Thursday, November 08, 2012

Looking things in the eye...

...Master of antipathies
The Indian secular narrative had become too wedded to a historical narrative according to which it could not be the case that Hindus and Muslims had deep conflict, temples could not ever really have been destroyed for religious reasons. Naipaul’s claim was that this was a repressive narrative that would generate its own pathologies. It made Enlightenment values precariously hostage to getting history right; as if to say that if indeed there had been conflict in the past, the current conflict would be justified. His claim was that Enlightenment values could not rest on historical myth-making. You should be allowed to say that temples were indeed destroyed. But acknowledging this and moving on was a far healthier psychological state than a discourse where that thought could only be repressed and produce its pathologies in turn. Converting the religious-secular divide into a debate over history was to miss the point. The terrain of the conflict was entirely psychological. The proper critique of Naipaul is not that he got history wrong. Having interestingly plumbed the depths of the psychology that animates movements like Hindu nationalism, he became so enamoured of what he found, that he become blind to its effects.
This is the incident that started the controversy referred to in the article.

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