Francis Valente III Mayor's Manifesto
My main goal is to be good leader of this town. I want all to know the name of Haj Ismail. Whenever some traveler comes to this part of Egypt, my legacy will be assured. It will be a legacy that is honorable and full of grace to the almighty Allah. I want to be the best mayor of any small town in Egypt. I know I lack education and some of the better social graces but I am always trying to improve myself. I have spent a life time observing the better civil servants. The time I spent traveling throughout the land last year was very good for me. I was able to observe the workings of local governments and the political systems. I hope to incorporate the best examples I saw. What I first noticed was the total control a politician must have over his district. I have always known this to some extent, but, now I really understand. The mayor of Cairo , Ben Adul-sabed has become a friend to me I will take his expertise with the utmost seriousness. The control is no good unless I can use the people against each other. I must keep a record of all the names of my enemies or potential enemies. I must learn of any plots that are coming at me. I must learn, taught to me by the mayor of Cairo to stop fooling around with the women. The women, he says will corrupt and destroy you. I am a leach and a swine I know, but, I care what happens to my beloved Kafr El Teen. I would give my life for this town!!!!! I just love being the mayor, this is what I live for.
Biography of the Mayor
The Mayor is a manipulator above all other things . He uses seduction of the women of Kafr El Teen as a social constraint. He is a man who is capable of violence but, that is not his real nature. He is a victim too of the caste system as it exists in rural Egypt. One could say he is just playing his role in the social and cultural structure of a poor, Egyptian town. Haj Ismail is a rather sorry character . He is uneducated and is jealous of his brother who is a university man. The mayor must prove his status by constantly engaging in acts of adultery. Haj Ismail feels like a god. He keeps telling himself this. He believes that all of the people of Kafr El Teen consider him a god. He knows that this is quite a sweet deal he has. An uneducated country boy can rule over this little town. He knows the town is not much, but, he has to impress his overachieving brother.
Haj Ismail is actually a lonely pitiful creature. His wife gives him no love, and he is distant from his children. He thinks of himself as a big shot, but, deep down he knows he is a dog of the lowest persuasion. The mayor is still the ruler of this little fiefdom and he and how he loves it. Where else but in a provincial, little town in the Third world could such a snake make such a good living? The mayor has mastered his particular methodology of seduction from years of practice. He knows just how to approach the young maidens. He uses flattery on the girls and yet still uses a forceful countenance. He must maintain the specter of control. He will also use guilt as method of seduction. The girls must obey and please the Mayor, to do otherwise would be to offend Allah himself. The mayor is a little like a local hack politician. He knows exactly how the socio-economic system works, and uses it to the fullest.
Cyber -performance, scene 1
The lecherous Mayor meets Bill Gray, the protagonist of Don DeLillo's Mao II
Characters: Bill Gray, Spoiled novelist who has two house guests, a man and a women. He says they are for literary inspiration but, one could question that. The Mayor of God dies by the Nile, Haj Ismail, a lecherous sex addicted politician.
It is a hot dry day in July in Egypt. Which means it must be 120 degrees in the shade. The Nile river sluggishly moves past like beacon to promised coolness and moisture. Standing near a date palm and the little shade it offers are Bill and The Mayor. They are both perspiring heavily. Bill has a Coke Classic, The Mayor a hot glass of tea.
Bill: You are drinking hot tea today? Your honor.
The Mayor: Yes my friend. The hot tea actually makes the heat seem less intense
Bill: I have heard you have all the heat you can handle, your honor, Haj Ismail.
The Mayor: Ah! my friend, you have heard of my countless conquests. ( he guffaws) I must please Allah after all. (he snickers)
(Bill leans against the palm, shaking his head in disbelief.)
The Mayor: I myself worship him devoutly, look at all of this. (he points at the distant green hamlet and the fields) Allah has bestowed all of this on me.
Bill: This is all for you?
The Mayor: Yes, Yes, and of course I thank the almighty every chance I get.
( The Mayor and Bill walk to the village)
Bill: I myself kind of rule over a kind of district and maybe even an empire. I mean it is a literary empire. I have subjects and followers, who throw themselves at my feet. I am the god of the New York Times best seller list!!!!( He thrums his chest and yells like tarzan.)
The Mayor: You western fellows have the funny sense of humor. I wish I could be like this, I have to play my role with more decorum.
Bill: Poor guy, everyone expects me to be a loudmouth, neurotic wacko! The west expects writers to be this way and I give them this with all my heart.
The Mayor: I don't understand you western fellows, you seem to want so much but you can't have it all.
( The Mayor and Bill walk to the village waterwheel)
The Mayor: I understand you have a menage a trios going, or does that only refer to two girls and a man? (The Mayor reaches to heaven and extends his arms) Forgive me almighty I know you are a prude with such shameful talk.
Bill: Yes I do and I have no qualms at all.
The Mayor: Ah the western man! He has no shame at all . You are all business. I am but a poor servant of Allah.
( The Mayor and Bill examine the village waterwheel.)
Bill: Sex is like dipping your pen in the inkwell. (Bill laughs) Ah! but that does not happen anymore, no one uses quills anymore. I mean your honor, sex is just another type of tool I use for writing. Regular sex for me prevents writers block.
The Mayor: I think I understand, but, Mr. Grey I still use a quill for writing. Are you saying I am as ancient as this waterwheel.
Bill: No, no, no, my friend! We are just from different worlds and use different techniques.
The Mayor: Ah my friend I have heard of the "tecquiqes" (pronounced with an Arab accent.) I have seen the playboy magazine and find them all interesting. I like the "blow job." Fatima one of those woman who worship me gives very good ones. You must try this out.
Bill: I get one whenever I want one, my friend Brita is most effective in this action. Actually, I have legions of female fans around the world who will grant my wish.
The Mayor: Devil, son of devil!! You are a most cunning rogue, my friend Bill. (The Mayor saw himself for a moment.)
Bill: The women who are educated, Haj Ismail, pretend to be quiet and shy, but are like animals when you beg them.
The Mayor: Sometimes my friend the animals will not move or work at all. You have to beat them or they will not move.
( The mayor and Bill enter the little village of Kafr El Teen )
The Mayor: My friend would you like to see the young treasures of my village?
Bill: Yes, but I don't want to disturb them from their work.
The Mayor: You will not my friend, they worship the ground I tread on. ( He laughed)
( One of the visions of Allah's finest notions appeared, Zeinab, a young, tough sinewy girl. She was callused, but moved like an angel.)
( The mayor introduced the two)
The mayor: Zeinab does not speak English, but, I think you two can speak the same language anyway. ( He winked at Bill)
(Bill had trouble keeping his eyes off of her, he after all had left rainy New England and was now in the hot tropics; his libido was running at full tilt.)
(Bill actually did not even know why or how he came to this hot place. He thinks again and remembers the enticement of the offer of his publisher. He was willing to pay for grand tour of exotic locals, to help Bill overcome his writers block. But, how the in the hell did I wind up here? Bill mused.)
The Mayor: Ah, my friend perhaps you should retire to your hotel until you are rested, and then I will show you the wonders of my homeland, and maybe some hanky-pank? ( He winks at Bill.)
(Bill said okay, he was exhausted from the heat.)
( Bill falls asleep as the hot desert wind blows outside his hotel window.)
(He dreams about Zeinab)
( Then he is having wild sex with a whole bunch of dark women in full view of the great sphinx. The great stone stature winks at Bill in approval.)
(That was funny, Bill muses and then continues the sex with blow jobs, fellacio and anything else his imagination can ponder. He reaches an orgasmic whirlwind of a climax and panics)
Bill: I must stop this, he yells out!!!!!
(Bill is then in his dream with Zienab, she gives him the most fantastic pleasure he has ever felt. He thinks back to his childhood and his first wet dream.
The paragraph on p.47 of Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark makes the cogent point that the "American in the collective imagination is absolutely, positively white. Morrison suggests any hint of "blackness" in this notion of "Americanism" has been systematically hidden and totally subjugated throughout our history. The idea of Americanism was achieved on the back of "Africanist" hopes and dreams. Morrison suggests that in the process of throwing off the yoke of European imperialism, a new "other" element had to be fought by the new struggling nation. The element was analogous to the black man. Morrison says the connotation is not always negative, but invariably involves struggle and subjugation.
In Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own the paragraph to examine is:ÖÖ. "Imaginative work is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in midair by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering, human beings, and are attached to the grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in". In this paragraph of "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf makes clear it is a mistake to tear down the accomplishments of people, especially men in order to make room for those of women. She speaks eloquently against just that danger throughout "A Room of One's Own," which is partly what allows it to stand not only as a classic of feminist writing but also as a classic piece of both literature and literary criticism. Woolf, in this book takes us on an scholarly yet conversational and very entertaining glance at the history of women in writing, comparing the structure of sentences by the likes of Jane Austen and William Shakespeare and, all the while satirizing the chauvinistic university education in the England of her day. Her main conclusion is that for women to achieve their full greatness as writers women will need privacy, and a solid income. Virginia Woolf is generally credited with the invention of modern feminist criticism.
In God dies by the Nile, Zakeya removes the panic and terror by murdering the cruel mayor. The mayor uses the act of seduction as an analogy to fear and control. His use of sex becomes a method of domination over the women of Kafr El Teen. Both in the mind and body, the mayor became the manifestation of terror and control. He used subjugation as a method of kidnapping. Zakeya's cousins were the unwilling victims in a psychological warfare. They will not act because their threshold of tolerance has not been breached. Zakeya was women with strength and determination she would have her way. Planting the hoe on the Mayor's head was Zakeya' escape from bondage. The bondage can be long or short we must have strength to believe in the coming liberation.
In a cultural war terror is used to expedite capitulation by the other side. Chinua Achebe in his novel, Things Fall Apart presents the conflict of emerging Africa. He showed the impact of British rule on Igbo village life. Imposing the values and political framework on some people can lead to a removal of human will and faith. The dominate structure and framework of the captives becomes the system with the most ingrained mindset. Terrorism is perhaps most effective with the treat of arbitrary arrest, and torture. One will never know where the next bullet will come from.
The 20th century witnessed great changes in the use and practice of terrorism. Terrorism has become the hallmark of a number of political movements stretching from the extreme right to the extreme left of the political spectrum. Technological advances such as automatic weapons and compact, electrically detonated explosives give terrorists a new mobility and lethality. Terrorism, and cultural genocide are adopted as virtually a state policy. The colonial legacy in Africa is a kind of cultural and economic terrorism. The goal is to create a climate of fear and to encourage adherence to the national ideology and the declared economic, social, and political goals of the state. The tool of choice is the use of modern communications media. Any act of violence is certain to attract television coverage, which brings the event directly into millions of homes and exposes viewers to the terrorists' demands, grievances, or political goals. In both novels the victims are frequently innocent civilians who are picked at random or who merely happen into terrorist situations. Today vile acts perpetrated by slime terrorists include kidnappings, assassinations, skyjackings, bombings, and hijackings. Modern terrorism differs from that of the past because of this ultimate form of psychological terror.
The crowds of people we encounter every day in New York are used as a metaphor in Don Delillo's Mao II. The scene in the first chapter at Yankee Stadium represents the dilemma of people caught like sheep in society's conventions. The crowds of every day life, especially in a city like New York can be at many times overwhelming and dehumanizing. Negotiating people in subway stations and on the streets in New York can seem like being involved in an endless race walk. If you don't move fast enough you will be systematically run over. You will be cursed at and condemned; you will be considered an aberration. Everyone one living here is guilty of being on both sides of the fence. I frequently curse and swear at the slow-poke tourists who clog the streets and stores, looking like spacemen observing alien life forms. I hate the way they cause my New York schedule to be upset. Living in New York assumes one will take Mass transit of some type, this puts the individual at the mercy of bus or subway schedules. You are at the mercy of these systems to get you at your appointments and jobs. They will inevitably fail sometime, and you will find yourself like I have, rushing to keep an appointment. Thus, the individual that complains of pushy crowds can also become part of the crowd himself.
Every particular street and avenue in New York it seems has it's own peculiar ebb and flow of crowds. Like the tide, The flow and volume of people on that particular street, tend to ebb and flow. The rush hours of six to nine in the morning and four to six at night would involve the flow part of the cycle. During this part of the day one had better become attuned to the crowd's personality, or risk being swallowed by it. Fifth Avenue during morning rush hour seems to flow with the intensity of the Mississippi. You have to carefully plan your entry to it or risk being carried away downstream.
The New York subway stations and platforms are an even more intense whirlpool to descend into. The violence and movement of the crowds down there is even more profound. If Fifth Avenue can be likened to the Mississippi than the Grand Central stop on the Lexington IRT must be the Colorado River. To risk a misstep at that subway stop is to risk being swallowed and consumed and never to appear again. One has to get inside knowledge and information on the layout of the stations. A rider should know what streets the exits at a station go to and what ramps and walkways go to. This preparation is similar to the logistics of a white- water raft trip. One has to be ready for all contingencies. Without this knowledge one risks being swept away to another subway line or station. The subway in many ways resembles the Colorado's tributaries, a labyrinth that never ends.
When any of us prepare to participate and descend into a crowd we had better be aware of the ramifications of that action. The crowd may offer solace from our condition, or it may ultimately consume us. A crowd can offer us animosity and for the self-conscious, this can be highly beneficial at times. The maverick probably won't like the crowd. All traces of our individuality may be erased and we will assume the identity of the mass. Are people basically like sheep? Are we seeking a mass sense of comfort and communality, or are there are mavericks that will challenge the system and the constraints it puts inevitably on all of us? Whether we like crowds or not, in our mass-consumerist, market society the crowd, it seems will always win.
God is many things. He can be good, bad and ugly. He can be ruthless, sympathetic and ruthless. The God that lives and dies by the Nile seems to inhabit the soul of the mayor, Haj Ismail. This "God" is a manipulator, sex fiend and tyrant. Allah supposedly lives through this mayor. Allah would not be at all like this demon. The villagers and especially the women of the village offer their bodies and souls in an act of supplication to him. He must be honored and obeyed. Not to honor and obey him is to risk dishonoring Allah. So says the demon. The disgrace and dishonor would be tantamount to sacrilege and heresy.
The methodology of supplication can sometimes work. God provides order, faith and hope for the harvest. He can be counted on and trusted. He can offer guidance and direction. However, he can sometimes be fallible. God sometimes transgresses his precepts and rules. Should God then be rejected and abandoned?. Is it necessary to not just abandon him but to murder him as well?
The act of murder necessitates a tumultuous upheaval in the social structure. The end result is change This change can threaten and frighten the power structure. The framework can then collapse and sometimes destroy the whole hierarchy.
The act of removing God, however, can offer a clean break from a system that has grown dull and atrophied. This is an act that is revolutionary and unprecedented. It will take the will and determination of a maverick and evolutionary to undertake this plan The protagonist is Zakeya who will not genuflect to this "God" anymore.
"God" can mean different things to different people. In A God of Small Things Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam all mix together. The gods can be more than one. This can create competing factions of believers. The gods all compete for the adulation of the believers. The hierarchy that is a profound factor in n Kerala in the 1960s is also evident in Kafr El Teen. The caste system can destroy people and they must fight back against it. Bigotry is evident in both places and is a mighty force of power. Both of the women, Zakeya and Rahel do eventually find a way to bury the gods. Perhaps not kill them but bury their essence forever.
The alienation that many people feel in today's modern societies has some parallels to Huxley's book, Brave new World. The acts of conformity we all seem to take part in is suffocating and distressing to many people. For example, we are all taught at Christmas time to act like lemmings and consume and buy in mass quantities. Our political feelings and thoughts are examined by government and politicians. There is a quotation on page 148 from Brave New World that speaks to this: "Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself." In Huxley's world in Brave New World and in our own, there exists the necessity of conformity ,the individual is not important, but the group is. Thus, we are all in some way victims of this train of thought.
In modern industrial societies in the latter part of the twentieth century and especially America, the alienation and estrangement from fellow human beings has hit a all time high. This condition may be especially acute in a city like New York. I read the other day that the United States has the highest concentration of psychologists per capita in the world. The article mentioned this was the case, not because Americans are necessarily more crazy and neurotic than anyone else, but, are in fact more lonely. We need intimate contact and communication with a fellow human being. In contrast, in Europe the families are typically more extended and people tend to live in the same towns and cities their whole lives. There is more contact and more stable relationships. In America people tend to move many more times in their lives, often away from their families. The American mindset says we must constantly reinvent and remake ourselves. Individualism is a strong American cultural precept. What has been the cost ?
Has technology been responsible for this anomie and alienation in 1990's America? Perhaps it is the nature of our disparate society. In Huxley's novel the individual is not important, he exists for the state. It is a little different today in America. We primarily exist for ourselves. Selflessness seems to have hit an all time high. We still function as mass consumers and spenders however. Shopping at the mall is still a group activity.
The prophetic insights of Huxley in Brave New World have striking similarities to our own world. The disturbing issue of human cloning today brings to mind the phalanxes of twins in Brave New World. One can imagine the temptation to reproduce 500 Michael Jordan's or Bill Gates. Since the performance of a individual is given such paramount importance in our society, the temptation for this danger is there. In the novel, this human engineering was practiced to create socially desirable offspring, in our age it may happen more for greed and profit. In Brave new world, vice, disease, old age and poverty are abolished. The savage, John complains that the result is a "living death", the human condition is abolished. Everything that makes us human is emasculated. However, at the rate we are going I wonder what the alternative will be? Maybe the only way to save man from himself today is to create the programmed, engineered society. Or are we destined to become extinct like so many of earth's species of plants and animals have become?
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