Jan 14 2017, TISS, Mumbai: In the annual event of School of Media and Culture Studies, Frames of Reference, Gopla Guru as a keynote speaker talked on Compression of Time and Space in the condition of Globalization. The theme of this year of the event was Neoliberalising Cultures: Media. Markets. Meanings.
What is liberal and what is neo-liberal? Liberalism projects some kind of commitment to expansive meaning of concepts like equality, freedom, rights and justice. There is some kind of seemlessness in terms of concepts becoming available across time and spaces. But in neo-liberalism opposite is the case. For example, the sectoral understanding of equality. Market based understanding of equality is the only understanding in neo-liberal logic. You can’t demand equality on all the spaces. Equality based on competence and market. Compression is internal to the logic of neo-liberalism.
What happens to our thinking? Compression in neoliberal logic. One of my friend say ‘Our thinking has become so short, like two minutes maggie noodle.’ Our thinking has become quick. Like fast food. Humanities, social sciences, philosophy are finding it difficult to cope up with this . As we all know logic in social sciences is based on longer statement. Philosophical pause.You can see on television Do people really stop, think and speak? They only speak with speed. Speed of words and language is the only performative on the television. Is it good or bad? Two minutes noodle thinking! To me it is bad. So, in thinking you have compression, longer statements are condensed into Bytes and punchline. Reflective thinking is replaced by unreflective things around you. Reflective thinking is necessarily linked with your longer statement.
What we have on television is polemics, not debate. In Polemics, you have factual evidence provided. And since realities are enforced in different ways. you get newer and newer evidence. And you keep providing evidence on television. Therefore, any political party is not short of evidence. After a while, it becomes so disgusting, don’t give me evidence. There is no logic, no structural argument. It is only debate that involved is logic. But debate has no future on television. That is my experience. So what you find is Polemics and no debate. Debates don’t need to produce conclusive argument. Polemics is Tu Tu mein mein. Why Tu Tu Mein Mein? Tu Tu Mein Mein is the result of your incapacity to take truth seriously and elaborate meaning that flows from the truth. Why Polemics find salience in the public discourse through television because we are not committed to take truth seriously. We are not interested in finding out truth.
Truth of Demonetisation for example. The truth is not in what will happen in future hypothetically. I am not fascinated by the hypothetical truth that will happen in future. I am more worried about the truth i.e in the consequences of the action. Since, I am not interested in Consequential truth, I find easy to entertain Polemics not Debate.
In polemics on television, what is important is speed. They are not allowed to take pause. The people are trained by political party to speak in speed. The political economy of television or electronic media does not allow this kind of luxurious pause. In Polemics, what is at play, what is performative is emotions, the body language rather than life of mind. It is only in reason and debate. The compression of intellectual capability replaces reflective thinking, because you don’t feel bored because you enjoy. It annihilates the condition of reflectively thinking. If you really want to think, what is pre-condition is to feel bore basically. Boring, provides epistemic condition to think. To feel bored or not is the question. And if you want to feel bore, you should keep away from attractive proposals like television, cell phones. One kind of compression that we are facing.
We have the culture with which you celebrate the punchline, and punchline becomes an anthem. But that punchline delivers another invisible punchline to your moral personality. Punchline becomes more dominating. That is the danger we face in the age of globalisation and neo liberalism.
Two specific points, compression and photosynthesis. These are related to both conceptual and physical space. What has happened to our thinking. Through your logic of polemics, you are not treating , you are not assigning full robust substantive treatment to social realities, that is seeking your serious attention. Yo deal with the reality only to take out the essence by touching it. You touch the reality and the essence is evaporated. It becomes vacuous and empty of essence.
Which movie is like which touches the reality and its essence is gone? I will give two painful example, Fandry and Sairat. In Fandry, you have very thick description of caste. It is avoiding direct description of caste. You are actually hiding behind all the thing. Your emotion are at play but reason takes a back seat. This reality is becoming thin, even in fandry. Therefore, the thin is only the emotional and from thick to thin. This thin is not even there in Sairat. It completely goes out. Reality is there on first page and the moment you turn the page, it goes out. You are screening out the reality, of caste. This compression is so painful that you are emptying out the reality that is called caste.
I am not suggesting the movies are medim through which you can depict reality in its totality, it is impossible, but you can take some queue from movie, and others form of representation and try to expand your reality. Movies gives you leads to open up your own closed book. Why does it do it is the question? I am not going into the intention? He does it. He does it beautifully. First movie has form, and the second does not. Only that is the difference.
The cognitive space does not get expanded because of the logic of the movie. You can go into logic of the movie, the technical dimension. But the reality becomes vulnerable to all your considerations of profit.
Compression of time in thinking and action particularly in protest form that we witnessed today. Why for the effectiveness of your thinking and idea, what your require is simply not this conceptual and mental space. You require physical space too. You require waste. You require slums in Mumbai. You want the grotesque. It is only through the grotesque spaces you find complete full authentic articulation of that particular reality. Reality articulates through spaces. You require spaces that are not shrinking, which are always expanding. You take over these spaces and hold onto those spaces.
Spaces occupied by workers, dalit panthers in 1978, 79. All the street of Delhi were filled by Dalit panthers, three four lakhs of them. And the home minister did not knew them then. And for the first time through this mammoth dense protest, you could send some serious signal to the state called India.
When spaces get decimated to Azad Maidan, Jantar Mantar, you get ghettoised. It happens because of electronic media.You don’t require the occupation of larger spaces. Only small spaces will do. Then the logic will expand into big one. But you have to do it at the time of spectacle. You have to hold on to space only at spectacle. Without spectacle it is not attractive. Spectacle has to be dramatic.
What impact does it has to the state? How much impact you are achieving on State which is recalcitrant and not sorry for its mistake. How much media is responsible for it and how much is your will? I am not saying media is responsible but your own will is. What is at play? Through spectacles what is at play? What responses you invoke are the respond? Politically correct! Being politically correct and politically conscious. You can become politically conscious, You require media to invoke emotions. You are so insensitive. Emotions and media are not the final vocabulary. May be initial. When there is compression in electronic media, you rush to reality. You are not satisfied. You have no time to think.
If you are really interested in understanding historical question of injustice such as gender injustice, untouchability and racial segregation, you must reach to the reality. Reaching is much more salient, substantive mode. John Rawls took twenty years to write a book ‘theory of justice. You cannot allow electronic media to think for you. This materiality is more important. This reaching and rushing is reflective your mindset. You are not stable. You don’t take a pause. You are always rushing. You create the fear, insecurity and uncertainity at the first instance, neo-liberalism will definetly do that and then offer you the solution.
Lets think that we bring human being into the centre of communication and interaction. Lets have face to face rather than facebook. Face to face is important.