Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Accidental by Ali Smith - a Book Review

I've picked up this book after about two years it has gathered sliver of accumulated dusts in the unreached corner of my overburdened bookshelf. I remember of reading at least a dozen pages of it early last year, perhaps earlier than that.

Ali Smith is a writer of inexhaustible energy it seems. The first chapter describes a twelve year old girl, the way she tries to cope in a "substandard" summer vacation home with her parents and a sibling, away from her schoolmates. Her Sony Dv camera gives her comfort. She snaps at everything, theorizing, imagining reality beyond reality, even pondering about science and irony: "Astrid knocks her hand against the side of the chair to see if it will hurt. It does, but not very much. She knocks again, harder. It hurts more. Of course science can prove, typical and ironic, that her hand is not actually hitting the chair by dividing down he distance smaller and smaller. She hits it again. Ow."

The outside world is a mystery to her. She imagines traveling to a faraway place and time (1003 BC) to a cave to meet "Any the Wiser" with her offering of croissants. "She is at the door of a cave. She is carrying croissants. Any the Wiser is delighted. He nods at Astrid to come forward.

He glints at her through the darkness of the cave; he is old and wise; he has a fatherly look in his eye. Answer my question, oh revered sage and oracle, Astrid begins." That's the most she can say, as she is unsure of what to ask this sage man of thousands of years in past in her vivid imagination.

Unlike eccentric Astrid, her seventeen year old brother Magnus, a whiz in mathematics, was full of despair from the death of a classmate that he blames himself to be part of. When it seemed life could no longer bearable, in one form or another for Magnus, his writer's block induced mother Eve, and his promiscuous step father Michael, here comes Amber, mysteriously walked into their life, with her incredulous straight forward talks, charming the entire family with irresistible magnetism, where both the mother Eve and the step father Michael in the beginning erroneously thought she was a visitor of other.

Ali Smith's characters in this story are lively and the way she portrayed each of their thoughts, actions, dialogues, without compromising the neatly crafted plot, has kept this novel a page turner from beginning to end.

Existence, nonexistence

It perhaps is a surprise for many hearing and reading about German professor Kalisch's jolting thesis on the existence of a prophet. For the believers of any particular religion, this claim must be feeling hurtful. However, what does it matter, if any particular historical figure was indeed historical or fictional? Shouldn't the essence and peaceful conveyance of messages for all mankind from divinity above be enough? Remember those sarcastic hoopla surrounding Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code a few years ago? And the zealots' and bigots' shameful thuggeries in protest of ridiculous prophet cartoons?

Even at the time of these prophets, founder of religions, were treated as aberrant nuisance, or radical preachers, freethinkers, the scoundrel heretics. Flowing of time, perhaps luck, coincidence, or carefully planted seeds in the time of antiquity had propelled many of them in glorious position, the holiest, closest to deity any other hapless human being can ever espoused to be. Rivaling religionists marked each other as anti-"this" and anti-"that", as if the "others" are the followers of "darkness", the mushroomed "devil" himself, and "us" the followers of the holy "goodness". This apparent symbolic depiction, in crude reality the pungent tangibles, had cleared the way of endless genocides, enforced servitude and loots from one corner of globe to another.

Think about the very existence of unnamed many whose lives were perished in drum roll violence filled onslaught of conquistadors, inquisitions, jihad, crusades and other forms of crowd pleasing names of war against innocents and helpless. Like a flowing river, time never comes back, but the repeats of vengeance, patterns of deceits and murders of plenty indeed are observable from generation to generation.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New America?

Is this a historic night? The tears and jeers will subside, as will euphoria and slogans. American Presidential Election mesmerizes the entire wold. The world in seize. Hopes. Dreams. Desperate screams muffled by violet violence.

They say, "Rosa Park sat so King Stands. King stood so Obama Runs. Obama Ran so we all can fly."

Barack Hussein Obama now doesn't need to hide or hush hush his middle name.

Shouldn't he say, "I am Barack Obama, and Hussein is my middle name", without fear or political shame?

"I have a dream............"

A new America, emerging from hundreds of years of brutal past filled with forgotten blood, ashes, servitude and humiliations of unknown many in near and far.

America the compassionate. Not the enforcer of fear, war and torture.

The world trembles, in hope, to see the rising of a peaceful dove.

"I have a dream............."