Sunday, February 14, 2010

Honoring "B"

A friend of mine- I will be very happy to mention his name but for some reason refrain from doing so - sent me photocopies of a huge four volume collection on Nationalism, published by I.B. Tauris, London, New York. This is a publishing house which has the distinction of publishing the debut novels of  Derrida, Foucault, Aristotle, Tom Hanks and even Kurt Goedel.
It was very nice of him in many ways. Photocopying was not on unbookly A4 size spreads. In a4 size, even Terry Eagleton reads like Raymond Williams. In other words, any author in A4 size becomes unreadable. If you are an academician, therefore do not know about these matters, imagine your partner in double her present size.
They were bound in the size and shape of a book, exactly like the originals except in color and font size. It must have cost him a fortune and he said he was unhappy only with the huge postal charges. It is again, as justified as finding your partner's cloths more offensive than he himself.
However, it was not the collection I asked him to send. I had in mind John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith's(Editors) Nationalism in five volumes published by Routledge.
This generous gentleman, who sacrificed his weekly-off to go to somewhere 35 km away from his place and went through the pain of issuing a book from the university he was no longer a student of, and then took the trouble of finding the best xerox and binding service in Hyderabad and then underwent the not so entertaining experience of standing in the queue at the post office to parcel them, surely deserves a public acknowledgement of my sympathetic concern about his masochism..
As many of you know very well, though I am a bloody bastard but not an ungrateful kind. I forwarded the announcement of the book- the one I wanted, not the one he divinely sent- to this generous gentleman as a token of my indebtedness.
I shall refer to my philanthropic friend as 'B,' for no particular reason than to derive from its diminutive quality and the lovely immunity from libel. I may mention that he is a journalist. It is only those who are jealous of our friendship (or a 'nexus' in Sundar kaka's immortal words) might suspect that I am scandalizing B. Their jealousy is based on the mistaken belief that journalists are more known for things they don't write than the academicians for the things they write. I take such feeling no more seriously than I would of those fans of Madhuri Dixit who consider her a great singer for her song 'ek do teen'.
I also know that Cultural Studies morons will see only a potential rift between me and B in the reference to Raymond Williams which they find designed to humiliate the possessor of the greatest number of Williams' books among the journalists I know of.
For those Cultural Studies critics my answer is just noting that 'perceptions differ.' B is surely mature enough to see that, when it comes to readability, the gangs known for an inability to read are the least reliable guides.
Moreover, I consider Raymond Williams's 'Key Words' is eminently readable. In fact, you can even say that it is the best book among its kind. I don't know of any any other etymological dictionary whose entries are so easy to complete. Size matters in such matters.
Here, I refuse to offer my comments on the vexed debate among the Marxists as to which of William's work, his fiction or theory, is more boring. I attribute this unfair debate partly to Terry Eagleton's malicious influence. Eagleton on his own read Williams, his teacher and later a colleague, and still entertains grudge against him as if his still remembered pain of having read William's work was not self-inflicted. These Marxists are like the Hindus, for whom everything has to be higher or lower to every other thing.
Or, these groups have read only either his fiction or theory and assumed that the master's other genres can't beat the one they read. I am mentioning these things not to dishonor the first great Marxist theorist from the working class, but to highlight the B' scholarship. When B was a research student, he refused to read either fiction or theory of Raymond Williams. As a journalist, he tasted both of them without partiality and found both were equally boring.  Not many journalists are so exhaustive and impartial.


  1. SO C do you have an issue with B sending you the copy of raymond williams or your issue is that he sent raymond williams and not the book on Nationalism that you wanted. DO you have an issue with marxists who like Raymond Williams or do you have a problem with marxists. Please explain in your next post.


  2. Well, firstly congratulations on finding something best to do: noticing my screams for attention. I have an issue with B and it was far less in intensity than what I have with you. Mr. B did not send any of Raymond Williams's work. Mr. B considers the set of RW's books a piece family property and indeed he was right. It is an underrecorded and unknown story how B terrified his brother-in-law, who was kind enough to buy the full-set of Raymond Williams hunting the antique bookstores of London located in obscure corners of the city because he was pretty impressed with the mild-mannered and extremely polite B.
    The Generous gentle man brother-in-law of B- this particular catagory of relations is known anything except this as you should know- before he would send the books, the fancy to read up some pages from this neverheard of author. It was when he got a shock of his life. He was a software engineer and he did not know what a risk he was taking. For example, it disturbed his scientific sensibilities to imagine how 'the structures of feeling' Williams talks about look like.
    But this was not the end of the story. Our B, whose politeness is as genuine as the his stories published in a distinguished daily, made it a point that he would frequently break into bouts of uncontrollable laughter reading Raymond Williams when his London-based brother-in-law visited B's family. If B could so play havoc with the peace of mind of that kind Brother-in-law who laboriously collected those out of print books for B, why not me doing something mild if he maliciously sends a five volume collection of articles on Nationalism which I did not want to read?
    Well, I am sure you will have something nasty to say about this response: for example, asking me to read your comment again. You can be nastier than that actually. You can even demand such things as correspondence between the question and answer.

  3. Dishonouring someone was never done in such a honourable manner. B would never have even anticipated in his wildest telanganaesque (Yes, B is a coastal fellow but such things keep happening to him) dreams that just by accompanying C in his night escapades and chasing chai-shops in an around the semi-arid and yet (deservingly or undeservingly) expensive lands of Ranga Reddy district that his sheer stupidity would be projected in such a brilliant prose.
    No one can dare to call the prose and write it off as verbose because it is `nuanced’ in such a manner that only the writer (god) and the stupid B (possessor and at the most a consumer on some occasions) can decipher it in entirety.
    But I would like to comment or augment the very same insights of Mr C on Marxists. Most of the Marxists have a tendency of being secret admirers of post-modern eclectics. Even as they project themselves that they are reading `dry’ Marxists commentaries and writings and keep talking about them in open, the unquestionable source of pleasure or the scholastic libido is achieved only in post-modern school of writings. Mr C is one such case in point. He has reached a stage, where the fact that distinction of honouring/dishonouring has collapsed so naturally in his little piece written to elaborate on the idiosyncratic stupidity of a journalist of course with a small j.
    Remembering Derrida’s work and his impact on Marxists was never a great occasion. Some ar$$HOGes, Derek Attridge and Thomas Baldwin, (I just googled and found out that both are academics), in their obit piece about Derrida published in Guardian said: ``Derrida's name has probably been mentioned more frequently in books, journals, lectures, and common-room conversations during the last 30 years than that of any other living thinker.’’ Alas, such a sad way of describing a genius and a single person, who could terrorise even the terrorisers (certainly not terrorists, read them as Marxists).
    Why mentioning Derrida in a perniciously and yet humorously written blog exposing the stupidity of (again) a journalist with a small j? Mr C, one of the few practicing Marxists, (Need I mention that it is the case till he bit the dust by donning a desk role J?), himself has digested the art of deconstruction and is even rendering it in writing -- a form of cultural production.
    For obvious reasons, it need not be mentioned that this particular Marxist (Mr C) is certainly not at all like a `Hindu’ either in the religious sense or in the professional sense. Like a true blue Marxist he believes in the concept of inequality and hierarchy, which one should not have a problem. But it is his secret affair with Postmodern literature that B has a problem.
    B hates writing first hand accounts, which is a sort of professional hazard that has happened to him.