Martyr’s Crossing

Fuck him. He had forgotten what was right and what was wrong. What was acceptable and what was forbidden. So it was up to Sheukhi. Sheukhi would see to it that the right thing got done.
It becomes evident early on that each character is a pawn in history and politics. The plot could easily have been taken from current headlines, one of the countless portrayals of true-life set against the never-ending conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There is a similarity between the shooting death of a Palestinian boy (early June) caught in crossfire and the central story in the book, a child needing medical attention who dies because Israeli officials refuse to let him and his mother through a West Bank checkpoint. In both cases, the dead child is turned into a martyr in a disturbing propaganda campaign. In addition, I appreciated that the author didn’t really seem to play favorites between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Poetry by Atta Inspired by Martyr's Crossing:

Death of a child
Birth of a Martyr.
Death of a Nation
Cause for Devastation.
All the while propaganda exists
While a people diminish in turn for absolution
Meanwhile our leaders participate in collusion.
Who is power?
Who destines our doom?
The end is near we will know quite soon.


Wild Thorns

Atta’s Voice:
Usama to Atta: Look I don’t need convincing I’m not Elwan. I believe in what I am doing and will stop at nothing.
Atta: Smiling, you remind me of myself.
Usama: Well I will be joining you soon enough.
Atta: No rush young fellow, it is not what you think.
Usama: You are disgraceful; you dare complain about the outcome of your martyrdom, you are not a True Believer!
Atta: (Laughing) Listen to you, so righteous and full of passion. Are you awaiting the heavenly gates upon your arrival?
Usama: I haven’t thought that far ahead.
Atta: Well neither did I but my eternity is the most gruesome tortuous hell you could ever fathom, so think twice perhaps you may want to follow in Elwans footsteps.
Usama: Elwan is sitting in a prison rotting away.
Atta: But he will be free one day and not a captive of Allah’s torture.
Usama: Why did youcome? Are you trying to dissuade me of my plan to blow that bus up today?
Atta: Silent
Usama: Storms out leaving behind the belt containing the bombs.
Allah: Atta you are surprising in your ways, perhaps I will spare sending you back to the concentration camp.


Red Azalea, Anchee Min
I was an adult since the age of five. That was nothing unusual. The kids I played with all carried their family’s little ones on their backs, tied with a piece of cloth. The little ones played with their own snot while we played hide and seek. I was put in charge of managing the family because my parents were in their working units all day, just like everyone else’s parents.
This passage was very reminiscent of my own childhood. I too was an adult at the age of five. Responsibility was given to me and I never questioned it, I was the youngest but I was always the oldest.
That aside I enjoyed Min’s writing for its simplicity and beauty. I have to wonder if her simplistic writing stems from English being her second language or if it is a style that she is purposely pursuing. Either way it is nice to see a Chinese female author dominating the literary stage.
It was also interesting to learn about China under Mao and provoked further investigation on my part to understand the brutality and oppression that occurred.

Mao II, Don DeLillo
Mao II was a fascinating exploration of the relationship between terrorists and writers. It’s build up around the themes of mass psychology and individualism was inspiring. Political violence, explosives and hostages was defiantly exciting to read about.
Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian
The rich, the famous, and the nothing in particular all hurry back because they are getting old. After all, who doesn't love the home of their ancestors? They don't intend to stay, so they walk around looking relaxed, talking and laughing loudly, and effusing fondness and affection for the place. When friends meet they don't just give a nod or a handshake in the meaningless ritual of city people, but rather they shout the person's name or thump him on the back. Hugging is also common, but not for women. By the cement trough where the buses are washed, two young women hold hands as they chat. The women here have lovely voices and you can't help taking a second look.
Learning that Gao Xingjian's novel was based on his travels in China in the 1980s really took me through a cultural barrier that I have yet to explore first hand. This particular excerpt was calming and allowed for the expansion of my own individual thinking.


Pain caused suffering
Time led to healing
Wounds were mended
Suffering led to joy
Time led to planning
Wounds were reminiscent of future terror
What will it bring?
How do you prepare
Do you
Or don’t you
All you can do
Like watching the hands of time
Good luck


Thoughts of Atta inspired by News of a Kidnapping

Capitulation policy?
Never, they will surrender not I.
Extradition! Not me!
They forget I make the rules!
Consummation of my mission
At any means
True Believers rule the world.


Inspired by The Hostage

Pleasure is my zenith,
Eroticism is found in the covertness of sexual gratification,
I prefer slave.
Smooth skins,
Soft voices,
Force me to submission
Little effort is needed on behalf of my master.
Manipulation and exploitation
further my motivation to please.


Paradise Lost
The flame burns death within,
It is temperamental,
It roars with rage, spits sparks of torment
I can’t control it, nor can I quench it.
Then it is tame, barely glowing, near death.
What is this flame?
It is my light
It is my vision
It is my pain.


Satanic Verses
Martyrdom is a privilege she said softly. We shall be like stars; like the sun. then in the instant when she rose up it was as if everybody awoke, it became clear to them all that she really meant business, she was going through with it all the way she was holding in her hand the wire that connected all the pins of all the grenades beneath her gown…she pulled the wire anyway…
This passage immediately reminded me of a fellow classmate in the Writing Workshop 2 class and her research paper on suicide bombers. It is a topic of particular fascination to me because it is one of fanaticism. It raises issues of mass movements and political devotion. It also raised comparative thoughts to The True Believer: Thought on the Nature of Mass Movements.
Naturally this reading is appropriate for the current state of our nation. It was reminiscent of the events of 9-11 and provoked me to carry my alter ego Mohammed Atta through the text.

A memoir from Atta
I knew it would be moments before my rebirth.
There was a tremendous tranquility in the air. The screams and pleas echoed in the background but did not distract my serenity. There was stillness in the air despite the violent turbulence and the sight of blood around me. Then upon the moment of detonation it was as soothing as the sound of the NY Philharmonic. Death.