Thursday, April 21, 2005

the story behind the word

What is the story behind the word "story"? The wondrous Online Etymology Dictionary can provide the answer:
"account of some happening," c.1225, "narrative of important events or celebrated persons of the past," from O.Fr. estorie, from L.L. storia and L. historia "history, account, tale, story" (see history). Meaning "recital of true events" first recorded c.1375; sense of "narrative of fictitious events meant to entertain" is from c.1500. Not differentiated from history till 1500s. As a euphemism for "a lie" it dates from 1697. Meaning "newspaper article" is from 1892. Story-teller is from 1709. Story-line first attested 1941. That's another story "that requires different treatment" is attested from 1818. Story of my life "sad truth" first recorded 1938.

I especially wanted to pick up on the idea of a story as being essentially "a lie". This connotation is more evident in some "story" synonyms: myth, fable, legend, romance, epic, saga, yarn, tale.

At Story-Systems, Tim Boucher asks: Which Religion is the "Right" One? His answer is similar to the one I would have given a year or so ago before I began to read more about Islam and especially before reading any of the Qur'an itself. I always accepted Islam as just another religion, with its own path to God, and in some ways I do still believe that. However, I have been stunned by what I have perceived as the spiritual shallowness of the Qur'an itself and the relative lack of moral fibre of its writer. I have come to see this writer as a clownish fool for whom a shortened version of his name, viz, "Mo" is far better suited than any of the fuller variants like Muhammad, Mohammed, or Mohamet.

Not only does my heart tell me that Islam via the Qur'an is not for me, it tells me it should not be true for any intelligent human. I find myself viewing it as a shallow deception, an empire-building propaganda machine, or simply as the rantings of a spiteful, resentful, vindictive quasi-madman (at the very least). It horrifies me beyond belief that billions of otherwise sane and ordinary human beings can revere such shit.

It astonishes me that I feel that way. It appals me to realise that this places me in the same ideological camp as most (if not all) of the Christian fundamentalists. Mo was an agent of Satan and the Koran is indeed a compilation of Satanic verses.

No, not exactly. In my version of the story, there'd be no need for Satan. Nor for a transcendant and unapproachable deity. No, there would just be Mo and his Arab inferiority complex. An Adlerian take, I guess.

Better still, I could follow Rumi and simply say: Lies, all lies!

A wondrous treasure I did seek
Filling hours of leisure through the week
Though th' endeavour brought me fear and pain
Wicked pleasure did I soon regain.



At Monday, 26 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been enjoying your blog and thought that you might be interested in learning about our book of translations, LOVE'S ALCHEMY: POEMS FROM THE SUFI TRADITION: -- David Fideler

At Monday, 26 June, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Thank you, David. I did visit and it looks like a beautiful book. Well done!


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