Book Review: Snow by Orhan Pamuk

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Snow (Revolutionary Writers)Snow by Orhan Pamuk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“when they write poems or sing songs in the West, they speak for all humanity. They’re human beings -but we’re just muslims. When we write something, it’s just ethnic poetry.”

The idea of the book is the confrontational fonts of east and west, of western secularist and the so-called political Islamist, a term I agree to since their Islamism is shown in the book as a political expression, not a spiritual one. In fact, the book does not speak about Islam as a faith per se, but as a symbol of resistance against oppression and ideas imposed on others.

For me, the obvious tone is how the “west”, represented by Germany, the new land of the political exile Ka, seems to be the most righteous while Islam is an identity that needs constant struggle to justify its existence. This is a story of how a little town is stupor to the abuse it receives from all kinds of political figures (shootings and murders are tedious events for the residents of Kars); of how people are drowned in their own little existence and forgotten by the rest of the world.

In Kars, Islamic politics in the book is seen by the state as a barbaric movement of subversion. However, maybe they are that way precisely because they are being oppressed by the state in the first place. Can’t you take refuge in the fact that your faith and religion is yours, and that only in your heart rests the fire that enlighten you? It’s yours, punto! I supposed the more your existence is denied, the more it needs constant affirmation.

As a muslim reading this book I’m not shocked at all by how the Islamic politics is portrayed. This book is a caricature of how any concept (religion, jargons) is merely a vehicle for political and power ambitions. Be careful for people not familiar with Islam, this is not your guide to the actual (and sometimes shocking) diversity of the religion and its people.

The book for me comes down to one fascinating fact: that politics is merely a theatrical act (the aim is the performance), with its uselessness, pathetic collateral damages inflicted, and the absolute lack of substance for humanity.



Steady and Quiet

September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“He who hates not light, nor busy activity, nor even darkness,

when they are near, neither longs for them when they are far;

who unperturbed by changing conditions sits apart and watches and says,

‘the powers of nature go round’,

and remains firm and shakes not;

who dwells in his inner self, and is the same in pleasure and pain;

to whom gold or stones or earth are one,

and what is pleasing and displeasing leave him in peace,

who is beyond both praise and blame,

and whose mind is steady and quiet;

who is the same in honour or disgrace… this man has gone beyond the three.

And he who with never-failing love adores me and works for me,

he passes beyond the three powers and can be one with Brahman, the One.

For I am the abode of Brahman, the never-failing fountain of everlasting life.

The law of righteousness is my law;

and my joy is infinite joy.”

– Bhagavad Gita

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