Necropastorals and Counterfeit Hindus

by on Jan.27, 2011

[This is a response to Joyelle’s recent post about the “Necropastoral”.]

Laibach’s so completely creepy! Zizek: “The only way to be really subversive is not to develop critical potential, ironic distance, but precisely to take the system more seriously than it takes itself.”¬†

This is very Bataille, as you point out, and I also keep thinking Alejandro Jodorowsky said something like this (or would agree with it) and then I keep thinking of The Holy Mountain as a necropastoral, though at some point in the film its urgency tightens into a hard ball, a message, and spirits don’t carry messages. (Only secrets?) Necropastoral as science fiction (isn’t it a ship of some kind, moving across timezones and otherzones), and Laibach staging a Stepford Wives number to preempt emancipatory narratives. All the binaries that will suggest themselves (and many do) sort of explode because it’s all in it together.

Names of cities being changed in India ( but what’s being brought back/reanimated but another counterfeit name (and a fake memory of a fake past) by proponents of a counterfeit Hinduness. Or am I a counterfeit Hindu, counterfeit citizen, making counterfeit claims/counter-claims. Politics (+ its correctness) as fraud. (Also, the postcolonial nation + citizen itself as anachronistic. More on this again.)

4 comments for this entry:
  1. Joyelle McSweeney

    “Politics is therefore death that lives a human life.”

    Achille Mbembe, trans Libby Meintjes, “Necropolitics.”

  2. adam strauss

    I very much agree that name changes may all too often reflect problematic Hindu nationalist politics, but I also like the changes–or at-least the idea of that dynamic: that location names–and hence locations themselves?–aren’t stable. Aesthetically, it strikes me as a mixed bag: Mumbai is terrific (unverifiable claim, yesyes, so true); Chennai; mmmm, not so much when compared to Madras; and Puducherry just doesn’t ringzing like Pondicherry to me but it is better abreviated; Pondi–oh please no; Pudu: mmm, yah. I dig. I hope all’s well and would love to “hear” more.

  3. Monica Mody

    Anon, yes – ‘official’ names vs ‘historical’ names. Esp in Burma’s context (with the junta still very much in place despite elections) these claims and counter-claims work almost as tools of coercion and then tools to challenge the coercion.

    Joyelle, thanks – Necropolitics!!

    Adam, what you say is so interesting – but what if the aesthetics are being policed, and also the ability to make aesthetic claims, and also the city about which the aesthetic claims are being made and its experiences? For example, (Bollywood as microcosm of Bombay/India (should there be an ‘arguably’ somewhere). Aesthetics (or names) to the order of/aesthetics (etc) to order don’t quite a becoming-city make as much as a severely reterritorialized one. (Of course Bombay has the Shiv Sena and MNS which are champion aesthetic-enforcers).

    And then to ask the question in a different way: whose aesthetics? Yours – Adam Strauss’ ears – sound things differently from Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam/French ears. (Not that any of these categories are in any way cohesive.) (Where’s the ‘cherie’ in ‘Pudu’?!) When I first heard of “Bangalore” being changed to “Bengaluru” in 2005-6, I cringed. My Anglophone ears. But when my Anglophone (also called Anglicized) ears are pointed as the ‘other’, who is othering me and for what purpose?

    More dangers of appealing to authenticity here:

    That said, I love the idea of locations being unstable themselves because of their names (media!). If double names for cities (copies) will be circulating in all the simultaneity of real/fake. Utopia/dystopia. Pastoral/necropastoral. Life/death. If only we give up the either/or logic or does that involve giving up too much power.

    Thanks for the inputs!