Merit-Credit Competition

I will scratch your …

I mean your back

You scratch my …

… I mean my back

 

I will give you a Like

You give me a Like

I will give you a Thumbs Up

You give me a Thumbs Up

 

Online, offline, be it wherever

These are the rules of the game

 

I am OK, you’re OK; both healthy

And all is well with the world

Even though losers go on and on

About the problems in the world

 

We play by the rules, and so

 

My merit will go up

My credit will go up

Your credit will go up

Your merit will go up

 

Together, both of us

Will win the competition

We will earn the position

That we don’t deserve

 

I mean, yes we actually do

Deserve on our very own

 

Then we will go pay our respects

To the billionaire, God bless him

For giving us all his all blessings

May he prosper forever and ever

 

And may he bless us in the world for

Doing well in all adult competitions

 

All Hail the Gods of Meritocracy!

 

Let’s launch a #hashtag as an offering

In his honour, so he gets eternal glory

We all get our prasad and our lollipops

 

After the fall of the causality frontier

Just as punishment determines crime

Our success also determines our merit

 

That is why we have the word loser

 

***

Updated on 25th August, 2019.

Weaponizable Technologies

250px-Panopticon

Weapon are devices

That can harm people

Can also harm property

But that’s less important

 

Weapons are technologies

Not necessarily physical

As in the Foucauldian sense

 

In that sense,

They can also

Harm society

And culture,

Civilizations

Humanity itself

 

And,

More importantly

The very idea of

What humanity is

 

In the Foucauldian sense, they

Can generate chain reactions

Just like nuclear technologies

And they can destroy humanity

Just like fission-fusion weapons

 

Weapons or technologies

Are not tied to a particular

Ideology or even a religion

 

In the Foucauldian sense,

Conventional technologies

 

Are clandestinely

Or benevolently

Developed, and

Are weaponized

 

They are proliferated

Then are exposed

Are opposed, and

Then, gradually

Are normalized

Are assimilated

Into our social fabric

 

The protests against the weapons

And weaponized technologies

As in the world we have made

Not necessarily in the world

That we could perhaps make

Are very predictable phonomena

 

They can start out very strong

Then they become a shadow of

Themselves, or even a parody

 

At best they can become, and

Exist for a longish time, even

Perhaps with ups and downs

 

With limited longish term achievements

Or with very impressive short term ones

Or with no effect on the status quo at all

 

A connoisseur’s delight

They often are reduced to

 

At worst they may become

Freak shows on the fringes

As Kipling showed in a story

Even if they are genuine

Not the fake ones: A part

Of Manufactured Dissent

 

A protest is like a lot like a balm

A protest that is for a single issue

Or, at most, a few such issues

For the people who are hurting

 

In that sense, they are a good thing

But pardon me, for I feel duty bound

To spoil the positivity with some

Unallied and honest bit of truth

 

For they are mostly just balms

That give temporary relief

From the symptoms only

 

They are necessary, but not sufficient

They are not cures in the end

And they come at the expense

Of some other people, who are

Also very much hurting, and

Their issues, symptomatically,

Can be very much different

 

In fact, they can be the exact

Contraries of the issues of the

First set of people who are hurting

 

The powers that be are apt to play

The one against the other, and

The little or large bits of evil

In all of us, ensures that we play

That game, of our own volition

Collectively, so that none feels guilty

 

On our own initiative even, or

So we might convince ourselves

 

Weaponised technologies then

Not just weaponizables ones

 

Are morally

And ethically

And legally

Sanctioned finally

 

That means that

They are approved

By general society

 

And they become

An integral part

A necessary part

Of the civilization

 

They are never

Ever sufficient

 

They become fait accompli

Which is a terrifying phrase

 

After enough time

They are taken

For granted

Are not even

Noticed in our

Everyday life

 

Most of us forget what they mean

Or what they are, how they work

They become part of our natural

Reality, our very natural universe

 

Who can use weapons?

 

Anyone can use them

If they can get access

 

To them, somehow, anyhow

 

And they will be used

Later on, if not sooner

Over there, if not here

At least in the beginning

 

The good guys can use them

Or those who claim to be so

We all know what that means

 

The bad guys can use them

The ugly guys can use them

The evil guys can use them

 

Individually evil can use them

Collectively evil can use them

 

More likely the latter

 

Anyone anywhere anytime on

The whole political spectrum

Can use them, if less or more

Individually or collectively

 

More likely the latter

 

There is absolutely

No guarantee that

Any of the above

Or indeed all of them

Can’t use them at all

Ever and anywhere

 

But can the weak and the meek

Or the tired and the poor

Use them as much as the

Strong and the powerful

To the same extent, even

For the purpose of self-defense?

 

Can single individuals use them

As much as the collective

To the same extent, even

For the purpose of self-defense?

 

First they are used over there

On those we don’t care about

Then they are used over here

 

And when that happens

There are fresh protests

 

We all care about ourselves

Even if we don’t about them

 

Once again, they

Are exposed: For us

Are opposed, and

Then, gradually

Are normalized

Are assimilated

Into our social fabric

Our very own life

 

Excluding them over there

They are already included

We still don’t care about them

We still care only for ourselves

 

Like before, again

They are morally

And ethically

And legally

Sanctioned finally

 

This time, however

For us, not just them

 

Some weaponized technologies

Are so totally unthinkably evil

That their existence is not even

Acknowledged, for preserving

Collective sense of being good

 

Such technologies are only used

Clandestinely, outside all records

So they leave no evidence at all

 

Who do they mean to target?

The demonized are targeted

Mentally-ill may be targeted

Truly subversive freethinkers

May be targeted, selectively

Misfits and loners can also

Be targeted with these ones

 

And, above all

 

The uncontaminated

(Unalloyed, if you like

Or unallied, if you like)

The incorrigible

Truth seekers, As

They may be called

Justice seekers also

Unalloyed or unallied

Can be targeted with

These unacknowledged

Weaponized technologies

In the Foucauldian sense

 

For The Greater Good

Seems they are called

Coal Mine Canaries

Freelance Test Rats

They may not be paid

May not even consent

 

They don’t even know this

That have been made that

This is the most evil part

Of the scheme, in which

 

All “schematism” had to be avoided

 

So they can’t even share

Without anyone at all

Let alone lodge a protest

 

They become Dead Canaries

If they come uncomfortably

Close to the truths that matter

 

In fact, these technologies

Are, by their very nature

Made only for selective use

Personalization is their

Key feature, their identifier

 

One of them had even

Got put on the record

Perhaps due to naïveté

It was called Zersetzung

It specifically recorded

Naïvely, as it turned out

It specifically wrote down

 

This kind of weaponised technology

Is a collective, organised and mobilised

Version of what is called gaslighting

 

A later version of it was called COINTELPRO

Who knows how many different versions of it

Exist today in how many places

Officially or unofficially

Recorded or unrecorded

 

In the original version called Zersetzung

All “schematism” had to be avoided

Because that would make opposition

And protest against it easily possible

 

It being: The collective using it?

 

Individual simply can’t use it

Not to the same degree and reach

Not anywhere remotely close

 

Or the technology itself only?

 

Or why not both of them?

 

But we had better not forget

Technologies are the means

Religions and ideologies are

About the ends, not the means

For them, practically speaking

Ends always justify the means

 

Even if they are, unthinkably

Unredeemably, only pure evil

 

However, we are all endowed with

The extreme powers of self-deception

Individually yes, but also collectively

 

So we still manage to think that they

Are still for them, over there, not us

They are within our society, never us

They are still for them, not over here

Over there can be much nearer now

But it is still over there, and for them

 

Thus, once more magically

They become fait accompli

With a very different context

But actually the same context

 

They are always necessary

So it is claimed, benevolently

But they are never sufficient

 

This is a universal theorem

If you like to be very precise

Then it is at the very least

A pretty likely conjecture

 

And so we march on forward

Or even backward oftentimes

Or sideways, if necessary

Which can be very effective

If you know what I mean

 

In search of new weapons

And ever new technologies

 

That can be weaponized

Easily and yes, inevitably

Even if you don’t believe

In Inevitabilism at all

 

What really is inevitable

However, is the fact that

Some weak, or the meek

Or an isolated individual

Perhaps crazy, perhaps not

Will use them occasionally

Usually after provocation

But sometimes without it

 

Or some collective

Rogue or not rogue

 

A matter of definition

 

Will also make use of them

Regularly or occasionally

 

That is a great opportunity

A motivation for finding

Implementing and using

Ever more lethal weapons

Weaponized technologies

And some non-lethal ones

In the Foucauldian sense

 

We find new evils

We define new evils

We create new evils

 

We get new weapons

To fight newest evils

Which creates even

More ever new evils

 

Thus the circle of evil

Closes in upon us all

Over there, over here

 

So what do you think about it?

***

Originally published on 14th August, 2019. Updated on 20th September, 2019.

ईश्वर का साथ हमारे साथ

(गीत: बॉब डिलन)

मेरा नाम, अरे, कुछ नहीं है
मेरी उम्र का अर्थ और भी कम
मैं जिस देश से आया हूँ
उसको सब कहते हैं मिडवेस्ट
मुझको वहाँ यह पढ़ाया और सिखाया गया
कानून की राह पर चलना
और यह कि जिस देश में मैं रहता हूँ
ईश्वर का साथ उसके साथ है

अरे भाई, इतिहास की किताबें बताती हैं
और इतना बढ़िया बताती हैं
घुड़सवारों ने धावा बोला
और इंडियंस कट गए
घुड़सवारों ने धावा बोला
और इंडियंस मर गए
अरे, देश तब जवान था
और ईश्वर का साथ उसके साथ था

अरे स्पेनी-अमरीकन युद्ध
का भी अपना समय था
और गृह-युद्ध को भी जल्दी ही
पीछे को छोड़ दिया गया
और नायकों के नामों को भी
मुझको रटवाया गया
उनके हाथ ज्यों बंदूकें थीं, वैसे ही
ईश्वर का साथ उनके साथ था

अरे, प्रथम विश्व-युद्ध का भी, यारों
समय आया और चला गया
लड़ाई का कारण लेकिन
मेरे पल्ले कभी नहीं पड़ा
पर मैंने उसे मानना सीख लिया
और मानना भी गर्व के साथ
क्योंकि अपन मरों को नहीं गिनते
जब ईश्वर का साथ अपने साथ हो

जब दूसरा विश्व-युद्घ भी
अपने अंजाम को पा गया
हमने जर्मनों को माफ़ कर दिया
और अपना दोस्त बना लिया
चाहे साठ लाख की उन्होंने हत्याएँ की हों
उनको भट्टियों में झुलसा कर
अब जर्मनों के लिए भी
ईश्वर का साथ उनके साथ था

मैंने रुसियों से घृणा करना सीख लिया
अपनी पूरी ज़िंदगी के लिए
अगर एक और युद्ध होता है
हमें उनसे लड़ना ही होगा
उनसे घृणा करनी होगी और डरना होगा
भागना होगा और छिपना होगा
और यह सब बहादुरी से मानना होगा
ईश्वर का साथ अपने साथ रख कर

पर अब हमारे पास हथियार हैं
जो रासायनिक रेत से बने हैं
अगर उन्हें पड़ता है किसी पर दागना
तो दागना तो हमें पड़ेगा ही
एक बटन का दबाना
और एक धमाका पूरी दुनिया में
और तुम सवाल कभी नहीं पूछोगे
जब ईश्वर का साथ तुम्हारे साथ हो

अनेक अंधेरी घड़ियों में
मैंने इस बारे में सोच के देखा है
कि ईसा मसीह के साथ विश्वासघात
एक चुंबन के साथ हुआ था
पर मैं तुम्हारे लिए नहीं सोच सकता
तुम्हें खुद ही तय करना होगा
कि क्या जूडस इस्कैरियट
के भी साथ ईश्वर का साथ था

तो अब जब मैं तुम्हें छोड़ रहा हूँ
मैं ऊब और उकता चुका हूँ
जिस संभ्रम में मैं फँसा हूँ
कोई ज़बान जो है बता नहीं सकती
शब्दों से मेरा सिर भरा है
और नीचे फ़र्श पर भी वो गिरे हैं
अगर ईश्वर का साथ हमारे साथ है
तो वो अगले युद्ध को रोक देगा

हक़

कोई मेरे पास आए
साथ चलने के लिए
और मैं उसे भगा दूँ
दुत्कार कर
फटकार कर
सबके सामने
बेइज्जत कर के

तब भी अगर वो ना जाए
तो मैं उसके होने को ही
नज़रअंदाज़ कर के दिखा दूँ

वो बार-बार आता रहे
और मैं बार-बार यही करूँ
तो क्या मुझे हक़ बनता है
उसे दोष देने का
इसलिए कि उसने साथ नहीं दिया
इसलिए कि वो अब साथ नहीं चल रहा
जबकि मेरी खुद की सांठ-गांठ उन्हीं से है
जिनकी यातना और दुत्कार से बचते हुए
वो मेरे पास आया था

साथ चलने के लिए
इसलिए कि किसी और को
यातना और दुत्कार दिए जाने से रोका जा सके

जबकि मुझे यही नहीं पता
कि वो क्या कर रहा है
और क्यों कर रहा है

किसी के सारे रास्ते बंद करके
(दुनिया से ही टिकट कटा लेने को छोड़ कर)
क्या कोई किसी को पाठ पढ़ा सकता है
कि जीवन कैसे जिया जाए
कि नैतिकता के मानदंड क्या हैं?

इंकलाब के पहले

अन्याय हर तरफ फैला है
पूंजी का बोलबाला है
सच का सर्वत्र मुँह काला है

ये हालात तो बदलने ही होंगे
बदलाव के हालात बनाने होंगे

तभी तो इंकलाब आएगा
हर जन अपना हक पाएगा

पर उसके पहले बहुत से काम
जो अभी तक पूरे नहीं हुए
वो सब के सब निपटाने होंगे

वो कोने में जिसे अधमरा करके
बड़े दिनों से डाल रखा है
वो अब भी, हद है आखिर,
कभी-कभार बड़-बड़ किए रहता है

उसे सबक सिखाना होगा
उसके भौंकने को बंद कराना होगा
पहला बड़ा काम तो यही है
इसके बिना आगे कैसे बढ़ सकते हैं?

फिर आपस के झगड़े भी तो हैं
तगड़े हैं, एक से एक बढ़ के हैं
एक-दूसरे को सबक सिखाना होगा
एक-दूसरे का भौंकना बंद कराना होगा

दूसरा बड़ा काम यह भी तो है
इसके बिना आगे कैसे बढ़ सकते हैं?

फिर कुछ डरे सहमे
असुरक्षित लोगों ने
अपनी बुद्धि का
अपने ज्ञान का
और तो और
अपनी प्रतिभा का!
(हद है!, हद है!
कितनी अकड़ है!)
आतंक फैला रखा है
यहीं, इंकलाबियों के बीच!

उनका मटियामेट कर के ही
सच्चे इंकलाबी दम ले सकते हैं
उन्हें अपने साथ लाकर नहीं

एक तीसरा बड़ा काम यह जो है
इसके बिना आगे कैसे बढ़ सकते हैं?

ऐसे कितने ही काम और हैं
जिन्हें निपटाना है
इंकलाब के पहले

इसी से याद आया
एक काम तो यही है
कि इन कामों में
जो अड़चन पहुँचाए
उसे हड़का-हड़का के
आपसी झगड़े
ज़रा देर को भुला के
मिल-जुल कर
ऊपर पहुँचाया जाए

इसके बिना आगे कैसे बढ़ सकते हैं?

So Dissent is Just a Disease After All

If you are even a little bit well read, you might have come across the name of Bertolt Brecht, even if you don’t recall it now. He is well known as one of the most important figures of twentieth century theatre (theater for the more dominant party). But his influence goes far beyond theatre. It extends to movies, literature, poetry (he was also a poet), political thought and so on (not excluding the Monty Pythons). It even goes beyond the boundaries of the East-West or the North-South divides. I wasn’t surprised at all when I read yesterday that there are ’30 something’ MA theses in South Korea alone (written in Korean) on Brecht. In India, he has been widely written about and heavily quoted by intellectuals, especially those writing in Indian languages. One of the most respected Hindi poets, Nagarjun, even wrote a poem about Brecht. I would have loved to provide a translation of that poem here, but I don’t feel equal to the task as the poem uses words whose equivalents in English I am unable to think of. Some poems are translatable, some are not.

Brecht has been on my mind these days as I have translated some of his poems (from English) into Hindi in the last few days. This excercise included a bit of surfing the Net for his name too and as a result, I came across something that made me write this. Or, at least, acted as a catalyst or the precipitating agent for writing this.

I don’t mean to present a brief bio of the man here. You can easily find plenty of material about him on the Internet and in any good library. I am not even a minor expert (in the technical sense) on him or his works. But I might mention here that some of the things he is known specifically for, include these:

  • His plays and his active theatre work (in particular the ‘epic theatre’ works like The Life of Galileo, The Threepenny Opera and Mother Courage and Her Children)
  • His theory about theatre, which is centred around the idea of the ‘alienation effect’
  • His poetry
  • His affiliation to Marxism (though of the dissident kind)

It should not be hard to guess now (if you were unfamiliar with him earlier) that it is the fourth point that would get most people interested, either approvingly or otherwise. You write plays, you do theatre, you pen poems, that’s all quite alright. No problem. Have your fun. Let us have some too. We can spend time discussing and arguing about it too. But being a Marxist is taking this business to a different territory. That’s politics. That might lead to talk of revolution. Or, at least, to that of radical change.

And so it does. Intellectuals, artists and activists around the world who are not satisfied of being a real or potential (‘wannabe’) Salman Rushdie or V. S. Naipaul and who want to do or say something more about the injustices in the world, in the society, in the institutions, have almost all paid at least some attention to this guy. Some disagreed and turned away, some agreed wholeheartedly and became loyal followers and some agreed partly and adapted his ideas and techniques according to their own taste and their own views about things. One from the last kind is also someone with whom I have happened to be concerned recently. That one was Fassbinder, a prolific filmmaker from the same part of the world as Brecht. Another filmmaker (from India) of this kind was Ritwik Ghatak. But about them, later.

Brecht’s ideas about ‘epic theatre’ (the quotes are there because it is a specific theory or a specific kind of theatre, not necessarily what you would guess from the words: it is a technical term) were a result of synthesizing and extending the ideas of Erwin Piscator and Vsevolod Meyerhold.

About the alienation effect, this excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Brecht gives a fairly good introduction:

One of Brecht’s most important principles was what he called the Verfremdungseffekt (translated as “defamiliarization effect”, “distancing effect”, or “estrangement effect”, and often mistranslated as “alienation effect”). This involved, Brecht wrote, “stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them”. To this end, Brecht employed techniques such as the actor’s direct address to the audience, harsh and bright stage lighting, the use of songs to interrupt the action, explanatory placards, and, in rehearsals, the transposition of text to the third person or past tense, and speaking the stage directions out loud.

But more than this somewhat technical aspect, what attracts me to the ‘Brechtian’ art, was expressed extremely well by Erwin Piscator in 1929:

For us, man portrayed on the stage is significant as a social function. It is not his relationship to himself, nor his relationship to God, but his relationship to society which is central. Whenever he appears, his class or social stratum appears with him. His moral, spiritual or sexual conflicts are conflicts with society.

I read this only today, but as my (few) readers might have noticed (which I explicitly expressed once), almost all of what I write here is about ‘Individual and Society’ (which is also one of the most common tags that I use). For me, the above is the crux of the Brechtian enterprise. But I should add that in my opinion the Brechtian technique, along with its variants, is not the only technique for achieving the goal (for expression in art as well as for scholarly investigation) outlined in the above quotation. Still, I can’t resist saying here that it is the key to understanding Fassbinder. Many a reviewer of Fassbinder movies has made a fool of himself by ignoring this.

Having provided this little context, I will move now to the thing that precipitated this article. Yesterday, after posting one more of the translations of his poems on a blog, I came across a post that pointed me to a news story from Reuters. Since it is from Reuters, it has been carried by many other news outlets.

The story reports that a researcher from the University of Manchester “has uncovered the truth behind the death of German playwright Bertolt Brecht”. It goes on to say:

Professor Stephen Parker … said the playwright died from an undiagnosed rheumatic fever which attacked his heart and motorneural system, eventually leading to a fatal heart failure in 1956.

Previously it was thought his death in 1956 aged 58 had been caused by a heart attack.

So far, so good. But here is the precious bit:

Parker said the playwright’s symptoms such as increased heart size, erratic movements of the limbs and facial grimace and chronic sore throats followed by cardiac and motorneural problems, were consistent with a modern diagnosis of the condition.

“When he was young no one could get near the diagnosis,” Parker, 55, told Reuters. “Brecht was labeled as a nervous child with a ‘dicky’ heart, and doctors thought he was a hypochondriac.”

Brecht’s childhood condition continued to affect him as an adult, making him more susceptible to bacterial infections such as endocarditis which affected his already weakened heart, and kidney infections which plagued him until the end of his life.

Parker believed that his underlying health altered the way the playwright felt and acted.

“It affected his behavior, making him more exaggerated in his actions, and prone to over-reaction,” he said. “He carried the problem all his life and compensated for this underlying weakness by projecting a macho image to show himself as strong.”

I have quoted at this length because I didn’t want to lose anything in the paraphrase. So this researcher is a medical doctor? Wrong. He is an expert in German Literature. And he derived all these conclusions from Brecht’s medical records. The report ends with this gem:

“Going into this project I felt I didn’t really fully understand Brecht,” he said. “This knowledge about his death opens a lot of new cracks about the playwright, and gives us a new angle on the man.”

As the Americans (and now even the Indians) say, Wow!

The Superman might have been fictional, but we now have a Super Researcher. Nothing short of real superpowers could have made him achieve this amazing feat: “his underlying health altered the way the playwright felt and acted”. Felt and acted! That is a nice summing up of the whole business of existence. The key to all this was rheumatic fever! This would make a nice present to an absurdist poet looking for ideas. An expert in German Literature goes through the medical records of a man who was born in 1898 and died in 1956, having lived in various countries during one of the most tumultuous periods in history (when there were no computers: well, hardly). He (the Expert) felt “he didn’t really fully understand” Brecht and by going through these medical records (one of the key exhibits being an X-ray) and found out that all this ‘epic theatre’ and the ‘alienation effect’ and affiliation to Marxism and his poetry and his immeasurable influence on a large fraction of the best minds of the world for the last three quarters of a century was just the result of his rheumatic fever. All his politics was just a simple disease.

As if this wasn’t enough, there is something else that would have caused cries of “Conspiracy theory!” if a different party was involved in the affair. His research shows that the 1951 X-ray report, which showed an enlargement to the left side of Brecht’s heart, was never shown to the playwright or known about by his doctors and it may have been (emphasis mine) held back by the German security services, the Stasi, who had a grudge against the playwright.

So all of you loony lefties, you commie fairies, this idol of yours was just a sick man. And if he was not, well, then he was at least (indirectly) killed by a communist government. So wake up, man! Give up all this talk about the individual and the society and injustice and imperialism etc. Get back on track and let’s live up the market dream together. We can change things. Yes, we can.

To be fair to Professor Parker, he has written a ‘literary biography’ of Brecht and it might be that he is not really claiming all of the above. However, what matters in the world outside the closed academic circle of experts on German Literature, is the effect of the reports of this study on the common readers. And what appears in these reports is, to use a word from the report itself, quite a sinister subtext. The Indian media right now is full of such reports (often of a much cruder, laughably cruder, moronically cruder variety) with similar, barely concealed subtexts, with obvious relevance to the current political situation in the country.

The ‘study’ apparently says nothing about the effect that his blacklisting in Hollywood might have had on him. Did the FBI (or any of the other agencies) had a grudge against him? Here was one of the most admired and influential playwright who had sketched notes for numerous films, but he got to write the script of only one movie that was directed by Fritz Lang. He was interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and decided to leave the US after that. He lived during the period when his country went mad and so did the world, with millions upon millions dying. He saw Germany descend from relative decency into barbarism. He later also saw the degeneration of the revolution in the Eastern Block. Did all that have anything to do with what he was and may be even with why he died relatively young? Parker doesn’t seem interested in such trivialities and externalities. At least Reuters doesn’t, because I don’t have access to the complete and original ‘study’ as written by Parker.

Very long ago, I had read one of the novels by that great favourite of those looking for gentlemanly humour, P. G. Wodehouse. In that novel (whose name I don’t remember), one of the main characters (Jeeves, perhaps) decides to go, for some reason, on a kind of fast. And from the time of the very next meal, his whole personality starts changing. He becomes dissatisfied with lot of things. He starts finding faults in everything. His good nature is all gone. In short, he becomes the caricature of a dissenter.

Finally, when things go beyond a point, the plot has him give up the fast, may be with some persuasion from others. As soon as he has had a good meal again, he reverts to his usual self. The dissenter is gone. Then comes an editorial comment from the narrator which goes something like this: If only Gandhi (no ‘Red Top’, as you probably know) were to give up his fasting antics, he won’t be creating so many unnecessary problems. As far as Wodehouse is concerned, he has won the argument against the whole idea of Indian independence and whatever else Gandhi said he was fighting for.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on poor Wodehouse, as cautioned by Orwell in his defense, because, for one thing, the humourist was just too innocent of political awareness.

A scholar of Brecht and one of the biggest news agencies in the world, however, belong to a different category.

But this is not such a unique event. Parker has just given a new meaning to the idea of pathologizing troublesome people. To the idea of ‘finding dirt’ on people who don’t follow the rules of the game. It is just a sophisticated version of the understated witch hunt against Julian Asange. A small attempt at rewriting History in somewhat Orwellian sense. The motivation is all there, as more and more people start talking about the ‘churning’ and ‘renewed stirrings’ for a more fair world. Yet another facet of the psychological operations (psyops) in these times of the gold rush.

(Using Bob Dylan’s words, we could say that Professor Parker is perhaps just a pawn in their game, but of a different kind than Wodehouse was for the Nazis.)

 

One of the significant influences on Brecht was Chaplin’s movie The Gold Rush.

Life is full of poetry and drama.

And melodrama.

नर्क का ध्यान

(कविता: बर्तोल ब्रेख़्त)

नर्क का ध्यान करते हुए, जैसा कि एक बार मैंने सुना था,
मेरे भाई शेली ने उसे एक ऐसी जगह पाया था
जो काफ़ी कुछ लंदन जैसी ही है। मैं,
जो लंदन में नहीं रहता, बल्कि लॉस एंजेलेस में रहता हूँ,
पाता हूँ, नर्क का ध्यान करने पर, कि यह
और भी अधिक लॉस एंजेलेस जैसी ही होनी चाहिए।

और नर्क में ही,
मुझे कोई शक नहीं है, ऐसे शानदार बाग हैं
जहाँ फूल इतने बड़े होते हैं जितने पेड़, मुरझाते हुए,जाहिर है,
बहुत जल्दी, अगर उन्हें अत्यंत मँहगे पानी से न सींचा जाए। और फलों के बाज़ार
फलों के भारी ढेरों के साथ, जिनमें कि इस सबके बावजूद

न तो कोई महक होती है न ही स्वाद। और मोटरों की अंतहीन कड़ियाँ,
अपनी छायाओं से भी हल्की, और दौड़ते हुए
मूढ़ विचारों से भी अधिक तेज़, झिलमिलाते वाहन, जिनमें
गुलाबी लोग, न कहीं से आते हुए, न कहीं जाते हुए।
और मकान, खुशी के लिए प्रारूपित, खाली पड़े हुए,
तब भी जब बसे हुए।

नर्क के भी घर सब इतने तो बदसूरत नहीं होते।
पर सड़क पर फेंक दिए जाने की चिंता
आलीशान मकानों के निवासियों को भी
उतना ही सताती है जितना कि बैरकों के बाशिंदों को।

(अंग्रेज़ी से अनुवाद: अनिल एकलव्य)

एक जर्मन युद्ध पुस्तिका से

(कविता: बर्तोल ब्रेख़्त)

ऊँची जगहों पर आसीन लोगों में
भोजन के बारे में बात करना अभद्र समझा जाता है।
सच तो यह है: वो पहले ही
खा चुके हैं।

जो नीचे पड़े हैं, उन्हें इस धरती को छोड़ना होगा
बिना स्वाद चखे
किसी अच्छे माँस का।

यह सोचने-समझने के लिए कि वो कहाँ से आए हैं
और कहाँ जा रहे हैं
सुंदर शामें उन्हें पाती हैं
बहुत थका हुआ।

उन्होंने अब तक नहीं देखा
पर्वतों को और विशाल समुद्र को
और उनका समय अभी से पूरा भी हो चला।

अगर नीचे पड़े लोग नहीं सोचेंगे
कि नीचा क्या है
तो वे कभी उठ नहीं पाएंगे।

भूखे की रोटी तो सारी
पहले ही खाई जा चुकी है

माँस का अता-पता नहीं है। बेकार है
जनता का बहता पसीना।
कल्पवृक्ष का बाग भी
छाँट डाला गया है।
हथियारों के कारखानों की चिमनियों से
धुआँ उठता है।

घर को रंगने वाला बात करता है
आने वाले महान समय की

जंगल अब भी पनप रहे हैं।
खेत अब भी उपजा रहे हैं
शहर खड़े हैं अब भी।
लोग अब भी साँस ले रहे हैं।

पंचांग में अभी वो दिन नहीं
दिखाया गया है

हर महीना, हर दिन
अभी खुला पड़ा है। इन्हीं में से किसी दिन
पर एक निशान लग जाने वाला है।

मज़दूर रोटी के लिए पुकार लगा रहे हैं
व्यापारी बाज़ार के लिए पुकार लगा रहे हैं।
बेरोजगार भूखे थे। रोजगार वाले
अब भूखे हैं।
जो हाथ एक-दूसरे पर धरे थे अब फिर व्यस्त हैं।
वो तोप के गोले बना रहे हैं।

जो दस्तरख्वान से माँस ले सकते हैं
संतोष का पाठ पढ़ा रहे हैं।
जिनके भाग्य में अंशदान का लाभ लिखा है
वो बलिदान माँग रहे हैं।
जो भरपेट खा रहे हैं वही भूखों को बता रहे हैं
आने वाले अद्भुत समय की बात।
जो अपनी अगवानी में देश को खाई में ले जा रहे हैं
राज करने को बहुत मुश्किल बता रहे हैं
सामान्य लोगों के लिए।

जब नेता शान्ति की बात करते हैं
तो जनता समझ जाती है
कि युद्ध आ रहा है।
जब नेता युद्ध को कोसते हैं
लामबंदी का आदेश पहले ही लिखा जा चुका होता है।

जो शीर्ष पर बैठे हैं कहते हैं: शान्ति
और युद्ध
अलग पदार्थों से बने हैं।
पर उनकी शान्ति और उनके युद्ध
वैसे ही हैं जैसे आँधी और तूफ़ान।

युद्ध उनकी शान्ति से ही उपजता है
जैसे बेटा अपनी माँ से
उसकी शक्ल
अपनी माँ की डरावनी शक्ल से मिलती है।

उनका युद्ध मार देता है
हर उस चीज़ को जिसे उनकी शान्ति ने
छोड़ दिया था।

दीवार पर लिख दिया गया:
वो युद्ध चाहते हैं।
जिस आदमी ने यह लिखा
वो पहले ही गिर चुका है।

जो शीर्ष पर हैं कहते हैं:
वैभव और कीर्ति का रास्ता इधर है।
जो नीचे हैं कहते है:
कब्र का रास्ता इधर है।

जो युद्ध आ रहा है
वो पहला नहीं होगा। और भी थे
जो इसके पहले आए थे।
जब पिछला वाला खत्म हुआ
तब विजेता थे और विजित थे।
विजितों में आम लोग भी थे
भुखमरे। विजेताओं में भी
आम लोग भुखमरी का शिकार हुए।

जो शीर्ष पर हैं कहते हैं साहचर्य
व्याप्त है सेना में।
इस बात का सच देखा जा सकता है
रसोई के भीतर।
उनके दिलों में होना चाहिए
वही एक शौर्य। लेकिन
उनकी थालियों में
दो तरह के राशन हैं।

जहाँ तक कूच करने की बात है उनमें से कई
नहींं जानते

कि उनका शत्रु तो उनके सिर पर ही चल रहा है।
जो आवाज़ उनको आदेश दे रही है
उनके शत्रु की आवाज़ है और
जो आदमी शत्रु की बात कर रहा है
वो खुद ही शत्रु है।

यह रात का वक़्त है
विवाहित जोड़े
अपने बिस्तरों में हैं। जवान औरतें
अनाथों को जन्म देंगी।

सेनाधीश, तुम्हारा टैंक एक शक्तिशाली वाहन है
यह जंगलों को कुचल देता है और सैकड़ों लोगों को भी।
पर उसमें एक खोट है:
उसे एक चालक की ज़रूरत होती है।

सेनाधीश, तुम्हारा बमवर्षी बहुत ताकतवर है,
यह तूफ़ान से भी तेज़ उड़ता है और एक हाथी से ज़्यादा वज़न ले जा सकता है।
पर उसमें एक खोट है:
उसे एक मेकैनिक की ज़रूरत होती है।

सेनाधीश, आदमी बड़े काम की चीज़ है।
वो उड़ सकता है और मार सकता है।
पर उसमें एक खोट है:
वो सोच सकता है।

अंग्रेज़ी से अनुवाद: अनिल एकलव्य

ओ जर्मनी, म्लान माँ!

(कविता: बर्तोल ब्रेख़्त)

औरों को बोलने दो उसकी शर्म के बारे में,
मैं तो अपनी शर्म के बारे में बोलता हूँ।

ओ जर्मनी, म्लान माँ!
तुम कितनी मैली हो
अब जबकि तुम बैठी हो
और इतरा रही हो
कीचड़ सनी भीड़ में।

तुम्हारा सबसे गरीब पुत्र
बेजान होकर गिर पड़ा।
जब भूख उसकी बर्दाश्त से बाहर हो गई।
तुम्हारे अन्य पुत्रों ने
अपने हाथ उसके खिलाफ़ उठा दिए।
यह तो कुख्यात है।

अपने हाथ इस तरह उठा कर,
अपने ही भाई के विरुद्ध,
वो तुम्हारे चारों तरफ़ घूमते हैं
और तुम्हारे मुँह पर हँसते हैं।
यह भी सर्वज्ञात है।

तुम्हारे घर में
दहाड़ कर झूठ बोले जाते हैं
लेकिन सच को
चुप रहना होगा
क्या ऐसा ही है?

क्यों उत्पीड़क तुम्हारी प्रशंसा करते हैं दुनिया भर में,
क्यों उत्पीड़ित निंदा करते हैं?
जिन्हें लूटा गया
तुम्हारी तरफ़ उंगली उठाते हैं, लेकिन
लुटेरा उस व्यवस्था की तारीफ़ करता है
जिसका अविष्कार हुआ तुम्हारे घर में!

जिसके चलते हर कोई तुम्हें देखता है
अपनी ओढ़नी का किनारा छुपाते हुए, जो कि खून से सना है
उसी खून से जो
तुम्हारे ही पुत्रों का है।

तुम्हारे घर से उग्र भाषणों की प्रतिध्वनि को सुन कर,
लोग हँसते हैं।
पर जो भी तुम्हें देखता, अपनी छुरी पर हाथ बढ़ाता है
जैसे कोई डाकू देख लिया हो।

ओ जर्मनी, म्लान माँ!
क्या तुम्हारे पुत्रों ने तुम्हें मजबूर कर दिया है
कि तुम लोगों के बीच बैठो
तिरस्कार और भय की वस्तु बन कर!

अंग्रेज़ी से अनुवाद: अनिल एकलव्य

मैक चाकू

(गीत: बर्तोल ब्रेख़्त)

(कुर्त वाइल के साथ ‘थ्री पेनी ओपेरा’ के लिए)

अरे, शार्क के दाँत बड़े सलोने हैं, प्यारे
और वो उन्हें दिखाती है मोती सी चमक से।
मकीथ के पास बस एक चाकू है, प्यारे
और वो उसे रखता है दूर सबकी नज़र से।

जब शार्क काटती है अपने दाँतों से, प्यारे
तो लाली लहरा के शुरू होती है फैलना।
मँहंगे दस्ताने, मगर, मकीथ पहने है, प्यारे
ताकि लाली का नामो-निशान मिले ना।

फुटपाथ पर इतवार की सुबह
एक शरीर से ज़िंदगी रिसती है;
नुक्कड़ पर कोई मंडरा रहा है
क्या ये वही मैक शैली चाकू है?

नदी तट पर एक कर्षण नौका से
एक सीमेंट की बोरी गिरी जा रही है;
सीमेंट तो बस वज़न के लिए है, प्यारे।
हो न हो मैकीं शहर में लौट आया है।

और लुई मिलर गायब हो गया है, प्यारे
अपनी सारी नकदी-वकदी निकाल कर;
और मकीथ नाविक के जैसे पैसा उड़ाए है।
क्या भाई ने कुछ कर दिया है जोश में आकर?

सूकी टॉड्री, जेनी डाइवर इधर,
पॉली पीचम, लूसी ब्राउन उधर,
अरे, लाइन तो दाएँ से बनती है, प्यारे
क्योंकि मैकी जो वापिस है इसी शहर।

अंग्रेज़ी से अनुवाद: अनिल एकलव्य