A season of “Anti”

It is a season of “anti”. Has been for a while yet and like the severe droughts in Vidarbha there is no sign of relent. The victims that “anti” has claimed now rival that of the parched land. But think about “anti.” It is ‘not’ even a proper word. You now see how treacherous the path of “anti” is. It is not “non” but it is also not ‘none.’ I don’t know if it is an anti-word so did not take any chance. However, you add this to another proper word and you can be in a very real danger of either being incarcerated, lynched or very likely both. Let us attempt then to understand before the iron rule of grammar will define what we seek. “Anti” is that which is abstract which if added before another bigger abstraction can physically threaten the existence of a living individual or group. There are several examples but we will first wait for the laws of grammar because everyone has faith in those.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“anti” is a prefix tells us nothing[/pullquote] “Anti” is a prefix. T S Eliot wrote “after such knowledge, what forgiveness?” That “anti” is a prefix tells us nothing. It, actually, mystifies it even further. The overwhelming question (this is Eliot again) then is how is it that a small abstraction which cannot even stand on its own possess such powers of destruction. People have claimed, although not substantiated because of unreliable (the new term is ‘doctored’), that “anti” does some time play a positive and regenerative role. However, those instances have been only reported in the past and not sighted in the present. Like a good epic we are digressing let us come back to the definition. Prefix is a word, letter or number placed before another. It is also defined as “an element placed at the beginning of a word to adjust or qualify its meaning.” I prefer the second definition. The first definition belongs to the period of primitive communism. The word which comes before can be equal in importance to that which comes after. It is just too smooth for us. The second is where the interesting thing happens. A prefix, hence “anti” is an element. This is ominous. Till now, we thought it was merely a not-word, a sequence of limited alphabets but now it has acquired alchemical powers. “Anti” is element, elemental and more powerful than any word. “Anti” now cannot be circumscribed but it will ominously engulf the poor word to which it decides to attach itself. And this collision is head-on as “anti” has to stand on the shoulders of the word which can only become operational after this event.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Anti” is a monarch of all it surveys[/pullquote] “Anti” is a monarch of all it surveys. Anti- national, hindu, India, Modi, progress, development and the list can go on. The power of “anti” is now palpable. Nothing is out of bounds; a person, a religion, a country, a quality to do with country and the last two what is to be done with the country. Once this operation has been completed a chain of events is unleashed which throws into turmoil even the most calm of place and calmer of brains. Every knowledge-seeker and knowledge-giver worth their salt wracks their brains to understand the doings of the powers that are inherent in “anti.” But they are wrong. How could mere mortals understand the powers of “anti” to change the terms of engagement “anti”-podecally? In fact, these knowledge-seekers and knowledge-givers face the wrath of “anti” if they as much as try and understand its capabilities. The knowledge of “anti” is forbidden knowledge and its true powers diffused and concentrated at the same time. There is also the problem that knowledge-seekers and knowledge-givers when confronted with a thing that has “anti” on its head put the emphasis on what “anti” controls rather than the “anti” itself. The burden of definition once “anti” has been invoked before a word falls on the word and not “anti.”

How do we replace, displace or, if possible, misplace “anti”? Is it possible that instead of taking bull by the horns we take the cow by its udder? It will also be an act that will have sanctimonious sanctions considering the presence of bovinity. In fact, the solution requires not even attacking “anti” but transforming its power. “Anti” has the power of naming followed by shaming. This is dynamic power. We force “anti” to become passive. The law of grammar is not even violated. We sneak in a couple of guerrillas from behind and make a camp there all of their own. The two guerrillas are “e” and “d” or as they are known together by that most common English name “-Ed”. You see they are not even so easily identifiable. Let us see what our guerrillas are capable of. Take a situation where “anti” attacked from the front an individual called ‘national’. That individual now is in mortal danger as the “anti” has pointed and proclaimed that individual as “anti-national.” Our guerrillas “ed” now spring a surprise attack from the rear and seize the antinational and bring them to their camp making the individual “antinational-ed.” The terms of debate have now changed. It is not the individual that is at the centre but those who are in the business of pronouncing judgments. Instead of finding who is what with which set of desired characteristics we will now investigate the dynamics of moralizing that allows such counterfeit to happen. We will now see the machination rather than the victim of that machine which we were used to earlier. “Anti” you have now been finally ambushed and your tyranny stops now.

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Mithilesh Kumar Written by:

Mithilesh Kumar is a PhD Candidate at Western Sydney University, Australia. email: kmithilesh@hotmail.com

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