Rabu, 18 Juni 2008

Dewi Lestari


Sunday May 28, 2006 I attended a book discussion in one big bookstore in my hometown. The speaker, Dewi Lestari (Dee), is one new writer in Indonesia. In the same occasion, she promoted her newest book entitled Filosofi Kopi (The Philosophy of Coffee). FYI, this is the first time for me to attend such an occasion. Not clear either why I was attracted to attend it. :)
Dee had been a renowned singer in Indonesia when she published her first novel entitled Supernova in 2001. I was not interested in it at all at that time. I thought she just wanted to make use of her popularity as a singer to sell her book.  Until now, she has published three novels of hers, series of Supernova. Frankly speaking, I haven’t read one of those books. :(
What made me interested in her fourth book Filosofi Kopi?
First, perhaps coz she used the word Kopi (coffee) here. I have consumed coffee daily regularly since I resumed my study in 2002. I needed stimulant to make me awake (sometimes all night when the time was due the following morning to submit assignments I got from my lecturers), and I thought coffee was the best choice. And I know recently more and more coffee shops opened in big cities in Indonesia where people can hang around with their friends, to chit chat, or even to have business meeting. .
Second, this book has been promoted by a mailing list where I joined as one member. At first, I didn’t give a damn on it. Many people have appreciated Dee’s novels but it didn’t really move my heart yet to read them. LOL.
Before attending the occasion to have a chat together with Dee also to promote her newest book, I had bought the book and had read some writings in it. In fact, I like them.  Two outstanding things I keep in my mind from the discussion in that occasion.
First, the way Dee answered a visitor’s question about her spiritualism journey. Recently, she said that she has converted to be a Buddhist. She gave us a very impressive illustration. When someone sinks in a deep sea, the islands around him/her will seem the same, a refuge for him/her to survive. Someone cannot go on living in the deep sea. He/she must go to the nearest island to save him/herself. No island will seem better/more comfortable/promising to give heavenly sanctuary. All islands are similar.
This is very beautifully said by Dee in the middle of violent dispute among religions in Indonesia nowadays. Some irresponsible people who consider themselves as the most right start to force people from other religion to convert. Some irresponsible people from violent Islamic groups start to force their intention to the government to legalize Pornography Bill in Indonesia soon. They also have forced to close a Non Governmental Organization that uses Islamic name but this NGO rejects Pornography Bill. Many feminists are worried if the same violent Islamic groups later will randomly arrest women and force police to put them into jail only coz they wear something they consider improper while in fact the indecent thought is inside the members’ mind of those groups, and not in women’s clothes. 
Can’t we just live peacefully hand in hand, side by side, without forcing what we believe to other people? Can’t we appreciate and respect one another?
Second, Dee explained that she started writing coz she felt anxious of something in her life and wanted to share her anxiety to other people.
That really makes the two of us. At first, I just discussed things that made me anxious or restless with my close friends. Sometimes I discussed them with my students. I never got satisfying feedback though, both from friends and students of mine. Then, I wrote my restlessness in emails and sent them to my loved ones. I know some of them understand my restlessness but they cannot give me feedback either. My knowing blog technology really comforted me. I started to share my writings—including my anxiety and restlessness—to wider audience, my blog readers.
Going back to Dee, I really enjoyed the time when attending her book campaigning although until now I only have one book of hers. I am not sure either yet if I will buy her other books—series of Supernova—later. Since I claimed myself as a feminist in 2003, mostly I have read books written from feministic perspective. I am of opinion that Dee doesn’t write her book from feministic perspective though not misogynist either. Misogynist books? COUNT ME OUT!!!
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