Tuesday, September 04, 2007

TLS August 24 & 31 2007

from David Arnold's review of Martha C. Nussbaum's The Clash Within: Democracy, religious violence and India's future:

In a work that moves at times erratically between history, gender studies and psychoanalysis, she asks why the Hindu Right seems so obsessed with the idea of purity - whether the Hindu faith or of Hindu women - and is so vehemently hostile to a Muslim minority that is relatively small, poor and powerless. She sees the Right as having an underlying need to counter the deep divisions within the highly heterogeneous Hindu community by asserting its own militancy and in seeking out Muslims as its irreconcilable opposite.

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In a further search for explanations, Nussbaum turns to India's founding fathers, adding to the inevitable Gandhi and Nehru a third figure, the Bengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore...Her preference is for Tagore, a man of wide symapthies rather than narrow nationalism, whose experiments in education encouraged individual development and creativity rather than the soulless education currently practised in Indian schools and colleges, which she blames for creating the intellectual sterility in which fascism thrives.

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For her the Hindu Right, with its intolerant ideology, is an international and not merely Indian issue. She views with deep alarm the way in which fundamentalists have verbally attacked and physically threatened scholars in the US who have taken a critical view of Indian history or who have treated Hindu mythology with what they consider less than due respect. The Hindu Right thus poses, to Nussbaum's mind, a threat to academic freedom and democracy in America. The "clash" of her title is thus located, not as Samuel P. Huntingdon claimed, between the rival civilizations of Islam and the West but within societies around the globe that are uneasily poised between democracy...and the forces of neo-fascist intolerance. (bold emphasis mine.)

This clash is also taking place within Singapore, between the homophobic Christian fundamentalists, and gay activists and allies fighting against anti-gay laws. The issue is not merely the narrow one of gay rights; it is the broader one of social and political acceptance of individual rights and freedoms. In invoking the specter of the spread of AIDS in the event these unjust laws are struck down, these Christian fundamentalists are acting as fear-mongers, instead of the emissaries of love. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).


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from Seamus Perry's review of Angela Leighton's On Form: Poetry, aestheticism, and the legacy of a word:

Everything about On Form is judged and poised, with many things read beautifully and truly. Leighton returns to "form" and to the "aesthetic" in a way which neither succumbs simply to their charms nor dismisses them as a dodgy bit of ideology; and, in this, she effectively makes common cause with a number of distinguished recent studies, including Susan Wolfson's Formal Charges and Michael O'Neill's Romanticism and the Self-Conscious Poem.

Books to add to the reading list.

2 comments:

Eliz said...

Hi!
I see that you've compose your life into poems. It's definately a pleasure to read them. I dont really read but I've spent a few hours reading your work and trying to figure out how interesting would it be if i see thing in the way you see, and feel it in the way you feel. Artistic, sensual and daring. Im very glad to have found your blog. I have been trying very hard to read someone's mind and yet here's one, interestingly weaved, beautifully phased, and readily to be read. Thank you for making it easy and interesting. Your blog is addictive. I'm asking your permission to bookmark it. Can I?
Eliz

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Eliz,
thanks very much for reading the blog. You are more than welcome to bookmark it, and I hope to hear your thoughts sometimes.

take care,
Jee Leong