Is The Narrative Relevant Anymore?

The open society for the privileged in India has been restored. And so, the prodigal returns.

This break has been about an attempt to explore the relationships between some concepts and ideas that have been thrown about during our film appreciation class. This post will therefore be a narration of those chaotic sessions & the questions they threw up.

So, what is apathy? Are we apathetic for the same reasons we are superficial & stereo-type driven? Are we apathetic about something which does not affect us, because we are bound in by our senses? Or is that simply an excuse? An excuse or a ‘dwelling’? Was Asimov right to say telepathy would drive us all insane?

So, if it is the superficial stereo-type which keeps the narrative and reality sane & ‘livable’, where does my beloved Modernism fit in? If the experiential is unimportant & narratives are simply a collection of collective wisdom & history, then the ‘I’, in society ceases to matter. The ‘She’ dictates perception and reality. Then, is psychoanalysis really a banalisation of humanity & experience? Does it not then become a fitting tribute to modern reductionism? Does the sub-text have a role anymore?

There is no escaping the stereo-type. There is no total freedom or liberation. Everything is relative. What, then is the relation between the stereo-type & the cliché. Is it deeper than we at first realize?

So then Amis’ War Against the Cliché become the War Against the Stereo-type & the Social Narrative? Does post-modernism, in its attempt at collages & sketches, represent the true psycho-analytical movement. And in my labeling & defining of all these concepts and questions how bound am I to stereo-types & generalizations?

Into which narrative does the tired, disillusioned upper-class Naxalite of today’s Bengal fit into?

The answers, to me, may lie in being simpler & less circular. It is a matter simply of how you perceive the Narrative. Are you a landscape artist or a macro photographer? Are you Joseph Conrad or Wodehouse?

Darfur is a reality. A nightmare of the most terrifying proportions. A nightmare which is a re-enacting of something that has been happening throughout History, with a nauseating frequency. But in this description, I have already banalised it by equating this genocide and madness with others in the past? Or am I mystifying it? Is the archetype working here or the stereo-type. Does it bring us images we associate with the utmost terror and into the “Heart of Darkness” or does it anaesthetize us by letting us believe that if we stem this another will arise in its place and that we must protect our own interests first for our experience is all that matters? Or better still, has mass culture and its commoditization of violence made us incapable of empathy & left only passive apathy in it’s place?

The history of an event is best told through individual memories of it. Like photographs of the same thing by different photographers.

News reporting has understood that a long time back. The tsunami & the Mumbai blasts were documented thus. But what about events whose immediacy cannot be ignored. What about galvanisation? The Narrative makes no sense to me if it cannot so much as alter our present actions. Or rather, in-action.

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