21 June, 2007

Power Games

I won't be surprised if next, Salman Rushdie wins the Nobel price for Literature. That is how it has always been: a power game. Those being knighted or awarded 'prices' have to be those who are - agreeable, conform to and serve the powers that be. They 'give' to and promote those whom they choose. It is just a few decades ago that Henry Miller's books were banned in the U.S.A, under the pretext that they were 'obscene', when in actual fact, the main reason for his writings being banned was that - they were anti American and anti capitalist (though he was an American). And D.H. Lawrence? He was considered to be a 'pornographer' and was officially persecuted and his works were censored; and he had to spend most of his adult life 'in exile'. On the other hand, as a slap to the then Soviet Union - Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Price for Literature in 1970; and yet - not Maxim Gorky and not even Tolstoy or *Dostoevsky, did win the price.

I find Miller's writings, at times, repulsive and very objectionable - but, whatever way I look at it, he was an exceptionally brilliant writer; I do not agree with some of what D.H. Lawrence say and am very much against his personal lifestyle, but, few writers in English, very few indeed - are as imaginative and gifted as D.H; he is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers ever. Right next to James Joyce. Maxim Gorky, to me, was a much more superior writer than Solzhenitsyn; as for Tolstoy - he is, without doubt, one of the greatest of all novelists; any one who has read 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina' would agree. And can any one who has read any of Dostoevsky's books not consider him a genius?

Even political personalities, are treated in the same way: Dawda Jawara, the Gambian leader was knighted and, yet, due to their anti West outspokenness, and inspite of the much that they have contributed to Africa - never could/can Nelson Mandela or Julius Nyerere become 'sirs'. Mr. Mandela had to even share his Nobel Peace price with De Klerk - the last symbol of South Africa's apartheid.

In 1990, after the violent reactions that Rushdie's 'The satanic Verses' provoked, I decided to read the book. I read the book slowly, taking my time with it. Rushdie can write well. But his fame is not due to his writing well as there are hundreds of thousands who can write just as good in English as he; his fame and his many awards are mainly due to the subjects he bases his writings on. Subjects that are pleasing and very much in tune to/with the West's thinking; more so 'The Satanic Verses' - under any other circumstances, a shallow book . Non of Rushdie's books served his masters as this. For he, a 'Muslim', to write such a book was the best he could do for them. It served their purpose and agenda very well. Just as Solzhenitsyn's writings served the West against the then Soviet Union. And today, as the West has declared Islam their number one enemy, Rushdie is, even, a much more important tool. So why not 'sir' him?

For one reason or another, some books or writings are **banned in certain countries or societies at certain times or for ever. In actual fact, there is nothing really like 'Free Speech'. All the major Western countries have banned certain books at certain times, for some reason(s). But when it serves them, the same powers will spare nothing and go to pains to promote certain writings or books and their authors; and never cease to mention 'free speech'. Now, as he has become even more important, to them - Rushdie will continue to receive many more prices and awards. After it being weighed and considered, he might even get the Nobel Price. Period.

** List of banned books in different countries on: Yahoo, DegreeDirectory, Bookrags

* Dostoevsky lived and died (1821-1881) before the Nobel Prices were being awarded. The Prices have been awarded since 1901. As it is, the Nobel Price is not posthumously awarded. The point is - he too, like Tolstoy, won't have been awarded the price due to what was considered his 'extreme' views, then. Note: though, without doubt he should have, Mahatma Gandhi didn't win the price or many of the other wards now being given to Rushdie. Why? He was considered too 'radical' and 'distant' to the West. Unlike Rushdie.