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Choreography of Murder

Sanil V.
Translated by G. Arunima
Michel Gregorio’s Critique of Criminal Reason is an unusual detective novel. This
revolves around that great thinker, Immanuel Kant. There are a series of murders in
Kant’s little town, Konigsburg. Hanos Stephanis who arrives to investigate this lands
in the midst of Kant’s novel, The Critique of Criminal Reason. This book deals with
the inner sources of a mind that indulges in the sheer ecstasy of pure violence. It could
have been Kant’s scribe, or maybe Kant himself, who could have been behind the
killings in Konigsburg. The detective himself, fearing the potential effects on readers,
tears the book into little shreds and flings it into a nearby canal. Then he departs, after
disclosing that it was, in actuality, the local supporters of Napoleon, poised to attack
Prussia, who were behind the murders.
Immanuel Kant was the thinker of the Enlightenment. He placed knowledge,
obedience and pleasure within the limits of reason, and for whom only the
courageousness of thought mattered. The ascetic who found freedom and goodness in
the agility of reason alone. The one who maintained order and method not merely in
his thought and beliefs, but even in the punctuality accorded to his evening walks. So
how could someone like Kant, who insisted that one should not lie even to save a
friend’s life, derive pleasure in murder?
What is the principle that drives the murder, and the detective who follows alongside
to investigate this? Kant’s attempt in the story is to lay the foundation of the science
of criminal investigation by reconstructing the inner logic of murder. To put it in
simple police language, behind every murder there are one or more murderers. The
murderer will have some goals. Property, power, revenge, hatred, or something like
that. The investigation must proceed on some concrete bases such as these. This is the
police logic rejected by Kant in this book that none of us have read. No science can be
sculpted out of such logic.
For common sense and conventional morality, violence has only been a means. There
may be a difference of opinion on whether this means is right or not. How much
violence is permissible for a good cause? What should be the precautions for such
permissible acts of violence? Such issues are within the ambit of discussion. But a
general common sense does not accept killing for the sake of killing. If there are
murderers who are such purists, then they must be mentally ill. The murders in
Konigsburg did not have any other goals. The victims did not have money, fame or
power. And the murderer – the epitome of reason! The victim and murderer were
separated merely by the onrush of sheer pleasure in anticipation of the pure murder.
And all the inner forces of agency are drawn into this pleasure. This is not an
expression of suppressed recidivism. This is murder that is planned and executed. The
sharp whalebone is the Konigsburg murderer’s weapon. The victim is seduced into
submission and brought down to his knees, and then is stabbed sharply with the bone

The joy of the killing lies not in the helplessness or screams of the victim. but perhaps there is some delight in such fatigue. was a constant theme of Kant’s inquiry. and its connection with rationality. People shriek in terror. killing him. And the starry heavens up above and the voice of conscience deep within would have filled Kant with the same awe. Such extraordinary rushes of the human mind. “thank god. Our eyes tire after gazing for long at such Himalayan heights. Fraternity”. The murderous roar that made History tremble. The animality that bursts forth. However such play is conditional on complete safety. Stephanis had been in Paris at the time of the Revolution. catapults man to the heights of the gods. witnessed Louis the XIVth’s execution. It is almost akin to a masochist who pays good money to buy a Rottweiler who terrifies him constantly. Some theme parks even have cameras that can capture one whilst navigating the most exquisitely dangerous spins. along with the multitudes. And there was a reason for that. That terrified scream is possible only when the delights of safety are wiped out of one’s mind when being swung wildly through air. Instead it was the pleasure that one derives from the realization that the striving that takes us by leaps and bounds to the limits of knowledge and experience is indeed that. Let us return to Gregorio’s novel. we escaped near death?” No. Your face will reveal a look of indescribable bliss even as you jump out of your skin in fear. As the sharp bone pierces through the neck. It wasn’t the beauty of the skies or the certainty of moral law that caused this experience. Could it be the defeat. But this realization is not mere cognition. The success of the murder lies in the roar that drowns both the hunter and the hunted.through the back of his neck. Upon seeing the blood spattered head of the executed Emperor rolling down from the guillotine the crowds shrieked like children on a roller coaster. when faced with measuring the immeasurable? The murderer recognizes and enjoys exactly this kind of delight and fatigue. It was Kant himself who had invited Stephanis to investigate the murders in Konigsberg. Equality. Just try that once. It is pleasure. So do people buy tickets to plunge themselves into the dangers of roller coaster rides in order to be able to say. even inertia. man experiences an almost bestial surge that seems to raise him to the heavens. Why are we overwhelmed by the sight of a mountain soaring towards the heavens? Maybe because we are insignificant in front of such grandeur.“Liberty. This little amusement gives a kick only to those undeterred by cowardice. It was this roar that resonated as the renowned French Revolution slogan . It is galloping thought. shattering all moral prohibitions. It is a surge. Roller coasters sweep us up to great heights and then chuck us down with an equal ease. He had then. This shrieking is what is pleasurable. 2 . Those who have ridden the roller coasters in theme parks would be familiar with the inner tremulousness that we feel when tossed around at an extraordinary pace. It was after all Stephanis who had introduced Kant to the pleasures of pure murder. The fear and frolic possible within the security of the roller coaster is what the killer experiences whilst wielding his murderous knife. which renders knowledge and experience possible. If that were indeed the case then one would have yelled out only after the roller coaster had finally descended to the ground. But such rushes are not restricted only to murder.

These are centred on the act of murder itself. there must be Enlightenment even in the courts. of the murderer. 3 . Kant’s quest was beyond good or evil. committed for its own sake. or mandates the punishment for a crime. and from the scream. Kant was neither praising violence. These signs were seen not in the validity of revolutionary ideas. nor providing respectability to what psychiatrists have foolishly characterized as recidivism. Stephanis is not a policeman. These stories capture the energy and exhaustion of the murderer. or even his great objectives. The taking of human life was beyond the conception of that devout Christian. the other – the book. Violence has always disturbed Anand. the determination of revolutionaries or even in the victory of the Revolution itself. The Royalist Kant could not accept the manner in which the people had disposed off the Emperor. All three are to do with murder. until this book. and ideas of progress in the Revolution. and almost purity of purpose. However. or the pathos of the victim. As I said earlier. One should not even follow a system of justice that distinguishes right from wrong. From the scars of the whiplash is born the alphabet. he is a judge. The killer’s cruelty and the victim’s wretchedness are somewhat shifted to the margins. Yet it was conclusively finished off within the novel itself.murder. Yet the Book of Murder shows the determination to explore violence through the excitement. The fictional Kant wrote that book. Murder is wrong in the eyes of the court. SECTION II Now we have a Malayalam edition of the treatise on criminal reason that Kant never wrote – Anand’s Book of Murder. witnessing the Emperor’s execution that attracted Kant. meaning. of a criminal. This science must not be founded either on the egotism of the killer. The Book of Murder is about two issues. That University Professor could not stomach the crowds or bloodshed. or the guilt. Instead. One . Kant is not searching for a technique for understanding either the calculations. From the victim’s point of view. The Gardener. In all three the killing is almost a Spartan act. like the killer’s petty acts. That is why Stephanis destroyed Kant’s manuscript on criminal justice before it could reach anyone else’s hands. Having been a part of the murderous mob was what gave Stephanis the eligibility to investigate these crimes. Both the murderer and the murdered are victims. Anand had been searching for the relationship between endurance. This roar was not a joyous expression of having achieved the revolutionary goal. it was the terrifying roar of the masses. suffering and death. Now the real Kant could never have envisaged such a murder mystery. This idea of justice is unsustainable in a legal system where only the victims’ pleas find voice. Anand had always seen violence only through the piteousness of the victim. rights or covetousness.In Kant’s view the French Revolution was a messy event. he was looking for a system of justice that could track those residual signs that outlasted acts whose agency was constructed through violence. that were integral to this event. However Kant was forced to read the signs of both the public use of reason. If investigation is to become a science. Other investigators may have been distracted by such red herrings. justice and language. the main issues regarding violence are brutality. he was laying the foundation for the future science of criminal investigation. The Hotelier and The Tailor are the three stories in this collection. It is only one who has known the sheer delight of a horrific murder who can see such a crime from a murderer’s viewpoint.

and krithi text. and unquotable.Both text and action alike are a problem for Anand. ‘kr’. The protagonists in some are writers in others.” The Book of Murder examines the limits of this incomplete relationship between justice and time. Saji Mathew. The book in Govardhanantte Yatrakal is rendered incomplete by a protagonist who crosses the boundaries of Literature to be let loose into History. but texts themselves surface as characters. “ There is a law that is bigger than you and me. and your tribe that hunts down that community. and letters about books. The difference and deferral in meaning within language will always lay the text open to multiple readings. This book is beyond deterrence. All the other books are mere pathways along which this races unfettered. Incomplete books have been floating around for a long time in Anand’s writing. In the story Nalamatthe Aani [The Fourth Nail] Jesus says. Udayakumar has demonstrated that such ‘incompleteness’ in Anand is neither erroneous nor a sign of his inadequacy. But it is not the dead author who renders the Book of Murder incomplete. In a situation where the cross itself morphs into a pickaxe. that the infinite source of this incompleteness lay in the relationship between text and temporality. the community that I created. However. an Afterword to Anand. In The Gardener and The Hotelier. 2 See Udayakumar’s preface to the English translation of Anand’s Vyasanum Vigneswaranum. it is books. So this “I” restores the tattered Nishadapuranam to its place on the library shelf. 2000. The main characters in the Book of Murder too are books and letters. how can one imagine that the ironsmith’s self restraint in casting a nail could possibly protect the little lamb. that arise from killing. They have even popularized the motto of the death of the author. After all text and action trace their origins back to the same root. tr. but aims to create. You cannot abandon this book in a library or by the way-side. 2 Such ‘incompleteness’ is the foundation of Anand’s notion of justice. Both originate in the same root. The main characters in Vyasanum and Vighneswaranum too are two incomplete texts – Nishadapuranam and Nagaravadhu. And then abandons Nagaravadhu on the railway tracks and escapes. The law of time! The last nail must never be cast. in The Tailor. Vyasa and Vighneswara. Postmodernists love the idea that all works are incomplete. This book does not pander to the readers’ aesthetic pleasure. it is the murderer found in any work. ‘Anand and the Poetics of Incompleteness’. 4 . the incompleteness of the Book of Murder is paradoxically more demoniacally tangible than the other books. it will follow the reader and encounter him. They undermine those interpretations claiming authorial intention on the grounds that books are open to limitless numbers of readings. 3 However. ibid. Instead. The Book of Murder is the grand tome that engulfs all these other works.1 In Anand’s stories not only individuals and ideas. The writer is the one who seduces the reader into submission. Like a murder. The writer has no monopoly over the production of meaning. fear in them. 3 See Vyasanum Vigneswaranum. it is the practical. He is at once the slayer and the slain. thus. and foster. Anand believed. Here Anand makes two important 1 In Sanskrit and in Malayalam kriya means action. It is distinct from other books in that it does not have their relationship with the authorial voice [or the narrator ‘I’]. New Delhi: Katha. until Vyasanum and Vighneswaranum. Book of Cutting and Tailoring that is the character. What are then the possibilities for incompleteness beyond the desire for rebirth? These are the questions.

Nor is it the fear that violence is on the increase in the world. Every murder has a certainty. protest. However when that will happen is beyond prediction. This is a bolt of lightening that cuts through law and justice to. murder snatches not only life. Wittgenstein). what was Anand’s idea of the relationship between text and action? Things are not as easy as – first the act. It is also not a kind of revisionist history writing that sees violence as the foundational trait for characterizing certain castes. middle and an end. Anand had earlier believed that no certainty marks finality that led him to deem that time and narrative are always open to justice and freedom. habit or unconscious desire. Let us revisit some of Kant’s views on murder once again. We need to unpack the relationship between time. and speaking about action. This is not an attempt to either impose order or disarray. One could say that man’s actions are characters in search of an author. Behind every actor there is a narrator. The Tailor and The Hotelier. Blackwell. events will never have the ebb and flow of action. He shifts the focus regarding violence from the victim to the killer. violence is the archetype of that action which by being an intrinsic feature in all of man’s acts provides a syntactic intelligibility to all of action itself. Being and Time.though that is no failure.4 It is this possibility that murder snatches away from me. Yet the act of murder upends our commonsensical understandings about this relationship. but even death away from man. He focuses on the act of killing. has its own processes and protocols. Unless written about by someone. text. Mortality is the key to eternal life. murder cannot be studied within the duality of life and death. and to law and justice. the sociality of the act. In Heidegger’s words. Writing. Yet it isn’t that one day everyone must die. Therefore. Anand’s subjects here are not recidivism. Thus. On the other. at the same time he also recentres the writer. Anand attempts to understand murder by linking action. into freedom. as the site for textual contemplation. communities or cultural types. makes action conform to both good and evil. This link has always been one of Anand’s concerns. by ordering nonsensical acts into a beginning. It reduces my death to a mere event in my life (“my death is not event in my life”. The text is the one that liberates action from the idiosyncrasies of the actor. So until this book. to die like everyone is my “ownmost possibility”. After all its pretty sure that one day everyone will cop it. 4 Heidegger. text and action are mutually complementary. Narrative. from the reader. is but a part of action itself. The Book of Murder questions precisely this mutual complementarity that is acknowledged by conventional poetics. as indeed of new interpretation. writing and love. Language is rooted in the practices of community life. 1978. and into possibilities. It is the certainty of mortality that frees man into the future. and then the narrative that records it. or denouncing the destruction wrought by murder. 5 . Therefore. It is this belief that is under jeopardy in The Gardner. like research.moves. and temporality. forcibly. From another perspective. and opens up afresh the possibilities for a spatio-temporal relocation. at once enable and disable. There is no point in either hanging on to arguments regarding the value of life. language itself is action. action and the text. On the one hand murder is the kind of act that.

This book is born out of these slashes and scratches. beyond birth and death. The claim is that cloning makes it possible to pre-determine the character and behaviour of a baby prior to its birth. “This is not a literary work that roosts again and again on past events. Vardhamanan’s suicide in front of the train he was traveling in reveals the impossibility of action. The book of violence is possible only through a language that can annihilate meaning and signification inherent in writing. In fact. As Sheshadri in The Gardner says “ through every page and event a piece of the future is read. I can outlast death.” It is not accidents. railway track. and that between literature and the broadsheet (He is like the Wittgensteinian character who compares several copies of the same paper to check the veracity of the news printed in his own copy). This nullifies both the distinctions between the future and the present. the text becomes an impossibility. He can imagine the future only in the shape of words and sentences. With that one can scratch off those lines. who tear off the leaves of this book. What would be the contents of a book that lacks both past and present. Yet I would perceive cloning as the means of controlling my life. The Book of Murder is forever pure. and has only a contingent future? Would its tone be like a weather forecast speculating on whether or not it would rain the next day? When today becomes tomorrow. In sum. the future. loses its own prospects and becomes a supplicant to the present . Anand has named this act where destruction itself become creativity – de-writing. or mischief-makers. Until that second part returns to encounter him as the Book of Murder. Once the events mentioned in the book occur. Murder cannot be accommodated in a balance sheet that has only two columns – birth and death. This science allows me to make copies of my own self. the author abandons the text alongside the blood spattered. those pages are torn off.Just in the manner in which murder toys with the idea of death. This is the idea that cloning distorts and manipulates. The Book of Murder is an attempt to understand this excess as that which is articulated by the relationship between action. Vyasanum Vigneshswaranum ends by complicating Anand’s own earlier understanding of time and narrative. one of the two will become a certainty. It is the repetitive time found in Vyasanum Vighneswaranum. Yet he is not a clairvoyant possessing the ability to prophecy the future. Then what is wrong with cloning? It is the knowledge that I am a contingency outside choice that gives meaning to my right to choose. when faced by him. Vardhamanan experiences a twisted sense of déjà vu in this mixing up of the future and the present. time and the text. the author of Nagaravadhu. or keeps printing new editions again and again. 6 . both cloning and murder point towards that contingency. and palely sunlit. Like lottery tickets that can be torn up once the draw is over. The Book of Murder is written like a flashback from the future. In this time of madness and suicide. Vardhamanan. that gives me my selfhood. ripped off”. His is a timeless and inert present. reads the events of tomorrow in today’s newspaper. so too does the science of genetics play with the idea of birth. If this were indeed to become a possibility then the startling wonderment in birth would be lost. After all a child born through natural processes does not choose its own character traits. In the abortive second part of Nagaravadhu.

Then what certainty? The fears and hopes of the future are embedded in action. enables the possibility of a future event. or their combined forces can provide a prior assurance about this. It makes the world of make belief credible by linking the negation of truth with contingency.. quirks and quibbles. Words and phrases. and its uncertainties – will it. And it is not as though he’s leapt into it by shutting his eyes to reason. it fails to communicate any meaning. Whilst pursuing endless descriptions and details. sink into confusion? One does not proceed into action after resolving confusion. Things move from doing to certainty and not from certainty to doing. divested of their multiple meanings. fears. The light of a thousand sunrises experienced does not ensure that one will see the next day’s dawn too. the Germans realize that the British army is encamped in the town called Albert. Murder is that act which. Like grasping the myriad meanings of rain. confusion. Life would become impossible if the sun were to rise in the west tomorrow. and falls into action. who accepts all possibilities at once. It is just that we could not predict it before hand. on the basis of a name. he stumbles upon some detail or description. This assurance becomes impossible not because of any human limitation. Do away with the dependability of veracity. He does not move to action through a justification that forecloses the option of “don’t do it”. Anything can happen in the future. There is no space here between human freedom and intervention. nor experience. what is so uncertain about tomorrow? Whatever is ordained will take place. These are some of the fictional sweet nothings uttered by a literature that is sheltered by truth. The revolutionary’s optimistic excitement is based in the certainty born out of action. unlike yesterday and today. certainties and excitement of action across temporal spans. human activity is impossible in a completely uncertain world. Experience does not provide any such enlightenment. Let us suppose he suddenly decides to this thing. “…. Whatever happens was meant to be so. Freedom is but the shadow in the valley of ignorance. a man who is caught in a dilemma about whether or not to do something. for instance. Borges and others have experimented with yet another method. In Borges’s story a German spy picks out someone called Albert from the telephone directory and shoots him dead. just plain unawareness). Language too would have to shut shop and depart. Yet. won’t it – in one fell swoop.So. This is one claim. Take. Literature has always been interested in the moves. When this news is printed in the next day’s paper. Fundamentalisms proceed to perform prior certainties. In his story The Garden of Forking Paths Borges explains this method. But because this text attempts to combine too many contradictions at once. This move from dilemma to doing is not prompted by some new justification (if there is such a justification. In the way that the waters of a river can act both as an obstacle or a bridge. in the same way the text itself becomes action. Affirm all future possibilities equally. In 7 . but because of the split between truth and time. There is an argument to the contrary too.”{fill with Borges quote} Will this not become a pointless tale. Yet neither reason. Literature befriends falsehood in order to face the tussle between time and truth. Of course the sun will most certainly rise in the east tomorrow. As soon as the thing is done a reasoned explanation is also produced – pronto. entrapped in conflicts? Will not the revolutionary. begin to function like proper nouns. He has equally powerful reasons for both options. He can progress to doing only by fulfilling the possibility of the “not to be done” by engaging in endless thought. then his was no dilemma.

These stories are about a world that happens only within the fictional realm – like computer games. It is not even a march of marionettes or the infantry in response to someone blowing a whistle. No one will give a toss whether you believe it or not. Murder and de-writing wrests actions from meaning and righteous time and transforms them into events. and the accompanying relatives. The crowd in The Tailor is visualized as a slow motion X-ray picture. The third embraces all these contradictions. martyrdom and other faces of violence occur within a future possibility of repetition and remembrance. but instead organs without bodies. streets and relationships. There is another story by Anand that clearly spells out murder’s temporal cadences. The victim here is half dead – almost like a living corpse. and seek out new relationships. Only the soprano hears the cry that penetrates through the subtle spaces between the song’s notes. An iconoclastic crowd stones a man to death who poses as a statue in the midst of a town’s cross roads. The dying man’s scream rises as the soprano in the next room hits a high note. So it is untimely death that happens in the conjunction of coincidences. desires and lovers. It is not the flight of the victims. from the description and explanation that provides unity to action. This stream of faceless people is not a procession of the alienated.Anand’s Hotelier. many contingencies are strung together on the basis of some names that float around some books. The second – reckless excitement. and many mistaken identities. The first exemplifies an inert concentration. Sacrifice. We have already said that murder retrieves events by dislodging action from its coordinates. According to the manner in which the clothes descend and establish themselves the limbs shrug off body and mind. The stitched clothes leave the shop in search of bodies that can fit into them. This murder is the result of distraction. The second murder takes place at a traffic signal. thus necessitating a dissembling alongside de-writing. These stories are like thrillers without suspense. The clothes transform the limbs into individualized bodies. but are faceless refugees and crowds. Three Murders. The real face of violence that had been under wraps in the first two stories reveals itself in the third one. The coming together of the inert concentration of the statue and the crowd’s crazed exhilaration makes murder a mere ritualistic stab at the corpse. and resolves them. If you stop singing the tonal sieve created by the notes too is destroyed. The clothes soar down and cover these disembodied limbs. You can hear the cry only if you concentrate on the song. The first takes place in a hotel room. desires and partners. Anand’s characters are not self conscious agents like members of a class or civilization or even individuals. The second is a cacophony of contingencies. What flows down the roadside are not well-formed bodies. In the first there is the subtlety of musical notes. The stories in the Book of Murder are born out bizarrely contingent events. like unscrewing nuts and bolts. There’s no staving off of the events that are destined to happen. Clothes join the different limbs together in order to create a body. But she can do nothing. Yet this contingency does not surprise anyone. If this is to be possible we have to remove the agent. and provide them with homes. 8 . omens and sacred numbers. Yet murder is untimely. Events are born out of anomalous conjunctions.

seek expression in withering limbs. To whom else would I go to seeking knowledge. 5 6 In the short story by the same name. This is the intense asceticism of murder. According to this logic. Murder’s lovers? Or its mothers?) Organs make contact across the totalizing relationship between the body and mind. internalizes the pain of the other. abandoned corpses and the mortuary. that extending beyond the unity of the limbs. Anand’s stories are like an anatomy laboratory replete with wasted fingers. This is also not a simple assertion that individuality. The idea of alienation. Angabhangam. The hand that wields the knife. in such a situation one may never realize that the hand that stabs one while leaning on another’s shoulder. So how can the organs declare their independence from the body? Like History. tells her cobbler Guruji the secret behind this kind of suturing. the mole [arimpara] absorbs into itself the shattered unity of the body.V. Mira. Hatred and compassion. “Blood will splatter if you tear this Mira who’s caught in the web of full blooded relationships. This bodily difference need not make him fundamentally dissimilar from others. allegedly central to O. is not what is of interest to Anand. Anand’s organs leave their bodily home and transmigrate. the manner in which The Tailor describes the disembodiment of the organs. O. but consoling too is the enjoining of the organs free of the body. and in sixth fingers. By the time he reaches the murderer Ali Dost5 Anand’s attention shifts to the ineffectual sixth finger that jutted outside his palm. They are extraneous in any body. On being asked why he is called Guruji. “…your description of human beings dismembered into little bits is terrifying. Such fundamental differences need not even be the reason behind Ali Dost’s inhuman cruelty. distancing themselves from the killer and the victim. You.” (Anand’s Mira. is constructed. A mere sixth finger would distinguish him from the otherwise ordinariness of the body (this finger was what was in excess in Ali Dost. in the old story Mira. gouged out eyes. Even if symbolically. and the downcast neck.V. Vijayan. Take. For instance. and gambol along the roadside. “It might be another’s hand that someone places on the other’s shoulder in order to provide consolation”. This is however not postmodernist agency that is splayed or splintered. there is a man who experiences pain in his phantom limb. In an old story. From the killer’s point of view. murder is the stitching together of the organs. Euripides’s Medea. My hand floats over to another’s shoulder. Anand’s subject at that point was the victim’s body. Clothes are born bearing the shape of the body. Outside the cover of the body. Vijayan’s Arimpara6. So how can there be organs without bodies? It is after all the body that endows its parts with their form and roles. Arimpara. on the other hand. separate from you and I. are the ascetic who sews together dead leather. Not just hurting. for instance. organs have their own logic and unity. may in actuality be one’s own hand”. it is the victim’s well-formed body that is in a dismembered state. Mira replies to the cobbler. or identity.The Crowd is the symphony that arises from these withering limbs. [complete reference to be inserted] 9 . and lacking in Ekalavya). Anatomy is the other subject that fascinates Anand.

This is not a sweeping statement that claims that man’s every action. while leaving dialogic and consensual discussions to civil society.‘Cut and paste’ is the stylistics employed in The Book of Murder. Sheshadri begins by qualifying the debate between the dead hunter and the live victim.7 ‘The unblemished [innocent] tailoring book written for the dangerous games played by human beings’. it is not even like the resistance NGOs offer to the idea that the state must retain the monopoly over necessary violence. and the duty keepers. The new mutations of violence have made such responses redundant. The debate aspires to generate. Yet Anand is no grammarian. Sheshadri. It is only through this side-stepping that one can think seriously about violence. So. The tailor has the book explaining the methodology of this writing – The Book of Cutting and Tailoring. Anand begins his writing from the rupture of the cooperative society of Yaman and Chitraguptan who aimed at linking mathematics with justice. without any occasion to offer a reply. we have been trying to understand the aspect of ‘action’ in murder as a relationship between text and time. Murder is not the action that can be recognized by the extant methodology and codes of morality. the thuggee in The Gardner invites the author to a debate on murder. With this the strategy to articulate duty within time. punishment or revolution. or a publisher’s. It is a debate but in name. but an event. the guardian of duty. Anand was attempting to audit the certainties of time-keepers by exploring the conflict between justice and power. Debate is founded on transparency. look. collapsed. 10 . It is just a textbook without an author’s.8 The scribes who were Chitraguptan’s followers split into two – the time-keepers. This was Anand’s method. His speech must turn the listener’s world upside down. Until now. thought or love is murderous. Debate and consensus functions within the rationality of non-violence. In all three stories the murderer speaks to the writer. Sheshadri skillfully sidesteps this. Anand is writing in opposition to the puranas that venerate the boon granting Shiva while reviling Yama. Those who imagined The Book of Murder to be a book of horror were wrong. what is the subject proffered by Sheshadri’s fear inducing debate – the transparency of violence. From the short story Kayastar [Scribes]. not terror. It is not even a plea for non-violence or a denunciation of contemporary politics that is meant to nurture violence in war. Communication is not the murderer’s aim. Yet there is a sudden switch in this method by the time we get to the Book of Murder. and science with duty. The writer will no longer be able to write the way he has been writing so far. and breed. Anand turns to Yama’s murderous sense of justice and method by stepping aside from the conceptualization of gifts and distribution. He then upgrades this to a debate between the dead and living hunters. Equally. 7 8 From the story The Tailor. duty and power. name (Another puzzle by Borges: what is the absent word in a puzzle whose answer is chess? Answer…chess). word. Yet the writer can only be a mute listener. Stand by the victim. fear. Anand studies action in order to find a solution to [the problems of] justice. What is happening between them is not a debate. Yet reject the mythology of the victim. These questions that saturated the other books is somewhat hidden in The Book of Murder.

nay even a joust. Even when merchants are targeted it is not the possibility of victory. like any other aim. who spends his time in front of the TV and computer playing killing games. The killer of yore. but coincidences and omens that draw attention to the victim. went into hiding. spread fear. Which child. will destroy the purity of murder. Killing for killing’s sake does not imply some pleasure in the act of murder. one could even say that there is a public sphere of murder. In fact. Sheshadri attempts to extract the duty of murder from its pristine essence – one that is without avarice. The gawping. this is their aim. Within moral codes. and then finding an appropriate means for the end. in real life? It is not surprising that the new forms of violence unsettle an orthodox killer who follows in the grand tradition of murder. moi. Capture as much of media attention as possible.Until recently every murderer killed only secretively. Murder becomes public and transparent. is as a means. and that too hesitantly. There’s a big point in the orthodox perspective which sees violence merely as a means). The causes. or a fear that a society that considered violence evil would be unable to see the purity of their act. It only has a methodology. And now terrorist organizations. Instrumental reason lies in separating the means from the ends. The austerity of violence cannot be characterized as an attribute of the value system of a caste. Literature. selfishness or sentimentality. or when used to further its own ends. In an attempt apparently to contain violence. the only acknowledgement that violence gets. Yet the coming of terrorism has destroyed the secret nature of violence. in the case of ordinary murderers. bystanders are their victims. ordinary. Yet this is not the aim of the killing. all saying moi. after having committed murder. whether used against itself. To appropriate without killing is sin. the means and ends are not separate from each other. has the luck to see murder. cinema and computer games have rendered violence into a kind of publicized child’s play. could be fear or a sense of morality. A good doctor can rake in the moolah. In humanist practices. are queuing up to accept responsibility for mass murder. Unlike the old revolutionaries. Violence is never its own end. Art. group or civilization. Violence has neither morality nor ideology. Violence is merely means without an end. The thugs were inspired to kill stealthily because of religious belief. public health and population control are adjustments of this kind. even modern societies with the aid of the police and the army actually end up nurturing it (human beings must have invented ritual sacrifice in order to avoid the retaliatory madness of revenge and vendetta. Health care has certain virtues and aims 11 . The end is a mere excuse for the means. Actually the real murderer dies alongside the victim. Now making money is only an extraneous aim of medical practice. On the one hand violence is becoming rampant. Pleasure that is pursued purposively towards such gratification. The thugs embezzle everything belonging to their victims. Pure murder is divorced from all aims and is the ritualized performance of means alone. On the other it becomes an adjustment between the murderer and the victim. the terrorists have no interest in beheading the Emperor.

If he had wanted to remain anonymous. hypnotic sleep is the place where the story takes place. By sheer coincidence. without even a pen name? [I ] have no desire to be a litterateur”. the practice of murder does not submit to either of these reasons. The famous Danish director Lars von Trier. Murder is the art performed by that limp. For Ali Dost. in his letter to M. There the detective. corpselike. The name itself is the problem. awaiting the killer. The breathlessness about the name lies in the discovery that the clue to the link between action and time lies in the name. This obstacle may itself be the source [of violence]. sixth finger that hung on like a mute. The history of cinema has a similar flirtation with the name. and by taking on even his headache. It extracts the means from practice. the author does not hesitate in replying that they may call him Anandan. This film is bathed in the sepia tones of sodium vapour lamps not unlike the expressionless lethargy embodying the killers in Anand and Borges’s stories. Those who are passionate about truthfulness and goodness will not be able to comprehend this listless creature’s sorrow. However. himself transforms into the murderer. maybe Harry Gray was himself the teacher Osborne who wrote the Book of Murder. Fischer reaches the place where the next murder is to take place by walking the streets trodden by Gray. Fischer’s. and be able to transform himself into the murderer. but instead is the excitement of any action which embraces all possibilities. throws up and wanders around disconsolately. Govindan about the publication of Aalkoottam. distills. after committing murder in an entirely dispassionate manner. We have said earlier that murder is not an action that can be pointed out from existing moral conceptions. Who knows. Von Trier’s first well known film was on murder – The Element of Crime. along with his friends. swinging between Humayun who seized power by manipulating community ties and Kamran who tried to do the same through the use of sheer brute force? Ali Dost. isn’t it? Yet when the characters in the book ask. flaccid. After all The Book of Murder is a methodology text book lacking in both the author’s and publisher’s names. could we not bring it out unnamed. The murder shows that action is transferred across people whose individuality is pegged on to mere names. According to this the detective must be able to inhabit the mind of the killer. heaving and fatigue. SECTION III Anand. Vardhaman asks why we go hunting for the past 12 . witness. and purifies it. founded a group called Dogma 95. His guide is The Element of Crime a methodology book written by his teacher. A good doctor is one who can practice recognizing these. The murders take place on the corners of an ‘H’. This question is not prompted by humility or shyness. a pen-name would have sufficed.of its own. runs to the borders of the city. murder is not merely a play of five-fingers. ‘Names’ are the obstacles that are planted in language in order to stem the violence of action. wrote: “ If this is to be published. The detective’s. Harry Gray. sleeping with his girlfriend. Osborne. One of the vows they took was not to add the director’s name to a film. He is pursuing a serial killer who has been killing girls vending lottery tickets. who gouges out eyes and hacks off necks. the first letter of the given name of the suspected killer. Isn’t Ali Dost the wilting sixth finger.

who provided books. On the one hand there is the author creating texts in which time is woven together seamlessly. and the wife Daniella D. Michel G. (The author of the Critique of Criminal Reason. And gratitude to Udayakumar. and the space for writing). And then the name that is common to both but is lacking entirely in time or meaning. arguments. Gregorio. Michel Gregorio. Radha Goswami and Shaj Mohan. It is one name combining the husband. The mirth invoked by nicknames is the body’s response to the connection between name and violence. On the other is the murderer who sees time only as an aspect of action and makes an untimely use of the text.when we need names. 13 . Jacob. was not one man but two people. These timeless names may be a way of trapping action outside time.