Nothing Happens on Tuesday Anyway
In an effort to spice up the content of my oft-stagnant blog, which feels lately like a mirror into which I’m singing to myself, a hair comb being my microphone, I had this idea: rather than just consuming the ever-updated realm of the web, I should share my findings here, with folks like yourselves. I find a lot a fascinating stuff, and rather than eating all this enlightening information up for myself, it would behoove me to at least share it. Also, I’m not adept to fighting in the bloodsport arena of comment threads.
Besides, it’s gonna be Tuesday. Screw it. Indulge yourselves.
I Ate Ice-Cream with a Member of Al-Qaeda in Syria
“Al Qaeda has a bit of an image problem.” This article, from Vice, presents an intriguing picture: a journalist (Western, female), is offered an opportunity to interview a member of an organization (a non-profit, I think) that pretty much hates anything Western, and holds women in high regard so long as they’re below a man’s. Unsurprisingly, the interview is a bit of an one way street. The al Qaeda fighter dances (not really) around much of the questions, but offers vague insight into some of the more, say, clerical quandaries of the organization, like requiring all fighters in Syria to speak fluent Arabic. An organization that demands fluency of their language even if no proper, official language exists within the organization itself? Who took over after we put a moonroof through Bin Laden’s head, Sean Hannity? And after al Qaeda’s “conference call” was leaked, I’m beginning to view them less as an international terrorist group and more like a rigid, bureaucratic retail corporation. Like Wal-Mart, but with a much higher turnover rate. Overall, it’s nice to know that even overzealous guerrilla fighters scream for ice cream, too.
George Orwell’s Letter On Why He Wrote ‘1984’
With all the hubbub about government desk dwellers creeping in on our internet searches, and Eddie Snowden no longer shacking up in a bathroom stall at Hotel Sheremetyevo, Orwell’s “1984” is almost as popular as “Twilight” fan fiction that hasn’t been modified into dimestore erotica. The Daily Beast posted this letter yesterday, which is Orwell’s own words concerning the rise of totalitarian sentiment after World War II. Focusing on the letter itself and not risking a lengthy digression into Orwell’s novel or any of this obvious overstepping of the Fourth Amendment, I found something rather confounding, said in the beginning of the letter. Stating the rise of jingoism in nations, Orwell wrote:
“Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means.”
It’s a universal truth that Anglo-American millionaires will profit on virtually every sneeze that occurs within our culture. Shit, even as I write this post, for free and at my own will, to be read by, at best, a handful of people (half of which know me personally), some cowboy hat wearing big-wig with a champagne gut is probably buying crystal dishware for his new Montana ranch with money he indirectly pilfered from my posting on a website that his private equity whatchamacallit owns stock in. But that wasn’t the confounding part.
Did you catch that name dropping? It was Orwell’s associating Gandhi with the term “fuhrer” which had me perplexed. With all due respect, Orwell was a member of the Colonial goon squad, but he was self-aware, to his chagrin, that he was a part of that goon squad. It’s hard to consider Orwell having a biased opinion of Gandhi on the basis of a sense of nationalism; he spends the rest of the letter bemoaning that very idea. Everything the American education system had taught me about Gandhi, albeit brief and not-really-at-all, he seemed like an alright fellow. Non-violent protests, hunger strikes, and believing that the Indian identity transcended the difference of religion (and that’s the one that essentially got him killed). To find a shred of evidence to give Orwell the benefit of the doubt in his pairing Gandhi with the likes of Stalin, I took to the next best thing aside from my wholesome American education — Wikipedia. You could imagine Gandhi having a rather sizable page of information, and there is. After reading, skimming, reading, glancing, refilling my coffee, and reading again, I learned that Gandhi didn’t approve of the Jewish people settling in Palestine. Though he acknowledged their desire to leave Europe, he wouldn’t condone their settlement in Palestine if it was through violence or at the benefit of British colonialism. Specifically, Gandhi thought it best that the Jews wait for Arab opinion, and rely on the goodwill of the Arabs instead of forming a military. In a powder keg disguised as a nutshell, Gandhi, along with many, didn’t approve of the Zionists’ claim to Palestine. Fast forward seventy years and al Qaeda is holding ice cream socials with journalists on their days off.
During my brief tenure in college, I was assigned a book by Scottish philosopher David Hume, titled, “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”. Among those essays was one called “On Suicide”, which shares the same title with this essay by Clancy Martin, posted on Harper’s. It was my favorite essay in Hume’s whole collection, and it being my favorite could shed light as to why a few of my friends befall my writing as being too depressing and dark. Not necessarily. Why Hume’s essay resonated with me is why Martin wrote his own essay of the same name: because suicide isn’t discussed enough. At best, our culture suffers a knee-jerk reaction to the subject. For instance, condemning it as a selfish retreat from the miseries of life, but having attended memorials of both suicides and natural deaths, the former seems to focus on survivors’ disappointments in the individual’s choice, in that the deceased must not have considered the feelings of those they left behind, which is in a sense, just as selfish. It’s a sensitive topic, and if we are to talk about it rationally, I think this essay would be a good ice breaker. Yes, I risk ending this post on a somber note, but I thought it apropos to include for reasons stated in the essay itself.