Eyeslit


Eyes lit once at a prospect of love,
Now I sit wondering, wither hope?
Rubbed out of purity, like a dove
I flew in peace once, smoking dope

Now the dealers are dead, deaf
Friends only hear half a cry
In a night this toxic, what is left
To Summon? To Defy?

Shave the skin off my bones, brew
Soup for the stateless misfits
As I search again for you, for new
Eyeballs to plug into old eye slits.

A Reluctant Fragrance Pushing Redundant Winds


My role is that of a repetitive explicit
        arguing with an absence,
My whole is implicit
        in the unfolding of an implied inconsequence.
I’m not afraid to own you but skeptical
        of an inferred benevolence,
I am, like them, seeking to sublet
        a part of my irreverence and irrelevance.

I'm the sailor and his whore and the unyielding sea-floor below
        in all its florescence,
Or the redundant winds howling
        before the sailor's only weapon, his common-sense.

A lost poet, sure I'm penniless, spent and sprawled
        before your evenness and evanescence,
I am the mystic's last lure and the pounding of the score
        into obsolescence.

In statutory compliance of and political alliance
        with the irredentist's iridescence,
I am his holiness, his permanence, his chemist and his bigamist
        cousin impermanence.

An employee of innocence serving time
        under an imaginary, ill-bonded fragrance called “Reluctance”
Of the one i lost during the ill-fated expedition
        to the Cape of all Convalescence.

Now that I’m making cold calls, taking hot orders
        from my duplicitous and other-worldly essence,
I am taking dead aim, no chances and no prisoners
        on this quest towards everlasting effervescence.

And If ever the undead soldiers take a break
        from their vengeance and stop shooting blindly
                at my depreciating petulance

With my invisible cape, i’ll then escape still
        donning this faraway façade of sheer confidence.

So you want to be a poet?


Burn, in stead of the innocence you seek preserved,
though it will not help with flow or diction
innocence will be what you fought for, in the end
when all the rest is history and all the motion fiction


Be a runt, ruminate, feel the creep of febrile, sickly thoughts on your spine
Whisper a loud syncope into a murmuring asshole madly mooning
Give blow jobs to trees and while rubbing shoulders with the devil,
do smell all the secrets of the sunflowers swooning

Relish the earned pittance or remittance, if any,
blow holes through the pockets of pants that don't fit
rebel, like Rilke, Pessoa and Faust
but never like Neruda must you ever submit!

Doing the obvious


Fuck you, Simran, queen of the spammers
banging my inbox with news of upto 50% discount on adult diapers
windshield wipers and hired snipers who shoot anyone
up to a distance of twenty clicks, in any direction

Am I doing this obvious disservice to science to ensure it's survival?
hell no, science is just another illusion pressed against
the services of my dementia, doing the obvious

is it the only way of getting things done?

it is not science, rocket science or anything
like science, or rocket science

But I'm on a run, a jumble fun to take apart at the seams,
and it seems
I'm doing the obvious, a disservice which by all means
is an act of desperation, i mean, obviously, right?


The New Normal


"The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most Normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.

They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; They are normal only in relation to A profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. 

These millions of abnormally, “normal people”, Living without fuss in a society to which, If they were fully human beings, They ought not to be adjusted."

- A. Huxley


Not Another Word


As long as I have a breath in my body, I will never speak to you
No calls will be answered, no messages met with replies
Emails will be sent directly to the trash and
video and text chat disabled

If you come to my house I will not come downstairs,
If you ring the doorbell I won't open the door, but someone else might
You can sit on my sofa across my face, my lips will remain pursed
Until you have nothing left to do but leave

If you set your dogs or your family upon me, I shall react
As I deem fit without uttering a word
If you drag me to court I would rather goto Jail,
Than ever to speak another word to you

I'm out of words out of disgust out of you
I'm out of this back and forth passing of hatred
I'm out of this mess, you should get out too
and turn the volume all the way down when you do

Lest You Become


when the comets lit backwards in their orbits rotate
and the stars start wars over who's who's fate
let us lick sunshine dripping over fruits we once ate
and allow the moon to in its fullness lactate

if you're lulled and confused let me recapitulate
you were once like me when you didn't hesitate
but a waxing venus weaned you off martian nature innate
and you chose to love what love wanted to debate

you turned television on and saw order separate
from chaos which churned pleasure with a pain too great
and you watched the cogs unwinding in machines gyrate
you saw children suffer, starve and dehydrate

Don't be fooled by my freedom, rhyme is my restraint,
and don't fool yourself into thinking you'll ever levitate
No, you can only elevate from being an uxorious primate
To being a traveller hopping across another's nation-state

So listen, this is the only way you will ever satiate,
Learn to love your fellow fiends more than friends reprobate
and once weekly lest you become everyone you hate,
masturbate men, masturbate.

Everest Complex


The broken breath of a slave struggling daily
Escaped with the words, "Delhi is not yet dead",
Heard the prostrated spines leaking metal at the bailey,
"Be quick, reach Delhi and settle scores in the red!"

An exhumed emotion that once slayed soothsayers
Resurrects to challenge usury on failure compounded,
Warns all glib gilded by the creamiest of layers,
On thrones usurped shall now sit forever hounded

Let a wild neigh out, tonight on everest complex
Pull the bridle, let the muscle meet metal, seek gore!
Watch the competition writhe, squirm, scribble and vex,
See their bleeding fort stand victorious, no more!

Knowledge Is Great(er)


This essay won the third prize in the indiblogger "Knowledge is Great"Competition.

"Specialisation", the famous American Science Fiction author Robert A. Heinlein proclaimed, "is for insects", yet no modern education is complete without a specialisation because little creative synthesis can be mined without descending down the hierarchy of human knowledge.  While the division of knowledge into specialties, sub-specialties and super specialties of mental and manual labor makes economic sense and even though this division is rational and superior to any undifferentiated system of human enterprise, it is also the cause of anomie and alienation because knowledge is great.

Indeed, as with all things in life this greatness of knowledge is also relative. Knowledge is Great because it is (1) greater than the sum of its specialised subdivisions and (2) greater than the scope of a singular human lifespan.

Correspondingly, when the people realise that: (1) what they know is a only a tiny fraction of what is out there and (2) that try as they might, they never can know it all, a deep dissatisfaction develops among them as members of a naturally and terminally curious species.  Moreover, because knowledge and work often travel in tandem, this dissatisfaction resulting from the impossibility of attaining perfect knowledge is often carried forward, infecting the specialist's work and its ultimate output with an ideology that pervades much of the material world today.

Call it an overstatement if you will, but even the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations agrees that this ideology of discounting effort towards long term goals (because the long term is uncertain and requires thinking in terms of an increasingly incomplete and therefore imperfect knowledge) is the primary cause of global financial crisis, terrorism, poverty, procrastination, unemployment, diseases and maybe even dandruff.

We might have varying definitions of the scope of perfection, but there few exceptions to the generalisation that humans seek forever higher ideals, and when these ideals seem unattainable, we change them to something attainable, settling for a little less than the absolute possible in the process. The focus on short and medium term is rife while the attention to longer term suffers. Specialisation is to be blamed for this short-termism.

That is what Heinlein meant when he equated specialisation with an entomological drive, to him specialisation always meant settling for a little less than the absolute possible. Cockroaches are experts in the art of survival so the lives of cockroaches are absolutely sustainable, but are they worth living?  Sure, it is necessary to whittle down areas of expertise to make our lives manageable,  but who says that one person can only be an "expert" in one thing only? It can be argued, for example, that specialisation in medicine saved more lives than general medicine could ever have, but the counterpoint is that if general medicine was made robust enough, there would perhaps be less lives that needed saving.

The solution then, simplistically stated, is for education systems around the world to help reverse this trend of blinding specialization by teaching students everywhere that ascending the hierarchical mines of human knowledge and coming out into the open unified fields of all understanding is just as necessary for any creative synthesis and that a specialization without the ability to generalize is just as useless as the ability to generalise from a lack of deep understanding or special knowledge.

The ancient discipline of Philosophy has always been one of the routes of ascent through the various verticals of knowledge as it rouses us from the numbing and complacent routine of knowing more and more about less and less by asking us the big, difficult and fundamental questions. By giving us the overview and "helicopter-shot" of all understanding and also by confronting our systems of knowing and believing, Philosophy brings us face to face with the limits of our understanding which culls forth a force of intellectual modesty which one can then deploy against alienation and disaffection of any kind. This is probably the reason why Philosophy has survived (both academically and otherwise) for so long despite bearing no immediate connection with the business of any profession and solving no seemingly practical problem facing mankind.

By allowing us to rise above the artificial and commercial distinctions and divisions of knowledge, Philosophy helps us see the one big ball of understanding all human knowledge really is and only when we see that the knowledge is greater than our knowledge are we sensitized to the plight of the human condition and only then can our education be called complete. Besides, by its virtue of being a professional no-person's land between subjects and disciplines, Philosophy becomes inherently interdisciplinary by sharing a common border with all divisions of great knowledge.

But even Classical Philosophy today stands sliced into numerous layers of specialization in order to efficiently feed the insatiable print-appetite of academia. So it is pertinent to remember that the primary task of Philosophy was asking rudimentary questions and not pontificating over procedural, semantic or legal lacunae and thereby serving the ulterior motives of one economic lobby or the other. Of course, by fundamental questions one means the questions, which, if answered differently than they are so far, change the world-view of everyone alive.

Thus, it appears worthwhile to me to investigate this perpetually topical field of interest at the London School of Economics because only then, I believe, I might become what Bertrand Russell intended when he referred to himself as a hybrid between a mathematician and a philosopher. I seek to specialize in this most vast, general and holistic of all subjects so that I may be found, in the words of Lord Macaulay, Ashburton, Melvill, Sowett and Lefervre (in their report on the Indian Civil Service, 1854) to be "superior to men who have (...) devoted themselves to the special studies of their calling".

If my argument in favour of broad generalisation or generalist study still seems counter-intuitive and against the grain of modern economic practices, consider the single biggest reason why a generalised study is better: Creativity.

Generalists are more creative because they have access to a richer network of knowledge which is wider than it is deep. Depth is good when ideas are meant to be re-enforcing, re-enforced or derivatives of a constant. Interdisciplinary width is needed to deal with change that happens at a quick pace, is more encompassing and has greater significance to any kind of majority or multitude.

The neologism "pancake people" coined by the American journalist Marshall P. Duke in an attempt to describe "the Internet generation, whose knowledge is wide but shallow" accepts this reality and silently acknowledges that pancake people might be in a better position to feed a hungrier world.

In rapidly changing uncertain circumstances, the  generalist will necessarily always outperform the mere specialist, which I already am.

Armed with extensive specialised knowledge of Computer Applications and programming, I shall then be able to (among many other things) deploy my acquired Philosophical acumen to create solutions which bring forth into the world software which coasts people through their deep metaphysical and existential crisis. Of course, I would need the help of Psychologists, Sociologists and Economists in this endeavour all of which are in no short supply within the multicultural campus of the LSE.

Ergo, it is not perfection of the ego that I will seek when I enrol myself as a lifelong-student hell-bent on earning a Master's degree in Philosophy at the London School of Economics; I merely wish to see knowledge in all its greatness revealed by internationally acclaimed teachers in one of the greatest cities on the planet.

The irony that the revolt against specialization starts by specialising in a subject of general interest is not lost on me but I am sure once I know my way out of the mines of a divided knowledge, my work down there will not suffer the disaffection of someone who is lost in the field of his or her specialisation.

What Was Aarushi's Crime?


Had Eve possessed a soul like sand / Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land / Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,
Then her Betrayer would have sought / An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought / No germination of the grain.

- Francis Burdett Thomas


In the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet's character suffers the constant heartbreak her daughter subjects her to because she believes that tolerating her daughter's venomous actions must be the penance she has to pay for her own fiercely individualistic and ambitious lifestyle. One can only imagine what goes on in her heart when sees her daughter Vega (a character played to perfection by Evan Rachel Woods) not only have sex with her mother's boyfriend in front of her mother, but also unrepentantly flaunting her nudity in their presence.

The Talwars had no penance due when they purportedly walked-in on their daughter and their servant engaged in objectionable acts and although much has been said about the vile and heinous nature of their crime, little attention is paid to the circumstances that seed the evidence of their guilt. What has been casually filed as another act of honour killing, reveals on even the most careless objective analysis to be a case which defies any time-honored epithet.



The Talwars do not fit any die that would cast them as typical Honor Killers. They had provided for Aarushi's education and lifestyle in a manner that goes against the grain of the "Khap" mentality, add to that their own educated background and you have an anomaly which begs the question: What was Aarushi's crime?

What, in the name of all that is holy, could lead two stable, functioning units of society to commit an act which is the very antithesis of their values? The preservation of family honor as a motive reeks of intuitive bias because the even in that phrase "family" comes before "values" and Aarushi was the only family the Talwar couple had besides each other. If then, upon seeing their teenage daughter and middle-aged servant coiled in sin, Rajesh Talwar, decided to take law in his own hands and severed their bodies of life, then he must have been prepared to face the consequences no matter how great his rage.

How anger works in middle-class India is not unknown to anyone, corporeal punishment is routine but anything more is an exception. What is unknown is why a fourteen year old would become a sexual miscreant and why she would oblige a man twice her age, a immigrant labourer on top, to fool around with her? That both of them were murdered proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that their "objectionable act" was consensual. Had that not been a case, the father would proudly saved the daughter and slayed the servant alone.

From the pictures of Aarushi floating in the media, she appears to be a smart brat, ergo the theory that it was a case of teenage-rebellion gone haywire does not make sense because even the most rebellious Indian teenage girl knows where to draw the line.



Hence, If she allowed Hemraj near her, it could only have been out of a poisonous sense of retribution against the parents. Rajesh Talwar's actions must be seen in proper light: as a doting father's reaction to Aarushi's meditated, rancorous provocation and while the law does not seem to take human psychology into consideration while pronouncing judgements, civil society must indeed consider all aspects of the story before writing two average people off.

Murder is always uncalled for, but what was perhaps even more uncalled for was the rousing of parental anger by a calculative, misdirected teenager who wasn't as smart as she made herself to be.


A Reputation


a rose by any other name,
would still be a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain
had it known that the language of its people was a game,
it would have withstood all its earthy pain

what the rose sought to remind the people with its thorns,
the stone just swallowed - a bitter refrain
but in the end no truth was revealed to the stone
nor were the rose's efforts  ever stonewalled again

because a rose, by any other name adressed,
is still a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain

the whales never really knew


the boy in the crow's nest whistled thrice to wish two whales below, goodnight
"goodnight monalisa" , sleep tight "leo",
the moon slept carefree ignoring the fly-by-night operators twinkling in the distance,
the plagues of daylight savings rushed in from inside the due morning:
love was yet to greet my sails with its wet, salty kisses

I shook and I shivered, as I slept but I kept,
as i quivered - my tilt to the port and the cold-front frothing at its mouth in the north.
my fluttering jibs chewed through those naughty, nautical blasts of night
with nothing to protect me from them on me, no support being there
but the invisible face of this bleached night, cowled as if dressed in a monk's habit

and blessed as if bathed in the waters of the holy see,
it saw my stern snaking, shaking its wooden fists at this liquid sovereign,
looking unearthly at this ungodly hour.

we might be cadavers for this marine mourge beneath, soon all calm was flushed
down the drains of history - a time when rivers of static flowed
upon the banks of status quo
and a trillion insects buzzed to announce my cargo

To the natives who had been drinking during the day and had danced the night away, 

saw that all their hopes had dried on the docks, the next day
as my crew and I, we set sail for the far east, for mandalay!
"But wait, Opium clippers don't talk", "or do they?" I heard them say

but now,

With the passions of my masters mustered out of visions of a decadance,
and hewn out of a war, their motives - now a palimpsest of their previous idols, few
were marred, hacked and sawed beyond recognition by vanity, and mountain dew
pride and a prayer were their wings as they flew to achieve what they called the

permanence, i called the boy come morning and told him 

that the whales never really knew.

this be the worse


they fuck you up, the poets you read
they always mean to, that is their job
they augur corruption of the soul, and feed
the shoulder-devil twisting your literary knob

but they were fucked in their turn
by fools who thought they were prophets for their age
who half the time were taciturn
and half burning with some lonesome rage

poetry passes misery to the masses
it's a poison to douse the fire in your belly with
if you want to look smart, try reading glasses,
and better just stick to the sports on the telly, kid


Milk Burns


We sense a stinking mouth incanting industrial chants,
echoed by a chimney choir somewhere, singing
blood churns to milk, burns to glue

like whispers left out to dry on the grapevine
this funk is not accounted for
its equally untraceable, scrambled, real and true

in damp, unlit nostrils, this whisperlike reek from the mouth
incanting industrial hymns now addresses limp minions, announcing
ladies and gents, we're fucked through and through

we know its a prompt to a finish, this popish plot hatching
within our nostrils, an army of nasal hair is now chanting
milk burns to turn this blood blue.

all is not well


a casteist bias bleeds through your love of heavy-metal
a colorless confusion peeks through holes in my smoke-rings
our grasshopper minds jump across them, and settle
on all the promises that tomorrow makes but never brings

further contradictions and paradoxes i could list
that in our arsenal of mass-excuses ever dwell
but your carpet-bombed convictions might miss the point, so the gist
of it all is that all is not now, nor was it ever well

the future is a filament wrapped on a core of burning dreams
illuminating a lighthouse that wants to run away yet can not
because there are dangers worse than the fog and it seems,
that this is not the cape that the crew or captain sought

Ode to a Virtual Crush


when you find your match i hope you set fire to the inferno
and as for me well, I'll find somebody who is going for a lot cheaper
and entomb myself in the burial chamber of decadent birds,
who also drink the same juices that are now driving you deeper

i was never one to be this bold and forthright, but i will
if I came off as insincere, it was probably honesty being bland
but its not as if you don't already know that and still
if you can't help being uninterested, I suspect the devil's hand

this milestone, this ode is in no way a slight underhanded
read this, carry on and know we have no unsettled score
I'm sure many will write more words in your praise,
I know they've probably done that type of thing before

The Golden Age Of Silverfish


Glad that my story "The Golden Age of Silverfish" has been getting positive reviews by the readership of Reading Hour, hopefully this won't be my last short-story!

Please Support Reading Hour by buying a copy off of a magazine rack near you or better still, order all the back issues here on amazon.

Links: Reading Hour (Jan - Feb) 2013 (Amazon) | Preview | RH Facebook Page

On Complacency


Complacency is the pregnant bitch you go to bed with,
Fondling her insured curves and stroking her financially- independent fur,
it is the phlegm our minds want to spit out but our tongues suck
complacency, is but a mephistophelian mercenary chewing mercury

corruption's cousin and im/maturity's rapist,
it hides behind words and sleeps under sarcasm
lest we forget its best friend, power,
absolute power corrupts with relative complacency

Complacency, both the cause and effect of formality
Breeds little hypocrite mutant puppies who can tweet
From within warm laps and hot laptops, but remember,
this kind of complacency has consequences
(other than veterinary)

Thermocol Marshmallow



1.
Us, cogs in the machine
digging their own grooves for it is them we shall later surf ,
like when they went behind enemy lines and called it their home turf

2.
Shall I project a friend on this lynch-mob?
This betraying fog that clears before lunch and arrives after dinner,
tonight we cast the sin away and haul aboard the sinner

3.
A government failing to sensitize, must hypnotize irresponsibly,
A love that is older than your civilization has seen this war before
governments against loving cogs thinking rotation settles the score.

static electricity


She wants in on it, but I'm too secretive,
My jarring eccentricities and bending-over-backwards
Flip her only love as it flops to inform again
That I'm too dynamic for this static electricity

I'm an amoral agent in an asexual abattoir, sipping airs
slipstreamed into existence to infiltrate and debunk
I'm here to slam balls across nets and scare
walls to their death with just my stares,

and my breath.

So stay, and you shall be avenged revered twilight
from my little white capsule drenched in an incandescent
fluorescence , i write, (knowing this promise is) powered by paradoxes
from this focal-point of indifference with its calm, apathetic shores

I see the distance, know the way, like the front of my hand
I shall go that way, and understand the powers of
prayers parading as poems pushing pragmatism under
precocious pretexts

which prove nothing but possibly,
are the pinnacle of the paradigm.


Pass


Running low on inspiration these days, so going to push some of my favorite poetry (all written by fellow poets and friends) through this blog hoping that the occasional stumbler enjoys it.

Pass - by Akshit Harsh
(All rights reserved with the author, published with permission)


The silence was deafening, the breeze was static
Dark was the light, so bright, oh so bright!

Nothing is all I have got,
Happiness that makes me cry.
Behind the masquerade lies a man, guilty, foul,
but nothing is deeper than his soul
Look inside me, that's all i ask,
love me or hate me, it'll all just pass

As i walk along the path of life,
i remember those who gave up half way
My eyes are wet, me steps; sedate,
i walk this path step-by-step.

Tumbling, mumbling truth, asking myself
why am I the one who's left.
Into a reverie i drown, resurrected by my own
sorrows, my own frown.


Back to life, breathe, feel, see, hear,
its all gonna pass,  its all gonna pass.

A Hunger Artist offers food for thought



"While Kafka's story came as a jolt
to those who pretended to be moral.
The so called civil society's antics
come off as insincere"
Ever the coulrophobic, Franz Kafka's books tapped the future of social pain. The kind of pain we feel when we see self appionted management teams like "Team Anna" and other deep-pocketed champions of civil society vying for attention and feedback. Driven to make us believe we are witnessing the birthpangs of protest-politics their actions scream rather loudly to draw our attention to the heinous aspects of civilized life and cohort us to change our ways before it is too late. I wonder how many of us asked ourselves why the "anti-corruption" drama continues despite a clear lack of popular-support and public interest? Every single one of us at an intuitive level knows corruption is a systemic feature of capitalist society. Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiency, and market intrusion into government effectiveness in the form of regulation and lobbying respectively. As for "Black money", it is merely a good diversion tactic which is fast losing its charm in the public eye as an excuse Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare have conjured up to keep the public from becoming aware of the reality behind, or examining their totally bogus claims to power. As for those who still think they are gentle souls toiling selflessly in honest expectations, and are unconcerned with power, kindly move along.


One spectacularly clear and direct example is his story "A Hunger Artist". Surely for the masses, the hunger artist's demonstration could not be a means to witness first hand the effects of extreme hunger on a male body. Harder still, is to accept the notion that the social purpose of his performance was to ease social anger by drawing attention to a distraction/nuisance. Just like Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare, the hunger artist had no real reason to abstain from whatever gastronomical delights and proclivities he had grown accustomed to "off the stage", but he fasted because that was his "art".


"Ars gratia artis" Looks good on the MGM logo, where we are distracted by the roaring lion, but in real life art must solve a social purpose or better still, should try to create a social purpose if not invent a social problem. In the story, the Hunger artist's emphasis was on aesthetics. Who in their right mind at that time would not like to experience the thrill of watching someone shrink in 4-D and slow-motion? So we have reason to believe raw entertainment like this was really enjoyed by the people in the old days but the post-modern mind is too sensitive. Sh. Ramdev and Sh. Hazare's focus seems to be on steering the legislative process in the short term and changing the basic features of the constitution in the longer one. It is here that the social pain mentioned earlier is felt, the activist is raping an art-form and social tool at the same time for political gain while weaving a web of false pretensions and fake persuasions to gain ignorant followers.

While Kafka's story came as a jolt to those who pretended to be moral. The so called civil society's antics come off as insincere attempts at power-mongering at best and fascist ploys to go back to the Vedic period at worst.

The Nation needs perhaps a Fasting Act of some sort to preserve the sanctity of such tools involving self-inflicted denial of basic rights which the civil society historically used only when they believed in their cause.

the narrative at the door


Were we playing a game that once hung in the balance and now hangs
in silence as it draws to a finish and ends to diminish all the
trappings of desire and the tease that this fire once flared in our
hearts and our hearths now is branded a disease of a youth waning, please
just tell me, was it all a game?

Were we only keeping scores of our ignorance as it soared with a passion
for the boring and the asinine conjectures of a roaring late adolescence
when everything made more sense than it should have, retrospectively
but actively, we plotted as we jotted all the diktats of realities
of suburban localities where the cutting edge bleeds into the very mouth it feeds

while the hands that once rocked the cradle now folded in a prayer
are pleading for the biting to just stop, and the writing to just
drop the emotional-baggage on the floor and leave
the narrative at the door.

disaster porn


On top of the mountain when I blew my brains out into an atonal horn,
I was lost in childish rhymes, esoteric spam and disaster porn,
While the bandwidth-deprived savages plotted, without glory, lost, lovelorn
I merely meant to improvise and climax but never forewarn.

The Mystery of Godliness


Following are excerpts from the poem The Mystery of Godliness by Money-Coutts, Francis Burdett Thomas, 5th Lord Latimer (1852-1923), these remain some of my favorite words ever to appear in verse.

Who stamped us with the minting die
Of this unconquerable need
To know the unknown Deity
And name the nameless in a creed?

Whence comes our instinct, that behind
The flimsy furniture of sense
Inheres the undiscovered Mind
From which the world had emanence?
(p. 3)

And hearts responsive to the sound
Insidious, of persuasive sin,
Must carry, like the garden-ground,
A welcome for what grows therein.

Had Eve possessed a soul like sand,
Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land
Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,

Then her Betrayer would have sought
An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought
No germination of the grain.

Whence came that weed-receptive soil
That grants the tare such easy root,
And grows, for bread and wine and oil,
The blighted grain and cankered fruit?

(pp. 40-2)

When by the wind of Thought is stirred
Obscure Religion, throned in mist,
"She has not said her final word"
Declares the staunch apologist.

Is it not final, then,--her creed? . . . .
Whatever conflict,--trans- or con-
Substantiation,--supersede
Homo- or homoi-ousion,
(p. 52)

But thought that strives to reunite
In polished facets of the mind
The broken colours of the light
Baffled in mists of human kind;

Or weaves with reasonable hands,
Into a strong enduring chain
Of texture, all the separate strands
Of all the knowledge men attain.
(p. 99)

Sow not emotion; 'tis a weed
That grows in hedge-rows; every fool
Fancies his own emotions breed
The right to teach, the right to rule.

Sow not religion; 'tis a flower
That robs the sunshine of its hue,
To deck its own peculiar bower
With regal red and saintly blue.

But rare Imagination, caught
Like seed-down from the breezes, sow
In the world's garden; there is nought
Except this balsam for her woe.
(pp. 100-1)



Indian Ayatollah?


In 1999, Osama Bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri organized a press conference at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan to declare that USA and India were their biggest enemies. Reassured that the recent victory over Russia was a direct result of the assistance it rendered to the Taliban, the United States ignored this threat and paid for this mistake with the loss it suffered in 9/11.

Praveen Swami needs to be reminded firstly, that the violent fervor of the fanatic's mind does not make decisions based on the statistical leanings of economic or geo-strategic data. After all, the fact that Osama was a millionaire himself should wipe out every notion of the idea that an increase in per-capita income necessarily means fundamentalist threat is mitigated.

Secondly, to equate the fundamentalist with the religious is a grave error not only unworthy of an accomplished writer like Swami but also carries with it a whiff of fundamentalism of an anti-religious kind. Swami should note that "god's armies" are doing more good in the world (as missionary charities etc.) than bad and should chose his words accordingly.

Needless glorification of a below-par writer


Praveen Swami seems to be living in a distant fictional future which not only is entirely theoretical, but also extremely fascist for denying its inhabitants the fundamental right to believe and to live according to those beliefs. If how public money is spent or punishment meted out in a democratic country is tied up inherently with religion and culture, then any attempts at engineering social change by assuaging the masses to give up their ontological theories (which are as epistemologically valid as any other) instead of improving those political and juridical setups in a truly secular way (i.e. without the use of mind-control propaganda that tries to sway the public into either side of the faith/disbelief debate) smacks of nothing but totalitarian designs.

It would behove Swami to recognize that there are two kinds of secularism and the theoretical and dated definition that he ascribes to is not at all conducive to peace and progress, Instead what is needed is a vision that sees reality not through the theoretical lens but as it really is. Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion is how we Indians define secularism which is a part of our culture and heritage. This newfangled hard-line opposition to theism however, is ill-informed and ill-willed.

As for Rushdie, is his opinion on anything really worth incurring the hurt and heartburn of thousands (even lakhs) of Muslims? and Meera Nanda has already been criticized so much for her hatred of religion, that the article paints a biased picture of her career as a scholar by not mentioning the reactions her so called theories have evoked.

Intestines


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)

Success


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
and
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
success.

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.

Rethinking Electronic Civil Disobedience


In a book published some 30 odd years ago titled ‘How Democracies Perish’ the French political philosopher Jean-François Revel wrote:

Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is necessary to counter them… What we end up with in what is conventionally called Western society is a topsy-turvy situation in which those seeking to destroy democracy appear to be fighting for legitimate aims, while its defenders are pictured as repressive reactionaries.

It is this author’s contention that the recent attempts at hactivism by the now famous WikiLeaks website and the controversy surrounding its owner Julian Assange is precisely such an attack on democracy as Revel predicted. What is even more surprising is the painful accuracy with which these attacks have been misunderstood to be acts of revolution against oppressive regimes.

This is especially true in relatively young and artificially-liberalized democracies such as India where Journalism - partly in order to save its face from the recent embarrassments and partly to divert the common man’s attention from its inherent moral corruption - has canonized Assange and his establishment and portrayed him to be the champion of a new technological media renaissance. But even in older democracies such as Britain, too much has been published in support of the WikiLeaks adventure while its criticism has been relegated to the back seat.

The irrationality and immaturity of the bias in favor of this newfangled mode of activism is revealed when one considers the message being sent by the whole WikiLeaks issue (and its media-hyped celebration) to, for example, organizations with a Jihadi persuasion. It is funny to see, that the liberal tradition in countries which are paranoid about their safety to the extent that they manually frisk high ranking diplomats of major allies are exalting the reformer-cum-revolutionary status of a person they know next to nothing about.

What is also not discussed enough in the news surrounding the whole affair is what the true import of the leaked cables is. Anyone basically acquainted with the geopolitics of the countries indicted or mentioned in the leaked cables would tell you that what is revealed in those cables is what is being talked about in diplomatic circles much more openly albeit in a more formal tone. It hardly takes a genius to figure out for example, that India is indeed a self-appointed candidate for the UNSC seat (and there is nothing wrong with that either) or that NATO countries are planning to protect Poland (that’s is precisely what NATO was created to do).

If then, the argument WikiLeaks is supporting is that Diplomats should always talk in formal, subjectively-desensitized and politically-correct, official language then it is basically tantamount to taking away the free speech of the diplomatic community - which already suffers from the official impediments of an over-neutralized language.

But most importantly of all, it is the response to the WikiLeaks by governments worldwide that has catapulted what should’ve been an easily overlooked nuisance into the ranks of major historical blunders like the Watergate scandal. Instead of having a calm and reasoned debate with members of the civil society and media, the Governments (especially the American govt.) launched themselves into attack mode against Assange and the entire order of underground Hacktivists. The redundancy of the leaks was, it seems, overshadowed by fears of what they might contain as opposed to what they did contain. It should be noted that there is a lot more messier information lying in the secret records of most major powers today and the inability of the Americans to decipher as to exactly what and how much of what was leaked was truly damaging to their repute led to their taking the overtly defensive stance.

But the American attack on Assange and the sudden rehashing of old court case against him in Sweden is as unjustified as the DDoS attacks on major financial websites by the so called “friends of WikiLeaks”. The term “Cyber-Anarchism” may sound like aural manna to the ears of some yet-to-be-disillusioned seeker of an anarchic utopia but for adults who understand the fragility of the cyber-ecosystem, the threat is more real than ever before. This eye-for-an-eye mentality of both parties involved will simply erode the protective fringes of the online-freedom that netizens around the world have carefully preserved for a decade or so.

By no means is this author denouncing activism (cyber or otherwise), [he is] merely stating that alternative versions of electronic civil disobedience exist which don’t threaten the politico-administrative foundations on which societies are built. Versions which demand accountability without resorting to any kind of anarchism and which actually seek accountability for acts of omission and commission. Turning the internet into a shoe-pelting party for the mildly dissatisfied will simply result in the slow and painful death of free-speech on internet. It is human nature to be fascinated with secrets but just because something is secret doesn’t necessarily mean it is important.

L’affaire Assange frequently reminds me of the day when my 4th standard classmate who had just discovered how babies came into this world used his mediocre language skills to spread this newfound and forbidden piece of information. Expectedly, the news started a mutiny of students against their parents. “How could they do something this dirty?” was one question that seemed to sum up the sentiment in the air that day. This analogy tells us, in a predictable way that the internet has reached an adolescent stage where it is particularly prone to bad influences. Any reasonable individual knows that geopolitics, international-strategy and foreign policy isn’t all unicorns and magic storks and any insistence on washing dirty laundry in open would ultimately stink up the institution of democracy.

This is not to say, however that any pragmatic notion of liberalism must come with an in-built system for repressing bad politico-strategic memories nor does it imply that the necessary evils of governing nation-states in a predominantly capitalist world should be ignored. All that is required at this stage is firstly, to infuse the idea of relevance and values within the networked ratio of consciousness of online populations of the world to the consciousness of bureaucracies which sustain them. Secondly, we need to educate people to use the powers of the internet wisely and instead of using it for nitpicking and hair-splitting critiques of governments for the sake of revolution “here and now” they must be taught to use the internet as a moderator of any relevance-to-values imbalance which might creep on our way to truly emancipatory technological solutions.

Lastly, In a world clearly divided between those who think Julian Assange is a villain from a bond movie and those who like to think of him as the “digital Gandhi” it is wise to point out that he is neither. He is perhaps little more than a younger version of himself hacking his way into the pages of human history. Governments around the world must wisen up to his accidental but insightful revelations into society, culture and the evolutionary stage of the internet, he should also be put on an international governmental payroll for investigating further into the nature and modes of cyber-activism and should be a member of every committee investigating ways to prevent and defend societies against cyber-terrorism. Needless to say he should neither be turned into a hero nor a villain and the ridiculous charges against him must be dropped.

The ‘Leak’ in Public Consciousness


The basic criticism of the latest WikiLeaks episode revolves around the notion that making sensitive information a part of public domain knowledge jeopardizes public safety as it can easily be used by non-state players to cause harm to the masses. This criticism, is however incomplete as it fails to address and check the philosophical and psychological grounding over which such immature attempts to democratize information thrive.

To understand the true import of WikiLeaks we must leave aside the fact that apart from the potentially dangerous revelations of WikiLeaks such as a list of “critical infrastructure“ sites around the world, much of the information under the CableGate scanner is unremarkable and deals with basic truisms (e.g. NATO countries plan to protect Poland); forget for a minute also, that most of this information is deliberative in nature - these are not acts of omission or commission that governments are generally expected to be accountable for; forget also the not-so-moot-point that Diplomats too have the freedom of expression and need a measure of informality as a tool to allay the over-neutralization of their language due to occupational hazards.

Now, even from this dumbed-down mode of reasoning, there scarcely is any revelation in the “leaks” that warrants attention of anyone serious about the real issues concerning the world today. The media attention given to WikiLeaks seems to stem from the mere fact that these cables were supposed to be official secrets. Its evident now that the internet has truly come to the rescue of everyone looking for instant gratification of their highly romanticized fantasies of a revolution.

In India, a comparison of “CableGate” with “RadiaGate” also gives us a clearer understanding of the main issue at hand. While RadiaGate exposed the modus-operandi of a morally corrupt media working from the insides of an institutionalized darkness of a gangrenous journalism, WikiLeaks radicalizes the notion of secrecy-in-accountability by undermining the importance of guarding relatively sensitive information from the eyes of a vigilant civil society. The result is that the masses get ever more paranoid in a world where the media cannot be trusted and those independent-whistleblowers and cyber-activists who claim to be the more responsible replacements for traditional media start broadcasting information which can potentially be used against the people themselves, thereby rendering powerless the very masses they proclaim to empower.

The roots of the CableGate spectacle seem to lie in a misunderstanding of the role and significance of the government in keeping secrets from the general public. Accountability in foreign policy of any country should hardly be a matter of concern to anyone without the means for understanding or processing the vast amount of information involved in the making of said policy. Needles to say, there are aspects of this information which, in the wrong hands can cause much damage not only to the country in question but to global order in general.

The advent of the internet and opening up of information, the general trend towards liberalization and the progressive nature of democratic reforms around the world seem to give some people the wrong idea that anyone with enough information can challenge the status-quo. What this heady concoction of information and liberalism seems to withhold from the thusly enlightened fellow is that there are facets of status-quo which must not be challenged for the sake of basic rights of mankind. Also, this has once again pointed towards the need for the internet population of the world to evolve models of self-censorship for the internet so that any “leaked” data may be protected before it reaches the wrong audience.

A clear, dispassionate analysis of the whole WikiLeaks affair shows the dangers of stretching the limits of accountability and transparency to the point of reducing them to the idealized rhetoric of conspiracy theorists. It also shows that secrecy (both at an individual as well as political level) is indispensable. Therefore, all that Julian Assange and his partners must be lauded for is showing us the limits of political activism. Having means to do away with secrecy does not necessarily mean we have to do away with it. Mr. Assange may disagree with me but I do not see his credit-card numbers “leaking” anytime soon.

it only shimmers


This curtain now before my eyes
renders no service and does not exercise
any rights
Or left-of-centers

it only shimmers
with a pristinely dark purple hue
under the melancholy winds from the
Oriental wall-fans

with the hands of two shadows
sprawling above it like a giant bird
as if migrating
to distant shores
beneath the clouds from a fog-machine

elevator music above the velvet clefts travels
across the starry dust particles
dotting the vastness of the projector beam

as they dance to a voice from the darkness
of the wafting cascade
of the drape i gape into
that now is the dark blue ocean parting to reveal a countdown
once was the curtain before my eyes.

WikiLeaksLeaks


Another letter to the Hindu:

The WikiLeaks scandal shows how the cultural logic of late capitalism epitomizes banality and glorifies the redundant in its effort to allay the everyday ennui of modern life and redeem every last drop of sensation even from a scandal of marginal magnitude.

The latest case of leaking of diplomatic cables especially highlights how even the superfluous can be deemed revolutionary given the right packaging. That diplomats are also entitled to their own opinions is a fact as much in support of free-speech as the case made out to be in Julian Assange's latest tweets against amazon.

For most of us, therefore, Assange's megalomania and attempts at social engineering seem to be revealing little in terms of novelty and hold nothing in terms of innovation. All he seems to be telling us is that there are pipes within the concrete walls of our homes through which our feces occasionally flow. Well, we already know that.

(An edited version of this letter was published in The Hindu on Dec. 07, 2010)

 

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