[ The humanitiesunderground book is about to appear soon. Within a month’s time perhaps. We thank every single well wisher and reader. Below, a reproduction of the acknowledgment page.]
all my students— past, present and future
Gone are the days of deft touch. And hauteur. People are jogging playing eating dancing writing making friends in order to win. But humanities is not about winning. It is a different trip. Only those who have experienced loss and defeat again and again in life have the right to read poetry or epic. One has to earn this right. But we are rejecting this suicidal, cosmic urge. We are separating literature from life or considering art as a pleasing form of exercise leading to inspired creativity. Our best minds are keeping the forgotten and the defeated out of their circles.
Something singular is happening around us in India. May be around the world. Our natural inclination for the angular and the passionate, the irreverent and the metaphorical, the despairing and the restless is brimming but we hardly see these moods expressed—in print or on the internet, as graffiti or in popular iconography! We have made sure our humanities departments remain professional coops, at best procedural debating societies. Quite naturally, our sense of the pointedly political, our sensuous immersion in beings and bodies around us and our rasa-bodha–aesthetic sensibility—are unable to cohere and conjoin.
Or so it seems.
For, in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, Ashok Pande is silently laying out and scattering the spirit of humanities through his blog Kabaadkhaana. He has scant interest in being topical. His world is quaint and quirky and through an expansive vision he is richly measuring our time. In Darjeeling, West Bengal Sumanta Mukhopadhyay conceives our terrifying and confident new India as a myth, endlessly repeated as history. But innovate he must, instead of looking inward. Thus begins his cycle of poems. At Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, coffee houses are abuzz and still frequented by the editor and writer Gyanranjan and his committed band every single day so that they can chalk and plan life and literature; this, a few hours away from Bhopal where the aesthetic war has long been raging with the power brokers of Bharat Bhavan. The battle lines will be far tougher in the days to come. In Patna, Bihar, Krishna Kalpit is aphoristically and cosmologically capturing our times along with two of his intimate friends—Parth and Sartre! At Dungarpur, Rajasthan, Himanshu Pandya is teaching, writing, organizing and directing us towards the sharpest of writings coming out of the smallest of places from the whole of North India. Come every Sunday, Upal Deb, from Guwahati, Assam is expanding our lust for life by gifting us a new set of poems on the internet, chosen meticulously from a dazzling spectrum of poets from all around the world. He is grounded and astutely political.
Friends are reading humanitiesunderground. Friends are contributing. New friends are joining in. Salaam to Manash Bhattacharjee, Trina Nileena Banerjee and Richa Burman for fostering a sense of demanding ease and occasional splashes of laidback drizzle in this parched world of insecurity and one-upmanship.
Moinak Biswas reserves and retains faith in our collective ‘party office’ and Soumyabrata Choudhury continues to push the boundaries of intellect and performance. In unknown, inexplicable ways, both of them, their ways of looking into art and politics and styling of the persona have shaped humanitiesunderground. Salut.
Varuni Bhatia, Sharmadip Basu, Arundhati Ghosh, Srirupa Prasad, Niharika Banerjea, Bhaswati Ghosh, Aryak Guha, Mrinalini Chakravorty, Santanu Das, Subha Mukherjee, Joad Raymond, Geeta Patel, Anil Menon, Samantak Das, T.P. Sabitha, Saurabh Dube, Nauman Naqvi, Amitranjan Basu, Indranil Chakraborty, Shrimoy Roy Chowdhury, Prashant Keshavmurthy, Gautam Basu Thakur, Ravindran Sriramchandran, Oishik Sircar, Amrit Gangar, Parimal Bhattacharya, Amrita Dhar, Phalguni Ghosh, Sumana Roy, Ananya Mukherjee, Ananya Dutta Gupta, Rana Roychowdhury, Paulomi Chakraborty, Kamalika Mukherjee, Shubhasree Bhattacharya and Pavel Chakraborty—I thank all of you for supporting and espousing humanitiesunderground from afar.
Amlan Dasgupta, Michael Levenson, Jairus Banaji, Rimli Bhattacharya, Ajay Skaria, Tista Bagchi, Sunalini Kumar, G. Arunima, Rahul Govind, Rina Ramdev, Akhil Katyal, Anchita Ghatak, Saroj Giri, Sanghamitra Misra, Franson Manjali, Puttezhath Sunil Menon, Moushumi Bhowmik, Aditya Nigam, Avik Bannerjee, Arundhati Chakrabarti, Maya Joshi and Sunit Singh for interventions, suggestions and encouragement at regular intervals.
Piyali and Saurav Chakravarty your animated disposition in every activity drives me and you are present in every single atom of my life. I am forever grateful to Bhargavi & Srinjoy Mukherjee—for those fabulous weekends in Bangalore and endless sessions of adda that would take away the drudgery of closed, tedious academic routine.
The wanderlust spirit of Tautik Das, Rohini Datta and Anirban Dutta amazes me to no end. They remain an absolute inspiration to any work that may foster questioning.
Moutusi Maity and G.S. Chakravarty I cannot thank enough for their relentless argumentative spirit that daily makes me aware of other, significantly differing viewpoints and for entrusting faith in the underlying principles that shapes humanitiesunderground as an intellectual endeavor. And most of all: for putting up with my rant and habits, every single day.
I am obliged to thank Ernesto Laclau and Jim Holstun—dazzling minds both. And whose divergent political ways and my proximity to both revealed to me how academia may not be an utterly self absorbed world. As the world turns decisively rightward, their viewpoints do not seem so contrastive.
Nilanjan Guha—a more expansive and carefree spirit I am yet to see. Whenever doubts and vexations have bothered me, your ways and thoughts have acted as a tranquilizer.
Pothik Ghosh—thank you for alerting me about some of Fredrick Jameson’s writings on modernism and for other ongoing debates. Your relentless correlating of the intellectual arsenal to everyday practices and resistance movements (or perhaps it is vice versa!) is a matter of inspiration. We strive for it and fall short.
Rajarshi Dasgupta—may your ruthless intellectual pessimism clash ever more violently with your daily, passionate lust for languorous living. And Brinda Bose, may you continue to counter this our collective lethargy and ennui with your characteristic intellectual engagement and vigour, in every manner possible—so that humanitiesunderground could be what it is.
Siddharth Sivakumar and his squad have designed and given humanitiesunderground a fantastic website. I extend my heartfelt gratitude. HUG is, in equal measure, excited about their kindred Teenpahar endeavor. May it grow from strength to strength.
Naveen Kishore, Sunandini Banerjee and their team have not just graciously undertaken to bring this book to fruition but have magically been able to bestow us with the rarest of gems at regular intervals—catalogue to catalogue, year after year. Untimely productions. Unerring intuition. Thank you. And it is truly impossible to thank Sohini Dey, whose eye for details has transformed this book. This would be a far lesser work but for her dogged, tireless input.
Needless to say, all shortcomings are mine and mine alone.