tv Molly Crabapple Brothers of the Gun CSPAN July 4, 2018 1:10pm-2:01pm EDT
>> tv wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list eye on twitter book tv or on histogram bookótv or posted to our facebook page. book tv on c-span2, television for serious readers. ok>> how is the sound there, can everyone hear me? not too loud. was our sound. i'm already on my long weekend, i think . welcome to east city books, my name is laurie gillman, i'm theco-owner of the shop and we've been here about two years now, a little over two years. how many are here for the first time ? great, i love that. thank you for coming, thank you for those of you been here before and for all the
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if you're looking for anything to do with books, sign for our email list at the checkout counter upstairs or you can sign up online on our website. and then a little bit of logistics here, when the talk is over and we are going to have a book signing afterwards, if you could just full of your chair and fling them against the shop on either side. we will bring a table out for a signing so it will take a couple minutes to get to the signing afterwards and it will beright here in this phase . it's a little test to see if you can state that so we are watching you. and let me see, do i need to tell you anything else? pay for books upstairs. we have molly's first book and obviously the book signing from tonight so you pay for those upstairs and you can get your book signed
before you go this evening. on to the mainthing . we're thrilled to have molly crabapple, who is an artist, a writer in new york. rebels in syria.c been in guanáo her first book was called d blind blind, she was a contributing editor for life and has written for the new york times, paris review and vanity fair and her work is in the collection at the museum of modern art . shewill talk tonight with latoya peterson who is , she's a lot of things. she's a writer, a journalist and an activist and i like this cool inspection which might have come from you your self. she's a certified media junkie.
she provides awesomeness and an antiracist view on pop culture with a special focus on film, video games, television and music. welcome our guests molly crabapple and latoya >> peterson. [applause] >> thank you so much. i love east city bookshop and it's an honor to be here. thank you everyone who came out on this lovely day to sit in a basement and listen to me talk and thank you to my friend latoya peterson for speaking with me. i'm sure you guys have plenty of questions and things you want so let's try to keep portion brief and we can talk together as we malways do. how many of you have read "brothers of the gun: a memoir of the syrian war"? one, nice . all right, so why don't you u start with this beautiful opening. let's do that first segment because that is breathtaking and i want you to put it in your voice . bring us open for i start reading this i have to acknowledge my co-author who is a brilliant journalist and
probably the greatest human i know is not able to be here because of three different governments being horrible. first, the syrian regime revoked my passport, the people viewed it as dissidents and two young men odwho didn't do their army service. secondly, we have a president called trunk here, i'm sure you've heard of him and his opinions about syrians visiting and turkey isn't giving permanent residency to syrians so there's a large chance that perhaps they can't go back and might end up stuck in the airport for months and it's unfortunate in asia right now so that's why i wound up here but i'll have to do. this chapter is set in in 2011. dear guests teargas burns our
eyes. nile and i are standing with hundreds of other protesters industry in front of almost gagging on the teargas log at us. our faces staying so we wrap them in our t-shirts . until five minutes ago, we were chanting, you have a conscience, join us but now all we can manage is. [inaudible] i say and see a gas canister on the ground and leaks water streams incorrect size.i think it up from the backend so it will burn me my hand screams anyway. ithrow it toward the line of riot cops. i don't know where it goes but i grin anyway, exalted . it is my first protest . peter is dead. if a bullethits me now, i will feel no pain . >> let's talk about how this book came into existence.
give us this open, put usin the scene, right in the moment . my relationship started earlier than that, can you talk about how you met and what led to creating this book weston mark. >> i met midawan on twitter. i had been hovering around the syrian war and syrian refugees starting around the time, the first story was for the new york times about refugees living in tripoli and lebanon. there was a group of people on social media and twitter that would talk about syria. i recognize them from the twitter and model one was someone who talked about syria on twitter and initially i got to know him because he was a source. for one of my articles he gave me information about what life was like under isis
and what he thought about the foreign fighters coming to light on the government side and to fight on the side of isis and then we got to become much closer friends. he taught me a lot of the arabic that i know, he has a badass literature education and as we got to know each other at her, i say golden, do you have any photos on your phone? he says no, but i have an idea. i said isn't that dangerous? he says no, it's not dangerous. he was lying to me, he risked his life countless times, he would take photos that were the emphasis is on the isis propaganda, of kids eating in the trash to get objects to sell. i he gives them to me and i drew from them. we repeated the collaboration in isis occupied mosul and
aleppo which was eheld by the rebels at the time and being bombed senselessly by the regime and after those projects we decided we wanted to do something bigger and more cohesive, something that was the story of the syrian etrevolution and the syrian civil war. but i haven't read any books that i knew of in english, i could be wrong that work necessarily by working-class syrians. since the war inside syria and i got his perspective and it wasbrilliant and he's a unique and extraordinary individual who is more independent-minded than anyone i've ever met . in 2015 we began working on brothers of the gun. he's a little bit of a unique process for memoirs. wecowrote it together . i initially r, he wrote, i wrote half and he would be
like bad, why are your writings like psychotherapy? oh my god. then i went to his and i said marwan, you have no idea how ignorant people are in america. have to explain these things or else no one's going to understand what you mean by the events in 1992. so we rewrote each other's task and rewrote again and again and we made something where the writing took hours and it was very similar with art. even though it was a drawing, i consider them both both of our illustrations. he would even post sometimes to the point where every illustration, he called them by downloading his memories. and we came with this session to create something that was as true, even mercilessly true as possible according to his standards so that's the story of "brothers of the
gun: a memoir of the syrian war". >> let's talk about the cover art and this violent ak. tell us who's on the cover, what youwere trying to convey . this summarizes the whole book. >> the young man on mathe cover is a character in the book who was one of marwan's best friends. the two brothers in the title aretwo brothers , nael and character. nael was studying art at the university of damascus and was studying in beirut who both became fighters and both died in the course of the war. and this story was actually unique in terms of how it was done. almost every drawing in the book, the photos i took, sometimes they are like, i want to say almost montages
100 screenshots from several different citizenvideos of the same protest . but this is the only one that comes from a photo someone else took. this is from a self portrait that tareq shot. the way we interpreted this because it was taken kind into one of his life is that though he was grounded by death and fighting, when he was studying literature or writing poetry, his way of remembering that even though his gun was literally so close to him at that point that it was an instrument. >> you talk about the lyricism and poetry and that's present in the book, it's a lyrical memoir and
some of that is because of marwan background. do you want to talk about how you got approved writing this and making it feel the way you wanted it to feel? >> one of the things to know about marwan is he studied english literature and he's someone who translated waiting for to go into arabic for fun. he reads all those modernist books that i can't read, but he's someone into reading noam chomsky's books on linguistics so he has a super rich literary background and what he didn't want to do was he was like, i'm not going to write a . 101 book where i teach these people things like what is syria? syria is a country in the middle east, it has muslims in it but also christians and jews . they can deal with this themselves. and instead, what we both wanted to do was a book that
portrayed the richness and complexity of the people that he knew and also of the conflict itself which is a conflict that so often especially now is simplified as brutal but a secular dictator versus isis is not at all how it is an obviously propaganda now. but we approached it as trying to create you know, like a work of war literature rather than a straight war account. >> that's one of the things i love about this piece in particular. it's a portrait of kids, i remember it reading it that it was a little like the diary of anne frank. they're talking about lstight jeans and starting to try to look a different way, trying to impress girls, not having seen them from going to a boy
school but it's asnapshot of teenage life , teenage life even with slow dial-up internet access. can you talk about more kind of these competing influences in marwan's life with having twitter and instagram and how a revolution can play out on social ? >> one of the things that marwan wrote a lot about in the book and is one of the defining things in his life is he is part of the first generation in area that used social media like facebook finally on band by the regime in the early days. as we know it's used now, and throughout the book, the internet and the process, the mechanics of getting the internet connection and getting enough gigabytes forgetting to internet cafcs was marwan's of session
because the internet was his own window to sanity and the outside world and outside of the immediacy of what was going on. marwan began as a journalist by taking english language when the government kicked the rebels out of the city and he continued as someone who would break news about violations by isis. obviously we met because of the internet withsomething that fundamentally shaped his life . i think i know in 2011, i and many people, i'm not just to guilty of this, we thought of the internet as this inherently liberating force, that human nature was awesome and the internet was going to unleash the awesomeness of human nature. we were going to be so awesome if we had internet and we can talk to each other
and if we just talk to each other we would get along. obviously this is bullshit when i was welcomed, , i'm continuing this proud tradition here. and now i think anyone looking back from the cold grin days of 2018 when we had the president and, you know, and internets that's cooler, like nazis and neo-reactionaries, we look back and why are we thinking? why were we thinking people were so good? why do we think the results were going to be so awesome? and it's something you definitely, i think one of the more revolting things of culture online is the subculture of people who use the internet to mock and
insult people who are going through horrors and the sieges and that the thing you see a lot in syria. you would see people using social media to send pictures of food to people in these areas. >> it's interesting because there's a balance between the light and dark people in one of those things we discussed when i was working in the show call the stream out to zero at the time. now how does your international i think it is but one of the things you notice is this idea of a social media power revolution and all the promise and also all the surveillance that allowed all the things, but there's two sides to it all the time and we look at revolutions, one of them unfolding. so all optimism, is and the fear that we can reach people, bring people ctogether, organize outside the control hollows, not realizing that how much we were selling or how much this would change. i think anyone in 2011 predicted a, is not going to.
but there's also a sign that friend said that i love which is a revolution that inspired us will. he's talking to us about spring but you also had as well and i love to hear more about you were writing the book and looking at the legacy of the revolution, how you could contextualize and what you are trying to explain. people maybe who had not lived through war but might be those same kind of feelings of spaces? >> thank you. so that paragraph where he says revolution that inspired us would fail us, it's is a specific moment when security forces have just murdered a teenager in rock and for the first time, they are going en masse to the streets. lthey were like, this time it was this report see and
marwan was talking about how in this moment, the people felt so indomitable and they had no idea what they had against them. all the horses of geopolitics, all the forces of neglect, all of the opportunism and violence of the state. they had no idea and when you're talking about the revolution that inspired us will fail us, he's talking about egypt which became after the two against morsi pronounces death sentences in one trial but he also was talking about how at that time he had an idea that there was going to be an international community and people would support them
because these were people who didn't want to be killed by security services and wanted more democratic representation but instead they were basically either used or ignored or kind of manipulative, federal geopolitical peace. and i was so hesitant to talk about occupied in the context of syria even though at the time i absolutely, absolutely did feel that connected because of my participation in it. the reason today i feel that in syria, 500,000 people were killed during the war whereas me and my friends in occupied, we didn't even have an arrest record. it's not the same but what we do have in common and this is what everyone who participated in one or the other in 2011 i was at that moment, it felt like love. the chapter on the protest is
called aromance of the streets . and that's because there's this moment that i'm sure so many of you have felt you go to your, especially one that's feels indomitable and it's all the adrenaline nation, you feel you're seeing people around you for the first time and you're all connected, you feel like it's impossible that this could fail. and it's obviously a feeling that misleading, but it doesn't mean that it's not ultimately true. >> this idea of connection, right, revolution keeps coming up time and again and you made an interesting comment about nael class now social class plays out in the revolution. more about what marwan was thinking about you guys were writing the book you tried in babies class differences in house mates revolution . >> the other night, he
doesn't just come from raqqa which is you know, more all around the place, just believe it is more conservative. not comes from raqqa, he comes from search. is mounted in education, his driver, his mom grew vegetables, background. the background of him also. and one of the things i talked a lot about is how in syria there were people who were vast people who came from connected families, people who were wealthy businessmen, people who could afford to pay rise for their dkids to smooth everything, whose would always get a good job no matter how common it would seem. and then there were people like him who would even if
they did go to university which he again when the fear ofunemployment, would have to pay price for everything . aprice to get his will . literally someone give him the physical paper of the diploma . so you also had to work in a sweatshop university and he talks a lot about just very basic anger and resentment and humiliation of having a country that you feel is set up for you because you're not rich and you're not politically connected and especially when he talks about his time going to university, and he lives in a neighborhood that was in eastern outskirts. was not an official neighborhood, mostly illegally built and only lagricultural land on the record books area and you know, it was the people who work in factories in the workshops and coursework every society depends on this neighborhood immediately to the rebels.
whereas neighborhoods where rich people live did not go to the rebels at all. and actively opposed it. because some people had a showing society and some people are not. often when the middle piece is discussed in america, conflicts are seen only through the lens of religion. is this secular, is this islamist when asked loudly in syria, it's much more important variable was who had access to money, and the benefits of the state and who did not and who was going to be exploited. >> talk about religion in particular because narrative in western media about how these conflicts. how religion versus religion, this government before versus religious rounds or fighters.
there's a much more complex relationship and i like the interplay between this idea of god being also free and all these different aspects and factions on the state to the rebel fighters h. >> all things are serving god and doing god's will and at the same time this the idolatry that he will see bashar trying to basically deify himself in state communications and what people are taught to lasay in school and you saw before with the other leaders of the country. talk about interplay where seeing the religion and yet these leaders are also leveraging that to try to enshrine their own power. >> one of the things in the book describes sort of morning ritual in syrian school that i don't know anyone here who grew up in syria. you might remember, which is
shouting marwan all the slogans which is this qualified military pledge of allegiance thing and yet it's by love and by soul, we will defend you my mortal comrade. and marwan talks a lot about this substance worship of phase is the president for life when he was a little boy. his father and how he was telling him no, you can't have a man be your eternal leader, a drunk, idolatry and telling him in his heart when he's doing these slogans, to say mohammed,messenger of god . and this sort of indication of bashar, also of other leaders in areas that are run by the kurdish leftists pid as well. it's a constant thread throughout the book and in
some ways it rests on easily with both the islamist, marwan's father but also a very deeply conservative and traditional guy but also that sits uncomfortably with the more, you know, the islamic rebel groups as well. >> there are things i thought were really interesting was what are the major parts of the book is that marwan uncle who is an artist, he saved up all of his life for this building with a beautiful cafc that he would use to hang things and then that was cafc that was built in this traditional style grew up in that always don't houses and he collected these beautiful rocks that ladies and village made its rosebushes and he put everything into this and he was displaced by the war but this cafc later became a
group place that isis fighters would gather at and check their internet and there's a scene where the there are these traditional rugs that these religious maybes had made that he hung on the wall and the isis fighters are looking at them and they're going, is that a cross? is it an infidel wrong? and it's this bizarre mutation and hijacking of religion. hijacking of the great word to? >> you see these elements come in again and again because islam is not such a dominant religion in the us, rt it's really popular overseas and there's lots of confusion about what is motivating people to become radicalized, to devote themselves and really you see similarities ha to other types of movements so we're about to open up questions so start thinking about what you might want to ask. my last question to you
because we are both tennis and you know we have to go there is when we're reading these narratives about how young women become radicalized, i kept thinking about the incels and these different groups saying essentially the same thing. can you elaborate more about the roleof women in the book , particularly your observations about how women are being discussed and a little bit about our current internet context about how young men ingeneral become radicalized . >> there are a lot of women in the book and that's because they went to gender segregated schools and he was really shy around girls after that and then when isis took over his town and impose extreme gender segregation there i really do feel like there should be a book about isis and women. the city was cleaved into and no guy who lived there right
afterwards but in terms of incels, there's a reason that people are dropping bombs on them and torturing their he families and all the things that make people radicalized around the world. that's what makes people so desperate, makes people so angry is that kind of oppression but, this is where it has something with incels. the region belgium joints isis and rakes iraqi women, and what happened with the genocides and enslave them , and seals the houses of syrians, a belgian colonists would do, another time, that i think has a lot more relation to the gross entitlement and you know, the sort of feeling of alienation but also the feeling of intense entitlement that led that incels man in montrcal
to drive a car into people. because he couldn't get a supermodel to marion forever. there's a guy belgian visa isis letter that more on joe's to realize. >> he had a college degree. there's a guy bwith a college degree in belgium and he enslave a woman and that sort of leaving behind a society where you couldn't, partially motivated by this empathy of ultimate machismo and control of women is something i think is absolutely the same whether it's european or whether it's these like white dudes on angry that they can't get their supermodel version will be bright forever. >> it's true that we are, you
start reading and you listen to a language where people say this is so similar and is why groups like international media foundation is so important because it started women into conflict zones and gives these stories from women who might not talk to him in order to be seen in public with a mail order but it's always interesting when you read a more from one person's perspective by nature also the stories that are kind hedges, you have to listen or figure out what you're not being told that we have about 10 or 15 minutes left questions. i know we are reporting, do i have like in the audience question? >> okay, perfect. we had a hand here. >> and then we come back here. thank you for this book and i spent three years in lebanon and jordan .
>> it's incredibly important to tell the stories and it reminds me n. >>. [inaudible] >>. [inaudible] my question for you is more to the one marwan mentioned in turkey, for a lot of folks like like marwan and others, does he want to go back to syria? and conditions or down the road if he expects to go back to mark. >> the question was does marwan want to go backto syria now that he sent a . and two, what is the obama environment in internet? >> marwan wantsto go .
it is old and it's something that he's nostalgic for andy also hates the condition of being seen as a refugee in general and find it deeply humiliating. i don't know when he will go back to he was but one of the things i think is important about the return there, there's the most unfortunate narrative in europe especially the reason these people are in europe because it's isis and the regime defeats isis and everyone will go back and that's not true. the reason that so many people fled their homes is because of bombing and the reason so many people stayed and will stay even if the regime when is that the regime has one of the most brutal systems of incarceration and torture and they are 1.5 million syrians that are on the wanted list, li many of them young man who
like marwan into theirarmy service and people who have returned ,, i want to say they're the irish, these three young guys hothat were trying to help the family and young guys had done their army service and these guys are getting tortured either they're getting sentto the front or in some places they're getting killed . so i think returning while it's something i know that so manysyrians want to do is very dependent on whether people can return and be safe . >> there was a question in the back, and will come kback. >>. >> my name is mary and i also witnessed this evolution. [inaudible] can we expect the four from a woman's perspective? [inaudible]
>> the question from maia was wrthrough a revolution person is going to be a female perspective or can we expect a memoir on a woman's perspective the same way marwan was able to write? >> so because it would be so incomplete if there was. i have so. the writers, from their affect has done two books from the perspective of a cwoman in the crossfire. thank you. and i thought she was just like an icon of your literature and everyone needs to read her because she's such an icon. she was on the government wanted list but her books i would say would be the inclusive thing to think off from a woman's point. there's this amazing novel about a revolution. i read it in arabic so i know i missed so much but i don't know that translated into english book but if it is, my god, thatwould be amazing . >> we're going to go to the
center. >>. [inaudible] i'm just curious, how do you become interested in the middle east? [inaudible] how do you engage -- [inaudible] >> the question from blake was how did you get interested in following the middle east and you can talk about your special fx blood but also to, how do you keep reading all this news out of the region and not get discouraged? >> all, my super getting
search border, i was able to kind of get out of bed because i told one of the ladies that was searching me that i was recording about national security for the guardian and i wanted to report her real name and i know this is matt white privilege i was tired at all my search and i told the manager i was going to write about this from the guardian and after that anymore. i don't know if it works for anyone else but it worked for f me. and in terms of high how you are interested in the middle east, this probably will sound silly but when i was 17 i was traveling around europe alone . i really and i went to morocco and i was like, this is the most beautiful art, beautiful language, this is the everything in the world. and i would spend all my ceremony on courses i was in university because i went to
a bad school did not have any language courses. and so i take all my extra money taking courses in and i don't place to the museumof modern art. the metropolitan museum of art , i'd be in the damascus room and i guess i just, i love the language, i love the art and that's why a lot of people get. in terms of light, following syria, i wrote a book with my best friend on her, that's probably why. >>. >> we have time for one last question. >> ai'd like to talk to molly about wanting to go back to syria and there are millions of other people who want to go back to using it through right now the regime is making it more difficult by operating property of people who have left and can you tell a more about that? >> that seems cruel to.
>> i'm glad you got that point, that was something but we ran outof time the regime is really , has made literally that you don't register your property within 30 days, theregime cases. it's something similar to what israel did , and it's sort of an asses you wanted allows turkeys state to potentially unseal fast, high people of land, people's homes, people entire wealth and resources and yes, it is something that would lead to the impoverishment and disinfectant of huge swaths of the country. he considers the people not t part of useful syria and considers them terrorists . incels, he's from and rock right now is not under regime control. it's under the control of the sds and who are they, you
ask, us forces there? >> question from molly? >> okay we're going, thank you so much for writing this amazing book. >>. >> thank you for coming. >>. >> hold up your chair and them to either side. >> pay for your book in the meantime here. and anpull the seat. >> thank you. >>. >> he visited members of congress reading. >> reading everything, some
people go to psychiatrists, i read for therapy this weekend i read michael chertoff's new book on privacy which is very good and is guiding me on some legislation to get introduced but i also read romance, spy thrillers, i want to know newt gingrich's latest book, as you can see if you look at my, i actually have to bring like a lot, i read everything, and average of every other day. >> what you have on the kindle. >> the book i'm reading today, it's a good, you learn a lot about the iran nuclear crisis several years ago reading one of his thrillers and this teaches you a lot about some egyptian, he talks. i've got jenny rhodes, the world as it is, and of course i have to read a book about
transamerica but i have another books. i read james patterson, one of my favorite authors, stuartwood, bill clinton's book the day came out. i finish the other book , so i'll read everythingincluding a light romance to escape the world . >> he wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list via twitter tv or instagram bookótv or posted to our facebook page, facebook.com/book tv. book tv on c-span2: television for serious readers. >> i want to start by explaining the class of drugs you got into. >> know you don't. i've been interested in other kinds of drugs. my food work is what most people know but going back, there's a chapter in there about cannabis and my largest interests are, the food work
is now a larger interest in relationships to other species and how they change us and how we change them and how certain classes of plants evolved to gratify our desires. you can understand something about us by lookingat those plants . and we know, we use plants obviously feed ourselves, for beauty, for, to clothe ourselves. we have always uses that are pretty obvious. then there's this interesting weird one which is we use plants to change our experience of consciousness. all everybody in this room today used a plant in this way. >> well, maybe. >> coffee,tea, cigarettes .
it's very common. and it's a curious human desire. why aren't we happy with what we have? >> it starts with this prologue the book felt personal to me, there was a question to it that i didn't necessarily feel in the same way. in the prologue you talk about yearning to open this new door and i was wondering if you talk about, where were you in your life, what sparked this interest? >> if you put in the work to write a book, thinking so hard to do so intensely, at some level it's going to be driven by the desire or need and, but you don't alwaysknow what it is. you're just curious . journalism starts with curiosity.
we are curious people but i started out becoming curious because i've read about these trials. i have this crazy idea they were giving silicide and two people who were dying of cancer which sounds nutty to me, it's not what i want to do if i got a terminal diagnosis but it's helping people and exchanging their outlook on their mortality. a single experience, and so i was curious to understand that but something else was going on in my life and i didn't realize that until a couple weeks ago. friend of mine read the book and said god, i was struck by the fact that your father is on every page. and my father died in january. and pull. i was working on this, he had this terminal diagnosis, he had lung cancer and he didn't want to talk about his
mortality, didn't want to talk about his cancer, he was one of these people and itwas generational , late 80s but the process, and process it internally and didn't share it with us. so i needed to process it and here i was, i had wonderful but very sad opportunity to talk to people struggling with you know, right against it, their mortality. and they had an experience that allow them to talk about it openly and very frankly. and so i was, part of it was that i needed to have conversation and it was going on with these trials. that was definitely part of it. in my own life, as i talked to these people and i started off being on a very piece of street science journalism, i was published in the new yorker and you can get online or on my website, looking at cells for people who are dying, my conversations with
these people may be so curious and i haven't really had a psychedelic experience i realize and the fact that they were able to change so late in life, these people are in their these in their 70s, that became attracted to. people are all stuck in one way or another. some of us are seriously stuck and we are depressed and what we consider depressed but some of us are mildly stuck and sometimes more than that and we all thought were major we like to change and your be were people who acquired all at once and i'll tell you how a little later, this new perspective on the scene of their own lives that allow them to change. that , i realized , i wanted. >> you were going to some way? >> i was i don't think anything but the stories. >> you wondered who you could