Regulation of Affect: A Process Secret Enough to Determine Grievability


Regulation of Affect: A Process Secret Enough to Determine Grievability

Neither can truth be suppressed nor should it be that way no matter what come may. What comes to the mind at first while thinking of truth is the correspondence theory of truth which was advocated by Moore and Russel. Truth, when in a conjectural relationship with reality and believes, may vary as belief is solely subjective. If truth itself is so complex in nature, it won’t require one to study rocket science to understand that secret (understood as confidential, restricted, classified at times), which is meant to be kept unknown (or unseen or unheard), promotes the phenomenon of not revealing the truth (or protecting the truth) and thus use of ersatz attributes or details, as if reality is a product.


The recent phenomenon of having news stories tucked away in the corner while flooding the entire news space with the stories of ‘grievable’ lives raises an important question: is it the intention to keep it unseen, unheard, and in a sense almost secret or it’s about protecting the truth, if it is so at all?


While Judith Butler understands presupposition of a grievable life to be one ‘that will have been lived’, an ungrieved life is sustained by no regard and testimony. To make it simple, Butler takes resort to analyzing the graphic representation executed by the media in the post 9/11 scenario. Creating public consent regarding grievability by offering a powerful representation of iconic images of those who died, the media almost made the lost lives of non-US nationals and illegal workers less grievable, if not ungrievable at all.


A lot happened in the last week i.e. Priya Prakash episode, kissing controversy of singer Papon, Avani Chaturvedi becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter jet solo, a tribal man named Madhu being killed in Kerala for stealing rice and groceries worth Rs 200, a speeding car killing 9 children in Bihar, and of course the death of luminous superstar Sridevi.


In a bid to stand out in the race of TRP, the Indian media picked up the story of Sridevi at the very moment when the word ‘accidental drowning’ made its appearance keeping ‘cardiac arrest’ aside. The bathtub journalism reached a new level when bathrooms and bathtub along with a glass of wine were created in order to take the whole event to the level of soap opera.


What was missing was the death of many innocent children by gas attacks in Syria. Barkha Dutt went on to say, ‘news anchors usually far too supine to interrogate the powerful, contorted their bulletins by discussing, in all seriousness, whether a trained dancer could lose her balance in the bathtub.’


Instead of terming this as ‘death of news (#newskimaut)’, some questions need to be asked: ‘whose lives are considered valuable, whose lives are mourned and whose lives are considered ungrievable?’ Is the ‘forwarded as received’ the new truth in the Indian media landscape or determining the public grieving has become the new job description for the Indian media? Or, is there a need to understand more about modes of dealing the death that Talal Asad talks about? Or, should we understand precariousness as coextensive with birth depending upon whose life it is?


Will it be an exaggeration to say that the ‘affect of regulation’ is deployed as the truth when the ‘regulation of effect’ is maintained as a process secret enough to bestow upon the public with differential distribution of grieving?

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