Monday cannot come soon enough. I have things to do, people. The weekend started with a birthday celebration and fails to end anytime soon. Last night we watched JSA by Chanwook Park [of Old Boy fame]. I grew up pretty close to the Wagah border between India and Pakistan and the storyline kept reminding me of vague tales of Indian soldiers on patrol and their encounters with the peasants, smugglers and cricketers found around the border area. Once, this Indian sentry threw a rolled up magazine over to us. It was in Hindi and I didn’t know how to read it back then. So, I threw it back. We didn’t have anything to throw to him. None of us actually said anything out loud. We had heard that Indian snipers lived in trees and took out Pakistanis who ventured closed to or talked to Indian sentries. Mind you, there is no walled or fenced border. Just interminable fields with limestone markers where Pakistan ends and further down India begins. Anyways, we went back the next day and threw some Akhbar-e Jahans over. He wasn’t there. I think we just littered India.
- Before watching JSA, I had read Margaret Drabble’s piece in the TLS and it is stuck in my head. I cannot recommend it to you highly enough. She writes about the reception of her novel The Red Queen – a translation and fictionalization of the memoirs of a 18th century Korean princess. “The novel I actually wrote received no critical attention, either hostile or appreciative. I was accused of appropriation, and that was that. The multicultural censor looked no further. No questions were asked about my text, my intentions, my meaning. I did have a meaning, or I once thought that I did. I was so profoundly shocked that I hardly knew what I had done. Appropriation, like racism, is an ugly word and an easy allegation, not easily addressed in the courts. The nature and ethics of cultural transmission are endlessly fascinating. When is a borrowing a theft, and when is it a benign sign of cross-cultural fertilization? Is there some common source from which all stories rise?”. Seriously, if you are interested in transmissions and transgressions of the cultural nature, you should read this.
- Nicholas Kristoff is about to open up a can of whupass on The General and his PR machine. Today, he writes the first in a series on Dr. Shazia Khalid – who was raped in Baluchistan. I am quite happy that NYT is giving exposure to The General’s brand of GSAVE.
- Max Rodenbeck reviews some new works on terror in the NYRB – including Faisal Devji’s Landscapes of Jihad. With Kepel and Roy’s entries, this is one hi[p] parade on terror. Have you noticed that there is a “he was interested in terror BEFORE September 11” meme of “authentication” in many Western reviews/books? “He was wrong about terror BEFORE September 11” meme needs catching up. Devji quotes Derrida on jihadists. “Too far a flight of academic fancy”. Go read.
- Also in the NYRB is Peter Galbraith’s Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic – a story that is slowly taking shape in blogs yet. Will Iraq’s constitution be based firmly on Shari’ah [rights of minorities and women being the litmus tests]? Will it have a close relationship with Iran? This is a must-read folks: “There are two central problems in today’s Iraq: the first is the insurgency and the second is an Iranian takeover. The insurgency, for all its violence, is a finite problem. The insurgents may not be defeated but they cannot win….The Bush administration should, however, draw the line at allowing a Shiite theocracy to establish control over all of Iraq. This requires a drastic change of strategy.” Go Freedom.
- That Torture Thing. Yeah. It’s coming sometimes later this month.
- Quickies: Well, it certainly led to a lot of poorly Photoshopped crying lions and unicorns in my e-mail.” [btw, the onion has a blog!]; Harry Potter was a Scottish hymner; Sultan of Palermo looks good; Bollyworld explained; Whatever this is, I want to see it. Any malaysian readers?; You must see this; Family fun.
monday update: Amardeep, on a blogging tear lately, has a nice post on Pakistani Writers in English. Good stuff.