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.