Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Everyday menaingmaking and the absent structure:The lost workshop trail and Derrida interaface

There was a pre-Kaleidoscopic time, and it is mentioned in past, but that does not mean that it is over! It is not over because the meaning of the pre-Kaleidoscopic time is never settled just as none of the meanings are well settled ever. This story is rooted in moments before the Kaleidoscopic beginning in a workshop in 2010. He was looking for an avenue to vent out himself, and he planned this blog. However, the workshop gave Kaleidoscope unique experiences. It was then disappeared in an unfinished trail and lost (not completely) in the layers of time. What today Kaleidoscope experienced Derrida would have said "Différance it is." Derrida in his relatively little easier books Speech and Phenomena (1973) and Writing and Difference (1978) talks of an impossibility to settle with the meaning of the signifiers because there are too many signified attached and each of them is directing to some newer bunch of them. Its like a never-ending circle of meaning making which is Différance indefinitely.

Perhaps the 'something missing' in nature of the discourse enables kaleidoscope to connect, to bring out the long lost flow of narratives after a while - the time which seemed lost, but was snoozing in a long pause. While Kaleidoscope in his textual experiences with Derrida was afraid of the loss of signified and being lost in the game of signifiers can now see another dimension to it. It is because of the lack of settled nature of the communications itself he could trace the trail of the qualitative workshop that happened and moved his understanding about the issue seven years ago. Its not that he lost the entire connection to the intellectual vibration created in the workshop through his work and rework on the article which finally got published with Routledge along with other participants of the workshop! Meanwhile he, just like others started making other meanings through life experiences. However, he found the trail back in track immediately the moment of another series of short but intensive game of signifiers - the discourse in a little coffee-shop. Kaleidoscope could immediately connect to the cloud of intellectual vibration that he had to leave for a while in a long snooze!

The meaning making in Différance is troublesome as it continues to question what Kaleidoscope's species ultimately communicates - ultimately, its communication that enables them to coordinate actions and rule the world. However, todays immediate connect and revival of the vibration after the long snooze assures Kaleidoscope that it is this Différance that makes the connection possible. The meanings were never objective, unchanged and moreover, hence was never settled at all. Kaleidoscope knows even today it was "the indefinite referral of signifier to signifier... which gives the signified meaning no respite... so tat it always signifies again!"

Therefore, thoughts can be exchanged, untold stories can be collected, an article - a book might be born with Différance, over a cups of Darjeeling tea - perhaps fleeting like a Himalayan forest ground. There will be more stories to be told.

Hence, Kaleidoscope like many others continues to survive all the disruptions as he knows none of the meanings are well settled and that is a wonderful thing. The trail continues between researchers, between books and articles, between blogposts and between words and discourses.

Yes kaleidoscope now understands there are "certain relationships, unperceived by the writer, between what s/he commands and s/he does not command of the patterns of language that he uses. This relationship is... a signifying structure that critical reading should produce... production attempts to make the not seen accessible to sight." (Derrida, J. 1976. Of Grammatology. 158, 163)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How do you know that you are in a hierarchical society?

Kaldeidoscope happens to live in a society which is hierarchical. He has studied it in the name of caste, class, prestige and many others. He often visits spaces which are supposed to challenge the assumptions behind the hierarchies. However, does they? The significant question henceforth is whether one can at all withstand the programme installed in the name of socialisation in the phase of child development. Malinowski decades ago mentioned something about the difference between what people say they do and what people actually do! To comprehend and make sense of the difference he mentioned something like participant observation. Participation to such an extent that you can actually write a whole ethnography based on Memory – remember Srinivas in his The Remembered Village – after his field notes were accidentally burnt.

To know the habitus of the people you really don’t always have to have a long years of participant observation. It is possible, even more so, when you slither yourself through a microscopically different habitus carrying a sufficient experience of the underlying structure of the social whole. Hence, while you have read Homo Hierarchicus by Dumont, you also tend to find hierarchies beyond the arrangement of people, but also in the arrangement of objects. For example, caste is casted in our dreams, in ghosts (petni is lower than Brahmadatti), in flower (jaba happens to be a low graded flower), so on and so forth.

However, all of a sudden Kaleidoscope is slithering through organisations which are supposed to question and deconstruct the existing order of things, is ingrained within.

Hence, when the power centre arrives all others stand on their feet. Whenever, some power embodied persons are being felicitated the rest are on their feet. Kaleidoscope, incidentally referred a junior’s name before naming the senior one’s in their joint work he was immediately reminded about who works with whom in the ‘proper’ hierarchical order.

Hence, the mechanism of doing research remains to be the same. From the definition of the delivery of resources, the power equation remains to be the same.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Simulacra in a shopping mall

Space creates meaning in the endless process of signification. You see, learn, experience, and make sense of the externalities through internal and unknown mechanisms - we often call the cognition. Kaleidoscope discovers newer experiences from the same 'objective' material world. While he is not too far from Kolkata, spending most of the time within the outer peripheries - fringes of the city, however, there isn't any of the traces! Just when kaliedoscope started to believe in the fate of the 'new town' as a place devoid of history to have a depthless present in the making, he discovers the howrah bridge.

It is not that he didn't see the miniature bridge near the place he is having late afternoon coffees every now ans then, but the Baudrillardisation didn't happen until now.

Kaleidoscope says new town to be a space without time or history because it has wiped off the entire dimensions of old place, landscape and names. There are street snd roan numbers and not names, no localities based on landscape or other features. A complete out of nowhere cityscape. Soon all the memories will die with the death of the physical bodies of the people who still have nostalgia embedded.

Meanwhile, the Howrah bridge - the miniature of it,  makes simulacra. Simulations of an imagined experience routed through miniature takes kaleidoscope to the memories of a distant past when he had to cross over the bridge every now and then. He could remember the day he was caught by the police for doing photography of the bridge in early morning or the day he purposefully missed few trains to his workplace miles away. However, such memories could only restore the space in time 'New Town - kolkata.'

Meanwhile Kaleidoscope can see Baudrillard as he sips his black tea, smiling and saying 'you too are saturated in constructs... truth conceals that there is none!'

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A surreal Reunion

In a circular motion called life you often get back moments like you have left as it is before you departed. You would never know when the moment was gone. Not all departures are decked with formal farewells and promises that you fail  to keep as the life goes ahead in time. Meanwhile years pass by within blink of eyes and  you continue to have a small corner of an imagined space for all the moments that are gone and for increasing nostalgia. Longing for a home which is no longer there. Sometimes, you question has it been gone forever? Will you ever be able  to relive those even if for a moment? What will happen if you really can relive once and for all?

The answer never comes easy. There are so many years gone, so many different memories have been created, so many times  life tested us over and over again.

Perhaps those moments came back at  unexpected time and place... far away from the places where memories of an earlier life was created. Those busy city life, refuge taking after class melting pot dusky hours and moments of exotics in the middle of an ethnographic romanticism... all come back dances in the conversations. Meanwhile so many untold stories that needed a space above the head and a tap 'life goes on' seem to reappear. The juxtaposed overlapping exotic and liminal space just made it happen. All are relived... like raindrops finally reaches its kind in a river flow, like all the raindrops that circulates through all the life forms. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

A fairy sky to a timeless space: Unfinished love letters in an envelope

All of a sudden the ordinary but unexpected sky holds your hand and takes you to the fairies. Kaleidoscope looks at the sky, especially the monsoon and post-monsoon sky for that. As the winter approaches, the sky increasingly becomes the same, like the young ages and then makes regular revisits to the memories through a grey-blue dusty lonely pathway. A traveler would still find the darkness in memories - the darkness which shows the way through an otherwise flood-lit space of the cityscape. Meanwhile the spectacle makes regular objects to deck themselves for the fairies to appear. The two lampposts appear to be amorous, overlooking the canvas above, when the sun starts to wipe off the light slowly. Like the lamp posts becoming characters of all the unfinished fairy tales, souls of departed lovers imagine themselves passing through the white sledge-way to reach the timeless space.  The eternal togetherness of all the departed souls, unfinished love affairs, untold stories and all those who couldn't be the one, must now be the one!  Be the one, therefore, requires the sledge-way to climb and cling on to reach the timeless space. A space where the disturbed and undone past disappears once and for all, the time that has been lost because of the lack of love never haunts in the distant dreams and nothing disappears or reappears in time, because there isn't any, neither you oscillate, nor you stand still and wait for the things you wanted to have forever. It takes a lot of courage to climb the sledge-way like the two lamp posts. It takes a hell lot of transformations from iron ore to iron post - caste and drafted for the others till the pathways to the fairies appears once and for all. 

Meanwhile, its the same sky that crosses over many distant souls, its the same envelop that covers very many unfinished love letters, because nothing disappears. Kaleidoscope like others continues to fall in love every time s/he thinks of the fairies and the pathways to transcend the timed world in which he struggles to survive. He always knows from the corner of his eyes, there indeed is a balcony waiting with a couple of tea cups along with a distant smile - because like water, sky is a great equalizer as well. With the sledge-way in hand its the same blanket everywhere and the timeless space is not very far. A few decades more to go and its oneway highway. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ryan murder case and dreaded everydayness: Foucault bites back

Can anyone remember the last major reform in the performance appraisal of the students, or mechanisms of measurement of merit in the education system? Frankly there isn't any! There are instances of development of reform like trends, such as, making learning more informative - the advent of surface learning by making students to mug up information - which in my opinion is meaningless because now we have google to do that! There seems to be increasing emphasis on 'training' rather than education. Yes, the coming generation are trained to do certain precise things which is at per with the increasing mechanisation of the nature of work force. Hence, as a student you are supposed to know a hell lot of things. You are supposed to memorise them and reproduce them like a computer without virus capable of giving prints to a billion flawless copies.

What if that computer fails? Yes, we look for potential 'problems' that stops the machine to do what is expected from it. If it can be fixed it is fine, if not it adds to the huge lump of electronic waste! What if a child fails in a similar way? Yes, we become equally frustrated add extra private tutor (like adding an additional RAM) and compare them with others who are performing better. If the child is failing repeatedly to perform as expected, what we do is finely shown in the movie Taare Zameen Par. See the clipping below.

Repeated failure and there is a chance of a complete disaster. There is hardly any space left where the child can vent out her/his accumulated frustrations. Their natural games are also been replaced because of lack of playground and too many engagements and tuitions. In one of my earlier post I wrote extensively on this. It is a fact that while in many urban centers there is a vanishing space for children to play, in rural places there is vanishing number of playmates hence the picture is gloomy everywhere (click here). The little games they are allowed to play is under strict supervision of the coach - which is not much different from the ways they are supposed to study. In art school they are supposed to paint according to the art teacher who (usually) only guides them to colour within the countour of the drawing and anything that goes beyond the boundary is considered mistake. Similarly, those who swim are frustrated with their coaches because before they could love water and their body within it, the coach is asking them to rectify the butterfly strokes! Come'on not everyone is going to become Sachin, nor everyone is going to be a Olympic swimmer. We are thankful Vincent or Leonardo didn't have a coach to 'discipline' them.

The murder of a 7-year-old child allegedly by a class XI student perhaps shows all the symptoms of an outcome of present everydayness of late capital child rearing practices. The class XI student wanted to delay the examination because he was ill prepared. I remember whenever there were some examinations approached that too of serious ones I used to pray to make some kind of natural calamity (rainfall or storm) so that the exam gets deferred and so that I can prepare! These were wishful thoughts but then I used to think okay, whatever! There will always be another exam where I can do well. My friends from school (apart from the consistent first ten ranking students or so) more or less used to have similar thought pattern. Our parents demanded us to secure qualifying marks in subjects where we were weak. For the rest, above 50% would have been sufficient for us to satisfy them. They would only say "okay, perform better next time, play less and concentrate." That's it, everything remained the same. This, dear readers, have changed a lot. I knew a few of my friends who used to score top marks and then failed to do so had faced hardship from their parents. They had set the expectations and their parents reciprocated. I guess, these forms of expectations like conspicuous consumption have percolated everywhere. Now, even the bottom most pupil are facing similar pressure that the top one of his/her class faces.

For Foucault let me begin by quoting him from his monumental "Discipline and Punish" (read the book here). Foucault (1975) writes :

"Historically, the process by which the bourgeoisie became in the course of the eighteenth century the politically dominant class was masked by the establishment of an explicit, coded and formally egalitarian juridical framework, made possible by the organization of a parliamentary, representative regime. But the development and generalization of disciplinary mechanisms constituted the other, dark side of these processes. The general juridical form that guaranteed a system of rights that were egalitarian in principle was supported by these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical that we call the disciplines."" (222)

Now extend the idea of "formally egalitarian judicial framework" a little further to see the egalitarianism and supposed equal opportunities among the pupils of an institutions. The basic logic is that each student's performance is now measured in some supposedly objective measure through gradation (it is even more objective with Multiple Choice Questions), hence, a student's performance will indicate her/his position. The mechanisms of 'discipline' demands to "follow what coaches ask!" "...these tiny, everyday, physical mechanisms, by all those systems of micro-power that are essentially non-egalitarian and asymmetrical..."

What happens when you cannot cope with the 'Coach' or the disciplining practices! You know what is waiting for you at domestics. You have no playground to vent out emotions, and you are surrounded by a number of threat perceptions!

No one knows "how many deaths will it take 'til he knows/ That too many people have died?" The system will remain the same be it gradation, judgement of merit or potential. On the top of which there will be pressures for 'disciplining' because that is what suits the late capital utility maximisation. There will be blood! More cases like Ryan murder and Foucault will keep on shouting from a distant past!

For the detailed case - click here

Pic Courtesy: NDTV. https://www.ndtv.com/gurgaon-news/ryan-international-school-murder-case-16-year-old-grilled-as-cbi-tries-to-fill-gaps-in-gurgaon-schoo-1773258

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Letting go 17: Space that saves you

You never know what saves you from sheer disaster. Sometimes the place where you feel that you belong to lifts you up from a sure fall on your face. And then you grow up and migrate. You are forced to leave or might choose to do so. When you leave and you wake up in the middle of night to search for the space only to find the time and space gone for long. You pull and concentrate through your long blood vessels. They rush!  Sometimes even within your dreams you search for the body of the space - your bed, pillows, a window, the slice of sky and pair of eyes or a known smell - all lost (?)in time only to be found in the never-ending circles of time space sandwich.

And then you begin your search for the 'lost' in space. You find your imagined marks on the corners of your corridors or on the rooftop. Those whitewash renovations could only transform those walls and not your marks anymore. Not because they are imagined but because they are transcendental. They continue to lift you up, save you, make you relive many more ways than you would ever know.