Elder Ones, "From Untruth," and a Threat Called New York: An Essay

Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah By

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A becoming-city, [New York] has lived past what a Hegelian would espy as requisite contradictions that in this case do not begin or end in ethnic diversities. Kidambi's return to oriental thought, to the looping interplay of truth and untruth, mirrors this overture however to solicit the subject for protest. —Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah
If what we witness today; rabid expansion of capital and with it, growing class difference, and a renewed interest in Marx; if these were testimony to one thing, it would be Derrida's spook of a wager from his seminal Specters de Marx. Indeed, neo-liberal/conservative sham thinkers such as Fukuyama today find shelter no longer in Hegel, or Nietzsche, whose thorny crown has been casually re-abducted by the Right and moralist "blockheads," e.g. Peterson, but of all in Marx, this time exclusively to salvage rather than affirm and celebrate as Geist their hegemony from the material pitfall they find it in. Amidst all this, and while there is capital scholarship to be found in David Harvey and the admittedly few surviving Marxists, one cannot help but recollect the overly misconstrued role of Marcuse within American intellectual circles, and Coen brothers' more or less accurate portrayal of it, in Hail, Caesar!, when confronted by a jazz record with songs bearing titles such as "Decolonize the Mind" and "Dance of the Subaltern," as in Elder Ones' recent endeavor, From Untruth, "pieces grappling with issues of power, oppression, capitalism, colonialism, white supremacy, violence and the shifting nature of truth," as the official description puts it.

This is all too pronounced when senior members of media, those advocates of enthusiasm and escapism, of effortless, empty writings/readings, whose stance toward the people is not unlike those held by Crassus or Le Bon, even if plainly lacking the intellect, come to express horror at the very suggestion of research and inquiry into problems such as those outlined above. This is nothing but a thematic shift in their myopic eyes—the interest in Jainism, Buddhism, and in general what Paul Tillich famously categorized as transtheism and what a phenomenologist could deem as a theological instance of the Other, Alice Coltrane to Pharoah Sanders, has now shifted to a more material, sociopolitical plane, albeit still maintained through ethnic divisions and from there pointing to oriental, transmaterial thought found in ethnicities as considered authentic and original. Self-evidently insufficient, the view outlives any other, and for visible reasons too. Let us pose and consider the elemental question that secretly grounds this banal rhetoric: What does the average reader make of words as composite and theoretically bounded as subaltern?

Hardly a surprise, the majority of the Americans who responded to my query over the course of a full week, both in person and across cyberspace could not offer an individual definition of the term let alone extended dialogue within techno-theoretical context, and the interviewees were of varied academic disciplines and backgrounds, dramaturgy to anthropology to cybernetics. Indeed among jazz collectives themselves select few have gone to the labor of undertaking research in their homages made to notions of similar nature; The Quash Wagon Reclusion and Black Spirituals' respective adoption of deconstruction from roughly five years ago, among those few; and the case with philosophers neither all too promising soon as one bears in mind say Searle or Dennett, which raises, or rather reintroduces the question of whether inquiry and furthermore pressing for inquiry and research, under such circumstances, is at all necessary.

To answer this, and doing that, dispelling any rhetoric use said question might have, we may turn to none other than the voice of the blue-collars, Bruce Springsteen. When asked about "Thunder Road," Springsteen openly admitted to not ever having seen the movie by which the song was supposedly inspired. How come then Springsteen's counterparts today, who too have not seen, read, or interacted with a myriad of cultural artifacts, appear all too shallow when compared to him? Most of all, the 1970s, unlike today and the '50s to which we slowly and in concept regress, were a time of transgressions, a time when exchange of bodies and ideas was encouraged, regardless of consummate, absolute communication and confirmations, which ironically is the premise, in neurotechnology and elsewhere (ethics, social codes) today.



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