07 August 2011

Towards a post-complicit moment for those in pre-sleep slumber*

The Sri Lanka Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (SLACLALS) titled their annual conference ‘21st Century Postcolonial: Issues and challenges in literature and languages’.   Professor Ashley Halpe, delivering the keynote address at the annual gathering of deliberated on the validity of the term ‘post-colonial’. 

This took my mind to a previous such conference where a friend observed that there was never a commonwealth, only a common thief and that talking about it won’t get our loot back.  I ran into him this year too, and he said ‘there never was a commonwealth, there’s only a common welt’.  He related a story about walking into the British Museum and bumping into someone he thought was from Africa who had asked him where he was going. My friend had responded, ‘I am going to take back some of the loot they robbed’.  The man had said it wouldn’t work: ‘they will just rob it back all over again!’ He had added, ‘rob something they can’t rob back!’  My friend had responded, ‘such as?’  The man had said ‘Jesus Christ!’ 
[I am not sure if he meant the blond-haired, blue-eyed appropriate of the bronze-coloured  individual mentioned in the Bible.  I do know that the looters robbed and slaughtered using convenient misquotes from the Bible to justify it all, in accordance with the interpretive authority that sanitized and helped vanquish doubt and remorse; i.e. from the killers, Buddhist and Hindu temple-destroyers, book-burners, rapists and looters.  I doubt if those who did receive Jesus were offered the real version, although some, theoretically speaking, may have outwitted the peddlers of ecclesiastical counterfeit.]

Let me continue, post-parenthetically.

I responded with my common-thief, common-welt, commonwealth story, about how Juliet Coombe had protested against the decision of that museum to do away with free entry for students.  She admitted that the building held loot from other countries such as Sri Lanka, but didn’t tell the audience (who were attending a book launch on the outside, literally and metaphorically, of the Galle Literary Festival earlier this year) if she had demanded that the loot be handed back.  ‘White men don’t kill,’ was the title of an article I wrote recently about the mis-naming or non-naming of Anders Behring Breivik as the terrorist he is (ref the recent attacks in Oslo).  ‘White men don’t rob either,’ my friend observed, in different words.

Liyanage Amarakeerthi, speaking on what he called a postcolonial moment in the modern Sinhala short story, suggested in passing that the ‘Centre’ of colonial is no longer clear.  True, the headquarters of mind-control, resource extraction, subjugation etc. etc. is now all over the place and strangely peopled, even though, as I pointed out, it can be called ‘Rupert Murdoch’ too. 

I don’t know about literature.  Don’t know about political literature that academics talk about.  Common-thief makes sense and common-welt too.  I don’t know about post-isms.  All I know is that I would like some people to wake up, post-sleep. 

I am talking about people pretending to sleep and pretending to sleepwalk.  I am thinking of a man called Alan Keenan, supposedly a senior ‘analyst’ for the ‘International Crisis Group’, who has deliberately lied when referring to the document released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Sri Lanka, on the humanitarian operation to liberate the country from the terrorist menace.  Keenan says that the MoD claims that there was absolutely no use of heavy artillery or aerial bombardment, when in fact the claim has been that once all key LTTE heavy weapons were taken out of the equation and no-fire zones demarcated, the military was instructed not to use such weaponry and tactics.  The reason was simple.  It was necessary to save the vast majority of the close to three hundred thousand people that the LTTE had taken hostage.  Keenan needs to sleep for until he does no one will be able to wake him up.  I would like him post-slept, so to speak.

I am thinking also of Elaine Pearson, Deputy Asia Director, Human Rights Watch (HRW) who on June 30, 2011, wrote that the Channel 4 film ‘Killing Fields of Sri Lanka’ adds weight to what she erroneously calls a ‘UN Report’ (i.e. the document submitted by a panel of highly discredited, intellectually dishonest and politically compromised people appointed by the UN Secretary General to advise him about Sri Lanka) and ‘conclusions’  therein that 40,000 civilians were killed in the final stages of the war.  The Channel 4 film and claims therein have been effectively countered by a recently released documentary titled ‘Lies Agreed Upon’.  She needs to sleep, so she can wake up.  I want her post-slept too.

Then there’s a man called Charles Haviland, working for the BBC, whining about a former LTTE cadre complaining that he is finding it difficult to find a job in post-LTTE Sri Lanka, post-rehabilitation.  I hope this person does find a job soon, but doesn’t Haviland have a sense of proportion?  Would he write heart-rending pieces about a rehabilitated Al Qaeda operative finding it hard to get a job, I wonder? Sorry, I forgot, Al Qaeda operatives are not rehabilitated and integrated into society, they are either summarily executed or else subjected to endless torture.  Anyway, Haviland might do well to take a nap, a real one.  I want him post-slept.

Professor Halpe, ended his presentation with a poignant reference to Mozart’s ‘Requiem’.  I didn’t quite catch the entirety of his comment, but I distinctly heard him mention the term ‘liberation from our complicities’. 

We know that those who pretend to sleep cannot be woken up.  They are essentially comfy in their complicities.  Now were they fall asleep by accident, then there is possibility of lie-rupture; a wake-up to a post-complicit reality, if you will. 

*See also, 'HRW and Brad Adams need to get some sleep': http://malindawords.blogspot.com/2011/08/hrw-and-brad-adams-need-to-get-some.html 


Anonymous said...

Christian bashing is not going to help your situation at all. Most
Christians in the west are Christians in name only.Yesterdays looters were occidentals but today the looters, the liars etc are our very own leaders (that goes for all countries)the rich extracting from the poor, killing them slowly. Who are the murderers,this time round, who bash up demonstrators who only ask for their rights?
As for that blue eyed,blond haired boy, that again is our slavery to western culture, you don't have to accept that picture.Just turn him into a black haired brown eyed boy.

Anonymous said...

On the whole a well written article. Get your frustrations out buddy, by now I have got to know your style of writing, it's more for the elite (to a certain extent, not all of it) and not the common man. As far as I go all these "HRW" are con men,you've got to keep attacking them or they will raise their ugly heads again to strike. GOOD LUCK MATE!

Malinda Seneviratne said...

Was not bashing Christians. I qualified the statement. Had I not, then it would be caricature either way. :)

Malinda Seneviratne said...

Was not bashing Christians. I qualified the statement. Had I not, then it would be caricature either way. :)

Anonymous said...

CARICATURE!!!!!You are adding insult to injury. It was pure GREED that reared it's ugly head and looted and robbed and slaughtered and nothing else.We Asians and Africans are doing the same thing today, as we had very good teachers but is anyone standing up for our rights? It will be "off with your heads,"if you did so.That's it I've had enough.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

caricature in description. not writing a thesis, friend. just a simple commentary. i wouldn't be so pessimistic. and why wait for anyone else to stand up?!