Tag Archives: politics

Elon Musk, Ramjas Jan Sunvayi, and, Alexander Pope.

I was watching an Elon Musk interview yesterday, and he said several things, that I believe, all of us, as the human civilisation need to think about. I take the liberty, here, of paraphrasing him, and using his argument to further my own interests. He says, that we need to think of ways to wonder, to continue looking forward to the future, with happiness, and with gaiety. In between the larger disarray of the modern times, there remain only a few moments that present themselves adorned with potential, and I strongly believe, that, in science, as in the regular lives of our political selves, these moments all contribute towards building of the future of the human civilisation. Such an event was the Ramjas Jan Sunvaayi, on the ninth of February, this year. There had to be a larger irony in play, for the date to be the same as that of the Jawaharlal Nehru University event, two years before. I entered late, as the meeting was already underway, because I wasn’t expecting much. Not to say, that I didn’t look forward to it. I did, just not ‘much.’ The turn from the Ramjas canteen, took me by shock because the usual dotted appearance of the Amphitheater, and its surrounding area, was not to be seen.

And instead, for the first time, in a long time, the architecture was being put to use, in its proper sense. As students, sat, curved into a circle, crowding towards the center, as the eye of a hurricane, or the froth, on the surface of a colding tea, unmoved by the stillness of a summer day.  Ab- was talking, and so were the people around, and the people within, the circle, that stood out. A strange return to the images of Athenian democracies, and images of Socrates, and men, of greater self hoods, painted in the varied colours of a, superficially, consumer-oriented economy. All was well, and in several ways, the national melancholy that hung over my vision, like eyelids heavy for the want to sleep, dissipated into nothingness. A strange sense of activity, tremors from a disturbed repose, instead, took its place. The problems that were being discussed were problems associated with a long and timely culture that had somehow been allowed to creep into the pipes and veins of Ramjas, and this country, invisible but ubiquitous. Invisible, hence ubiquitous. In the sole expression, the culture was called out, and to the expunging of any sewage, to recognise the scent and call it out, is the first step. Only years and years of democratic despondency, sewage, will, of course, take years and years of, first, calling out.

The merriment of democratic discussion lasted for a while, before a lady, M-, from the crowd, got up and mentioned, that A-, who then was boldly talking, of ladies and their right to pee, in equality with men, that A-, who was voicing opinions of noble spirit, dressed in subtle politics of his own self-interest, painting those in power, in negative shades, to further his own brand of the same colour, had at once, messaged the lady’s friend, on Instagram. And on Instagram he had, asked the friend about a wound on her nose, or something other. To imagine that men, of the modern day, would pass their while, in staring at girls, is a strong comment, on the manner in which women are made aware, of their appearance, the superficial, the visible, and in that pursuit, pushed beyond the precepts of reasonable creation. But simultaneously understand, how the human has fallen into considerations of such sorts, while the mind has been forcefully pushed into decay, into animal-like behavior, removed from civic virtue and order. Anyway, A-, then felt attacked, and pounced back, and slowly the froth, dissipated away, the cloud of national melancholy, returned with its placid acidity: a hurricane dead, a mist again . I didn’t stay for long after that, because I had a debate to go to, at Kirori Mal, and I could do without a larger share of that common disposition, the doleful haze. I had enough of my own.

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The slight trouble, though, revealed a larger question to me.

We often find ourselves in the critical position of being able to question our hard-held beliefs, and the manners we have impersonated off of the general social structures, in the course of education, and often with that understanding, comes the responsibility to utilise that reason towards the betterment of the united whole. But any questioning of the same, results in recoil, in retaliatory violence, and doubt. The human and the humane resist change, but change also happens to be the core tenet of humanity. In this situation, how do we pursue change, without being disturbed or destroyed? In this situation, if there happen to be errors of the graver, and the slighter kind, how do we pursue change, without one at the cost of the other? These are questions that came to me when the M-’s questioning urged further progress, and deeper reason, but for the cost of which, the established sense of calm and peace, at the Ramjas Jan Sunvayi, against the crept in culture of a corrupt and sleazy administration, against the authoritarianism of the (Officiating) Principal,  had to be, momentarily, sacrificed.

I haven’t found the answer yet, but I did happen to come about a few lines of verse, in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism, that can aid us in understanding the nature of knowledge disparity, and dispensation. I do not claim to make any sense out of them, and I do not know if the current times allow for Pope’s privileged position, but regardless, his discussion, in the 1700s, of the questions that haunt me now, becomes a source of comfort that has stood the test of time; looks into the past, for answers to questions that build the future.

“ ‘Tis not enough your counsel still be true;

Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do;

Men must be taught as if you taught them not,

And things unknown proposed as things forgot.

Without good breeding truth is disapproved;

That only makes superior sense beloved.”

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A Discussion About Ultralight Beam.

“I laugh in my head,
‘Cause I bet that my ex looking back like a pillar of salt.”
'The Life Of Pablo' album cover.
This, personally, is one of my favourite instances from Kanye’s Ultralight Beam, and Chance, in his Biblical references, has clearly outdone his past work. The agitation of the ‘ugh’ a few lines before, and just the pleasant isolation of the individual’s voice and associations that the genre of Rap, as a whole, allows, interact brilliantly with the lyrical allusions.
The tale of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt is borrowed from the Book of Genesis, ans the story goes, that as two angels descended onto Earth to destroy and burn, ‘in Gods Fire,’ the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, they allowed Lot, Abraham’s nephew, to escape with his wife and daughters. The angels then go on to leave Lot and his family outside of the city, asking them to move on and not look back, at the cities that now burn, in divine retribution, for their sins and vices. The sins and vices in themselves being homosexuality and material indulgence. The wife looks back and is immediately turned into a pillar of salt. But why? And how does Chance position himself in this entire discourse, when he uses this particular story in order to present an ex who clearly fucked up by leaving Chance, who went on to become a successful musician and a great father.
Of course, the same isn’t a very new and noble image in Rap music, and the obviously sexist foundations of the same are irrelevant to my discussion. All I’ve been thinking about is the interaction of these lines with the ‘bad-boy-turned-good’ narrative with popular Black celebrities, where the ‘bad’ is always indulgence of some sort, and the causes of those indulgences, which are often always systemic and associated with years of discrimination, are never addressed in their own — the entire argument against black celebrities such as Kanye, and Jay Z, and so on and so on.
These lines fashion Chance as Lot himself, and selective readings of the Bible present Lot as a brilliant man, who achieves a lot and everything, and that way, Chance is fine. But simultaneously, there are questions about the responsibilities that dropped on Lot as a husband, when his wife was literally turned into a pillar of salt, and as when his city burned, for the sin of seeking material enjoyment and sexual pleasure in sodomy. Especially, when you take into account, an earlier instance from the same Book, when Abraham and Lot are working on deciding who goes in which direction, and Lot, instead of following the path of chance, and divine predestination, that Abraham was working on, sneaks a peak towards one side and chooses it, for it presented itself as fertile and agreeable. And also, his troubled relationship with his daughters, because as far as my brief searches on Google revealed, there are readings in which Lot offers up her daughters to the citizens of Sodom to sleep with, to restrain them from going after the aforementioned angels. Umm, think about the reference to Chance’s daughter in the song, and with the claim that she shall stay out of the public eye, as he literally sings about her, and parades the same ‘privacy’ as a brilliant ‘public’ lyric. If anything, and I’m not arriving at any conclusions, the varied nature of understandings of fatherhood, and virtue, that this episode from the Bible allows is fascinating to note, in their own right.
Another reading of the same lyric could also position Chance as the city of Sodom that burns, because the ex in looking back upon him turns into a pillar of Salt. The ex has no motive to look back upon him, and if she looks back because he is now a successful musician and a good father, her turning into a pillar of salt is a weird thing, unless Chance means to talk about some weird meta shit, but that’s for another day.
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An Inquiry Into The Nature of Traffic Lights. 

I remember KJ mentioning a motion, once, something about ‘jumping a traffic light.’ Being the forever-unreal, I, of course, misheard it, on purpose, accidentally, and understood it to be, instead, about ‘regretting’ the yellow pillars of imposed order and stability. I couldn’t be bothered to frame arguments in favour of, and against, traffic lights, for fucks sake, but I did manage to ruminate upon the symbology the material objects come to embody, carry, inside those hollow metal tubes, within the larger ideological and surface structures of the modern world. 

The traffic light is so ubiquitous that we often come to forget that it is the largest instrument of practising state coercion and compulsion. While the coercion leads to an outcome largely desirable and positive, that remains, in itself, irrelevant to my proposition. Proposition is an unlikely word to choose, for it remains absolutely true. Remember how Weber remarked that the State maintains an overall legitimate monopoly on violence. It has the right to exercise that violence towards actors it deems as problematic to its own design. A design based on, in liberal and democratic thought, the benefit of the society, and the citizenry as whole. In this case, the state is curbing our right to not stop at that point on that road. 

We had all the natural right to do it, as human beings, to move around in the World, so craft fully unfolded for us, upon time and space, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…” But all that religion and jazz has been outdated since the 18th Century, or so, and the state, rightly so, curbs that right, and we internalise it as just another thing that doesn’t necessarily have a point to our existences, except maybe it makes our lives that much better, and in the internalisation we lose sight of the benefit. And then, we go on to assert our softened aggression of being and selfhood by violently breaking the social contract that the traffic light embodies and engenders. 

The thought of not giving a fuck about the police makes us feel the power, in a terrible caricature of it, that we’ve lost in the larger and more overt scheme of things, often economical and/or political. But the State allows it, doesn’t necessarily care for it, and especially in case of India, because the design aforementioned is not concerned with developing a civic sense, instead wants to get as many votes for itself, and for the abuse of its power. Obviously, that isn’t exclusive to India, that’s a basic principle that has its roots in Machiavellian notions, but the traffic light comes to become a platform for its (un)eminence. The Traffic Light is a coercive instrument of establishing order, and in practise of it, the State curbs an (un)important freedom, and while in practise, the State doesn’t regard with importance the violation of this particular instrument and its implications, it is in the fines, and suspension of driving licenses that the real ‘monopoly of violence’ is practised. 

All in all, I passed this dead traffic light sometime last week, and the way it lay, dead and, almost, at peace, as if breathing a heavy sigh of relief, at finally being shut down and unconcerned with human order, disorder, urged me to click a picture, and capture the ruin of state aesthetic that the twenty-first century reeks of, for digital eternity. The police barrier only served to hyperventilate the political imagery of the modern times that the entire spectacle was suspended under. The Indian state today is an increasingly secure one. It has an acute realisation of and a simultaneous disregard, that borders on complacency in an inability, for its monopoly of violence. The mobs rule free, and the smallest of protests are treated with extreme care and attention, adorned in a faux-gold choker. Cheers. 

Dhruv.

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Eid In India, 2017.

A message from the Moon

Was just received,

That this Eid, he will arrive

A little later than believed,

For that silver man is yet confused

About what to do,

If Indian railways can’t be used.

 

I tried to converse with him for a bit,

And question what left him this perturbed,

To allow the sumptuous delights

To be served,

Under an unlit sky,

And to this he very eloquently replied,

 

Sir, this happens to also be

The first Eid,

Where even Allah can’t say with surety

If those that hang on seekhs,

Are carcasses of poultry,

Or the body of an innocent man,

A Muslim, who enjoyed his share of meat,

Being roasted till cooked just right,

while the keepers of our democracy fan

The fire of the tandoor.

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Onomatopoeia

At breakfast,

you read to me, from your favorite newspaper,
articles about intended duplicity. The World was
quiet for the Dawn to unfold, in its mellifluous
entirety, and the only sounds I could make out, in
my state of hungover reverie, were,

 

your muffled sighs, hmm and ch ch ch, escaping your chapped lips like the whispered whistle of my antique electric-kettle, expressing your discontent with the unlikely turn-of-events that haunt the modern World,

 

your words, de-st-ruc-tion and car-na-ge, carefully let out, each syllable, made love to, uttered with affection and regal gentility, with due care afforded to each of their individual fragilities, like baby birds, unfurling their wings and chasing the dawn for the first time,

 

and, the gentle tapping of your feet, tak.tak.tak, on our concrete floors, like morning dew, falling, leisurely, on dried and withered autumn leaves

 

and, the clatter of your teeth,(it was slightly chilly) a monotonous tone with no ups and down, like the clamor of those thousand pairs of feet, rushing for the first metro, trying to avoid the curse of traffic and imminent banality,

 

and, the crunch of bread under a blunt butter knife and a melted condiment, shining in morning shades of amber, just as in verse and rhythm as the drowsy and cursory pleasantries of children being dragged to school at ungodly hours,

 

and, the rustling of the cheap recycled paper stuck in between your sweaty thumb and index finger, the rustle of leaves from the first gush of the wind that heralds a new Spring every December, and,

the beating of my heart against its bony cage,

nothing but a silent observer.

 

It was then that I decided if you were ever to be

a figure of speech, you, darling, would be Onomatopoeia.

 

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To Amma, From Chennai.

J Jayalalithaa was an actress, a politician and a figure revered as ‘amma‘ by the masses of the state of Tamil Nadu. She was the Chief Minister of the state for five controversial terms and passed away on the fifth of December, 2016. She was buried, in a sandalwood casket, at the Marina Beach, on the sixth and the hurricane-cyclone ‘Vardah‘, which means ‘rose’ in Urdu, struck Chennai, soon after.

Amma,
Remember when I was young and 
you would take me in your arms 
and read to me, bedtime stories, in varied voices:
turning your pitch up, one minute, 
to sound like a wailing mother 
and lowering it to imitate a fisherwoman 
clutching the rudder of a sinking ship, 
trying to keep it afloat, in another?


Remember when I lost my way and 
ended up on the path that lead to 
tempests and belligerent waves and 
you held my thumb, with an unlikely 
zeal for aiding me, your blood, and 
a conviction in my abilities, 
to show me what turns to take 
to save myself from carnage 
and, humbly, grow out of my temerity?


Remember when they called you names 
for doing me wrong and inflicting pains 
of beastly order on my withering entirety 
and also, when they blamed you for 
adultery and infidelity, but I held you close
and allowed myself to heal in 
the warmth of your invigorating bosom?


Ever since those days, you’ve 
never let me leave your side 
and have, gladly, helped 
in weaning me off your love and care 
and standing, on my own two feet, independently.


Now that the Sun has set and 
the waves have retired to their sombre corners,
your favourite tale, to tell, comes back to me—
A sandalwood tree, slightly bent at the knees, 
lent some scent to a forlorn seed 
that arrived with the monsoon winds 
and nurtured it for twenty years and 
as the tree neared its end, the nurtured gifted 
the nurturer its first blossom, fortuitously, 
of vibrant roses that held in them 
the passion and perfume to unearth towers 
and free the reckless and the rebellious waves 
that had, for long, been trapped and chained.
Vardah, the rose, had always fancied
magnificent endings and storms-untamed.

 

 

 

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