revolving cycle 
of torture — where the brainwashed
brainwash the brainwashed

In my dream, I was a torture victim, wondering vaguely whether my torturers’ intention (which was to brainwash me) would be successful. They were radical Islamists. It was a very vivid dream, and I woke with a sense of having travelled a long way to get back to reality. When I came to write my poem, I felt challenged to work out how my life resembles a situation of torture. I still don’t know. But I think I’ve managed to universalize what the dream saw as a problem just with Islam. There’s a hint, in my poem (or at least in its title), of a piece of Christian scripture (originally Jewish) which I remember having to memorise in school: For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. All in all, suggestive of a specifically patriarchal sort of cruelty. Yesterday in real life I spent the afternoon with my mother and sister, and was painfully aware, at times, of my own psychology as being specifically male. I think the dream must somehow reflect this. If there is one kind of brainwashing common to all cultures, it would be gender stereotyping.


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