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Hannah Arendt on Science, the Value of Space Exploration,

and How Our Cosmic Aspirations Illuminate the Human Condition

A case against human solipsism

 A clarion call for non-egocentric curiosity about the nature of reality.

Hannah Arendt on Science, the Value of Space Exploration, and How Our Cosmic Aspirations Illuminate the Human Condition

“Who indeed will set bounds to human ingenuity?” Galileo asked in his magnificent letter to the Grand Duchess of of Tuscany as he dethroned the human animal from the center of the universe. “Who will assert that everything in the universe capable of being perceived is already discovered and known?”

Half a millennium later, as we continue to make revolutionary discoveries that invite us to revise our understanding of the cosmos and reassess our place in it — discoveries like the detection of gravitational waves, perhaps the greatest breakthrough in astronomy since Galileo pointed his telescope at the heavens — we continue to struggle with the same discomfiting questions: How are we to live with any sense of importance and meaning if the more we find out about the universe, the less significant we seem to be and the more meaningless it becomes? What, then, is the human and humane value of knowing more at all?

That’s what Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906–December 4, 1975) addresses with great subtlety and uncompromising intellectual rigor in a 1963 essay titled “The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man,” later included in her altogether spectacular and timely book Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought (public library).

The essay’s title was inspired by a question posed by the editors of the magazine Great Ideas Today for a special feature focusing on “what the exploration of space is doing to man’s view of himself and to man’s condition” —

the question of whether humanity’s so-called conquest of space has increased or diminished the existential stature of human beings.

Hannah Arendt

Five years after she weighed the difference between how art and science illuminate the human condition, Arendt writes:

To understand physical reality seems to demand not only the renunciation of an anthropocentric or geocentric world view, but also a radical elimination of all anthropomorphic elements and principles, as they arise either from the world given to the five human senses or from the categories inherent in the human mind.

The question assumes that man is the highest being we know of, an assumption which we have inherited from the Romans, whose humanitas was so alien to the Greeks’ frame of mind that they had not even a word for it. (The reason for the absence of the word humanitas from Greek language and thought was that the Greeks, in contrast to the Romans, never thought that man is the highest being there is. Aristotle calls this belief atopos, “absurd.”)

This view of man is even more alien to the scientist, to whom man is no more than a special case of organic life and to whom man’s habitat — the earth, together with earthbound laws — is no more than a special borderline case of absolute, universal laws, that is, laws that rule the immensity of the universe.

Surely the scientist cannot permit himself to ask: What consequences will the result of my investigations have for the stature (or, for that matter, for the future) of man? It has been the glory of modern science that it has been able to emancipate itself completely from all such anthropocentric, that is, truly humanistic, concerns.


For the scientist, man is no more than an observer of the universe in its manifold manifestations. The progress of modern science has demonstrated very forcefully to what an extent this observed universe, the infinitely small no less than the infinitely large, escapes not only the coarseness of human sense perception but even the enormously ingenious instruments that have been built for its refinement.

Although science is, as astrophysicist Janna Levin has memorably noted, “a truly human endeavor,” Arendt argues that the task of the scientist is to stand outside and beyond human solipsism; that setting out to answer such questions as what man’s stature should be, how we differ from other other animals, and why we pursue knowledge at all would shackle science to constraining concerns, to a sort of smallness of curiosity. She reflects on the paradox of such questions:

All answers … whether they come from laymen or philosophers or scientists, are non-scientific (although not anti-scientific); they can never be demonstrably true or false. Their truth resembles rather the validity of agreements than the compelling validity of scientific statements.

Even when the answers are given by philosophers whose way of life is solitude, they are arrived at by an exchange of opinions among many men, most of whom may no longer be among the living. Such truth can never command general agreement, but it frequently outlasts the compellingly and demonstrably true statements of the sciences which, especially in recent times, have the uncomfortable inclination never to stay put, although at any given moment they are, and must be, valid for all.

In other words, notions such as life, or man, or science, or knowledge are pre-scientific by definition, and the question is whether or not the actual development of science which has led to the conquest of terrestrial space and to the invasion of the space of the universe has changed these notions to such an extent that they no longer make sense.

So if science ought to be concerned with questions far beyond the human scale, free of human ego, then the very notion of the “conquest” of space and man’s “stature” implies a sort of hunger for power antithetical to the real enterprise of science.

Fifteen years before the pioneering scientist Erwin Chargaff made his beautiful case for the poetics of curiosity, she considers the true animating force of scientists — amplified access to what Einstein famously called the human “passion for comprehension.” Arendt writes:

It is, I think, safe to say that nothing was more alien to the minds of the scientists, who brought about the most radical and most rapid revolutionary process the world has ever seen, than any will to power. Nothing was more remote than any wish to “conquer space” and to go to the moon…

It was indeed their search for “true reality” that led them to lose confidence in appearances, in the phenomena as they reveal themselves of their own accord to human sense and reason. They were inspired by an extraordinary love of harmony and lawfulness which taught them that they would have to step outside any merely given sequence or series of occurrences if they wanted to discover the overall beauty and order of the whole, that is, the universe.


It is, in fact, quite obvious that the scientists’ strongest intellectual motivation was Einstein’s “striving after generalization,” and that if they appealed to power at all, it was the interconnected formidable power of abstraction and imagination.

She turns to the particular case of space exploration and its immense humanizing value in enlarging not only our knowledge but our humility:

The magnitude of the space enterprise seems to me beyond dispute, and all objections raised against it on the purely utilitarian level — that it is too expensive, that the money were better spent on education and the improvement of the citizens, on the fight against poverty and disease, or whatever other worthy purposes may come to mind — sound to me slightly absurd, out of tune with the things that are at stake and whose consequences today appear still quite unpredictable.

There is, moreover, another reason why I think these arguments are beside the point. They are singularly inapplicable because the enterprise itself could come about only through an amazing development of man’s scientific capabilities. The very integrity of science demands that not only utilitarian considerations but the reflection upon the stature of man as well be left in abeyance.

Has not each of the advances of science, since the time of Copernicus, almost automatically resulted in a decrease in his stature? And is the often repeated argument that it was man who achieved his own debasement in his search for truth, thus proving anew his superiority and even increasing his stature, more than a sophism? Perhaps it will turn out that way.

At any event, man, insofar as he is a scientist, does not care about his own stature in the universe or about his position on the evolutionary ladder of animal life; this “carelessness” is his pride and his glory.

Complement this particular portion of Arendt’s altogether indispensable Between Past and Future with physicist Sean Carroll on how “poetic naturalism” helps us wrest meaning from an impartial universe, then revisit Arendt on the crucial difference between truth and meaning, the power of being an outsider, how tyrants use isolation as a weapon of oppression, and our only effective antidote to the normalization of evil.

Where Do The Richest Americans Live?

Sizing up the homes of Bill Gates and other top members of the new Forbes 400 list

Originally published on October 04, 2016|Mansion Global

Have you checked the newest “Forbes 400: The Full List of The Richest People in America” yet?

Surprise, Bill Gates, with a net worth of $81 billion, is ranked No. 1 for the 23rd year running. Meanwhile, his friend Warren Buffett fell to third place for the first time in 15 years with a net worth of $65.5 billion.

Thanks to soaring stock prices of hot tech firms, CEOs at the helm of those companies seem to have been accumulating wealth at a much faster pace than others. CEO Jeff Bezos gained $20 billion to boost his net worth to $67 billion, making him the second-richest person in the U.S.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg jumped into fourth place, his highest rank ever, with a net worth of $55.5 billion.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison landed at No. 5 for the first time since 2007. His net worth is $49.3 billion.

Standing on the No. 6 spot is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CEO of the eponymous firm Bloomberg L.P., who has a net worth of $45 billion.

These six richest multi-billionaires have a combined $363.3 billion at their withdrawal, most of which is still held as stakes in the companies they founded.

Part of their fortune is vested in real estate. Mr. Gates, for one, owns a Washington mansion worth about $170 million, several horse ranches across the U.S. and shares in some luxury hotel chains through his private investment firm, Cascade.

Here, take a look at the residences the six richest moguls call home:

1. Bill Gates
Worth: $81 billion
Home: Medina, Washington

Mr. Gates, 60, spends most of his time at his 66,000-square-foot Medina, Washington, mansion, nicknamed Xanadu 2.0 after the title character’s estate in Citizen Kane. The mansion overlooks Lake Washington. It took Mr. Gates seven years and $63.2 million to build this house, which is filled with lots of high-tech features. He purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988, but it’s now worth an estimated $170 million, according to public records.

2. Jeff Bezos
Worth: $67 billion
Home: Medina, Washington

Mr. Bezos, 52, in the process of building his e-commerce empire, scooped up a vast amount of real properties over the years, earning him the No. 26 spot on The Land Report’s list of America’s largest landowners last year. In terms of residences, he has a 165,000-acre ranch in West Texas, a waterfront house in Washington state, three linked apartments in Manhattan’s Century Tower, and a 12,000-square-foot Beverly Hills estate that boasts Tom Cruise as a neighbor, according to Forbes.

His home at Medina, Washington, close to Amazon’s headquarters, boasts 5.35 acres and about 29,000 square-foot of living space. Aside from the main home, there’s also a caretaker’s cottage and a 4,500-square-foot boathouse on Lake Washington.

3. Warren Buffett
Worth: $65.5 billion
Home: Omaha, Nebraska

Although the shrewdest investor on earth holds multiple real estate investments, Mr. Buffett, 86, is known for living humbly.

His home sits on a corner in Omaha, Nebraska, which he bought in 1958 for $31,500. Mr. Buffett has lived there ever since. The house, originally built in 1921, underwent several expansions to make it a cozy and comfortable 6,500-square-foot home for the man who has a net worth of over $65.5 billion.

4. Mark Zuckerberg
Worth: $55.5 billion
Home: Palo Alto, California

The youngest richest entrepreneur docks most of his wealth in schools, health and other philanthropies. His real estate portfolio include his home in Palo Alto and a 9.9-million pied-a-terre near Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Mr. Zuckerberg, 32, purchased his first Craftsman-style 5,000-square-foot home in Palo Alto in 2011 for $7 million. He snapped up four of the houses surrounding his home in the following years for about $43.8 million to better keep his privacy. But his plan to tear down and rebuild those four homes has been stalled.

5. Larry Ellison
Worth: $49.3 billion
Home: Woodside, California

Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison, 72, has an extensive real estate portfolio. He has bought up large parts of whole neighborhoods in Malibu and around Lake Tahoe. He owns a $70-million Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island; a garden villa in Kyoto, Japan; and 98% of the land of Lanai, Hawaii’s sixth-largest island, which he purchased in 2012 for $500 million, according to published reports.

His estate in Woodside, California, with an estimated value of $110 million, is modeled after 16th-century Japanese architecture, complete with a man-made 2.3-acre lake.

Getty Images

6. Michael Bloomberg
Worth: $45 billion
Home: Manhattan, New York

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 74, has more than a dozen of properties worldwide. He spends most of his time at his Upper Estate Side townhouse, but he also owns estates in the Hamptons in New York, as well as in London, Bermuda, Colorado and Florida.

Mr. Bloomberg’s townhouse, located at 17 East 79th St., spans five stories with a limestone exterior. During his three terms as mayor, Mr. Bloomberg lived in the townhouse instead of Gracie Mansion. However, he apparently has a plan to turn it into a mega-mansion.

Since 1989, he has been gradually buying up units at 19 East 79th St., the townhouse co-op that’s right next door to his current residence. Out of the six units in the white 1880 Greek-revival-style building, Bloomberg now owns five of them, according to The New York Observer.

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The Disturbing History of African-Americans and Medical Research Goes Beyond Henrietta Lacks

Lily Rothman. Updated: Apr 21, 2017

Ask a given person what they know about the history of the use of African-Americans as unwilling research subjects and they are likely to mention one infamous incident: Tuskegee.

“Such a failure seems almost beyond belief, or human compassion,” TIME wrote when the study made headlines in 1972, as the world learned that for four decades the U.S. Public Health Service had been conducting an experiment in which proven remedies were kept from syphilis patients in Alabama, all of whom were black men. But there’s a lot more to that history.

“Tuskegee shouldn’t be the first thing people think of,” Harriet A. Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid, tells TIME. “It’s the example that the government has admitted to and acknowledged. It’s so famous that people think it was the worst, but it was relatively mild compared to other stuff.”

With the premiere on Saturday of the HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book of the same name, another piece of the puzzle may get a little closer to the first-to-mind fame of Tuskegee.

Lacks was, as TIME explained in its initial review of Skloot’s book, a black woman treated unsuccessfully for cervical cancer in 1951, from whose tumor doctors kept a sample of tissue. Her cells provided a breakthrough would prove invaluable to medical research, but her family was kept in the dark even as they themselves became the subjects of scientific interest.

Washington, who has interviewed the Lacks family, says that one problem with the national narrative about Tuskegee is the risk that those unaware of the larger history that surrounds both that study and the story of Henrietta Lacks might think that African-Americans are “overreacting to a single study” if they express distrust of the medical establishment.

Rather, as Skloot also notes in her book, distrust like that expressed by the Lacks family is related to what’s summed up by the subtitle of Washington’s book as The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present.

“We’re talking about something that began in the 17th century,” Washington says.

Though the line between therapeutic medicine and research was blurrier at the time, she says it’s clear that doctors in the colonial American context would often try out new ideas on white patients when they hoped that the experiment would help the person in question; they would use African slaves and Native Americans as subjects when the point of the research was to benefit others.

Perhaps the most infamous example of antebellum medical research being performed on slaves is that of J. Marion Sims, whose innovation of a revolutionary gynecological procedure was made possible by multiple practice runs on enslaved women. Washington also found that slaves’ bodies were used for experiments after they died, despite widespread belief that maintaining the body’s integrity after death was religiously necessary.

“Historically, one of the larger connections is that, if you’re talking about the appropriation of African-American bodies when enslavement was part of the law of the land, that represented an extension of slavery into eternity,” she explains.

When it comes to the 20th century, though slavery was no longer the law, Washington says that there was a widespread belief that people who did not pay for their medical care would “owe their bodies” to the medical community in return.

As a result, patients from marginalized communities, like the poor and immigrants, did not receive the same ethical consideration that others did. Though that idea would have applied to poor patients of all races, segregation at the time meant that black patients were confined in many places to “black wards,” and they were disproportionately affected.

Washington says that one big misconception she often hears is that in 1951, when Lacks was treated, what happened to Lacks would have been just the common practice at the time. In reality, she has found that — while it is true that the laws and regulations that govern such experimentation have changed between then and now — basic ethical concepts such as informed consent were already very much in play.

In fact, she says, especially in the wake of the world learning of Nazi medical experimentation, some organizations kept consent rules that were even more stringent than those in play today. “These conventions tended to be rigorously adhered to when it came to white people,” Washington notes.

And, though medical research can be complicated, she believes the basic idea — then and now — is simple: “Subjects who have normal adult intelligence are capable of understanding whether their permission has been asked.”

But, if those ethical standards have generally endured, other things have changed.

Washington points to 1980 as a turning point, thanks to changes like the law that changed the medical-research economy and a Supreme Court decision that has been interpreted to mean that living things are subject to patents.

The need for tissue on which to experiment continues, but now it can be a lot more financially valuable if things work out. Washington believes that economic pressures have led to an erosion in the application of informed consent in the years since.

That’s part of the reason why Washington is glad that Henrietta Lacks’ name is becoming more famous.

“People tend to underestimate the extent and breadth of this,” Washington says. “There’s no sphere of American medicine that was not touched by the use in research of African-Americans.”

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales exits Guardian board over conflict of interest with Wikitribune news site

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, will leave the board of the Guardian newspaper after opting to launch his own rival news operation that will compete for staff, stories and donations.

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia

The 50-year-old, who joined the board of Guardian Media Group as a non-executive director little over a year ago, has revealed plans to launch Wikitribune, an outlet aiming to provide “factual and neutral” news coverage.

Mr Wales has said he plans to hire up to 20 journalists to work on the operation.

Wikitribune will be funded by donations, putting it in direct competition with the Guardian, which frequently appeals to online readers for voluntary contributions in lieu of digital subscriptions.

He said: “Jimmy Wales will be stepping down from the GMG board by mutual agreement, given the potential for overlap in our work. We wish him well with the new project.”

Mr Wales has seized on concern around “fake news” online to promote Wikitribune, arguing “the news is broken and we can fix it“.

Guardian Media Group’s spokesman said: “We welcome all efforts to combat the rise of fake news. Our rapid growth in traffic and Guardian membership show that the demand for independent, trusted and high-quality journalism is greater than ever. ”

The left-leaning title is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues in light of a tough advertising market.

Online revenues have not risen quickly enough to make up for declining print sales, with the bulk of market growth taken up by Google and Facebook.

A spokesman for Guardian Media Group said Mr Wales’s plans meant he could no longer sit on the newspaper’s board.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/07/28/55256363-guardian-business-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqQJoTHvv9hWAiaCwwE8274uaCTQGAUkDgq8I833FLrys.jpg” alt=”Guardian” width=”301″ height=”189″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Guardian
The Guardian is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues

The Guardian was on track to burn £90m in cash last year and has warned staff to expect further redundancies as it seeks to reach break-even in two years.

Mr Wales said: “I am a huge admirer of the Guardian and am honoured to have been involved as a member of the GMG board. I will continue to be an avid fan of their integrity for news and journalism.”

He has said he will take a hands-on role in his latest venture and remains chairman of The People’s Operator, a mobile service provider that gives a shares of its revenues to good causes.

It floated on AIM on a £100m valuation in 2014 but has struggled to build its subscriber base and now has a market capitalisation of less than £11m.


Most of my work was at the height of anxieties and troubles 

معظم ما اشتغلته كان في ذروة التوتّر.

Samir Asmar shared Ihsan Al Asmar‘s photo.

Interview with Ziad Al Rahbany, a most renowned Lebanese composer, and director of theatre pieces, particularly during the lengthy civil war. 

I read Google translation and it was very funny. If wish you guys can read Arabic, Ziad is very funny and frank.
“وفكّرنا بس بإنّو نعبّر عن نفسنا ببساطة. نحسّ الإشيا، ولازم نقولها.. صرنا نقولها.” – عاصي
لقد سمعنا على امتداد سنوات جميع أنواع التهم الجاهزة لزياد الرحباني حتى الملل. خلال السنتين الأخيرتين، لم يوفّر الرحباني فرصة لإقامة حفلة موسيقية إلا اغتنمها،

. وجد الجميع فرصة لإعادة الرحباني إلى دائرة “الموضوعات الساخنة“، وهو غالباً لم يخرج منها أصلاً. لا يملك أحد موقفاً حيادياً منه، خاصةً بعد الموضوع السوري. الناس الذين يعرفونه، ويعرفون نتاجه الفني وأخباره الشخصية ومواقفه السياسية منقسمون دائماً بشكل حاد.

فئة تراه “العبقري” الرحباني السابق لزمانه، وفئة تحاكمه على أنه “خائن” للشعب والثورة، وما بينهما فئات تجتهد أيضاً، فتراه ضحية أو أعجوبة أو ممثّلاً يسعى لدور الضحية. كل هذا معروف، لكنّنا ننتبه الآن إلى أن كلّ هذا غير مهم عندما نقف أمام باب زياد المفتوح بالكامل، والذي تدلف منه موسيقى مارفين غاي المتسائل باستمرار “What’s Going On?”.

حقاً، ما الذي يحدث في عالمنا؟ الآن، ربما نتكلّم قليلاً عن الموسيقى، لا أكثر ولا أقل، إذا سمح لنا قضاة السّلوك والأفكار ومنظّرو التعليب بأن نكون عاطفيين قليلاً تجاه مَن منحنا الكثير في المكتبة الموسيقية والمسرحية، وفي الوعي السياسي والاجتماعي والفكري، والأهم تجاه مَن منحنا الكثير من الفرح والحب والأحلام والرفقة الطيبة في مختلف مراحل حياتنا الممجوجة الشديدة الابتذال في هذه الجمهورية العجيبة.

رغم كل التعقيدات الحياتية، وبعيداً عن الفلسفات والإشكاليات، ووسط “عجقة” الأغراض و “السيديهات” والكتب والصور في غرفة صالونه، ثمّة انطباع مُلحّ بأن كلّ الأشياء في عالم زياد الرحباني، بدءاً من لحظة الإبداع الموسيقي ووصولاً إلى الأعمال اليومية العادية كصنع فنجان شاي، هي أكثر بساطة وتلقائية ممّا يعتقد أيّ منا.

بساطةٌ تذكّر بقول عاصي أعلاه، بمعنى عفويّة أن نقول ما نشعر، لمجرد أنّنا شعرنا به وأن من حقّنا أن نعبر عنه، كما هو، تاماً، حقيقياً، جارحاً، جميلاً، مزعجاً، مباشراً كما هو. كلّنا نغار من زياد قليلاً، لأنه يقول ما يفكّر فيه من دون مواربة، وهذا ما جعله دائماً عرضة للهجوم والمحاكمة الرخيصة أحياناً، بعيداً عن النقد الصادق المباح.

هذه حقيقة أوليّة، والحقيقة الأُخرى هي أنّه لا يشبه أبداً ما يُرسم من صور مكبّرة لرجل يائس أو مهزوم. هذا رجلٌ يحاول، يحاول فعلاً. يقيم الحفلات ويكتب المقالات ويؤلّف الموسيقى ويفتتح موقعاً إلكترونياً ويسعى للسفر من أجل العمل، ويحاول إعادة ترتيب أموره. يحاول مصالحة والدته، والتواصل مع حزب الله ومع المستقبل، ومع الناس، مع الجميع مبدئياً.

يعمل من أجل الحزب الشيوعي وللجريدة وفي الأستوديو وفي المسرح وفي البيت، في لبنان وألمانيا وروسيا وأبعد، إن لزم الأمر. اليائس يكفّ عن المحاولة، لكن هذا الرجل يحاول. أكثر منّا جميعاً، يحاول. رغم كل شيء، يبدو أكثر حياةً ممّا نتوقّع نحن، وأكثر جمالاً مما يعتقد هو. المقابلة أدناه محاولة لاستعادة الموسيقي من أسلاك السجالات الشائكة إلى مربّعه الأول: الفن.

– كيفك؟
الحمدلله، بلّشت صير منيح لأنو عارف إنو قلّلو الإيام اللي باقيهن هون. رغم أن الإنسان لا يمكن أن يكون سعيداً لمغادرة بلاده، لكن ما بيكون وضع البلد هيك كذا سنة. أمارس حقّاً مارسه جميع اللبنانيين. أتغرّب وأعود عندما يتوفّر عمل هنا،

– في أسطوانة “إلى عاصي” كتب منصور عن عاصي: “كان دائم القلق، لا يرتاح إلا حين يستغرق في التأليف، لينسى، ولو مؤقتاً ذلك الهدير الداخلي المتصاعد سؤالاً، إلى أين؟”. هل ورثت هذا النوع من القلق الدائم؟

لا أعلم ماذا كان يقصد عمّي، رحمه الله، بكلمة “الهدير”، لكن هذا أمر لم نكن نلاحظه لدى والدي قبل المرض. لم يكن يتوقّف عن العمل أساساً لنلاحظه، لكن بدأ هذا الأمر بعد أن رأى الموت وعاد منه أكثر من مرّة. خضع لعمليات دقيقةٍ جدّاً وخرج منها. ما كان متل الأول، بس ما كنّا متوقعين ولا حدا كان هلقد متأمّل إنو يتحسّن.

في الفترة بعد العملية كان يسأل عن الإيمان: في الله؟ ما في الله؟ شغلتو ومشغلتو، وبالفضاء الخارجي شو في؟ يعني صار عاطيه جزء من وقته. يقعد مع ناس مطّلعين بمجالات معيّنة. وكان أحياناً يؤمن وأحياناً يشكّك، وعندما يشكّك يكون ميت رعبة، يقللي “ما هيئتو فيه شي، يعني.. متل ما الله بيريد”.

– هل تُبقي مسافةً بينك وبين هذه الأسئلة؟
أعتقد أن كل إنسان يصل ليسأل هذه الأسئلة في مرحلة معيّنة من حياته. بس إنو ما كتير تاخد من الوقت.

– لديك حاجة دائمة للتأليف؟
بالموسيقى، إي. دون أن يطلب منّي أحد شيئاً. إذا ألّفت، يكون عادةً موسيقى، وليس كلاماً. من 10 أشياء، تكون تسعة موسيقى وواحدة كلمة. لكن بسبب العمل في الصحافة، أكتب، لكن لا يكون الكلام خارجاً بسهولة الموسيقى.

– متى يكون التأليف أسهل والإنتاج أغزر، في حالات الحرب أم في حالات السلم؟ وماذا يحصل في مثل حالتنا، عندما تكون الأشياء معلّقة بين الاثنين؟
لا أعرف ما هو السبب، لكنّ معظم ما اشتغلته كان في فترات ذروة التوتّر.

ليس من الضروري أن تكون كلّها أشياء جيدة، لكن عندما تكون الأوضاع مائلة نحو “الرواق”، بيصير الواحد متل الوضع. هلأ عم نشتغل. منذ سنة، سنتين، نعمل في ظروف “عاطلة كتير”. لكن نعمل على مشاريع صغيرة قدر الإمكان، لا تكون فيها مغامرات. نعزف في أماكن يرتادها 100 شخص، مثلاً. لكن معظم العمل في التأليف. ونلعب موسيقى فقط لنبقى قادرين أن نجمع أربعة أو خمسة موسيقيّين ونجد كل أسبوع أو اثنين مكاناً صغيراً لنعزف فيه، يعرف عنها الناس عبر الـ “sms” أحياناً، لا إعلانات حتى.

في فيلم “همسات” لمارون بغدادي، تقول بأنّ الأشياء في الحرب تكون أوضح، هل تعني الانقسامات، الصح والخطأ؟
مزبوط. الناس يكونون أكثر صراحة أيضاً. يعني عم يعبّروا عن شو حاسّين أكتر من وقت السلم والكذب.

قمت بتأليف موسيقى تصويرية لأفلام مثل “وقائع العام المقبل”، “نهلة”، “طيارة من ورق”…
من أحسن الأفلام كان “وقائع العام المقبل” لسمير ذكرى، لكنّه لم يكن شعبياً، ولم يُعرض في لبنان، لا أعرف لماذا. ليس من السهل إيجاده. فيلم “نهلة”، أقدم فيلم في الحرب. فيه خرجت أغنية “وحدن” لأوّل مرة، كان طولها دقيقة واحدة. رونزا طنب غنّت عن الممثلة. وأغنية “خدني معك يا حب” أيضاً، والتي غنّتها لطيفة لاحقاً.

ستكون كل هذه الأمور مرفوعةً على الموقع الرسمي، لأنّ كميّة الأمور المطبوعة لا تشكّل أكثر من ثلاثين في المئة ممّا ألفته. كلّها طلعت أشياء لا تهمّ المنتجين ليطبعوها.

موسيقى فيلم “طيارة من ورق” لرندا الشهال، الله يرحمها، وكان قد ربح جوائزاً، لا تهمّ موسيقاه أحداً.

وهناك قبله فيلم “متحضّرات” لرندا، عملت على موسيقاه. لكنّه لم يُعرَض أصلاً، لأن جميل السيد منع عرضه بسبب جملة اعتبر أنّها تحوي شتائم “طائفية”. عرض للصحافيين، ولم ينزل إلى الصالات. موسيقاه مشغولة بآلات قليلة، لكن بطريقةٍ جيّدة.

– هل يختلف تأليف الموسيقى للصورة عن التأليف دون قيود القصة والمشهدية؟
لا يختلف كثيراً بالنسبة لي. ليش ليكذّب الواحد، أحياناً يكون هناك قطع موجودة، يعطونك فيلماً، نسمعهم الموسيقى، هل هي مناسبة؟ بيقولولك إي هيدي فظيعة معمولة ع القدّ. بتكون معمولة مش لوَلا سبب، بس بتزبط، لأنّ الموسيقى مطاطة كثيراً.

مثال على ذلك، إذا استمعت إلى قطعة موسيقية اسمها “الخريف”، لكنّك لا تعرفين عنوانها، وقيل لك إنّها “الربيع”، فستعطيك انطباعاً بأنّها الربيع. لا أستطيع أن أثبت لكِ أنّها الخريف، هذا ما أقصده بأن الموسيقى مطاطة. وإذا أتينا بثلاثة أو أربعة موسيقيين وطلبنا منهم التأليف للصورة نفسها، من الممكن أن يخرجوا بنتائج قريبة أو بنتائج مختلفة بعيدة تماماً.

في أسطوانة “كيفك إنتَ” يوجد تراك عبارة عن تسجيل لبروفة الأغنية. في أغنية “سلّملي عليه” تقول فيروز: “أنا عم غنّي المذهب، ولمّا بغنّي ردّوا عليه”. هل هذه الإضافات هي إضافات مقصودة، بغرض تقريب فيروز من الناس؟
بروفة “كيفك إنت” أخدت شغل قدّ الأسطوانة كلّها، لأنّ فيروز لا تتكلّم.

لم تكن مقصودة كثيراً، لكن ممكن أن نقول ذلك. عم نقول عم نسجّل، وهيدي غنية مش مأساة يعني. لم يكن هناك سبب غير أن يسمع الناس فيروز قليلاً وهي على طبيعتها، لأنّها لا تطل في الإعلام. ليسمعوها تتكلّم. وهي ما معها خبر، سمّعتها ياها بس خلصت، وأخدت معي وقت منيح، كلّها قص وتلزيق لأنّو. كانت تسجّل صوتها على الأغنية، وقمت بأمور عدّة كي لا تنتبه هي، وكي تضطر للتكلّم. أسألها: “كيف سامعة حالك؟”، فتجاوب. جلست كمهندس صوت معها، وقلت لجوزف سمور، رحمه الله، خلّيك أنا بسجّلها اليوم، لأنه كان سيُتفضح، فأبقيت مسجّلة جانباً وغطّيتها. ثمّ صرت أسألها: “منيح هيك؟”، فتقول لي: “إي، إي تمام”. أنا لم يكن صوتي مسموعاً في التسجيل، فأعدت تسجيل كلامي لاحقاً، عندما خرجت هي، وألصقته. شو المفاجأة، إنو بس سمّعتا ياهن، ولا كلمة هي، قاعدة، صارت تتبسّم وتجرّب تخبّي.. إنو عجبتها وما بدها تقول، بس خلصت قالت لي: “بتعرف كانت بتطلع أحسن لو عارفة”. قلت لها: “والله؟”، وأنا عارفها ما بتحكي كلمة ع الميكروفون. مثلاً تقول “مرّق” مش “مرّق الشريط”، بتصير تختصر.

عندها انطباع إنو حتى أنا ممكن سجّلها شي برّاني، ما بتأمّن لحدا يعني. فنفدت فيها هي وقتها. في وقت ما تقول: “في من مجاميعو“، وهي تضحك. لا أحد ولا أنا فهم ما تقصده، لكنه كان عكس صورتها عموماً. حتى قليل ما عندها صورة مبتسمة فيروز.

– هذا يعطي صورةً أقرب وأكثر حميميّةً عنها أمام الناس، كأنّها تجلس معهم.
نعم، وهذا كان في وقت يوجد حملة على الكلام، وعلى “كيفك إنت” تحديداً. اتّهمونا بأننا أدخلنا كلاماً مسفّاً. كلمة “كيفك إنت” عملوا عليها قصّة. كيف بتقول شي زقاقي لهالدرجة، هيك سمّوه وهيك انكتب بصحف. وبما أنّنا كنّا متهمين في كل الأحوال، اسمعوها كيف تتكلّم أيضاً. كانت هذه ممنوعات، إحدى الجرائد كتبت أنّ الأغنية تشجّع على الخيانة الزوجية. يا خيي قصّة هيدي كلها، غنيّة، وفي غنيّة تانية بتصير ملكة بترا، هي ذاتها.

– دائماً ما يُقال بأنّك “مثيرٌ للجدل”.
بعض الأشخاص يسمعون كلمة ويبدأون بنقلها عن بعض. بدنا نشوف أول واحد قايلها ليه قايلها. جدّ، في ناس بيجي سلف بيقلّك: “إنت مثير للجدل”. وين سامعها هيدي؟

– هل يكون الحب بمثالية أغنية مثل “بلا ولا شي” مثلاً، التي يحبها الناس كثيراً؟
أنا بحسّها مزبوطة. لو كانت الحياة بهذه البساطة، لكانت المشاكل أقل. بالنهاية، شخصين بدّن يعيشوا مع بعضن رح يكونوا مع بعض بتكّة، بوضع كتير حميم، رح يكونوا بلا كل شي.

غريبة هذه الأغنية، عندما أدّيناها في سوريا، اشتهرت في لبنان. عندما ذهبنا في العام 2008، كانوا قد وضعوا لائحة بأغانٍ يتمنون أن نضمّنها الحفل، وكانت على رأس اللائحة. سألتهم لماذا، فقالوا إنّ هذه الأغنية يطلبها الناس في كلّ الأعراس هناك. هذا في الوقت الذي أتى إليّ أحدهم في لبنان، منذ سنتين فقط، ليقول لي: “السنة أحسن غنيتين عاملهم هنّي سلّملي عليه وبلا ولا شي”. شو بدك تقوليله؟ يا ريت ما قلّلي عن هالنوع من الإعجاب.

– الجمهور السوري هو الأقرب إلى أعمالك وأعمال فيروز؟
أكيد. الأقرب لشغل الرحابنة. علاقتهم بالموسيقى كلها، يوجد دولة ويوجد معهد. يسمعون فيروز في كل مكان.

زياد وبيروت
قدمت إليها في عمر السابعة عشرة، كما قمت بنقل نفوسي إلى هنا، وانتبهت بعد 30 عاماً أنّني عشت هنا أكثر بكثير من أنطلياس. انتظرت سنتين حتى تمّ نقل النفوس، يدرسون ديموغرافياً التوازن الطائفي، وأنا شخص واحد! يعني زاد واحد روم أرثوذكس على منطقة راس بيروت، بدن يشوفوا كيف بدي أثّر ع التعايش، والله العظيم، شي ما بيتصدق. نعم، متعبة الحياة في بيروت، لكن محيط الحيّ هنا كتير لذيذ، مخلوط كتير، وفي ناس بقيت ما تركت كل الحرب.

– قال زياد مرّة:

“أنا ما عم جرب غيّر البلد ولا عم جرّب غيّر شي، أنا عم جرّب بس ما خلّي هالبلد يغيرني. هيدي وحدها إذا بتزبط معي يعني انتصار لنفسي أولاً”.

زياد لا يريد أن تغيّره البلد، ويضيف: استأجرت خارج بيروت، لأنّني شعرت أنّها ممكن أن تغيّر. حسيت إنو رح بلّش صير كذّاب، بتقولي هي الكذبة بتمرقيها، والموبايل بيعوّد عالكذب كمان. تقول هذه كذبة بيضاء، 3-4 كذبات بيض بعدين بيبلّش يغيّر لونهم. استأجرت خارج بيروت، في الجبل، أفضل بكثير. أولاً لا يوجد زحمة ناس كما هنا، ولا يأتون ليطرقوا الباب بلا موعد.

الأخلاق والحب
عن التعبير الأمثل عن الأخلاق، يقول الرحباني: آه صعبة، القاعدة الأساس. في الفلسفة يقولون لنا هناك أنا والآخرون. الأخلاق قاعدة الأساس التي لا يختلف عليها الماديون ولا الروحيون ولا غيرهم. وإلا يأكل الناس بعضهم البعض. إذا أردت أن تصفي لبنان لأجنبي، لنخبره شو إشبو البلد، كارثة إنو نخبره عن الوضع، ومن وين بدك تبلّشي، بتقوليله: “الأخلاق”. لأنها مشتركة في كل المجالات. المشترك الفاشل هو الأخلاق. ناس متل سليم الحص مثلاً بتلاقيهن بيغيبوا وبيرجعوا، وإذا بدن يحكوا شي، بيبلشوا بهَي. بتحسيهن عم يوعظوا، بس مزبوط. لا يوجد شيء آخر يسبب ما نراه. يعني قليلة السيارة الوحيدة اللي بتوقّفلك إذا طالعة من صفّة هي اللي بدها تصف محلّك؟

ثم عن التعبير الأمثل عن الحبّ، يجيب تلقائياً:

والله، ما فيني قلّك شي. كنت أعرف كذا تعبير، طلعوا كلّن ما بيطعموا خبز. لكن الأكيد أن الحياة بتكون أحسن بوجوده. شي بحسّه متل الخبز والمي المفروض يكون، بس أنا الحمد لله ماشي ريجيم.

وبيصير ينغرم بالجملة الواحد، للحاجة لأن يحب، بيصير مين ما شاف بيقول آه هيدا هوّي. كل إنسان يعيش الوحدة أو الفراغ في مرحلة ما، يصير يُغرم بأكثر من شخص بالوقت نفسه.

البيانيست زياد الرحباني
نذكّر زياد بما قاله للجمهور في حفلة صور، بشيء من الانفعال: “أنا مش فرخ البط عوّام، ولا مسبّع القارات.. بتمنّى بس دقّ ع هالبيانو“.

عن أمنيته الحقّة، يقول: كان طموحي بداية الحرب أن أصبح “بيانيست”، وليس مؤلفاً. كنا نصيّف في بكفيّا، كان جارنا يعزف بيانو، كلاسيك، اسمه وليد عقل، رحمه الله. وجار آخر، اسمه وليد حوراني، درس في موسكو. فكان حلمي أن أكون مثلهما وأكمل دراستي في الخارج لأكون عازف بيانو.

لم أكن أفكّر بالتأليف حينها. وبعدني لهلأ أكتر شغلة بحسّ فيا، أحسن من التأليف وأقل وجع رأس، هي أنك تعزف مع غيرك، ترافق حدا عم بيغنّي، تعزف مع فرقة. هذا الأمر الأكثر سلاسة. من الناحية العملية، جدّ، نياله اللي بيعرف آلة. لأنه مع آلة لا ينتبه المرء للوقت. أتمنى لو يعرف كل مواطن آلة، أكيد الأزمات بتكون أخفّ عليه. لأنّك تكتشفين أن هذا الأمر، الذي لا أحرف فيه، تفهمه كل الشعوب على بعضها البعض، حتى إن لم يفهموا لغوياً. شغلة منّا هينة.

Should Joan Baez endorse Bernie Sanders?

Pledged my allegiance not to a flag or a nation state but to humankind

 Joan Baez· April 7, 2016 at 7:12am ·

I’ve had conflicting feelings as to whether or not I should officially endorse Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

I would be making this decision for only the second time in my life.

The first time was for Barack Obama, the master of the spoken word whose brilliance (and smile) brought people together and ignited our spirits for the first time in decades. Aside from endorsing Barack Obama, I have refused to step into the arena of party politics.

My choice, from an early age, has been to engage in social change from the ground up, using the power of organized nonviolence.

A distrust of the political process was firmly in place by the time I was 15. As a daughter of Quakers I pledged my allegiance not to a flag or a nation state but to humankind, the two often having little to do with each other.

Ideally, both Obama and Sanders could have used their unique gifts to build a grass roots movement, sidestepping the Oval Office and going directly to the streets to organize from the sidewalks, street corners, living rooms and churches.

Gandhi himself refused to be part of the newly formed Independent India government after he led the country to independence, and remained committed to nonviolent opposition.

Can a true political revolution ever start from within the party system?

It does seem like an insurmountable contradiction. And to imagine that more than a fraction of Bernie’s agenda could ever come to fruition is probably setting expectations too high.

Yet Bernie has won my heart.

He supports causes in which I have been personally involved for decadesI take great strength from his firm stance against the death penalty, (amazing!) his belief that Palestinians should have a place at the bargaining table, (unheard of!) his understanding that the prison system must transform its agenda from punishment to rehabilitation,

his desire to treat immigrants as human beings, and of course by his grass roots funding and astonishing refusal to sell himself to the devil on Wall Street, or anywhere else for that matter.

I am profoundly moved by this elder statesman, his compelling honesty, and his ability to engage young people.

Why am I not spending my time trying to woo Bernie into grass roots organizing?

For the moment I’m going with my heart, which I mentioned, he has won. I am not sold on “the system” and never will be. I’m sold on the guy from Brooklyn.

I’ve learned a lot while writing this piece. I know that I am ambivalent about supporting someone who will be thrown to the lions if he wins.

He is a lion in his own right, and I want to see him win. Not just to conquer the growing evil in the other party, but also to see what he can do to bend the system towards a less corrupt and more generous country than we are at present.

I joyfully and wholeheartedly endorse Bernie Sanders to be the nominee for the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential Election.

-Joan Baez

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Did Gabo marry Mercedes Barcha?

In his memoire “Live to recount it”, late Gabriel Garcia Marquez finished his book with this page:

On my way to the airport of Barranquilla to Geneva, I saw Mercedes Barcha sitting on the front porch of her house. It was 7 am and she was wearing a green robe and her hair was cut “sparrow wings” style.

I didn’t stop to bid her farewell. I wrote her a short letter with a post-scriptum “If within a month I don’t receive a letter from you, I’ll remain in Europe for remainder of my life” and dropped the letter in the airport letterbox.

A week later, I received a response letter

Note 1: Gabo stayed in Paris for 3 years when he was supposed to stay in Geneva for 4 days covering the meeting of the 4 superpower leaders. He lived in Mexico City until his death and had children and where he finished writing 100 Years of Solitude.

Note 2: Gabo lived precariously in Paris. He wrote: Je ne m’etait jamais rendu compte que j’ étais un sans-papiers et loge a la meme enseigne que les millions de déplacés par la violence

Note 3: Many dailies in Columbia supported the carrier of Gabo as journalist, columnist, movie critic and reporter. In Barranquilla, German Vargas discovered the potentials of Gabo, then Alfonso Fuenmayor, and Alvaro Cepeda. In Bogota, at L’Espectador, of the family of Cano, you have Rogelio Echavarria, Jose Salgar, Alvaro Mutis, Edwardo Zalamea, Felipe Gonzalez Toledo, Dario Bautista and photographer Daniel Rodriguez

Note 4: Barcha means Very Much in the Tunisian dialect




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