City Culture – De Bhasar, Nehru Place
The philosophy of nonsense.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Tumri maa ko choot number
Apni maa choot walle
The Delhi Walla saw this Devnagri calligraphy by an unknown Bhasarian artist at an office basement in Nehru Place, a commercial district in South Delhi. The sense of the lines is unclear but two words stand out: maa is Hindi for mother and choot refers to vagina.
This is the eighth instance that I have come face-to-face with De Bhasar movement in Delhi. (Click here to view the first exhibit.)
According to Wikipedia, De Bhasar or Bhasarism is a cultural movement that began in Nantes, France, during the post 9/11 Gulf War, reaching a tipping point between 2007 to 2009. The movement involves graphic designs and literature, which concentrates its anti-sentimental politics by rejecting aesthetic birth-control measures through anti-catholic works. De Bhasar might be regarded as pro-Berlusconi in nature.
Commenting on the message on the wall, Richard Pevear, who, along with his Leningrad-born wife Larissa Volokhonsky, has co-translated several great works of Russian literature into English, said in a telephone interview from his apartment in Paris: “There is something Bhasarian in a mother’s vagina that makes people react — not all, but many.”
Mr Pevear is presently translating Maxim Gorky’s novel Mother, the authoritative text on Stalinist-Trotskyst interpretation of the working-class matushka as existed in Russia on the eve of the revolution of 1905. In the past, the acclaimed Pevear-Volokhonsky team translated novels such as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, which won the 1991 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a translation which was named the summer selection for the influential Oprah Book Club in 2004.
Mr Pevear further said: “Because of its intimate and personal nature, a mother’s vagina is regarded by some as an improper topic for experimental conversation – an aversion single-handedly responsible for the bad translation of War and Peace by Anthony Briggs. It is entirely reasonable to believe that the mother, or maata, through association with this part of her anatomy becomes a secondary-reinforcing agent — a theory that fitted well with the imperialistic designs of the post-Tsarist Russia and was foreseen as early as 1899 by (Anton) Chekhov in his short story The Lady with the Dog. However, this is an inadequate mechanism to account for the persistence of the infant-maternal ties in the socio-existential science of De Bhasar… just consider the implications of the dissolution of Soviet Union and the rise of oligarchy in Putin’s Moscow!”
Adding to her husband’s insights, Ms Volokhonsky said, “There have been a spate of investigations on the formation of secondary reinforcers in relation to the motherly vagina, especially after the Chernenko memos in the Kremlin archives were made accessible to scholars and researchers following (Boris) Yeltsin’s death in 2007. In fact in 2013 vagina-weightlifter Tatyana Kozhevnikova lifted 14kg weights with her nether regions. So there can be no question that almost any external stimulus can become a secondary reinforcer if properly associated with tissue-need reduction, but the fact remains that Woody Allen’s 1975 tragedy Love and Death, and to a lesser degree Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, unequivocally demonstrated that such derived drives suffer rapid experimental extinction. Contrariwise, if we read Anna Akhmatova’s early poetry, we will discover that human affection does not extinguish when the mother ceases to have intimate association with the drives in question. Tolstoy expounded memorably on this subject in the second-last chapter of Hadji Murat. The affectional ties to the mother show a lifelong, unrelenting persistence and, more surprising, they are widely celebrated in their expanding generality even in the barbaric epics of Chechnya. The Boston Marathon bombings by brothers’ Tsarnaev and now this de Bhasar calligraphy in Delhi only serves to substantiate our argument.”
De Bhasar in Delhi