Re-writing History in the Brahmin's Shadow
Caste and the Modern Historical Imagination
XTV. Origin is the goal. (Karl Kraus, V/orte in Versen, Vol. I)
History is the subject of a structure whose site is not homogeneous empty time, but time filled by the presence of the now. Thus, to Robespierre ancient Rome was a past charged with the time of the now which he blasted out of the continuum of history. The French Revolution viewed itself as Rome reincarnate. It evoked ancient Rome the way fashion evokes costumes of the past. Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger's leap into the past. This jump, however, takes place in an arena where the ruling class gives the commands. The same leap in the open air of history is the dialectical one, which is how Marx understood the revolution.
Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History' (Illuminations, p. 263)
One's own discourse and one's own voice, although bom of another or dynamically stimulated by another, will sooner or later liberate themselves from the authority of the other's discourse.
M.M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination (p. 348)
Among the many published tracts of Ayothidas Pandithar, an early dalit-Buddhist scholar from the Tamil country who lived and worked through the last quarter of the previous century and the early decades of our own, is one on the famed Thiruvalluvar—author of Thirukural, a pre-Christian Tamil text that has, for nearly a century now, been considered the pre-eminent social and cultural text of the Tamils. In his little monograph—published in the 1920s—on the long departed poet, Ayothidas attempts to unravel a delicate biographical mystery. He observes that