The Economy of Subjection: Reading Arun Kolatkar’s Jejuri as a Journey Poem
Arun Kolatkar’s Jejuri is a key text in Indian English Poetry and it has been subjected to various readings. One reading that is still possible is its politics of representation, that beneath its seemingly innocent surface of a journey poem involving a city-bred modern-day tourist visiting the temple town of Jejuri near Pune in Maharastra, it takes up the serious issue of the dynamics of cultural misrepresentation in the way of marginalization and displacement. The poem can be read as one classic example of how the centre perceives the margin and at what cost. And in the process it reveals its economy of subjection. By ‘economy of subjection’ one can mean, in Saidian sense, the Orientalist process of subjecting the Other or the Oriental, the member of a subject race, into subjection; because one can find here the same process of othering by using the patterns of a travel narrative. However, a sense of alienation from one’s own culture on the part of the observer-recorder also comes to the fore, rendering the master-slave narrative problematic. Other manifestation of the Orientalist representation is a sort of internalisation of the Western way of looking at the Oriental irrationality and chaos and viewing it from the perspective of rationality and imposition of a rational form over the irrational chaos. One thematic aspect of Indianness in the poem is the internal colonialism and the resistance of it, rather than the external one; the cultural markers of which are always found in the form of our attitude towards the womankind and the subaltern, and in the pervasive sense of hopelessness and guilt, as manifested in our overriding religious feelings.
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