Centuries ago in Persia, a young woman was given to a king as a new bride. She was the last of many, all killed the morning after their wedding in a move of bitter revenge by the king. He had been betrayed by his first wife, and met each new bride as an opportunity to act out his pain.
This new wife, a beautiful young woman named Scheherazade, managed to escape this fate through an ingenious trick of literary seductionimage-6240078-10731106. She told elaborate stories before bed – the legends of Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, and Aladdin are a few – which would build over the course of the night, reach climax at dawn, and resume the following evening, all without meeting closure. The king would spare her life each morning, eager to hear the end of each creation.
Today, the tales come together as One Thousand and One Nights, the collection of West and South Asian stories first published during the Islamic Golden Age in the 9th century and now imbedded in post-national, global storytelling culture. The stories include Arabic, the aforementioned Persian, and arguably, Indian influences, and have made their way through Europe and beyond, initially with an early18th century French translation by Antoine Galland and later, through countless other translations; films – George Melies’s Le Palais des Mille et une nuits , Raoul Walsh’s The Thief of Bagdad – and additions (e.g. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Thousand-And-Second Tale of Scheherazade).
Today, we’re celebrating Halloween. A once pagan, maybe Roman, maybe Celtic holiday that took on Christian influences in the 7th century. For many, this day is all about transformation– transforming into the fantasy figure of your choice, taking on that identity, and living in an alternative story for a night. Maybe this means dressing as Scheherazade, the sharply clever, Middle Eastern woman who used intellectual seduction to save her life and spin a web of other-wordly tales. A pre-modern queen of tricks and treatsimage-6240078-10451141
Or maybe Halloween means a night as Medusa, snake haired monster of Gianni’s heart. An early ‘80s
Madonna, gilded conical bra, lacey knee-length wedding dress, mutating into a mid 90’s bindi wearing boudoirimage-6240078-10731106 bard . Athena in a metallicimage-6240078-10731106 gown, drapery manifesting ferocity. You can go wherever you want with it. Lose yourself in a story and a trick.

For this night, it doesn’t have to end.

-Ashley Simpson

Halloween, October