This is my first column on The Malay Mail, published 3rd December 2013 Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani was something of a charismatic maverick and crusader of anti-colonial ideas in late nineteenth century Egypt. His informal engagement with the public evokes a scene not dissimilar to a small forum led by Socrates. Surrounded by earnest disciples in… Continue reading What is teh tarik enlightenment?
First published on THE STATE magazine, 10th October 2013 Everyday for six months last year, I took the mikrolet from a major bus stop in South Jakarta to my home. A kind of share taxi, the blue mikrolet—number 36—would take around fifteen passengers at a time, following a looping route that covered one small area… Continue reading The geography of urban intellectual culture in the Malay archipelago
This is a response to Syahredzan Johan’s article, Rise of the pseudo-intellectuals. First published in Loyar Burok on 29 June 2012. Is Syahredzan Johan intimidated by people who use big words and may actually be smart? I am more than certain he would vehemently respond in the negative to the question above. However his recent… Continue reading Will the real intellectual please stand up?
We can trust the public intellectual – the voice of the zeitgeist, so to speak – to be clever, witty, sometimes rather sexy (because they’re clever and witty), and male. Though it seems that lately being male is a crippling impediment to being the voice of the zeitgeist. Recently, Stephen Fry caused the chattering classes… Continue reading On male public intellectuals of the Twitter age and gender