‘Understanding Power’ with Noam Chomsky

“…the terms of political discourse are designed so as to prevent thought.”

-Noam Chomsky
Understanding Power – Noam Chomsky

Understanding Power is an illuminating book written in question-and-answer format and based on transcripts from seminars and a wide range of discussions with Noam Chomsky. It traverses a number of topics, such as the developments of US foreign policy, international economics, activists’ strategies and challenges, the progress of activism in changing the world, the role of media in shaping the way we think, and a whole lot more.

Chomsky explores issues such as the media’s whitewashing of reality, the corporate takeover of politics, and how economies are framed and in whose best interest they are so framed. He opens our eyes to the nature of power and what it can do when it’s not checked and left unexposed.

Understanding Power is an eye-opening read, it is an enlightening compilation of Chomsky’s political thought, backed by factual information. It will change the way you see the world, stimulate your mind and get you to think for yourself.

Rereading “A Very Easy Death” by Simone de Beauvoir

The unkind sport between death and dying.

There are many who looked to January 2021 as the arrival of new beginnings, fresh starts, and with less of last year’s bullshit. For some, the year started as the second version of 2020 – more Covid cases, deaths, the loss of jobs, and just that 2020 dick signature move of toppling over people’s lives.

I recently lost a loved one after they battled with illness and old age. Of course, it’s expected of a nonagenarian to go anytime but what is heavy is watching them suffer through illness, their body slowly taking its time to sign out. The past few weeks reminded me of A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir, and a story has never felt more profound, more stitched to my reality than this one has. So, I reread it and wanted to repost the review.

A Very Easy Death is a poignant day-to-day account of her mother’s last weeks on her deathbed. Simone de Beauvoir writes honestly and compassionately about the race between pain and death that her mother goes through.

A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

After a fall, a fracture of the neck of the femur is diagnosed. With more problems arising they finally discover cancer. At 78, Mme de Beauvoir has been widowed for more than twenty years and has two daughters.

From what seemed to be nothing to serious, Mme de Beauvoir’s body sinks into a devastating hole of rapidly deteriorating health. The doctors’ efforts to keep her alive through surgery and medication seem cruel than helpful, as her mother’s suffering intensifies. Simone bears witness to all these moments of how the illness tortures her mother.

“For the first time I saw her as a dead body under suspended sentence.”

– Simone de Beauvoir, A Very Easy Death

This raw story really shows the tragedy of dying and how worse it is to be dying than death itself. It also shows how lonely death can be, and how helpless the ones close to the dying person can be. The false hopes and the witnessing of pain and death playing a brutal game of tug-of-war. De Beauvoir records her despair, one greater than she had felt when her father and other family members died.

It’s intelligently written, as one would expect nothing less from Simone de Beauvoir. It’s brief and powerful, moving, and shocking. Beautiful and tragic at the same time.  

If you’re going through or have gone through the same experience, of anticipatory grief, this book can let you know that you’re not alone. It’s a lonely place to be, for the one dying and the one witnessing this process. I hope it helps.

Heal. At your own pace.

‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ by Wole Soyinka

Thirty days after the King’s death, on the day of his burial, Elesin has to commit ritual suicide. He is to lead the King’s favourite horse and dog into the ancestor’s world. This ritual will ensure the harmony between the living and the ancestor’s world.

Postcolonial theatre.

On the same day, the British Prince will be at the ball which District Officer Pilkings and his wife will be attending. When Pilkings hears of what Elesin will be doing, he intervenes and makes it his mission to stop him from committing what he calls a crime. Elesin doesn’t get to perform the ritual and is instead caught and bound in the Officer’s old slave cell. Elesin has to face the shame and betrayal to his people, as well as the corrective measure that his son takes.

This is a brilliant work of post-colonial theatre that achieves a great deal with the way it widely opens the window for us to look into the Yoruba culture, spirituality, politics, power, and the reclaiming of history.

The main characters play such significant roles in highlighting the main themes of the play. Elesin shows how the failure of a leader to carry out their duty has catastrophic implications for its leader. Elesin, a man who has been preparing for this moment, whose life has been anchored to this duty, eventually fails and not only because of the Officer’s interference but also because of his attachment to material things.

The Pilkings couple exemplifies the disrespect of indigenous people’s cultures and traditions by colonizers. Elesin’s duty to perform a ritual suicide, which parallels the British ship’s captain blowing himself up to save others, is not regarded by the Pilkings in that way. If it’s African it’s barbaric but if it’s British it’s traditional. This is the same with the way they disrespect the egungun costumes but place such importance on the ball.

Death and the King’s Horseman is a play with a colossal magnitude of artistic and political importance. It reflects not only Nigerian history and the cracks in it where stories need to be reclaimed but of Africa as well. Through this work, Soyinka reminds us of the necessity of drama and theatre as a powerful social and artistic tool. It invites a critical interrogation of colonial effects on African societies, then and now.

Not only does Death and the King’s Horseman bring to attention issues that need to be dissected and thoroughly discussed, but one has to also appreciate the language and style of writing used by Soyinka – rich, eloquent, and exquisite.

It’s a masterpiece and undoubtedly worth your time.