Goans and the Project of Self Production – I

Goan society is a productive society. We can notice a tremendous self production taken up by our people. The project of self production has led several Goans to the path of out immigration down the ages while others chose to stay back at home. There is an immanent in any project of self production. It is tempting to assimilate this immanentism into categories of identity, essence, substance and interiority and charge those migrating Goans as a de-goanised lot. But such a charge might be unjust. Today it is an ethical imperative for us to think about the question of self production in terms of exteriority, finite exist-ence , ec-stasis and exposure. These modes of thinking might open us to issues linked to displacements and deterritorialization without which self production of several Goans away from Goa may not be adequately understood. This thinking through modes of exteriority is vital as it can show how tolalized Goa, Goan-ness and Goans thought through modes of interiority can become a hiding place for bigots and hate mongers or even those who may use Goa and Goan-ness and Goans as raw material to create wealth for themselves. Thinking from interiority views self as being constructed by subtraction of the Other. Hence, other or the exterior is viewed as a contamination. This view is very much inter-woven to casteist purity/ pollution principle. This is why thinking Goa, Goan-ness and Goans through the horizon of exteriority is profoundly emancipative.

The work of French thinkers like Emannuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot who suggests that self production is a response to a call that comes from the other shore that is outside oneself is significant in this regard . Self production is a response to an encounter with the Other. It is this encounter with the other or the outside that becomes the basis of recognition. All self-recognition is grounded in the recognition of the other. This recognition is not free from being humiliated by others. Caste and hindutva nationalism has humiliation written all over it for the low castes and the minorities. This recognition through humiliation triggers self production in several ways in the victims. Hence, it is important to study the relation of the self and its other minutely. The other operates as an immanent field force that refuses to be erased from the horizon of being. It is in the dialogical relation with the exterior that the notions of Goa, Goan-ness, Goans evolve continuously. This relation with the other is asymmetrical and is heteroformic rather than heteronormal. The other provides the form for the Goan-ness to shape but the matter is Goan which then moulds itself in the form the other presents. Maybe Aristotle’s notions like matter and form or the Purusha Prakruti dualism of Sankya system from the classical Indian Philosophy provide us models/ forms to understand the evolution of Goa, Goan-ness and Goans that is triggered from outside. Mimesis being foundational to our being and becoming the role of the other is constitutive and cannot be dismissed. Hence, we cannot think Goa, Goan-ness and Goans by absenting or even demonizing the other.

There is always the haunting presence of the other. The other is not a norm but triggers forms and models for our goanisations. These forms of Goanisation are multiple and influence different Goans differently . Thinking Goan-ness through modes of interiority, thinks others through the privileged sameness of one’s caste, narrations, religion, myths, worldview or ideology. Thinking through the exterior modes of thinking accepts that the other cannot be totalised by the categories of sameness. Such a thought is allied to the notion of master Signifier of Jacques Lacan that I had referred elsewhere. Goan-ness being the master signifier draws its content or connotation from outside itself. Hence we have to consider the role of the intriguing presence of the other in the horizon. All self production is modelled by the forms from the mirror of the other. Self is formed in the image of the other , the first other being the mOther. Hence, we cannot think of the production of the self within the strict binary either/or logic . Neither other cannot be sublated by the logic of Hegel nor be thought as a hell like Jean Paul Satre. Unfortunately, thinking from the privileged location of interiority provides us ways of demonising the other. These attempts to police the other can be seen in the manner in which we taboo self production through out-migration in Goa today. We can also notice it in the way hindutva forces construct politics of loyalty and betrayal in our country. Interior modes of thought deny simultaneity to otherness of the other in its positive form. Otherness can survive simultaneously to the self only as blot or stain and is assimilated as an evil or imperfection from the interior mode of thinking . Hence, we have an ethical demand on us to think of self and its other and consequently Goa, Goan-ness and Goans terms of privileged locus of exteriority.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao