gre SHAMBOLLIC: Derrida beats Roy gk

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Derrida beats Roy

No one gets angry at a mathematician or a physicist whom he or she doesn't understand, or at someone who speaks a foreign language, but rather at someone who tampers with your own language.
-Jacques Derrida

I admire Arundhati Roy for a lot of things especially her activism, a word she dislikes. She's smart enough to know what her strengths are and her best work (essays) are built on factual research speaking for itself. However a couple of her speeches (they later get published) have had a couple of debatable moments. One of the few flaws in her public rheotric is that she often slips up badly on dialectics.
But with her thing on call centers i think she's sucking on only one heckled breast, totally sidetracking the other. Because whatever she has to say about the birdbrained call center coolies, applies in every way to the hallowed techies whom she has oddly overlooked. Her giant grouses here are the workers' 'false' accent, their job of 'answering telephone queries', the location of customers (offshore-western) services, pandering to customers (by learning facts about their country), name falsification, then bizarrely that the workers are 'paid one-tenth of the salaries of their counterparts abroad', and maybe even that the joke is 'billed to become a multibillion-dollar industry'.
The comeback:
Java is not an Indian language, but the legions of techies script in it for its preached versatility or whatever. Forget about the accent, it's a different language. Then there are statements in query languages that query (query databases); 'query' employed here as a metaphor for the relative abstraction of most operations in this industry (because even call center workers handle applications that query databases). Then techies too largely work offshore ('absent' from the actual site like the call centerers) and in a minority of cases onsite (they prefer it). Neither do they run down their customers. Names of coders barely come into the picture if they're not on site (they ususally resort to branding the code theyve writting through comments they plainly embed within the official bunch). Is faceless better than name falsification? And does anyone think techies get paid 10 times 'the salaries of their counterparts abroad'? Guess how much the IT (IT=ITES-ES) industry alone is worth?
But we could look at it this way,
As deconstruction points, the binary opposites Roy has seemed to identify here are: writing and speech. Writing (coding) for her being the priveleged and dignified term, and speech (answering of telephone queries) the repressed, marginalized term. Now guess what? This binary opposition already subverts its owned presumed heirarchy in a strange way.
But if it's up to me to decenter this hierachy, here i go first: why not? they're both as bad and maybe the coding worse for its lack of immediate decipherability and absence of communication ie. the machinations of the product (code) itself are inscrutable (myth?) to the client, it is enough that the product works; while in the case of the call center, workers handling a client's queries over the phone, there is communication, from the latin 'to establish a commonesss' and minimum inscrutability. Please - now this decentering itself can be decentred. go ahead.
The strange thing I was referring to was that, with 'Of Grammatology' Derrida aimed to deconstruct this one fundamental aspect in the Western tradition of thought - from Plato to Rousseau to Saussure and Strauss - that priveleges the spoken word over writing (logocentrism). And Roy's going just the other way suggesting the reverse hierarchy, which means that's already handled.
Writing and Speech are just a free play of differences? Both are (n)either one (n)or the other and pendulating through meanings.
But maybe under erasure, they are true equals.

Roy probbaly isn't aware of how her marking out one tribe of workers (poor cousins of the techies) for this treatment shows up her rare flaw for making facile deductions. Then she keeps repeating it at interviews here and there, though i hear she's already beginning to correct herself 'you know'.
posted by Finny Forever at 12:18 AM


At 2:58 PM, Blogger Vijayalaxmi said...

Aye aye girl. The term that you were perhaps lookin for is 'software coolies'.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

software coolies then it shall be. (yay yay - u visited.) i hope the deconstruction parts were on a fair track.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Ubermensch said...

That is a clinical post, done very well. Must write about this.

At 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey uber. ok!


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