Sidharth Vardhan

Of the shape of the ruins – a review

(A review of ‘The Shape of the Ruins’,a novel by Juan Gabriel Vásquez,English translation by Anne McLean short-listed for International Booker in 2019Review first written on March 10, 2019) I do love how the books are growing shorter. This is the biggest (the only big) book in 2019’s long list of International Booker (now in short list) and it didn’t feel that long. I think what makes it a quick read is that much of it is narrating facts and events Which kind of offer much less food for thought per minute. The main theme is conspiracy theories. And it had a putting off effect on me. I find some of them interesting (Dan Brown novels are interesting) but not the ones that concern the death of political figures (Kennedy, Bose, etc), definitely not enough to read 600 page long novels on them. The Marquez Connections This one interested me because of the mention of the name of Gabriel Marquez in some of the reviews. Apparently, Marquez happened to be in place of murder of a famous Colombian politician, Gaitain, just after the murder took place and would remember, in his autobiography (Living to Tell The Tale), a mysterious elegant

On Violence – A review of Arendt’s essay

(A review of ‘On Violence’,an essay by Hannah Arendtfirst written on February 18, 2019) “Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What never can grow out of it is power.” Hannah Arendt (On Violence) Arendt refuses to define power as mere ability to do violence as some of the old authors she quotes has defined it to be. The book is written in times of cold war and during fears of mutually assured destruction. Arendt refuses to see violence as something that goes along with political power. She seems to think that the very fact of the presence of nuclear weapons makes the world a more violent place. There is no weapon humanity ever created that it didn’t use and all that. The best part is where she tries to define like sounding words – power, strength, authority etc. Violence Naturally, words themselves are mere symbols and you can use them to mean whatever you like but it enhances the ability to communicate better if each word described a unique abstract concept and every abstract concept has an exclusive word to signify

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

(A review ofAntisemitism: Part One of the Origins of Totalitarianism’by Hannah Arendtfirst written on September 15, 2018) antisemitism sidharth vardhan review analysis hannah arendt 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. Hannah Arendt 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

A tale of a broken heart

(A review of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ a novel by by Charles DickensFirst written in September 9, 2015) “No man ever really loved a woman, lost her, and knew her with a blameless though an unchanged mind, when she was a wife and a mother, but her children had a strange sympathy with him—an instinctive delicacy of pity for him. What fine hidden sensibilities are touched in such a case, no echoes tell; but it is so, and it was so here. Carton was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew. The little boy had spoken of him, almost at the last. “Poor Carton! Kiss him for me!” Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities French Revolution must have been too big a thing for Dickens to miss given his protests against class discrimination and constant effort to be the voice of conscience for English rich. In fact, he actually managed to portray the Paris of time well enough , IMO, despite his caricature-like characters and the boring tone he often took. And all that is good but the truth is three of four

Ambedkar’s legacy

Rajnath Singh‘s statement “Because of the rampant misuse of the word (secularism), there  have been instances of tension in the society” was the second most hilarious thing I have  heard this week. The biggest misuse in recent times has been of words ‘Hinduism’ and quote ‘Bhartiya Sanskriti’ (the phrase never stops being funny) – we all know who is misusing them. Rajnath Singh also holds credits for the third most hilarious statement – that BR Ambedkar had never thought of putting the term ‘secularism’ in the Preamble as it was “in-built in the Indian system”. I mean, if it was in-built, the amendment only made it more explicit – far easier to understand. Right? Why is so much concerned about it? To think that this guy is our Minister of Home affairs! The statement topping the list of hilarious statements of the week was, of course, when N. Modi announced a ‘debate’ on increased incidences of intolerance. I mean what is supposed to mean by word ‘debate’ – is he denying any increase in incidences? Or, whether or not his government will take any actions? Ask him any questions and his answers are obscure party slogans; you will never see

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