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A note from the editor: The art of disagreement

Themes of power, autonomy, free speech and privilege run through this issue of Lounge

The essence of free speech is fearless disagreement.
The essence of free speech is fearless disagreement.

Among the more outrageous headlines of the past week was one regarding the acquittal of a former magazine editor of charges of rape because the investigation was compromised and the court believed, among other things, that the accuser did not “show normative behaviour of a sexual assault victim”. As one of the articles in Lounge observes this week, it’s a reminder of our “clear preferences about how we like our victims”, behaving in ways that don’t upset our ideas of power and privilege. These themes of power and autonomy run through the stories in this issue.

We have interviews with two outspoken public figures of privilege who are publishing new books this month, T.M Krishna and Salman Rushdie. Krishna the musician has used his art as a vehicle to explore ideas of exclusion and inequality that are normally ignored by the rarefied world of classical music, while Rushdie has addressed free speech in many of his works of fiction and non-fiction. Krishna tells Lounge about his trajectory—of moving away from the prescribed ways of doing things in the classical music world to realising that the right to change our minds is an inalienable one. In a similar vein, Rushdie, whose new book touches on writing, freedom of expression and power, tells Lounge that the essence of free speech is fearless disagreement.

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On our Culture page, the themes of power and freedom continue—with reviews of two new films on Stalin’s death and funeral which examine whether the mass mourning was mandated or spontaneous, and a look at Sahil Naik’s new art exhibition that documents the way displaced residents of a village submerged by a big dam keep their unique local history alive, visiting their old houses once a year when the waters recede. It’s a powerful show about the idea of home, a place one seeks or tries to return to but can never fully grasp.

Speaking of looking back, the past week’s F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion gets a nod in a zany collection of products inspired by the 1990s show. And if you are looking to unwind further but can’t turn your screen off, we have suggestions for cyber spas, relaxing games and detoxes that take the digital route.

Write to the Lounge editor Twitter: @shalinimb

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