What I Remember About the Satanic Verses, Before I Reread It

About fifteen years ago I read Salman Rushdie’s the Satanic Verses. I knew nothing about Islam at the time–well, only what a typical American “knows”: Muslim men can have four wives, some Muslim girls’ genitals are mutilated, images of the prophet are not allowed, and so on.

I’m going to re-read it, since it occurred to me that I might enjoy it more now that I’ve studied Islam a little bit. But this morning I read a piece on Cracked.com where the claim was made that the upset about the book was due to a mistranslated titled and not because in the book Muhammad’s revelations were delivered by a demon rather than an angel.

Well, I don’t remember that much about the book except that it was way more artsy than I like anymore and that it was a chore to get through and that I could see very well why Muslims would get upset at the book, as in the book the prophet Muhammad’s revelations were delivered by a demon rather than an angel.

Anyhow, I’m going to reread it soon. And also, as far as I remember, the meaning of the phrase the Satanic verses, while in real life may refer to some verses excised from the Qur’an, had nothing to do with the book. A lot of people seem to think it does.

So stay tuned. And share your opinion.

 

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Filed under books, Islamic relations, religion, translation

Nelson DeMille’s The Panther, Part 2 (and the end)

If I hadn’t committed myself to blog about this book, I probably wouldn’t have finished reading it. But I realized that most of my complaints are about the storytelling, and not Arabic or Arab culture.

The idea of an al-Qaeda hit list and, better yet, a CIA hit list (of American law enforcement personnel) have nothing to do with Arabic or Arab culture, so I guess there’s no point in talking about how ludicrous it is. And the fact that this book is so steeped in testosterone I felt like I should go sit around in my OBGYN’s office for a few hours to normalize is irrelevant, too.

But to go back to a couple passages I marked:

“Right. And don’t forget that The Panther is an American. So maybe he thinks more clearly and logically than most of these whacked-out jihadists.”

I mean, that’s annoying as hell, but it’s spoken by a character, not an omniscient narrator.

And also not relevant is the protagonist, John Corey, epitomizing mansplaining as he talks to a medical doctor:

“That’s about it.” I reminded her, “Aim for the center mass of the target. Heart is on the right.”

“Left.”

“His left, your right, Doctor.”

More insight into our protagonist here:

And not a bad technique. Like, “Hey Abdul, let’s talk about camel grazing rights. And by the way, how much do you want for your wife?”

har har

So, that’s all I have. Can’t recommend the book, even just for laughs. And to think I really loved Plum Island.

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Filed under arab, arabic, bigoted idiots, books

Nelson DeMille’s The Panther, part one

A couple days ago I started reading The Panther by Nelson DeMille. “Yay,” I thought, “Finally another book to write about on my blog. Almost nobody writes novels with Arab villains these days.” But Mr. DeMille came through.

Rather than wait until I finish it, I’m going to start with my thoughts so far, as they are many, plus I just got to something that really tickled my funny bone.

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts about Nelson DeMille’s Arab-related novels that he really seems fascinated almost to the level of having a fetish about Arab names. The villain of two of his previous novels was named Asad Something or Other. Asad is a very common proper name and it means lion, and throughout both books the author or perhaps the narrator just couldn’t stop comparing the human being to a lion.

Arab names are a lot more likely to be words still in use in Arabic, unlike names in English, which come from all kinds of languages so that we often have no idea what their original meaning was. Nevertheless, being named Asad in the Arab world is very much like being named Mike or Jim or Dave in the US. No big deal.

Protagonist John Corey killed “The Lion” in a previous novel. His new nemesis is “The Panther.” In the case of this new guy, his given name was something else, and he actually chose to be called “the panther,” or al-numayr. (Al Numair in the novel). Numayr is a word I didn’t know, so I looked it up. I did a Google image search. I looked at over 100 image results without seeing a single picture of any kind of big cat. I saw lots and lots of pictures of Arab human beings named Numayr. (I searched on النمير, for those who wish to recreate my experience).

And what’s killing me is that John Corey can NOT think of this guy without mentally calling him “The Panther” and comparing him with a big cat. You know how you do, like when you watch golf and compare Tiger Woods to a real tiger, or listen to Charlie Parker and muse on how much like a bird he is?

Later I hope to piece together my thoughts on John Corey’s casual racism (but Arab isn’t a race!) and his Iraqi-American Muslim pal who denigrates Islam, but for now I must rush to page 208. Up to this point, John Corey has mentally or verbally referred to “The Panther” at least two dozen times (I’m estimating), and remember, the man nicknamed himself al-Numayr or Al Numair, not “The Panther”–and from what I know after 20 years of Arabic plus a lengthy google search, it is not at all a common word for panther–when he is introduced to Dr. Fahd.

Corey has nothing to say about Dr. Fahd’s name, or how much Dr. Fahd resembles any given animal. No internal musings on the prey-predator relationship or nocturnal habits or hunting ranges or anything…because John Corey doesn’t know what Fahd means. Fahd is just a man’s name.

Guess what Fahd means. “Panther.” A Google image search brings up mostly pics of cheetahs, I saw one of black leopard, and I’ve also told it can mean ‘lynx.’

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Filed under arab, arabian, arabic, books, names

The Jerboa

This cute little critter is a jerboa. Some of them live in Arab lands. It’s a cute little mouse-like creature. Its legs may or may not freak you out.

What do you think?

Creepy or cute?

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Filed under animals, arabian

All-Arabic Version of “America the Beautiful” Here

Last night’s Super Bowl included a commercial by Coca Cola in which “American the Beautiful” was sung in a few different languages along with English. I didn’t hear any Arabic in it, but here is Coke’s version in all-Arabic. This clip also includes some conversation with the delightful little girl who sang it.

Also, for a small sample of what America’s bigots, racists, and morons said on Twitter about the commercial, go to Public Shaming:

http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/

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Filed under arab, arabic, bigoted idiots, language, movies and shows, music, Stupidity

Super Cute Boy Band on Arabs Got Talent

This clip is from September, but hey, it’s new to me.

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Filed under arab, arabic, movies and shows, music

Arabic Horror Movies

Found this thoughtful article from 2012 about horror movies in the Arab world.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/13233

“Supernatural tropes are common in our horrors.This makes sense when dealing with what subconsciously scares our societies. It is within the foundation of Islam – and even among Arab Christians in a cultural sense. It’s not something you can grow out of. People grow old and still believe in exorcisms,” Tarek Jammal, a Lebanese filmmaker and hardcore movie enthusiast, explained to Al-Akhbar.

He pointed to the example of zombies, popular figures in American horror, to clarify his point. “Why are there no zombies in Gaza?” he asked.

“Zombies are not as terrifying as an Israeli bombing, and other real life horrors and tragedies. Zombies are commonly representative of various fears arising within affluent societies. People who are under constant attack by Israelis or whomever else aren’t going to be frightened by zombies.”

Jassim al-Nofaly, Egyptian-Omani filmmaker and zealous horror buff, shared a similar viewpoint during a separate conversation with Al-Akhbar:

“Jinn and black magic are foundational to our cultural beliefs. We are afraid of what we do not understand and what we do not see. Some people educate their children from the point of view of an omnipresent invisible being that is constantly watching you; quite horrifying when you think about it,” he said.

I found it a fun read. I’ll be back to read Al-Akhbar again.

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Filed under arab, arabic, movies and shows