Being Susegad at a Time of Coronavirus – I

The susegad attitude is unique to Goans. It is reflexive for us. We cannot fully theorize it. It is like a floating signifier. This is so because it makes our identity. Claude Lewi-Strauss , French anthropologist teaches that ‘identity is a sort of virtual home to which it is essential that we refer to explain certain things.’ Maybe we have to think of the susegad attitude not as a closed concept but as a gate that connects several concepts or ways of being. It is embodied in our ways of being Goans. It is our habitus and a performative predisposition that bestows on us a unique social competence. It is a grammar of life that animates our way of being Goans. It is inherently intuitive, emotive, creative and rational. It produces our belonging to Goa and Goans and guides our becoming Goans. This belonging and becoming process produces our ways of being Goans and singularizes us through identification and differentiation that marks us and our other. Susegad attitude produces our material, corporeal and lived experiences as Goans.

The disruption of our lives by the coronavirus is a time to fall back on our strengths. Armed with susegad attitude, we can tide this dark period and sail into a post-covid-19 society. The susegad attitude that we have embodied has worked for generations of Goans. It is a critical resource that we can rely on this time of crisis. The notion, Susegad like Goan-ness is more than the sum of its parts and emerges as a Goan goanizes which is complex as there is individual uniqueness that lives this susegad attitude. This means susegad attitude actualises as we belong to Goa and Goan-ness and become Goans. We as a people have our material and social life and being in the susegad attitude. This is why it is our best resource in this critical time. It will assist us to accept all developments around covid-19 with serenity and sustained anticipatory caution.

The susegad attitude animates our relation to time and space. The relation that it builds is one of anticipation that builds our performative predisposition. It is performative because it lives into all our belonging to and becoming. The Susegad attitude is intimate to being Goans . As there is no Goan-ness without Goans , there is no Goan-ness without a susegad attitude. All habits of anticipation are instinctive and reflexive in humans. They are learnt and embodied over the passage of time and are handed on from one generation to another generation. Being reflexive, they are spontaneous and impulsive. Susegad attitude is our energy field that shapes our dynamic goanizing. It is also our embodied shock absorber as well as revitalizer that will animate our ways of being Goans particularly when we face acute distress. Covid-19 is a rupture in our society and we can face it with the serenity and tranquillity of our susegad attitude.

The moment of rupture that we are facing is attempting to sallow us along with our economy and several other things. Life cannot be the same for us. Everything appears to be falling apart. Our positions, our possessions are becoming irrelevant in this moment of darkness. But there is light in our susegad attitude. It has embodied wisdom. It has a kind of learnt cunningness that animates our anticipatory performative predisposition. It does have a subversive edge to it. We need to sharpen this subversive side to resist the destructive covid-19 . We need the resourceful susegad attitude to wage our battle against Covid-19 that is not just attacking our biology or corporeality but also the materiality (economics) and sociality of our life. We cannot allow this devastation of our integrity and dignity. Susegad attitude alongside medical interventions, hygiene and social distancing is absolutely necessary to win this earth-shattering War.

Susegad attitude has a logic of life. It operates reflexively. It is not monochromatic and di-polar in character. It is open and multipolar. It lives life to the maximum. It offers several options of being and belonging. It is not a zero point epistemology but opens what I have called zero thinking. Zero point epistemology is a term coined by Colombian Philosopher, Santiago Castro Gomez. He uses the nullifying power of zero to describe how the euro-centric knowledge-power apparatus is invisibilizing, marginalizing non-Western ways of knowing. Zero has this nullifying and amplifying power. Zero thinking that I have tried to associate with the susegad attitude is not using the nullifying the power of zero. It is certainly relying on the amplifying power of zero. This amplifying power of zero will be our great resource against the nullifying power of Covid-19. Our susegad attitude is not a fantasy that waits for a lucky day to come so that we will be saved from the destructive covid-19. It is a field of energy that sustains our goanizing and enables us to stand up against the rising tide of Covid-19.

Susegad attitude is embodied in our practices. It has built self-policing and distancing from the rawness of life. It is not an escapist running away attitude but one that engages with reality by marking one’s distance. It is a way of standing above the drama of life. It gives a holistic point of view. It is, of course, not God’s point of view. There are obvious limitations to any human ability. To put it in medical terms, our susegad attitude is like the antibodies that are embodied in our Goan-ness. We need to strengthen these fighters or habits of susegad attitude to fight the social viruses and other social pathogens. Today doctors in India are talking about plasma therapy which revitalizes and animates antibodies in the patients suffering the infection of covid-19. In this hour of great human distress, we in Goa have to revitalise our susegad attitude and employ its critical embodied wisdom of self –policing that will assist us to practice social distancing, observe hand and face hygiene to avoid the infection and if infected, the serenity of the susegad attitude will power our fight alongside medical intervention. The amplifying power of zero thinking that opens the playground of life has to be harnessed to envision our post-Covid-19 Goa. Susegad attitude being an anticipatory performative disposition can amplify this thinking of a safe and a happy tomorrow.

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GREETINGS

Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao