Sunday, 21 May 2023

Adluri & Bagchee on Nietzsche & Pollock

Adluri & Bagchee write in 'Theses on Indology'-
Nineteenth-century German Indology casts a long and problematic shadow over the contemporary study of Indian texts.
Currently,  Indian texts are overwhelmingly studied only by Indian people. Indeed, this has always been true. Only a very tiny percentage of Indians have any knowledge of or interest in 'German Indology'. Thus it can't any type of shadow over anything. Very few people outside India study Indian texts. Those that do are mainly Buddhists. They don't give a flying fart for German Indology. Indeed, the Germans themselves have no interest in it. 
The German Indologists have yet to respond to Nietzsche’s challenge to philology’s episteme
This is nonsense.  Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, later one of Germany's leading classicists immediately denounced the 'Birth of Tragedy' as worthless shite. Other philologists either ignored or shared this disdain. Nietzsche was an utter failure as a Professor and ended up a lunatic. He complained that Prof. Usener, when prodded upon breaking his profession's code of Omerta over the delinquencies of a member, said 'he is dead as a scholar'.

Was this because Nietzsche was challenging 'Philology's episteme'? No. Nietzsche, like other German philologists, thought he was arriving at the 'Anschauung', or unmediated intuition, of the life-world of peoples who had lived long ago and far away- that too in a 'scientific' manner. But, Nietzsche was mad. He lacked 'phronesis'- practical reason. He may adopt the tone of a 'great mind' but his mind was gravely damaged. A highly subjective approach to Philology may be a good thing but only if the great synthesizing and rational power constitute that subjectivity.
or to Foucault’s exposure of its collusion with power
Foucault may have been cracked in the head- though he did have a good psychiatrist who, predictably enough, was chased out of the Profession by Trotskyite nutters. However, Foucault wasn't utterly stupid. There could be no 'collusion with power' for modern German indology because India became independent long ago. It was only when some Hanoverian pedants could make a bit of money from their King's East India Company that any 'collusion with power' could arise.
or to Said’s critique of Eurocentrism.
German Indology appears to be a closed world. If it is Eurocentric it is because it occurs at the center of Europe and has no connection of any substantial or meaningful sort with India. 
The commonest response to Said has been to shrug off his allegations by pointing to an obvious lacuna in his argument: Germany’s lack of colonial possessions (see Gaeffke 1994, Marchand 2009, and Rabault-Feuerhahn 2013).
That is silly. Hanover's King was also that of England till Victoria was crowned. Anyway, if German professors were paid for donkey work by the Brits in India, then the same effect would arise.
It may be that a Saidian would find much to complain about in German scholarship on Islam because Germany has lots of Muslim immigrants. It is part of NATO and thus has a role in Afghanistan, MENA etc. So, something sinister may well be going on behind the scenes. Sinister, that is, if you are an utter crackpot.
The German Indologists themselves have brushed off post-orientalist criticisms as “meta-theorizing” (Hanneder 2001, 239) or “discourse strategy” (Grünendahl 2009–2010, 23–24). Even Sheldon Pollock, who acknowledges Indology’s enmeshment in Nazism (see Pollock 1993), fails to see that Nazism itself was merely an effect of the logic of othering enshrined in the method itself.
Very true! That is why Stalin and Churchill and Roosevelt decided to fight Hitler not by killing German soldiers but by neutralizing an effect of the logic of othering. 
His analysis overlooks the theological nature of the philological method of yesterday and the Christian framework of secularism today.
WTF? These guys come from India. We've had 'philological method'- or Mimamsa- for thousands of years. It was philosophical- not theological. As for Secularism- how can it have a Christian framework? It is essentially atheistic.
Pollock’s work thus remains entrenched in the historicist, secularist, and positivistic rhetoric of the nineteenth century.
But that rhetoric was entrenched in the long eighteenth century.
Indeed, following philology’s “presentist [sic]” rehabilitation, the philologist reemerges as the high priest of a newly constituting “temple of disciplinarity” (Pollock 2015, 23).
Where? I went to my local temple of disciplinarity for Midnight Mass S&M hi jinks. But the High Priest wasn't a philologist. He could not pronounce the safe-word no matter what you shoved up him. Come to think of it, maybe it wasn't a Temple of disciplinarity at all- but rather a Starbucks. Boy is my face red! (The answer is no, my face isn't red coz I iz bleck.)

Pollock’s proposed “critical philology,” which is supposed to address the problems with traditional Indology, is similarly problematic.
No. It is cretinous.
 Pollock advocates critical philology as a response to Edward Said’s
Orientalism.  Allegedly, it enables us to “return to philology” following Said’s insight that the orientalist disciplines functioned primarily to create a discourse about the “other”.
Functions you perform are what get you get paid for. It is reasonable to say 'guys who write about far off places will want to make their subject interesting by pretending that people are very different there. Thus, postmen bark at dogs and try to bite them.'
But Pollock’s analysis overlooks the fact that a critical philology must primarily study the methods and axioms of philology as they developed in their European and, more specifically, German context.
Why? Is Germany the center of the universe? Were German philologists better than everybody else? If so, what 'critical philology' should be looking at is why the Germans were ahead and how we can all improve our own philology by emulating them. 
A critical philology is only possible as a self-critical philology.
Fair point. If critical philology keeps shitting the bed it should be critical of itself. It must resolve to get up and go to the toilet rather than continue to roll around in its own filth. 
It must trace its genealogy back to academic structures that owe their existence to nineteenth-century European thought.
But that thought was founded on eighteenth century thought.
Pollock identifies the origins of philology with F. A. Wolf and cites names like Schlegel, Heyne, and Boeckh. He describes himself as a “secular Rankean philologist” (2014, 407; 2016, 23). But he does not critically evaluate the hagiography and historicist positivism at philology’s heart. In a perversion of Said, he transfers (to use a Saidian idiom) Said’s analysis to the Orient.  Among Sanskrit’s new found functions in the “Sanskrit cosmopolis,” Pollock now discovers its potential for othering and its imbrication with power. With this move—we shall call it “disorientalism”—he effectively neuters Said’s criticism. Rather than subject his own work or his own discipline to analysis and question its political collusions or its privilege, the philologist constitutes himself yet again  as an overseer of the natives.
Very true. It is heartbreaking to see Pollock flogging dark skinned slaves in his Department. 
Pollock’s “disorientalism” thus works to inoculate the academic community, its Eurocentric past-century pretensions and its institutional hegemony, against Said’s critique. It is no accident that Pollock never fulfilled the tentative claims and promised research raised in “Deep Orientalism?”
Indeed. He also failed to denounce himself for whipping darkies to death. Still, the father-in-law of the British Prime Minister is happy with Pollock. He has raised the profile of a very decent Hindu sect and drawn attention to the great spiritual and literary treasures to be found in Karnataka. Now that Kharge has won that State for the Dynasty, Pollock's theory that Brahmins have super-powers appears vindicated. This is bad for India and bad for ecumenical Hinduism but it isn't the worst possible outcome. 


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