First Malayalam Book on Cultural Politics in Kerala

My first book in Malayalam happens to be the first book in my mother tongue dealing directly with the politics of culture in Kerala.  Samskaram, Prathinidhanam, Prathirodham:  Samskara Rashtreeyathilekkulla Kurippukal (Culture, Representation, Resistance: Notes Towards Cultural Politics) is on the politics of writing, film and various forms of culture.

Notes towards Cultural Politics (Malayalam)

There are a few books on cultural studies and cultural criticism in Malayalam but there is hardly any title dealing directly with contesting sights of culture.  There is a broad notion that cultural studies is cultural politics itself.  But the real locations of struggle and fight within the realm of culture/s are always invisible and intangible in the ‘balanced’ academic analyses. The ethical and political questions of exclusion and democracy are often sidelined as something that are outside literature and culture.  So even cultural studies is exclusionary, elitist and hegemonic in Malayalam literary culture.

The counter hegemonic and radical subversive acts against dominant and elitist culture are carried forward by little but deviant epistemological practices.  Challenging and continuously destabilizing and rewriting existing notions of culture, polity and society are part of the democratic cultural politics.  Expressing and marking the difference of historical and social experience and the politics of subject formation are also part of this practice in a society where slavery and extreme forms of brutal marginalization were practiced for many millenniums.

Cultural elitist discourses, transcendental mysticism or dogmas, hegemonic notions or practices of culture are rejected and critiqued.  The themes varies  from literature to film and music to pop culture.  The work is a collection of critical essays and notes written and published in leading journals in Malayalam like Bhashaposhini, Mathrubhumy, Madhyamam, Kalakaumudi, Pachakuthira, Suchakam etc in the last decade.  It is divided into two parts.  The first part includes essays on literature and the second part includes essays dealing with pop film, music, art and visual culture.  The book also contains a foreword by Prof. P P Raveendran.  It is published by Fabian Books, Mavelikara (90INR).

GOVERNOR OF THE SHIT- HOUSE A Poem by Benoy.P.J

Ram the Hon’ble Governor of the shit house

He sits on his tall chair and dictates

Tells you what to do and what not to

(and why and how and so on)

This saint of the crap house

Who had qualified for his lofty slot

For being ever so clean

(What he throws he consumes)

And having been born into the holy familyP1080035

If there ever was one.

Hon’ble governor –oh he dictates

Where the shit should run and taps should weep

Going through the crap ever so gently

(Oh what a gentle man!)

Knowing what to treasure and what to hate

To separate the shit from the blood and from the semen

And each from the piss.

Yesterday his majesty

Shat a golden cream,

The house is bound to auction it

And make some money

To pass this lean time.

Somebody has stolen

The precious shit of mother Mary

The star of stars

Of the cess -pools

The town is intent on finding out the culprit

And you know who it would be

Whether or not he was there

And whether or not something was lost

Oh the town knows, oh the town!!

Benoy P J is a bilingual poet, short fiction author, painter, art critic and translator based in Kottayam. He is the author of many poetry and short fiction anthologies in Malayalam and English. His email: benoypj@gmail.com. For more writings see www.posting-poetry.blogspot.com