The Museum of Vestigial Desire

Gender

tags: shadows psychosis published on:

When cities started calling themselves cities, the first thing they created and spread in the air was the phenomenon of arbitrary risk. Anyone, anywhere could get attacked at any time. The kind of attack, the nature of the aggression was variable but everything else was not. Death was certain. So while the human race was immortal, fearless and immune in their settlements before the dawn of the urban age, cities brought death and decay. Not only were a thousand new ways to die born but also as many ways to live degraded, decadent lives. Before cities were born, too many mechanisms for mutilating the psyche, too many ways of playing with darkness weren't there. These have been the innovations of urbanity.

When the task at hand was to create some prototypes of power games that could be played, men first thought of entrapping women. Through religion, history, brute force and corruption the entire sex was successfully trapped. Religion was born only when cities arose, before that there were only notions of the sacred and notions of a cosmos in which humans were smaller than the specks of shit that ants excrete. But this did not help, so religion came up with the idea of the man in the sky who was pathogenically needy, judgemental and small-minded. Religion made sure there were enough knives in its arsenal of arms to stab the female sex in the heart and be done with it. History also came in aid then, and it became the smoke and mirrors trick beyond comparison. So not only was a common story of human experience shared, it was carved on hard stone that weathered the corrosive nature of time, people with other stories running in their head were called liars and paraded through libraries naked. And if this history said anything it said things which implicitly supported the claims of religion. Only the compulsions of free market economics and warfare allowed women to live with dignity in the city.

Else they were always the forms floating around in the shadows. Men swim around their fishbowls trying to find meaning in times of disproportionate cynicism, and women refuse to help because nobody asks them. They can help by telling stories loudly into the public address system. Stories which haven't been told, which are to be translated afresh from the ancient bloodstream trafficking in their bodies. Stories hidden from the lies of history.

A long, long time ago gender was a fluid and porous kind of role-playing. It was circumstantial, contextual and opportunistic. In the morning you could be a woman and in the evening a man, if that worked out better for you. Role-play depends on a give and take mechanism. One question is if you can give enough to the role by playing it. The other question is if you can get something out of playing the role for yourself. A resolution of both the questions can lead to a quality enactment that is cathartic and expressive for both the actor and the audience.

Such was the actuality of gender. Then it was broken, brushed away and denied. It was made into a construction, denied the possibility of play. All deviations became queer. Perversity could always be sustained at a price.

After the early days of urban culture, everything got frozen into the moulds which were initially deployed only as scaffolding. Cities killed the chaotic, poetic interplay between contexts and moments. It imposed structures as if they were gospel and backup up their claims with religion, history and brute force. If there is anything to be mourned, we should mourn the tendency of the present city to be a low-resolution image that aspires to achieve itself fully.

The inhuman, ruthless has become like the default mode of people here. It is not enough to embrace humanism, because the human is not a complete idea. It claims an exalted high ground and forever lives in the pathos of failing itself. Because of instructions, prescriptions, inscriptions we live everyday suffocated by our own insanity. There is no sandbox, there is no acceptance of our stink, stains, dents. There is no state-sponsored universal right to therapy. The strands of insanity in our DNA coil and recoil to such degree to become like wound springs with immense potential energy. If we ask people to change, to buckle-up, to rise above their base tendencies we need to give them options for the safe extolling of their psychic excreta. You cannot just say that "private spaces are open, do anything behind closed doors but in the public please be nice." Privacy is a privilege, living under watchful parental eyes all the time can be very tiring. How can we expect frustrated, exhausted spirits to play fair?

Insanity has been unfairly demonised, it needs to be accepted as another kind of spirit-season. In insanity lie all the answers of things which perplex us, which seem counter-intuitive, which confound. Instead of forcing the insane to be the nectar of closed-door therapy sessions and out-patient departments of hospitals, we need to make it legal dinner-table conversation. The imposition of normalcy on unstable minds produces violence. It is the flip side. In inculcating pride of the mad, society will fracture itself and crack open its own charades. Gender violence is misanthropic and and not just misogynic. Gender discord is a political strategy to pulverise dissent.

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