07 December 2006

Nothing About Howard Rich, Everything About War

Just so's you know I'm obviously one a' them "Merricka Haterses" in league with the "terr'ists," I will begin with one of my favorite Sufi stories, courtesy of Idries Shah.

Note: I read this before the Embassy hostage incident in Iran, before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; before the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and Bushdaddy's "Operation Desert Storm" to get it back -- the basis of Dick Cheney's wealth, by the by, but that's another story.

So, it wasn't politically indecent when I read it, but, in light of the great Moralist Dennis Prager -- an LA radio talk show host whose morphing conservatism predates the rise of Limbaugh and his minions -- or, rather, the self-appointed cultural bluenose, yet another drip in a sea of Anthony Comstock wannabes, Dennis Prager: Anything associated with Islam is presumptively terrorist. You know, like the Qu'ran.

Sufism sort of exists inside and outside of Islam, after all.

I don't know why this is, but, within Islam, Sufism sort of did the same thing with the new religion that Dennis Prager did with the New Right Wing: they found a way to blend in, since Sufism predates the Hejira of 622 CE. (according to some) or, has nothing to do with it at all, according to others.

I read this story before Idries Shaw was, allegedly, a collaborator with the Mujahaddin in Afghanistan, or Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam and was identified as a terrorism collaborator (for his charitable work) and deported from Maine, where his plane was diverted to, after the ever-vigilant Department of Homeland Security realized that the feared Muslim folk-singer was traveling to Nashville with his daughter from London.

The CD was released at the end of November as "An Other Cup" by "Yusuf" -- stripped for obvious reasons of "Islam" in any type larger than 6 point on the CD, by the by -- and it's great for old Cat Stevens fans -- although I suggest you listen to the track "I Think I See The Light" (number 8) FIRST. Then the rest is safe for listening.

And, as Nashville was NOT one of the recording sessions -- London, Johannesburg, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) and Los Angeles -- Red State America remains defended against the-artist-formerly-known-as Cat Stevens.

Oh yes: the old ROLLING STONE critics who so loved snarking on Cat Stevens have now all become NEW YORK TIMES movie critics --

Janet Maslin
and Stephen Holden http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/catstevens/albums/album/303011/review/5942605/foreigner

-- but the new RS snark of Yusuf carries with it the same Olympian disdain and snootery that characterized the RS criticism back in the halcyon days of the mid-70s.


So it's deja vu all over again, except that Cat ... er, YUSUF's now a terrorist. I'm sure some Christian Patriot has outed the notorious terrorist Idries Shah, too, but, frankly, I'm too damned pooped to check it out.

Well, I should just tell you the story (as best I can remember it):
from From Idries Shah's book, TALES OF THE DERVISHES

When The Waters Changed

Once there was a village, and Khidir, messenger of the unseen world came and warned people: on a certain day, the waters will be changed and everyone who doesn't have a special store of the old water will change and become crazy. Only one man listened and hoarded a store of water in a cave hidden outside of town, known only to him.

On the appointed day, sure enough, the waters changed, everyone drank and began to get crazy. Our friend, sad and a little worried, noticed this, but he had his special water to keep himself sane. He would come into town, and return to his cave and his store of pure water.

Finally though, the loneliness got to him, and he went into town and drank the new water. Instantly he forgot about his cave and went insane like the rest.

Later, one of his friends took him aside and told him: "We were really worried about you. For awhile we were afraid that you were insane."

Which brings us back to Vietnam.

But Scheherazade perceived the coming of day and fell silent.