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« A trip to Pakistan in 2022...(omar) | Main | More creative writing from Pakistan..(omar) »

January 13, 2011


Omar, you forgot about scantily clad women causing earthquakes. But that is old news. I am sure that Sujatha (and perhaps Dean) our expert googler, will find a pandit and a monk for you who do etiquette and meteorlogy on the side.

"The crazy is mainstream" more in Pakistan and the Middle East than here? Then, how do you explain: Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, extraordinary rendition, 9-11 conspiracy theories, the Ku-Klux Klan, chemtrail and FEMA trailer believers, and my neighbors who are COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT that we have raccoons and possums and skunks even though we live right next to a river and they should expect such things? I would argue that the world is fractally weird, and no one has a corner on the market.

No one has a corner on the market, but some are still doing better than others.
I think you are probably not too well versed in the crazy side of Pakistan or the Middle East. Its not an absolute difference, but its there.

But yes, Glenn Beck has almost leveled the playing field when it comes to major media anchors.
Still, we are well ahead in major religious figures, major government figures, conspiracy theories on mainstream media and so on.

Omar, what about defining crazy? There is a perfect logic to some craziness.

In a marvelous book of the late 90s, _No God But God_, too little read now perhaps owing to having the same title as Reza Aslan's book, the Arab-American writer Geneive Abdo reported on the rise of moderate Islamism -- especially among educated women -- in Cairo. Her Arabic is perfect, her book was five years in the research stage. She had entree to circles forbidden to most. She had an open mind and a reluctance to condemn. One afternoon, an important mullah opened up to her, in an interview at his own home. She saw him as a kindly man concerned to head off chaos -- "fitna," to transliterate from Arabic. Not as a crazy person. The mullah told Abdo that fitna needed to be beaten back at all costs, and that the sexual potential of women and girls was its chief cause. Women, he explained, could be made crazy simply be being seated over the wheel of a car. When a man saw this, he became crazy too. Surgically to alter women so that no such excitement could lead men to bring about fitna was the prudent measure. "Her too?," Abdo asked about his 6 year old daughter racing around the apartment. "Her too," the mullah answered. "And soon."

Since reading that, I have wondered if anyone ever suggested to the mullah that surgically altering the other half of society might not also work to keep fitna at bay. Doubtless, he would find the very idea insane.

My point is that it's not enough to condemn some things as crazy as long as there are people who see those things as beautiful, sane, and necessary. Calling something crazy helps us to dispose of threatening matters, not to understand them for the threats they are.

Actually, I am pretty well-versed in the crazy that is Pakistan. I am even MORE well-versed in the crazy that is Tajikistan, if that helps you to recognize that I might have a verifiable point of view. I would STILL argue that the world is fractally weird.

Blaize, I agree that the world is more-or-less fractally weird. I just dont think its literally exactly the same.
Elatia, obviously this was a satirical/humorous posting, not a serious analysis of craziness. Crazy is a very subjective term. We all know that. Still, "we" share enough of a common world that we can safely use the term crazy about Glenn Beck as well as all the rabbis and mullahs in that snippet. Its not an academic discussion. At the same time, I dont agree that it just "disposes of them". I think it reinforces our mutual agreement that this behavior or line of thought is not reasonable or desirable. A more serious analysis will have its own place too..

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