Certainly the given religious logic of the attitude toward iconic representations of the Prophet within many Islamic traditions is almost actively contradicted by the riots and protests directed at the cartoons. What is that reaction but idolatry, the mistaking of the human, the temporal, for the divine, the elevation of Muhammed and representations of him to the level of God? Isn’t that one of the clearest and most unambiguous instructions within the Qu’ran and later interpretative traditions, to not mistake the Prophet for God Himself?
That is an argument which will convince no one, because none of this is really about the substance of a belief about iconic representation and idolatry.
--Read Mendi Obadike's somewhat ambivalent response to the death of Coretta Scott King last week.
I'd heard her say that she married a vision, not a man, but before King's death, I'd always imagined that the idea was simply that she knew she was marrying an activist. What I've been sitting with this week is the challenge of recognizing what activism looks like when one is speaking / acting from the position of black lady (or perhaps colored lady). I've been thinking about this question in the context of my own creative work, but it is hitting me differently when I rethink King's life in the context of her own intentions, rather than in the context of her husband's work. Even the writing of this post requires me to think about the politics of engaging with the lady as a political figure. Do I call her Mrs. in the title of this post?
--Read Brendan Greeley on his experience with a rare heart anomaly known as Brugada Syndrome, in the New York Times Magazine:
From my two hours on the operating table I remember nothing, punctuated by a shock of pain so wrenching and intense that it fails comparison with anything else I have ever experienced, then nothing, then another shock comparable only to the first, then nothing. I can confirm that defibrillation does in fact contract all of the muscles in your body so that you lift off the table. In my case, my lungs constricted and I woke up screaming involuntarily. One of my cardiologists told me later that by the third time my heart stopped, they had adjusted the defibrillator and I remained sedated. I think I thanked him.
--Rage, of the blog Brown Out, has an edifying polemic (or maybe an intelligent rant) where he points out the dangers of taking desi blogging too seriously:
However, if someone were to begin reading a blog as a primary source for their understanding of a community and/or issues that pertain to it, they could be led astray, especially by folks who are on a soapbox about their perspective, or their authenticity, but don't have much more to back it up than a lot of hours in front of a computer screen and, more often than not, minimal interactions with the subjects of their posts. I know that I've been guilty of the same in the past, and have tried to remedy what I could when I was reminded of the flaws. But others don't do that, and their pieces remain up, virtually unchallenged (especially if it's about community organizations or initiatives, when the principals of those entities seldom have the time to respond to misrepresentation (or no representation) in the media, let alone the blogosphere). Then, the next time that someone searches about agency X or person Y, what they get is a source that is often an under- or even un-researched polemic that hasn't even been seen, let alone replied to, by the person/group in question.
Rage points to a possible problem associated with quickie blogging. But it's also to a great extent a problem associated with search engines, which tend to rate blogs quite highly when they are widely linked to and current. I don't know what specifically Rage is thinking of here -- his argument could be stronger if he gave some specific examples -- but he certainly provides some food for blog-thought.
--Oh, and check out Jabberwock's review of Upamanyu Chatterjee's new novel Weight Loss (which looks very twisted and creepy), as well as Pankaj Mishra's positive review of Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, in the New York Times. By all accounts, Kiran Desai has nailed it with this one.