There’s nothing new in the beauty of the rising sun and the play of its rays over the sky and river beneath, at least not in Banaras, and at least not when the sun is not enveloped by clouds. Day after day, every day, a Banarsi is exposed to the same scene in his city. This repetition may either convert him into an addict or make him resistant to the charms of subahe Banaras. One more digression is forcing its way through the clouds of logical reasoning: “It must be said that an addict of that beauty is in a divine company: Baba Vishwanath too is addicted to the beauty of his Kashi and can’t live away from it”.
Before I go any further, I must quote from, “The Kasi Meta-Narrative II” another post of mine:
Through a long process of cumulative essentialization, Kasi [Varanasi/Kashi/Banras] has been converted from a city into an idea, and de facto theories of a kasicentric world have been formulated. Non-residents find it very difficult to reconcile the ideal city with the material-real one. I have read account after account expressing shock, anger or frustration of the visitors to the city over this failure in reconciling the ideal city with the real one. There’s only one villain in the story: the evolutionarily ingrained impulse to essentialize in the mind of those with vested interests in propagating and adding to the city’s myth.
I am an essentializer myself, albeit a postmodern and post-Freudian manner. So, I try to expose my own essentializing appetites and methods in order to benefit from them. Instead of investing in the grand narrative of a kasicentric world, I try to create my own petits recits through strategic essentialization (a la Professor Spivak) of my variety. It’s actually an idea I am not fully adept at. So I googled it and got this on a page: “Essentialism is like dynamite, or a powerful drug: judiciously applied, it can be effective in dismantling unwanted structures or alleviating suffering” (postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/gayatri-chakravorty-spivak/). As an attempt is now being made to create the mini-narrative of subahe Banaras. I need to essentialize the term and the experience. Logic may take back seat for a while. Let the Romantic imagination soar and the evolutionarily ingrained impulse to essentialize take over.
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