Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders. Two young jews facing each other during a heated ballgame, two of the brightest minds to ever come out of Brooklyn....moreReuven Malter and Danny Saunders. Two young jews facing each other during a heated ballgame, two of the brightest minds to ever come out of Brooklyn. Malter can calculate mathematics & gematria in his head faster than a calculator, Saunders can read books faster than a freight train crosses Arizona. Brought together by a baseball injury, torn apart by Zionism, then reunited after the founding of Israel, both young men learn a lot from each other during their emotional friendship. Danny's father has ignored him his whole life, and Reuven is the one only one who can bring them back together. Very deep story with profound dialogue. Instant classic.(less)
The genius of this controversial juggernaut lies in the fact that you can interpret it two different ways. The scientific minds will interpret Gibreel...moreThe genius of this controversial juggernaut lies in the fact that you can interpret it two different ways. The scientific minds will interpret Gibreel's suffering as schizophrenia, while the artistic/spiritually inclined might view it as an archetypal struggle for humanity after the rise of monotheism. If you are scientific then this will probably be a waste of time for you to read. Taking an artistic perspective like I did is a much more rich approach. I've never read a book quite like it- it's a lot like a psychological thriller film that leaves you befuddled and confused, wanting to watch it right over again.
It begins with a plane exploding in the sky. Two diammetrically opposed human beings fall from it, both still alive, but their ensuing adventures are riddled with supernatural changes, changes on par with Biblical themes like Satan's fall in Paradise Lost (which, along with Arabian Nights, must have inspired this book). Interspersed with the main plots are vivid dream sequences that don The Satanic Verses a masterpiece of magical realism. Some of Rushdie's prose in this book is gorgeous; the first chapter took my breath away. One of my favorite things about The Satanic Verses is the delirious illumination- I'll never forget the butterflies after the storm, Allelulia Cone on Mt. Everest, the metamorphosis of London, heads disappearing under the Arabian Sea, etc. My only beef with this book is that it digressed a lot, but with the way Salman writes, who cares?
The following is my interpretation of everything (spoiler alert): Gibreel the actor becomes possessed by the archangel Gabriel- the Islamic Gabriel, not the Christian one- after the plane crash, as does Saladin become possessed by Satan, Shaitain, or whatever the hell you want to call him. (A near death experience can do this- while you are temporarily dead your body is prone to paranormal assault). The dreams that Gibreel have are memories from his past incarnations, each of which are parallel to the rise of monotheism. In the first dream, set during the Islamic revolution, Mahound represents Muhammad and Jahilia represents Mecca. Mahound's slaying of the goddess pantheon in Jahilia illustrates the beginning of female repression after the birth of Islam. In this past life Gibreel was Mahound, not the archangel that appeared to him. It might be construed that the dreams are from the point of view of the angel’s, but I think Salman did a brilliant job of making it seem like both. And I think it’s a totally valid theory because Gibreel is possessed by the angel, so his own memories are interspersed with that of the Gabriel’s, thus making it a convoluted dream mixing the present with the past. As Gibreel's soul fights the archangel for possession there is a slow psychological deterioration that presents quite an awesome climax in all three plots. This theory is further strengthened by the other dream sequence- the grand pilgrimage to Mecca, oddly represented by the India salt march of 1930. In this past life Gibreel was Gandhi with the appearance of Ayesha, a fantastical mirage of Allelulia Cone, his lover in the present life. This dream is even more convoluted than the first; it confuses the salt march for a pilgrimage, and Gibreel’s lover for Gandhi; aka- the battle for possession is really fucking with Gibreel’s head (the archangel appears to him in this one too, although I don’t believe Gandhi ever claimed to be a mystic). Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be Gandhi, but some other important figure who led a march that I’m unaware of.
I could be way off with all this, but that's the only way I could make sense of this matrix without scoffing experiences off as schizophrenia, which is really just a trendy way of saying "I don't understand this book". Furthermore, if anyone’s confused as to why a fatwah was declared because of this book, I’ll try to help: read the chapter Return To Jahilia. Rushdie is implying that the recitation of Gabriel was corrupted by his scribe- an embodiment of Satan (interestingly named Salman in the book), and therefore the whole of Islam is tainted with Satan’s contusions. Yikes! Also, the intensity of Gibreel’s madness sharpening while monotheism put a stranglehold on his dreams is a major shot at what happened in Mecca circa 700 AD.(less)
Even though it's a sexist work of non-fiction, Sjoo does a brilliant job of uncovering dusty remnants of pre-Christian Goddess religion, and then expo...moreEven though it's a sexist work of non-fiction, Sjoo does a brilliant job of uncovering dusty remnants of pre-Christian Goddess religion, and then exposing the male dominated Christian forces that either stole from Pagan tradition or outright disposed of them for heresy. While reading this I often felt that my manhood was shriveling into a tiny little ball, but then I found it justified after realizing that for centuries male-engineered societies have repressed women and are now destroying the sacred womb of planet Earth.(less)
There are many logical inconsistencies in Thomas Aquinas' reasoning but that doesn't make this an uninteresting read. It's one of the few philosophica...moreThere are many logical inconsistencies in Thomas Aquinas' reasoning but that doesn't make this an uninteresting read. It's one of the few philosophical classics that are rooted in one specific religion. His theology had a profound impact on the development of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and he was one of the most famous philosophers of his time, even though he didn't consider himself one. Personally it challenged me to bring out the philosopher in myself, the erudite know-it-all who likes to refute statements and formulate new ones so that the next thinker can come along and delineate the axiomatic algebra served up by pedantic fools like myself.