I'm a little more scatterbrained than usual. So here's some nonsensical notes strung together:
Among the pile of books to get through is Anthony Burgess' But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen? Homage to QWERT YUIOP and other writings, a collection of his journalism, reviews, essays, and what not. I've been paging through it, and came across an interesting piece on a book called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, one of many works which argues that the Merovingian kings were descendants of the offspring of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Burgess is fairly dismissive of the work -- the three believe that among the many grand masters of the secret society Prieure de Sion, which aims to restore the Merovingian line to power, was none other than Jean Cocteau, whom Burgess dismisses as a "Drugtaker pederast, minor poet, collaborator -- what has he to do with the blood Christ?" I think that's a little harsh on Cocteau, who was certainly gay but not, to the best of my knowledge, a pederast or, for that matter, a collaborator with the Nazis, but still -- Cocteau's inclusion among the grand masters strikes me as being utterly absurd.
Stygius has thoughts on the psychology of Jihad that remind me of something I read in Political Islam by Nazih N. Ayubi. Ayubi gives us some statistics resulting from the consequences of urbanization: just as in the West, the age at which Arabs marry in urban environments (where one needs additional schooling, where the cost of living is higher, and so on and so forth) has increased steadily -- in some cases approaching the age of 30 for men. In the West, we've compensated more or less for this by allowing a loosening of sexual mores, but the same has not occurred in the Arab world. Add to this the Muslim view of sex -- while Christianity has generally branded it as something shameful, in Islam it's one of the pleasures of Heaven (I'm actually paraphrasing Ayubi here) -- and combine that with that hint of "late-adolescent narcissism that makes violent jihad appeal to both the young man's need for an affirmation (of potency) while having this symbolic, transcendent altruism-through-expressive act at the same time; self-destructiveness as the height of self-obsession" that Stygius speaks of, and I think one can begin to get a sense of the psychological drive behind this.
In another essay on Christography, Burgess mentions a name I must have missed -- Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera -- allegedly the father of Jesus (Burgess adds, parenthetically, that this was a belief the Nazis held, since it half-Aryanized the savior).
Kesher Talk has lots of links on the mise en scene in New York -- should be fun to follow for the rest of the week.Posted by Ideofact at August 29, 2004 11:49 PM