Archive for December, 2006

Introducing ‘Queer Theory Of Identity’ and Judith Butler

December 15, 2006

We were having some debates on Identities and their actions/effect on the society. I also faced debates in my freind circle couple of times. I think it will not be bad idea, after all, to introduce readers about the ‘Queer’ theory. Since we have space/size limitations, we can briefly go with it and you can put your own twist in the blog.

The ‘Queer’ means ‘peculiar’, i.e, ’something that is not of normative form’. Judith Butler is the lady behind this theory. If you want more information, please search in google. There are plenty of links.

Let us define some ‘words’ here. The word ‘Sex’ will mean ‘male’, or ‘female’ based on ‘organic’ difference, the word ‘gender’ will be ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. Notice carefully that  the ’gender’ and ’sex’ are not equal in this sense!

Now lets jump into the classic theory(you always have a ‘classic’ version of a theory before you get a new one!). The ‘Humanist’ in early to mid 70’s claimed that Identity group based on Sex is natural, innate (something fundamental that is inescapable). The ‘Feminist’  later then challenged this(Humanist) ‘rigid boundaries’ of the identities telling that ‘Sex is not the ultimate destiny’. Now Judith Butler was arguing that the ‘Feminists’ made a mistake by choosing an Identity class first based on sex (For example, they are telling ‘We are Feminists’) and then trying to get rid of it’.

Today I will try to reach the same conclusion but from POST modernist view point. I will explain why ‘Feminism’ did not gain enough ‘appeal’ to the philosophers’ world. I will simply show that Judith Butler’s theory is infact equivalent to Jacques Derrida’s Theory. Some people might already have done that but I dont know about such analysis. I want to give it a shot!! I will ‘deconstruct’(not exactly the true deconstruct…..) the idea of ‘Sex’ based Identity(which a lot of people did long ago but I am re-introducing).

‘Having a ‘p’ oran is not necessarily put you in power’. Without having a ‘P’ organ (i.e having a ‘V’ organ) should not necessarily put you in any ‘complex’(Read Asad bhai’s previous comments on sexuality and castration complex). This idea, according to experts, is borrowed from the ‘animal’ world. But look, even in the animal world we have plenty of examples where animal with ‘V’ organs are more active and industrious and capable than those with their corresponding ‘p’ part(Honey bee vs Drone,etc etc). So if someone construct  a ‘discourse’ putting the ‘p’ organ in the center(POST modernist call it Logo Center) and putting ‘V’ in the perifery or ‘less important partner in the binary pair’, can not definitely claim the validity of entire postulation of the ‘Discourse’, thus one can not say “Hey ,We have ‘P’ so we are better than the ‘V’ groups”–In short, sex based identity  doesnot have valid/universal ground. Now, some of you guys will still frawn and  argue, “Well we are stronger than females”. But again this new ’strength’ based ‘Discourse is claiming ‘Strength’ as the center and ‘weakness’ at the perifery of the circle and again forming binary (biased )pairs. Now, the more you ’strengthen’ the ‘repelling force’ in this binary junction, the more stronger will be the ‘Discourse’. However if you choose other ‘pairs’ and adjust their poles and align them together, YOU WILL CREAT FACT, YOU WILL CREAT KNOWLEDGE’. Let me pick some of the other pairs: 1. Strong vs Weak(I am repating, though) 2. Larger brain vs smaller brain 3. Intellient vs dumb 4. Savingly vs Wasteful 5.Loyal vs Trecheraous 5. Bold vs Meek 6. Big vs Small 7. Masculine vs Feminine 8. Grave vs Light

Now pick all the left hand side of the partner word:

(Strong, Intelligent, Brainy, Thoughtful, Saving,Loyal) are the ‘MAN’!

(Weak, dumb, wasteful(do more shopping),meek, trecherous) are the WOMAN! they suck!!

Once a discourse is formed, otehr pairs  come into the picture and strengthen it, make it more believable and you put it inside your brain and  knowlege, because knowledge is formed from such ‘texts’.

The feminists based their ground on ‘gendar’, denying sex, telling “Just because I have a ‘V’ , you should not pay me less money in my job. We women need more”. But they disregard the fact that ‘They already subclassed their Identity class from a base class-Sex”.(Oops! I am using  OOP in software, my professional discourse!), they are standing on a very strong, thousand years old discourse, and basing themselves on a much ‘Fluidic’ identities  based on gender(Feminine vs masculine). The sex based identity separation was far way stronger than ‘gender’ based separation. Let me clarify, please read my following sentences:” Some females are stroneger than males“(please see the muscles of female WWF wrestler!!, they  capable of  rupturing your bones in bed! Oops taht sounded so hurting for my male ego!!). “Some males behave like females(Dont forget  hermafrodytes)”,” Some males behave ‘females’ to other ‘males’(gay)”.”Some males have more passion about beautification, gardening, flowery things, are very nitty”.”Some males are very meek, loyal”. Folks, now you tell me,”Gender is a valid center for contrast”. So feminist movement could not have much ground when the ‘Lacan(Or Focault, I forgot) raised a comparison between ‘White middle class woman in western vs Black asian/african man elswhere’ and challenged that the ‘Tortured White Female was gaining more from the Untortured, male-shuvenist (pig )African/Asian Male in the east’-THEREFORE Feminism is not an Universal movement and CANNOT BE”. It is unjustify to have some movement.

Here comes Judith Butler with her queer theory that Identitites are not innately constructed, are not something rigid, not fundamental, rather, they are ‘Fluidic’ in nature. They are kinda like ‘Floating’. She told us about feminists’ movement, that based on such ‘Fluidic Boundaries’, you lost your chance to win the battle. She used the word ‘Inescapable‘. 

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Jibonanondo Daas: Anatomy Of The Death

December 15, 2006

‘Abar Ashibo Fire, Dhanshirir-y Tire, Ey banglay…..”, one of the most cited poem in Bangla literature. When we read this poem, the images are upfront , take us in this journey. Probably poems like this made Rabindranath commenting on Jibonanondo as ‘Chitro kabbomoy’, in the shed of poetry which means ‘Imagist writing’.

Today’s analysis will try to capture the ‘other side’ of Jibonanondo which was never under stood by his colleagues, nor by the contemporary critiques and the ordinary readers like us. We will introduce another poem ‘Aaat Bochor Agee ….’. folks, you might have more thoughts here as we frequently discussed such topics in our undergrad.

In ‘Aat Boschor Age’, a central character commiteed a suicide despite a ‘lot of offerings’ from this living earth. He had a wife, kids, he was solvent, and poverty was not a issue in this case. But that character ‘Dekhilo she koun Bhuut’ and approached for his destination. The poem ended with a positive tone where the poet glorified the ‘offerings of this life and earth and somewhat made commitment that he will be like the rest of the people whoc love and enjoy the ‘Vaghaar’ of life

Some critiques still believe that Jibonanondo’s suicide is almost pre-written in the lyrics of ‘Aat Bochor Agee..’ The trum driver, later interviewed, told that ‘The man was still walking even when I was buzzing the horn. he did not move from the track’. Please read Abdul Mannan Syed’s articles/books for more information.

Five years later in Alabama, I raised the topic to my Advisor, Dr. Sibabbrata Ray. I used to call him ‘Sibu da’. Sibuda told me ‘ Hannan, Do you know how much slowly the trum used to move at that time?’, I said, ‘No’. he told me “It traveled like a ‘caterpiller’, and if you try to commit suicide under the trum, it is kind’a difficult”. “He(jibonanondo) must have received plenty of warnings before the trum nailed him down, he got plenty of time’.

But again ” Dekhilo she koun bhuut”—The puzzle was not solved. So many occaissons, I tried to have definitive answers from different angles but it still a mystery. As of today, I still believe, I have some partial answer for the puzzle, mostly provided by one of my buddies five years ago. Later I found some notes from Abdul Mannan Syed, that helped make a little progress understanding Jibonanondo’s context.

That buddy told me that the ‘ Connectivity and Interactions to this life/world were absent in Jibonanondo. In his poems where ‘The flies went over the blood, suck them, replenish them with the vigor and vive of life, enjoying every moment’, the Owl hunts for mice, satisfy its inner drive, and express more to do that’ are just the usual perception-’The Joy of living’. But the question was then, “Why did he over-turn this whole offering of this very ‘life’, why he could be an owl or a Fly like his poem?”

In the beginning I tried to explain Jibonanondo with ‘Camus’s idea of absurdity’. The absurdity at that time was perceived by me as a ‘gap between the reality and the world a person lives’. I was theorizing with the assumption that Jibonanodo was suffering from an absurdity/illusion. I knew at that time that Jibonanodo made immense reading about ‘Edger Elan poe’ who almost follwed a path similar to Jibonanodo andled to death . some critiques even believe that the famous ‘Bonolota Sen’ poem was inspired by Poe’s Annabelle Lee’-western version of ‘Natorer Bonolota Sen’. I tried to match ‘Poe’s absurdity with Jibonanondo but later changed my perspective on some findings on Jibonanondo.

I have a ‘personal’ theory which is nothing related to the actual facts or whatsoever and open to discussions. The theory based on Jibonando’s personal life. Jibonanodo was extremely unhappy about his wife and conjugal love.His wife had other involvements’which freaked him out. On different citings Abdul Mannan Syed poinetd some facts out. I believe the ‘tremendous and stunning cravings for love in Bonolota Shen and at the same time the ‘disconnectivity and nonchalanceness’ are stemming from this facts. But I know this assumption is not enough but I am cutting down this discussion now for brevity.

Remember, he commited suicide the day before he was , audition in calcutta radio station, he was at his peak, somehow started getting recognition in literary society.

Analysis of Poetry : John Ashbery

December 15, 2006

In my opinion, the ‘most difficult poet’ at present (to be understood) in the United States and probably, all over the world, is John Ashbery. Before I delve into the second part for Jibonanondo(which will require more reading and information gathering from my part),I want to introduce this fascinating personality to the  readers.

Lets start with his simple poem,” THE GRAPEVINE”.

THE GRAPEVINE :JOHN ASHBERY

Of who we and all they are
You all now know. But you know
After they began to find us out we grew
Before they died thinking us the causes

Of their acts. Now we’ll not know
The truth of some still at the piano, though
They often date from us, causing
These changes we think we are. We don’t care

Though, so tall up there
In young air. But things get darker as we move
To ask them: Whom must we get to know
To die, so you live and we know?

***************************************

We cannot definitely tell what it was for. Usually some poems have multiple explanations. I also thouht in the sameway.
Then one day , a critique (Internet based magazine) explained the poem.
Today our analysis will be based on that. Once I find that very old URL, i will post.
Let us first start with the title”GRAPEVINE”. If you take the primary meaning or straight meaning, that stands for ‘A vine on which grapes grow’.
Watch out the secondary meaning of the word,’The informal transmission of information, gossip, or rumor from person to person’ and the third one
,’A usually unrevealed source of confidential information’ (courtesy:www.dictionary.com).
We need to pick second and third one and combination with the first because the entire poem is about ’suppressing an Identity group that is struggling to get/grow on their feet’, and we are the ’suppressors’. This poem is about the ’strugglling’ homo-sexuals in modern society. They are like a gossip, rumor, flourishing secretly.

They are flourishing like ‘Grapes in the Vine’.

So the first line “Of who we and all they are
You all now know.”-makes sense,huh?
now the lines,

“Now we’ll not know
The truth of some still at the piano, though
They often date from us, causing
These changes we think we are”-here he was describing a scene which he observed real life where gay people were singing in piano. To me it is a very important line because Ashbery is recognizing the ‘Aesthetic’ nature of the whole idea. That identity group might ’show’ their love for each other in music(so they are developing a culture!),for which we dont know much.

Now lets move on the sentence about the “causing
These changes we think we are”-lines. WE think we are-means WE only think about our identity, that is we ‘STRAIGHT’ people and world should be straight. But they(homosexuals) chaning this view, they will change the ‘Hardened’ concept that ‘Straightness’ is the universal identity.

In “We don’t care Though, so tall up there
In young air”-means whether we care or not this young generation is growing like ‘grapes ‘ in the vine, they are growing in the young/powerful air.

In the last line, he is sympathetic about the Homosexuals and posing question for the entire society who is the ‘audience’ here. How to ‘kill’ the concept that there should be one and unique sexual identity(’Straight’) in the society?
“But things get darker as we move
To ask them: Whom must we get to know
To die, so you live and we know”.

darker means that it is ‘deeper’ social issue. So we have to ‘Kill’ the concept(so to speak, WE, the straight people ‘need’ to ‘die’ to bring them(Homosexuals) upfront. The word ‘die’ here is symbolic. Look at the last line.
‘So that you live and we know”-means he is expecting that one day the ’straight’ and ‘homosexual’ community will live together, “we know” means ‘WE(straight) will recognize them, embrace them into our social context and knowlege.

Poetry Riddle: Charles Simic

December 15, 2006

Charles Simic is not considered as ‘difficult’ as ‘John Ashbery’. But one of his poems still mystery to me. I have been tracking this poem for years and still have no clues. I have some idea but they are solely mine, no support from literary world. If anyone of you ever find an explanation of this poem, I will greatly apreciate. I put so many hours to unravel the mystery here but each time I failed.

COUNTRY FAIR: CHARLES SIMIC

*******************************

If you didn’t see the six-legged dog,
It doesn’t matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,

One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.

Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.

She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

***************************

Remember, Simic usually writes poems about the Yugoslavian WAR.

We know that the european poetry very deep, rich and huaunted with experiences.

I have a personal theory about this poem which is based on the Yugoslavian ‘WAR ‘ context.

In my opinion, solely mine, there are two clues in the poem. The first one is the ’six-legged dog’ and the second one is the last line where he was ‘converting the observer as observant and vice versa as if we are being watched by the dog, we ourselves are the show, not the dog.

A poet like Simic, in my opinion, can not just introduce a ’six-legged-dog’ without any reason.

Then I jumped into Yugoslavian recent war history and discovered that out of SIX republics, FOUR of them :’ S.R. Slovenia’, ‘S.R. Croatia’, ‘S.R.Macedonia’ and ‘S.R. Bosnia and Herzegovina’ – had seceded
in 1992 from the republic. They are the FOUR ‘acting’ legs of the dog, the other two ‘flapping legs’ were Serbia and Montenegro. Please visit the following URL for details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslavia

The rest became clearer(apparently!) to me since he was able to convince the audience that even with the two ’sickening’ flapping legs, the dog(Infact the whole state has been replaced by the dog!) was able to do his duty, perform function normally although the girl ’shrieked’ with lauhgther.
here the girl is the rest of the world or other observer or simic himself!

The dog mostly layed in corner-which tells that the extra leggs were burdensome for him, infact this division was burdensome for the whole nation, for the rest.

So the main theme is that even with divisions of the republic it is possible to
go along without fight, without a WAR.
His question was, probably, ‘Look, even a dog can act concordantly with incompatible six body parts–then why not the Yugoslavians??”

And “That was the whole show”-he finished with this theme.

But the entire analysis is from my individual’s perspective and there is no academic explanation  from anywhere else or any references. These are just the figments of my mind.

If anybody has more refined explanations that will be great.

Unfolding Franz Kafka : Legacy of Existentialism

December 15, 2006

We really want to go deep down into the Kafkan world through the discussion. Our discussion will cover ‘The Trial’, ‘The Castle’ and ‘Metamorphosis’.

Traditional ‘mystery’ novel go usually as ‘bottom up’ approach. You have so many possibilities and eventually you come at a single point and discover the ‘truth’. Kafka’s novel/stories go opposite direction(Top down) where you start to unravel a mystery but end up jumping into numerous puzzles and more myseries.

In the Trial, the central  character  one day is convicted of a crime for which he doesnt know anything about, even the other characters exactly dont know why he is convicted. The entire novel goes with the effort of the character to find the real cause. But the mystery is never solved.

In the ‘Castle’, another characetr tries to enter into the castle, but he cannot. He makes numerous assumption about the castle, he settles down to the near of the castle in a village to learn more about…..mystery is still there, more puzzle for him. His desperation ends up with more frustrating puzzles.

In ‘Metamorphosis’ Gregor Samsa, one day finds himself converted into gigantic roach/bug. he tries to communicate with the external world but he cannot.

In all of the scenarios the character finds himself helpless, clueless and entangled with the system whoch he can not get rid of.

There are so far 3/4 explanation of Kafka. The first one, is pretty easier, explains the contemporary ‘totalatarian’ regime in Europe that was about to settle in, that was overwhelming to ordinary people to bear with. The trial is an example to that. In metamorphosis, the character is ‘heavily’ entangled in a society oppressed by overwhelming stress and pressure by the authority. The sales man, Gregor Samsa, was almost living a ‘bug’s life in that system.

The second one based on ‘Extensialism’ ideas of Camus where  being goes continues struggle with his existence and shape his personality and goal. The ’system’ shapes him,force him to live that form of life without his choice. The sales man, Gregor Samsa,as if, converted to a bug for the pressure exherted on him by the system.

I once read that one of Kafka’s close friends (Possibly Max Brod or something)explained Kafka’s writings in terms of ‘religius’ context. Like  the ‘Castle’ is like , meeting with God which is alway mystery. We all spend life searching for God, the way the character searches his quest for castle!!

I believe that Kafka found human as an ‘instrumentaion’ of the Govt, society and belief system. He portrayed the helplessness of the modern human being. The cruel forces of external power is reflected all over the Kafkan world.

However, the blog here is too short for elaboration. If someone elase have wider explanaton, he is most welcome. Each novel/story requires separate blog, honestly.

To put some other twists in Kafkan explanation, Kafka had an overwhelming ‘Father’ and was really struggling at that time for his establishment, to settle down his life with some means.

Once Kafka wrote a ‘Love letter’ to his fiance, I will try to retrieve it later from the Internet. I read it few years ago. That was really interesting where he was story-telling all the ‘negative’ comments about himself. 

Introduction to Billy Collins

December 15, 2006

I found Billy Collins to be a very easy going, relaxing Poet. His poems cover the ‘introvert’ personality and ‘individualism’ of modern americans who enjoys the things within their daily schedule/life.

Watch out some of his poems:

Fishing On The Susquehanna In July
 

 

  I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.  
Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure — if it is a pleasure –
of fishing on the Susquehanna.
I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one –
a painting of a woman on the wall,
a bowl of tangerines on the table –
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.
There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,
rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.
But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in
Philadelphia,
when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend
under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandana
sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.
That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.
Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,
even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

Invention
 
 

  Tonight the moon is a cracker,
with a bite out of it
floating in the night,  
and in a week or so
according to the calendar
it will probably look
like a silver football,
and nine, maybe ten days ago
it reminded me of a thin bright claw.
But eventually –
by the end of the month,
I reckon –
it will waste away
to nothing,
nothing but stars in the sky,
and I will have a few nights
to myself,
a little time to rest my jittery pen.

Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House
 
 

  The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.  
The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,
and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.
When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton
while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

‘The Monsoon Rain’-by Mohammad Hannan

December 14, 2006

It comes in mind before it really does,
And rains on our burnt-hearts.
It clears the skies and alleys of memories,
That silently pass by.
It settles the politics of floods and aids,
One can easily see,
Cleans and washes some of the faces
That once were your negligees.
The trees and crops so pesticided,
And people engulfed in earthly wiles,
The monsoon peeks in their minds,
The Goddess of freshness, Goddess of vine.

The rain connects the heavens and earth,
With long, gushing, water-chains,
And shackle your feeble gestures,
Inside your urban-veins.

It enriches the soil and flat-rivers,
With miraculous thunder bolts,
Nothing escaped, nothing skimmed,
From the whip of the monsoon knolls.

‘A baby is coming in Alabama’-by Mohammad Hannan

December 14, 2006

A baby is coming in
Alabama
In the midst of poverty and sufferings.
A dream is coming in our eyes in
Alabama
When we don’t have any.

A smile is coming to be spread over
The wings of summer-birds , in
Alabama
That fly and sing–
All the ballads of lost glories.

A hope is coming and knocking at my door
It is hope-my long lost friend!

A success is coming , at last , in
Alabama
Success–A wrong woman, lustful and flirting.

A green leaf is peeping into a lonely,
Pale tree in
Alabama,
A sweet , dearing hush in wildernesses.

A soul is coming within a soul–
A mind within a mind —
Will it bear the same boredom and ennui?
Like the oldest Cedar in Deer-lick Creek?

‘The Gardener’-by Mohammad Hannan

December 14, 2006

It was a mere lackluster seed;so ashamed
of itself, in a despoiled soil, I picked
up ;absent mindedly and brought up
In my garden, my deadened spirit.
A whim of sudden rain or my mind watered,
and it started growing;you can not tell
ab’t a seed; so special, by its look, smell
or flavor It has its own mysteries.

It grew and diffused in mind, wrought
all the pleasures and happiness of this
world in a life so short and fleeting.

I grew the seed or did the seed grow me?
Difficult to tell, both’re growing in the garden
And learning an invisible trade of living.

You don’t have anything here but this garden,
What you do is your choice
You have a sky out there, silent and echoing,
With fake realities.

The gardening goes on silent,You never know
A gardener inside you, so dedicated and falsely assured.

‘The Red Indians’-by Mohammad Hannan

December 14, 2006

People say, “They are gone”- a mist in passing time.
But I find’em in mound of
Tupelo,
Still gazing all around!
I see many of them, on the hill tops, dark down
In the southern sky. I can smell their breath, hear their
Laughter-Like before the White men came.

You can’t imagine-
Still they play! Hunt in my heart!
As I feel it walking, by the river Black-Warrior.

The new people also play and hunt before you-
You have all the time to see them through.
They also gaze around this world-like that dead, old Red Indians.

I can’t sleep with the sounds of horses-Not of the new people,
The Red Indians. They ask me to
Play with them in their ground,
I lose them in the skyscrapers.