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Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies


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PROFESSION ON THE CUSP OF SATURN'S HOUSE


Nauman Naqvi
a a

Habib University , Pakistan Published online: 09 Jul 2013.

To cite this article: Interventions (2013): PROFESSION ON THE CUSP OF SATURN'S HOUSE, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1369801X.2013.816068 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369801X.2013.816068

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P R O F E S S I O N O N T H E C U S P O F S AT U R N S HOUSE
Weighing the Wager and Wages of the Time of a Postcolonial Historical Pedagogy, or Teaching History at the Limit of Time
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Nauman Naqvi
Habib University, Pakistan

................ This essay considers the resonance between the demands of a pedagogical
historicity late capitalism pedagogy postcoloniality professionalism

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practice addressed to the (historical) potentiality of the pedagogical subject, in the time of apocalyptic techno-capitalist consumerist production, and the time-problematic of postcoloniality. It argues that the present so-called professionalization of the academy neglects essential ethical and spiritual obligations of pedagogy that are especially highlighted if looked at from a catastrophic postcolonial perspective a perspective that increasingly resonates with the general condition of our historical moment. The devastation of historical time thus revealed is not an impediment, but an opportunity for the task of pedagogy that bears the promise of a return to its fundamental mission and temporality that of addressing the potential of the pedagogical subject in its own, peculiar time.

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To begin with a first principle: pedagogy is essentially addressed to the potential of the pedagogical subject. The primary address of pedagogy is, therefore, not a substance. It is neither the intelligence nor the memorybank of the student nor, indeed, of the professor, since pedagogy addresses both. These innate talents or capacities are of the given self the self that has been given to us as res cogitans, the thinking substance inherited from our father in the seculum, Descartes. This is the substance that makes the student and/or the professor smart, and since the uneven distribution of the commodiousness of this substance is a given, it is also the base differential equation that will, supposedly, one day, have yielded the graphs of our respective worldly careers. Indeed, in a substantial measure, pedagogy is actually addressed against this given substance, for pedagogy does not settle for the unequal givenness of such a base, inertial equation of the fortunes of the pedagogical subject in its care. For the primary concern of pedagogy is not, in any case, something actual at all, but a potentiality: that of thoughtfulness and insight that is, of the potential to transform the given substance and equation of the pedagogical subject. Now, whereas the substance is apparently available in a variable but assured measure on the pedagogical scene throughout its staging in linear time, and the development of that substance i.e. the serial transmission, accumulation and evaluation of data and skill appears similarly calculable, the latter, potentiality, really only gives itself in the moment of an event (of insight), and as an intensive relation (that of thoughtfulness). The pedagogical scene, then, demands a gesture whose measure will not have been that of the calculable, or the quantifiable. Thus, it would be entirely appropriate, even essential, to the nature of pedagogy to dispense with grades, which only serve to impoverish the pedagogical scene. Their very absence would call for thoughtfulness, raising the stakes, demanding a more existentially strenuous learning and pedagogy on the part of teachers and students alike, displacing the measure of the time of teaching and learning beyond the classroom as it exists in the semester, or indeed, in any measure of academic time in its instituted, given, chronological dimension. Addressed as it is to a potentiality, to the possibility of an event and an intensive relation, the shape of the primary time of pedagogy is not that of a line, but is discontinuous, even as it is also sharply curvaceous, parabolic. Parabolic in both the geometrical and epistemological senses, that is, having to do with the teaching of parable, with ana-logical thought, a logic of thought that is before (ana-) and beyond (ana-) logic and the salient arcs, the sudden sweeps of intensively relational insight and truth that propel this form of knowledge. Perhaps the shape of pedagogical time is accurately that of a cusp: etymologically, the sharp point of a spear, a telling figure in itself, given the archaic status of archery an art of attention at its sensorial temporal

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1 Entirely apropos to the time of such a novel, and instructive for us here, is the fact that the great devis have given us its final moment not as a denouement, but precisely as the gift of a historical cusp, a truly epochal suspension in novelistic writing, forcefully gesturing towards a certain apocalyptic revolutionary potentiality in the sudden irruption of the archaic pedagogical temporality of archery in modern time. See Spivaks comment, in her moving afterword to the novel, on the potential historicity of the novels final moment (Devi 2003: 289 92). 2 For an uncompromising thought of Jewish postcoloniality at the cusp, see the works of Gil Anidjar, and likewise, thinking this Jewish postcoloniality in its extraordinary potentiality (given the essential Jewish doctrine of historical exile) for a passive revolution in the very place of Zion thinking that is, Jewish postcoloniality at its apocalyptic historical limit, the singular oeuvre of the historian AmnonRaz Krakotzkin. The

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limit-point as a paradigm for pedagogy in many traditions. The continuing, archaic pedagogical significance of archery is evident, for example, in Mahasweta Devis (2003) epic historical novel in the idiomatic translational turn of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivaks magic about the harsh fate, in the centennial turning of colonial modern time, traversing that is the twentieth century, of the Mundas, a north Indian tribe of archers (of a tribe: thus of the torment, the turn of the archaic in the time of modernity), in particular the times and torments of its gentle hero, the great archer and teacher of archery and its wisdom, Chotti Munda.1 Now, in its geometrical elaboration, the cusp is: A point at which two branches of a curve meet and stop, with a common tangent; or at which the moving point describing the curve has its motion exactly reversed (OED). The cusp is then a moving point in its moment of arrest, a moving point that the geometricians also call a stationary point. A paradoxical movement that, significantly, has an almost exact analogue or parable in the moment of crisis in the trajectory of a disease, that is, in the sense it has had in pathology since antiquity. Finally, if we are to take into account the astrological sense of the term as well that of the beginning or entrance of a planetary house here we are on the cusp of the house of Saturn. For the temporal import of this astrological signification is indicated in the pedagogical confession of one of the greatest postcolonial historico-temporal thinkers of our time, Walter Benjamin, who said: I came into the world under the sign of Saturn the star of the slowest revolution, the planet of detours and delays.2 And if that is the temper and time of his charge, Saturn would then also have been the figure watching over the birth of postcoloniality and its revolution, that is of the passive revolution, to cite its well-known historico-philosophical determination by Partha Chatterjee in his still unsurpassable work on the problematics of postcoloniality (1993).3 Be its exact figure as it may, this much is certain: that given its eventitude, its eventful character, and the in-tens-ivity of its relationality, the time of pedagogy is out of joint, so that it calls for an attentiveness to the limit of time, demands a reading of the turn of time, a grasp of its parabolic movement; certain that the time of pedagogy will have called for a certain mastery of, a certain surrender to the plasticity of time.4 This, of course, is merely magic: that is, it invokes an anachronistic wisdom that of the Zarathustrian Magi, the shamans of time, held to read and to turn the subjects given fortune a wisdom that is lost to us, if it ever even existed. A futile invocation then, if there ever was one. Except that the imperative of such a reversal of the subjects fortune, as well as this imperatives torment, survives in this very ana-chronism, for the latter word does not, again, just throw us back (ana-) chronologically, but impels us in the vertical dimension of time (ana- 0 up), that is, towards the timeless.5

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exceptional purity and strenuous historical leap in their thinking, it is only relevant to note here, also relays the boundless effective historical potential of the historicotemporal thought of our own paradigmatic saturnine figure, Walter Benjamin.

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3 The term passive revolution is of course originally Gramscis. 4 I have taken the resonant expression plasticity of time from Peter Fenves (2011) seminal exposition of Benjamin, and am also in his debt for demanding close attention to the historical potentiality of the phrase turn of time in Benjamin. 5 This timeless imperative of the reversal of historical fortune, slow as such a revolution might be, is also indexed in the lexical centrality of the question of anachronism in the historical timeproblematic of postcoloniality. For this essential postcolonial problematic, see critically, Chakrabarty (1989, 2000), and initially, together, Fabian (1983) and Wolf (1982).

The possibility of pedagogy, then, now demands a confrontation with, demands a passage through, its own impossibility. An impossibility that is both by definition and in fact historically given in any case: for there is no turn in the straight hurtle of history, of historical time (Toynbees proverbial history as one damned thing after another), nor by definition, any timelessness in its time. And finally, in historical fact, as Reinhart Koselleck has shown, the historical emergence of history is consubstantial with the destruction of experiential continuity, that is, with the evacuation of time of all pedagogical content.6 History, he shows and tells us, meant, means: no more lessons. Nor is Koselleck alone in such reflection on the destruction of experience and pedagogical possibility in modern time. It is, of course, also a Benjaminian topos, famously instantiated, for example, in his cornucopian essay on the erosion of the experientially edifying art of storytelling (Benjamin 2002), and the theme has also recently been taken up, in the effective historical potentiality of Benjamins wake, by Giorgio Agamben, centrally in his historico-temporal philosophical meditation on the modern destruction of experience (1993). Indeed, it may be argued that such a pedagogical limit in modernity is given in the very resonating expression effective-historical that allows us to thematize history in its effectivity, that is, in its becoming in experience. The term is coined, and its conceptual implications elaborated, by Hans-Georg Gadamer, in particular in his intensively pedagogical, epochal philosophical opus, Truth and Method (2004). Epochal here means taking the task assigned by his philosophical school, that of the phenomenological epoche the task, that is, of bringing into the open the truth of things as they are in fact to the effective historical limit implied by the facticity of phenomena, i.e. to their epochal limit. In terms of our historico-philosophical conjuncture, the intense pedagogical demand imposed by this historico-temporal twist in the phenomenological concept of epoche is evident in the fact that, against his own earlier use of the word as the technical term for a quasiscientific operation, in the jargon of his phenomenology in its middle period, such an effective historical philosophical resonance was lately heard by the founder of phenomenology, Husserl himself, as Peter Fenves has compellingly indexed in his startling citation of this passage in Husserls posthumous work:
Perhaps it will come to light that the total phenomenological attitude and the corresponding epoche is called upon [berufen] to effect, by virtue of its essence, a complete personal transformation [Wandlung], which might be compared to a religious conversion, but which even beyond this, bears within itself the significance of the greatest existential conversion that is given to humanity as its task. (Fenves 2011: 264, n.7)7

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6 Koselleck, Historia Magistra Vitae: The Dissolution of the Topos into the Perspective of a Modernized Historical Process, in Koselleck (2004: 26 42). 7 Gadamer immediately inherited something of such a sense of the epochal task of thinking from his teacher, Heidegger, in confrontation with whom, it must be said, Husserl was writing the posthumously published Crisis. 8 For an instance of the attempt to enact a link, in this way, between presentation and profession, please see the video of my lectureperformance Naqvi (n.d.). Needless to say, it is a failed attempt, but I hope something of the character of the task does appear, now and again.

Such a task is both pedagogical and impossible in the extreme. It is, then, now altogether certain that the possibility of pedagogy is impossible. This is the mise-en-sce ` ne of the pedagogical gesture now, the extreme tension of the pedagogical moment. I have begun by taking pedagogy in its most robust sense: as the potentially systematic insight into the cultivation in the pedagogical subject the subject on the cusp of (historical) maturity of a thoughtful ethos and the love of insight, the singular pleasures of the deliberate task of calmly and slowly awakening ones own singular potentiality. Since one must oneself have been given over to this task, this insight is prior to the fields of ones expertise, even if that expertise is, indeed, retroactively implicated in the character of the task, as will emerge below in the strictly postcolonial historical address of this essay. In terms of the material and medium of such a pedagogy, we are given the task not of re-presenting data that is already available, already formed but of presenting in-formation: the dramatic movement and play of the material as it takes form in us, fraught as it is with significance, that is, freighted as it is with the past, impelling us as it does to the future, engaging at once the intellectual and affective faculties, engaging that is, the total existential situation demanding, that is, profession. Presentation entails the making present of the thing in its resonance and reverberation, in its turbulence and its vitality. Pedagogy demands, then, the transformation of the teacher into a genuine medium as she is seized by the doctrinal address of the material, i.e. the material as it is given in its moment of significance. That is, in order to present the material the professor must profess.8 This forceful, performative aspect of pedagogy is ineradicable, it cannot be erased from the face of our profession. It is what will have still required the presence of the teacher or, to put it in another archaic idiom, this time that of Hinduism guru darshan, i.e. the event of giving an appearance before the teachers giving appearance, and so also simultaneously taking the opportunity of such an event. Regarding the fated questionability of performance, the distinction between a charlatan, a mere performer, and the genuine one the distinction, that is, between sophistry and a genuine love of thoughtfulness is not given a priori. It is a practical distinction, i.e. a distinction that is given ever anew as a task of pedagogical practice, a distinction whose facticity will have been given, presented that is, only in the time of its memorialization, in the event of its singular distinction, its distinctiveness. Being thus, not an epistemological but an ethical distinction, being that is, a task that is given to us by our very profession, it cannot be abdicated. The logic of this task may be further illuminated here by adapting for pedagogical practice T. S. Eliots extraordinary dictum, in his most famous essay, on the situation and task of the artist: What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the

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9 I am brought back to this sublime essay here by a regenerative commentary on it in iz Z ek (2010: xi). 10 See McGushin (2007) on this portentous moment in the final sweep of Foucaults oeuvre, full of the historical promise he left behind, as if pointing us to the imperative of a coming politics of asceticism against biopower, Gandhian in its (counter-) apocalyptic implications. 11 A doctrinal formulation offered in the course of a characteristically extraordinary historicophilosophical meditation, here on a pedagogicophilosophical text of late (Indian) antiquity, by Wakankar (2011). I am also guided by his book (Wakandar 2010), a work on the very historical cusp of South Asian and postcolonial studies indeed, on the historical cusp of thought per se. 12 Thus, as Charles Barstow, a student at Connecticut College, pointedly said, Donald Rumsfeld neglected the most important category of all: that of unknown knowns obviously the

moment to something which is more valuable.9 Each word of this sentence simultaneously illuminates, instructs, impels, but also calls here, if only for the brevity of the citation, for the following addendum: to surrender to something which is more valuable than himself to himself. That is, there is an ineradicable moment of subjectivity even if it appears only in the animation of its own struggle to dis-appear, only as the ravishing specificity of anguish in its own vanishing, to the point of its own singularity, the secret self-address of its own letter of cancellation a moment of subjectivity that, in fact, is the very guarantee of the strenuous depersonalization that Eliot calls for, and which, in another illuminating coinage, Foucault calls desubjectification, the very motus animi continuus of his last, ongoing work on the problematic of askesis.10 The cusp, the intensivity, the specific quality of subjectivity here that makes possible the objectivity of the pedagogical profession may also be explicated thus: Obsession then is both intensely self-directed and passionately other-directed toward the object.11 For one must also do the work of reorienting oneself if one is to fully face, and so to reflect, the object of reflection. So remarkable is the extent to which it is the subjective, affective dimension that truly makes the exercise objective that it bears repetition, reapproximation, reformulation. Thus, another articulation of this objectively necessary subjectivity of our profession is given in the fact that the teacher is, by definition, one who is truly given over to learning including, at its own limit, learning that which she already knows, for that which she knows is still strange, still a source of wonder to her, that is, it still provokes and impassions her in its significance.12 This is the courageous love (given as subjective, of course) of learning that is demanded of one who would profess, one who would be a professor. The word I use here, profess, as well as its sense, are now archaic the exact opposite of what is enforced as professional and professionalization in the present turn in the time of the academy. The present sense of the word has completely detached itself from the earlier signification, from its very sign that is, from the very word that is its own name, its own nomination and nomos, its very as-sign-ment and charter an extraordinary abdication. Thus having no connection with its own name, professionalization is, to put it exactly: senseless. More interestingly, then, in connection with my argument that to profess is pedagogically imperative, there is the generatively parallel meditation by Walter Benjamin on the essential nature of doctrine, or Lehre, to the pedagogical moment and it is not without interest here that both words simultaneously mean teaching and learning, thus addressing both the student and the professor as the subject of pedagogy, as I too have attempted to indicate. Especially relevant here is Benjamins idea that what is essential to doctrine is the moment of its transmission: The point is not so much the lesson learned as the fact of

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humblest of epistemological permutations, impossible to imagine, alas, in an imperial frame of knowledge and mind. 13 Yet another archaic moment in this nostalgic oeuvre brimming with a postcolonial historico-temporal potentiality. The exact quote itself is from Fenves (2011: 42 3).

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14 Thus the finest compliment in a class evaluation: He has given me much confidence without becoming overconfident about anything the very definition of the sovereignty of the pedagogical, sociable subject.

learning fact, that is, from factum, the thing done, that which will have been accomplished, made present, presented.13 A student recently wrote regarding a course that she had never been so impassioned by a class (italics mine), which exquisitely chosen word presented the opportunity to profess in response the following doctrinal formulation: Passion which is, of course, passive is what it is all about since that is where one actually surrenders to the object, that is, becomes objective. Obsession, passion: the question of eros, the tormented time of eros, of care and concern, is then, now as ever, should be at the moving centre, the heart of the pedagogical stage. Indeed, the cultivation of a thoughtful ethos is synonymous with the cultivation of desire that is, as the word cultivate simultaneously implies: at once the refinement and the growth, the intensification of desire; at once the taming and the impulsion of the forces of life, an intensive liveliness singular to thought. It is at once a vitalization and an aesthetic education, the collegial sociability, refined sincerity and searching thoughtfulness of its expansive communicative enthusiasm. That is, it is the impelling of desires own potential for vertical movement in thought friendship and trust being a social condition essential to take off, to the propulsion of the free flight of thinking against the competitiveness, the fundamental rudeness (where even the smallest courtesy is an opportunity for self-congratulation), schadenfreude and solipsistic gush of capitalisms rotten, shrunken social eros, the horizontal drive of its anxious desire to dominate and excel the other, the desire in fact to put an end to conversation, crushing it. Most briefly perhaps, what pedagogy entails is the impersonalization of the passion of the pedagogical subject, that is, the making sovereign of that subject.14 In this robust sense, our pedagogical situation today is determined determ-ined, that is, given its term: its definitive name, as well as the duration of its time, its calling and its intensive quality by the specific entanglement of the site of pedagogy in the generalized process of apocalyptic acceleration in the regime, or matrix of technocapitalist consumerist production (apocalyptic, that is, revelatory of its perilous historical truth, as well as in the magnitude and press of the historical stake of that truth). An apocalyptic acceleration of production that is staged globally today in the South Asian scene of the hurtle of Indias world-historical rise over the past quarter of a century, fraught as it is with significance for the question of postcoloniality, given the intensive historical inflection of that question by Gandhis other doctrine of production, his unsurpassable counter-apocalyptic doctrine of an-other production as essential to the very historical promise of postcoloniality. The unsurpassable historical significance of Gandhi, today, imposes itself especially through Partha Chatterjees (1993) unforgettable presentation of Gandhi as the very moment of manoeuvre, the inward, passive revolution

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15 The extraordinary relevance of Gandhi is now also brought home to us through the Gandhi being recovered for us in the book-in-progress on him by the subaltern historian Ajay Skaria, truly a work of historical research and thought at its ethical limit. For some premonition of the book to come on Gandhi, see Skaria (2010a, 2010b). 16 As another example, from the nineteenth-century Seraiki poet saint, Khwaja Ghulam Farid, in one of the favourite songs sung by the late Seraiki folk singer Pathanay Khan, the simple turning of the spinning wheel opens into an affirmative meditation on the turning of time, and therein the potential reversal of fortune itself: Ghum, chadhkhdhea ghum [Turn, o wheel, turn] that is, the wheel of course turns, but by the same measure it can also turn. 17 See, for instance, iz Z ek (2002).

that launched postcoloniality on the historical stage of production.15 Given the an-archic soul that was the Mahatma never taking anything as given, always assuming that one could resume anew what had been given up as lost potential Gandhi instinctively grasped the question of production in an original way, a way signalled as an example for us in English, in the sublime expansiveness of the Greek sign for production in its most general sense: poesis. Thus Gandhi seized the question of production with its index of the self-generative, simple beauty of work an index that is, again, archaically available on the Indic scene, in much reflective lyric on artisanal work for instance, as in the fact that north Indian Muslim weavers called themselves nurbaf: weavers of light, which is of course the very sign of simplicity and beauty.16 It was in the very act of strenuously inheriting this index that Gandhi bequeathed, on the cusp of decolonization, the very apocalyptic promise of postcoloniality. Now, the apocalyptic moment has also the shape of a cusp: it is the zeropoint of historical time where, in the illuminating sweep of light thrown by a truthful promise from the past, the future of the present too parabolically curves into the moment now, as its own already given station, its real point. This is a temporal movement and historical truth that is given in the time of our own experience, brilliantly elucidated, in the narrative strategy of the most refulgent apocalyptic film of our historical moment, a film that speaks so much to the generation of our pedagogy in the apocalyptic technocapitalist consumerist machine: The Matrix. There, the very present that we inhabit now is breached, by the swerve of a given messianic promise, so that the terrible future itself then leaps forth into the present as its very reality, its historical truth. The present is thus violently evacuated as the very desert of the real (to cite the films resounding expression, justly famous),17 throwing the subject into the desolate space of historical exile that is its real lot, the fugitive space of its own singularity where so echoes a haunting call to awaken its (almost) lost potential. This moment of apocalyptic evacuation of the real is, thus, in fact the momentum of an experience, an experience of the promise it is the pull of the promise of an arrival: the arrival, that is, of a future moment of its own potentiality. The present is here pressed to a violently vibrant vanishing point. It is the tensest present the present brimming with all possible tenses. The imperative mood of one who would stand in the momentous turn of such a point in time is, as the Buddha once formulated the fundamental mood of the enlightened one: pensive, that is, on the very cusp of thoughtfulness. It goes without saying that the still point of his own potential in which the Buddha stood the thinker, let us not forget, whose singular historic insight was that to be born is catastrophic as such, his epic, epochal singularization in the Axial Age, of the archaic Indic problematic of rebirth (a doctrine of historical exile if there ever was one, presenting secular, historical time as the

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18 For appreciative reflection on the potentialities of apocalyptic thought (or where such an opening remained), I am also indebted, inter alia, to Agamben (2005), Taubes (2004), McGinn et al. (2003), Amanat (2009), Filiu (2011).

axiomatically given space of the subjects exile per se) that still point of the Buddhas potentiality and repose was precisely in the closing eye, forcing him inwards, of the tornado of time, its turns and torments. It was in the very midst of this breathlessly furious storm of secular time that the Buddha surrendered to the draft of voluminous delight in the counter-time of his own gentle breath, that he turned towards the singular stature and soothing verticality of the time and volume of his breath, its pause and its posture. Given the enormous potentiality generated by this thought in the very time of the relentless storm of reality, it is not for nothing that the apocalyptic lexicon of The Matrix also draws so much, especially in its soteriological moments, on an idiom of apocalypticism that is specifically Buddhist, that is, an idiom in which the moment of the apocalypse is always already given in the very moment of arrival, where the apocalypse is always now, has already come to pass in the very desolation of the real in its moment of arrival.18 (Moment of arrival is of course Partha Chatterjees determination of the moment in the trajectory of historical reason on the postcolonial stage that is decolonization, the institution of the nation-state, and which effectively disinherits as it tragically must by the logic of historical reason that it, too, would inhabit the very singular potentiality and promise initiated in its first act on that historical stage, i.e. again, the Gandhian moment of manoeuvre, the passive revolution that I referenced earlier. Thus, the collective, historical analogue of the apocalyptic desolation of the real in its very moment of arrival that is, the having come to pass already of the apocalypse in South Asian history would be the Partition, clearly visible as the catastrophe in the midst of which we live to this very day.) The catastrophic global acceleration of production today, even in the home(s) of the promise of postcoloniality, is not merely of abstract significance to the question of pedagogy. As educators, we are directly addressed by the apocalyptic technocapitalist consumerist machine because as Bernard Stiegler has shown at length in his essential pedagogicophilosophical meditation, Taking Care of Youth and the Generations (2010) it is precisely this matrix that is dissipating and evacuating the attention of the pedagogical subject, thus arresting the very sensorial spacetime of pedagogical opportunity. We are also addressed because the present apocalyptic machine includes, of course, the production of the subject of production, that is, the subject to whom we as educators are referred, at a constitutive moment in its trajectory. The moment of pedagogical opportunity is only one brief moment in an enormous field of forces, significant only to the extent that it is a cusp, a moment of crisis in the field. A moment where the future subject of production passes through a phase of liminality, a phase in which the nature and telos of production is, constitutively, thrown into inquiry, that is, the relation of production to ethos is given, or becomes available, as an object of reflection.

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19 For the generalized infantilization of the late-capitalist subject, see Barber (2007).

It is also essential to recognize if we are to have a measure of our pedagogical situation and the task of authority that corresponds to it that today more than ever, this is a space of liminality that we as pedagogues, in fact, share with our students. We share in both the dignity and the ignominy of this liminality. That is, both in the intensity of the concern for a thoughtful ethos that our situations call for, but also because just as the student is caught in the draft of embourgeoisement, and given the qualifying standards of respectable wealth that have been normalized for the bourgeoisie in capitalism in its present apocalyptic time, so too the academic is really only ever a bourgeois manque . Nor is our standing in the world hidden from our students, for despite the ongoing process of their infantilization itself part of the generalized infantilization of the subject under late technocapitalist consumerist production, its reduction to the set of its innocent, unformed drives, painfully ignorant and uncultivated into adulthood in the knowledge of its own death and finitude the undergraduate student is not a child.19 Her canniness and insight are continually available to pedagogical savour, but critically here, in the entitlement with which many students increasingly comport themselves towards many of their teachers. This is an entitlement that presents itself as democratic empowerment and equality, but is, in fact, a function of the disenchantment of our profession, that is both the demystification of education as a commodity that the student and/or his parents have purchased, and our own disenchantment with the pedagogical potential of our profession, as well as the students canny premonition of the worth of his teachers in the pecking order of the world. For the student has not arrived on the pedagogical stage untaught. She has in fact already been hailed by a secular, worldly cynicism that looms on the temporal horizon as the very calculus of her fulfilment and success. This is why the student and, again, the professor, for there is no space or subject of refuge today, certainly not yet, from the stentorian global hail of this historic interpellation must be turned in the pedagogical moment, turned by the force of the doctrinal address, counter-arresting from the matrix the dissipating attention of the pedagogical subject, and swaying it towards the compelling scene of its own singular potential for thoughtfulness and insight. This force of the doctrinal address would, then, be the pedagogical analogue of the epochal Gandhian doctrine of what he himself translated as truth-force satyagraha. To be sure, the cynical, secular interpellation of the pedagogical subjects desire exists in tension with the still intense emulative desire and freedom natural to the liminality of that subjects situation. This desire and freedom is the subjects tender trembling, both with the premonition of worldly troubles, but also and at once the tremble of its tender longing for the calm and pause of insight and thoughtfulness in the midst of that approaching trouble. This longing is the very space of pedagogical

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20 I attempt to preserve in this passage the essential pedagogical virtue called shafaqa (or, in Hindi/Urdu, shafqat) in the Muslim tradition, that is, the teachers tender compassion and mercy for the students condition of tenderness, a virtue no doubt connected to the cognate shafaq, twilight or evening glow, for it is a virtue of age and maturity, appearing in the dusk of life, on the cusp of the teachers own mortal vitality. 21 I have also here throughout tried to conserve the emphasis of the Muslim tradition on a quality it deems epistemologically essential to the pedagogical subject, the quality of shauq: passion, yearning, longing, but also, in the words verb form, to please, delight, give joy. I have also assayed a certain, marked imperative of poesy in the articulation of thought to be found in this tradition, where the word for poetry simultaneously signals knowledge sher and shaur (transcribed in their Hindi/Urdu pronunciation). 22 I am citing from lyrics heard in the

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opportunity left to us.20 For this longing, in the midst of the storm of reality and time, itself opens out into the singular, pausal, vertical time-space the very breath and respite of the subject in the matrix beyond its secular powers of control the vertical time-space of thoughtfulness, where the subject may discover and experience another order of intense desire and a pleroma of pleasure,21 that is, in the calming moment of insight, guaranteed to recur and relay. The critical significance of this pleromatic region of pleasure is evident, for example, in the seventeenth-century Iranian philosopher Mulla Sadr al-Din Shirazi, who professed in the apocalyptic preface to his philosophical magnum opus, Asfar-e-Arba (The Four Journeys of Thought):
It is ordinarily thought that traversing the trajectory of sensational stages and stations, and progressing merely to assumed heights, is what constitutes happiness and prosperity. But the one who has really arrived at the ground of reality, and in whom the right sense of knowledge has been inaugurated, how clear it is before such a one that immediate success and sensational pleasures have little to do with true happiness and good fortune, and those who are arrested in these sensational pleasures are given no part of the intensities of intellectual delectation, because those who are found in such a state, and who have given themselves wholeheartedly to these pleasures, divine serenity and tranquillity departs from their ambience, and the truths of divinity are arrested from entering their hearts. (Sadr al-Din Shirazi 1941: 2)

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In Indic thought, where the transcendental sciences of the body have no doubt been given their most voluminous and intensive articulation, these vertical pleasures are also discovered in the singular space of ones own mortal body in the moment of its askesis. Thus the poet saint Kabir, for example, in singing the pleasures of his askesis, refers to the soothing nothingness that drenches his body in the midst of his sad exile in a heartless, rude world, and also to the 68 banks [ghats] of ablution that he avails there.22 Another guide in this direction of the vertical is Paul Celan, the paradigmatic poet of that most paradigmatic event, apocalyptic of our modernity, the Holocaust. One could do worse for an aide-me moire than recite these imperative lines to keep the faith in such times: But now shrinks the place where you stand:/Where now, stripped by shade, will you go?/ Upward. Grope your way up./Thinner you grow, less knowable, finer./Finer: a thread by which it wants to be lowered, the star . . . That is, the only refuge in the shrinking space of apocalyptic time is the finest, vertically infinite stellar space of ones own ascetic singularity.23 This pleromatic region of pleasure and singularity, once glimpsed, is guaranteed to recur and relay. For the forceful sweep of insight, in fact, also throws that which you have

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magnificent documentary film bringing to us our living contemporary, the fifteenth-century poet of askesis, Kabir Shabnam Virmanis Koi Sunta Hai: Someone is Listening, the finest in her tetralogy on him, a work of poesy in itself. 23 Needless to say, the relevant archive here is ultimately boundless, since this vertical space of pleasure and singularity is what the worlds transcendental systems of knowledge (i.e. our inherited religions and literatures) are, inter alia, ultimately all about.

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glimpsed ahead of you, luring the subject to catch it yet again, that is, to be thoughtful, once again. (To put it in terms of the analogue of archery: one bulls eye does not an archer make the luring target, in this sense, is always ahead of the archer.) Epistemologically, the word in-sight itself implies this: it is a look even if a piercing one into something. That is, it is merely a glimpse. How odd that we say merely a glimpse, given how important such a form of looking is, how important insight is. The recurrence and repetition of insight and thoughtfulness, propelled as they are by a certain cultivated desire and longing for the intensive pleasure of visionary experience, are also intimately related to the essential question of the pedagogical subjects potential that we began with in the first place, and the tense implied by the phenomenon of ones own potentiality. For even though it is, of course, continually there, your potential is never, by definition, given once and for all it always strenuously refers us to our own future. The tense proper to the existence and event of our potentiality is: it will have been given. That is, its existence is only given as an event and in the event, which of course happens in and with time. That is the there where your potentiality is to be found, in time, once and again; or to put it better perhaps: in and with time is where your potentiality will have been found. That is the tense, the time-space of its undeniable reality. Your potentiality will have been: thus also its tension and it is remarkable how the words tension and tense refer us to the stretch of time. And how the stretch of time refers us to time as a strain, as if it is a task, as if it tells us to do something with time, the ceaseless demand it makes on us to do something in its event that is, in the fact that we have been given time: we are alive. This strenuous task implied in the strain and stretch of time necessarily further implies, again, the plasticity of time. This clearly given plasticity of time is thanks to the provision of its vertical axis, the ceaselessly available vertical dimension in time the ceaselessly given vertical swerve present in the moment, that is, also the momentum, the force, the forceful presence of time. This forceful presence of time is simultaneously sourced in the catastrophic fold of secular time, stretching our imagination: we are alive and we will die. The force and strain of that paradox, that cusp in the arc and stretch of our given time. This is also why the teaching of modern postcolonial history the lives and times of catastrophe and mortal potentiality, against the destructive delusions of progress, infinitely given agency and survival is a tremendous opportunity for the rejuvenation of pedagogy and the pedagogical subject at once. We are, then, pedagogically situated on the cusp of this tensed constellation: on the one hand, the disenchanted, secular subject of pedagogy and production appears as calculative and consumptive in the very ravaged, desolate core of its given, historical rationality; and on the other, the task of the cultivation of thoughtful ethos and insight, the endless task of the calm

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24 I adapt this determination of reason from (and am otherwise also guided by) Davis (2001), a courageous and generous work on the exilic historical cusp of an American postcoloniality.

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awakening of ones own singular potentiality in the midst of the desert storm of historical time, still calls and impels the very gesture and movement of pedagogical reason reason, that is, given as the ceaseless cutting edge of its own slow, saturnine passion.24 On the cusp of this constellation, the teaching of history and time, of catastrophe and potentiality especially in the intensive tense of their inflection in the disastrous historical syntax of postcoloniality offers an extraordinary opportunity for a swaying and turning in the matrix of the pedagogical subject.

Acknowledgements

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For their generous encouragement and/or comments enabling the writing of this essay, I am indebted to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Milind Wakankar, Claudia Baracchi, Ajay Skaria, Amnon-Raz Krakotzkin, Naveen Naqvi, Walter A. Davis, Peter Fenves, Veli Yashin, Prashant Keshavmurty, Najeeb Jan, Issam Aburaya, Stephanie Koh and my students at Connecticut College but above all, to Gil Anidjar and Nermeen Shaikh. As a gesture, this essay is dedicated to the memory of Professor Eqbal Ahmad (my mentor and patron many seasons ago in Islamabad), and to the enduring weight of his unnished project of a historically alive, postcolonial South Asian pedagogy, dedicated in particular to the memory of the pedagogical manifesto brimming with potentiality for the future of his envisioned Khaldunia University (which I, fresh out of college, had the opportunity and privilege to share in publicizing, in his favourite review of the Khaldunia manifesto, I am still proud to say, thanks to his extraordinary pedagogical generosity of encouragement, under the title Academy of the Future in the November 1992 issue of Newsline magazine, Karachi). R e f e ren c e s
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