In the hope that more writers will make their books available online for free, Kafila is publishing an e-book version of Sibaji Bandyopadhyay Reader: An Anthology of Essays, published last year.
The Reader is an anthology of eight essays. The anthology focuses on a myriad of themes: politics of performance; nationalist appropriation and re-constitution of non-dualist Vedanta s tenets; double-take on remembering and forgetting; elusiveness of sexual identities; differences that engender terror. The essays take as their point of departure: a number of pre-modern Indian texts; a late nineteenth-early twentieth century archive of philosophical-cum journalistic writing in English published from Kolkata; specific art-works of Vivan Sundaram, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak; the Pandora s Box that gets opened with the release of the film Fire ; Sigmund Freud s protracted struggles to establish fear, fright and anxiety as distinct conceptual categories; the grammar of terror that may be retrieved from the Mahabharata.
In the preface to the book, Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta of Raqs Media Collective write:
It is our suspicion that many of the texts in this collection began life as wild and categorical assertions, accompanied by a resolute shake of Sibaji-da’s locks, that interrupted the flow of conversation. Someone would probably have said in response, “Its impossible, Sibaji-da is bluffing us again”, and then, Sibaji Bandyopadhyay would not have rested until he had scoured every possible reference, mined each dream and film-screening memory and notebook entry, looked up innumerable philological annotations, sung a few songs over and over again in his head and read aloud a few ditties to fashion a thousand armed creature of notes and queries that would collect itself into an essay. It would have the gleam of the floor, be as richly splattered as the mosaic’s surface, and have too the floor’s incredible capacity to seat a variety of contrarian positions to form a tableau of generous tension and beauty.
That is what makes it theory as it always should be – performance and poetry, thought and enactment, illumination and enchantment, rhetoric and recounting, rhyme and reason – all at the same time. That is why this book is an event that demands a new style, a new horizon, a new rigour and a renewal of the enterprise of theory – not as liturgy and interpretation, but as the celebration of the currents of our complex time.