When craving is made evil, all of life is bleak.
About Traveler Through Darkness
My goal for this piece was to present someone coming from a very traditionally steeped Eastern viewpoint allowing himself to experience forbidden desires. Specifically, I wanted this awakening to occur partnered with someone of a western background, though not a personality overcultured by social expectations. Essentially, I wanted Wo to be western, but on the fringe, himself. In that light, bringing together a Muslim Arabic man and a Navajo man inspires a subtle but powerful catharsis.
Thematically, Traveler Through Darkness is a story about expressing forbidden desires and how doing so changes us.
I have to say a few words about the cover of Traveler Through Darkness, particularly the incredible paleness of it. Because this story is part of Decadent’s The Edge series, it’s a stock cover. So yes, this story is about a hot night of lust between two men of color, and the cover doesn’t portray that accurately. I know, and Decadent knows, so please don’t fuss at them about it. Background
- Tarik , in the Sufi tradition, means messenger or “shining star,” or “traveler through the night.”
- Sufis are the mystics of Islamic faith. They practice Sufism, which is a science in righting one’s connection with divinity. The most famous Sufi order is the Mevlevi Order, called the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the Sama ceremony.
- Wochi means “illuminating,” or “flare,” in Navajo.
- It is thought that nearly all Muslim men are circumcised. Muslims are the single-largest religious group to still practice circumcision.
- Islam generally purports that homosexuality is a perversion against nature; thus, they are unlawful. Most Muslim nations have extremely strict laws against homosexuality, which is punishable by death.
- Muslim homosexuals are often expected to commit suicide, and many of them do.
- There are activists groups in Muslim cultures who speak against the treatment of homosexuals, and who advocate that the Qu’ran doesn’t explicitly state that homosexuality is wrong.
- Navajo culture embraced a ‘two spirit’ tradition, prior to Christianization. These individuals were called nadleeh, men with feminine characteristics. They often dressed as women, shared chores with women, and were considered significant spiritual leaders in the tribe. However, in the Navajo tradition sexual relations between a nadleeh and a man were considered heterosexual.
- How does the symbolism of light and dark in the harbor foreshadow Tarik’s time with Wo? How does it describe their inner qualities?
- How does Wo’s observation of Tarik temper his feelings about the hotel room?
- Why was Wo’s reaction to Tarik’s skittishness to tell him that he is safe?
- Why did Tarik need to voice his desires, and how did Tarik know this was needed?
- What motivated Wo to rub the charcoal streaks from Tarik’s skin?
- What does Tarik mean when he says, “When craving is made evil, all of life is bleak.”?
- Based on Wo’s image of himself, what do you think the significance of his name is to Tarik?
- What is the connection between Wo’s name and Tarik’s?
- What does the meaning of their names suggest about the future of their relationship?
- How does the shift in description of the fine hotel room symbolize Tarik’s awakening?
- What might Tarik’s change of attire at the story’s end hint?
Copyright © 2012 by Fierce Dolan. All rights reserved. Permission granted to print this page of the Traveler Through Darkness Reader’s Guide for personal use only.