Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reading Iraqi Newspaper (22 Oct 2013)

Well, I got to admit that now that I am writing this I still don’t know who is Charles Theron, and I don’t know if Hogu Chavez had died or not and if so, when that did happen. The article by Nazzar Abdul-Sattar entitled “Are You Okay?” in today’s issue of Al-Sabah talks about a couple, a female lying watching T.V. and a man who when brought her a glass of orange juice found her contemplating Charles Theron’s face appearing on the screen. They talked about Oscar prices. She told him that acting is difficult and he told her that asking questions is difficult too. She told him that Hugo Chafez had died just before one hour and he said he wanted to ask him a question.
The article goes well on that “they did this, they did that” narration. The woman seems ill since he put his hand on her forehead while she was lying. You get the idea that she had fever. While he was finally about to leave to the garden to smoke a cigarette she asked him about the question he had for Hugo Chafez.
The man said that he wanted to ask Chafez about where he did buy his blue shirt which he wear in February  1999. She told him that he couldn’t be ablt to remember that. He said that he knows he couldn’t remember but these are the kind of questions in Venezuela, you ask somebody about his shirt and he will curse liberalism, criticize the US foreign policy, and will declare his support for the poor. They like stupid questions, he said.

Next to the article was a picture of Witney Huston statue surrounded by a The London Gospel Factory.
A translated article from “Le Nouvel Observateur” written by Lorin Lumiere and translated by Jaudat Jali, talks about the books and journals that were read by the French soldiers in the ditches in the first World War. The newspapers were read the most, then comes Zola’s novel “The Defeat” which talks about the war of 1870 and says that that defeat will not occur again. Another novel is “Varter’s Pains” by Gothe. But when the war started American novels reached the peak like novels by Mark Twain and stories of Edgar Allen Poe.

I wouldn’t have read any political news if that picture was not there, the picture of that man making something with his hands, some traditional work that we don’t hear much about it nor see the products of it. I thought there should be some news about it and that was how I read that Iraq is making proposals of how to end the Syrian conflict.

It is night now. I will go to my room and will spend the night reading American Modern Poetry. Will read John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara. Will contemplate why O’Hara wrote “Why I am Not a Painter” in referring to Mike Goldberg’s painting “Sardine” while he was trying to write a poem named “Orange”. Sounds silly?

The life that we, ordinary Iraqi people, deserve is a life that is normal. A life that we care in for sardines and oranges. We long for a life that is so normal, that is so silly.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reading an Iraqi Newspaper (14th October 2013)

Reading an issue of an Iraqi newspaper is good reflection on what is happening in Iraq these days. I do not care much about the political news but on the columns written by Iraqi individuals about their lives. Here is a reading in today’s issue of Azzaman Arabic Daily Newspaper.

Hadi Abbas Hussein from Baghdad wrote a short story entitled “Tiring Delusions” about an Iraqi father who lives in a rented apartment with his two married sons. The father always had dreams about leaving Iraq. Recently he decided to go to Georgia. He told two of his friends about the idea and they asked him to do them a favor in going to Georgia and asking about the possibility of them making some investment. Now the trip is becoming real he finds himself in a state of anxiety and when he starts thinking of the possibility of being away from his wife and grandchildren he cannot hide the tears. He contemplates what he had done in his life and finds that he was judged by others as a lazy and a coward. His brother had taken advantage of his laziness and cowardice and took most of the inheritance left for them by their dead father. He accepted to sell his share of the inheritance to his brother in a cheap price because he wanted to avoid violence as he said in the story. 

As the date of his trip approaches his anxiety increases and people around him tell him that he cannot start a new life there and that he is running after a tiring delusion. He is 65 and had lived in Iraq all those years of recurrent wars and economical problems. He is hesitant whether he should omit the trip or to go. The story ends by him questioning the future.

Just below the short story is a poem of about 60 lines by Abdul Razzaq Salih from Basrah entitled “When I Depart” that starts with the lines:
“When I Depart…..!
Who sends my poems for slayer?”
And after few lines:
“When I depart……..!
Who sends the butterflies after me?”
In the first 50 lines he asks what will happen after he will die. He asks questions like “Who cares for a poet’s funeral?”
The poem asks who will miss him and he starts to answer that his shadow and his lost paradise will miss him. By mentioning that he will be missed by his shadow and his lost paradise he means that while he is (was) alive all he has is his shadow, and his lost paradise. The poem also talks about Gilgamesh and his friend Enkido and their search for eternal life. The poem talks about a country being slain.  
The poem is gloomy yet after the first 50 lines it starts to have some lighter brighter words. In the last 10 lines the poem says that when he departs his poems will fly to the Danube, Sophia gardens and Istanbul. The last 10 lines seems so much lighter than the previous 50 although at the end of the poem we re-read those gloomy questions of:
“Who cries to the Farwell dance?
Who rummages the bag of time?”
And the poem ends with:
“Who warbles in the gardens, my songs?
When I depart……..! Ahead of my shadow.”
It seems that the poet is expecting the answer to be (nobody will do that.) nobody will chant his songs, nobody will send the butterflies after him when he will depart. He will be forgotten in the country which is slain as the poem said. The poem uses gloomy words except when it mentions Europe, especially Eastern Europe the part of Europe that Iraqis had been able to visit. 

You just turn the page and you find an article entitled “GeorgiaPassion”. I suspected that this issue is a special issue talking about Iraqis leaving Iraq but no, it is just a daily issue. The article talks about a book written about by an Iraqi journalist living in Georgia.

The coming 4 pages are not so attractive to my personal eye to I reached an article by Mua’atasim Al Sanawi entitled “A trip in the depth of memory” in which he talks about one of his colleagues who used to write “The balancer farted, the balance halted” - which is an ironic famous Iraqi proverb about the injustice - at the end of each demand he put in front of his bosses, a thing that resulted in a premature retirement to get rid of him.

There was an article about a recently published translation of an autobiography of Emily Ruete, a daughter of a sultan from Oman who had 40 children. The princess tried to defend the Arabs against that charge of being lazy by saying that because they don't live in a cold environment, they don't need to worry about providing thick warm clothes and well built houses to stay warm inside, so they didn't have that habit of active working. She finally was married to a German and moved to live in Germany where she converted to Christianity.    

There are many other articles for example that one about faked universities, or that one about the percentage of reading books in Arabic area. Some articles were about the world around like that article about Turkey’s Double T: Turtles and Tourism program.  

At the end page there is a picture of an Iraqi couple married, the husband is merely of 14 year old, and the wife is 17. 



Friday, September 27, 2013

The Somnambulistic and the Sun

She stands before you naked 
you can see it, you can taste it, 
and she comes to you light as the breeze. 
Now you can drink it or you can nurse it, 
it don't matter how you worship 
as long as you're 
down on your knees. 

He woke up that day feeling numb and while he was taking on his clothes he started regurgitating his dream as a phlegmatic breakfast. He went walking for work feeling dazed with a constant hiss in his ears. While he was walking he noticed that the sun is facing him so he decided to keep "staring at the sun" till somebody looking like Robin Williams appeared and said "hi". The somnambulistic didn't answer. "If you keep looking at the sun," said the Robin Williams-like man, "your eyes will hurt." The somnambulistic didn't even blink. Partly out of obstinacy. "Your eyes will turn red," said the Robin Williams-like man worried "and they will hurt." The somnambulistic, hearing that, didn't resist a fade of a smile to draw itself into his numbed face. "It is the sun that will turn red!" said the somnambulistic, partly out of grandiosity "and not my eyes." It was time for the Robin Williams-like man to go playing some few other roles in his virtual life of the cinema-like quality till the apple might get more ripe.      

So I knelt there at the delta, 
at the alpha and the omega, 
at the cradle of the river and the seas. 
And like a blessing come from heaven 
for something like a second 
I was healed and my heart 
was at ease. 

The second day the young man woke up anxious. His breakfast was bitter. He even smoke cigarettes. While at work he wondered why he did keep staring at the sun that other day. He remembered that Robin Williams-like man. The files were thick at work and he forgot himself till a woman named "Life" appeared and asked him for a loan. He refuses. She said: “Some Refuse the Loan of Life to Avoid
the Debt of Death”. 

O baby I waited 
so long for your kiss 
for something to happen, 
oh something like this. 

And you're weak and you're harmless 
and you're sleeping in your harness 
and the wind going wild 
in the trees, 
and it ain't exactly prison 
but you'll never be forgiven 
for whatever you've done 
with the keys. 

O baby I waited ... 

The somnambulistic woke up numb in the third day. He had many dreams. Phlegmatic dreams he likes to call them. Because they are as cold and real as life. Not bitter nor sweet. Tasteless. Numb as a paralyzed limb he held up his body and went walking to meet the sun. The sun is yellow and hot. The Robin Williams- like man came and tried to make fun of him by giggling. The somnambulistic spitted phlegm on the ground next to the Robin Williams-like man feet and walked away. The Robin Williams-like man chased him and told him how he played the role of a psychiatrist in a movie named "Good Will Hunting" since they had met that day and ".. your constant staring at the sun is a disorganized behavior that might hurt your sight." 

It's dark now and it's snowing 
O my love I must be going, 
The river has started to freeze. 
And I'm sick of pretending 
I'm broken from bending 
I've lived too long on my knees. 

In a gathering in the fourth day he was told that he is a child. They belittled his efforts. They left him thinking that they believe that he is selfish. That he caused their suffering. He started blaming himself. He couldn't feel love. He decided to chose loneliness as a way of life so that not to hurt, and not to be hurt. Snow started falling and he lied on the ground and slept. 

Then she dances so graceful 
and your heart's hard and hateful 
and she's naked 
but that's just a tease. 
And you turn in disgust 
from your hatred and from your love 
and comes to you 
light as the breeze. 

O baby I waited ... 

When at the fifth day that woman with that strange name "Life" was accompanying the Robin Williams-like man. The somnambulistic numbness gave to a warmness in the heart. The sun turned little orange when the lady said: "Be Yourself!" The somnambulistic realized that since days he didn't drink water so he asked her for a glass of water. "There is a well near your working place. Its water is cold and clean. You will be the first one to discover it and once you drink from it the water will keep rippling. Rippling so that others will remember and care for you."
There's blood on every bracelet 
you can see it, you can taste it, 
and it's Please baby 
please baby please. 
And she says, Drink deeply, pilgrim 
but don't forget there's still a woman 
beneath this 
resplendent chemise. 

The sixth day was an anxious day. There was many work yet the young man was feeling warm and energetic. The woman named "Life" came running and said in a hurry: "You are close to that well. The key will unlock with the password ETERNAL RECURRENCE!". She smiled as she said that and waved at him a kiss and went away.   

So I knelt there at the delta, 
at the alpha and the omega, 
I knelt there like one who believes. 
And the blessings come from heaven 
and for something like a second 
I'm cured and my heart 
is at ease

At the seventh day the somnambulistic woke up numb and took his phlegmatic breakfast of dreams' contemplation and went walking heading to work and again that fresh sun appeared as a one-eyed clever observant. When the Robin Williams-like man came back after he had finished some role playing during the last days with some extra pains in more knees and teeth the somanmbulstic knew that that actor is nothing but himself. He kept looking unblinkally at the sun that kept showing her yellowness stubbornly for a while till she started to turn orange. The somnambulistic actor wakes up into the young man and takes the orange and starts to peel the chemise while the sun, this time, starts to turn rosy.

What a rumbling!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Falling Leaves of Arabic Communism

The papers of both novels started to come in my hands as I turn them and the two books ended like trees in autumn, devoid of their fallen yellow leaves. The first novel was bought from Algeria, the second form Iraq. Both about a life of a communist. Both written by a communist. An ex-communist?
Both main characters are ill. In the Algerian novel he had paranoid delusions and spending the time in a mental hospital, the Iraqi novel he had paraplegia, spending the time in a wheelchair.
Both are men who are taken care by a European woman. Selene, the French, takes care of the Algerian anonymous protagonist, and Maria, that nurse from Netherland, takes care of the Iraqi protagonist named Saeed The Iraqi.
Selene asks the Algerian, in Rachid Boudjedra’s novel “The Denial”, about the story of his mother. The protagonist starts to describe his mother’s life and its environment, mainly the house, which she does not go beyond. But he also describes his life, his father’s and his brother’s, his uncles’ and aunts’.

  Rachid Boudjedra

 By his way of talking about his mother he also describes the city. From his narration you can see the signs of his mental illness yet you may get sometimes bored or tired while the pages, the papers, the leaves of the book, keep coming in your hand as you turn the book, and sometimes fall from your hands to the ground. You will end in the middle of the novel of about 300 pages with a file of individual papers each of which trying to find a way to escape from the two covers of the badly printed novel.

The Iraqi communist in Jasim Al-Mutayer’s novel “The Sick Communist” is named Saeed The Iraqi and he had left Iraq in the 90s to Algeria, Yemen, and finally Syria in which he get ill and the doctors in the Syrian hospital told him: “You will die tomorrow.” 

 Jasim Al Mutayer

Since then he kept repeating each day that he would die tomorrow. He was accepted as a political refugee in Netherland. After a while in the hospital a nurse named Maria took him to her home by a wheelchair, in which she lives alone, and started to take care of him.
He is confused in Netherland since he cannot but love the country, yet the country is a capitalist one. Maria, in spite of her habit of bringing the Iraqi newspaper of the Iraqi Communist Party to him and of opening it in front of his eyes (his is paralyzed and cannot hold the paper) and turning the pages for him, is not a communist. He is visited by his Iraqi friends all of whom are communist refugees in capitalist Europe. His friends open philosophical conversations with Maria who answers them that she is not a philosopher and that the difficulties of life doesn’t need a philosophical doctrine to understand them. She adds: “It is the right of every human being to live a long life whether it was in a crying wind or a smiling breeze.”
While the Iraqi communist is still believing each day that he will die tomorrow, and while the Algerian anonymous communist is still fighting his paranoid delusions, the papers of the novels are falling one by one.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Circle of Zero

On of the worst things of living in a country like mine, Iraq, is that there is no liberty of thinking. Since childhood and we were being trained about what is permitted to think about, about what is permitted to write and read. Liberty to read whatever you like was actually present since there is nothing available to read only after it passes through the filters of censorship: governmental, religious, and social.

Before 2003 I didn't know about Iraq history. And this is bad because you get hold of the continuity of what you are living in.

After 2003 every former Iraqi politician that was regarded by Saddam's regime as bad, was regarded as a hero.

With time I started to be able to differentiate between those politician from the past.

In "The Circle of Zero" which was written by Fadhil Al- Azzawi in the 70s there is a city in which lives the dead among the live. But the dead decided that they should get hold of the city. A war started. A live youth has been chased by dead militias and he finally reached a group of men with guns. He asked their help. They didn't do anything when the militias was approaching. The young lived yelled on the men with guns: "Are you with them?" and they answered: "Of course we are." One of the gunned men ordered that the youth be taken as a hostage for few hours till he become one of them, the dead.

The 70s of Iraq were not a piece of heaven as our parents told us. The communists, the ba'athis, and the nationalists were in conflict. They solve their conflicts with killing. They are all poor and they do not benefit nor from being a member of their party nor from killing the other party members.

Fadhil Al Azzawi writes in the book "The Vital Spirit: The 60th Generation in Iraq." that one day in the 60s there were writers discussing in a cafe in Baghdad and they were talking about Sartre, Beckett, and others. Security governmental men were listening and thought that these hot conversations are about political leaders like Lenin and Marx, the only two names they know. The writers were taken to a prison and spend two hours of interrogation about whether they are communists, ba'athists, or nationalists. They all answered that they are not members in any party. One of them answered that "it is better to regard them as absurdistans.

What a country? What a history!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Reading Iraqi Newspapers

An article published last Thursday named Plastic Palms in an Iraqi newspaper named Al-Aalem Al-Jadeed (= The New World) talks about those ugly plastic palms that the government had bought from outside of Iraq to decorate Iraqi streets. What breaks the heart is that those palms are not only ugly but their price is triple the price of real palms that the Iraqi farmer are ready to provide.

Another article in the same newspaper published last Sunday named Twereej Tobacco talks about an old story from the city of Twereej, the city of origin of the current Iraqi prime minster. The story says that on each side of the river that passes through the center of the city stands a man, the two men talk to each other:

- Hi brother, how are you?
- Fine, thanks to God.
- Brother, are you going to the market?
- No brother, going to the market?
- Good, if you are going to the market buy me some tobacco.
- No I am not going to the market!
- Me too, I am going to the market!
- No brother, me too I am not going to the market!

The writer says that this traditional story shows how the conversations between current Iraqi politicians go in circles betrayed by the language and distance.

There was an Iraqi politician who said before days that the terrorists had failed to target important targets. He said that after car bombs had caused many deaths of civilians. Car bombs had started to target streets in the morning filled with simple clerks going to their work. Last Tuesday, on the same newspaper, a column entitled On Whom Should We Shot the Guns gave a solution and that is every simple clerk should give half of his salary and stay at home, never going outside. The terrorist will not find on whom they can shot the gun and will finally leave.

Another article in the same journal last Wednesday was entitled The Martyrs' Demonstration in which the writer talks about her last night's dream in which she saw the Iraqi martyrs who died from car explosions making a demonstration demanding that the slogan of the Iraqi government should become that sonar device used allover Iraq to detect bombs.   

The older journal, Al Aalem (The World) which had stopped for a while and then reappeared is read widely through Iraq and today there was an article named The Tattoos of the Killers and The Signs of the Dead in which the writer asks whether the Iraqis need to re-use the tattoos widely. The tattoos was widely used by the Iraqis since not more than 60 years. The article talks about their anthropological meanings. Some are used to protect the body. Some to identify the body. The article talks about Cain who asked God to identify his body by a sign after he killed Abel, a sign that can protect from anyone who may want to kill him. The writer talks about the resemblance of some of the tattoos in old Iraqi females body to cuneiform writings and tried to link that to Sumerians. The writer says at last that there is much to say about tattoos in Iraq than in a single article and I remembered how tattoos served as an identifying sign of the dead bodies in Iraq.

I chose only two newspapers. There are many others. Clever writers trying to find words to describe their relation with their land.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Slipping by the Rye

I became aware since some time that I like the same kind of novels, the novels in which the main character is young, actually is a teenager like in "The Cather in the Rye" & "Les chercheurs d'os" or even a child like in "To Kill a Mockingbird" & "Le petit prince". Thanks to the wikipedia I knew that those kind of novels got a name in literary criticism and that is Bildungsroman, or more simply "Coming-of-age novels".

I remembered Eric Erikson's stages of development, particularly the two stages:
1. Identity Vs. Role confusion that occurs between 12 and 18, and
2. Intimacy Vs. Isolation that occurs between 18 and 35 years of age.
I thought how those stages might be applied to the novels of coming-of-age?

Thanks to that habit I practice since years (does anybody taught me that) of writing what I like to search about in Google images and got all those images about the subject, I typed "The Cather in the Rye" in the Google image search and found this:

It is a painting by an artist named Dave White and it pictures very good that paragraph that stayed in my mind more than any other paragraph from any other novel that I have read till now:

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them.  That’s all I’d do all day.  I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.  I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.  I know it’s crazy.”

In that paragraph Holden Caulfield talks to one of the few persons in the novel that he likes, may be to the one whom he likes the most, it is to Phoebe, his sister. Can what he say be understood as a trial to protect Phoebe's childhood from going into that phony filthy adult world? 

Tahar Djaout's novel "Les chercheurs d'os (The Bones Searchers)" can be regarded as a Coming-of-age novel since the anonymous main character is 14 years of old and is questioning the honesty of adults and seeing them as phony. He is asked to go and seek the bones of the cadaver of his brother. That is after the end of the liberation war of Algeria in 1962. He doesn't believe that the villagers are really honest about wanting to bury his brother's bones inside the village. His brother was regarded as a rebel while all the older people stayed in the village during the war. And how they expect him to find the bones, he who had never left the village before?

An older man was asked to accompany him with a donkey and the trip started. It was a long journey during which he discovers what lies outside his village and he keeps remembering his days with his brother like that day when the French built a school and his brother was handled a book. It was the first time he held a book. Our anonymous character liked the pictures in the book:

"Many of the things in the book were unknown to us. It was hard for us to predict whether they are supposed to be used for eating, or for sitting on, or for traveling by. Regarding me I adored the horses above all. I was sitting for long hours in front of the book contemplating them and suddenly they would tear the boundaries of the page and kick off waking up the sleeping air of afternoon by their hooves, crossing the silent village then becoming light before disappearing in the whiteness of clouds..."

Near the end of the novel a man told them that he buried the bones of revolutionaries in a mountain. Our anonymous protagonist refused to take to bones of the first cadaver because there is a golden tooth and his brother doesn't have one. He refuses again to take the bones of the second cadaver because they seemed of an animal, maybe a dog. He kept silent in front of the third cadaver's bones and they took the bones back.

On their way back he contemplates on the phony world of the adult.
The anonymous main character of Djaout has slipped by the Catcher and went over the cliff as the horses in that book he liked went into the clouds. Has he get an identity? A role? Would that identity would be that of the frank man who likes to see to realities as they are without phonies, without faked flashiness, even if that means that his brother's cadaver is not found but isn't that better than bringing any cadaver saying that it is his brother's?

If he had knew his identity, the identity of the frank man who will discard phonies, how he would enter Erikson's phase of intimacy vs. isolation? Would he mix with people arguing his ideas trying to affect others or would he isolate himself?

We will not know that since the novel ends by the return to the village but the contemplation that these novels spark will continue.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Free Association (4 Jun 2013)

It is 1:29 p.m. and my French exam is at 3:00 p.m. and I am just waiting for the time. Yesterday I read something interesting about the necessity of being active and having healthy habits. About how lethargy and fatigue can be a way of living and how it is important to combat depression by activating the self. I remembered Regis Debray diaries written from the prison in South America and that phrase that says that all human misfortunes are caused from being unable to combat boredom when we are alone in our room.

Yes, boredom when we are alone in our room. I understand that so well. Yesterday I read Russell. I liked him so much in that magnificent  book "The Conquest for Happiness". He first warned me from being self-absorbed in my room. From bad habits and lethargy.

I started after that reviewing some French lessons and stopped for a while in that text and audio about "La gastronomie francaise" and decided that I should try to make that "Aubergine a la provenciale". I went out and found all the ingredients and went back home feeling hungry.

The kitchen became full of smoke because I let the olive oil on fire longer than it should be because preparing the eggplants and flour took me some time. At last the result was good.

I went to sleep early but that tooth-ache started again. I plunged down to the dreaming level but tooth-ache accompanied me. I woke up in the morning anxious.

At work I had some boring paper work in that room where two colleagues were killing time by a conversation that goes hot sometimes. One of them, the religious one, was shifting the conversation to a psychiatric issue from now and then as if to make me involved. Both are not psychiatrists but the religious one started to talk about the dose of Flouxetine and how psychiatrists use it at the dose of 60 mg given 3 times per day.

I didn't give an eye-contact. Psychiatry was mentioned again and I was as silent as a stone. Alone as an owl. I like owls. Now let Russell solve this.

I was writing this while listening to this:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Free Association (Part 1/2013)

Yesterday I had some free time at the evening and I decided to watch that French film DVD "Un Ete Brulant" (=a hot summer". As usually in front of almost all French films I was taken by the music and the photography and the way of direction. But the story was so silly. I knew that the story was so silly after it ended. There is nothing. What surprised me that one of the characters who doesn't have a work was supposed to be a communist. We know that almost at the end of the film. I remembered how once I was talking to a man in a bus and he told me that the Iraqi communists are contradictory if we compare the way they live with the ideas that are supposed that they held.

In bus I have my best conversations. At another time I sat next to man who told me about that German theatrical play that occurred in Baghdad before months in which a woman takes off her clothes. The German theatrical play was criticized severely and caused some problems. The play was supposed to be part of "Baghdad The Capital of Arabic Culture in 2013".

Baghdad was chosen to be the capital of Arabic culture in 2013 but that sounds so silly. We don't have electricity men! What culture? There are again many acts of violence that the media started to get sick off and ignore since Syria and Istanbul takes the hot scene.

I have an exam in French language tomorrow but I didn't know what to read and review so I opened that theatrical piece of Sartre "Les Mains Sales" and started reading. There are again communists that are in-understandable. I remembered once saying once about Iraqi communist that they hold umbrellas when it rains in Moscow. Contradictory.

Is my care to read French theatrical pieces and watch French films and discuss literature in buses in nowadays Baghdad seem contradictory? Should I focus on the here and now more than shattering my efforts on such things?

 In the 2nd World War and Spanish civil war Juan Miro started drawing things from the space. Planets. Surrealism they called it or Dadaism Miro didn't care much.    

What I don't like is that paintings have prices. Hemingway bought one of Miro's paintings. Was he trying to support him financially? I don't know but I like to know that Hemingway's wife donated that painting to a museum.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Catcher in the Rye

I passed more than half of the novel yet didn't understand the significance of the title. I started to hurry up the reading and some words started to be missed. I liked Phoebe much, so when she appears in the papers I slow down and here comes the lines where the word RYE appears again and CATCHER too:

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy"

Well it was hot where I live with no electricity to use an airconditioner so I didn't understand that paragraph and read it once again and thought that I failed to catch the idea. I reached another beautiful paragraph qouting a psychoanalyst named Wilhelm Stekel in page 195 and it says:

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

 I went out a 3 p.m. for a walk and it was so so hot and dry. Streets were empty and there were no buses. I started to think about the words I learned: "dough, phony, lousy" and I didn't find more. A bus came and there was only me and the driver. We started talking. He told me about his idea of leaving Iraq to Georgia, "eastern Europe is cheap and one can buy lodgment and work anything", he added: "and the weather is fine."

He told me about his nephew and his wife and how they ended before 5 years in Belgium. His nephew had 20,000 $ and that was enough to be an asylum seeker and they now live there. The driver also with that he might join them.

I told him some stories of mine that you may know, my trial to work outside and my failure, my confusion about what to do. Finally I landed where I wanted to go and that first paragraph of the Cathe in the Rye that prevent children going beyond that CRAZY CLIFF hit my mind. Here is the question that came in my mind: Is it guarding inocence? Is it about the keeping of that treasure of being able to get surprised and amazed about things that characterizes our childhood and fades away as we get older?

I liked Phoebe much like a young sister. I liked Phoebe as Holden do. I want to be a Cather in the Rye too. But somewhere in Georgia for example or in the Provence of France. You say Spain? why not? I dream about learing Spanish language. Is that song "Gracias a la vida" spanich or portugese? cause I don't know the difference. Anyway. Hot weather and that dry sun that hit my skull all this afternoon had their effects on what I write right now.

P.S. I love Phoebe as I like Scout (Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird). Love.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contemporary Iraqi Conversations

"In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice: "Always try to see the good in people!" he would say. As a consequence I reclined to reserve all judgments. Even I have a limit." With these words the new version of "The Great Gatsby" starts with Carraway's voice narrating his memories while he is a resident in a psychiatric ward.

I was in bus going to work when we passed by that city south of Baghdad named Alexandria, a city Alexander the Great had passed in once. I asked the man sitting next to me about the prices of rent of apartments in this city. He answered that even if it cheap as 5000 ID (about 4 $) per month he won't live in this city and then he called those people living in that area with some names. I nodded my head in what seemed as an agreement to what he had said. The rest of conversation he was the talking-one, and I was the nodding-head one. And then came that question, he asked me: "Where do you live?". That question is meant to know your religious status and to what sect you belong. Well, like Carraway's father, my father also taught me to see the best in people. The man sitting next to me and I ended to have a good conversation. We are finally simple persons having a conversation in a bus, no more, no less. The man reached his station before mine and to my surprise, when he landed on earth, and our bus was about to leave, he turned and smiled and waved to me. That was so nice from him.

 The next morning I found the streets empty from cars. An old lady with a crutch asked me to help her get a bus or a taxi. There was none. Some buses passed but they were no empty places. I told her not to worry and that if a bus came with one empty place she can be sure that she would be the one to go first. She asked me that question again with some wondering eye: "Where do you live?". We ended in the same bus. I helped her going up. When we reached our last station she asked God that I will find success in my life and thanked me for the help I offered her. She is one of those Iraqi grandmas that are so peculiar in the way they speak and relate to people and life. She some traditional tattooing in the dorsum of her hands, kind of three dots on each hand. I liked that very much.

I reached work and ended my job for this week and started the journey back to home. I took the novel I read those days and read in page 118: "He knew quite a lot about tennis, for a kid his age. He really did. Then, after a while, right in the middle of the goddam conversation, he asked me, 'Did you happen to notice where the Catholic church is in town, by any chance?' The thing was, you could tell by the way he asked me that he was trying to find out if I was a Catholic. He really was. Not that he was prejudiced or anything, but he just wanted to know. He was enjoying the conversation about tennis and all, but you could tell he would've enjoyed it more if I was a Catholic and all."

I reached near home and headed to have lunch in that hidden corner where two men from Sudan run a simple restaurant and cafe. There was one of them that day and he welcomed me smiling widely with his beautiful white teeth. After that simple dish of eggs and tomato I started drinking that delicious strong coffee he makes. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and surprisingly Samira Toufiq's face filled the T.V. screen and she started to sing that old song: "I wish to be a nevus in your cheeks."

My friend the Sudanese was also surprised that such an old song from the 80s was playing in the T.V. and he said from his heart "Aaahhh!" and he made a dancing movement for a while. A very beautiful dancing movement that showed itself for a while and disappeared. God knows how wide my smile was, and his too.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Deja vu for deja vus

A colleague told me once that in one of the Iraqi board exams a question was difficult and it says: (Discuss the statement: “A delusion is a delusion even if proved to be true”). This phrase was taken from Fish’s psychopathology if I was not wrong. I am not writing here to discuss this statement but I am writing since I am much hurt by the misunderstanding that veils psychiatry.

The film starts with his waking up from a dream in which he sees a crime: “two men fighting on the beach of Deauville till death while a third man watching.” He wakes up and goes to the bathroom. He is frightened to see a beautiful lady walking around in his flat. She comes near him, gives him a kiss, and then goes away disappearing while he hold his face in what seems to be a gesture caused by much sufferance.

Soon we will know that he is a heavy smoker. He drinks a cigarette like a thirsty camel drinks water. He smokes in his car while riding his car to his working place. We see the city of Deauville. He reaches his working site: “a police station”. His colleague says to him: “Jack why you come so early? If I am in your place I would stay asleep.” And Jack answers: “you are not in my place.”

We soon know that this police man is having mental problems and he is on medications. He was admitted to a psychiatric ward but the next day he stole the computer case of the patient’s files and fled. There are files in that case that helped him solving the problem of the crime he had dreamt of. The crime that he had dreamt of at the start of the film seemed to be really happened. Days after the dream a woman came to him and asked for his help to solve the crime.

I have seen this much. The mental patient is again pictured as having some wisdom that normal people doesn’t have. He can anticipate the future in a dream. Deja vu is such a fertile soil for mythical thinking to keep going round and around. While psychotropic drugs didn’t help him, cigarette helped him a lot to concentrate and think better. Nobody understand his wisdom. I got a geja vu for these deja vus.