And see them dancing around the bonfire...: O, Mishra
It is interesting that John Gray, the philosopher, seems to have taken a liking to Pankaj Mishra’s latest book, and to his thinking in general. Here is a summary of one of Gray’s ideas:
He identifies the Enlightenment as the point at which the Christian doctrine of salvation was taken over…
1:07 pm • 2 June 2013 • 1 note
“DNA sequenced from 39 ancient skeletons suggests the foundations of the modern European gene pool were laid down between 4000 and 2000 BCE, in Neolithic times - likely by the rapid growth and movement of some populations.
Decades of study suggest two major events in prehistory significantly affected the continent’s genetic landscape: its initial peopling by hunter-gatherers 35,000 years ago in Palaeolithic times, and a wave of migration by Near Eastern farmers some 6,000 years ago in the early Neolithic.
Genetic signatures of people from the Early Neolithic were either rare or absent from modern populations. From the Middle Neolithic onwards, mitochondrial DNA patterns more closely resemble those of people living in the area today, pointing to a major and previously unrecognised population upheaval around 4000 BCE.
Co-author Professor Alan Cooper, from the University of Adelaide in Australia, said: “What is intriguing is that the genetic markers of this first pan-European culture, which was clearly very successful, were then suddenly replaced around 4,500 years ago, and we don’t know why.”
A significant contribution appears to have been made in the Late Neolithic, by populations linked to the so-called Bell Beaker culture. The origins of the “Beaker folk” are the subject of much debate - Beaker individuals in this study excavated from the Mittelelbe Saale region of Germany showed close genetic similarities with people from modern Spain and Portugal.
Other remains belonging to the Late Neolithic Unetice culture attest to links with populations further east.”
1:04 pm • 2 June 2013 • 1 note
“In China, too, it could seem that the loss of the old sense of national purpose has resulted in a fragmented and divided society, many of whose most empowered members seek little more from politics than the protection of their own interests. As the producers of a recent PBS documentary found, most undergraduates at Beijing University, which trains much of the country’s elite, have never heard of or seen the picture of the man with the plastic bag confronting PLA tanks near Tiananmen Square in 1989: the image that, popularised by the American media, still speaks of Chinese aspirations for freedom and democracy to many outside China. This indifference to politics – conspicuous, too, among privileged young people in India – cannot be blamed entirely on censorship or fear. Many of those I spoke to who were born after Mao’s death in 1976 expressed a brisk nationalistic paranoia about Japan and America, but otherwise seemed too busy trying to make and spend money to be interested in discussing how China, once one of the most equal countries in the world, had become one of the most unequal.”
— Pankaj Mishra
11:07 am • 1 June 2013
“As Bayly points out, European and American dominance over ‘the world’s economies and peoples’ meant that, by the end of the 19th century, ‘a large part of humanity had been converted into long-term losers in the scramble for resources and dignity.’ Some of these truths creep into Ferguson’s narrative, often while he is arguing something else. ‘By 1913,’ he writes, ‘the world … was characterised by a yawning gap between the West and the Rest, which manifested itself in assumptions of white racial superiority and numerous formal and informal impediments to non-white advancement. This was the ultimate global imbalance.’ Indeed, and it decided the fate of the many postcolonial nation-states whose apparent failure today prompts calls for a new western empire.”
2:39 pm • 31 May 2013
“For, in actuality, most novelists, in the west as well as the non-west, avoid direct confrontation with powerful institutions and individuals, especially those that not only promise fame and glory to writers but also, crucially, make it possible for them to stay at home and write. To point out this routine semi-complicity with the status quo is not to condone Mo Yan’s terrible choices. It is to acknowledge the imperfect nature of our own socio-economic and political arrangements, in which missile silos have long co-existed invisibly with mailboxes, and the writer, however free of external coercion, is not always ready or willing to interrogate his own relationship with power.”
— Pankaj Mishra: why Salman Rushdie should pause before condemning Mo Yan on censorship | Books | The Guardian
2:21 am • 31 May 2013
Top Philosopher - How to Lose Ender’s Game? Judge the Book by its Author
The opinions of writers are often dumb. T. S. Eliot, H. P. Lovecraft, Thomas Hardy: they all had disagreeable views on certain issues. But the art is not the man (or woman).
11:16 pm • 30 May 2013
“But what kind of history? Consider how Niall Ferguson, the Conservative-led government’s favourite historian, deals with the Kenyan “emergency” in his book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World: by suppressing it entirely in favour of a Kenyan idyll of “our bungalow, our maid, our smattering of Swahili – and our sense of unshakeable security.”
The British had slaughtered the Kikuyu a few years before. But for Ferguson “it was a magical time, which indelibly impressed on my consciousness the sight of the hunting cheetah, the sound of Kikuyu women singing, the smell of the first rains and the taste of ripe mango”.
Clearly awed by this vision of the British empire, the current minister for education asked Ferguson to advise on the history syllabus. Schoolchildren may soon be informed that the British empire, as Dominic Sandbrook wrote in the Daily Mail, “stands out as a beacon of tolerance, decency and the rule of law”.”
— The sun is at last setting on Britain’s imperial myth | Pankaj Mishra | Comment is free | The Guardian
9:52 pm • 30 May 2013 • 1 note
“In a press conference in Stockholm on Thursday, according to press reports, Yan said censorship in China was not much different from the security checks he passed through on his way to Sweden.
“When I was taking my flight, going through the customs … they also wanted to check me – even taking off my belt and shoes,” he said, through a translator. “But I think these checks are necessary.”
He dodged questions about Xiabo, sentenced to 11 years in prison back in 2009 for criticizing the Chinese government and calling for greater openness. But he said he would not sign the petition because “I have always been independent. I like it that way. When someone forces me to do something I don’t do it.”
— Rushdie: Mo Yan is a “patsy of the regime” - Salon.com
9:46 pm • 30 May 2013
Israel, Syria, Russia Fwd: Evening Edition » London for Wednesday, May 29, 2013
> From: Evening Edition
“We are unhappy with the prospect of these very serious weapons arriving in Syria but we cannot stop Russia delivering them to the Middle East. We would not strike a Russian target – our egos are big but they’re not that big” said a senior Israeli diplomat to the Guardian. The source added that he didn’t know “how upset the Russians would be if, at some point between payment and the installation of this technology in Damascus by Russian experts, something was done to damage the weaponry. As long as no Russians were hurt and they got paid, I don’t think they would care”.
1:21 am • 30 May 2013
“York Mosque praised for offering EDL protesters tea
A mosque has been praised for serving tea and biscuits to English Defence League supporters after the far-right group arranged a demonstration there.”
— BBC News - York Mosque praised for offering EDL protesters tea
12:59 pm • 29 May 2013