Monday 31 December 2012

Requiem for Phillipos

Ire, thy Ashvamitra- horse-friend- is yet Hippolytus
Whom, Iyer, imprecation defend, thou Thersites
Ashwatthama, hoarse voiced thus Hari choiced
& Philosophy's Phaedra in Buridan rejoiced.

Did Buddhism fuck up Burma?

No. Buddhism is a perfectly okay religion and Lord Buddha even said some nice things about the Merchant class. The problem for the Burmese was that their language was so saturated with Buddhism that Communist ideas, translated into Burmese, became ethical or soteriological rather than historicist or strategic. For example, when Thakin Soe and Than Tun (Aung San's brother in law) wrote the first book on Marxism,  the term they used for the Marxist dialectic was 'anya-manya' which conveyed something like 'the system of phenomenal correlation' rather than anything involving evolution by means of sublation or synthesis.

Rapid advances in Burmese higher education, as well as dramatic changes in the World Order which projected young Leftists into positions of National leadership and Global standing, meant that Thakin Soe's conceptualization of Marxism soon ceased to be productive of creative thought.
Certainly, by the time of the military coup in 1962, the Junta's official ideology of anya manya Th'baw tra (System of Correlation between Man and his Environment (SCME) based on the work of a student of Thakin Soe, U Chit Hlaing) was considered neither Buddhist nor Marxist nor other than fuckwitted by most intellectuals.
However, the Burmese Communists obsession with purity of doctrine- in particular their bizarre insistence that to gain power save by revolutionary means was illegitimate and represented the heresy of 'Browderism'- had by no means disappeared in the 20 years following Aung San's assassination. Rather it had gained in virulence and led to violent purges of Party loyalists- including, the Bengali, Ghosal who had himself denounced Browder many years previously.

It is tempting to speculate that Burmese Buddhism lays greater stress on 'proper means' and this somehow forecloses 'multiple realizability' in a manner which explains the bloody and apparently quite pointless internecine problems of the Burmese Left.  The truth is less interesting and probably has to do with getting hold of guns and canon fodder.

Monday 24 December 2012

Nussbaum, Narendra Modi and tolmema

Martha Nussabum has called Modi's election victory a black mark against Gujarat. What does black mark mean? Well, black is the color of niggers and other such filth and the voters of Gujarat by ignoring Nussbaum's views (remember Nussbaum is WASP and blonde, only having converted to Judaism after marriage) have rejected the option to Whiten themselves. Instead they have been dirtied and defiled by a black mark.
Nussbaum herself knows how to whiten things- by using tipp-ex to cover over the truth. What happened was this. Nussbaum had previously testified in an American court that the word 'tolmema' used by Plato to castigate homosexuality carried no pejorative meaning. When taken to task for this obvious lie, she obfuscated the issue by claiming that she personally used an out of date lexicon, that of Liddell & Scott from 1897, rather than the one corrected and updated by Jones. This wasn't true. When she verified her source and found she'd been caught in a lie, she simply tipp-exed out 'Jones' from the affidavit she submitted to prove she hadn't perjured herself.

'In a sworn affidavit dated October 21, Nussbaum stated that her own interpretation of tolmêma, , was borne out by "the authoritative dictionary relied on by all scholars in this area." She then proceeded to give the dictionary entry, which indeed lists no pejorative connotation of the word. But what "authoritative dictionary" did she have in mind? The answer to that question would soon land her in trouble. Nussbaum's affidavit is organized as a series of numbered paragraphs. In paragraph 10, the name of the lexicon in question appears this way:
Liddell, Scott          Lexicon of the Ancient Greek Language.
The possible significance of the blank space--a blob of liquid paper on the original document--leaped out at her opponents, Finnis and George. For the authoritative dictionary that is actually relied on by all Greek scholars is, in fact, customarily listed as "Liddell, Scott & Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon." Without the "& Jones," "Liddell and Scott" necessarily refers to an 1897 edition of this basic lexicographical reference tool--a long-superseded edition that in fact lists no pejorative meaning for the word tolmêma. The Jones edition, on the other hand, published in 1940, includes extensive revisions made under the direction of the scholar Henry Stuart Jones. Among the revisions, as both Finnis and George are quick to point out, is the inclusion of "shameless act" as a possible translation of tolmêma.'

In other words, if not a shuffler and a liar and a fuckwit of Amartya Sen like proportions, it is clear that Nussbaum has little acquaintance with ordinary standards of honesty and truth telling let alone any higher notion of Alethia.

In the case of Narendra Modi- who, within a year of taking office as Chief Minister, put an end to the cycle of politically instrumentalized communal rioting in Gujarat which began in 1969 and was rewarded at the polls for it- Nussbaum simply ignores the facts and wishes the Gujarati voters too had tipp-exed over the them. Not to do so is indeed to earn a 'black mark' in her book. Yet, most Gujaratis can't read her book. What they can do is vote according to their empirical knowledge and political convictions. If the Gujaratis wanted to go in for ethnic cleansing, no force on earth could stop them. They don't want that. They don't like riots. They don't like rape and arson and murderous mobs. There was a Congress Minister of Fisheries back in the 90's who engineered a terrorist attack in Surat so as to set off a round of communal rioting with the bombs being supplied by a prominent gangster with ties to a Karachi based Crime Lord. This gangster then killed an M.P who had blown the whistle on his activities. All three were Muslims. The gangster fled across the border because the killing of the M.P had angered the Union Home Minister. But he fell out with his Godfather there and returned to India. The Police, who had been in his pocket, bumped him off so as to prevent his testifying against them. Such was the rule of the 'Secular' Congress Party in Gujarat. It never cleaned up its act. It specialized in fielding tainted candidates- including Hindus involved in the post-Godhra riots. Congress wasn't interested in Development. That's why it got the boot. Modi had only been in office a few months when the Godhra outrage occurred. This was a couple of months after the attack on the Indian Parliament when India and Pakistan were close to war. Delhi suspected that Godhra had been orchestrated by the ISI so as to set off a chain of pogroms with the intention of paralyzing the transport network in the State by clogging it up with displaced people, thus hampering Indian troop movements. For this reason Modi and Defence Minister Fernandes had to take a strong line from the outset. This should have been enough to destroy Modi's future in the State but something unexpected happened. By lifting curfew early and emphasizing the need to get back to business as usual, Modi sent a signal which the Gujarati entrepreneurial class welcomed. The alacrity with which he got on top of the Akshardam revenge attack- coolly putting all the blame on the Pakistanis- was the final straw which broke the back of politically instrumentalised Communal rioting.
Gujaratis are to be complimented, not condemned, for finding a way to marginalize the lumpen, criminalized, political class and get rid of the periodic riots which empowered those bottom feeders.
I'm not saying Modi completely broke the nexus between the Police and land-sharks and bootleggers and so on. But he showed a way forward and the voters of his state rewarded him for it.
Nussbaum says that the Gujarati's should pay greater heed to the outcome of recent Court trials rather than rely on their own memories and common sense. This is quite foolish. Gujaratis knew how things were done but didn't want things to go on being done in that way. They voted for the man who brought about the change they desired.
Nussbaum learnt nothing from her tolmema debacle. She uses her tipp-ex on inconvenient facts and awards black marks to brown people.
Proof, as if more proof was needed, that Professors who talk Ethics are all worthless scumbags.

Sunday 23 December 2012

vyagatha, vyatirekha & meta-metamorphocity

In writing about Ghalib, I've located the topos of his meta-metaphoricity in Ibn Arabi's concept of barzakh which in turn has obvious similarities with the Tibetan 'bardo' or Skt 'antarabhaava'.  I believe the Tibetan bardo lasts 49 days whereas the barzakh, as for example in the story of the Prophet Khaled- who defeated the terrible Fire which was causing some Arabs to embrace the Magian Religion- lasts 40 days.
It is notable that though Adi Sankara is familiar with the concept earlier explicated, in the Buddhist context, by Vasubandhu- for example in Verse7 of the Annapurnashtakam- he makes no use of it similar to that of the Great Sheikh.
I suppose, antarabhava's intermediate position between Thantos & Eros- the 'maranabhava' experience of Death and the 'upapatibhava' revival of Erotic appetency- thus defining itself as pure disembodied craving- trishna for saguna Krishna- already signifies 'meaning creation's' poetic certitude of Maternally sublated viyogini yoga, yielding the surety of alms.
Thus my own instinct is to go no further but just stop here and simply link meta-metaphoricity, via artha-alamkara (poetic conceits) like vyagatha- where the effect or object achieved is undone by its own cause- or the 'inverted simile' of vyatirekha- where the lower usurps the place of the higher- to the vyatiharadhikaranam counselled by Brahma Sutra 3.3.37.
व्यतिहारो विशिंषन्ति हीतरवत्

I wonder whether the fact that the great Advaitic scholars operated under the sufferance or patronage of Royal lineages tracing their way back to Bharadwaja by way of Ashwathama meant that the Gita's 'upside down banyan' (Ashvathama) which Krishna counsels us to cut-down had the slesha property of theosis by vyatirekha such that the ritualist's methexis was sublated.
A little thought will show that the property Salman H.Bashier claims for barzakh- viz. being a 'limit' which unites what it divides- cashes out, simply as a vyagatha based vyatirekha within the shloka- i.e. meta-metamorphocity is ontologically empty- surely a good thing.
The pure nominalism of Shingon or Tulsi still lay in the future- i.e at the source- so that too is all right and tickety boo.

The other way to go- viz. following Ramanujan and letting Darpan act as the 'limit', has an attraction in terms of squaring with Adi Vigyan as throwing your evils onto your reflection in the mirror- aint so bad either not being Ontologically inflationist and giving room for such fuckwits as we will always have with us coz as Pascal said there will always be more monks than Reason.

Kalidasa as critic

King Bhoja Vikramaditya had just completed writing the Champu Ramayana. Wishing to have it corrected, prior to publication, by his Court poet, Kalidasa- who was hiding from his munificent patron in the boudoir of some slut- he composed the following line- 'What flower can yet flower upon a blossom fair?'- and promised half of his Kingdom to whoever could best complete the couplet.
The prostitute, in whose garret Kalidasa was evading his Royal pain-in-the-ass patron, having somehow divined the identity of the old lecher she was harboring, wrote the couplet on her wall and the poet, thinking it her own composition, completed the verse with 'Her cauliflower ears 'neath the weeds of her hair'- except he didn't actually write that but something stupid like 'girl, the lotus of your eyes in the lotus of your face'
The ho-bag promptly dropped Kalidas down an elevator shaft and like pushed a grand piano down on him or something and, not even stopping to check he was dead, rushed off to the King to claim her half of the Kingdom.
The King asked her (I'm not making this up) if she'd personally verified the death of her patron. The slattern admitted she'd been in too much of a hurry to personally stave in his skull or batter out his brains. The King hastened to Kalidasa's side, but it was too late, the Archpoet was on the point of death. The poet tells his glorious patron that he had now realized the impermanence and vanity of human life and would like to spend his last moments in Religious meditation. The King promptly reads out his Champu Ramayana. However, since Kalidasa did not survive long enough to hear and comment on its concluding Yuddha and Uttara Kanda chapters, the great King tore them out of his masterwork.
The moral of this story is that if you find a great poet half dead down an elevator shaft, don't miss the opportunity to read out your poetry to him. His cries of pain will be 'like nectar poured into your ears'
In this way Kalidas, as critic, gave more pleasure than ever he had as poet- at least to his Royal patron.
There is a lesson here which, as Gandhi used to say, all who run may read.
Mind it kindly.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Speaker speaks out.

Perhaps the most dignified and gracious of senior Indian politicians, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Smt. Meira Kumar has given an utterly heart wrenching interview to NDTV.  Speaking very gently, maintaining a calm and smiling visage, she made two telling points-
1) the parents of the girl so horrifically attacked had sold their land to educate their daughter- not pay for her dowry. They have two younger sons.  The mother is probably illiterate. The father is not well off. At home they eat namak roti (bread and salt). Yet they have progressive attitudes- the wanted to make their daughter a doctor- they are 'sophisticated' (i.e having true adaab, true akhlaq) in the proper meaning of the term, the humanitarian meaning. It is the hooliganism of the power elite, the rank hedonism of the comfortably off which is 'unsophisticated'- jahil, savage, bestial.
2) The father told Smt. Meira Kumar that he did not want revenge- he even used the word 'accident'- but he does not want any other girl to suffer the fate of his own daughter.  It appears this grief stricken family yet understand something about Justice as a universal value which is lost upon the law-makers.
(edit- it appears the parents have asked that the perpetrators are hanged without delay. )
Meira Kumar, who chooses her words very carefully- she was a diplomat before entering politics- took the opportunity to make two substantive points
1) that some portion of the police currently on VIP protection (30% of the total manpower) should be reassigned to make the streets safe.
2) that there is a connection between the bestial violence of the rapists and Parliamentary hooliganism once again in evidence after having reached a low point during debate on the Women's Reservations Bill.

Hopefully, this truly great Speaker will speak out more often and, more importantly, that her voice will be heard. She speaks for the dignity of the truly dignified- the masses of India.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Ghalib ghazal 83

'Ind is an Eden with no Adam in it'

  That my Death deflower me in a garden strange
Shunned orphans', All-father, Shame arrange
& that my blush for Thee never quite fade
Coiff coquette curls in ambuscade


mujh ko diyaar-e ;Gair me;N maaraa va:tan se duur
rakh lii mire ;xudaa ne mirii bekasii kii sharm
1) [you/they/he/she/it] killed me in an alien/other country/region, far from the homeland
2) my Lord upheld the pride/shame of my helplessness/friendlessness
vuh ḥalqah'hā-e zulf kamīñ meñ haiñ yā ḳhudā
rakh lījo mere daʿv;ā-e vā-rastagī ki sharm
1) those circles of curls are in ambush, oh Lord--
2) may one uphold the honor/shame of my claim of liberation

Prof Pritchett's opens her comments on this ghazal as follows-

'The first line sounds entirely like a complaint or lament. Some person or persons or thing or things-- which remain, thanks to the grammar of the ergative, entirely unspecified-- killed me, and added insult to injury by killing me in a foreign land, far from my homeland. What could be a more heartless deed? What could be a sadder fate? The dead lover himself seems to lament it from beyond the grave; for more examples of the dead-lover-speaks situation, see {57,1}.'

My reading differs by placing the poet in Ibn Arabi's barzakh which is the proper place for 'khayal'. 
Turning to the second couplet, Prof. Pritchett says- 'This is a verse in which those who maintain that the beloved can always be taken as God find the going somewhat awkward. Clearly the lover is asking God for help with the beloved; it's hard to make sense of the verse in any other way. It would really be an extraordinary casuistry that could make the lover ask God to help the lover escape His own curly tresses.'
As a matter of fact, no such infirmity obtains. Translate 'curly tresses' as prosopa and the conceit is one, if not Petrarch, then Barlaam of Calabria would have been familiar with. In any case, it is only by the blessing of the beloved that one ever finds her lips rather than falling into the Babylonian well of her dimples or getting tied up in knots by her uncoiffed hair.
We don't have to say Ghalib was 'vataniya' rather than 'Islam pasand' because, for the purpose of this ghazal, he presents as already dead and in barzakh, that eroding isthmus or bi-directional limit of both 'vatan' and 'Islam'.

Farsi doesn't have gender so I suppose the gender driven 'split egrativity' in Ghalib's rekhta makes a particular point- one connected with his return from the East.
The Monist meaning, it seems to me is cast in decidedly 'Purabi' dress.

Nightmare on Yogananda street.

Am I the only elderly Hindutva blogger to find something sinister in the fact that the latest young nerd to go postal lived on Yogananda Street? Norway, as followers of this blog will know, banned the teaching of Yoga in Prisons because it made the inmates too violent. Sadly this was too little too late to help Anders Brevik.
This is a picture of Swami Yogananda-
There is a lesson here which, as Mahatma Gandhi used to say, all who run may read.
Mind it kindly.

Friday 14 December 2012

hamartia, methexis and theosis.

What happens when a couple of guys get talking about something like Justice or Beauty or Truth or the Good? Essentially one guy says a bunch of things and the other bloke picks up on a couple of those things and says another bunch of things and things go back and forth till
a) one guy is convicted of, or confesses to, not hitting the mark
b) one guy claims to, or receives acclaim for, hitting the mark
c) both get bored and start getting gay with each other.
Call the audience going 'oooh!' when someone hits the mark, methexis, and call  a guy not hitting the mark, his hamartia, and everything in between Gadamerian hermeneutics- stuff like this
What is Gadamer doing in this passage? Two guys- lets call them Parmenides and Socrates- are engaging in 'what the world calls idle talk'. The possibility that they'll get bored and get gay with each other is precluded by the jealous presence of Zeno. Parmenides convicts Socrates of the hamratia of premature ejaculation - 'you have sought too soon to determine a particular eidos and just so you know, it's not that common, it doesn't happen to every guy and it is a big deal'. Socrates' hamartia gives rise to a sort of communal methexis such that, like Chandler in Friends, we're all going 'I knew it!'.
There are two problems with going any further than this. The first is that dialogue might be an agon and so there is a Girardian mimetic desire angle to it- there can only be One guy who gets the proper relationship between the One and the Many such that no third man argument arises. The second is that methexis could go in the direction of theosis- becoming divine- i.e. rather than dialogue coming up against the problem of chorismos such that the eidos are only known to ideal beings, humans begin to participate in that Divine third who is always present when any two are assembled in His name.

What Gadamer is doing here, it seems to me, is something which isn't interesting though I guess we all do it from time to time and perhaps 'dialogic' is the touchy feely way of excusing ourselves for participating in it. Confused thinking, or shifting the goal posts is one way of describing it. I call it meta-metaphoricity. You use a metaphor to show you understand something or that something you said is intelligible. But it isn't and you don't. So, to save face, you decide the metaphor is reality and that another metaphor you derive from it by means purely verbal is even more real and what you mean by what you say is something that exceeds what can be laid hold of by a hamartia hunting interlocutor and thus methexis is about the way the Beautiful and the Good and the True and so on are all constantly getting gay with each other.

Not that I'm homophobic myself- it's just my husband can't stand them artsy fartsy shirt-lifter types.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Abhay Chutiya, please come to reception

I never met Abhay Chutiya, though he stayed in the same Student Hostel as me back in the early 80's and I often heard his name being broadcast over the Hostel public address system starting from around 10.30 p.m when last orders were being called at the pub next door.
At that time I was trying to write horror stories in the style of Edgar Allan Poe and it occurred to me that this mysterious Abhay Chutiya, ever in demand yet never manifest, might stand in some secret relationship to my own fractured poetic soul and that, in a sense, he was my doppleganger- to meet him face to face would be to meet Death- but what is Death? Is it not mental distraction- Vikshepa- and is not that which defeats Death- Viveka?
Thus, steeled in the Vivekachudamani and fortified with a tot of Rum, by way of  Srautamani, I gradually developed the habit of running down to Reception every time I heard the call for Abhay Chutiya. In this way, the absentminded drunkards standing at Reception got used to seeing me instead of the elusive Abhay  and so, by a sort of Pavlovian conditioned response, I came to be universally known by his cognomen.
Anyway, all that was long ago.
Just recently, however, various young gentlemen who call up to inquire whether I've suffered an accident or workplace injury have taken to addressing me as 'Abhay Chutiya' even though that is not the name on their records. It seems there is some Akasic force, or quantum entanglement tugging at electrons in the ether, causing even mundane telephone calls to abruptly cross over into a parallel dimension.

Abhay of course means 'fearless'. The Chutiyas, I had learnt in History class, were a dynasty of mixed Bodo-Shan heritage which is why Chooth or Chutiya is still accounted an elite surname in the North East, but how is it that a black and timorous Tamil Brahmin like myself me keeps getting mistaken for a fair skinned aristocrat from that part of India by Hindi speaking people ?

What does it all portend?

I may mention, after I left that hostel, people stopped asking for Abhay Chutiya to come to Reception. This caused many people in the Ladies section to forget their contraception and so, in a sense, I too have done my bit for the propagation of the Race.

Friday 7 December 2012

J'accuse Salman Khurshid!

Just when my respect for Salman Khushid was restored by his suave manner of dealing with Arvind Kejriwal's allegations of moral turpitude, I find myself having to revise my opinion by his spineless climb down in the face of the utterly Fascist and Culturally biased Norwegian Child Protection Service's relentless campaign to deprive Indian couples of their babies just because they feed them by hand or smack them once in a while.
As the popular Tamil song has it- Adikkira kai thaan Anaikkum; Anaikkira kai thaan adikkum’ (only the hitting hand is nurturing, only the the loving hand hits).
This is the simple message we must get across to the Norwegians. But what is our External Affairs Minister doing? Giving them a bit of what he gave Kejriwal? Not on your nellie.
J'accuse Salman Khurshid of having betrayed Mother India. Child Beating Centers in every Indian Embassy and High Commission should be opened immediately. Being located on Indian Sovereign territory, all N.R.I and P.I.O's should be able to avail of said Beating Centers without let or hindrance so as to hit their children without fear of arrest.  Foreigners may be charged a modest fee for the use of such Center as for example if Soniaji is visiting relatives and suddenly feels need to beat Baby Rahul without fear of arrest or the little fellow being taken away from her and put into Care.
India should be pro-active and open more Consulates with Child Beating Centers in every town and village of Scandinavia. That is the only way to bring those Norwegians to their senses.  Are you aware Norway is the only country to ban Yoga in prison? They say it makes the inmates too violent. Clearly this is because those Norwegian criminals did not receive high quality beating during childhood. I tell you, India should develop 'soft power' across the spectrum. 'Child Beating centers' in Embassies is just the start. 
Khurshid Mian is saying 'Consular staff should hold hands of families and be supportive'- this is the mealy mouthed language we have come to expect from this administration signifying another craven sell-out to the sinister forces of coercive globalization as utterly brazen and shameless in its way as f.d.i in retail.
Not 'holding hands' but hitting hands is the need of the hour.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Sanskrit, Globalization & Sheldon Pollock Bollocks

'What began when Sanskrit escaped the domain of the sacred was literature'
Is there any possible world where Prof. Sheldon Pollock's dictum, quoted above, is not arrant nonsense?
Certainly there is.
A close reading of Continental theory- or just watching a lot of Horror films and TV serials, which cashes out as the same thing- suggests a possible route to rescue Pollock Bollocks for the aspirant  or academic Indologist's sacred duty of 'tatte uttana'- i.e. the reverential lifting of the unwieldy and infeasibly bloated testicles of influential Professors.
Sanskrit might be a ghost or an angel or demon of some sort which some Superior Being had penned up in a cage called 'the sacred', but then it suddenly escaped and what it did after that was what we call literature.
However, this ghost or angel or demon, called Sanskrit, would not be the sort of thing human beings can see or talk sensibly about. Thus for a human being to make a statement of this sort is to mark him out as a man talking nonsense, at least so far as the rest of humanity is concerned.
But, wait, what about the following hypothesis?
 Human beings may from time to time become possessed by a Supernatural entity and say or write certain things which other human beings recognize as language. However, those human possessed by that 'language' are not responsible for their own speech acts nor have any real insight into how or why they came about. Instead, being wholly heteronomous, they might serve as a sort of hive mind for the disembodied 'language' which possesses them.
It so happens that there is some other disembodied plane or invisible dimension where this 'language' can  find itself suddenly captured and confined to a cage of some sort. 'The sacred' is one such cage. However,  nil desperandum auspice deo, 'language' has some providential means of escaping this cage and when it does some sub-set of the humans whom it possesses and controls start doing something other human beings can recognize to be 'literature'.
Anyway, that's what happened to Sanskrit.
What is wrong with the story outlined above? It's perfectly reasonable isn't it? Far from being 'nonsense', it is highly scientific and utilitarian. It may inspire us to find a way to pen up Sanskrit once again in a cage- not 'the sacred' because we have more than enough crap of that sort- but, I know, tell you what, lets pen it up in a cage called 'Superstring Theory' so that what it henceforth does is yield us a nice Theory of Everything! That would be way cool.
However, there is nothing cool at all about what Prof. Sheldon Pollock suggests we do with his great discovery- which is to shove it up the arse of that sinister 'coercive globalization' which all right thinking academics are up in arms against.

But is this really a good way for Sanskrit to end its not entirely undistinguished career? I mean, it was smart enough to escape from the domain of the sacred and start doing literature. Seems a shame for it to end up as a suicide bomb suppository.
Still, what is the alternative?
Nothing else is possible for Sanskrit- at least, if  there is any truth to the arguments Pollock advances in his magnum opus- viz.
1) Sanskrit was a sacred language restricted to religious practice before the Common Era.
If this statement is true, then Sanskrit was never a language like any other and thus never had any secular application nor any lineal descendants used for secular purposes before some dramatic change occurred 2000 years ago. This begs the question- how could it have had the appearance of language to human beings? Well, it must have possessed and captured the minds and bodies and wills of some set of human beings during a long period when it, itself, was caged up 'in the domain of the sacred'. The alternative explanation, viz. that some bunch of guys invented it and ring-fenced it for purely sacred purposes, fails because no such bunch of guys ever had enough power, esprit de corps, and unanimity, to enforce that ring-fencing at any time or across any great geographical space. Ah! But what if they had supernatural help? Well, supernatural things, by their nature are beyond our ken. We have no way of distinguishing between Supernatural aid and Supernatural possession. Both propositions have equal though contrary truth value and thus we must term both as nonsense until such time as some guy chants a mantra and suddenly a whole bunch of smart people start talking Sanskrit and produce a theory of Everything or design a self delivering pizza to any point in the past when you really could have relished noshing down on a slice but it was like 2 A.M and so you just went to the kitchen and ate a shit-load of cereal straight out of the box.
2) It was reinvented as a code for literary and political expression after the Common Era begins.
What? The Rg Veda and the Brhamanas and the Upanishads and the Itihasas also encode 'literary and political' expression? Nonsense! Veda is uncreated. What are you a Mlecha or a Nastik or Shudra? Kindly fuck off. It is unseemly that an untouchable barbarian like you is reading these sacred words.
You bastard! Yes I know you can read Skt epigraphs on public monuments. But those were only written after Sanskrit conducted her daring escape from the Stalag of the Sacred.
This is clearly shown by the epigraphic evidence. What? Nonsense! Epigraphy was never the monopoly of a highly skilled craft guild or sub-caste, certainly not, carving stuff on granite or iron or copper plate doesn't take any special skill at all, a child could do it! Well, okay, maybe not an ordinary child, but one possessed by Sanskrit. You know what kids are like. They like scribbling on walls and caves and other such unlikely places. Okay, maybe the non-Sanskrit inscriptions were done by expert craftsmen, but later on even they were possessed or partially possessed by Sanskrit. That explains why the earliest Junagadh and Mathura inscriptions aren't pure Sanskrit- I mean it, it takes Sanskrit some time to possess non-Brahmins, several generations in fact. Kindly watch 'Supernatural- Season 2' to understand the mechanism of inter-generational possession.

3) At the end of the first millennium, local speech forms were newly dignified as literary languages and began to challenge Sanskrit for both 'the work of poetry and power'.
Local speech forms used to be very simple creatures. They too possessed people but were caged in the domain, not of the sacred (even after Sanskrit escaped) but somewhere else. Anyway, a thousand years ago, they suddenly got all dignified- don't ask me how- and then they challenged Skt. to a dance off or a showdown at the OK corral or something of that sort. What's implausible about that? Stuff like that goes down all the time.  You may not be a trained Philologist but don't tell me you are naive enough to believe that Languages are all like pure and innocent and all just wanting to get along with each other. Take a look at your bookshelf. Fuck, is that my Monier Williams trying to sodomize the Thesaurus? Better believe it buddy. It's a brutal world out there in Philology phase space.
4) At the dawn of the third millennium 'coercive globalism' is causing vernaculars to mutate if not die out completely.
Indeed, it is that very same 'coercive globalism' responsible for the meme of suicide bombers getting a fatwa to license sodomy so as to enlarge their rectums for the insertion of larger payloads. Sanskrit, verily, is highly qualified (at least from the account Pollock gives us of it) to contribute shrapnel to that payload but it is only our great Professor's logic which is wholly explosive of any Universalist Logos.

And no, before you ask, I don't care how many fatwas you have, I will not enlarge your rectum.

Mind it kindly.

Monday 3 December 2012

Are we living through a second Axial Age?

Was there ever an Axial age when great thinkers acting independently in Greece and Palestine and China and Iran and India revolutionized Human Society and invented a new form of consciousness?
No- but philology does record sudden explosions in meta-metaphoricity based preference falsification  across diverse literate cultures not all of which, unfortunately, were ever entirely purged from our collective memory by the rising up of 'slave' castes or nations, like the Gokturks or Teutons or, indeed, Tamils, who concentrated on important stuff- metallurgy, horse breeding, plain speaking and piety as opposed to self aggrandizing psilosophy & Credentialist chrematistics.
Yet here is a book- The Axial Age and Its Consequences, by Robert Bellah and Hans Joas, which makes the bold claim that 'intellectual sophistication itself was born worldwide during this critical time. Across Eurasia, a new self-reflective attitude toward human existence emerged, and with it an awakening to the concept of transcendence. From Axial Age thinkers we inherited a sense of the world as a place not just to experience but to investigate, envision, and alter through human thought and action'.

What does 'the concept of transcendence' mean? It's the notion that you can get a superior type of knowledge from thinking about the sort of stuff which other people are also thinking about but thinking about merely to some useful, productive or coherent end.  Bill Gates made a lot of money by thinking about computers and how to make them more useful. Like Gates, I too thought about computers but didn't make any money or come up with anything useful. But my transcendental theory of personal computing is far more intellectually sophisticated and self reflective than his. I am able to apodictically prove not only that the self-sodomy of the post Kristevan Chora is an emergent of virtuous stroking of the mouse such that, uniquely, all Iyengars are shown to be secretly adding garlic to their sambar and God talks to me through my neighbor's cat. Unlike Gates, who just experiences the world and gets invited to cool places whereas I've just been barred from even my local pub, I have a lot more time to investigate, envision and alter the World through my own human thoughts and actions. This is because I don't actually live on this World but just visit from time to investigate it before getting thrown out of the pub.

There is an obvious counter to my argument- viz. 'Vivek, you are a stupid drunken slob, not an intellectual. Only intellectuals get to have theories which can be considered as self- reflective or transcendent. Okay, even if you are or were a Professor, it's probably somewhere crap or in some real shite subject so just fuck off.'
The problem with this rebuttal is that it shows precisely why the Axial age availability cascade is nothing but a wank. Jaspers, and other such low brow fuckwits, fasten on pedagogic traditions and discover that from time to time they get up their own arses with transcendent shite. But wherever these shite 'intellectuals' have shown up, everybody thought and said they were worthless cunts. Aristophanes spots Socrates for a fuckwit straight off the bat. Herodotus locates the dawn of free political discourse in Iran when 'after slaughtering the Magi, the truth loving Persians' sat down to consider the proper way to order society. Israel had its moment of glory before its God became Transcendent and has been in continuous decline ever since. Confucian scholars in China helped their country most when consigned to 'oil basket graves' and, as for the Brahmin grammarians. their own Saints damn them for their 'dukring karane' because a good thought may be badly expressed but stupidity remains stupidity no matter how grammatically correct.

Since runaway Academic Credentialism is associated with Cliodynamic sclerosis, as is the hypertrophy of Transcendent Religiosity and self-reflective Narcissistic injury, some people, like Karen Armstrong, think we are living through a second Axial Age. Fortunately, enough young people are quitting school to get rich quick while plenty of post Docs are waiting tables and driving buses so- so long as College fees continue to rise faster than inflation- we've dodged that bullet at least for the time being.