Sunday, October 11, 2015

Civilisation and Question of Love: Part V Choices we Make

Taken at Max Life Style, in City Centre II, Rajarhat, Kolkata
Kaleidoscope wishes to discuss the question of choice which has become so much important in a late capitalist society. He teaches his students that development is the question of the enhancement of choices. One of our famous noble laureates speaks about development as freedom, Kaleidoscope like many others understands it is a freedom to choose. Therefore increasingly we are looking for more alternatives in our lives. We wish to avail services where we feel that we are having more choices. Lesser choices most frequently disinterest us.  
The bigger questions are therefore:

A. Does enhancement of choice mean empowerment?
B. How enhancement of choice connects expenses, restlessness and craving?
C. What happens to those (or them) whom we do not choose (or choose to leave behind)?
D. How do alternatives enhance our freedom?
E. How the question of love, choice and alternatives connect?

Choices and individuation

The most significant gift of the civilisation is freedom of choices. What we are taught to truly value is our independent individual existence. For example while a generation earlier it was taught that one must not forget the value system of one’s “culture”, one must be dutiful towards his/her significant others often including neighbours, with the advent of capitalism the philosophy has been turned upside down. The futuristic growth model which the state and market as scholarly twins of the industrial revolution thought needed a push. In order to satisfy such a need the state intervened family matters in the court of law through the army of state machineries, market continued to send army of products which first challenged the local products and then completely wiped them out with international standard branding. Therefore, while Kaleidoscope wears a Levis Strauss jeans he can truly identify himself with his friend Jan Kaweretzke staying at Berlin. However, this was not enough to break the bond of the family and community; therefore, the twin of the industrial revolution has given another dimension, a dimension that is stronger than such “pre-modern” bonding, i.e. the power to become INDIVIDUAL.

It means that

1.       Marry the person you like.
2.       Leave him/her if s/he does not suit you eventually.
3.       Choose from different alternatives and crave for more.
4.       You do not need to depend on the family and community for basic things like food, shelter, clothing, education, healthcare and of course employment.  

Interestingly the individuation issue is way too opposite than what we are taught by the millions of years of evolution. We have been co-operative with each other, we lived in communities, and we evolved and become the major force of the planate because of this co-operative ability. Within merely about two centuries we are becoming independent individuals. Today while market is providing us with choices like never before, state is doing constant surveillance over families. For example in many countries the state can sue a person to a slightest of ‘negligence’ over their children. State compels you to send your children to school, can take away your child if you do not behave with them according to the legal terms of appropriateness.

Rationality as New Barbarism:

All these are done under a powerful concept of ‘rationality’, often which is backed by another heavy loaded term “scientific.” The scientific rationality in the intellectual sphere has fuelled in the process by inventing child psychology, individual psychology, discovering diseases which were not there before the advent of certain forms of life styles. With increasing specialisation in the academic disciplines we have invented and regularly updated DSMs, by the American Psychological Association and then thrse are used across the world without often thinking about the contextual and cultural richness of different places other than America. The rationality based on logic has taken away to a significant extent the vital inputs of affect and emotions. Rationality often speaks against emotions. For example with scientific rationality we can make fun out of our medieval ancestors, even to a certain extent our own parents who still believe that there is something called afterlife and work for divinity. From a purely scientific point of view we can say human life has absolutely no meaning at all. We are outcome of a mindless evolutionary game. If tomorrow our planet is blown up, nothing will happen to the universe, and it will continue to mind its own business. Hence, any meaning that we attribute to our life is a delusion.

How does it make a person feel who continued to thins his unfulfilled aspirations will be fulfilled in the next life?

How does it make you feel if you have just fall in love and your love is reciprocated?

Yes, it is gruesome, science, or for that matter rationality is gruesome exercise.

The indifference:

With the enhancement of choices and formation of atomic individuation we have learned another thing, i.e. indifference. In fact, our building architectures, essential life commodities teach us to become indifferent everyday.
South City Shopping Mall, Kolkata

Mies van der Rohe Seagram_building Chicago

Technopolis office building, Sector V, Kolkata

The pictures above shows indifferent architectures designed to cater the issue of space rationally. All three has amazing similarity yet are designed for different purposes. They are all air-conditioned, indifferent towards the outside world, they all reflect, i.e. simply throws back the outside world, not allowing them to enter into the inner space.
While our buildings, air-conditioned cars, houses, and offices are indifferent, we too are indifferent. What we really care about is the question of choice. While we are having many things to choose from, our mind continues to crave for more. Even what we crave for years or decades only gives us a momentary pleasure and then becomes part of our regular life, making us crave for more. Therefore, we are increasingly becoming indifferent towards the world that surrounds us, relationships that contend us to focus on our individual pursuits which are actually shaped by the strategic nexus of state, market and science. Because there is an uneasy relationship between individuals (who also crave for relationships along with other things) state, market and science our species is increasingly becoming restless, tensed and dissatisfied.

Love and the trickledown effect of choice:

While we have an enhanced ability to choose from ever increasing alternatives we have started to believe (unconsciously may be) that we can get everything we want. We have forgotten to accept the defeat. Whenever we face a defeat we tend to seek revenge. Because of our indifference towards the world in which we tend to live, we hardly have anything to care for. When the question of love comes, it is often seen that we tend to seek everything from a finite person, and when we fail to have it all we seek newer relationships. Often badly hurting the persons whom we choose to leave. Often we do not leave, we continued to stay but in a void, constantly thinking and seeking other possibilities. Kaleidoscope can still remember one of his friends saying out of frustration that he cannot find new pornographies. Many of the so called new pornographies are actually old ones and repetitive.

The two scholarly children of industrial revolution, i.e. state and market along with their best friend science is sincerely manufacturing individuals with choices to make. Increasingly state-market-science nexus in their affair with individuals is pushing people far away from the affect and love, replacing them with scientific rationality and polishing them with choice. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Civilisation and Question of Love: Part IV Farming and Biggest Blunders

Yes the exploration continues over the question of love. In doing so kaleidoscope wishes to show how the advent of farming has severely affected the nature of love. While kaleidoscope says so, he presumes two things first, love is a different feeling than sexual drive. Although sexual drives do have significant connection with love, but love as a feeling can transcend sexual impulses. Therefore, one can love asexually; one can love even without thinking about sex at all. Second, love is a pleasure that comes instantaneously but it requires investment of time and emotions to nurture it. It does mean that if you do not have time you would definitely lose love to a significant extent. 

Love is a highly valued commodity now a day

Love is highly valued but less thought of or cared for. We tend to equate love with commitment to monogamy. We tend to equate relationships with the concept of property. Therefore, everything related to commitment boils down to the question of physical relationships. Being physically intimate with someone else than your partner is the highest form of betrayal. Even in the court of law this holds to be true. In this blog Kaleidoscope wishes to address the issue of love, temporal investments in love and its link to farming and rest of the civilisation.


For millions of years we were happy with hunting and gathering. We have colonised most part of the world and yet remained hunters and gatherers. The massive mistake, yes kaleidoscope calls it a mistake was conceded by a group of people about 10 thousand years BC somewhere near south western Turkey. The surplus theory which says that the entire civilisation, development etc. has come out of agriculture surplus has actually resulted in misery in average Homo sapiens life and has generated population explosion, and a class of elites (Diamond 1997).
What makes kaleidoscope conclude that farming was a blunder? From purely biological point of view farming before the advent of market economy has yielded nothing but toiling of our ancestors. We were supposed to be expert climbers of trees, trapping games and collecting a wide variety of food to satisfy our omnivorous selves. Instead of doing that we have started taking care of wheat plants throughout the year and there was no look back. We cleared up rocks for them, we fetched water for them sacrificing our lumbar spine and in return wheat has given us carbohydrates. Because these plants needed constant care they have domesticated us. We could not roam around freely. Even today we crave for a vacation, and we spend thousands to enjoy the vacation. If we did not cultivate we could have been much smaller in number with much larger space to live in and a much larger forest to roam around.
Although it is difficult for today to imagine the dire consequences farming sitting in an air-conditioned room enjoying all the luxuries of capitalist society, however we are enjoying all the luxuries at the expense of our ancestors who died of malnutrition, settled to take care of plants in settlements which were hotbed of infectious diseases.
In a foraging society people are usually happy with a wide range of foods to eat, almost no question of malnutrition. In contrast with settled farming society people are to depend more on a particular kind of diet. While our ancestors thought that they need to work harder to make farming more profitable, they did that and for a while they fetched returns too, but the philosophy of their life altered fundamentally. The new philosophy said the harder you work the more profit you make, thereby you are more secure in life.


The very concept future might be linked to farming. In a hunting gathering society there is no point of thinking about tomorrow. It has been a society which is ever present. Everyday you need to go out with your band to hunt and gather. You get your share, you eat, you sleep, you play and you listen to myths and perform rituals. When games and other resources are increasingly becoming scarce you migrate. Not much to think about. With the advent of farming you are constantly thinking about the future. The entire life's philosophy is futuristic in terms of yield, weather and uncertainties. Living in future is a trend that we have inherited and carry with us all the time.
As many of the ethnographers who have worked with recently settled hunting gathering tribes know how difficult it is to make them understand the importance of savings and having bank accounts. Kaleidoscope has studied the savings behaviour of Santals and compared them with neighbouring Mahato communities to find a stark difference. In Jindal Steel Works at Salboni he has found that while Mahatos are able to save some amount of the compensation money, most of the Santal families have made immediate expenditure mostly by celebrating festivals, and in consumption of liquor.
The whole philosophy of work harder for a better tomorrow (which of course never comes) is rooted to this grave mistake of farming. Therefore, Santals who are still hunter and gatherers in their soul fail to understand the need for savings for a future. While we were told that hard work will result in better (luxurious) future it was a lie. It was a lie because what we consider luxury today becomes tomorrow's necessity with newer luxuries hanging beyond us.


When we constantly think about future uncertainty and luxuries we tend to toil harder in our work at hand. Our brain is taught constantly to work harder with an immediate and also long term goals to achieve. Working hard does not end. We have to be very focus on what we do. Therefore, we are to choose from the available alternatives. These alternatives are given by historical forces, such as family, friend and other associations. Most often we fail to choose what really interests us. Therefore, we are living in someone else's life from the very beginning, we take the burden of someone else's dreams, we are worried about future which was designed for someone else.
In a relationship we tend to equate property rights over the rights over individuals. Womenfolk are the worst sufferers of such a concept. They have been equated with land and reproductive instruments. With time these have only become altered to adopt different forms. Even today virginity is considered as a woman's greatest virtue. Faithfulness is equated with pretention of having a happy life within the lawful marriage rather than love and care.
With such entanglements of someone else in my body and soul we tend to mount on a career horse to reach a future, thereby making our lives ever more complicated. Durkheim once stated the difference between mechanical solidarity (feature of pre-modern society where people usually perform similar tasks) and organic solidarity (modern society works as a organ system with specialisation, people perform different specialised roles). Yes we are specialised to perform certain kinds of works and we do them with ever greater hardship.
Therefore, we have specialists for everything. We even have specialists for working on love and relationships we call them poets, writers and sometimes Archie's gallery. Specialists are framing words, taking photographs, painting and selling them to us in exchange of our labour in our particular field.
The more we engage future, the more we need to work harder, the more we work hard in a specialised arena the less we have time to do other things. The more we are integrated in organic solidarity the less we have time for other things, such as love. Increasingly our species would become lonelier and miserable with machine like soullessness.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Civilisation and Question of Love: Part III The Age of Shopping

Chaplin in Modern Times

The day kaleidoscope went to spend the night with friends, the day when the idea of exploring the question of love and civilisation was born, his friend cooked a lot. There was wonderfully cooked mutton, bhetki fish intended to be consumed in the late night dinner. The food was wonderful. There were crabs being bought from nearby restaurant which tasted awesome. It was a known fact that that much of food was not required. But they have arranged presumably out of an insecurity. Whenever kaleidoscope and his friends at the workplace drinks together they usually waste a lot of food. On each night they decide that from the next day they would not order but infallibly repeats the same mistakes again and again. Throughout much of the history people have lived under scarcity. Today's wastage has been viewed as sin by most of the religions. Only kings and and nobles were allowed for such a luxury. Today's philosophy has changed. Today we crave for more, we crave for things which we does not really need. We crave for things that was not there even the day before. 

Before going straight  to the point kaleidoscope wishes to focus on he film "pyaaar ka side effect" where Rahul Bose projects that the emotional disruption of a breakup is directly proportionate to the amount of money a person spends on shopping. Although he gets disappointed to see his girlfriend Mallika Sherawat does not shop much.
There is a song by Kabir Suman "ei sahor jane aamar pratham sob kichu" (this city knows all my first experiences ) where in one line of the song he claims to learn for the first time that one can buy anything with money. Money is a wonderful concept of trust.

Trust none but money:

What makes a shop keeper to exchange anything for a handful of papers? Papers have no material value,we cannot eat money, but we trust that we can di anything we want with money. It is a psychological construct. Money is the most efficient form of mutual trust that has ever been designed. From cowrie shell to barley bag to gold coins and now numbers. Money has systematically become most efficient and universal form of trust. Money is universally convertible and universally acceptable. Therefore, based on this mutual understanding, millions of people work in coordination. Our medium of trust as it appears converted from social relationships to economy, or more precisely to money.

To elaborate this point further kaleidoscope wishes to present a few of his field experiences. The weekly markets,or he haats are always his favourite places of doing fieldwork. What makes a haat different from market is the approach towards money. In a haat even today you would find that the seller does not much interested in counting the  money or checking the originality of a note. They will just take and dump the money in their pouch. While in urban markets the picture is completely different. They will count carefully, look for the originality of the note. The difference is between formalism (neoclassical economy of profit maximisation) and substantivism (economy embedded in social relationships and mutual trust). These two forms show two clear differences. With market based capital economy we trust none, but the money. While in pre-capital society mutual trust based on social relationship is extremely important. You don't need to count money from the person you know.

You shop... you suck (?)...

The consumerism is a much recent phenomena. Most of the tag lines that popular advertisements promote were considered selfish about a fifty (or thirty) years ago. Capitalism has worked really hard to promote consumerism so that they can dispose their products. Capitalism is surviving simply because it is constantly increasing its productivity. Today the phone from which i am writing this blog will not last more than a couple of years, or i might lost interest in it to buy a new one. The sofa on which i am sitting will need a changeover because it will become out of fashion.
Holiday means celebration with Coca-cola 

We have transformed our religious festivals as shopping carnivals. There is a new religion if consumerism. Where the rich invests and the rest buys. This is a wonderful religion which asks us to do what we really like to do. It asks us to crave for more, buy more and consume more. Most other religions for the rest of the human history has told us to go for nirvana, which is bloody tough to achieve, capitalism is the only exception. 

So why do we lose love when we shop? It is true that we tend to see monetary exchange in everything. Our spending of quality time means the power of purse to buy a quality ambiance, good food and wine. The choices for a life partner is also some how linked to the status and class, based primarily on money. The trust that we have over future is our trust on money. We do not have much trust on persons or relationships. Next time when you shop, you must also remember that giving expensive gifts to the person you think you love does not mean that you can measure your love with the amount you spent. You are spending because capitalism wants you to spend. Next time when when you make time out with your friends at different restaurants or pubs do remember that you are actually commodifying relationships with the power of money. When you claim you trust a person, whom do you trust, the person or his purchasing capacity? When you say you want to see a future with a person, whom you see, the future with the person or with his/her accessories? When you think/ or even feel that you actually love a person, what comes next? future, right? and what comes with future? 

Conceptual borrowings:

Polanyi, K. (1944). The great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time. Beacon Press.
Polanyi, Karl. "The economy as instituted process." Trade and market in the early empires 243 (1957).

Dalton, George. "Economic theory and primitive society." American Anthropologist (1961): 1-25.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Civlisation and Question of Love: Part II Images We Live With

It seems that the question love in the civilisation is constantly poking Kaleidoscope's insatiable soul. Kaleidoscope is surrounded by people who wears masks, Kaleidoscope also has masks to wear. However, while making conscious choices for making friendships he is usually looking for persons who has least number of masks and especially he choose to be friend with those who surrender their true selves in moments of intimacy. This is nothing unusual, we all do it at some point of time. In this article Kaleidoscope wishes to trace the origin and continuation of the "images we live with."

Imagined lives, imagined cares and imagined communities:

The money economy in a capitalist society has largely replaced older maintenance system which was based primarily on the family, kinship, age-sets and community. People in small scale rural communities knew each other face to face. With the advent of capitalistic economy, market dominated neo-liberalism shaking hand with the state machinery has largely replaced the functional value of such communities. Now it is okay if you cannot spend time with your family because you are working quite far away. You can expect professional help by calling a center when in need to get the professional help. State will look after your old age needs when the young part of the population is busily engaged in contributing to the growth of the nation. There are numerous aspects of such imagined life, beginning with the very notion of the nation, and national identity to Elvis fan club. These imagined communities as we will see is contributing to the images we live with.

Choices we make images we build:

Not many years back dowry and bride price has been quite an acceptable thing. Although the society in which Kaleidoscope lives has substantive existence of dowry but at least there is a rising concern that taking dowry is a crime and in at least urban centers there is some form stigma attached with it. While earlier the marriages were fixed by the families sitting together exchanging dowry and bride price now we fix our marriages. We see each other in restaurants, pubs, we hang out to get to know each other and we give money to the waiter and to exclusive stores. In consequence the exchange is there not in the form of Dowry or Bride price but in the form of feeding the capitalists. 

There has been a video (referred above) projecting one of the prominent bollywood actresses Deepika Padukone boldly stating "MY BODY MY CHOICE." "To marry, not to marry, to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside marriage, to not have sex at all..." 

The late capital society has enhanced the freedom of choice. While kaleidoscope teaches development to his students, he often refers to the question of choice. Development can simply be seen as increasing freedom for people to choose to live in a particular way. However, this choice is an endless succession of depthlessness too. For example when we choose our spouse, friends and neighbours, they may choose to leave us. The incompatibility in a relationship (which is increasingly becoming a common feature) will make us lonely, severely affecting our mental well being.  As the individuals are storing enormous power of making choices and freedom to live in a particular way we are heading towards a situation where the space for such words as commitment is increasingly becoming difficult to maintain. The harder it gets to commit the lonelier our species would become and we are heading towards that.

Late capital depthlessness:

Simulation, Implosion and Hyperreality has been catchy to what kaleidoscope means with the loss of love. 

Fast-track advertisement using Woman's body and the tag of sale. Projecting the desired body and not the products. 
The film Nirbaak projects the love for the self in the mirror (role played by Anjan Dutta, especially the mirror smooching scene). While Susmita Sen is disappointed with his lover, he was told by Anjan Dutta "Love yourself, for a change." Perhaps the simulation and hyperreality is surrounding us. Today we tend to identify ourselves with the supermodels. We love wine, fast food, and yet desire a body of a supermodel. Hence, we are constantly constructing body as "desiring machines" that casts off socially articulated, regularised and subjectified circumstances (Deleuze and Guattari 1984).
The question however remains when we started to lose the essence and stepped in the hyperreality? Perhaps Kaleidoscope would argue it started with advent of script. The essential arbitrary nature of the scripts especially the slippery relationship between signifier and signified (yes our all time favourite Saussure) started the hyperreality. However, the nature and extent of its extension has seen unprecedented growth affecting every aspect of our life with advent of late capitalistic consumer society.   Hence we tend to shape and wrap our body the way in which it is acceptable and 'attractive.' We meet with friends, or fiancee and then keep ourselves busy with mobile phones.
A typical scene that we encounter everyday.
We are heading towards

1) a new flatness and depthlessness in our conversations, relationships and in choices too.

2) an endless search for uniqueness of selves while its sleeping away.

3) a replacement of affect with euphoria.

4) A constant nostalgia - in Boym's sense the lost home, longing for a home that no longer exists

The question of soul:

Hence what we have is images, hyperreality in our everyday life. We touch body, we touch photographs, our romance and fantasy is increasingly shaped by pornographies and virtuality. Advertisements are playing even more crucial roles. While we spend hours online, making new friends, communicating through whatsapp, we often lose the depth. We touch body, we enjoy sex, we enjoy shopping but we forget to touch the soul. Well there are people Kaleidoscope knows who can ask what is a soul? 

Concepts taken from:

Baudrillard, J. (1990). Cool memories. Verso.
Baudrillard, J. (1990). Seduction, trans. Brian Singer (New York: St. Martin's Press,1990), 31.
Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan press.
Deleuze, G. (2004). Anti-oedipus. A&C Black.
Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1988). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia.  Bloomsbury Publishing.
Jameson, F. (1991). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism. Duke University Press.
Lyotard, J. F. (1984). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge (Vol. 10). U of  Minnesota Press.
Lyotard, J. F. (1988). Le différend (Vol. 46). U of Minnesota Press
Vattimo, G. (1988). The end of modernity: Nihilism and hermeneutics in post modern culture.

Vattimo, G. (1992). The transparent society (pp. 68-69). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The civlisation and question of love: Part I Brutality on Animals

Kaleidoscope plans to write a series of short entries to reflect on the reasons for which he thinks, and he thinks for quite some time now that human beings are yet to learn to love. Alternatively, they knew to love but over the years in making this civlisation stand they have forgotten the very nature of love. There are several symptoms of loss of love in human species, viz. incompatible expectations, heteronormativity, equating love with sex, stigmatising body, culmination of trust with sexual absenteeism, so on and so forth.

To begin with Kaleidoscope wishes to present the brutalities on animal with an archaeological perspective.

The background:

Kaleidoscope wishes to thank one of his friends Sourav Bakshi. A discussion with him on a couple of days before, after several rounds of whisky has fueled this idea and ultimately Kaleidoscope has managed to begin the writing. The discussion was about capitalism and why it is becoming increasingly inevitable that we are falling more and more in the trap set by the system. Kaleidoscope could not remember how the question of love came, but he can remember quite well that he said "the loss of love is linked with the advent of agriculture, or may be before and we are still heading towards a wrong pathway." Sourav smiled and they started smoking again. On that night Kaleidoscope before going to the bed decided to write a series of messy texts tracing the loss of love. So, here it goes. 

The mass extinctions:

Although it is difficult to discover the rafts and sea going canoes simply because of the lack of preservation, there are evidences suggesting that human beings started sea expeditions as early as 45,000 years ago especially between New Ireland and New Britain (O'Connel and Allen 1998, 2007). Somewhere around this time human beings were able to reach Australia, which was a greatest movement from the Afro-Asian continent to a completely new and isolated place. 

Just imagine what would have happened to an advanced brain sized, colour visioned Homo sapiens. S/he would encounter completely different sets of animals. If it was Kaleidoscope and his friends today they would definitely like to take snaps, take selfies and then start documenting them as if these animals are from outside world. However, all that the Homo sapiens  had was advanced flint weapons, co-ordination skill and a hungry body. Hence giant Koalas, Dragon sized lizards, Diprotodon, two tonned Wombat, Kangaroos giving birth to tiny and helpless fetus like youngsters all marsupials with abdominal pouches became targets. There is no direct evidence to prove but it is highly likely that we have made them extinct within a few thousand years. Most of giants about twenty four species were annihilated within this time period (Flannery 1994, Miller et al. 2005, Brook and Bowman 2004).

About 16000 years ago Homo sapiens have finished sloths from Alaska and Siberia. 16000 years ago North America minus the New York or Los Angeles meant thick forest, huge variety of animals to be an excellent laboratory for evolution to operate in isolation from other parts of the world. Yes there was Mammoths and Mastodons, Bear sized Rodents, Giant ground Sloths. Within only 2000 years of human habitation all of these unique species were gone (Koch and Barnosky 2006).

The taste of domestication and stupid evolutionary theories:

From the perspective of evolutionary theories most successful species after human beings ought to be chicken and cattle. Calculating the sheer number of offspring that these two animals have would definitely conclude that these two are the most successful in terms of “survival of the fittest.” The dairy industry almost always separate kids from their mothers immediately after birth. The mother cattle is supposed to be pregnant or lactating all the time (Pinkas 2009). The beef steak we dine on our weekends over glasses of quality wine or beer is actually taken out of a calf which was immediately separated from its mother and locked up in a cage almost the size of its body so that little movement is possible, thereby generating soft and juicy steak that we enjoy. The day it is released to stretch out, or touch other calves, smell their kinds is the day it is approaching towards the slaughter house. In evolutionary terms these domesticated animals are the most successful
A typical raising of cattle to make soft beef steak. 
animals but are at the same time most miserable too.

Harlow's experiment showing infant monkey clinging to its cloth mother while sucking milk from the metal mother. 
Do we even care to think about what animals feel? Harlow’s experiment with infant monkeys where he keeps two artificial mothers proves that animals do seek love and care, more than we think they do. Harlow provides two artificial mothers to young monkey. One made of metal another one made of monkey far identifying clothes. The one made of metal also carried milk with artificial nipples attached to it which the cloth mother did not have. It is seen that young monkey sucked milk from the metal mother but still cling to the cloth mother. It spent rest of the time with the cloth mother (Harlow 1958). Later on several scholars have performed such experiments on other animals and have found similar results.
The brutalities on animals have only increased over time. Today even many of those who claims that they love dogs have abandoned them when sick, or simply have beaten up out of frustration coming from other issues. A simple google with such key words as brutality on pet dogs would show hundreds of results. People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals  regularly show the ways in which advanced civilization is treating animals which is more brutal than before.

Objectivity and the loss of love:

One of the main reasons for which Kaleidoscope feels that Human beings are yet to learn to love is their failure to understand and incorporate subjective dimensions. When we see animals or even when we claim we love animals what we do is we tend to identify an object in an otherwise subjective being. Kaleidoscope claims that the question of love is a subjective domain, i.e. when you love you love a conscious being that has its own choices. Perhaps learning to accept their choices is not given in our genes. When we engage in a relationship we tend to do the same. We seek self satisfaction from subjective beings, objectively. In order to control other person we have elaborate rules like heteronormativity, marital stereotypes, blah blah blah. The question is why Kaleidoscope claims that his species is heading towards a wrong direction when the question of love comes. One response from the write up is that even when their craving for food is satisfied, there is no shortage of examples of torture on pets. The issue of mass extinction of animals even when Homo sapiens only had stone weapons and its continuation even today when poachers are killing endangered species like Rhinos and tigers indicate a continuation. Therefore, it is quite obvious the memories that we inherit through our genes or the practice that we have in our everyday life is of a brutality which has no space for soft emotions like love. Yes, of course there are exceptions. It is indeed of a great ray of hope that at least people have idealized (no matter how diverse it is) the feeling of love.     


Brook, B. W., & Bowman, D. M. (2004). The uncertain blitzkrieg of Pleistocene megafauna. Journal of Biogeography, 31(4), 517-523.

Flannery, T. (2002). The future eaters: an ecological history of the Australasian lands and people. Grove Press.

Harlow, H. F. (1958). The nature of love. American psychologist, 13(12), 673.

Harlow, H. F., & Zimmermann, R. R. (1959). Affectional responses in the infant monkey. Science.

Koch, P. L., & Barnosky, A. D. (2006). Late Quaternary extinctions: state of the debate. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 215-250.

Miller, G. H., Fogel, M. L., Magee, J. W., Gagan, M. K., Clarke, S. J., & Johnson, B. J. (2005). Ecosystem collapse in Pleistocene Australia and a human role in megafaunal extinction. science, 309(5732), 287-290.

O'Connell, J. F., & Allen, J. (1998). When did humans first arrive in greater Australia and why is it important to know?. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 6(4), 132-146.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Random serious vis-a-vis random casual: salt, sugar, pepper with their endless possibilities

If not now... when will you learn to love?

Souls meet, souls depart - often a painful and tearing apart journeys and nostalgia for a home that never really exists. We meet hundreds empty faces everyday - none of those matters until that one face comes and your life is changed for ever.

The essential question that needs to be asked is combination of salt, sugar and peeper. Whether the combination of these three is already given, or are created in the process or are constructed in the mind of the souls which is often far from the actual combination. Because you never know when the combination is flawed and its time for good byes.

When it comes to the question of good byes, its the distance that matters. You find the distance between two bodies drifting apart. Much like elements floating at random in space. The distance increases until you are into a complete void.

The essential question that needs to be addressed is the combination of the three... The combination that is never static and keeps changing often at an unimaginable pace. If the combination in a person, in a relationship really matters, is it possible to slow down for a bit, so that the other person can keep up with it? Kaleidoscope finds it difficult to decide because of several reasons. First, often it becomes difficult to identify the need for the existence of such relationships, second, it is not always possible bridge the gap which becomes too big, too huge to physically cross over, third, no matter how much you slow down, other persons' picking up the pace (/tuning up to the rhythm) does not remain only a matter of choice, but a matter of competence/ willingness/ likes and dislikes.

Again the old question comes, whether there is a sudden change in the combination of salt, sugar and pepper? Or is it a failure in ability of taste (/to test!) in the first place? Or is it an outcome of the construct that people conceptualise regarding a person with (imagined) such and such combinations? Or is it the pretense of the other person in the never-ending process called the presentation of the self (or straight face hypocrisy)? and more importantly is it an outcome of a constant play of simulated games by some with real players, real relationships?

The best answer might be a combination of all, with numerous permutations and combinations in different relationships, in different contexts, in different modes!

What about the real people, with minimal pretense in a not so sure games with the others? Most frequent ending is beyond the wining or loosing, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond happiness and sorrow. It ends up with a void like the space and increasingly drifting apart bodies - floating endlessly.  

Frustratingly enough Kaleidoscope lives in a world which does not have much to offer in terms of words, thoughts or actions to fill up such a void... at best being there alongside matters - to what extent, he does not know!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ride to a Time Machine: from Kolkata to Pakur!

When Kaleidoscpe was making a long journey from Kolkata to Pakur to attend one of his close to heart colleague turned friend's marriage, he had a feel of everydayness of the country. Not because of the scenic beauty at both sides of the railway track or because of the over crowded compartments but because of an event of ticket checking. Kaleidoscope was trying concentrate on trees and their running shadows on the empty crop fields or the alien looking harvesters at work, suddenly a woman cries out for forgiveness and mercy.

Ticket inspector and the penalty:

A ticket inspector found out that a) the woman was carrying a local train ticket in an express train for two passengers, and b) that she was travelling with two more kids without ticket. She was emphasising on her inability to differentiate between an express train and a local train - a logic which the inspector and frankly others too found laughable. When this logic failed she argued "because I am a woman, I am weak and I can barely recognise the difference... I do not travel much..." (She was constantly sobbing). The inspector replied "now a day there is no difference between a man and and a Woman... you could not differentiate/ or intentionally ignored the difference is your fault and you have to pay the penalty." The cost of the penalty was about a thousand rupees. Which, of course the woman was unwilling to pay. The negotiation process continued for sometime and ultimately she paid Rs. 200/- as a penalty and took the receipt.

As the inspector went out, she started to make fun out of the railway system and felt proud to be able to negotiate so hard. As she was smiling Kaleidoscope could not hold himself and asked her kids about their age. The smallest one who has started preparing for getting admission to a secondary school replied that he is 2 years and 9 months old. The woman smiled "I told them to tell a lie, otherwise I had to buy a ticket."

The division within the Penalty:

Just when Kaleidoscope thought that he  had enough of the early stage of socialisation process, making his countrymen hypocrite, a man came and started to discuss about the receipt which the women had got. He asked for that receipt, and told her to hand it over to him as soon as she gets down from the train. It was needed and he agreed to pay fifty percent of the fine amount, i.e. 100/-. He needed that because he had bribed the inspector with Rs. 50/- which did not earn him a receipt. Since the woman had a local train ticket, as soon as she could get down from this train at the station, she would not be charged again. On the other hand this man somehow believed that there may be a second round of checking and if he could manage the receipt, he could escape further hazards. 

The woman happily agreed and took away Rs. 100/- before getting down from the train saying: "I must buy a lottery today." Both of them looked happy.

Even when Kaleidoscope is writing he can feel those worlds somewhere being pronounced like a mantra "I told them to tell a lie, otherwise I had to buy a ticket." 

Yes, Kaleidoscope on his journey from Kolkata to Pakur actually had a chance to ride on a time machine which started with the kid and perhaps (never)ended with the grown up man who took the receipt...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Hegemonic Hypocrasy: From Body to State

The broader question of this quasi technical essay is to understand to whether our hypocritical selves help sustaining order of things which we technically call structure. There is a significant scope of using Gramsci's (1971) concept of "cultural hegemony" as the structure is a structure of  dominant groups that maintain their power by gaining the consent of the populace. Ideological manipulation has been the primary technique of doing that. Dominant groups use “symbolic violence” to encourage subalterns to adopt a worldview that is consistent with their own interests (Bourdieu 2001). Public perceptions are influenced by disseminating national ideology—a state-sponsored system of beliefs— across various societal outlets including education, media, religion, and folk wisdom (Omi and Winant 1994). 

The central concern (may be difficult to accept) of my argument is that primary mechanism of such hegemony that dictates to a large extent over how we live is hypocrisy. When I refer to "how we live" I refer to how we the people of semi-urban, formally educated, middle class Bengali people live in and around Kolkata. To establish this argument I will refer to some of the posts made by Kaleidoscope in this blog.  

The private parts and eagerness to share:

Kaleidoscope in his if it is private post explains why he sometimes write private issues in his blog. He reports "Kaleidoscope wants to share what is personal... but he does not want to share it with people who physically know him... In web world, with crores of pages, Kaleidoscope's words are kept as safe and secure, with a hope that there are people who read them... may empathise them..." The interesting part of this hypocrisy is the amount of risk involved. I am told in an "interview" that Kaleidoscope has never been asked any question regarding what shit he writes in the blog - because no one cares to read them, and bothers to take them seriously. Yet Kaleidoscope feels relieved from the burden of not carrying all the "irrepairable stuffs" (click here) with him (?). He occasionally dumps them to the Worlds and words. Kaleidoscope smiles and says its a risk well taken.

Therefore, Kaleidoscope successfully fits himself in the stereotypes of proper. Now if Kaleidoscope is burdened with some emotional vulnerability, why cannot he simply speak the truth and not hide himself in the mask of "messy text" (Click here for a detailed study of Kaleidoscope's messy texts). I think it has something to do with his definition of proper/improper, order/chaos, good/bad, love/hate, sex/heresy. This is precisely the reason we are taught that we are born because god wanted us to born (not sex), we should have sex only with one person (even if you do otherwise keep it secret), we should love a single person (even if you have romantic feeling for others, hide it, let it go). And ultimate triumph is not over the land or wealth but over the sexual rights of the women of land. Therefore incidents of rape continues and we tend to stigmatise a rape victim and often not the rapists. For a similar reason we tend to scandalize "improper" love affairs. 

Therefore, we learn to be hypocrite in our maintenance system and we manifest a fine tuned hypocrisy in our projective systems. 

The caste and religion dilemma:    

There is no caste based hierarchy in West Bengal -  at least that is what we are taught to believe with long years of "communist rule". Theorising this issue has been championed by Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya. He writes about party-society, which has over the last three decades displaced the older patron-client form of relationships. Bhattacharyya (2009) argues:
“Land reform legislations and local government bodies (the panchayats) were the tools and the CPI (M) (as well as its peasant wing, the Krishak Sabha) was the primary agent to bring about this change. The new politics set new norms of transaction to which every political outfit – the ruling side as well as the opposition – had to conform, willingly or unwillingly. In this organizational grid … [the] political party was largely accepted as the chief mediator, the central conduit, in the settling of every village matter: private or public, individual or collective, familial or associational.”

Now as Bhattacharyya noticed the dominating nature of party which has effectively displaced older caste and religion based networks which is apparently true in most of the cases, but what happens when this political network is under challenge with the rise of new political or other forces? When the dominating political power group is loosing its grip, perennial classificatory systems rejuvenate. Therefore, Kaleidoscope in his field visits noticed:
1. Teli-Bagal caste based conflict related to access to land and water in West Medinipur
2. Dominance of kinship networks in Bardhaman through the oligopoly of cold-storages
3. Caste-tribe dilemma and use of tribal sentiments to make a political change and sustain skewed allocation of resources in Bankura
4. withdrawal of support from the "harmad bahini" because of involvement of Muslims in Paschim Medinipur.

The Hypocrisy is when we are told to believe that West Bengal is a secular country where communism is not impossible to achieve, we are actually taught not to speak (remain silent) regarding the issues of communalism, caste-religion political games. Silence and silencing discourses can play an important role in the perpetuation of legitimizing myths and the social order (Bhattacharya 2009; Clair 1998). Some scholars have even asserted that secrecy is indispensable to power (Foucault 1978) and lies at its very core (Canetti 1962). 

He-who-must-not-be-named is real Lord Voldemort(s): 

While our greatest Sita is associated with Agni Pariksha- Inspector Clouseau seeks to know whether there was "Not even a little smoochie-woochie?" happened between Nicole and another detective who took his chances with Nicole in Pink Panther 2. This apparently fun-filled dialogue exchange once again reinforces the stereotypes a) you must make love with a single person, b) being faithful means you are monogamous, c) love is singular, d) your right on your body is defined by the structure and settings, blah blah blah!

In a similar tune we are taught not to trust our fellow citizens hence we fail to make Rizwanur a hero, villagers misrecognise Kaleidoscope and his HoD, and there is unnecessary religious view points come out in everyday discourses. 

The puzzle which pushes me is that the situation in which we live in is not a perfectly fitted hegemonic false consciousness (hope someday social scientists would find a true consciousness!), because we know what we make out of caste, religious, and class differences. We know about our romantic feeling, bodily involvements. If this is precisely the case then social silencing of everyday realities cannot be equated with hegemony, or similar dynamics that imply false consciousness. On the other hand yet silencing, of ethnic difference or monogamy per se is compatible with understandings of hegemony, as the process of silencing clearly reinforces power structures. 

At least in "Worlds and Words's" present state of condition, my interview and association with Kaleidoscope I would rather define Kaleidoscope's present state of being Hegemonic Hypocrasy.

PS. After reading this draft Kaleidoscope continue to remain silent, and I think it is better not to poke unnecessarily

Monday, February 23, 2015

Construction work, empty space and sex: emptiness and harmony

Kaleidoscope because of his never-ending process constructing a space for living in literal sense continues, he keeps in touch with professionals: plumbers, carpenters, painters and what not. Kaleidoscope is also thinking of starting a new consultancy on arranging people to get those work done. Then he discovers the existence of a website "" and drops the plan.

Now, because of his insatiable desire to talk to people and know about their life experience - a few days back he could arrange something that can technically be referred to as Group Discussion during the lunch hour. Participants were two painters, a carpenter and two plumbers. The prominent issue has been empty space and sex. When Kaleidoscope used to board the first train from his sub-urban railway station regularly in his students life he could see men and women throwing funny bones filled with sexually charged comments to each other and enjoying their journey. Often aided with touching, hugging, sitting closely, sitting on each other's lap have made Kaleidoscope wonder about the nature of constructs regarding sexuality among these people.

These people living with so called "low" cultural capital indeed have lesser inhibition regarding sex. Each five of them has experienced sex (not always penetration) in empty space: in newly built apartments, incomplete houses and rarely in completed homes, on freshly installed furniture.

"Having fun with female co-worker has never been this easy - every now and then I have seen my colleagues at the construction work build up good relationship with their female co-workers which often end up in having sex... I have tried twice and has been successful once" - reports one of the young painters with a distinct smile.

The relationship is often long lasting and mutually beneficial. After coupling, often these partners refuse take up work if both of them are not allotted work together. "not always because of the bodily need... its often emotionally enriching and fulfilling too... like you high class people we too have emotional problems, and lack of sex in our life" - one of the plumbers report.

"what we enjoy the most is when we see young people come and spend quite a long time in the semi-complete apartments, you can readily read the purpose of their visit... earlier in such occasions we used to sneak around - just to have pleasure you know, but now I try to stop my co-workers from doing this - two adult people have rights to spend time together..." the painter adds and starts laughing. One of the age old painters - who happen to be my contractor reports that before the construction of the apartments these things were not there. "It is happening because now there is a space... this is happening among 'mistry community' because now women folk are increasingly participating in our 'line'... ! 

The technical session could continue hours, but the time for lunch was over. One thing that Kaleidoscope finally asked "what would you do if similar thing is done by your wife?"

Each five of them stopped and then the contractor smiled and replied "this is why we do not send our wives to work"


Sunday, February 15, 2015

FROZEN MOMENTS - a note to self

Kaleidoscope had very many letting go experiences and with time he thought he has mastered the art quite well. Until recently he was developing a self that could let go anything. His recent self enriching reading and experiences with the "setting" was paving way to let go anything. While Kaleidoscope finds his letting go self becoming powerful,  he finds something to hold on, to never let go - a feeling coming from within.

Clearly the river Dulung with whom he has recently fallen in love is taking him to his previous self  that fights with itself -  a self which he has buried years ago. The graveyard has been such a distant place that his past has trouble to remember his date of birth - point of origin.

However, with a cup of coffee Kaleidoscope makes a time travel simply because he is having too many frozen moments with the river. He finds out:

SELF denial



S   P   A   C   E   S

Self Deprivation


finally the key word


Therefore, whenever, Kaleidoscope experiences a high frequency of frozen and cinematic moments with Dulung, he must also be conscious to make each moments count... so that even when he has another letting go experience - he manages to do justice with the key word ACCEPTANCE...  

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Many faces of jungle people" - yet another love story


Sometimes a little push is all it takes for Kaleidoscope to start typing which his head often labels as unimportant and insignificant. This post (and many others too) owes a lot to Kay Cha... kaleidoscope's black and white friend (not quite) from down the memory lane simply because Kay Cha pokes Kaleido on absence of blog entries, and in thousand other ways.

Annual field ritual:

This year's yearly field ritual is guided by Kaleidoscope and his favourite HoD. The chosen place has been Gidhni, a small station having tiny villages located within dense forest, once a Maoist inhabited zone of the Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal. Apart from the ethnographic romances, kaleidoscope and HoD because of their vagabond(ish) selves soon discover more forests, stones, ups and downs rivers, within the forests, rivers and everything else. Once a liberated zone for Maoists, also a place where Kishenji has allegedly been killed, Kaleidoscope falls in love with the most spectacular river he has ever encountered - Dulung - which become another name of his love. 

Walk is worship:

Kaleido and HoD are both expert walkers... they can walk restless for hours. Kaleido kept concentrating on his Camera - his second wife and HoD with GPS (arguably his second wife too!). Kaleido and HoD together kept exploring the forest which directly connects Paschim Medinipur with Andhra Pradesh... the famous Red Corridor. 


Gidhni is closer to Jharkhand and Orissa, ideal place for a game of hide and seek especially if you have a GPS and a car or motor cycle. Kaleido and HoD kept walking for 12 days, enjoying the sun, forest, river, wildlife and of course the river.
A rough area covered by Kaleidoscope and HoD

What face do you wear?

One day, while they have walked for more than three hours covering about 9 km within the jungle HoD felt pain in his left ankle and Kaleido also thought that its better to take some rest and do some focus work with his camera. HoD kept himself busy with his second wife (the GPS) as this one is fresh (newly purchased for the department) and HoD had to explore her beauty (options)… Kaleidoscope and his HoD both did not shave for a few days, had unkempt hair – something that happens when you don’t have actual wife (who will nag to make you do these things) or girls to impress (of course voluntary impressions management) and wore the walk tired faces.
Suddenly both of them heard a sound of a person walking through the dried lives… made them look forward. Three women with tangi (battle axe) were approaching and discovering Kaleidoscope and HoD's faces, stopped for ever. When forerunners stopped there were others following them asking "why do you stop?" They stopped for quite long, so do their followers which is an entire village of Mahatos in search of fuel wood and mushrooms. They did not say a word, nor do they retreat. 
The moment of halt... Kaleidoscope had to shoot it from within the grasses. 
Kaleidoscope with his pea size intellect told them to pass and also mentioned that he and the HoD are not forest department officials and henceforth are not in a position to do any harm. The crowed still did not move a muscle. Kaleidoscope also referred to his identity as a "college master" and that his students are working in the nearby Khatgeria village. One of the younger looking girls managed to smile and said "I also had anthropology in my Under Graduate."

Others were not as comfortable, and the following conversation took place

K: Why were you afraid of us?
Villagers: "you dont look like masters..."
K: so?
V: "so many different kind of people roam around this jungle"
K: What different kind?
V: Jungle party people look similar to you... they also carry bags and phone map (pointing at HoD's second wife, the GPS)
V: "you people should not roam around these forests... these are for us and for different people"
K: Do you fear Jungle party?
V: no, they used to give us medicines... now roads etc. are constructed to kill them... we are getting the benefit...
K: We have heard that Jungle party people are gone, especially after the encounter death of Kishenji
V: We don't believe he has been encountered... he was killed
K: If you do not fear Jungle party, why were you afraid of us?
V: we don't want to witness anything odd... neither do we need to be interrogated by the police... you people better off the jungle and concentrate your work at the village... this place is not for you... you roam around the metaled road... it is safer.

Before Kaleidoscope or HoD could say another word the entire village moved out in search of forest resources. Kaleidoscope and HoD was amazed with their faces that represented/ resembled jungle party... and it was even more amazing to encounter a pupil of anthropology living a life which anthropologists have always been studying and never living.

Kaleidoscope returns home leaving the place he called field with a not to share love-story and still looking for an excuse to go back... 

Post script:

A few shots which Kaleidoscope could take before proposing to the river Dulung for love.

Khanjana beside river dulung

Title me!

They call it tuni ful...


Kaleidoscope's last hope
Kaleidoscope will remain a walker... even after his legs are gone... 

Focus work