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Pakistani Art has a global appeal now

Some paintings sold this year at the Bonhams auction in Dubai.

Tassuduque Sohail (Pakistan, b. 1930) A prince entertaining a large company in a pavilion

Tassuduque Sohail (1930) A prince entertaining a large company in a pavilion Continue reading

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The Last Encounter: Subverting the discourse of exclusion – part 1

by  Shaheryar Ali

The problem in front of the great Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in the fascist prison was the “problem of sustenance of capitalism” in Europe despite its great logical contradiction. Why the Revolution was not coming when all the conditions were right? In his famous “prison notebooks”, he takes the question into the realm of ideology. This was the start of analysis of “ways of thinking”. He gave the concept of “cultural Hegemony”. Capitalism Gramsci suggested, maintained control not just through violence and political and economic coercion , but also ideologically , through a “hegemonic culture” in which the values of the bourgeoisie became the ‘common sense‘ values of all. Thus a consensus culture developed in which people in the Working-class identified their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie, and helped to maintain the status quo rather than revolting.

He also made a distinction between the “Political society” (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent. Its this “civil society” whose “thoughts” are being “controlled” to suit the masters [If only Pakistanis understood]. In order to understand these thing the “discourse analysis” was developed. “Discourse” is nothing but all “written and verbal communication”. In line of Gramsci and later Foucault we have to understand “discourse” as “institutionalized” way of thinking, or in words of Judith Butler “limits of acceptable” speech. Its these limits which must be subverted in order to reach a true libertarian discourse. The discourse is controlled by means of “exclusion”, no other opinion simply exists. Foucault writes:

“I am supposing that is every society the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality. In a society such as our own we all know the rules of exclusion. The most obvious and familiar of these concerns what is prohibited

Of the three great systems of exclusion governing discourse — prohibited words, the division of madness and the will to truth ———“

“I believe we must resolve ourselves to accept three decisions which our current thinking rather tends to resist, and which belong to the three groups of function I have just mentioned: to question our will to truth; to restore to discourse its character as an event; to abolish the sovereignty of the signifier…. One can straight away distinguish some of the methodological demands they imply. A principle of reversal, first of all…. Next, then, the principle of discontinuity ….”

I am planning to do all this , i am trying to bring forward the “prohibited voices”, those which have been totally eclipsed in the society by the dominant discourse. This is not “endorsing” one and rejecting “others”, rather, its simply a act of breathing , an act of subversion ,of saying what is not pleasant to hear, Its simply an act of living in the rotten stagnant conformity. “The Bengali Genocide” is one such “absent voice” in Pakistan. We only hear “India -America-Jews divided Pakistan”, the act of liberation and resistance against one of the most brutal fascist militarism is “dismissed” as “sakoot”. The Last encounter is a short story by Kazi Fazalur Rehman , its taken from the anthology of stories from 71 by the name of “Fault lines”

The Last Encounter

By Kazi Fazlur Rahman Continue reading

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