Reporting vs. Reading

You need something extra to see the ugly truths beneath a beautiful surface !

I happened to see this interestingly discursive polemic about the massacre of Tamil rebels in 1983. The polemic happened between two political commentators: Dheerananda Gunaherath and his quondam colleague. Dheerananda Gunaherath’s article was written as a commentary to an article written by his colleague.

Dheerananda Gunaherath’s article (commentary) tries to traverse the stratum superficialis of the incident in order to excavate and earth the truths hidden beneath. His commentary of the appalling incident in 1983 in contrast to what happened in 2012, raises the question whether the public opinion and reaction in the South regarding the two incidents have been the same or different. His proposition is that The People of the South has not felt the seriousness and the impact of the 1983 massacre as much as that of the 2012 counterpart. Perhaps that difference reflects a bitter truth about the lack of mutual understanding and empathy between the two ethnic groups. By incorporating the anecdotal account of Kuttimuni and Thangathurai, the writer emphasises on the virtuous aspirations of the original Tamil Nationalism

Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (abbreviated as DGC henceforth) in his reply, lists several links to his previous articles with a bearing to the incident in 1983. I took my time and went through the contents (including the comments) of articles to which he has dearly pointed the readers. I could render the following excerpts through my scanning:

1. ඉඳහිට සිදු වෙමින් තිබුණු මෙවැනි ඝාතන මහත් ආන්දෝලනාත්මක තත්වයට පත් වුණේ 1983 ජුලි කලබල අතරතුර වැලිකඩ දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් 53ක් ඝාතනය කිරීමේ සිද්ධියත් සමගයි. 

2. දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් ඝාතනය කිරීම දිගට ම සිදු වූ අතර වසර 2000දී බණ්ඩාරවෙල බිඳුණුවැව පුනරුත්ථාපන කඳවුරේ සිටි වයස අවුරුදු 30ට අඩු තරුණ දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් 26ක් ගම්වාසීන් හා වෙනත් අයගෙන් සැදුම්ලත් අයුතු ජන රාශියක් විසින් මරා දමන ලදී.

2012 වසරේ වවුනියා රිමාන්ඩ් සිරගෙදර සිදු වූ ප්‍රහාරයෙන් එක් සිරකරුවකු මිය ගිය අතර විශාල පිරිසක් තුවාල ලැබූ හ. 

මේ සියලු සිදුවීම්වලදී මිය ගියේ දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් නිසා සිංහල සමාජය මේ මානව හිමිකම් උල්ලංඝනය වීම් ගැන උනන්දුවක් දැක්වූයේ නැත.//

3. //වැලිකඩ සිරගෙදරදී 1983 ජුලි කලබල අතරතුර දෙමළ දේශපාලන සිරකරුවන් 53දෙනෙකු ඝාතනය කිරීම, බංඩාරවෙල බිඳුණුවැවදී පුනරුත්ථාපනය වෙමින් සිටි දෙමළ තරුණයන් පිරිසක් මරා දැමීම වැනි සිද්ධි මාලාවක තවත් එක් සිද්ධියක් වන්නේ 2012දී සිදු වූ වැලිකඩ ඝාතනයයි.//

4. //ජේ. ආර්. ජයවර්ධන 1983 ජුලි කලබලය නිර්මානය කරමින් දෙමළ ජන සංහාරයක් හා අති දැවැන්ත දේපල විනාශයක් සිදු කළේ ය.

එසමයේ ඔහුගේ අනුදැනුම ඔස්සේ හා නීතිමය රැකවරණය ඔස්සේ දෙමළ දේශපාලන සිරකරුවන් පනස් ගණනක් වැලිකඩ බන්ධනාගාරය තුළ කපා කොටා මරා දමන ලදී.//

One could easily realise what Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) has done in his prescribed articles. It is nothing but merely REPORTING the occurrence of the brutal massacre of Tamil rebels in 1983. He does not condemn in explicit terms, the State apparatus for brutally killing the Tamil brethren. His effort to sweep the truths under the carpet is mean in veracity and meagre in virtue. 

Why could not Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) READ the case vignette of 1983 massacre instead of REPORTING it? 

DGC’s entertainment of his readership with his acrobatic heroics are in the superstructure of the society. He does not traverse the superstructure of the society (consisting of ideologies with regard to the Gramscian constituents of political and civil societies) into the infrastructure (consisting of means and relations of production) to attain a cognition of the social interrelations. Thus, Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) may entertain his readership with anecdotes such as his “legendary” confrontations with policemen, politicians, elites, academics etc. However, he fails to flash a beam of bright light to bring about an understanding of the very forces that govern the cultural hegemony that he hates quite often. One cannot come up with a coherent, consistent and reliable interpretation of a social phenomenon (seen in the superstructure) when one does not possess a sound understanding and cognition of the pertinent social I nterrelations (seen in the infrastructure/base). Consequently, such a person can only REPORT what he sees but cannot READ what he sees.

We may put this issue of Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) in a Lacanian terminology as well (since Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague – DGC understands Lacan better than Marx!): DGC’s social intervention through his archives of articles, nourishes and fills the symbolic order of his readership with fantasies so that The Real becomes more distant to his subject (readership). The Real is beyond the realm of linguistic symbolisation (the symbolic order). By expanding the linguistic symbolisation (the symbolic order) of The Real with fantasiesDheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) further aparts the subject (readership in the case of DGC) from The Real. That is what has been done from Mahanama’s Mahavamso to DGC’s weblog. If Dheerananda Gunaherath’s colleague (DGC) is genuinely interested in empowering his readership with social cognition so that they will be boosted to change the society, he should disrupt the screen of fantasy that separates the subject from The Real and interpose the subject between the fantasy and The Real. Such juxtaposition of the subject and The Real cannot be achieved by merely conditioning the psyche of his readers with weblogs of articles relating Andersenesque fairy tales

The experience of the subject meeting The Real is traumatic in deed. It is not a pleasing experience such as reading DGC’s fairy tales, which could surely make even Hans Christian Andersen a novice. Neither it is as comfortable as reposing on a bed of Roses. Dear colleague of Dheerananda Gunaherath, your motto proclaims that the truth is bitter as much as medicines. May I remind you that you need to adhere to and be guided by your motto. You need to slow-down a bit and focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your writings. I hope that will give you opportunities to create a masterpiece that can bring your readership the cognition of the imaginary real, the symbolic real or the real real (as per Zizek). If you give a serious thought to the methods of disrupting the screen of fantasy that separate the subject from The Real, you will realise the shocking massacre of 1983 as a greatly resourceful incident. Then you will not ask others why the hell they keep on writing about the July 1983, even after 33 years. 

Nimalan Sivapatham,

Colombo 05.


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