Uit: The Satanic Verses
“When Baal proceeded to lay out the plan for the madam, she responded: “It is very dangerous, but it could be damn good for business.” While I do not wholly subscribe to the theory that authors tend to write self-fulfilling novels, it seems quite clear to me that “they” did hear and that they are indeed mad enough to “boil his balls in butter.” The Ayyatollah Khomeni, who issued the fatwa for Rushdie’s death, in fact stated that what Rushdie wrote about the Prophet literally made his blood boil (quoted in Appignanesi and Maitland 1990:73). The whole thing has been very dangerous, and there is little doubt but that the controversy has been “damn good for business.”
The question that remains for me is why Rushdie — being brought up as a Muslim, even a backsliding one — did not realize what the reaction of his fellow Muslims would be (Baal was certainly not naive about how Mahound would respond to knowing whores were pretending to be his wives), or why Rushdie realized it but went ahead and did it anyway. To a certain extent Rushdie’s public presentation of his private doubt came at the wrong time — it was a convenient lightning rod at a time when anger against the West — understandable anger at that — needed to go somewhere.
But the key I think is found in the same passage (p. 380), where Rushdie comments: “Where there is no belief, there is no blasphemy.” In an interview ironically broadcast the same day in 1989 as Khomeini’s death warrant, Rushdie added: “Doubt, it seems to me, is the central condition of a human being in the 20th century” (quoted in Appignanesi and Maitland 1990:24). Here I think is the crux of the problem. We can readily identify with Rushdie on doubt as the norm in the secular as well as much of the sacred thinking of our West. We can read The Satanic Verses as an exercise in dealing with that doubt, one that Rushdie as an immigrant author in our backyard vigorously defends as viable even though it may be seen as blatant unbelief by his critics. But the problem is that Rushdie, at least up until a recent interview with
David Frost, has never claimed not to have belief. He has simply admitted to doubt.”
Doorgaan met het lezen van “Salman Rushdie, Sybren Polet, Josef Nesvadba, Osamu Dazai, José Rizal, Friedrich Huch, Gustav Schwab”