Monday 25 April 2016

Capitalism's Crisis & Plato's Lysis

In Plato's Lysis, Socrates points out that praising a boy's ancestors in order to seduce him isn't a proof of love, not because the project of seducing a boy is unlovely in itself, but because the poet is only magnifying the object of his lust in order to eventually boast of having fucked in the ass the scion of a family distinguished enough to have had no need of his flattering apostrophes to a gorgeous familial Pheme his own phallus remains engorged to extinguish.

Similarly, for a Professor to constantly harp on Capitalism's world historical hegemonic power is not a proof of love of any ism whatsoever, because the Pundit in question is magnifying the imaginary object of a lust only able to sate itself upon the supposedly historically inevitable spectacle of every last Top Hatted Stockbroker howling incontinently at being hammered on 'Change and hobbling away with his trousers around his ankles and cum dripping from his anus.

This last, which we may brutely eroticize by terming it the coction that resolves a Hippocratean Crisis- itself antonymic to that gradual loosening of ontic bondage, as in agape's Lysis- is the but logical consequence of the concoction of a binary under scarcity- that is diminishing returns. As Aristotle points out, if both elements of the binary grow together- as lovers desire to do, in Aristophanes' view of Eros- then the one with inferior assimilative power will  disappear, swallowed up by the other. We might add, that if this is not the case, and they grow equally through sumphusis, then, at the margin, by the identity of indiscernibles, no binary exists.

Of course, if no scarcity obtains, then diminishing returns can't arise. However, this is an outcome ontologically dysphoric to 'second order' discourses like Philosophy or, that oxymoron, Political Science, because, if love can burgeon simply by its own actions, if theory is its own praxis, then there is no material curb or chorismos such that the one swells up only because the other is swaddled and constrained and so, at the end of the story, the boy Lysis skips away, unfucked to the Pundits' dismay, hand in hand with a friend his own age to engage in some healthier type of play.

1) see here

2) vide

Thursday 21 April 2016

Wendy Doniger repressing Religious Studies

The following is my comment on an article by Wendy Doniger titled- The Repression of Religious Studies- in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
I need hardly mention that it was 'detected as spam'.

Are Religious Studies being repressed in India or America? The short answer is no. People of any Sect can, quite legally, attend a Seminary of their choice where only such instruction as they find palatable is offered. At the margin, there may be restrictions based on Homeland Security but, in the context of Prof. Doniger's article, no such consideration is germane.
What is germane is whether American Professors in what for most Americans is the arcane, if not wholly irrelevant, subject of Indology or Oriental Religion, are in possession of a minimum standard of knowledge and whether they are able to present a reasoned argument. This is important as a matter of quality control. If one Department- even one most people have no interest in- of a University begins filling up with stupid or ignorant people then there is a risk that theses incorporating foolish or ignorant premises will receive the imprimatur of other Departments and this may have adverse real world consequences. The Turkish Economist, Timur Kuran, had highlighted the danger of 'Availability Cascades', based on shoddy scholarship, distorting Public Policy in the context of Islam. His empirical work led him to the conclusion that 'drain theories' of Underdevelopment led to bad 'autarkic' Economic policies whereas what was actually needed was a change in Inheritance Law which in turn required stronger Institutions, property rights and contract enforcement.
In the case of India and Hinduism, an Academic Availability Cascade based on the notion that 'Aryan' invaders created a theocracy which imposed an exploitative patriarchal caste system, made it possible, indeed fashionable, for Professors to abandon any pretense of methodical scholarship or reasoned argument in order to pose as 'engaged' intellectuals subverting an antediluvian Fascism with surrealistic texts. No very great damage was done- America understood India's increasing importance and signaled that it would support whichever Party won the elections. Thus, when the Congress party returned to power, the U.S put a visa ban on Narendra Modi. When Modi became P.M, Obama welcomed him warmly. If anything, American Academia's determination to equate Hindutva with Islamic Terror was a boon to Modi's party because it won over to their side even the upwardly mobile technocratic diaspora which previously had identified with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and been suspicious of declasse vernacular politicians like Modi. It is true that the richest of the diaspora gain by pretending to be ultra-liberal opponents of the incumbent administration, but this is true of any 'one percent'.
Turning to what Prof Doniger has to say in this essay, I find myself struck by the following passage- '...there is no tradition of religious studies in Indian schools or universities. Like Europe when theology queened over the sciences, India had Sanskrit schools (called tolas (sic)) where Hindus studied both academic subjects and Hinduism, and Muslim schools (madrasas) that did this for Muslims, and, eventually, Catholic schools (where upper-class Hindus, as well as Christians, were educated). But public schools and universities in India never developed a tradition of teaching religion as an academic subject.'
I suppose an American might find little to cavil at in the above. Okay, she might say to herself, India was a place where you couldn't go to College to study theology and gain a qualification entitling one to become a priest. Perhaps, in India, Religion was simply too incohate to be studied as an academic subject. That's why Indians are protesting against American Professors who apply the techniques of the Academy to the analysis of Indian texts. No doubt, if the Indians ever found out that Biology Professors are engaged in a scientific study of how human beings evolved or that Astrophysics Professors study how the Universe came into being, they would be even more outraged.
By contrast, an Indian will find Prof. Doniger's pronunciamento bizarre in the extreme. India has always had centers of learning where students received a thorough indoctrination in the theology of their sect and how it differed from the doctrines of its rivals. This did not change after the British established their paramountcy. Every Educational Institution sponsored by them recruited Pundits and Moulvis who taught 'Religious Studies', published learned tomes and helped frame curriculuae and set exam papers. It is true that such Studies lost salience between 1857- when the 'Occidentalist' Calcutta University was set up and also around the time when Judges dispensed with the 'Court Pundit' relying instead on Case Law and learned arguments presented, more often than not, by Native barristers- and 1882, when the 'Orientalists' triumphed in determining the character of the newly created Punjab University. Ironically, it was the patriotic fervor characterizing the graduates of 'Occidentalist' Universities which won the argument for the 'Orientalists'. However, since the indigenous tradition of Religious Studies was so strong and efficiently administered, parents wanted even specifically Sectarian Schools and Colleges to concentrate on Technical subjects and the teaching of English and the prestigious register of the Vernacular language which was being adopted for official purposes.
This is not to say that scurrilous attacks on Indian Religion and Customary Morality were not published by journalists nor that Academics then never stooped to the same means to garner gelt or vent their spleen. However, with the dawn of dyarchy, there was sufficient push-back from the electorate to curb the worst of this type of nuisance. Indeed, in the Fifties, the prestige enjoyed by people like S.Radhakrishnan- Nehru's Ambassador to Stalin and later President of the Republic- or Chief Justice Gajendragadkar, who was from a traditional Mimamsaka family- meant that faculties of Philosophy, Literature and Political Science appeared, much to the chagrin of the rising generation, to be dominated by orthodox Pundits enforcing puritanical mores with the merest tincture of the spirit of independent inquiry.
The economic crises of the Sixties and Seventies persuaded many young people that only 'sampoorna kranti'- Total Revolution- could clear away the puritanical gerontocrats who had presided over the massacre of the life-chances of India's youth. Indira Gandhi reacted by suspending the Rule of Law and incarcerating her opponents. One section of the Left supported her and were rewarded with Academic appointments. It was, however, the Hindu 'Right' whose clothes Mrs Gandhi, under the guise of the Goddess Durga, ultimately stole. Her handsome son, Rajiv, initially won a huge popular mandate because his large liquid eyes and gentle manner chimed with popular representations of Lord Rama. Later on, his widow- Sonia Gandhi- won all hearts because she was self-evidently a virtuous 'pativrata' and ideal daughter-in-law. However, Rajiv Gandhi had opened a can of worms regarding a disputed structure in Ayodhya and was heinously assassinated before he could turn the issue to his party's advantage. Modi's party was able to make capital out of the Ayodhya issue and emerged in the Nineties as an alternative to Congress. The Communist Party could have moved into the vacuum, more especially because Industrialists thought it would copy the Chinese model, but its politburo wouldn't let Jyoti Basu take the Prime Ministership for some obscure ideological reason. During this interim, keeping Modi's party out of power was the sole synoecist focal point for all-India politics. Academics scenting an opportunity to pose as battlers of 'Fascism' or 'subverters' of Patriarchy were quick to fabricate an Academic Availability Cascade which appeared to promise tenure-track Research Programs to second rate students and was warmly welcomed for that reason. However, the rapid development of the internet means that the paranoid premises underlying such 'Research' are too easily discoverable to be absurd.
American Indology- being of no practical use to Americans and thus not subject to any sort of quality control- cheerfully abandoned any pretense of scholarship or rigor in thought because it no longer faced any rival as the Global Knowledge Hegemon. Whereas Saidian 'Orientalism' struck a chord with ordinary people from a strategically important part of the world, American Indology's project appeared, even to that Diaspora whom we would expect it to attract, to be a vulgar and tasteless Racism masquerading as Gesture Politics.
If there is a lesson here, it is that Repression or Promotion is irrelevant in determining whether a Subject can flourish within the Academy. What matters is competition. Availability Cascades which produce degenerate Research Programs won't disappear by themselves. It is only in rivalry and under contestation with a rival Hegemonic Episteme that it can re-establish its claim to represent scholarship as opposed to senescence.

Saturday 16 April 2016

Zagajewski's metaxu

 '...the present day favours only one stage of a certain ageless, endless journey. This journey is best described by a concept borrowed from Plato, metaxu, being "in between", in between our earth, our (so we suppose) comprehensible, concrete, material surroundings, and transcendence, mystery. metaxu defines the situation of the human, a being who is incurably "en route"'

Zagajewski is a self-consciously 'Western' writer precisely because he isn't Western at all but rather belongs to a class which nourishes a Western delusion in the same way that Polish aristocrats nourished a Sarmatian delusion about their origins and trajectory.

To the best of my knowledge- i.e. stuff I got off Wikipedia as opposed to some bloke at the pub- the first literary mention of the concept of metaxu, or barzakh, or antarabhava or bardo or whatever word is used to describe the limbo that is the 'limit, which unites as well as divides' occurs in an Iranian language related to Sarmatian and affirms 'golden liberties' with an erotic undercurrent. In India, certainly, antarabhava is wholly erotic and concerned with the Gandharvas. The Tibetan bardo, on the other hand, is Swedenborgian and, curiously, displays an affinity with the story of a pre-Islamic prophet. I believe a proper Westerner- i.e. a Californian- would naturally conflate this bardo with Japanese fucking haiku in which nativist jujutsuteki ardor ever collides with the nihilistic epiphanies proper to an M.F.A type Creative Writing Instructor. Oddly the wabi-sabi yojo or dhvani this gives rise to is not just eminently scalable- like McDonalds- it is actually Platonic being the child of Poverty and Possession which can never, like Kartikeya, sleep between them because they comprise a masturbatory Ardhanarishvara whose underlying maieutics, unlike that of Agnodice, is but a Credentialist couvade con.
Still, at least this shite, satirized by Garisson Keillor, is pretty harmless and goes down well enough with Paul Masson wine and fish tacos and the sort of weed they had back in the Seventies.

Not being a Westerner, Zagajewski- poor sod- had to come to metaxu via Eric Voegelin- who sought to ground Political Reality in Hermeneutic Religion as if this would stabilize the Polity- and Simone Weil who thought that God has nothing better to do than rigorously achieve nothing by spending all his time futzing around with our 'roots'- i.e. inherited or mimetic shibboleths- like that could actually solve Economic problems. The underlying notion here is that God, or the Good or Whatever, is fucked in the head and is constantly trying to help people who are being fucked over by stupid politicians, not by smiting those politicians, but by sending out good energy from behind the veil of metaxu such that some worthless pedant who happens to be studying that shite suddenly gains salience and can pose, at least in her own eyes, as a savior of Liberal Democracy, or the Purity of the Race, or Say No to Arse Bandits Getting Hitched, or whatever non-issue Op Ed fuckwits are jizzing over at the moment.

This raises an important question- viz. is Zagajewski utterly shit? Oddly, the answer is no. He's just not Western and thus has to play out a God's Gloaming gotterdamenung so as to reaffirm his own metaxu as the West's originary Orient of Darkness.
This passage is fine, if we think of it as applying to Careerist Economists as opposed to people like Kalecki.
Uncertainty doesn't contradict ardour. If we are to sustain the productive tension of metaxu, uncertainty (which is not the same thing as doubt!) will never be a foreign body, since our presence here and our faith can never receive absolute and permanent sanction, however much we long for it. Irony, on the other hand, undercuts uncertainty. When it occupies the central place in someone's thought, irony becomes a rather perverse form of certainty. Of course we can dig up dozens of uses for irony. In Zbigniew Herbert's poetry, to take one example, irony is ordinarily directed against the person passing judgment, the seeker of truth or law (the Greek Nomos), and often takes the form of self-irony. The truth-seeker views himself sceptically – "beware however of unnecessary pride/keep looking at your own clown's face in the mirror" – but not truth or law, as so often happens among contemporary authors, who happily cast doubt on everything but themselves.
Why do I highlight this passage?
Well, Zagajewski is Polish and them peeps be smart and know from Math. Since this is a racist statement, it follows from a lemma originated by Simone Weil, that Pontryagin Duality is Zaga Jew Ski's metaxu. (What? My plumber is Polish, so I know stuff like this.) Thus, Ardour and Irony are conjugate variables. One can be known to mount only if the other grows misty and imprecise.

For nice-but-dim Iyer boys like me both Ardour and Irony arise only by rasabhasa- getting worked up about incompossible shite, i.e. giving up on Viveka and getting ensnared in Maya. Contra Simone Weil's Christ & pace her brother's Krishna, our metaxu or antarabhava involves a cutting down of the hymn leaved banyan whose roots are in heaven and whose branches reach down below.

Sadly, this can only be done by the axe of non-attachment from which, like Parasuram, we might only be able to detach ourselves by throwing it into the Sea- thus giving rise to yet more Malyalees.

Friday 8 April 2016

The Paraclete of Parson's Green

As G.K. Chesterfield said- in the 'Paraclete of Parson's Green'-
Our Judas adolescence is an obscenity liefer heard than seen.
Not Plato's Kalokagathia- the Beautiful and Good-
It takes a Carpenter's Son to shiver St. John's wood.

My Non Serviam & Nunc Dimittis in One

 His playtime smiles like a paternoster lift
Recycled my Caspar's Celestial gift
Till his angered cry- 'Babu, you're no fun!'
Non serviam & nunc dimittis in One

Thursday 7 April 2016

Criticism's Terminus ad Quem

In an essay titled 'To think is to challenge Power', an Indian Professor  writes- 'The love that is indistinguishable from the love for violence in the name of nation-love is a love that can only be defended violently.'

  Is there a thought which corresponds to the sentence quoted above? Does it mean anything? If it is nonsense, does it still count as Foucauldian parrhesia undermining the structures of Power by speaking Truth to it?

   The author says that there is a particular type of love which can only be defended violently. Suppose I love not being beaten to death. Someone starts beating me to death. I can only defend my love for not being beaten to death by shouting for help or using violence against my assailant. Only if no one is willing to come to my assistance- i.e. there is no Rule of Law in the area- is it the case that my love can only defend itself violently.

   What about love-for-violence camouflaging itself as Patriotism or Socialism or zeal for Human Rights? Can such a thing exist?

 No. A guy who loves violence is going to beat up people regardless of their National identity or Socialist credentials.

   People won't be taken in by his protestations of acting under an ideological compulsion. They will say 'you are a hooligan. You love beating people up. We don't believe you are motivated by any abstract ideal. If you really love your country, you will stop beating up your countrymen. We are now going to restrain you and administer anti-psychotics and then psychoanalyze you to determine what is the aetiology of your behavioral disorder'.

In this case 'love-for-violence' is being attacked by psychiatric means. Can it only defend itself violently? No. It can start quoting Heidegger or some other such blathershite. 

Except, not even Heidegger at his most otiose wrote anything quite as meaningless as this-

'The opposite of this love – raging and thriving in the pages of our anti-colonial struggle – is the love that comes from criticism.'

So, kids, what have we learnt today?
The author tells us there are two kinds of love, one which can't exist (because if you love violence you will concentrate on beating up your own neighbors- who are likely to be fellow countrymen- and thus won't be able to deceive anybody, even yourself, that you are doing so out of Patriotism) and another which is the complete opposite of that something which can't exist- viz a love that arises out of 'criticism'. 

Yet, this can't be the case unless 'criticism' has a proven teleology. If it's trajectory is undetermined, or received as such, we can't know that 'love-arising-from-criticism' might not cash out as 'love-for-violence'. Is the author perhaps aware of some knock-down argument such that 'criticism' always has a predictable trajectory? If so, why not apply it to Mathematics and find a proof for P=NP or the Reimann Hypothesis?

The truth is that the author isn't really thinking- he's just scribbling senselessly. He is not challenging Power, rather he incarnates that Stupidity against which the Gods themselves battle in vain. Why does he do so? The answer is he is showing he has achieved a sort of Credentialized power which permits him to write nonsense without risk of getting kicked out of the academy. 

Suppose the author had written a thought-provoking and intelligent piece. His peers would look down on him. 'Just to get published' they'd say to themselves, 'he has to resort to presenting logical arguments and writing cogent sentences just like some faltu Undergraduate.'

The author is described as a 'political science scholar'. Yet he writes this- 
'Criticism is a form of nation-love that allows thinking and dissent against power, for power is far from delivering justice.' Why is this foolish? Well, when a 'Political Science scholar', writing in English, formulates a proposition of the order x allows y then he is saying x is a sufficient condition for y. Yet, unless 'Criticism' has a demonstrable Teleology, it can never be the sufficient condition for anything. How are we to know that the Queitists aren't correct and that 'Resist not Evil' is the Terminus ad Quem for Criticism? Indeed, it may be that at the end of the day, Violence is shown to be the only viable Virtue Ethics.
It might be argued that Criticism as qualified by something else- in this case 'Nation-love'- does indeed have such a terminus. We could have a discussion about the nature of 'Nation Love' and maybe it won't be a complete waste of time. However, the author has told us that anything- including love-for-violence- can camouflage itself as 'Nation-love'. Thus discussing the subject is pointless because human beings have no means of discriminating the genuine article from sociopathic behavior.

The author can pride himself on having disposed off the Public Justification Principle as applying to his bromides.
But, the author is now going to do something even more praiseworthy. He is going to show that 'Political Science' is empty.
He does so by making a startling claim-
'The only moral legitimacy the state has comes from its pledge to impart justice.' 
States come into being for purposes of mutual defense or aggression. If no such external threat exists, there is no need for States because Schelling focal 'Judges' can solve the underlying co-ordination problem.
The author, writing without thinking, has just outed himself as an extreme Libertarian!

The author praises Ambedkar but does not understand why the Indian Constitution invoked autocthony- i.e. the doctrine that all laws arise from the soil- on the Irish pattern. 
Ambedkar's purpose was simple. He wanted fools to stop saying things like this- 'Ironically, however, some of our laws are still dragging on since colonial times, and even by logic, we can see they are of no help as they are as opposed to our finding justice now as they were then. In a bizarre twist of historical fate, we are still facing and fighting the vestiges of colonial rule through its extending laws.'

Kudos to the author! He has managed to proclaim an extreme right wing Libertarianism and calumny Ambedkar's legacy all in the space of a short essay for the Wire!

Bravo! What's next? Will he clamor for the revival of Suttee?