Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 11th, 2010

Who is Josephine Peabody (Gibran K Gibran first true love)? (Part two, Mar. 12, 2010)

Gibran K Gibran met Josephine Peabody when he was barely 15 of age at a painting exhibition in Boston around 1898. Josephine was much older than Gibran and had published books of poems. He sent her a drawing through his mentor FH Day with these words “To the dear unknown Josephine Peabody”.

In the meantime, Gibran had traveled to Lebanon to learn Arabic and French at the college of Hekmeh in Beirut.  Three months later, Gibran receives an unexpected letter from Josephine and the correspondence last till 1908.

Josephine was:

1. the first person to organize Gibran’s first drawing exhibition;

2. the first who compared Gibran;s drawings to Blake’s;

3. the first to translate his poems to English;

4. the first who wrote poems on Gibran;

5. the first woman in Gibran’s drawings and paintings;

6. The first woman hero and main character in Gibran written works.

Josephine Peabody was Gibran’s first true love and muse (his genie).

Josephine is the woman who made Gibran to experience love, pain, sorrows, chagrin, and ecstasy.

Born in 1874, Josephine started to publish poems in magazines at age 14.  She received a grant to study at Radcliff (1894-96).  Her first book is “Old Greek folk stories told anew, 1897”, then a book of poems “Wayfarers, 1898”.

In 1900, Josephine published a one part play “Fortune and Men’s eyes” and a poetic play “Marlowe, 1901”.  She taught at Wellesley till 1903.

Josephine Peabody married Lionel Marx and they moved to Germany where Lionel was teaching at a university.  The couple returned to Boston.

Josephine published her poetic play “The Wings” in 1907.  Josephine had her first daughter Allison in 1907 and she published a book of songs for children “Book of the Little Past” in July 1907.  In 1909, she published the play “The Pied Piper” and won the Stratford award among 300 participants.

Josephine published “The Singing Man” in 1911 where she included the poem “The Prophet” that she had written around 1900 and in which she imagines Gibran’s childhood period. In 1913, Josephine toured Europe, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria and published on her return “The Wolf of Gubbio”.  WWI generated her book of poems “Harvest Moon

Josephine didn’t meet Gibran again until 1914, while attending the play “The mask of the bird”. In this month of February, Josephine invited Gibran to tea and showed him the album of her children. She had dinner with Gibran at Mrs Ford; and dinner at Edwin Robinson.

Gibran wrote to Mary HaskelJosephine appears to belong to Cambridge and not the world. Josephine didn’t change: she wore the same cloths

Josephine published her play “The chameleon” in 1918 and then “Portrait of Mrs. W” in 1922.  Josephine diary “Psychic” where she talks about Gibran is of 51 pages and span from December 1902 to January 1904.  She died in December 1922.

Gibran had to kill the “genie” of Josephine. He wrote in an Arabic article titled “A ship in the fog”: “Hover over this white corps in white cloth amid white flowers the silence of time and the dread of eternity”

Note 1: Gibran was enamored with several women much older than him, before he met Josephine Peabody.  For example, Louise Guiney (1861-1920) who was FH Day girlfriend; the artist Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933) who painted Gibran in Arabic attire (painting at Savannah museum); and the gifted photographer Sarah Choates Sears (1858-1935) who arranged to send many artists to Europe.

Note 2: East USA in the early 20th century was very different from today.  People had this renaissance streak; they were polyvalent, spoke many languages, and traveled to Europe to acquire knowledge and arts.  People encouraged young foreigners with talents financially and with contacts.

Part One. First true love of Gibran K Gibran: Josephine Peabody; (Mar. 11, 2010)

The Lebanese author Salim Mujais published “Letters of Khalil Gibran to Josephine Peabody”.

It is an Arabic book and the author decided on a new style: Gibran’s 82 letters are translated and Josephine diary “Psychic” is included, date to date, so that you are reading a joint diary of two people in love with no interference of the author’s opinions or comments.

When Josephine poems relates to Gibran, they are included in the daily commentary.  In addition, when Gibran’s works relate to Josephine then excerpts are attached to the joint diary.  It is unfortunate that Josephine’s letters to Gibran are still not found, although Gibran’s letters were gathered by Josephine.

Gibran met Josephine when he was barely 15 of age at a painting exhibition in Boston around 1898. Josephine was much older than Gibran. He sent her a drawing through his mentor FH. Day with these words “To the dear unknown Josephine Peabody”.

In the meantime, Gibran had traveled to Lebanon to learn Arabic and French at the college of Hekmeh (Wise).  Three months later, Gibran receives an unexpected letter from Josephine. The letter says something to the effect

“Mr. Day showed me many of your drawings and paintings in his possession; we talked about you.  I felt ecstatic the whole day after seeing your drawings because I could understand you through them.  I think your soul lives in a beautiful space.  This is the fate of people who can create beautiful things in arts; they enjoy complete happiness when they share their bread with others.  I live in an environment of noise in a crowded city.  I feel like a lost child seeking his true self.  Have you seen any deserts?  I think you listen to silence.  Forward me your news and I will tell you mine”

Gibran replied on Feb. 3, 1899 from Lebanon. The letter says: (words in brackets are as they were written)

“(when I received your letter) O, how happy, I was? How glad? So happy that the tongue of poor pen cannot put my joy in words. I feel (discontent) when I come to write (English), because I know not how to translate my thoughts as I want, but perhaps you (want) mind that, and I think I know enough to tell you that will keep your friendship in (midest) of my heart, and over that many miles of land and sea will always have a certain love for you and will keep the thought of you near my heart and will be no separation between you and my mind.  You wrote in your letter “I always keep things of that sort” and for a certain thing I am just like camera and my heart is the plate. I will not forget when you spoke with me that night in Mr. Day’s exhibition.  I asked Mr. Day “Who is the lady in black?” He said “She is miss (Beabody), a young poet and her sister is an artist”… I wonder “do you ever sit in a dark silent room listening to the music of the rain so calm that is”… With this letter I send a little drawing for remembrance.”

Note: Gibran’s English was still tentative, and it will take him years to master this language

The correspondence lasted till 1908.  Many letters are not dated and Josephine must have thrown away many letters during period of disagreement. Josephine died in 1922; she was married to Lionel Marx and had children.

Part 7. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward Barouk; (Mar. 11, 2010)

Advancing toward Barouk, Pierre passes a kiosk manned by an old couple; the couple invites him and he observes many parsley patches arranged in Indian file.  The ascent is relentless and Pierre reaches the village of Fraydis.

Pierre meets his friend Mazen, living on the first floor of a building. Pierre enjoys a hot shower and then dinner was ready; in the menu lentil “moujaddara”. Mazen’s garden is arranged with large heavy weight tires. The interior is well-kept and clean for a single man.  Mazen drinks “matte” (a tea like drink appreciated in South America and Lebanese who lived there).

On the morning of day 18, Pierre is running out of cocoa and powder milk for breakfast. Next target town is Maaser El Chouf.

Pierre meets an old sheikh in traditional “cherwal” and long white beard.  From Barouk the trail is a steady ascent.  An hour later, Pierre reaches the top of the mountain; he sees a rusted trapper bait. Ahead is a virgin plain (no detritus, no quarries, and no cement).

At Maaser el Chouf an old man invites him for a drink of raspberry syrup; the grandsons are wearing no black cherwal, but new generation cherwal.

At 1 pm, it is time for lunch but the season of tourists is not yet in: the shops are closed.  A snack bar prepares Pierre humus with sausages.

Jim, an intermediary of his friend Raja, is to bring Pierre the keys to the house.  In the meantime, Pierre tries to take a nap under a nut-tree but flies prevent the resting pause. He walks to an ice cream parlor and talks with kids.  Pierre and Jim spend the evening on the balcony.

In the morning, Pierre waits for 3 of his friends to join him for noon barbecue.  Pierre’s walking companion calls to rejoin the trip.  Next target town is Niha.

The two walkers start at 8 am and pass Khraybeh and then to Baadarane.  The “moukhtar of the village asks questions: he is worried that Hezbollah is using various spying techniques. According to the moukhtar, the latest technique was using goats to take pictures by attaching cameras around their necks. The travelers eat mankouch at the only bakery in Baadarane. They pass a water reservoir.

Niha is renowned for its prophet Ayoub (Job); a Druze house cult is perched on a mountain.  According to the gate-keeper, Ayoub was plagued by skin diseases for 40 years; his wife was the only person to ascend his isolated place to feed him. When Ayoub was healed he went to Yemen where he died.

Pierre had a nap under a pine tree; Chamoun talks to the man in the kiosk.  Pierre is observing ants.  He is thinking “nothing can obstruct humankind evolution; the ecosystem is degrading at an alarming rate. And if God was created by man? Better start studying animals seriously: they might have a better outlook to life purpose.”

An hour later, they head toward the town of Jezzine; they drink from a spring.  A young cultivator on a tractor confirms the correctness of the trail.  They face a panel warning of mines: they are at the “frontier” separating the Druze communities from “Hezbollah Land”.

Two armed civilians of the Druze “unofficial militias” arrive in a car: they explain how to circumvent the mined land by following metal pickets planted at the right side of the route that is closed by dirt barrages. Pierre leads; 500 meters later there are no pickets.

They decide to follow the path where plants have grown; then the passage becomes impracticable and they walk haphazardly.  It was an awful one kilometer-stretch not to recount to your mother.

It is 7 pm and they reach another quarry; they descend to a dry river bed. Within 5 minutes, they are longing main road.

A lonely woman is having evening walk.  Chamoun extracts his pamphlets and start to “dizzy” the lady.  Jezzine is packed with coffee shops, walking people, cars, music: an urban sense of activities. Selim hollers to Pierre; Selim lives in Beirut and manages a coffee shop in Jezzine on week ends.

Pierre’s friend Raymond has called his aunt to arrange for Pierre’s night comfort. It turned out there are several persons with the exact name of Raymond’s aunt.  Tony, the son of the lady is a priest in civilian cloths when not “on the job”.  Tony is a modern new generation priest: he plays billiard, swims, and has a cellular; he leads a normal life contrary to the conservative life style of the Christian Maronite clergy.

The aun’st husband was badly hurt by one of the million cluster bombs that Israel dropped in the last three days of the 33 days war in July 2006.  Pierre plays a card game “likha” before tuning in to sleep.

It was decided that the rest of the trip will be on regular roads to avoid being blown up by a mine.

Memoirs of a Nobel Peace Prize: Shireen Abadi on Iran Islamic Revolution; (Mar. 10, 2010)

Iranian lawyer and judge, Shireen Abadi, received Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for defending Iranian civil and human rights.

She was a renowned judge during the Shah’s regime and then supported the nascent Iranian revolution in 1979 before it turned fundamental Islamic.

Shireen (Shirine) is banished from Iran and has published in English “Iran awakening: memoirs of revolution and hope, (2006)”.  This manuscript was translated into Arabic by Hussam Itani and published by “Dar al Saki” in 2010.

In autumn of 2000, judge Abadi stumbled on a nerve wracking file: An Iranian information minister had previously ordered the assassination of Abadi.  Before Khomeini returned to Iran after 14 years of absence in February 1979, Shereen was demonstrating in the streets to oust the Shah of Iran.  As Khomeini stepped out the airplane he was asked “How do you feel today?”  He replied “I feel nothing.”  That was a bad omen for a start.

Judge Abadi never wore the veil in her life.

The newly appointed temporary general secretary to the ministry of justice after the revolution asked Abadi to wear the veil.  She refused; he said: “Do it out of faith at least”.

This judge, Fateh Allah Bani Sadr, was the brother of the next President of the Islamic Republic Hassan Bani Sadr.  Fateh Allah was soon demoted and when his brother was elected President,  Fateh Allah offered Abadi the post of the President legal counselor; she declined.  The appointed counselor was executed as soon as Hassan Bani Sadr was deposed!

The next day, judge Abadi parked her car in front of the Justice Palace.  She noticed that motorcycles replaced cars; judges and personnel were wearing dirty robes to prove love for poverty; she could not smell cologne or perfume; the staunchest Shah’s supporters turned staunch Islamic revolutionaries.  People have been changing outfits for a new role in the play.

It is said that Ayatollah Talkani who was appointed to re-write the Constitution shouted “What are those shameful luxury sofas and couches?” He sat on the ground for a couple of hours and then decided that sofas were far more comfortable.

There were strong rumors that women would be banished from judgeship: they were not focused, lacked determination, and are generally lazy.

Abadi refused the higher post of court investigator because she sensed that the intention was to rob her of her chair as judge. She was finally ordered to the position of assistant to research department!

In November of 1979, a group of adolescents took over the US Embassy and took captives for 444 days; Khomeini was jubilant but most Iranians felt that the revolution has deteriorated.

Actually, the Islamic revolution was losing momentum and support until the US ordered Saddam Hussein of Iraq to invade Iran in 1980.

The Iranian people had no choice but to support the existing Islamic regime against the aggressors.

During 8 years of this insane war that left over one million dead and several millions injured the Islamic Revolution felt free to execute thousands of intellectuals and liberal-minded people. Abadi did a simple calculation and figured out from the monthly toll of executed citizens to the number of the population that her turn will soon come within 8 years.

Thousands of adolescents were sent to the front as living mine sweepers.

Every morning, two dozens of martyrs “Shaheed” were prayed upon in front of the Justice Palace.  Abadi finally shut off her windows, even during summer, in order not to hear the prayers and laments and find a corner to cry her eyes out.

Note: I was eye witness to the revolutionary zeal of the Iranians at the university campus of Norman (Oklahoma).

Almost everyday, half a dozen Iranian political parties crisscrossed the campus in demonstrations, discussion groups, and participating in meetings.  An Islamic Republic was not in the agenda of most of the parties: they just wanted the Shah’s regime out and a new regime in.

It is documented that US oil multinationals were displeased with the Shah leading OPEC oil producers for ever higher oil prices to cover his megalomania expenses and military dominance of the Persian Gulf region.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

March 2010
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