Monday, June 29, 2015

“In an Antique Land” and “Outer Boroughs”

I failed to blog about a book last week, but let’s try making up for it this week by blogging about two texts per day in this final week of my “Month of Revisionism” (and final week before retooling my Blogger, Facebook, and Twitter pages for a grander mission). Each day will be five quick bullet points, like these:

•Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land (big h/t to Koli Mitra) is a nifty lesson in cultural, geographic, and historical layers, a memoir of the (Indian, England-educated, Brooklyn-dwelling) author coping with being the oddball in an Egyptian community three decades ago as he tracked down historical information about a traveling Jewish trader, and the slave he adored, in the area a millennium earlier. And you thought your life was complicated.

•Amidst an exhibit of Frederic Brenner’s photographs of Jewish communities in various locations, I got my autographed copy of William Meyers’ more local and ecumenical photo book Outer Boroughs, a book based on the radical premise, still controversial in some quarters, that there are lands within New York City but beyond Manhattan. As with Ghosh’s research, that will be for historians to decide.

•Modernity brings complications like Syria, France, Tunisia, and Kuwait suffering simultaneous attacks by radical Muslims, and things are only going to get more complex, mostly for good and sometimes for ill, if the whole planet goes the way of the U.S. lately, encouraging people to redefine their identities so completely that the white women may choose to be black and blacks fond of the Confederate Flag may be deemed white supremacists. When in doubt, I wish everyone would chill.

•Somewhere out there must be at least one raisin-farming, sick, black, gay felon who plans to increase his factory emissions and then run for office in a new district in order to execute murderers, who sees the past week's Supreme Court decisions as a clean sweep. He might also have an opinion on Arizona checking citizenship status or Germany’s supreme court ordering its legislature to prepare a UFO report, but expecting a single human being to embody those things as well would plainly be absurd.

•On a more serious note, speaking of UFOs, remember that tomorrow is Asteroid [Awareness] Day, and they’ve just declared Queen’s “We Will Rock You” its official anthem. See, that’s a fear I think is relatively rational, maybe even worth spending money on, though ideally only voluntary contributions, of course.

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