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The Delightfully Made Up Middle Eastern History of Peter Lamborn Wilson

If you spend a lot of time reading Middle Eastern history, it becomes pretty clear that there’s a plot afoot.  It’s not to blame the elders of Zion, so much as to clamp a squeaky clean face onto the Islamic … Read More

By / March 15, 2007

If you spend a lot of time reading Middle Eastern history, it becomes pretty clear that there’s a plot afoot.  It’s not to blame the elders of Zion, so much as to clamp a squeaky clean face onto the Islamic Golden Age.  Unless you’re a Middle Eastern studies geek, you probably have no idea about the heretical-Sufism-professing, wine-drinking, boy-fucking, satirical poetry-writing strands that run through the history of Dar Al-Islam.  Are you into the radically anti-authoritarian Bektashi Dervishes of Anatolia?  Dig Abu Nuwas’s perverse homosexual wine poems? How about this ditty…

 

“Would that all wine cost a dinar a glass and that all cunts were graven on a lions brow so that only the generous would drink and only the valiant make love” (Courtesy of Night and Horses and the Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature, edited by Robert Irwin)

Of course the Islamic world has just as many misfits and reprobates as Christendom.  And that’s where the work of Peter Lamborn Wilson fits in.  Wilson, a former translator for the Shah of Iran and alter ego of ontological anarchist Hakim Bey, is also the author of two books on the sensual, heretical history of Islam.  Sacred Drift:  Essays from the Margins of Islam, and Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy, hone in like lasers on the freaks of the Islamic world.  I.e.:  the folks like us.   Is his history accurate?  Hells no!  Wilson embroiders and overstates to make his point, and even calls his work “poetic history.”  But, as a starting point to recommend the names of dissidents and derelicts, you couldn’t ask for a better guy.  And with that in hand, Middle Eastern history becomes a lot more fascinating.

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