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Imaginary Maps - Mahasweta Devi
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Imaginary Maps - Mahasweta Devi
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From the Jacket

Redical Fictions

For Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, translating Mahaseta Devi , the Activist –novelist , has been part of what the consider a habit of mind-a vision of impossible justice through attention specificity that may draw a reader to marx, to Mahasweta and to Derrida, ‘three major points of interest in Spivak’s radical negotiations with literature and politics.

In the Hunt , Mary Oran, tribal daughter of a white planter, who ‘put Mary in her mother’s womb ‘ before leaving for Australia , comes to activate ritual into contemporary resistance ‘ as she kills her mainstream exploiter – cum- potential rapist as part of the jani parab , when every thirteenth year it is the turn of the women perform the spring festival of the hunt. In Douloti, one of mahasweta Devi’s most probing exposures of bond slavery in India , Douloti has to pay through life for a loan of three hundred rupees taken by her father , raising over forty thousands rupees for her master by the time of she dies at the age of twenty-seven – the human smile on the face of the unknown skeleton had the innocence of a field of grain shattered by years of prostitution and the diseases that they brings in their train. In Pterodayctyl, puran sahay, and pirtha, a destitute, confronts pterodactyl that appears to them as the discontented journalist bears witness to the encounter – till the prehistoric bird dies.

A long interview with the author and two texts by the translator herself offer invaluable insight into these three outstanding work of contemporary Indian fiction.

Translator’s Preface

I think Mahasweta devi not only for the interview also but also for she made many suggestions. noted omitted passages, corrected occasional mistranslation, and supplied names for government agencies. This is indeed an authorized translation. Any faults that remain are of courses mine.

I constraints on method

This book is going to be published in both India and the united states. As such it faces in two direction s, encounters two readership with a strong exchange in various enclaves. A translator and a commentator, I must imagine them a s I write Indeed , much of what I write will be produce the difference, yet once again. but the imaginary ‘in our title’ imaginary map s’ - pints at other kinds of division as well. ‘India’ is not an undivided perspective , much as both conservatives and radicals in the United states would strive to represent it as such. And the Division within the United states are there for deconstructive pedagogic use , although both politicians and ideologues on both sides in India would like to convince us otherwise. In what interest or interest does the necessity to keep up this game of difference – India is India’ and the US is the ‘US’, and the two are as different as can be –emerge, today? The stories translated in this collection can help us imagine that interest or those interests. I am convinced that the multiculturalists Us reader can at least be made to see this difference at work , and it is the expatriate critic who can make the effort . I also remain convinced that the urban radical academic Indian reader can be made to question his or her complicity with keeping the Us as demonized other while reaping or attempting to reap the benefits its ‘belittling be-friending’. but the Mahasweta must not be Commodified as a ‘nationalist cultural artifact’, only accessible to ‘Indians’, a seamless national identity after all, when her entire effort focuses on what has been left out of such a definition; for that feeds that transnational US multiculturalists hunger on earth right and ‘left’. Add to this the fact that cultural studies in the United states today is also fed by the migrant academic‘s desire to museumize a culture left behind , graining thus an alibi for the profound Eurocentrism of academic migrancy.

This myth of pure difference is the displacement of an old slogan, after all: ‘East is East…et cetera . Or is the ‘imaginary’ of new maps in the name of decolonization or the New world Order too crucial an enterprise for it to be exposed to serious intellectual investigation?

I want to the risky word’ deconstruction ‘again, to keep at the bay the easy rewards of inspirational prose. In the particular context that I have described generally above, where both the ‘Us’ and ‘India’ are interested in claiming, sometimes the places of the ‘same’(or self, or knower) and sometimes the ‘other’, it is the following deconstructive formula that I find myself acting out: The same, precisely, is difference ,,, as he displaced and equivocal passage of one different thing to another , from one term of an opposition [here ‘Indian’ and US’] to the other. Thus one could reconsider all the pairs of opposites .. on which our discourses lives [precisely to include the subaltern, here the Indian tribal] , not in order to see opposition [between ‘India and ‘Us’] be erased but to see what indicates that each of the terms must appear as the difference of the other , as the other different and deferred in the economy of the same…

In this traffic of same –and – othering, the groups that do receive some attention in the cultural sphere are the new immigrants (sometimes unjustifiably conflated with exiles, refugees, diasporics , and post-colonials in the former colonies), old minorities in the North , urban radicals sponsoring organized protects o the historical or contemporary ethnographic other in the south , and sometimes the indigenous organic intellectual of the South, this lat celebrated as the ‘subaltern’ in the North . In the Appendix to this Volume, I will try my best to show how the figures in Mhaasweta’s fiction do not belong to this catalogue .here let me say that no amount of raised consciousness field- wok can ever approach the painstaking labour to establish ethical singularity with the Subaltern.

‘Ethical singularity’ is neither ‘mass contact’, nor engagement with ‘the common sense of the people. We all know that when we engage profoundly with one person, the responses ability. We also know that in such engagements we want to reveal and reveal, conceal nothing. yet on both sides there is always a sense that something has not got across. This we call the ‘secret’, not something that one wants to conceal, but something that one wants to reveal. In this sense the effort of ‘ethical singularity’ may be called a ‘secret encounter. In this secret Please note I am not speaking of meeting in secret In this secret singularity, the object of ethical action is not an object of benevolence, for here responses flow from both sides. It is not identical with the frank and open exchange between radicals and the oppressed in times of crisis, or the intimacy that anthropologist often claim with their informant group s, although the importance of at least the former should not be minimized. This encounter can only happen when the respondents inhabit something like normality. Most Political movements fail in the long run because of the absence of this engagement. In fact, it is impossible for all leaders (subaltern or otherwise) to engage every subaltern in this way , especially across the gender divide. This is why ethics is the experience of the impossible. Please note that I am not saying that ethics of the impossible , but rather that ethics is the experience of the impossible. This understanding only sharpens the sense of the crucial and continuing need for collective political struggle . for a collective struggle supplemented by the impossibility of full ethical engagement - no t in the rationalist sense of ‘doing the right thing’, nut in this more familiar sense of the impossibility of Love’ in the one-on-one way for each human victory, but only victories that are also warnings.

The initial attempt in the Bandung conference (1955) to establish a third way - neither with the eastern nor within the western bloc- in the world system, in response to the seemingly new world order established after the second world war , was not accompanied by a commensurate intellectual effort. the only idioms deployed for the nurturing of this nascent third world in the cultural field belonged then to positions emerging from resistance within the supposedly ‘old’ world order – anti -imperialism and/or nationalism the idioms that are coming in to fill that space in this new world order, to ascertain, perhaps , that the cultural lobby be of no hep in producing g an appropriate subject, are: national origin, sub-nationalism, nationalism , cultural nativism, religion, and /or hybridism. I have written extensively about these problems elsewhere. In the appendix I will attempt to show how Mahasweta’s fiction resonates with possibility of constructing a new type of responsibility for the cultural worker in a world that is already under way.

It has always fascinated me that , although her witting and her activism reflect one another , they are precisely that - a folding back upon ‘ One another –re-flection in the root sense . The Appendix will therefore also concentrate upon the difference between the literary text and the textile of activism. Indeed, if one reads carefully, one may be seen as the other’s difference.

Contents

The Author in Conservation i
Translator's Preface xvii
The Hunt 1
Douloti the Bountiful 19
Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay and Pirtha 95
Appendix 199

 

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Imaginary Maps - Mahasweta Devi

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246
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From the Jacket

Redical Fictions

For Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, translating Mahaseta Devi , the Activist –novelist , has been part of what the consider a habit of mind-a vision of impossible justice through attention specificity that may draw a reader to marx, to Mahasweta and to Derrida, ‘three major points of interest in Spivak’s radical negotiations with literature and politics.

In the Hunt , Mary Oran, tribal daughter of a white planter, who ‘put Mary in her mother’s womb ‘ before leaving for Australia , comes to activate ritual into contemporary resistance ‘ as she kills her mainstream exploiter – cum- potential rapist as part of the jani parab , when every thirteenth year it is the turn of the women perform the spring festival of the hunt. In Douloti, one of mahasweta Devi’s most probing exposures of bond slavery in India , Douloti has to pay through life for a loan of three hundred rupees taken by her father , raising over forty thousands rupees for her master by the time of she dies at the age of twenty-seven – the human smile on the face of the unknown skeleton had the innocence of a field of grain shattered by years of prostitution and the diseases that they brings in their train. In Pterodayctyl, puran sahay, and pirtha, a destitute, confronts pterodactyl that appears to them as the discontented journalist bears witness to the encounter – till the prehistoric bird dies.

A long interview with the author and two texts by the translator herself offer invaluable insight into these three outstanding work of contemporary Indian fiction.

Translator’s Preface

I think Mahasweta devi not only for the interview also but also for she made many suggestions. noted omitted passages, corrected occasional mistranslation, and supplied names for government agencies. This is indeed an authorized translation. Any faults that remain are of courses mine.

I constraints on method

This book is going to be published in both India and the united states. As such it faces in two direction s, encounters two readership with a strong exchange in various enclaves. A translator and a commentator, I must imagine them a s I write Indeed , much of what I write will be produce the difference, yet once again. but the imaginary ‘in our title’ imaginary map s’ - pints at other kinds of division as well. ‘India’ is not an undivided perspective , much as both conservatives and radicals in the United states would strive to represent it as such. And the Division within the United states are there for deconstructive pedagogic use , although both politicians and ideologues on both sides in India would like to convince us otherwise. In what interest or interest does the necessity to keep up this game of difference – India is India’ and the US is the ‘US’, and the two are as different as can be –emerge, today? The stories translated in this collection can help us imagine that interest or those interests. I am convinced that the multiculturalists Us reader can at least be made to see this difference at work , and it is the expatriate critic who can make the effort . I also remain convinced that the urban radical academic Indian reader can be made to question his or her complicity with keeping the Us as demonized other while reaping or attempting to reap the benefits its ‘belittling be-friending’. but the Mahasweta must not be Commodified as a ‘nationalist cultural artifact’, only accessible to ‘Indians’, a seamless national identity after all, when her entire effort focuses on what has been left out of such a definition; for that feeds that transnational US multiculturalists hunger on earth right and ‘left’. Add to this the fact that cultural studies in the United states today is also fed by the migrant academic‘s desire to museumize a culture left behind , graining thus an alibi for the profound Eurocentrism of academic migrancy.

This myth of pure difference is the displacement of an old slogan, after all: ‘East is East…et cetera . Or is the ‘imaginary’ of new maps in the name of decolonization or the New world Order too crucial an enterprise for it to be exposed to serious intellectual investigation?

I want to the risky word’ deconstruction ‘again, to keep at the bay the easy rewards of inspirational prose. In the particular context that I have described generally above, where both the ‘Us’ and ‘India’ are interested in claiming, sometimes the places of the ‘same’(or self, or knower) and sometimes the ‘other’, it is the following deconstructive formula that I find myself acting out: The same, precisely, is difference ,,, as he displaced and equivocal passage of one different thing to another , from one term of an opposition [here ‘Indian’ and US’] to the other. Thus one could reconsider all the pairs of opposites .. on which our discourses lives [precisely to include the subaltern, here the Indian tribal] , not in order to see opposition [between ‘India and ‘Us’] be erased but to see what indicates that each of the terms must appear as the difference of the other , as the other different and deferred in the economy of the same…

In this traffic of same –and – othering, the groups that do receive some attention in the cultural sphere are the new immigrants (sometimes unjustifiably conflated with exiles, refugees, diasporics , and post-colonials in the former colonies), old minorities in the North , urban radicals sponsoring organized protects o the historical or contemporary ethnographic other in the south , and sometimes the indigenous organic intellectual of the South, this lat celebrated as the ‘subaltern’ in the North . In the Appendix to this Volume, I will try my best to show how the figures in Mhaasweta’s fiction do not belong to this catalogue .here let me say that no amount of raised consciousness field- wok can ever approach the painstaking labour to establish ethical singularity with the Subaltern.

‘Ethical singularity’ is neither ‘mass contact’, nor engagement with ‘the common sense of the people. We all know that when we engage profoundly with one person, the responses ability. We also know that in such engagements we want to reveal and reveal, conceal nothing. yet on both sides there is always a sense that something has not got across. This we call the ‘secret’, not something that one wants to conceal, but something that one wants to reveal. In this sense the effort of ‘ethical singularity’ may be called a ‘secret encounter. In this secret Please note I am not speaking of meeting in secret In this secret singularity, the object of ethical action is not an object of benevolence, for here responses flow from both sides. It is not identical with the frank and open exchange between radicals and the oppressed in times of crisis, or the intimacy that anthropologist often claim with their informant group s, although the importance of at least the former should not be minimized. This encounter can only happen when the respondents inhabit something like normality. Most Political movements fail in the long run because of the absence of this engagement. In fact, it is impossible for all leaders (subaltern or otherwise) to engage every subaltern in this way , especially across the gender divide. This is why ethics is the experience of the impossible. Please note that I am not saying that ethics of the impossible , but rather that ethics is the experience of the impossible. This understanding only sharpens the sense of the crucial and continuing need for collective political struggle . for a collective struggle supplemented by the impossibility of full ethical engagement - no t in the rationalist sense of ‘doing the right thing’, nut in this more familiar sense of the impossibility of Love’ in the one-on-one way for each human victory, but only victories that are also warnings.

The initial attempt in the Bandung conference (1955) to establish a third way - neither with the eastern nor within the western bloc- in the world system, in response to the seemingly new world order established after the second world war , was not accompanied by a commensurate intellectual effort. the only idioms deployed for the nurturing of this nascent third world in the cultural field belonged then to positions emerging from resistance within the supposedly ‘old’ world order – anti -imperialism and/or nationalism the idioms that are coming in to fill that space in this new world order, to ascertain, perhaps , that the cultural lobby be of no hep in producing g an appropriate subject, are: national origin, sub-nationalism, nationalism , cultural nativism, religion, and /or hybridism. I have written extensively about these problems elsewhere. In the appendix I will attempt to show how Mahasweta’s fiction resonates with possibility of constructing a new type of responsibility for the cultural worker in a world that is already under way.

It has always fascinated me that , although her witting and her activism reflect one another , they are precisely that - a folding back upon ‘ One another –re-flection in the root sense . The Appendix will therefore also concentrate upon the difference between the literary text and the textile of activism. Indeed, if one reads carefully, one may be seen as the other’s difference.

Contents

The Author in Conservation i
Translator's Preface xvii
The Hunt 1
Douloti the Bountiful 19
Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay and Pirtha 95
Appendix 199

 

Sample Pages







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