- USD 9.99
Descripción de editorial
The Street Philosopher and the Holy Fool chronicles a series of friendships and conversations pursued over ten years with an erratic cast of Syrians that includes Abed, the unemployable ‘street philosopher’ and Sulayman, ‘the holy fool’, alongside Myrna, a Christian healer marked by the stigmata of Christ, Abu al-Talib, the prince of fools and Father Paolo, the Desert Father of Deir Mar Musa monastery. In the company of a witty, irreverent Canadian poet with a gift for listening, we touch on madness and divine possession, alchemy and the Sufi masters, melancholia and the marriage of true minds. We inhabit the dreams, fears and aspirations of the old Levantine Syria, a fascinating flux of faiths in the years before the mobile telephone and a mere decade before civil war tore this nation apart. It is a precious gift, bearing testimony to the tolerant coexistence which made the country so attractive, and which will hopefully one day be reestablished.
This reprinted 2004 travelogue is an intriguing narrative of the author's adventures in and around Syria in the early 2000s, including sojourns in Antioch, Aleppo, and Damascus. Kociejowski centers his story on two friends in Damascus, Abed and Sulayman, and his conversations with them over the course of multiple trips to the city. Kociejowski also narrates a number of side trips, including to the monastery of Deir Mar Musa, the house of a stigmatic in Damascus, and the purported site of Abel's murder. The main thrust of the book concerns Kociejowski's interest in mystic spirituality within modern Islam, particularly the titular roles of holy fool and street philosopher. Sulayman and Abed, presented respectively as representatives of these types, introduce Kociejowski to others. The story of the three men's friendship could very easily come across as exploitative, but it's saved by Kociejowski's self-consciousness and evident interest in doing more listening than talking (or writing). It is difficult at times to say what the point of the book is a tourist diary? The story of a tripartite friendship? and Kociejowski is not immune to couching the occasional description in rather Orientalist terms. However, his interest in the people and things around him comes through as genuine and unpretentious, and, as the book continues, the clich s drop away. Kociejowski has since written a sequel, The Pigeon Wars of Damascus, for those who wish to pursue the story further.