Literature and Truth

This is something I had written ages ago for a class assignment. The professor wanted us to write how we view literature. This was my paper. Since we had some discussion after my ranty, angry post two days ago, I thought of sharing it here. I got 19.75/20 in that class. Anyway, this summarizes my views on literature. The references are in the same form that I presented the papers, sorry.

Many have talked about the truth of literature- their question has been “what is literature”. Many have also talked about the truth in literature- that is the interpreter’s task; to find meaning and therefore the truth of a given text. This article aims to address none of these concerns. This article is about truth and literature. What is their relationship? More specifically, how literature deals with truth? If literature is capable of telling the truth, how does it accomplish to do so? Is the truth reflected in the literature or are the two completely different things? Therefore our goal is not to define literature or truth, but to talk about their relationship.

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“Atheists Can’t Hate God, Because He’s Fictional”. Why Not?

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I’ve seen this in many places, especially in those lists about misconceptions about atheism (many of which are not misconceptions as far as I’m concerned). But one that baffles me is this: misconception = atheists hate god. How is that refuted? Well, we think there is no god, so we can’t hate him.

Erm, why not?

There is no real god. But there is a fictional god. And people can have real emotions towards fictional characters. We love them, we become their fans, we sometimes even have more complicated emotional relationship with fictional characters than real people (like, Walter White, Tony Soprano, Michael Corleone, etc). To me, that’s the whole point of writing and reading fiction, to exercise our emotions and to enrich our lives by “knowing” people who are “real” in our brains. Life seems kind of boring and tight-ass to limit your life and emotions only to the real world.

So yes, I hate fictional characters too. For example, I hate Joffrey Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire. I’d hate him even more if people started believing that he’s real, and that his word is morality, and started to live by his example. And to me, that’s the Abrahamic god – a viscous totalitarian genocidal hateful villain which represents everything that is wrong.

So yes – I do hate god.

 

Ex-Hijabi Interviews You Really Need to Read

Whew. I was so busy with the New Year stuff that I got to read this wonderful piece from Between a Veil and a Dark Place only today. Well, better late than never. She touches on the fact that ex-Muslims are underrepresented in the atheist community, and that being an ex-Muslim makes you face with many hardships. I agree, it resonates with me deeply. Ex-Muslims feel trapped between many oppositions, and facing many challenges. Marwa does a very great job of enumerating these problems. In this piece she also refers to me, which is very nice. *waves back*

But this piece is also about three interviews. This is the story of those interviews:

A few weeks ago, Valerie Tarico, a psychologist, author, and journalist, released a piece in the Huffington Post entitled “Is the Hijab A Symbol of Diversity or a Symbol of Oppression?” While I was glad to finally see a mainstream media venue tackle the issue of the hijab in a different way–without being needlessly apologetic, pandering to the sensibilities of Muslims, and giving undue focus on the perspectives of those privileged enough to have had free choice regarding the hijab and only those perspectives–I was dismayed that no women were interviewed for the purposes of this article.

She then writes to Vlarie Tarico, and three interviews are arranged, with three ex-Muslim women who used to wear hijab about their experience with hijab. I strongly encourage you to read these interviews.

Again, a link to Marwa’s article: Ex-Hijabi Interviews and the Underrepresentation of Ex-Muslim Women

A link to the introduction: Unveiled. Three Former Muslim Women Look Back on the Hijab.

 A link to Marwa’s interview: While I still vehemently oppose anybody asking a woman to take off or put on a piece of clothing that she actively chooses to wear if it does not pose harm or discrimination to others, I’d like to challenge the ethics of continually heralding the hijab as a free choice when it actively drowns out the experiences, testimonies, and legitimacy of women who do not have that free choice, presenting their experiences as anomalous, unrepresentative, or the results of misinterpretation of Islam. Defending Islam as an ideology from criticism often obscures an honest examination of the injustices done to women in its name, and it is frankly appalling to me that shoddy excuses like ‘that’s just a misapplication, that’s not thetrue Islam, those are just mistakes fallible Muslims make’ are continually given to keep the suffering of women in Islamic societies invisible.

A link to Reem’s interviewAnd it occurred to me that the only way I could take my life back was by unveiling, not only my hair but also my true nature.I would have to obliterate the persona that I was so carefully molded into in order to discover who I really was.

A link to Heina’s interview: Islam itself can be seen as shaming women who do not cover and threatening them with eternal damnation if they do not. Despite that, there are plenty of women who self-identify as Muslim without covering themselves. In my view, it’s not my place to question a woman who covers within that context. Covering oneself as per Islamic law is hardly the only anti-feminist choice that some women make; demanding that level of ideological purity only of Muslim women who cover but not, say, white American women who change their surnames upon marriage, is rather inconsistent.

 

Obama’s Nowrouz Message is Awesome

So, today is Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, the first day of spring. We get to be on vacation for many days. Personally, I don’t care for this holiday season much. I dislike nationalism as much as religion, and I find Muslims celebrating a holiday which was originally Zoroastrian stupid. I dislike the fact that I will have to see relatives and “friends” whom I have otherwise avoided because of this “tradition”, I dislike the fact that people get all lovey-dovey and hopeful, and I dislike the fact that everything gets more expensive, and I dislike the fact that I gain a lot of weight. But, everyone goes on vacations so Tehran gets much less crowded, which is very good.  But this year, I can be happy for two reasons. One, the economic growth of Iran is now 0%, which means after so many years we’re finally out of negative growth. Second, Obama’s message.

Obama is my favorite American president. You may have your criticisms of him, with which I would most likely disagree, but when it comes to Iran he’s the most historic president. I LOVE – adore – his Nowrouz message this year. I love how he acknowledges the real meaning of Rouhani’s presidency, I love how he acknowledges the plights of Iranian people, I love his commitment to diplomacy. I’m very thankful that such a sane and rational man is in White House.

Why Iranian Politics Is So Hard To Understand

Analyzing Iranian politics is a hard thing to do. The analysts have tried again and again to predict things the right way, but they have failed. The Iranian people and the regime have manged to take everyone by surprise time and time again. Also, on the part of most western media and readers a complete lack of understanding and simplistic generalizations is seen – many times those simplistic generalizations are perpetrated by Iranians themselves who should know better. In this post I aim to clarify the situation a little bit, and to show you what really makes Iranian politics difficult to understand, and how this knowledge should stop you from hasty generalizations.

This is important to you – the western reader – because Iran, like it or not, is a force to be reckoned with, a major player in the region, and the policies that your governments adopt regarding it will greatly influence your life as well.

Iranian politics is hard to understand on two levels – the complex structure and the complex reality on the ground.

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A Very Short Post About Lying

People are never as honest as when they lie. Ultimately, people might fail when they try to honestly portray their character. They might be unaware of some aspects of their own personality. But when they lie, they reveal much more important things about themselves.
See how they portray themselves in their lies, and that is more important to know their character than its naked reality. People, in their lies, construct not who they are but who they want to be, themselves as they want it to be perceived. They reveal their values, their fantasies, their unfulfilled desires. Listen to people when their honest and you will have data, listen to them when they lie and you peek through their aspirations, goals, and regrets.
Do they lie about how rich they are? Then it is wealth that they seek. Do they lie about the books they’ve read and pretend to know what they really don’t? It’s knowledge and intellect they seek. Do they lie about their sex life? Or their adventures? Or people who love them, or hate them?
Listen to people lie. That’s all.

I Love Bill Maher’s Lastest Rant

I love Bill Maher, I’m a huge fan of his. I especially loved his latest rant against all religions. It’s funny, eloquent, irreverent, and most importantly, true. I loved the last episode overall (14th March episode), as it included a great panel, and great discussions. Andrew Sullivan, the great legend Salman Rushdie, Amy Chua, and Seth McFarlane – it’s a dream panel. Watch the rant below and make sure to watch the episode.

Javad Zarif: A Look Into the Man Based on His Memoir

So what kind a man is Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s current foreign minister? I finished his memoir in the form of an interview and based on this book we can understand his mentality. Although the book itself is stylistically a mess, it gives us many interesting things we can understand about the history of Iranian foreign policy under Islamic Republic, and the philosophy and the mindset behind Rouhani’s administration.

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