Author Archives: elimelec@usc.edu

Hila Moverman 42: Mohammad proverb

“If the mountain won’t come to muhammad, muhammad will come to the mountain.”

Context: Hila Moverman was born and raised in Israel, and moved to the United States when she was 19. She grew up hearing this phrase a lot, which makes sense in a middle eastern country. However, this story is not just popular in the middle east, as philosopher Francis Bacon, in Essays, 1625 also had a version of the story: Mahomet cald the Hill to come to him. “And when the Hill stood still, he was neuer a whit abashed, but said; If the Hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.”

Analysis: This phrase, though it depicts the deity Mouhammad, is a universal phrase found throughout the world. It means “If one’s will does not prevail, one must submit to an alternative.” This is an extremely important lesson that is universal for all people, as compromise is a crucial aspect for the attainment of peace. In the middle east, this proverb would be increasingly important, as it has historically been a very turbulent region. What this proverb teaches is that compromise is crucial for the completion of one’s goals
https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/if-the-mountain-will-not-come-to-muhammad.html

Bardia Soltani 21: Rostam

“Basically Rostam is a persian warrior who is really known. He’s like the strongest man in Iran and is always protecting Iran. I’m not sure if he was a real person, it’s not really known. One of the stories about him is that he goes head to head in battle with this enemy army and he slays his own son who is the commander of the other army. I think he blinds his son too. When his son dies, he takes off his helmet or whatever and finds out he was his son and is really sad. His son’s name is Estambiar.”
Q: “Is there a lesson to the story?”
A: “I don’t remember, But it was this whole tragic thing. I really remember it on that complex level.”

Context: Bardia is a student at the University of Southern California. He was born in Iran and emigrated when he was seven years old. To him, this is a story that his dad told that is very close to his heart. It is a way of connecting with his father and his lineage.

Analysis: This story unites the Iranian people and makes them feel connected as a group. Stories like these create a commonality in people that they can share and feel like a part of the community. It unites people with common values (heroism, bravery) and also unites them with certain relatable themes such as tragedy.

Natalie Skinner 19: Blues House Ghost Story/ Legend

“My aunt on my moms side lives in a small town in mississippi called bay st louis. She and her husband after katrina, and they were the only house on their street that survived and they left. They moved to a blues hall up the road, which has a lot of history. During the prohibition, all of the town gathered in the blues hall and had a bunch of alcohol and music. Because of their illegal escapades, there were deaths in the house. They renovated half of the building to be a home, and left the stage and the hall to throw events and rent it out. After about a year of living in the blues home, my aunt called my mom saying she heard incoherent voices coming from somewhere in her house. She walks into the party room that they had set up and she watches her 12 foot table get dragged across the room. Now the entire family believes the building is haunted and has encountered multiple supernatural events.”

Background: “Heard the story about five years ago for the first time, and have been hearing about it from my family ever since.”

Context: this story was told to me during a folklore class by Natalie. Her family is from the Louisiana where ghost stories are pretty common thanks to the old structures that are present everywhere.

Analysis: in my opinion, it makes sense that people are telling stories of the travesties of the prohibition, as that time literally still haunts America. Also this is an event that connects her entire family together: this belief of spirits and probably makes them all feel connected to each other as a family.

Reed Kaplan 19: The Rougarou

“The Rougarou is this story of you say his name he can hear you and comes and murders you. He’s kinda like a Werewolf but swampy. Everyone in Louisiana knows about it.”

Context: I collected this story from Reed at the University of Southern California. Reed is an American Jew with roots in Louisiana. He heard the story from his late grandfather. Everyone in the state apparently knows this story. If one is out alone at night, they are said to hear his cries.

Analysis: The swamp is a large, uninhabited place where a lot of strange noises are heard. It makes sense for there to be stories of monsters that lurk what is unknown. This is probably peoples’ way of coping with the unknown dangers that reside vert near to them.

Whitney Levine 22: Wiffleball

Growing up my dad would always play sports, so growing up he would always play wiffle ball with us and we would play in the tennis court and have all these made up rules. We would turn off the lights and we had a lot of rules. If we hit it over the left side of the fence, its three outs, but if it’s the right side you can keep going. Its kinda like baseball but a little different. Say for example you are pitching, if that person hits the ball and cant make it to first base, if it hits the person running, that person is out. We would always play it every holiday.”

Context: This story was told by Whitney Levine in our Folklore class. She is American/ Russian heritage. She played the game throughout her childhood on holidays. The rules of this game were passed down through her family and everyone in the family is aware of this variation of the game Wiffleball. This game holds a lot of sentimental value for her and it makes her feel connected to her family. Sharing a game with family encourages bonding and inspires a sense of belonging in people.