More Intolerable Imagining

            Imagine that: a good looking movie actress snuggling with a good looking movie actor. Yawn, you say. (What’s to see after the challenge of locating Kat Von D’s engagement bling amidst the sea of illustrated skin? Sparkler embedded ink, the next generation of tattoos?) The AP’s Nahal Toosi reports that Pakistani actress Veena Malik finds herself on the wrong end of an edict after she and Indian actor Ashmit Patel created just such an image. This led to a heated exchange between her and the edict’s author, Mufti Abdul Qawi, who admitted to never having witnessed the image. Malik was adamantly active and went on the “offensive” in her defense, something that does not bode well after what befell the American woman who simply suggested a non-existent image through the dialog bubbles of a cartoon (see September 2010 archive postings The Intolerable Image and An Intolerable Image II).

            Nothing like the introjection of fundamentalist religion into a culture’s political process to make the Left stand up and take note! It also casts a discerning light on Jacques Ranciere’s politics of aesthetics and the place of speech within his account of the consensus/dissensus dynamic that comprises the political. Ranciere describes three regimes that make up the aesthetic history of the west- the ethical, the representative, and (the latest) the aesthetic. Contemporary events can show signs of any and all. Is it imaginable that these same regimes can be found in reading? (Is reading part of the aesthetic – the life and loves of images?) The hierarchical structuring of time, space, and their valuation, such an integral part of the representative regime with its emphasis on narrative (long, long ago in a country far, far away…), likewise stain the reading of any given text. Ranciere’s consensus/dissensus interpretation of politics can be read in just such a manner; that what has been marginalized, having no voice, can displace what was determinant of the entire conversation- speaker, spoken, and topic of conversation (witness recent events in Tunisia). It is so easy to slip into the narrative, time-line logic of imagining that what has been displaced wanes and disappears (Tunisia, the sped up version). Toosi’s report begs to differ. When reading Ranciere, perhaps it is more appropriate to imagine the flux of the aesthetic regime; what was once displaced may return to displace that which had previously displaced it (as an equal opportunity displacer). Progressive modernism, which comforts and nourishes the Left’s imagining, favors the narrative, time-line logic (considering that, just how progressive, how modern can it be?). That the consensus/dissensus evaluation of the political could involve a flux (and not a progression) is, quite frankly, an intolerable image of sorts for the Left.

            Veena take heed!

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