Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pandji Pragiwaksono: Book Review

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."
- Inception, 2010

The quote is appropriate when we're reviewing these three books:

NASIONAL.IS.ME, Merdeka Dalam Bercanda, Berani Mengubah.

Although each book is unique in itself, all three of them are filled with one basic idea:  that every person is responsible to make the change that he wants to see in the society. To fully appreciate the beauty of these three books, it's important that we grasp this basic idea first. 

NASIONAL.IS.ME is where everything begins, the prima causa for the rest of our story. In this almost autobiographic book, Pandji invited us to his own world. He shared his reasons for being optimistic in our nation's future. By following his journey from childhood throughout college, his experience travelling across Indonesia, and even his not-so-mainstream hip hop career *wink wink*, we will learn so much about our diverse country, and even more about the author. 

His optimism in Indonesia is not a blind one, he just sees what most of us cannot. For someone who lives in Jakarta through his whole life and rarely travels to other parts of Indonesia (like me), the book is an eye-opener. It presents a new feeling of restlessness: I'm now infected with his idea that the future of our nation lies in our hands, not in some people we called 'governments'. 

Pandji's second book, Merdeka Dalam Bercanda, is a documentary on the stand up comedy movement in Indonesia. Not everybody is fond of stand up comedy, but I think his arguments on why Indonesia needs this type of comedy is valid. As a country that has plethora of problems, we all could use some good laugh. And some critical thinking won't hurt, either.

The reason why stand up got its hype right now is because the passion of the people who introduced it, and Pandji was one of them. If you don't understand why people from stand up community reveres Pandji so much even though he bombs a lot (kidding!), you might want to check out this book.

The third and the final book, Berani Mengubah, is a call to arms from Pandji to all of his readers. If NASIONAL.IS.ME was meant to trigger our passion, this book provides guidelines for us to translate this newly-found passion into actions. 

The book provides list of things that everyone can take to help our struggling nation, one small step at a time. The list is quite exhaustive, but the point is clear. If we want to improve Indonesia, we can first start by improving ourselves. 

By upgrading our knowledge in economics, politics, and even history, we will be better equipped for making choices. Choices that might affect our future, and the future of our nation. Knowledge is power, and its importance cannot be more stressed enough in this era of information.

I hope the review doesn't bore you. I realize it might sound too good to be true. Perhaps I'm just having a low standards in literature, that's true. But even then, I can still feel the passion and the honesty in all of Pandji's books, something that's quite rare to find these days.

Pandji, if you're reading this, I'd like to say happy birthday to you! Keep infecting our youngsters with your passion. Long live!