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19 January 2009 @ 07:09 pm
While I drink my spiced chai tea latte  
A juggernaut, yeah, that's a great big machine
from Star Wars -- or maybe a truck
Avatars are who you are in a game
and karma, we all know, is luck.

Kali's a demon; Dan Simmons should know
He went to Calcutta one year
and Soma's a drug out of Huxley. It's so
very great how inventive they were!

---

Sparked by some of the conversation on the What is Cultural Appropriation thread. And oddly not entirely consistent with what I've said about it. Apparently my writing brain doesn't entirely agree with my analyst brain.

ETA: I'm very sorry to do this but I'm disabling comments for now. turning off email notification on this thread and won't be checking  back on it for several days.   I  meant to disable comments, but then realized that would hide the comments that were already made, which isn't my intent at all.

This is all me and my silly head -- I need to work on a paper and won't if I keep wondering if people have said anything here.  So I  need to forbid myself lj till the paper's done.
 
 
Current Mood: amusedamused
 
 
 
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
And yes, I'm guilty of commenting on Simmons without reading him.
But, y'know, cultural effect. I haven't read Lord of Light either, because I don't want my head to explode, but I am writing in a genre that has these books in its history, taken by some people as canonical and authoritative depictions of my religion.

Is that dishonest of me? Or is it my own unconscious bowing to privilege that says I ought to read those books and not just react to people who have read them?
zwol on January 20th, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)
Wait, people take Lord of Light as an authoritative depiction of Hinduism? When it is crystal clear in-text that the characters using the names of various Hindu gods are (super)humans who found it convenient to use those names and appropriate some of the associated attributes?

*head go splode*
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC)
For reals.

That makes me feel better about Zelazny, anyway :) But there is what he intended, and then there is what some readers got out of his book.
zwol on January 20th, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
there is what he intended, and then there is what some readers got out of his book.

Can't hardly argue with that especially as this whole kerfuffle seems to have started over just that distinction in someone else's book. But it seems like wilful misreading in this case, when a major point of the narrative is that these people calling themselves gods? They're people. They have been playing the role for so long that they believe their own hype, but they're not superior beings.
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zwol on January 20th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
mackatlaw on January 20th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC)
Lord of Light is one of my favorite books. It won the Hugo Award, and it deserved it. I highly recommend it. Even though zwol is correct that the characters are appropriating the divinities, it also served as part of my introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism, as I recall. I reread it about once a year. You should read the book just because it's a great book with very human characters.

Mack
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mackatlaw on January 20th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Edit - mackatlaw on January 20th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
mac_stonemac_stone on January 20th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC)
I think it's different to comment on or have a response to something (like "I've never been able to read Donaldson, because his MC squicks me") and offering something you call a critical reading of something you've not read. You know?

ETA: But, I should qualify that I'm using the term "critical reading" very, very specifically. Which is probably privileged-fuckwit of me. *sigh*

Edited at 2009-01-20 05:38 am (UTC)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:03 am (UTC)
Um, if you mean something specific (and define it for those of us who don't know pls?) then aren't you making less of a claim and thus being less privileged than if you overgeneralized?
mac_stonemac_stone on January 20th, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
by "critical reading" in sort of off-the-cuff terms, I mean looking at the specific words of a text, both line by line and also considered as a whole, reflected against each other throughout the text, before meaning is/can be extrapolated.

The tricky part is that the more automatic and intuitive meaning of "critical" doesn't mean that, or anything actually approaching that, alone. Nor does "reading." Taken together, used by a sort of tiny niche of readers, though, they mean something that's a bit, umm, synergistic? And not automatically obvious?

I'm not actually sure I did that definition very well at all.
(no subject) - zwol on January 20th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zwol on January 20th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 07:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mac_stone on January 20th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 07:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mac_stone on January 20th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 21st, 2009 03:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Rachel M Brownrachelmanija on January 20th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
I thought Song of Kali was incredibly racist. All the Indians are either evil or victims or hate their country, and Calcutta is depicted as the worst hellhole on Earth - not just a noirish crime-ridden city, but as the physical embodiment of pure incomprehensible evil.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
Yeah, the amazon reviews are funny if you like your humor black and bitter. It's all non-Indians going "What a great description of that hellhole" coupled with Indians going "This is incredibly racist and offensive and ignorant" and being ignored.
Itinerant hacker adventuress: grey hand-drawn crowthewronghands on March 7th, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
(Here via papersky.) I couldn't agree more. I was *horrified* by that book. I picked it up in the English-language used bookstore in Ho Chi Minh City, because I thought it would be cool to read something about India. (Had I realized who the author was, I wouldn't have bothered, but for whatever reason, the name didn't twig.) It sounded a bit more horror than my usual tastes, but I thought it was worth a little creepy. Epic, epic fail. It was "Heart of Darkness" bad. It is the only time in my life that I've ever thrown a book away... but I certainly wasn't keeping it, and I didn't want to return it to used bookstore circulation, either.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on March 14th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Yeah, I ... *shakes head wordlessly*
I haven't read it, but... I don't feel too bad about judging a book unread in this case.

It's not like I'm starry-eyed when I read or write about India -- I am not blind to the inequity and staggering poverty so many people face. But I think books like this make it harder to face that in a nuanced way.
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 18th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on March 18th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 18th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on March 18th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 20th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on March 20th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 20th, 2009 08:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on March 20th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 21st, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on March 22nd, 2009 03:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on March 22nd, 2009 06:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Oh and... - shweta_narayan on March 18th, 2009 10:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
Annetxanne on January 21st, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
I've never read his India book. But I can say with utter certainty that he botched it. If he can't be arsed to get modern Paris right, which is really about as un-exotic as you can get, then there's no way he'd ever get India right.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 21st, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
The premise seems to be that Calcutta is awful because it is basically a sacrifice to Kali, who is, you know, an evil being who wants human sacrifices.

So.. yeah.
Annetxanne on January 21st, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
...wow, what a dick with ears.
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on January 21st, 2009 03:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - txanne on January 21st, 2009 03:30 am (UTC) (Expand)