After the Rains

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Thin Air

A trial. Composite of three shots. Exposure of 20 secs. I moved a lot in the last two shots. It turns out that my head moved a quite a lot in the first shot–three positions, semi-transparent :).

The Rain and Wind Chimes

This audio is composed of two tracks. They were recorded at two places on different occasions and mixed them later.

Both were recorded at similar time and in similar weather conditions–in the wee hours of night after midnight and before dawn and while it was raining.

The first was recorded at my backyard in Kakching, Manipur last year (July or August 2017) and the other at my verandah in New Delhi early this month (October 2018).

I removed the rain sound from the later clip to mix with the rain sound of the former. I was wondering if adding a gentle breeze sound (that moved the wind chimes) would do good. I recorded the sound of the breeze too, in a separate track, and it’s mixed with the sizzle of the rain. I have breeze sounds already recorded in some mountains of Manipur. I can use an appropriate one of them but I have not yet tried it.

Berry Picking (Monotone)

When my spirits droop so low, at times there rises from what seems like devouring bottomlessness something that silts up the black pit with grains of voice oozing from the black pores of silence. This voice, for me, is poetry–poetry of certain sort. What we at our wit’s end call “paradoxes” balance the world. Poetry is a paradox, or part of a paradox, the other part unrepresented. I love these curves of Nature. When you write poems, you trace these curves and sense them, and you turn into that sense. Dance and the dancer–you cannot separate them while in the act.

 

Making of the Transitive ‘Disappear’

When “disappear” entered English in mid-16th century, it was an intransitive verb; that is, it was used without an object following it. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has the first recorded transitive use of “disappear” dating back to 1897 when Chemical News wrote on 19 March–We progressively disappear the faces of the dodecahedron. The another early transitive use of the verb the OED has in record is from American Speech XXIV–The magician may speak of disappearing or vanishing a card.

Changing situations in lived life have a shaping influence on the language that the people who live those situations speak. Politics is one of the forces that affect people in their day-to-day life in the most shaping way. Language in turn make adjustments in its attempt to find expression to the lived situations. The political situation of the Spanish-speaking Latin American life in the 1970s created the material condition for the first transitive use of “disappear” whose intransitive sense is defined by the OED as:

to go missing in suspicious circumstances; spec. (euphem.) to undergo abduction or arrest, esp. for political reasons, and subsequently to be detained or killed, without one’s fate being made known.

New York Time Magazine wrote on 21 October 1979–While Miss Iglesias ‘was disappeared’, her family’s writ of habeus corpus, filed on her behalf, was rejected by the courts. E. Leonard  wrote in 1987–Our two Nicaraguan doctors were disappeared, one right after the other. A Times report of 21 17 August 1990 read–Armed men arrive in a village and ‘disappear’ any activists, several of whom have later been found floating in nearby rivers. The Guardian on 28 September 1999 wrote–By refusing to tell the families of the 1,198 people who were forcibly disappeared by the Chilean security forces what had happened to their loved ones they were subjecting them to ‘mental pain, suffering and demoralization’.

All instances of the use of “disappear” in the transitive sense in all of the newspaper reports since the 1970s quoted above evoke an action performed on another but disguised as autonomous. Later the OED in its partial entry draft in 2003 entered the transitive use of the verb with the definition

to abduct or arrest (a person), esp. for political reasons, and subsequently to kill or detain as a prisoner, without making his or her fate known.

And it carries this note:

Freq. with reference to Latin America; cf. American Spanish desaparecido desaparecido n. (lit. ‘those who have been disappeared’), which posits a passive transitive use of the usually intransitive Spanish verb desaparecer, evoking an action performed on another but disguised as autonomous.

Now the act of “disappearing” people by states and non-state agencies are recognized as something that is actually happening that needs to be addressed. Human rights organizations in the world now recognize this as a humanitarian issue. According to Human Right Watch, for example,

enforced disappearance is defined under international law as the arrest or detention of a person by state officials or by agents of the state or by people or groups acting with the state’s authorization, support, or acquiescence, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the arrest or to reveal the person’s status or whereabouts.

 

Farooq Mob Lynching: Why Government Cannot Magically Vanish Crimes

“History is the third parent.”

This one-sentence paragraph opens “The Blind Man’s Garden” by Nadeem Aslam. That is another way of saying—at least sociologically, scientifically, philosophically, geographically, economically and psychologically—that nothing in the world is independent of the rest of the others, if you look at the scene from any angle of the earliest of philosophers, scientists, sociologists, psychologists, geographers, psychogeographers and economists to those of the current moment. The system of interacting “things” forms a society, to speak sociologically. A government is the finest form of organizing a society that the society knows. Therefore, the political formation of society called the government, considering it is the “third parent” that produces the social mind of every individual in it, is ultimately responsible for everything about the individual.

This used to be high, uncommon sense in the pre-Socratic times—not unlike the knowledge that the earth is round which any grade one child of our time knows but used to bother the best of our ancient scientists, geographers and thinkers. Now if you write this seriously, you will be mocked for this hackneyed common sense. However, is there nothing above and below this common sense which is undeniably common now? The answer to this question is not so common. If something is not common, that is not common. If the sense being sought by this question is not common, then that sense is not common, which means that it is not in common sense. That said, something not being in the common sense of a particular society does not mean that it is not common (so common sense) in another. American common sense is different from ours. When the content of the sets of common sense of two societies may be more or less the same, their levels may vary, which means that the commonality between the common senses of the two countries has limitations.

This proves where Voltaire’s common-sense rhetoric does not work. However, importantly, even if common sense is so profusely common, that does not solve problems. I have three examples from Voltaire-related common-sense issues.

  1. During the Enlightenment age, Voltaire (among other thinkers including Rousseau, and also the medical doctors of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries) “sensed” that masturbation was the cause of a real and deadly disease (one like onania, which was nonexistent)[1], and this “sense” permeated European societies so much that many youths avoided it while many youths had psychological problems born of the fear of that disease when they had masturbated, while still many more youths masturbated with gay abandon.

The physical reality associated with masturbation had nothing to do with the common sense they held back then. It was later proved by physicians that the old common sense was wrong.

  1. In his ‘Encyclopedie’ article on coquilles, Voltaire claims that the mystery of seashells being found on the top of mountains can be explained by the water forming calcareous shell-shaped drops (like stalactites and stalagmites).[2] Voltaire knew nothing about geology, and his sense of the coquilles phenomenon was very common after his publication of the book, but that did not made any enhancement in people’s real understanding of the phenomenon.
  2. In the distended confidence of the Enlightenment, Voltaire thought that the human mind was sufficient to understand the working of human society.[3] This idea was common among the Enlightenment thinkers and the common people sensed it too. This led to what the Austrian economist Friedrich A. Hayek regarded as huge mistakes, such as the French and Bolshevik revolutions, in which top-down political power was used to reorder the whole society based on a preconceived notion of social justice. In Hayek’s day (the middle decades of the twentieth century), this mistake was being repeated not only socialist countries such as the Soviet Union, which relied on rational planning and centralized authority, but by social democratic welfare states in Europe.

This was wrong, according to Hayek, for a number of reasons, the most important of which was the fact that no single planner could ever have enough knowledge about the actual workings of a society to rationally reorder it. The bulk of knowledge in society was local in character and dispersed throughout the whole society; no individual could master enough information to anticipate the effects of a planned change in the laws or rules.

I am not producing these things to discredit Voltaire generally. These are meant to show that what is most common to the mind—which psychologists would like to see in terms of the availability bias—is not always conducive to progress; it rather often stands in the way of progress. Steven Pinker’s latest book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress (2018) and his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature are full of data-based cases against common sense and the availability bias, not to say anything about thinkers and psychologists who have written about common sense, such as Deleuze and Malcolm Gladwell.

It is also worth adding a dimension to the idea of common sense here: common sense is not just common general knowledge of who’s who and what’s what. It is the most common form or substance of the ideology of the dominant class, which we are not so conscious of because it is so common that it has become part of our culture (that is, the unconscious), not any less unconscious of it than of how we groom ourselves, eat, drink, turn round to look, cross the road or withdraw money from an ATM.

This brings us to the idea that we need to raise the level of our common sense. The higher the level of common sense the happier a society is, and the higher that society’s expert sense. Raising our society’s common sense to the level of the common common sense we see among the so-called educated won’t make us much better off because our expert sense is not so much above common sense, common or not so common. Moreover, the common sense that the government, as the third parent, is responsible for every ill would be a cavalier way of finding a scapegoat for an evil. Pointing a finger at the government for every evil perceptible in society is the easiest thing to do. It is not to deny that our government is weak, cancerously corrupted in most of its organs and is irritatingly slow in responding. However, just because the government is suffering from these many diseases does not mean that our society is as bad as anarchy or lawless. We tend to overshoot and exaggerate things when we criticize the government just because we know that we have the luxury of freedom or rather impunity granted us by the very system we are criticizing. What explains that you and I do not just punch somebody into the face and make a hole there for the life of that person to leak out of that every time we are angry in a crowd or when we find somebody committing something unlawful (not necessarily a crime, not serious enough to make the person a criminal) while many people every now and then feel their blood boiling and find themselves being part of an act of mob justice and its result, mob lynching? Where did we get our common sense? Did the government selectively inject common sense into us?

How mob psychology works has very little to do with government policies. How an individual thinks is very different from how he or she thinks in a mob. Though the government gives the physical setting for the citizen’s mind, all the intricate activities of the individual’s mind and the interactions of the minds and their outcomes cannot be attributed all to the government. This is to commit the absolving the guilty of their responsibility, which makes magically vanish crimes and unlawful activities from human affairs.

 

Notes:

[1] Frank Furedi (2018). How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. p. 136

[2] Ferdinand Mount (2018). Prime Movers: From Pericles to Gandhi—Twelve Great Political Thinkers and What’s Wrong with Each of Them. p. 194.

[3] Francis Fukuyama (2011 (2012)). The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. pp. 251–252

Thaçi Op-Ed: Peaceful Border Correction Serbia Only Way to Kosovo’s Political Future

Originally published on the official website
of the President of the Republic of Kosovo
on 16 September 2018

I am sure that in Kosovo politics, to the citizens of Kosovo, there is no doubt that we, as Kosovo institutional leaders must work together so that within a period as short, to end the talks with Serbia, signing the agreement on full normalization of relations between the two states.

We have fought against violent occupation by Serbia and have been liberated in June 1999. This story is well known to us all because it has united all Albanians and Kosovo with the West, primarily with the United States, the Alliance North Atlantic and the EU.

We, together with our allies, managed to make Kosovo a state in February 2008 and have since been recognized by 116 countries around the world.

However, we all know very well that the long-term stability of the state of Kosovo is inevitably linked to the membership of Kosovo as a state in the UN, the NATO Pact and the EU.

In this way, Kosovo will be forever and ever a stable state, a member of the family of peace-loving nations at the UN, a member of the most powerful military alliance in the world, NATO, and eventually also a member of the European Union.

We can not achieve these goals, we can not once and forever seal the fate of Kosovo as a state if in the coming months we will not make the legally binding agreement with Serbia.

Many of you may say that as a state we have deserved our journey to the UN, NATO and EU to be different, easier, faster and no longer dependent on the peace agreement with Serbia. You are right in this position, but it is the regional and international reality that imposes the normalization agreement for both countries as a necessary condition for joining the European Union.

The agreement can only be reached if the parties make a compromise. You can say again that Kosovo has already made all the painful compromises. I still agree with you. But reality is even more stubborn than our arguments. Recognition from Serbia has become a primary obstacle to our Euro-Atlantic journey. One can say that Serbia should recognize Kosovo unconditionally and within these borders. I also want the same thing. But do you think we will persuade Serbia to do so soon? Unfortunately, no. Yes, the EU and our powerful allies: the United States, Germany, England, France, Italy and many others, do you think it will convince Serbia to recognize Kosovo? Again, no. They have been unable to convince them to do so until now and can not guarantee they will do it tomorrow or in the near future. As a result,

To achieve this goal, I have proposed the option of correcting the border with Serbia. I have argued that the eventual agreement on peaceful border correction with Serbia, Kosovo ensures recognition by Serbia and the attachment of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja to our country. I have been expecting rational arguments, but to date I have heard more noise and worse hate. Kosovo is a very small country to produce such hatred, which divides our society.

We all know that Kosovo has always been treated as a special case or “Sui Generis”, in the great international enterprise of solving every process around it. In this context, the fight for freedom, NATO humanitarian intervention, the declaration of Kosovo’s independence in a coordinated manner with the international community, supervised independence and state-building are just some of the features that have made Kosovo to be treated as a case of special. Domestic and international dilemmas have accompanied all these processes. So, on the eve of declaring the declaration of independence, there were concerns that Kosovo could serve as a precedent for other countries or regions in the world. But, these concerns became inaccurate. Also, another major concern was the fear of mass exodus of the Serb community living in Kosovo, shortly after the declaration of independence. Even this bias was wrong.

Kosovo is now an independent state and we are in the final stage of state-building. But even now there are dilemmas, just as before. Surprisingly, at a time when Kosovo has the chance to reach a peaceful agreement with Serbia, frustrated and in many ways, raised unsustainable concerns. The skeptics today have again come together to oppose the real option of peaceful border correction with Serbia as an opportunity for mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia. I repeat: the border correction between Kosovo and Serbia, as two independent states, which will recognize each other as states, will be an integral part of the border demarcation of 430 kilometers long.

Doubts in the legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia are easily spreading fears for allegedly destabilizing the region and deepening ethnic divisions in the Balkans. They are creating panic and fog, inventing the same arguments, just like on the verge of declaring independence.

I have a high regard for all those who are rationally involved in this debate, but those who only produce noise and panic, regretfully say they are wrong.

In the past days I have had very important meetings with the main politicians of neighboring countries in the region. First I met Ilir Meta, the President of Albania, then in Montenegro I was welcomed by Milo Djukanovic, President of Montenegro, and finally talked to Skopje with Zoran Zaev, the Prime Minister of Macedonia.

In all of these friendly and sincere talks, I made it clear to our goal of the agreement with Serbia, ending the centuries-old hatred and maintaining stability in this part of the Balkans, but also our goal to further deepen cooperation and friendship with all countries in the region.

The peace agreement based on the border correction between Kosovo and Serbia, if achieved, will be fully in line with international law. Such a deal provides Kosovo with formal recognition from Serbia, secures the attachment of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja and paves the way for EU, NATO and UN membership, thus strengthening stability and closing down the last conflict in the Balkans .

Therefore, the skeptics of this agreement can assure that now that there will be no border correction along ethnic lines, there will be no exodus of population and no domino effect as to the stability of this part of Europe.

Moreover, this peaceful agreement will put a heavy stone on the so-called “Pandora’s Box”, which these days are being sparked with much passion. And if one definitely argues and refers to an eventual peace-correction agreement as a precedent, then this case could indeed be used in the future as a positive precedent necessary to resolve interstate disputes only peacefully and not war .

The time of wars and conflicts between Kosovo and Serbia, for my conviction, has passed. But the end of this era will only be established when we make the final peace agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Not Going by Examples

Despite the better angels of our nature, we humans lie, deceive and betray each other, make mistakes, and fail to do things valued as good and these things become facts in history. A great deal of humans’ inter-personal and inter-community interactions draws on history–the memory of who did what. This is true especially in multi-ethnic community contexts where inter-ethnic contests prevail. The problem with examples and facts in human affairs, especially in multi-ethnic contexts, is that there is no dearth of examples and counter examples of one hurting the other and vice versa, and communities, when they go by facts and examples, continually find fault with each other and get caught in a spiral of vengeance, reducing human affairs to a tit-for-tat game or program.

A casual glance at any contesting multi-ethnic society will meet with enough evidence, from the subtlest to the most conspicuous ones, be it Naga-Kuki or Meitei–hill-tribes relations in Manipur, Hindu-Muslim relations in most parts of India, Serb-Bosniac relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenian-Azeri relations in Azerbaijan and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (now Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), or Abkhaz-Georgian relations in the former Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia (now Republic of Abkhazia) and Georgia, Serb-Albanian relations in Serbia and its former Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (now Republic of Kosovo) among numerous others–every nation, especially at its inchoation, is a zone of conflict.

One primary reason for the persistence of inter-ethnic contests is each party remembering the harms the other party did to them and taking vengeance on them for the harms, thereby creating new facts or examples for the other community in turn to remember and seek vengeance for.

Study of all conflict zones in the world shows that going by examples does not help resolve conflicts. While revenge may be tempting and there is sadistic satisfaction to the destructive motives in us in taking revenge, it is worth seeing the reality that revenge does no good and taking double pains of not immediately satisfying our vengeful motive and of taming ourselves and trying to think up ideas and ideas that cut across ethnic and communal spaces serve the purpose of coexistence and progress. Ideas are seeds of possibility rooted in infinitude, while facts are finited imprints of ideas left in the actual human affairs by their actions. Facts are final  and exhausted, and they cannot be changed or improved, though subject to interpretation but not without contention. Ideas can be set high and adjusted endlessly for better practice. Thinking up ideas that transcend and cut across contesting communities and will bring them together to common interests rather than looking for hurtful facts and seeking vengeance will eventually show them the way to peaceful coexistence, making them see that they have more similarities than differences, and difference is not necessarily bad, rather it enables us to appreciate one another. It is not that facts should be ignored and history trumped; it rather is that facts should be valued as knowledge essential to our consciousness but not as part of our plans for the future.

 

EU Membership as Part of Kosovo Deal

Last updated 17 September 2018

One probable reason for Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s cancelling the EU-brokered meeting with his Kosovan counterpart Hashim Thaçi minutes before it was due is there being no clear guarantees that it would access the EU in 2025. The meeting was to discuss the territorial land border swap between Serbia and Kosovo. Serbia and Kosovo have been looking west for entry into the EU and the EU has told the two countries to first settle its disagreements between them. The land swap proposal is against oppositions from inside and outside Serbia and the country is going for the land swap as a price for its EU entry but there is no clear guarantee that the execution of the proposal (which is expected to resolve all issues with Kosovo) will get Serbia inside the EU.

Kosovo Serbia

In a Reuters interview on 13 September Vučić said if Serbia and Kosovo were to reach a deal with EU mediation, “Serbia would need to get clear guarantees that it would become an EU member state in 2025.”[1] He also added that the deal should also include a resolution of Serbia’s EU path and further economic progress.[2] Thaçi has also implied that a final agreement with Serbia should include mutual recognition, and pave the way for Kosovo’s membership in the EU, NATO, and the UN.

The campaigning for European Union parliamentary elections next May has already begun and the rise in popularity of right-wing political parties in Europe could dim the prospects of reaching a deal between Belgrade and Pristina. Moreover most Serbs view Kosovo as the cradle of their nation and Orthodox Christian faith and Serbia, under its constitution, considers Kosovo an integral part of itself.

The EU, however, is expecting Serbia and Kosovo to reach an agreement by the middle of 2019.[3][4] Vučić and Thaçi are expected to meet late this month. I fact, there are reasons to believe that the two countries will settle the issues with the proposed land swap more sooner than later. Writing on the official website of the President of the Republic of Kosovo on 16 September, President Thaçi expressed his strong conviction that “border correction” is the only way for Kosovo to win Serbia’s recognition and to EU, NATO and UN membership.[5] “We can not achieve these goals, we can not once and forever seal the fate of Kosovo as a state if in the coming months we will not make the legally binding agreement with Serbia,” he added stressing the urgency.[6][7][8] In another op-ed published by Blic on the same day, the Serbian President Vučić addressed the Serbian public in the same way using synchronized terms.[9]

References:

[1][2] Sekularac, I. (2018, September 13). Serbian President Says He Wants EU Membership Guarantee as Part of Kosovo Deal. Retrieved September 15, 2018, from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-balkans-serbia/serbian-president-says-he-wants-eu-membership-guarantee-as-part-of-kosovo-deal-idUSKCN1LT2EY

[3] Hahn: Kosovo and Serbia should reach agreement by the middle of 2019. (2018, September 14). Retrieved September 15, 2018, from European Western Balkans: https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2018/09/14/hahn-kosovo-serbia-reach-agreement-middle-2019/

[4] Han: Naš cilj treba da bude da Kosovo i Srbija imaju dogovor do sredine 2019. (2018, September 14). Retrieved September 14, 2018, from Beta: https://beta.rs/vesti/politika-kosovo/97073-han-nas-cilj-treba-da-bude-da-kosovo-i-srbija-imaju-dogovor-do-sredine-2019

[5][6] Thaçi, H. (2018, September 16). Peaceful border correction between Kosovo and Serbia. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from President of the Republic of Kosovo: http://president-ksgov.net/sq/oped/korrigjimi-paqesor-i-kufirit-ndermjet-kosoves-dhe-serbise

[7] Thaci in an op-ed: Without a peace agreement with Serbia on border correction, Kosovo will not seal its fate as a state. (2018, September 17). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from Kosovo Sever portal: https://kossev.info/thaci-in-an-op-ed-without-a-peace-agreement-with-serbia-on-border-correction-kosovo-will-not-seal-its-fate-as-a-state/

[8] Thaçi: Without border correction, there will be no recognition from Serbia. (2018, September 17). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from European Western Balkans: https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2018/09/17/thaci-without-border-correction-will-no-recognition-serbia/

[9] KOSOVSKO PITANJE Autorski tekst Aleksandra Vučića. (2018, September 16). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from Blic: https://www.blic.rs/vesti/politika/kosovsko-pitanje-autorski-tekst-aleksandra-vucica/ms91wqh