Wednesday 19 September 2012

more on why Song Of Kali sucks

Wow. That whitesplaining piece of shit likes some of the same writers I do (not Gene Wolfe; I honestly don't give a fuck for Wolfe's woman-hating shit anymore). I feel dirty. Or is it just because of the shit rising outside my windows and my 'animalistic' ways?

There is a difference between noting that a country has huge, possibly insoluble problems and calling it a 'shithole'. There is a difference between taking exception to a condescending and borderline racist characterisation of my country and 'foaming' at the mouth.

There is a also a huge difference between a good book and The Song Of Dan Simmons' Xenophobia.

Not a single Indian character is depicted as having any dignity or essential worth in that novel. Everyone is slimy or shifty or insincere or somehow both pathetic and sinister. This is a common and sickening element in a lot of ignorant, hateful tales of white men abroad and there's really no excuse for it. It has nothing to do with whether our society has deep issues (it has; this is one of the very worst places in the world to be a woman, for instance); it's do with depicting a foreign race as caricatured negative stereotypes for effect and insulting a billion people in the process. It's about lazy, inept characterisation, if you don't care about the insulting bit.

It doesn't matter if this is just how the deeply unpleasant narrator sees us; Simmons at no point makes it seems that he's wrong in any way. In any case, Simmons isn't a writer on the level of Nabokov, who can inhabit a loathsome narrator's viewpoint while leaving us with enough clues to the unreliability of that narrator. He's just better than average from the perspective of the stylistically impoverished idioms he works in; not objectively much better than Koontz and definitely inferior to Barker.

And, cult or no cult (and I do know what a cult is; thanks for assuming that someone from a shithole must be ignorant) Kali herself is depicted as a vector of ultimate evil in Simmons' novel, as a 'bitch goddess'. It is the equivalent of writing a novel where a small cult brings on the Second Coming and Jesus rides back in glory slaying people left and right. Oh wait, isn't that The Bible?

My point is that Simmons egregiously fails to engage with a complex myth outside of his cultural framework and he's capable of better - look at his riffs on Homer and Shakespeare in Olympos. I said Simmons' depiction of Kali is a fucking travesty and I stand by it.

Fuck this book. And fuck its apologists. And to hell with smugly superior white people who travel the world, are horrified that not everyone enjoys the privileges that white folk thanks to their heritage of empire and appropriation and then proceed to think they have the right to dehumanise an entire people and express a seething disdain that seems to leave very little room for the compassion that would be a more fitting response to the countless human tragedies that surround us.

1 comment:

Koel said...

Yeah... that guy's blogpost on India's "dark side" is beyond parody. I tried to make reading it into a game by counting the references to animals, but by the third one (animality! pigs at a trough! National Geographic!) I felt like retching. It was like reading the writings of 19th century British colonial officials.