Monday, 6 July 2015

Apurvata, Antarabhava & Backus Naur Part I

I am writing this as an initial response to the following comment on my previous blog entry-

Could you kindly post about the relationship between Panini's grammar and the Backus–Naur Form? Cheers.


Every language, at some time or another, has claimed supremacy on the grounds of some supposedly unique quality it possesses.

My ancestors certainly thought Sanskrit and Tamil were special but, since they admitted that deaf people could gain Gnosis, they did not develop a chauvinistic mentality like that of the Nazi, Heidegger, who claimed that German was the language in which Being thinks itself.

Over the last four or five decades, the great expansion of job opportunities in Software engineering has meant that particularly risible claims have been made regarding Paninian Sanskrit.

This extract from a Time of India article is by no means the worst offender-

 The human-programmable computer languages that exist today, say C++ or Java or Ruby, can be described precisely in a few hundred rules. This precision allows these languages (and Paninian Sanskrit) to be lexically analyzed by a parser, which can then create a semantic tree structure that encodes the underlying 'meaning' of the statement (or program). That semantic tree can then be translated precisely into machine code (binary, ie 0 and 1, or hexadecimal, ie 16 characters, 0123456789ABCDEF) which will then run on the machine.The above is what compilers do – the programs that translate human-readable languages into the incomprehensible machine code (or slightly less obscure Assembly Language) that machines can understand. I worked on compiler construction for several years, and they are among the most sophisticated software in regular use.
'So what exactly does "context-free" mean? It means that the meaning doesn’t depend on contextual knowledge or common sense. Obviously human languages are context-sensitive: you just have to know certain things as a user of the language or else you will be confused. Here is an example of two sentences in English:
1. Fruit flies like an apple
2. Time flies like an arrow
'The two sentences are lexically identical, but to the human reader, based on contextual knowledge, they are vastly different. But to a computer, which has no context, they are identical. If the computer is fed the first and told that fruit flies are a kind of fly and that apples are fruits, it will create certain semantic model. Then, when given the second sentence, it will conclude that 'time flies' are a kind of fly and that arrows are fruits!
'It is essentially impossible to write such ambiguous sentences in Paninian Sanskrit. That is one of the reasons why word order doesn't matter in Paninian Sanskrit, as it does in English (imagine "Rama killed Ravana" and "Ravana killed Rama" as examples).
'That someone millennia ago was able to conceptualize, and even more astonishingly, create a Grand Unified Theory of Language is simply stunning. Let us note that even a widely acknowledged genius like Albert Einsten failed to come up with a Grand Unified Theory of Physics, even though he tried hard. Arguably, Panini’s successful effort then was the greatest accomplishment of a single mind in all of recorded history: creating something so advanced that it took 2500 years to figure out how to use it!'

Older languages- like Latin 0r Old English- tend to be highly inflected and thus word-order doesn't matter. However the corruption of a single morpheme radically changes meaning so, in practice, both increased redundancy and loss of inflection feature in the evolution of Language.
Paninian Sanskrit wasn't different from other Synthetic languages. However, it evolved on a less synoecist fitness landscape and empowered intellectuals irrespective of their geographic location. Sill, there were 'collocational availability cascades' based on superior aesthetic status accorded certain paradigmatic works. Thus, in practice, Sanskrit literature appears as if it it were the univocal expression of a single, timeless, Imperium or Oikumene. Some learned authors continued to exploit its infinite semantic potential- by devices like  vakrokti (indirect expression) or slesha (double meaning) - for example by writing texts which carry forward two wholly unconnected narratives (bahurasyakavya). However, this has tended to be seen as a blameworthy departure from the simplicity and naturalness of true poetry.

In other words, Sanskrit- thanks to Panini- is much more ambiguous, at least potentially, not less so, than other synthetic languages.
Ambiguity means that there is more than one possible meaning. Human beings can't communicate without ambiguity. Why? They have intentionality. In other words, they intend something not present which, on analysis, is fuzzy even to themselves.
If I say- 'My hand is on fire.' I might mean that I have got a good set of cards, or that I am painting really well today or that  I feel a burning sensation in one of my limbs.
Things become more clear cut, unless I am being rhetorical, if I add the following two sentences, 'Pick up the fire extinguisher. Direct the nozzle at my hand. Release the foam by pulling the trigger.'
Is there any ambiguity left in the string of sentences I have uttered? Wouldn't every ambiguity be cleared up if enough supplementary sentences were added?
Surely, Language is just a tool and, as the more extreme of the Logical Positivists suggested, any statement that isn't purely factual (e.g. my hand is on fire) or imperative (e.g. pick up the fire extinguisher) or mixed ('Release the foam by pulling the trigger' isn't wholly false just because the trigger is actually released by squeezing not pulling) is simply poetic nonsense or mystical mumbojumbo?
The answer, I am afraid, is that everything depends not just on my intentions and what I assume to be your intentions and to a possible contract curve between us, but also to a possible 'overlapping consensus' between us regarding both Facts and Values in possible future states of the World. However, if Knightian Uncertainty obtains, future states of the world can't be differentiated without ambiguity.
Why is it that, in the real world, we say things like 'Fuck, my hand's on fire, get the fire extinguisher for God's sake'. The obvious answer is-the word 'Fuck' conveys urgency as well as sense of camaraderie. 'God's sake' implies that you have a duty to the Creator to protect the life of one of His Creatures. However, using words whose meaning is essentially ambiguous or even omnivalent, signals something else- viz. we are not sending a coherent message at all because we can't currently afford the computational cost of clarifying it. In this case our utterance points to, without naming, the default focal point for communication's co-ordination game.
What if we were robots without any theory of mind? What happens when our sensor picks up a character string? 
There are 2 possibilities. Either the character string is noise in which case it is disregarded, or it satisfies a certain protocol in which case further protocols regarding authorization, priority, feasibility etc. have to be fulfilled before anything happens.
Notice that at each stage the signal is ambiguous w.r.t. reception- either it is noise or it is not noise, either it is authorized or it is unauthorized etc. This ambiguity can be reduced by devoting more Computing power to the signal. Even if computing bore zero cost, ambiguity would not disappear because- by a corollary of Razbarov-Rudich- there is no way of distinguishing pseudo-random from truly random stings (unless P=NP has a proof using current methods). 
As a matter of fact, computing is costly and, what's more, the type of  Concurrency and Race Hazard problems specific to this field soon become intractable.  But this is what we would expect to happen if Life evolved. Individual brains exist because Ambiguity is everywhere and so heterogenous trade-offs must be made at the individual level so that there is an Evolutionarily Stable Equilibrium on a higher scale.
Let us drop the supposedly simplifying assumption that we are 'basically' mindless robots because it involves an Open Question for Maths. What happens when we make the opposite assumption- viz. that that, for a philosophically advanced enough member of our species, unambiguous Reception is possible? This is equivalent to the claim that some human mind can have certainty re. what he knows and/or how he came to know it. In Sanskrit, this is covered under the rubric of Prakaasha and Praamaanya respectively.
The claim that sentences in Paninian Sanskrit are unambiguous implies that they can be 'svatograhya'- i.e something empirically received (because it is heard)  yet apprehended as intrinsically true at the same time as it is cognized.  This is a much more reasonable claim than that any sentence in any language could have this property. After all, back then, a guy who was speaking to you in Classical Sanskrit probably wasn't an idiot or a babbling drunkard but a respectable person careful with his words. Still, no Indian thinker was so foolish as to say that anything said in proper Skt. must be true. On the contrary, Religions like Jainism and Buddhism used Paninian Skt. to guard against commentary being taken for Revealed Text. In other words, Prakaasha/Praamaanya theory promotes the notion that Language is not just instrumental but strategically so- it is gamed as part of a wider lila- or sportive play of Gnosis.

Interestingly, there is a convergence between Sanskrit Literary Theory and the modern study of 'formal languages' in certain respects. In the former, aporias regarding Prakasha/Praamaanya gave salience to 'Dhvani' theory which highlights the freedom and creativity of the receiver, not the sender, of the signal. In the latter, Turing, on Bearnay's suggestion, had to take recourse to Brouwer 'over-lapping choice sequences' to get to something we might term 'context free'- i.e 'absolute'- with respect to its representation in this or that formal system.
Brouwer's constructivism, like Abhinavagupta's Dhvani, which gives rise to 'apurvata'- 'newness' in Reception- is of an intuitionistic, non-deterministic, type and exceeds computability or purely algorithmic methods.
I will argue, in my next post, that overlapping choice sequences naturally describe what is essentially a co-evolutionary fitness landscape and that the concepts of  apurvata and antarabhava gains salience in that context. My contention is that Paninian Sanskrit, yoked to the apophatic project of Gnosis, does indeed merit comparison, if not emulation, by current Research Programs in 'context free' formal languages.



Friday, 3 July 2015

Piketty on Political Information Aggregation

Piketty has a brief paper here
'Condorcet’s basic result, the so-called ‘Condorcet Jury Theorem’, states under which conditions majority-rule voting yields efficient information aggregation. But Condorcet also examines what information structures imply the informational efficiency of other electoral systems (indirect democracy, multi-stage voting, etc. . . .). In a sense, the recent literature surveyed in this paper represents a come-back to the original Condorcet approach.'

The problem with his approach is that, if voting uses up scarce resources, there must always be either a superior stochastic or formal Muth Rational solution.
Furthermore, concurrency deadlocks endow valuable inertial properties to Institutions. Finally, with hindsight from the vantage point of regret minimisation, it is vital that noise obtains.


Thursday, 2 July 2015

To a nice White Professor who likes Manto & Mahashweta

Mahashweta Devi writes of a gang-raped tribal women but not of her own more or less distant relatives being butchered, violated, and ethnically cleansed on a far wider scale and in a more systematic manner in her own ancestral homeland.
Why?
Is it that her tribals-Dravidians like me, not Aryans, like her- could, still, at that time, be presented as 'uneducated', while her own vehicle to Class Power- and claim to authorial auctoritas as a 'Progressive' even 'Post Modern' intellectual- arose wholly out of such impotent Intellectual Credentials as can only be acquired by aborting a Civilisational, that is genuine for actually and empirically socio-geographical, computationally viable Schelling focal, solution to the Co-ordination problem for- as Prof Ken Binmore might say if I got him real drunk and held a gun to his head- the de-Kanted Carafe of the House Wine of the Folk Theorem's inter-subjective, Aesthetic?

Why does dusky 'Dopti' (Draupati), in (the 'Perfectly White') Mahashweta's short story, reveal her ravaged, bleeding, nakedness to the Culture-Vulture, albeit nominally Dravidanized and Imperialistic, Counter-Insurgency Chief, Senanayak? By doing so, she is breaking a cardinal rule of the hard core Naxal- she is revealing she is either already or potentially a leader.  Obviously, the thing for  Senanayak to do is to make a pretence of shame, quote  a densely allusive, or Hunkadori, verse from a Hungrealist poet, get some NGO do-goodnik involved, release her and then keep tabs on her contacts or simply use her nakedly as an unwitting agent provocateur of Terrorism's self destructive stupidity.

Saadat Hasan Manto, in 'khol do', has a more sensible heroine. Hearing the words 'open it'- referring to the car window in which her rescuers are conveying her- she obediently starts unknotting the draw strings of her pajamas. This battered Sakina, oozing blood and pus, is nevertheless the Ousia of the true Shekinah- it makes the (presumably atheistical) Doctor's blood run cold; it overturns her father's attachment to Patriarchal sittlichkeit in howsoever bien pensant a form.

Manto, unlike Mahashweta, dies a drunken cadger, but only because his eyes have seen the glory- it seems his filmi P.W.A,  Bombay friends had urged their own too well-paid blinkers on him in vain-but the scandal here is not that the fucker's script for Ghalib didn't contain apocryphal shite like-
ḳhudā ke vāst̤e pardah nah kaʿbah se uṭhā vāʿiz̤
kahīñ aisā nah ho yāñ bhī vuhī kāfir ṣanam nikle!
Seek not, Simoniac, by lifting our  Cybele's veil, thy sin to atone
Lest El is revealed there eating out Porn Hub's Sunny Leone!
but, rather, that a drunken descendant of Abhinvagupta's votaries, showed himself, in articulo mortis, no stranger to shame- that is Nirlajjishvara.
The Shekinah's veils are God's mercy on us Mortals.
Ponder Abihu's fate, rather than place your faith in Progressivist Pinchas' halachah vein morin kein.

I recall an incident from about twenty years back.
A middle aged Pakistani gentleman- quite pukka, Aitchison College and all that- had graced our exiguous Iftar and regaled us with the story of his father, a General, who had been accorded every courtesy by the Saudis and given special access to 'kiss the Black Stone'.
After he left, a young Bangladeshi- good East London family, but a recovering addict- asked me to come outside because he wanted to say something to me in private. I was reluctant to go. The fact is, recovering British drug addicts make free of one's ciggies and I'm miserly in small matters.
Still, such was the fire in his eyes, I went. 
'The lips of a pig have touched the Ka'ba! Find out when the General is next visiting his son. That is all I ask. You do know, don't you, he told his troops to make sure to rape and kill every single one of your people whom they rounded up?'
I said- listen mate, I'm Dravidian. Fuck I care what you Aryans cunts do to each other? You guys ever give a shit what your Sinhala cousins been doin' to my Tamil peeps? As for pig lips and the Ka'bah- not my concern at all. There are people staying here whose Asylum Claim is going through. You bring down the Police on us, we'll gut you like a hilsa.
I'm lying. I didn't say any such thing. The truth is, though six foot and weighing 14 stone, I was probably frightened of this thin little recovering addict. What I actually said was something like-
'Ka'bah can never be desecrated. Like the Church, which is 'Bride of Christ', it is, as John Donne said, 'most pleasing to Thee then/ when most embraced and open to most men'.

Meanwhile, coz back then I was the Daily Mail's Black neighbour from Hell, Sabri Bros. had started blaring out 'shab ko mera janaza' from the Tape Deck-
Only Prayer & Fasting perfected our parting from Mother's pillowy breast
 Till baby Sakina elected to sleep on Husayn's battle hardened chest!
Not Drink, nor Death, has been, to this Dervish, a Saqi true
But, niece,- thy 'Al Atash ya Ammahu!'

Fuck is wrong with me? Time was when Poverty obliged me to keep fasts, Ugliness to observe continence, Stupidity to yield some Socially Utile species of heteroclite Obedience.

A Devdas manque, I couldn't even drink myself to death, like Majaz or Manto- but that was cool coz my poems and stories were too obviously, even to my own eyes, shite fed on shite. 

Tacitus, my first instructor in Ars Moriendi, recommended the 'gentle and unforcible' method of self-starvation- Jain Sallekhana- but then an aleatory act of what is unceasing in Jain generosity revealed even that horizon to be a but faltu or filmi Fata Morgana.

Fuck am I supposed to do, this drear Ramadan dusk without darkness, with Manto's Sakina as my only Saqi?

Seriously, I'm asking you, Prof,- fuck, I'm supposed to do?



Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Gayatri Spivak as Europeanist.

Gayatri Spivak describes herself as a 'Europeanist' i.e. an adept of such metaphysical arcana as feature in Derrida, Deleuze and 'Slap her; she's French'.

But (spoiler alert) the Nietzchean Fata Morgana- i.e. that sinister, all synthesizing, synaesthetic Wagnerian Ousia or World Historical spectacle which, if it doesn't kill you with boredom, only makes you wronger- the three aforementioned all reference, albeit under the sign of catachrestic difference, isn't actually European- i.e. Americanism's mimetic rival- but simply an equally manipulative, Small Town, wannabe TV News anchor type, Cheerleader/Sociopath who, back in Third Grade, got her tongue stuck to the backside of the Harvest Festival's giant ice sculpture of a cow. Her family fled across the Atlantic to fromage their heads in shame, but a decade later the girl returns, pretending to be an Overseas Exchange Student, to revenge herself on the fellow contestant in the Child Beauty Pageant who, faking friendly concern, advised her to French kiss that ice cow's ass for good luck.

Which, I suppose, is an elaborate way of saying that if Americanism is a metaphysical dogma, it is one of multiple realizability such that mimetic desire, and the pharmakon that requires, is depassed.

By contrast, Europeanism- by which I mean provincial Continental types having to make do with Phenomenology because only England, by reason of its doubling as New England, was so blessed by Providence that its every Political concurrency deadlock always ended up cashing out as but the inertial buffering ordained by Newton's Substantivist God-  Europeanism could never, by reason of Phenomenology's status as being totally fucked in the head, decompose any Theory of Mind type canalisation from its own Red Queen epigenetic landscape and thus, for never having a double, remaindered ever amongst Reason's doomed dialects.

Which is not to say Europeanism, like Indology, is wholly inutile but rather that it clusters not with the Humanities but the sub-Humanities. Thus, with Kant we have an Ethics fit for autistic Asimov robots, with Hegel a Theory of History for brain dead Bodice Ripper beefcakes & with Marx a Political Economics for the baby born of the joyless buggery between beefcake and robot- for only thus can a truly Proletarian caste be conceived- babies born any other way serving the state in  more ways than the simply reproductive.

Europeanism, as practiced by Spivak, is a convenient catch-all for stupid dirigiste ideas Europeans only had because they were too aware of an inferiority with respect to Information aggregation mechanism design compared to sea girt Anglo-America.
However, as the paleo-Leftist Terry Eagleton pointed out long ago, Spivak isn't really a Europeanist at all but just a Narcissistic corn fed American cheerleader for a vulgar eclecticism- the 'gaudy supermarket' is his lapidary phrase- whose major malfunction is her own pink and greedy little tongue stuck to the magisterial butt of Europeanism's ice cow.
Take a shufty at this-
'It should not be possible to read nineteenth-century British literature without remembering that imperialism, understood as England's social mission, was a crucial part of the cultural representation of England to the English.'
What is Spivak saying? When a Mongolian kid reads Sherlock Holmes or Dracula or Oliver Twist , translated into his own language,  it is certainly possible for him not to know and have no reason to remember that the country he is reading about had a Empire or needed reminding of that fact.
  Indeed, if nineteenth century English literature is worth reading, it must be possible to read it without remembering something bleeding obvious- viz that a country's literature presents its culture to itself- as well as something utterly false- viz. that Imperialism was understood as England's Social Mission by any actual Nineteenth Century Englishman or Englishwoman whatsoever.
This is because people can only have a Social mission to people in the Society they themselves inhabit. They can have a Military mission, a Trade mission, a Humanitarian mission, a mission of Enlightenment etc to people in another land. What they can't have is a Social Mission to them. As a matter of fact, a large number of English people believed that England had a Social Mission to its poor and vulnerable. Some still do.
Now it may be that there was some nut-job who thought that England should order its entire Society so as to be the best possible Imperial power ever. Thus, the Established Church should decide all issues of dogma only in the light of what is best for the Imperial project- perhaps incorporating Islamic and Hindu and Voodoo elements into the liturgy. The City of London, rather than pursuing private profits, should only back investments which make the Empire as viable as possible. The Schools- not just Halieybury, but also Harrow not to speak of establishments more hooligan or humbler yet- should teach Oriental and African languages, not Latin and French.
Did anyone actually suggest anything of this sort?
No.
Joseph Chamberlain started off as a Republican but became an Imperialist. Surely he came to believe that 'Imperialism was England's Social Mission?'. Nope. He just wanted Imperial Preference- i.e. Protection for Plutocrats.
The truth is, Empires don't greatly matter. Naval supremacy does. British rule in India succeeded because it first removed as much 'loot' (the fruits of centuries of primitive accumulation) as possible, thus reducing the incentive for indigenous military formations, and then devised ways by which India could run a purely agricultural trade surplus sufficient to pay an extortionate 'home charge'.
This was only possible because, more by luck than cunning, British naval supremacy wouldn't be seriously challenged for the whole of the century.
What was not a matter of luck, but cunning 'mechanism design', was the increasing soundness of British finances. However, here, the relevant political battles had already been won in the previous two centuries. Once again, this had nothing to do with Imperialism. Indeed, Burke, as much as Paine, welcomed Washington's victory over booted Hessians while the former castigated the corrupt 'Indianism' of John Company as a greater threat to the Polity than the Jacobins.
Spivak, of course, is blissfully ignorant of all this.
She has something stupid and false to say so she tells us we really ought to read English literature only in the stupid and false way she requires.
But let her speak for herself-
'The role of literature in the production of cultural representation should not be ignored. These two obvious "facts" continue to be disregarded in the reading of nineteenth-century British literature. This itself attests to the continuing success of the imperialist project, displaced and dispersed into more modern forms. '
Literature itself is Cultural representation. This is not a 'fact' but a tautology because Literature is something cultural which represents. Its role in the production of cultural representation is the same as the role of cultural representation in its own production.
Suppose this is not the case. Suppose there is a convention whereby Literature- like the sahitya for a kirtan, or libretto for an opera- is never encountered alone but only as a factor of production in something else which qualifies as  'Cultural representation'. In this case, Spivak is not talking nonsense.
However, as a matter of fact, not abstract speculation, no such convention as mentioned above arose in connection with Nineteenth Century English literature. Spivak is talking shite.
Worse, it is paranoid shite- she thinks British Imperialism is some sort of malign force which continues to operate not by oppressing or exploiting people but by getting readers of Nineteenth Century English Literature to continue to ignore two supposedly 'obvious' facts which are a priori and empirically false and all this happens only coz that fucking Imperialism is being like a total bitch, dude, and once again refusing to change the laws of logic or the historical record so as to render Spivak's thesis less utterly shite.

Apart from the notion that the World is full of incompossible Ousias which have never actually existed but are Paranoid Political ideations simply- what is that thesis?
'If these "facts" were remembered, not only in the study of British literature but in the study of the literatures of the European colonizing cultures of the great age of imperialism, we would produce a narrative, in literary history, of the "worlding" of what is now called "the Third World."
Does this vaunted 'Europeanist' really think Maeterlink produced a 'cultural representation' of Belgium's 'Social Mission' to King Leopold's Congo? Was Buddenbrooks a 'cultural representation' of Germany's Social Mission to the Tanganikans or the Boxers in China?
What 'Worlding'- that is Heideggerian 'being-in-the-world'- as opposed to mindless atrocity, occurred  when the Germans suppressed the Maji Maji Rebellion or carried out atrocities in Tianjin?
Nothing interesting, it turns out. Spivak has some trivial  academic grudge to work off and History and Literature and Philosophy only exist for her massive misrepresentation so as to provide her a means to vent her spleen in the most grandiloquent terms possible.
'To consider the Third World as distant cultures, exploited but with rich intact literary heritages waiting to be recovered, interpreted, and curricularized in English translation fosters the emergence of "the Third World" as a signifier that allows us to forget that "worlding," even as it expands the empire of the literary discipline.'
In other words, this 'Europeanist' is peeved because non-European literatures are getting translated and taught and she's too fucking stupid and ignorant to get in on the act even though, lest we forget, she be a nigger from some Third World shit-hole herself and thus got that 'Worlding'- univocal between Tanganika and Tianjin- down pat.
This is not to say Spivak is wholly wrong about translations. Take a gander at this-
'When Chotti was fifteen. He looked and looked and found Dhani in the depths of the forest. Dhani sat on a stone beside a spring. He lifted his eyes when he saw Chotti. Chotti held his feet. Why grab me feet? Teach me ta shoot an arrer. Me? Yes. Ye are t’ god Haramdeo of archers. Why d’ye want ta learn? All Mundas shoot, no? What new skill will I teach ye? I want to win at Chotti fair. Oh, for that? Is that a nothin’ goal? Suddenly Dhani laughed at the sight of Chotti’s glowing face. How shall I teach ye, he said. If I hold an arrer the polis’ll again lock me up.'
'Teach me ta shoot an arrer.'  If a White had indeed put these words into the mouth of an Indian tribal, Spivak might have a point. But this is her own translation of the disgustingly patronizing Mahashweta- Ritwick Ghatak's idiot niece- and so Spivak's 'Worlding' turns out to feature not just infantilizing the tribal but also making him talk like Dick Van Dyck playing a Cockney Chimney Sweep.

Spivak thinks 'nineteenth-century feminist individualism could conceive of a "greater" project than access to the closed circle of the nuclear family.' Previous scholars had pointed out that women were not permitted access to the closed circle of the nuclear family in England. Men fucked other men and had babies. Women were kept in a kennel outside. Mary Woolstoncraft conceived of the project of feminist individualism at last gaining access to the closed circle of the nuclear family. Instead of men fucking men, to make babies, they would be taught to fuck women who, in consequence, would be let out of the kennel and into the bedroom. Spivak's great discovery is that nineteenth century feminist individualism could conceive an even greater project. Was it stuff like a married woman's right to dispose of her own property or a young woman's right to take up a learned profession? Don't be silly. Of course not.
But let Spivak tell you herself-
'This is the project of soul making beyond "mere" sexual reproduction. Here the native "subject" is not almost an animal but rather the object of what might be termed the terrorism of the categorical imperative.'
So there you have it. George Eliot read Kant and took the next boat to Heathendom to terrorize the natives, by gassing on about the categorical imperative instead of 'teachin'  'em ta shoot an arrer'  at each other.
Except nothing of the sort actually happened at all. Dickens' Mrs Jellyby owes something to the Clapham Sect but nothing to Kant. Women did campaign for things beneficial both to themselves and Society at large. Some, like Florence Nightingale, took an interest in colonial conditions by supporting organizations like the Indian National Congress. Annie Beasant, the champion of the Byrant & May matchgirls, set off for India after a conversion to Theosophy.
Not a single woman who took an interest in Colonial affairs did so only because she had read Kant or Bentham or any other such fuckwit.
But that doesn't matter to Spivak. (my remarks are in bold)
'I am using "Kant" in this essay as a metonym for the most flexible ethical moment in the European eighteenth century. Kant is a more flexible ethical moment than Rousseau? Seriously? The guy who says its wrong to have a wank is more flexible than the guy who gave himself a hernia jerking off?
 Kant words the categorical imperative, conceived as the universal moral law given by pure reason, in this way: "In all creation every thing one chooses and over which one has any power, may be used merely as means; man alone, and with him every rational creature, is an end in himself." It is thus a moving displacement of Christian ethics from religion to philosophy. Hamann, De Maistre, Hegel, practically everybody who was anybody didn't think any such displacement as Spivak suggests actually occurred.  Why is she being so stupid? As Kant writes: "With this agrees very well the possibility of such a command as: Love God above everything, and thy neighbor as thyself. For as a command it requires respect for a law which commands love and does not leave it to our own arbitrary choice to make this our principle."'
The "categorical" in Kant cannot be adequately represented in determinately grounded action. The dangerous transformative power of philosophy, however, is that its formal subtlety can be travestied in the service of the state. Such a travesty in the case of the categorical imperative can justify the imperialist project by producing the following formula: make the heathen into a human so that he can be treated as an end in himself'
This, then, is Spivak's great discovery- much parroted in subsequent 'Po-Co' screeds- a non-sequitur deduced from a string of non-sequiturs. 
It turns out philosophy isn't worthless shite but has a 'dangerous transformative power'. Not a power to actually do anything, you understand- i.e. in itself it remains worthless shite- however it is nevertheless a power that can be travestied in the service of the State because....urm...well, it just can, okay?
It's like how an onion farmer justifies his raping the land by saying ''The maxim- 'Make the onion into a human being so the onion can be treated as an end in itself' is indeed the basis of an universal moral law.' 
Why is Spivak telling us this silly story? Well, it turns out she's read Jane Eyre and Wild Sargasso Sea and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and come to a remarkable conclusion. Books written by White women which garner praise can only be read in one legitimate way because what they are all actually saying is- 'We are worthless gobshites. There is only one non-worthless gobshite in the Universe- viz. Gayatri Spivak. We too attain an aleatory non-shiteness in so far as we point to our 'Social Mission' to celebrate that worthless fuckwit.
'What? This isn't nonsense at all. It's all there in Derrida. Crack a book sometime, Terry Eagleton, you great big beardie you.'

Envoi-
Spivak says- 'In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Narcissus' madness is disclosed when he recognizes his Other as his self: "Iste ego sum."
Not Madness, but the Death Tiresisas foretold, supervenes on that 'Iste ego sum'. 
Gayatri babe, you fed on gesture political Leftism's Narcissism of small differences but were too stupid to go Mad and too brain dead to require a costly disconnection from the Teaching Machine so your bogus Third 'Worlding' is simply a case of 'Slap her, she's French' because slapping people feels good though, as the credits roll, we are left with this deflationary revelation- no actual French people were hurt in the making of making the movie of your getting your tongue stuck to the butt of Europeanism's ice cow.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Homi Bhaba & Kipling's 'the Man who would be King'.

About 7 years after Kipling described the failure of a fictional attempt by 2 disreputable, ex-Drill Sergeant, British loafers, to become 'Kings of Kafiristan' and make a present of it to Queen Victoria, Muslim Afghans did succeed in colonising that mountainous realm, extirpating its native Religion, and adding  it to their Empire.

After the Soviet invasion, Nuristan- the 'realm of Light' as that 'realm of the Infidel' had been renamed- stood foremost in the resistance struggle against what Ronald Reagan termed an 'Evil Empire. The same thing happened after 9/11 when N.A.T.O put boots on the ground.

Why, according to Kipling, did the (fictional) British attempt fail and does that reason also explain why the Muslim Afghans succeeded?
Remarkably, yes.
In Kipling's story,  the priestly elite amongst the Nuristanis (who are a sort of lost tribe of Britishers) have a passionate inkling of the rituals of Freemasonry up to the Second Grade. Fortunately, the 2 British mock-Imperialists have been instructed one level higher. However, instead of confessing this purely human source of their esoteric knowledge, they let it be thought that they themselves are Gods. Since, sooner or later, one or the other of them is bound to suffer some injury or illness, their imposture is sure to be detected and thus their Kingdom is built on sand.
One of the soldiers, the brains behind the operation, decides to get married to a local girl. She thinks he is a God and knows that mortal women die if they marry either gods or demons. Thus, instead of kissing the groom, she bites his cheek and draws blood.
Since Gods don't bleed- except in Christianity- the two Imperialists meet a gristly fate.
Afghan Islam, on the other hand, could fare better. Its Prophet was wholly human and acceptance of its doctrine was not contingent upon it being a more advanced version of what was previously adhered to.
Nuristan is still a sort of palimpsest where ancient customs and practices remain faintly visible under the Kufic of Islamic orthopraxy. However, this 'sous rature' erasure or over-writing has not made that Province more amenable to the promises held out by new, non-Islamic, conquerors. On the contrary, the Nuristanis have offered such misguided Imperial adventures the most spirited resistance.

This, it seems to me, is a good reason to dismiss Post Colonial Theory as mischievous nonsense.

Consider the following excerpt from a representative text-

Vegetarian Hindus did not consider the Christian Eucharist to be a kind of cannibalism or vampirism any more than they thought the 'aja' grain they offered in sacrifice was actually a goat. The Namboodri did not taunt his Syrian Christian neighbor in such scurrilous terms over the score of centuries the two communities cohabited. Later on, Tamil Brahmins would scarcely have welcomed Fr. Roberto de Nobili or Fr. Joseph Besci into their agraharams if such prejudices in fact obtained. Raja Ramohan Roy has a criticism of Trinitarian Christianity, Radhakrishnan of eschatological Gospel hermeneutics, but neither they nor countless other Hindus who engaged with Christianity ever descended to such illiterate or school-boy invective.
The text Bhaba quotes- a typical Catechist's litany of improbable excuses for having taken a lot of seed-money but provided no great harvest of human souls in return-  has been taken out of context and interpreted in a wholly ludicrous manner.

Let us take a famous example of a comic muddle arising out of 'hybridization'- the Jesuits wrote a Christian Purana. Who was taken in by it? Not the Indians, it was the Frenchman, Voltaire.
Similarly, the first Professor of English Literature anywhere in the world was wholly taken in by the forgery- 'Ossian'- which also fooled Napoleon and Goethe and so on. But, in both these cases, no actual Bhaba type mimicry or mockery had occurred. Voltaire's education wasn't very different from that of the Jesuits. The English Professor who acclaimed Ossian was in fact a near neighbor to its forger.
Examples of culturally influential 'hybridization'- Carlos Castaneda, Lobsong Rampa, the French-Cambodian shemale David Cameron- more often than not, represent no vestige of conquest, or Colonial cross-pollination but are imaginary simply.
This is not to say that Bhaba's claims are wholly empty. No. But they are trivial.
Currently, some 'Hindutva' nut-jobs raise a hue and cry when they see foreign Missionaries deliberately using 'Hindu tropes- e.g. pilgrimage to the Ganges or Tirupati etc- or when Bishops claim that the Gita derives from the Gospel. But these nut-jobs will get exercised over anything- including the cutesy custom of little  kids sending each other Valentines, rather than 'Raakhees', thus obviating the guilt of having kissed one's 'Raakhee' brother behind the bike-shed. Of course, as a Hindutva intellectual myself- not a nutjob at all- I condemn the practice of saying 'Hello' because this is the secret Christian name of God as in the infamous Lord's prayer- 'O God who art in Heaven, Hello be thy name'.
Forster speaks of a 'muddle' and there will always be muddle where there exist Loves that dare not speak their name, and must-have gloves that cut off circulation to the scarlet hands of shame, with the result that Paideia's Credential becomes indistinguishable, to even the most discerning anus, from the pensive coprolite it itself extrudes. But that muddle had nothing to do with the functioning of the Colonial State nor contributed anything to its demise.
Dravot's divinity fails because he suffers an injury. Suppose he had slipped and broken his leg. The same cry would have gone up- 'How can a God break his leg?' Suppose he had suffered from dysentery- the scandal would have been 'how can a God suffer the shits?'
Dravot's crime is against the tenets of Freemasonry, belief in which he holds in common with the Priestly class of his new subjects- who, in any case, he considers British. The punishments he and his comrade suffer parallel those to be found in Masonic lore.
Kipling's point, in modern terminology, is a simple one. The establishment of a 'stationary bandit' suppresses wasteful vendettas and represents a Pareto improvement. The 'stationary bandit' gains both legitimacy and revenue by considering existing Schelling focal solutions to Society's co-ordination game (i.e. existing sacred geographies, conventions and shibboleths) and figuring out how to extract a rent from these choke points. However, if the 'stationary bandit' does not do this in a rational manner than some irrational hybridization will occur- such as the notion of a Man-God- causing his own extinction event.
Post Colonial theory could have been a stationary bandit turned Imperium extracting rents from University Depts. better funded and less obviously worthless than 'World Literature' or 'Area Studies'.
But, being as opportunistic, Epimethean, and fundamentally declasse as Kipling's Dravot, it has been horribly tortured, has gone mad, suffered dismemberment and finally and most fiendishly suffered the torments of death and damnation as a Research Project.
Witness this-
Did Churchill, once a subaltern in India 'practicing domination', become hybrid in his language as a result? When he says 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,' though the cadence is Augustan, he is not really saying something very different from- '“And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too.” 

What of Thackeray, of Kipling, of Saqi, of Lawrence Durrell- was their language really hybridised? Are there passages in any of their works which suggest the authorial hand of Desani's H.Hatter?
What of contemporary Indians? Does Vikram Seth's poem on George Herbert (whose house he now occupies) smell of curry rather than whatever modish Californian fusion cuisine feeds M.F.A aesthetic inedia?

Hybridity is a grotesque- its grotto sacred to School Boy scurrilousness and Pot House puerility. It does not 'shift power' or 'question discursive authority'- rather it is a Carnival mostrance of the incompossible nature of mimetic desire, which far from overthrowing Lent points to the purgative necessity of the Man-God's korban or pharmakos.

The 'Rice Christian' who relapses points not to 'cultural differences' underpinning a notion of hybridity as strategic resistance but to Instrumentalized Charity's univocal status as whited sephulchre. 
Colour or Culture don't come into it. E.M Forster's Clapham Sect ancestors had faced the same problem with London's proletariat and his audience back in Blighty knew this full well.

Returning to Kipling's story, look at this by no means illiterate Post Colonial interpretation of it by a Bengali vidhushi- a female savant- whose PhD is from Ohio and who now teaches in Hong Kong.
My remarks are in bold.

In discussing Bhabha's theory in the context of Kipling's story, we
may substitute the English book, or the Bible, for the Masonic grid;
No we may not! Christianity has a Man-God who bleeds for us. Masonry doesn't.
Daniel and Peachey know the missing Master's Mark which the natives
have no knowledge of and the revelation of this mark convinces the
natives of the supernatural status of these two men.
Daniel and Peachey's crime against Masonry consists in permitting this hybridization of Masonic practice- a sin against the Mother lodge- and are punished for this Epimethean act of expediency.
Bhabha writes, 'The acknowledgement of authority depends upon the immediate – unmedi-
ated – visibility of its rules of recognition' (Bhabha: 1994, 110) and
the Mark represents to the native the authority of the two English men.
Quite false.Their Martini guns, skill as drill masters, and shrewdness in tactics had already established their authority. The King of Kabul, too, had better guns than the Kaffirs and he would use them to establish his authority. But, his commanders weren't so foolish as to allow any expedient act of hybridisation which, since hybrids soon come a cropper in the real world, would have created a scandal, a stumbling block to faith, fatal to the legitimacy of the new Religion they introduced. Indeed, not as an atavistic 'return of the repressed', the Taliban are better understood as a rebellion against the hybridity of Iqbal's 'pirzada' and ISIS as expressing ire at the hybridized hereditary Sayyad/Saoshyant claiming an Achaemenid descent.
Bhabha asserts that hybridity turns the gaze of the discriminated back
upon the eye of power: '. . . faced with the hybridity of its objects, the
presence of power is revealed as something other than what its rules of
recognition assert' (Bhabha, 112). 
Nonsense! Saki dealt with a case of hybridity in his story 'Tobermory' about a cat which learns to talk. It does not cause the humans to question their authority over the animal kingdom. Instead, its revelations undermine the cordiality of their mutual relations. But since, as Saki well knew, 'in the Turkish bath all are naked', their solidarity is quickly re-established in the demand that the cat be destroyed. However, nature has done their job for them. Speaking elegant English confers no Darwinian advantage on a cat- which is why my neighbor's tabby refuses to say 'O long Johnson'- and thus Tobermory loses his battle with the big Tom from the Rectory.
Once again, this juncture is reached in "The Man who would be King" at the moment when Daniel is bitten by the native woman and begins to bleed. The earlier articulation of
the God/Devil-Englishman equivalence is now destabilized so that the
colonial authority of Daniel and Peachey is weakened and split.
The natives had no such concept as 'Englishman; Daniel and Peachey appeared to be of the same race as themselves. They had already established their authority before they foolishly let it be thought they enjoyed God like omnescience, rather than a superior inculcation in the rites of Freemasonry.
Daniel would have been found out even if his bride hadn't bitten him. Sooner or later he would have suffered some accident or injury or would have come done with a case of the shits.
Moreover, no 'equivalence has been destabilised', rather a thesis has been decisively refuted by an empirical test. The writer speaks of Daniel and Peachey as possessing 'colonial authority'. They did not. The locals had no concept of the British Raj. Daniel and Peachey had not disclosed their plan of gifting the Province to the Queen Empress to them and, of course, possessed no official warrant, or indeed complaisance, for their mission.
 According to Bhabha, 'The display of hybridity its peculiar 'repli-
cation' terrorizes authority with the ruse of recognition, its mimicry,
its mockery' (Bhabha, 115).
'Ruse of Recognition' is a conflation of 2 Hegelian tropes- The Master/Slave'Struggle for Recognition' by which the useful stuff the slave produces creates a dependency and craving for Life in the Master who was previously more unafraid of death and thus thymotically superior; and the 'Ruse of Reason' whereby people are merely the puppets of the Welt Geist.
Both tropes are fucked in the head. The Americans were much more not much less afraid of death than the people of the Phillipines. That's one reason their technology was so much better- Scientific advances make our lives safer they baffle Death's many snares- and also why they were much more ruthless- they invented the Concentration Camp. 
If Hegel was correct, the Japanese Kamikaze pilot would have defeated the U.S Navy. Not indifference to one's own death but the means and will to deal it out with massive ruthlessness is what establishes Mastery. As for the 'ruse of Reason'- perhaps, it was reasonable, at one time, to think of Napoleon as having been used by the Welt Geist to prod Prussia into that Perfection Hegel eulogized- but History has moved on since then; we all know that notion is utterly fucked in the head.
Sooner or later, by the Cliodynamics of Christaller Central Place theory, an ergodic, i.e. Economically rational, and more or less unitary State would have arisen even absent any 'heroes' or 'world-historical personalities' like Napoleon or Hitler. Reason needs no ruses, if it genuinely is reasonable- not Hegelian shite.
Bhaba says hybridity- like a cat that speaks upper class Edwardian English- 'terrorizes authority'. It does not, cats that talk are for the freak show. Even had Tobermory got to the office of the local paper and spilled the beans on the various fornications and defalcations of the upper crust inhabitants of the Country House, which Newspaper would have printed his revelations? Will the testimony of a cat really be given credence in a Court of Law? The Newspaper proprietor has no defense against a Libel suit militating for exemplary damages.

If hybridity can't terrorize but only give one a fright before proceeding to amuse, what of Bhaba's 'ruse of recognition'- i.e. a situation where the slave's work is one of mimickry and mockery which the Welt Geist itself has ordained so that Society can reach that state of Perfection Hegel himself saw mirrored in the Prussian Constitution?
'Hail to the Chimp' is a movie in the Simpsons universe. Suppose it was actually made and gave rise to a TV show where chimps re-enact the doings of the great and the good. No doubt, initially some people in authority will freak out. But, if sanity prevails, the show will become increasingly anodyne- a Disney cartoon. President Chimp will show himself increasingly statesmanlike. If he misses his son's Little League game because he had to stop a nuclear war, we know he will say to his son- 'Champ, I know I should of been there for you for your big game, but, y'know what?, I had a pretty tough time myself today and thinking of you helped me get through it.' At which point the little monkey hugs him and says 'I love you Dad'.
 In order to reduce resistance from the Kafirs, the colonizers seek to establish such a "replication" between themselves and the natives and in this they are aided by the absence of racial difference. 
The Kafirs stopped resisting once it became clear that the 2 Brits had superior technology, tactics and, what's more, were savvy enough to suppress wasteful vendettas in favor of a lean 'stationary bandit' type regime which was a Pareto improvement. However, for enhanced rent extraction without territorial expansion, Economic Development is needed. But such Development can only occur if people trust each other- i.e. Credit burgeons- and also if productivity improves by reason of the adoption of a sterner work-ethic.
Freemasonry ab ovo was concerned with increasing mutual trust and replacing thymotic competition with productive co-operation. It has its own mythology centered on Solomon's Temple and could, plausibly, within its own universe of discourse, have spread to Kafiristan.
Daniel does not say that he and his friend can't fight any more but they don't want to fight anymore. Moreover, the local priests are already second degree Masons and have an inbuilt tropism towards the arcana of the Third.
Here is the relevant passage-

“‘Peachey,’ says Dravot, ‘we don’t want to fight no more. The Craft’s the trick so help me!’ and he brings forward that same Chief that I left at Bashkai — Billy Fish we called him afterwards, because he was so like Billy Fish that drove the big tank-engine at Mach on the Bolan in the old days. ‘Shake hands with him,’ says Dravot, and I shook hands and nearly dropped, for Billy Fish gave me the Grip. I said nothing, but tried him with the Fellow Craft Grip. He answers, all right, and I tried the Master’s Grip, but that was a slip. ‘A Fellow Craft he is!’ I says to Dan. ‘Does he know the word?’ ‘He does,’ says Dan, ‘and all the priests know. It’s a miracle! The Chiefs and the priest can work a Fellow Craft Lodge in a way that’s very like ours, and they’ve cut the marks on the rocks, but they don’t know the Third Degree, and they’ve come to find out. It’s Gord’s Truth. I’ve known these long years that the Afghans knew up to the Fellow Craft Degree, but this is a miracle. A god and a Grand-Master of the Craft am I, and a Lodge in the Third Degree I will open, and we’ll raise the head priests and the Chiefs of the villages.’
“‘It’s against all the law,’ I says, ‘holding a Lodge without warrant from any one; and we never held office in any Lodge.’
“‘It’s a master-stroke of policy,’ says Dravot. ‘It means running the country as easy as a four-wheeled bogy on a down grade. We can’t stop to inquire now, or they’ll turn against us.
The most amazing miracle was at Lodge next night. One of the old priests was watching us continuous, and I felt uneasy, for I knew we’d have to fudge the Ritual, and I didn’t know what the men knew. The old priest was a stranger come in from beyond the village of Bashkai. The minute Dravot puts on the Master’s apron that the girls had made for him, the priest fetches a whoop and a howl, and tries to overturn the stone that Dravot was sitting on. ‘It’s all up now,’ I says. ‘That comes of meddling with the Craft without warrant!’ Dravot never winked an eye, not when ten priests took and tilted over the Grand-Master’s chair — which was to say the stone of Imbra. The priest begins rubbing the bottom end of it to clear away the black dirt, and presently he shows all the other priests the Master’s Mark, same as was on Dravot’s apron, cut into the stone. Not even the priests of the temple of Imbra knew it was there. The old chap falls flat on his face at Dravot’s feet and kisses ’em. ‘Luck again,’ says Dravot, across the Lodge to me, ‘they say it’s the missing Mark that no one could understand the why of. We’re more than safe now.’ Then he bangs the butt of his gun for a gavel and says:— ‘By virtue of the authority vested in me by my own right hand and the help of Peachey, I declare myself Grand-Master of all Freemasonry in Kafiristan in this the Mother Lodge o’ the country, and King of Kafiristan equally with Peachey!’ At that he puts on his crown and I puts on mine — I was doing Senior Warden — and we opens the Lodge in most ample form. It was a amazing miracle! The priests moved in Lodge through the first two degrees almost without telling, as if the memory was coming back to them. After that, Peachey and Dravot raised such as was worthy — high priests and Chiefs of far-off villages. Billy Fish was the first, and I can tell you we scared the soul out of him. It was not in any way according to Ritual, but it served our turn. We didn’t raise more than ten of the biggest men because we didn’t want to make the Degree common. And they was clamoring to be raised.
Returning to the lady savant's Post Colonial account, we read-
However, they are suddenly and violently made aware
of the degeneracy of their imperialist project when the recognition
between them and the natives becomes absolute. 
The savant is right to speak of degeneracy in this context- but it is a degeneracy only with respect to Freemasonry as practiced in Kipling's own Mother Lodge. 
Daniel had a duty, as a Mason, to deny any claim to the hybrid status of a Man-God. It was very foolish of him to neglect this duty, but then Daniel was a fool. Earlier Kipling had saved him from certain death when he formed a scheme to blackmail a native prince by passing himself of as a  correspondent for Kipling's own paper. In other words, Daniel had tried the ruse of 'repetition' but Imperial systems stand in no terror of such monkey tricks and maintain a well oiled machine to detect and stamp out such freaks or frauds.
Our learned vidushi tells us that the recognition between the natives and the man who would be King became absolute. She surely can't be claiming that the natives could suddenly place Daniel in his socio-economic context or his relationship to the British Raj. However, it is true to say that, from the point of view of Masonry, there was indeed an absolute recognition on both sides that Daniel has reduplicated the crime against Hiram, the Widow's son in that he has sought to usurp a Gnosis- he had, in Vogelin's phrase, 'immanentized the eschaton'- by means both forceful and fraudulent. The punishments both men suffer, too, are prefigured in Masonic lore.
Returning to our learned theorist, we learn
'The natives are like them in more ways than they had imagined possible. The consequence
of such a horrifying recognition can only be, in Kipling's scheme of
things, madness and dismemberment as is demonstrated by the ultimate
fate of Daniel and Peachey. Bhabha's theories on the discourse of colo-
nialism therefore, suggest that the native is somehow in possession of
colonial power, although his culture and economy are destroyed. The
natives of Kafiristan in Kipling's story assert this power in the most
crucial moment of the story.
Freemasonry isn't about Colonial Power anymore than it is about Daniel's crowned Baphomet head which disappears at the end of Kipling's story. But even if it had been, ab avo, an Imperial instrumentality,  it still isn't true that Colonial Power could or has ever been extinguished by the terror struck by purely sanguinary means.
Rebellions which sought simply to instrumentalize atrocity, or enforce a univocity of unspeakable terror, rather than securing obligatory passage point status for their instigators, backfired horribly. Kipling grew up hearing stories of the 'Ghaddar'- the events of 1857. There could be no question that the atrocities committed by the Sepoys were utterly destructive to their own ethos and rendered their natal districts more supine than ever before.
The British did leave Kenya, the French did leave Algeria, but did not return to their own shores with a human cargo displaying the horrific Mau Mau marks of 'madness and dismemberment'. On the contrary, the Govts. and peoples of the ex-Colonial powers enjoyed increasingly cordial and profitable relations with their former colonies. There were some exceptions. After the assassination of Aung San, (with the complicity of disaffected British traders and officers but in defiance of Atlee) Burma did leave the Commonwealth. It is the only country that was less than welcoming to retired British Army soldiers.
Does anybody really believe that Kipling was saying 'guys, let's give up Imperialism. It will end badly. My Daddy will go mad and Mummy will be dismembered. Fuck the British Raj. Let's get out while we still can.'?
Even suppose there was some way to prove this really was his sub-conscious sub-text, why bring up the matter unless all you are interested in doing is showing Kipling was as stupid as shit? Surely, we can find plenty of other texts in his oeuvre- for example his opposition to Statutory limitations on working hours on the grounds that this was the thin edge of the wedge of the Teutonic type of slavery which Herbert Spenser denounced in 'The Servile State'?

What about the notion that 'the native is somehow in possession of Colonial Power'? Either Imperialism is a viable project or it isn't. If the native, in some occult manner, possesses Colonial Power how come Cairo doesn't still rule over Khartoum or Delhi over Aden and Rangoon?
Epistemic power doesn't exist. Epistemic violence is gesture politics of the most pointless sort.
Post Colonial Theory, illiterate and developmentally challenged though it undoubtedly is, nevertheless has an audience. We are all unwitting Bhaba black sheep when we whine about being wogs.
I once had a Trustafarian g.f who claimed she felt 'mentally raped' when I suggested we split the rent. I quickly responded that I felt like a nigger being whipped in the cotton field while Missy twirls her parasol and looks on. She upped the ante by becoming Anne Frank. I suppose, if I'd read enough Bhaba, I could have gotten off a snappy comeback featuring my own horrific apotheosis as the trajectory of the sodomized Subaltern in Singur, but the truth is I've always considered Anne Frank kinda hot. It turned out, she did too. So that ended quite unedifyingly with me continuing to have to pay all our bills out of my exiguous earnings as a Gayatri Spivak celebrity lookalike.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Native informants and Post Colonial Theory.


India has an official name not generally known in the West.
It is 'Bharat'.
Gayatri Spivak, in a book where she speaks of the 'native informant' as 'the name for that mark of expulsion from the name of man', also tells us that the name Bharat derives from the younger brother of Lord Rama. She is wrong. Bharat, famous in poetry as the son of Shakuntala, was a remote ancestor and already a legend in the earliest texts connected to Indian soil.
Why did Spivak say something most school-kids in India know to be false?
Well, her book came out a few years after the Babri Masjid episode.
It was a fixed meme of the Left that the Hindus were trying to invent a vengeful Father God.
Spivak was doing her job as a native informant.
She was saying- 'I'm a Brahmin. I know Sanskrit. I can confirm that the Indians have indeed named their country after the younger brother of their Warrior God because some White guy said so in his silly article.'

The trouble with this view is that the West no longer gave a fuck what the Indians called themselves.
They didn't want to rule India or meddle much with its politics.
Sure, there were some worthless academics in some prestigious Universities who pretended to care deeply about the Babri Masjid, but they had no power, their books were derided as empty verbiage, and the job prospects for their students were dwindling.
Spivak is an example of a person willing to tell stupid lies to anyone who wants to hear stupid lies.
Why?
She wants to market her worthless scribbling.
Her students too have to publish some worthless shite to get a Credential.
Shite feeding on shite without any pause for digestion.

Everything I'm saying would be true even if the 'native informant' comes from an imaginary country or planet.
Suppose, there was an item on the news about Middle aged Ruritanian bachelors being trafficked to service Gokturkistan's randy goat population. Publishers would be inundated with harrowing accounts of trauma and recovery from people claiming to be just such Ruritarian Pankaj Mishra look-alikes who, quite naturally, excite the lust of Gokturkistani goats.
 Spivak's magpie mind, attracted by this new bandwagon, would be quick to make some throwaway obiter dicta- like 'the Gokturkistani goat's invagination of the (dis)catachresis under the sign of Globalization rea(ffirm)s only to pro(blame)atize Marx's diuretics in the Grundisse'- and a hundred dissertations featuring Gokturkistani native informants would be launched.

Still, it must be said, self-identifying bhadralok Bengalis remain fascinated by the possibility of advancing themselves as 'native informants' but only because they are conscious of such great personal inferiority to their ancestors that their services are bound to prove utterly disastrous to the new Herrenvolk. 
Take Niradh Chaudhri. While the British were around he piped small. He knew that any attempt to pose as an authority on native culture or mores would be very quickly detected as a brazen fraud. Once the Brits left, Nirad Babu thought to himself that perhaps the Americans, still deeply racist at that time, might take over the British Empire and come back to India as conquerors. So he wrote a long memoir proving that Hindus are utterly shit and can't manage on their own. Nehru might be okay but only because he dressed like a Muslim. But most Indians were Hindus and, like the Bengalis, wore a dhoti. Thus, they were fucked.


Nirad personally did well out of this book.The Fifties was a good time for a brown man to come out as a worshiper of Whitey. After all, Independence had created losers as well as winners. The losers were credible witnesses of such aleatory virtues as Empire might, to a nostalgic eye, be thought to possess.
Soon, even the Indians began to warm to him. After all, the West was taking a beating in every corner of the globe. Nirad Babu's vapourings could scarcely tempt them back to the thankless task of draining Bengal's miasmal swamp teeming with such sub-human mosquitoes.
Niradh wasn't a Mir Jafar, he was literally a nobody. Bengal had once possessed human capital- its high value-to-weight export industries were Knowledge based. But the Bengali Bhadralok- whoring after false Gods- had fucked over their own people big time. Human mosquitoes such as these could only be exploited as vectors of some more virulent Malaria or Brain Fever. Thus, not the West of Adam Smith, but Maoist or Franz Fanon type shitheads posed the only threat. They alone might covet Mastery over this human mosquito horde.
This being the case, the sort of Credentialized cretins who get top marks in their M.A exams, unlike Nirad who failed, should spend their time sucking up to soixante huitard or Fanon type fucktards by pretending to be their native informants (this is not just the Subaltern School whose doyen emigrated to Blighty before Nirad, but also the gorgeous pouting Spivak who, singularly, is a worse Europeanist because she embraced that very Phenomenologym or narcissism of small differences, Europe had to abandon to stop tearing itself to pieces) while more readable, for less Credentialized, shitheads like Naipaul and Nirad concentrated on presenting their arses to their impotent former masters.

Ultimately, of course, thanks to demographic changes potentially favorable for Muslim nations, the two projects coalesced. Trotskyites had to turn neo-con to fulfill their potential for mischief. Old fashioned Racists, to keep faith with their visceral project, had to present themselves as quivering with compassion for every malnourished dusky child. Hypocrisy and Dissimulation had hypertrophied on a seemingly Global scale. Everyone felt that they had a secret alterity of victimhood festering inside themselves.  Like Rachel Dolezal, they sought a new identity as part of some vast global diaspora of an enslaved and brutalized race subjected to thought control and body fascism and Mom not letting me play with my own shit.
The native informant was now everybody who enjoyed the sound of her own voice. Indeed, my repeated exposure of David Cameron as a French Cambodian lady-boy, wot don't even speak English and has never been further West than Bangkok, has ended up contributing to his election victory because people I've talked to about this while knocking on doors canvassing for the Labor Party, have recovered memories of being married to him. 'Good on yer, Dave mate,' is what they say to themselves- 'Sorry about stealing the money you'd saved up for the boob-job. Good to hear you're doing well for yourself. Illegitimi non carborundum. Well, not your bollocks of course. Those did have to be ground down and a sweet job them Bangkok bastards did of it too. Ah to be 15 again and on one's first School Trip as a drug mule from the Golden Triangle!'








Thursday, 25 June 2015

Homi Bhaba and Para Vak

What happens when we read a passage from Homi Bhaba while holding to the belief that he has actually 'gone “outside the sentence” in a movement beyond any possible logocentrism... opening up the debate about representation into an unforeseen hybridity.. thus trying to cancel out any possibility of falling into the trap of the politics of binaries, that he felt had considerably weakened Edward Said’s argument'?

Let us try the experiment-
'European imperialism took various forms in different times and places and proceeded both through conscious planning and contingent occurrences;.
European is a false binary associated with the indefinable notion of the non-European. Imperialism too is a false binary. It implies that there is some form of political power wholly different from Imperial power. Conscious planning and contingent occurrences are also a false binary. Either one can have confidence in a conscious plan under conditions of Knightian Uncertainty, in which case no clear cut distinction can be made between endogenous and contingent triggers- i.e they are fuzzy- or some 'animal spirit' supervenes such that planning has no salience in a world which has evolved by natural selection.
Having cancelled out all the false binaries is there anything left to Bhaba's sentence or has he truly gone beyond it?
A naive answer would be- yes, Bhaba says European Imperialism existed though it may or may not have had anything to do with either conscious planning or with reactions to contingent occurrences.
However, if we substitute the word 'Colostomy' or 'Sadducee' for 'European' no great epistemic loss or gain would be sustained. People affected by Colostomy or who have an interest in the Sadducees would recognize it as an perfectly conventional opening remark of the sort routinely made pseudo-intellectual gobshites among their own number.
Thus Bhaba hasn't really gone beyond the sentence- Bhartrihari's sphota- to achieve 'para Vak'- an utterance worthy of omniscient God.
Unless, that is, he goes on to say something not as shite as his first sentence. Does he? Let us see.

'As a result of this complex development something occurred for which the plan of imperial expansion had not bargained: the immensely prestigious and powerful imperial culture found itself appropriated in projects of counter-colonial resistance which drew upon the many different indigenous local and hybrid processes of self-determination to defy, erode and sometimes supplant the prodigious power of imperial cultural knowledge'.

Once again cancelling out binaries- like complex/ simple, development/retrogression etc- we are still left with sentences of the following sort (where X can stand for Western or Colostomy or Sadducee etc)
1) X underwent a process resulting in increased Kolmogorov complexity.
2) This increase in complexity caused X to fail to predict that a particular type of not-X would challenge or supplant it.
3) The reason for this strange turn of events is that the non-X was a hybrid of X and fed upon its own drive to complexity
These 3 sentences make sense in speaking of Systems incapable of mounting a Red Queen defense to Trojans.  These are  Systems which crash very quickly and leave no progeny, let alone hybrids precisely because they have mounted a complexity gradient without first investing in defenses that co-evolve with Trojan threats. This is not to say that epigenetic effects are ruled out, just that progeny and hybrids are not viable because the System was too fundamentally flawed. 
What if a System is artificially shielded from Trojans? Then we get Spiegelman monsters- complexity declines.
What Bhaba is describing can be said with equal truth about Colostomy imperialism- i.e the fucking NHS's attempt to make all us Hindutva intellectuals wear colostomy bags when we visit India coz Narendra Modi has done a deal with David Cameron in the name of 'Svaccha Bharat' and is determined to prevent us N.R.Is from crapping all along Raj Path next time he invites Obama over for the Independence Day parade.
The problem here is the N.H.S can't distinguish- because Medical Science can't distinguish- between a full colostomy bag and us N.R.I bags of shite. Thus Colostomy Imperialism is not a real threat and scarcely worth talking about.
What about Western Imperialism? Surely that existed? Yes, it did indeed exist but only because it had very good Red Queen defenses against Trojans. The Brits learnt a lesson from 1776 as did the French from Haiti and so on. Gandhi and others may have become barristers and bought themselves top hats but no one was fooled. The Bar Association had no difficulty spotting a nigger and expelled first Savarkar and then Gandhi.

Has Bhaba 'gone beyond the sentence', and awoken the para Vak laughter of the Olympian Gods, by his delicious suggestion that Western Imperialism became so complex that it couldn't differentiate between Whites and Coloreds?
No. He hasn't gone far enough. He ought to have suggested that monkeys overthrew the British Raj by stealing the King Emperor's crown or the Chief Justice's wig and ordering the Red Coats back on their boats with the providential help of a parrot or two.
The truth is, the Raj could always tell even the difference between an argument written by a Ben-golliwog barrister, secretly representing pukka Scottish indigo planters and another, equally well argued screed, penned by a Bihari barrister with political ambitions.
The 'immensely powerful and prestigious' Imperial episteme only became so by squeezing dry 'indigenous local and hybrid processes of self-determination'- like the Munshis and Court Pundits and so on- before heartlessly abandoning them as heteronomous husks of humanity.
What about the Japanese? Surely they imitated the Europeans- they still wear top hats and tail coats on formal occasions- surely, that's a good example of 'hybridity'?
Nope. Japan was never colonized. They relied on their own native bakufu episteme- as exemplified by people like Ninomiya- to mobilize their own resources to their own sovereign ends.

But, perhaps Bhaba is aware of all this and will make some caveat in what follows. Let us read him and see-
'Post-colonial literatures are a result of this interaction between imperial culture and the complex of indigenous cultural practices. As a consequence, ‘post-colonial theory’ has existed for a long time before that particular name was used to describe it. Once colonised peoples had cause to reflect on and express the tension which ensued from this problematic and contested, but eventually vibrant and powerful mixture of imperial language and local experience, post-colonial ‘theory’ came into being.'
Saiichi Maruya writes a novel at the same time as people like Chinua Achebe or Abdullah Hussein which treats of what Alok Rai calls 'damaged modernity'. But Japan was never colonized. Clearly, what matters is that one culture- that which produced the modern novel- interacts with another culture- Igbo or Japanese or Tamil, it doesn't matter- and the same theme of relative heteronomy (by reason of hysteresis) will be highlighted.

Post colonial literatures aren't the result of Vulgar Marxian super-structure/sub-structure interactions- because as Stalin pointed out Language is relatively autonomous. Of course, there may be an artificial market for shite and that market may indeed be characterized by sly subversion and hybridity but that market really doesn't matter at all. It was always wholly meretricious. When the stick or carrot is taken away, it collapses on its own much to the chagrin of worthless Credentialist hacks who still have their PhD's to get or quota of gesture political papers to write.

Thus Bhaba, far from 'going beyond the sentence', is a prison sentence in a windowless cell fabricated from stupidity and lies.