Racism in Americanah

Weak as a love story but powerful in its social commentary. I found a lot of similarities between people of Nigeria described here and that of India- people wanting to migrate to developed countries and real estate being the only investment that attracts the rich. ” There are many different ways to be poor in the world but increasingly there seems to be one single way to be rich.” – Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Then, there are migrant problems – the social and psychological stress they have to bear. The best parts though are Ifemelu’s sometimes angry blogs about racism in U.S.A. It is not always about the dark racism that is pointed out in the book, sometimes it is nice white people trying hard not to be racist: “Kimberly was smiling the kindly smile of people who thought “culture” the unfamiliar colorful reserve of colorful people, a word that always had to be qualified with “rich.” She would not think Norway had a “rich culture.” – Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Adichie is powerful and honest in her social observations and it is that which makes this otherwise weak love story ( it is so real that it is boring)

There is a body next to my bed

(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan First written on December 4, 2018) There is a body next to my bed. The body of a sick kid. A very, very sick kid. I call it a body because I am already thinking of it as dead. And that is how I write. Not as I see but as I feel. As an impressionist and not as a realist. And anyway, the only people who have any claim to realism have either killed themselves, gone insane or in jungles feeding the kids like these. The body. How it makes my life a nightmare! It wails and cries and moans and screams – and it does all that, I know it sounds absurd, silently. Every morning on waking up, I spend several minutes trying not to think about it. For what is there is to think? Earlier I used to be normal, more or less, before one day, this body appeared next to my bed and now when I am one of Kafkirs. Kafkirs, as you know, react to their misfortune in different ways the first time they see a body next to their bed. Many of them are too embarrassed by their

‘On Chesil Bech’: A Review

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘On Chesil Beach’ (2007) a man-booker short-listed novel by Ian McEwan) Okay first things first, McEwan should definitely not try writing an erotic novel. This is an amazing piece of writing. If psychology detail of characters is your kink, you will love this novel. Like many readers, I was a bit frustrated by flashbacks though they did seem to be of value – not to mention there was some really beautiful writing. You get to see that the Edward had a mentally ill mother which would explain his anger (other examples of violent display of which are also visible in flashbacks) and you get to see how Florance is conflict averse (she would leave her house in order to avoid any communication with the vaguest hint of conflict) so it makes sense that she kept delaying most awkward conversation of her life. Sex has something of aggressiveness inside it, something of our animal nature which frightens her who seems to have none of that aggression to herself. Moreover, sex needs a second nature, away from normal social nature. The couple who has known each other for so long are embarrassed to show this aspect

Death of a Salesman : Review

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘The Death of Salesman’ (1949) a Pulitzer Prize Winning Play by Arthur Miller ) “I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?” I don’t know if Miller intended it as such but it might as well be a criticism of capitalism. Just look at what Willy has to say to his boss upon being fired: “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.” but this criticism is more existional: “After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.” or “Work a lifetime to pay off a house — You finally own it and there’s nobody to live in it.” or “Nothing’s Planted, I don’t have a thing in the ground.” Unless you are rich, money is a very strong determinant of your self-worth. Willy and Biff struggle with the realty of fact that they haven’t made much. The desire for greatness and having to accept that one is not great is another theme. Awesome. “Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream,

Notes of a Cynical Suicide – 9

(A short fiction by Sidharth Vardhan Find all parts of ‘Diary of a Cynical Suicide’ here First written on January 25, 2019) 201. My last wish that I don’t see ever getting fulfilled is for someone to hold my hand and tell me “I understand.” That is perhaps all I need from all my friends. But perhaps they aren’t friends. Perhaps I just don’t have the luxury of friends. 202. I don’t even how to make effort or in what direction to make. I don’t have it in me to walk another mile to find happiness. All I want is for this suffering to end. Everywhere I see, there are people … Living things suffering. I don’t want this anymore. No more of this world in my eyes. I must close them to the world and close them so that they are never opened around. 203. I guess you did listen to me and delete the last letter. Well, delete this one too. I will make it short. I am never gonna find any self-respect again – ever. And for the rest of my life, I will never be able to open up before another person knowing that they will walk

On Nationalism and ‘Imperialism: Part Two of The Origins of Totalitarianism’

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘Imperialism: Part Two of the Origins of Totalitarianism’ (1968) by Hannah Arendt first written on September 15, 2018 )   My one and the only objection is that it should have been named ‘Nationalism’ instead of ‘Totalitarianism’ because this book discusses various consequences (mostly negative) of Nationalism and imperialism was one just such consequence. Moreover even while studying imperialism, she is only interested in white men aspect of it – its effect on Europe. Moreover Arendt’s larger concern is studying origins of Totalitarianism which seems to me more connected with Nationalism than imperialism. Among consequences of Imperialism, she included are Imperialism, totalitarianism, refugee problems and wars (including two world wars). Imperialism Nationalism somehow continues to be thought of good when it is just a beautified name of narrow mindedness. Much like religion or racist ideologies, it is basically an act of limiting responsibility by creating a limited ‘we’ group based often on language, race or religion. It gives a false superiority complex- you are supposed to feel proud just because you belong to particular group (often people who are good for nothing else, chose these causes to take pride in). And a pride in

On ‘Antisemitism: Part One of the Origins of Totalitarianism’

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of Antisemitism: Part One of the Origins of Totalitarianism’ (1968) by Hannah Arendt first written on September 15, 2018 )   Arendt brings out a brief history of anti-Semitism with a special focus on the way it came to be used as a propaganda device by Nazis. There is much in this – like the argument that a wealthy section of society is tolerated by the rest only as long as they serve a function. And to be able to serve a function, power is needed. Some of the richer Jews (mostly bankers) were themselves first to accept the differentiation given to them by state. This differentiation attracted prejudice, first, when the customers of the bankers become middle class rather than upper class (middle class people take loan out of needs and won’t ever like bankers) and the stereotypes created because of a single family – Rothschilds. You can add to this, the conspiracy theories. Thus Nazis found a ready prejudice to take advantage of when they came into power. It is all very interesting but it isn’t as much hard hitting as other Arendt works I have read. May be because it is much

Review of Father and sons : On Nihilism

(Review by Sidharth Vardhan of ‘Fathers and Sons‘ (1862) by Ivan Turgenev ) The first time I heard of Turgenev, it was from Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky parodied Ivan Turgenev in his character ‘Karmazinov’ in novel ‘Demons’ (reviewed here) for writing ‘Fathers and Sons’. Turgenev’s novel is based on the nihilist generation and the differences they had with the previous generation – that of socialists. The ‘nihilist’ son Bazarov in the novel refuse to believe in anything based solely on authority – whether it be established sciences, practices, arts or traditions. The ‘fathers’ in the book are in too much of awe for their sons and even have some sort of guilty conscience to produce arguments for their way of thinking. However the nihilism has its own problems. (to began with, nihilism is based on ‘belief’ that nothing is worth believing and is thus paradoxical).Even if you have good reasons to defy authority, often people tend to develop it as a habit and defy authority just for sake of it. Bazarov of the story struggles with his feelings of love just because it is a feeling in established tradition. Thus, Turgenev did brought out the fact that nihilism was not without its

Sex, Kreutzer Sonata and Jealousy

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of Kreutzer Sonata (1889) by Leo Tolstoy ) This was good, I liked two Tolstoy novellas I have read much better than the more popular epic monsters. This one is alive with a sort of energy I never expected from him. And this book even faced censorship! Both Russia and USA thought it was indecent. Well, outside DH Lawrence, it is most sex-centric book I have read that doesn’t use the word ‘sex’. Roosevelt even called him immoralist for writing the book.  Actually Tolstoy’s fault lies in opposite direction. He is telling you how sex is a bad thing. He is telling everyone that we should offer sexual abstinence, even if it means humanity must perish – influenced by Christianity. He is the perfect example of the corrupted Christian that Nietzsche talked about in his Antichrist. (Last book I read.) I am not a fan of his epic books, but you could love the author who wrote them – compassionate, jumping in mind of one character from that of other, refusing to pass the judgment. Here he is just struck in mind of one character who judges everyone – including himself. Now if you read

Nietzsche’s Anti-Christ – looking too much into the abyss of Christianity

(A review by Sidharth Vardhan of Anti-Christ (1895) by Friedrich Nietzsche )   I had a liberal access to internet only when I was already in college. And I developed a very quick obsession for Wikipedia and Wikiquote surfing. When I tumbled about Nietzsche’s Wikiquote fan, I became a fan. But reading ‘beyond good and evil’ was a disappointment. All the good parts of it I had already read on his Wikiquote experience. It is as if his best always comes in aphorisms – you read Wikiquote, you can say you have read Nietzsche, well the good parts. (I felt same thing with Oscar Wilde’s plays but Wilde had non-aphorism beauty in his in non-dramtic writing). There are lots of great quotes in it, but I had already read them. They might be more of a revelation to other readers. Much of his criticism of Christianity makes sense but he seems to want to correct it by forcing opposite values on society which is where he fails. It is a popular adage that philosophers are better at asking questions than answering them. Goes for Nietzsche too. Moreover he can often be inconsistent. At one point he says Christianity has taken

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