Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 2014

 

Israel demolishes Mosques in West Bank, one in south of Nablus

As peace talks deadline passes

Israel is conducting aggravated persecutions against Palestinians for daring to unite and form unity government.

KHIRBET AL-TAWEEL, West Bank

(Reuters) – Israeli forces demolished several structures, including a mosque, in a Palestinian village on Tuesday, the day a deadline for a deal in now-frozen peace talks expired.

A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in the occupied West Bank, around daybreak.

They guarded 6 bulldozers that reduced to rubble buildings that were constructed without Israeli permits. Palestinians say such documents are nearly impossible to obtain.

Palestinians saw a link between the demolitions and the passing, without a peace deal, of the April 29 deadline set when the talks began in July. Israel has also drawn Palestinian anger by continuing to expand settlements on land they seek for a state.

Villagers said the stone mosque was built in 2008, and that soldiers removed prayer rugs and holy scriptures before tearing it down.

Bulldozers razed buildings included 3 one-storey family houses, animal shelters and a communal well. Locals said around 30 people were made homeless.

The Israeli army said in a statement that 8 structures, including a “mosque in use“, were demolished because they had been built illegally inside a dangerous live-fire military training zone.

“I went to make my dawn prayers at the mosque and found the army surrounding it,” said resident Abdel Fattah Maarouf, 63.

“Then they tore the mosque down. They want this area so they can build settlements in it.”

Speaking on local radio, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top Palestinian official and (former  leader of Palestinian Popular democratic faction), said that “unless acts like this cease completely” there was no room to return to U.S.-sponsored peace talks with “this expansionist, racist occupier“.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended negotiations last week after Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization signed a unity dealt with Hamas of Gaza.

The pact envisages the formation of a government of non-political technocrats within 5 weeks and a Palestinian election 6 months later. Israel said such a government would effectively be backed by Hamas and could not be a peace partner.

(Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Jeffrey Heller/Jeremy Gaunt)

A Palestinian man holds damaged loudspeakers belonging to a mosque after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014. REUTERS-Mohamad Torokman
Palestinians walk past a structure after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014. REUTERS-Mohamad Torokman
A Palestinian man inspects a structure after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014. REUTERS-Mohamad Torokman

1 of 4. A Palestinian man holds damaged loudspeakers belonging to a mosque after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014.

Types of Prejudices among European States

Could prejudices tear the EU apart?

Reine Azzi posted this link via Ghassan Nassar on FB
 

Have you seen these prejudice maps of Europe?

What travel is teaching you?

TravelJunkie in life Changing Experiences posted this April 27, 2014

It’s never going to be the right time. The right time to travel, the right time to buy a house, to get married, to make babies  or even the right time to invest, what’s worse…scratch that, what’s lethal, is never the right time to live the dream you always dreamed of.

We are always busy, something always comes in the way, without even noticing, our life will pass us by and no, it’s not ok.

At least for most of us, it’s not ok. All things do come for those who wait, provided they know what they are waiting for and they are doing something about it.

Far too often, we think of travel as a way of relaxation and something to break free from your job, the routine….

You are approaching traveling the wrong way.

Travel needs to be part of your life to grow, to love, to live and to feel that beating heart of yours.

Travel should not only be done once a year for 2 weeks/10 days.

For me, travel is the only way I can express myself, travel is the only thing I know. It is what I am meant to do. Meet people. Talk to them, discover the earth just as I was born into it. I am at its calling. I am drawn to it.

1. Find your weaknesses and strength

There were many times during my travel moments that I though to myself “why am I doing this? Clearly I am not good at it”

Sometimes the experience itself seemed a bad idea at the time, but once it’s done I would desperately want more. I realize the many different ways I could have approached the situation and how I take this as a learning lesson.

I believe in love, I believe people can make mistakes, I believe people can want two things at once and I believe people are selfish and generous at the same time, I believe very few want to hurt others and I believe how much you can surprise yourself.

 

2. Fall in love

To love unconditionally. I have fallen deeply in love with myself over and over again. You would think this point was to fall in love with others. It is not that kind of point. To fall in love with myself taught me so much. Especially for a person like me, who at one time was extremely insecure. It is amazing what the human body can stand when you put pressure.

If you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always needs to be done alone, by your beautiful self. Learn how strong you really are and you will realize that the word love or alone can be less frighting and you will discover a richer, deeper, more colorful you.

What travel is teaching us

3. The best things that happen to you are usually the ones that happen at random –

One of the reasons that we end up taking life for granted, is that we become insensitive to life. Because we live through memory.

Through our conditioning,  we take life, which is dynamic in nature, and turn it into something static. We try to make life certain, when uncertainty is it’s basis. We end up taking the color out of life.

4. Quiet time –

Travel to me is also quiet time. In midst of it all, I find peace and quiet on planes, on train rides, on slopes, at the beach or even in long car rides. The world gets quieter, I need quiet, I pray for quiet sometimes. It’s so quiet here that you can almost hear people’s dreams.

5. Practicing acceptance – I travel to escape, as most of us do. But, my escape teaches me things. It teaches me to accept the things I cannot accept. It helps me to let go of the moments that are not mine.

We all have our battles, we all have our cause and sometimes, when your hearts beats stronger than your mind, travel can bring you two steps back and teach you to take a deep breath and let go of what does not belong to you. That’s what I have accepted.

 Note: Traveling does not mean to plan for far fetched destination that exhaust your body and neglect to relax and acclimatize yourself to the new environment.  Traveling as part of your job can be considered traveling if you spend a couple of days to wander  away from your hotel and work place and meet with local people.

 

 

Is the Joke in “Explaining The Joke”? And Hari Kondabolu

Posted this April 21, 2014
The son of Indian parents, Kondabolu grew up in Queens, N.Y., and a lot of his comedy is about race and ethnicity. The title of his new album, Waiting for 2042, is a reference to the year the Census Bureau projects that whites will be in the minority in the U.S.
On why he doesn’t do accents in his comedy anymore

It’s hard having an accent in this country and you are judged based on it.

I can imagine that it must be hard for my folks to work twice as hard to communicate and also the idea that when maybe my father says something and he walks away, the idea that people are laughing because what he said is funny to them because of how he sounds crushed me when I thought about it. And the idea that I was contributing to that was hard.

At first, Hari Kondabolu’s comedy was mostly about catharsis:

“I was doing some work in detention centers and meeting families who had family members who were going to be deported,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It was really powerful work … but it was incredibly hard and performing at night was a relief. It was cathartic. It was just a way to get things out.”

Waiting for 2042

was working as an immigrant-rights organizer in Seattle and performing standup at night.

In 2008, he got his M.A. in human rights from the London School of Economics. He was surprised when his standup career took off.

Kondabolu was a writer and correspondent on Totally Biased, W. Kamau Bell’s FX political comedy series. “It was my first writing job,” Kondabolu says, “so … I have a very probably skewed vision of what writers’ rooms are because ours was so diverse and I think most of television doesn’t have that.”

Bell describes Kondabolu as “the comedy equivalent of a punk rock concert that breaks out at a human rights rally.”

Comic Hari Kondabolu's album Waiting for 2042 is a reference to the year the Census Bureau projects whites will be the minority in the U.S. "Don't worry, white people," he says. "You were a minority when you came to this country. Things seemed to have worked out for you."

Comic Hari Kondabolu’s album Waiting for 2042 is a reference to the year the Census Bureau projects whites will be the minority in the U.S. “Don’t worry, white people,” . “You were a minority when you came to this country. Things seemed to have worked out for you.”


Interview Highlights

On incorporating immigrant-rights work into his comedy

I used to do a bit where I used to read the U.S. citizenship application onstage. I think that’s part of just being overeducated and wanting to do document analysis, but I’d actually bring it onstage and read questions.

Because for people who don’t know, this is what immigrants have to go through to gain status in this country, and it’s absurd and it’s something we take for granted as American citizens.

Sometimes that was hard in a club on a Friday night and it’s 10 o’clock and everyone’s drunk and there’s a dude onstage reading a form — it’s a strange thing to read a government form in front of a bunch of drunk people.

More With Hari Kondabolu

On his explaining jokes — especially jokes about racism or colonialism

They tell you you’re never supposed to explain your jokes because that ruins the joke, and to me, that is the joke. Throughout the album — there’s a track called “Toby” where I have to explain a Roots reference. I like explaining the references.

Maybe, again, it’s me being over-educated but I do like that. I feel like I’m a cool professor. Maybe I’m not because I just called myself that. …

I find these things funny and I have to find a way for you to think they’re funny and if I have to explain it so you get what I’m talking about and then laugh at the thing that I think is funny, then so be it. It might take an extra minute.

It might mean that our attention spans have to go back to 1987 but I think it’s possible for us to get through a minute setup for us to get to something else.

 

 

All European newborn Babies will be Microchipped starting May 2014

 posted on January 22, 2014

On May 2014, newborn children, throughout Europe,will be compelled to take in a subcutaneous RFID chip.

Public clinics in the European Union are to be alerted.

The chip will contain the report sheet on the newborn.

This chip will be doted with an impressive GPS sensor that will task with a micro- disposable battery every 2 years in state clinics. GPS chip grants an edge of error of 5 meters.

The GPS will be linked straight to a satellite, which will guide the networks.

As forecasted, this chip will be essential for all kids born after May 2014 , but with a present confirmation date until December 2016.

Note 1: Apparently, babies in Europe are becoming an endangered species given the low demographics trends

Note 2: I have a few worries:

1. Endangered species have been tagged for quite some time to study their whereabouts and how they are faring. You are under the impression that microchipping at this early years is safe and has no collateral damages as the babies grow up. I beg to differ.

2. Before this method is applied systematically, all the thousands of babies undergoing the “micro-chipping” will be analyzed as cobays.

RELATED:

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Is Israel risking to turn into an ‘apartheid state’? Only now does John Kerry realize a 65-year-old evidence?

Finally, the Palestinians recovered their senses:  Fateh and Hamas buried the hatchet and decided to form a coalition government as a preliminary step toward an election.

It is the turn of Israel to lose its senses and blow its top: Israel is behaving as an irrational State that has no idea what to do next. Except punishing the Palestinians for uniting during a crucial negotiation that is dragging for an indefinite period.

Israel is now claiming that it cannot sit with Hamas, but still insists on a purely Jewish State and refuses to delimit borders.

“If a two-state solution isn’t agreed upon soon, Israel will risk becoming an apartheid state” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday while speaking before a closed forum.

Kerry used the term while speaking at the Trilateral Commission before senior officials from the United States, Europe, Russia and Japan, The Daily Beast reported.

published this Apr. 28, 2014  in the Israeli daily Haaretz

It is the first time a U.S. official of Kerry’s importance has used the contentious term “apartheid” in the context of Israel, even if only as a warning for the future.

“A two-state solution,” Kerry said, “will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.

“Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.”

Kerry considering unveiling his own peace proposal, telling sides to either ‘take it or leave it.’

Kerry in Washington. April 24, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement on Ukraine at the briefing room of the State Department April 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Photo by AFP

Kerry also warned that a freeze in the peace talks could bring about a violent conflagration in the West Bank. “People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they’ve been before, which forces confrontation,” he said.

During his talk, a recording of which was procured by The Daily Beast, Kerry also suggested that a change in the leadership of either Israel or the Palestinians could make a breakthrough more feasable. He also reiterated his conviction that both sides share the blame for the negotiations’ dead end.

Kerry harshly criticized Israel for plans to build 14,000  new housing units in the settlements advanced during the past 9 months of negotiations.

Kerry also said that at some point he might unveil his own peace proposal, and tell both sides to either “take it or leave it.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in response to the tape that Kerry was simply expressing his position, which is shared by many others, and that the two-state solution is the only way Israel could remain a Jewish state that lives in peace with the Palestinians.

Psaki added that similar positions have been expressed by Israeli leaders such as Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni.

Hashtag #myNYPD campaign: Failed on an epic scale?

Earlier today(April 22, 2014),  NYPD invited people to tweet photos of themselves with members of NYPD using the hashtag #myNYPD. As they probably should have expected… the campaign was an epic fail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Escaping Beirut”, the Elizabeth Taylor of cities, and An Unnecessary Woman

In a passage of the Lebanese writer Rabih Alameddine’s first novel Koolaids (1998), one character says:

I fucking hate the Lebanese. I hate them. They are so fucked up. They think they are so great, and for what reason?

Has there been a single artist of note? A scientist, an athlete? They are so proud of [Lebanese novelist Khalil] Gibran. Probably the most overrated writer in history. I don’t think any Lebanese has ever read him. If they had, they would keep their mouth fucking shut.…

The happiest day in my life was when I got my American citizenship and was able to tear up my Lebanese passport. That was great. Then I got to hate Americans.…

I tried so hard to rid myself of anything Lebanese. I hate everything Lebanese. But I never could. It seeps through my entire being. The harder I tried, the more it showed up in the unlikeliest of places. But I never gave up.

Robyn Creswell published in the NY Review of Books on March 25, 2014
Ferdinando Scianna/Magnum Photos
Beirut, 1972

Many of the funniest moments in Alameddine’s work—and he is essentially a comic writer—revolve around the difficulties of trying to escape the past.

The heroes of his fiction are all misfits of one sort or another. They rebel against what they take to be the tyrannical conventions of Lebanese society—its patriarchy, its sexual norms, its sectarianism.

In most of Alameddine’s novels this revolt takes the form of flight to America, what one character calls an escape “from the land of conformism to the land of individualism.” (Alameddine is from a prominent Lebanese Druze family and has lived much of his life in San Francisco.)

Looming behind these singular stories is the larger history of dislocation caused by the civil war, when many Lebanese—the ones who could—left. In America, Alameddine’s characters discover that the pleasures of individualism often turn out to be empty, and their host country’s foreign policy, particularly its support for Israel, is a constant irritant. So their emigration is only ever partial; the old world haunts all their attempts at reinvention.

In Alameddine’s new novel,  An Unnecessary Woman, the narrator, Aaliya Saleh, is a septuagenarian literary translator who has stayed in Beirut—“the Elizabeth Taylor of cities,” as she calls it, “insane, beautiful, tacky, falling apart.”

But Aaliya does not feel at home in her native city. For most of the novel, she walks through her neighborhood in West Beirut, remembering how it used to be, before “the virulent cancer we call concrete spread throughout the capital, devouring every living surface.” She recalls past lovers and favorite books, as well as the bitterness of her family life.

In Aaliya’s case, estrangement from her relatives and from the city she lives in has led to an internal emigration. “I slipped into art to escape life,” she tells us. “I sneaked off into literature.”

When not wandering Beirut’s streets, she remains in her apartment, communing with tutelary spirits—every New Year, she lights two candles for Walter Benjamin. In her old age she has become more and more devoted to her art and the pleasures of her own mind, a latter-day version of modernist mandarins from Valéry’s Monsieur Teste to Canetti’s Professor Kien. Aaliya’s name, as she likes to remind us, means “above,” or “the one on high.”

Aaliya is a childless divorcee in a country where social life revolves around the family. But the deeper source of alienation is her “blind lust for the written word.” Her day job is at an independent bookstore with no clientele.

And as a translator, Aaliya is not just a reader, but a reader in extremis. Her tastes run to what we now call “world literature”: W.G. Sebald, José Saramago, Javier Marías, and Danilo Kiš (she works from the French or English versions). This is a lonely passion. “Literature in the Arab world, in and of itself, isn’t sought after,” she informs us. “Literature in translation? Translation of a translation? Why bother.” Aaliya has translated 37 books into Arabic; none have been published. She’s never bothered to try.

Aaliya is not a very convincing translator. With no hope of publishing her work, she claims to be driven only by her esteem for the great writers and the joy she takes in the activity itself. This is already a little sentimental, but her description of her work is simply implausible:

My translating is a Wagner opera. The narrative sets up, the tension builds, the music ebbs and flows, the strings, the horns, more tension, and suddenly a moment of pure pleasure. Gabriel blows his golden trumpet, ambrosial fragrance fills the air sublime, and gods descend from Olympus to dance—most heavenly this peak of ecstasy.

Whatever she’s doing, it isn’t translating. Not because the job is joyless, but because its satisfactions come from the experience of obstacles faced and overcome, or skillfully finessed.

In Aaliya’s account, it is one moment of bliss after another. This is typical of her relation to literature in general. An Unnecessary Woman is a kind of commonplace book, stuffed with citations from Aaliya’s favorite novels and poems. Everything that happens to her provokes a literary reminiscence: an unwelcome neighbor makes her think of Sartre (“Hell is other people”), which makes her think of Vallejo (“the torment of Hell is noise”); feeling lonely makes her think of Camus (“the weight of days is dreadful”); Beiruti garbage collectors are so many Sisyphuses.

We get it: this lady has read a lot of books. But in fact Aaliya is less a devotee of literature than a gourmand. She “salivates” over the “beautiful sentences” of Claudio Magris; Marguerite Yourcenar’s versions of Cavafy are “like champagne.” (Constance Garnett’s translations of Dostoyevsky, on the other hand, are “milky tea.”)

Reading a good book for the first time is “as sumptuous as the first sip of orange juice that breaks the fast in Ramadan.” And it isn’t just literature: “When I first heard Wagner, Messiaen, or Ligeti, the noise was unbearable, but like a child with her first sip of wine, I recognized something that I could love with practice.”

Most of the time, however, Aaliya’s devotion to literature is taken seriously. Her passion for translation is the prime source of the novel’s claim on its readers’ sympathies. The loneliness of this passion—and therefore the strength of our sympathies—is heightened by the idea, which Alameddine insists on, that Aaliya is pursuing her vocation in a cultural desert.

“I understood from the beginning that what I do isn’t publishable. There’s never been a market for it, and I doubt there ever will be.” In the same spirit, when Aaliya steals some titles from the bookstore where she works, she is doing a public service:

Had I not ordered some of these books, they would never have landed on Lebanese soil. For crying out loud, do you think anyone else in Lebanon has a copy of Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood? And I am picking just one book off the top of my head. Lampedusa’s The Leopard? I don’t think anyone else in this country has a book by Novalis.

In passages like this, Aaliya becomes a more problematic narrator than Alameddine seems to intend. She is soliciting our sympathies—the sympathies of non-Lebanese readers, who are clearly the novel’s intended audience—by flattering our prejudices. For in reality, Beirut is no literary desert.

Beirut is the publishing hub of the Middle East and has been for a long time. Bookishness is central to Lebanon’s self-conception, as the response to the recent burning of a bookstore in Tripoli attests. Nor is it hostile to literary translation. To the contrary. In the late Fifties and Sixties, when Aaliya would have been in her mid-twenties, Beirut was home to the best literary magazines in Arabic, which were full of translated fiction and verse.

Perhaps the most influential of these journals was Shi‘r ((She3er, Poetry), a modernist quarterly modeled on Harriet Monroe’s little magazine of the same name. Between 1957 and 1964, Shi‘r published translations of Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Paul Valéry, Saint-John Perse, Antonin Artaud, Henri Michaux, Yves Bonnefoy, Federico García Lorca, Octavio Paz, Salvatore Quasimodo, Rainer Maria Rilke, and many others. The magazine’s chief critic was Khalida Said, wife of the Syrio-Lebanese poet Adonis.

Other journals during the same period translated leftist intellectuals such as Sartre, Nâzım Hikmet, Paul Éluard, Pablo Neruda, and Louis Aragon. Somebody may even have had a copy of Lampedusa.

Is it conceivable Aaliya would have no knowledge of this history? She tells us she started translating at the age of twenty-two, in 1959, just as the Beiruti rage for translation was in full swing. Most literary magazines were published in Hamra, Aaliya’s own West Beirut neighborhood.

And they were published by her kind of people—cosmopolitan misfits, some of whom, like the poets and critics of Shi‘r, argued for a version of artistic autonomy that mirrors Aaliya’s own. Maybe it is conceivable she would know nothing of all this; maybe Aaliya is simply a recluse whose greatest pleasure happens to come from translating literary fiction. Maybe, but then her rhetorical question about Nightwood sounds less like a cry of anguish than ignorant snobbery. And the thirty-seven moldering manuscripts, whose fate turns out to be central to the plot, seem less like a rare and precious archive than a monumental quirk.

Alameddine’s own relation to the Lebanese literary history is similarly fraught. He belongs, and yet he does not want to. Alameddine’s recurring focus on the experience of emigration, the opportunities of self-creation offered by leaving home, his interest in questions of language and identity, and his mixing of Arab and European forms—all this places him squarely within the Levantine tradition of mahjar literature (mahjar is Arabic for “the place of emigration”).

This is a tradition that begins in the late 19th century and includes contemporary writers such as the novelist Rawi Hage and the playwright Wajdi Mouawad. The best-known and by far the best-selling member of this group is Gibran, though in the United States he tends to be viewed as a New Age parabolist of indeterminate origin rather than as a specifically Arab writer.

Alameddine, of course, wants nothing to do with this inheritance—for him, Gibran is “the most overrated writer in history”—and his way of telling stories stages its own kind of revolt.

Each of Alameddine’s first three novels upsets realist conventions in its own way.

Koolaids flits back and forth between wartime Beirut and San Francisco during the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s; it is a montage of voices and stories, a form Alameddine credits to Jean Said Makdisi’s memoir, Beirut Fragments (1990), though Elias Khoury’s pioneering novel of the civil war, The Little Mountain (1977), is probably the ultimate source for this technique.

Alameddine’s second novel, I, the Devine (2001), is narrated by a Beiruti Druze woman who struggles to maintain stable relationships after emigrating to the US; it is told in the form of first chapters—the narrator keeps trying and failing and trying again to write her memoir.

In The Hakawati, (2008), Alameddine borrows from the fabulist Arabic oral tradition to construct an interlocking series of tales framed by the story of a Lebanese man who returns from Los Angeles to keep vigil at his father’s deathbed.

One motive for this style of storytelling may be the fractured state of Lebanon, whose social landscape often seems to lack any common ground. “What if I told you that life has no unity?” says a character in Koolaids. “It is a series of nonlinear vignettes leading nowhere.” But it is also a way to resist, without entirely foregoing, the realist commonplaces of class, religion, and locality. Alameddine doesn’t want his characters to be defined by their sectarian identities any more than they do. It is this tussle between the claims of home and the attractions of flight that run through his fiction.

This is nicely suggested in a vignette from Koolaids. One of the book’s protagonists is a Lebanese abstract painter living in San Francisco (Alameddine was a successful painter before he turned to writing). A countryman is shown one of the canvases, which consists of irregular yellow rectangles, and becomes puzzled when a salesmen calls it abstract art. “But they are the sides of our houses,” the Lebanese man says. “That’s how the stones look back home. Exactly that yellow color.” The painter wants to escape into the purity of form but his content remains stubbornly local. Likewise, in I, the Divine the expatriate narrator speaks for many characters when she complains to a friend,

Here I am, the black sheep of the family, yet I’m still part of it. I tried separating from the family all my life, only to find out it’s not possible, not in my family. So I become the black sheep without any of the advantages of being one.

You can never go home, but you can’t entirely leave it, either.

An Unnecessary Woman marks a departure from the style and themes of this earlier work.

The story is told from a single point of view and, aside from a few flashbacks, it proceeds in straightforward fashion. And yet Aaliya is no more at ease in in Beirut than the characters who actually leave. This may reflect a common feeling among Beirutis that the city rebuilt after the civil war is a bewilderingly different place from the pre-war version. But it also comes from Aaliya’s sense that Lebanon is a deeply parochial country, which she can only escape by reading Sebald and Saramago. “Literature is my sandbox,” Aaliya explains early in the novel. “In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time. It is the world outside that box that gives me trouble.”

The most convincing passages in Alameddine’s novels, however, are not his paeans to literature but those moments when he represents his characters at their worst.

Koolaids includes a playlet featuring two upper-class Lebanese women meeting in a café in Paris to gossip about their friends: “The Ballan girl is incredibly ugly. I can’t imagine what [her husband] saw in her.” “As ugly as the Bandoura girl?” “No, my dear, that one is really ugly. This one is close, though.” “That one was so ugly. I couldn’t believe she found a husband.” “Money, dear, money. Daddy has money.” This goes on for ten pages; the whole thing is wicked and pitch-perfect.

Another memorable episode occurs forty pages into An Unnecessary Woman. Aaliya tells the story of Ahmad, a bookish young Palestinian who once helped her at the store and sought her reading recommendations. As soon as the war starts, he joins a militia and quickly rises through the ranks. Rumors suggest he has become an expert torturer. Now Aaliya wants him to get her a gun. Her apartment was burgled—the city is slipping into anarchy—and she needs it for self-defense. She meets Ahmad at his well-appointed apartment and finds a very different man from the one who helped her stock the shelves:

“Slacks pressed and tailored, the white shirt fitted and expensive, the face smiling and clean-shaven.” Aaliya, on the other hand, hasn’t showered in many days—running water has become a luxury—and wears a pink tracksuit with sequined swirls. Ahmad says he will give her a gun (and a hot shower) in return for sex. She agrees.

During intercourse, on her hands and knees, Aaliya feels Ahmad’s fingers squeezing spots on her lower back and suddenly realizes that he is removing her blackheads. He apologizes, “It had been unconscious. He couldn’t see a blackhead on his own skin without removing it and didn’t realize he was doing the same with me. I asked him not to stop.” Here is moral capitulation, erotic pleasure, vanity, and surprising tenderness—fiction that matches the complexity of history. All the rest is literature.


Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman is published by Grove Press.

Best cities that exhibit Street Art

The street art world has undergone a massive shift in the past few years, with famous figures like Banksy and Shepard Fairey elevating the medium to mainstream consciousness.

What was once a clandestine act of art vandalism is now, more often, a celebrated form of public art, popping up in major metropolises across the globe. “Street art and graffiti is ephemeral, transitory, a moment in time,” the experts at Brooklyn Street Art assert, emphasizing the contemporary allure of graffiti and street art.

Katherine Brooks posted in The Huffington Post  this April 17, 2014

The 26 Best Cities In The World To See Street Art 

With summer upon us, and months of travel opportunities on the horizon, we’ve put together a guide of the top cities around the world that prove street art is indeed a thing to be celebrated.

From Brazil to France to Taiwan, these urban centers play home to works by street art stars like Nunca, Blu and the late P183.

So if you’re in the mood for a cross-continental trip, these are the 26 cities you need to add to your travel bucket list now.

1. Berlin, Germany

berlin street art

A street artwork by JR is pictured in Berlin on April 16, 2013.

2. São Paulo, Brazil

sao paulo street art

A mural by Francisco Rodrigues da Silva, known as Nunca, in the Liberdade neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008.

3. Melbourne, Australia

melbourne street art

A mural by Del Kathryn Barton, tilted “The Whole of Everything,” which adorns the side of an apartment block in central Melbourne, on July 8, 2008.

4. Cape Town, South Africa

cape town graffiti

A mural of Nelson Mandela by graffiti artist Mak1One on December 7, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.

5. Moscow, Russia

p183

Graffiti with a sign reading “Give to get a ticket home” made by the late Russian street artist Pasha P183 in a street in Moscow, Russia on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.

6. Lisbon, Portugal

lisbon street art

A mural by Sam3 created during the Crono Project in Lisbon, Portugal in 2013.

7. Los Angeles, California

los angeles street art

A giant mural of Mt. Rushmore by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles on August 20, 2013 in California.

8. Bogotá, Colombia

bogota street art

A graffiti wall painted by El Pez in Bogota, Colombia on July 9, 2010.

9. Dublin, Ireland

dublin street art

A mural in the Temple Bar area on October 23, 2013 in Dublin, Ireland.

10. London, United Kingdom

london street art

Street art by Ekta Ekta on the side of The White building, along the River Lea Navigation at Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2013 in London, England.

11. Santiago, Chile

santiago graffiti

An artist works on a graffiti piece on the banks of the Mapocho river for the first festival of urban intervention, Home-made, in Santiago, on November 21, 2012.

12. Taipei, Taiwan

art

Street artwork by Aram Bartholl in Taipei, Taiwan.

13. Bristol, United Kingdom

bristol street art

A graffiti artist puts the finishing touches to his painting for the “See No Evil” street art project in Nelson Street on August 20, 2011 in Bristol, England.

14. New York City, New York

banksy street art nyc

People walk by a street art graffiti by elusive British artist Banksy, as part of his month-long “Better Out Than In exhibit” in New York, October 3, 2013.

15. Mexico City, Mexico

mexico city graffiti

An artist works on his graffiti painting of Mexican Revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata, during the “Independence Bicentenary and Revolution Centenary” contest, organized by local authorities, in Mexico City, on September 11, 2010.

16. Prague, Czech Republic

art

Mural by Honet in Prague.

17. Paris, France

paris street artA general view of ‘La Tour 13’, a street art building demolished earlier this year.

18. Montreal, Canada

street art canadaA mural in progress is seen on the side of a building during the Mural Festival on June 6, 2013 in Montreal, Canada.

19. Buenos Aires, Argentina

buenos aires street artStreet Art in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires in June 2011.

20. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

art

Artwork by Espo in Philadelphia.

21. Quintanar de la Orden, Spain

santiago chile street artA giant Don Quixote graffiti mural painted today by Chilean graffiti artist Inti on the wall of a building on April 5, 2014 in Quintanar de la Orden, Spain.

22. Bangkok, Thailand

thailand street artGraffiti paintings in Bangkok on July 14, 2010.

23. Gdańsk, Poland

art

Mural by Etka in Gdansk, Poland.

24. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

art

Street artwork by MOMO and Eltono in Rio de Janeiro.

25. Istanbul, Turkey

street art istanbul

Rainbow-colored stairs in Istanbul painted by a local man in 2013.

26. Bethlehem, Palestine

bethlehem street art

The Italian street artist Blu paints graffiti on Israel’s separation barrier on December 5, 2007.

For more street art cities, check out our list of American destinations you should visit here.

Have you attended AUB?

Nur Turkmani posted on Listomania this Apr 15, 2014

From the worst of horrors to the almost-peed-in-my-pants-from-laughing moments, if the below stereotypes are familiar to you, you know you went (or go) to AUB.

1. You felt like a boss when you got your acceptance letter
(image via tumblr.com)

This is particularly true if you’re an Arab – AUB has, and hopefully will continue to be, one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East. And just admit it: you were beyond ecstatic when you got the email informing you of your acceptance.

You tried to keep your cool, but even your parents bragged about it to their neighbors and friends who responded by rolling their eyes, forcing a smile and saying, “Ahhh, your child is at AUB? Yih, smallah, smallah. Allah ywaf2oo”.

2. Registration: The Horror
(Image via tumblr.com)

When it’s registration period at AUB, you are bound to find students pulling out large chunks of their hair or screaming loudly in hallways about their hatred for the university (unless, of course, they are the lucky 2% that got the courses they wanted).

Every student wakes up early during registration period to ensure a spot in a course they really need, but lo and behold, one minute past eight and you come to the realization that seniors have filled up all the courses. You breathe quietly, and try to control your anger.

3. Starbucks who? Abu Naji’s coffee all the way
(Image viatumblr.com)

When you’re an AUBite, $6 for coffee is a privilege not everyone can afford. Having Nescafe from Abu Naji or Epi D’or then becomes your daily ritual and your day doesn’t feel quite right without it.

4. All-nighters happen every other week
(Image via tumblr.com)

Particularly if you’re an engineer or pre-med student, pulling an all-nighter isn’t some strange occurrence that only happens in the movies. It becomes a living, breathing reality every other week.

5. The Green Oval on sunny days ❤ 

(Image via aub-graduat.blogspot.com)

There is nothing more relaxing than napping on the Green Oval when the weather is nice. Although it is dominated by the hipsters these days, on sunny days you will find a ton of different people napping, enjoying a bite or reading a book.

6. Chemistry stairs – damn you!
(Image via akdn.org)

The Chemistry stairs should simply not exist. It is, in fact, so bad that a day will not go by in AUB without hearing at least ten complaints about how unbearable these stairs are.

It is even worse when you have one class on the lower campus, and another on the upper campus right after.

7. Nicely’s numbering will forever be confusing
(Image via tumblr.com)

Your first year at AUB will be spent trying to understand the odd-even arrangement of rooms on campus. You will also only figure out where room 108 Nicely is located on the last day of your senior year.

8. You’ve had a crush on at least one of your professors

(Image via newsfeed.time.com)

C’mon, admit it. There’s something about our professors, they’re charming, smart and good-looking. You can’t help but have a crush on one or two of them.

9. Math 201

(Image via polybloggimous.com)

Everyone who has taken this course likes complaining about it, even if it’s not half as hard as other Engineering or Economics courses.

It has just become a thing to say: “maaaan, 201 shi kteer”.

10. Eng 203/204 courses are worse than your major courses

(Image via wayneandchristina.wordpress.com)

Last time you checked, the courses were described as introductory courses that were simply meant to help you write a proper research paper. You signed up and thought to yourself, “Woohoo! No exam for this one!”

Now, you wish you had an exam in place of the loads of papers, presentations and critiques you have to write before the semester ends.

11. You join 20 clubs, and end up in one
(Image via tumblr.com)

When it’s Club Day, you become overwhelmed with the plethora of awesome clubs (How could you not join the Astronomy Club or the Hiking Club?) but later on in the semester, you realize you ain’t got time for that shi* and end up missing all the meetings.

You promise yourself that next year you will manage your schedule to better accommodate your extracurricular activities. This, in fact, never happens.

12. AUB Outdoors/AUB’s Got Talent

(Image via aub.edu.lb)

Forever the coolest events of the year.

13. Ultimate nightmare: moving in and moving out
(Image via tumbler)

For every dorm student, having to pack and unpack when the semester is over is the worst thing ever. I mean, we finished our exams, what more do you want from us? Can’t I leave my stuff in the room, please? PRETTY PLEASE?

14. The cats.

(Image via reddit.com)

A cat once gave birth in a students’ dorm. Enough said.

15. 9 AM classes on MWFs?

(Image via wired.com)

This is the infamous rush hour at AUB – feared by many.

16. Rainy days: a big no-no
(Image via tumblr.com)

When it rains, you just know that the entire way from Main Gate to Bliss will be overflowing with umbrellas and people pushing past one another to get through.

17. Your summer is saved by AUB’s Beach

(Image via Al Mashriq)

A free beach in summer is everything you have ever asked for.

18. Jafet during exams: don’t even bother.

(Image via alternatehistory.com)

Let’s just say tables in Jafet are probably booked two months prior to finals. I mean, how is it possible that for three days straight there has not been a single free table?

19. French power
(Image via tumblr.com)

Oh, yes. You will hear French being spoken at the American University of Beirut much, much more than English or Arabic. You will eventually get used to it and maybe pick up a sentence or two by the end of your final semester.

20. The worst/best exams are in SLH

(Image via create meme)

There’s something about this hall that is sweat-inducing and nerve-racking, and no one really knows what it is. And you always know that if your tummy growls in SLH, everyone will hear it because it’s just that crowded.

On the upside, if there are no proctors, it will be the best exam ever.

21. Business students are stereotyped as dumb
(Image via tumblr.com)

Business students are actually some of the smartest people you’ll meet. The stereotype on looks is not out of place though – OSB looks more like a fashion show than a Business building.

22. Pre-meds really do hate each other
(Image via tumblr.com)

This one right here ain’t no stereotype. It gets to the point where calculators are stolen, glasses are broken and tears are shed.

23. Engineers speak in a weird dialect

(Image via tumblr.com)

Friends from the Engineering department always come up with really weird terms to describe things like “I failed” which, to them, becomes “tajjaytu” or “I studied well” which becomes “barashtu”.

They’re also the loudest, usually – which is quite ironic since you’d expect them to be part of a nerd collective.

24. You avoid getting into debates with Politics/Philosophy students

(Image via tumblr.com)

They’ve read too much and know too much, so before you open your mouth to say, “the women of this century are so superficial!” and notice one of them lurking around the corner, you remind yourself that you are not prepared to hear long arguments quoted directly from Toni Morrison’s books.

25. Fall back parties
(Image via tumblr.com)

This is when you realize AUB might not be the nerd haven you thought it was – the entrance in itself to these parties is enough to make you realize there is a hidden partying culture here. It’s very exclusive. And you love/d it.

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