Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Garden (Of Hell)

(Personal note: Apologies to my relative from the UK. Do not read this post. You will not like it. Go down to the next few posts and read the last two weeks or so. You will like those.)

There are few people in this world for whose intelligence I have more respect than Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna.

But, guess what?

I actually got the opportunity to tell Baron something he didn't know about today. (I know, I know, you're saying, "Woo-freaking-hoo, Pastorius. Who cares?" But, I'm so proud of myself.) Here's what I told him about; a writer named Paul Bowles.

Paul Bowles was a real freak, in my opinion.

He wrote stories from a perspective that Liberals love. Some of his stories seemed to express sympathy for pedophilia. He was good friends with Allen Ginsberg who was a supporter of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

Anyway, Bowles ended up moving to Tangier, Morocco, which has a reputation as "The City of Pedophilia."

You get the picture.

So anyway, though Bowles was a freak, he was an aesthetically brilliant writer. I, myself, write fiction, so I study all the great writers I can find. Bowles came highly recommended to me by a man I admire, so I began to read him, and, well yes, he is a great writer. He wrote a book called The Sheltering Sky, which is brilliant, and was made into a movie by the legendary director Bernardo Bertolucci.

Now, here's the thing, as I said, Liberals love Paul Bowles. Here's the kind of stuff they say about Bowles:

Bowles is one of the first western writers of fiction that treats Islam equally to European society. Islam is not merely a backdrop in which his characters find fault or get ground up in (i.e., you never get the sense that Bowles is blaming the cultures themselves for the destruction of his characters, typically they are responsible, but it really isn't anybody's 'fault' per se). This is multicultural literature at its best ...

I'm sure you see where I'm going.


Anyway, I would like you to read the following story by Paul Bowles. It is called The Garden. You tell me, does this story demonstrate multiculturalism at its best?

A man who lived in a distant town in the southern country was working in his garden. Because he was poor his land was at the edge of the oasis. All in the afternoon he dug channels, and when the day was finished he went to the upper end of the garden and opened the gate that held back the water. And now the water ran in the channels to the beds of barley and the young pomegranate trees. The sky was red, and when the man saw the floor of his garden shining like jewels, he sat down on a stone to look at it. As he watched it, it grew brighter, and he thought: "There is no finer garden in the oasis."

A great happiness filled him, and he sat there a long time, and did not get home until very late. When he went into the house, his wife looked at him and saw the joy still in his eyes.

"He has found a treasure," she thought; but she said nothing.

When they sat face to face at the evening meal, the man was still remembering his garden, and it seemed to him now that he had known the happiness, never again would he be without it.

He was silent as he ate.

His wife too was silent. "He is thinking of the treasure," she said to herself. And she was angry, believing that he did not want to share his secret with her. The next morning she went to the house of an old woman and bought many herbs and powders from her. She took them home and passed several days mixing and cooking them, until she had made the medicine she wanted. Then at each meal she began to ut a little of the tseubeur into her husband's food.

It was not long before the man fell ill. For a time he went each day to his garden to work, but often when he got there, he was so weak that he could merely sit leaning against a palm tree. He had a sharp sound in his ears, and he could not follow his thoughts as they came to him. In spite of this, each day when the sun went down and he saw his garden shining red in its light, he was happy. And when he got home at night his wife could see that there was joy in his eyes.

"He has been counting the treasure," she thought, and she began to go secretly to the garden to watch him from behind the trees. When she saw that merely sat looking at the ground, she went back to the old woman and told her about it.

"You must hurry and make him talk, before he forgets where he has hidden the treasure," said the old woman.

That night the wife put a great amount of tseubeur into his food, and when they were drinking tea afterward she began to say sweet words to him. The man only smiled. She tried for a long time to make him speak, but he merely shrugged his shoulders and made motions with his hands.

The next morning while he was still asleep, she went back to the old woman and told her that the man could no longer speak.

"You have given him too much," the old woman said. "He will never tell you his secret now. The only thing for you to do is to go away quickly, before he dies."

The woman ran home. Her husband lay on the mat with his mouth open. She packed her clothing, and left the town that mornng.

For three days the man lay in a deep sleep. The fourth day when he awoke, it was as if he made a voyage to the other side of the world. He was very hungry, but all he could find in the house was a piece of dry bread. When he had eaten that, he walked to his garden at the edge of the oasis and picked many figs. Then he sat down and ate them. In his mind there was no thught of his wife, because he had forgotten her. When a neighbor came by and called to him, he answered politely, as if speaking to a stranger, and the neighbor went away perplexed.

Little by little the man grew healthy once more. He worked each day in the garden. When dusk came, after watching the sunset and the red water, he would go home and cook his dinner and sleep. He had no friends, because although men spoke to him, he did not know who they were, and he only smiled and nodded to them. Then the people in the town began to notice that he no longer went to the mosque to pray. They spoke about him among themselves, and one evening the imam went to the man's house to talk with him.

As they sat there, the Imam listened for sound of the man's wife in the house. Out of courtesy he could not mention her, but he was thinking about her and asking himself where she might be. He went away from the house full of doubts.

The man went on living his life. But the people of the town now talked of little else. They whispiered that he had killled his wife, and many of them wanted to go together and search the house for her remains. The imam spoke against this idea, saying that he would go and talk again with the man. And this timehe went all the way to the garden at the edge of the oasis, and found him there working happily with the plants and the trees. He watched him for a while, and then he walked closer and spoke a few words with him.

It was late in the afternoon. The sun was sinking in the west, and the water on the ground began to be red. Presently the man said to the Imam: "The garden is beautiful."

"Beautiful or not beautiful," said the Imam, "you should be giving thanks to Allah for allowing you to have it."

"Allah?" said the man. "Who is that? I have never heard of him. I made this garden myself. I dug every channel and planted every tree, and no one helped me. I have no debts to anyone."

The Imam had turned pale. He flung out his arm and struck the man very hard in the face. Then he went quickly out of the garden.

The man stood with his hand to his cheek. "He has gone mad," he thought, as the Imam walked away.

That night the people spoke together in the Mosque. They decided that the man could no longer live in their town. Early the next morning a great crowd of men, with the Imam going at the head of it, went out into the oasis, on its way to the man's garden.

The small boys ran ahead oof the men, and got there long before them. They hid in the bushes, and as the man worked they began to throw stones and shout insults at him. He paid no attention to them. Then a stone hit him in the back of his head and he jumped up quickly. As they ran away, one of them fell, and the man caught him. He tried to hold him still so he could ask him: "Why are you throwing stones at me?" But the boy only screamed and struggled.

And the townspeople, who were on their way, heard the screaming, and they came running to the garden. They pulled the boy away from him and began to strike the man with hoes and sickles.

When they had destroyed him, they left him there with his head lying in one of the channels, and went back to the town, giving thanks to Allah that the boy was safe.

Little by little the trees died, and very soon the garden was gone.

Only the desert was there.

--- Paul Bowles