Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sausage for the Cat

Since several months and I don't follow the Iraqi political affairs. I was surprised to read today in the journal that we still don't have a minister of defense (Army), nor a minister of internal affairs (Police). This is the case since two years. Our politicians don't trust each other.
I flipped the news paper to read an article by Sarmad Al-Taey which starts with the following lines: "The Middle East is not missing anything but more wars". The article talks about the Iraqi government reactions to the changes in our area. Such a gloomy article in the morning bus going to my first day of work since my summer vacation.

 By accident (accident?) I was carrying with me a collection of lectures by Sigmund Freud collected under the title of one of them: "Reflections on War and Death". Freud, at the first world war, started talking about THANATOS. About the second instinct we got. But the lines of his lecture were not so gloomy since I found phrases about how the citizen of the developed world can attend to "the graceful art of Beautifying life" and, "… the sense of law of order that had made man master of the earth". Freud ended the second part of the lecture by a phrase: "If you wish life, prepare for death."
After this frank brave lecture that I read thrice in a matter of two days I decided that I need some company. I went down to meet my neighbors. I knew that a brother of one of our neighbors was killed by four bullets in the neck before yesterday. We went together to our neighbors' house and gave him our condolence.

 We went back and sat together near our houses. After some silence Shoushou approached. She wanted E. to get her her dinner. E. went up to his apartment and he was sorry that all he got was frozen sausages. I commented: "she will like it, it will be like an ice-cream for her".
We chatted and laughed.
 When I went up I saw the supplement of today's journal (al Mada journal, my favorite), which shows a Swedish poet that merely heard his name before and never read a poem of his. I tried to read one but I didn't find it good. What I liked about the picture is that he got a stroke that affected his right hand but he still plays piano with the left.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The History, with a small "h"

"The History, with a big 'H', is of course that of nations, of eras and big movements of the humanity. With a small 'h', it becomes this history of human beings, of small groups, of families, etc." Ameziane Ferhani, in the Editorial of the supplementary #4 of El Watan newspaper that was published the last month on the 50th anniversary of the Algerian independence from France.  

The Centre Culturel Francais, Baghdad 1999
I approached him:
- You are Algerian?
- Yes. He answered with surprise.
- Then give me a kiss.
- Ha ha haa...

Just few minutes with him was enough to know that he is sensitive to the tiniest alluring to any special relation, what so ever, between Algeria and France. Days after our first meeting we were walking in Al-Mansoor district of Baghdad when he said with marked bitterness: "I hate the racists". I stayed silent. I didn't notice the sign of racism that he thought he noticed in the face of that French young man. He murmured with a bitter husky voice that looked like a whisper: "Dirty.... Rats".

He sensed my neutrality (neurtality?) so he took a deep breath and told me this story as an evidence of how easily a European can be turned, in a blink of an eye, to a racist. He said:
"Once I saw two Europeans in Algeria. They saw a shoe-shiner-boy. One of them put his foot on the box of the boy who started to shine his shoe for him and the other took photo for the scene. How sarcastic their smiles were!"

My Algerian friend had left Iraq after months later and we didn't met nor contacted each other since then. Of course shoe shining is not a shameful job, according to my attitudes, and there are many shoe-shiners in almost every big district in Iraq, but since 1999, I could not feel at ease while seeing them.

 Algeria, Bou Saada, 7th of July 2012
An article in El Watan about the shoe-shiners in Algeria in the colonial era. The writer, Amezian Ferhani narrates his memories with the shoe-shiner-boys in Alger, the capital. His father used to take him to drink sore gaseous juice of pomegranate and to ride a donkey sometimes. Amezian Farhani was a child who was attending school. He saw that those shoe-shiners are not very clean and that the clients let the coin fell down in the tiny hand of the shoe-shiner without touching it. Amezian Ferhani, the child, noticed that they disappeared from Alger after the independence. His father explained: "They set fire in their wooden boxes and joined the school". Amezian Ferhani felt so happy. 

 Amezian Ferhani narrates beautifully. He studied the case of the disappearance of those shoe-shiners and found that, after the independence, a play named "Des roses blanches pour ma mere" was played at a theater in Algeria and it was about a shoe-shiner who was seeking medications for his sick mother. The play was very emotional and the president Ben Bella was attending the show. Ben Bella had walked up to stand next to the actors, at the end of the play, and declared the end of the phenomenon of the shoe-shiner-boys in Algeria.
Amezian Ferhani also mentions that song by Maurice Chevalier which is talking about those shoe-shiner-boys. It has some ridicule in it. (Some racism?). (Did he said BANANAS in the lyrics?). Anyway.

6th August 2012
Bou-Saada, Algeria
05:16 PM
I am guarding my fasting. I mean I am practicing my fasting with my family. I am relaxing most of the time. El Watan is such a wonderful journal. I used to keep articles that appealed to me. I searched my archive of 2011 and found other articles by Ferhani. I will try to spend the time remaining for my fasting reading his articulate elegant narration. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Sigmund Fellag

In page 49 Wanda reaches Paris coming from Sarajevo. Wanda fall in the ground of the train-station and her bag is opened and the air is taking her books, papers, clothes, and a photo album, among other things, away. Farid, the French of Algerian origins, had never seen such beautiful and sad green eyes. He run to help her.
In page 175 Wanda and Farid are sleeping together in the same bed with a baby named: Ladmilla-Samira-Francoise. Page 175 ends with the following lines:
“Thousands of swans fly carrying him on their back to put him in the arms of Morpheus. Just before the god of dreams, the son of the Night and sleep, has closed the door of his kingdom, Wanda turned and asked with a husky voice:
- Love…
- Yes, my love…, Farid could articulate those words
- Do I love you enough?
- You love me like a crazy”.

I dreamt before few days that I was flying. Such a repetitive common dream. A happy one indeed. In my dream I was flying in a high altitude above Bou Saada. I landed just outside Bou Saada in one of the mountains that is surrounding it. Bou Saada was encircled by a barbed wire fence.   Ann old came from behind me and he started a friendly conversation with me. Men started to gather. We were all outside the fence. When we become about 10 in number, all men as I suppose, the old man went near the fence and found a rusty iron rectangular sheet of metal and held it up in a difficult move. We started going in. I headed to a primary school and directly to its library. All the books were uninteresting for me. The librarian was interesting. She was a beautiful serious woman. I saw a thick book and hesitated about borrowing it but finally I decided that I have many books to read and this is a thick one, and it was about history. I woke up.

“Rue des petites duarades” is a novel by Fellag. It is about an imaginary neighbourhood where Farid, Wands, Sergui, Akli, Andre, Mourad, George, Mr. X, and many many others live. Some were always here and few of them are racist. Some had come sometime to this place and stayed in it. You can find the Moroccan, the Algerian, the Serbian, the Ukrainian, and so. The type of food and the type of music mix with each other. A funny novel indeed. Thank you Fellag.

Freud doesn’t mention great thing about flying dreams in “The Interpretation of Dreams”. He twice (p 165-66 and p 255-56) repeats the same paragraph word by word. He declares that he himself didn’t dream such a dream. He thinks that it is linked to the childhood games when somebody older than us (an uncle for example) was holding us high and makes us move like we are flying. So the dream is just a souvenir of that happy moment when we were a child. He mentioned that there is a scientist had linked it to erection. An alluring link to erotism is also present. To add a Freudian flavor.
Freud says something good at the beginning after all. He said that even if we regard the flying dream as a “common” dream. But this does not mean that it cannot be “personal” or “subjective” or “special” I forgot the exact word.
In my case, in my dream, I would put the following explanation:
I am happy that I am going visit my parents, with whom I shared a happy childhood. Flying in my dream can concretely linked to the way I saw Alger the capital approaching the window of the airplane of Eygptair I was inside, or can linked, more complexly, to when my parents were holding me up into their arms and sometimes make me feel like I am flying.
Bou Saada and its fence, and the ten men? I would say it means the difficulties of traveling from one country to another, the police and their way of treating people, the non-respect of individuals, the absence of smile from the faces, the grimace, the tone of the voice, etc..
The rusty door didn’t open to me only because I am an individual. We gathered. We waited till we become about ten, then we proceed. We respect the rusty door too much. Our society give importance to groups, not to individuals.
The library? Why do I love books this strongly? What is the emotion that is sublimated strongly? And finally the librarian, the beautiful librarian. Well, I don’t know.
Anyway, I don’t regret the time I spent reading and translating Fellag nor seeking and the advice of uncle Freud, (uncle?). I had great time and I had learned many things.