Friday, February 02, 2007

Questions to Accompany a Reading of Chapter Four of Nick's Book, #3

Q10. Commenting on the same passage from Hussain's writing, Ophelia Benson writes (in the comments to this post) that “The passages I quote are perfectly understandable. Not understanding is not the problem. The problem is that they're not worth understanding.” Nick suggests that he has problems understanding them, when he writes that "I cannot put my hand on my heart and say I know exactly what Afzar Hussain meant - I doubt if he could tell us exactly what he meant..." [p.104]. Why do you think that Nick and Ophelia disagree on the question of the comprehensibility of Afzar Hussain’s prose?

Q11. Given that Afzar Hussain is by no means uncritical of Uma Narayan’s book, saying that it “clearly lacks an engagement with the metropolitan political economy of the production of ‘Third-World’ identity, difference, and representation”, why do you think Nick describes his piece as a “rave review” [p.101]?

Q12. When you’re reading a difficult piece of writing that you aren’t sure you fully understand, do you think it is generally a good idea to work with a principle of charitable interpretation, so that if you are hovering between two readings – one sensible, the other silly – it’s generally best to go with the sensible one, at least for the time being? Do you think that if you are having trouble understanding what someone is trying to say, that it might be worth consulting other documents -- perhaps the text that is being described in the passage that is confusing you, or other pieces of writing by the same author -- to see if those provide clues as to what she or he might be getting at in the passage under consideration? Or do you think it’s best to charge in and project wildly, based on whatever prejudices you have about what you think is going on in the contemporary academy?

Q13: Do you think it is at all plausible that “it is racist to oppose sexists” might be a fair gloss on what Afzar Hussain is trying to say about Uma Narayan’s book in his review, given even the most cursory knowledge of the contents of Narayan’s book?

Q14: Do you think Cohen embarrasses himself horribly in his “translation” of Afzar Hussain’s prose? Or do you by now consider that he is, in fact, unembarrassable (if that’s a word)?

Q15: On p.106, Nick writes that it “was astonishing to see a nominally left-wing theorist using radical language to claim that the separate culture of wife-burners could not be condemned unequivocally”. Does he have any reason, apart from his own shoddy “translation” to form this judgment about Afzar Hussain? He goes on to say that Hussain “concentrate[s] instead on condemning as hypocrites outsiders who poured cold water, as it were, on the killers’ ideology” and that he “stops just short of supporting wife burning”. Given what is said about Narayan’s book, above, do you find this plausible as an account of what Hussain might have been trying to say, or not?


Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

Yes, well I've really buggered up the numbering of the questions here, haven't I? Still, not to worry.

2/02/2007 01:56:00 PM  

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