SFU English 380: Mutilation and Foreign Relations in the Japanese Novel

A class blog for students of English 380 - "Literature in Translation" - at Simon Fraser University in Autumn 2005.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Civilisation Fundamentals

The course thesis that civilisations each have their unique identity -- essentially, a set of assumptions, virtues and traditions -- which is accepted unconsciously by its members and is absolutely untranslatable, receives incidental support from a CNN article, here, treating the aftermath of the recent Al Qaeda bombings of hotels in Jordan.
The article reports that:
Family members of Jordanian-born al Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have renounced the terror leader, telling King Abdullah II on Sunday that they would "sever links with him until doomsday."
Setting aside here any matters of content relative to Islamic terrorism, the relevant point for our course is the reason why al-Zarqawi has been cut off by his tribal family now and not for any of his previous acts of terror. In a phrase, al-Zarqawi has in this case violated a value fundamental to the identity of the wider tribal culture whichto which he belongs by birth. The article gives a specific quotation from his family group which states the violation in its own cultural terms:
"A Jordanian doesn't stab himself with his own spear," they wrote. "We sever links with him until doomsday."


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