Russia, for example, scientists guarded the seed bank of plant genetics so that future generations would have the benefits of genetic diversity in food crops. For the benefit of others, they allowed themselves to starve to death in a lab filled with grain. No animal would do this. Altruism exists in animals, but not to this degree. Every time I park my car near the National USDA Seed Storage Lab at Colorado State University, I think that protecting the contents of this building is what separates us from animals.”

This is a strange statement for a scientist to make! The work of Price, Hamilton & Maynard Smith does not rule out animals behaving in a manner consistent with what she would term 'long term altruism'- indeed, it is a statistical certainty that some animals did do and still do so. It just isn't an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy, that's all, and so over time (as random shocks even out) genes dictating such behavior would be bred out of the population. Temple is world famous as the woman 'who knows how cows think'- as for herself, if any organism can truly think, if any organism truly acts autonomously upon moral grounds, rather than being the meat puppet of some selfish gene- then it is she much more than an ordinary bloke like me.
She goes on to write
“I do not believe that my profession is morally wrong. Slaughtering is not wrong, but I do feel very strongly about treating animals humanely and with respect. I've devoted my life to reforming and improving the livestock industry. Still, it is a sobering experience to have designed one of the world's most efficient killing machines. Most people don't realize that the slaughter plant is much kinder than nature. Animals in the wild die from starvation, predators, or exposure. If I had a choice, I would rather go through a slaughter system than have my guts ripped out by coyotes or lions while I was still conscious. Unfortunately, most people never observe the natural cycle of birth and death. They do not realize that for one living thing to survive, another living thing must die.'
It is an autistic trait to consider death to be something real, pain as being other than the phenomenological equivalent of a forged Doctor's prescription for Medical Marijuana?
Temple describes how she recovered her faith- which she had lost when, as a publicity stunt, she swam in a cattle dip full of dangerous chemicals
“When the combination of organophosphate poisoning and antidepressant drugs dampened my religious emotions, I became a kind of drudge who was capable of turning out mountains of work. Taking the medication had no effect on my ability to design equipment, but the fervor was gone. I just cranked out the drawings as if I were a computer being turned on and off. It was this experience that convinced me that life and work have to be infused with meaning, but it wasn't until three years ago, when I was hired to tear out a shackle hoist system, that my religious feelings were renewed.'
'It was going to be a hot Memorial Day weekend, and I was not looking forward to going to the new equipment startup. I thought it would be pure drudgery. The kosher restraint chute was not very interesting technically, and the project presented very little intellectual stimulation. It did not provide the engineering challenge of inventing and starting something totally new, like my double-rail conveyor system.
'Little did I know that during those few hot days in Alabama, old yearnings would be reawakened. I felt totally at one with the universe as I kept the animals completely calm while the rabbi performed shehita. Operating the equipment there was like being in a Zen meditational state. Time stood still, and I was totally, completely disconnected from reality. Maybe this was nirvana, the final state of being that Zen meditators seek.'

There is a notion, promoted by Prof. Baron Cohen  that autism results from an 'extreme male brain'- if so, Temple's curious choice of profession and Zen epiphany at the kosher slaughterhouse (she points out that Solomon's temple was a huge abattoir) reveals, perhaps, something of what it means to be a Man, and the type of empathy that arises as an emergent from the Male mind's relentless sytematising.
Dr. Christopher Badcock, an energetic polemicist for the Freudian theory of history in the 70's and early 80's, has developed a new theory about the relationship between autism and psychosis. He regards them as being mirror images of each other. Autism results from the dominance of paternally imprinted genes, whereas psychosis is the product of dominant maternally imprinted genes. Paternal genes have an interest in getting the mother to invest more resources in the progeny by increasing physical growth- leading to a bigger more lateralized brain- whereas the mother's genes would seek to reduce the maternal investment by inhibiting growth (in the same manner as malnutrition resulting from famine would)- leading to lower birth weight and smaller brain size.
Badcock had been seeking a way to save the Freudian theory of history by founding it upon the new Evolutionary biology. He has now accepted that Freudianism is itself a type of paranoia- a 'hyper-mentalism' of the high functioning psychotic savant.
Badcock replaces the neurosis/psychosis distinction in Freud- itself arising from the divergent economic implications of treating hypochondriac nuerotics, whose ability and willingness to pay is in inverse proportion to any real disability or deficit they suffer, and hypnochondriac psychotics whom one is paid to police- with an autism/psychosis spectrum which, once again, has a similar economic dichotomy.
This is because therapy is a scarce resource, if defined nuerotically or autistically. But it becomes non-rival and non-excludable (indeed, it behaves like a nuisance good which is over-produced and costly to prevent oneself from consuming) from a hyper-mentalist perspective. However, the reality is that, ceteris paribus, a therapy behaves like any other oligopolistic product viz. its advertising is a nuisance good, over-supplied, and mendacious in creating a product differentiation which does not exist, ceteris paribus w.r.t goods in joint supply like pills and O.T, at the level of outcome.

In Badcock's view, Autism is hypo-mentalist, hyper-mechanistic, truthful, Male, Western (or at least not 'African')and the characteristic form of advanced, affluent, technological Society. Psychosis is hyper-mentalist (i.e. schizophrenics have more not less theory of mind!) hypo-mechanistic, female, dishonest, self-deluding, African and likely to decline with rising prosperity and technological progress.
Badcock identifies himself, as well as Hamilton, as falling within the autistic side of the spectrum in precisely the manner that Freudians proudly identified themselves with the Oedipal neurotic while holding themselves aloof from the schizophrenic, who rather than (as is right and proper) secretly wanting to fuck Mum and kill Dad- hoped to get pregnant by God the Father with the unfortunate consequence of founding Religions like Christianity and Hinduism.
Badcock contrasts Temple Grandin's Quantum Karma with Rupert Sheldrake's notion of morphic resonance. Sheldrake, like Jung, is pointing to a direct connection, an entanglement, between minds. Grandin refers only to an entanglement at the level of quantum particles. Thus, Grandin's thought is still Scientific, Western, and Male while Sheldrake (who spent some time in India) is Mentalistic and Female.

Grandin's thought is founded upon the ontological primacy of pain and death and gains peace from the contemplation of the properly conducted sacrifice of an ever moving conveyor belt of cows. Sheldrake's mentalism, at least potentially, can rise above pain and death because if minds are directly connected to minds then they have an avenue of escape from the contingencies imposed by embodiment in a meat-suit.
Notice that a Sheldrake type hyper-mentalism solves things like the Hegelian 'struggle for recognition', the Girardian problem of 'mimetic desire', or the Satrean problem of scarcity as mediating the relationship of man and man. Briefly, mentalism, denying the mediation of things, permits full and non-rival appropriation of the other as well as altruistic self offering immune from one's own sacrifice- whether as food or pharmakos.
Thinking good thoughts is the duty that Sheldrake type hyper-mentalism requires of us as a society. Improving slaughter houses is Grandin's autistic hypo-mentalistic categorical imperative for the individual.
Thankfully, in these Humanity's latter days, the lion will lie down with the lamb- thinking good thoughts is a 'farz-e-kifayya'- a communal duty which can be delegated to autonomous, hypo-mentalist technogeeks devising swifter and more silent conveyor belts to humanitarian guillotines.

Except, biology tells us this is shite. Pain and Death are incidental and ephemeral, Sex and Morphology- Love and Beauty are fundamental and abiding.

I say nothing against nuerotic or autistic people- though I lack the brilliance and civilizationally vanguard role attributed to them. But, the truth is pain and death aren't worth worrying about. That Life goes on, remains, I need hardly say a nightmare from which none awake.

Sunday 30 May 2010

Origin of the phrase 'Think small, bugger De Gaulle'

What is the origin of the expression- 'Think small, bugger De Gaulle"?

I am editing a book about Soho street-life from the 1950's to the 1970's. I believe the expression 'Think big cobble a pig" is of Lancashire dialect origin (cobble- 'prepare as a sweet-meat') . However 'think small bugger De Gaulle' must date from the second world war at the earliest when the rumour was put about that the great French leader had no anus.
Is this usage still current? What was it's geographical spread? Grateful for any help on this one.
  • 2 years ago
windwheel by windwhee...
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There are several variants on the expression- 'think big, gobble a pig" (not cobble- there may be some confusion with the word 'cobbler' as in apple cobbler- which is not a Lancashire specialty) 'Think small, swallow f**k all"
Milder forms of this expression were used to topical effect on BBC Radio's ITMA ('It's that man again!') during rationing and gained currency amongst certain sections of the gay community. The reference to De Gaulle in your post is misleading as recent research has shown that De Gaulle's propaganda machine- whatever its other faults- did not in fact deny the existence of the General's anus but merely advanced theoretical arguments tending to show that it was vanishingly, or asymptotically, small.


For the influence of Bourbaki on the De Gaulle anus discussion see
'Critique of Post Colonial Reason'
by Gayatri Spivak Chakroborty
  • 2 years ago
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Tuesday 25 May 2010

Delicacy of thought or meaning-creative? Ghalib ghazal 28

Conisder Ghalib's ghazal 28. 

qat̤rah-e mai baskih ḥairat se nafas-parvar huʾā 
ḳhat̤t̤-e jām-e mai sarāsar rishtah-e gauhar huʾā
                                     iʿtibār-e ʿishq kī ḳhānah-ḳharābī dekhnā
                ġhair ne kī āh lekin vuh ḳhafā mujh par huʾā

Ghalib himself, and Faruqi Sahib concurs, thought this had delicacy of thought but little 'meaning creation'.

Yet the verse seems singularly rich in its associations- viz.

1) breath control as the foundation of all Hesychastic/Sufi/ Yogic/Tao Meditation techniques
2) such breath control being associated via hairath with Bedil's mot theme of hairat-e-aainah thus bringing in the mirror (so fundamental to all Theistic mystical traditions)
3) the drop (microcosm) as attaining this breath control in the mirror of amazement
4) the abolition of time- kshanika vada 'doctrine of momentariness'- which is hugely important to rescue Theodicy from silly Heavens and Hells or the idiocy of karma. But this kshanika vada is also the source of great beauty in poetry and painting
5) the wine glass's foam turning into 'Indra's net of pearls' pointing to the radical interconnectedness of the cosmos.

But that's just to start with, then there is 

1) the wine cup as shaped by the absence of the breast. This links with the (Jungian) notion of the krater/crater as the topos of prophesy

2) wine's foam as the areolae of the absent nipple.

 The krater concretizes the cire perdue of the breast pointing to wine as the mother's milk of prophesy- not petition, not pedagogy-, and the Saqi as Shiduri, the Sumerian Goddess of Wisdom in the Epic of Gilgamesh, who- from behind her veils- presides at the Tavern at the end of what but in the world resides- these are all Jungian archetypes at the foundation of any tradition of khamriyat- all the better in Ghalib's case for operating at the unconscious level.
The elision of mention of the Cup bearer's beauty as occasioning the wine drop's amazement, which appears to lie at the root of some of the commentators complaint against the couplet, is not a defect for Ghalib is not relying on this aetiology. Rather we have a good piece of observational poetry- something universal which any drinker could compose no matter what their cultural background- viz. the wine drop motionless (its upward momentum from the drinker's last quaffing canceling out the force of gravity) above the face of the beaded wine foam from whence it came, holding its breath in awe.
The innocence of the erotic meaning arises from the reverential treatment of the areolae, the hypnotic stasis its sight induces- the freezing of the moment characteristic of first love.'

Anyway, this is my 'transcreation' of Ghazal 28 from the Divan.


Breathless, atremble, the wine drop, forgetting Time's lips to wet
Reflects the cup's foaming areolae as Tvashtr' s pearly net 
To Faith, Love's home wrecker, for her angry breast, in debt
That, for some stranger's sigh, I she'll yet fry, Ghalib bet!

'Here my addition to the elided breast/krater conceit, is angry breast/heated kar'hai (wok) full of bubbling oil.
My point is that for a 19 year old poet, the mazmun- 'breast equals the absence that the wine cup encloses and defines' can quickly go on to the next wonderful thing associated with people who possess breasts (not that my own flabby 'moobs' (Man-boobs)  can't pertly fill a champagne glass) namely their command over the kar'hai in which they fry you cheese pakoras with plenty of minced ginger and green chili. God, my mouth is watering.'
The reason it has to be Tvashtr's (rather than Indra's) net of pearls is explained thus-
"Obviously, it can't be Indra's net of pearls- it has to be the artificer Tvashtar (the Indian Vulcan) coz of the whole thing with Vrtra- wine as the dragon (with whom al Hallaj drank in summer) slayed by the wine bibbing thunderbolt God- and the connection with the krater/ crater.
Also, I want to introduce the notion of 'Ghalib's bet' as being like 'Pascal's wager' except obviously- Ghalib (like Tulsi Das) is betting higher than existence, higher than imaginal Hells and Heavens- hence his choice of takhallus.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Why my Mum loved John Inman

I never understood my Mum's fascination with the actor John Inman, in 'Are you being served'- a British sit-com of the late 70's.
I was only 14 and just off the plane from Delhi. I found idiomatic British English a little hard to follow. Moreover, I guess I was pretty naive.
My mother was normally very good about explaining things to me in a frank and open fashion. But, no matter how often I asked, she could never explain to me why she found the John Inman character so fascinating.
At the time, I put it down to menopause but thinking about it recently, I now understand something about Inman, or perhaps I should say I understand something about my Mother- or, rather, I understand the nature of certain oppressive features of the Mass Media as masking Gramscian hegemony- or, since, one can understand nothing about what Society hides away until one glimpses that which one has spent one's whole lifetime hiding from oneself- I think I understand what my Mom saw in Inman, why she related to him.
You see, Inman had a secret. A secret which it would have endangered his livelihood, perhaps even his life (though no longer his personal liberty) to divulge or make public. It was a sort of open secret. But, it was a secret which, precisely for being so open, so in-your-face, could never declare itself.
Britain has changed a lot even during my own life-time. Still, it sends a sort of shiver down  my spine to realize that Inman could have been arrested for no other reason than just being what he was, even two or three years after my birth.
I have studied and taught History, in England, for more than 30 years but, thinking about my Mom's love for John Inman makes that History come alive for me as a living force- as personal as a Hurricane with a cute girl's name- but as devastating in its impact on ordinary lives.
In 1965, the British parliament finally abolished the law regarding Negro slavery. Yet, as a blatantly black man, John Inman still had to hide his identity a dozen years later.
Mum, who was going through menopause because she couldn't do mensuration (which I was able to master after Dad engaged a Bengali Maths tutor for me) identified with Inman, the better part of whose life had been spent in fear of 'being sent down river' (to East London), because she too had lived with the fear of being discovered and exposed.
I tell myself that things have changed. This little apercu of mine has no relevance to our present age.
But is such complacency really justified?
Think about it.
That David Cameron what's just moved in at No. 10- seems so nice don't he? Mebbe a little too nice? All that Old Etonion stuff- are you really buying it? Take a closer look and what do you see- a typical French Cambodian rent-boy- and you know what they're like.

Jan Myrdal on Mahakavi Sri Sri

Jan Myrdal is the son of Gunnar and Ava Myrdal both of whom won Nobel Prizes (Gunnar for Econ, Ava for Peace). Jan reckons they were crappy parents. His Mom was a big supporter of forced Sterilization (those fun loving Swedes kept up the practice till '75) but, unfortunately, failed to tie her own tubes before squeezing out little Jan.
He himself embraced far left politics and was an uncritical admirer of Mao's China and Pol Pot's Kampuchea both of which he actually visited. Needless to say he hates democratic India coz it's like real oppressive? and y'know kind'o genociding the poor people? and being nasty to those nice little Naxals in Lalgarh who just want to establish a truly equal society by beheading everybody.

Anyway, young Jan has uttered an encomium on the Telugu poet and Cine artist (himself an admirer of Sarojini Naidu's younger brother whose most memorable film role was as the 'gadi babu' (the guy  who went around winding up the clocks in the big haveli) in Sahib Bibi and Ghulam.
Click here to read it.
You'd never guess, from Myrdal's account, that this great supposed Naxalite poet endorsed the Emergency. Or that he was all for N.T Rama Rao in the 1982 elections.
Fuck is wrong with Jan Myrdal?

Tuesday 18 May 2010

'Pursue Knowledge even unto China!'

(This is extracted from my novel 'Samlee's daughter' )
Once upon a time, there was a great Mujtahid ul Asar[1] in the City of Azimabad. He was the most venerated Shia Divine in living memory. Then tragedy befell him. His wife died in child-birth. The Mujtahid controlled his grief and consoled himself with caring for the new-born. The infant showed every sign of intellectual and spiritual precocity. Dispensing with nursemaids and housekeepers, the Mujtahid brought up the boy- a Salaman without an Absal[2]- in the company of venerable scholars and veritable saints. Soon, the lad excelled his teachers. The devout assembled from the four corners of Hindustan to witness this Hujjat ul Islam- this living proof of the True Religion.
Thus, when his own health failed, the fond father died secure in the knowledge that his son would be a worthy successor to his own great office.
The boy was called before the King, to preach his first sermon. Mounting the minbar, he began with the profession of the True Faith. But, he got no further than saying ‘there is no God’. No matter how hard he tried he could not complete the sentence ‘there is no God but God’.
He was hounded from the court as an apostate and a painted sepulchre. The boy was stunned. He stumbled down the highway scarcely sensible to the taunts and jeers that dogged his footsteps. One day, he met a crazy dervish. The dervish rolled his eyeballs into their sockets and went into a trance. “Pursue Knowledge even unto China!” The dervish pointed north. So, it was his Knowledge that had been imperfect. The boy turned his steps towards steep paths and snowy wastes. After years of travelling, he gained his objective. Learning the strange languages of the heathen, he travelled up and down the thronging roads and teeming rivers of that vast land. He met scholars and scoundrels, monks and mandarins. But, that Nation possessed of a thousand books, yet was not a People of the Book. He had wasted his time.
One night, his boat moored at a lonely quay. Suddenly, out of the shadows, a figure emerged. It was a peasant in late middle age- still hale and hearty- carrying his aged mother on his back. The boy invited the peasant to come and rest on the boat. The peasant’s broad, weather beaten, countenance beamed with pleasure. He told his story in few words. First came the famine, then the bandits, and then the tax collectors. He had not waited for the tax collectors, but loaded his mother on his back and left the ancestral graves to look after themselves.
That night the boy had a dream. He was reading a book by lamplight. Suddenly, he looked up and saw the light was not coming from the lamp. It was coming from the body of a man. The boy woke up abruptly. He had nodded off while reading. But, when he looked, the lamp had not been lit. The illumination was coming from the body of the peasant. The boy shook him awake. The boy said- ‘having a luminous body is a mark of the Prophet. What Book has been revealed to you?’
The peasant said- ‘I’ve been lucky. Mother’s face is my book. Each day, some new wonder.’
‘Truly,’ the new-made Mujtahid said, ‘there is no God but God.’

[1]    Mujtahid ul Asar- Chief Shia Cleric. A Mujtahid is one licensed to use his own judgement (ijtehad) to pronounce on matters of Faith.
[2]    In Jami’s ‘Salaman & Absal’, which fascinated the Victorians, Salaman was born, without a mother, to the King of Greece. Absal was the Nanny who brought him up, before- & more successfully than the Nanny in ‘the Pirates of Penzance’- amorously entangling her charge & eloping with him to the Earthly Paradise. The Court Magician, by his mesmeric power, gets Salaman to build a pyre of brushwood on which the two lovers immolate themselves. However, only Absal (who symbolises Earthly passions) perishes in the flame while Salaman emerges purified.   Finally, Zohra (Heavenly Beauty) expels even the memory of Absal from Salaman’s mind.

Terrorism and the Media.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, with respect to Terrorism, the Media’s great crime is to grant the oxygen of publicity to the perpetrator's narrow cabal while denying the victims a voice. 
True, there are some T.V channels which seek to remedy this by asking people how they feel about being blown up while the process is actually occurring, but little of such footage- for obvious reasons- is aired and what little is aired tends to be marred by the lack of objectivity of the victims. 
They tend to say things like “Ow! It hurts! Make it stop!” rather than point out, in a proper manner, the Media’s tendency to deny victims a voice- thus victimizing them yet further.  Indeed, the paradox is, it is not until victims resort to terrorism that their voice is truly heard. More generally, we may say, all violence is the voice of the victim and all victimization arises from being denied precisely such a voice. Thus viewers of the Media’s coverage of this issue- rather than incontinently crying out, “Ow! It hurts! Make it stop!”- must recover their voice as victims by resorting to terrorism.  This can be done without getting out of their armchairs not by the Baudrillardian technique of resistance- viz. channel surfing- which could impact on Nielsen ratings and drive Terrorism off the air- but by farting occasionally. 
Of course, if this is not sufficient to secure Media attention for our plight, then stronger steps will have to be taken. Indeed, it seems, some already have. Thus we see all violence is but the denied voice of the viewer and the fact that even the Media flags in fascination with this voice enables it to arrive at victimhood because its voice, in this matter, is being denied. 

Friday 14 May 2010

Heaven's hermeneutics

Nothing new.
You too

& this the hermeneutics
of heaven
Mirror maieutics
 six directions


Arundhati Roy- dotty but by no means dim.

It's twelve years since I read 'The God of small things'- Ms. Roy’s ultra-feminist version of, the ‘Return of Orestes’ in which suffering either homicide or hebephrenia was the only permitted alternative to screaming sociopathy for any Indian cursed with the possession of a penis. 
I was immediately enchanted. Roy was clearly dotty but by no means dim.. It seemed brave- at least, within the heavily exoticised incest- in-the-chutney-factory Indglish-for-export genre of that period- to take on the Electra theme and all that it represents for M.F.A  mad cows everywhere- and really beat the fucking thing to death. 
But I'd underestimated Ms.Roy.  Preserving her orthogonal posture towards Reality, she went on to write, often on worthwhile topics, a string of politically engaged books and articles which demonstrated the radically Manichaean nature of the Universe and the impotence of the liberal conscience to strive against its Psychotic demiurge save at the cost of its own sanity.
Which would have been fine and dandy- literature jus' doin' its job- if it hadn't been for the rise and rise of Narendra Modi.
I mean, who would have thought this Backward Caste yokel  could actually take on the farmer's lobby and correct for Market Failure (in things like micro-irrigation) and make balanced growth fiscally and environmentally viable? 
 Modi's success raised uncomfortable questions. What if these backwards and tribals and vernacular medium types weren't just smarter than us but also like just better human fucking beings? 

Liberalism is another word for the moral hegemony of shitheads like me. Socialism is Liberalism's married name when it really gets to grips with fucking up society. Communism is one better than Socialism coz that way we get to fuck up society while hanging onto 'Forward Caste' status.
Naxalism is one better than Communism coz that way we get to carry guns and fantasize about shooting police constables and, like, hang out with sweet teenage, tribal types who aren't actual 'Trust-afarians' whose Daddies and Mummies went to School with us and who, in too well modulated tones, moan about having become Merchant Bankers as if they'd ever actually had any choice; like it wasn't fucking inevitable.
But fuck me, fuck us- we don't matter any more.
Coz Modi shows how the Market really is better than our own particular Holier than God, God. I think it was Jefferson who said 'in matters of Religion- divided we stand, united we fall.' But, by his own account, that's Modi's Hindutva in a nutshell! No wonder those damn upwardly mobile  Muslim Ghanchis now embrace him- after all, caste-wise, he is one of their own. Of course, the post Godhra riots were inexcusable for not being repeated pre every succeeding poll. Had they been we'd have no difficulty making room for Modi in our Syndicate. Our Socialist-Scientific-Secular Caste fucking Syndicate which instrumentalizes rape, riot and randomized institutional violence to synchronize with its own occult astrology of Power...

Not by default- nor, damningly for an artist, by design- but with her sloe-like eyes (what havoc they must have caused at Lovedale!)  shrewdly open (this kid went on from her poshest of posh boarding schools to live in a squatter's colony while just sixteen!), Roy has done this much for us.
But for her, Modi wouldn't look so damn good.

Monday 3 May 2010

dast-e tah-e sang-āmadah paimān-e vafā hai

Prof. Frances Pritchett, creator of the wonderful 'desertful of roses' site on Ghalib, waxes lyrical about this couplet-

majbūrī-o-daʿvā-e giriftārī-e ulfat

dast-e tah-e sang-āmadah paimān-e vafā hai
For my part I always really liked Dard's
 'patthar tale ki haath hai gaflat ke haath dil
Sang-e-giran hua hai yeh khwaab-e-giraan mujhe'
A heavy stone has heavy slumber been to me, and
In sloth's hands, my heart, a stone crushed hand
I wonder whether this response of ours has to do with the Anglo American  Peine forte et dure tradition- i.e the crushing of a defendant who refuses to plead. Of course, in India the more relevant reference is to the ghotna- the heavy roller used to crush the thighs of a suspect.
However, the connection between crushing and standing mute (refusing to plead) esp. for writers (for whom the hand rather than the tongue is the means of expression) is going to have resonances for us of which we might not be consciously aware.  
I was 11 or 12 when Indira Gandhi promulgated Emergency and some of my Dad's journalist friends- including a near neighbour who had a pretty daughter (I've written about this in my novel 'Samlee's daughter) were arrested.  

In the distinguished Professor's case, for all I know, there may be Arthur Miller's 'the Crucible' and the McCarthyite witch-hunts at the back of it.
 I see, from Wikipedia, that the only American to have been crushed to death was one Giles Corey who - in the film version of 'The Crucible'- refuses to name names.
However, the context independent point here is that refusal to plead 'aye or nay' was what got you crushed to death. Language is like that. But to plead is also to be crushed to death- or at least to be permitted only a sort of liquidised life within Language obedient to the tides of its lunatic Moon- so there was never any real choice. 
But that's the nature of Language. Okay. We can both live with that. The Americans have weaponized their music (they used rock & roll against Noreiga) and the Indians are now weaponizing their food
The Europeans have not the resources of such as we.
We're safe. Or are we?
The trouble is that when Language held a knife to Love's throat- saying 'Do you take this man/woman/panda- answer 'yea or nay'- then, ah! then ...
Okay! I think I get why the Prof. likes this couplet! 

More mystic marvels of poesy

As a flower to the bee
or Existence to His 'Be!"
The mirror opens its sex
Only to its ex

Thy frigidity so fires my phallus
Ashes art thy gash's palace
Gnosis, God! cry me a river
Fucked 'tis to fuck a mirror


Fearing a critic, curt, might curb my inspiration

(Force-fed shite, he’d counsel constipation)

What, grave, I write as grave dirt must lie

On my samadhi trite & barzakh I.