Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka, and the Question of Nationhood

By Sankaran Krishna | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION
1
In contrast, I find most of Rushdie's political essays unmarked by the prim-and-proper liberal correctness, the passé social democracy, and banality that Nandy sees in them. Even under the Damoclean sword of the fatwa (edict), Rushdie has resisted the temptation to find refuge in a transcendent ethic that declares speech sacred and free or to declaim mawkishly the authorial right to freedom of expression so sacrosanct that it must be protected at any cost. Given his predicament after the publication of Satanic Verses, many would have gladly indulged Rushdie any self-pity or a strident plea by him for the eternal verity of universalist values of liberal tolerance and respect for dissent. He has rarely pleaded such indulgence. Despite his moments of doubt, on the whole he has remained stubbornly committed to something he wrote before he wound up in his present, itinerant, lifestyle: “But human beings do not perceive things whole; we are not gods but wounded creatures, cracked lenses, capable only of fractured perceptions. Partial beings, in all senses of that phrase. Meaning is a shaky edifice we build out of scraps, dogmas, childhood injuries, newspaper articles, chance remarks, old films, small victories, people hated, people loved; perhaps it is because our sense of what is the case is constructed from such inadequate materials that we defend it so fiercely, even to the death…. [T]hose of us forced by cultural displacement to accept the provisional nature of all truths, all certainties, have perhaps had modernism forced upon us. We can't lay claim to Olympus” (1991, 12–13).
2
See William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King Richard II:

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