Home Kolkata Accomodating the culture of disgust

Accomodating the culture of disgust


The institutional law makers in their century old practice of formulating a body of rules had somehow bypassed the precipitated horror of accommodating, that in times of crisis like this, would be carefully put as ragging. The rage at the ongoing saga of post-ragged philosophy, if I may call it, takes it momentum at a time when we should have been more concerned about the ways to tackle systemic violence, nurture minds to combat such acts of crime, rather than politicizing the entire maze-trapped conversations.

Every system that assimilates horror is political, the urban philosophers would say, but the political might not always be pragmatic. The Western value system puts a better cover on the crime of ragging and often calling it ‘hazing’ or ‘initiation rights’, their implications cycling down to a never-ending loop of introductions, re-introductions and infliction of similar trauma as a mode of acceptance in an academic ecosystem that is foreign to one’s teenage life. The rite of loss is perhaps a rite de passage in all its negative sense.

Such forms of institutional trauma are often a means of control and like in a relay race, they pass the baton from the abuser to the abused, who in turn takes up the role of the abuser in the same cycle. The concept of violence is disputed and the reasons to strategically analyse that is a means of diverting from the topic. But, in the same thread, the abuse involved in ragging comes with a entry pass called Avoidability, which I would like to misquote as voidability (according to many well-known social media critics whom I shall refrain from naming). According to Vorobej, the act of violence encapsulates the dimensions of harm, agency, victimhood, instrumentality and most importantly normativity.
Who decides what is normal? Who devises methods to avoid such structural trauma? The answer is known to none. For someone coming from the suburbs, ‘fitting in’ becomes a task in itself and there is no one around to handover the template to choose the skills of survival. I come from no place of belonging. As a son to a retired bureaucrat, my childhood has been spent learning to balance on the ropes of adjustments in new schools, new colonies and ever moving homes and at the end of a quarter, I must admit that I have failed miserably.

The bullying that happens in schools often go unaddressed. When I came to live in the city for the first time in 2004, the challenges were nothing like before. In school, the initial days of getting accustomed to people would mean that I had to give away my lunch box to the popular gang in order to be left alone. With time and with numerous attempts to gel in a space, I perhaps made my first couple of friends who empathised.

For the Dreamer, the city possibly meant new hopes, love-songs, journal of freedom and chasis of abandoned dreamcatchers. He came to study literature, like many of us and perhaps left with a misinterpreted message of how violence is a practice and must be passed on like a lesson from the Seniors to the Juniors. He did not however survive the message.

I came from the suburbs to the hallowed gates of St. Xavier’s College during one of those unkind summers in 2014. As someone who had also been scared of belonging to a new place, the place seemed warm in a different way. The spectacular is often silence; the silence is often spectacular in places that we have always dreamt of belonging. The three years etched a different story in my insignificant life and a greater part of this is because of how my Seniors have hand-held me into the system. People said that the corridors had signs instructing you and following you everywhere, but for me, thanks to Seniors, the roller coaster seemed manageable and the doors of the Senior batches were always open for inconspicuous and eager individuals like me, that included watching movies with them during their final semester classes. My Senior, perhaps in the sense of the initiation rites, taught me how to enunciate each world properly for my first play in college, and the follow up rites would include helping me with academic decisions, acting as a shield when the Director would not be happy with the delivery of my dialogues. Had I not been inducted in the system in a manner that the Seniors showed, I would not have discovered a different image of myself. I had, in all these years, tried to be somehow fit my ugly foot in their shoes and tried, tried just like they tried without complaining.
Following this, I have seen similar instance of the camaraderie between Seniors and Juniors when I moved to Jadavpur University for my Masters’ degree in English. There was no visible flexing of power or any methodically contorted and imposed hierarchy among the different batches of day scholars.

After a brief period as a young College lecturer, Researcher and a dropped out doctoral candidate, I took up law at the age of 23. Sooner into the degree, the world cocooned itself within the tentacles of Corona for around 2 years till we returned to college with our mouth gagged (for me, in the literal sense of the term). Because of pointing out anomalies in how the administration (mal)functioned, pointing put how the toxic hierarchy and muscle flexing of Senior batches embittered a healthy academic space and how politically motivated students threatened teachers and non-conforming Juniors alike, I was shamed for speaking out against the unhealthy academic space and intolerable conduct from soi-disant political leaders dressed as students of law. It is even more unfortunate that some middle-aged custodians of Justice who had been once a part of the part of the place (like we all did) facilitated and supported the bullying. I finished Law School at the top of my batch, but that story of resilience is for another day.

As I write this today, the 19th of March, there are people outside the Campus sloganeering for justice, some for political mileage, some with genuine concerns, while the real issue of rampant bullying, sexism and ragging continue to thrive across campuses, more so in the public Universities that are funded from the aspirations (and taxes) of common people who intended to find their calling. For some, the path is yet to be covered, for some like us, we are halting at unequal intervals to water the engine and for some like the Dreamer, the journey ended even before it could start. As Zizek had right said about the impact of violence- the violence is not the most violent and that in itself shall stand as the only unattended problem for the generations to come.


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