Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A HOMOSEXUAL READING OF THE IMAGINARY, THE SYMBOLIC AND THE REAL.

Lacan imbues these three overloaded terms with dense meanings. Let us first imaginatively try to use these three terms as a locus to place a homosexual's position and inhabitation of them. In the course of my reading i intend to collapse the distinctiveness of these terms. Interpellations of their intersections have ineluctably been postulated but my task is not deconstruction but reconstruction. The linguistic intractability of these referents is a psychoanalytic attempt to crystallize them intransigently. Feminist scholars and queer theory experts undermine such essentialist atomizations.

If a homosexual looks into the mirror, he is a disaggregated entity. As yet the fact of his sexual difference resides amidst the primordial, undifferentiated drives he has not yet verbalized or brought to bear on his consciousness. The disarticulation doesn't refute the legitimate presence of such desires but highlights their non transposition into the realm of the conscious. Kristeva would claim that such prediscursive desires preclude language and can only be retained either through recourse to a poetic language or as psychosis. Now, within the imaginary frame the mirror image is lodged as an ego ideal in the imaginary which contrasts inversely to the infant's awareness of his fragmented body.

The symbolic is a funneling of the imaginary, as the law of the father, into a legitimate, heterosexual paradigm. In a sense it is the actualization and materialization of the ego ideal which through internalizing the lost object of love (an object loss) through a process of melancholia makes it an (ego loss ). The punitive superego channels the energies of this lost love into a symbolic reaffirmation. And if this loss is a irrecoverable loss, a loss that has always already occurred then its irrecoverability of that lost jouissance would point out that original loss. Yet as theorists have promulgated, that original loss itself is constituted through language and therefore functions not as a lack or loss but as an exclusion through which heterosexual normativity defines itself.

I would like to use Zizek's notion of the real as unsymbolizable, as a originary lack through identities are contingently constructed. Intransigently congealed as the 'real' is as prediscursive its own constructedness is pointed out by Judith Butler. Moreover Lacan himself says that what cannot lodge in the symbolic is siphoned off to the real.

Interestingly enough the prediscursive incest taboo and the non thematizable real work interestingly together. If the imaginary is through reification metamorphosed into the symbolic and if the symbolic cordons off its boundaries through a displacement into the real then 'having the phallus' becomes questionable. If the real is a lack then the phallus is already foreclosed and its 'having' can only be asseverated through a process of denial and exclusivity. And since the gay man represents a equivocation of the lacanian premise by both 'having' and being the phallus then he cannot function as a lack. A lack implies an inexorable loss from which contingent identities proliferate but the lack is an exclusion through which a singular identity consolidates itself. The phallus symbolizes the penis and cannot be separated from it because it is irrevocably tied with it in a symbiotic relationship. But if the phallus is a signifier then the penis is a validation of the hegemonic possibility of it. Freud posited the ego as 'bodily ego'. My own reading is the delineation of the penis as a self amplifying strategy of the phallus whilst simultaneously separating itself from it. The assumption that certain body parts are signs of pleasure is a further autogenesis of this monochromatic idea.

The gay man as the 'other' displaces heterosexist presuppositions by challenging the univocity of its position. As an exclusion it constantly pokes the constructivity of an inviolable norm which is in itself a false consciousness. The imaginary and the real can be seen as sites of subversion simply through the process of naturalization implied in the former, which attests ironically to the apocryphal nature of the real as a universal lack. Both work through the symbolic. And it is in the dissolving of the three, their interpenetration, the fact of how one can be seen as undermining the hegemony of the other that possibilities of resignifying emerge.

Monday, May 21, 2012

FEMININE STEREOTYPE IN MADHUR BHANDARKAR'S 'FASHION'

Foucault points the constitutive and generative possibilities embedded within a discourse of power. A thesis and antithesis, a putative 'norm' and its negation aren't polar opposites but two sides of the same coin. And while a deprecatory reading of any form of feminist self assertion within the binary may be construed as a reaffirmation of patriarchy the subversive potentiality of counterhegemonic discourses should never be unacknowledged. And it is in these interstices between conformity and transgression, capitulation and rebellion, affirmation and subversion that Bhandarkar's cinema functions within.

The moment the opening credits of Fashion' begin a tableaux vivant of models, gay designers, make up artists and coordinators emerge. This effectively both creates and forecloses the spaces the movie  offers. In a way this preface is an anticipation of what is to come so that expectations are simultaneously aroused and defused. The distinction between signifier and signified collapses in this case because what is prefigured and what is eventually represented are mirror images of each other. The forms may differ, the contents may vary but the constitution, never.

Enters into this world ingenuous, ingenious Meghna Mathur, an aspiring model who dreams of making it big. The movie chronicles her initial struggle, her rise to fame, downfall and eventual re emergence. Against this is the backdrop of other character's, Rohit (supportive gay designer friend), Janet( caring friend ) , Rahul (Janet's husband who carries on an illicit though complicitous relationship with his boyfriend ), Abhijeet Sareen (the ruthless owner of panache), Shonali (the mentally disturbed supermodel).

As is evident these characters are both stereotypes and metonyms in that they validate the 'norm' while challenging its implicit assumptions subterraneously. Rahul's fear of society leads him to marry Janet and hide his homosexuality is a realistic portrait of what repression can induce. Rohit wears his sexuality on his sleeve and is implicitly feminine. Vinay khosla, another gay designer evinces feminine attributes too. Shonali snorts cocaine, is rude and arrogant, is spoilt by an industry which brings about her downfall. Meghna, the heroine, loses her boyfriend, goes through a breakdown due to her guilt for using drugs and sleeping with her boss. Her journey is certainly meant to be inspiring, her renaissance a form of victory and triumphant reemergence from the pyre of her own making. Yet how liberatory is her return? On the one hand she relinquishes the elastic ethics of the modelling world and becomes a good girl who through honesty negotiates this amoral world on her own terms. Yet these terms are another form of social construct that ratify her goodness in the eyes of the viewer. The modelling world is presented as a inviolable, self contained space and her peregrination of its quadrangles necessitates her submergence to its hedonism. Yet her return emphasizes and underscores her metamorphosis by which the 'outside moral' world navigates this industry. The values she equips herself with her another form of social capitulation because these are constituted as hortatory platitudes and axioms which reinforce a woman's need to maintain her purity. Meghna's sojourn is a reclaiming of this purity as though the lapse into abrogation and self alienation was a momentary suspension. That a part of her identity is irretrievably compromised and irreparably metamorphosed is stressed but through the viewers willing suspension of disbelief effectively erased.

The modelling world is a daguerrotype whose chiaroscuro obfuscates and conceals its dynamics.Its constituents are synecdochal and cathected.The stereotypes surrounding it are both constructed and created by it to present an image. This self mythologizing defuses the iconoclasm of its subversiveness because that subversion is conveniently co opted within the larger stereotyped frame.Verisimilitude becomes a simulacra, a catechresis even though this verisimilitude is a naturalized construct. Yet are the gays and queers who populate this world to be seen merely as passive subjects formed by a dominant superstructure? Are possibilities of resignification, reconceptualization to be overlooked. That the gays are part of a larger myth is palpable as is the fact of its presence in this industry as a necessary appurtenance. Yet their mere presence, within the stereotype reconstitutes their representation. The movie, under the guise of realism is one vast, undifferentiated singular mythification. And this mythification is striated with minor variations to dish up masala that would set the cash registers jingling. But its adherence to a commonly held vision invalidates its incendiarism. Studded with monochrome representations, stippled with anodyne cloying variations, streaked with the taint of the norm the movie is a supparating, gravid crepuscularity whose purported ushering of a new dawn is actually the misty swaddling of yet another gloaming.

Yet to go back to foucault any structure of power contains within it seeds of its own unmaking. Therefore 'fashion' occupies a dual temporality; that of validation and that of  interrogation of what masquerades as natural. The simultaneous positionings of these two possibilities demonstrates its constitutiveness and counter normative generativity . But the meanings we take back from it corresponds to our ability to question and change our conventionalized, normative presuppositions. What it yields to each determines its impact.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

A GAY DISCOURSE ON LOVE.

Predicate. I breathe through your pores and traverse your internal tracts. Like an iridescent filament i navigate you, pausing here and there, turning a thought, rolling it, savoring it, inhaling it. I am a locus where that which is seen and heard and that which is unacknowledged intersect. Gravid with longings unmet, of desires unsatiated, of love unexperienced i inhabit a subfusc hinterland where desire and its facsimile are tangibly unfathomable. You are insubstantial, since indeterminate and your equivocation underlies your durability. When i experience vertiginous chasms opening beneath me as fear rolls over me, a prickle of primordial terror stipples my being with daubs of shame and self loathing.. You are the conduit i funnel through to arrive at the nebulous sense of myself. I am irradiated by your luminosity and under its unwavering flame i tread on a path of self awareness, consecrating our love, imbuing it with brushstrokes of moments of passion.

Oh the crenellations of your body, each crevice, each pore is studded with special significance. Each aperture opens into unknown vistas. Your fleshly integument sheathes your being, a being you became. It is to that essence that i seek a cleaving into. When our lips are twinned our indivisible sense of ourselves interpenetrate. Your mouth is an unceasing fount of compassion i seek again and again, my senses inflamed, my points of desire engorged. The panoply of love is contained in your lips which are mirrors to your innermost core. The serrated edges of your teeth graze and pierce my corporeality and etch themselves in spiralline hieroglyphics across my body. Your fragrant breath is suffused with pellucid intimations of intoxicating pleasures. As i peregrinate your curvilinearity , each aspect of your landscape is indelibly imprinted in my consciousness. You emit incandescence wherein every baroque fantasy i nurture is streaked with the afterglow of legitimacy. Your body is a palimpsest where i rewrite the forms our love takes;its conditions never. And the oleaginously enticing repletion you expend is like ambrosia to me. Its alternating sweetness and tartness are like a sacrament i consume, consolidating the love i feel for you.

You and i we come into existence through negation. The negation without and within solder together to constitute a positive affirmation. We've travelled numerous labyrinths of simultaneous contraction and spilling out and eked out a mode of being. We've created yourself afresh each moment. In that crepuscular moment when my benumbed consciousness saw itself reflected in the mirror of the world i abrogated myself. I allied myself to the image i wanted to be. Yet what i wanted to be and what i was were irreconciliably  fragmented. By turning away from the mirror and by turning inward the gaze of immanence i reconstituted myself anew. It was not the worldly terms but the fetters we imposed on ourselves that constrained us. And today, being with you, a cavalcade of visceral sensations permeates me with fusillades of self containment. I am the votive offering i hold up to you. In giving of myself i find myself. You make me find me.