(And the problems of revivalism)
In science fiction author Samit Basu’s book launch for ‘Unwaba Revelations’ at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival I asked if he would draw from an ‘Indian’ past for his science fiction, our ideas of anthropomorphic biologies, and our imagination of the space beyond. He said that he already does and that in the future there is going to be a lot of the very same thing happening. He seemed wary of taking that turn too zealously.
In the West, from reading Michael Chrichton, I’m aware that the future is being mined, and perhaps too heavily…
In Sharanya Manivannan’s work this is an extremely natural process, and is poignant to the point of becoming contemporary folklore…
So why am I bothered about this?
Over the past few days some very special women and I have been having a koofia discussion on Erotica and ‘Chick’ Literature.It came from a concern that there are not enough artists and writers of the ‘second sex’ speaking about sex.The sexual liberation project(ahem!) must go hand in hand with emancipatory awareness, although the road is complicated.
And in this discussion, we also spoke about dance, drawing from Chandraleka, the high priestess and fountainhead of dance in modern India.
Chandralekha felt that tradition was not, to use her words, “a superficial post colonial invention” of sorts.That we had to invent.
This is what she says.“If our so called “traditions” are largely superficial post colonial ‘inventions’, which subsume genuine experience and accumulation of the past, with its treasurehouse of complex and holistic concepts of body/energy/aesthetics, then our so called modernity has turned out to be a movement that privileged the bourgeois self, enabling an elite aesthetic to distort and de-eroticise the real and liberating energies of the body. Those of us engaged in a battle for recovery in several artistic and intellectual fields, therefore find ourselves simultaneously battling on two fronts often tending to get isolated and marginalised by national and international markets, by official state policy and dominant cultural constructs”.
In the process of de-colonising oneself in a globalising world one needs to stand corrected on illegitimate borrowing such as patriarchy , racial and ethnic prejudice while embracing it’s legitimate legacies.
Incidentally, Chandralekha also said that she didn’t consider it important to be a part of any ‘mainstream’.She was okay with being just a dot, but she knew just how important it was to be that dot.
*my thanks are due to John Matthew for sharing this song on FaceBook.I have to mention Cherian Alexander, Arul Mani and Etienne Rassendran at the Joseph’s Arts and Science’s College Bangalore’s English Department.Their course called ‘The Popular Muse’ really did it for me.
All odes of course are for the bard.I pray for him to keep singing.