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Cinematic Sense of Place as a Window to Politics of Dominant Ideology, materialism and Morality in Tamil Cinema: A Case Study of the film Madras

Indu Lakshman1 & Kalyani  Suresh2

1Independent Researcher

2Department of Communication, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Ettimadai, Coimbatore, India. Email: suresh.kalyani@gmail.com

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.16

Received January 19, 2017; Revised April 6, 2017; Accepted April 10, 2017; Published May 7, 2017.

Abstract

In the theoretical conceptualization of contemporary space, cinema not only focuses on story telling but also provides a window to the cultural and traditional practices of the place and people. The armamentarium of the transitions of Tamil cinema after the 1970’s to date has shown an upward swing in the conscious use of sense of place as part of the visual narrative. This article studies the anatomy of place as portrayed in the Tamil film Madras (2014) against the backdrop of the reality and ethos of the slums of North Madras. The Wall – the main protagonist in the film and the power and value given to it, is the fulcrum on which the sense of place is established. This article takes the North Madras community’s sense of place as a window to the politics of dominant ideology and materialism infused with morality, as articulated in the film.

Keywords: sense of place, Madras, Tamil cinema, ideology, materialism, morality

Image of the Builder of Communism in the Soviet Posters

Artur Dydrov

South Ural State University, Russia. Email: dydrovaa@gmail.com

 Volume 8, Number 4, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n4.19

Received July 01, 2016; Revised December 09, 2016; Accepted December  21, 2016; Published January 14, 2017

Abstract

This paper focuses on the image of the Soviet people – builders of communism. The object of the study is a series of Soviet posters in different years. In this paper semiotic approach has been used to consider posters as signs. Each poster is a product of the ideology on a denotative and connotative level of the sign. For semiotics verbal messages, color, perspective, the value of the figures, postures, gestures and facial expressions are important. Poster is a complex of the two-roots system. It combines verbal and iconic messages. Images of the Soviet human were constructed from various combinations of the elements from these levels.

Keywords: Soviet poster, Soviet people, the Soviet Union, ideology, connotation, semiotics

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Science, Scientism and the Ideological Production of the Social Subject: Re-considering Interdisciplinarity

Subhro Saha

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, India

Volume VII, Number 3, 2015 I Download PDF Version

Abstract

The paper attempts to reach at an understanding of the concepts of ‘science’ and ‘scientism’ as constructed and ideological concepts and how they contribute in shaping our commonsensical understanding of the body in terms of its relation to social identity and role. While attempting to expose modern science as a “constructed” discipline and ideology operating in tandem with the dominant hegemonic structures, the paper also attempts to briefly throw light on the limits of the current trend of interdisciplinary approach(es) and the concepts of “agency” and “critique” as well. Using a post-structuralist approach the paper therefore attempts not only to open-up the closed structures of both “science” and “scientism” but also to reach at an understanding how it goes on to affect questions of representation, reality, social and the body itself.

Keywords: science, scientism, ideology, body, subject, representation, interdisciplinarity, intra-action, agency, critique.

Nationalism and the Rationalization of Violence in Joyce’s Ulysses, the “Cyclops” Episode

Camelia Raghinaru, Concordia University, Irvine

Abstract

In distancing himself from Western brutality in its religious and nationalistic forms, Joyce also registered his exasperation with Irish nationalism. Resentful nationalistic impotence structures the narrative core of the “Cyclops” episode in Joyce’s Ulysses. The impotence underlying the resentment stems from the inability to create an independent subject through any other terms than those of the master, given that postcolonial revivalist movements emulate the imperial subject. This essay dwells on the connection between impotent, resentful nationalism and its manifest violence. On one hand, I consider the stereotype of the “fighting Irish” as emblematic of instinctual, yet rationalized, violence. On the other hand, I emphasize the ultimate impotence of the realization of this instinct in its primitive, despotic form, as well as its sublimation in nationalist movements. The second essay from Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality provides the theoretical tool with which I examine the parallels between the emerging narratives of rationalization and nationalism. Assuming that nationalism sublimates instinctual aggression, it also succeeds in perpetuating its aim—that of exercising the primal aggression upon which it is premised. Moreover, assuming that nationalism purports to advance the aims of the social contract between community and individual—viz., protecting the individual from aggression—it fails by the very mechanism by which it is supposed to function.

[Key words: James Joyce, Ulysses, “Cyclops,” Irish nationalism, ideology, morality, coercion, cruelty, reason, violence, Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, resentment, rationalization, impotence, resistance, racial purity, modernity]

Biographical accounts records James Joyce’s concern with religion and politics as sources of violence in the West. In his review of H. Fielding-Hall’s The Soul of a People, titled “A Suave Philosophy” and published in the Daily Express on February 6, 1903, Joyce claims that the relationship between religion, politics and violence is indigenous to the West (Davison, 1996, p. 89):

Our civilization, bequeathed to us by fierce adventurers, eaters of meat and hunters, is so full of hurry and combat, so busy about many things which perhaps are of no importance, that it cannot but see something feeble in a civilization which smiles as it refuses to make the battlefield the test of excellence (Joyce quoted in Davison, 1996, p. 89).

In distancing himself from Western brutality in its religious and nationalistic forms, Joyce also registered his “apparent exasperation with nationalist laments, [stating] that he cannot understand ‘the purpose of bitter invective against the English despoiler, the disdain for the vast Anglo-Saxon civilisation, even though it is almost entirely a materialistic civilisation’” (Joyce quoted in Davison, 1996, p. 89). In a similar context, Joyce referred to Ireland as “a country destined by God to be the everlasting caricature of the serious world” and claimed “that it is rather naive to heap insults on England for her misdeeds in Ireland” (Joyce quoted in Nolan, 1995, p. 129). As Andrew Gibson (2006) documents,

Political schism and stagnation, decline and despair in the wake of Parnell, the rise of Irish cultural nationalism as exemplified in the Gaelic Revival, the cultural ‘last stand’ of the Anglo-Irish: these were the three most important features of the culture in which Joyce grew into adolescence. (p. 30-31)

Indirectly, Joyce seemed to indicate that the resentful side of nationalism stems from its impotence to measure up to its postcolonial ideal.

Resentful impotence structures the narrative core of the “Cyclops” episode in Joyce’s Ulysses. Diana Perez Garcia (2002) emphasizes the violence in the Citizen’s threat to anihilate Bloom in order to underscore the ultimate deflation and impotence of the speaker’s words. Overly inflated verbal violence is followed by the deflation resulting from its impossibility of ever being matched by the act itself. Edna Duffy (1994) has pointed out that postcolonial nationalistic violence reinvents the “primitive” and the “despotic” (p. 35) dimension of the previous colonial order while betraying, in the process, a “stifled ressentiment . . . in its attempt to delineate a folk tradition that will outdo the elite art of the colonist culture” (p. 101). The impotence underlying the resentment operates on several levels. First, it stems from the inability to create an independent subject through any other terms than those of the master, given that postcolonial revivalist movements “emulated imperial glorifications of the subject” (p. 101). Second, it lingers in the doubt that nationalism’s work in the colony can indeed successfully recapture the “romantic and atavistic view of Irish history” (Watson, 1987, p. 46). This atavism relies on its dark and violent cults of redeeming blood-sacrifices and the dynamic power of myth and legend to lift the patriotic heart into “that world of selfless passion in which heroic deeds are possible” (p. 45). Third, it questions whether the colonial administration can indeed “protect the natives from their own proclivity to violence” (Duffy, 1994, p. 35).

This essay dwells on the connection between impotent, resentful nationalism and its manifest violence. On one hand, I consider the stereotype of the “fighting Irish” (embodied in the “Cyclops” by the Citizen’s throwing the biscuit box at Jewish Bloom) as emblematic of instinctual, yet rationalized, violence —particularly as premised on the necessity for a “periodic blood-sacrifice to keep alive the National Spirit” (Watson, 1987, p. 46). On the other hand, I emphasize the ultimate impotence of the realization of this instinct in its primitive, despotic form, as well as its sublimation in nationalist movements. The second essay from Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality provides the theoretical tool with which I examine the parallels between the emerging narratives of rationalization and nationalism. I claim that the “Cyclops’s” failure as a nationalistic discourse is predicated upon its success in the same vein. Assuming that nationalism sublimates instinctual aggression, it also succeeds in perpetuating its aim—that of exercising the primal aggression upon which it is premised. On the other hand, assuming that nationalism purports to advance the aims of the social contract between community and individual—viz., protecting the individual from aggression—it fails by the very mechanism by which it is supposed to function. Duffy (1994) posits the failure as postcolonial interpellation of the subject. In her view, nationalism works in the colony to imaginatively reinvent the “primitive” or “despotic” modes of production that are            likely to have long been torn apart and marginalized by the colonial administration, but  merely to offer them as so much spectacle through which the masses can be interpellated            to the cause of the newly invented nation. (p. 35)

The spectacle of impotent violence is best showcased in the Citizen’s performative threat against Bloom. His recourse to open violence, following a series of verbal assaults and racial insinuations, conveys the colonial import of his violent nationalism. The double-jointed politics prevents the formation of a homogenous community integrating multiple postcolonial identities into a collective dynamic. It also insists on imagining an elusive and illusionary conformity, “supposedly generated as if by magic in the glorious moment of independence” (Duffy, 1994, p. 128).

The failure to integrate differences stems not only from an inability to comprehend the perverse inner-workings of nationalism in postcolonial cultures but also from an ostensible unwillingness to subvert these mechanisms. Nietzsche argues that modernity emerges from the sublimation of violence through reason and rationalization. Consequently, in its postcolonial form, the nationalism of the “Cyclops” (represented not only through the Citizen’s open recourse to aggression, but also through the nameless narrator’s hate-speech against Bloom and the many overt and covert hints of violence interspersed through the narrative) must perforce perpetuate its own existence out of a more primal claim than the national-identitarian one—that of the primeval instinct of cruelty founding the ab-original community:

“The Cyclopean giant who threatens the Dublin Ulysses is not something real in the situation of the country or its inhabitants: the danger comes from the swollen dreams and illusions which are the compensation for pointless and trivial lives, and from the giant hatreds and prejudices which originate in such dreams and give rise to blind nationalism, religious intolerance, anti-Semitism and all the other symptoms of spiritual poverty and frustration.” (Peake, 1977, p. 235)

In the second essay of On the Genealogy of Morality Nietzsche constructs a narrative of resentment in which cruelty (i.e., the practice of the prohibited) is rationalized as a social contract between the individual and the community. “Bad consciousness” initiates the development of reason and rationality as tools, masks, or excuses that veil the great historical performance of the instinct of aggression and cruelty (powerful drives recognized by Nietzsche and Freud) that, in their rationalized form, become fundamental to the development of modernity (and, I would argue, to that of modern nationalism). Rationalization develops as a sly move: that of indulging in cruelty, a violation of the moral code, while exercising the otherwise prohibited, yet subversively encouraged instinct. The master race, paradoxically, prohibits violence, while also prescribing it as a virtue. According to Nietzsche (1887/1989), the rationalization of cruelty precedes guilt and resentment because it is connected to the individual’s awareness of his cruelty as “proud consciousness” (p. 59)—a driving instinct synonymous with the life-force. The institutionalization of promise forms the basis of this contract, accomplished through the blood and gore, torture and penances accompanying the enforcement of the penal code…Access Full Text of the Article

Charles Dickens: a Reformist or a Compromiser

Abdollah Keshavarzi, Firoozabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Iran

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Abstract

Charles Dickens’s fame as a reformer of his society has been discussed by a lot of his critics. However, his novels and letters as well as his own words point out that he tries to strengthen the dominant ideologies of his age and to be in the mainstream of the ruling middle class. Through Althusser’s notion of Ideological State Apparatuses, this paper concludes that Dickens can be considered a compromiser and a real Subject of his society who transforms the individuals of his society to docile subjects. As such, he cannot be considered a reformer of his age.

“I was not certain where I belonged”: Integration and Alienation in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Avirup Ghosh, Bhairab Ganguly College, Kolkata

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 Abstract

The article will focus on the contrary impulses of alienation and integration in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist that the central character and narrator Changez goes through in America while working as an employee at Underwood Samson, a “valuation” firm and his subsequent return to his native Pakistan where he assumes what appears to be an ultra-nationalistic political stance. This is to argue that Changez’s desperate attempt at assuming this stance has its roots not only in the cultural alienation and racism that he is subjected to in America, especially in a post-9/11 America, but also in his futile effort to naturally integrate with a Pakistani way of life.  By uncovering certain ambiguities in Changez’s ideological rhetoric, the paper tries show how Changez’s critique of American corporate fundamentalism stems from his lack of a sense of belonging and from a feeling of problematized identity.

Ideological Mutations in the Drama of Bode Sowande

Ameh Dennis Akoh, Osun State University, Nigeria

 Abstract

The question of a convenient marriage of ideology and aesthetics in Nigerian drama has occupied the minds of critics for a long time – for some dramatists ideology has no place in their works and thus insist rather on social vision; however, while it is, again, long been established that there is no way of escape from ideology in our time, the concern then is on the ideological mutations in a dramatist and his work over time. This paper engages the works of one of Nigeria’s foremost playwrights, Bode Sowande. The paper discusses the different phases of the ideological mutations of the playwright from spiritual and revolutionary nationalism to what the drama is christened for specific purposes.1 The paper argues that the writer’s sensibilities are shaped by the changing fortunes of the society and the current aesthetic and philosophic tangentiality in the African dramatic and theatrical arts of English expression (Uji 44).

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