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August 19, 2012 / Vandita

The Hermeneutics of a Heretic I

Trust is a much abused inflated truism that implicitly presumes warmth, innocence and acceptance at its most un-conniving level. Some of us post post-moderns contend very strongly that the answer to the chaotic bramble of postmodern nada lies in straightening the path with good old sense and sensibility. Acceptance is all. Paradoxically this acceptance of “in good faith” has no space for schismatic thinking which cannot but see fissures, gaps, and the censored and the incised. Traditionalists are wholesome but then iconoclasts and idolaters are equally salubrious. It’s the slant and the trajectory that sometimes makes you claim that the other is skewed, especially when the other consistently possesses an uncanny incised insight which constantly spades into the accepted and shovels up the unspeakable, the unexpected, the un-worded and sometimes what cannot be pigeonholed into the traditional squares.
One literary work that’s incredible in its kaleidoscopic fracturing of the seams of the seeming is Hamlet. In it criminality from a varying vantage ceases to be criminal in the traditional legal-social sense. Here, Claudius the traditional villain is a man who gains a kingdom’s trust, his people’s support, his sister-in-laws affections. But his life’s legal lacuna is his murdering his elder brother. What asks for interrogation is the reason behind the murder and why is Claudius the way he is. Trust society to brand an intelligent man criminal in its impatience to give space to the other. In each of his tragedies, Shakespeare limns a villain with shadows in his soul – an individual like Othello – who could have been good had society been more accepting and accommodating.
Today crimes against the vulnerable sections of society and the not-so economically progressive nations are on the rise. Class oppression, national bigotry and gender strait jacketing have reached historically unprecedented phenomenal proportions. The emergent salve to such an explosive situation cannot and should not be anything but a hermeneutics of suspicion. It will not be of any consequence to go back to tradition and historicising since histories per se have changed their hue completely. “My heart beats to a different music and feels differently because I think and act to a different motivari”. Internet, satellite and global networking have drastically re-defined the contours of morality, and the public and the private. Because I feel for co-denizens of the world and share intimacies with them, I do not believe in anything like adultery. Love for me is not sheer monogamy. Surprisingly, polygamy or polyandry is seen as delinquent and as culpable as giving short shrift to ones partner, married or otherwise. Are we losing sense of perspective here? When we believe with blindfolded eyes that the traditionalists are right we refuse to give platform to the aberrant.
Maiming and killing by soldiers in war is socially glorified despite the bloodshed in its wake. We encourage the youth to join the armed forces and we expect complete unquestioning acquiescence in this belief. Trust the nation to discourage people who question the politics of patriotism – an unaccommodating stance that provokes global terrorism at its worst and social schizophrenia at its best. Classrooms cannot and should not encourage students to explicitly believe in the utterance or the text. It is imperative to question the logic that goes into the construction, to dismantle and to re-figure so that nuances which may have escaped the not-so discerning eye reveal the contradictory and the suppressed. It is extremely pertinent that across the globe teachers and intellectuals cajole the minds they mentor to break the seams of trust and come forth with a new idiom that will someday help ford rivers to a much-needed new ethos. We cannot now encourage the protégée to call a spade a spade. But then we cannot but ask them to accept the people who call a spade a spade and interrogate why it is so. Suspicion is a must and the byword to making this world a more all-encompassing global space for all.


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