Harsimran Kaur On  Apr 30, 2024, In Book Review, KNIFE—Meditations after an Attempted Murder by Salman Rushdie– Non-Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Meditations begin with an assault to the mind. The mind that becomes the abattoir, indulgent thoughts proving to be a macabre; where do we then find sanity? Why are we humans deprived of it? Look at the worm, slipping allegretto, not knowing where the journey ends, collects rubbles of discretions to find where to turn to. Finally, a stumble on a rock to slither on, and in deep meditation discovers that sanity is perceptibly delusional; it only exists in the non-existence of matters.

Meditation would mean,

Reflection or Subjugation,

Assessment or Restrain,

Endurance or Persual,

To live or to die

For Salman Rushdie, after the brutal attack with a ‘Knife’ at the Chautauqua Institution on August 12, 2022, meditation came as an amorphous reflection of the ‘breaths’ lived in ratiocination and ‘breaths’ now to be lived in perspective albeit andante.

A pitched dark night, stars convalescing from the pestering nostalgia of the sunken eyes that look at them often; did Rushdie look at these stars before the validity of life left him shaken? He must have because it’s the ‘brightness of the character’ that a prolific writer like Rushdie carries ad infinitum. However, the refulgent charm looked sordid to the impressionistic ‘Knife’ saddled, around the murderer, in an inconspicuous corner of the auditorium.  Was he hearing what Salman Rushdie had come to lecture on? I guess, the need to provide a safe carapsse to writers and protect them from harm turned out to be an anomaly to the imprudent knife. In the hands of Mr. A (an appellation Rushdie gives to his assassin), the knife stabs the soul & spirit of the author, creating a naked assemblance of his outlandish beliefs and intransigence; an ad nauseam for Mr. A.

Heavenly and at the same time sepulchral, ‘Knife’ by Salman Rushdie is a soliloquy of his torn expressions after the catastrophe, then fostering an asperity to reclaim what was lost, gradually mellowing down to accept the new flavor and understanding of life. The need to reflect and perhaps validate the contemporaneous felt to Rushdie like a meditative carnivalesque. He states unequivocally of dreams hinting unhappy auguries of an imminent attack. Was it another imaginary world for his books? Though, it all turned into a bitter reality; the dreams, did he now believe in premonitions? His survival; did he now believe in miracles? Nevertheless, all this left him with an uncorked right eye and a disoriented left hand. The unpalpable junction of lungs, heart and intestines left him like a modest swan; nobody to see the furious paddling underneath it.    

Rushdie has humorously incubated an essence of familiarity with the Machiavellian ‘Knife’. His aphorism of ‘Knife’ as an idea—a kind of an altruist phenomenon, sticks as a nascent glue to the mind. What it did it him arises from a puritanical appendage, stiffening into the pores of the skin, fumbling awkwardly a priori.

‘Knife’ turned out to be a tempestuous ill-fated vengeance by the uninformed calling themselves proprietors of faith. Did the defiance change Rushdie? I am sure it did not make him a soloist of Divine faith! He still remains the formidable writer with an unending pursuit to believe in the prosperity of art, the culture of writing, and an esoteric understanding of a conflict-laden world.

Thus, sanity resides in the awakened, not in repose but through the meditative spirit of aligning the ‘lost’ to the ‘probable’.

The book carries an enormous debt of human discredibility; ‘the human nature at its best and at its worst.’ It may come out as an emotional disguise to alter what does not exist outside. Rushdie’s assassin, in apparition, is disgustful and could have lived all his life in anomie finding truth in a protracted belief. Rushdie came as an antithetical force, creditable enough to be whipped off from this planet.  The author presides on the callous mind of Mr. A, in apropos, to his apotheosism and how being ‘disingenuous’ in bullish pride can be morally contemptuous.  

In midst of all the battlements and consternations, he had the power of love and warmth of people to keep him going. Under the palpable privilege when he was being brushed by the appurtenances of the surgeon, he could see the thinning of life in front of him. He came out of the woods fine, albeit with a changed vitality but still carrying the same old de-rigueur of being ‘fundamentally obtrusive’ and ‘non-negotiable’.     


 Lucid and heartening…

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