Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We must become truly multi-disciplinary

I have great respect for Satprem but I prefer not to get caught up in this exhilarating rhetoric of impending dooms and the need for magnificent revolutions of consciousness.   Satprem, like many social thinkers, conveys his anguish with such burning passion that it can cause great agitation and frustration within the heart regarding the state of the world.   In the spiritual path, one has to detach oneself a little from the pressures of the world; one has first learn to remain silent, go within and wait for some inspiration to decide which cause to take up.
I have reached a state where I have become a little indifferent to the dire problems of the world.  It's a passing phase, and there are many such phases, and if at some point things change and I sense the need to do something, then I shall certainly do so.

The Word from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
I am currently halfway through William Dalrymple's fascinating travels through the territories of ancient ByzantiumFrom the Holy Mountain. About the capital city, which is now Instanbul, Dalrymple notes that 72 languages were spoken in its bazaars in ancient times. Today, thanks to "national socialism," every minority has been chucked out, millions massacred and widespread tyranny rules. Dalrymple notes that this is where Christianity was born - and then taken to the West. He visits communities where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken, where worship is still conducted as in those early days, where the most ancient hymns are still sung.
He further writes about shrines where the common folk of today, both Muslim as well as Christian, continue to worship together. Yet, he also portrays a civilization that might just disappear - to be replaced by the uniformity of "community" imposed by the guns of "nationalists." This is what happened to India during the Partition. This is precisely the direction in which the "cultural nationalists" of the Hindutva type are leading our nation today. In the meantime, the USSA is spurring Islamophobia. War and civilization cannot go together. For the furtherance of civilization, cities, and markets, I do believe the word "catallaxy" is best.

I believe the refrigerator played an important role in generating new racial relations in the United States. Why? Prior to the refrigerator people faced the problem of the perishability of food. This necessitated living close to local markets so that you could go daily to get food. Unless you were a largely self-sufficient farmer, you therefore, by necessity, had to live in the cities if you were an office worker or industrial worker. With the advent of the refrigerator it became possible to buy perishable food for a week or more, thereby allowing for the birth of the suburbs. No doubt, racist ideologies played an important role in white flight, but notice that racism also begins to take on new forms and content as a result of these new geographical distributions.
I am not, of course, suggesting that this analysis is exhaustive or that the refrigerator is the cause of racism. The point of this example is to draw attention to the sort of complex interplays flat ontology wants to talk about and analyze. OOO wants to be capable of simultaneously engage in the sorts of analyses that theorists while Bhabha, Spivak, and Zizek engage in while also talking about technologies, resources, weather, biology, etc. OOO theorists think like cooks. Just as it would be absurd to say that the garlic causes the pasta sauce, it is absurd to suggest that it is the ideology or signifier causes racism. Garlic is a component in a composition that also includes the cook, temperatures, herbs, tomatoes, the stirring of the sauce, etc, all interacting with one another. Racism is a composition that involves signifiers, geographical distributions, infrastructure and how it restricts and enables access, technologies, persons, institutions, etc. We need a theory rich enough to think heterogeneous compositions in action that doesn’t produce counter-productive myopia arising from privileging one component of a composition to the detriment of a variety of other components. This means that we must become truly multi-disciplinary, learning about economics, geography, semiotics, history, technology, linguistics, etc. This is, to be sure, a lot of work, but it’s payoff is that it allows us to discern those key nodes and actors in networks where the introduction of new actants can have a profound impact on the composition as a whole. Critique and decoding is not enough. Sometimes simply building a road or making wi-fii universally available for free can initiate sequences of becoming that profoundly transform social relations.

The future is in cities like Kochi or Aurangabad or Barmer: in less than a decade Barmer will rival Jaipur, and within the foreseeable future become the second or third heart of Rajasthan.
It is this India which is crashing through the glass ceilings of our social and economic history. It has turned Marxism on its head; instead of seizing from the rich in order to give to the poor, it is churning out its own cream. It is driven by a passion to improve the individual self, but knows that this is impossible without changing the collective well-being. It is not socialist, and indeed might be suffering from generosity-deficit when it comes to those at the lowest levels of our tragically tiered social order. But it is social-democratic, in an European rather than American fashion, willing to tolerate positive discrimination even if it grumbles relentlessly while doing so. The grumble is human; but tolerance comes from the fact that it has itself benefited from reservation policies.

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