Sur le Route

Friday_Salon Nass Decameron, Maison de Culture Ibn Kaldoun

Strong men take order with them, so I frequently hear people note that the streets are dirty, police are scarce and signs of extreme Islamists are coming out of the stonework. It occurred to me the expectation of order from above may be a persistent mental orientation, too difficult for older generations to transcend, so I was fortunate enough to hear about a meeting of burgeoning Tunisian intellectuals. The topic was realism in the American novels of the Lost and Beat Generations. They kicked off with an insipid French documentary featuring a talking head fond of jazz clubs crowing tired cliches about the Beats. One bright young man recited from Kerouac in Arabic in precisely the cadence of Allen Ginsberg.

Probably they just wanted to warm up the camera, but someone from a local TV program asked to interview me. I hoped he was going to ask about the anachronism between references presented in “Sur la Route” and the images those references conjur today (the Bronx, for instance from middle class Jewish enclave to Fort Apache fame). They might also have queried, “do you find it amusing that the conversation about the Beats, a club of privileged white boys, is dominated by the fellows at the table.” Instead they asked me when will we see Arabs presented authentically in Hollywood films. I answered that I held no great expectations for fair depictions of Arabs during my lifetime, since Islam is the new communism, which was the organizing fear factor that contributed to the great conformity that probably helped rouse the Beats, and smart young people today should form a movement to counter the great consumerism that pacifies populations today – when even the fear of Islam can’t keep the masses contained – and is a disgusting force that could use a cool cultural movement to beat it down. Wonder what the movement these smart, young Arabs should create would be called. If any part of my answer ends up in their program, it will be a sound bite of me saying “I hate religion.”ImageImage

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