Being Susegad at a Time of Coronavirus – III

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At a time of great uncertainty , we Goans will do well by unearthing the critical power of our susegad attitude. It being a performative anticipatory predisposition is reflexive but not mindless. It has the mind of its own and is associated with what I called zero thinking. It is a transcendental form of living that immerses into the immanence of life through distantiation. One can see that it is beautifully inscribed in our theatre form that we have come to call tiatr . The tiatr keeps the audience away from fully immersing into the plot by interrupting the plot with songs/ cantara that have no direct relation with the plot. As we like to say tiartr is a mirror of our society. It truly reflects our susegad attitude. We do not plunge blindly into the drama of life. It is a laid back attitude that marks the distance from the hustle and bustle of life and yet we do not become distant to life. We mark our distance without being distant.

Another way of understanding our susegad attitude is the image of living on the borders. This imagination can reveal that one can stay open to several boundaries and teaches us that one can be at home in all types of situations. Maybe this is why our susegad attitude becomes a great resource that we can count on at these uncertain times. We may associate it with emerging genetic information. Women have more survival changes under the infection of covid-19. It is thought that women have double XX chromosomes that power their immune system. Using the term meme coined by Richard Dawkins to understand social reproduction of cultural forms which he called the science of memetics, we may think that susegad attitude is our memetic advantage at times of crisis like the one we find ourselves in today.

We enjoy a memetic advantage because our thinking and living are linked to what may be called border thinking. Border thinking developed in Latin America. Maybe because of our colonial links with the lusophone , we may have this affiliation. Border thinking was first initiated by Gloria Anzaldua in her book, Borderlands/ La Frontera : the New Mestiza and subsequently developed by decolonial thinkers like Walter Mignolo from Argentina. Border thinking things from the other side of the border. It is marked by exteriority and privileges marginality as a locus of thought. This means it thinks from the outside and views both inside and outside. All borders are defined by epistemic distance. The cultural, political, religious, and historical differences also have an epistemic distance. This is why border thinking developed chiefly as political epistemology that contested the privileged locus of the euro-centric knowledge and power apparatus of the West. Although, the susegad attitude borders on a form of border thinking, it is not a political epistemology. It is pragmatic ethics and metaphysics.

There is a subversive dimension to the susegad attitude that needs to be developed so that Goa can become a locus that could contest the knowledge imperialism of Global North. It is a long-cherished dream which had been articulated at the international conference organized by Goa University to celebrate the fifty years of Goa’s liberation. The colonial difference that is rooted in our Goan experience has created Goa as the other India for most Indians who throng to our beaches, hotels, and casinos to practice a transgressive excess that they cannot live elsewhere in India. Thus, Goa is a borderland whose cultural otherness provides a space and time for other Indians to live out of their skins on a holiday. Maybe this is why Goa gets a lot of Indian tourists throughout the year. Goa thus naturally produces border thinking in other Indians although it stays in an escapist mode. But it does portray the importance of the other, the difference for any sameness to exist for those tourists who just come and have a good time.

The pluriversality of border thinking is an important resource that one may see as linked to the shape it took in Goa. The susegad attitude allows us to live in an in-between zone without fully committing to rigidly singularized and closed forms of life. It is a kind of transgressive border living. The Susegad attitude teaches us to transgress monolithic forms of life and stay open to the pluriversal. Thus, it lets us open ourselves to other possibilities of being in the world. Such a view of life stays open to the unpredictable and becomes a very powerful cultural resource to deal with an evolving and constantly changing situation. This is why the susegad attitude is a cultural capital that we have as we fight the uncertain condition brought in by coronavirus.

This way of living through distanciation is living from the ‘outside of the inside’. It is a multi-topical hermeneutics. It stays on the horizon of different topos as well as chronos . It enables us to configure our chronotope (time and space) and live our life. Each of us has different chronotopes that we construct to live with the help of our susegad attitude. This is why we have different ways of being Goan and goanizings. Thus, Goa is a space of excess that offers a surplus time that we call a holiday. Excess is profoundly embedded in our culture. It enables us to live in-between and choose the options that are available to live our life to the maximum. This is why we may have to say that we do not really have a universe but a pluriverse of meaning that animates our ways of being Goans.

We need this praxis that is orientating from the critical dimension of susegad attitude at this time of great human distress. Along with medical science, the practice of discipline of hygiene and social distance , it can become our power differential. Science has discovered that women have biological power differential when it comes to survival chances with regard to the infection of Covid-19. We Goans have cultural capital that can assist us to fight the lethal virus actively with a cool mind. Susegad attitude is a reflexive praxis. What we have done is theorised it so that the subversive side of the susegad attitude along with its sense of tranquillity becomes our armoury to fight the battle against the corona-virus. Being a reflexive praxis that I have called our performative predisposition, this subversive side and a sense of calmness and equanimity is embedded in our goan-ness . What we need is to let this cultural resource be our shield as we fight covid-19.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao