Velvet Revolution

Velvet Revolution by Gladys Matar

In 2001, Ward House in Damascus, published Ms. Matar’s “Velvet Revolution”: a work of fiction that was widely distributed attracting a fair share of critiquing. This book was introduced by the renowned Moroccan author and thinker Fatima Almarnisi as a novel dealing with “how an Arab relates to his past.”

 

Preview Velvet Revolution here…

 

BOOK REVIEW

By renowned female Arabic thinker and writer, Prof. Fatima Mernissi:

You could split book consumers into two categories: those who read for entertainment and those who read for self- discovery. If you belong to the first category, that is if you read to escape reality, then Gladys Matar’s play: “thawratu al makhmal” is not for you.

But if you are like me, extremely aware, as an Arab, that you have a serious problem with reality, and you read with the hope of discovering why, then definitely, Matar’s play is for you.

Beyond the Veil Prof. Fatima MernissiWhy? Because all her personage suffer from a troubled relation to time. Like most of us, Arabs, her heroes have strong roots in the past, but feel like tightrope-walker (rakis ‘ ala a–hibal) when they step in the present. Tightrope- walker is precisely the profession of her main character “laqad kuntu daiman rakiçan ‘ ala al hibal fi sirk wa la mani’a ladaya an azilla muallaquan fawq, sairan wa dira’ay mamdoodatani wa anfassi maktoma bida’ at tawazuni wa i-ibhar, sa’idan bi-i-wujuhi al-madhuchati wa-çamti aladi yantahi bidawi at-taçfiqi wa-çafir

Not only is the main character who is to inform us a circus professional, but he warns us from the beginning, the events he wants to introduce us to, mostly endless and senseless wars, are not very precise, because his memory is defective “la adkur fi ayi chita, mina al qarni al madi bada dalika (wars) bidabt, walam a’ud umayyiz a’mar al afrad al ladin sa atahadatu ‘ anhum katiran wa in kuntu ça aqtaribu mian as-sanawati qadra al imkan.”

However, and strangely enough, although this strange man warns me against this incapacity to control time, I feel involved drawn into the play and I want to read more because I feel at home in this circus.

Although he describes “wadi ar-Rimal,” supposed to be somewhere in Syria, 5000 kilometers away from Morocco, I still feel at home , because he insists that it is not a place in space , but in time . But if elsewhere, citizens have the right to consume time in its three dimensional sequences, with its past, its present, and its future, in Wadi ar.Rimal, people are forced to limit themselves to the first.

Their access to the present and the future is blocked. In “Wadi ar-Rimal,” just like in Morocco, Arabs thrive on consuming the past only. They feel exiled in the present and do not dare to think that the future is affordable. “Ana çadr ed-din Ibn çadr ed-din, Ibn çadr ed-din min abna’I awal salatin wadi ar-rimal wa akhirihim” why .

I kept wondering, I feel sorry for this, anachronic Sadredine ? I feel sorry because he is proud of his salatin, his despotic ancestors in a time where the masters are proud of their Human Rights achievements they broadcast in their science – infused satellites.

Yes, I feel sorry for Sadredine , not only because he refuses to admit the feminine part of his heritage (depriving himself of 50% of his reality); but also because I am forced to live with him and his sad archaic Arab World . SAD BECAUSE POWERLESS. Matar’s hero ends up, like we all do, watching the enemy camping on the frontier “la yazalouna hunak ..inahum ‘ ala al hudud wa rubama fi kuli makan la natawaqa’uhu” yes , our main job, has become, like the tightrope dancer in the play , to waist our energies watching enemies instead of focusing on ourselves. Are we , condemned,” I ended up wondering at the last page of the play” to watch imaginary enemies at our frontiers, while the real enemy has satellites to do this job and is free to invest his brain in accumulating scientific discoveries?

Temara Beach, Rabat, June 2000

Prof. Fatima Mernissi

Institute universitaire de recherché scientifique , université Mohamed v, Rabat.