"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-- The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Salman Rushdie

Last night, amongst the most diverse crowd I've ever seen gathered in Boulder, I went to see Salman Rushdie speak. Before attending I knew basically what the average person knows, that he wrote a book called The Satanic Verses and in doing so offended a portion of the Muslim world, and was forced to go into hiding for many years.

I went to the event expecting a larger than life figure. I expected to hear a booming lecture on free speech, religion, geopolitics, etc. The reality, however, turned out to be much different than my expectations. The Salman Rushdie I saw was physically much smaller than in my imagination. He was relatively soft spoken and his speech was very clever and subtle. He spoke about his beginnings as a writer, the writing process, his education, his father, and his books. I think he only mentioned The Satanic Verses once during his main talk.

Of course the book did come up during the Q&A, as well as Ward Churchill. (But, of course. Can't expect to go twenty minutes in this town without hearing about the topic du jour. Last semester: the football team scandal. This semester: Ward Churchill.) I enjoyed the main talk much more than the question and answer period. The pretentiousness climbed above my tolerance levels rather quickly. Plus, he gave away the end to Million Dollar Baby, a movie I have yet to see and still want(ed) to. It was reminiscent of the time Rosie O'Donnell gave away the end of Fight Club. This behavior is beyond rude. If you don't like a movie, fine, but don't ruin it for other people out of spite.

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