Modernity's Edges: A Review Discussion
The dialectical form of exposition is only correct when it knows its limits.
If a good demonstration means simply an argument which is effective, where are we to stop?
- Robert Blanche
The form, as indeed the formulation, of my topic may seem somewhat strange.1 To be sure, I am concerned to review a work, Javeed Alam's inventive India: Living with Modernity (hereinafter Javeed; and the work in question will be notated as ILM). But in addressing a work, it would be worthwhile to look within (and ahead) and prognosticate whatever lies there. One would like to create circumstances that would not otherwise exist on their own. A 'division of labour' - howsoever problematical, at first sight - seems to me critical. On the one hand, we have the problem of making sense of a work, in the sense, say, of delivering summations ('snapshots') of its thought and arguments; on the other is the problem of defining its specificity, making present a work - emphatically, what makes a work the work it is about. However one wishes to interpret this division, in relation to the work in question here, the principle remains the discontinuity of what is being assembled in and by it. For why should we be describing the work of ILM? Or, again: how is one to be defining this demand? And how can we do so when what is to be described is not yet visible in the work? This is precisely the problem that is to be examined.
The flurry of questions, nevertheless, is bound to put into the background another common - need we say Marxist? - concern with
* Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 9-10, Sept.-Oct. 2000