Monday 27 October 2014

Hamming- Maths is unreasonably effective in explaining why it must be so.

'Not too long ago I was trying to put myself in Galileo's shoes, as it were, so that I might feel how he came to discover the law of falling bodies. I try to do this kind of thing so that I can learn to think like the masters did-I deliberately try to think as they might have done.

Well, Galileo was a well-educated man and a master of scholastic arguments. He well knew how to argue the number of angels on the head of a pin, how to argue both sides of any question. He was trained in these arts far better than any of us these days. I picture him sitting one day with a light and a heavy ball, one in each hand, and tossing them gently. He says, hefting them, "It is obvious to anyone that heavy objects fall faster than light ones-and, anyway, Aristotle says so." "But suppose," he says to himself, having that kind of a mind, "that in falling the body broke into two pieces. Of course the two pieces would immediately slow down to their appropriate speeds. But suppose further that one piece happened to touch the other one. Would they now be one piece and both speed up? Suppose I tied the two pieces together. How tightly must I do it to make them one piece? A light string? A rope? Glue? When are two pieces one?"

The more he thought about it-and the more you think about it-the more unreasonable becomes the question of when two bodies are one. There is simply no reasonable answer to the question of how a body knows how heavy it is-if it is one piece, or two, or many. Since falling bodies do something, the only possible thing is that they all fall at the same speed-unless interfered with by other forces. There's nothing else they can do. He may have later made some experiments, but I strongly suspect that something like what I imagined actually happened. I later found a similar story in a book by Polya [7. G. Polya, Mathematical Methods in Science, MAA, 1963, pp. 83-85.]. Galileo found his law not by experimenting but by simple, plain thinking, by scholastic reasoning.

I know that the textbooks often present the falling body law as an experimental observation; I am claiming that it is a logical law, a consequence of how we tend to think.

Newton, as you read in books, deduced the inverse square law from Kepler's laws, though they often present it the other way; from the inverse square law the textbooks deduce Kepler's laws. But if you believe in anything like the conservation of energy and think that we live in a three-dimensional Euclidean space, then how else could a symmetric central-force field fall off? Measurements of the exponent by doing experiments are to a great extent attempts to find out if we live in a Euclidean space, and not a test of the inverse square law at all.

But if you do not like these two examples, let me turn to the most highly touted law of recent times, the uncertainty principle. It happens that recently I became involved in writing a book on Digital Filters [8. R. W. Hamming, Digital Filters, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., 1977.] when I knew very little about the topic. As a result I early asked the question, "Why should I do all the analysis in terms of Fourier integrals? Why are they the natural tools for the problem?" I soon found out, as many of you already know, that the eigenfunctions of translation are the complex exponentials. If you want time invariance, and certainly physicists and engineers do (so that an experiment done today or tomorrow will give the same results), then you are led to these functions. Similarly, if you believe in linearity then they are again the eigenfunctions. In quantum mechanics the quantum states are absolutely additive; they are not just a convenient linear approximation. Thus the trigonometric functions are the eigenfunctions one needs in both digital filter theory and quantum mechanics, to name but two places.

Now when you use these eigenfunctions you are naturally led to representing various functions, first as a countable number and then as a non-countable number of them-namely, the Fourier series and the Fourier integral. Well, it is a theorem in the theory of Fourier integrals that the variability of the function multiplied by the variability of its transform exceeds a fixed constant, in one notation l/2pi. This says to me that in any linear, time invariant system you must find an uncertainty principle. The size of Planck's constant is a matter of the detailed identification of the variables with integrals, but the inequality must occur.

As another example of what has often been thought to be a physical discovery but which turns out to have been put in there by ourselves, I turn to the well-known fact that the distribution of physical constants is not uniform; rather the probability of a random physical constant having a leading digit of 1. 2, or 3 is approximately 60%, and of course the leading digits of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 occur in total only about 40% of the time. This distribution applies to many types of numbers, including the distribution of the coefficients of a power series having only one singularity on the circle of convergence. A close examination of this phenomenon shows that it is mainly an artifact of the way we use numbers.

Having given four widely different examples of nontrivial situations where it turns out that the original phenomenon arises from the mathematical tools we use and not from the real world, I am ready to strongly suggest that a lot of what we see comes from the glasses we put on. Of course this goes against much of what you have been taught, but consider the arguments carefully. You can say that it was the experiment that forced the model on us, but I suggest that the more you think about the four examples the more uncomfortable you are apt to become. They are not arbitrary theories that I have selected, but ones which are central to physics,

In recent years it was Einstein who most loudly proclaimed the simplicity of the laws of physics, who used mathematics so exclusively as to be popularly known as a mathematician. When examining his special theory of relativity paper [9. G. Holton Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought, Kepler to Einstein, Harvard University Press, 1973.] one has the feeling that one is dealing with a scholastic philosopher's approach. He knew in advance what the theory should look like. and he explored the theories with mathematical tools, not actual experiments. He was so confident of the rightness of the relativity theories that, when experiments were done to check them, he was not much interested in the outcomes, saying that they had to come out that way or else the experiments were wrong. And many people believe that the two relativity theories rest more on philosophical grounds than on actual experiments.

Thus my first answer to the implied question about the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is that we approach the situations with an intellectual apparatus so that we can only find what we do in many cases. It is both that simple, and that awful. What we were taught about the basis of science being experiments in the real world is only partially true. Eddington went further than this; he claimed that a sufficiently wise mind could deduce all of physics. I am only suggesting that a surprising amount can be so deduced. Eddington gave a lovely parable to illustrate this point. He said, "Some men went fishing in the sea with a net, and upon examining what they caught they concluded that there was a minimum size to the fish in the sea."

2. We select the kind of mathematics to use. Mathematics does not always work. When we found that scalars did not work for forces, we invented a new mathematics, vectors. And going further we have invented tensors. In a book I have recently written [10. R. W. Hamming, Coding and Information Theory, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ., 1980.] conventional integers are used for labels, and real numbers are used for probabilities; but otherwise all the arithmetic and algebra that occurs in the book, and there is a lot of both, has the rule that


Thus my second explanation is that we select the mathematics to fit the situation, and it is simply not true that the same mathematics works every place.

3. Science in fact answers comparatively few problems. We have the illusion that science has answers to most of our questions, but this is not so. From the earliest of times man must have pondered over what Truth, Beauty, and Justice are. But so far as I can see science has contributed nothing to the answers, nor does it seem to me that science will do much in the near future. So long as we use a mathematics in which the whole is the sum of the parts we are not likely to have mathematics as a major tool in examining these famous three questions.

Indeed, to generalize, almost all of our experiences in this world do not fall under the domain of science or mathematics. Furthermore, we know (at least we think we do) that from Godel's theorem there are definite limits to what pure logical manipulation of symbols can do, there are limits to the domain of mathematics. It has been an act of faith on the part of scientists that the world can be explained in the simple terms that mathematics handles. When you consider how much science has not answered then you see that our successes are not so impressive as they might otherwise appear.
4. The evolution of man provided the model. I have already touched on the matter of the evolution of man. I remarked that in the earliest forms of life there must have been the seeds of our current ability to create and follow long chains of close reasoning. Some people [11. H. Mohr, Structure and Significance of Science, Springer-Verlag, 1977.] have further claimed that Darwinian evolution would naturally select for survival those competing forms of life which had the best models of reality in their minds-"best" meaning best for surviving and propagating. There is no doubt that there is some truth in this. We find, for example, that we can cope with thinking about the world when it is of comparable size to ourselves and our raw unaided senses, but that when we go to the very small or the very large then our thinking has great trouble. We seem not to be able to think appropriately about the extremes beyond normal size.

Just as there are odors that dogs can smell and we cannot, as well as sounds that dogs can hear and we cannot, so too there are wavelengths of light we cannot see and flavors we cannot taste. Why then, given our brains wired the way they are, does the remark "Perhaps there are thoughts we cannot think," surprise you? Evolution, so far, may possibly have blocked us from being able to think in some directions; there could be unthinkable thoughts.

If you recall that modern science is only about 400 years old, and that there have been from 3 to 5 generations per century, then there have been at most 20 generations since Newton and Galileo. If you pick 4,000 years for the age of science, generally, then you get an upper bound of 200 generations. Considering the effects of evolution we are looking for via selection of small chance variations, it does not seem to me that evolution can explain more than a small part of the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics.

Conclusion. From all of this I am forced to conclude both that mathematics is unreasonably effective and that all of the explanations I have given when added together simply are not enough to explain what I set out to account for. I think that we-meaning you, mainly-must continue to try to explain why the logical side of science-meaning mathematics, mainly-is the proper tool for exploring the universe as we perceive it at present. I suspect that my explanations are hardly as good as those of the early Greeks, who said for the material side of the question that the nature of the universe is earth, fire, water, and air. The logical side of the nature of the universe requires further exploration.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Saiichi Maruya, Ninomiya 'Concession' & the true Paradox of Thrift

The Student Protests of 1968- a year when Universal History reached a turning point, but failed to turn- has left many monuments in fiction, all more or less shite, save Saiichi Maruya's 'Singular Rebel'.
Why? How did it come about?
Suitably interrogated, Sartre might say it was because those Uprisings were Serial not Singular and, armed with this confession, Deleuze might quite reasonably deduce that what was happening was not the Hegelian 'generality' of Rebellion but what he himself distinguished as the ironic & artistic notion of 'Repetition'- thus providing us a plausible explanation for what would otherwise be the naked scandal of Cohn Bendit's De Gaulle besting Generalship, not to mention, for dusky sub-continental types, the Trotskyite tadil-i-arkan posturings of our own, always hilarious, Tariq Ali.

However, for the novel,  Deleuzian 'difference without a concept' effectively means that dynamics can't be Aristotelian- the unfolding of an inward hamartia- nor, indeed, Augustinian- universal sublation as arising out of the out-spooling of one privileged haecceity. How, then, can it bridge chorismos and establish an, at least minimally, moral causality?

Ad captum vulgi theodicy- i.e. old wives tales & vernacular shibboleths- perhaps tarted up a bit by things like the Buddhist bardo (i.e. antarabhava) or Sufi barzakh or Shinto jujutsu-teki- or, indeed, what synteresis could come to mean in that Limbo between the Holy Ghost's Eckhart and the Too Wholly Human's Eckermann- informs that lacuna for us deeply subaltern St. Columba's types, unless (obviously) we were actually smart enough to go on to St. Stephens or Cambridge instead of Ramjas College or the equally declasse LSE, in which case we wouldn't be ignominiously blogging but, infinitely more humiliatingly, actually getting paid for writing obscenely patronising Op-Eds more imbecilic yet than our own obsolescent Paideia might warrant, thus endowing even the most egregiously side whiskered of surviving soixante huitard retards with, alas!, a continuing relevance.

Getting back to Maruya's novel and seeking an explanations for its, not sui generis but universally ouroboric excellence, I think what happened is that our distinguished Joyce scholar, with Joycean cunning, hid the mot theme foundational to its moral economy, disguised the sphota of its occult  systems of synteresis, from its (very able, but Gaijin) translator by means of the too cheap and obvious trick of waving a gold watch in front of us like a comic book hypnotist.
I should explain, Clocks and Watches do a lot of the semiotic heavy-lifting in Maruya's book.
Yet, the one word not used, the one type of clock not mentioned, is wadokei- the pre Meiji horological innovation allowing for 'feudal-rice-economy' Lunar time to run in parallel with that Western, 'Modern', 'Capitalist' Time whose monopoly of Buddhist momentariness, monopsony of Bergsonian duration, was only enforced in 1872
The author encourages us to jump to the conclusion that because Japanese Society displayed features
characteristic of a 'dual economy' it, therefore, was an imperfect imitation of a Western Liberal Democracy and only had what we in India call 'damaged modernity' with the result that its protagonists remained in the grip of Kantian heteronomy and thus suffered from the Borgesian dysphoria of knowing deep down that they weren't wholly real.

Obviously, such a view is pure horse-shit. Every fucking economy is dual as is every Society. Kantian autonomy is fucked in the head.

It's all very well to say- 'in Japan, there is a mis-match between the Westernised sector which follows Newtonian Time and the Traditional Sector which is like regulated by some fucking stone age Mayan Calendar and so, like, one of these days the two types of Time will go out of sync and then Japan will fucking explode or Godzilla will rise up or them Nips will start bombing Pearl Harbor or committing Hara Kiri all over the place or summat similar coz let's face it them slitty eyed little bastards just look different from us okay?  and like you know how them furriners are- they might look okay, even behave okay but they are furriners all the same and sure to go totally tonto sooner or later. I mean David Cameron is clearly a French Cambodian lady boy wot can't speak a word of English and has never set foot in this country. How did he become P.M? It's all the doing of that slitty eyed I.D.S; he had a Jap grandmother you know. Fuck you Ian Duncan Smith! Fuck youse and fuck all the rest of yourse fucking foreigners wot are ruining this country. Can't even get a decent balti anymore.'

Urm...sorry? Got a bit carried away there. Too nakedly revealed my blogging agenda. Anyway, my point is though it may sound scary to say that there are two or more types of Time keeping in operation, this really isn't a big deal.  No doubt, there will be real time effects but, like, 'Triple witching hours' in the Stock Market  these are things we can predict and plan for. Watch makers in Europe and Japan discovered long ago how to show two or more different types of time simultaneously on a clock-face, or later on, a pocket watch. Japanese horologists, like Japanese gunsmiths, were always very technically accomplished and highly inventive and so forth. Maruya's generation may have had a bit of an inferiority complex about the 'made in Japan' label, but he himself was aware that things were changing pretty rapidly on that front.
But, if Maruya isn't whining about how Japan aint modern enough, what is he actually doing?

On first reading, the novel appears written in a sprightly enough style, though hobbled by the stilted interchanges between the three creakingly 'modernist intellectual' middle aged bourgeois characters who establish its topos and set the wheels of its Comedy in motion. These are- first, the slobbish Sociology graduate who edits a Beer Company's promotional magazine and who introduces the two lovers to each other: second, the personable protagonist, an Economist who once worked at MITI but, supposedly, resigned because he refused a transfer to the Ministry of Defense; and, third and most egregiously, the Liberal Arts Professor whose surname, chimes ironically with that of the great 'Peasant Economist', or Japanese Samuel Smiles, Sontoku Ninomiya who, himself being a poor peasant from a remote Northern province and innocent of Rangaku , though distilling the essence of the Da Xue & the spirit of Moh Tzu, nevertheless possessed only an old fashioned solar watch.

Explicitly mentioning the Sage Ninomiya, early in the book, the protagonist, the ex-MITI bureaucrat, quotes him as inspiring, in his native province, a backlash against his own Merchant Class ancestor by a Bakufu feudalism on its last legs- a bankrupt 'back to the land' Moralism enforced by Samurai romantic thuggery morally equivalent to that of the yakuza movie gangster. Except, the protagonist's ancestor wasn't actually cut down by a pack of swordsmen as he returned from a cherry blossom viewing. A drunken ronin lunged at him with a spear during the famously corrupt Elections campaign of 1892 and the merchant ran ignominiously away- that's all.
Still, the boozy Sociologist, and later on the 'angry young man' activist photographer with a big dick, respect the hero because they believe he, like his ancestor, defied the Militarists under the banner of Bourgeois individualism. However, during the course of the novel, the protagonist learns that the Japanese people at large, by some mysterious 'invisible hand' market clearing albeit sub-conscious system of arbitrage,  adhere to a system of moral equivalences such that shirking your duty as a Civil Servant actually equates to being 'damaged goods'. Yes, the protagonist gets a hot young wife, but with her comes a grandmother just out of jail for killing her husband. Worse yet, at work, what is entailed is a transfer out of Tokyo to take charge of a provincial factory, which, ironically, he will restore to profitability by employing female convicts from his wife's grandmother's old Jail. His hot young wife, who has a one night stand with the activist photographer with the big dick, similarly must go with the hero and drudge as his salaryman spouse in that Provincial wilderness. She too has been judged and found wanting. Singular rebellions are tolerated but sooner or later Society pronounces its judgement and the punishment fits the timidity of the crime.
Of course, the same thing happened in Maruya's lyrical previous novel, set before the Student Unrest, when it appeared Japan was moving rightward, not leftward. In 'grass for my pillow', the hero finds out that his status as a draft evader entails an arranged marriage to a hot young virgin (so one better than the ex MITI guy) but a habitual kleptomaniac. He too discovers that, instead of promotion, his career will end in exile from Tokyo, running a provincial high school.
Had both protagonists boasted of their 'singular rebellions' and, more importantly, gloried in the erotic adventures which those rebellions made possible, they would not have faced Provincial relegation and got stuck with 'damaged goods' wives with sub-par cooking skills. Why? The Japanese value Hedonism for its own sake- but it must be bold, heartless, and laugh in the face of death.
'Singular rebellions' and timid trajectories of escape- conceal what they should proudly display so as to receive the moral equivalent of a rent from Society.
After all, what attracted the fashion model, Prof. Nonomiya's daughter, to the ex MITI salaryman was not the story about his grandfather being cut down by Samurai, because he'd dared to set up a Rice Exchange or a Private Bank, but the story of his extravagance towards a sickly courtesan for whom he bought 12 Piaget pocket watches in succession because her only remaining delight lay in flicking open their cases to hear a mechanical music till, one by one, their escapements too broke down.

The protagonist deprecates his ancestor's extravagant gesture but is, perhaps, secretly proud of it.
Reading the novel, one way to parse plot developments is by saying to oneself- 'The Sage Ninomiya counselled thrift. Samurai disciples of Ninomiya attacked this extravagant merchant. Yet, by the Field theoretic workings of that which is Societal in karma, the daughter of a literary scholar (the sage Ninomiya was a self educated Confucian, his statue stands in front of many schools) is attracted by this ancestral extravagance to the widowed Economist. Her father, anxious to get her married before her grandmother gets out of Jail, barges in on the ex MITI official and gets him to propose honourable marriage to his daughter by harping on the surely equivocal fact that she is no better than a kept woman. How does he manage this? Does he wave a katana in the air? Does he weep or quote Confucius? No. It is his savoir faire and knowing-too-knowing references to Japan's 'damaged modernity' which seals the deal. But only seals the deal because both parties were- this their mutual 'unthought known'- morally equivalent 'damaged goods' bound together indissolubly- Economists call this a zero-regret equilibrium- by reason only of a future, that too wholly undetermined, mutual ontic betrayal and epistemic infidelity.
 So, it turns out- and this is what makes Maruya, despite himself, a great writer- Japan's modernity wasn't damaged at all; its foundational synteresis, or unspoken system of moral arbitrage wasn't 'dual' or 'schizoid'. On the contrary, it was univocal and that too in a manner which shows that the Sage Ninomiya's economy was actually a General Equilibrium free of the sort of fault which the Sixties discovered in that concept. The hero, you will remember, is an Economist. He'd know about the Sonnenschein Mantel Debreu result which essentially says we can't distinguish 'good' equilibria from 'bad' ones because of wealth effects. But, in the Sage Ninomiya's work, Saving is defined as 'Concession'- a deliberate choice to increase the consumption, improve the welfare, of the other. Thus there is no 'Paradox of Thrift' or 'Income Effect' swamping pure Golden Path Gross Substitutability. Why? That Golden Path is the Peach Blossom Valley, it is the Chinese Unicorn, it is Rihaku- 'Golden Millet's next life'- drunkenly drowning to save the Moon's reflection.  Plainly put, Society is that Satori we set aside so our Singular Rebellions save anyone but ourselves.

So, bluntly speaking, Japan in the Sixties is more 'modern'- i.e rational and objective in solving 'stable marriage type problems'- than the America of the Great Moderation.
It doesn't just deliver better standards of living faster, it actually has an unspoken Moral economy which is univocal with actual outcomes.
To my mind this is a remarkable result.
To be clear, in 1941, if we had to predict who would be massacring South East Asian 'gooks' a quarter of a Century down the road- who in their right mind would have replied Yanks not Nips?

One final comment-
It is a pity that Gandhi, who had a book about Ninomiya in his library, didn't absorb its message. A Ninomiya type Gandhian activist, or Gandhian novelist could have repaired our 'damaged modernity'.
Perhaps, some young person in India who stumbles on this blog while looking for porn will take up the challenge of giving 'Modi-ism' a coherent foundation in Moral Science (as Economics used to be known) by reading the works of Prof. Aiko Ikeo of Waseda University in this regard.
What am I saying? There probably already are Indian students at Waseda University who have taken precisely this course. Oh well, I'll just go back to posting dirty pics of Veena Malik and P.Chidambaram who is like seriously hot dude and the spitting image of Pippa Middleton when viewed from behind.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Suraj Kund

For my eyes were hot springs of healing waters
 All wed Despair's dropsical Daughters
At my Summit, tho' the winds are keen
Your bronchial kids yet are mean.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Masques of the Red Queen

I only wedded Malice
To go through the Mirror with Alice
& Outrun, tho' their Scene
 Masques of the Red Queen.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Telegony is Ulysses' Price

I'm tired of Civil apologies for Criminal views
Descrying Crypto-Zionists in but Credentialized Jews
Who, compiling our Chrematistic Chrestomathy
     Are Sykophántēs to Sophia's sociopathy

Apollo's Sabbath at the Omphalic shrine
Its but builders keep; tho' drinking wine
Who die not young yet know joy
Only as Trophonius' shabes goy

Dick, the first vagina you issued from
Has as hymen this Jungle drum
Telegony is Ulysses' 'Price
'Equation' or Nietzsche nice

Your Genidentity flee else our Gestalt
Is Hannan consistent- oy gevalt!
& tho' the Universe perish, Opportunity's spume
Is Regret's diminuendo's stave salt of doom.

 Prince!  All call it a wizard wheeze
To fuck Aeon's arse while yet it freeze.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Kafila, Jinniology and Secular Modernity's Tiger of Wrath

Edit- So as to take revenge for my showering uncouth abuse upon her in the course of this blog post, Aarti Sethi has written very sweetly to me to say she thinks I might be 'erudite' not in Angrezi as wot she is spoke by Queenji also, but in 'Sanskrit and Tamil and Persian' and such like. 
OMG! She thinks I'm some dehati Uncleji type! The shame! The humiliation! 
I have written back to her saying 'Beti, kindly do Love Jihad against Muslim Professors- especially if they come from Kashmir- and rape them and force them to marry you to bachao their izzat same as what Ananya Vajpayi did to that nice Basharat Peer. Remember, true Heroines of Hindutva like Ananya are allowed to marry up 5 husbands at one time. Jai Hindutva! NaMo Shivaya!'

A Tiger of Wrath.
A mentally ill young man somehow got into the Tiger enclosure in Delhi zoo. The Zoo staff should have tranquilized the Tiger, but their dart gun was locked up somewhere and Red Tape is Red Tape.
The crowd threw stones at the tiger, which was watching the young man intently. Perhaps, this was the wrong thing to do. Maybe it caused the tiger to pounce on the poor fellow and drag him away. 
Kafila, the leading Careerist, Credentialist, faux Left-Liberal website published an extraordinarily foolish post on the death of that young man from which I excerpt the following-
'Maqsood Pardesi was the bearer of a message: Maqsood comes from the Arabic root “qasad”: intention. From which come both “qasida” a petition; a prayer; a praise, and “qasid” the messenger. In Persian the Arabic transforms to “maqsad”: meaning, and maqsood: intention; desire. What is the maqsad of Maqsood’s life? How will he be remembered?

As a “mentally ill” drunk whose “obsession” was responsible for his ludicrous death? As a sad case whose strange manner of dying testified to the destitution of his brief life? Or, as a man who wagered, and lost, his life on the impulsion of an encounter? Mourning Maqsood’s death does not preclude taking seriously the extraordinary vitality of his life. To posthumously pathologise Maqsood by calling him “mentally ill” is to impoverish his memory, and denude our capacity to receive that which is given, and appears, only very rarely.

Maqsood Pardesi walked into the enclosure of a tiger! What is lamentable about a death like this? Why must it mark a “failure”: his, society’s, the zoo authorities’? Is this not perhaps how, when the world was a richer more awake place, people went to meet the spirits and the gods?

Tigers are beautiful. Unfortunately, humans are tasty. Simone Weil said 'perhaps the primordial sin is to try to eat what one should only look at.' She didn't say it to a Tiger though. It mightn't have agreed and anyway Simone was off her head and soon died of inanition.
But what has all this to do with 'Kafila'- the caravan of the Careerist Left winding its way through the vast Sahara of Indian Secular discourse?
Surely this is not a case where 'tigers of wrath' turn out to be more worthwhile than 'the horses of instruction?'
After all, Maqsood had paid for admission to the Delhi Zoo. That institution had a duty of care towards him. Whether he jumped or fell into the Tiger enclosure is irrelevant. The Zoo has a legal obligation to protect even crazy people who endanger themselves. In this case, proper procedure required the tranquilizing of the Tiger. But the dart gun was locked away. This is criminal negligence plain and simple. 
The reason rational people should lament a death like this is because, as members of the Public, we need to take responsibility for the actions of Public Bodies which act on our behalf. The Delhi Zoo is a Public Body. It had a duty of care. It failed to discharge this duty and is guilty of criminal negligence. This certainly is cause for lamentation, for breast beating, for righteous indignation and a calling of public officials to account. What it isn't cause for, at least for rational members of Civil Society, is some belles lettrist vapouring about how mebbe the world was a richer more awake place when people went to meet the spirits and the gods and ended up being mauled and eaten.
The writer of the post from which I have quoted is a lady with a Hindu name. She explicitly mentions the young man's religious and cultural background- viz Muslim and 'foreign' (the literal meaning of his surname). The tiger, incidentally, had a Hindu name- 'Vijay'- 'victory'.
A person with a male Muslim name- Imtiaz Ali- left several increasingly irate comments on the lady's post. He appeared to believe, that the duty of Hindu intellectuals is to condemn Hindutva, not parade their knowledge of Urdu and engage in Akeel Bilgrami type waffle about 'Enchantment'.
 Clearly, Hindu intellectuals need to establish that Maqsood was killed by Modi's minions- something they can easily do if they stop pretending to know Persian and Arabic and concentrate simply on doing 'a proper anthropology of Hinduism' so as to disclose 'the ontology of Hindutva'. This, surely, is the 'need of the hour'.
The lady, in reply, pointed out that Hindutva is as boring as shite and saying Hindusim is crap requires some pretence of knowing about Hinduism so fuck that and anyway all the big league Professors have already vomited all over the subject so gimme a break, hon.
The Muslim gentleman replies that it is the responsibility of people with Hindu names to vomit all over Hinduism because when people with non-Hindu names do it they just come across as ignorant or ISIL.  I mean a Muslim dude can scarcely write stuff like ' Hinduism is an evil religion which creates Hindutva which is an evil ideology responsible for thousands of people risking their own lives to kill non-Hindus.' without looking a complete wally. Thus ladies with Hindu names should take on the job coz they can always pretend they just been raped by Hindutva guys who tore open their belly, dragged a fetus out of it, raped the fetus and then ripped open its belly to drag a fetus out of it which they raped and like ever since Modi became PM it's like totally going down 24/7 in every Hindu household and nobody notices coz they aint Hindu ladies and like Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum gonna write a book about it soon which I will co-author so just take my word for it already.'
Clearly the Muslim dude is making a valid point. Hindu ladies have a duty to tell vicious lies about Hinduism coz non-Hindus don't wanna look stupid by publishing those same lies, as original research, under their own names.

 How does the Hindu lady get out of the stern task the Muslim gentleman has set for her?

To find out,  why not read the whole thing for yourself?

Imtiaz ali permalink
September 27, 2014 3:48 PM
The tragedy of secular moderns of India is their fascination with Islam. Having said that I think all attempts to understand any object of knowledge are welcome!
Aarti do you not feel that the need of the hour, the need of several decades now is to understand Hinduism in India. Bhrigu does focus on Hinduism but then again the forms which he investigates are devoid of any political agency.
Does not India desperately need an anthropology of Hinduism, particularly of Hindutva. What do we know about the maqsad of Hindutva. What is it about Hindutiva that people ready to sacrifice their life for this ideology.
Where is the definitive account anthropology of contempt that Hindutva sows.
How does Hindutva operate within a Hindu canon. What has transformed in the motivation of people who joined Hindutva organisations a 100 years back and now. What is the ontology of Hindutva.
Yes there are several hundred articles written on Hindutva, on Hindusim. Yes there are tens of book on this topic as well. But somehow on an everyday commonsensical level knowledge about Hindutva and Hinduism does not seem to be have crossed a discursive threshold.
No secular modern non-Hindu can attempt to ask questions on Hindutva in India as an object of inquiry. Even if she wants to study Hinduvta, has familiarized herself with the cannon and so on she probably will not do it. No secular modern non-Hindu can do an anthropology of the Sangh. And it appears secular modern Hindus are too busy analyzing jinns of Delhi, which is really sad!
Why is it that I can’t think of any Bollywood film or any novel for that matter any anthropological account which depicts radicalisation of Hindus in India. Maybe boys in the branches is an exception but that it is so old now. I wonder how many people know about it. At the same time films like Fiza, Shahid readily comes to my mind when I turn the angle.
  • Aarti Sethi permalink*
    September 28, 2014 7:35 PM
    Thank you very much for your comment. You raise some very serious questions. Let me try and respond
    So first, I disagree with you :) In my opinion “Hindutva” is precisely that of which we do not need any anthropologies. Of course if someone wishes to write one they should do so, but I personally would have zero interest in such an undertaking. Why? Because I do not think such an exercise will yield anything particularly productive. When it comes to phenomenon such as Hindutva there could be, broadly, two reasons for why one might be interested in studying them. The first, which we can call an “instrumentalist” reason, is because it is good to know one’s enemy in order to fight. So we need to study Hindutva so we can sharpen our weapons against it. If this is our purpose then the hundreds of studies, as you yourself mention, on the history, emergence, demographic composition, political vocabulary, and everyday practices of Hindutva produced by a legion of political scientists and historians already give us a detailed understanding. And more, there are classic works on fascism as well that address not the specificity of Hindutva, but tell us how and why and through what means ideaologies such as Hindutva find resonance amongst particular groups at particular moments in history.
    But there may be another reason to study Hindutva: because in itself there is something exciting vivifying about Hindutva for the.researcher, and on this count for me Hindutva falls flat. This is I think the source of disagreement between us: i.e. on what constitutes a “resource”.
    You mention Bhrigu’s work and say that the sorts of popular Hinduisms he studies have no “political agency”. You are right, and I think that is precisely what is exciting about his work and the practices he looks at. Again for you the study of Djinns is a cause for lament while for me Anand’s work opens an entire terrain of . The question is, at what level must “resources” be produced and towards what purpose. The kinds of practices that Bhrigu and Anand study do not operate at the level of what you term “politics”, and therefore cannot be marshaled for “political agency”. This is precisely why they continue to produce pathways along which people find routes of escape. Because these practices have somehow (thus far though I wonder for how much longer) managed to elude capture by the state form and the dead-end exhausted trap of representational politics.
    So what sort of study of Hindutva would you wish for that has not been undertaken already? Towards what purpose?
    • Aarti Sethi permalink*
      September 28, 2014 7:48 PM
      One last connected thought: If you ask me, the need of the hour is to turn our back on all thought that takes the current form of the state as its starting point and its destination. Everyone has their own functions to perform, and if academics have been given the extraordinary privilege and liberty to be the priests of a secular world and get paid for thinking, then at the least they can do is produce (and/or recover/discover) images of worlds which we may wish to inhabit. If this is the case, then these images, to my mind, will not come from an exploration of the wastelands (imaginative and actual) that the state has produced. They will have to come from elsewhere, precisely from sites such as Anand and Bhrigu point to.
      Does this mean that we should give up on even analyzing what the state, and things allied with it, does? No of course not. We are condemned to live under one, so we are condemned to not ignore our master. However these must be seen as reports on the doings of power. Not as sites from which alternative visions of life can flow. Therefore I think there is no need for anthropologies of Hindutva. What we have, and thankfully we have a lot, will do :)
      • Imtiaz ali permalink
        October 5, 2014 4:50 AM
        I am sorry but did I make an argument about knowledge? Whether the knowledge appeals to instrumentalist reason or whether it is vivifying is not the point I was trying to make. The point I wanted to raise and still want to raise pertains to the responsibility of intellectuals.
        For in a society where knowledge is such a scare resource is it not the responsibility of intellectuals who are in a privileged position to expose the lies of power, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions? And explain to the general public through the help of their training what is power up to.
        Tell me what do I do with the knowledge of emerging liberal ideologues working for the empire writing enchanting texts about chattan baba or the jinns? Their work is slowly appearing to be as crucial and critical as that of a German anthropologist working diligently in the 1930’s writing about peripatetic priests of Calvinism or the jewish mysticism in Munich.
        Should I not look upon intellectuals to explain what called the mobs to murder a techie in Pune? What message did Dhananjay Desai bear? How would you, as a trained anthropologist, look at what’s coming from Mangalwari Mahal in Nagpur? How would you look at the PMO? Can you even do an anthropology of PMO with as much of command over ideas as you wrote about Mr. Pardesi? My guess is perhaps you can but you’d rather not. Because you suggest, do you not, Hindutva as an idea, as a practice, as a system of thought does not matter now because too much has been already written on that subject, isn’t it?
        No one can tell anyone what to write and what to research. It is as much a researcher’s imperative to write as it is of a reader’s to read and comment. You wrote an extremely moving piece about Mr. Pardesi. I know now because Mr. Pardesi bore a message therefore he went to meet Mr. Tiger. Mr. Tiger did not kill Mr. Pardesi. Mr. Pardesi died a tragic death while meeting Mr. Tiger. The logic of your interpretation is resolute. Your interpretation is deeply nuanced and could I dare say absolutely brilliant! I thank you for your keen observations and look forward to read more of your wonderful writings.
  • Aarti Sethi permalink*
    October 5, 2014 2:21 PM
    @ Imtiaz,
    Thanks again for coming in. I think we disagree on some very fundamental questions to do with how one lives in the world and what might constitute a responsibility towards it. It remains to be seen if these disagreements are productive or not, and what their political stakes are.
    So, you say:
    “Whether the knowledge appeals to instrumentalist reason or whether it is vivifying is not the point I was trying to make. The point I wanted to raise and still want to raise pertains to the responsibility of intellectuals.”
    What we think of as the ends of knowledge is intimately connected to what you call the “responsibility of intellectuals”.
    “Should I not look upon intellectuals to explain what called the mobs to murder a techie in Pune? What message did Dhananjay Desai bear? How would you, as a trained anthropologist, look at what’s coming from Mangalwari Mahal in Nagpur? How would you look at the PMO? Can you even do an anthropology of PMO with as much of command over ideas as you wrote about Mr. Pardesi? My guess is perhaps you can but you’d rather not.”
    The responsibility of academics and intellectuals towards the world they live in is contiguous with the responsibilities of others who live in the world also. (Is this true? Can we imagine a doxastic logic based on the notion of contiguity? Sure. Why not? Cogs in a machine, or operations along a critical path, could be thought of as having 'contiguous' responsibilities. Why? Because they don't need to have an internal picture of how the whole coheres. They face no concurrency, race hazard or co-ordination problems. In other words, 'contiguous responsibilities' are precisely the sort which can be discharged without the use of the intellect or the carrying forward a Research Program.  Thus, Intellectual or Academic responsibility must always be overlapping or pre-emptive, never contiguous- otherwise, for starters, Maths would be exhaustible and thus the demarcation problem would have a canonical solution and stuff like 'angelology' be wholly Scientific and Popperian) Therefore an academic must do what they can to protect lives and limit harm, (excluding harm to people who lose their life due to the criminal negligence of Public officials at Delhi Zoo) and oppose power (Zoo officials have the power to make the tiger enclosure safe- but you aint opposing their failure to do so are you? Instead you write illiterate shite) and help, (what fucking help have you ever given anyone you stupid jhollawallah careerist? You have a responsibility to use your brain and think logically.) in whatever way they can, those who find themselves in powers’ crosshairs. And this academics do all the time. But there is something more at stake here for you I think. Which has to do with what you see as the “professional” function of academics (and by extension I presume intellection in general). So let me try and address some of this.
    If it is illumination you are seeking, then there are already several works that academics have produced that try and grapple with the murder of a techie in Pune. (Either those 'several works' are shite or the don't exist or you haven't read them or you are too fucking mean spirited to tell this poor semi-literate Muslim nutjob what great discovery they have made)  And Dhananjay Desai bore the same message that fascist thugs everywhere bear. (Fuck off! Fascism comes in a lorra different flavours. Their message aint univocal. It is an elementary rule of survival that has us look for wedge issues to divide our assailants- e.g. back in the Seventies I always called skinheads 'proddy bastards'- which meant the Catholic Irish amongst them gave me a pass. My calculation was based on the knowledge that, had the skinhand band I encountered been wholly Protestant, I'd have been kicked to death anyway. )This is why beyond stating this, there is nothing that a further excavation of his experience can yield. (Absolute shite. Look at the work of Vibhuti Narain Rai. His meticulous research and accessible writing genuinely changed the Hindu mind-set in a wholly salutary way.) What would such an exploration open? (An exploration of Dhanjay Desai would open the fact that he is a Frankenstein monster created and propped up by  the 'Secular' Congress-NCP alliance) How would it extend our expand or further the ways in which we might inhabit our worlds? (Are you fucking kidding me? By finding out about who is actually backing this worthless cunt who got an innocent 24 year old techie killed we stop living in your fucking cartoon world of 'Fascist thugs' and Foucaldian parrhesia as Arundhati Roy ranting and shite.  We wanna see that fucking double D getting titty fucked in Tihar Jail. Then we want him hanged along with his better educated, orAfsal, Gurus.) This is the rub, this is where our differences lie: on what we see as the ends of thought and its connection to responsibility....
     ...But seriously, I think you should interrogate what makes you think that an engagement with mysticism and human experiences of this sort is somehow a less valuable, or less critical, engagement with the crises of the present, than an anthropology of the PMO. BTW, I'd read a  properly researched Bourdieusian social anthropology of the PMO. So would any BRIC hedge fund manager. So would any Mechanism Design guy. So would any sensible person. Why? There are no fucking Gods and magic Tigers involved. Is it because things like mystical experience strike you as frivolous, or “not located in the real world” (a favourite barb thrown at academics such as myself)? As if somehow we are writing or thinking about experiences that inhabit some other, and indeed a lesser world? I am telling you now that if you are searching for redemption to the crises of this current moment, it will not come from undertaking an anthropology of the PMO.
    A fair question at this stage would be to ask, so to what “crises” are these engagements responding? At what level is this”crises” located? I’m afraid the answer to that is far too long to undertake here. You don't fucking know do you? You seriously haven't a clue. Deracinated poseur- you can always emigrate to La-La land. Fuck you, fuck Kafila- youse guys r shite.

So, kids, what have we learnt today?
A Public Body, the Delhi Zoo, is guilty of criminal negligence. A young life is snuffed out. Public intellectuals need to identify the cause of the tragedy and to show how the same sorts of mechanism design error in other Public Bodies is leading to massive avoidable loss of Life and Life Chances.
This is a widespread problem. Plenty of the people who read Kafila, even some vernacular contributors to Kafila,  are engaged in fighting bureaucratic inertia and stupidity of the sort exhibited by Delhi Zoo when it locked away the dart gun that was mandated to be used in an emergency of the sort under discussion.
However, sensible conversing about Mechanism Design is not what Kafila's Public Intellectuals do. Why? Because they are frivolous dilletantes, poetes maudits manque (okay me dunno French bon)  masquerading as the sort of sober, scrupulous, Careerist, Credentialized, gobshites we have come to revere.
A tiger with a 'Hindu' name kills a lunatic with a Muslim name and Kafila's best and brightest immediately play up the young man's Religion, even though it is entirely irrelevant, simply to start babbling on about Spirits and Gods and Fairies and their own worthless researches into the same.
Nobody in the comment section says 'this is a stupid post.' Instead we have a Muslim dude say 'Your duty is to tell vicious lies about Hinduism and Hindutva because a Muslim or Christian or Jew would look stupid telling the same lies because everybody can see the biggest slaughters of Muslims are
1) Fellow Muslims
2) Christian America and its drones (the boy Cameron was born to be a Drone)
3) Jews
4) Buddhists.
Hindus just don't make the cut.
This is why it is vital that women with Hindu names write pseudo-intellectual shite about 'hidden violence' and everybody getting raped and Suttee and Thuggee and so on.

Nor has this topic wholly died out and been forgotten in Kafila's caravanserai of ultracrepidarian crapping on everything. A young guy with a Hindu name who is an Assistant Prof in the U.S has written a longish post, taking on the Muslim dude previously referred to and defending his own faux Foucauldian 'jinneology'. I'm not kidding. Take a gander at this-

Jinnealogy: Everyday life and Islamic theology in post-Partition Delhi

Anand Vivek Taneja


#In this article I explore what I call jinnealogy, a theological orientation that emerges when the genealogies of human memory are confronted with the amnesic forces of an obliterated landscape. In stories told in contemporary Delhi, long-lived jinn act as transmitters connecting human beings centuries apart in time. In petitions deposited to jinn-saints in a ruined medieval palace, medieval ideas of justice come together with modern bureaucratic techniques. Both stories and rituals attest to a theological newness intricately entwined with the transformations of the postcolonial city’s spiritual and physical landscapes. Jinn are present in the blank spaces of the map, where the plans of the bureaucracy, the verdicts of the judiciary, and the illegibility of the post-Partition Indian state coincide to attempt vast erasures of the city’s Muslim landscapes. Jinnealogy, the supersession of human chains of memory by the long lives of the jinn, challenges the magical amnesia of the state by bringing up other temporalities, political theologies, and modes of witnessing against the empty, homogenous time of a bureaucratically constituted present.'
Is this guy saying that Muslims in Delhi worship djinns in a manner different from Muslims in Karachi or Lahore or Mombasa? Nope. Djinn worship was worse before 1857. Guys born after that date stop giving credence to djinns in their autobiographies. Yet 'erasures' and 'magical amnesias' and 'bureaucratically constituted present' were a bigger feature of 1857 than 1947. In any case, it is Pakistan, not India, where 'jinneology' really flourishes- a senior Nuclear Scientist wants to harness the powers of jinns- and where the Salafis really have their work cut out. Sure, shite like that goes down amongst the very old and the very poor and the just plain stupid in India but so what? They have no institutional power. India aint a theocracy. You can appeal straight to God coz the State aint claiming to monopolize channels to Him.  You don't have to bribe a djinn or conjure up a demon or a ghost or some such shite to get your work done in despite of the Priestly Bureaucrat.  
Still, Vivek's article is not more egregiously shite than its ilk and, being penned by a guy with a Hindu name, not punishable by fatwa for heresy re. Barzakh. It is merely a silly infidel posing as an initiate but grinning so inanely and cutting such antic capers that no scandal is afforded the rightly guided.
This then is the proper terms of trade between Secular Hinduism and Progressive Islam. The Hindu's job is to make a fool of himself by fastening onto only the superstitious practices condemned by the Salafis while telling vicious lies about Hindutva so as to establish his 'Secular' credentials as an apologist for that uncreated Truth which the Secular order must serve.
Thus the author's 'jinneology' allows him to pretend that the Delhi Waqf board doesn't contain anti-social elements (they kill each other) and anti-national elements (with proper genealogies, not jinneologies, going back to the Muslim League and the demand for a chain of Muslim states linking the 'East & West' wing. No doubt, there are double agents and 'channels of communication' and so on. Still our jinneologist is being disingenuous when he pretends not to know that documents relating to property claims (not deeds, these are claims merely) are precisely what anti-social elements fasten on to back up encroachment on Public and Commonly owned land and buildings- not to mention privately owned buildings. More often than not, disputes of this sort are intra Barelvi or Barelvi Deobandi or Shiah Sunni and it is indeed anti-national to allow communities to get divided and to shed blood over such issues.
Our jinnealogist, no doubt, wants us to imagine that the State is doing something very sinister by not handing out photocopies of contradictory 'sanads'. However, the plain fact is that these documents have no force in law and can also serve to stir up trouble to no good purpose.
The rest of his post is as shite as his paper.

I have left the following helpful comment for our jinniologist who only printed it to call me a homophobe but then censored my answer. Here it is-

'Aamir Mufti’s Karachi Grammar School background and long years as a desi stowaway on American Scholarships warps his views and renders him meaningless in the context Imtiaz is framing.
The truth is that both ‘Hindutva’ & Jamaati identity politics is intended to benefit the provincial bazaari middle class by freeing them of the necessity to conform to purely local and subaltern shibboleths- i.e. the sweeper putting ‘nazar’ on you and granny saying you have to skip your shaka or Rotary club meeting to go perform some humiliating ceremony in a stinking ruin. This has nothing to do with ecology or preserving some mythical apocatastatic folk memory of organic unity such that as Savarkar pointed out prior to the creation of the I.N.C, Hindus and Muslims spent so much time hugging and kissing and cuddling each other on the street that they neglected to purchase the dhania their wives had sent them out to purchase which is why all the womenfolk (with the honorable exception of Rani of Jhansi) got very angry and complained to Queen Victoria Ji who was immediately constituting ‘Divide and Rule’ policy which involved rape of mother earth due to otherwise how to pry apart them continually cuddling Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and what have you?
Queer theory explains how like Colonialism and neo-Liberalism and stuff are like a total cock blocker dude and like how can that not be women’s fault? Which man would rape Environment if the conga line of Hindu-Muslim anal intercourse continued to wind its way down our immemorial streets? Sarmad and Abhay Chand, Bedil and that Khattri boy he cursed, along with numerous djinns and Pirs and Vir Savarkars & Naokhali’s Husseini Pir would at last achieve not the Miri of mere dominance but Hegemony also.
In Vikram Seth’s ‘suitable boy’ the son of a Secular ‘Rafian’ Congress Minister has butt sex with the son of a Muslim Nawab. Later, he stabs him? Why? Was it due to Hindutva or Jamaati politics? Was it because he’d learnt nastaliq? No. It was because of cherchez la femme. The Hindu thought the Muslim was trying to get it on with his mistress whereas in fact, as is right and proper and in accordance with Ruswa, the Muslim nawabzada was in fact trysting with the Pakeezah who, obviously, was his own half-sister and the daughter of the Hindu’s mistress who had been raped by his friend’s father while still little more than a child.
As the Mahatma was wont to say- there is a lesson here all who run can read.
What is the way forward? It is time for action not words. Only Hindu Muslim Conga lines of continual buggery can resist the Indian National Congress- which is the only truly Fascist party that has successfully taken root (due to cock blocking widows like Indira, Sonia etc) on our soil- and of which Modi sarkar is a merely meretricious and vernacular simulacrum.
So far, I have only spoken of the responsibilities of genuine intellectuals and engaged academics like you and Mufti Sahib.
What of ordinary people like me? In the late Nineties and early Noughties, it was our salutary practice to drunk dial Indian Heads of Mission claiming to be Rahul Baba and saying ‘Tell mummy I won’t come home and become PM unless she legalizes it pronto! Ciao, ciao.’
Now what are we to do? Muril Manohar Joshi, we used to say, murli him but good. But this is not a panacea. Modi has done that dirty deed in Varanasi, but what good will it do? Some say the ‘Swacch Bharat’ toilet building program will be the salvation of India. Yes, if toilets are only used for cottaging. But how to prevent women from banging on the door and passing coarse and hurtful remarks about what you are getting up to?
Maqsood and Vijay may have found one way out. But it isn’t for everybody, though I do hope you and Aamir will give it a try. Read a bit of Walter Benjamin together. That will put you in the mood.'

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Impossible Duty

To say nothing in this first quatrain
 That nothing in the second explain
so our Secretary be, not pi, e 
  Euler! sine i my refrain

Shiv Kumar, thy extremest unction
So scrupulous tho' the Saqi pours
As Gelassenheit yet overflows

Prince! Kajdar-o-marez means the impossible Duty
To so tilt the flagon naught flow but Beauty.