This study highlights the Tantric threads within the transcendental religions of Asia that reveal the commanding role of encirclement as a mystical force. The cyanide capsule (kuppi) around the neck of every Tamil Tiger fighter was not only a tool of instrumental rationality as a binding force, but also a modality similar to a thāli (marriage bond necklace) and to participation in a velvi (religious animal sacrifice). It was thus embedded within Tamil cultural practice. Alongside the LTTE's politics of homage to its māvīrar (dead heroes), the kuppi sits beside numerous incidents in LTTE acts of mobilization or military actions where key functionaries approached deities in thanks or in preparation for the kill. These practices highlight the inventive potential of liminal moments/spaces. We see this as modernized 'war magic'—a hybrid re-enchantment energizing a specific religious worldview.
Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities
Asian Stars in Atlanticland
‘Hybridity’ and ‘globalization.’ Magic words. They can generate academic conferences. Salman Rushdie, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Arjun Appadurai, Gyan Prakash, Lata Mani, Gouri Vishwanathan, Akhil Gupta, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Amitav Ghosh, Talal Asad, Pal Ahluwahlia. Magic names for the most part. Draw cards for conferences.
The hegemony of the 'secular' is challenged through an exposition of the hero rites for the fallen among the Tamil Tigers. Overemphasis on the secular strands in LTTE ideology betrays a textual formalism and disregards the cosmological background of the cultural producers-cum-audience. Such a perspective neglects the embodied practices of Tamil followers. Tamil Saivite worship is permeated by sacrificial symbolism. In Sri Lanka, belief in śakti, divine energy, is displayed in diverse ways that can attract Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists. The rites of Hero Week reveal practices that echo Saivite forms. The LTTE's investment in this event involves massive co-ordination. The climactic moment is a simultaneous act of widespread commemorative grieving. The rite is also an undertaking that mobilizes, remembers, respects, legitimizes, transcends, inspires, and renews.
A Black Tiger Rite of Commemoration
Since Weber's time, it has been believed that 'enchantment' progressively gave way to secular rationalism and its disenchanted ways. This essay breaks the twinning of enchantment with 'irrationality' in developing the argument that enchanted practices and pragmatic methods co-exist fruitfully in the activities of the LTTE. Circumstantial evidence, arising from pictures and descriptions of hero rituals sponsored by the LTTE, provides the foundation for this argument. It is suggested that the Saivite universe of being has nourished these symbolic compositions. A photograph of Black Tigers paying homage to their dead with guns in the left hand and flowers in the right provides a condensed demonstration as well as a point of departure for this suggestion. It is a moment of conjunctiveness that has the potential to fuse past, present, and future, thus achieving 'fusion force'.
Empowering the Body and 'Noble Death'
Michael Roberts and Arthur Saniotis
Facing death with equanimity and with a honed, trained body is an expression of sheer power. When a group of like-minded individuals confronts an oppositional force with equal mental and bodily capacities, whether on a sports field or in a warring conflict, the result is power compounded. Each article in this special section ‘confronts’ such powers. Together they explore several regionally specific projects in Asia in which dying for a cause is seen as a virtue.
Repetition as Failure and Success in Apocalypse Now
Andrew Michael Roberts and Peter Easingwood
The question posed by Francis Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now is a very Conradian one: what does this experience mean? Apart of Conrad’s achievement as a writer was to introduce epistemological and existential questions into narratives of adventure. In this way Conrad transformed the nineteenth-century masculine romance of exploration, conquest, war and heroism into a modernist form capable of raising profound philosophical and political issues. While Coppola’s film is not a version of Heart of Darkness so much as a radical reworking of Conrad’s novella in the context of the Vietnam War, Conrad’s text played a crucial part both in the initial idea of the film and in the problematic final stages of its production when the director, tormented by the inability to find a satisfactory ending, returned again and again to Conrad’s text. In this paper we want to suggest that the concern with the problem of meaning which Coppola derives from Conrad initially led the director astray, in a search for existential meaning in a situation where only a politicised account could be ethically responsive. Eventually, however, Conrad’s sense of meaning as above all problematic and elusive helped Coppola to introduce into his film a questioning of its own processes which rescued it from some of the simplistic or ideologically blind features of many Vietnam war films. In particular, it led the film to engage fruitfully if uncertainly with the issues raised by the very project of the representation of war: the complicity of the spectator, the problem of the aestheticisation of violence, the problem of communicability itself. In making this argument we draw on the miasma of inter-texts which surrounds Apocalypse Now like a Conradian ‘misty halo’: these include, not only Heart of Darkness itself, but Eleanor Coppola’s film Hearts of Darkness and her book Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now, as well as Dispatches, the documentary narrative about Vietnam by Michael Herr, who wrote the voice-over narrative for Coppola’s film.
Robert Rohrschneider and Michael R. Wolf
During the summer of campaign year 2002, the election already
seemed lost for the SPD/Green government. Public opinion polls
saw the governing coalition trailing by several percentage points,
whereas the CDU/CSU, together with the FDP, looked like the sure
winner. A central reason for the malaise of the red-green government
was the ailing economy. Unemployment rates hovered at the 4
million mark and would have been even higher if governmentfunded
jobs had been added to the official unemployment rates.
Consequently, a substantial majority of citizens considered the creation
of jobs Germany’s most important problem.1 This constituted
an especially severe burden for Chancellor Schröder. In 1998 he had
promised to push unemployment rates below 3.5 million or, he
stated, he did not deserve re-election. Thus, many observers and
voters expected the September 2002 election to be a referendum on
the governments’ handling of the economy. Since the chancellor had
not delivered, voters were about to vote the incumbent government
out of office.
Tony Roberts and Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
The Noir américain: In which He Howls at the Moon & Digs Bill Evans Matthew Arnold in New York Harriet and the Crow by TONY ROBERTS
Biro Preventive Maintenance by MICHAEL BARTHOLOMEW-BIGGS
Robert Weinberg, Szanto T. Gabor, Edward Mycue, Philip Fried and Michael Shorb
Explosions on TV
each family meal
Is peace possible?
Names in a jar
Fran Brearton, Gary Day, Michael Faherty, John Lucas, Robert Sheppard and Brucec Woodcock
Notes on contributors