Do you believe in monsters?


For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats

Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.

She said the world’s Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.

Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.

“I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings,” she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.

Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: “Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs.”

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, “The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling.”

She went on, “We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people.”

She concluded, “Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.”

Her views caught the ear of the American Jewish Congress, which has invited her to speak in May at a conference in Israel. “We have been discussing with her the importance of her message and trying to devise the right venue for her to address Jewish leaders,” said Neil B. Goldstein, executive director of the organization.

There’s many ways to say the following and it has been said by the center-left multiple times. Its not being heard over the den of the American right because, like their right-wing counter parts in the middle-east and else where, those that make the most noise get the most attention from the media. Its always the guy yelling or throwing rocks that makes the evening news, not the guy pleading for a constructive dialogue.

“The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations,” Dr. Sultan said. “It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality.”

There seems to be battles within battles going on. The moderate Muslims vs the radical Muslims, the American center against the cultural right, and the American center against the radical Muslims, and finally the American right against the radical Muslims. If it was possible to perform a kind of deological surgery, if we could cut out the radical American right and the radical Muslims right now, today, the world would be at relative peace. The American middle, some people may remember them, you know reasonable people that think science and modernity trumps dogma, are caught in that episode of the Twilight Zone where nobody can hear them when they speak. There is a little thing called the culture wars, the American moderate had it hard enough in trying to sell the cultural right on the Enlightenment, now we’re at some kind of triangulation between moderate Mulims, and the domestic far right and the Muslim far right.
Let’s call it the Big Squeeze, the pro Middle Ages Muslims on one side. The James Dobsons and Karl Roves on the other isde who want to push modernity all the way back to John Calvin. How does the center win the war against two camps that are champions of the age of leeches and hair shirts. If more Muslims like Dr. Sultan would speak up that would help with jihadists. Real progressives need to find a way to make their voices heard and win elections in America.

O’Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts

Music in film has always been a little tricky. It can flesh out the action, give it fuller body, push the meaning or resonance of a scene into the intellectual frame in which the director intended. On the other hand when the scriptwriter or director has failed to give a proper context for a scene of the narrative, music can be used as a crutch. Music is used to fill in the texture which the film’s creators were unable to do. It’s a mistake to blame actors as frequently as many critics and casual viewers do; at best actors are interpretive artists. Actors interpretive skills are vitally important, but it is only when they fail to give a well crafted script the required dimensional depth that it has on the page, can the actors be considered as having made a bad picture. Probably at this point many of us have suffered buyers regret after purchasing a soundtrack for a movie that we liked when we find that most of the music without the context of the film’s action is not as cool as we thought it was. With a few exceptions the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp-Fiction are not much more them novelty songs without the contextual action which they underscore in the film. In film-noir especially early on, classical music or music with a classical style was used frequently to help build up the the melodrama. Clashing cymbols and orchestra creshendos were hallmarks of Hitchcock films. Jazz was also used, film-noir motif almost begged for it; jazz was thought of as urban, a little dangerous, as the anti-heros themselves, like Phillip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Gloria (Gena Rowlands, Gloria,1980) the music and characters were instigative and provocative. For their time anyway. Jazz was thought of as the music of smoke filled lounges, the agiprop of swinging cynical adults in fast cars, and in a subtle way it prodded at racism. While jazz eventually gained mainstream acceptance, in the late fourties and at least thourgh the mid sixties it was a kind of finger in the ribs of the white rural audience.To some film noir fans at least, Miles Davis soundtrack for the film ‘Ascenseur pour l’echafaud’directed by Louis Malle was a quintessentialt melding of jazz and film-noir. Credit where its due I think James M. Cain beat Malle to the story line on which Malle based the film.

NOTE: I’ve tried editing this post several times and because of some problems with wordpress, I either could get the editor to load or the edits were not saved. I may edit it again.

Alexandre Orion – See what happens when grafitti and photography are your medium.

JULIA:Do you believe in monsters?

A beat. Everyone else in the car trades looks.

PAUL:We’ve been in the car too long.

JULIA:I’m just asking.

PAUL:Like what? The Boogeyman?

JULIA:The Boogeyman. The thing under the bed. The monster hiding in the closet.

TERRY:What made you think of that?

JULIA:A little girl at Sam’s house. She was convinced there was a monster trying to get her.

PAUL:You’re saying you believe her?

Julia is suddenly on the spot. She backtracks.

JULIA:Of course I don’t. There are no monsters. Not really.

SAM:Sure there are. Ted Bundy. Son of Sam. Ed Gein.

from the screenplay They (2002) writing credit(WGA) Brendan Hood