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Bahbha-Mimicry and Man

Bahbha-Mimicry and Man

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124OCTOBERtoitself,i.e.,self-identical-mytranslation)],awaitedthereagent.Whenthatcameitalwaysrespondedinthesameway.Inpsycho-analysis,ontheotherhand,neitherthesameimagesnorthesamewordseverrepeatthemselves.Itoughttobecalledbyanothername:psychicaladventure,perhaps.Yes,that
is
justwhatitis.Whenonestartssuchananalysis,itislikeenteringawood,notknowingwhetheroneisgoingto
meet
abrigandorfriend.Norisonequitesurewhichithasbeen,aftertheadventureisover.Inthisrespectpsychoanalysisresemblesspiritualism.wDeferredactionis
the
adventureofnarrativerepetitionsindifferenceandFreudisnota"scientist,""observer,""experimenter,"or"thinker,"ashehimselfwrotetoFliess,buta
"conquistador'
and"adventurer"(ifnota"merchant"whosorts
things(jut).&J
Curious,bold,andtenacious
like
his
preCUI'SOI'
HannibalandexcludedfromChristianRome,Freud,asSvevoreveals,doesnotdiscoverthe"timelesskingdom"52oftheunconsciousbutwritesapsychicaladventurestoryfullofuntimelysurprisesthatdefytheutopiandreamsofincurablepoliticalromantics.
50.Svcvo,
pp.
:i711-379.51.FreudtoFliess,February1,1900,quotedinErnestJones,
nit
LifeandWork
~f
Sigmund
Freud,
vol.
I,
London,TheHoganhPress,1953,p.3112.52.PaulRicouer,
FreudandPhilosophy:AnEssay
011
Interpretation,
trans.DenisSavage,NewHaven,YakUniversityPress,1970,p.413.
From:October.Pp.28Spring,125-33.
HOMIBI-IABHA
f
1984.
Of
MimicryandMan:TheAmbivalenceofColonialDiscourse"
Mimicryrevealssomethinginsofarasitisdistinctfromwhatmightbecalledanitselfthatisbehind.Thedfectofmimicryiscam-ouflage....Itisnotaquestionofharmoniz-ingwilhthebackground,bUIagainstamottledbackground,ofbecomingmottled-exactlylikethetechnique
of
camouflagepractisedinhumanwarfare.
-JacquesLacan,"TheLineandLight,"
OftheGaze.Itisoutofseasontoquestionatthistimeofday,theoriginalpolicyofconferringoneverycol~ny
of
theBri~l~hEmpire.an:imicrepresen-taium
of
theBntlshConstitutIOn.Butifthecreaturesoendowedhassometimesforgotten~tsrealinsinificanceandunderthefanciedImportance
0
seaersandmaces,andalltheparaphernaliaandceremoniesoftheimperiallegislature,hasdaredtodefythemothercoun-try,shehastothankherselfforthefolly
of
con-ferringsuchprivilegesonaconditionofsocietyt~athasnoearthlyclaimtosoexaltedaposi-
tum,
Afundamentalprincipleappearstohavebeenforgottenoroverlookedinoursystemofcolonialpolicy-thatofcolonialdependence.
:0
givetoacolonytheformsofindependence
I~
amockery!'shewouldnotbeacolonyforaSinglehourifshecouldmaintainanindepen-dentstation.
-SirEdwardCust"ReflectionsonWestAfricanAffairs..:addressedtotheColonialOffice"Hatchard,London1839.
 
1~-
J
11
1
1
J
)'0B
tZJJ
l"«frf\"1InCA.
i~
h't1.~
beAt..~
~'1k/"rJtJ,n
o.NA
JM~i_4
Thediscourseofpost-EnlightenmentEnglishcolonialismoftenspeaksinatonguethatisforked,notfalse.
If
colonialismtakespowerinthenameofhistory,itrepeatedlyexercisesitsauthoritythroughthefiguresoffarce.FortheepicintentionofthyciYilizingmission,"humanandnotwhollyhuman"inthefamouswordsofLordRosebery,"writbythelingeroftheDivine"
I
often
pm-
ducesatextrichinhetraditionsof
tro
)'1
ironmimicrandreetition.Inthiscomicturnfromtiehighidealsofthecolonialimaginationtoitslowmimeticliteraryeffects,mimicryemergesasoneoftheosteluiveand
effec-
tivestrateiesofcolonialowerannowyeoWit
in
tatconflictualeconomyofcolonialdiscoursewhichEdwardSaid?describesasthetensionbetweenthesynchronicpanopticalvisionofdomina-tion-thedemandforidentity,stasis-andthecounter-pressureofthedia-chronyofhistory-change,dilference-mimicrreresentsan
ironic
comro-mise.
If
ImayadaptSamuelWeber'sformulationoftremarginalizingvision
0
castration,"thencolonialmimicristhedesirelilrarelilrmedrecoInizieOther,as
J
subjecta'adifferencethatisalmosttesamebutnotquite.
Whichistosay,thattI1ediscourse
0
mimicryISconstructecaroundan
am!Vaence;
inordertobeell'ective,mimicrymustcontinuallyproduceitsslippage,itsexcess,its&ll'erence.IheauthOilty01thatmode
01
colomaldiscoursethatIhavecalledn'i'ii'i1ic'ryisthereforestrickenbyanindeterminacy:mimicryemergesastherepresentationofa
difference
thatisitselfaprocessofdisavowal.Mimicryis,thus,thesignofadoublearticulation;acomplexstrategyofreform,regulation,anddiscipline,which"appropriates"theOtherasitvisualizespower.Mimicryisalsothesignoftheinappropriate,however,adifferenceorrecalcitrancewhichcoheresthedominantstrategicfunctionofcolonialpower,intensifiessurveillance,andposesanimmanentthreattoboth"normalized"knowledgesanddisciplinarypowers.Theeffectofmimicryontheauthorityofcolonialdiscourseisprofoundanddisturbing.Forin"normalizing"thecolonialstateorsubject,thedreamofpost-Enlightenmentcivilityalienatesitsownlanguageoflibertyandproducesanotherknowledgeofitsnorms.Theambivalencewhichthusinformsthisstrategyisdiscernible,forexample,inLocke'sSecondTreatisewhich
splits
torevealthelimitationsoflibertyinhisdoubleuseoftheword"slave";firstsimply,descriptivelyasthelocusofalegitimateformofownership,thenasthe
Thispapcrwasfirstpresentedasacontributiontoapanelon"ColonialistandPost-Colon.iaJ,istDiscolIl's~~,"~lrganizl'dhyGay.uriChakravnrtySpivakJ.,l'IheModernLanguageAssociationConventionInNewYork,December191!:J.Iwouldlike
10
thankProfessorSpivakJi,l'invitingnil'toparticipate
Oil
Ihl'pillll'lallll
))1'.
Stl'phallFl'lIchlwalig
[or
hisadvic!'ill
tlu:
pn-parationof
Ih('
papel'.
J.
CitedinEricStokes,
'01('
l'olitiralltlrasofElIgliJhIIII/JI'IialiJIII,
Oxlon},OxfordUlliv('I'sityPress,1960,flP.17-18,2.EdwardSaid,
Orientalism,
NewYork,PantheonBooks,1978,
p.
240.
:~,Samuel
Weber:"TheSideshow,Or:RemarksonaCannyMoment,"
ModemLanguaNoles.
vol.8B,
110,
6(1~J7:~),p.1
J
12.
c
'*
]"JAmb...Ice
(!I.._
Jzial
s:
trse)
J
J
I
f
."\.ct
I
(<<~,,!,)
t('
\W'~l-~~i't
../K'~
~diNt
~j&.fILt~
a.~~
t~·
2.
~~t1llcdlvt
11.
Wj
tJIi~.d
tttc:ti~
~~~~n~~
~.ih
~~""an
intolerable,
meg;
irnate
exercise
01
p~w"".
thai'.'t"ulaled
In
thatdistancebetweenthetwousesistheabsolute,irnagincddl{1erencebetweenthe"Colonial"StateofCarolinaandtheOriginalStateofNature..Itisfromthisareabetweenmimicryandmockery,wherethereformmg,civilizingmissionisthreatenedbythedisplacinggazeofitsdiscipl.inary.doub.le,thatmyinstancesofcolonialimitationcome.Whattheyalls~areISadlsc.ur~lveprocessbywhichtheexcesso,rslippageproduced~ythe
arr;,bwalen:e
ofrmrmcry(almostthesame,
butnotQ.lli1e)
doesnotmerely
rupture
the.dlscou:se,but.becO'inestransiorme<f'intoanuncertaintywhichfixesthecolomalsu~ectas~
'v{f'~
/"partial"presence,By"partial"Imeanboth"incomplete:'and"virtual.':tisasIftheveryemergenceofthe"colonial"isdependentforIt~re_pres:ntatlon.upo~somestrategiclimitationorprohibition
within
theauth.onta~lvedl~courseItS,e11.ThesuccessofcolonialappropriationdependsonaprolIferationofinappropriateobjectsthatensureitsstrategicfailure,sothatI~yisatonceresemblanceandmenace,
-A
classictextofsuchpartialityisCharlesGrant's"ObservationsontheStateofSocietyamongtheAsiaticSubjectsofG~eatBritain"(1
?92)4
w?ichwasonlysupersededbyJamesMills's
Historyoj
India
asthemostmflu~ntIalearl~nineteenth-centuryaccountofIndianmannersandmorals.Grants.d:eam
0
anevangelicalsystemofmissioneducationconductedun,com.romlsm<ImEnglIshwas)artabeliefin
0
Illcareormao~~lstIanhnesandartlyanawarenessthattheexpansionofcomanrulemIndIareulreasstemof"interpellation"-areorm
0
man~ers"as~nt
pill
i4-
t~atwouldprovidethecolonialWith"asenseofpersonalIdentItyasweknow
It.
Ca~ghtbetweenthedesireforreriglOusreformandthefearthattheIndiansml~htbe,com.etur-bulentforliberty,Grantimpliesthatitis,infactthe"partlal".ddfu~lOnofChristianity,andthe"partial"influenceofmo.ralim~ro,:,e~entswhl.chwillcon-structaparticularlyappropriateformofcolomalsubJectlvlty.What
IS
suggest.edisaprocessofreformthroughwhichChristian.~octrin~smightcolludeWithdivisivecastepracticestopreventdangerouspoliticalalhance~.Inadvertent.ly,GrantproducesaknowledgeofChristi~nityas.aformof.socl~1co.ntrolwhichconflictswiththeenunciatoryassumptIOnswhichauthorizehisdiscourse,.Insuggesting,finally,that"partialreform"willproduceanemp~yfor~of"the
Im-
itation
ofEnglishmannerswhichwillinducet~lem[thecol?llIalsubJ~cts
1
tore-mainunderourprotection,"5Grantmockshismoralproject,and.vlolatestheEvidencesof
Clnisrianity-
acentralmissionarytenet-whichforbadeanytoleranceofheathenfaitlis.TheahsurdextravaganceofMacaulay's
InfamausMinute
.(18:5)-deeplyinllucurcdbyCharlesGrant's
OhservatiollJ-makes
amockeryofOnentallearn-
4Charles
Grant,"ObservationsontheState
of
SocietyamongtheAsiaticSubit'cts
or
GreatB'ritaill,"
SessionalPapers
1812-13,
X(282),EastIndiaCompany.
J,
tu«,
chap.'l,
p,
101,
12.'7'
 
1211
1
J
II
()~CAA.
Wi(Ju
?
-1k~
JMrt"~
J
1
OCTOBER
]
inguntilfacedwiththechallengeofconceivingofa"reformed"colonialsubject.ThenthegreattraditionofEuropeanhumanismseemscapableonlyofironizingitself.AttheintersectionofEuropeanlearningandcolonialpower,Macaulaycanconceiveofnothingotherthan"aclassofinterpretersbetweenusandthemillionswhomwegovern-a£lassofpersonsIndianinbloodandcolour,but'Englishiastesin
0
inions,inmoralsandin""'intellect"6-inotherwords~mimicmanraised"throughour,ng
IS
c
00'
asalnIssion;ryeducatIOnIstwrote
In
1819,"toformacorpsoftranslatorsandbeemployedindifferentdepartmentsofLabour."?Thelineofdescentofthemimicmancanbetracedthl'Oughthe
works
ofKipling,Forester,
Orwell,
Naipilul,
and
tohiscllleq~-cnce,mostrecently,inBenedictAnderson'sexcellentessayonnationalism,astheanomalousBipinChandraPal.
U
Heistheefrectofaflawedcolonialmimesis,in
*"
whichtobeAnglicized,is
emphatically
nottobeEn!)hsh.--
111\:
figureofmimicryislocatablewithinwhatA~lersondescribesas"theinnerincdillpatibilityofempireand
nation."!
Itp£oblematizesthesignsof
flWi#l
iuul
f~'4Ufill
Wiufit
fW
01#1
Ole
"rmlitJIHlI"
is
no
Ion
1(:1'
naturalizablc.
Wl,,~,t
cmergc«
)(~{WeellIlIilllcsis
aflt
ril'ffl'l'iY:I'Y's'a
llitt'tlll:r:,
if
frI'6de
(I
i'i':'f)'I'(~S(:fI'-
tation,thatmarginalizesthemunumcntal'ityofhistory,quitesimplymocksitspowertobeamodel,thatpowerwhichsupposedlymakesitimitable.Mimicry
repeats
ratherthan
re-presents
andinthatdiminishingperspectiveemergesDecoud'sdisplacedEuropeanvisionofSulacoastheendlessnessofcivilstrifewherefollyseemedevenhardertobearthanitsignominy...thelawlessnessofapopulaceofallcoloursandraces,barbarism,irremediabletyranny....Americaisungovern-
ablc.!"
OrRalphSingh'sapostasyillNaipaul's
Th»MimicMen:
Wepretendedtobereal,tobelearning,tobepreparingourselvesfor
life,
wemimicmenoftheNewWorld,oneunknowncornerofit,withallitsremindersofthecorruptionthatcarnesoquicklytothenew.
11
BothDecoudandSingh,andintheirdillerentwaysGrantandMacaulay,aretheparodistsofhistory.Despitetheirintentionsandinvocationstheyinscribethecolonialtexterratically,eccentricallyacrossabodypoliticthatrefusestobe
6.T.B.Macaulay,"MinuteonEducalion,"in
SOUrCfJ
ofIndian
Tnulition,
VIII.
II,..d.Willi.uuTh..odore
.1('
Bary,NewYork,CohuuhiaUniversityPress,19:)B,
p.
11).
?',
Mr.
Thomasou's
1'011111111II
il'al
iou
10
IIII'Churrh
MissiollarySociely,Sepll',"IJl'r;',
IIII
!J,
ill
llll'
Missumar»
Nr.t:1.11t'f,
JU2I,PI'.51-55.
U.BQlI'dil'1A'IIJ..rslIlI,
lTIIIIUit't'd
O'Il/I11I1I1III"J,
London,Ver,
II)!!:!,
1'.
BB.
~.
tu«:
1'1'.
mt-il'1.
10,.llls..phConrad.
Nostrama,
London,P!'lIguill,1~)79,p.
IIi
I,
II.
V.S.Naipaul.
Tt«Mimir
"'(II,
Loudon,
1'<'11
gilill,1'167,
1',
I'll;,
\'l..6
)
I
representative,inanarrativethatrefusestoberepresentational.Thedesiretoemergeas"authentic"throughmimicr-throughaprocessofwritin~andrepetition
-IS
naIronartlareresentation.alavecalledmimicryisnotthefamiliarexerciseof
dependent
colonialrelationsthroughnarcissisticidentificationsothat,asFanonhasobserved.!?theblackmanstopsbeinganactionalpersonforonlythewhitemancanrepre-senthisself-esteem.Mimicrconcealsnoresenceoridentitbehinditsmask:itisnotwhat
Cesaire
Describesas"colonization-tlI1glfication'
13
beindwhichtherestandstheessenceofthe
presenceAfricaine.
The
menace
ofmimicryisits
double
visionwhichindisclosingtheambivalenceofcolonialdiscoursealsodisruptsitsauthority.Anditisadouble-visionthatisaresultofwhatI'vedescribedasthepartialrepresentation/recognitionofthecolonialobject.Grant'scolonialaspartialimitator,Macaulay'stranslator,Naiaul'scolonialohtlclanaslay-actor,Decoudasthescenesetterofthe
orerabouife
0
teNewWorld,thesearetilea)pro)riateob'ectsof'acolonialistchainofcommand,au~d
versions
ootherness.
I
ut
theyarealso,asIhaveshown,theIguresofadoubling,t
e
f~a'1··t)1I~il!:'(-ts'~,.
<'II
mf:'~O'f~J'my
"f
co'oJlJiado«''':Slarewlnichaliena.es>
the
mooality
and
normalityofthosedominantdiscoursesinwhichtheyemergeas"inappropriate"colonialsubjects.Adesirethatthrouhtherepetitionof
partialresence
whichisthebasisofmimicry,articulatesthoseIsturances
0
cutural,racial,andhistoricaldtflerencethatmenacethenar.siticdemandofcolonialautlionty.ItisaeSlretlareverses"inpart"thecolonialaroriationbnowproducingapartialvision
0
t
ecool1lzerspresence.Agazeofotherness,thatsarestheacuity01thegenealogicalgazewhich,asFoucaultdescribesit,liberatesmar-ginalelementsandshatterstheunityofman'sbeingthroughwhichheextendshissovereignty.!"IwanttoturntothisprocessbywhichthelookofsurveillancereturnsasthedisplaciJlggazeofthedisciplined,wheretheobserverbs;cowestheobst:n.:edand"artJai
re
)resentatlonrearticulhewholenotionof
identl't
andalenates
11
fromessence.ut'notbeforeobservingthatevenanexemplaryI;:storyhkel'!:ncStokes's
TheEnglisliUtilitariansinIndia
acknowledgestheanomalousgazeofothernessbutfinallydisavowsitinacontradictoryut-terance:CertainlyIndiaplayed
no
centralpartinfashioningthedistinctivequalitiesofI~nglishcivilisation.Inmanywaysitactedasadisturb-ingforce,amagneticpowerplacedattheperipherytendingtodistortthenaturaldevelopmentofBritain'scharacter....
15
1'2,Frant«Faunn,
Iliad,Skill,WlrileAimk..,
Lo,"lon,Paladin,1!170,p.109,D.Airn(~Cesai,.."
llisraurs«
Oil
Colonialism,
NewYork,MonthlyReviewPress,1972,p.21.14.MichelFOil
l'iIII
II,
"Nictzchc,Genealogy,History,"ill
1./lT'.l!"a,~e,
C'III11,ler-Iv!emOlY,
Practice,
tranx.DonaldF.!lollchard
aru
lSherrySimon,Ithaca,CornellUniversityPress,p.153.1;,.1':,-iI'Slokl's,
'/1,1'
HT/g/i..1r
lflililtll'tll,.•
andlndia,
()xli"..l,OxfordUniversityPress,1!);,'I,p,xi.

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