Friday, December 18, 2009

Pendemokrasian

Ilan Peleg menulis sebuah buku khas bagi membincangkan kemungkinan jalan-jalan mengubah, ke arah demokrasi, sebuah negara yang pelbagai kaum tetapi dikuasai secara ketat oleh satu kaum sahaja.

Dengan kata lain, negara seperti Malaysia.

Pengarang Democratizing the Hegemonic State: Political Transformation in the Age of Identity mengkategorikan negara seumpama ini sebagai "exclusivist regime".

Boleh baca ringkasan ideanya di laman web penerbitnya Cambridge University Press.

Berdasarkan penilaian bab-bab awalnya, buku profesor sains politik ini boleh dijadikan rujukan untuk memahami gelagat negara seperti Malaysia, sekurang-kurangnya membandingkan dengan beberapa lagi negara seumpamanya.


[ii]

Selain mempromosikannya di kalangan rakan-rakan sepejabat, saya mencadangkan buku ini dijadukan rujukan kedua atau ketiga selepas membaca dan membahaskan buku Joseph R Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State.

Buku nipis ini asalnya makalah yang disusun daripada syarahannya; jadi ia hanya memuatkan beberapa lakaran idea tentang evolusi pembentukan negara - khususnya dalam pengalaman Eropah - sehingga entiti yang kita panggil "negara bangsa" (warisan abad ke-19)

Buku harus jadi bacaan wajib kepada aktivis politik dan NGO, kepada semua penganut liberal yang mencurigai negara dan menganggapnya "necessary evil". Bacaan wajib dalam erti kata mengenali sejarah pembentukan institusinya, alasan ia diwujudkan, lingkungan ia muncul dan gelagatnya berkembang untuk melayang jenis-jenis elit tertentu.

Sekumpulan teman-teman telah mengupas buku ini (terbitan Princeton University Press) tetapi belum memadai kerana tiada ulasan meluas untuk perkongsian dengan khalayak lebih besar.


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Buku Murray J Edelman, The Politics of Misinformation, barangkali teks yang paling sulit difahami walaupun konsep-konsepnya ringkas dan padat. Teorinya tentang politik dan negara diadunkan dengan analisis kajian budaya.

Ia melihat komunikasi politik sebagai "concentrations of social and economic power result in public languages of politics that are necessarily image-based, vague, and misleading in their denial of undemocratic tendencies.

"As a result, public discourses of democracy tend to be populistic, emotional, and likely to emphasize images of progress rather than structural inequalities in their formulations of public problems.

"In short, neither typical problem definitions nor solutions invite critical popular understanding or involvement in democratic politics."

Dengan kata lain, buku Edelman cuba membangkitkan persoalan tentang "the symbolic nature of politics, and specifically the role played by non-rational beliefs (those that lack real-world grounding) in the shaping of political preferences."

Menurutnya, "beneath an apparently functional and accountable democratic state lies a symbolic system that renders an ignorant public quiescent. The state, the media, civil society, interpersonal relations, even popular art are part of a mass spectacle kept afloat by empty symbolic beliefs."

Walaupun kita boleh tidak bersetuju dengan analisisnya, bagi saya, ia tetap menarik kerana cuba menyuluh beberapa persoalan ketatanegaraan secara ringkas serta padat, dan pada waktu yang sama cuba menyelak penyelewengan-penyelewengan terseumbunyi.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kolum

Tidak pasti, sama ada janji saya ini dapat ditunaikan atau tidak. Harap-harap dapat ditunaikan! Atau, sewajibnya ditunaikan. Janji, apakah boleh dimungkiri?

Saya berjanji kepada diri sendiri, dan beberapa rakan di pejabat, untuk menghidupkan semula kolum Tiada Noktah di Malaysiakini -- kolum yang terabai sebaik sahaja yang selesai tinjauan di Jakarta dan menyertai sebuah akhbar web.

Setelah hampir dua tahun di akhbar web lama saya ini (sejak Februari 2008), saya berangan-angan semula (ulang: semula) untuk meneruskan kolum Tiada Noktah.

Mungkin, seawal-awalnya bulan Januari 2009


[ii]

Saya ada beberapa topik yang ingin diulas, antaranya kontroversi dan reaksi susulan kenyataan Nga Kor Ming tentang peruntukan masjid. Bagaimana kenyataan seumpama ini mudah dimanipulasi sehingga kita mendengar lebih banyak "nasihat ala leteran" daripada membahaskan sama ada wajar atau tidak peruntukan tidak sampai 2 peratus untuk rumah ibadat bukan Islam!

Ia mengingatkan saya kewajaran PAS dan beberapa NGO Melayu kanan menganjurkan demonstrasi membantah forum tahun lalu yang dianjurkan oleh Majlis Peguam.

Saya sering terganggu dengan reaksi-reaksi negatif, liar, emosi dan tidak masuk akal kumpulan Melayu kanan dan Islam kanan ini. Saya bukanlah orang kiri. Tetapi aliran kanan melampau ala negara ini sebetulnya bukanlah kanan dalam erti kata "right" dalam pengkategorian politik di dunia Barat.

"Kanan" di negara kita lebih mudah dikaitkan dengan orang yang tidak berfikir, tebal emosi, suka menekan orang lain (setidak-tidaknya suka membebel macam mak-mak kita!) dan suka menutup wacana -- lebih baik orang tidak menyuarakan sesuatu keraguan dan permasalahan dan biarkan sahaja isu ini semua terpendam daripada cuba mengucapkannya.

"Kanan" ini, dengan erti kata lain, bukan "kanan" cerdik tetapi kanan bebal, kanan bahlol, dan kanan sengal. Pendek kata, kanan kental, kanan sembab!

Sekira-kiranya kalau kita melayan kanan seumpama ini kita turut menjadi bebal dan sembab seperti mereka. Atau, kalau mengabaikan kanan seperti ini, kita juga bebal dan sembah seumpama mereka!


[iii]

Barangkali, dengan penuh emosinya, kita pula boleh labelkan kanan ini kanan talibanisme -- jika kita tidak mahu sebut kanan fasisme!

(c) Hak cipta imej Web Designer Wall.com (dengan sedikit tapisan!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beyond breaking news

In the minds of most journalists, the work we do is indispensable, and has always been indispensable, to the successful operation of a democratic society.

A democracy requires an informed public, which journalism generates, and because we monitor the performance of government, we ensure that it honestly and capably serves the people. Journalism schools often have rhetoric to that effect emblazoned on their walls—certainly ours does. We're here to train the future bearers of our democratic function and to do what we can to nudge the current bearers to do a better job.

At this moment, given the precarious financial state of the news media, our core conviction about the role of our profession feels a bit shaky—more on that in a moment. But schools and departments of journalism are generally thriving. The contradiction is especially noticeable because the education sector is just about the only part of journalism whose business model is still in excellent health. How can we be so evidently countercyclical? And what can we do to help change the situation for news organizations, so that journalism schools and the profession might thrive together?

In hindsight, it seems clear that just about all living journalists grew up taking the solidity of the social and economic arrangements underlying our work too much for granted. Yes, until 10 or 15 years ago, it seemed as if practically everybody was in the ambit of the mainstream media, but that didn't mean there was a loyal mass audience for news about public affairs. Newspapers were vast bundles of information—sports scores, classified ads, movie schedules, comic strips, supermarket discount coupons—no one part of which had to stand on its own economically. Television and radio news were the sole sources for a summary of the great events of the day, on the day they occurred.

But today the Internet, by doing a wonderful thing—making every component part of the news separately and instantly available to anyone with a broadband connection—has relentlessly picked apart the economic logic of news organizations. It turns out that original reporting on public affairs, unbundled from other information and untethered from high-priced retail advertising, has trouble paying for itself. So, by inexorable economic logic, fewer people are being paid to do it.

Yes, the nation's founders wrote the First Amendment, and the citizens of the early republic passed it. But with respect to the press, that represented an extension of the guarantee of free speech to printed matter, not the creation of a sanctioned professional category. Information-seeking reporters took decades to arrive on the American scene. First there had to be cities, and fast, powerful printing presses, and ways of making enough money in the newspaper business to pay for newsrooms. The big-city newsrooms of the late 20th century were a workable support system for the social function of reportorial journalism, but even then it was anomalous for such an important democratic task to be entrusted almost entirely to private businesses. Anyway, the point soon became moot because the economics of the arrangement stopped working.

Why haven't journalism schools suffered the same fate as newspapers? In general, universities—which, like newspapers, only more so, are great bundles of unrelated activities having to do with the production and dissemination of knowledge—have thus far been immune to the process of disaggregation that has devastated news organizations. The idea that belonging to the middle class absolutely requires first getting a bachelor's degree from a residential college, a concept that would have been considered crazy a century ago, is now deeply ingrained in American culture.

Journalism programs in universities mainly serve undergraduates, so the programs live under the protective umbrella of that assumption. Graduate journalism programs mainly attract people who have fallen in love with the profession, so those programs are protected from strict cost-benefit calculations. Many young people seem to be excited by the turmoil in journalism and see it as an opportunity to get in on something new, rather than as a threat. And journalism schools have a powerful argument for themselves today because they can teach the skills that the profession demands—in working in digital media, and in reporting on complicated subjects—far better than newsrooms can.

A generation ago, the essential skill for journalists, writing a breaking news story, was fairly intuitive, and many graduates of journalism schools could expect careers that entailed long, slow rises through large news organizations, with training embedded in every step. Today many of our new graduates find themselves working at understaffed Web sites—either freestanding operations or parts of traditional news organizations—where they have to be comfortable with Web publishing from Day 1 and have to handle quite advanced and specialized editorial content, without much advice from anybody. Education is important in this environment because the workplace isn't set up to provide it.

Because of their location in universities, journalism schools have access to large populations of young people, and many are making efforts to teach "news literacy" courses to nonjournalism students. Such courses aim to educate civilians about how journalism works, but also, and more important, to instill the habit of reading the news every day. The idea is that a daily report from a reputable news organization is to citizenship what the proper diet is to health: a long-term, life-enriching practice for individuals, and, in the aggregate, an important element of a better-functioning society.

Those courses are a good thing. But journalism programs in universities can work toward the ideal of an informed, engaged citizenry in other, even more urgently important ways.

The main problem in journalism today lies on the supply side, not the demand side. It is true that the unfettered, ungoverned Internet can offer up all sorts of misinformation to readers. But it is also true that, unlike traditional news media, the Internet provides a means for instant correction and counterargument. (Our leading font of durable journalistic misinformation is talk radio and television, not the Internet.) Online encyclopedias, auctioneers, and retailers have found pretty good ways of establishing trust across large communities of strangers; that is within journalism's reach, too. The Internet almost certainly has expanded the audience for genuine news more than it has expanded the audience for misleading news. The world's top news organizations have attracted enormous global readerships, far beyond what they have ever had before, and millions of secondary sites, from aggregators to one-person blogs, are heavy direct and indirect users of material produced by those organizations.

Because the barrier to entry is so low, the Internet is also a great medium for journalistic experimentation; we don't have to wait around for big, tradition-bound organizations to innovate. The real difficulty is that the Internet doesn't support the kind of journalism that covers production costs, because almost all Internet journalism is free to readers and bargain-priced, compared with print, for advertisers. Opinion journalism, of the kind invented by pamphleteers in the 1700s, thrives on the Internet. Original reporting does not. So even if every single person under 30 woke up every morning with a gnawing hunger for news, it's not at all clear that the hunger could be satisfied, especially if it's a hunger for local news.

Therefore journalism schools ought to explore, and are already exploring, the possibility of becoming significant producers of original news reporting to make up for the loss of the reporting that economically devastated news organizations can no longer afford. Journalism schools and departments are practical-minded, often to a fault; they are oriented toward sending their students out to report under faculty members' direction. The advent of the Web has made publication and distribution of the fruits of students' reporting easy and inexpensive. Anyone in the world who has a good Internet connection can log on to the Columbia School of Journalism's Web site and find at least two dozen journalistic sites operated by our students and faculty members. The efforts include local-news sites about Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and upper Manhattan; subject-matter sites on charter schools, religion, and the economic crisis; and media-related sites for magazine, radio, broadcast, and digital journalism.

What journalism and the public most need right now is serious, continuing coverage of matters of public importance: city halls, school systems, statehouses. Journalism schools are not fully equipped to provide that now, but the logistical and financial difficulty of equipping them to do so would be far less than the difficulty of creating and sustaining new news organizations built from scratch. Like teaching hospitals, journalism schools can provide essential services to their communities while they are educating their students.

Journalism schools not only can replace the original reporting capability that news organizations have lost, but also can raise the level of sophistication in the practice of journalism. Why? Because so many of them are located in research universities that are our society's leading collections of top-level expertise across all realms of knowledge. Journalism schools should be deeply involved with the other parts of their universities, not just in order to spread the word about journalism, but also to learn, and then to teach, about the substance of the issues that their students report on.

Journalism is more interdisciplinary than most other fields of study in the university, and more oriented toward producing published work aimed at nonexperts. But it should—and, at this point, probably must—have a greater ambition than simply reporting facts without analysis or context. News organizations are finding that "breaking news" has become a commodity without much economic value. Journalism schools, because they are in universities, are an ideal place for journalism to find its way toward producing work that truly explains societies to their citizens.

Nicholas Lemann is dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

Sumber: Journalism Schools Can Push Coverage Beyond Breaking News Oleh Nicholas Lemann (The Chronicle Review, 15 Nov 2009)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Non sense!

In addition to assorted bad breaks and pleasant surprises, opportunities and insults, life serves up the occasional pink unicorn. The three-dollar bill; the nun with a beard; the sentence, to borrow from the Lewis Carroll poem, that gyres and gimbles in the wabe.

An experience, in short, that violates all logic and expectation. The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that such anomalies produced a profound “sensation of the absurd,” and he wasn’t the only one who took them seriously.

Freud, in an essay called “The Uncanny,” traced the sensation to a fear of death, of castration or of “something that ought to have remained hidden but has come to light.”

At best, the feeling is disorienting. At worst, it’s creepy.

Now a study suggests that, paradoxically, this same sensation may prime the brain to sense patterns it would otherwise miss — in mathematical equations, in language, in the world at large.
“We’re so motivated to get rid of that feeling that we look for meaning and coherence elsewhere,” said Travis Proulx, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lead author of the paper appearing in the journal Psychological Science.

“We channel the feeling into some other project, and it appears to improve some kinds of learning.”

Researchers have long known that people cling to their personal biases more tightly when feeling threatened. After thinking about their own inevitable death, they become more patriotic, more religious and less tolerant of outsiders, studies find.

When insulted, they profess more loyalty to friends — and when told they’ve done poorly on a trivia test, they even identify more strongly with their school’s winning teams.


Sumber: How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect oleh Benedict Carey (New York Times, October 5, 2009)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Absurd

The befuddled tramps in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot are a poetic personification of paralysis. But new research suggests the act of watching them actually does get us somewhere.

Absurdist literature, it appears, stimulates our brains.

That's the conclusion of a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science. Psychologists Travis Proulx of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Steven Heine of the University of British Columbia report our ability to find patterns is stimulated when we are faced with the task of making sense of an absurd tale. What's more, this heightened capability carries over to unrelated tasks.

In the first of two experiments, 40 participants (all Canadian college undergraduates) read one of two versions of a Franz Kafka story, The Country Doctor. In the first version, which was only slightly modified from the original, "the narrative gradually breaks down and ends abruptly after a series of non sequiturs," the researchers write. "We also included a series of bizarre illustrations that were unrelated to the story."

The second version contained extensive revisions to the original. The non sequiturs were removed, and a "conventional narrative" was added, along with relevant illustrations.

All participants were then shown a series of 45 strings of letters, which they were instructed to copy. They were informed that the strings, which consisted of six to nine letters, contained a strict but not easily decipherable pattern.

They were then introduced to a new set of letter strings, some of which followed the pattern and some of which did not. They were asked to mark which strings followed the pattern.

Those who had read the absurd story selected a higher number of strings as being consistent with the pattern. More importantly, they "demonstrated greater accuracy in identifying the genuinely pattern-congruent letter strings," the researchers report.

This suggests "the cognitive mechanisms responsible for implicitly learning statistical regularities" are enhanced when we struggle to find meaning in a fragmented narrative.


Sumber: This Is Your Brain on Kafka Oleh Tom Jacobs (Miller-McCune.com, September 16, 2009). Hak cipta foto (c) A life I'm doomed to lead (April 9, 2009)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harapan

Aku tidak faham kenapa foto yang seringkas ini diberikan tajuk "Mata Harapan". Sesekali ia bertukar sisi menjadi seperti cermin - mata dalam foto yang menggambarkan harapan atau mata yang memandang menaruh harapan? Mata jurugambar? Atau kedua-dua kemungkinan?

Atau, dalam seni, berilah apa-apa tajuk. Asalkan ada tajuk, setidak-tidaknya berjudul "tanpa tajuk"!

Sumber: Photographer of the week oleh Randy Brogen [Boston Globe, 8 Sept 2009]

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lembu

Pepatah Melayu: Lembu punya susu, sapi dapat nama ...

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) today continued its investigations on Malaysiakini by holding a marathon questioning session involving the online daily's 12 staff members.

The eight-hour session began at 10.30am at Malaysiakini's office in Bangsar Utama, Kuala Lumpur, and ended at about 6.30pm.

Among those questioned were Malaysiakini chief executive officer Premesh Chandran, editors, journalists, video team members and one technical staff.

About eight MCMC officers were involved in the questioning process, who split into three teams to record statements from Malaysiakini staff simultaneously.

Except for Chandran and the technical staff, all the others were involved in the process of news gathering, editing and publishing two stories and videos related to the cow-head protest in Shah Alam on Aug 28 and a press conference by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Sept 2.

They were journalists Rahmah Ghazali, Jimadie Shah Othman, Andrew Ong, cameraperson Amir Abdullah, editors K Kabilan, Nasharuddin Rahman, Fathi Aris Omar, video editors Shufiyan Shukur, Ng Kok Foong and Lydia Azizan.

The investigation by MCMC centres on two video clips published by Malaysiakini - one on the protest and the other on Hishammuddin's press conference - which were deemed offensive.

The videos cited were the 'Temple demo: Residents march with cow's head' and 'Hisham: Don't blame cow-head protesters'.


Sumber asal: Malaysiakini videos: 12 questioned by MCMC (Malaysiakini, 8 Sept 2009)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Kaya

After analyzing data on the self-reported levels of sexual activity and happiness of 16,000 people, Dartmouth College economist David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick in England report that sex "enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations" that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American.

"The evidence we see is that money brings some amounts of happiness, but not as much as what economists might have thought," says Blanchflower. "We had to look to psychologists and realize that other things really matter."

Their paper, "Money, Sex, and Happiness: An Empirical Study," recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, essentially puts an estimated dollar amount on the happiness level resulting from sex and its trappings.

Despite popular opinion, they find that having more money doesn't mean you get more sex; there's no difference between the frequency of sex and income level. But they do find sex seems to have a greater effect on happiness levels in highly educated -- and presumingly wealthier -- people than on those with lower educational status.

Overall, the happiest folks are those getting the most sex -- married people, who report 30% more between-the-sheets action than single folks. In fact, the economists calculate that a lasting marriage equates to happiness generated by getting an extra $100,000 each year. Divorce, meanwhile, translates to a happiness depletion of $66,000 annually.

Whether that hefty happiness income boost is the result of marital bliss or more sex is up for debate. But their "econometric" calculations confirm what psychologists have long known: People who consider themselves happy are usually richer in sexual activity.

"Many studies confirm that people who are depressed have less sex," says psychologist and sex therapist Robert Hatfield, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and a spokesman for the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. "Conversely, if you're not depressed -- 'happy,' as some might say -- you're more likely to have more frequent sex."

Does sex lead to happiness, or are happy people just more likely to lead each other to the bedroom? That's still under investigation, but there is evidence that psyche and sex feed off each other.

Take that study in the May 2001 issue of the Journal of Sex Research, in which Georgia State University researchers found that people who are involuntarily celibate are frequently afflicted with nonhappy feelings -- anger, frustration, self-doubt, and even depression. They conclude it's the result of "missed opportunities" of living without sex.

But according to another researcher, it may not be the sex per se, but lack of semen exposure.

"Semen appears to act as an antidepressant in women," psychologist Gordon Gallup, PhD, tells WebMD.

"In our studies, women who have unprotected sex have lower levels of depression, as measured on the gold standard evaluation tool, than those who have the same amount of sex with a condom.

"In fact, we found no difference in depression scores between women having heterosexual sex with condoms, lesbian sex, or not having sex at all," adds Gallup, of the State University of New York in Albany.

And in a follow-up study to that finding, reported two years ago in Archives of Sexual Behavior, women having sex without condoms were more likely to display depressive signs once they stopped having sex than those on a sexual hiatus whose previous partners used condoms.

"Women [who have sex] without condoms are also more likely to fall victim to the rebound effect following the breakup of their relationship," he tells WebMD. "This suggests that there is a withdrawal effect that influences depressiveness when semen exposure stops."

Sumber: Sex Better Than Money for Happiness, Oleh Sid Kirchheimer [WebMD Health News, July 16, 2004]. Foto (c) Lizards and Turtles

Nota: Asalnya mahu masukkan foto Ludivine Sagnier dari filem Water Drops on Burning Rocks atau La Petite Lili, tetapi bimbang mama dia tengok dengan abang & Nia, akhirnya tukar pix kura-kura berenang di luar perahu.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tagihan

Selepas menulis coretan peribadi tentang Nathania (yang baru kembali senyum dan berlari, malam ini, selepas demam), ungkapan ini terasa "semacam relevan":

People often compare having a new baby to the early days of a love affair, which is true as far as it goes, but one’s physical fixation on, and craving for, a newborn is much stronger and more intense that that. How often in a love affair can you literally find yourself in tears because you were away from a man for three hours?

I imagine a better metaphor would be addiction. There is an opium-den quality to maternity leave. The high of a love that obliterates everything. A need so consuming that it is threatening to everything you are and care about. Where did your day go? Did you stare blankly at the baby for hours? And was that staring blankly more fiercely pleasurable, more compelling than nearly anything you have ever done?**


Tetapi aku bukan ibu dan tidak pernah menikmati erti cuti bersalin!

** sumber: My Newborn Is Like a Narcotic oleh Katie Roiphe [Double X, 25 Ogos 2009]

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cryptomnesia

According to Richard L. Marsh, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Georgia and a leading cryptomnesia researcher, Schneider is on the right track. "When people engage in creative activity, they are so involved in generating or coming up with something new or novel that they fail to protect against what they previously experienced," said Marsh. Over the last 20 years, Marsh has designed numerous models for studying cryptomnesia in the lab. An early study involved asking subjects to work with an unseen "partner" (actually a computer) to find unique words in a square array of letters, similar to the game Boggle. A short while after completing this task, the researchers asked each participant to recall the words they had personally found, and to generate new words neither the participant nor the participant's partner had previously been able to find.

The subjects plagiarized their partners roughly 32 percent of the time when trying to recall their own words, and up to 28 percent of the time when attempting to find previously unidentified words in the puzzle. Not only was plagiarism rampant, many subjects who plagiarized also checked a box indicating they were "positive" their answers had not previously been given by their partners.

Henry Roediger, a memory expert at Washington University in St. Louis, said that cryptomnesia is partially caused by the lopsidedness of our memories: it's easier to remember information than it is to remember its source. Under the right conditions, this quirk can even evoke false memories. In one study, the more times Roediger instructed participants to imagine performing a basic action (like, "sharpen the pencil") the more likely the participants were to recall—incorrectly—having actually performed the action when asked about it later.

But misattributing memories from one source to another, whether from imagination to reality or from a friend to oneself, is only one of the psychological quirks behind unconscious plagiarism. Another is implicit memory, which Dan Schacter, a psychologist at Harvard, called, "the fact that we can sometimes remember information without knowing that we're remembering it."

The classic demonstration of implicit memory involves a psychological technique known as priming. When a person is exposed to a list of words (or "primed") in one setting, than later asked to come up with words from a specific category, say "types of fruit," in another setting, the person is more likely to name fruit that had appeared during the priming session than fruit that hadn't.

This result may not seem all that exciting, except that it also occurs with amnesiacs, who are unable to form conscious memories of the actual priming session. At the most basic level, says Schacter, this suggests that implicit memories are formed in different regions or systems of the brain than conscious memories. This disconnect, coupled with errors in remembering the source of ideas, words, or even whole phrases, may be responsible for cryptomnesia. "Unconscious plagiarism makes it sound like a pretty exceptional and unusual circumstance," said Roediger. "But I really think that at a very simple level, these things are happening all the time. You know, your friend uses some expression and you pick it up and use it too."

While unconscious plagiarism is embarrassing in cases where original creative output is expected, in most aspects of daily life it ranges from useful to indispensible. What is called cryptomnesia in one context is known as social learning theory in another. For example, children learn how to behave by unconsciously copying others, and friends strengthen their relationships when they assimilate each other's phrases, behaviors, and opinions.

But before we give high-profile cryptomnesiacs a free pass, as if they were suffering from an intractable psychological disorder, there's a bit more to know. Cryptomnesia happens more frequently between those who trust one another, such as people in romantic relationships or close friendships, but less frequently between strangers—particularly when the one whose ideas or words might be plagiarized is present. And due to our innate skepticism, unconsciously copying a person one doesn't know, or a source one doesn't yet trust, is uncommon.

[Sumber: You Didn’t Plagiarize, Your Unconscious Did, Oleh Russ Juskalian (Newsweek Jul 7, 2009)]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kartun


Di mana hebatnya Gedung Kartun? Hishamuddin Rais, melalui blognya Tukar Tiub, menyifatkan satira politik dwibulanan ini "majalah kultus", sementara Malaysiakini.com dalam satu laporannya menyebutnya "majalah terulung dalam kelasnya sendiri."

Sebagai seorang ahli karikatur dengan sejarah perkartunan lebih 20 tahun, ketua pengarang majalah ini Zunar memang dikenali tajam, subversif dan pedas hentamannya terhadap pemimpin politik, khususnya kerajaan.

Semua orang mengenali Zunar melalui karyanya di penerbitan-penerbitan politik seperti Detik, Harakah dan juga Malaysiakini.com - sebelum ini bersama majalah klasik dunia humor negara Gila-Gila dan akhbar Berita Harian.

Ledakan peristiwa Reformasi 1998 menonjolkan lagi "kepembangkangan" karikatur Zunar walaupun karya dalam Gila-Gila dan siri kartun "Papa" (bermaksud miskin teramat sangat) di akhbar harian itu sudah menonjolkan sifat kritisnya terhadap persoalan semasa - khususnya lukisannya yang sangat ekonomis.

Tetapi kepembangkangan Zunar ini bukanlah punca kehebatan Gedung Kartun. Majalah edisi sulung ini (atau edisi tunggal?) ada karisma dan auranya yang lain, yang jarang disedari dan diperhatikan oleh peminat karikatur, bahan humor atau penyokong parti politik.

Kalau begitu, ada apa dengan Gedung Kartun?


[ii]

Sebagai sebuah majalah yang mengharapkan belas ehsan permit penerbitan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN), Gedung Kartun sebetulnya telah mencetuskan "revolusi besar" dalam dunia penerbitan negara ini - suatu gejala yang sama sekali radikal, luar jangka, luar kotak analisis dan dengungan kejutan yang membengitkan telinga.

Sama ada sidang pengarangnya, penerbitnya atau Zunar sendiri menyedarinya atau tidak, saya tidaklah pasti. Mungkin tidak menyedari sepenuhnya perkara tersebut.

Atau, bagi diri Zunar, ia berlalu secara sangat alami (di Indonesia, kata ini ibarat natural atau semula jadi dalam bahasa kita) sehingga beliau sendiri tidak merancangnya. Tidak merancang di sini mungkin membawa maksud beliau seorang yang naif. Tidaklah begitu maksud saya. Tetapi kurang lebih, begitulah maksud saya.


[iii]

Gedung Kartun, bagi saya, mencetuskan "revolusi penerbitan" dengan paparan radikalnya itu kerana ia satu-satunya penerbitan - tidak ada majalah atau akhbar yang memerlukan permit penerbitan (PP) tahunan - mengambil langkah "paling gila" sedemikian.

Gedung Kartun, di tangan Zunar, satu-satunya penerbitan berkala dalam sejarah persuratkhabaran Malaysia yang mengemis simpati KDN tetapi berani, bersedia dan nekad sekali "melanggarnya" (baca: fikir ala pemimpin Umno dan pegawai KDN)!

Dalam sejarah 52 tahun kemerdekaan negara, majalah inilah satu-satunya penerbitan yang berani meludah muka PP secara berdepan-depan, dengan angkuh mendabik dada.

Ulang: Satu-satunya penerbitan di negara ini!

Jika penulis politik Ahmad Lutfi Othman, kini ketua pengarang kumpulan Harakah yang baru sahaja dikenakan hukuman gantung PP, melihat gaya persembahan Gedung Kartun vis a vis PP, pastilah beliau akan menggeleng-gelengkan kepala.

Bukan beberapa kali, tetapi pastilah berpuluh-puluh kali!

Sebagai pengusaha media alternatif, Ahmad Lutfi - dan sesiapa sahaja yang tergila-gilakan PP seperti akhbar Karangkraf yang menerbitkan Watan (diharam), Eksklusif (diharamkan) dan Sinar Harian (belum diharamkan tetapi dikekang) - tentunya takjub besar melihat bagaimana Gedung Kartun telah "mensia-siakan" peluang mendapat lesen itu dengan mengeji, memperli dan mengganyang perdana menteri sedemikian rupa.

Tiada belas ehsan langsung pada edisi sulungnya!

Dan ... sewaktu PP itu hanya diperolehi secara lisan, belum secara rasmi menerima surat bahagian kawalan penerbitan KDN.

Isu yang dibangkitkan pula bukan sebarang isu tetapi isu yang pernah menyeret Raja Petra Kamaruddin ke mahkamah (atau ke kem Kamunting?) - Altantuya Shaariibuu - dan isu isterinya Rosmah Mansor yang dituduh "dalang" pemerintahan perdana menteri.

Karikatur Najib, Altantuya dan Mongolia itu bukan disorok-sorokkan di halaman terpencil di dalam majalah sehingga tidak disedari pembaca (seperti semua penerbit yang ketagih PP) tetapi di muka depan!

Subjek perlinya pula bukan calang-calang tetapi sambutan hari kemerdekaan negara!

Entahlah, sememangnya Gedung Kartun benar-benar ingin mencetuskan sejarah revolusi ini atau semata-mata naif dalam dunia penerbitan, terserahlah pada penilaian masing-masing.

Tetapi ia telah memulakannya dan ia telah terpahat dalam sejarah negara... siapa yang ingin memecah rekod Zunar haruslah "lebih gila" daripada Gedung Kartun!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nikmat

There were several regions of activation, but the most striking result, Janniko R Georgiadis says, was how certain regions in the front of the brain shut down during orgasm, especially one just behind the left eyeball.

Researchers have long noticed that damage to this area -- the lateral orbitofrontal cortex -- can leave people with wildly antisocial and impulsive tendencies, including hypersexuality.

Shutdowns in the brain's prefrontal cortex appears crucial, Georgiadis adds. "It's the seat of reason and behavioral control. But when you have an orgasm, you lose control."

Regions called the temporal lobes also showed damped activity. In fact, the less activity these regions showed, the more sexually aroused the women felt.

These deactivations might explain the appeal of autoerotic asphyxiation, the researchers say.

Depriving a brain of blood during sex not only provides a dangerous thrill but also shuts down key brain regions, leading to addictive orgasmic euphorias.


Sumber: "Science of the orgasm" by Regina Nuzzo [The LA Times February 11, 2008]

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bersatulah Rendra!

Bersatulah Pelacur-pelacur Kota Jakarta

Pelacur-pelacur Kota Jakarta
Dari kelas tinggi dan kelas rendah
Telah diganyang
Telah haru-biru
Mereka kecut
Keder
Terhina dan tersipu-sipu

Sesalkan mana yang mesti kausesalkan
Tapi jangan kau lewat putus asa
Dan kaurelakan dirimu dibikin korban

Wahai pelacur-pelacur kota Jakarta
Sekarang bangkitlah
Sanggul kembali rambutmu
Karena setelah menyesal
Datanglah kini giliranmu
Bukan untuk membela diri melulu
Tapi untuk lancarkan serangan
Karena
Sesalkan mana yang mesti kau sesalkan
Tapi jangan kaurela dibikin korban

Sarinah
Katakan kepada mereka
Bagaimana kau dipanggil ke kantor menteri
Bagaimana ia bicara panjang lebar kepadamu
Tentang perjuangan nusa bangsa
Dan tiba-tiba tanpa ujung pangkal
Ia sebut kau inspirasi revolusi
Sambil ia buka kutangmu

Dan kau Dasima
Khabarkan pada rakyat
Bagaimana para pemimpin revolusi
Secara bergiliran memelukmu
Bicara tentang kemakmuran rakyat dan api revolusi
Sambil celananya basah
Dan tubuhnya lemas
Terkapai disampingmu
Ototnya keburu tak berdaya

Politisi dan pegawai tinggi
Adalah caluk yang rapi
Kongres-kongres dan konferensi
Tak pernah berjalan tanpa kalian
Kalian tak pernah bisa bilang 'tidak'
Lantaran kelaparan yang menakutkan
Kemiskinan yang mengekang
Dan telah lama sia-sia cari kerja
Ijazah sekolah tanpa guna
Para kepala jawatan
Akan membuka kesempatan
Kalau kau membuka kesempatan
Kalau kau membuka paha
Sedang diluar pemerintahan
Perusahaan-perusahaan macet
Lapangan kerja tak ada
Revolusi para pemimpin
Adalah revolusi dewa-dewa
Mereka berjuang untuk syurga
Dan tidak untuk bumi
Revolusi dewa-dewa
Tak pernah menghasilkan
Lebih banyak lapangan kerja
Bagi rakyatnya
Kalian adalah sebahagian kaum penganggur yang mereka ciptakan

Namun
Sesalkan mana yang kau kausesalkan
Tapi jangan kau lewat putus asa
Dan kau rela dibikin korban
Pelacur-pelacur kota Jakarta
Berhentilah tersipu-sipu
Ketika kubaca di koran
Bagaimana badut-badut mengganyang kalian
Menuduh kalian sumber bencana negara
Aku jadi murka
Kalian adalah temanku
Ini tak bisa dibiarkan
Astaga
Mulut-mulut badut
Mulut-mulut yang latah bahkan seks mereka politikkan

Saudari-saudariku
Membubarkan kalian
Tidak semudah membubarkan partai politik
Mereka harus beri kalian kerja
Mereka harus pulihkan darjat kalian
Mereka harus ikut memikul kesalahan

Saudari-saudariku. Bersatulah
Ambillah galah
Kibarkan kutang-kutangmu di hujungnya
Araklah keliling kota
Sebagai panji yang telah mereka nodai
Kinilah giliranmu menuntut
Katakanlah kepada mereka
Menganjurkan mengganyang pelacuran
Tanpa menganjurkan
Mengahwini para bekas pelacur
Adalah omong kosong

Pelacur-pelacur kota Jakarta
Saudari-saudariku
Jangan melulur keder pada lelaki
Dengan mudah
Kalian bisa telanjangi kaum palsu
Naikkan tarifmu dua kali
Dan mereka akan klabakan
Mogoklah satu bulan
Dan mereka akan puyeng
Lalu mereka akan berzina
Dengan isteri saudaranya.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Imaginasi

What's Romantic About Science?
When science became a source of sublime terror.

By Adam Kirsch
(Slate.com, July 20, 2009)

The last time a scientific breakthrough made the front page, it was because science threatened to kill us all. The launch of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland last September was greeted with headlines like Time's "Collider Triggers End-of-the-World Fears" as journalists tried to calculate the odds that the world's largest particle accelerator would accidentally tear apart the space-time continuum and annihilate the Earth. And it is not just such doomsday scenarios that make us suspicious of technological progress: On a philosophical level, too, scientific advances can look like human retreats. A century and a half after Darwin, there are millions of Christians who see evolution as an intolerable blow to human dignity, just as there are millions of environmentalists who see Western science as a scourge of the planet.

These 21st-century conundrums have been with us for a long time. In The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes explores an early-19th-century period of terrific—and often terrified—excitement about science, of marvelous discoveries that raised humble experimenters to the rank of national heroes. Holmes' subjects—including astronomer William Herschel, chemist Humphry Davy, and explorer Mungo Park—were household names in England, but their discoveries were by no means always welcome ones. Herschel's observation of the stars, for instance, showed that the Milky Way was just one of a vast number of galaxies that were constantly being born, aging, and dying. The Milky Way, Herschel warned, "cannot last forever." It followed, as Holmes writes, that "our solar system, our planet, and hence our whole civilization would have an ultimate and unavoidable end." For the first time, the apocalypse was not a matter of religious faith but of demonstrated scientific fact.

Herschel's discoveries represent one face of what Holmes calls, loosely but suggestively, Romantic science. The phrase sounds like an oxymoron, as Holmes acknowledges: "Romanticism as a cultural force is generally regarded as intensely hostile to science, its ideal of subjectivity eternally opposed to that of scientific objectivity. But I do not believe this was always the case, or that the terms are so mutually exclusive. The notion of wonder seems to be something that once united them, and can still do so."

Contemplating the immensity and strangeness of the universe could produce the same feeling of sublime terror that Coleridge strove for in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" or that Wordsworth evokes in parts of his autobiographical epic "The Prelude." In Keats' sonnet "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer," the poet compares his feeling of literary discovery with that of "some watcher of the skies/ When a new planet swims into his ken"; as Holmes explains, this was an allusion to Herschel's discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781, one of the stories told at length in The Age of Wonder.

At the same time, the growing fame of individual scientists made them seem larger-than-life, almost superhuman, like the Romantic persona cultivated by Lord Byron. The glamour of exploration was unmistakable: Joseph Banks, who returned from Tahiti with tales of erotic adventure, and Mungo Park, who spent two years charting the course of the Niger River, were objects of fascination on their return to England. (Banks stayed home and spent a long career as president of the Royal Society; Park returned to Africa and disappeared.) Humphry Davy's glamour was of a different kind. Alone in his laboratory, he penetrated the deepest secrets of nature, isolating the elements of sodium, iodine, and chlorine for the first time. His discoveries, his useful inventions (including a safety lamp for coal miners), and his brilliant popular lectures made him a celebrity and a social lion—he won a knighthood and a rich wife, although, as Holmes shows, neither made him happy.

Davy was also an accomplished poet who insisted on the close relationship between scientific and artistic ways of seeing. "The perception of truth is almost always as simple a feeling as the perception of beauty," he wrote, "and the genius of Newton, of Shakespeare, of Michael Angelo, and of Handel, are not very remote in character from each other. Imagination, as well as reason, is necessary to perfection in the philosophic mind." It is the kind of observation one might expect from the polymath Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Davy's close friend. In a letter to Davy in 1800, Coleridge speculated on the affinity between science and poetry: "[B]eing necessarily performed with the passion of Hope," the poet believed, science "was poetical."

The phrase appeals strongly to Holmes, and he expands on it: "Science, like poetry, was not merely 'progressive.' It directed a particular kind of moral energy and imaginative longing into the future. It enshrined the implicit belief that mankind could achieve a better, happier world." "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive," Wordsworth wrote of the French Revolution, and the revolution in science was just as heady.

Yet the Romantic poets also made the case against science in powerful terms that still influence our mistrust of science and technology. Science alienates us from nature and ourselves, Wordsworth wrote in "The Tables Turned": "Sweet is the lore which Nature brings/ Our meddling intellect/ Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:/ We murder to dissect." One of the best-known anecdotes about Keats, which Holmes duly recounts, has him complaining at a dinner party that Newton "destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow, by reducing it to a prism" and drinking a toast for "confusion to Mathematics." And none other than Coleridge said that "the Souls of 500 Sir Isaac Newtons would go to the making up of a Shakespeare or a Milton"—a view that, Holmes writes, "has a peculiar power to outrage men of science, even modern ones."

But the most potent Romantic warning against the peril of science was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, to which Holmes devotes a chapter. Holmes shows that Shelley was alluding to Davy when she wrote, in Frankenstein, of how modern scientists "have acquired new and almost unlimited Powers: they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadow." But the lesson of her book is that these powers are too great for human wisdom—that once they are unleashed, they may return to destroy their masters as Dr. Victor Frankenstein's monster turns on him. Shelley's creation clearly touched a nerve in English society: "[I]t was made famous, if not notorious, in the 1820s by no less than five adaptations for the stage," Holmes writes.

Frankenstein was a parable for an age when every scientific advance seemed to mark a threat. Sometimes the threats were quite literal. No sooner had Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier made the first manned balloon flight in Paris in November 1783, than Benjamin Franklin, the American ambassador to France, was imagining the possibilities of balloon warfare: "Five thousand balloons capable of raising two men each" could carry a French army across the Channel to England, where "ten thousand Men descending from the Clouds might in many places do an infinite deal of mischief."

Even laughing gas, discovered by Davy in 1799, was unsettling in the very intensity of the pleasure it brought. "The pleasurable sensation was at first local, and perceived in the lips and the cheeks," Davy recorded. "It gradually, however, diffused itself over the whole body, and in the middle of the experiment was for a moment so intense and pure as to absorb existence. At this moment, and not before, I lost consciousness." Was nitrous oxide, the world wondered, a boon to mankind, even a possible surgical anesthetic, or an excuse for moral decay and sexual license? It was rumored that Davy's laboratory witnessed uncanny scenes, as when a "young woman was overcome by hysterical excitement, ran out of the laboratory, and rushed screaming down the street …where she was somewhat bizarrely reported to have 'jumped over a large dog' before she could be restrained and brought back." It sounds like something Mary Shelley might have dreamed.

Finally, The Age of Wonder places more faith in science's "beauty" than in its "terror." "We need," Holmes writes in a heartfelt epilogue, "the three things that a scientific culture can sustain: the sense of individual wonder, the power of hope, and the vivid but questing belief in a future for the globe." Yet it is only because of science and technology, of course, that the future of the globe is in question. Without nuclear weapons and global warming, not to mention the Large Hadron Collider, we wouldn't need to reinforce our "hope" and "belief" in the survival of the species, which, until the 20th century, was taken for granted. There is a reason that Herschel and Davy, heroes in their own time, have been overshadowed by the eminent contemporary whose name everyone still knows, Frankenstein.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hemingway

Don’t Touch ‘A Moveable Feast’
By A. E. HOTCHNER (New York Times, July 19, 2009)

BOOKSTORES are getting shipments of a significantly changed edition of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, “A Moveable Feast,” first published posthumously by Scribner in 1964. This new edition, also published by Scribner, has been extensively reworked by a grandson who doesn’t like what the original said about his grandmother, Hemingway’s second wife.

The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.”

It is his claim that Mary Hemingway, Ernest’s fourth wife, cobbled the manuscript together from shards of an unfinished work and that she created the final chapter, “There Is Never Any End to Paris.”

Scribner’s involvement with this bowdlerized version should be examined as it relates to the book’s actual genesis, and to the ethics of publishing.

In 1956, Ernest and I were having lunch at the Ritz in Paris with Charles Ritz, the hotel’s chairman, when Charley asked if Ernest was aware that a trunk of his was in the basement storage room, left there in 1930. Ernest did not remember storing the trunk but he did recall that in the 1920s Louis Vuitton had made a special trunk for him. Ernest had wondered what had become of it.

Charley had the trunk brought up to his office, and after lunch Ernest opened it. It was filled with a ragtag collection of clothes, menus, receipts, memos, hunting and fishing paraphernalia, skiing equipment, racing forms, correspondence and, on the bottom, something that elicited a joyful reaction from Ernest: “The notebooks! So that’s where they were! Enfin!”

There were two stacks of lined notebooks like the ones used by schoolchildren in Paris when he lived there in the ’20s. Ernest had filled them with his careful handwriting while sitting in his favorite café, nursing a café crème. The notebooks described the places, the people, the events of his penurious life.

When Ernest returned to Cuba in 1957, he had Nita, his sometime secretary, type the stories on double-spaced pages to make them easy to edit. When I visited the Hemingways in Ketchum, Idaho, in the fall of 1958, Ernest was at work on what he called “my Paris book.” He gave me several chapters to read. In 1959, when we were in Spain following the great matadors Antonio Ordóñez and Dominguín, Ernest often worked on the Paris manuscript on the days when there wasn’t a bullfight.

Back in Cuba, he suspended work on it to write “The Dangerous Summer,” about those bullfights, for Life magazine. But instead of the contracted 40,000 words, he wrote 108,746 and asked me to go to Cuba to help him pare down his manuscript.

When I was leaving for New York to give the manuscript to the editor of Life, Ernest also gave me the completed manuscript of the Paris book to give to Scribner’s president, Charles Scribner Jr.

I recount this history of “A Moveable Feast” to demonstrate how involved Ernest was with it, and that the manuscript was not left in shards but was ready for publication. Ernest died before the publication of the book could go forward. When I visited him in the Mayo Clinic a few months before his dementia led to his suicide, he was very concerned about his Paris book, and worried that it needed a final sentence, which it did not.

After his death, Mary, as executor, decided that Scribner should proceed with the publication. Harry Brague was the editor. I met with him several times while the book was in galleys.

Because Mary was busy with matters relating to Ernest’s estate, she had little involvement with the book. However, she did call me about its title. Scribner was going to call it “Paris Sketches,” but Mary hoped I could come up with something more compelling. I ran through a few possibilities, but none resonated until I recalled that Ernest had once referred to Paris as a moveable feast. Mary and Scribner were delighted with that, but they wanted attribution. I wrote down what Ernest had said to the best of my recollection, and this appears on the title page attributed to a “friend,” which is the way I wanted it.

These details are evidence that the book was a serious work that Ernest finished with his usual intensity, and that he certainly intended it for publication. What I read on the plane coming back from Cuba was essentially what was published. There was no extra chapter created by Mary.
As an author, I am concerned by Scribner’s involvement in this “restored edition.” With this reworking as a precedent, what will Scribner do, for instance, if a descendant of F. Scott Fitzgerald demands the removal of the chapter in “A Moveable Feast” about the size of Fitzgerald’s penis, or if Ford Madox Ford’s grandson wants to delete references to his ancestor’s body odor.

All publishers, Scribner included, are guardians of the books that authors entrust to them. Someone who inherits an author’s copyright is not entitled to amend his work. There is always the possibility that the inheritor could write his own book offering his own corrections.

Ernest was very protective of the words he wrote, words that gave the literary world a new style of writing. Surely he has the right to have these words protected against frivolous incursion, like this reworked volume that should be called “A Moveable Book.” I hope the Authors Guild is paying attention.

A. E. Hotchner is the author of the memoirs “Papa Hemingway” and “King of the Hill.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Negatif

Entah mengapa, dan kita perlu cari sebabnya, berita negatif tentang Rosmah Mansor cepat mendapat perhatian ramai - setidak-tidaknya beginilah ukuran enjin pengesan beberapa berita ngetop (istilah orang Indonesia) di Malaysiakini.

Terbaru berita tentang beliau bertajuk Lagi gema gugurkan Rosmah di Unisel. Ia dimuatkan petang Jumaat lalu (hari yang paling kurang pembaca, khususnya di sebelah petang) dan tiba-tiba melompat ke tangga keempat berita paling popular sebulan ini.

Ia melaporkan satu desakan popular - dan kelihatannya spontan, tanpa perancangan - untuk menyingkirkan isteri perdana menteri sebagai canselor universiti tersebut.

Dua berita teratas kategori paling popular bulanan juga mengenai Rosmah - Kempen video burukkan isteri PM (25 Jun) dan 'Rosmah-Najib kahwin di rumah saya' (26 Jun).

Berada di tangga kelapan sejak beberapa minggu lalu JKKK kecewa video cemar Rosmah (26 Jun).

Malaysiakini pernah memuatkan beberapa bahan berita tentang (atau berkaitan) Rosmah dalam tempoh dua minggu lalu tetapi tidak tersenarai dalam kategori paling popular peringkat bulanan.

Bagaimanapun bahan-bahan berita ini pernah popular peringkat mingguan - tetapi tidak cukup kuat untuk mendaki tangga bulanan: Video burukkan Rosmah makin hilang sambutan (9 Julai), Siswa anti-Rosmah belum serah diri (2 Julai), Video Rosmah: Polis siasat Badrul (30 Jun) dan 'Bini puaka' seret 2 siswa ke mahkamah (30 Jun).

Kita harus bertanya: kenapa berita-berita tertentu tentang Rosmah meraih populariti mendadak dan bertahan lama dalam carta berita popular; sementara berita-berita lain tentang personaliti yang sama boleh naik mendadak tetapi tidak kekal dalam carta popular?


[ii]

Jika kita tinjau lagi carta berita-berita ngetop bulanan di Malaysiakini, kita akan dapati berita banglo mewah Dr Khir Toyo berada di tangga ketiga - kenaikan perlahan-lahan sejak ia menjadi isu besar media awal minggu lalu (6 Julai).

Berita Nik Aziz Nik Mat menghentam Nasharuddin Mat Isa (kata orang, nama barunya "broker") masih bertahan di tangga kelima walaupun isunya sudah lama berlalu (17 Jun).

Berita yang naik mendadak tetapi masih di tangga bawah carta paling popular peringkat bulanan termasuklah ulasan Dr Mahathir Mohamad tentang 100 hari pertama "yang lebih banyak negatif daripada positif" pentadbiran Najib Razak, suami Rosmah.

Ia berada di tangga kesembilan, atas berita tentang Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan jawab bos lamanya Anwar Ibrahim - sudah lama, mula menurun dan mungkin akan terkeluar carta tidak lama lagi jika ada berita-berita yang lebih hangat.

Senarai berita dan perkembangan sekitar politik Perak dan wiranya yang paling tersohor Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin - yang pernah menguasai carta bulanan sejak beberapa bulan dulu - kini berada di tangga ketujuh.

Kemungkinan tokoh ini akan terus merosot jika tiada lagi insiden seperti rampasan kuasa di Perak, kekecohan di DUN Perak, kes mahkamahnya yang luar biasa dan laungan "hidup rakyat" di Dewan Rakyat.


[iii]

Saya rasa mudah untuk menjawab kenapa tokoh-tokoh politik ini mendapat perhatian meluas. Antaranya, kerana isu itu bersifat nasional, dilaporkan meluas di media dan tokoh politik yang sudah bertapak kukuh.

Persoalan saya kenapa berita tentang Rosmah yang hanya dilaporkan di Malaysiakini boleh mencipta minat mendalam pembaca? Apakah hebatnya Rosmah ini?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Saya sokong ISA ...

(Khusus kepada pembaca Majalah I, Julai 2009)

Artikel saya yang asalnya bertujuan main-main akhirnya menjerat diri sendiri.

Malu ada, lucu pun ada - begitulah yang saya rasa sewaktu menyedari memang benar kata orang "pengarang telah mati" dan teks akhirnya bercakap bagi pihak dirinya sendiri - tiada lagi campur tangan pengarang!

Untuk bacaan lanjut teori ini, baca The Death of the Author (oleh Roland Barthes) dan ringkasan ideanya.

Kelmarin saya terperasan sebuah majalah Islam menerbitkan kembali artikel saya tentang "ISA, juga ada manfaatnya" yang diedarkan di Internet sejak April 2001 termasuk di Tranungkite.net.

Majalah bulanan terbitan Karangkraf itu dalam edisi Julai (terbaru) memuatkan isu kebebasan bersuara dengan memaparkan tokoh anti-ISA, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh dan terselit juga satu halaman artikel saya tersebut.

Ya, walaupun saya berterima kasih atas kesudian pengarang dan penerbit memuatkan artikel tersebut demi melanjutkan perbahasan tentang pro dan kontra akta kontroversi tersebut tetapi tulisan saya itu tidak kena-mengena dengan sikap saya yang anti-ISA.

Tajuknya memang berbunyi positif tetapi kandungannya sarat dengan sindiran sinis yang halus, main-main dan benci kalau ... (ulang: kalau) pembaca memahami latar peristiwa politik yang mendorong saya menulis sebegitu rupa.

Yakni, penangkapan 10 aktivis Gerakan Reformasi dan pemimpin PKR (dulu PKN) menjelang dan selepas 14 April 2001 dan kenyataan ketua polis negara waktu itu yang bohong, palsu, mengada-ngada dan jahat.


[ii]

Bagaimanapun Majalah I bukanlah pihak pertama yang terkeliru dengan artikel saya yang mengelirukan itu.

Sahabat saya Astora Jabat juga pernah membangkitkan artikel tersebut dalam satu kolumnya di Utusan Malaysia (16 Feb 2003) yang memuji-muji saya sebagai seorang (daripada tiga) penulis Melayu kritikal "yang rasional". Saya telah jelaskan di sini "Belum mati" (16 Dis 2005).

Saya memohon maaf atas sifat main-main dan sinis lembut dalam artikel saya tentang ISA walaupun saya fikir saya tidak pernah bersalah apa-apa. Cuma, jika ada tanggapan umum bahawa saya pernah menyokong ISA, saya mohon maaf!

Kebetulan artikel ini tidak datang sendirian. Ada satu catatan pendek yang dikirim sehari atau dua sebelum saya menulis artikel ini.

Artikel itu bertajuk 'Cara nak buat Grenade Launcher, Molotov Koktel dan Bom' (lihat sikap saya yang anti-ISA dalam senarai artikel saya antara 2000 dan 2001 di laman web edisi lama Tranungkite.net).

Malah Astora bukan pihak yang pertama terkeliru.

Sewaktu artikel tentang ISA tersebut diedarkan dalam ruang diskusi senarai e-mel (mailing list) dan laman-laman web tersebut, ia telah menimbulkan kontroversi dan mengelirukan beberapa pembaca, termasuk teman-teman dekat saya sendiri.

Beberapa pembaca Malaysiakini, malah, menulis dan merungut waktu itu kepada ketua editor kami, Steven Gan. Saya telah jelaskan kepada Steven, rakan-rakan dan pembaca tetapi ... rupa-rupanya "pengarang telah mati" dan hantu karyanya terus berkeliaran mengejar mangsanya sendiri.


[iii]

Kepada rakan-rakan yang mengenali saya dan kepada pembaca setia yang mengikuti dengan dekat coretan-coretan saya, tentulah mereka tidak percaya saya mempunyai pendirian sedemikian dan tentulah mereka fikir saya bermain-main atau hanya melepaskan geram.

Saya boleh tunjukkan beberapa tempat yang menunjukkan artikel itu bukanlah mewakili pendirian saya.

(a) Sesuatu undang-undang diluluskan di Dewan Rakyat digubal untuk manfaat orang ramai dan negara, bukan semata-mata untuk menjaga Perdana Menteri atau Umno seperti didakwa oleh pembangkang.

Penjelasan: Saya sedar beberapa (kalau tidak banyak) akta digubal demi kepentingan perdana menteri dan kerajaan Umno semata-mata. Misalnya akta yang sering menjadi kecaman saya dalam konteks kempen kebebasan media, Akta Penerbitan dan Mesin Cetak (PPPA) dan Akta Rahsia Rasmi (OSA).

(b) Pembangkang memang akan memburuk-burukkan ISA kerana aktivis dan pengikut mereka yang sering menganjurkan keganasan, termasuk ketika berceramah, akan berasa terhalang dengan wujudnya akta ini.

Penjelasan: Saya tidak pernah percaya pembangkang menganjurkan keganasan sewaktu mereka berceramah yang saya ikuti sejak di bangku sekolah lagi. Saya ikuti dengan dekat kegiatan pembangkang - ceramah, seminar, forum, mesyuarat dan demonstrasi.

Hujah (b) saya ulang sebagai menyindir pemimpin politik BN, pegawai polis dan media arus perdana yang suka memburuk-burukkan pembangkang secara bombastik!

(c) Bukankah mereka juga berhak hidup dengan aman damai, sekurang-kurangnya dapat kais pagi makan pagi untuk menyara anak-anak ke sekolah.

Penjelasan: Ungkapan "berhak hidup dengan aman damai, sekurang-kurangnya dapat kais pagi makan pagi" juga bermaksud menyindir atau main-main.

(d) Dengan itu akan terselamatlah negara ini daripada gejala puak-puak pelampau ini, misalnya penyokong reformasi.

Penjelasan: Saya meletakkan diri saya sebagai penulis yang sebelah kakinya dalam Gerakan Reformasi (waktu itu) dan sebelah lagi dalam dunia kewartawanan, kepenulisan dan penerbitan alternatif. Semua "orang reformasi", aktivis NGO dan malah polis Cawangan Khas (SB) menyedari perkara ini.

(e) Setiap kali mereka mengadakan tunjuk perasaan besar-besaran di Kuala Lumpur, mereka mengganggu lalu lintas dan penjaja-penjaja di tepi jalan. Tidakkah kegiatan ini berbahaya kepada keselamatan nyawa pengguna jalan raya dan gedung perusahaan penjaja-penjaja ini?

Penjelasan: Lihat frasa ini "berbahaya kepada keselamatan nyawa pengguna jalan raya dan gedung perusahaan penjaja-penjaja ini." Cuba lihat perkataan "gedung perusahaan penjaja-penjaja", biar betul!

(f) Perenggan tersebut haruslah dibaca dengan perenggan selepasnya: Tentunya! Oleh itu langkah kerajaan untuk menggunakan ISA ke atas puak reformasi masih mempunyai kesan yang positif ke arah mengurangkan kemalangan di ibukota, misalnya akibat perlumbaan haram, dan meningkatkan taraf penjaja-penjaja Bumiputera di ibukota – yang semakin dihimpit ekonomi kaum asing.

Penjelasan: Saya ulang sejumlah perkataan tersebut dengan memberikan fokus kepada frasa yang digariskan seperti berikut: ... langkah kerajaan untuk menggunakan ISA ke atas puak reformasi masih mempunyai kesan yang positif ke arah mengurangkan kemalangan di ibukota, misalnya akibat perlumbaan haram.

Apakah begini sikap saya dan cara saya berfikir?

(g) Minggu lalu polis telah mendedahkan satu pakatan sulit puak reformasi untuk menggunakan pelancar bom, bahan letupan, bom petrol dan bebola penggalas bagi menyerang anggota-anggota polis.

Penjelasan: Saya tahu kenyataan ketua polis negara ini bohon semata-mata kerana saban malam saya bersama penggerak-penggerak demonstrasi ini dan pembohongan ini jelas sekali kerana kertas pertuduhan (sebenarnya alasan semata-mata) ke atas mereka sebelum diseret ke kem Kamunting di Taiping tiada kaitan langsung dengan kenyataan ketua polis ini!

(h) Walaupun polis tidak mengadakan sebarang sekatan jalan raya atau memeriksa kenderaan di tempat-tempat strategik di ibu kota, tetapi oleh kerana mereka sedar bahawa ISA sedang menunggu mereka, maka semua senjata berbahaya itu ditinggalkan sahaja di rumah-rumah mereka.

Penjelasan: Cuba lihat frasa "semua senjata berbahaya itu ditinggalkan sahaja di rumah-rumah mereka". Senjata berbahaya yang saya maksudkan ini (seperti perenggan-perenggan sebelumnya: pelancar bom, bahan letupan, bom petrol dan bebola penggalas) kerana nama-nama ini saya muntahkan kembali daripada kenyataan Tan Sri Norian Mai!


[iv]

Dengan sikap saya yang terpaksa menjelaskan kembali artikel yang lebih lapan tahun usianya itu, saya hari ini terpaksa mengangkat panji-panji baru "pengarang belum (ulang: belum) mati."

Pengarang yang belum mati akan terus mengejar, mencekik sehingga menggelupur dan menghanyutkan hantu artikelnya sendiri. Semoga tiada lagi mereka yang disampuk atau dirasuk oleh "ISA, juga ada manfaatnya".


(Meniru gaya Hishamuddin Rais di blognya Tukar Tiub) Kah, kah, kah, kah, kah, kah!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Video

Maksud saya, tiga klip video mengulas tentang "kejahatan" Rosmah Mansor, isteri perdana menteri.

Kata orang, dalam perang, kita harus mengambil sikap dan memihak. Tetapi mungkin keberpihakan mematikan kebenaran atau menghidupkannya?

Saya makin tertarik dengan nasib politik Rosmah - sejauh mana kontroversi yang dimuatkan dalam klip video boleh merosakkan imejnya lagi atau menolong menonjolkan kewibawaannya di mata umum.

Tertarik setelah Rosmah tiba-tiba menjadi media darling dan seterusnya meletakkan imejnya di setiap benak orang - sekali gus mengundang reaksi-reaksi pro dan kontra terhadapnya.

Maksud saya, bagaimana tiga klip video tersebut telah melahirkan bahan-bahan berita berikut: 'Bini puaka' seret 2 siswa ke mahkamah, Video Rosmah: Polis siasat Badrul dan Mahfuz: BN kini ertinya 'bini Najib' (Malaysiakini, semuanya terbit 30 Jun).

Saya tertanya-tanya apakah akan jadi pada klip video ini, nasib Rosmah dan mereka yang ditemubual dalam klip tersebut sejak ia pertama kali diterbitkan 9 Jun lalu. Baca berita Kempen video burukkan isteri PM (25 Jun).

Pendedahan klip itu mengundang reaksi balas yang mempertahankan Rosmah. Lihat Apa Ada Dengan Video fitnah Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (Mykmu, 11 Jun) yang meminjam percubaan When news reporting gets sensational (Malaysia Instinct, 10 Jun).

Apakah kedua-dua laman web pro-Umno ini percaya dengan membela Rosmah, imej wanita ini akan dapat dibersihkan dan semakin baik?

Atau, pembelaan mereka ini boleh bertukar pisau yang menikam dari belakang - mendedahkan lagi pekung Rosmah dan mempromosi "kejahatan" yang didakwa di klip video tersebut?


[ii]

Saya fikir usaha mereka akan membawa backlash. Bukan bermakna mempertahankan sesuatu yang benar dan fakta itu akan membawa kesan buruk kepada Rosmah.

Tetapi, sebaliknya, menegakkan benang basah boleh menikam diri sendiri dan menelanjangkan lagi keburukan Rosmah, kecacatan sikap laman-laman web tersebut dan mengajak orang bercakap lagi dan bercakap lagi, termasuk yang bukan-bukan dan palsu-palsu.

Kata orang Melayu, bangkai gajah Rosmah (jika ada, jika benar seperti didakwa di klip video) tidak boleh ditutup dengan daun-daun lalang blog pro-Umno. Malah apabila bangkai itu mereput, proses penguraiannya memamah daun-daun lalang menjadi sebatian yang menusuk hidung pula!


[iii]

Saya tidak berminat menuduh atau membela Rosmah. Saya tidak berminat mengecam atau menasihati blog-blog pro-Umno itu.

Saya hanya tertarik pada klip video ini, nasib Rosmah, mereka yang ditemubual dalam klip tersebut dan kita semua mulai hari ini seperti mana kita berdepan dengan khabar angin yang kemudiannya didapati menyimpan sekelumit kebenaran.

Apakah reaksi kita waktu itu, ketika kebenaran menganga di depan muka kita ...?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rosmah

Maklumat ini belum diberitakan - sebahagiannya sudah pernah disebut dalam laporan Harakahdaily.net, sementara sebahagian yang lain pernah menjadi buah mulut segelintir wartawan media arus perdana dan peminat dunia hiburan.

Tetapi, umumnya, sehingga kini tiada berita atau pengesahan rasmi.

Berita ini ada kaitan dengan Rosmah Mansor, isteri perdana menteri kita sekarang, sewaktu beliau belum lagi bergelar "wanita pertama" negara ini.

Beberapa klip video yang dimuatkan di Youtube sejak dua minggu lalu membangkitkan semula memori saya sewaktu bertugas dengan mStar Online, edisi dalam talian akhbar berbahasa Melayu yang diusahakan oleh Star Publications Bhd.

Malaysiakini siang tadi melaporkan sedikit tentang kewujudan tiga klip video ini. Kami mengambil keputusan untuk tidak menerbit-ulang dakwaan-dakwaan yang dimuatkan dalam video-video tersebut. Biar pembaca mengkaji dan membuat kesimpulan sendiri.

Malaysiakini hari ini hanya menganalisis, kurang lebih, kedudukan tiga klip tersebut dan bagaimana ia tersebar - dimanfaatkan oleh golongan yang anti-Rosmah, anti-PM atau anti-Umno atau ketiga-tiganya sekali gus.

Dan bagaimanapun reaksi mereka yang pro-Rosmah, pro-PM atau pro-Umno atau ketiga-tiganya sekali gus.

Dalam satu daripada tiga klip tersebut, seorang lelaki yang mendakwa adik Rosmah menceritakan kemarahan "wanita pertama" apabila dia menolong menguruskan perkahwinan anak perempuan Rosmah dengan seorang selebriti yang bergelar doktor, anak seorang Datuk yang berkait erat dengan Umno.

Dalam klip video itu juga ditunjukkan (baca: mendakwa) seorang lelaki yang mendakwa Rosmah menghalang tetamu utama (yang telah diundang) ke majlis perkahwinan tersebut dihalang oleh "orang-orang Rosmah."

Saya tidak dapat mengesahkan kedua-dua dakwaan ini. Sama ada benar atau palsu, terpulang pada penyelidikan masing-masing pembaca.

Namun maklumat yang saya mahu kongsikan di sini berkaitan (sangat-sangat berkaitan) majlis perkahwinan anak gadis Rosmah (bukan anak dengan Najib) seperti dua lelaki itu dakwa dalam klip video "Rosmah perempuan puaka."

Saya tidak tahu bagaimana editor atau wartawan hiburan di akhbar-akhbar harian dan majalah-majalah hiburan yang lain. Tetapi saya ingin kongsikan satu maklumat tentang perkahwinan tersebut seperti yang saya pernah alami (lihat dengan mata) di mStar Online.


[ii]

Pada malam itu saya kebetulan pulang lewat dari pejabat. Seorang teman wartawan, wanita dan masih muda, ditugaskan untuk menghadiri dan membuat liputan tentang perkahwinan tersebut.
Beliau bahagian hiburan, sementara saya bahagian berita.

Sebagai seorang yang dedikasi, selepas majlis tersebut, beliau terus kembali ke pejabat dan menfailkan story tentang majlis tersebut - maklumlah anak isteri timbalan perdana menteri dengan selebriti yang meningkat naik waktu itu. Tentu nilai beritanya tinggi dan mStar Online ingin segera melaporkan peristiwa bersejarah dan meriah itu.

Kalau tidak salah ingatan saya, waktu itu sudah jam 10 malam. Saya menyemak sepintas lalu dan merancang untuk pulang.

Kira-kira sejam selepas ia dimuatnaik, tiba-tiba editor kami (lebih tepat acting editor, kerana mStar Online belum ada editor rasmi, waktu itu) bergegas datang dari rumahnya di Ampang.

Beliau sudah pulang lebih awal, petang hari itu atau beberapa jam sebelum muncul kembali di depan saya - di tingkat 7 bangunan The Star. Tiba-tiba diarah datang ke pejabat. Tidak hairan beliau nampak sedikit tidak senang dan merungut-rungut.

Rupa-rupanya "boss" (bukan sahaja big boss di The Star, tetapi yang lebih atas dan di luar The Star) mengarahkan agar story wartawan wanita tadi dibuang sama sekali daripada mStar Online!

Editor kami membaca story tersebut, dan sambil merungut-rungut sebentar, terpaksa membuangnya. Barulah saya tahu bahawa ada seseorang yang tidak senang dengan berita anak perempuan Rosmah diterbitkan di media.

Saya menunggu dan menunggu - esok, lusa, seminggu dan dua minggu. Media-media lain juga tidak melaporkan tentang berita perkahwinan tersebut. Saya hairan, kami bertanya-tanya.

Dan kemudian tersebarlah khabar bahawa Rosmah sendiri tidak mahu berita perkahwinan itu diterbitkan!

Dan saya pun belajar satu hukum untuk berjaya sebagai pekerja media di akhbar arus perdana bahawa ikutlah arahan orang politik kalau mahu terus kekal di situ walaupun arahannya tidak masuk akal, melampaui batas atau high-handed.

Nota: Sehingga kini saya tidak pasti siapa yang memberi arahan tersebut, sama ada pegawai-pegawai Najib, pegawai-pegawai Rosmah atau siapa. Saya sendiri tidak dapat mengesahkan sama ada khabar "Rosmah sendiri tidak mahu berita perkahwinan itu diterbitkan" itu benar atau palsu. Sehingga kini saya tidak pasti, saya tidak sahkan sendiri dan tiada maklumat sahih.

Yang saya dapat sahkan daripada peristiwa ini adalah - khabar angin bertukar menjadi berita yang sahih dan kuat sewaktu berita sebenar tidak lagi dapat disampaikan!


[iii]

Apabila isu perkahwinan anak gadis Rosmah muncul, semula, dalam klip video tersebut, maka maxim yang saya pakai saat ini ringkas sahaja: khabar angin bertukar menjadi berita yang sahih dan kuat sewaktu berita sebenar tidak lagi dapat disampaikan!

Gambar-gambar perkahwinan mereka (acara bersanding) boleh dilihat di Agendadaily.com.

Hak cipta foto atas (c) Pretty Peektures, foto bawah (c) Agenda Daily - anak Rosmah menangis

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lucah

Perdana menteri hari ini menjawab pertanyaan ahli parlimen Seputeh, Teresa Kok, berhubung 39 laman web dan blog yang dilarang diakses oleh kakitangan awam di pejabat-pejabat kerajaan.

Sama ada sedar atau tidak, laman web The Star hari ini menerbitkan semua senarai laman web dan blog tersebut.

Semakan mendapati beberapa blog tersebut masih boleh diakses dan memuatkan bahan-bahan lucah!

Apakah senarai ini sejenis promosi PM untuk menggalakkan penyebaran bahan pornografi?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sedih

Memihak
Senin, 08 Juni 2009/Catatan Pinggir/Tempo


Politik adalah sebuah tugas sedih: usaha menegakkan keadilan di dunia yang berdosa. Reinhold Niebuhr, theolog itu, mengatakan demikian untuk siapa saja. Tapi saya kira ini terutama berlaku bagi tiap intelektual publik – artinya seseorang yang dengan tulisan dan ucapannya berbicara ke orang ramai, mengetengahkan apa yang sebaiknya dan yang tak sebaiknya terjadi bagi kehidupan bersama.

Niehbuhr (dan saya mengikutinya) memakai kata “tugas”. Kata yang aneh, memang. Sebab tugas itu bukan karena komando sebuah partai atau kekuasaan apapun. Tugas itu muncul, di dalam diri kita, karena ada sebuah luka. Kita merasa harus melakukan sesuatu karena itu. Luka itu terjadi ketika pada suatu hari, dalam kehidupan sosial kita, ada liyan yang dianiaya, ada sesama yang berbeda dan sebab itu hendak dibinasakan. Luka itu ketidak-adilan.

Saya menyebutnya “luka” karena persoalan ketidak-adilan bukanlah sesuatu yang abstrak, tapi konkrit, menyangkut tubuh, melibatkan perasaan, membangkitkan trenyuh dan juga amarah: Munir yang dibunuh tapi kasusnya tak terungkap tuntas, ribuan orang yang dilenyapkan di masa “Orde Baru” dan tak pernah diusut, Prita Mulyasari, si ibu, yang dimasukkan sel oleh jaksa secara seenaknya, atau Prabangsa, wartawan Radar Bali, yang dibunuh dengan brutal karena ia mengritik orang yang berkuasa.

Ada luka, dan aku ada: pada momen itu aku tahu apa yang terasa tak adil. Meskipun aku belum bisa merumuskan seluruhnya apa yang adil, aku terpanggil.

Di situlah seorang intelektual publik berbeda dengan seorang clerc dalam pengertian Julien Benda. Dalam versi Inggris, kata clerc disebut sebagai “intelektuil,” tapi itu adalah padanan yang tak tepat. Benda menggunakan kata itu untuk mengacu ke zaman lama Eropa, ke kalangan rohaniawan yang semata-mata mengutamakan nilai-nilai universal, hidup jauh dari pertikaian politik. Mereka tak memihak; mereka jaga kemurnian akal budi. Dalam La Trahison des Clercs Benda mengecam para intelektual yang turun ke keramaian pasar, memihak kepada satu kelompok dan mengobar-ngobarkan “nafsu politik”.

Harus dicatat: Benda seorang rasionalis sejati. Ia menganggap “nilai-nilai universal” itu sudah terpateri selesai di dalam diri. Ia tak mengakui bahwa yang “universal” datang dari pengalaman manusia sebagai mahkluk-di-bumi, yang berkekurangan, terbatas, hidup dengan liyan, fana. Benda memisahkan rasionalitas dari dunia, sebagaimana ia menghendaki siapapun yang setara dengan clerc tak memasuki arena pergulatan politik di mana nilai-nilai universal konon ditampik.

Memang harus diakui, di masa Benda, sebagaimana di masa kini, ada perjuangan politik yang hanya memenangkan cita-cita yang tertutup: kaum Nazi hanya hendak membuat dunia baru bagi “ras Arya”, kaum “Islamis” hanya untuk menegakkan supremasi umat sendiri.

Tapi kita ingat Nelson Mandela. Ia berjuang sebagai pemimpin kaum kulit hitam, tapi akhirnya ia tak berbuat hanya untuk kebaikan kaumnya. Ia menang untuk meruntuhkan kekuasaan apartheid yang memperlakukan orang secara menghina berdasarkan warna kulit. Maka kemenangan Mandela baru berarti kemenangan bila ia mengalahkan apartheid juga dalam bentuk baru. Demikianlah Mandela tak mendiskriminasikan orang kulit putih di bawah pemerintahannya. Di dalam cerita Afrika Selatan, luka ketidak-adilan itu memanggil keadilan dalam arti yang sebenarnya: keadilan hanya “adil” bila keadaan itu berlaku bagi siapa saja.

Itulah sifat universal yang berbeda dengan universalitas seorang rasionalis. Universalitas seperti dalam politik Mandela tumbuh dari trauma. Tapi tak hanya itu. Kepedihan itu diakui sebagai sebuah mala yang tak dapat dibiarkan bercokol di sebuah masyarakat jika masyarakat itu ingin hidup. Dengan kata lain, politik, sebagaimana dijalankan Mandela, adalah perjuangan ke sesuatu yang universal, dari sebuah situasi yang partikular.

Di situlah seorang intelektual publik seharusnya terpanggil untuk memihak. Dengan itu ia memandang politik sebagai sebuah tugas, bukan untuk sebuah ambisi. Ia tak duduk di tepi ongkang-ongkang, merasa harus bermartabat di mahligai. Ia tak berbeda dengan seorang tetangga yang ikut memadamkan api bila rumah di sudut sana terbakar, bukan hanya untuk menyelamatkan kampung seluruhnya (dan tentu saja rumahnya sendiri), tapi juga karena ia terpanggil untuk tak menyebabkan orang lain menderita.

Tapi, seperti disebut di atas, dunia memang berdosa. Penderitaan dan kekejian tak pernah hilang dari dalamnya. Maka perjuangan, atau pergulatan politik, akan selalu dibayangi cacat. Kita tak bisa menerima “politik sebagai panglima” bila di sana tak ada kebebasan lagi untuk mengakui cacat itu, bila pertimbangan kalah dan menang menelan secara total seluruh sudut hidup kita, selama-lamanya. Sebab tiap perjuangan politik akan terbentur pada keterbatasannya sendiri.

Maka bila aku memilih A hari ini, aku memilihnya dengan bersiap untuk kecewa. Aku juga memilihnya bukan untuk selama-lamanya. Aku hanya memilihnya sebagai sarana yang saat ini kurang cacat di antara yang amat cacat – sarana sementara untuk mencegah luka lagi, meskipun pencegahan itu tak pernah pasti.

Saya katakan tadi: kita bersiap kecewa. Tapi kita tak menyerah. Sebab kita tak akan bisa lupa Munir: kita tak akan menghalalkan ketak-adilan sebagai kewajaran hidup. Pengalaman sejarah menunjukkan, di tengah ketidak-adilan yang akut, yang kita derita, manusia selalu menghendaki keadilan -- yang entah di mana, yang entah kapan datang.

Dari perspektif ini, Ratu Adil bukanlah takhayul. Ia sebuah ideal yang tak hadir. Politik adalah tugas merambah jalan di belukar membuka celah agar keadilan itu datang. Terkadang tangan jadi kotor, hati jadi keras – dan itu menyebabkan rasa sedih tersendiri.

Di depan belukar itu, kita berjudi dengan masa depan. Siapa yang menuntut kepastian penuh dari sejarah akan mendustai diri sendiri. Selalu ada saat untuk bertindak dan memihak – juga ketika kita menolak untuk bertindak dan memihak.

Tapi pada saat yang sama juga ada saat untuk berdiri agak menjauh. Terkadang dengan ironi, terkadang dengan penyesalan, tapi selamanya dengan kesetiaan: di dunia yang berdosa, pilihan kita bisa salah, tapi tugas tak henti-hentinya memanggil dan politik selamanya meminta. Kita mungkin gagal. Meski demikian, tetap ada yang berharga yang kita perkelahikan.

Goenawan Mohamad

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Musuh

Hairan, dunia ini bermula dengan kata-kata - demikian menurut Bible, "pada mulanya, kata".

Mulianya manusia juga kerana kata-kata, "dan diajarkan kepada Adam akan nama-nama", demikian pula al-Quran merakamkan permulaan bahasa (dan kata-kata) yang memuliakan Adam dan anak cucunya.

Tetapi kata-kata penuh pembohongan, lebih bohong daripada seks. Kata "cinta" tidak setulus senggama. Dengan kata lain, seks itu jauh lebih benar, tulen dan tegas daripada kata-kata!

Namun, Dr Haron Din yang dimuliakan itu bermain-main dengan kata-katanya [klik imej di kanan untuk baca lebih jelas]. Tiada "musuh dalam selimut" pada halaman-halaman kertas kerjanya. Hanya media yang mengulas atau menambah-nambah - jelasnya ketika menjawab Husam Musa.

Sama ada tokoh ulama ini buta seni berbahasa atau bermain dengan kata-kata.

Dr Haron tentu tahu apa erti kata-katanya di muktamar hari ini - mana yang lebih benar, kuat dan "mengganggu jiwa" berbanding cinta (semula, sekali lagi) yang pernah melanda.

Dr Haron tidak sebut "musuh dalam selimut", Dr Haron hanya sebut "musuh dalam", "musuh Islam yang berada di dalam" dan "individu-individu tajaan mereka [yakni: Umno atau musuh luar negara] bagi mendapatkan kemenangan dalam pertandingan parti."

Dr Haron tahu kata-kata politiknya lebih lemah, longgar dan leweh berbanding tulisan di kertas kerjanya.


[ii]

Tidak hanya orang politik yang suka bermain kata-kata, dan tidak hanya orang politik yang suka menyalahkan media apabila kata-katanya dikutip dan mengandungi kebenaran.

Kebenaran memang pahit, ustaz. Buat apa kita mengelak kebenaran dan melarikan kontroversi? Berani sebut, berani tanggung. Lebih baik kita mengaku sahaja daripada melemparkan tuduhan kepada media.