“The idea that stories slavishly obey deep structural patterns seems at first vaguely depressing. But it shouldn’t be. Think of the human face. The fact that all faces are very much alike doesn’t make the face boring or mean that particular faces can’t startle us with their beauty or distinctiveness. As William James once wrote, ‘There is very little difference between one man and another; but what little there is, is very important. ‘The same is true of stories.'”
– Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal
Isn’t it surprising that we still fantasise dominance (not just the gendered- sexual or the communal but also the emergence of a world where notions like happiness and sadness can be prescribed). If the march of that fantasy (now almost a semi-constructed reality) can be ideated through one single metaphor, then it is the stinging spectre of the “market.” Mind you this idea and execution of the “market” is different from your idea of a bazaar or a mela. This is simply a demand-supply convergence hub where everything is up for sale. Including, the idea of you trying to be you.
And much to our glee we seemed to have embraced that market mechanism (true to our public-liberal, private-dominance mask) like duck taking to water. We have warmed up to the idea of inventing a new series of apocalypses, manufacturing both the cheaper disease and the expensive cure. We look at everything as potential investment opportunity – be it the designer nose- ring or a well-executed designer genocide.
And mind you, the influence of those designed and crafted disasters extend to every field ranging from a safety pin to that of the future of an elephant. The spin-off is that we are creating more margins, more fringes, more ghettos and as a result, more exiles. Markets love that. That means more disaster. More disaster management. In short, a better balance sheet.
Welcome to the world of designer democracy. In this market, everything has a price. Even the price has a price and stifled silences are replaced by co-opted silence. Look at the democracy market. The gallop of democracy harnessed inside the stables of Arab spring is now headed for a dead-end. When the fundamentalist cocoon rides the popular wave to replace the liberal despot, the collective, then, hatches its own unique ploys to foist their own version of an acceptable despot. And the choice is between an elected despot and a liberal scumbag.
Iran, Baharin, Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt are case histories that will repeat itself many times over. If we do not walk the fine line to promote that creatively moderated area between the emotions of throwing out a liberal autocracy and inserting a sensitive polity, then we will choose both our version of devil and the collective vision of the deep sea. The democracy market wants just that. Whip up the emotion and pack it up with enough new-liberal garb that you forget about the aftermath. The democracy market has come to stay.
Your happiness stares at the vaccum. Yet, you don’t give up. Because as you stare at the barrel of designer democracy and the dominance matrix, you hang on. Your hanging on is the new existential dilemma. The new chaosophy of Guattari. The new ulatbasi of Kabir. In short, the new happiness that will always have traces of sorrow.
And this is where Zizek’s dangerous mix of Left cowboy-ism and love for designer deaths fail in the context of historic Left struggles. Alain Baidou is no Marx, for that matter not even Charu Mazumder.
Between this narrow road and going that far…
Ena patanne billina kudakaman joine,
Maro vikas thay chhe sherina shwanman
(I can see his downfall through the cat’s leap/Hence I am charting my own growth in the structure of a stray dog… Adil Mansuri)
Let’s take a census of all those who are political nomads. The real ones. Not the cause-hoppers or the because-hoppers. They are an increasingly lonely tribe which every ideology used, sucked up their youth and then left them high and dry. Cast them away into a statistically irrelevant “leftover” group that needs to be forgotten.
Hang on. The nature your memory has changed. Or has been forced to change. We will now want your emotions on a socially networked platter and every emotion will have a corresponding market mechanism. The market that will leave out all those who felt excluded, left, brutalised, traumatised by the experience. Those who stared at the barrel and asked themselves about the worth of it all. The memory market is oblivious to this.
As a result, you struggle. But hang on. You have learnt how to survive the diatribe of the intelligentsia. Your new found zeal to hang on and survive is the new happiness. No self-help bullshit, just the desire to hang on. Just be there.
The night-marish script:
”The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.”-Wodehouse
And don’t allow your nostalgia to become violent. Nostalgia also kills. Because all the neutral memories are dangerously vagrant. They waft, bite, gnaw and chew. Now let’s calm the pitch. Lick the edges of our plate. Reconfigure our violent mindspace. And attempt to move on. Not to emancipate others but to brutally interrogate one’s own self.
Move on. Move on from what? Move on from too much light and shadow to too much of dawn and dusk. Only then we shall not be terrified of mirrors.
Yes, I am alone. But I am not lonely. Alone and my nomadhood is my sense of happiness.
And as for existential personal angst . Well, I won’t go on ranting but pick up threads of memory not yet corrupted by sponsored ideas of contentment. Pick up the ideas of Gandhi and Hegel, Bakhtin and Babasaheb and rage on. Understand I am left of the centre and not left of the right.
I am singing my songs. I have to sing because happiness postponed in dark times is suspended happiness. Postponed happiness and dead happiness. And my existential choice, not allowing my happiness and nomadhood to die.
Not even, for the sake of the debate. Not even, if you impose curfew inside my headspace.
I am alone. But not lonely. My new chorus is my solo happy voice.