giovedì 26 aprile 2012

Parallel Conversions

Alessandro Manzoni 

Churches and religions are institutions one should leave, not join,  this is Mymosa Moon’s opinion, but dramatic conversions are an easy way  to build a biography, everything else left unchanged,  you do something: you change yourself, your attitude towards the outside world, you gain an identity, a network and a market, and a powerful tool to write novels.
Muriel Spark, who  converted to catholicism  in 1954 (she  was born Muriel Sarah Camberg, her father was jewish her mother presbyterian),  said it wasn't until she became a Roman Catholic that she was able to see human existence as a whole, as a novelist needs to do.
I would add that a novelist needs to construct  a set of   changes in this whole.   A plot must have, Aristotle says, a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The most simple way to relate the events in a plot is to transform the beginning, via the middle,  in its contrary, the end, or to reinforce the beginning through a complication in the middle, whose solution leads to the  happy ending.  In fact   religions, are  of  narrative nature , build on contraries: the son of the highest, a God, suffers the lowest   humiliating death, a form of punishment for slaves, the  cross, but at the end he returns to his father as a God, conquering Death.
Charmian Colston one of main characters of Muriel Spark’s masterpiece Memento Mori, discovers her vocation as a novelist  while she realizes  the simple truth  that rules human relations: people do not love each other. Quite a contradiction, one might think, because in the same time the novelist Muriel Spark, as a catholic convert should obey to the  most unnatural, contrary to human nature, paradoxical  commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

... the law of contraries, the paradoxes of life, the blessing in disguise, the  answered prayers that cause more tears than those that remain unanswered,  the heterogony of ends, i.e.    men serving different purposes than those they  are consciously pursuing....  religion can help to  relate facts, good and evil, conflicts and changes, that would, otherwise,  remain unrelated..
Providence: refers to God’s point of  view of the world , his cooperation with everything that happens, and his guiding of the universe. Evil deeds assume at the end of the story a logic an  explanation, a meaning  not visible with the short sight of human eyes.  The word comes from Latin providentia foresight, prudence, from pro- "ahead" + videre "to see". It means  "knowledge of the future" or omniscience, which Christians believe is an attribute of God.
They say that the Renzo and Lucia are not the real protagonists  of  I Promessi Sposi   (The Betrothed) by Alessandro Manzoni ,  the real subject of the novel is the catholic concept of  providence.  In the little universe of the novel the  omniscient writer plays the role of God.  
In Italian literature, Manzoni’s conversion is the most prominent. It happened in Paris, where he was living, having  joined the freethinking household of his mother, and the  literary set of the capital,  among whom he made many friends, notably Claude Fauriel, the old lover of Mme De Staël, who was said to be le plus bel homme de Paris. 
Manzoni's firts  wife Enrichetta Blondel repudiated  her own  religion, Calvinist Protestant, to embrace Catholicism, for her husband's sake.
It is said that Manzoni  was not  a good father,  he left his daughter Matilda die alone without the comfort of his presence. 

Muriel Spark lived almost half of her life in Tuscany, with a female companion, fiercely denying allegation of a lesbian liaison. The great Dame of english literature had a very strong and bad temperament, refusing to have anything to do with her only son Robin, when he converted to judaism.  She accused him  of seeking publicity to further his career as an artist. ( considering only  her own conversion as genuine).
In  her first novel The Comforters,  the main character, Caroline,  herself a writer and newly convert to catholicism, hears voices, that describes her as character in the novel Muriel Spark is writing. Quite a vicious circle. Of another character, the belgian Baron Stock, it is said that he exhausted his capacity for conversion when he became an englishman. But he is anyway a diabolist, he makes money out of black masses an trafficking in consacrated wafers.  A belgian anglicate is a devil incarnate.
.Muriel Spark

mercoledì 18 aprile 2012

MyMosa Moon in Israel. Or How to keep your faith and you willy too. (iii part)

or The Popesse
From an insider's viewpoint Israel  reveals itself  to be not as compact and unified,  as it might appears from an external perspective.
There is certainly a core of homogeneous  non religious or moderately religious,  well educated cosmopolitan middle class that the foreigner tend to identify, wrongly,  with the majority,  mainly because is  the only one he got to know, but in general , people in Israel are deeply divided and diversified in many ethnic religious groups. There are many synagogues, the orthodox, the ultra orthodox, the reformed, there are observant jews,  of the shabbat as of other everyday rules, the non observant, car driving on shabbat,  and even pork eaters, there are those  who throw stone on the formers, people who  on shabbat just read and do nothing , ("Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”)
there are of  course shabbat lifts at the Hilton, and in the all major  Hotels, going up and down, stopping at each floor so that people do not have to press the button, there are  women veiled, without veil, the ones  with hat, the hatless, those with the wig,  so that they  show other women hairs and keep hidden  hers own, sweating in a subtropical country like Israel, those who cook on shabbat, those who keep their food warm on special heated tray, those with one kitchen sink and the others with two sinks and two sets of cutlery, for meat and cheese, those who accept your dinner invitation and share your own non kosher, Goim food,  and others who do not.
Such  is  the variety of organized identities and behaviours that it does not come entirely as a surprise the joke  that, if  the external surrounding hostility of the muslim  population did not exist, these groups  would immediately start a war between themselves.
One would have thought that it should have been difficult to differentiate themselves within people that are already different but jewish people are very successful in doing just that. probably because the process of differentiation does not stop with the different, you have to keep up your differences from the different..
It is really a shock for a poor italian, coming from a country with a church that is  more centralized  than a leninist party, one church one pope, and the  whole hierarchical structure the comes with it.
But I happened  to think that if  you look closely even Christianity is  a jewish sect, founded by a jew, Saint Paul,  in which the process of differentiation having touched  its climax, that is , being totally different from the already different , reaches the paradoxically conclusion:  the sameness.
For you are all one in Christ Jesus,  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,  ( Paul letter to the Galatians 3:28).
Being all one in Jesus, the difference is no more contemplated or tolerated, but persecuted.
Nevertheless having realized that  Christianity is a jewish sect made me feel happier  and really less different from the jewish older brothers, and I began to think of them as less different than they
themselves think they are.
Felice chi è diverso. Essendo egli diverso. Ma guai a chi è diverso. Essendo egli comune. (Sandro Penna)

mercoledì 11 aprile 2012

MyMosa Moon In Israel How to keep your faith and your willy too. (II Part)

It should not come as a surprise  the fact that the opposition Jewish /non Jewish is the first way to establish one's  personal identity in Israel, and related to that, that a religious identity is the most important in defining identity even of non Jewish people.  In fact, imposing religious standards on those who do not desire it,  a civil marriage is not accepted or contemplated in Israel law.
One method is to marry outside Israel; nearby Cyprus became the most convenient venue for many Israelis. Paraguay  which allows marriage without the presence of the couple  to be arranged by the Paraguayan consulate in Tel Aviv, is another jurisdiction used .
A law has been passed at  the Knesset on March 16, 2010; this bill, however, would only grant "couplehood union" status to couples who both declared non-religious status

What are the implications of  the fact that one has to declare his/her non religious-status?  The mere fact that it has to be declared means that a  non religious status is viewed as an exception, a difference, a non religious status is not automatically understood as part of one's his her own citizenship.  Moreover this status does not grant full civil rights . 
Denial of civil rights on the basis of religion is most often described as religious persecutions , what can be called  a denial of  rights on the basis of  non belonging to any  religious organisations?  .

 We have to deduce that  Israel  is not one of the states, as we know them, heirs  of   enlightenment and French revolution, in which freedom of religion and civil rights   were granted as descending from  a godless entity: the state itself. 
Certainly  enlightenment, declaration of universal rights of men, did not prevent Nazi concentration camps and holocaust.
 In Israel the  history  of  Jewish identity seems to have  completed one full circle in the dialectic process and is now passing through the last synthetically phase .  Once impose by persecutors, Jewish identity    imposes herself  as master, non recognizing, or recognizing as non entities, the other non religious identities.
Sartre declared that even if the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would create him. The anti-Semite creates for himself a Jew that is representative of all that he loathes and hates.  On the other hand the democratic leftist is anti semite  because,  on the virtues of the universal rights of humanity, he   denies  the Jew his identity as a Jew. While the anti-Semite creates the Jew to destroy him, the democrat negates the Jew,  pretending  the problem of anti-Semitism does not exist.
But most of the times,  Jewish identity cannot be escaped because is imposed by  others, the non Jews.
The Jew, Sartre argues, affirms his role in a drama  in which Jewish identity  is imposed on him by the other, the anti-Semite, who acts as the oppressor.
The most dramatic examples were those of assimilated Jews who discovered their own identities trough Nazi and fascism persecutions.
That was the paradox that led to the creation of Israel, here we came to the completion of the full circle.  Universal rights  of men, are not  granted by the mere force of a declaration, they have  to be granted by a state, and the rights of the Jew to be Jew by a Jewish state. But a Jewish state grounded on  the   right of being Jew, affirms paradoxically the religion over the state, and the religious status superimposed over  that of just being a citizen of a state, therefore denying to non Jews and even non religion persons the full  enjoyment  of citizenship rights of that state.
Obviously enough the discrimination, so we may it call it, of non religious couples, results in a  strange privileged situation for gay couples ( privileged only in comparison to countries like Italy which do not have any kind whatsoever recognition of same sex unions)
Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in Israel  because only government-recognized religious authorities — all of whom disallow same-sex marriage — may officiate marriages. Foreign marriages, including same-sex marriages, are recognized in Israel. Furthermore, like unmarried opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples in Israel can access nearly all of the rights of marriage in the form of unregistered cohabitation status, akin to common-law marriage. According to a 2009 poll, 56% of Israelis support equal rights for same-sex couples.

  (to continue)

giovedì 5 aprile 2012

Mymosa Moon in Israel. on identities and differences. How to keep your faith and your willy too.

Your own MyMosa Moon was staying for a while in Israel. To tell the truth I was following  a friend of mine, Miranda, who had to undergo a sex change operation, or as it is technically called  Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS). She had discovered that Israel was safer then Morocco, and cheaper than Switzerland.  We rented a flat in fashionable Dizengoff Street, in Tel Aviv, she was away most of the time in a Clinique on the outskirt of town, (tests, therapy, and  so on).  I was happy and  alone and I enjoyed the city bursting with life. In march was so mild that you could already lie on the beach and swim in the Mediterranean sea. Even during the Shabbat, when the rest of the city was shut down, you could have a cappuccino in a Segafredo bar, or a wonderful pasta in one of the many Italian restaurants. Night life was,  probably still is, one of the busiest in the world, in fact you might have already heard the saying, Jerusalem prays, Haifa works, Tel Aviv sins. Now and then buses were exploding,  but I moved around  with taxi. I did my best to ignore the problems, I just admired the soldiers going around fully armed, I submitted stoically to the rough body inspections everywhere. But in Israel reality is meant to catch up with you as much as you try to avoid it.
One night a pleasant chap after having  bought me a drink,  asked me- Are you
I was crestfallen. It was such an unexpected question. Nobody had asked it me  before, and nobody has asked it  me ever since. I hear that for instance in New York you can ask people about their religion, but in Italy  everyone  assumes that everyone else is more o less a relapsed catholic. So that night I had for the first time the feeling of being a non Jew among many Jews, and what it might mean the contrary, being a Jew among many who aren't, although as  a transsexual I had had some  experience in  being  different.
-No- I said- I am just Italian-
-Why are you here?-
-To  have a change- I answered-
-Of what'-he insisted- of religion?, are you going to convert to Judaism?- I met probably the only one with this fixed idea.
-No -I said-I am here for  a sex change, not of religion- I lied, thinking of Miranda, I never doubted in my life about keeping my willy-
-I think only stupid people  change their own religion  to convert to another,- I went on- In my humble opinion, religions are meant only  to be quitted, not to be joined, sex on the other hand I think that at least once in your life you should change it- and since I had succeeded in making him nervous, very elegantly  I left.

(to continue)