Ten Years Ago Today

Very first first
Very first first

Today marks the tenth anniversary of this particular blog. A decade of my life is now invested in a virtual space which itself has nurtured my mind, my writing, my friendships, my community and my making sense of the world. Yet, “I” have been only a subset of what “CM” is. This is the fact that prompts me to write today and mark this occasion. CM became, very early, a communal space of a very particular kind: engaged, irreverent, awkward with looking at itself, steady. Many of my closest friendships came into this space and emerged from it. CM was not ideologically driven, it was not geographically situated, it did not have a political agenda. It was a way of seeing the world. CM published, and was published by, a number of individuals who continue here: Farangi, Lapata, Patwari, Sanyasi, Dacoit, Bulleyah and then many, many readers and guest posters and commentators (nearly 11,000 comments!) and friends who came, who left, who came back.

I have used this space to rant, be informative, be lethargic, be angry, be disgusted, be snarky, be all of the above. I have, barring one occasion, never invoked my personal life, never launched personal attacks on others, never participated in group-think, never self-promoted. I used this space to write – differently, effectively, in sync with my academic turns, and not enough. The CM slow-burn has been in effect for a few years, and somehow sustained itself. Blogging seems so old-fashioned now that people can just post updates on facebook but I predict it will make a comeback. Just you wait.

On behalf of everyone who wrote for CM, I want to thank all who are reading this today, and all who have read it over the years.

CM will go on.

CM Anniversary: Acht So!!

Once again, I missed it. Eight years ago this little experiment – which, in 2011 produced two books (!) and countless millions of dollars (!!) – began.

There is no denying the fact that dhandha has been manda here lately. I have not found too much time to write.Yet, I have had so many amazing contribution from guest as well as the regulars that CM looks vibrant and alive to me. I intend to keep it this way. This year two of our old friends passed away. Ralph Luker shut down Cliopatria – the historian collective blog which I joined in 2004 as well. Ralph is an amazing curator as well as indefatigable member of the online community for many long years and I wish him all the best. The other good bye was from Sepia Mutiny – the place for desis to mingle. It was certainly a marker in media/social history of Desis in America. Both of these collectives were about community and about connections and about a certain relationship between dominant and marginal discourses. Their shuttering down is most certainly a step back and a diminution of public culture on those terms. There is no doubt that FB and Twitter have taken over conversations in ways unimagined in 2004 but that only means we need to incorporate newer ways of explicit community building.

CM will continue. We are actively adding new members to our writing team. I am excited to write. We are ON!

Newly Minted CM

Postcards from the Archive: Goodbye 2011

The biggest event on CM was the publishing of “Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination – “a curated, edited collection” of sepoy’s posts in book form, with foreword from Amitava Kumar, launched with much fanfare, and earning rave reviews (here, here).

Meanwhile, commentaries and reflections on happenings in Homistan continued to grace CM: Ramanujan’s transformative texts, Salmaan Taseer’s murder and an exploration of the “emergence of the Prophet as a centralising and orienting raison d’etre for Pakistan,” Pakistan’s fugue state and “the notion of treason and affiliation in the colonial and postcolonial setting,” the state of Pakistan’s ways of seeing, and the forgotten “memory of East Pakistan and the sins of West Pakistan.

Sepoy continued his essays on the frontier in imperial imagination, experts and policy prescriptions that aid the myopia of empire.  Reflections on the 10 years since 9/11 by Sepoy, Farangi, and Lapata delighted CM readers, as did discussions of Imperialism and racism (I, II, III).

Lapata was busy holding art-shows and winning awards for her writing , but found time to hold a flash fiction contest with Kuzhali Manickavel as judge, which Amitava Kumar won. The Best Writer of 2010 brought us insightful review essays of Aag ka Dariya, Teju Cole’s Open City, Dictator literature, “Yashpal’s great Partition novel, Jhootha Sach,” and a reflection on the interior landscapes in early Indian novels (and an adda post!). Lapata also interviewed some “prominent Blaft personages” including the “illustrious flash fictionista Kuzhali Manickavel,” and reviewed a host of Tamil pulp fiction.

 

PS. Naim Sahib contributed a characteristically brilliant review of Deborah Baker’s “The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism.”

PPS. Jassasa’s Goat Spy won the internets (here, here, here, here).

PPPS. See Lapata on OBL, and dental care.

PPPPS. More pics! (here, here, here).

PPPPPS. See yours truly’s humble attempt at an essay.

Oh, Go AAWWn

I loved the space and the wonderful people at the Asian Writers’ Workshop who were kind enough to host my book launch a month ago. Magical! So, I pass on, with enthusiasm, a festival of awesomeness for their 20th anniversary! They feature Teju Cole, Amitava Kumar and some other people (ok some of the other people are also very cool, but really, we only have eyes for TC and AK {though, appearance by Jennifer 8. Lee!!!}).

Please do go.

And.

Here is the deal.

If you provide a dishy/photo-filled festival diary to CM of the event, I will buy your ticket. Email me. (those who promise photos of CM loved ones will clearly have an unseeming advantage here, but um, whatever)

Deets:

PAGE TURNER FESTIVAL

http://pageturnerfest.org/#festival

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2011, 11AM-7PM
POWERHOUSE ARENA, 37 MAIN STREET, BROOKLYN
$5 PER EVENT / $20 ALL-DAY PASS / $30 ALL-DAY PASS (W/ AFTERWORD PARTY)

Come rub elbows and knock knees with your favorite writers at one of Brooklyn’s best alternative literary festivals: the third annual PAGE TURNER: The Asian American Literary Festival. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the festival features a Korean taco trunk, two stand-up comedians, five National Book Award finalists, seven Guggenheim Fellows, a killer afterparty with the best playlist of all time, and you!

An all-star line-up featuring: Junot Díaz, Amitav Ghosh, Jessica Hagedorn, Kimiko Hahn, Hari Kunzru, Jayne Anne Phillips, Suketu Mehta, Min Jin Lee, Mark Nowak, Amitava Kumar, Granta editor John Freeman, and Guernica editor Joel Whitney.

Your favorite new voices: Teju Cole (author of Open City), Danielle Evans (NBA 5 Under 35 winner), Booker finalist Hisham Matar, Pen Faulkner winner Sabina Murray, Whiting Award winner Alexander Chee, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, National Book Award finalist Monica Youn, and NBCC finalist Brenda Shaughnessy.

Multi-dimensional program includes: a staged reading directed by Ralph Peña; artist Wangechi Mutu (MOMA, Guggenheim) talking about immigration; an open mic featuring Jen Kwok (Date an Asian), Negin Farsad (Nerdcore Rising) and others; stories from twenty years of the Workshop; and hard-hitting conversations about Occupy Wall Street, Islam and the West, the rise of China and India, and the national crackdown on immigration.

Keep coming back as we update our full schedule at http://www.pageturnerfest.org/schedule. Co-sponsored by powerHouse Arena, Verso Books, MTV, Guernica, and Granta.

THE AFTERWORD PARTY

http://pageturnerfest.org/#afterword

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2011, 8PM-11PM
VERSO PRESS
20 JAY STREET, SUITE 1010, BROOKLYN
$10; $30 FOR 4; $30 WITH FESTIVAL DAY PASS

The Saturday before Halloween join us for music, drinks, dancing, and fine company for the raucous afterparty for the Page Turner Literary Festival. We’ll have a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline at night, a killer playlist for your dancing shoes, cake, noisemakers, glitter, a giant piñata, and infinite quantities of beer and wine. Special guests include former New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee and celebrity chef Eddie Huang of Baohaus, who will DJ part of the night’s festivities.

Additional playlist selected by some of New York’s hottest cultural figures: Kris Chen (head of XL Recordings in America, the label of Vampire Weekend, the XX, Sigur Ros), hip hop trio Das Racist, sports blogger Nathaniel Friedman (The Classical, Free Darko), literary enfant terrible Tao Lin, Jefferson “Chairman” Mao (Ego Trip NYC), writer Luc Sante (author of Low Life, Factory of Facts), novelist Lynne Tillman, music journalist Dave Tompkins (author of How to Wreck a Nice Beach), Michael Vazquez (Senior Editor, Bidoun magazine), music critic and DJ Oliver “O-Dub” Wang (soul-sides.com). Before the dancing starts, we’ll also honor the winners of the Fourteenth Annual Asian American Literary Awards: AMITAVA KUMAR, winner of our nonfiction award which will be presented by past honoree Suketu Mehta, and KIMIKO HAHN, our poetry award-winner. The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, one of the country’s premiere literary arts spaces, is throwing the party to end all parties. We want you there. Celebrate our twentieth anniversary and reserve your space today. Co-sponsored by MTV World, Verso, Granta, Guernica, Beerlao, NoveRoma wines.

Executive Director, The Asian American Writers’ Workshop

http://www.aaww.org

110-112 W. 27th Street, Sixth Floor, NY, NY 10001
212.494.0061 tel.
212.494.0062 fax
kchen@aaww.org

The Hamburg Type

I recently visited Hamburg and decided, on a lark, to only photograph street typography. The results are here. Enjoy.

Some of the photos document the Iranian traders of carpets who came to Hamburg in the 1870s and 80s. There is also one photo of love, scream.

Announcement: CM BOOK!

Where the Wild Frontiers Are (Title contributed by Lapata)
Gentle Readers.

It has come to this. On or about May 31, 2011 you will be able to purchase Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination – a curated, edited collection of my posts from CM and elsewhere. Some fine folks have contributed immense amount of their time and talent to make this happen and I am still a bit unsettled about it.

CM was a space invented for an imaginary audience by a frustrated (and easily distracted) graduate student. From its beginning, it was consciously an “academic blog” and I participated in many forums (online and offline) about the meaning, the mode, the future and past of “academic blogging” [curious folks can look up this and this as two early examples]. One part of this engagement was my insistence that “blogs” were a publishing venue which democratized a certain aspect of academic speech. Another part of this engagement was my deep unhappiness in the way it handled archives. They vanished – relying solely on the Search box or the vagaries of Google. Back then, Google was good.

Helena Cobban, at Just World Books, had a brilliant idea in producing curated books from blogs covering timely subject-material. Joshua Foust, of Registan, was the one who introduced me to Cobban and she was enthusiastic about the possibility of CM existing as a published archive. After some massive help – the first foray into the archive jungle was done by Farangi and SalmaanH and, put together by Sabrina S. – I was able to put together a somewhat thematic coherence to the book. Another round (or was it two) of editing happened.

My dearest friend and co-blogger Lapata, then contributed her art for the book (and the cover). Amitava Kumar generously agreed to write the foreword (which is humbling!) and some other people who have way more things to do than time to do it in, agreed to blurb it.

You will, certainly, hear a lot more here about the book and I will certainly beg and plead (not now, though) you to buy a copy. It is launching in the US first, but there will be a e-book version and I am keen on getting it published in Pakistan/India (if you know someone who knows someone etc…)

Love and thanks,

Sepoy