… ‘It is thus imperative … to maintain the ambivalence of their terms … ‘
… The question of revolutionary identity — as distinct from ‘identifying with the revolution’ — is necessarily a question of political choice. But it is not a choice of this or that alternative within a ‘given’ framework: the more ‘given’ the political framework, indeed, the more it accepts the basic premises of the system it is supposed to oppose. It is a question of challenging the very terms in which reality is conventionally portrayed (including all the radical gestures the conventions usually include); the choice is of the extent to which we wish to open the debate, the extent to which we demand change.
[line break added] In the absence of such an effort which would interrogate the viewer/filmmaker, the terms of mediation, as much as the reality itself, what usually happens is that the artists/activists take upon themselves the entire moral burden of articulating exploitation and of doing something about it. … It is inevitably so trapped within the economic realities shaping it that every act it performs becomes self-annihilating …
… ‘Opposed to this creative urge towards a transformed future is the stabilizing force of an immutable present, overlaid, as this present is, by stagnating slime which stifles life in its tight, hard mould …’ [Jakobson on Mayakovsky]
… ‘It is as if the logic of systems constructed by us leave us all the time in partial realizations that militate against each other. Each art and each tradition of the art, linking itself to history and to nature, tries in despair to break itself down to re-integrate the whole of existence’ (Kumar Shahani). It is when the moral burden takes its toll, including its stagnant languages of an ‘immutable present’ and the heroic acts that sacrifice themselves to this stagnation, that a revolutionary ethics will re-place us once again in the world.
… I know of no place in the world today where anyone can claim a ‘direct,’ unmediated relationship with ‘the people.’ … [W]e have to fight just to hold our own in the face of a mass-cultural onslaught that respects nothing, weighing everything from soap to revolution as merely items of marketable merchandise.
… How is one to ‘displace’ the determining effects of textural procedures?
… Even as the film [Jukti Takko Ar Gappo (1974)] liberates us from the drift into an instantly ‘enfolding’ moralist identification, Ghatak liberates ‘reality’ from its reductive captivations (e.g. ‘miserabilism,’ ‘Third Worldism,’ etc.) and restores to it the confusions, knowledges and experiences of the one who encounters it.
As Kumar Shahani has written: ‘To apply a reductionist approach to myths, and to saturate their meanings, as is done more often in analysis than in practice, is again to find in them a concreteness that can only become exploitative. It is thus imperative both to maintain the ambivalence of their terms, their poetry, and to place them alongside history, fact and facts, their relationship, the epic. Not the concrete. But its immanence.’
My most recent previous post from this book is here.