Just a place where people talked

A little more from Joseph Anton, which is an encyclopedia of the kind of bad thinking that’s been going on for the past week. It takes place in France, which is fitting, and mentions a beloved friend of mine.

At the first meeting of the so-called “International Parliament of Writers” in Strasbourg he worried about the name, because they were unelected, but the French shrugged and said that in France un parlement was just a place where people talked. He insisted that the statement they were drafting against Islamist terror should include references to Tahar Djaout, Farag Fouda, Aziz Nesin, Ugur Memeu and the newly embattled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen as well as himself. Susan Sontag swept in, embraced him, and spoke passionately in fluent French, calling him un grand écrivain who represented the crucial secularized culture the Muslim extremists wished to suppress. [p 397]

Plus ça change, eh?


  1. says

    I’ll tell you honestly I haven’t cracked open Anton since the Hebdo thing, much as I think you’re obviously right it’s a bit of a sourcebook for these times yet again.

    … and I’m not actually sure, but I suspect that might even be why. Reading it even the first time through I actually found hard. For all that I don’t think Rushdie really went on about it, or as much as he could have, there was this underlying sense of betrayal I kept feeling, even at that arm’s length of reading his experience, and decades length after much of the experience. People and institutions letting him down who you’d like to have thought would have been the last to do so. He seemed to have this head-shaking humour about it, sometimes, all the same, and that helped, but even so, it was a bit of a painful read.

    I think I might be afraid if I tried to open it now it might help, or I might just feel a greater need to punch pillows. Or, worse for the health of my knuckles, walls. So I just haven’ t gone there yet.

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