Monday, February 12, 2007

Codswallopitis: Ink Scrawl Nugget 16

The Discourse of Academic Applesauce:
[. . .] 'You had quite an interesting message in that play, about power relations in the pedagogic context. I wonder if you intended it to be a comment on the micropolitics of caste?'

'I am from the Dalit community,' Jiva said quietly. 'Many Dalit artists are protesting against inequality and injustice in this country. I belong to a group on campus called Students for Democracy.'

'That's extremely interesting—I mean the democracy part—though not entirely news to me. I notice that many Dalits are talking the language of modernity and democracy.' Chunky set a clutch of folders on a side table and pushed the rest back into the briefcase. 'Isn't that teleological-progressive, humanist-Hegelian metanarrative a problematic anachronism? It makes us forever a part of the dialectic of a type of progress that was imposed on us by colonialism—you know, a model of progress that is not our own.'

Jiva could tell from the way his lips were moving, and from the way his grinders were wearing down, and from the way he did not need to breathe between sentences, that Chunky was suffering from acute codswallopitis.

'I don't think Dalits so far have had a real part in this famous democratic narrative, ' she said, shrugging. 'Just when we start demanding real democracy, you say that we should think of something else.'

Chunky thrust the accusation away with fluttering hands. 'Oh, I'm not suggesting that we vacate the discursive space of democracy altogether,' he said. 'I would merely advocate that Dalit ideologues situate the debate more carefully in the aporetic embrace of global capitalism before foreclosing on future strategies of political dissent. To put it slightly differently,' he said, 'you need to map the practices of codification, representation and discursive control under the sign of Western universalism before you re-mobilize the moribund, discredited, and perhaps always-already impossible liberal-democratic discourse of human rights. [. . .]
From No Onions Nor Garlic by Srividya Natarajan

Anyone who has served time in an university, especially with a Department of English, will have come across much codswallopitis. It goes with the territory and its incidence is particularly most acute during seminars where if you speak any other dialect of English (particularly the normal variety), you are perceived as the "Other" and the security is called to throw you out.

I have two seminars coming up in the next two weeks. :-(

2 comments:

Ro said...

What be's topic of seminar?

mandar talvekar said...

1: Postcolonialism and its relevance to contemporary IWE.
2. post theory