Law Culture and Humanities Reply


I am at the Association for the study of Law, Culture and Humanities in Las Vegas this weekend. There is a lot to like here!

Let me point out a few presentations that I have attended yesterday and today:

There was a wonderful panel titled: To Kill a Mockingbird: Reflections on the film. Amongst the presentations Sue Heinzelman’s talk “We don’t have mockingbirds in Britain do we?” was a powerful reflection on the Mockingbird’s role in defining racism against the intuition that we might not think we are racist. Also on the panel were Austin Sarat’s and Martha Umphrey’s work “Temporal Horizons: On the possibilities of Law and Fatherhood in To Kill A Mockingbird;” and Ravit Reichman’s work “Dead Animals.”

Another great panel yesterday afternoon was titled Memory, Slavery, and Civil Rights, with presentations by Mark Golub (“Remembering Mass Resistance to School Segregation”); Mai-Linh Hong (“Get your ass-phalt Off of my ancestors!: Legal and cultural boundaries of slave cemeteries”); and SpearIt (“Criminal Punishment as Civil Ritual: Making Cultural Sense of Mass Incarceration”).

Also on the agenda yesterday was our own Allen Mendenhall presenting: “Holmes and Dissent.”.

More on today’s proceedings later today.

Simone de Beauvoir in Harlem, 1947 Reply


There are myriad ways one might celebrate today’s holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. On my Facebook page, for example, I suggested we learn about—or recall—the other remarkable leaders of the civil rights movement, some of whom were mentors to King and others of his generation, establishing institutions and informal communication networks that served as the socio-cultural and political seedbed for the germination and later flourishing of the civil rights movement. I mentioned in particular such individuals as Bob (Robert Parris) Moses, Ella Josephine Baker, and Fannie Lou Hamer, among those ably introduced in Robert Payne’s brilliant book, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (1995). I also had the impudence to ask that we take time to recall the life and work of Malcolm X as well, recommending Eugene Victor Wolfenstein’s Malcolm X and the Black Revolution (1981). Indeed, there’s a work that offers a provocative comparison of the lives and ideas of Malcolm X and King, James Cone’s Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare (1991). Alas, both the prize-winning biographer of Fannie Lou Hamer, the historian Kay Mills, and the (post)Freudo-Marxist social theorist and psychoanalyst Wolfenstein, recently passed away.

Here I thought I’d do something different and share a few passages from Simone de Beauvoir’s (1908-1986) journal that detailed her thoughts and feelings upon venturing into Harlem during a visit to America. Beauvoir came to the States in January of 1947, keeping a fairly “detailed diary of her observations which was published in France in 1948 as L’Amérique au jour le jour” and to little notice several years later in England, and in English, as America Day by Day. The book was published (by the University of California Press) yet again with a new translation by Carol Cosman in 1999 and an inviting foreword by one of our nation’s best and more prolific historians, Douglas Brinkley (which first appeared in the New York Times Book Review in 1996). Beauvoir was by now a well-known existentialist philosopher and writer with a public identity as a cosmopolitan French intellectual tied to yet distinct from her lifelong companion, Jean-Paul Sartre. She is also rightly regarded as one of the seminal theorists of contemporary feminism.

Brinkley writes that,

“with the passage of time, America Day by Day emerges as a supremely erudite American road book—that distinctive subgenre based on flight of fancy rather than flights from economic hardship, as in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. In broader sociological terms, her critique outpaces William Least-Heat Moon’s Blue Highways: A Journey into America [1983]. In the realm of pure prose style, it easily transcends Henry Miller’s The Air-Conditioned Nightmare [1945]. And, for my money, in the field of European highbrow loathing of the cruder aspects of our democratic experiment, it is preferable to Charles Dickens’s haughty American Notes for General Circulation [1842]. [….]

A reader is struck not only by the meticulous descriptive passages on American history and geography but also by Beauvoir’s ability to encapsulate our national psyche (‘Optimism is necessary for the country’s social peace and economic prosperity’) and to comment so deftly on its shortcomings (‘even people of goodwill…refuse to articulate clearly the current conflict between justice and freedom, and the necessity of devising a compromise between these two ideas; they prefer to deny injustice and the lack of freedom’). [….]

Clearly a voyeur of America’s transient underbelly, Beauvoir’s able, like George Orwell in Down and Out in Paris and London [1933], to penetrate the haze and blue smoke of our nation’s tenderloin districts deeply enough to offer detached insights into desolation row. In Chicago with [Nelson] Algren as her guide, she learns firsthand about the world of morphine addicts and petty thieves, murderous gangsters, and midnight cops. ‘America is a box full of surprises,’ she writes, intoxicated by her walks on the wild side. [….]

Beauvoir’s peripatetic journey by automobile, train, and Greyhound bus took her from coast to coast and back, and illuminating sections of the memoir are devoted to Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, Reno, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and San Antonio. Always amused and exhilarated by the lapdog friendliness of urban and rural folk alike, she is also flabbergasted that these same good-natured people embody the volatile, schizophrenic mixture of ‘strictness and hypocritical license.’ An eternal rebel, she has an uncanny eye for the shallow extravagances of American culture and an abolitionist’s rage at the evil of segregation south of the Mason-Dixon line. While San Francisco and Chicago are celebrated in America Day by Day, other cities get scorched: ‘Williamsburg is one of the sorriest shams to which I’ve ever fallen victim,’ or ‘I dearly hope I’m never fated to live in Rochester.’ [….]

For women, and men, who want to experience vicariously Jack Kerouac’s open road with less machismo romanticism and more existential savvy, America Day by Day, hidden from us for nearly fifty years, comes to the reader like a dusty bottle of vintage French cognac, asking only to be uncorked.”

From American Day by Day:

“Of course, I want to get to know Harlem. It’s not the only black neighborhood in New York. There’s an important black community in Brooklyn, three or four areas in the Bronx, another called Jamaica in Queens, and few more on the city’s outskirts. In New York itself one finds neighborhoods here and there where black families live. Until 1900, other than the one in Brooklyn, the most important black community in New York was situated near West Fifty-seventh Street. Harlem’s apartment buildings were originally built for white tenants, but transportation was inadequate at the beginning of the century, and landlords had difficulty renting apartments in the eastern end of the district. At the suggestion of a black man, Philip A. Payton, who was involved in the rental business, blacks were offered the apartments on 134th Street. Two buildings were filled this way, and soon more. At first, the whites didn’t perceive this invasion of black people; when they tried to stop it, it was too late. Blacks gradually rented all the available apartments and began to buy the private houses that were going up between Lenox and Seventh Avenue. Whites then felt justified in moving; as soon as one black family was spotted in a block of buildings, all the whites fled as if they were running from the plague. The blacks soon took over the whole district. Social and civic centers were formed; a black community took shape. Harlem expanded spectacularly after 1914.

Those among the French who get down on their knees to worship all-powerful America adopt all its prejudices even more obsequiously than Americans do. One of them says to me, ‘If you like, we’ll go through Harlem by car; you can go through Harlem by car, but you must never go on foot.’ A bolder Frenchman declares, ‘If you’re determined to see Harlem, in any case stick to the larger avenues. If something happens, you can always take shelter in the subway. But above all avoid the small side streets.’ And someone else tells me with a shiver that at dawn some whites were found in the gutter with their throats cut. In the course of my life, I’ve already come across so many places where right-thinking people declare you could not go that I’m not too impressed. I deliberately walked toward Harlem.

I walk toward Harlem, but my footsteps are not quite as carefree as usual; this isn’t just a walk but a kind of adventure. A force pulls me back, a force that emanates from the borders of the black city and drives me back—fear. Not mine but that of others—the fear of all those whites who never take the risk of going to Harlem, who feel the presence of a vast, mysterious, and forbidden zone in the northern part of their city, where they are transformed into the enemy. I turn the corner of one avenue and I feel my heart stop; in the blink of an eye, the landscape is transformed. I was also told, ‘There’s nothing to see in Harlem. It’s a corner of New York where people have black skin.’ And on 125th Street I indeed discover the movie houses, drugstores, stores, bars, and restaurants of Forty-second or Fourteenth Street; but the atmosphere is as different as if I had crossed a chain of mountains or the sea. Suddenly, there’s a swarm of black children dressed in bright shirts of red-and-green plaid, students with frizzed hair and brown legs chattering on the sidewalks. Blacks sit daydreaming on the doorsteps, and others stroll with their hands in their pockets. The open faces do not seem fixed on some invisible point in the future but reflect the world as it is given at that moment, under this sky. There is nothing frightening in all this, and I even feel a new kind of relaxed gaiety that New York hasn’t yet given me. If I suddenly came upon Canebière [in southern France] at the corner of rue de Lille or Lyon, I would have the same pleasure. But the shift from my usual surroundings is not the only vivid aspect. Nothing is frightening, but the fear is there; it weighs on this great popular festivity. Crossing the street is, for me, like crossing through layers and layers of fear filling those bright-eyed children, those schoolgirls, those men in light suits, and those leisurely women.

One Hundred Twenty-fifth Street is a border—there are still few whites in evidence. But on Lenox Avenue, not a face that isn’t brown or black. No one seems to pay attention to me. It’s the same scenery as on the avenues of [downtown] Manhattan, and these people, with all their indolence and gaiety, seem no more unlike the inhabitants of Lexington Avenue than the people of Marseilles seem unlike the residents of Lille. Yes, one can walk on Lenox Avenue. I even wonder what it would take to make me flee, screaming, toward the protective entrance of the subway. It seems to me I would have as much difficulty provoking such an attack as I would provoking murder or rape in the middle of Columbus Circle in broad daylight. There must be some image of orgies going on in the heads of right-thinking people; for me, this broad, peaceful cheerful boulevard does not encourage my imagination. I glance at the small side streets: just a few children, turning on their roller skates, disturb the lower-middle class calm. They don’t look dangerous.

I walk on the big avenues and in the small side streets; when I’m tired, I sit in the squares. The truth is, nothing can happen to me. And if I don’t feel entirely secure, it’s because of that fear in the hearts of people who are the same color as I am. It’s natural for a wealthy bourgeois to be afraid if he ventures into neighborhoods where people go hungry: he’s strolling in a universe that rejects his and will one day defeat it. But Harlem is a whole society, with its bourgeois and its proletariat, its rich and its poor, who are not bound together in revolutionary action. They wan to become part of America—they have no interest in destroying it. These blacks are not suddenly going to surge toward Wall Street, they constitute no immediate threat. The irrational fear they inspire can only be the reverse of hatred and a kind of remorse. Planted in the heart of New York, Harlem weighs on the conscience of whites like original sin on a Christian. Among men of his own race, the American embraces a dream of good humor, benevolence, and friendship. He even puts his virtues into practice. But they die on the borders of Harlem. The average American, so concerned with being in harmony with the world and himself, knows that beyond these borders he takes on the hated face of the oppressor, the enemy. It’s this face that frightens him. He feels hated; he knows he is hateful. This thorn in his conciliatory heart is more intolerable than a specific external danger. There are fewer crimes in Harlem than on the Bowery; these crimes are only symbolic—not symbolic of what might happen but of what is happening, what has happened. Minute by minute the men here are the enemies of other men. And all whites who do not have the courage to desire brotherhood try to deny this rupture in the heart of their own city; they try to deny Harlem, to forget it. It’s not a threat to the future; it’s a wound in the present, a cursed city, the city where they are cursed. It’s themselves they’re afraid to meet on the street corners. And because I’m white, whatever I think and say and do, this curse weighs on me as well. I dare not smile at the children in the squares; I don’t feel I have the right to stroll in the streets where the color of my eyes signifies injustice, arrogance, and hatred.

It’s because of this moral discomfort, not timidity, that I’m happy to be escorted this evening to the Savoy by Richard Wright; I’ll feel less suspect. He comes to fetch me at the hotel, and I observe that in the lobby he attracts untoward notice. If he asked for a room here, he would surely be refused. We go eat in a Chinese restaurant because it’s very likely that they wouldn’t serve us in the uptown restaurants. Wright lives in Greenwich Village with his wife, a white woman from Brooklyn, and she tells me that every day that when she walks in the neighborhood with her little girl, she hears the most unpleasant comments. And what’s more, while we are looking for a taxi, men dart hostile looks at this black man with two white women. There are drivers who deliberately refuse to stop for us. After this, how could I claim to mingle peacefully in the life of Harlem? I feel myself stiffen with a bad conscience. While Wright buys tickets at the door of the Savoy, two sailors speak to Ellen and me, the way all sailors the world over speak to women at the doors of dance halls. But I’m more embarrassed than I’ve ever been before. I’ll have to be offensive or ambiguous—my very presence here is equivocal. With a word, a smile, Wright sets everything in order. A white man couldn’t have found just this world, this smile, and I know that his intervention, so simple and natural, will only aggravate my embarrassment. But I climb the stairs with a light heart: this evening Richard Wright’s friendship, his presence at my side, is a kind of absolution.”

[cross-posted at the Ratio Juris blog]

Article on E.M. Forster 1


Click here to view my article on law in A Passage to India.  Here is an abstract:

E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India presents Brahman Hindu jurisprudence as an alternative to British rule of law, a utilitarian jurisprudence that hinges on mercantilism, central planning, and imperialism.  Building on John Hasnas’s critiques of rule of law and Murray Rothbard’s critiques of Benthamite utilitarianism, this essay argues that Forster’s depictions of Brahman Hindu in the novel endorse polycentric legal systems.  Mr. Turton is the local district collector whose job is to pander to both British and Indian interests; positioned as such, Turton is a site for critique and comparison.  Forster uses Turton to show that Brahman Hindu jurisprudence is fair and more effective than British bureaucratic administration.  Forster’s depictions of Brahman Hindu are not verisimilar, and Brahman Hindu does not recommend a particular jurisprudence.  But Forster appropriates Brahman Hindu for aesthetic and political purposes and in so doing advocates a jurisprudence that does not reduce all experience to mathematical calculation.  Forster writes against the Benthamite utilitarianism adopted by most colonial administrators in India.  A tough figure to pin down politically, Forster celebrates the individual and personal relations: things that British rule of law seeks to suppress.

Thoughts on an Essay about Pragmatism Reply


Lately I’ve been reading a subject of interest to the lawyers, theologians, writers, and philosophers at the table: pragmatism.  (Pragmatism finds a way of encompassing any interest whatsoever.)  The following discussion is brief and does not do justice to the nuances of my subject: Ruth Anna Putnam’s essay “The Moral Impulse” (in The Revival of Pragmatism, Morris Dickstein, ed., Duke University Press, 1999).  Nevertheless, I proceed with eyes wide open. 

Putnam opens by referencing William James’s pragmatist metaphysics and its reliance upon feelings and the sensorial to get at the religious or moral.  This reference provides Putnam wide latitude to articulate her arresting point that people participate in moral value systems because they always retain agency even if their actions seem like products of habit.  People do not act in putatively moral ways simply because they are conditioned or determined to do so; they act in those ways because they want to do so.  The want is the moral impulse.  That one should act or think on an impulse does not evacuate that action or thought of all intelligence.  “It is not,” Putnam assures us, “to say that one does not have or has not given intellectually compelling reasons for that position” (63).  In fact, as James himself suggests, we may—notice he does not say ought to or must—entertain any moral impulses so long as they lead us toward critical currents of thought that have not been invalidated even if they have not been validated.  Using such Jamesian refrains as her starting-point and hesitating over the usefulness of a now catch-all signifier like “pragmatism,”[1] Putnam announces her intention to explore moral beliefs in the work of James and Dewey.  Her focus is on those moments of convergence and departure, with slightly more emphasis on the departure.  Without touching on all Putnam’s arguments about James and Dewey and their agreements and disagreements, I will here note one of Putnam’s more sustained and striking observations, which addresses the difference between James’s and Dewey’s moral values: the difference which, it turns out, is at the heart of her essay. More…

Law & Literature: A Basic Bibliography 7


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  • Schmidgen, Wolfram. Eighteenth-Century Fiction and the Law of Property. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Schramm, Jan-Melissa. Testimony and Advocacy in Victorian Law, Literature, and Theology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Schramm, Jan-Melissa and Gillian Beer, eds. Testimony and Advocacy in Victorian Law, Literature and Theology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Shapiro, Fred R. and Jane Garry eds. Trial and Error: An Oxford Anthology of Legal Stories. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Slaughter, Joseph R. Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.
  • Smith, Carl S. Law and American Literature: A Collection of Essays. New York: Knopf, 1983.
  • Sokol, B.J. and Mary Sokol. Shakespeare, Law, and Marriage. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Thomas, Brook. Cross-Examinations of Law and Literature: Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe & Melville. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Thomas, Brook. Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
  • Thomas, Jeffrey E. and Franklin G. Snyder, eds. The Law and Harry Potter. Durham, NC:  Carolina Academic Press, 2010.
  • Thompson, Carlyle Van. Black Outlaws: Race, Law, and Male Subjectivity in African American Literature and Culture. New York: Peter Lang, 2010.
  • Tomain, Joseph P. Creon’s Ghost: Law, Justice, and the Humanities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Turner, J. Neville and Pam Williams, eds. The Happy Couple: Law and Literature. Sydney: Federation Press, 1994.
  • Tushnet, Mark V. Slave Law in the American South: State v. Mann in History and Literature. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003.
  • Visconsi, Elliott. Lines of Equity: Literature and the Origins of Law in Later Stuart England. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.
  • Ward, Ian. Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Ward, Ian. Shakespeare and the Legal Imagination. London: Butterworths, 1999.
  • Ward, Ian. Law, Text, Terror. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Watson, Jay. Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1993.
  • Warren, Joyce W. Women, Money and the Law: Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Gender, and the Courts. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2005.
  • Weaver, Jace. Other Words: American Indian Literature, Law, and Culture. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.
  • Weiner, Susan. Law in Art: Melville’s Major Fiction and Nineteenth-Century American Law. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.
  • Weisberg, Richard H. The Failure of the Word: The Lawyer as Protagonist in Modern Fiction. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984.
  • Weisburg, Richard H. Poethics, and Other Strategies of Law and Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.
  • White, Edward J. Commentaries on the Law in Shakespeare. Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2002.
  • White, James Boyd. When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
  • White, James Boyd. Heracles’ Bow: Essays on the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.
  • White, James Boyd. Acts of Hope: Creating Authority in Literature, Law and Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
  • White, R.S. Natural Law in English Renaissance Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 
  • Williams, Melanie. Empty Justice: One Hundred Years of Law, Literature and Philosophy. London: Cavendish, 2001.
  • Wilson, Luke. Theaters of Intention: Drama and the Law in Early Modern England. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.
  • Winter, Steven L. A Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
  • Wishingrad, Jay, ed. Short Fictions: Short Stories About Lawyers and the Law. New York: The Overlook Press, 1992.
  • Woodmansee, Martha and Peter Jaszi, eds. The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994.
  • Wright, Nancy E., Margaret W. Ferguson, and A.R. Buck, eds. Women, Property, and the Letters of the Law in Early Modern England. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
  • Yoshino, Kenji. A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice. New York: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2011.
  • Ziolkowski, Theodore. The Mirror of Justice: Literary Reflections of Legal Crises. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003 ed.
  • Zomchick, John P. Family and the Law in Eighteenth-Century Fiction: The Public Conscience in the Private Sphere. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • Zurcher, Andrew. Spenser’s Legal Language: Law and Poetry in Early Modern England. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007.

I welcome suggestions for additional titles. And I will send along a Word doc. version upon request. (At a future date this compilation will be made available at the Ratio Juris blog for download as a Word doc.)

Introducing Brian McCabe to the Table 2


It is my pleasure to welcome Brian McCabe, who will be joining us at the Table.  Brian’s interests include modern/ contemporary poetry and theology and religion.  Brian has written about the Jesuit thinker Patrick Kavanagh in an essay published by New Directions earlier this year titled The Passionate Transitory: The Jesuit Metaphysical Poetics of Patrick J. Kavanagh.

Brian, please have a seat at the table!

The Return… Reply


Wow! It seems like I’ve been gone for a while. I’m sorry to have been gone so long, though the good news is that I have a enormous amount to post…

For those of you that have been wondering where I have been, I have been researching a project I am writing on the way property norms transcend property law — that is, how we transfer our expectations of private property into areas where the law won’t protect private property. I am looking forward to sharing much of my work in the next few weeks. But, to give you some hints, I have been riding metro-trains, sitting on surf boards, hanging out with the homeless, visiting roach coaches, visiting mosques, talking to street performers, and more.

In the mean time, to make up for my absence, here is a poem by Ezra Pound…

The Return

See, they return; ah, see the tentative
Movements, and the slow feet,
The trouble in the pace and the uncertain
Wavering!

See, they return, one, and by one,
With fear, as half-awakened;
As if the snow should hesitate
And murmur in the wind,
and half turn back;
These were the “Wing’d-with-Awe,”
Inviolable.

Gods of the wingèd shoe!
With them the silver hounds,
sniffing the trace of air!

Haie! Haie!
These were the swift to harry;
These the keen-scented;
These were the souls of blood.

Slow on the leash,
pallid the leash-men!

Sufi Poetry–I 3


 

“The Arabic world abounds with poetry festivals. Iran’s heritage of great love poetry is close on the lips and in the hearts of a large percentage of Iranians. Throughout much of the classical Islamic world, poetry is at the center of cultural life.”—Michael Sells

Having completed our propaedeutic for poetry and Islam,* in this series of posts I’ll share some representative poems from the Islamic mystical tradition, that is, Sufism. These will be prefaced by introductory biographical sketches designed in part to shed light on the specific subject matter of the poems. Ideally, of course, one would have some familiarity with the Islamic religious tradition generally and Sufism in particular, yet it’s often been said these poems can be appreciated and enjoyed absent such knowledge, if only because they are constructed from words possessing both an indispensable exoteric or outward (zāhir) meaning and an esoteric or inward (bātin) meaning, a contrast that should not be construed as simply coextensive with the difference between the literal and the figurative. All the same, I believe the ideal reader will benefit from an acquaintance with a handful of essential Islamic terms and a basic Sufi vocabulary.

*  *  *  Our poems are in English translation (largely from Arabic and Persian) and it therefore seems appropriate to say a thing or two about issues invariably raised with the translation of literature and especially poetry. Here I’ll defer to the sensitive and sensible observations of the Palestinian poet, translator, and critic, Salma Khadra Jayyusi. In introducing her edited volume, Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology (1987), Jayyusi is rightly impressed by “how very similar poetries are, and how unprejudiced and competent poets easily assimilate and interpret the verse of other poets of a completely different language and culture. In this sense it is possible to say that poetry has many tongues but a single language.” Nevertheless,

“Some critics believe that since perfect equivalence in translation is not attainable, there is no point in attempting the task of translation at all. But what a loss it would be if no one could come to know the great poets of the human race who wrote in languages different from their own! In most cases, the only way to read the poetry of other cultures is through the medium of translation. This makes the task of translation not only a major aesthetic undertaking, but also a crucial cultural responsibility: poetry is the main vehicle for expressing the emotional experience of a people, and for revealing their deeper consciousness of the world, and it may bring the reader into a more intimate knowledge of other people’s actual life situations. [Poetry is thus like mythic literature or modern fiction, all of which communicate truths of a kind and different kinds of truth having to do with the human condition, questions of value and meaning, and the motley nature of the human character.]  If we think about it, even when poets read a foreign poetry directly in its original tongue, they tend to go through a process of translation in order to benefit from this poetry in their own work. What usually happens is that they translate this poetry in their own minds, often as they are reading it. In short, the process of translation goes on, in one way or another, all the time.”

*  *  *  The following will suffice as an introduction to a few fundamental Sufi concepts:

The Sufi Path has been described by some as primarily “a path of love,” one in which “the human soul searches out God, and if the grace of God falls upon the searcher, then he or she finds fanā’ (annihilation) in God and ultimately baqā’ [‘abiding’] or eternal existence in the consciousness of God” (Jamal, tr. and ed. 2009: xx). I’m inclined to disagree with arguments on behalf of the primacy of love in Sufism, however accurate the definitions here of fanā’ and baqā’.  Fortunately, I can appeal to one of the foremost experts on Sufism in our time, the Iranian born Islamic philosopher, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, for a different characterization, one that posits instead the primacy of “gnosis,” all the while recognizing a prominent role for love in Islamic spirituality:

“According to Sufism, the supreme goal of human life is to attain Truth, which is also Reality, the source of all reality, and whose attainment, as also stated by Christ, makes us free, delivering us from the bondage of ignorance. Although deeply involved with love, and also on a certain level with action, Sufism is at the highest level a path of knowledge (ma‘rifah in Arabic and ‘irfān in Persian), a knowledge that is illuminative and unitive, a knowledge whose highest object is the Truth as such, that is, God, and subsequently the knowledge of things in relation to God. [….] The knowledge of the Truth is like the light of the sun while love is like the heat that always accompanies that light” (Nasr 2007: 30).

And now we can proceed to account for the relation between the attainment of fanā’ and baqā’ and this Truth, this Reality, or God. Fanā’ is the spiritual experience of loss of individual identity or sense of self in the unity and oneness (tawhīd) of God. God is, so to speak, and in the end, the only (or ultimate) Reality. Fanā suggests the end of purely individual awareness, a condition later symbolized with the metaphor of the Black Light, “the light of bewilderment; when the divine light fully appears in the mystic’s consciousness, all things disappear instead of remaining visible (medieval and Renaissance mystics in Germany would speak of the überhelle Nacht). Such is the experience of fanā’—a blackout of everything until the mystic perceives that this blackness is ‘in reality the very light of the Absolute-as-such’…” (Schimmel 1975: 144). Baqā, on the other hand, “refers to the paradoxical experience of surviving an encounter with the divine,” an encounter which results in the utter effacement of individual identity (Renard: 21) (in which case we might ask, ‘who’ or ‘what’ is having the mystical experience?), and is seen as the complementary correlative of fanā. Such subsistence in God finds the soul “travers[ing] ever new abysses of the fathomless divine being, of which no tongue can speak” (Schimmel 1975: 306), reminding us of what philosophers of mysticism have labeled “pure consciousness events” (PCE), the alleged “’emptying out’ by a subject of all experiential content and phenomenological qualities, including concepts, thoughts, sense perception, and sensuous images” (Jerome Gellman), as well as the theological rationale for apophatic mysticism.  Nasr proffers the following description: “to be fully human is to realize our perfect solitude and to remove the veil of separative existence through spiritual practice so that God, transcendent and immanent within us, can utter ‘I’” (Nasr: 13). Subsistence in God has also been defined as “the annihilation of annihilation” (fanā’ al-fanā’). It is this summit of mystical experience that is said to be responsible for spontaneous ecstatic utterances (shathīyāt) on the order of Hallāj’s notorious proclamation, “I am the Truth.” Nasr explains: “It is through alfanā’ that human beings gain the ‘Truth of Certainty’ (haqq al-yaqīn). The person in whom such a truth has become all-pervasive is called muhaqqiq, literally, the person in whom Truth has become realized [This sounds remarkably similar to Gandhi’s unconventional conception of avatāra in Hinduism, which is traditionally understood to mean a divine ‘descent’ or ‘incarnation,’ but which Gandhi interpreted to indicate man’s wish to become like God. In the words of Margaret Chatterjee’s discussion of Gandhi’s account, ‘It is possible for every human being to become perfect, as God is, and it is necessary for us to aspire towards it.’] ; this person has become embellished with the Qualities of God…” (Nasr: 135-136). The Qualities of God are equivalent to the “names of God” as well as the “character traits” (akhlāq) of God, as in the hadīth attributed to the Prophet: “Assume the character traits of God” (takhallaqū bi akhlāq). And yet “these states are granted only to the saintly and God-graced few. For most, the Path is a path of loving God through his manifestations [what Hindus call ‘bhakti yoga,’ the path of love and devotion to God most accessible to the masses, the path of knowledge or wisdom, jñāna yoga, being the prerogative of the few]. This is the message Sufism conveys to the common believer: love God, love God’s creation and praise Him and remember Him all the time” (Jamal: xx). Profane or romantic love, that is, the “love of created things” (‘ishq-e majāzī), while in the end illusory, is no less important insofar as it can serve as a bridge to true love, that is, the love of God.

*  *  *  Rābi`a al-`Adawīyya, our first poet, was born in Basra, the city of date palm forests and salt marshes at the head of the Persian Gulf, in 95/714 or 99/717-8. She died in the former garrison town in 185/801. Rābi`a represents the pinnacle of the Basran tradition of women’s ascetic spirituality within Islam. Within Sufism, she is one of the (if not the) earliest exponents and dramatic exemplars of “love-mysticism.” As John Renard notes in his Historical Dictionary of Sufism (2005), “She is one of the few women who consistently merited a place in hagiographic anthologies over the centuries.”

Aptly described as an “ascetic of extreme otherworldliness” (Smith 2001: 105), Rābi`a’s life was bound by an ascetic triune of prayer, poverty (faqr) and seclusion that encompassed the threefold prescription of Sufi conduct: “little food, little sleep, little talk.” Her uncompromising and lifelong ascetic regimen required periodic desert sojourns and the construction of a simple hut for devotional retreat. She defined for the Sufi novice the requisite path of renunciation, the underlying rationale for which is a single-minded and wholehearted love (mahabba) of God.

Physically frail and frequently ill, Rābi`a was no less renowned for the rigors of her asceticism (both ill-health and longevity have been attributed to her vigilant asceticism!). She is reputed to have refused several offers of marriage, preferring the celibate life. Although no school was founded in her name, women and more often men, came for spiritual advice and instruction in deference to her informal mastery of early Sufi doctrine and practice.

The picture of a “highly-strung and emotional recluse” painted by an early biographer suffers in comparison with Sulamī’s portrait of her in his Dhikr an-niswa al-muta `abbidāt as sūfiyyāt (Memorial of Female Sufi Devotees) as “a rational and disciplined teacher who demonstrates her mastery of important mystical states, such as truthfulness (sidq), self-criticism (muhāsaba), spiritual intoxication (sukr), love for God (mahabba), and gnosis (ma`rifa)” (Cornell 1999: 62).

No matter how wondrous, God’s works are but veils obscuring His beauty and essence, obstacles in the way of eventual union of the lover with the Beloved. Thus Rābi`a’s conception of repentance (tawba) is more than mere remorse for sinning and the corresponding resolve to sin no more: repentance denotes the determination to turn away from all save God. Yet, perchance paradoxically, for Rābi`a tawba is a “gift [of grace] from God.” As such, it is a prelude to or necessary condition for a host of psycho-spiritual virtues and emotional dispositions; but most importantly, tawba allows for the abnegation of personal will in the will of God (theologically derived from tawhīd, the acknowledgement and awareness of the oneness of God). In addition to the longing of the lover for the Beloved (shawq), or the yearning of the soul purged of nafs (baser passions, selfish desires) to experience intimacy with God (uns), Rābi`a’s love mysticism therefore entails utter acquiescence of the lover in the will of the Beloved (ridā’, lit. contentment or satisfaction). Not surprisingly, ridā’ signifies God’s satisfaction with his loving servant’s obedience, which is metaphysically if not logically prior to the subjective experience of ridā’, that is, the lover’s contentment with her lot in life, her share of misfortune, adversity or suffering. Like the God of the Hebrew Bible, Rābi`a’s God is a jealous God “who will suffer none to share with Him that love which is due to Him alone” (Smith 2001: 131), hence the prohibition of idolatry (shirk in Islam, the theological converse of tawhīd). Finally, disinterested love of God means the obedient servant is ideally motivated by neither hope for eternal reward (Paradise), nor fear of eternal punishment (Hell). In a theistic variant of Euthyphro’s question, Rābi`a asks, “Even if Heaven or Hell were not, does it not behove us to obey Him?”

While a foretaste of the union of the lover with the Beloved is possible in this vale of tears, only death can bring about kashf, the final unveiling of the Beloved to his lover(s). And it is thus mahabba that, in the end, makes possible knowledge (ma`rifa) of God. Ascetic practice serves both to heighten the sense of separation from, and intensify the longing for, the Beloved: acute awareness of the sin of separation assuming the form of grief and sorrow in Basran mysticism. Such lamentation was often vividly expressed—Rābi`a included—through incessant weeping (bukā’), the prolonged practice of which sometimes led to blindness (Cornell 1991: 61).

Although love for the Creator turned her away from love of created things, she faced her separation from the Beloved with a patience (sabr) and gratitude (shukr) that transcended any feelings of grief and sorrow, befitting one enthralled by a vision of eventual union with the Divine.

Rābi`a’s poetry illustrates the fact the “early Sufis were mystics and philosophers first and poets second. Their greatness, in other words, lies not in their poetry but in their lives and utterances” (Mahmood Jamal). Most Sufis would no doubt prefer to be remembered for “their lives and utterances,” but several later Sufis, most conspicuously and deservedly, Rūmī, are best known in the first instance as poets.

 

You Have Infused My Being

You have infused my being

Through and through,

As an intimate friend must

Always do.

So when I speak I speak of only You

And when silent, I yearn for You.

 

If I worship You

O Lord, if I worship You

Because of fear of hell

Then burn me in hell.

If I worship You

Because I desire paradise

Then exclude me from paradise.

But if I worship You

For Yourself alone

Then deny me not

Your eternal beauty.

 

My Rest is in My Solitude

Brethren, my rest is in my solitude,

And my Beloved is ever in my presence.

Nothing for me will do but love of Him;

By love of Him I am tested in this world.

Whereso I be I contemplate His beauty;

He is my prayer-niche; He mine orient is.

Died I of love and found not His acceptance,

Of mankind I most wretched, woe were me!

Heart’s mediciner, Thou All of longing, grant

Union with Thee; ‘twill cure to the depth.

O Thou, ever my joy, my life, from Thee

Is mine existence and mine ecstasy.

From all creation I have turned away

For union with Thee mine utmost end.

(Martin Lings, tr.)

 

In My Soul

In my soul

there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church

where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist.

Is there not a region of love where the sovereignty is

illumined nothing,

where ecstasy gets poured into itself

and becomes lost,

where this wing is fully alive

but has no mind or body?

In my soul

there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church

that dissolve,

that dissolve in God

(Daniel Ladinsky, tr.)

*Our earlier introductory posts on the subject are found here, here, here, and here. 

Please Note: The poem, “If I Worship You,” is virtually identical to a prayer attributed to St. Francis Xavier, which I discovered in reading James Kellenberger’s discussion of motives for religious belief in The Cognitivity of Religion: Three Perspectives (1985: 125). Unfortunately, Kellenberger does not provide us with a reference. Another version, much longer, but containing the same religious sentiment regarding heaven and hell, is found here. Many of the poems of Rābi`a have not been authenticated, so it’s possible that this is properly attributed to St. Francis Xavier, although he lived and died in the sixteenth century (and visited parts of the Islamic world in his extenstive missionary travels) and Rābi`a in the ninth, so perhaps the borrowing runs in the other direction! I’ve yet to come across any discussion of this in the scholarship on Rābi`a.

References:

Cornell, Rkia E., tr. Early Sufi Women—Dhikr an-niswa al-muta `abbidat as sufiyyat, by Abu `Abd ar-Rahman as-Sulami. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999.

Jamal, Mahmood (tr. and ed.). Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi. London: Penguin Classics/Books, 2009.

Jayyusi, Salma Khadra, ed. Modern Arabic Poetry: An Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam’s Mystical Tradition. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

Renard, John. Historical Dictionary of Sufism. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005. 

el-Sakkani, Widad. First Among Sufis: The Life and Thought of Rabia al-Adawiyya, the Woman Saint of Basra. London: Octagon Press, 1982.

Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975.

Smith, Margaret. Muslim Women Mystics: The Life and Work of Rābi`a and Other Women Mystics in Islam. Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2001.

Cross-posted at ReligiousLeftLaw.com

William Bartram’s Travels and the Erotica of Nature 1


I’ll limit my discussion of Bartram’s cognitive originality to some finer points made by Michael Gaudio, whose article, “Swallowing the Evidence,” is a mostly on-the-mark interrogation of Bartram’s persistent use of metaphor.

Gaudio writes that Bartram’s Travels, with its imagery of swallowing, mouths, and voids, calls into question Enlightenment aesthetics while signaling glaring absences in the putatively public sphere. Although Gaudio argues convincingly that Bartram’s imagery signifies an “Enlightenment view of the cosmos in which the natural and the social operate according to the same rational principles,” he privileges a political over an erotic reading, thereby reducing the text to a series of subversive patterns of visual perception. In fact, Bartram’s text is less about movement politics than it is about scientific or social politics (I’m strategically essentializing here—these spheres are neither mutually exclusive nor categorically absolute).

Travels describes a journey lasting from 1773 to 1777, arguably the most intense moment in American political history, yet Bartram makes no mention of the Revolution, the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, or any other political signifier. As the war between Britain and America raged, Bartram rummaged through woods recording data and collecting specimens. He might have been interested in undermining Enlightenment ideals, as Gaudio suggests, but he probably was not keen on likening sink holes to doubts about the democratic project. A better reading would treat Bartram’s concave, hollow, and gaping imagery as vaginal and his nature aesthetics as sexual. Such a reading not only sheds light on Bartram’s aesthetic facility but also gives rise to a better reading of Bartram’s politics as understood through depictions of Natives, black men, or property-owning colonials. Gaudio is right to argue that, for Bartram, “the work of the naturalist is the recording of not only the visibility of nature’s surfaces but also the struggle that leads to that visibility,” but he is wrong to ignore the language of penetration and other pseudo-sexual insinuations. Attending to this sexual language might have allowed Gaudio to enlist Bartram in the “anti-Enlightenment” project in other, more interesting ways—for instance, by contrasting Bartram’s observations of Indian tribes with the unwarranted assumptions of Enlightenment thinkers who dismissed Natives as mere barbarians or worse.

Gaudio submits that because Bartram’s aim was to “exhibit the self-evidence of nature” and to “set the full presence of its surfaces before the viewer,” Bartram’s appeals were necessarily visual. That much, I think, we can grant. But Gaudio goes too far when he contrasts Bartram with Bacon by claiming that the latter employed “rhetoric of penetration” to peer beneath nature’s surfaces whereas Bartram looked precisely to nature’s surfaces because he preferred architectural forms to dissected taxonomies. Gaudio suggests, in other words, that Bartram seeks out rational forms, which share a visual logic, to show nature’s uniform and universal manifestations. Nevertheless, Bartram’s rhetoric (like Bacon’s) is rich in references to penetration. Gaudio’s formative analogy therefore does not stand up to close examination.

“Having some repairs to make in the tackle of my vessel, I paid my first attention to them,” Bartram says of a particularly cheerful morning, adding, “my curiosity prompted me to penetrate the grove and view the illuminated plains.” Similarly, Bartram speaks of “penetrating the groves,” “penetrating the Canes,” “penetrating the forests,” penetrating the “first line” of alligators, “penetrating a thick grove of oaks,” and penetrating “the projecting promontories.” All of this penetration flies in the face of Gaudio’s argument that Bartram’s “voids” signal the limits of Enlightenment thought. Rather than avoiding vocabulary of penetration, Bartram embraces it. Bartram may be interested in surfaces, but he is also interested in—one might say seduced by—what lies beneath. He even employs sexual innuendo and other erotic lexica to portray what lies beneath.

The sexual language in Travels serves to eroticize nature, which seduces with its enchanting if virginal charms. In a brilliant essay, Thomas Hallock speaks of botanic men (including William Bartram’s father, John) who turned “genteel ladies into fascinated subjects.” For these men, plants “served as a shorthand for intimate relationships that were transacted across vast space.” According to this logic, it follows that any “individual who interacts with the natural world takes on an ‘ecopersona,’ an identity or costume of manners that locates consumption of the natural within a given cultural code.” By ignoring the eros pouring forth from Bartram’s nature writings, Gaudio overlooks a very telling association between Native women, whom Bartram eroticizes, and nature, itself a sensual “organism.” More to the point, he misses Bartram’s odd constructions of eco-personae for Native women. Indeed, Bartram forges an association between nature and Native women in his “sylvan scene of primitive innocence,” which was “enchanting” and “perhaps too enticing for hearty young men long to continue idle spectators.”

In what Bartram calls a “joyous scene of action,” nature (read: passion) prevails over reason and European men are drawn helplessly—as if by Sirens—to the Native “nymphs” guarded by “vigilant” and “envious” matrons. The Native women are sensual and seductive because they seem in tune with Nature and the “Elysian fields.” In light of this analogy, Bartram speaks of Natives as “amorous topers,” “amorous and bacchanalian” dancers, amorous singers, and amorous and intriguing wives, just as he speaks of the “sweet enchanting melody of the feathered songsters” in their “varied wanton amorous chaces,” or of the “soothing love lays of the amorous cuckoo.” That is to say, Bartram effectively ties Native women to the carnal cravings of animal lust. For this reason, the desire to penetrate takes on a much stronger meaning than the one Gaudio describes vis-à-vis Bacon—it becomes not just about examinations of exterior surfaces but about the physical need and urge to thrust right through surfaces.

The land on and adjacent to a particular river “appears naturally fertile,” Bartram declares, “notwithstanding its arenaceous surface.” Surfaces can be deceiving, so Bartram digs deeper, so to speak, and identifies their sexual and reproductive possibilities. Similarly, he likens “many acres of surface” to a “delusive green wavy plain of the Nymphae Nelumbo,” a plant that represents sexual purity or virginity. In these and other instances, Bartram renders nature as a playground of erotic spaces for male pleasure. Simply put, Bartram’s nature is fertile and stimulates sexual arousal.

If, for Bartram, Native women were in harmony with nature and so were fertile and seductive—if they were hypersexualized—then Gaudio could have done far more with the vaginal motifs in Travels. Like countless others, he could have called into question the tropes, male gazing, and sexual power plays at work in the book and thereby achieved a “political” reading actually supported by the text. Gaudio is at his best when bringing to light metaphors that would seem easy to overlook, but his analysis fails for disregarding the obvious sexual and vaginal connotations evoked by these metaphors. At worst, his analysis fails for pivoting on a major assumption—that Bartram limited his analysis to surfaces and exteriors without regard to “the insides.” If anything, Bartram seems even more interested in “the insides” given his sexual renderings of a nature that invites penetration and carnal exploration.

–Allen Mendenhall

See the following articles for more reading:

Abrams, Ann Uhry. The Pilgrims and Pocahontas: Rival Myths of American Origin. Boulder: Westview, 1999.

Fischer, Kirsten. “The Imperial Gaze: Native American, African American, and Colonial Women in European Eyes,” in A Companion to American Women’s History. Blackwell Publishing, 2002.

Fleming, E. McClung. “The American Image as Indian Princess.” Winterthur Portfolio. Vol. 2 (1965: 65-81).

Gaudio, Michael. “Swallowing the Evidence: William Bartram and the Limits of Enlightenment.” Winterthur Portfolio. Vol. 36, No. 1 (2001: 1-17).

Hallock, Thomas. “Male Pleasure and the Genders of Eighteenth-Century Botanic Exchange: A Garden Tour.” The William and Mary Quarterly 62.4 (2005): 32 pars. 13 Oct. 2009 .

The Travels of William Bartram. Ed. Mark Van Doren. New York: Dover Publications, 1928.

Schoelwer, Susan Prendergast. “The Absent Other,” in Discovered Lands, Inventing Pasts. Yale University Press, 1992.

Thinking about the True History of the Kelly Gang: Billy the Kid, Jesus and Us. 4


So I have been feverishly working away on a Copyright article, but looking up from behind a starbucks table, I read with great interest Andrew’s post on the True History of the Kelly Gang.  How true it is that outlaws capture our imagination and do shape the law.   Eduardo Penalver and Sonia K. Katyal make this point brilliantly in their monograph Property Outlaws:  How Squatters, Pirates and Protestors improve the law of property.

But besides improving the law of ownership (which I agree it does), outlaws have different conceptual points of view for Americans.  Outlaws tell us quite a bit about what our culture thinks about the law. Two particularly telling outlaws are Billy the Kid and Jesus of Nazareth.

In Stephen Tatum’s Inventing Billy the Kid, the author notes that the Kid’s elusive character may render his subject almost indiscernible for historians.  Making the matter more difficult is the role Billy the Kid has played mirroring the American social dynamics of the time.  For instance, Tatum shows that in the earliest representations of Billy the Kid, the American need for order amidst changing industrial upheaval was reflected in a “satanic” kid hunted down and killed by a valiant law man. When America was unhinged by Government scandals and economic collapse  in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Billy the Kid was a defiant, individualist set amidst a tragic backdrop.  And in the 1950’s, Billy the Kid was used to reflect upon the distemper of collective middle class conformity, placing him “at odds with a society not worth redeeming.”  Indeed, Billy the Kid represents for America the perfectly ambiguous character — defiant when he has to be, oppressive when we need him to be, and all the while able to do so without necessarily articulating these traits.   Unfortunately Tatum’s analysis ends in 1981, leaving out the classically 1980’s Bon Joviesque Billy the Kid in Young Guns and Young Guns II. (Bon Jovi did play a part in the sequel, besides penning the movie’s anthem in true hair band style — “Blaze of Glory”).  Though I believe that the Young Guns movies perfectly identify the Kid with American Society — wandering, unsure of its identity, seeking to be known for something — (Just ask  Gen-X or Baby Boom fellows what its like to follow the Greatest Generation…).

In a fascinating way, Stephen Prothero makes the same points about Jesus of Nazareth in his book American Jesus: How the Son of Man became a Cultural Icon. From Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom-loving, parable saying nomadic purveyor of sayings, or its protestant’s desire to humanize Jesus by making him a moralist as opposed to a miracle worker following the Civil War, to the 1960’s free-love hippie LSD Jesus Christ Superstar, we seem to culturally appropriate narratives onto the life of Jesus which may or may not be accurate. But accuracy is not so much the point as identity.  Indeed, as Prothero shows, Jesus has been reimaged by virtually everyone –” protestants, catholics, pentecostals, jews, muslims, Hindus, gays, blacks, feminists, hippies, atheists, rappers; while Christian insiders have had the authority to dictate that others interpret Jesus, they have not had the authority to dictate how these others would do so.”  But more importantly, according to Prothero (and I agree) it probably does not matter that these images are accurate in regards to Jesus — a mystical figure who we will probably never truly know everything about– what’s more important is that they are accurate reflections of us.

In the same way that The True History of the Kelly Gang forces us to ponder the role of historical narrative in our search for cultural meaning, Billy the Kid and Jesus of Nazareth forces us to ask central questions of believability — this time, the question is whether we can believe ourselves and the cultural narratives we are telling rather than whether we believe their stories that we tell.

What other outlaw stories are there in Literature?   And please, enjoy the Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory Video — To have hair like that…. again…