Dedicated to the Unconsoled – These were among the final words of novelist Arundhati Roy last night when she spoke at the #Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. She was telling us about the 20 years of personal and planetary life that have unfolded into creating her new book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (June, 2017).
Offering an eye-and-spirit opening array of perspectives on India and the world at large, Roy quoted her friend and colleague John Berger (Ways of Seeing): “This is for those who have learned to divorce hope from reason.”
Roy spoke and conversed eloquently for almost two hours before a packed house, courtesy of her radiant, penetrating intelligence, her talent in fiction and nonfiction, and her charismatic warmth. The good work of the #Lannan Foundation made it all happen
The author shared in particular her ways of seeing developments in India where Hindu fundamentalism has taken a strong corporate-backed, yang militaristic grip on the institutions of power. I could not help but recognize in this a parallel with developments in the USA and Russia, as well as in some Muslim nations. All of this fear-based culture choking unfolds swiftly now in the context of poisonous misogynistic attitudes lacking in all honor or worthiness, in extreme need of redemption.
Roy read passages from several of her books, including her acclaimed novel, The God of Small Things (1997). And she commented both obliquely and directly on the broad picture of global affairs, offering fresh, penetrating and soul-filled ways of seeing.
“We are in a very disturbing place,” she said. “We are pressed up against the wall. There is a different kind of power at work. We need to win the battle of the spirit, the battle of the heart. What we need today for survival is long-term vision…
…and we need a feral howl.”