Sunday, March 05, 2006

Monkey See, Monkey Do

[I have a feeling I've used this blog title before...]

Last week, weary, overthunk, and generally suffering from neuron-activity overload (not really - 'wait till the work really kicks in', I'm telling myself), I tuned into the most recent feeding-frenzy generated by the media.

1. No, not the Budget or its saturated aftermath.
Nothing's much worse than a smirking ' I'm smarter than all of you (combined)' Chidambaran ('Chidu' to his admirers.). Actually, there is. Him being convinced that a potent cocktail of liberalism and good ol' mai-baap-sarkaar'ism will take the economy down the path of 10% growth. "Now the poor can participate in the benefits of liberalization and globalization," the minions can be heard chiming.

Sure they can - but there's always the Haanth. Promise me one thing: not to ever be fooled by it. Oh, I (wish I) could go on about the Haanth (in post-independence Indian politics) and the hand (in 20th century western philosophy) forever.

2. No, not 'Jessica'.
Seeing photos of the march/ers (it/they were quite telling...) at India Gate made many things very clear.

About indignation - "how can this happen in a democratic country?" About the loss of sense - "how can this happen when there is the rule of law?" (Or, is there?) About helplessness - "how can this happen to someone like her?" (By extension, that becomes 'us' and 'me'.) About rage - which sometimes, in this country, is of the manufactured sort. Let me let you in, on a dirty little secret: its symptom is an empty, and deeply mocking trend, most visible with TV: "SMS us now at [catchy four digit number], to express your sentiments."

SMS. To news channels that cater/pander to Sec-A. Think about it. Citizenry is so frail, so far-removed, and so non-consequential, that hope is all that's left. Hope, in the possibility of the powers-that-be bending to and changing at the sound of a cascade of SMS's being received.

[I read an essay about this phenomenon once. Too bad I don't remember when, where, or what the larger argument was. Now, how's that for feeling helpless?]

Ever seen a film called 'Training Day'? Here's a sequence in it that flashed back to me:
Jake: What happened was murder... and armed robbery. Wait, we had badges, so it's different?
Alonzo: Open your eyes, son. Can't you see?
Jake: That man was your friend, and you killed him like a fly.
Alonzo: Why is he my friend, because he knows my first name?
3. No, not.... [Damn, can't remember a third example. Media feeding frenzies seem like three day spells of bad weather. They happen, and then, all of a sudden, they're not there. And when they're over, you're only left with a faint memory of it all...]

[To finally reach the spark this blogpost was begun with, and why it's titled the way it is.]

4. Yes, Bush.

"Will he?"
"Won't he?"
"Will we?"
"Won't we?"

"How will this affect..."
"What are the implications of..."

"What can we expect from..."
"There are apprehensions that..."

Call it the consequences of overload, but being a good social scientist, I've mastered (in this episode) what all good scientists must desire to predict and control: the future.

See, after a while, it got easy to predict what would flow out of Bush's sewer-hole. Some choice phrases, for your esteemed consideration
"Replacing a politics of fear, with a politics of hope."
"Spreading freedom into the darkest corners."
"Democracy and opportunity."
"We will bring these killers to justice."
Some phrases I didn't anticipate
"We must answer the call of history."
"Some people don't want to change."
Suppose Bush went back to school (without buying into the phoniness of that manufactured American neo-spendfest, "Back to School" season!) I can't help thinking he'd be a really good student - not research level, mind you.

In a way, he already is (back to school, and a good student too.) How else can his memorization of so many choice phrases and the tutored ability to recite them in varying circumstances have been possible?

A 'bet', if you're willing to wager: Bush is two thoughts and one uncomfotable press question away from saying, "but that's out-of-course!" 'Motherfucker needs to', in Derrida's words, "think beyond the book" - textbook, King James, or otherwise.

Since you've been getting bombarded with highly polemical reflections for paragraphs on end, some humour, to end our variety show for tonight. The following images were taken while Bush was in Pakistan.

[In small font, BBC's caption; in bold, reaction/s.]

After receiving instructions from the Pakistani captain, the president takes to the crease with a cricket bat.

I can't stop laughing. Maybe his actions are symbolic of being a fish out of water...

The president starts to get the hang of things, hitting the ball high and hard.

"Hai, gayi meri peeth... gayi saali."
In SepiaMutiny's words, "he maintains his trademark tight lipped grin in [this] photo..."

He then tries his hand at bowling.

"Shouldn't have had the chicken for lunch." (Was he there long enough, to fit a meal into the schedule?)

President Bush later admits he still has some way to go before becoming a capable cricketer

The question that confronts the world today... is not "WWJD?" but "what will Bush do?" Conspiracy nuts think he'll revoke a certain section of the American Constitution, and keep the throne for a few more years. Well, he's slipped to 34% in 'popularity' 'polls', so the amendment is a long shot.

Staying with precedents, the same way that Bush claims to have a direct line to God (who told him to invade Iraq), I happen to have a direct line to Bush (as is evident from how I was able to predict his words at the Hyderabad House press conference.)

He seems never to have been much of a student, despite recent performance leaps. Heck, fulfilling one American dream ("any kid can become the President", even a C student <--- Chris Rock reference) doesn't mean having to stop.

And, since I know what he's thinking, I thought I'd share it with you, dear reader. (Provided you keep coming back for these juicy nuggets.)

Acting and showbiz are the way forward. That's why he's practising his version of the Arnold Schwarzenegger grin.

P.S. Posted this as a comment at SepiaMutiny, but here it is again.

"Coomi Kapoor, in her weekly column on the low-down and inside info on politics in Delhi, writes:
"When informed by the Americans that President George Bush would like to participate in a very Indian pastime, the Ministry of External Affairs proposed that he watch a cricket match. Bush liked the suggestion. In fact, when asked by an Indian correspondent in Washington whether he would prefer watching a cricket match or a Bollywood movie, he came up with the pat line ‘‘I am a cricket person’’.

But though the idea came from us, Bush watched a cricket match in Pakistan, not India. The MEA is understandably miffed at the Pakistanis appropriating its brainwave. Still the Indian Government can take heart from the fact that while he was here Bush was too busy with work to have time for relaxation. In Pakistan, on the other hand, he had more leisure time, since he had little business to transact."


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