This article by DILIP M. MENON is the second of the three pieces that comprise the symposium on Manan Ahmed Asif’s Loss of Hindustan. The first contribution by Dwaipayan Sen can be read here. The final contribution by Hilal Ahmed can be accessed here.
The Loss of Longing
“Nostalgia is not what it used to be.” – Simone Signoret
To look back these days evokes less anger or longing and more a sense of gazing on ruins. Like the Angel of History, so evocatively described by Benjamin, we are being blown with our backs to an unknown future, gazing at the relentless pile of wreckage that accumulates behind us. The idea of a nation that we once imagined together is buried somewhere in the debris, our residual idealism detects its gleam sometimes. This sense of melancholy propels different shades of politics, one of which does a fine combing through the rough texture of history to recover lost visions. The other seeks to resist the lure of the past and think exigently within the horizon of the present. A hard headed engagement with contemporary times comes rooted in the belief that there is no space of authenticity or of an archive of resistance awaiting us in the past: there is no ‘there’ there. However, the mode of thinking that informs the historical discipline requires us to look back, and see the filiations with the present as much as the future. The fact that we occupy a future past (that is to say, we live in a moment that was once imagined as a future, utopian or otherwise) can be an occasion for cynicism as much as a fillip for renewed action. Continue reading Loss of Hindustan – A Symposium II: Dilip M. Menon