Mediating suffering: Buddhist detachment and tantric responsibility in michael ondaatje’s anil’s ghost

Justin M. Hewitson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In “Mediating Suffering: Buddhist Detachment and Tantric Responsibility in Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost,” Justin Hewitson argues that the global mediation of suffering following human rights abuses creates the offender-victim binary. The way in which moral judgments drive urgent peacemaking is seldom connected to long-term victimhood narratives. This psychology can exacerbate cyclical patterns of anger, exploitation, and violence by deferring responsibility. Ondaatje’s controversial novel, Anil’s Ghost, which reflects these charged accusations, refuses to settle blame on any side of the Sri Lankan conflict; instead, it offers the troubling recognition that offenders, victims, and mediators are all causal agents. Hewitson explores the text’s Buddhist and Hindu merging of detachment and responsibility as its characters, Anil, Palapina, and Ananda adopt empirical and intuitive therapies in response to the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths of suffering. It is argued that Ananda’s samādhi-like vision at the novel’s conclusion projects a middle way between traumatic anger and loss via detached empathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalCLCWeb - Comparative Literature and Culture
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2019

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