Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Auroville is sinking into paranoia of insecurity and aloofness

[Guest Post by C.I. Aki: When the Color of Black is Invisible from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen (In his post, Aki gives us a taste of his latest film, The Runner, in which he takes up and translates into the medium of film everything from Homi Bhabha’s discussions on the  “ideology of sight” to Toni Morrison’s insights on the metaphor of race in Playing in the Dark to Graham Ward’s musings on difference.)
One subtext that emerges in the film is our cultural indifference to difference… But for now, it is important again for us to recognize that we do have a narrative of difference in our culture, and we must overcome our cowardice, our selfishness, our squareness, our bigotry, and our insulation to be heroic humans, to effect a heroic human race. This is what we must do; this is what we can do. Who are you running for? 23m Re-election of Barack Obama offers real hope that we will one day live in a post-racial America.]

[Mimicry, mockery or mumukṣutva? A response to Deepak Sarma, by Jeffery D. Long from Love of All Wisdom by Amod Lele (Jeffery Long, a professor of religion and Asian studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, sent me this response after I had written my own piece on the topic. I disagree with a few of Jeff’s ideas, most notably the free employment of the term “Hindu”, but some disagreement is always to be expected among philosophers and humanists.)
The first thing a respondent to Deepak Sarma’s essay, “White Hindu Converts: Mimicry or Mockery?”, needs to do is acknowledge the essential core of experiential truth and the genuine pain at its heart.  Racism against brown-skinned persons is real and pervasive in North America…  Is colonialism a deeply problematic part of the history of how Hindu thought and practice became available to people like myself?  Certainly…
Perhaps what Sarma is really saying is that there is a sacred quality to the experiences of diasporic Hindus that cannot be replicated by white converts, and that he feels offended by what he sees as our attempts at such replication: such mimicry that is really mockery.
What I am saying is that I am not seeking to mimic, much less mock, anyone.  I have my white Hindu convert experience.  Sarma has his diasporic Hindu experience.  Are one of these experiences authentic and the other somehow fraudulent?  Or are they both simply different experiences and expressions of an ancient, diverse, yet emerging and ever new, religious tradition?  I opt for the second of these choices, perhaps for reasons of which I am unaware, but which Sarma can perceive with his hermeneutics of suspicion.  I affirm the sacred character of his experiences and my own.  And I do not apologize for opting for universalism over tribalism, and an affirmation of all our experiences.]

[Oof! Bengali Chauvinism! from Orissa Matters by Saswat Pattanayak - Jul 25, 2012 Hazra is not naive when it comes to understanding racism. After all, he empathizes with Karan Johar’s victimization when it comes to the racist institution that bestows Academy Awards in America. But he is abominably proud of his own Bengali racism…
While Hazra makes a case for “long-pending ethnic-, religious- and gender-based biases being reversed” in this century, he misses the mark in his own racist overtones. And that is a tragedy. HINDUSTAN TIMES HAS BECOME A SANCTUARY OF SCOUNDRELS from Orissa Matters by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak - Aug 10, 2012 “Clarification” of Hindustan Times on the obnoxious “opinion piece” it had published on 24th July under the caption “Oof! Rashtropoti Bhobon!”, makes one suspect that it has become a sanctuary of scoundrels… Criminal vitriol against the Oriyas, sic passim in Hazra’s article, has been authenticated by Hindustan Times]

One has to admire Kejriwal for the boldness of aspiration if not anything else. He is seeking to offer a substantial alternative to both the principal national parties while doing so by transcending regional, caste and identity politics… Also for the first time we had an issue that did not have to appeal to language, religion, caste or region to draw participation… The birth of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party gives us that hope.]

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo, in their role in history, stand for human unity. Philosophically, too, they uphold it as the ontological goal via the mechanism of evolution. But when we look around, nothing gives us any assurance of this objective materializing. Rather, overdose of romanticizing the marginalized has given rise to crystallizing of diversity and encouraging further fragmentation. Academic and artistic antidotes would surely continue to play out in the polite domain but the hard reality in the rough outside world is unjust and cruel.

The Ashram itself is grappling with the Heehs imbroglio which is an offshoot of racial polarization. Appointment of an Odia trustee is being resisted tooth and nail. Auroville too is sinking into paranoia of insecurity and aloofness. Deft and bold handling of issues is the need of the hour but what we witness is pusillanimity and ostricharade. Acute political problems must not be pushed under the carpet under the pretext of spirituality. [TNM55]          

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