Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 10th, 2009

Something about the period after my PhD in the USA

 

In the wilderness

 

After I earned my PhD in 1991, I loitered for another 10 years throughout the USA, not working in my field or in any teaching jobs: I was disheartened and frustrated and refused to think about any plans for the future. 

It must have been a case of acute depression not recognized by me, and no one to count on for friendship. I just survived and I still didn’t tend efficiently to all these scars.

All in all, I lived and studied and worked in the USA for 20 years and returned definitely to Lebanon without even applying to a residence status though I enjoyed continuous work permits for many years.

           

After my formal graduation in May 1991 with a PhD in industrial engineering (in the field of Human Factors) I was almost totally broke and the university town of Norman in summer-time was completely boring and I suffocated in this “hole” after over six years and barely leaving it.  The University was closed for part of the summer and I had no idea how to spend my time in this town that swallowed the best of my adulthood.

There was just this corner on the north side of campus with a few bars and Walter Mitty, the nude institution; I used occasionally to go there with Boubkeur during happy hours, between 1 to 5 p.m. and order a pitcher of draft beer at the hottest period of the day and when the girls were not asked to get frantic with their boobs and buttocks.  

In one of the few bars, a clone singer of Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia used to play almost every night; this singer and guitarist was a carbon copy of late Garcia in appearance, attire, and style.  There was this coffee shop that served all kinds of Starbucks varieties and we would meet there most of the time and patronize it anywhere it transferred shops around corners. 

I met there Suzanne in Starbucks; she was a tall, beautiful girl with long blonde hair.  Suzanne was the girlfriend in the last two months of a Lebanese PhD graduate in structural engineering from the University of Stillwater.  At my graduation and her graduation in Law, Suzanne invited me to her adoptive parents’ home; her friends took several pictures in my graduation gown.

I had bought my advisor’s old car three months ago; then the cold weather did not help.  The car needed tires and I preferred to give it away to my landlord instead of sinking in dear money on a car that I had no confidence in its proper functioning, even in the near term. Kirby, my landlord, could not believe my giving away a car and made me sign a paper to that effect, maybe for tax purposes.

This landlord was a good man, straight and kind to me; I paid around $100 for the whole ground flat. Kirby refurbished the upper floor to accommodate two apartments that rented $200 per month each.

Kirby married Rebecca; a half blooded American Indian, who was my previous landlord from whom I rented a room in the upper floor. Kirby was in the business of purchasing properties on foreclosures and then repaired them with his own hands.  

I recall a Christmas Eve when my flat got flooded and the electricity went out and Kirby came and repaired what was needed and then brought the vacuum cleaner the next day to suck out the moisture and dry the shaggy carpet. 

I spent a terrible cold night, alone amid the smell of humidity.

The greatest poet: “The man with the long curly hair” (February 6, 2009)

Baghdad in 809 is the largest metropolis in the world; it has over one million inhabitants. 

In comparison, Paris has less than 100,000 (the contemporary of Charlemagne reign), Damascus less than 400,000 (the former Capital of the Arab Umayyad dynasty), and Samarkand (in current Turkestan)  less than half a million; and most of the cities in North Italy average less than 50, 000 inhabitants. 

Baghdad was newly built less than 75 years ago by the Abbasid Dynasty.  The new Caliph is Al Amine; he is 23 years of age and the former student of poet Abu Nuwass. Al Amine is a learned man and very conversant in poetry.  The poet Abu Nuwass was in exile in Egypt on order of the Caliph Harun Al Rasheed.

Abu Nawass learned that his unique son had died and he hurried his return to Baghdad to join his student Al Amine. Four years of the ultimate in libertine life in the court of Al Amine awaited Abu Nawass. Al Amine had fondness for young eunuch; his mother tried to steer her son toward girls by promoting young girls in boys’ attire (a la garsonne) or whatever it takes.

 

Before the advent of Islam Iraq had been under the Persian Empire (the Sassanide Dynasty) for over 4 centuries.  The Arab tribes of the northern Arab Peninsula were mostly concentrated in the towns of Basra and Kufa in southern Iraq.

The main Capital of the Sassanide Dynasty (Sesiphone) was very close to current Baghdad that did not exist yet, on the other side of the Tiger River. Thus, the Iranians were far more numerous than the original “Arabs” and the culture and civilization of Persia was predominant. 

During Abu Nawass time, 150 years after Islam presence, Iraq was still mostly Persian and the most influential personalities had Persian relatives. There was a large minority from the Sind (current south Pakistan) known as “Tuz”; the European would later name them Tzigan.  

There were many Christian and Zoroaster Iranians, other Christian sects and Jews.  The non-Moslems ran the taverns and produced, imported, and sold alcoholic beverages and wine. The fundamentally Christian sect of Mani (Manichean) spread from Northern Africa to India.  The Abbasid Dynasty started the persecution of the Mani followers and then the Pope of Rome followed suit.

 

Four years later, Al Maamun, the half brother of Al Amine from an Iranian mother, would enter Baghdad and assassinate the Caliph Al Amine. Abu Nawass would be assassinated less than two years later, at the age of 56. 

The Shiaa Moslem sect predominated in Iran for political reasons: in order to have the upper hand on the Kuraich tribe of Mecca, from which all the Caliphs claimed their origins, they had to claim a more legitimate descendant to the Prophet Muhammad. They selected Ali, the fourth Caliph and his offspring Hassan, then Hussein and then the others descendants of Ali and Fatima (the Prophet’s daughter). 

Abu Nawass was comfortable with all sects and minorities, though he would satirize them in his poems as front for his proper belief system that agreed with them.  With the exception of his profound loathing of the Arab tribes originating from the Northern Arabian Peninsula, I think it safe to say that Abu Nawass satires on minorities and Jews are an exit scheme for displaying the “others” point of views.

 

The German Ewald Wagner published 5 volumes of Abu Nawass poems in the seven major genres of bacchanal (wine and drinking binges), erotic, libertine, hunting, panegyric (praises), satire, saturnine (mourning), and ascetic. .  Hamza al Isfahani (946 AD) published 1,500 poems claimed to be of Abu Nawass or a volume of 13,000 lines.

Al Hassan al Hakami, nicknamed Abu Nuwass for his long curly hair), was born in 757 AD in Ahwaz (south east Iran) of an Arab soldier born in Damascus and who was at the sold of the Omayyad Dynasty and a Persian mother Golban (Rose) originating from the Sind (south Pakistan). 

Abu Nuwass didn’t get to know his father and was orphaned.  He followed his mother to Basra and attended a Koranic school. The pretty boy joined his mature cousin Waliba al Hubab (who loved pretty boys) to Kufa.  Back to Basra Abu Nawass becomes the disciple of Khalaf al Ahmar, a “rawi” or transmitter of pre-Islamic poetry.  

Abu Nuwass spent an entire year in isolation with bedwins to correctly learn the Arab language.  By the age of 30, Abu Nuwass relocates to Baghdad during Caliph Harun Al Rasheed reign. Abu Nawass was the contemporary of the mystic Al Hallaj who was horribly executed and from whom Abu Nawass learned the message.

 

The power, smoothness, and loveliness of Abu Nawass poems are that they are solely from experience.  He self describes his life, feelings, the period, the culture, the social settings, the urban amenities compared to the arid and crude customs of the clans in the desert. 

He naturally used Persian words and slang, about 200 words in all, and you could view the kaleidoscope of the period dynamically strolling as you read. Thus, there are no romanticism, sentimentalism, or faked imagination and feelings. In fact, the weakest among his genres are the saturnine (poems of mourning) because he could not force non existing feelings for those who died, even for his closest drinking companions. 

For the panegyric genre Abu Nawass was sober in his praises and tributes and would just reserve the last six lines to that purpose after describing hunting adventures or the difficult trips to reaching the influential personality. Most of the people he praised got satirized anyway.  

The bacchanal and libertine genres are pervasive in almost all of Abu Nuwass poems and that is why this great poet is not taught in schools and his manuscripts relegated to the inaccessible sections of libraries.  The polygraph Al Jaahez (869 AD) wrote “I know of no one who knew the lexical of the Arab language as Abu Nuwass.  His expressions were very pure and soft and avoided disagreeable terms

 

The other great Arab poet Al Mutanabi (one hundred year later and a master craftsman in coining memorable verses) would say that the other poets toil on their work while his poems come to him easily and naturally; I feel that this statement apply exclusively to Abu Nawass who did not edit and publish his poems.  Al Mutanabi managed to gather and edit his complete work before he was assassinated.

Francois Villion (1498) published his “Testament” of forgiveness that is almost a carbon copy of Abu Nawass “God forgive me” piece.  No wonder, Medieval Europe and up to the Renaissance had vast knowledge of Arab literature and published works because Arab civilization was the “in thing”.

Abu Nawass clearly proclaimed his preference for pretty boy of 15 year-old with large thighs and oval faces. You may read my article “The Gods of beauty: Before the age of pimples” (February 7, 2009)

 

I have read Al Moutanaby, Al Maary, Omar Khayyam, Ibn Araby, and Hafez; they emulated Abu Nawass well, each one in his favorite genre; Abu Nawass is the Master; the other poets have did their best.

I have read Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Baudelaire; they are good poets; Abu Nawass is their Master; they have done the best they could

Bi-weekly Report (#10) on the Middle East and Lebanon (February 9, 2009)

 

            The new US Administration is serious about diplomatic negotiations with Iran and comprehends clearly that a resolution of Afghanistan’s quagmire is not possible without Iran’s cooperation; it had already sent a positive gesture by closing its airbase in a Central Asia State bordering with Iran. Saudi theocratic and monarchic regime of the Wahhabi sect is frantic and lousing its top; it is in deep trouble and no billions of dollars of briberies are going to be of major impact of the changing winds.  This terrorist State and the hotbed for terrorists wants to convince the Arabs, the Moslems, and the West that Iran is the arch enemy for the stability in the region.  This obscurantist regime is ready to ally with the devil (Israel) in order to save its rotten political structure.  Egypt of Moubarak fell into the trap because it was willing to believe that the enemy of Egypt is its opposition parties and not the Saudi regime that has been financing its “Moslem Brotherhood” opposition party.

            The Saudi dark regime has been extremely busy financing and supporting the terrorist Moslem salafist movements, Qaida, and Taliban to proselytize its brand of religious sect, and thus let rooms for Iran to fill in the void left by mindless Arab States.  The Saudi regime tried to throw sands in the eyes of the “USA believers” that it wants peace very badly. Consequently, the Saudi “peace plan with Israel is still on the table but not for long” as King Abdullah ejaculated during the Kuwait meeting of the Arab League.

            The Saudi regime wants the Arab States to bow their heads and agree that the “shining message” of peace and stability can be emulated by dissecting the benefits of its multitude of reforms, starting by allowing women to drive and assassinating 950 of its “terrorist citizens” that demanded reforms.  The people in Gaza are continuing to pay the price of dissentions among the “leaders” of the Arab World and suffering from famine and diseases.  Hamas is finding that breaking its isolation is not going to be an easy task.  The “Moderate Arab States” want Hamas wings clipped more sharply than even the European or the USA wish and Iran is far away and unable to come to the rescue even if it wanted..

            If we have to analyze the consequences of Israel’s genocide in Gaza based on the “Arab Moderate States” reactions and development then might be tempted to agree with Israel that its operation was a success, but it far to be the case.  The facts are coming; the citizens in Europe and the USA are now aware of the true nature of the Zionist State and are vocal about it and acting. More importantly, the reverse wave of immigration out of Israel is going strong.  It appears that it finally dawned on the Israelites that their successive governments had no foreign policies as Kissinger stated in 1975.  The survival of this implanted State is shaky and no longer tenable.

            Turkey is tentatively trying to find a role in the Arab regions after over 70 years of dissociating itself from its problems, as if it lived in an island with European blood connections and relationship.  It is not going to be easy for Turkey to squeeze in a special role when Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been vying for leadership all these years.  Until Syria is convinced that serious pressures on Israel are in the pipeline then Turkey will stay out in the cold and managing second roles at the umbrage of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Turkey seems to accept this position since it has been softening it language toward more moderation than what the Arab people were expected of Turkey.

            What about Lebanon?  They used to say that the “World catches cold when the USA sneezes”.  Lebanon still suffers everytime the Arab “Leaders” are at dissonance.  The Patriarch of the Christian Maronite sect and most of the allies in the so-called March 14 movement would like us to believe than it is Iran and not Israel that is our enemy, and thus having a resistance force is redundant and counter productive. Reforms are hard to come by and the process of change is done by infinitesimal nibbling on the statue quo enforced by the Hariri Clan since 1991. 

We have a great political issue on the table for applying the laws related to wire tapping; a lawless trend that has been used for years to harass thousands of families on the ground of security necessities though it was primarily targeting opposition parties; we had two dozens of assassinations and the perpetrators, in not a single case, were made public.  The other issue was lowering the communication costs, especially the wireless utilities that are the highest in the world with restricted usability.  Half of our mazout consumption is for generating electricity that is not generated; probably there is public electricity when we are asleep at night.  The March 14 coalition is gearing up for a mass gathering on February 14 to open up their election campaign.

Types of Misogyny in gender preferences (February 10, 2009)

 

            I realized in a few of my articles that I have been stating “maybe societies should start to accept the fact that the majority of people of both genders are unable to taking the drastic decision and making the serious effort to comprehend the other sex: They prefer the community of their own gender”. 

I was referring to social preferences of same sex relationship among genders as fundamentally a position or a statement that heterosexuality is temporary in its long term nature. As proof, kids, middle aged, and older people gather around same sex friends and acquaintances for relaxation and for having “good times”.  Family seclusions are anathema to the spirit of freedom.

 

There are many books and movies of the genre “She said, he said” or “Males are from Mars and females from Venus”; they make us laugh simply because they exhibit the foibles and limitations of the other sex.  Many authors have claimed that marriage institution was forced upon societies for procreation purposes and caring for offspring.  The marriage institution was linked to the benediction of an Almighty in order to sustain the family structure that proved to be the most effective unit for social stability and cohesion.

Many authors tried to explain the “other sex” and Simone de Bauvoir was no exception.  Quickly, the story turns to historical accounts on Patriarchal and Matriarchal structures of societies.  We learn in no time that the whole exercise is a power struggle between genders.  What else it could be?  Power offer choices; among the choices is freedom to assemble and associate; among the choices is discovering varieties in pleasure, story telling, and themes for discussions and excuses to fight and shout and form enemies.

 

In adolescence, curiosity, social restrictions, and natural biological demands steer youth to discovering the “other” unknown.  At such an early age, not many of us have the pre-requisite social and conversational skills to communicate with the other sex.  It is basically a matter of trial and error techniques, offered opinions of same sex “supposed” comprehension of the psychology and behavior of the other sex. 

This period of finding out can lengthen the period of frustration for our lack of comprehension and our obstinacy to discover what we undertook.  Quick weddings and close co-habitation present an ideal setting for definite position on social gender preferences. The “heterosexuals” who manage to agree with a family life are mostly those who had frustrating early experience with their same sex companions.

 

I am still finding my way.  One thing I know from experience; women in position of power are the worst and greatest discriminators; women in power are ruthless and unforgiving and their decisions are generally based on “intuition”, hunches, spite, and presumptions.  Traditions are founded on harsh experiences.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

February 2009
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