India may have been leading the pack in the race to warp the minds and hearts of a new generation of scholars, but it looks as though we have competition. Abdelwahab El-Affendi defines “the new Orientalism” in The Daily Star.
“The new resurgent orientalism does not even put up the pretence of scholarly detachment or search for truth. Not only are its proponents eager to work for the CIA and Pentagon, preferably on the front line of recolonization, but it also wants to bring the CIA and the army into the classroom. The argument is no longer about what the student should be taught, but about what they should not be taught. Students should not be permitted to read Said, or Robert Fisk or Arundhati Roy. And above all, Middle East scholars must be discouraged from learning Arabic. The new colonial power which hopes to encounter its first major success in Iraq is one which does not apparently believe that knowledge is power but it certainly hopes that ignorance is.”
Can the Paris Review continue without George Plimpton, or is it, as an anonymous friend of the late editor suggests, “a very fragile little roller-coaster”? The Village Voice investigates.
More on the subject of Big Little Magazines: “God knows we need a review that at least believes in standards and can intuit excellence,” Robert Lowell wrote. The New York Review of Books is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Highlights of this issue include: John Updike on El Greco, Andrew O’Hagan on Eminem,
Luc Sante on New York City, Freeman Dyson on Einstein and Poincaré, Larry McMurtry on Garrison Keillor, John Banville on George Orwell, Joyce Carol Oates on American literary fiction and a lot more.
While we’re on little magazines, Biblio’s insistence on living in a time warp has begun to beguile the Babu. Their May-June 2003 issue is now up online. Of especial interest: Tariq Ali on Al-Jazeera, Amita Baviskar and Seema Alavi on anti-war demonstrations (yup, we’re talking serious time warp here!), Vijay Jung Thapa on Everest and Sridhar Balan on Jim Corbett.
The Prix Goncourt has been announced earlier than expected. The prizewinning book is about a woman who is sent to spy on Bertolt Brecht.
“Success will mean that a pioneering group of journalists who were hounded out of their jobs for tackling a nation’s government head-on, and exposing a scandal within its highest levels, are back in business. Failure – whatever the true cause – will be seen as a victory for the authorities, and evidence that there are limits to free speech in the country in question, India.” If you haven’t picked up a subscription to Tehelka yet, shame on you. (Nope, they don’t pay the Babu for these endorsements. He just has strong views on not allowing the Indian government to get away with muzzling a website that blew the lid off several high-level scams.)
The I’m Not Waving, I’m Drowning Department: Kitabkhana’s looking for a new design and we’re not entirely sure what readers want in the way of new features. We’ll be adding a list of websites on Indian publishing/ the homepages of Indian authors, but what else do people want? Comment boxes? A messageboard? A new template? All suggestions welcome–and remember, the Babu’s a lazy lout who’s in the market for labour saving devices–nothing that causes him extra work will be countenanced.