Imaging Goa – III

We are experiencing simultaneity in a profoundly intense manner today. Indeed we are technologically enabled to live together now more than ever before. We share self-produced video clips and images loading the mobile phones all the time. We can access television on demand on our phone and live stream our indulgences into ‘life’ constantly. We have entered a new regime of visualality that enables us to live the traces of our selves through the new technology of communication. But it has also rendered us vulnerable to surveillance and data mining tycoons who observe our communication practices to create consumer profiles and control and police us. Jean Baudrillard has already revealed that we have fallen into the trap of play of proliferating images that has collapsed reality into its simulations. We are not just watching, we are also being watched and we cannot watch at a critical distance but are intimately involved in the act of watching . It satisfies our voyeuristic desire to see. In the world that drives our voyeuristic desire, everything has to be imaged and become visible. It has triggered an exhibitionist desire to show and be seen and we have migrated seamlessly into a selfie world. It has also produced a desire to have one’s presence and power affirmed by hits of likes that one gets online. Yes! We have entered a new era of narcissism. This new visual regime does not just produce sites of discipline (Foucault) and control (Deleuze) but also can become sites of creativity and agency.

While Goa has been simulated to feed the insatiable thirst of tourists and pockets of the tourism industry, it is important to understand how this regime of visuality works as a disciplinary apparatus to control our agency and kill our resistance to our museumization and commoditization of our culture. While in some contexts showing and being seen is unpleasant, offensive and humiliating, we in Goa have been numbed to it and may even greet it as mere playfulness or even see it as pleasurable experiences. The visual assemblages that are created to market Goa as well as the visual content created by the tourists themselves have immense power and it sells Goa and Goan-ness to the voyeuristic desire of the tourists. But there is surplus power in the digital world and we can tap its political potential. The Arab spring and to occupy movements in the United States produced resisting multitudes through the communicating technologies that enabled the proliferation of images, posters, signs and viral videos. Narrative bits of information that are circulated in these new communication technologies are called visual narbs. Narbs are narrative bits of identity. It is in these narbs that we can trace Goa, Goan-ness and the museumized Goans. By observing the proliferating narbs and contesting or deconstructing them, we might be enabled to creatively assert our resistance to the culture of simulation into which real Goa and Goan-ness is lost today.

It is paradoxical that the regime of visuality has brought us back into a culture of orality. We can see that there are numerous individuals who produce their visual blogs where they continuously speak their mind. These oral discourses are also dialogical platforms where others can also converse. While we resist the excesses of simulations of Goa and Goan-ness, we can certainly make use of these platforms of oral dialogue. It can become an effective platform to register our protests. Today we can already find that there are several individuals who are using this resource for their love of Goa. This means within the play of the new regime of visuality, we can trace a liminal space. If the Narbs and other digital content on and about Goa produces the gaze of the tourists, we can also work to produce a counter-gaze that brings about authentic community driven tourism where Goans are no longer museumized but become active hosts hosting the tourists that become guests. This would need reimagining of tourism and re-imaging of Goa and Goa-ness to the tourists. Although the social networking sites are referred to as universities of disaster as they dislocate us from the real world, there are those who use these very technologies to wage a war on fake news as well as news black outs of important events. Hence, reimaging Goa and Goan-ness can become an important mission to bring real Goa back into the experience of visitors. This mission may not be fully possible in the new visual regime that we are thrown into. But it is not also impossible particularly through the use of oral modes of communications available to us. This second coming of orality can become a great vehicle of communication that can circulate authentic distribution of information and lead us to save real Goa, Goan-ness. This may enable us to share real Goa with the tourists and save them from having a manufactured ghostly experience in Goa. To succeed in this mission, we will have to follow strict ethics of communication and contest everyone who produces simulations of Goa only to promote profits.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao