Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 30th, 2009

Camping High


1.   I built ideas, pyramids of them.

The heads reaching to the stars,

The bases never touching ground.

Beautiful Pyramids, camping from up high.

Everybody looked base, mean and redundant.

Everything seemed tedious, small and crawling.

I am reverting to basics:  One idea at a time.

One of them crazy ideas will be I.


2.   A poet is known by one poem,

A writer by one book,

A statesman by one decision,

A leader by one stand.

One of them crazy ideas will be I.


The writer, the poet, the statesman or the leader,

No matter whom I’ll be,

That’s fine with me.

380.  Reactions to the genocide in the Sabra and Chaltila camps; (June 21, 2009)


381.  Women: Urban and Rural (Al Said, Egypt); (June 22, 2009)


382.  Modern Times Ulysses; (June 22, 2009)


383.  Women: Urban and rural (Cairo, Egypt); June 23, 2009


384.  The Bible of Global Problems: Global Resolutions; (June 23, 2009)


385.  Women in Foreplay; (June 24, 2009)


386.  Global Resolutions of World problems; (June 28, 2009)


387.  “A summer in Jerusalem” by Cochana Miller Boukhobza (June 28, 2009)


388.  The Days of Pardon; (June 29, 2009)


389. Another wave of assassinations readied: Bi-Weekly report (#26) (June 29, 2009)

Ulysses Revisited (June 22, 2009)


            Ulysses in the Odyssey was away of his City-State Ithaca for 20 years. The first ten years were spent battling Troy.  The next ten years were disposed of in other kinds of adventures and he was buffeted by storms and sea dangers. Ulysses was very lucky being loved by Calypso for over seven years in a paradise–like island. The love of Ulysses and Calypso were mutual; in fact, Ulysses knew Calypso far better than he knew Penelope; he loved Calypso much more than Penelope.  Ulysses real life was not in Ithaca; he matured and experienced life outside of Ithaca.  That Ulysses’ nostalgia for Ithaca to be so great is not within the realm of reason or of feelings. Homer wanted Ulysses to return for some other purposes.  The stronger nostalgia is the poorer the memory.  Nostalgia is self-sufficient in emotions and absorbed in its sufferings; it does not need any refreshing of reminiscences.

            We find Ulysses sleeping under an ancient familiar olive tree in Ithaca.  How many familiar trees remain after 20 years of absence in our modern times? The harbor is unchanged. A single bulldozer can move a small hill and open a breach into a new horizon, or block another one.  Ulysses realizes that he is in Ithaca. 

            After killing the suitors to Penelope then Ulysses felt bored. His supposedly ancient compatriots are strangers to him; they are telling Ulysses stories of events that happened in Ithaca and people that died or whatever.  Ulysses is not interested in these unilateral conversations; he is waiting for someone to ask him about his adventures and life during the last 20 years. No one was interested in Ulysses’ life in the last 20 years; no one asked him “Tell us your adventure”.  Fortunately, Ulysses was shipwrecked in Pheacie on his way to Ithaca.  The king of Pheacie was interested in the stranger Ulysses and his adventures; Ulysses felt voluble and told his story in four long songs.

            Ulysses realized that his essence and the treasure of his life lay out of Ithaca. At this advanced age the present of Ulysses is fidgeted because the future is no longer a project or a vision to contemplate and plan for.  The only alternative for Ulysses to fill the present is to recount his very alive past 20 years.  No one in Ithaca is interested in the last 20 years of Ulysses.

            People figure out that they will live to be eighty as of the latest estimates in developed nations; implicitly, they admit that they will die and that they must be living in a developed State.  People always are absolutely certain that they will outlive their best friends by at least a decade; it is a matter of ego.  Youth doesn’t think about future; it is far away and redundant.  When we reach 30 then our present has value with urgency. We live our present according to how we view our future; we spend our present commensurate to our plans and projects expected in a future that will not change but for our specific projects and ideas.  Whatever change is forecasted for the world community is redundant. People over 60 have a chance to re-invent their lives or spend their present recalling their past; it is time to either write the autobiography or leave peacefully. Homer is taking the task of recording “Ulysses Memoirs”.  Ulysses is pretty old for his time and killing the suitors of Penelope must have exhausted the last shred of energy he saved.  The Odyssey is rightfully not interested of what happened before Ulysses went to war against Troy; that period is totally irrelevant to the story: Ulysses had forgotten that part of his early life anyway.

            Immigrants of my acquaintances come to visit after long absence.  As I try to ask about their life abroad there is always someone to interrupt me and divert the subject to local events, especially stupid local politics; stupid because I am no politician. The immigrants do not get back to my question simply because they were no Ulysses in the countries they lived in; over there it is daily toil, a wretched life for stupid survival.  Not many made it rich and their absence had no value or significance.  Returning immigrants were no Ulysses; they did not live with a Calypso on an enchanted Island and served by slaves for every whim they had.  They were the slaves and they did slave.  Nowadays, societies in developed States are not that interested in strangers: strangers are just statistics and grouped haphazardly for the sake of classification and central data processing. Immigrants don’t have much to tell; they fled for greener pastures that turned dry; dollars were not found on the streets. Whatever rich life they had is irrelevant if not supported by actual material riches. In any case, immigrants were too busy to enjoy their present and memorize the good days; whatever they recall are the worst days which are not pleasing for story telling.

            Immigrants who are in their sixties should not think returning “home”; they should banish “nostalgia” from their vocabulary; they should dissociate from people frequently mentioning “nostalgia”.  Home is where they are now; they do not need further exacerbations of realizing that they are strangers in their “homeland”.  Except if they decided to write their autobiography; then this would be the best location to remembering their real life abroad.

            Ulysses would have not found his old familiar olive tree; the unchanged harbor would have been studded with performing monster cranes.  Penelope would have been too old to ward off suitors if any.  Penelope would not have been waiting if she was pretty and intelligent enough in the first place.  Homer is a magician for transforming wretched reality into poetry, for describing nostalgia in its proper meaning, for showing us the period of real life and our inconsiderate valuing of the present.


Note:  The theme of this article was presented in the French novel “The Ignorance” of Milan Kundera.

The Near East Dilemma: Discussion, May 17, 2009, (Part 2)

Jean Dayeh, a Lebanese author and a veteran journalist investigative reporter, published recently “Jubran Tueny Sr. and the Century of Renaissance” in the Near East.

The first part of my review covered the background.

Around 1919, Syrian was the name of the populations comprising the current States of Syrian, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. This region is coined Levant by France, a former mandated power to the region.

Part two explains in details the positions of the various Levant countries (Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) political parties and intelligentsia of the period during and after the First World War.

The discussions reported on the preferred status for Syria during the year 1919 and a couple of years afterward.  The year 1919 was critical for the Near East and the entire Arab World.

After almost a century, we are still reaping the consequences of the resolutions of the lengthy convention of the League of Nations that met in Paris for many months. The convention main purpose was to divide the spoils of the First World War.  Never such profusion of Syrian intellectual activities was so prolific and so divergent for uniting the spirits under a unified desire for autonomy.

The Lebanese and Syrian immigrants in the USA, France, and Egypt were very active.  In Egypt, there were first, the “Syrian Union Party” headed by Michel Lotfallah and the vice president was Mohammad Rasheed Rida.  This party supported the efforts of the Maronite Patriarch Howayek to have Lebanon under French mandate as preliminary phase to Lebanon’s independence and attaching four adjacent territories belonging to Syria so that Greater Lebanon could be “self-sufficient agriculturally”!

The second political party created in Cairo (Egypt) was the “Moderate Syrian Party” with founders Nicholas Choukry and Phares Nemr (owner of the daily “Al Mokkatam“),

The third party established in Egypt was the “Syrian Union” and headed by Nasseem Saybaa, Sami Juraidiny, Yacoob Saraaf (owner of the daily “Al Moktataf”, and Khalil Khayat.  Nasseem Saybaa expressed the position of this party for willingness to accepting a temporary USA mandate over all Syria unde the legitimate authority of King Faisal.  This political party was worried that England and France will not withdraw their armies in the region: There were indications that these two colonial powers intended to establish a Jewish State in Palestine.  The “Syrian Union” hoped to the last minutes that the US Congress would turn down the League of Nations proposed resolutions, but in vain.

In the small town of Mansoura, Egypt, a journalist Jubran Tueny Sr. (later the founder of the daily Al Nahar “The Day” in Lebanon) was for a French mandate over an independent Greater Lebanon on the ground that France saved the Lebanese immigrants from slaughter in Haiti while the US did not deign to intervene.

Tueny was convinced that it was the US that implicitly encouraged a Jewish “homeland” in Palestine, simply because the US lumped the Near East as Asia.  Tueny refused the presence of the Hijaz army (under the Hussein of Mecca) in Damascus and wanted it to withdraw as the Turkish forces did, because urban Syria is distinct from the nomadic Arab culture and civilization.

Chebli Chmayel was a sociologist and prolific thinker that spread the Masonic ideology that “those who tend the land should own it” (referring to the new Jewish immigrants who first focused on agriculture in colonies). Chmayel was typical of Masonic members who believed that democracy means that the majority of an ethnic group in a nation should govern and rule.

Both Syrian political parties founded in Egypt demanded an independent and secular Syrian nation, comprising Lebanon, but headed by King Faisal.

In Latin America there were Nehmeh Yafeth (an industrialist and wholesale merchant in Sao Paolo, Brazil) and Khalil Saadeh (father of Antoun Saadeh, the founder of the Syrian National Social Party in 1936).

Khalil Saadeh headed the “Democratic National Party” in Brazil and demanded the total independence of the Syrian Nation with no mandate and for Mount Lebanon to enjoy an autonomous State status within Syria.  Khalil Saadeh wrote the Arabic/English dictionary, and translated the new testament of Barnabas.  Khalil Saadeh could never digest the idea that a tribal leader from Mecca should be appointed King to urban Syria; he claimed that the Syrian people were not Arab, even if they spoke Arabic, and their culture has nothing to do with nomadic culture and literature.

In the USA, especially in the City of New York, there were the “Committee for Liberating Syria and Mount Lebanon” headed by Ayoub Thabet (later would be appointed first President to Lebanon by the French mandate) and Jubran Khalil Jubran as secretary.  The main members were Amine Rihany, Michael Nouaymeh, Abel Massih Hadad (owner of the daily “Al Saeh”, The Tourist), and Nasseeb Arida.

This council attempted to send volunteers under the “Orient Regiment” to fight alongside the French during the war but the efforts fizzled. This party was for the total independence of Syria after a brief mandate by France or the USA; Mount Lebanon was to enjoy strict decentralized status within the Syrian Nation.

The other political party in NY was the “Lebanese Renaissance” party and headed by Naoum Moukarzel (owner of the daily “Al Houda”).  This party was a staunch supporter of French mandate and giving Lebanon a Maronite authority and character.

In Paris there were the “Central Syrian Association” headed by Choukry Ghanem, and Dr. George Samneh.

In Mount Lebanon, the members of the “Administrative Council of Mount Lebanon” were for a confederate status of Lebanon with Syria under King Faisal.  Even Saadallah Howeiyek, brother of the Maronite Patriarch, and a member of this governing body was not with the Patriarch position for a separate Lebanese State under French mandate.

The Lebanese leaders were the most confused and disunited as to their status after the war.  Woodrow Wilson, the President of the USA, was confused by the diversity of opinions emanating from the Lebanese leaders assembled in Paris during the convention.  Wilson thus dispatched the investigative commission King-Crane to report the people wishes for their status.  France and England refused to join the commission because they had set on a project to divide and get mandate over the Near East.

The Syrian population did not have an army to fight the Turks alongside the “allies”; they were suffering famine and calamities due to locust invasion and the perpetual requisitions of the Turkish army in foodstuff and coerced soldiers.

The concept and principles of waging war, then and now, that only those parties or nations that effectively participated in the war were eligible to divide the spoil.  Syria who had no army was considered having no “legitimate rights” to share independence at the League of Nations who won the war.




June 2009

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