If literature is the best way to build our capacity for empathy, plays are probably the best medium for delivering an experience, even if the settingIf literature is the best way to build our capacity for empathy, plays are probably the best medium for delivering an experience, even if the setting and circumstances are quite removed from one's own. One can read about racial and socio-economic inequality in the news, or learn about it through activism, and even participate in parades, but a play delivers the closest thing to taking a walk in someone's shoes.
Review of the play: seeing it performed brings the emotionally charged lines alive (could hear sniffling and gasping in the audience). Highly recommended. ...more
I'm glad I finally read this work (nearly) cover to cover. Jovayni included many interesting anecdotes from the early days of the Mongol empire as welI'm glad I finally read this work (nearly) cover to cover. Jovayni included many interesting anecdotes from the early days of the Mongol empire as well as some beautiful descriptions, such as that spring of 1246 where envoys across Eurasia were summoned to the quriltai that proclaimed Guyuk as khan. Jovayni also has the habit of embroidering his histories with pertinent quotations from literary and poetic works, which the translator identifies in the footnotes. At times he can't resist adding such a flourish, even if the contents somewhat contradict his self-image as a proper gentleman and the scion of a distinguished line of ministers and bureaucrats. One can sense his self-consciousness and some measure of self-satisfaction when he quoted a cheeky verse from the mathematician Omar Khayyam.
"...And here I have inserted the following verses, which, although this is not the appropriate place for them, will yet have some appeal to men of taste and discernment: Who am I to God that when I sin He should not forgive my sin? Forgiveness is expected of the sons of Adam: how then shall it not be expected of God? (601)
I'm also inclined to believe Jovayni was a master of what Cal Newport called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, as he composed this work over 20 years in his free time, when he's not helping to govern the Mongol empire and witnessing many of the events, and bouncing between Mongolia and the Middle East. The introduction described him as composing the work bit by bit, mostly during pit stops on his work trips, which accounts for the slight haphazard nature of the work and references to chapters that were never written, etc. But still, it stands as one of the most important accounts we have of the Mongol conquests....more
The playwright has a gift for capturing family dynamics of today's age, as well as the travails that plague ordinary middle class suburban Americans aThe playwright has a gift for capturing family dynamics of today's age, as well as the travails that plague ordinary middle class suburban Americans and young millennials. Thus most audience might find some familiar echoes to their own experiences. However effective of a snapshot it presents of our times (and some readers might find those elements stirring on their own), does the play inspire some deeper emotions, or elicit some hidden longing from within our souls? I didn't think so, which in my opinion reduces its value to something akin to a historical artifact. But I'm open to revising my thoughts after seeing the play.
Updated: The play brought the unspoken cues (pacing, pauses, rhythm) to life, making the jokes funnier and the moments more poignant. There was crying in the audience when it finished, as many found something that resonated from our own lives. While walking out though I did hear some entitled (to be able to leisurely attend a matinee on a weekday), grouchy old people bitching about how "it was a waste of time". I wanted to not-so-gently remind them that if they weren't able to empathize to at least some of the things addressed in a play that seeks to illuminate the contemporary human experience (inter-generational conflicts, depression, loss of job and retirement plans, sickness, the young trying to make ends meet after the economic crash...), then perhaps they needed to ask their hearts of stone why they were not bothered by any of this....more
An enjoyable study of post-classical developments in Islamic law, focusing on the Hanafi tradition in the early Ottoman period. The author examines thAn enjoyable study of post-classical developments in Islamic law, focusing on the Hanafi tradition in the early Ottoman period. The author examines the shaykhulislam Ebu Su'ud's work in reconciling Ottoman administrative law (qanun) with the jurists' made laws in a number of areas, and making adjustments as befitting the times yet still remaining mostly within the bounds established by the law school. [For example, it is not always expedient administer the penalties of hudud crimes, which established in the Qur'an and subjected to fixed punishments, but it is possible to frame the issue as a tort case subject to penalties at the discretion of the judge or sultan (ta'zir)].
The book also gives a good overview of sources available to the researcher of post-classical law and fatwa collections. And as always, lucid writing that conveys ideas succinctly deserve applause....more