Sunday, 4 March 2012
Re-Markings: Down Memory Lane - March 2003
In the complex equation of power relations the factor which seems to have remained constant is man’s inhumanity to man. The ever onward march of human civilization has revealed, among other things, man’s ingenuity to invent a dependable database to justify and account for oppression and exploitation in various forms. The narratives of empowerment emanating from the corridors of power have constantly provided the much needed rationale to keep the ‘wretched of the earth’ in their designated places. The vast proliferation of knowledge in every sphere has strongly fore-grounded ideologies to support the ones at the apex of the superstructure of power, be they gods or mortals. Scriptures too have been found very handy in justifying what man has made of man.
In this grim scenario the only redeeming feature seems to lie in the hope generated by the flux of counter-narratives provided, from time to time, by the ‘hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration’ -- the writers, poets and intellectuals. These narratives, emanating from the fertile soil of human compassion, sing in profuse strains of deeply meditated verse songs not only of distress but also of man’s capacity to survive with courage and dignity in a hostile world. The latter part of the twentieth century has especially shown how passivity towards the fate of the downtrodden is no longer a matter of intellectual luxury.
The ongoing debate concerning the variables in the power equation has necessitated a virtual remaking of history where Caliban is no longer content with merely abusing Prospero in the language he has appropriated from the latter but shows instead the insidious intent of appropriating his place and position in the hierarchy of power. Likewise, Sisyphus is no longer a hapless victim of the wrath of the gods but a veritable epitome of steadfast determination endowed with the ability to confront his fate with the gleaming smile of scorn. The euphemisms of the Orwellian doublespeak are no more the exclusive prerogative of the oppressor. The conflict between ‘freedom’ and ‘fear’ awaits new visions and revisions from contending camps.
What is so very heartening about the emergence of such narratives is the role they have assumed in promoting a profound understanding of the age in which we live. And it is equally satisfying to view with humility the small but decisive imprints Re-Markings has made in offering its enthusiastic readers a wide spectrum of divergent ideas from the viewpoint of multicultural perspectives.
The current issue of Re-Markings marks the first anniversary of its birth. Committed to issue-specific analysis and treatment of a wide range of narratives and counter-narratives which transcend the barriers and boundaries of time, clime and space, the journal has become a receptacle for the ‘thinking man’ in a relatively short span of time. Thanks to its avid readers and contributors, this journal has found effective sustenance in what it has to offer. While unqualified appreciation and praise from host of statesmen, academics, writersand intellectuals like His Excellency Dr. A.P.J. Abul Kalam, Charles Richard Johnson, Jayanta Mahapatra and others from different parts of the globe offer exhilaration and encouragement, the advice and guidance of critics will continue to play a seminal role in making Re-Markings move closer to the essential concerns of the human predicament. Light can only show reality. I am optimistic that Re-Markings will take you along the unlighted road to the yet unrealised.
Nibir K. Ghosh