Just finished Eteraz new book…so genius. He limns each stripe and variant of the American muslim, from “fundies” and “moderates”, to feministas and marketeers wholly slaved to American foreign policy. A darkly brilliant theatre noir sharper and more puissant than a Damascus blade. Protagonist M. recognizes the dark engine of America– the unholy feedback loop of advertising/consumerism– and embraces it, plunging enthusiastically into the black tide.
A thing Eteraz doesn’t explicitly tag (like graffiti on America’s wall) is the impotent fury of America at how the jihadis coopt social media and turn science and technology to their own purpose– the very NetWar that Mahmoud’s moderate muslim marketeering is supposed to counter. Shouldn’t there have been a cyber analog to the GCMs? A secret society of hackers and digital warriors modelled on TeaMp0isoN TriCk? But there will never be a secret society of muslim mathematicians and scientists– academe is far more rigorously gate-kept than advertising. I’m the proverbial Last Unicorn in a Peter S Beagle faerytale.
Although her Nabokov comparison is lovely and trenchant, I just don’t get this Molly Crabapple quote–
“neither love nor god is an escape”
This is quite obviously a book about love, and the pursuit of the beloved, whether its America or Anne-Marie. God is simply absent.
With love, we ran into what logicians called the paradox of self-reference: when something was neither true nor false; when judgement became impossible. With love, by having fused yourself with another person, there was nowhere from which you could take perspective of your individual self. Love was the only torturer in the world that took away your personhood by giving you more personhood; namely, the other. This was why, after thousands of years of human progress, the only way to replace love was with more love.
The deep sadness of the book for me is that I can’t recognize myself in it anywhere. In a book about identity, I have none. There’s apparently no place in the Amerimuslim landscape for a revert consumed by the science of Islam– the n-gram entropy of the Quran, the computational linguistics of arabic, the complex adaptive system dynamics of islamic cultures and societies, the memetic immutability of Quranic transmission, the reproductive fitness of islamic practice, the mathematics of emergent regional insurgencies and global revolutions. It makes me think I don’t exist, an outlier, a genetic and memetic “sport”, easily removed through the simple expediency of smoothing the curve.
A tribe of one.