Tuesday, February 02, 2016


If you are not afraid for your meatballs you may enter this saloon


Try – if you can – to read this book ABSOLUTELY NOT as an autobiography because as such it is exactly what you are not supposed to do in many situations, particularly dangerous situations. I take it as a true confession of many episodes in the character’s life, a confession of the character and not the author. In such confidential and confessional writings truth is no longer what actually happened but what could be learned, what the character reminisces and these recollections must be understood as both real material experiential events and at the same time a mixture and crisscrossing of material elements and fantasized elements for the whole to be meaningful and effective for the reader.

What I say here will be crystal clear after the two war correspondent episodes. These two episodes are saying that without any real training, without any real warning, without any real anything a 21 year old woman that we will consider as no longer virginal, without even mentioning of pills and other contraceptive means that would have been the number ONE recommendation, that this young woman jumps into one of the worst episodes of jihad, the Islamic war against non Islamic Russians or Soviets if you prefer, in both cases, without any real training in Islam and the place of women in Islam, without the fundamental elements that could only enable her maybe to go through, like a veil, and a complete veil if possible first of all and there are many other elements to take into account. If in such a state of total non-preparation this woman survived let’s say not too much bruised is in itself a divine miracle.

By bruising I mean the rape she suggests in Pakistan from some guide and the semi-rape she suffers too between Pakistan and Afghanistan from an 11 year old boy in the female quarter of a private home, showing that up to a certain age that we generally call puberty boys are entrusted to women and can or must live with them in the female quarter of a private home. She does not mention that because probably she does not know. For a boy to be admitted among men in this culture some particular rites and rituals must be fulfilled and they can’t be fulfilled before that certain age we used to call the age of reason (12 in the Christian tradition).

But in such a situation a woman has nothing to say, nothing to do because she did not protect the men from their desire by covering themselves from top to toe. Strangely enough, after the second rape or rape attempt she will cover herself fully, though it must only have been for a short while, but she should have known that from the very start. Such a woman is despised by all Muslim men but it generally does not go beyond if such a woman is not a member of a Muslim family because then that Muslim family would consider this woman had soiled the honor of the family and would require the normal sentence for such a crime, which is being stoned to death.

But if it were only that we could say this character has been lucky not to suffer more in her “exhibitionism” because that’s what her attitude would be considered to be by a very traditional, even moderate, Muslim family. Iran right now is going through some evolution that develops a fashion movement for the way women dress. But it has nothing to do with miniskirts or jeans. It has to with fashionable veils, in fashionable fabric with fashionable designs and colors that are far from black. Even in a city like Paris the women who are wearing the Islamic veil, which cannot be the full veil of fundamentalists because it would be against local law, are showing a great imagination and creativity in the fabric they choose and the patterns, motifs, etc., of the decoration of this veil. You can see that in the street, and we are not in the Afghan mountains in 1982 and 1983 among those who were going to become the Talibans.

In other words she went through some kind of miraculous epiphany twice since she should normally have been stoned to death within two days the first time and there would have been no second time.

But the character in her confessions goes miles further.

In her first mission in Afghanistan she is finally more or less sympathizing with one commander in her little Jihadist group, Commander Doc, she has an intimate episode with him who is a married man, she is invited to his family home and she knows what she is doing. She knows that it is adultery and that if the normal Islamic law were implemented she would be stoned to death and the man would not even get the slightest reprimand. He would have taken advantage of a western exhibitionist, which proves nothing about him, except that he is a man and he knows what is good for him in various situations. He would certainly have not touched her if she had been a Muslim, and anyway if she had been a Muslim she would not have been there in jeans riding horses, using cameras and taking pictures.

Then we wonder why in the second mission she does exactly the same mistake that leads her first to the rape and attempted rape and then she is defended by one of the two commanders of the group, Baba Fawad, who accepts her inside a mosque for the night in the mountains along with the men. And this female character has an adulterous liaison with the man who is married and has four wives. And she even goes further and suggests that she could bring him to New York. I just wonder why and what for? He would be ostracized. He would be an immigrant for a short visa and then an illegal immigrant who would have to marry the first American woman available to become an American citizen, with no training, no profession, no future, etc. What does that character has in her mind at that moment? She would create the worst possible illusion and dream that would lead to the worst possible frustration, at least, if not traumatic experience. PTSS good morning, should I say Vietnam? This female character exposes how blind, self-centered and irresponsible one can be in such dangerous situations.

She was young you would say and the character is obviously a flashing warning light for more candidates who would like to do the same today in Syria for instance, on the Islamic State’s side of course. With a photographer who had been a war correspondent in ex-Yugoslavia during the wars there, him and I, we manage to prevent one niece of mine from going on a peaceful and pacifying mission in the heart of Muslim Yugoslavia just after the war. My friend explained her that it was not exactly a safe place for a western woman who would neither be a Muslim nor respect the basic customs of Muslim women. She chose Georgia instead and that was definitely a better choice, and a relief.

I have been in dangerous areas like Zaire (Kinshasa) in 1967-68 under Mobutu and in 2005 in Sri Lanka (where I was greeted two days after my arrival by LTTE militants assassinating the Tamil Minister of Foreign Affairs in Colombo. In both cases I was a man and I was not directly involved in the zones where violence was happening, but even so we were carefully prepared and advised not to do some things, not to look arrogant, not to look anything but humble. I entirely lived for one month in a black neighborhood in Kinshasa, sharing a home with an African family, and even though I was accepted and even though this zone was peaceful, I was supposed to be cautious, at least cautious. And this neighborhood was a Christian parish, which makes things quite different.

Maybe I have said enough about this character in such situations but it is obvious that this character should not have survived the various adulterous episodes she went through. Either she is fantasizing them or she was divinely lucky. Maybe her being stoned to death would have been a monstrous murder, but I just wonder how she managed to do what she says she did without getting into real trouble.

The second big chunk of this character’s saga I want to discuss is her sexual orientation and marital projects. That has to do a lot with what this character tells us of her family, mother and father essentially.

They all survived, including the father who was burnt 40%, a rather unwise thing the father did. When gluing some tiles in the kitchen of their home, the heating apparently on, I mean some kind of open fire furnace, with no ventilation, he caused a serious explosion when the vapors of the glue he was using, probably what’s more without a mask, caught fire. She was apparently traumatized by it. On the other hand the mother with whom she lived all her youth, including of course after the divorce, was an economist working for the Federal Reserve and she was a very serious alcoholic who will die of it. She obviously lived that situation as traumatic. The character thus had no hope to be fully balanced because these traumatic circumstances developed in her a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that made her at least psychotic: “I am different. I can’t be assimilated in the world, so I will build my own world where I can integrate. Or I will try to force the real world to change the way it will make me able to integrate.”

That’s why this character goes to Afghanistan, out of defiance. She gets into filmmaking for the same reason, to build her own discourse against the world. She would never be a journalist that goes on a mission and does what he or she is asked to do and then lets the medium he or she is working for do the wrapping up and the broadcasting. The character wanted to impose her own vision and of course she failed. So she got connected to an independent producer, Sarah, who has the same name as her mother: do not believe Freudian transference does not exist. Though she is officially engaged with a Greek sailor who is doing his military service in the Greek armed forces and who intends to marry her – and she says she intends to do just that – yet she asserts she wants an open relationship for her but she wants a life partner she won’t have to share. Not seeing the contradiction she even goes deeper into it.

She develops a lesbian relationship with the producer Sarah, thus getting her mother by transference and thus demonstrating a male Oedipus complex, which is at least difficult to assume in a world where a man is a man and a woman a woman. And she does not want to share Sarah. In the same way, after his military service George, the Greek sailor, comes to New York for three months and she has a relationship with him that she wants to be exclusive on his side while she is having a lesbian relationship with her mother-transference that she wants exclusive on Sarah’s side, but she states thus she does not want George and Sarah to have a relationship of their own to fulfill what this character calls a love triangle, and she does not see she is reproducing the broken relationship between her own parents with her in between. She goes very far in denying George any real position: she had suggested him to come along as a technician on a mission in the USSR but she rejects him at the last minute. Then she lets him go back to Greece at the end of his three month visa. And at the same time starts developing a non-physical relation with Sarah, in other words putting herself on a punishing diet as for intercourse.

Later on she will finally marry George but that will be when she meets the third Sarah (Sarah is the triple goddess in a way, Demeter, Drimidri as she is known in my village), when she discovers George Gurdjieff, the mixed Russian, Armenian and Greek (she is fascinated by ternary patterns) mystic philosopher. Note of course the parallel with George her lover. The third Sarah will be a meditation guide who will lead her into introspecting herself along Gurdjieff’s lines. I will not discuss these lines and the writing in this book that then borrows metaphors and other allegories from this Gurdjieff, because that is not the stake of this section of the book. I am interested in the character. She finally can marry George when she has met another George that will become her spiritual mentor (at a very vast distance, a father transference anyway) under the guidance of the third Sarah and the main trend will be to get into normal, meaning acceptable for society, patterns. That character is fascinated if not mesmerized and obnubilated by these patterns, like the house of four rooms, forgetting that then the house is a fifth entity, or the allegory of the horse, the carriage, the driver and the master, forgetting again that this pattern does not exist if there is not an intention, a destination, a target, a goal. No one sits in a train if the train is not going somewhere. In fact I would suggest this character should get in touch with Kenneth Burke and his “Grammar of Motives” in which he gives detail about his “pentad”: the act (horse), the scene (carriage), the agent (driver), the agency (master) and the purpose (missing completely). Gurdjieff is only contemplating an inert inside world that goes nowhere and turns on itself like a top or a prayer mill.

And that’s exactly where we meet that character at the end.

“I’m on a spiritual path. There’s no gender on the path, but I am a New Woman. I have a conscious awareness of wholeness merging with the Divine feminine creative impulse.”

She negates “gender” and at the same time asserts she is the “New Woman” who should be genderless, which is maybe in agreement with her “conscious awareness of wholeness,” but then she concludes on exactly the contrary and asserts the “Divine feminine creative impulse.” In other words she, as a New Woman can do absolutely what she wants because it is creative whereas of course George will have to be subservient and obedient because he can’t have that creativity that is both divine and feminine.

I just wonder what this character thinks she is. That character is going to argue she is compensating for centuries of subservience and humiliation on the side of women. I would say at least OVER-compensating.

Then we can of course thank the author for exposing such crazy stances that would lead anyone to doom and catastrophe since genderless is essentially in that character’s logic the negation of masculinity, of the male, of the father, of the lover, of the brother, of the husband. Let them, men, satisfy their selfish carnality among themselves. We, New Women, will select those who will be authorized to subserviently and obediently serve us. They would inject us with millions of Kurzweilian nanobots to keep control of us, Old Men.

That world is frightening.


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