I couldn’t really understand what exactly is your point (if any). I do get it that you are enraged by the attention that Arundhati Roy is getting (through her ‘attention grabbing devices’). That’s fine with me. It’s true that she is getting a disproportionate amount of attention, just as her ‘one-book-wonder’ has earned a disproportionate amount of money.
Apart from that, I don’t understand what objections you have which made you write such a long piece on a non-issue. Are you objecting to some particular stand taken by her? To some particular protest she has been involved in?
Or are you just saying that all that she has been arguing for is wrong and that all her ’causes’ are unworthy of support? Or that the causes may be alright but her arguments are wrong?
Frankly, I am not able to get any clue about the answers to these questions from your lengthy tirade against Arundhati Roy, the celebrity.
Do you actually have any stand about any of those causes? Or do you believe they should be left to the experts?
I will tell you my opinion. Of course, what she is saying is not very original in terms of the content. It’s not meant to be original. The purpose of (explicitly) political writing is not to be original, but to effectively argue about some cause or some issue or even about the world in general. Effectively enough for people to pay attention. This means originality in terms of style, at least.
Now, even though you seem to be enraged by the attention she is getting (people interviewing her about herself), you seem to be suggesting that people are actually not paying attention to her, i.e., to what she is saying about the causes and the issues. Is that really so? I don’t think so. Yes, more people are paying attention to the members of the RSS family than to her. In fact, more people are paying attention to Narendra Modi than to her, but then the very nature of what she talks about is such that no one usually wants to listen to those things. Because it can make you uncomfortable and disturbed. It can even shake your very foundations, brainwashed as you may be by the whole system of manufactured consent.
Those people in Nepal who have been brought up on the culture of devotion to the King are still not able to accept the fact that monarchy is a bad idea. Devotion to the monarchy may be at the root of their philosophy of life. They are not going to be convinced easily. Perhaps some will never be. Till they die. But their children (or grandchildren) will have no problem in getting convinced.
So, even if, in absolute terms, not many may be paying attention to her political writing, in relative terms, a large number of people are paying attention to her. And people are not just paying attention to *her*, they are actually paying attention to the causes she is talking about. She has managed to convince some people. Not you, perhaps, but some people. And you may not think so, but a very large number of activists, including those who are scholars of the highest repute and the highest order, do believe that her arguments are convincing and persuasive. You are entitled to your opinion, but then so am I. And so are those who agree with her. And by any standards, the quality of people who agree with her is, on the whole, much higher than those who don’t. You can find the details about this claim if you do your own research (without leaving it to an expert) on her, and on the people I am talking about.
And also about the problems she is talking about.
Why don’t you take your own advice? Ignore the person and focus on the cause. That is, if you think there is a cause. I could have said more about this had you shown any interest in any cause while writing your piece and given some indication of where you stand. For example, what is your position on the War on Terror? Or on the Big Dams? Or on nuclear weapons? Or on Fascism? Or on globalization? Or on Salva Judum? The only hint I can get from your article is that you don’t think any of these issues are important enough for anyone to ‘shout from the rooftop’, as Arundhati Roy described her attempts. Like so many others, you perhaps don’t mind people shouting from the rooftop about safe issues (or non-issues), which doesn’t shake anyone’s foundations.
To make clear why I am writing this, I will repeat again. Ignore the person if you don’t like her talking about herself. Instead focus on the issue or the cause. It is possible, you know.
To me, it doesn’t matter much whether she likes being called an activist or not. Or a writer-activist or not, for that matter. To me, what matters is whether what she is saying about the Big Dams or about corporatization (in the name of globalization) or about Fascism has any validity or not.
Yes, she does get hyperbolic sometimes, but then no one is perfect.
You can avoid hyperbole completely by being a loyal obedient orderly, for example. But I would have no respect for her if she followed this course.
I prefer Kabir (who did use hyperboles quite a lot) to Birbal or Tenali Rama (who also used hyperboles, but in a very safe way).
I like Ramachandra Guha’s writings, but I like P. Sainath’s writings more. But some might say that Sainath also gets hyperbolic. Some might even say that he is glorifying suicides. I know what is the problem with such people.
Literary writing, fictional or non-fictional, explicitly political or implicitly political (there is no such thing as non-political), is not (fortunately) dictated by what teachers of English composition say.
Ever heard of James Joyce? Samuel Beckett? Kafka? Gabriel Garcia Marques? Salman Rushdie?
Pablo Neruda? He was a big celebrity too.
Shakespeare? He is so full of attention grabbing devices. And all his devices have been adopted into the English language. Did your English composition teacher tell you this?
What about ignorance?
More importantly, what about willful ignorance?