Various articles on literature

Ahmad Mattar, Obama and Arabs


The Iraqi poet Ahmad Mattar has always been a vocal critic of the Arab rulers and the silence of the Arab populace, with witty sarcasm and brilliant literary creativity. In a previous article, we gave a few examples, of his criticism of Saddam and the general downfall of Arab contemporary state of affairs.

He has a new poem on Obama, which is given below with an English translation. Even though it is titled Obama, it is really an inward looking poem lamenting the state of the Arabs.

L.G. Alexander: Operation Mastermind


In the second year of high school (equivalent to grade 11 in North America), I had a story called Operation Mastermind by L.G. Alexander, published by Longmans. This was in the mid to late 1970s.

The story was boring, and being a school text makes more so. It was written by someone who was a teacher and a promoter of English, and not by an established writer.

Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak


The story behind a book of poetry written by Guantanamo detainees could be as compelling as the poems themselves.

Prisoners, denied pens and paper, wrote some of the poems by scratching
verses onto foam cups with pebbles. Other poems were translated into
English by linguists with security clearances but no literary

"It was a long and draining project," said Marc Falkoff, a law professor who represents 18 detainees.

Vatican's top exorcist says Harry Potter is "the king of darkness, the devil"


Rev. Gabriele Amorth has called Harry Potter the "king of darkness, the devil".While it is well known that the Catholic Church opposes magic, historically as well as currently, it is hard to see this extends to pure fiction and fantasy.Amorth is reported to have himself performed 30,000 exorcism, which means one a day for 83 years, or 27 years if he does 3 per day (including weekends)! From CBC news.

Ahmed Mattar poems on Arab rulers and Arab societies


Ahmed Mattar أحمد مطر is an Iraqi poet who have been living in exile for decades, most recently in London. His style is somewhat reminiscent of Nizar Qabbani نزار قباني but does not have the latter's knack for vulgarities and themes of womanizing. His poetry is very critical of rulers of Arab countries, lack of freedoms, the use of torture, clinging to power at all costs.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd


V for Vendetta is a graphic comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It explores how oppression causes liberation and resistance movement to develop, and often the latter commit atrocities and abhorrent acts in the name of good causes.The hero, the enigmatic masked V spearheads a ruthless resistance movement that uses terrorist tactics. He takes under his wing a young woman that he previously saved. She begins to question the tactics used. Tagline: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." As I discuss in another article, the comic book shows that often moral ambiguity and rationalization of atrocities are more prevalent than most people want to think, and that there is a fine line between resistance and terrorism. 

Symbolic Movies: Brazil


The movie: Brazil has themes similar to George Orwell's 1984.It depicts a case where a simple typographical error caused an innocent man to be arrested, and eventually disappears in the torture chambers of the oppressive and bureaucratic government. When the main character, a simple government bureaucrat dreaming of a fantasy world, attempts to inquire more, he in turn gets arrested. He is tortured, and his dreams hope for someone to rescue him from his misery, which never happens.

    Symbolic Novels: Lord of the Flies By William Golding


    Lord of the Flies is an allegorical novel by William Golding, expressing his view that society is just a thin layer of civility disguising the real savagery of humans.It also has themes on how when two opposing forces, one of good, and the other of evil, it is very hard to convince the masses to follow the good one, and that they often succumb to the rhetoric of evil.


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