Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Civilisation and new academic religion

Early dangerous exposures:

Kaleidoscope because of his years of training in Social-Cultural Anthropology has acquired a peculiar understanding of cultural differences. In the beginning of his study it was his conscious attempt to learn the cultural differences and learn go beyond the 19th Century scientific explanation of Social evolution. This was particularly the time when Kaleidoscope started reading Boas and his students in the very serious National Library, Kolkata. At that time it was okay to take a nap in the library unless you are not snoring. Kaleidoscope was almost half of his present body size then and there was no question of snoring. Therefore, with intervals of nap and reading Kaleidoscope has successfully installed the magical programme called Cultural Relativism. Once its installed you tend to question every assumptions of your culture. You become tolerant for cultural differences but over a period of time you tend to develop particular disgust about them who failed to installs such tolerance.

Eventual transformations:

Moreover, Eventually, with most of the Kaleidoscope's friends especially with people not within the circles of social sciences, Kaleidoscope started to speaking in a quite different language. While his friends continued to ridicule people from different parts of his country with nick names such as Chinkies (designating North East), Meros (designating Marwaris), Khatua or Khotta (Designating people from Bihar) and Ure (designating people from Odisha), Kaleidoscope found these to be offensive. Kaleidoscope always thought that he belongs to a society which is actually not much racist like some of the countries where Kaleidoscope's friends would love to go and never come back (a few have actually done that) or Casteist like some of the other parts of his country, which is of course not true.

Kaleidoscope started taking these languages as offensive. In the beginning he started to counter his friend. But he has actually failed to make them understand why these are offensive and why ethnocentrism is bad for a country like India which has so many variations. Later on, Kaleidoscope has been termed as the 'serious type' - something that he has never been. In much later times Kaleidoscope is designated as "Buddhijibi" literally meaning intellectual but the common usage, obviously is a derogatory sense.

Origins of problems:

Kaleidoscope with such an year long transformation have become a person with near zero tolerance with hypocrisy (although he is not free from it), racist, sexist assumptions (he does not know for sure if he is free of such qualities). Kaleidoscope was happy with it for years and trained himself to become even more intolerant towards such issues.
What Kaleidoscope internalise was an extreme form of cultural relativism. The first problem came when he was asked by University of Calcutta to deliver a course on Human Rights to Post Graduate students. While he developed his course material on Anthropology and Human Rights (http://sumananthromaterials.blogspot.in/2010/06/anthropology-and-human-rights.html) he felt uncomfortable about such a grand narrative. It was brutally against his so long faithful friend of cultural relativism. Even, Kaleidoscope thought, this was so badly distant from the idea of postmodernism!

However, as Kaleidoscope grew, he also understood the problematics of rights of an individual and impositions of society. He could understand them through his own fleeting identity, through his relationships and life course. Hence, accommodating some basic universal principles was no longer problematic for him. However, he nevertheless continued to remain sceptical about the interface of cultural relativism and human rights or any universal grand narratives. The inner conflict is not resolved. Sadly, while Kaleidoscope is forever unsettled in nature, he is quite settled about his intolerance towards a few categories, most conspicuously the communal, the racist, the casteist, the classist and the sexist.

The civilizational taboos:

As the civilisation grew, at least as Kaleidoscope thought that he grew or nurtured civilisation within himself, he internalised certain taboos - no not those incest taboos but something more subtle and serious. The academic taboos which easily gets translated into everyday life. Like taboos of humorous exchanges about the issues of religion, cultural difference and gender difference. Kaleidoscope has increasingly took up an identity which is Atheist and against all 'derogatory' statements and jokes which concerns religion, race, cast, class and gender!   

Yes, Kaleidoscope is happy with such an academic 'elitist' identity of intolerance towards all forms of racist, communal, sexist, casteist and the related jokes, riddles and ridicules. The question however is , where does it take Kaleidoscope?

Yes, Kaleidoscope is careful not to hurt any one's sentiments attached to his identity and culture.

Yes, Kaleidoscope is in a better position to take a stand against anyone doing it because he is clear about his identity of belonging to the so called 'liberal' and 'relativist'

Yes, Kaleidoscope continues and will continue to make people understand the reasons for which one should always avoid such predispositions.

The new religion of academic taboos:

Finally, what are the things that happen hand in hand with Kaleidoscope's 'intellectual', 'educated', 'tolerant' and civilised being? It is that Kaleidoscope has developed  particular disgust towards those who are not as careful as Kaleidoscope is about such things as discussed. He is belonging to a group of touchy, thin skinned, intolerant and humourless species. Now Kaleidoscope thinks actually he has developed a personality which is as consolidated as the extreme as identities which call for riot or warfare. He knows he belongs to a civilizational notions which is so ingrained and he is so involved that even writing this piece can be seen as heresy.

Academic taboos are becoming new religion and Kaleidoscope knows he is living in a society which is barbaric in basic instinct. Even with his slightest inclinations towards such personality predispositions in front of some self declared civillions he could be attacked because of being a "muggle blooded" social scientist.

Meanwhile, Kaleidoscope has taken the risk of asking himself and revisiting some of his assumptions with an imaginary data of a country (think about India) which is loosing humors and becoming touchy. Just like Kaleidoscope but in a much greater scale his fellow countrymen are loosing humors and consolidating identities through outrages on films like PK and vandalism of Hussain-Dosi Gufa.

Fellow academicians can think of Kaleidoscope as muggle blooded but he nevertheless continue to ask such questions and revisit his identities.
An imaginary graph representing inverse relationship between Humor and Identity in Kaleidoscope's society


  1. Your imaginary figure is actually true. Liked the debate of ethnocentrism cultural relstivism and human rights issues in a cocktail.

  2. Not everyone has a strong language like you do. Keep the critical head working.