Sunday Reading for 2010

Posted by sepoy on December 26, 2010 · 5 mins read

Me, in 2010, on the River of Time

We, who privilege chronological time over all else, are maddeningly a-chronos or poly-chronos in our personal memories. Often we imbue a specific space with time, and when we leave it, we arrest the passage of time, there, to our last memory. We do this more often with persons - especially loved ones.

Other timelines, which would give other weight to categories such as "professional life" or "ability to hit a squash ball" would produce different line charts, I am sure, but 2010 is the pits - this much is certain. Also, 2009. 2008 had a nice run from Aug-Dec. 2007 was misery. 2006 was near-deadly. 2005 was Sox.

Guess I have been on a bad streak? And then I read this:

Irom Sharmila, in Manipur, has fasted for 10 years to protest to the brutal, legal regime of the Assam Rifles:

Since Sharmila launched on her epic fast, many women in this deeply troubled emerald valley have invented other unique forms of non-violent resistance. One that most scarred the conscience of the nation was in 2004, after political activist Thangiam Manorama was raped and killed by security forces. Soldiers of the Assam Rifles allegedly broke down the door of her home, blind-folded her, tied her down and gang-raped her for many hours. They left her brutally ravaged body on the roadside, her genitals disfigured with knife wounds, her body full of bullets, with their customary impunity.

There was unprecedented anguish across the valley, and women quietly mobilised in every locality to gather at the gate of Kangla Fort, the seat of the Assam Rifles. Until the last moment, they kept secret their mode of protest. Suddenly the women gathered at the gate of the Fort stripped off all their clothes, shouting 'Rape us, kill us, take our flesh'. Tunuri, a grandmother who participated in the protest, recalls that until that moment, soldiers holding back the protesting women, threatened them with their batons and guns. But after the women stripped, the soldiers ran into the fort, bewildered and shamed. The women stood naked, challenging their enemies for a full half hour. The pictures of these naked women in every newspaper and television channel the next day brought home the torment and humiliation of the women of Manipur to people outside the valley as no other protest could.

I realize that Indian democracy is having a worse 2010. The verdict against Dr. Binayak Sen handed down on Dec. 24th is shocking and harrowing in its language of order. This review of the verdict at Kafila will help you align yourself and you can also read my older post on this subject.

Also in the "Lost" column of 2010 are the "illegal" immigrants in US - nearly 800,000 of whom were deported summarily by the Obama administration. Pakistan, with its flood, and its suicide bombings. Minorities in Pakistan, be they Ahmadi or Christian. Democracy in Iraq or in Afghanistan. 2010 was just a bad year, I submit to you, gentle readers. I dare not diminish your accomplishments this year, I dare only cosmically label 2010 as The Year That Ought To Have Ended Way Earlier Or Had Never Got Out of Bed. That is 2010.

  • This map of facebooked world created by Paul Butler is significantly read as a map of web-literacy.
  • There were parts of this review which read Foucault's idea of the author with Bush's idea of writing a memoir, that I found really funny. Like laugh out loud. Eliot Weinberger won the internets that day.
  • Every time a new Tony Judt piece comes out, I am reminded that 2010 took him away from us.
  • Olivier Roy has been right for a long time, and I suspect he is right-er than Charles Taylor about secularism. This review in NYT is, however, quite unsatisfactory for such an important book.
  • When will Matt Tiabbi be taken seriously as a latter-day Mark Twain? Needs to happen now. Also, Eliot Ness?
  • I really wanted to like this piece on language and I ended up only kinda liking it. Instead, I really liked John Lahr's discussion of Elia Kazan at the NYer. It really made me think about 2010.


midweek reading « human landscapes | May 30, 2012

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