Setting the course for a new art magazine
Let’s begin with Spinoza’s contemplative question: what is the body capable of? If psychoanalysis regards the body as ‘a development union or aggregate of partial objects, organs, orifices, each with their own significance, their own modalities of pleasure which, through the process of Oedipal reorganization, bring these partial objects and erotogenic bodily zones into alignment in the service of a higher goal than their immediate, local gratification,’1 how far can we travel from the word reproduction, one that stands for openings, opportunities and most of all continuity. And the corollary helps to escape erasure, omission and at times annihilation.
Reproduction is what primarily transfers the body from the confederation of the asexual heaps of tissues and tendrils to a higher plain, and instate it onto a plateau where its essence and imaginaries proliferate as cosmic affiliates of the corporeal construction.
The artists’ adventure into the known and unknown -- the numinous experiences and its effect defined as the ‘deep intrinsic connection to the world’ (according to Mahayana Buddhism)– make, remake and at times even unmake the individuals or social agents involved. The outcome lends the word reproduction a whole new aura and meaning. And as for art, it is productivity from the very core of the body/consciousness, subject/object and particular/universal congress.
The repetition and rhythm, the drive and development that are invoked through what one may call the essence-deriving activities (defined by biological and/or artistic productivity) of the human body, rip open a virgin area hidden underneath the reality lived. It brings forth things that are maybe recognized as reality conceived. Art is about conceiving from within the societal as well as natural/spiritual environment, as is the sum total of the individual consciousness.
The terrain excavated and essence recognized, as a whole, holds for us the promise of the ever-evolving significations and values. By way of imparting meaning from the creative outpourings issued from the body/soul axis, we set ourselves on a journey towards perpetuity (at least in the philosophical sense) with strong civilizational implications.
More often than not, this vertically and horizontally expanding universe that is built around lived experiences and creativity seems to elude the dominant discourses of this region. Hence, the need for a third plateau where the mind will have a field-day measuring the cellular structures of creativity and mapping the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of the aesthetico-political realities which are constantly being defined through the art/society or art-space/space-beyond matrix.
Tropes are not easily toppled, but when they are, someone should be there to take notice, not only for the sake of record keeping, but also to become an important component of that changing tide. Thus, departing from established markers is what Depart should stand for. We are aware that in the dynamics of continuity hermeneutics has a decisive role to play.
Categories of cohesion that form the world of narratives also bring into being the ideas of nationhood as well as personhood. False knowledge, through which the ideologies are framed and interiorized, through which identity and the relationship with its Other is affected, is perpetuated by memories (of the educated class). Let us call it history, though it is manifested and disseminated in utterly untrustworthy forms. Parts of this fluid, moving entity are factually incorrect but are strongly believed and regularly appotheosized in the public debates and discourses.
The crucial trait of a nation is the anonymity of membership, as Ernest Renan declares– about which all shreds of doubts evaporate when the state emerges as the uncontained canon of control. Within the continuum of power and people where narratives are shaped and reshaped, and even made defunct, art shows the audacity to open up the doorways– the exit routes– from this horrid enclosure of a birthing site of false narratives and pseudo-regeneration by challenging its central topics of identities– nationhood, personhood etc.
By reverting back to the particular– the person and his/her body and its attendant social/spiritual realities – true art keeps rediscovering the original site from where all energies including artistic ones emanate. And this very process is never a result of an individual’s solitary journey, but an outcome of a social nomadism where the matrix of relations as well as power is constantly being reexamined and redefined.
To escape, or to stand against the usual design of what makes up the ‘Canons of Control and Subordination’ is not enough. We may employ eternal subjectivity, multiplicity, or may even veer towards relationality and intertexuality, which too may be futile if the political machines that are employed to reign in the natural/historical ebb and flow of both procreation and creation are not recognized in their actual form– in the entirety of their inner workings that is.
At Depart, this gargantuan task of discovery and detection will show us the way. We will be able to redefine the roadmap constantly weighing out what is effective and what is futile. These infectious probes and politics must concern Depart.
Entrenched in (prime)time and (pop)memory there are also those perversions, ones that need to be confronted with an equal measure of attention. Divinization of art is one such deformity. That it serves to severe the rational tie between text (in all forms and implications) and the body, is only a chapter in the book of an altogether different form of production– fabrication.
All worldly politics, including theo-politics, are often geo-politics and also existential politics, of which we need to be aware. It can be safely deduced that today both geological and theological terrains are up for grab. The transgressors are always at the ready to scramble for more space.
The thirst for cavernous seats and the scrambling for them need to be understood, and to initiate that we must posit questions to challenge the aggression and defuse misgovernance following occupancy.
Returning to the third plateau, or the alter-space: to revive Matthew Arnold’s famous argument ‘for the logical priority of criticism over poetry, claiming that poetry can only thrive when it has at its disposal the “materials” of literary creation, the high-quality “ideas” which it is the province of criticism to furnish.’ The issue here is not whether we give into it, rather it is about getting to realize the intertexual nature of all textual trajectories that appeals to the senses as well as to the cognitive portion of the brain.
Theories are usually embedded in praxis; the two are actually locked in a circular relationship. Depart, through its survey of the maelstrom called reality, is set, at least, to pick up some of the nuggets– indicators that is, and lay them out for all to see.
‘Sreestee korley shoreek achhe’ The process of creation is not without collaborators. – Lalon Fakir
The world is an ‘intersubjective space,’ to borrow Hannah Arendt’s formulation. What we know to be “reality”, depends on ‘the presence of others who have seen and heard and will remember.’ The questions that may surge to the fore: are we prepared to become one of them? Also, can there be a narrative brought to light which would be the preserve of this lot.
Every single body is destined to be in proximity with other bodies. It may sound like a sensualist’s dictum, but divested of the concept of the Other, the self remains undefined and uninformed, and unformed as well.
Body too is a text, as are all forms of art. Disinvested of fantasy, the body as a form of narrative reveals its true colour to investigations and probes. The idea of narrative is a fundamental way of organizing experience as well as cognitive understating.
In Vygotskian literature, the phrase ‘semiotic mediation’ is used rather than symbolic mediation.2 Depart’s true calling would be to navigate through the world of semiosis, and also to, perhaps, dispel the fog that diminish our sense vis-à-vis art, narrative and every other form of semiosis, and to help to inaugurate close and contexual reading.
As Blake once clarified ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.’
Long before Blake, Buddha showed the world how to go about it– to cast a disinterested, though never depoliticized, gaze on the world. Taking our cue from the wisest of the wise, we would like to determine our posture and find our pathways.
In the province of textual politics, Depart would like to have a multiple personality– an ambition we intend to pursue by casting an ever-widening net to showcase a variety and range of subjects and perspectives.
Although the space between Depart's two covers wouldn't be the widest horizon one could possibly imagine, but we would be determined to maintain this topography as a location where all things significant could commingle. Depart, in line with the Bodelairian concept, will be partial, passionate and political in choosing and prioritizing the issues that will emerge on its site, to the advantage of a growing, changing ecosystem.
- Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism, Indiana University Press, 1994
- Nancy Nager, Edna Kaufman Shapiro, Revisiting a Progressive Pedagogy: The Developmental-interaction Approach, State University of New York Press, 2000