Look and Gaze

(Published in The Kathmandu Post, May 28th, 2004)
A game of chess, power politics, disequilibrium of tri-ode, regression ... one hardly agrees with another in interpreting current shifting tides of politics in Nepal. Whom to believe? Nobody speaks seriously.

I hardly sleep these days. Being a so-called well aware citizen, I keep on wondering and even pondering at this deadlock, trying to dig into the bottom of the problem and its solution.

Last night, as I was rummaging through my books dumped long into an old container, I happened to see a book by Foucault. I grabbed it immediately and started reading. I felt as if my quest ended at him. I had consulted all of the books—philosophical, political, economic, fictional and even psychological—at my disposal, but none of them solved the riddle. It is only when Foucault convinced me in his “The Eye of Power” that the King and political parties are playing a game of “Look and Gaze”. It is in fact a very interesting interpretation for the present power politics in Nepal.

When I read it, I sat with solace and found that all are making fuss with royal consultations while the reality is something else. Had there been Foucault for consultation he would have certainly written another book “The Problem of Look and Gaze in Nepali Politics”. Being much aware of all these pantomime shows in Daura Suruwal dress-ups, I am thinking of supplementing Foucault. But I do not know whether this deadlock will last till I finish reading the book.

It is quite interesting to see the trap of “Look and gaze”. The King has a curious “gaze”—often the daily newspapers capture him in this angle— and the political leaders feel that they are being looked upon.

While in receiving audience with the King, the political leaders always have a mere “look” and the King always has a controlling and dominant “gaze”. At that time the King’s gaze is somewhat of the “male gaze” while the emaciated leaders pose their “female look” with their anti-regression cadres in a momentary pause outside the Palace (perhaps waiting for some miracle to happen).

Once they come out of the Palace and intermingle with the Dionysiac mob at Ratnapark, the relation goes topsy-turvy. Here the leaders swell up like balloons, pose upright as if they are at the top of the world.

This time they have really a powerful and dominant “gaze” at the king. The crowd, chanting the slogans of republic, feels that the King must “look” at them tenderly.

(Original link: kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=12314)

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