Friday, February 02, 2007

Questions to Accompany a Reading of Chapter Four of Nick's Book, #6

(By now I’m losing the will to live, so questions will be a bit more scattershot.)

Q25: Nick quotes Jean Baudrillard [p.110] as saying that “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation.” Do you think it is a shrewd point to make by way of response to this passage that, “It goes without saying that Monsieur Baudrillard didn’t talk to the citizens of Los Angeles and produce evidence that Disneyland was more real to them than their work, loves, sicknesses and pleasures”?

Q26: On p.112, Nick returns to Afzar Hussain, the Bangladeshi grad student (as he was then) that he’s been beating up on earlier. He writes “The most telling part of our theorist’s musings on wife burning is that he has no suggestions on how to protect Indian or American women threatened with murder or abuse, no practical proposals to improve their wretched lot. All he gives the reader is a feeble satire.” Even if you agree with Nick that Afzar Hussain’s review is badly written, do you think that it is plausibly described as a “feeble satire”? Given that he is reviewing – favourably – a book which precisely does consider what kind of support Western feminists should offer feminist activists in India, and there’s no reason to suppose that Hussain disagrees with Narayan’s arguments here, is it really the “most telling part” of his “musings” that he is not offering practical counter-suggestions of his own? When Nick writes that “His main complaint is about the alleged hypocrisy of American feminists who pick on the misogyny of a poor culture while ignoring domestic violence that is going on in their own backyard”, do you think he is getting something importantly right about Hussain's review, or not?

Q27: Given the amount of scraping of the bottom of the barrel that Nick has been doing over the previous pages, do you think he is any danger of “sound[ing] too high-minded”, as he suggests on p.113?

Q28: When Nick writes on p.114, that “the best question of all, however, was the bluntest. When it comes to burning women, are you for it or against it?”, and given that it's reasonably apparent that Afzar Hussain is against it, do you think that this shows that Nick is in the grip of a funny kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or something else?

Q29: More generally, do you think the practice of academic book reviewing would be improved if reviewers felt obliged to make it clear what their ethical beliefs were about the practices that were being discussed in the books under review?


Blogger steven poole said...

Q25: No! (I feel quite confident on this one, being quite familiar with B's work and the variously justifiable criticisms of it. And how about NC's "Monsieur Baudrillard"? Oh dear...)

Reading your questions has been very entertaining and informative, so thank you. Since I generally try not to read any book I have reason to expect will be bad unless I'm getting paid to do so (for life is short, as Schopenhauer said), I fear I may never get around to What's Left?.

2/02/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous richard said...

I agree - It's painfully apparent that Cohen has never read any Baudrillard.

2/02/2007 05:58:00 PM  

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