Chindwin: a river that originates in Kachin State. Also a Burmese-language monthly magazine that the National Library of Australia recently added to its serials. Chindwin the river has a geographic bent, flowing towards the Irrawaddy. Chindwin the magazine has a literary and philosophical bent, leaning towards modernism and postmodernism.

The magazine, edited by Ko Tar, contains short essays, stories, articles and poems. A good feature is its book reviews, by Maung Kyaw Ywe. They offer strikingly frank and educated criticism on all books covered, no matter the author or translator. The reviews cover poetry, novels and translated books (concentrating on the quality of translation).

Every edition, Bo Hlaing (a PhD-holding physicist) also dedicates himself to explaining some insightful scientific work of the new era, such as nanoscience, chaos theory, and so on. “When things are at microscopic sizes, they change qualities, colours, melting points, and electrical reactions as atoms interact and their forces change,” he explains.

In Chindwin No.43 (October 2009), Myint Than presents a theological framework of “Dialectic” and “Trialectic” in response to an enquiry from a well-read teacher. Half of his comments are devoted to how the term “Trialectic” was wrongly understood, instead of going straight into the point. However, he handles his own topic professionally by explaining the Burmese way of dialectic thinking. He explains thesis-antithesis-synthesis as a complex system process, calling it the ‘Absolute’, what exactly it constitutes, and why dialectic fails when sudden discontinuity emerges in the pattern of continuity changes. He also mentions that this method is no longer embraced by the contemporary philosophers to explain about complex matters these days.

If that’s too much for you, other contributors in recent editions include Tekkathoe Khin Maung Zaw, writing a series on the histories of various universities and colleges; Hla Myint (Yangon University), writing on Bo Moe Gyoe (a.k.a. Colonel Suzuki) and other things; poetry by Maung Khine Moe (Myothit) and Maung Lin Kyi, short stories by Myint Than, humour by Maung Kaung Htaik, and thought-provoking pieces by Maung Myat Htin, Dr. Tin Aung, Maung Wanna and Ko Than (Kyimyindaing). Chindwin has a public intellectual or scholar for every topic.

[This post is provided by the National Library of Australia as part of our Book Zone feature. For further information on the featured publications contact Nick Cheesman at [email protected]]