Jul. 5th, 2006

rfmcdonald: (Default)
"I believed for years that I was going to hell," the woman said two or so weeks ago on the Dufferin bus. "You can't make me believe that a just god would permit this."

I looked up from the book I was reading towards the back. A woman, perhaps 20 or so, was sitting next to someone who looked like a boyfriend, but I realized that I was looking at the wrong people when I heard the same voice again but didn't see any lips move.

"There has to be something better," the woman's voice said, "there has to be something." The actual speakers was sitting in the very back of the bus, wearing a peasant skirt and with long braided hair, opposite a tall strong man with a book in his hand. Shortly afterwards, I disembarked.

This conversation, I hasten to add, coincided only in place with my sighting, two times in fifteen minutes last night, of two different people reading the same passage of the same edition of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The text related something about Kurtz' glory, I think.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
I hadn't expected to see, on entering the library, a sign announcing Sky Gilbert's delivery of a reading 6:30 this evening, but it struck me as something I might want to profit from. The reading got off to a rocky and ill-organized start, but it improved considerably as he interspersed readings from his memoirs Ejaculations frm the Charm Factory with passages from several of his plays (The Dressing Gown, Drag Queens on Trial, and Drag Queens in Outer Space). I was interested by this enough to borrow his 1996 play anthology Painted, Tinated, Sainted. It'll be interesting.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
There are many things wrong with Bernard Lewis' 2002 What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East. These are encapsulated by this thin book's final paragraph.

If the peoples of the Middle East continue on their present path, the suicide bomber may become a metaphor for the whole region, and there will be no escape from a downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression, culminating sooner or later in yet another alien domination; perhaps from a new Europe reverting to old ways, perhaps from a resurgent Russia, perhaps from some new, expanding superpower in the East. If they can abandon grievance and victimhood, settle their differences, and join their talents, energies, and resources in a common creative endeavour, then they can once again make the Middle East, in modern times as it was in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, a major center of civilization. For the time being, the choice is their own (159-160).


It's worth noting the relative implausibility of the various candidates for foreign hegemon cited by Lewis: Europe isn't interested, Russia can't, the likely "new, expanding superpower[s] in the East" won't. It's still more noteworthy that he doesn't nominate the United States as a candidate, even though that country had multiple bases in multiple countries in the Middle East at the time of writing and has since gone on to invade and conquer two Middle Eastern countries while positioning itself to take on still other candidates. I'm dubious about the motives for his peculiar selectivity.
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