Friday, September 28, 2007

Bruce Lawrence (editor): Messages To the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden (Verso);
Nicholas Noe (editor): Voices of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (Verso)
The events of September 11, 2001 and the inappropriate military response named “the war on terror” by our petulant American president are just the visible tip of an iceberg that represents an ideological conflict at the core of Islamic thought for hundreds of years. The majority of Western commentary on this intellectual conflict tends to resort to one of two clichés. On the left we call “terrorism” an unfortunate yet understandable response to years of thoughtless American imperialism. On the right the “terrorists” are evil-doers, who hate us because we are free. Neither response gives much thought to what this faceless other might actually have to say about these issues. In these remarkable books the shadowy other is given a voice that is articulate, sometimes poetic and very often scary as hell. Bin Laden and Nasrallah are two of the most influential intellectuals of radical Islam. This is the best opportunity for English readers to discover what an enormous piece of humanity considers to be truth. By understanding what these young, brilliant and arguably insane men are actually saying, we can perhaps inch closer to resolving a “war” that otherwise threatens to rip our planet into pieces.

If there is anyone out there looking into this blogspace, I apologize for the empty weeks. I have had some health problems, but mostly I have simply been unable to put two words together (on paper or screen), not that I have stopped reading books or listening to music or, gods forgive, watching television. Over the last several months, I have collected thoughts concerning all of the above. I hope to put some of them here in upcoming weeks.