Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ragpickers





Imagine that you are a farmer who is forced to move to the big city to find work.

It may be that the rich and powerful have taken over your land; or it may be that over-population has forced you to leave your village; or it may be a problem of drought.

Many poor people who come to big cities like Bombay or Jakarta or Nairobi end up as ragpickers.

The Economist, 15 November 2007,( India's ragpickers Scavenger hunt Economist.com) has an article about ragpickers:

"In Delhi alone, there are more than 300,000. They earn 100-150 rupees ($2.50-3.75) for eight hours' work. They save the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) an estimated 600,000 rupees in daily waste-disposal costs, reckons Chintan, a charity that campaigns for their welfare...

"In recent months, ragpickers in Delhi have been denied access to much of the rubbish upon which they depend. In its drive to spruce up the capital for the 2010 Commonwealth games, the MCD has awarded waste-collection contracts to private companies in six of its 12 zones.

"These firms dump rubbish in inaccessible containers without any thought for recycling. This is unsurprising. They earn six rupees per tonne of collected rubbish; sold on, that refuse would fetch just over five rupees. Chintan has researched the impact in two zones, and has found that half the ragpickers reported a substantial drop in earnings.

"In Mumbai, waste collection has not yet been privatised, but it might be soon."

~~

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Persian Vice


In the early 17th century, Thomas Herbert was secretary to the English ambassador to Persia (Iran).

Herbert reported that at the court of Shah Abbas he saw, "Ganymede boys in vests of gold, rich bespangled turbans, and choice sandals, their curled hair dangling about their shoulders, with rolling eyes and vermilion cheeks." (Pederasty in the Middle East and Central Asia - Wikipedia, the ...)

John Chardin travelled through Persia at this time.

He reported that there were many boys available for sex, but no women.

John Fryer, who traveled to Persia in the late seventeenth century, was of the opinion that "The Persians, when they let go their modesty... covet boys as much as women."

In the late nineteenth century Richard Francis Burton referred to Central Asian pederasty as "the Persian vice."

According to Burton, Persian boys used each other for sexual pleasure, in a game known as alish-takish. Later in life, after marrying and begetting children, "Paterfamilias returns to the Ganymede," according to Burton.
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The late shah of Iran was rumoured to be bisexual. 'There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.' Prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda was said to have been a homosexual. (Cached)
Taxi drivers in Teheran will tell you that Ayatollah Khomeini was an MI6 agent and that Britain toppled the Shah. (aangirfan: 'The overthrow of the Shah of Iran by the CIA and MI6')
And then there are the stories about the Ayatollah and .....
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The Koran (Qur'an) appears to see nothing wrong with men finding boys attractive. "And there shall wait on them (the Muslim men) youths of their own, as fair as virgin pearls." (Qur’an 52:24; 56:17; 76:19).

The Moslem jurist Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 1200) reportedly said that "He who claims that he feels no desire when looking at beautiful boys or youths is a liar, and if we could believe him he would be an animal, and not a human being." (James T. Monroe, in Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature, p. 117)

There is no law against homosexuality in Egypt,Indonesia, Turkey....

"In 1885 Richard Burton came up with what he termed a 'Sotadic Zone' in which, he claimed, homosexuality was more prevalent than in other parts of the world. The homo- erogenous zone supposedly covered most of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, stretching all the way to the Punjab and Kashmir." ( "Cultures od Denial"; article on the book Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East in Al-Ahram, )

During the early years of Islam, homosexuality was seemingly not regarded as a crime. (Islam and Ottoman Times ).

In the Moslem world, deep friendships between men were common and were seen as being acceptable. Ali, one of the members of Prophet Mohammed's family, had a deep friendship with Mohammed.

In 1001 Arabian Nights, there are stories about homosexual relationships.

In the Moslem Ottoman Empire, 1299- 1923, sleeping with boys 'was very common'.

In the hamams (baths) the tellaks (young boys who helped men to have a bath) would have sex with men.

In Ottoman Literature there are many poems written by male poets about boys. Sex with boys was not illegal and the sultans were engaged in sex with boys. There was a palace for boys in Bursa. In this palace the sultan kept many young boys who served the men in the army. (Islam and Ottoman Times )

The Wounded Heart is an old Peshtun song:

"There is a boy across the river

With a bottom like a peach!

But alas! I cannot swim!"
"Women for breeding, boys for pleasure, but melons for sheer delight." [38]

~~

Edward Westermarck



Edward Westermarck (1862-1939) was a world-famous Finnish sociologist, anthropologist, and moral philosopher.

From 1907-1930, he was professor in sociology at the London School of Economics.

His most famous works are The History of Human Marriage (1891) and The Origin and Development of Moral Ideas, I-II (1906-1908).

Westermarck demonstrated that homosexuality had occurred throughout the ages and in every part of the world.

He believed that homosexuality was an acceptable form of sexuality.

He argued that Christianity was largely responsible for the false ideas about homosexuality.

Westermarck believed that our sexual tastes are not fixed and that conditioning, for example by the Church, can play a part in shaping our orientation.

~~

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Andre Gide

Athman the model for Moktir in 'The Immoralist'

Photo of Gide

André Gide won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947.
Few writers in the twentieth century have been as influential as Andre Gide, according to Geoffrey Heptonstall. (Andre Gide: A Life in the Present - Review Contemporary Review ... )

In 1893 and 1894 Gide traveled to North Africa and took a sexual interest in a number of young boys.
In Tunisia Gide lost his virginity, at the age of twenty-three, to a fourteen-year-old Arab boy called Athman. (Gide, André)

"None of the boys or their families ever complained about their treatment at Gide’s hands." (Who is Andre Gide?)

In 1895, Gide married his cousin Madeleine Rondeaux.

In 1902, Gide wrote L'immoraliste about a character called Michel who loves boys (pederastic tastes).

In 1916, Marc Allégret, aged 16, became Gide's lover.

Marc Allegret was the son of the best man at Gide's wedding. Gide adopted Marc.

Gide defended homosexuality in his book of essays entitled Corydon (1924).

In Corydon, Gide uses scientists', historians', poets' and philosophers' evidence to back up the argument that 'homosexuality pervaded the most culturally and artistically advanced civilizations (such as Periclean Greece, Renaissance Italy and Elizabethan England) and that this was reflected by writers and artists from Homer and Virgil to Titian and Shakespeare in their depictions of male-male relationships (such as Achilles and Patroclus) as homosexual (rather than platonic or friendship-based as other critics argue they were)'.

Gide suggests that homosexuality is more fundamental and natural than heterosexuality, the latter being merely a union constructed by society.

In 1925, Gide produced Les faux-monnayeurs 'which contains a considerable number of bisexual or gay male characters — the adolescent Olivier and at least to a certain unacknowledged degree his friend Bernard, in all likeliness their schoolfellows Gontran and Philippe, and finally the adult writers Comte de Passavant (who represents an evil and corrupting force) and the benevolent Edouard.'

During the 1920s, Gide grew in fame as a writer, inspiring Camus and Sartre.

Andre Gide said:

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."

"Dare to be yourself."

~~

Thursday, November 01, 2007

John Mortimer


Sir John Mortimer is a famous English writer and lawyer. He has five children.

Valerie Grove, in The Times, 11 October 2007, gave us extracts from her biography of John Mortimer - A Voyage Round John Mortimer (John Mortimer and his undergraduate crush - Times Online )

Grove tells us that at Oxford University, Mortimer wore 'velvet jackets, purple trousers, sombrero hats'.

And at Oxford, Mortimer developed 'a romantic infatuation for Quentin Edwards, a fresh-faced, handsome sixth-former, who had visited Oxford from his public school in the balmy spring of 1941.'

Mortimer gave Edwards a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets, with an inscription from Sonnet 144 - “two loves have I, of comfort and despair”.

Mortimer wrote letter to Edwards letters 'in the style of Wilde to Bosie', addressed to 'My dear Boy'.

The letters were found at the boy’s school by his housemaster. The headmaster summoned Edwards and told him not to return to the school.

The headmaster wrote to an official at oxford University, and Mortimer was advised not to return for his third year.

Edwards, who became a judge, now says: “John and I had, I suppose, a crush on each other."

Mortimer 'has never made a secret of his homosexual inclinations at school, even at the Dragon prep school.' Mortimer says, "I had perfectly pleasant homosexual experiences at Harrow!”

Mortimer became a writer and 'one of his early triumphs as a playwright was a play called Bermondsey, in which a married man passionately kisses his former male lover from their army days. This kiss was, in 1971, a first for the West End. It made the audience gasp, and the critics extol the playwright’s groundbreaking and sensitive treatment of homosexuality.'

Mortimer, as a lawyer, defended Gay News in the 1977 blasphemy trial.

One of Mortimer's plays, Naked Justice (2001), "featured a judge confronted by a blackmailer who reminds the judge of one long-ago afternoon at 'St Tom’s College' when he was 'fascinated by my purple trousers'."

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