About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The Attack, by Yasmina Khadra
The Attack is one such novel, and it's worth reading for anybody interested in the shit that is going on over there, recently or, well, since forever. Khadra begins the book with a very graphic description of an Israeli “drone” attack on an Arab sheik, followed by a second chapter detailing a similar carnage brought about a Palestinian suicide bomber. From there, the novel follows the descent into the abyss of the main character, Dr. Amin Jaafari, a successful Arab physician with Israeli citizenship, whose wife turns out to be the suicide bomber (this doesn't spoil the plot, since you'll find out about it very early on in the book).
Jaafari simply cannot make sense of what his beautiful, intelligent, and cultured wife has done, and his confusion is made more painful by the realization that she was so completely different a person from the one he thought he knew. The senselessness of her act is matched in his mind by the betrayal he felt at her utter disregard for shattering his own life without any warning whatsoever.
Jaafari tries to recover some sense of reality, but feels that in order to do that he has to embark into a long journey not just of self-discovery, but of searching who his wife really was. In so doing, his world is turned upside down, and the reader gets an incredible feeling for what it must be like to be on both sides of the conflict, for how senseless – and yet in some bizarre way also perfectly logical – the struggle and suffering is for both Israeli and Palestinians.
The Attack will not solve the problems in the Middle East, and it may not change many minds about who is “right,” but to me the few hours I spent in the company of Khadra were worth all the CNN news reports I've seen so far.