Tag Archives: revolution

Pulp History

1 May

in which bogey attends an awards function.

Happy May Day, all. This year, being a somewhat socialist/somewhat liberal, I decided to celebrate by recalling other ditherers in Indian history. Thus, the Romantic Revolutionary

 M.N. Roy straddles both ‘internal’ challenges to liberalism in the last century: socialism and nationalism. He used each to challenge the orthodoxies of the other, constructing an elegant (if neglected) analysis of self-determination movements along the way. Roy took upon himself the unenviable task of having faith but no obedience, and the price he paid for it was being right in obscurity.

No longer, etc. Bogey to the rescue!

In other news,

This post restores the original title of my Himal essay on Indian graphic novels, and was written to acknowledge a range of people. The good folk at mylaw allow me the freedom to chronicle my obsessions. One went from sniping about Kari to adoring Kavalier & Clay (Luna Moth is my inner superhero) to prophecies of interstitial living.

 I owe a great debt of thanks, further, to Bidisha Basu (of Leaping Windows) for putting me in touch with Alok Sharma. My gratitude to Alok is, I hope, well reflected in the essay, for he put me in touch with worlds I would had no hope of grasping without him. His documentary, once it comes out, looks to be a trove of info for comics nerds, especially those who would delve deeper than more Marvel this and DC that. I also owe Sarnath Banerjee, not so much because he helped my essay along- though he did- but because he redeemed my faith in human conversation.

Roberto Paez, illustrating Don Quixote

I was supposed to ask him questions about the ‘scene’ and industry finance and such, but our conversation soon drifted off into nerdy image/text deliberations and I abandoned all my Serious Relevant questions.

We discussed, in order: Luna Moth and the naming of Phantomville; psuedo-science; vicco vajradanti; Joe Sacco, ‘his abominable Gaza book’, and sexy locations in graphics journalism; empathy in writing; Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection; King Leopold of Belgium; Lewis Carroll; relative merits of the Scott Pilgrim and Ghostworld movies; Marshall McLuhan; the accurate pronunciation of Alain Robbet-Grillet and the mysterious tendency people have of acquiring accents after six hours at the Dubai airport.

 Things we didn’t talk about (but I wish we had) are Superman’s recent rhetoric about American foreign policy and the Swamp Thing cognition experiment. If you know you aren’t ‘alive’, but retain every memory of being human, what does that make you?  Do superheroes teach us a manichean ethic of malevolence/benevolence; do they ‘sublimate a culture of victimhood to manufacture one of enterprise and liberty’?  Do they foster a blind arrogance in human capacity? In human generosity? The American Dream is sold to us across millions of panels and genres: whether you read Archie or Flaming Arrow.  (Ok, so I made that last up. But she would be a neat superhero, non?).

For all the randomness of our conversation, it was not nearly as entertaining as the one the divine Kuzhali Manickavel had with a member of the Hyderabad Graphic Novel Project. They discuss kolams and fractals, speculate on furtive inspirations behind the Matrix trilogy, and decide that the classic song ‘If you come today’  is all about quantum indeterminacy.

VT Thomas, "Toms"

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Deluded Democracy

23 Dec

A Year in Reverse, Part One.

Over the next week, I shall be putting up collections of things I wrote this year that haven’t made it to this blog yet. Pre-bogey readers, all ten of you, will remember I blogged for Himal SouthAsian earlier in 2010, and these were mostly written to that end. They are ‘political’ reportage, if you will be generous with your definition. Mostly, I talk about news I find interesting. This year that happened more often than is usual, as Chaosbogey’s Politics will tell you. Here is me covering other elections from the year.

The second part of the reversal was Playing Cassandra.

Antique Wine in an Antique Bottle.

June, 2010

The recent demolition of the West Bengal CPI (M) in Calcutta municipality elections brokered many fates. In a country where some form of election is a daily occurrence, municipal elections inevitably get the short shrift. Not so here.  Newspapers and pundits portend that it marks a turned tide, that 2011 assembly elections shall see the party in the bay rather than in Bengal. Writers’ Building (in Calcutta, even administration must have a booksy air) might finally see new occupation: Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress.

Writers Building

The party in present form is evidently just the Lady, a few trusted deputies, and her unwavering agenda of uprooting the CPI (M). One wonders how this party will cope with the delegation of government. To the facile observer, Banerjee’s Didi might echo that other formidable and self-reliant Lady CM: Mayawati’s Behenji (even their honorifics collide). An important difference remains. Mayawati has had spells of power to considerably enrich herself, while Mamata is that rare mystery: an impecunious politico. She is currently Union Railway Minister, an easy route to padded bank accounts. Perhaps her restraint was just prudence: what is a ministry compared to the treasury of an entire state? Will she stay uncorrupted by power once her crusade is accomplished? It is a wager Bengal appears willing to take.

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Homage to Catalonia.

20 Dec

Come close to my clamour,

people fed from the same breast,

tree whose roots

keep me in prison,

because I am here to love you

and I am here to defend you

with my blood and with my mouth

as two faithful rifles.

— Sitting upon the Dead, Miguel Hernandez.

(An edited version of this essay appeared on mylaw.net)

The Spanish Civil War is a bellwether for humanities geeks. For most, it was just one more brutal event in a brutal decade: with things like the Holocaust and atomic bombs to report, how interesting are a bunch of anarchists running around trying to change the world? There are a smattering of those in every war. For us nerds, however, the war means much more: it was a harbinger, a prophecy, a betrayal. This was as true at the time it happened as it is now; which is why all the eccentrics and writers of the world were drawn to the battle like moths to a flame. It was a war in which, as Auden once wrote, poets exploded like bombs.  Think back to any mid-century poet or journalist, and odds are they were annealed by fires across Spain. Orwell describes a very cosmopolitan Catalonia, brimming with Italians, Frenchmen, Germans, Poles, not to mention the Russians; Neruda, for that matter, made his way all the way from Chile. Spain, too, offered up her own literary sacrifices: Lorca, killed by Franco in Granada; Miguel Hernandez, lost to prison and pneumonia.

Orwell was amongst the first wave of these adventurists, and Homage to Catalonia is a bitter love-story about the country and the ideals he was determined to save. It begins in 1936, when Orwell first joined the POUM militia on the Aragon front, and closes in 1937, when he is running from Barcelona with the police, as he put it, one jump behind him. The story of how a soldier became a traitor is the story of Homage to Catalonia.

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Of Nativity

20 Jul

I, too, am a native.

Saying this aloud, a mere whisper lost to the the deep night, is terrifying. The quick phrase feels like the slow stripping of all agency, a rape of my right to speak of the world and its concerns, forced to leave them to ‘better men’. To be native is to be blind and have one’s tongue cut off and limbs turned automaton. It was easier when I cut off my balls (rhetorically, you understand) and identified with femininity, however jaggedly and doggedly I fight the helplessness assumed of that affinity. Writers like Frantz Fanon give me the strength to remember that I would, nonetheless, prefer to be Injun over cowboy. Equally, he reminds me that as an urban mongrel with no ‘native village’ to speak of (wait, do university campuses count?), I am as much settler as native. Our homes shift upon residence.

Fanon

Two worlds: that makes two bewitchings; they dance all night and at dawn they crowd into the churches to hear mass; each day the split widens. Our enemy betrays his brothers and becomes our accomplice; his brothers do the same thing. The status of native is a nervous condition introduced and maintained by the setter among colonised people with their consent (sic)

I am rereading The Wretched of the Earth in memory of Frantz Fanon, who would have been 85 today.  So far I have made it past the preface and am already flooded by excerpts (as above).

The rest of this post is thus from memory and fourth year squiggles. Let me begin by conceding said memory is heavily reconstructed from aforementioned preface. In defence, you try jumping off the freaking Sartre-wagon. There is also a birthday rhyme to give Fanon’s bones a good bouncing about their grave. Besides, I strive to inject great guffaws into all your days, and disdain is small price for a grin.  If you feel the urge to chant Dryjhna! Dryjhna! Dryjhna! after the closing excerpt of post, please do tell. I will be gratified not to feel alone in all this wide world. If you continue to chant sporadically for the better part of a night, maybe there is something to be said for lunacy being a social hobby.

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