Sunday, February 08, 2015

Timely Rambling

Are you happy?

Seems an easy question. Isn't it.

Well try to answer it. 

You think you don't have enough time?

If that is the case then I think you are not happy, my friend. 

It was yesterday when I heard something about the relation between happiness and slowness. I forgot where that was and what it was exactly but the idea was that if you can master yourself to be slow in your daily actions you will find happiness. I think I read that from a newspaper.

Happiness is difficult to define. Even if we look at its more basic description: pleasure, we will find some difficulty defining it. Like water, we will end by defining it as: water!

To define pleasure it might be easier to define it in simpler organisms, like bacteria, than defining it in human beings. When the bacteria finds an environment supporting its survival, for example with favorable nutrients, and favorable pH and temperature, it will try to stay in that environment, and it will try to avoid any change. It is happy. It has found its pleasurable milieu. It is balanced. No threats, to life, or in another word, no pain.

That is it for today's rambling. The idea was to just to post those photos and to write something.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Holmes in the Bus in Baghdad

I was reading Sherlock Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia) in the bus when a desire took a hold of me, the desire of becoming as perfect as he was in observation of details around him, so as I put down the book for a while and started observing the details that surrounded me.

 Thanks God the speakers were off. They look much better off in the sun.
 A heel of a shoe has found its role in this bus.
 At the end of the short story Holmes didn't shake the hands of king of Bohemia although the king had presented his hand. All that Holmes asked for was to guard the photo in his personal belongings, as if he was thinking that it is more safe than to give it to the king. The king, if really was trying to do harm, and was really pathological suspicious would have not accepted that, but as a child, he accepted.
From the beginning I suspected that Holmes didn't like the King of Bohemia from the way he observed his clothings, and I even suspected racism. He described that king with ridicule. That king looked almost nauseating to me with all that bad taste in clothings, and bad manners.
The King of Bohemia was worried that a woman, an English woman we would suppose, will hurt him in the future because they were lovers and she had a picture of him and her together. The king of Bohemia suspected that she might one day blackmail him. Holmes duty was to take that picture off from her. But she finally, in sudden movement, let Holmes took the picture and left him a message praising his cleverness and telling him that she didn't intend to harm the king, but on the contrary she was afraid that that king might try to hurt her reputation one day so she kept that picture with her. That ending is not convincing to me.

I didn't like the king of bohemia, nor holmes, nor the lady who was about to marry.
I liked only this speaker who was saying nothing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My strange dream about Isis

Lately I read some articles in Arabic journals about terrorism. About what is happening in Syria, Iraq and lately, in France. Yesterday I dreamed as if seeing visually an article. If we were living in the ancient times I would be regarded as a prophet seeing a message from God. It was symbolic although I didn't get all the symbols. Here is the dream:

"It is in an airport, a child in a wheelchair pushed by her mother, approaches in their walking by hazard a slim talk black man who looks like Sotigui Kouyate.

He is so slim and wearing suspenders. The girl doesn't like the suspenders and thought that they look silly so she started chatting with him with ridicule. He answers her with questions: "What if somebody can not wear a belt?", "What if I am diseased and belts can hurt me?" While they continue chatting she manages to take the suspenders from him. They start laughing since his trousers start hanging down. He tells her that his disease makes him loose weight even if he eats good.  

The girl continues her ridicule and she finally answers his questions by: "How wise you are, you know much things, you know all things about medicine, religion, and the soul."

He answers as calm as he seems always be: "Regarding medicine, I asked my doctor what is wrong with me so that I can understand myself. Regarding religion I claim no knowledge, nor regarding the soul."

At that point the girl's mother says: "That's what I prefer." She is smiling when she puts the wheelchair in that corner to go for a thing to check, like when we go to check the boardings of airplanes. The African black slim tall man stands about 2 meters from the girl in the wheelchair who still has his suspenders with her. She moves her wheelchair to approach him and without a word, but with a smile, she gives him his suspenders. He kneels down to look her good in the eyes and says: "What the world is waiting to make you his Goddess Isis?"

The dream ends with seeing few lines written in Arabic, and also hearing somebody reading them. The verses say something like:

What the world is waiting?
We men had spoiled this world
We made women become prostitutes
When will be go back to that time where women reign?

That how I remember my dream. I am sure I forgot some details but that what sticks in my mind and thought that you like to hear about. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Goal of Life

One of my colleagues told me once: "Sami, excuse my remark, but you don't know what you want." I didn't like to discuss that with him, but the bottom line is I think that nobody knows what s/he wants form life. 

I took the bus today who was there waiting for me? now you already know, I hope. A Virginia Woolf of a kind. And we started chatting. 

VW: So where are you going today?
S: To the University to see whether I can change my place of working.
VW: Soooo, that meeaanzzz, you know where you are going to?
S: welllll, ... - I looked in her eyes and saw that mixture of cleverness and ridicule so I took a deep breath and opened my book and read:

"Lazy and indifferent, shaking space easily from his wings, knowing his way, the heron passes over the church beneath the sky. White and distant, absorbed in itself, endlessly the sky - then VW interrupts suddenly:

VW: So you can follow my ideas?
S:... -I search in her eyes for ridicule and before I was able to find any I opened my mouth and started rambling- wellll, yeah, you like herons, they kind of having long necks, and long beak. They are kind of slim and feather-light. They seem nauseated. Oh sorry didn't mean.. didn't mean that... that you like nausea, but anorexic.. are you??
VW: No, at all. 
S: You don't like heaviness. And you are tortured by not finding a goal. This heron knows his way and you like that, knowing once way. You don't feel like, consciousness had known its way. Once conscious, you're lost. Animals are better. Objects are the best. You like perception. You contemplate. YOU SEEM TO ME A BUDHI.....

The bus stopped and the people were looking at me. The driver said: "You are talking to your self, you are frightening people!"

While the bus regains its path, to the nowhere, VW giggled like a prostitute. 

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Lost with Woolf

I took the bus going back home and she was sitting there waiting for me. Who else but Virginia Woolf?

She started telling me about that Society she and her friends had held. They were 6 or 7 of young women who thought that the objects of life are to produce good people and good books. Good people are produced by women, and good books are produced by men. Since it is up to women to start this circle of production, those young women thought that they must answer the question of whether men are producing good books or not, before going ahead and produce more men.

They went to libraries, galleries, universities, army, and courts so that to see whether men are producing good books. Actually not only good books, but good things. They wanted to answer questions like what is honor? what is chastity?

It was the job of Castalia to search for the meaning of chastity when she fell in love with that university professor who sent her back to her Society pregnant.

The WW-1 started. Castalia sobbed.
The WW-1 ended. Castalia and the narrator continued their discussion. I didn't get the final goal of the short story. There may be no "final" "goal", but this was meant to let you pose questions on yourself.

I sometimes have to admit, that I am lost too.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My Utopia and the Time Machine

I am in the French language class again. We read samples of Utopias. Our teacher asks us to write how our own Utopia would look like. I spend a week confused not knowing how my Utopia would look like. In the last moments before the class is held again and we are ought to present our Utopias I write fast my Utopia. It is a village.  Agricultural. People travel by the speed of light. And they had a time machine. They can go back in time.

Ideas not so well linked. Explanations not perfectly given. The time for our class ends. I go walking and thinking why exactly I thought of Time Machine! Is that really Utopic to me?

The other day I am in the kiosk receiving my newspaper when I hear one man, who comes searching for "Le Silence de la Mer" of Vercors, saying: "Sometimes a movie kills a novel by adapting it". I keep thinking of what he said while I am on my way to the restaurant.

I return home after lunch. I sleep for long hours. My body is still in convalescence from that long influenza that caught me lately. I wake up refreshed. I hold the short story of Fitzgerald and head to the kettle in the kitchen to make more tea. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

When I first began reading the short story before days it seemed so silly, with no wisdom behind to find. But as Benjamin was getting younger, passing through the life cycle in a reverse way, I remember my time machine, and my Utopia.

This morning the sky is grey. Washed clothes hanged for drying in the balcony are still wet. I go back to my cup of tea. I finish the short story. Its end is so beautiful. So grand. Like a closing of a Jazzy grand piano rusty riff from New York. So Fitzgerald. I didn't like Fitzgerald when I tried to read "The Great Gatspy". I didn't like neither editions of the movie, the Great Gatspy. I don't like much DiCaprio, because he is so sweet like a candy. And sometimes he looks mean. I hope I am not practicing prejudice. Still I feel one is little free to say even toxic things about celebrities. Anyway, I don't like candies and cakes. I like olives and garlic.

But how Benjamin Button ends is grand. Grand not candily or cakely, but grand olively and garlicly. Like a wine fermented by a demented witch who has bad breath. Now this is rambling. This is called "post-reading rambling", and this occurs when you read something good and try thereafter to write and you are not that good. You ramble, garlicly. Like an olive that grew out of a cactus in an autumn that widows itself bravely.


I go back in memory, in time, to the French lesson. The last one. Our teacher mentioned Tahar Ben Jelloun and how he imagined a village full of children. All but children. An alluring to innocence. Our French teacher asked us if that can be a model to a Utopia.

Now that I end reading Fitzgerald short story I head to Tahar Ben Jelloun novel our teacher mentioned to us before days. I find that chapter. I read. It is like anew to me. Like never read before. I discover. I discover that the novel "The Sacred Night" is narrated by an elderly woman who says in the first lines of the novel: "I have now, that I am an elderly woman, all the serenity to live. I will speak, I will reveal words, I will testify time".   She then goes talking her childhood including when she visited that secret village of children.

I remember that I have bought a new book by Jelloun named "Sur ma mere" translated to Arabic to حين تترنح ذاكرة أمي which means (when the memory of my mother sways). It is thus translated because it talks about his mother's days with dementia and how she started seeing things anew.

Benjamin Button, the movie differs much from the short story of Fitzgerald. That starting scene of a dying lady in her bed narrating the past. That blind man who fabricated a watch. A watch that goes backwards. Then his saying that he did that deliberately. Benjamin being raised in elders house, by a black woman. That adds. I think Fitzgerald would agree on those additions. Fitzgerald is lucky.

Let us go back to Benjamin Button last days in the book, as written by Fitzgerald, and read:

"There were no troublesome memories in his childish sleep; no token cam to him of his brave days at college, of the glittering years when he flustered the hearts of many girls. There were only the white, safe walls of his crib and Nana and a man who came to see him sometimes, and a great big orange ball that Nana pointed at just before his twilight bed hour and called "sun." When the sun went his eyes were sleepy - there were no dreams, no dreams to haunt him." p.86

The sun sneaks on from between the clouds. Hope that will help dry up my clothes.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Reading Iraqi Newspaper

The first pages of all Iraqi newspapers have to be ugly enough to be taken seriously, or to raise itself to the proclaimed level of ugliness needed those days. As an Iraqi I cannot help but to avoid reading them. Although I will put for you some pictures from yesterday’s first pages of Al-Mada Newspaper, without translation. 

As you approach the end of the journal the pages get more interesting, a little. Here an Iraqi poet writes about what is happening in the USA lately in that young black man being killed and all what followed. Still I don’t find what Yacine Taha Hafudh had written as interesting to me. 


Then you see a poem by Awad Al Nasir, which has a good title, but very silly lines. The title says: "A blind's man stick that knock on the doors of the world". Too long?? Well.. that was the best line.. the title was the best line.. it is so silly and I won't translate a bit from it. Still, it is little better that the first pages. It gets you to the mood of reading a newspaper.

 I flip to the last page. My favorite.
 When you read a thing, you link it to other things you already know, especially those things that are stuck to your mind lately. Ideas will be linked to different ideas each time they hit your mind, depending on the time they are doing so. I think that is the cause why Al-Mada columnist Ali Hussein wrote today about how Spinoza’s lessons of accepting the other, the other different human being.

I do not know much about Spinoza. I read about him when I was trying to capture the concept of “consciousness” as Antonia Damasio talked about it. It was one of the first times that I concentrated on Descartes. Spinoza then appeared as a Vs. to Descartes. And I was lost.
Did I read Spinoza’s name again as a title of one of Irvin Yalom’s novels? I am not sure and I will not check in the google for it right now. Just let me ramble. It has been a while.
So the Iraqi columnist  see’s in Spinoza a lesson of conviviality, diversity, and tolerance. The columnist had written in previous columns about Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.

Believe it or not, as an Iraqi, I was more interested in the picture of Lea Seydoux. I saw her for the first time in Midnight in Paris, where her hair was blond and long. She was selling old discs in Paris including Cole Porter’s. She liked the rain. She didn’t mind walking under the rain without an umbrella.

The next time I saw Lea Seydoux was in a movie where she appeared as a wonderful lesbian, with short hair dyed blue. She was so sexy in that movie entitled “Blue is the Warmest Colour”.

Well, Lea Seyboux was the most beautiful thing to read in yesterday's issue.