2.9
May 31, 2011

27 tweets on the Lakshmi Bikini.

by Matthew Remski with Scott Petrie

For those of you who missed it: here’s the original story.


1. Some said Hot! – those conservatives should stop whining! Some said Poor taste! – the designer should have more respect!

2. Some said Blasphemy! (They think that spirit and matter are at war in this world, and we should all choose sides.)

3. Nobody noticed that the waxed buttocks of the model expressed the same symmetrical perfection as the icon itself.

4. Nobody commented that the image of Lakshmi is now as ambivalent as the Indian heritage of the model.

5. Those most upset by Lakshmi on symmetrical buttocks grew up with the idea that the icon IS the goddess herself.

6. They feel she only blesses them if her context is pure and her proportions perfect. Buttocks defile one and distort the other.

7. The buttocks wiggle, distend, and perhaps silently fart Lakshmi away. This enrages those who need her to stay centered.

8. Pomo people attracted to this rage may think: I used to believe in something with such passion. What happened?

9. Pomo people attracted to this rage may think: Here’s a place where things are real. If I take a yoga holiday there, I’ll feel real too.

10. But Lakshmi has not left because of the buttocks. She evaporated through the mass production and distribution of her image.

11. It used to be that only a wealthy person could own an icon. The rich icon attracted Lakshmi, who blessed the owner with more riches.

12. But the simulation of mass production erodes the value of the real and the original. A sacred image now costs about a rupee.

13. The rupee itself was a sacred image now valueless through inflation. They used to mint rupee coins emblazoned with Lakshmi’s name.

14. Countless copies of the Mona Lisa mean you do not have to go to the Louvre. Countless Lakshmis make divinity banal.

15. Hindu iconographers in their devotional zeal ironically hollow out the icon by making it disposably cheap.

16. The technology of production has exchanged the sacred for the kitsch. The pious printer is enraged by his devotional deicide.

17. Thus, “Lakshmi” is now a goddess, a bar of soap, hair oil, and the name of several movie stars, all accessible in under 10 clicks.

18. Pomo people have perfectly symmetrical icons too. They come from IKEA. Some have Lakshmi. Others have LEKSHMÜ.

19. Lakshmi’s icon holds divinity. The LEKSHMÜ wall-unit holds tchotchkes, plus the values of efficiency, social equality, and democracy.

20. Lakshmi enters her icon through mantra. The values of LEKSHMÜ manifest through hex-keys and Swedish spells.

21. A globalizing religion will become heterogeneous. Its imagery and meanings will be impossible to control.

22.Things can be used for anything because they have no stable meaning. This is as true for images as it is for nouns.

23. The non-Hindu viewer of Lakshmi has no cultural software that tells her the image is an actual god. Can we blame her?

24. Many found the bikini to be a sincere collage of physical beauty and mythic allusion. Can we say that they are wrong?

25. The conservative says: If you love this image, you must see and use it the way I do. Become a religious person, like me.

26. The protesters have computers, wifi, and printers. They’re the same as all pomo people who feel the emptiness of images.

27. Maybe that’s why they’re angry: yelling to hear a vanished voice, protecting something they feel is gone, or never was there.

___

You can read the essay-form of this article, “Now You Too Can Own This Holy Bikini”, on the yoga2point0 site. We encourage you to tweet any of these tweets, if you are so moved. Most of them have enough characters left to short-link to the article: http://bit.ly/jGV6g9, or to anything else you please. “Pomo” is bit.ly for “postmodern.”

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matthew Jun 10, 2011 3:43pm

It's the mystery of the image, isn't it? What does it mean on the body? On a body part? Thanks for writing…

Indira Ganesan Jun 9, 2011 5:14pm

Seems it is all about materialism and product. I don't think having a picture of the Devi on a backside is cool, but that's my opinion. I suppose people dress up as Jesus and Buddha for Halloween, although I think coming as Caesar Salad is funnier. When we first moved to this country from India, my mother was horrified my father bought a metal trash can with the all the U.S.presidents' faces embossed on it. I secretly laughed at my mother and learned who all the presidents were. In the last decade, I have been given two lunch boxes with all kinds of recognizable and unrecognizable Hindu gods and goddesses on them, and I have a bunch of postcards of Indian matchboxes featuring the iconography as well. Schoolchildren in India used to take notebooks with images of ,say, Saraswati on them, and it goes on and on. I know I can buy a Jesus nightlight. I just like the spaceship one better.

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Matthew Remski is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Yoga Teacher Trainer in Toronto. His latest book, Threads of Yoga, is gathering international acclaim. He’s teaching this online course starting 1/7/14. It’s currently full, but there is a reduced-tuition option for auditing. The 12 weekly lessons will be available online for six months following the course. Participants receive a 130-page manual of notes.