In this essay the author traces the mobilization of vocabularies of risk, uncertainty, and insurance within private and public affective worlds in contemporary India, and their aesthetic forms as found in Indian film and literature today. Rituparno Ghosh's film Noukadubi (2011) and Chetan Bhagat's novel Two States: The Story of My Marriage (2009) form key texts in this analysis. These texts serve as good examples of a wide repertoire of high- and middlebrow experiments with affect and its aesthetic forms in a context of intensified transactions and seepages between public and private affects and interests. The consequences of such transactions for both financial economies and desiring economies are risk, uncertainty, and insurance—formal and diegetic concerns that have come to dominate cultural production in India today. Reading markets as “affect-ed,” and affects as transactional, the author further draws upon a durable archive of negotiations and transactions between public and private affects and interests—and their consequent impact upon the contemporary neoliberal subject(s) straddling the always porous boundaries of public and private spheres—to read culture as a site of articulating specific risk awarenesses and risk orientations. The enunciations of risk, uncertainty, and insurance in vexed yet symbiotic private and public circulations of interest, affect, and identity in Noukadubi and Two States focalize performances of affect as parole and langue of existence and crisis within a global self-reflexive modernity. The two texts demonstrate risk's potential for arranging and rearranging the articulation of the particular in the general—a tension characterizing, for instance, the overall financialization of “life.” The difficult coarticulation of particular and general speculations explains why affect often takes fantasmatic, spectral, elegiac, or other ambiguous aesthetic forms and tints.
Nandini Bhattacharya; Risk, Incorporated: Dr. Love and Mr. Money. positions 1 August 2017; 25 (3): 595–629. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-4149391
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