“The Mystery of ISIS” by Anonymous

The New York Review of Books, 13 August 2015

Self is not kidding: for the first time ever in her many years of reading The New York Review of Books, there is a piece whose writer is identified only as “Anonymous.”

It’s a review of two new (well, relatively new; the issue self is reading is a year old) books about the rise of Islamic State aka IS/ISIS/ISIL/Army of the Levant and its founder, Ahmad Fadhil aka Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan (Regan Arts) and ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger (Ecco)

The reviewer asks:

  • “Who (in 2003) could have imagined that a movement founded by a man from a video store in provincial Jordan would tear off a third of the territory of Syria and Iraq, shatter all these historical institutions, and — defeating the combined militaries of a dozen of the wealthiest countries on earth — create a mini-empire? The story is relatively easy to narrate, but much more difficult to understand.”

The piece is very long and dense with information. Among its many references is one to Lawrence of Arabia (who said “. . . insurgents must be like a mist — everywhere and nowhere — never trying to hold ground or wasting lives in battles with regular armies.”) and another to Chairman Mao (who insisted that “guerrillas should be fish” swimming “in the sea of the local population”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Thought For the Day

Spotted in the Model Home Exhibit at the Calgary Stampede:

DSCN9512

Nice, right?

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Reality vs. Fantasy

The American Dream: A sudden transformation will bring a total change in one’s fortunes . . .  from poor to rich, sickness to health, misery to ecstasy . . .

The American Dream is just that: a dream, one that nevertheless exerts a powerful hold on the imagination of millions, Americans and non-Americans alike.

  • If you want to tell lies, that will be believed. Don’t tell the truth, that won’t.

— Emperor Ieyasu Tokugawa

  • Promise a great and total change — from poor to rich, sickness to health, misery to ecstasy, and you will have followers.

— Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

As Robert Greene tells it, “Change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self-sacrifice, and a lot of patience.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fan Fiction, Save Self

Beginning to read a new fan fiction by Amelia Day (an alias, of course), and it begins with a quote from F. Butler:

Nothing is infinite, not even loss. One day, you are going to find yourself again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Thought of the Day

DSCN2548

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino, CA

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: “Taka ti e pisano”

The quote for today is not from Daoud’s novel. Instead, it’s from an article in the November/December Poets & Writers magazine. That issue focused on translation (Which, since most of the books self reads are translations, like the Daoud, like the Candide she just finished reading), which is a topic that fascinates her.

The quote above is from the Bulgarian, and it means “That’s what is written for you.”

The author of the article, Angela Rodel, asks herself, How did I become a translator of Bulgarian literature?

She begins her piece with a wonderful quote from Mexican writer and translator Reynol Vazquez:

There are many sophisticated ways of starving yourself to death and being a translator from Bulgarian is one of them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Thought for the Day: Live Reality Intensely

With every morning, joy reawakens within me.

— Msgr. Luigi Giussani, from Directions for the Journey to the Meaning of Reality

Exhausted by AWP, Turning to Everlark

AWP Los Angeles was one heck of a ride.

It was huge. It was overwhelming. It was also a lot of fun.

Self is processing.

To help this process along, she is indulging in reading Everlark fan fiction. There was an Everlark fiction exchange recently (Indeed, Everlark shows no sign of fading, even after the end of the movie series, November 2015), and self contributed a prompt. The new fics have been slowly trickling in, oh joy.

Everlark is all love stories. All the time. Angst-y love stories.

Everlark falls apart. Again and again and again and again. And then there is a delicious, excruciatingly slow “growing back together” (the most loved Hunger Games trope)

Apropos of which, a quote from fellow Stanford Creative Writing Program alum Jeffrey Eugenides, in his introduction to the 2008 Harper anthology, My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, From Chekhov to Munro:

A love story can never be about full possession . . . Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart . . .  Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2nd ROAD DOGS Quote of the Day

Self is liking this Elmore Leonard book more and more.

She had to force herself through the first 50 or so pages (in a book that is only 250 pages long, this is indeed a great trial).

But when the little guy Cundo Rey is released from prison, and he is mean to his wife Dawn, who Jack Foley just happens to be sleeping with, things get a lot more twisted and that is when self started to like it.

p. 158:

  • “Lou, when you’re young, you never think of making a mistake.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Woman, Do Not Weep!”

Florence, Palazzo Vecchio, early November 2015: Self visiting the city for the first time with her niece, Irene, stumbles on a conference to honor the 10th anniversary of the death of Msgr. Luigi Giussani (1922 – 2005):

Woman, do not weep! Do not weep, because I did not make you for death, but for life. I put you in the world and placed you in the company of people.

There is nothing that can block the certainty of a destiny that is mysterious and good!

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