Author Archives: DB

A long engagement

In a continuous outpouring, continuous transformation, open mouth, open belly and sex, we take and live and give and then fetishize life with our perceptions of spring and winter and birth, marriage and death. But we do not live until we learn its ragas, its music, its laws, sounds and spaces. It is the final mastery, this true submission, to the laws of life, the only one we need consent to with joy.

Sometimes, when the laws are invisible or too unsettling, we create religions out of other structures — discourses of science, faith, society, freedom — and worship and submit to those laws instead. Familiar, loving gods are more soothing than inexorable laws of life, for we may adorn our gods and god-spaces. To know these laws, and the many sutras of how we may unite with, love and couple with life, is the task.

There is nothing else to love, no one else to want, unless they personify Life for us. Of course, that’s when we fall in love and still live.

And before the submission, long before and long after, there is the combat, the dance, the drama that must be played out. One contending with the other, to win, to lose, with skill, without honor, with a delicate violence.


Batshorik Kaaj: Farewell to a Father from a Daughter

All is changed, changed utterly, and yet there is the mango tree laden with fruit and birds, there the gulmohor tree wrapt in fire and little furry squirrel, here and there the markers of my childhood and youth, and just here the pillars of my mother’s world (shongshaar). I am here in Calcutta to usher you into the realm of the gods, father, so they say, for you have spent a year beyond us already, but you seem to have left these messages behind. And all day, all day, the trills and tunes of the hidden koel bring back my childhood before it is chased out of the mango tree by the crows.


An Abrahamic barter of memes

Being Hindu and Indian is too often conflated with being pro-Trump, anti-Muslim and far-right. This byte (link) below is hardly news to me, or will be to you, dear reader. I have had several instances of being TOLD that “all Indians support Trump.” I was never asked if I really did, but had to make clear I was not a citizen and could not vote. I surmise I am not an isolated case.
This sort of ‘search and destroy’ tactic reminds me a bit of being told in graduate school by brown, black and white-skinned academics alike that if I didn’t study Kant or Hegel or knew how to read French and German, OR could claim to be a minority specialist as a ‘native informant,’ I didn’t know anything.
That is, your understanding of the world and the world’s achievements must be cast in the accepted mode of moral politics in academia (which asks that if you cannot show your credentials as a liberated minority member, you must accept your stained status as guilty oppressor, then redeem yourself, and finally stay in submission to the reversal of the power structure.)
Why are the two types of ‘attack’ similar? Because many of the assumptions about Hindus prevalent among those academics who are driving political protest across the world now, in tech-savvy language and mode too similar to discount, are driven by one of the laws of the left that say ‘majority bad, minority good.’
This is a deliberate teaching mode that turns the public into righteous soldiers of the new revolution, and maintains the status quo of academic power in relation to policy, media and influence on local politics. It sacrifices with glee the adherence to truth-seeking (not outing), ethics (not revenge) and the opening of young minds (not coercing them into power-savvy support) that one might have once associated with intellectual enquiry and the idea of a university.
To me, to sit quietly in the face of such carelessly mean questioning is like taking an oath of allegiance to a totalitarian ideology that you cannot ever question. A religion by another name. I prefer my independence. For expressing which position (independent) I have paid the price in academia and society.
What is worrying to me now is the willing participation of many who capitalize on their ‘Indian’ origin to happily conflate inherited, Occidental (largely Anglophone) lenses on ‘Hinduism’ and ‘India’ with all that is ‘bad’ in politics, and literally write and author a peer-reviewed revisionist history of the subcontinent into policy, for the sake of acceptance into the halls of fame and power.
Do what you want, and ‘problematize’ as many revolts and resistances into news as you desire, but don’t pretend this is about making the world a better or more diverse place.

No place for the unarmed

We have come to a point where the accident of our birth is become a sign of virtue/merit or sin/shame. It seems to me to be a rolling back of everything the 20th century fought for – that it was possible to overcome the drawbacks of our birth if we so wished. Everything was supposed to be about free will, choice, freedom, rewards for effort and the virtue of self-education. It has now become about being the ‘right’ type, learning to think in the right apocalyptic way, and to learn the right forms of political interaction and groupthink.

So folks are now going to justify bullying, shaming and silencing by saying that people ‘like’ you (with markers of nationality, ethnicity, race, and religion) have been known to do this and this so you are at fault, no matter what you have done as an individual. You deserve it. History puts you at fault, and someone else writes history now. Your turn to be oppressed. We must first reverse the balance of power before we’ll talk about equal and uniform rights for all. And we are exceptional; and while some of us may be at fault, you cannot accuse people ‘like’ me. Take it. Apologize now, and always.

I find this strange, no matter which side it comes from. Obviously, I am not uneducated enough. Oh wait, I didn’t finish the PhD, so obviously I am not educated enough…


Sand and city

She saw it and it made ashes of her heart, so she walked away and when the ruins ate her road she ran away into herself, diminishing to nothingness, and was nothing. And then the body alive, near-forgotten, became hell.


Stutter

Projections and transference and all such. I call them raisins, thirst-inducing food. A little canister of rattling mockery we carry around.


I would like a silence

Half a brick here, a scraping there –

these walls will crumble — and the little, naked,

shivering self — the world is eyes and unspeaking

mouth. I would like a silence to go away in.

 

 


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