Nietzsche’s Camel Must Die: An Invitation to Say ‘No’ by Rewa Zeinati
Nietzsche’s Camel Must Die: An Invitation to Say ‘No’ is Rewa Zeinati‘s first creative nonfiction book, published in 2013, by xanadu*. The book was officially launched at the Hay Festival Beirut in May 2013, and is a compilation of 115 daily Facebook notes.
The themes of each note range from women’s status and gender roles to kitchen sink grinders and men’s beards. On the surface, the notes are largely unrelated to each other, but as a whole, they detail Zeinati’s journey to move through the phases of Nietzsche’s three metamorphoses.
Note # 1
Monday, September 10, 2012 at 2:05 p.m.
A tall young woman is dressed in a short salmon-pink dress. She walks by as I write this. She has the body of a model. Her face is perfect. She begins to run, delicately, after her child.
I make a small prayer that she fall over and die.
- Rewa Zeinati
- Rewa Zeinati currently works in advertising in Dubai. She is founder of the online literary magazine Sukoon.
- Her writing has been published online, and in literary journals/anthologies such as Quiddity, Blood Lotus, The Bicycle Review, Common Boundary: Stories of Immigration, Poets Against War, and the English PEN Online World Atlas.
- Zeinati is also a member of The Poeticians, a group of uncensored writers who perform their work for audiences in Beirut, Amman, and Dubai.
- Bullets & Orchids, a chapbook of her poetry, was published by Corrupt Press in 2013.
Note # 51
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.
Stoning. What a fun old way to punish someone. A punishment as old as stones. Who could’ve been that astonishingly creative back then to come up with such an effectively defective method?
I can bet my gym shorts he worked in advertising.
A couple of thousand years ago a young Levantine man in his early thirties decided to be appalled by this custom and abstain from using this exceptionally creative, and very communal (everyone gets to throw a stone) method as a form of punishment. A couple of thousand years later, the system is still considered an option, and is utilized.
Much more recently; Sakineh Ashtiani. Remember her? She’s been sentenced to stoning for adultery, and to a ten-year prison sentence for being an accomplice in murdering her husband. What is wrong with this picture?
Everything, of course.
Apparently her stoning sentence has been lifted, years later, and she’s left with the jail sentence. For the stoning to get lifted, enough international feathers were ruffled, and enough lawyers had cigarettes burned into their testicles for taking on that case.
Among thousands of other cases throughout the years, in 2004, thirteen-year-old Zhila Izadyar was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for the “crime” of being raped by her older brother. Of course! What was that reckless girl thinking? Getting herself raped, what a disgrace!
I watched The Stoning of Soraya M. last night. I was destroyed enough to want to read more about this ridiculous-ness consistently practiced by psychopathic fanatics.
My favorite bit of information:
“Stones must be of medium size, according to the penal code: Not so big that one or two could kill the person, but not so small that you would call it a pebble. In other words, about the size of a tangerine.”—Slate.com
Tangerine? Of all the abominable and unspeakable metaphors appropriate for this kind of description, the writer decided “tangerine” would be the most fitting?
Tangerine. With its thick orange skin. The small space, the breathing, that lies between the skin and the curve of the succulent fruit. The inside, slices coming together like a softly closed hand, all five fingertips touching. A fruit so easy to peel. Leaving stains on the hands and the scent of winter.
Tangerine-sized stones are used to turn humans, mostly women, into nothing but bloodied pulp.
Humans. With their thin, thin skin. The small space, the breathing, that lies between the skin and the curve of ligaments. The inside, pulsating organs carefully placed, all coming together like perfectly formed life. A life so easy to peel.
Leaving stains on the hands and the scent of carnage.
Note # 107
Monday, February 4, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.
Hi. Hope this note finds you well. And, preferably, intact. Yes indeedo. Very, very intacto.
I’m simply writing to ask if you have any idea how much attention you’ve been getting. How much attention you’ve been drawing to yourself over the centuries, and more and more and more each passing day. Every minute. You need to stop losing yourself. What is the matter with you?
Let’s all try to remember the purpose of your existence, shall we? Let’s recap:
You may have forgotten, but you define the sole purpose and existence of the human female. To demonstrate to the world that when that female is single and you are intacto, then the human female is, in facto, very much a perfect and shiny human being. Well, not exactly a human being. But at least, a perfect and shiny product or property.
It is very vital that you really pay attention to this responsibility that you are carrying. Otherwise, this property would not be a perfect anything. She can murder small cuddly animals all day long for all we care. As long as she’s a virgin before she gets hitched.
I will stop with the ‘o’ at the end of words. It’s annoying, even to myself. Although I have to admit, it’s quite fun. But what’s fun in a world where serious business is going on? No room for fun. Oh no.
Sorry, I know, I said I’ll stop, but you need an ‘o’ at the end of ‘no.’ Otherwise it will just be an ‘n’ and then no one will understand what the fuck you are trying to say. And you don’t want that, right? You want to make sense, sound lucid, and be as logical as possible.
Exactly like the story I read today. About the Saudi preacher man who decided to rape and kill his five-year-old toddler daughter. Oh yes. Very sensible stuff.
Why? Because he accused her of not being a virgin. Of course! I mean, to’ally logical stuff, right? So, of course, he rapes her. And kills her. So Mr. Preacher Man got the slammer for like five minutes, then he waltzed out the door, and paid what the world calls ‘blood money’ to the dead child’s mother. I mean he made a mistake, you know. It happens to the best of us.
Like the wrong answer in an algebra test. Or a thoughtless word said to a loved one on a lousy day. Over-speeding on a highway. Or like an accident maybe. Like spilling milk all over the kitchen floor. Or running into someone when you’re not looking, you keep walking ahead but you’re only looking down at your phone, where you type things, and read things, and find out more and more and more stories like the preacher man raping and killing his daughter.
Because she wasn’t a virgin. She’s five.
Now maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m a little sensitive, but I went ahead and threw up all over myself when I read that story. At least in my head. I threw up a million times.
Sometimes you read things and you’re thinking, no, this isn’t The Onion, this isn’t satire, this is real shit. This is life, happening every day, all day. Somewhere, everyday, in a war-less country, a woman, a female child, a female baby, gets violated in the worst ways imaginable.
That’s how paramount you are, hymen, you top the agenda. That’s how tirelessly important you are. How obsessed the world is with you. Right from the fetus stage forward.
You’re driving all the men crazy. And the women too. You nee to stop flaunting yourself all over town, losing yourself over love or lust, or exercise, or rape, or incest, or maybe, just maybe, not existing at all.
Sometimes, in some female goods, you just don’t exist. And yet, there you are. Putting these cattle in trouble all over the place. How could you do this to them? I mean, just poof, just not be there? How will she justify your absence to her silly husband?
The idiot is waiting for the bloodstained sheets, and there you go and pull a no-show.
You are the quintessential definition of the flawless female commodity in which you were born, so please, go ahead and at least exist, and whatever that commodity does or doesn’t do in her spare time, just try not to fall apart unless that commodity get married or something. It’s really quite simple. Your job description.
But in general, how about all that attention, huh? Fathers and mothers for centuries running around trying to keep you intact, it’s pretty hilarious, isn’t it?
No, it’s not. The joke is long over. I’m reminded of William Carlos William’s poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow,”
“so much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow/glazed with rain/ water/beside the white/chickens.”
Only in this part of the world,
“so much depends
of where everything
to terrify every terrified
No chickens here. No red wheelbarrows. No rain. Simply, debilitated, debilitating dudes in robes.
If only Ibn Sina hadn’t determined your presence. Or that Flemish anatomist in the sixteenth century hadn’t drawn attention to you. Would the world still be fumbling around for an excuse to persecute women?
We’ll never know.
But maybe then, Arab revolutions would focus more on constructive change and renewal, and less on hymen reconstructive surgery while also checking the women, those participating in national protests, to see if you, the ever-important, ever-famous hymen, is in fact, perfectly, immaculately, faultlessly, impeccably, intact-
(She was five, for hell’s sake!)
Not much else to say to you except that I’m pretty sure Arab politicians and religious leaders everywhere would give their left arm just to get at least half the attention you’re getting.
So I’ll end with my version of John Lennon’s song, “Imagine:”
Imagine no such thing as a hymen, it’s easy if you try. No insults to women, no men about to cry. Imagine all the people taking their head out of their buttocks, youhoo hoo, you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you will join me, and the world will stop being so unbelievably stupid.
Anyway, take care. And good luck becoming old news.
Another (hymen) loser,
The above selections from Nietzsche’s Camel Must Die: An Invitation to Say ‘No’ were used by permission from the author, Rewa Zeinati. Published 2013 by xanadu* in Beirut, Lebanon.