Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Arundhati Roy + John Cusack's "Things that Can and Cannot Be Said": Book Review

Arundhati Roy and John Cusack Discuss What's Rotten in the Political ...
The Indian writer Arundhati Roy's critiques of "what cannot be said" within the war on terror, the "Lifestyle Wars" that seek to perpetuate conflict for the benefit of the few and the coddled, the influence of NGOs and World Bank-types of organizations on taming activism, and the surveillance state are familiar to readers of her many essays. This little book can be read in a sitting, but it sums up many of her positions. The co-authorship with actor John Cusack comes from his proposal to visit Edward Snowden in Moscow. Daniel Ellsberg joins them, at the end of 2014, in Moscow.

Cusack mainly feeds Roy questions; she responds in her accustomed fashion. This as in her journalism can be strident, verbose, and stretch for effect, but her aims reveal her concern for the issues ignored by the mainstream press. She excoriates the current system, lamenting that it lacks a rival structure, and that those fighting it must be resigned to more guerrilla tactics, as Snowden and Ellsberg demonstrate, against the powers.

The brief chapters are mostly conversations. There's also a meeting with Julian Assange. Roy explains that it cannot be accounted for here. That adds to the odd sense of much of this book. You feel these are disembodied voices lamenting the lack of concerted resistance, as if partisans speaking in a trench on a chilly night. The continual fears of nuclear weapons, often glossed over now, comprise Ellsberg's comments, while Roy reminds us of the collusion between Silicon Valley and the Beltway as to data gathering, boding poorly for future liberty from algorithmic control. (Amazon US 11/12/16)

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