June 27, 2004

No Varnish

by Jerome du Bois

. . . I do not believe that J's interests were either theological or political. They were what we would now call imaginative or literary, and concerned the elite image of the individual life . . . " -- Harold Bloom, The Book of J.

Everybody counts or nobody counts. -- Hieronymus Bosch, LA Police / Michael Connelly, The Last Coyote.

The retrospective "founding document" of three religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- is The Book of J, written (probably) by a woman circa 900 BCE, and demonstrably not for religious reasons; she was telling glorious stories. You can believe I relish the ironies here. I highly reccommend the Harold Bloom / David Rosenberg book. Here's Bloom's description of the creation story:

. . . Yahweh molds the clay, not as the potter does, but in the manner of a child making mud pies, freestyle with his own hands. J does not tell us whether Yahweh blows his breath through his own nostrils, or by his own mouth, into the newly formed mouth of the moistened red clay creature, but either way the image is powerfully grotesque. Perhaps even more original, and more ironic, is the uniqueness of the creation of woman, since there is absolutely no other story of the forming of a human female in all of the surviving literature of the ancient Near East. That J gives six times the space to the woman's creation as to the man's may well reflect J's gender, but that I will discuss in other contexts. Page 28.

The part I've emphasized speaks of a powerful repression that spans centuries. But here in this note I would like to focus on Bloom's motivation for "recovering" J, so let's begin with his words:

To read the Book of J, we need to begin by scrubbing away the varnish that keeps us from seeing that the Redactor and previous revisionists could not obliterate the original work of the J writer. That varnish is called by many names: belief, scholarship, history, literary criticism, what have you. If these names move or describe you, why read the Book of J at all? Why read the Iliad, or the Commedia, or Macbeth, or Paradise Lost? The difference is that those works have not been revised into creeds and churches, with a palimpsestic overlay of orthodox texts obscuring what was there to be revised. Recovering J will not throw new light on Torah or on the Hebrew Bible or on the Bible of Christianity. I do not think that appreciating J will help us love God or arrive at the spiritual or historical truth of whatever Bible. I want the varnish off because it conceals a writer of the eminence of Shakespeare or Dante, and such a writer is worth more than many creeds, many churches, many scholarly certainties. Pages 47-48.

Amen. That's my template: the invidual human voice, respected for what it is, raised without interference or distortion by those who think they know better. A voice judged by its peers. Sounds familiar. Sounds like the blogosphere.

No varnish. My only agenda on this blog is respect for individual human beings, and respect for those who respect individual human beings. For any social or political or religious structure I ask, What is the ontological status of each one among them? We are born on earth. Before any social, religious, or political overlays, demands, or tugs-of-war, we must cope with being individual citizens of the planet, facing both nature and the future, two mysterious giants. If you belong to a religion or ideology or belief which subordinates individuality, then you suborn individuality, and you become both my adversary and my target.

We choose our battles. Here's one of mine: preserve the sovereign person.


Posted by Jerome at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

June 26, 2004

Muslims, Dhimmis, Women, and Fear

by Jerome du Bois

In Arabic, the word fitna means both civil disorder and beautiful woman.

. . . it is a culture in which shame and honor play decisive roles and in which the debasement of women is paramount. -- Phyllis Chesler paraphrasing Dr. Nancy Kobrin

We had a recent dustup in the comments for Islam is Anathema Now. It was pretty tiresome and depressing. I called people names. And they me. This is no apology; I reaffirm here every damn word. You can go read the thread, but I've already gleaned what I consider the most important shakeout: those guys -- yes, they're all men, four of them -- can barely bring themselves to write the words "woman" or "women," much less discuss adult Muslim males' prepubescent fear of women.

I kept saying that it's about women -- my whole objection to Islam is because of its thoroughgoing, deep-seated, and structurally necessary misogyny, which is stultifying the lives and minds, and murdering the souls, of hundreds of millions of people, male and female. And these guys kept avoiding or minimizing half the human species. I pointed the most vicious of these commenters, a psychotwist named Justin, to my wife Catherine King's "Sheela's Burka," which had been right over there on the sidebar for most of this debate. Part of his reply:

I had a look at your "Sheela's Burka" piece. What's your point? Have I ever denied there to be sexism in the middle east?

First, it isn't my piece, turkey, Catherine King made it. Says right there. It's a tell that you avoid even the mention of her. It also says right there, in boldface, what the point is: Islam stinks. Islam stinks because of the way it treats women -- like filth. "Sexism" is a bandaid word to apply to a life of slavery, humiliation, and mutilation.

(Justin cannot reply here. As I have already told him, I will delete any comments he makes. Unfair? Yes. Don't like it? Boo-hoo. Go yell at me on your own blog, if you can figure out how to start one. I'll be here. Ping me. Am I rude? Somebody's feelings are hurt? Gosh, haven't you noticed? These are mortal stakes. Heads are rolling. Watch yours or get out of the way.)

It's also notable, at least to me, that "Sheela's Burka," prominent and provocative and right there when one logs on, drew no fire whatsoever. No mention from any readers. Here are these angry guys huffing and puffing about Edward Said's moss-backed and paranoid Orientalism, attacking me in the comments, and all the while Sheela's rebuking them. But . . . What Sheela? Where?

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, in "Behind Mubarak," exhibited similar myopia right after 9/11, when he went around Cairo interviewing various prominent religious figures. From his first paragraph:

. . . On Friday, September 21, [2001] I arrived at the [Mustafa Mahmoud] mosque just the first worshippers were making their way there, and the egalitarianism that is one of the great virtues of the Muslim prayer service was evident: they were dark-skinned and light, rich and poor; one man drove up in a blue Jaguar; others, wearing grease-stained galabiyas and crude sandals, came on foot, or by donkey cart. (Women, as is customary, prayed apart, in another, smaller hall.)

As K said to J in Men in Black: "Anything about that seem unyoooosual to you?" (Egalitarianism, for those unfamiliar with the term, means "a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges.")

Mr. Goldberg mentions women once more in his article -- he doesn't interview a single one -- referring to Muslim objections to Western open sexuality. Otherwise, women were literally parenthetical to his article.

(His article appears in the new, essential anthology edited by the peerless Ron Rosenbaum, Those Who Forget The Past: The Question of Anti-Semitism.)

Daniel Pipes, last month in Frontpage magazine online:

The entire Muslim social structure can be understood as containing female sexuality. It goes to great lengths to separate the sexes and reduce contact between them. This explains such customs as the covering of womenís faces and the separation of womenís residential quarters (the harem) [in the past]. Many other institutions serve to reduce female power over men, such as her need for a maleís permission to travel, work, marry, or divorce.

Sexual apprehensions constitute a key reason for Islamís trauma in the modern era.

Men throughout history developed terrifying visions about women, such as the femme fatale, the vagina dentata, Sheela, and Amazons. In societies of law, where boys have regular contact with women -- mothers, sisters, classmates -- and access to information -- they outgrow such terror. Muslim men, isolated, separate, and kept ignorant because their elders have had balls like raisins for centuries, have refined fear of women into a pervasive social terror of an unpredictable and persistent demon. They cannot just be equal people, side by side, face to face, working life out. A woman can't just be a human being. No, the men must act out their psychopathic drama.

The Sheik's New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, forthcoming from Dr. Nancy Kobrin and Yoram Schweitzer, will shed much-needed light on this overwhelming fear.

Muslim women don't get a pass from me, by the way. You like the way it is, stay there, sister. To the others: You allow it to happen. Stand up. You may die. They died on Omaha Beach, they died in Okinawa, and they're dying in Baghdad. This is the way the world changes sometimes.

I know from testimonies of women in the Western world: when you are backed into a corner, and he's advancing with the lighter and lighter fluid, there's no place to go but forward, fists, teeth, legs, and feet, until you prevail or you die. Or you sit there, whimper, and burn. What are you going to do?

I know one thing: Muslim women won't get any help from hmohsen, Todd, Justin, or Burnett. (Don't bother commenting, guys. You had plenty of opportunity to speak up for women unequivocally, which is the only important thing you could have said.) And those last three aren't even Muslims. Even if, for example, the mutawwai'n burned fifteen more Saudi schoolgirls to death, what do you think they'd say after the usual platitudes -- hey, it's their society, it's neither better nor worse, just different.

Dhimmis, living life on their knees.

Posted by Jerome at 06:45 PM | TrackBack

June 18, 2004

Islam Is Anathema Now

by Jerome du Bois

P@ul J8hnson, Jr., [the ghouls drove me to change his name -- twice! -- 6/20/04] expert helicopter technician from New Jersey, had been beheaded by Islamic extremists.

Islam has now proved itself both the most vicious and most ineffectual religion on Earth, and I'm going to dedicate my next fictional work to burning its fucking kite. Nobody wants to offend Muslims? Hah! I'm done with these turds. (And please don't think I'm ignorant; I've read more about this religion than many people.) I'm invoking the ghosts of Nathaniel West, Jonathan Swift and Voltaire, and I'm writing a new-style play for a murderous, misogynistic evil which should never have been allowed to flourish.

As far as I know, no significant Muslim, Saudi or otherwise, in the whole wide umma of this billion-headed creature, has been pounding on doors in Riyadh or anywhere in Saudi Arabia for the last three days. (One ordinary Muslim guy, a tool pusher like J8hnson himself, invoked Islamic law. It didn't work. That is a clue. This religion's strictures mean zero, zero, zero. Hypocrisy rules Islam. Always has.) Also, where was Powell? Armitage? Bandar? His buddy, GW Bush, for fuck's sake?

[Update: Adel Al-Jubeir, who I call the Ant Man, just appeared on cable yabbering about universal values, as he represents a country which outlaws a sect of his own religion and is now torturing an East Indian Christian. As you read these words. It just struck me that, even physically, he is the reincarnation of Josef Goebbels.]

If you are a Muslim, reader, or sympathize in any way with that hypocritical pile of hortatory offal, get off my blog, now! get your filthy eyes and filthy fingers off me. I have no illusions about your murderous idiocy, and no need to try to convert you. Pigs and dogs, both of whom I have known, are better than any of you until you abandon your death cult. You're cooked in hell already. Go! Go! Go!

Some shitbird named Omar El-Zebedi of Al-Arabiya, on CNN right now, keeps referring to "the American guy" over and over again. His name, you . . . you . . . human . . . is P@ul J8hnson, Jr., P@ul J8hnson, Jr., of New Jersey, who now lives on in P@ul J8hnson III and P@ul J8hnson IV, so fuck you, Prophet Mohammed, curses be upon you until Ein Sof consumes you and shits you out like the illiterate offal you always were!

And please, don't show up with a comment about Steven Schwartz's book and tolerance and different kinds of interpretations of Islam and shari'a, and this and that. Not now, not ever. Just . . . don't. Just go jump in a lake. Religions have changed the world. Christianity, which I have just one tiny sliver of sympathy for, abolished slavery.

Islam has not abolished the humliation of women. Islam has passed serenely, for over a thousand years, over female genital mutilation, honor killing, burkhas, shari'a, all of which have flourished under its dark and extinguishing mantle. No effect whatsoever. So . . . what's the conclusion? Muslim men love having women as stupified slaves. In Palestinian society, both male and female infants are genitally stimulated for hours. Fathers get regular f3llatio from daughters and sons. Brothers screw brothers -- and sisters, but only anally. Islam permits a polymorphous perversity literally enacted out in all those camps, all the time: men penetrating . . . everyone.

Oh, I'm sorry, have I offended anyone? Then why are you still here, you spineless twit? Look it in the eye or go hide like the others. P@ul J8hnson, Jr., of New Jersey, just had to face death for no justifiable reason on Earth, while you and I sit here in air-conditioned comfort and try to drown our sorrows in whatever is available.

Whoever's left on this rant, the second part of The New Mango piece will be posted late tomorrow afternoon. (Nothing's going to stop me; this blog was originally titled "Shooting Through Tears.") It will provide some very sweet and pungent and funny medicine to counter the sorrow of this most dolorous day. For those with the hearts to appreciate it, I salute and welcome you.

For the others: I've kept my sword bright, too, you sons of hell. Beheading is just the beginning. By the time I'm done, I will make mincemeat of of your body of evil, I will channel my tears into eloquent fury until all your dead ayatollahs and imams, their pedophiliac sociopathy exhausted, pound furiously on the insides of their pathetic wooden coffins, screaming my name and death fatwa! over and over again -- while Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and P@ul J8hnson, Jr., intact again, look grimly down from their martyrdom. Wait until you read Islam Zero!

Rest in peace, Mr. J8hnson. And Islam, either step up and get civilized, repudiate misogyny and tribalism -- or burn, burn, burn in Hell!

Posted by Jerome at 03:17 PM | TrackBack

June 10, 2004

Hercules! Leonardo Bruzon Avila Freed

A man I hallucinated about in Cuban Art Series #6 has been freed from his Cuban prison, thanks to the French government. Here's the story from Cubanet.org:

HAVANA -- Leonardo Bruzon Avila, a little-known Cuban dissident who gained fame outside his homeland through international campaigns for his release, was suddenly freed from jail Tuesday and he said he would leave soon for France.

"My struggle is inside Cuba but I will go to France so that my voice is heard outside Cuba," Bruzon said in brief comments to reporters at his home in central Havana.

He said France granted him a humanitarian visa after his family became alarmed about his health during a recent hunger strike. French officials in Havana could not be reached for comment because the embassy was closed for the day.

Bruzon, leader of a group calling itself the February 24 Pro-Human Rights Movement, was still awaiting trial following his arrest more than two years ago on sedition charges.

Over the years, his case was mentioned in annual reports by groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Bruzon's family has maintained regular communication with those and other groups about their concerns for his well-being.

U.S. President George W. Bush even mentioned Bruzon by name, along with several other Cuban political prisoners, in an October speech announcing measures to crack down on American travel to the communist-run island.

In my piece, I speculated that he may already be dead, since he was down to about 80 pounds and in a coma.

What kind of strength, way beyond physical, way beyond Hercules, does it take to come back from such a dark borderline?

What's his secret?

[My title refers to the fact that Sr. Bruzon Avila was imprisoned partly for being accused of showing the Disney movie Hercules to his classes.]

[ANNOUNCEMENT: Tomorrow I post the Prologue and Part One of La Pionera and The New Mango, a techno-epistolary novella about Cuban art, life, and politics.]

Posted by Jerome at 01:20 PM | TrackBack