A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed...
No matter what Mr. Ed the talking horse said on his TV show, the audience laughed. For instance when he said, “There are a lot of things in this world that can't be explained,” everyone laughed because they thought he meant talking horses were unexplainable, but there he was a talking horse. Get it? Ha ha! But when Shakespeare says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” --which is exactly what Mr. Ed said-- no one thinks it’s funny. Instead folks get all somber and ponderous, and look down their noses at people who don’t know which play that line is from.
A Middle Eastern writer in America is Ed the talking horse. No matter what he/she says, it’s taken in the context of the Middle East as seen on TV. So if Mohammad Alzahabi wrote, “Sometimes I attempt to kill in my dreams. But do you know what happens? For instance I hold a gun. For instance I aim at a bland, quietly interesting enemy. Oh, I press the trigger all right, but one bullet after another feebly drops on the floor from the sheepish muzzle,” the reader (and the FBI) may see a failed assassination fantasy. But if it turns out that Vladimir Nabokov wrote the passage (which he did), then suddenly the FBI alert is cancelled and the context becomes a universal Freudian exploration into sexual dysfunction.
So without further ado, I will spend my remaining 200 words on a passage from my Freudian novel about an Iranian baseej who lusts after his own sister; after all she’s the only young woman he’s mahram enough to look at. The baseej thinks if he fucked his sister just once he would get it out of his system forever:
“It is improper to describe making love to one’s sister. Does it suffice to say it got “great,” and it became even greater?
‘Are you sore?’ I whispered. ‘Of course I’m sore! she said. ‘But you better not stop. If you stop, I’ll kill you,’ Faati told me. She would have to, I realized later. In a way—if I had stayed in love with her—she would have been the death of me; we would have been the death of each other
‘There!’ she cried, when she felt me shaking. ‘There, there,’ she said, soothingly. ‘That’s it, that’s all she wrote,’ she murmured. ‘That’s the end of it. Now we’re free. Now that’s over…”
By the way, the above passage from “my” novel is totally plagiarized from John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire. All I did was change the sister’s name from Franny to Faati. But the English reader allows Irving to explore incest as an individual human activity, a place I’m not allowed to go without dragging my whole country into bed with the siblings. And what if I wrote about Franny instead of Faati? Then America would say, I would allow Dr. Irving the literary gynecologist to feel my vagina, but what does this Middle Eastern horse want with my gentials? Which is why Middle Eastern novelists writing in English stick to their own sisters.
Artwork: Abu Said Ubaud Allah Ibn Bakhitshu. Adam and Eve, Painting. 1294. Cleveland Museum of Art