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.