J O H N H . M C G L Y N N , Muted Expressions: Indonesian Literature Today In Indonesia, silence often speaks louder than words. A generalization, perhaps, but the fact is that, despite the impression one might have gained from Western media reports of the violent demonstrations and armed conflicts of the past several years, Indonesians are not particularly outspoken. Inscrutable, reticent, polite, repressed, perhaps. But however Indonesians might be characterized, the effect is the same: in their daily lives, most go out of their way to avoid conflict. This characteristic also shows up in the way they approach writing. And when you mix natural reticence with strict censorship and repression--not only by government authorities, but also by religious leaders and various special-interest groups--the result is a population nearly mute, or at least one whose voices seem remarkably (and even maddeningly) monotonal. You have a nation of and muted expressions. Unfortunately, even today--after the fall of Suharto in 1998 and the more "liberal" administration of his successor, President B. J. Habibie, who came to power amid nationwide demands for reform (or reformasi, as student leaders called it)--tolerance of differing viewpoints is far from having been
Manoa – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Apr 1, 2000
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