Sunday Reading for Smarty Pants

Posted by sepoy on July 16, 2007 · 4 mins read

Watched Transformers and found it all too snickerworthy. I just don't know how one can keep a straight face at the slo-mo shots, the flybys and the military hardware droolfest - especially after that brilliant sendup of Bay done in Hot Fuzz. I won't say I had high hopes but I was really looking forward to it. Oh well. Also saw Ratatouille, which should be a big hit at CM since it is all about becoming snotty and high-brow. Next up is Bourne Ultimatum. And while we are on the subject, here is fair warning that I have been watching HBO's The Wire non-stop for the last 3 months and I am obsessed.

  • Milos Forman has made a movie about the Goya and the long tail of the Spanish Inquisition. It seems like everything in the past is now a thinly veiled comment on the present. As Borges declared "... past is no more than present memory . . ."
  • As expected, the aftermath of Lal Masjid is apparent in the northwest of Pakistan. There have been very few noteworthy pieces in the news but I do recommend Nicholas Schmidle's Farewell, My Jihadi Friend. Related, and a little late in my reading queue is the action-packed reporting by Jon Lee Anderson in the NYer, The Taliban's Opium War. While some of these threads are put into historical practice by Barnett Rubin's The Pessoptimist in Instanbul: Will Bin Laden Win? It is that proverbial must-read.
  • Now, my first impulse after reading Hassan Fattah's Radicalism Among Muslim Professionals Worries Many is to mock it without mercy. Just read that opening paragraph. Is he for real? The best and the brightest in the Muslim world? the pinnacle of their societies? Oh and "scientific rationalism" was supposed to have saved them? Is it the very same scientific rationalism that created every single weapon of terror known to man? Oh muslims use science badly? Really? Are you sure? I mean, can we go and look at some other bad uses of science? Nukes? Eugenics? Any of that? Or how about those rationally rabid anti-evolutionist scientists? They all good? There is actually a good story buried deep in there - but Fattah is way too unscientific and too irrational to find it. Oops. I mocked! Bad sepoy.
  • William Deresiewicz's Love on Campus proves that those who can't do, write about it. I kiiiid.[ht: Nakhaee]
  • Robert Irwin's book has been sitting half read by my bed [its insane] but I recommend his look at the real and fake paintings of the Orient or should that have been worded as: Paintings of Real and Fake Orient?
  • If Deborah Soloman married Robert Novak, would she become the princess of darkness? Oh wait, she is already a queen!
  • Century of the Self is some good social history documentary about Freud, Bernays and mass-consumption. I have only watched the first part on Google Video [second, third and fourth]. I love it when the internets can be used for educational purposes.
  • And finally, on happier notes, I enjoyed this look at the soul of English cricket. My dream was always to play county cricket. I had the chops. I coulda been good. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.


    Desi Italiana | July 16, 2007

    On my shelf at work and in front of my bed (not next to my bed as I have no nightstand): 1. Maximum City (I know, I know- I'm always like six years late with everything...there's a weird, reflexive mechanism that kicks in when books, CD's, performers, et al are really famous/big hit and I refuse to read/listen/watch. Then I'll pick it up years later when all the commotion is over). 2. A Fine Balance: It's in the third person point of view, which I don't like- I prefer reading books in the first person. But hey, I'll try this one. 3. A Portrait of India 4. The Writings of Eqbal Ahmad 5. Shahida 6. Tom Segev's 1967 7. John Pilger's Freedom Next Time 8. Robert Fisk's The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East 9. Urvashi Butalia's The Other Side of Silence (read it before, but want to re-read it) 10. Albert Hourani's The History of the Arab Peoples (read it, but want to re-read it because I like fantacizing about the past) 11. Nirad Chaudri's The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian 12. Another RK Narayan book that's not The Guide 13. Some Khushwant Singh 14. Suresh Joshi in Gujarati 15. Deepak Chopra (just kidding) And a whole slew of books that have to do with economic hit men, the feminization of labor, the global service class, South Asia. Also, lots of authors and books that I've been trying to find porever, but can't find- unless I order it from, but I'm really frightened to use my debit card online.

    Desi Italiana | July 16, 2007

    Oh god, scratch #5, The Children of Shahida. I'm tired of formulaic books.

    zp | July 16, 2007

    I read on the blogs someone calling Anderson "courageous" - dear me! I thought the violence was gratuitous. Did he really need to get shot at to cover that story in the way that he did cover it? I felt I'd heard, seen, read it before... And I wish the rat movie had been a musical. Or silent.

    sepoy | July 17, 2007

    zp: i agree, the whole thing read like a michael winterbottom script and maybe thats where it is headed.

    elizabeth | July 17, 2007

    The Barney Rubin piece is awesome, thanks. And I look forward to reading yr review of the Irwin book. “Ratatouille, which should be a big hit at CM since it is all about becoming snotty and high-brow” …hahaha. Clearly must see it at once. And hey, speaking of Winterbottom &tc., I have been wondering if you have seen/are planning to see 'A Mighty Heart,' and if so, what you think of it. A dear friend (born & raised in Karachi, now resident in more pallid climes) watched it last week and had some interesting & complex reactions. I am still wavering about whether to go, but I did think 'Road to Guantanamo' was good, and I am also very fond of Irfan Khan.

    sepoy | July 17, 2007

    I am determined not to see it - just the paperback version of her memoir featuring Angelina Jolie on the cover made my stomach turn. I think Asra Nomani's oped in the WaPo mirrored most of my reservations. Adding to that, is the fact that I am really wary of Hollywood turning a buck on these living tragedies. That aside, I am a HUGE fan of Irfaan Khan [you see him in Maqbool, right? and even in Namesake he was brilliant]. And I even like most of Winterbottom's stuff.

    Rajaa | July 18, 2007

    I am going to watch Transformers today... lets see how that works out... and Ratatuoille was not that bad, what more could you expect out of a cartoon :) You haven't watched live free or die hard? Absolutely awesome movie :)

    elizabeth | July 19, 2007

    "That aside, I am a HUGE fan of Irfaan Khan [you see him in Maqbool, right? and even in Namesake he was brilliant]." o yes, he (and Tabu) were really the emotional center of Namesake; I wasn't half as interested the Kal Penn stuff. re: Khan, I also went (some months ago, in the company of bulleyah) to see him in 'The Warrior'; a strange film but also a very good performance.