Ashutosh Potdar

Our Peace is War




Our peace is war.
When you choose a mirror for a lover
It shows you your own image as a gunman.
You are a ghost amid the flares of shellfire
Less living than
The last war dead whose veins of mineral
We mine for here.
       -Stephen Spender

We imagine ourselves. We imagine her. We imagine him. We imagine others imagining them. They imagine themselves. They imagine others imagining them. We walk over the streets, climb the mountains and go door to door in search of hidden secrets. We get relief in imagining. We think and over think. We talk to ourselves “Like a tiring argument, the street never promises to end”, as Sharmila Ranade writes in her poem, ‘A Still-life Portrait’ published in this edition. Further, she writes, “But the man predicts that there is a mystery waiting for him at its bend/ Such is his vision of a street/A man and his stubborn dream.”

We like to predict and build our own stories: who said that, what did she say, how come she said that, what they were doing at that time, and so on. Our speculations, dreams, looking forwardness may bring the sense of relief, for the time being. But, since we are ‘at its bend’, the momentary sense of relief awards us with more speculations, predictions and chaos. We can’t stay away from imagining and building narratives. Narratives feed us to survive. We enjoy, fear and we pity ourselves for living with the narratives: the chaos of narratives.

Do we know how we can live if not in the middle of chaos? Or, can we live without chaos, at all?

Generally speaking, chaos is considered to be an absence of order and stability. Chaos is a lack of order or structure or form. It is “rude and indigested mass”, for Ovid. Shakespeare writes in Troilus and Cressida that there is chaos “when the planets..wander”, and there are “plagues, earthquakes of nature..” and also “the mutiny, patricide and rank of society” because of chaos. Thus, for Shakespeare, chaos includes all that is the result of the absence of “degree, priority and insisture, course, proportion, season, form, /Office, and custom, in all line of order.”

A ‘happy’ person aspires for an orderly life and a respite from the ‘shitty’ chaos. She may consider chaos as a step ahead toward organizing the world. However, chaos may not be always a beautiful thing if it is unending. In his poem, ‘Kontyahi Kaalaat’ (In Any Time), Ajay Kandar, one of the major voices in contemporary Marathi poetry, rues “Even after/ a prolonged walk/only dry leaves in hand”.

Nevertheless, it’s not an either/or situation. In the space between ‘absence’ and ‘presence’, there stands, always, another cycle of chaos and order. James Joyce confirms such intertwined nature of chaos and order in the word chaosmos in his most elusive book, Finnegans Wake. Chaosmos obliterates polarizing chaos against orderliness placing it within a larger world of continuum. He writes, “every person, place and thing in the chaosmos of Alle anyway connected … was moving and changing every part of the time…as time went on as it will variously inflected, differently pronounced, changeably meaning vocable scriptsigns.” Blurring the boundaries between the random and the reliable, the world of chaosmos emerges from one another. In the process, the ‘orderly’ state gets constantly deferred to be chaotic before it finds everything to be in so called order.

For presenting the ‘खळबळ /Chaos’ edition of हाकारा । hākārā, our plan is to present different ways and forms of reading and presenting chaos. As Nilanjana Nandy does with her work, we offer a ‘Grid of Chaos’ as the ‘playing field’ by looking at the interconnected exterior and interior spaces within the chaos. In the process of appreciation of the representation of the chaos, it could be organized but, as Nilanjana puts it, “there is no fixed rule of encountering as a viewer may enter from anywhere. Some may prefer to flip through casually. .. So chances and accidents lead to an ambiguity between the two entities.”

Overall, with this हाकारा । hākārā edition, we present an understanding that doesn’t dismiss a view(s) or a practice(s) which we are not able to discern or organize as chaos. In a critical situation, we may have to take a pause and grasp the internal logic of ‘chaotic world’ to understand and articulate the chaos itself and its representation in various forms of artistic and cultural practices. (Here, the internal logic is referred to as the nature and structures of human societies and human psyche.) An individual human/non-human being and public spaces need to be reflected upon through unbiased and fresh perspectives in the given milieu with the parameters sensitive to specific contexts. That way, we will be able to generate newer forms of knowledge and practices to answer the questions such as: what is chaos, how it works and how it can be represented in a civilised society.

Image courtesy

Cover page images: Anubha Fatehpuria, The Tadpole Repertory and Kedar Namdas

Section images: Rajib Chowdhury, Carroll Swenson-Roberts, Arya Rothe, Kedar Namdas, Sewon Rai and 2020 Exhibition.



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