The Economy of (Men’s) Underwear

I am not an economist; in fact I try to think outside the economic paradigm. But I was astonished to learn that the sales of men’s underwear is a significant indicator of which way a nation’s economy is headed.

Vindu Goel, technology reporter for the New York Times, while reporting on the recent slump in India’s economy (from clocking a GDP of 8% on a regular basis for several years, India is now rocketed down to the barely 5% mark) observes that a reliable sign of this downward mobility in India is the sharp decline in the sales of men’s underwear (Jangiya in Bangla).

The correlation–between jangiya sale and GDP–is validated by none other than Alan Greenspan, writes Goel. In his pre-Chairperson of the Federal Reserve days–Greenspan “believed that when times were tough, men would stop replacing worn-out underwear, which no one could see, before cutting other purchases.”

What a brilliant identification of a capitalist-consumerist fact: poverty is shameful only when others can see it.

Men’s jangiya sales are down by a whopping 50% in India. Perhaps, as we speak, an Indian man in soiled jangiya is lounging on his couch in silk pajamas, savoring the soothing cool of his whirring air conditioner.

These thought patterns, that keep up a polished outerwear while the innerwear is tattered–are shaped by a consumerism that has, most unfortunately, seeped into the Indian soul as well.

But such an economic theory is sexist as well, for no attention is paid to the sales of women’s underwear.

The Woking Dead

I like ghost-stories; particularly stories that refrain from treating ghosts as contagions, deserving destruction.

The 2013 supernatural thriller, “The Haunter” tells a good ghost story; the film does not go out of its way to characterize ghosts as the living’s Other. Just as women and ethnic groups detest objectification, so do ghosts; they don’t like to be stereotyped as faceless machineries of fear. “The Haunter” respects that.

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The Afterlife of Desdemona

Desdemona

Characters in Shakespeare’s major tragedies die–of battle wounds, of heartbreak (reserved for women like Ophelia), of madness, even of hybrid emotions of joys that kill (recall, in King Lear, the Earl of Gloucester’s dies of a heart split between extremes of grief and joy).

But what if they were resurrected in their afterlives and made to live again?

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The Best Never Lack Conviction

Toni Morrison

While things are indeed falling apart and the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, I have to disagree with WB Yeats’ premonition that under conditions of “mere anarchy”, the best lose all conviction.

Toni Morrison, was one of our best, and as she lived and wrote in these times, she never lost conviction.

Toni Morrison died on August 6, 2019.

I’m not sure why she has been heralded as a chronicler of the “Black experience.” If anything, I see inscribed in her writing bits of my experience, and of America and the world at large.

Her gravestone should be marked with “beloved.”

P.S. I wonder why the “worst” that are “full of passionate intensity” are so infallible.

Here is a timely talk from Morrison on evil, hate and the white gaze: