Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Failure to Communicate

Mulla Nasrudin
(Image from Wikipedia)

My online friend Malcolm Pollack has posted a humorous story from the Mulla Nasrudin collection published by Idries Shah: The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin. I don't think that Malcolm will mind if I borrow this story as a lead-in for today's blog entry:
Mulla Nasrudin once undertook to take nine donkeys for delivery to a local farmer.

The man who entrusted them to him counted them, one by one, so that Nasrudin could be sure that there really were nine.

On the road his attention was distracted by something by the wayside.

Nasrudin, sitting astride one of the animals, counted them, again and again. He could make it only eight.

Panic-stricken, he jumped off, looked all over the place, and then counted them again. There were nine.

Then he noticed a remarkable thing. When he was sitting on donkey-back, he could see only eight donkeys. When, however, he dismounted, there were nine in full view.

"This is the penalty," reflected the Mulla, "for riding, when I should, no doubt, be walking behind the donkeys."

"Did you have any difficulty getting them here?" asked the farmer when Mulla Nasrudin arrived, dusty and disheveled.

"Not after I learned the trick of donkey-drivers -- walk behind," said Nasrudin. "Before that, they were full of tricks."
Malcolm has titled his blog entry "Perspective," for Mulla Nasrudin's position determines his perspective, though there's clearly a true and a false perspective here, and the term might well be applied to what followed when I posted a response.

I thought that this story funny and laughed, but someone named Chris G warned Malcolm that some Muslims -- presumably radical ones -- might be angered:
Careful . . . they're likely going to tag your a** with a jeehad for making fun of their mulla.
I decided to 'pretend' to be one of those radical Muslims, and posted an 'angry threat' aimed at Malcolm:
How dare you ridicule Islam, you Islamophobe! Watch yourself, for we know where you live. Somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy, right? Think of that with fear and trembling, infidel. We know how to use Google Cosmos! We're currently trying to narrow down your precise location, and we've gotten to within several thousand light-years . . . but rest assured (or not), we will soon have determined a few heavy-years for you! You donkey-dog son of a camel monkey.
And I signed this threat "Jafari Hadjiz," a pretty obvious pun on my name "Jeffery Hodges" -- and my full name appeared above the 'angry threat', so I presumed that everyone would catch the joke. JK caught on, of course, and left a funny response, but someone named "Amy" didn't see much humor:
Horace Jeffery Hodges, Funny how your stupid Quran, Hadit, etc.. hateful interpretation haven't got far? Maybe people are sick of your message and your intelligent officer style and not worth a response. After Obama's speech the Radical Jews are against world once again, how do you feel about that?
"Eh?" I thought. For several minutes, I puzzled over this obscure retort. Did "Amy" consider me a genuine radical Muslim with a hateful interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith? Or was she calling the Quran and Hadith stupid and perhaps attacking all Muslims as intrinsically radical? Yet, she had used my real name, not the Muslim-sounding pseudonym with which I'd signed, so she'd caught at least that part of the joke. But what was this about radical Jews who are against the world once again? Really, what was her point? I couldn't make it out, so I asked:
"Amy" was considerate enough to clarify:
Horace Jeffery Hodges, I was typing fast earlier, so here is my edited version: Funny how your stupid Quran and Hadit's hateful interpretation, and may i add "odd and senseless", haven't got you far. As most people are sick of your "message" and your intelligent officer style and therefore I do not think that you worth a response. After Obama's speech yesteday, the Radical Jews and Zionist are against the world once again, so how do you feel about that?
I began to suspect that the problem lay not merely in her typing but in her perspective from astride one of Mulla Nasrudin's donkeys, so I replied:
Amy, I confess that I still don’t have a clue what you're referring to. Are you sure that you're not thinking of somebody else's comment?
"Amy" proved more forthcoming:
Aren't you the same guy who thinks he is funny: "How dare you ridicule Islam, you Islamophobe! Watch yourself, for we know where you live. Somewhere in the Milky" for no reason but to comment over the Nasrudin jokes. unless the Nasrudin is code for antiIslam, but that is a fight between you and Malcolm. My question i guess, what prompts to say stuff like that?
Hmmm . . . yeah, I guess that I was that same guy (though my humor was beginning to wear a bit thin), so I confirmed:
Oh, that's what you're talking about. I was pretending to be a radical Islamist annoyed at the 'Islamophobia' of those who laugh at the Nasrudin humor. Radical Islamists -- as you perhaps know -- hate laughter, and since Nasrudin is a Muslim (albeit only incidentally), I pretended to be a radical Islamist who totally misunderstood the point of the laughter and took it to be against Islam.

But I don't see what any of this has to do with my putative interpretation of the Quran or Hadit, which I never even mentioned, nor with Obama's speech and radical Jews, which I also never mentioned.

Finally, I don't know what you mean by my "intelligent officer style" that is "not worth a response" -- though this didn't stop you from responding -- so I remain by baffled by your comment.
"Amy" hasn't yet responded to this, perhaps because it's not worth a response, but the thread dangling at her end of our conversation has been picked up by a certain "Christian," who may also be seated astride one of Mulla Nasrudin's fabulous donkeys:
why would pretend to be a Radical Muslim? What makes think that they think that way? Isn't this the classic definition of inciting hate, as there are no visible radical, but only visible Muslims. Take it easy and stop your hate mongering please.
"Christian" writes remarkably like "Amy" -- though perhaps a bit more coherently -- but I think that I'll now just leave the thread dangling on my end of the conversation over at Malcolm's blog and post this longer response here. If "Christian" or "Amy" want a further explanation in my much-admired "intelligent officer style," they can read today's blog entry here on our failure to communicate.

Meanwhile, let us each consider our own perspective.

As for me, I stand with Mulla Nasrudin behind the donkeys. The hour is late, our pathway lighted by the moon, but we both converse together in an "intelligent officer style," taking turns to respond as we fall ever more deeply into our "conversation, arguing about something, and trying to reach some kind of agreement."

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At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm unsure what that "Intelligent Officer" thing meant too, and I noticed some similarities in the "style" of some of the signed" stuff.

I don't ride donkeys so from the vantage point of my jackass I thought I could discern what "Amy" was talking about. Of course I was wrong (as usual) but as to your use of that "signature?"

That was "Laugh out Loud."

Perhaps "Amy" and "Christian" are fans of the late Norm Crosby.


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Amy" and "Christian" write in very similar styles and have very similar opinions.

I rather liked my 'signature', too.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Sperwer said...

Intelligent officer seems like an unintended compliment, almost a reference to George Orwell before he became such and was simply Eric Blair, colonial policeman

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I'd like to think the best, Sperwer, so I accept your interpretation.

I did once or twice wonder if "Amy" meant "intelligent, official style" . . . but I've no clear idea what that would mean, either.

Or did she mean "intelligence officer style"? My bafflement probably declares my disqualification for any of these possible compliments.

Jeffery Hodges

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