Joint Symbolic Suicide

The Committee for the Waste of Energy, Distraction and Ultimate Naffness have been at it again.

Yes this is another remote and squinty eyed report on a symbolic dispute in Bangladesh. A statue was commissioned and set up of a famous baul (quirky multi layered philosophical folk muso) called Lalon. If you are into folk spiritual stuff that is slightly loopy, do check out the genre with a Bengali speaker to translate nuances for you. The site was outside the main International airport, which was the scene of another rather lame symbolic battle (to do with Arabic script) a while back. 

What transpired seems to be that a local staunch initiative was taken to get the statue of Lalon removed. The key players are known to be unrelenting on generally no brainer issues like  ' No, you folks (Ahmedis) aren't technically Muslim. We really wish you were our brothers, but youve got some cultish exclusivity going on. You do not submit to the basic consensus guys. You've got something else going on. We are not going to let you propagate your creed as Islam here, or call your prayer halls mosques.'

Their methods are rustic and have gotten out of hand on occasions, coming across as really quite cruel. This character of activism is not 'good', but is also not an unusual phenomenon amongst social movements and political businesses of all stripes in Bangladesh. Compared to the gleeful jumping on the dead bodies of out of line rabid Awamis of a few years ago, their beyadobi  looks pasty. 

But that would be really squinty. The reasons for the 'grace gap' and 'brain gap' of Bangladeshi 'Islamic' Rainbow Coalition are many. We have been working on it for over a century out of a smaller and smaller playpen, all the time though somebody keeps throwing out the toys and a lot of the guys are crying for dudu.

Allahumma ansuril ikhwanan al muslimina fi kulli makan, fi kulli zaman

Anyway, the Secular Evangelical Bloc are very upset that 'bigots' are asserting themselves and that the government relented to the removal movement. When south-asians-with-religion-issues use the word bigot something fishy is probably going on. 

They have thrown the symbolic kitchen sink and then some at it. Its really quite funny and sad. From razakars and unrestituted beastly transgressions during the '71 fitna, to Talibans and the Bamiyan issue, to the 'culture of our forefathers' and something about the soil. If you look at the 'related groups' column in the Facebook group it is very revealing ('Ban Jamaaaat' etc). Gotta love FB and marvel at the tight looping, circular angst of the Dafter Elements of the Moribund Awami Complex.

Trad Muslims, especially Sunni ones are never really going to like statues shoved up their noses, especially in a highly visible area just outside the airport that every visitor on a plane will see. I feel that if public beauty was the aim, something better could have been created, rather than a piece more suited to a museum of a statue more fitting with the Dhaka University area where there are loads of modern arty statues of humans standing confidently all over the place. 

The Removal Initiative clearly has political capitalisation associated with it, but the vulgarity issue remains. For me anyway. Human statues aren't really in my habitus. Then there's the issue of symbolic injustice the the content material.  Baul is a fluid, dynamic thing that eludes singular static representation and orchestration. Rendering the Late Lalon into concrete really misses the point. It is like codifying the Laws of Punk Rock.

The UnRemoval Initiative seeks to 're-instate' said statue. As if to prove themselves to be a bunch of Pak!s (sorry shak, but you probably stopped reading a while ago, its not to do with race but sucking on essentially white nipples of kudos, virtue, nationalism and communication)  some have launched a protest through the medium of the Gamcha. The Gamcha is a multipurpose local cotton towel sometimes worn over the heads of men who did not go to English medium schools. 

Its an attempt at Artificial Self-Ganjification. But its not very real, see the implementers are essentially alien and alienating. They will not address the Removal Initiative or the socio-spiritual vernacular but seek to make maximum noise to rally their friends at home and abroad. The same sort of thing happens every couple of months. I wonder who really pulls the triggers and why people don't instinctively dampen the gun powder (or at least store it elsewhere). It is so easy to get the worst out of everybody with a spot of identity entrenchment.

There are a lot of axes to be ground on this issue, which i feel is better to examine through the clear lens of spatial decorum rather than: Lalon; syncretic vs synthetic local religious culture; or  'freedom' of 'expression'. We grind our axes indirectly on periphery issues because there is no real space for cultural negotiation. We inbreed in intellectual ghettos, lack constructive imagination and require cohesive leadership.

Spatial decorum is not dancing around like a ninny in a pinny in a Royal Society lecture on Interplanetary Dust. Cow slaughter in front of a Mandir. Preaching 'universal' human rights to badgers and owls in Antarctic. Calling for Khilafa at a press conference in Whitehall. Sailing a boat on a Oxford Street in rush hour.

The troubled place needs Tawhesion, and I think its going to be some time. Bangladeshi election observers report that past elections have been socially corrupting of existing stocks of Tawhesion.

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