Thinking Excess With Goa

Thoughtlessness is occupying a privileged space in Goa. A wave of infantilism shapes daily life as several Goans gleefully embrace the role of unthinking children. A dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended on our society and we are facing a catastrophe of indifference and inattentiveness to the dying Goa and Goan-ness. Those that are alert and fighting have become the lone night watchman trying to protect Goa while the rest of us have chosen to go into deep slumber. Perhaps one reason why we choose such a passive option is because we find ourselves thrown into a condition of excess. Any excessive event resists rational comprehension. It cannot be rationally incorporated nor obliterated. This does not indicate that excess is unreasonable. We do need to embrace excessive modes of thought which exceed our dominant boundaries of thought in approaching excess. We have to step outside and face excess black and blue thus explode boundaries that limit and constrain our thought. All excesses have an outside or beyond dimension and often alienates those that are subjected to them. Excess has this immanent and out pouring or overflow dimension. Cartesian disincarnated Cogito or the transcendental ego of Kant cannot assimilate such excess. The encounter with excess is a real event that numbs our minds and leads us into what Deleuze and Gauttari call the societies of control. The condition of excess is a condition of overload and things become superfluous and lose their significance and we lose our equilibrium as we find ourselves in the delirium of excess. Excess thus renders us vulnerable and we can easily be controlled.

We have moved from a society of discipline to a society of control today. Michel Foucault has brilliantly analysed societies of disciples. Societies of disciples are societies of enclosed spaces where an individual never ceases to pass from one enclosed space to another having its own laws and regulations. Hence, the individual moves from the family, into the school, to the factory, to the army and to the hospital and sometimes to the prison. Each of these enclosed spaces have their rules that discipline the individual. We in Goa also had our own enclosed structures with disciplinary laws and practices. From a family to a ganvkaria/ village elders / dha vo bara zann and temple / Church, fields / workplace, hospital and sometimes prisons have all been our disciplining spaces . Our society policed and disciplined us through its institutions. The disciplining societies administered life. But today we are already shifted to societies that rule on death rather than life. We can already find this transition in our country where we have witnessed brazen killing of humans in the name of protection of the holy cow. Foucault had already foreseen this transition away from disciplining societies in his writings. Our families are imploding, schools are getting redundant, factories are merging into corporate systems, excessive violence is disturbing us. all this indicates that we have entered what Deleuze and Gauttari call societies of control. Hence, our attention to the study of excess and what it does to us is important. We can find numerous studies on scarcity and its impact on individuals and societies but studies on the impact of excess are rare.

In controlled societies individuals have become dividuals — existing in bits and pieces of divisions. Aadhar number has digitised us and is an extreme instance of dividualisation. Numbers allow or deny access and have become a banopticon or an all banning tool in the hands of the powerful. No one has to apply their minds. Machines do the job and humans become objectified in an ultra-real way. Our encounter with excessive excess has made us almost individualised. This dividualisation is not so extreme and digital as the case of aadhar number. But we cannot allow any shade of dividualisation to afflict us Goans. The reigning divisive politics is on the verge of dividualising us and we are losing our grip over Goa and Goan-ness in all its integrity. The issue is not about running away from excess. Excess is that which sustains life. There is always surplus solar energy given by the sun than that which is required to sustain life. There is always an abundance of water unless you play with nature’s generosity. This shows that excess is not harmful and we do not have to fear it. What we need is to respond to it critically and prophetically. Studies on the impacts of excess demonstrate that it weakens and even kills commitment. Several among these scholars teach that humans often rescale excess and cope with it. This strategy is close to what has been popularly said ‘take the best and forget the rest’. It is also close to serialism that takes things bit by bit. Some speak of the strategy of living one day at a time. We still need creative modes of dealing with excess. George Bataille challenges us to immerse ourselves into excess with another excessive flow which he calls useless expenditure . I have suggested that Christian love that gives without counting the cost is the best candidate which is both excessive and belongs to the economy of useless giving.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao