Diasporic creativity as a non-Aristotelian form of communication.
We are all also aware of the varieties of the nature of Diaspora, it can be a forced movement of people, or it can also be a voluntary movement of people from their homeland to a new place. This movement and settlement, nevertheless, is not a simplistic phenomenon; there is, in fact, "much more than meets the eye." The diasporic interpretative and critical attempts have often confined themselves to what is obvious, more specifically to the emotional turmoil, cultural tensions, and socioeconomic restraint and restrictions. The prevailing Aristotelian system, its linguistic structure, and its fixity or rigidity consequentially still seem to be looming large over the critical domain in terms of interpretation of the diasporic production.
Application of the non-Aristotelian mode and methodology, the paper believes, can bring about fresher perspective to a literary and critical production. This mode can not only approximate a literary or intellectual production in a comprehensive manner, but it can also approximate the complexities of the creative consciousness as it operates in the given conditions; the sociopsychological and cultural pressures that implicitly or explicitly impinge on the linguistic dimension, which ultimately remains the sole medium of textual construction, and, of course, primary domain of the non-Aristotelian mode. B. I. Kodish has rightly asserted that the Aristotelian "worm" within "the apple of human knowledge" blocked the advancement of up-to-date scientific viewpoints and attitudes. Basic Aristotelian assumptions about how the world works, about the world and its operation have remained "embedded and embodied" in the structure of language and logic. The Aristotelian rules of logical system, enunciated by his followers about 2000 years ago, are still considered a viable basis for sound reasoning. The "law of identity" that constitutes an important place in Aristotelian domain attributes rigidity to anything that comes under its purview. It asserts that things are subject to change; this change however, should not change the essence of the thing, it should remain "unchanged." The oft quoted example is, "... there is an A-ness in A always" the problems of mutations in the inherent essence and structure--the innate impenetrability notwithstanding--is a moot proposition here (Kodish 159-160).
It is in terms of "identification," "existence," and "essence" of the things Aristotle overemphasized an essentialist approach is created and perpetuated. This approach is tinged with a color of rigidity. Creative consciousness certainly, as non-Aristotelian mode does, perceives the things not in their fixity or finality but in fluidity and flux. And it is this perception of reality, things, and essence, which non-Aristotelian mode may or may not have discarded or discredited but certainly has outlined the limitations of the system as the "laws of thought."
Diasporic creativity is continually confronted with these issues of "identity," "essence," "existence," "reality," and "mapping the territory," much more than the creative consciousness operating in the indigenous ambience. Displaced and dislocated, the writers of Diaspora are bound to be hypersensitive to the nature and texture of reality they are confronted with. Aristotelian "Gold Means" will surely help these writers to take up a rational view rather than taking up an extremist viewpoint. Non-Aristotelian mode, therefore, will prove to be a highly productive methodology to access and interpret a diasporic literary production in terms of the creative perception and dialogic presentation of reality.
Geographically and consequentially culturally--as we all know that geography and culture are inextricably related--uprooted creative consciousness is highly agonized and highly sensitized consciousness. And it abstracts reality in a different way. It perceives reality exactly in the way what it appears to be, but it also perceives much more than what apparently it is not. Preoccupation with the "isness" of the situation and things will reduce the creativity or the product to one dimensionality and preclude the possibilities of multiplicity or multidimensionality. The diasporic creative consciousness, therefore, transcends what is apparent and penetrates beneath the deceptive intricacies of the appearance. It probes the illusion of the reality or reality engendered by an illusion. Kodish rightly points out that the A--it is invariably mentioned in General Semantics in a commonplace manner--never remains equal to another way. However, "the law of identity 'A is A' is a metaphysical statement that 'everything is what it is and not something else" (Kodish 160). In other words, everything is identical with or the same in all respects with itself. A text cannot and should not be taken to be as "inert records of morphological landscapes of passive reflections of the world of objects" (Harley 278). J. B. Harley deconstructs the structures of power hidden in it. To quote him again:
Maps are never value-free images ... they are not themselves true or false. ... Both in the selectivity of their content and in their signs and styles of representation, maps are ways of conceiving, articulating and structuring the human world which is biased towards, promoted by and exerts influence upon particular sets of social relations. (Harley 278)
The reality in diasporic fiction, therefore, is not static: in Salman Rushdie, it is mutative and self-reflexive, it contrasts and contradicts, it is paradoxical and often confounding, intermingled with fantasy and magic realism. It is colored with darkness and derogatory suggestiveness in V. S. Naipaul, whereas it is quotidian in Jhumpa Lahri and Kiran Desai. The non-Aristotelian mode can fruitfully bring out these and many other different dimensions of diasporic consciousness and creative corpus.
The issues pertaining to the diasporic quotidian as it is perceived and presented in or against the contrasting backdrop of the imaginary homeland, initiates the questions of immigrant life and reality, its presentation, representation, or communication, very often projected in general semantics through extended expressions of "map and territory," "cartography," linguistic signs or semiotics. Mundane in diasporic context indicates larger implications and subterranean politicocultural overtones extensively discussed by the cultural historians, social and political scientists, and experts of economics and dexterously synthesized by the multidisciplinary critiques (the non-Aristotelian mode in this regard can prove a productive methodology). An analogy between the writer and cartographer will not be out of place here. Recourse to a system of signs is a common phenomenon between these two. However, a map--as Korzybski's dictum goes--is not the territory. Jonathan Culler in his The Pursuit of Signs rightly asserts that "we can only claim a map resembles what it represents if we take for granted and pass over in silence numerous complicated conventions" (Culler 14). He further points out that icons seem to be based on natural resemblance, but in fact, they are determined by semantic conventions and therefore consider the non-Aristotelian methodology beyond the fixity of Aristotelian logic. Diasporic modes of communication attribute the literary maps a Foucauldian reading of the dialectic between knowledge and power. Maps or a literary text, especially in the present context, codify, construct, or disseminate knowledge in such a way that indicates an objective and unbiased style of working. Nevertheless, mimetic presentation of reality cannot completely accommodate reality with all its illusive nuances; maps simply cannot be territory. Denis Wood, board and cartographic theorists like Paul Carter underscored the fact that maps reveal more of politics and motives of the mapmaker rather than the landscape itself.
Non-Aristotelian mode plays a role of crucial importance both in the process of specific action and in approximation of a communication. What is especially to be noted in this regard is that General Semantics and non-Aristotelian methodology, particularly in the context of the present paper, is inevitably linked with the diasporic mundane and therefore, essentially with the ordinary and overage. It should also be noticed that the process of abstraction in General Semantics does not believe in the higher and lower sort of categorization.
Korzybski's non-Aristotelian system, irrespective of its corroboration with or departure from or extension of Aristotelian system--deploys this process to access reality with all its complex nuances. Word, therefore, for Korzybski and the general semanticists who followed him, already and always does not accommodate the reality in its totality. Words signify concepts, which, in turn, signify "events" or "entities" or "relations" in the world. Diasporic creative sensibility betrays its unwavering involvement in this complex process of abstraction and signification. A non-Aristotelian critical methodology in this connection therefore would bring out hitherto unrevealed corners of authorial and textual dimensions. A sensitive reader can easily discern the linguistic departure of a diasporic text from the conventionally constructed or canonized texts.
The process of signification (or comprehension) of multiple textualities is embedded in a text of Diaspora. Non-Aristotelian orientation believes that all "perceptual processes" involve abstracting by our nervous system at different levels of complexity. Korzybski's neurolinguistics, therefore, opens up fresher avenues to deconstruct diasporic process as well as semantic reconstruction of a diasporic discourse. This mode offers a different set of the modes of evaluation by "extension" by consideration of the actual "facts" in a particular situation--a man in his entirety-organism-as-a-whole-in-an environment. Because the basic premises of Korzybskian General Semantics is not "the study of words" or "the study of meaning" as these terms are ordinarily used. But, as Wendell Johnson rightly assets, "it is more concerned with the assumptions underlying the symbol system and the personal and cultural effects of their use. It is cornered with the pervasive problem of the relation of language to reality, of word to fact, of theory to description and of description to ideas--of the observer to the observed, of the knower to the knowable." (4)
Diasporic creative communication, however, is concerned with, what Johnson writes in connection with General Semantics and the role of language: "The role of language in relation to predictability and evaluation and in relation to the control of events and to personal adjustment and social integration." (5) Non-Aristotelian mode of diasporic communication, therefore, can also reveal the underlying intentionality of the discourse and bring out the authorial motives also. The charges leveled against the immigrant writers apropos of their politics of production, their lurking desire to cater to the needs of their ulterior motives or even to the imperial designs can also be ascertained. A non-Aristotelian interpretation will bring fresh views to Amitav Ghosh's and Rushdie's work of history, anthropology, and ideology.
Information content incorporated by the diasporic writer, many a time, leads to further dividing the gulf between the two groups belonging to two different culture groups of the host culture and the immigrants' culture as it indiscriminately tends to generalize rather than particularize. The abstractions in the narrations turns a diasporic statement into a general behaviorist pattern of the "whole-host-community" instead of a statement on the idiosyncratic or attitudinal assertion of certain members of the community. This narration, thus, in some way or the other, betrays the limitation of Aristotelian mimetic associations. An insightful critique of Shauna Singh Baldwin's use of history and her partial view in the narration of history in What the Body Remembers will initiate not only a debate about her incorporation of history but will also spur an interrogation of her creative stance, when the protagonist and the novel is discovered inculcating the brutalities of history into a young, innocent mind. A genuine literary discourse in its larger sense attempts to minimize the distances and differences and generate a sense of belonging and harmony amongst the different racial and ethnic beings.
Carter, P. (1987). The Road to Botany Bay: An Essay in Spatial History. London: Faber.
Culler, J. (1981). The Pursuit of Signs, p. 24. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Harley, J. B. (1988). Maps, knowledge and power. In D. Cosgrove and S. Daniels (Eds.), The Iconography of Landscape, p. 277. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Johnson, W. (1947). General semantics and the science teacher. American Journal of Physics, 15, 154-156.
Kodish, B. (2003). Dare to Inquire: Sanity and Survival for the 21 Century and Beyond. Pasadena, CA: Extensional Publishing.
Wood, D. (1993). The Power of Maps. London: Routledge.
Deepa Mishra is an Associate Professor at Smt. Chandibai Himathmal Mansukhani College in Mumbai, India.
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|Publication:||ETC.: A Review of General Semantics|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2013|
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