Harry Potter

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On Books and Reading: (esp. Fiction and Non-fiction) -2

Published December 14, 2012 by sidmary
Fiction Stacks

Fiction Stacks (Photo credit: chelmsfordpubliclibrary)

From ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ by Thomas Hardy, I once and for all understood truly the status that Islam gives to women. The mere idea that women are a posession or can be sold is obscene, and the custom was yet prevalent in England in the 19th century. I understood why Muslims have been commanded to spread the message of Islam and peace; why they are supposed to put only three options to others: to accept Islam, or accept the government of Islam or prepare to fight. This is because however successful a society may seem to be, there are always problems, always oppression at some level or the other, to some people or the other; and Islam has got such comprehensive laws regarding every social, political, economical as a matter of fact all sorts of problems that it alone has the true ability, if followed truly to erase oppression from the world. Selling women was a form of oppression, and one that Islam deals with excellently by instilling faith and condemning irrogance.

‘Paranoia’ was a more contemporary novel by James Finder. It focussed on the corporate world of America and opened my eyes to what happens generally in business the world over. It was about how lying and cheating and immoral behaviour is taken as ‘strategy’ and actually appreciated when it benefits you in business when all it really is is stooping low to the level of animals without any morals or values. I concluded based on what I have always read in non-fiction that anything based on cheating is destined to decline. I now believe that all corporate business is doomed if based on such ‘strategy’ and that since the American economy is based on corporate business, it should take warning. This is because I have read that false foundations don’t endure.

The thing is that fiction and non-fiction compliment each other. What you understand from non-fiction, your belief on it is strengthened from fiction. My interest is social sciences and religion, and I find plenty to affirm my faith and endorse my beliefs in all that I read. Non-fiction plays a separate and important part, and fiction plays the other separate and important part. There is no comparison. What matters is how you read what you are reading. You can have a defensive mindset and you will find fault with everything you read. You can have an analytical approach and you will understand more than what even the writer intended you to understand. Then you can have a critical approach and you will see for yourself what is what is true and what is false in what you are reading. You will know what to believe in and what to filter out of your mind.

All sorts of reading makes your wiser and smarter, but only if you choose your books wisely and read them with the proper approach. To those who condemn fiction, there is no basis if one gives ample time to non-fiction. And to those who ignore non-fiction altogether: life is greater than stories can teach you and reading of non-fiction is essential to be able to understand it.

Lastly, to all book lovers: happy reading. May you all have a long, successful and beneficial reading life. 🙂

–Sidra Maryam

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On Books and Reading: (esp. Fiction and Non-fiction) -1

Published December 14, 2012 by sidmary
a row of old books

a row of old books (Photo credit: Paper Cat)

In all my reading experience, (which is a vast one ), I have met two kinds of people: there are those who believe wholly and solely in non-fiction and shun all fiction; and there are those who read solely fiction and won’t on their death-beds touch non-fiction if it promised to save them their lives. I have seldom found people who read both the categories without them being made cumpulsory on them, and when I find such people, it is heartfelt joy and carmaraderie that I feel with them.

I am putting this post up because once and for all, I want to tell everyone who says that I should read only non-fiction, that fiction is important; and everyone who reads only fiction that non-fiction is something to be read.

Where non-fiction focuses nore on providing knowledge and each book on a certain topic, good fiction culminates all the writer’s knowledge and point of views on more or less everything he knows. It’s not that non-fiction is unconvincing, but fiction convinces in a way that touches the soul; a way that only the most excellent non-fiction can acheive. Moreover, fiction stays in the mind better than non-fiction, and what you read of it and conclude from it on the basis of some knowledge you gathered from non-fiction always stays in your minds.

Fiction does at places gets that repo of being an absolute time-waster and totally worthless, but what it provides if read with  proper understanding only strengthens your belief in what you already know, or put the facade of knowing.

Harry Potter strengthened my belief in the eventual victory of Truth. I understood well that such victory requires many sacrifices and much dedication and a hero to lead you on, but when the time comes it happens. You come accross friens who turn out to be enemies and enemies who turn out be friends, but in the end, all the strife is worth it even if you are not alive to see it.

From the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, I understood how thw world and al its people have become a tool of the ruling classes and the media. I realized that we came out of the world wars beleiving in the rights of the people and rule of democracy, but what we got was infact was the tyranny of democratic systems; that Power has for centuries, circulated amongst the same hands and circles whatever the system of government be. I also realized how trivialties dominate our lives and guide our actions while people who suffer and problems that really matter are left un-heard of. I also realized how so often revolutions only bring a change of faces and names…

The ‘Eragon’ series, otherwise known as the ‘Inheritance Cycle’ made me realize why, inspite of all the glamour it is shown to posses throughout our childhood, magic is forbidden in Islam. I learned how the use of magic is always a hindrance towards the establishment of justice in the society, what chaos it can create and what rights it can forego and how as the quotation goes “no man is wise enough or virtuos enough to be granted unlimited power.”

(to be continued…)

–Sidra Maryam

Themes of Rebellion in Modern Literature -3

Published May 26, 2012 by sidmary
English: Mainstream march, part of the October...

English: Mainstream march, part of the October Rebellion demonstrations against the World Bank and IMF in Washington DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Conclusion:

Having determined this much, let’s come to a conclusion. Firstly, that most of the acclaimed contemporary fiction has an element of fantasy in. Take Harry Potter with all the magic and the world of Hogwarts; or the vampire fiction raging the bookshelves; or the all time popular series of the Hunger Games, not to forget Artemis Fowl and the Eragon Series… Why is fantasy becoming so popular these days? Here’s a suggested answer:

Fantasy is a way of creating a new separate reality from the world we live in. It is a way to escape the really pressing real life problems, which cannot be run from living in the same world (thus a separate world.) With the world fast reducing to a global village, and problems being intensified and projected more than ever, the instinct to escape is becoming stronger day by day. However, literature does not work like that. All that is written, is in some form or the other, inspired, combined and exaggerated till it gives a sense of originality. The human mind is quite incapable of creating something out of nothing; thus even the most out-of-the-world fantasy has its roots, somewhere deep down, in the world we live in. A review claims “The Hunger Games” to have “unsettling parallels to the reality,” and no surprise, as it can easily be related to the manipulations of reality TV shows, the barbarous wars in Palestine and Afghanistan, the human survival instinct, and the successions of power in the world. So however much one tries to escape, one is always led back into this same confined space. Fantasy just catches a larger audience to make aware in the subconscious, and provides an illusion that is clearer than reality.

Thus, when we see such a constant trend of themes of rebellion in contemporary literature, and more so in fantasy, we are forced to think where in the society is its origin. There is no trouble answering this. Rebellion is everywhere in the society. It is in the “new wave” and the turn towards liberalism. It is in experimenting new things, seeking adventure, venturing into untrod parts of this earth, divulging into the deep seas and exploring the extra-terrestrial world. We live in an age where people want to see logic in age old traditions and practices. There have been times when people have been dominated for centuries by oppressive monarchs; now, they don’t bear it more than 20, 30 or 40 years. A tide of rebellion began in Tunisia and has spread to Syria in less than two years. There is an identification of “self” that is gaining ground now. With the increasing of human knowledge, is coming the increasing of human wants; wants of freedom, liberty, expression, an own personal space etc. etc. When the world seemed big, people were content with it; but now that it seems shrunk, people crave for a greater space…All this, and perhaps more factors contribute to the rebellion in the society.

However, now that it has seeped into literature too, it has become a formidable trend. Literature, besides reflecting the society, has its way of affecting it. I personally can hardly name a book that has not affected me in one way or the other.  A writer, when he holds a pen, writes the future of the world. He is said to be one step ahead of time. Why? He does not (usually) have a crystal ball to help him in that? What he does is that he brings out, emphasizes and exaggerates something already present in the society; something that affects him, clicks to him, or maybe just registers in his subconscious. In print, that written theme or idea is caught up by others. The circle of effect of the “idea” increases, and it becomes more prominent in the lives of each of the individuals reading it. What is in the mind, finds a way out into the action of a person. When (as usually is), there is a writer among the readers too, the idea spreads further. From a single person to many, and from many to many more: a single “idea” becomes a dominant one. Gradually but eventually, the whole world takes its effect. That is why what a writer writes is so important. That is the reason that holding a pen is a sacred job; and that is the reason that trends in writing cannot be ignored!

When we find a trend of rebellion in the themes in literature, we have cause to be cautious, for this is the same very thing that our future holds for us. We don’t have crystal balls, but we have our pens and we have our minds. After we put them to use, there is only waiting and hoping that whatever sorts and causes of rebellions there be ahead of us, they be good…

Themes of Rebellion in Modern Literature -1

Published May 9, 2012 by sidmary

I have been thinking on the lines of these topics for quite some time now. I have the feeling that in almost every modern piece of literature that i read, there is a theme of rebellion; if not a major theme, then an underlying theme. This trend takes me aback. It makes me apprehensive and cautious and exhilarated. There is an itching, everywhere i go in that dream-land of books, to break the rules; change the pattern; rise up against tyrants, customs, routines; Rebel.

What is more interesting i feel, is that the books with such themes are more welcomed by the mass majorities. I will give the examples of just three books/ series, that you are sure to have read; and if not, then definitely heard of.

First you go to “Harry Potter.” Did you start? Is it just pure, simple magic; adventure; good against evil? No. There is Rebellion too. See Fred and George, the two most loved characters of the book: they are practically the symbols of rebellion! They break rules, and rules after rules. They don’t submit to what others decide for them, unless they themselves agree to it. Then the antagonist Voldemort: he too shuns good. Breaks away from its ties and creates his own freedom. However constricting evil is, freedom is freedom for one who considers it freedom!

Then you look at the protagonist Harry himself. In the very first induction to the wizarding world, he finds no reason to NOT call Voldemort by his  name! This continues through the books. Where others succumb to his power and evil, and accept and submit to it, he outright disregards it! Does not even acknowledge it! He too breaks rules. He takes his first flight against the instructions of Madame Hooch in Book 1 on being incited by Malfoy. And he actually gets rewarded for it! Look again: what exactly is encouraged here?

In Book 2, he breaks another 100 or so rules to concoct the potion and then enter the Chamber. Rebellion, Rebellion, Rebellion. Same in Book 3 where he does not only undo what has already been done, but also in that act, defies time. Isn’t that rebellion again? Fast forward to Book 7 where he actually goes on a quest to destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. Had anyone ever, in all the years before him, acted in such defiance of his power? No. And thus the main theme of the book after good versus evil surfaces of rebellion. There is good rebellion and bad rebellion. The bad by Voldemort, the good by Harry. It shows how rebellion can cause pandemonium, calm it down and make life it bearable. (Regards to Fred and George). And what else is the lure of the novel than defiance, and encouragement of it?

(More is coming, stay tuned 🙂 )

-Sidra Maryam

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