“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” This is not Michael Corleone talking. This is me talking. I wasn’t planning on making a post this early, and I definitely wasn’t planning on making a post about the films that have come out in theaters recently. The post that I was going to make first was going to be about the future of the USA because this is what the Americans that follow my blog want to know about. Americans are known for being selfish and self-centered. Therefore, most of them are only interested in knowing about what’s happening to them and around them. They have no idea, and they’re not interested in, what’s going on in the world. When it comes to what’s going on in the world, they simply believe what the American authorities tell them to believe. In this way, they’re just like the people in other countries. Americans also make up the largest demographic among the followers of my blog. Well, there are over 300 million of them, after all. I’ve already made at least one post about what will happen in the USA in the future. But I can make another, more detailed post, as well as adding other information. However, worrying about what my followers think and want has never been a thing of mine. Recently, someone called me a bigot on the internet. It seems that some people are offended by my bad, right-wing jokes. Well, I guess that I have been on a minor campaign of bigotry for a while. I don’t have to make jokes, but sometimes I can’t help it because seeing how some people react to them is quite amusing. Moreover, some of the most active people that follow my blog are controlled opposition figures, assets, influencers, and propagandists. They’re people like Alex Jones, Jeff Rense, Webster Tarpley, Paul Joseph Watson, or Patrick Henningsen. One of my followers informed me about these right-wingers. I didn’t know about some of them and the many other controlled opposition figures that follow my blog because I don’t listen to them or search for them on the internet. I was hoping that these people would stop following my blog, but it seems that no amount of bad jokes can turn them away. Well, this isn’t a big deal, but I still managed to lose some followers because of my bad jokes, and this is just fine with me. Pleasing people is not what I’m into because my channel and my blog don’t bring me any income. By the way, Alex Jones has become a pro at knowing what his followers want to see and hear. He has a new look now because he’s older, and his act nowadays is that of an older angry white man because pretty much all of the people that listen to him are badly informed white reactionaries and right-wingers that are dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the USA. Anyway, since the bought and paid for film critics have been at it again, I can no longer look away. Well, they’re always at it because this is what they get paid to do. I can’t, however, ignore their ramblings this time. For now, I will overlook the fact that Rich Evans is an American treasure and instead focus on what the bought and paid for film critics have been saying about Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Some of them have said that Top Gun: Maverick is better than Top Gun (1986). I can’t let this slide. Initially, I wasn’t going to see Top Gun: Maverick or any other new film in a theater. I got to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), and this was enough for me. Since I like this film, I saw it again on home video. This time I had time to notice the other good performances in the film, aside from those by the main cast. Only Xochitl Gomez delivered a faulty performance, but she’s still only 16 years old. I like how Chiwetel Ejiofor acted in the film, particularly in the scene set in the New York Sanctum, after Karl Mordo meets Stephen Strange and America Chavez. Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams are experienced actors, but their performances in the film are probably as good as they are because Sam Raimi was the director. Anyway, it so happened that I got to see Top Gun: Maverick because I was near a theater when I decided to see it. I went to the center of the city in order to see my sister, but she wasn’t home. Therefore, since I didn’t have anything else to do in the center of the city at that time, and since I had to go to the washroom, I went to the nearest theater, where I then got to see the film. Finding a public washroom, especially one in the center of the city, has been quite a problem ever since the COVID-19 mandates got introduced. Although the mandates have been abolished for the time being, it’s still not easy to find a working public washroom or an open public washroom. Life hasn’t exactly returned to normal. Just about every place that you can go to still closes at 9 p.m. Anyway, I wasn’t expecting to be disappointed by Top Gun: Maverick because Tom Cruise has an impressive filmography. Even most of the films that he has starred in in the last decade or two are watchable. Few of them have replay value but I will point out that I enjoyed seeing Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Knight and Day (2010), Tropic Thunder (2008), and the Mission Impossible films. In my opinion, Minority Report (2002) is one of the best films of the last two decades and it definitely has replay value. Still, I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by Top Gun: Maverick. After seeing it, I can say that it’s a fine film. For a modern film, it’s very good. But it’s not better than Top Gun in any way. The characters in Top Gun: Maverick are kind of appealing, though not as appealing as the characters in Top Gun. The action and the footage of planes flying is mostly exciting, though not as exciting as the action in Top Gun. As to be expected, the soundtrack for Top Gun: Maverick is nothing to talk about. The soundtrack for Top Gun, however, is one of the most appealing aspects of the film, including the score by Harold Faltermeyer. Penelope Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connelly, is in the film only for Pete Mitchell to have a love interest. So, on the whole, Top Gun: Maverick is a competently made and mostly entertaining, though formulaic, film. Aside from films by Marvel Studios, I think that Top Gun: Maverick is the best new film that I’ve seen since Free Guy (2021). It’s not as good as Free Guy, however, and it’s definitely not as good as Top Gun. Top Gun can be seen again and again, and this is what people do. This isn’t what I do, but I did see it again recently because I haven’t seen it in years. It’s one of the most well-known films of the 1980s. Top Gun: Maverick, on the other hand, has little or no replay value. I didn’t enjoy seeing it as much as some of the other sequels or remakes that got made in the last decade, like Creed (2015), Creed II (2018), or The Great Gatsby (2013). Still, I wasn’t at all disappointed by it. I think that the glowing reviews by the bought and paid for film critics that Top Gun: Maverick has received can be attributed to the fact that it features certain propaganda. Let’s not forget that these are the same people that wrote glowing reviews about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), which is at best a mediocre film. In my opinion, it’s simply a bad film. But this bad film has a score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. This fact should tell you how many of the so-called professional film critics are bought and paid for. The Force Awakens was released in theaters not that long ago, and, therefore, I remember the hype that was created for the film quite well. This hype was mostly artificial and not real. Still, there were many people that were genuinely excited because they were finally going to see a new Star Wars film. The hype is the thing that made The Force Awakens one of the highest grossing films of all time. Even I fell for the hype because back then I didn’t know as much as I do now. Because of the hype, I expected to see something great, something on par with the original Star Wars trilogy. Some people said that Disney would right the wrongs that George Lucas had created with his prequel trilogy. So, I went to see The Force Awakens as soon as I could. The auditorium where I saw the film was full of people. However, when the film came to an end, I thought, “Is that it?” Some people even clapped. I didn’t clap because I didn’t want to lie to myself and because I’m not a Star Wars fan. The Force Awakens was clearly not the great motion picture experience that I expected. So, I left the cinema and didn’t think about The Force Awakens for quite some time. Later, after reading some good reviews by honest independent critics, I realized that The Force Awakens is a faulty, bland, and forgettable film and that it’s a rip-off of Star Wars (1977). Even George Lucas’s prequel trilogy is better than the tiresome The Force Awakens and its sequels. What happened is that The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm for several billion dollars and then made an unoriginal product, with the usual Disney formula, as quickly as possible in order to cash in on its new popular IP. However, I’m not one of those young, reactionary white (mostly American) men that have been “Trump supporters” for the last several years and that hate the oligarchical propaganda, policies, and restrictions that have become more prominent in the last decade, as the economic depression continued to drag on. I’m more open-minded. Therefore, I’m not going to say that I hate every Star Wars film that got released by Disney. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) is the one Star Wars film that got released by Disney that I like. I think that it’s the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy. Unfortunately, it’s also the Star Wars film that performed poorly at the box office. I also like a few scenes from Rogue One (2016), though I think that this film as a whole is not enjoyable to watch.
Since Persona 3 is the video game that I enjoyed playing the most in recent months, I think that it’s worth reviewing it. Persona 3 doesn’t appear on my favorite list, which is the list of the greatest video games on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_games_considered_the_best), but I still decided to play it because it’s a Persona game. It’s not quite as polished as Persona 4, but it’s still one of the best games for the PlayStation 2, and there were many good games released for the PS2. I think that some of the locations in Persona 3 are even more beautiful than the locations in Persona 4. Persona 3 has very appealing graphics. The character designs are excellent. They’re perhaps better than the character designs in Persona 4. The gameplay, as to be expected, is almost identical to the gameplay of Persona 4. It takes a little while for Persona 3 to become an exciting game because there’s little to do right after the game begins. As is the case with Persona 4 and Persona 5, it’s best to use a good guide when playing Persona 3 in order to know what happens every day. As good as Persona 3 is, I don’t think that it has much replay value. You can, of course, play the game a second time in order to develop social links that you couldn’t develop the first time around. But you can also watch videos on YouTube about developing social links instead of playing the game a second time. The graphics and the designs in the game are beautiful. The characters and story are interesting and original, much more so than in Persona 5. For example, one of the characters in the protagonist’s group is a female robot and another one is a small dog. However, I don’t have the urge to play the game again, like I had the urge to play Persona 4, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, Shadow of the Colossus, Silent Hill 2, or Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty again. Perhaps the reason why this is the case is because it takes a long time to finish playing Persona 3. This game is long. Speaking of Shadow of the Colossus, I recently got to play Ico. This is odd because I played Shadow of the Colossus, which is a game that got made by the same developers, several times some years ago. Well, Ico is a different game, but it’s almost as memorable and as beautiful as Shadow of the Colossus. Its gameplay is different because it’s about solving puzzles in order to progress in a castle. It’s also quite a short game. It can be finished in under 9 hours if you know what you’re doing. Another game that left an impression on me is Chrono Trigger. I played this game in 2021. I had already played Chrono Cross, which is the sequal to Chrono Trigger, years ago. Chrono Cross is one of my favorite games, and it’s also one of the first games that I’ve played. I could have played Chrono Trigger much earlier if I wanted to, but I never had the urge to play it and to find out if the hype around it is justified. In fact, the popularity of this game is so great that some people didn’t like Chrono Cross, which is a superb game, simply because it’s not a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger. Is the obsession of these people justified? This depends on whether or not you’ve played Chrono Trigger before playing Chrono Cross. Chrono Trigger really is a great game, and it’s one of the best games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This game came out at a time when people didn’t have many games to choose from and when emulation wasn’t widely available. Therefore, if players got to play a game that they thought is exceptional, they usually played it several times and it left a strong impression on them. Chrono Trigger is one of these games. In my case, Chrono Cross is one of these games. Therefore, I don’t have an obsession with Chrono Trigger. The graphics in this game are as good as they get for a SNES game. The score by Yasunori Mitsuda is very effective and memorable. The combat is absorbing. What makes this game truly stand out is the story, and also the characters. There are moments in this game that the player will never forget. So, the love that some people have for this game is understandable. Another RPG that left an impression on me not that long ago is Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. I’m somewhat of a fan of Hiroshi Minagawa and Yasumi Matsuno because they made some great games for the SNES, for the PlayStation, and for the PlayStation 2. Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my favorite games. I own the updated version of this game, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, on my PlayStation Portable. If you want to play Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, it’s best to get the updated version for the PSP because it looks beautiful on this handheld. The music score by Hitoshi Sakimoto is almost as impressive as his music score for Final Fantasy Tactics. I’ve already played Final Fantasy Tactics three times, and, after finishing Tactics Ogre, I can say that I can play this game again as well, though I haven’t done so yet.
The death in 2016 of author and screenwriter Michael Herr focused attention on his greatest achievement – Dispatches – and its stellar place in the realm of creative writing. Arguably the Vietnam War’s most enduring literary legacy, it was described by John Le Carre as ‘the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time.’ Dispatches is indeed an enduring anthem to a conflict that shaped and defined a generation: a cultural reflection of heady times, a literary spectacle that conveys the energy of a rock concert, the speed of an action movie, the deluded insights of a drug trip and the questioning and suspicion of the Establishment. But is Dispatches a vibrant example of war reportage gone feral, or a deft work of the imagination, a novel posing as journalism? In numerous conflicting statements, Michael Herr only muddied the issue.
In the four decades since its 1977 publication, the reputation of Dispatches has solidified (and one might argue, calcified) within the New Journalism pantheon. Feted for its radical departure from war reporting norms, and stylistic innovations, it’s held by many to be the authentic account of what ‘being there’ was like; only writing of such unconventional nature, the argument goes, could sum up such an ‘unconventional’ war. Herr based his 200-page account on his year-long experience in the hellhole of Vietnam, in 1967-68, when he filed for Esquire, Rolling Stone and other magazines. Free to roam the battlefield without daily deadlines, he wasn’t beholden to values historically instilled into, and expected of, daily news reporters, including the treasured concept of ‘objectivity’.
In an interview in 2000 with The Observer newspaper, Herr described his mission as ‘part of the [1960s] decade thing. I had done the decade, and it had to end in Vietnam’. Yet unlike many artefacts of that tumultuous era, Dispatches hasn’t dated. Re-reading Herr’s pyrotechnic text reveals a journey imbued with contemporary, universal and timeless relevance. Moving across its jagged landscape, the reader is taken, as in a game of chance, on a random route without the comfort of narrative coherence or even a clear overarching argument. The book becomes a reflection of the war itself, one which the American nation has stumbled into, become hopelessly lost in, and from which there’s no way out other than withdrawal and defeat.
From the outset, Herr establishes the hallucinatory quality that hovers over the story, describing a map of Vietnam posted on his wall depicting the country’s French colonial-era territories, all of which have dissolved into history:
It was late ’67 now, even the most detailed maps didn’t reveal much any more; reading them was like trying to read the faces of the Vietnamese, and that was like trying to read the wind.
The signal here is clear: we’re heading into vaporous, shifting, and unknowable space. The Vietnam we’re familiar with from television news and magazine spreads, he suggests, the one that the media in what the grunts call ‘the World’ has imbued with currency, isn’t the same Vietnam we’ll encounter in Dispatches, which is a world turned upside down, filled with fantasies, lies, insanities, a constant sub-stream of absurdity, a world of delusions and darkness. Herr quickly shifts the reader to the battlefield where he encounters an American soldier hyped up on pills ‘like dead snakes kept too long a in a jar.’ Fellow soldiers describe the grunt as crazy, and, if Herr cares to look into his eyes, ‘that’s the whole fucking story right there.’
I think he slept with his eyes open, and I was afraid of him anyway. All I ever managed was one quick look in, and that was like looking at the floor of an ocean.
In just a few pages, Herr manages to convey his key intentions: to defy the conventional view of the war; to establish its ‘unknowability’; to position himself as an innocent abroad, moving into the war’s darker corners with a blend of anxiety, curiosity and courage; and to attach his perspective, and his fate – unlike many correspondents in Vietnam – to the ground soldiers pursuing an elusive enemy and prosecuting an unwinnable war. Confessing that he always went to sleep stoned in Saigon, Herr also unsettles the professional expectations, and literary conventions, of ‘reliable’ war reporting.
This isn’t a battlefield of confident commanders and patriotic, polished troops lined up in rows with visions of victory; in Herr’s eyes, and in his narrative, there will be no shiny medals or songs of men marching off to war. They’re replaced with disillusioned, hollow-eyed, drug-addled recruits and draftees flown on Pan American shuttles to Saigon, and their songs will be The Rolling Stones’ ‘Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing in the Shadows’, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’, and The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’. In earlier wars, correspondents packed whiskey; ‘We packed grass and tape.’ Yet, as Herr later acknowledged, some elements never change:
Young men are expected to go, to fight, to kill, to die. And with young men, it’s always fascinating, I mean it’s one of great clichés of war literature – the young man full of piss and vinegar and ready to get into combat to prove his gallantry and his courage, make his family proud and his community proud. And they go and they see what it is, and it’s too late.
Herr has no illusions about the men he’s mixing with, and whom he admires. For all their brutal honesty, they were also victims of Vietnam, of what the war was doing to them. ‘They were killers. Of course they were; what would anyone expect them to be?’ The narrative is shadowed by an almost constant intertwining of twin anxieties: the soldiers’ quest for vaguely rational explanations of their mission, which never come, and Herr’s fascination with his equal failure to fully understand why he is there. (At one point he offers a trite explanation: ‘I think that Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods.’)
In his attempt to make it ‘less real’, Herr ironically imbued the Vietnam conflict with a degree of authenticity that other media representatives could not, or would not, replicate. In one of the book’s most cited lines he declares, ‘Conventional journalism could no more reveal this war than conventional firepower could win it…’ yet he also acknowledges the difficulties faced by correspondents reporting the war for daily outlets (and ‘the incredible demands put on them from offices thousands of miles away’) and by journalists for news magazines like Time, whose reportage is worked up into ‘uni-prose’; against this, Herr acknowledges his comparative freedom to write and file at a more leisurely pace (a piece he’s written for Esquire appears ‘like some lost dispatch from the Crimea.’). Yet, as he observed, mainstream journalists knew that no matter how honestly they reported the war, ‘their best work would somehow be lost in the wash of news, all the facts, all the Vietnam stories.’ Herr sites himself in the media pack even as he leans away from it, adopting in Dispatches the role of a lone operator, the existential observer/journalist who approaches his subject with a sense of moral engagement.
As his jagged narrative draws to a close, Herr is back in ‘the World’, reflecting on his Vietnam experience and the value of not having stayed too long: ‘We came to fear something more complicated than death, an annihilation less final but more complete, and we got out’, though not without scars, including dreams of dead Marines in his living room. Herr – like many – suffered trauma-induced depression, as he revealed in his interview with The Observer newspaper:
I did go crazy. The problem with Vietnam is that if your body came back, your mind came back too. Within 18 months of coming back, I was on the edge of a major breakdown. It hit in 1971 and it was very serious. Real despair for three or four years; deep paralysis. I split up with my wife for a year. I didn’t see anybody because I didn’t want anybody to see me. It’s part of the attachment. You get attached to good things; you get attached to bad things. Then I decided to look the other way. Suddenly I had a child. I went back to my book.
Although Herr claimed it took ‘about six years’ to write the book, it reads as if penned in the heat of battle, with an often-frenetic sense of urgency carried to the page. Publishers asked him to write more about Vietnam, about war. ‘I say: “Haven’t you read my fucking book? What the fuck would I want to go and do that for?” […] I’m not interested in Vietnam. It has passed clean through me.’ In 1978, he worked on the script for Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam film Apocalypse Now, ‘But after that, that was it. No more Vietnam.’ When the American effort collapsed in 1975, he’d seen the coverage on TV news:
I watched the choppers I’d loved dropping into the South China Sea as their Vietnamese pilots jumped clear, and one last chopper revved it up, lifted off and flew out of my chest.
With this nod to the genre of magical realism then in vogue (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude had appeared in English in 1970), Herr lays open the question of whether Dispatches is a work of non-fiction or something else: a reality-based novel, a fictionalised memoir, an amalgam of genres beyond any one? ‘Even if we read it as fiction’, asks Connie Schultz in The Columbia Journalism Review, ‘Dispatches is a work of enormous power, but would its sense of urgency and loss be diminished?’ She partly answers her own question: ‘Thirty years after reading the book for the first time, I still have the same gut response: at least I understand why I will never understand what happened to our boys in Vietnam.’
Herr remained evasive on the subject of whether Dispatches was a work fiction or not. Parts of it were, he admitted, what is labeled, in the context of television news, ‘produced reality’. In 1978, one year after its publication, Dispatches was recommended for the U.S. National Book Award in the non-fiction category; yet in a 1992 interview with Eric Schroeder, Herr referred to the book as a novel, adding, ‘I don’t think it’s any secret that there is talk in the book that’s invented.’
But it’s invented out of that voice that I heard so often and that made such penetration into my head… I don’t really want to go into that no-man’s-land about what really happened and what didn’t happen and where you draw the line. Everything in Dispatches happened for me, even if it didn’t necessarily happen to me.
A decade later, in a filmed interview, he was again asked if Dispatches was fiction or non-fiction, and was again elusive:
I have no idea, I don’t know the difference. I’ve never known the difference. I have to tell you that I have no idea what that difference really consists of, between fact and fiction. […] I’m confused, I’m really confused. Like, you read a memoir, you read an autobiography, I have no idea what’s real and what’s invented and what’s wish fulfilment and what’s confession.
Where does creativity end and invention begin? In contemplating what he’d created, Herr’s response in 1992 offers an insight: ‘I would say that the secret subject of Dispatches was not Vietnam, but that it was a book about writing a book. I think that all good books are about writing.’
His comments suggest an unwillingness to be linked to any particular literary frame, any more than he’d wished in Vietnam to be labelled a particular species of war observer. Yet his combat features filed in 1968-69 were received by his editors and published as journalism, in magazines that clearly delineated to their readers whether they were reading fiction or non-fiction, throwing into doubt the question of authenticity. In the same 1992 interview, Herr confessed ‘there are errors of fact in the book’, explaining:
When the Khe Sanh piece was published [as an essay before the book], I had a really beautiful letter from a colonel who had been stationed there; he corrected me on various points of fact. I lost the letter, and it didn’t turn up again until after the book was in print… I couldn’t bear to go in and make the revisions myself. I was tapped out. I was exhausted from the project. Including the year in the war, I had spent eight years working on it, and I just couldn’t do any more.
In subsequent editions of Dispatches, Herr did nothing to correct these apparent errors. Rather, he seemed to suggest that the fiction/non-fiction debate wasn’t his problem, but a conundrum that had grown out of historical precedent. The ethos of the New Journalism argues that ‘fact-based’ journalism denies the possibility of alternative versions of ‘the truth’. Like Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe before him, Herr had thrown himself into the ring of raw experience, a literary pugilist ready for a fight, with no hope of, or desire for, objectivity, to write as much from the heart as the head, a heart that he wore defiantly on his sleeve.
Herr redefined the war reporting memoir: what mattered to him was less about the accuracy of a quote or description, and more about how it was received by the reader, and perceived by the reader as being authentic or not. To achieve that objective, the difference between fact and fiction matters less than the outcome. While the issue is left unresolved, or at least unanswered in conventional literary terms, Herr’s work in Dispatches, marked by its freewheeling style and self-referential perspective, opened the way for more interpretative and personalised forms of war reporting, and war reporting memoirs. Its value in that regard alone is enormous and enduring.
As a literary artefact and legacy, it remains unique. As one observer noted,
Somehow, a young journalist whose previous experience consisted mostly of travel pieces and film criticism managed to transform himself into a wild new kind of war correspondent capable of comprehending a disturbing new kind of war.
Situated in the suburbs of Bagerhat, at the meeting-point of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, this ancient city, formerly known as Khalifatabad, was founded by the Turkish general Ulugh Khan Jahan in the 15th century. The city’s infrastructure reveals considerable technical skill and an exceptional number of mosques and early Islamic monuments, many built of brick, can be seen there.
The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat is an important evidence of medieval city in the south-west part of present Bagerhat district which is located in the south-west part of Bangladesh, at the meeting-point of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The ancient city, formerly known as Khalifatabad, sprawls over on the southern bank of the old river Bhairab and flourished in the 15th century BC.
The magnificent city, which extended for 50 km2, contains some of the most significant buildings of the initial period of the development of Muslim architecture of Bengal. They include 360 mosques, public buildings, mausoleums, bridges, roads, water tanks and other public buildings constructed from baked brick.
This old city, created within a few years and covered up by the jungle after the death of its founder in 1459, is striking because of certain uncommon features. The density of Islamic religious monuments is explained by the piety of Khan Jahan, which is evidenced by the engraved inscription on his tomb. The lack of fortifications is attributable to the possibilities of retreat into the impenetrable mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans. The quality of the infrastructures – the supply and evacuation of water, the cisterns and reservoirs, the roads and bridges – all reveal a perfect mastery of the techniques of planning and a will towards spatial organization.
The monuments, which have been partially disengaged from the vegetation, may be divided into two principal zones 6.5 km apart: to the West, around the mosque of Shait-Gumbad and to the East, around the mausoleum of Khan Jahan. More than 50 monuments have been catalogued: in the first group, the mosques of Singar, Bibi Begni and Clumakkola; and in the second, the mosques of Reza Khoda, Zindavir and Ranvijoypur.
Criterion (iv): The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhatrepresents the vestiges of a medieval Muslim town in the northern peripheral land of the Sundarbans. It contains some of the most significant buildings of the initial period of the development of Muslim architecture in Bengal. Shait-Gumbad is one of the largest mosques and represents the flavour of the traditional orthodox mosque plan and it is the only example of its kind in the whole of Bengal. The second important monument, Khan Jahan’s tomb, is an extraordinary representation of this type of architecture as well as calligraphic parlance.
The site exhibits a unique architectural style, known as Khan-e-Jahan (15th Century A.D.), which is the only known example in the history of architecture.
The original picturesque location and the natural setting of these densely located religious and secular monuments along with the medieval form and design are intact. The property of the Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat contains and preserves all the necessary elements which include not only mosques but also residences, roads, ancient ponds, tombs, chillakhana (ancient graveyard). Therefore, the attributes of the city are still preserved.
The threat of the unauthorized activities by the community and the extreme salinity of the soil and atmosphere, which can potentially threaten the physical integrity of the attributes, are being closely monitored by the site managers. In particular, interventions are needed to preserve the Shaitgumbad Mosque.
In order to preserve the authenticity of the monuments, conservation and restoration actions have respected the use of original materials (lime and mortar). Notwithstanding, some of the original features, such as stone pillars inside the mosques, reticulated windows, pediment, upper band of cornice, were lost in earlier interventions.
Many of the structures continue to be in religious and secular use contributing to the social and communal harmony by the way of retaining the original features of traditional practices.
Protection and management requirements
The property is managed under the Antiquities Act, 1968 (Amendment 1976). In addition the Department of Archaeology protects the property under the Antiquities Export Control Act (1947), the Immovable Antiquities Preservation Rules (1976), the Conservation Manual (1923) and the Archaeological Works Code (1938).
The Department of Archaeology ensures that inappropriate activities which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of property such as buildings or infrastructure cannot be constructed within or close to the property, and no one can alter or deface monuments within the property.
The Government of Bangladesh has worked on the implementation of recommendations set out in the Master plan prepared by UNESCO 1973/74-1977/78 for the conservation and presentation of the Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat. Though the financial efforts have been made to address the conservation problem derived from salinity, this has not been comprehensively solved and deterioration has continued. The implementation of the management plan, including conservation provisions, will need to be monitored so as to evaluate achieved results and provide new action plans in response to emerging conditions.
Conservation of the historic landscape, buffer zone and the property has yet to be addressed. A number of issues have recently been identified and will constitute the basis for a new project named “South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project” (Bangladesh Portion), which is going to be shortly implemented. Challenges to sustainably manage these concerns, along with the conservation of the property, will need to be taken up to ensure the long term preservation and protection of its Outstanding Universal Value.
The first two-thirds of Robert Silverberg’s masterpiece Downward to the Earth (1970) is easily in the pantheon of the best sections of a science fiction book I’ve ever read. I found it emotionally engaging and often downright nerve-racking, moody and disturbed, and engages in an intelligent and poignant manner with the issue of de-colonization which was coming to the fore in the 1960s.
However, the work falters somewhat when Silverberg’s a “woman deters you from your quest and has a pair of breasts” mentality (momentarily) kicks in. I swear that every other sentence relating to the one female character (who only appears in a chapter or so) describes her breasts…. Or her scandalous revealing clothes… Or her nakedness… Or her wailing about the dangers of the journey…. And then she exits the narrative, thankfully… And Silverberg’s brilliance returns.
Welcome to Holman’s World and the stories of the few humans that still reside within its decaying hotels, forest stations, and among its natives.
The alien world Silverberg creates is vividly realized and inventive. Holman’s World (Belgazor) is a decaying jungle planet — replete with fascinating flora and fauna — recently relinquished by the Company back to its sentient native inhabitants. Most praiseworthy is Silverberg’s successful tackling of one of the most difficult aspects of sci-fi, the creation of a believable and sufficiently ‘different’ alien species — the elephantine nildoror and the fanged apelike sulidoror.
Gundersen has returned to Belgazor after a lengthy absence. His motives aren’t immediately clear. We learn that he performed a few unsavory deeds when the Company ruled the planet. The only one I can reveal without ruining the plot involves gathering venom from large snake-like creatures (the venom is used on Earth as a pharmaceutical to regrow limbs) and allowing the nilidoror to partake of the venom with the humans.
Gundersen meets up with a few remaining humans on the planet at the Company decaying hotel and notices that the sulidoror, whom weren’t much of a presence when he lived on the planet, are now performing many of the tasks that the Company had forced the nildoror to do.
After taking his leave of the tourist groups which have descended on the hotel Gundersen sets off on a journey to the mist country where nildoror rituals involving rebirth take place. The nildoror allow him to start his journey as long as he promises to come back with a man who committed an unknown crime against the nildoror.
On the way Gundersen meets Kurtz (a reference to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) who has undergone a horrific transformation after participating in the nildoror ritual of rebirth. Silverberg’s descriptions of the horror the planet can inflict on humans is chill inducing and one of the strengths of the work. Despite Kurtz’s condition Gundersen decides anyway to undergo rebirth with the nildoror.
The characterization of Gundersen, the protagonist, is spot on — he’s believable, relatable, flawed, and painfully human. The various other characters which Gundersen meets on his journey are often equally well-drawn (not so much Gundersen’s ex-lover, Seena). The plot unfolds in a deliberate manner enhancing Gundersen’s character (what he choices to reveal to us and when).
What I found most appealing about Downward to Earth was the transformation that Gundersen undergoes regarding the nildoror natives. The nildoror do not produce art, build buildings (the suldoror build sheds for them), or perform agriculture. As a result the Company and its agents were inclined (despite the nildoror’s sophisticated language) to treat them as little more than animals. Gundersen had previously held this belief and vestiges of it remain when he returns to the planet. However, over the course of the novel (and his confrontations with the tourists who occasionally run into him throughout his journey) Gundersen undergoes a wonderful transformation. Although this is a somewhat predictable plot device Silverberg pulls it off in a believable manner.
The world of Belgazor is hauntingly beautiful and dangerous (including diseases which cause a kaleidoscopic array of crystals to emerge from the living flesh, strange parasites that turn their human hosts into husks, etc).
The work’s only blemish is Silverberg’s treatment of the female character Seena (discussed above).
This is a brooding masterpiece of social science fiction.