When the artist becomes a teacher he begins to yearn
for another youth to teach and corrupt,
To instruct, for he thinks of himself as someone
who was anointed by the powers of the will to destruct
what he thinks is false, he thinks he's got the balls and the gall
to appall all those with twice the intestines
and half the guts.

In Circles

Raw - like the smell of boiling potatoes mashed to the pressure cooker's whistling symphony - i have hopped many rooftops, searching god only knows what but finding, the distant din of a marriage orchestra playing in perfect sync with the whimsical notations of a passing truck toting its horns.

The autumn winds - pierced by the lustful twinkling of the market lights along the horizon - carry with them an aeroplane, paying no mind to the clandestine match between illuminations above and below judged by the tip of its blinking tail.

Inanimate objects come alive through the twilight's feather-touch, the satellite receivers talk and the breathing pipes of overhead tanks listen, as i, transfixed, eavesdrop on their geometric gossip going round in circles.

Chaos Holds Us

The flamboyance of a frequently flying society
Discredits my regard for their notoriety
And blesses me with a sense of perpetual anxiety -
Of a peculiarly perplexing variety

I shall not feed off of their avarice
I might as well hunt my own discordant vice
And when I do find it, oh it shall be nice!
To give headache to aspirin and trap to the mice

The purveyor of all that’s possible and pure
Informed me that King-Kong had died from the cure
And all that disorder could never restore-
The pride of the prophet disguised as a whore

Eris herself did foretell this fable,
Baphomet resonated from her perch on the gable,
Threatening to pull the plug and disable-
Everything that relied for it’s life on a cable

It’s not that esoteric if you’re that erudite
Chaos holds us together so believe what you might
It paints a utopia in grey, black and white-
Where all that darkness renders, it surrenders to light.

A (micro) Refutation of "Practical" Metaphysics

If we call metaphysics the discipline … that purports to define the basic structure of the world, then empirical metaphysics is what the controversies over agencies lead to since they ceaselessly populate the world with new drives and, as ceaselessly, contest the existence of others. The question then becomes how to explore the actors’ own metaphysics. - Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour takes it upon himself to suture the fractured and fragmented discourses on Ontology and Metaphysics by resorting to relativism to create what he calls a “practical metaphysics”.

Of course, by “practical” he means “plural”.

The question is this: even if a plural metaphysics as enunciated by Bruno is stable enough to theoretically examine all phenomenon and express it as a function of a most clearly crafted Ontology, will such a relativist theory of reality be able to survive the transition into Praxis? In other words, will my ability to gauge and measure the ontological weight of someone’s claim not break down my own subsequent attempts to affirm or deny the causal contingencies arising out of me being weighed down by the said ontological weight? Put simply, the first step in the exploration of the personal metaphysics of an actor is pretty much always a rejection and denial of the logic and rhetoric structuring the metaphysics of all the other actors in the network. Verily, the very possibility of a metaphysics arises out of the possibility of the metaphysics.

In such a situation, I presume, one will have to forgo one’s commitment to any relativism that is equally and evenly distributed over causality and choose to assemble a single ontology from the multitude of varying and contradictory metaphysical claims of other actors in the network.

However, rationality forces us to conclude that in a finite network ontological patterns will develop within all the local mediators preventing a state where any kind of near-absolute relativism (necessary for any pluralistic idea of metaphysics) may gestate. Latour, therefore, has given birth to a baby that’s stillborn if held upside-down but comes alive as soon as you turn it around and ask : “can metaphysics save relativism”?

A traversal of an actor's own metaphysics then is not much different than the traversal of his own politics. In-fact, such hollow multitudism will only thrive until the actor realizes that by short-circuiting metaphysics with pragmatism, he has all but extinguished both. All that remains thereafter, is to consolidate the (remaining) relativism for the sake of pragmatism and since democracy is the obvious tool-of-choice for such tasks, we can remain sure that one of the last functions it will perform as a human tool is the consolidation and reduction of empirical, metaphysical relativism, thereby giving birth to either a compressed relativism or perhaps even a pragmatic absolutism.

Now can you smell the totalitarian disaster that awaits us at the other end of pragmatic metaphysics? 

Sniffin' Shoes

Yes, yes sir you surely snore and are imperfect and impure
But since you're called family sure, i love you, you brazen fure
Sometimes you stick out like a sore, Sight or smell or a kinaesthetic roar
But because blood binds before it blinds
I could do with less no more

I'm sniffin' shoes in search of a cure, you're high on inhalant abuse's lure
The side-effects of breathing have us shivering on uncertainty's door
Yes, I know I've been cruel before, but so have you and so much more!
But because blood begs for balance
The past is just mouthwash mumblecore

So on my forklift-funeral day, please bury me in the hole we bore
Beneath the tiny rivulet in the backyard of the house of the kings of lore
And like a treasure there let me rot, or like wine let me mature
Allow me to live in your memories and I promise to return for sure.

Wikileaks didn't start the fire!

It can be credibly argued that the simmering discontent in Tunisia exploded in public anger when WikiLeaks published the cables on the U.S. ambassador's assessment of corruption by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian uprising, then, was triggered by the WikiLeaks revelations, and fanned by the Internet.

My Response:

Its almost an insult of the Tunisian people and their revolt to say that they did it because a website (about which a handful of them knew) told them to. Wikileaks was one of the many factors that justified the revolt in the eyes of an Assange-worshipping media, but to say that it started the whole uprising is to make a dent in the causality of history.

It is highly improbable that the Tunisian uprisings were "triggered by the Wikileaks revelations" firstly because these leaks were hardly revelations for a public being ruled over by a corrupt dictator for over 24 years. That there was already a "simmering discontent" nullifies any possibility of Wikileaks being a cause for the uprising. Secondly, no country on the brink of revolt needs a Wikileaks to find out the right muhurat to end the lethal combination of poverty, unemployment and political repression affecting the masses for more than two decades. Wikileaks just happened to coincide very beautifully with discontent which was about to boil over anyway.

In Defence of Cerebral Liberalism

Parts of the keynote address delivered by Lord Anthony Lester at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference in Hyderabad earlier this month resonate strongly with the call for "muscular liberalism" given by the British PM a day earlier and seem quite insensitive to the cause for concerted tolerance which has propelled the cultural narrative of India this far into its history.

Lord Lester's opinions on the decadent and primitive nature of Indian Penal Code struck me as only partially right to the extent of his legal observation that the "IPC was enacted to suit British needs". However, his assertion that section 295-A of the IPC was spreading hatred and that it was against the spirit of free-speech seemed to me not only odd but grossly misinformed. For the following reasons:

1. Currently, Judicial decisions under this section tend to punish undertakings of "deliberate and malicious intention" towards religions or religious sentiments of people. If, however, our lawmakers decide to jump on the bandwagon of reckless liberalism and make amends to this part of IPC -- so that it becomes difficult to punish such acts -- it would clearly tantamount to a state of cultural lawlessness for the state will no longer be able to protect the dignity of its believing masses. While in an ideal regime of free-speech raising offence (regardless of context) can not be seen as a crime, raising religious offence is just as much a crime as mental harassment (and for roughly the same reasons too).

Moreover, attempts to ignore all offence raised by the letting-loose of free-speech standards will require parallel amendments in the law of contempt of court, and that will only mark the beginning of overhauling the whole legal framework under the constitution and ultimately reveal deep-seeded hypocrisies. A small but perfectly fitting example is the recent culling of the "I hate Ambedkar" page by Facebook.

2. Freedom of Religion, as guaranteed by our constitution, inherently contains a duty on every citizen to refrain from insulting the religious sentiments of others, there is however, a very human limit to how much the tolerant will tolerate the intolerant (i.e. those who do not perform this constitutional duty), Section 295-A makes sure that our civilization steers clear of indecision and confusion when faced with such a paradox of tolerance. Subsequent Judicial decisions upholding the need to be crystal clear about the secular nature of Indian multiculturalism have justified the use of Section 295-A as an effective legal tool.

3. It must be noted, also, that this section of IPC does not punish a person for mere criticism of religion or religious practices, rather it is the "wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion of any particular group or class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion"[1] that is/are punished with fine and imprisonment (up to 3 years). Even by European standards, I doubt this language or the legislation it frames will seem anti-humanistic to anyone. It isn't always easy to clearly define and ascertain the nature of a religious attack but that hardly warrants a repeal of the section on the whole.

4. If then, Lord Lester like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens (whom the Marxist Philosopher Terry Eagleton collectively refers to as "Ditchkins") believes that it is religion itself that stands in the way of more liberal standards of jurisprudence, he needs to be reminded that Section 295-A is also implicitly protecting the rights of atheist citizens and if interpreted broadly enough, it protects the religious interests of the entire gamut of believing and non-believing people of the nation (including the followers of faiths yet to be created).

How then, may one ask Lord Lester, is this Section of the IPC hindering free-speech or encouraging hatred? It seems only to be an innocuous legal step forward from the dark ages and seems only to protect the innocent from the wicked. It does not take a legal genius to realize that the reconciliation of the universality of freedom of speech with the particularity of religious discipline can never occur by lowering our guard against the malafide intentions of misanthropes; yet this is precisely what any further amendment (in favor of so called free speech) or repeal of section 295-A will bring about in this hostile ecology of conflicting world-views.

Liberalism may flex its muscles at European gatherings but in India we must take every 'ism' - be it seemingly good or bad - with a grain of salt and remember that "by reluctance to criticize some of it, we may help to destroy it all". For any blind adherence to instrumental reason will breed insensitivity and ingratitude towards positive and life-affirming traditions. For example, what Lord Lester fails to notice about the statement that the IPC was "enacted to suit British needs" is the fact that some British needs are also plain Human needs. Needs that humans have yet to outgrow. Such as the need for knowing with certitude that one's epistemological, ontological and theological convictions - however simple or complex they might be - will be well respected and protected by the community at large until science completely eliminates the need to hold (m)any such convictions.

[1] From the report of the Select Committee preceding the enactment of Section 295(A)


over one soggy vamp riff
of a floorboard creaking to some
ancient rhythms

over ashtrays flooding with the dandruff of the dusk
and the musk deers grazing
over a heart shaped grassland

over jovial bovines playing hop-scotch in the dairies
over the lactose intolerant's morning after regret

i rise over
and above these things
there are,

seagulls in a song on a clothesline between tenement buildings
and skyscrapers whispering about

No, Dissent is not the essence of Democracy

With one smooth stroke of rhetorical fluency Badri Raina (Dec 19th, Open Page/Isn't Dissent...), with a little help from Voltaire, dismissed all the profundity of Arundhati Roy's anarchist statements by 'allowing' her the right to disagree with the official view of Indian state on the issue of Kashmir.

Like Arundhati Roy, the author's critique is unique only to the extent of articulation - and if it is novelty of articulation that counts as opinion these days, then I invite the reader to ponder upon a few inconsistencies and contradictions I found within the article.

Beginning with the title - I do not know what the inclinations of the author are on the ideological compass of the political landscape but even the moderately informed thinker will have a hard time digesting the fact that dissent is (being proposed as) the essence of democracy. Any dissent, I believe, pervasive enough to become the essence of any political ideology (not just democracy) will only dissolve that ideology - and the political framework it supports - into an order-less, hopeless mess. Dare I also mention, that for it to be a democracy in the first place, some people must "agree" with each other. Dissent can not be the basis for any kind of social contract except a mutually endorsed anarchy. Therefore, dissent is not the essence of democracy.

The same contradiction also resonates with the last paragraph where the author tries to point towards the First Amendment of the American Constitution as a possible solution for a more liberal inclusion of dissenting voices into the public consciousness. The author seems to forget, that in America too, the freedom of speech isn't absolute. The doctrine of "Clear and present danger" continues to protect the constitution and state but since they are the world's oldest democracy, their tolerance for radical speech is obviously higher than ours and the two relative values can't really be compared.

It is true that dissent is the humble acknowledgment that every decision can become an object of revision, but what is perhaps more true is that dissent for the sake of dissent will never allow us to find out when it is the right time to revise our basic decisions such as the decision to constitute ourselves as a democracy. Whether the ideals enshrined in the constitution are open to such revision remains a matter of debate until we're old enough (as a democracy) to express dissent against the basic structure doctrine of Indian Constitution or upon finally being in agreement that we have all reached the ideals we sought.

Its almost a dirty job but someone has to do it by reminding the author that perhaps in "India" Arundhati Roy is exalted as a revolutionary but in "Bharat" she has made the blood boil of many a tax-paying-citizen who is yet to understand the nuanced difference between Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism. Religion and Nationalism therefore, remain for the majority of our country folk, the equivalent of what Plato called "Noble lies" and contribute more to the stability of the country than most liberals would have us believe. The Government of India has once again, swallowed a bitter pill by charging Roy with Sedition.

The author accuses the Indian state of sinking to a new low in democratic self confidence and I want to ask - was our democratic self confidence ever higher than this? A nation that was wrenched from the hands of a world power on the principles of non-violence and peaceful dissent must always be wary of those very principles working against it as it moves towards more emancipatory levels of inclusion.

To diffuse peaceful dissent peacefully is the call of the hour and although I myself do find the charges of sedition leveled against Roy a trifle extreme, I reluctantly acquiesce knowing the sensitivity of the issue and the fragile nature of our unity-in-diversity.


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