Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ubiquitous simulation of the Other

The Melodrama of Difference (Or, The Revenge of the Colonized) by Jean Baudrillard
So what became of otherness? We are engaged in an orgy of discovery, exploration and “invention” of the Other. An orgy of differences. We are procurers of encounter, pimps of interfacing and interactivity. Once we get beyond the mirror of alienation (beyond the mirror stage that was the joy of our childhood), structural differences multiply ad infinitum – in fashion, in mores, in culture. Crude otherness, hard otherness – the otherness of race, of madness, of poverty – are done with. Otherness, like everything else, has fallen under the law of the market, the law of supply and demand. It has become a rare item – hence its immensely high value on the psychological stock exchange, on the structural stock exchange. Hence too the intensity of the ubiquitous simulation of the Other. This is particularly striking in science fiction, where the chief question is always “What is the Other? Where is the Other?” Of course science fiction is merely a reflection of our everyday universe, which is in thrall to a wild speculation on – almost a black market in – otherness and difference. A veritable obsession with ecology extends from Indian reservations to house­hold pets (otherness degree zero!) – not to mention the other of “the other scene”, or the other of the unconscious (our last symbolic capital, and one we had better look after, because reserves are not limitless).

A Critical History of Architecture in a Post-Colonial World: A View from Indian History By Swati Chattopadhyay
One of the things that Edward Said's book Orientalism (1978), based on a Foucaultian critique of the discourses of colonialism achieved, was to demonstrate the essentialized portrayals of colonized cultures, whether through the lens of western positivism (modernity) or through Orientalism. Nationalism as an indigenous colonial discourse, had to create an independent place for itself within the interpellation of the west by identifying its own essentlalized and ahistorical features for the nation. Postcolonial sociality in erstwhile colonized nations is still largely driven by the unfortunate identity politics of these discourses. Nationalism, as created by its founders, was largely thought of in its own time as a strategic essentialism, an invention of the soul-expression of a nation, to enable its identification and survival. But if such ahistorical descriptions become identity markers fossilized by institutional fiat, the resultant identity politics in an age of pluralism can only lead to violence and misfortune. Ongoing creative hybrid engagements are the way out of the postcolonial predicament. In this article, Swati Chattopadhyay, professor of Architectural History at UC Santa Barbara, shows how colonized nations create their own blind-spots based on the inability to classify the hybrid. At the same time, a situated social history of culture (here architecture) shows us that hybridity is the norm of human culture and its recognition leads us to the necessary evolution out of a phase of strategic essentialism into one of dialog and human co-existence.

Born Again Ideology (religion, technology and terrorism) by Arthur Kroker
Kroker's book Born Again Ideology examines Fundamentalism and its relationship to Empire. Although written as a response to the techno-militarist expansionism of George Bush and his neo-conservative American ideology, that fuses the protestant ethic with streamed capitalism, that expresses manifest destiny under the sign of a its simulacra deity; the digital commodity form, and re-territorializes the planet through a Nietzschean will to technology, there are global parallels drawn in making explicit how many global fundamentalist movements appropriate techno-science for their often millennial aims. In chapter 5 for example he uncovers ideological similarities in the exploitation of techno-science in the India Shining Movement with their their mastery of infomatics with the expertise in developing technologies of cyber-warfare of the Zionist occupation forces. Kroker makes medieval and millennialist Fundamentalism fully relevant to the new millennium

Why is the United States the spearhead of the technological future? Beyond its massive power as the leading empire of 21st century political economy, what explains the remarkable historical situation that since its Puritan origins America has actually innovated the future thanks to a seemingly singular cultural genius for innovation, creativity and (patent-driven) consumer practicality? Here, seizing upon the language of technological innovation as its primary means of expression, what might be described as the discourse of technology and the American mind has become both the essence of American drive towards the fully realized technological future and increasingly, due to its hegemony as a dominant political power, the dominant cultural code of global society.

Travel and Ethnology in the Renaissance: South India through European Eyes, 1250–1625 Reviewed by Daud Ali
If Edward Said's Orientalism stands as a watershed in modern studies by disclosing the essentalized nature of colonial discourses which form some of the major sources of our contemporary discontent, this work has also been criticized for its own essentlialistic nature. By ignoring the reality of cultural histories and generalities of culture, it has played into the hands of post-Enlightenment modernity for which postcolonial peoples have been rendered historyless. It has also failed to disclose the internally conflicted nature of the discourses of colonialism or the strategies and possibilities of understanding at work within them. Post-Orientalistic scholarship has addressed some of these errors and lacunae in Said's work. At the forefront of new discursive approaches to medieval histories of India is the work of Daud Ali, professor of Early Indian History at the School of Asian and African Studies at the University of London. In this article Ali reviews a book on Renaissance travel literature on India and shows how useful such documents are as expressions of "truth games" (Foucault), the creative ways by which identity and difference are negotiated in furthering the establishment of what is true in any given time and space.

"Science, Culture and Integral Yoga" More Recent Articles
Fundamentalism and the Future
Fascism and False Guru Sects (
The Resonant Soul: Gaston Bachelard and the Magical Surface of Air by Robert Sardello
Gaston Bachelard: poet/philosopher of the imagination and epistemological rupture
Towards a Postcolonial Modernity: AsiaSource Interview with Partha Chatterjee

No comments:

Post a Comment