The Seeable and Hearable

With Modi at the helm, we seem to have opened a new hermeneutical circle to the understanding and the working of Hindutva in our country. Perhaps, we have to spend time doing a critical analysis of what is behind Hindutva. Maybe we have the challenge to see what is in front of Hindutva and not what is behind it . What is in front is opium that is massifiying our society. We can that notice that people have come to love its intoxication. Therefore, looking at what is in front of Hindutva is an invitation to look at what Hindutva is doing in our society.

Writer Nalin Mehta’s new book, the New BJP is point toward the metamorphosis of the BJP under the leadership of Modi. Today we are not just seeing a new BJP, we are seeing a new Hindutva. Certainly, Hindutva is allied to state power today. The war for pure Hindutva that we are witnessing in the Shiv Sena is anything but an indication of this fact. This does not mean that Hindutva has no power outside state power. It only points to the emergence of new Hindutva that is marching triumphantly on the wings of political power. To make sense of these new developments, We have to move away from our attachment to wordaholism in order to fully appreciate the new Hindutva at work in our society. Wordaholism describes our obsession with words. Word or logos is mainly Western in character. We are not fully removed from the wordaholic attachments, since we are also indebted to Om, the eternal sound in our country.

Maybe we have the challenge to step out of the phonocentric/ wordaholic ways of thinking and enter Apurusha forms of writing. This means we have the challenge to treat everything as writing. The mean verbal writing is only one form of writing. There are pictographs, heliographs, videographs, audiographs and so on. This way of seeing everything as writing may open us ways to understand how the new Hindutva is writing with the ink of violence. It has certainly introduced a new hermeneutics of violence and we have come to accept violence against the minorities as normal, natural and even moral.

Although we have the challenge to shun aside our wordaholism to come to terms with changing nature of Hindutva, we have to still remain chained to our ocularcentrsim or visualcentrism. New Hindutva seems to be primarily feeding our eyes. Violence is mainly ocularcentic. It chiefly feeds our eyes. Hindutva violence too feeds our eyes. Even the noisy primetime debates on our television have to be first seen in order to be heard. They have become spectacles that keep the divisive flame burning every night on television. We somewhat see these fights not so much hear them and understand their meaning. This is in line with the tans-cognitive features of our society.

We can see how our festivals are noisy. Sound, processions and ritual assemblies build the atmosphere. This building of the atmosphere may use music, rituals, symbols and even words but we are a culture that is beyond wordaholism. We want to see the words, not hear them to make sense of them. Maybe this comes from the belief that revelation is that which is heard (Shruti) by the seers, the Rishis. This seems to indicate that one has to see or be a seer to hear. Hence, we may have to agree that we are a culture that primarily needs to see, to hear or understand.

Hindutva has begun to feed into these ocular-centric inclinations of our society. It is drawing our eyes in powerful and forceful ways today. Perhaps violence has become a powerful spectacle that is able to catch our eyes. Hindutva is writing with the ink of violence. We primarily see to hear its message. In the digital audio-video culture of communications, we have become new seers who have to see in order to hear. Maybe we have to pay attention to Jean Francois Lyotard who taught us how the seeable and sayable work in tandem in our reading or writing (Discourse). This means the figural has taken hold of us without needing us to get out of this Maya. We do not need to come to reality or the state of affairs because the sayable has become the seeable or figural with the advent of the smartphone and social media. This is why the post-truth culture grows since we no longer feel the need to get out of the screen of the phone and check our facts with the touchstone of reality or the state of affairs.

We in India are slightly differently figural. Due to our belief that Vedas are Apurusha, most likely we can notice that the seeable works in tandem with the hearable. That which is heard is an ultimate revelation to our civilizational ethos and therefore, we are a culture where our figurable enables the hearable. Hindutva seems to have touched this wavelength in our country. This is why the seeable often exists in the spectacular demonstrations, violent vandalism, and noisy debates in our country. We primary need to see to hear and understand. The ocular-centrism operates differently in our country. The hearable has to be visible. Once we decipher how the figural works in our country, we will be enabled to understand and resist the new face of Hindutva. Psychoanalysis teaches us that the seeable also rules our desire. Our desire is scopic and wishes to see. Hence, the drive to see, hear and understand feeds our desire. Therefore, may it is important to undertint how the seeable, hearable and desire work in our society. if we see how desire works and is being used by powers that be to divide us and gain power over us and our economic, and cultural resources, we may be enabled to find effective ways and means to resist and generate emancipative ways to respond to violence in our society.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao