Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews

What this blog is About?

Updated “About” (August 2 /2020)

I started this blog on September 17, 2008.

This blog is about: “Who I was, what I did, what did I think, how did I grew…”

This blog is about: “Who I am, what I am doing, how I think, what are my positions, politically, economically, fairness and equitability in political systems”

I dabbed in all kinds of jobs, you name it, from the “lowest” in order to pay my fees and lodging for studies in universities, to the higher kinds of jobs. Apparently, none of the jobs gave me this feeling that “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life”: I could Not discover any kind of retaining passions to last in any professional job.

The total number of articles published so far has reached 9,300 posts and the total number of hits has crossed two million views and the average daily hits is over 600 per day. The number of steady followers increased to 550

You have choices among 45 categories to navigate around, included my autobiography and edited as new facts and memories surge.  I added the sub-category “Travel/Excursion

I got a new life of publishing what I had  expressed in years of writing for myself.  I now have to consider my target audience of readers who patronize my blog:  There is a dividing line between writing and publishing, because responsibility to others comes in publishing.

Recently, I added a new category “Daydream Projects“:  Just imagine this gigantic brainstorm networking sessions if a small fraction of mankind decides to publish their daydreaming projects with plenty of details. Wouldn’t daydreaming be considered a very productive endeavors?

I also added the categories “Time for Outrage” and Pets

I post on average of 10 articles per week (articles of mine, links from various social platforms after editing and adding my comments). I figured out that every new post generates around 100 hits within a year, and keeps increasing fast.

You may enjoy the category poems (poems of mine, and translated poems from Arabic and French into English). I had posted my autobiography, two novels, short stories, and plenty of detailed book reviews.

I feel blessed confronted with many obstacles:  I was for a long time penniless but  kept publishing, and was associated with the most abject financial condition I have experienced… I am graced of feeling the same zest in publishing almost everyday.

I do read and write every day in three languages English, French, and Arabic.  I read books, small and large, old and current, classical and common, biased and “balanced”. And spend 3 hours per day reading and taking notes in Libraries

I read dailies and their editorials. I read magazines, serious ones and tabloids. I used to keep up to date with the weekly French “Courrier International“, bi-weekly, and monthly issues, including  the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique“, “Science et Vie”…when they were available.

I uncover nuggets in almost all my readings and then report my notes and comments after elaboration, analysis, and exercising my individual reflection.

Lately, I have been publishing my notes and comments on Facebook and Twitter under the title Tidbits.

The category “Diary” contains the articles I wrote before I got into blogging in 2008.

Recently a few friends decided to post their memories on FB and I shared them on my blog under the title “Mon cher Ado”

My posts are No cut and paste gimmicks, and they lack pictures unless provided by a link, images and videos: I don’t have the tools for recommended visual inputs, and I have no patience for navigating the net.

Whatever I receive, I edit it, comment on it and highlight the main points.

I understand that the task of publishing carries responsibility to the general public and I have to do my due diligence in reading a lot, reflecting, and exposing various views and perspectives before extending my current convictions.

I have been writing for my own pleasure for years, such as short poems, diaries, and got into introspection in order to get in touch with my emotions and my models on life, universe, and a sustainable earth within my history growth context.  WordPress.com made it easy to taking the drastic plunge into communicating with the public.

It is a daily communion that starts by receiving comments before offering opinions, and do reply to developed opinions and comments.

I am reminded that life exercises its cyclical rights and I wish your ebbing period would not last longer than necessary, and that it would not affect your optimism.

I wish that you have a support system to remind you that life is wonderful, it is beautiful, and it is exciting.  There is a tomorrow but surely not better than today, since you are still alive!

I realized that publishing electronically is not considered by many political institutions as serious matter, since many do not navigate fast communication mediums on a wide scale yet; as if people still read hard copy manuscripts or dailies!

If you are interested in reading biographies of people “Not famous” or “Not glamorous”, then you may also enjoy reading my auto-biography titled “Introspection of a confused man”.

Anyway, most of my categories that are Not related to politics, history, religions, sciences, engineering, health, or book reviews are about myself.

It appears that my Book Reviews category is the most favored so far; closely trailed by political articles, social articles, sex/seduction categories, and religious topics.

I earned a PhD degree in Industrial/Human Factors/ system design engineering. That was in 1990 from the USA  and a couple of Masters in Physics and Operation Research, but I refused to practice until recently when I decided to teach in universities and had this lovely opportunity to write over 50 engineering articles published in the category “Professional articles“, “Human Factors in Engineering” and lately in the category “Engineering/research”.

I realized that I love best to read and disseminate what I write, and wordpress.com was the ideal platform to initiate people to publishing and expressing their opinions without any kinds of censorship.

I wish the publishers of articles and bloggers to keep in mind the dividing line between writing for comprehending and reflecting on their own positions and feelings, and just publishing.

I read and write daily, a lot, and hit libraries and follow up on news and editorials and feel serious on disseminating what I read.  I even summarize controversial books and offer my opinions ; yes, I love to be controversial, otherwise I might just rot.

A sample of a translated poem:

Your blue sea eyes

On the deck of your blue eyes is raining

Audible vibrating lights.

On the port of your blue eyes,

From a tiny open window,

A view of faraway birds swarming,

Searching for yet undiscovered islands.

On the deck of your blue eyes

Summer snow is falling.

I am a kid jumping over rocks

Deeply inhaling the sea wind

And then returns like a weary bird.

On the port of your blue eyes

I dream of oceans and navigation.

If I were a seafarer

If anyone lent me a boat

I would surely ease up my boat closer

To your blue sea eyes

Every sundown.

Note 1: This poem is an abridged free translation from Arabic of the famous late Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani.

Note 2: You may reach me on adonisbouh@gmail.com

Updated “About” (Oct. 29/2013)

I started this blog on September 17, 2008.  The total number of articles published has reached 3,800 posts and the total number of hits is  over 290,000, and the daily hits have crossed the 400 mark.

You have choices among 42 categories to navigate around. Recently, on September 12, I added a new category “Daydream Projects“:  Just imagine this gigantic brainstorm networking sessions if a small fraction of mankind decides to publish their daydreaming projects with plenty of details. Wouldn’t daydreaming be considered a very productive endeavors?

I post on average of 10 new articles per week and I have been posting a list of articles published each week with the proper ready links for viewing.  I figured out that every new post generates 75 hits within a year, and keeps increasing fast.

You may enjoy the category poems (poems of mine, and translated ones from Arabic or French). I had posted my autobiography, two novels, short stories, and plenty of detailed book reviews.

Last year was the most glorious year in my life.

Penniless but publishing, and associated with the most abject financial condition I have experienced… I am graced of feeling the same zest in publishing almost everyday, kind of 2 posts per day, just not to overwhelm the reader with more reading.

I do read and write in three languages English, French, and Arabic.  I read books, small and large, old and current, classical and common, biased and “balanced”.  I read dailies and their editorials. I read magazines, serious ones and tabloids, the weekly French “Courrier International“, bi-weekly, and monthly issues, including  the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique“, “Science et Vie”

I uncover nuggets in almost all my readings and then report themes after elaboration, analysis, and exercising my individual reflection.

My posts are no cut and paste gimmicks, and they lack pictures, images and videos: I don’t have the tools for recommended visual inputs, and I have no patience for navigating the net. You may start accessing my Home page and then select one of the categories of your interest and navigate from there.  I added the category “Time for Outrage“.

I understand that the task of publishing carries responsibility to the general public and I have to do my due diligence in reading a lot, reflecting, and exposing various views and perspectives before extending my current convictions.

I have been writing for my own pleasure for years, such as short poems, diaries, and attempts to introspection in order to get in touch with my emotions and my models on life, universe, and a sustainable earth within my history growth context.  WordPress.com made it easy to taking the drastic plunge into communicating with the public.

It is a daily communion that starts by receiving comments before offering opinions, and do reply to developed opinions and comments.  I am reminded that life exercises its cyclical rights and I wish your ebbing period would not last longer than necessary, and that it would not affect your optimism.

I wish that you have a support system to remind you that life is wonderful, it is beautiful, and it is exciting.  There is a tomorrow but surely not better than today, since you are still alive!

I realized that publishing electronically is not considered by many political institutions as serious matter, since many do not navigate fast communication mediums on a wide scale yet; as if people read hard copy manuscripts or dailies!  Well, I got a new life of publishing what I had  expressed in years of writing for myself.  I now have to consider my target audience of readers who patronize my blog:  There is a dividing line between writing and publishing, because responsibility to others comes in publishing.

If you are interested in reading biographies of people “Not famous” or “Not glamorous”, then you may also enjoy reading my auto-biography titled “Introspection of a confused man”.

Anyway, most of my categories that are not related to politics, history, religions, sciences, engineering, health, or book reviews are about myself.   It appears that my Book Reviews category is the most favored so far; closely trailed by sex/seduction categories, and religious topics.

I earned a PhD degree in Industrial/Human Factors/ system design engineering, over 20 years ago from the USA but I refused to practice until recently when I decided to teach in universities and had this lovely opportunity to write over 50 engineering articles published in the category “Professional articles“, “Human Factors in Engineering” and lately in the category “Engineering/research”.

I realized that I love best to read and disseminate what I wrote, and wordpress.com was the ideal platform to initiating people to publishing and expressing their opinions without any kinds of censorship.  I wish the publishers of articles and bloggers to keep in mind the dividing line between writing for comprehending and reflecting on their own positions and feelings, and just publishing.

I read and write daily, a lot, and hit libraries and follow up on news and editorials and feel serious on disseminating what I read.  I even summarize controversial books and offer my opinions ; yes, I love to be controversial, otherwise I might just rot.

A sample of a translated poem:

Your blue sea eyes

On the deck of your blue eyes is raining

Audible vibrating lights.

On the port of your blue eyes,

From a tiny open window,

A view of faraway birds swarming,

Searching for yet undiscovered islands.

On the deck of your blue eyes

Summer snow is falling.

I am a kid jumping over rocks

Deeply inhaling the sea wind

And then returns like a weary bird.

On the port of your blue eyes

I dream of oceans and navigation.

If I were a sea farer

If anyone lent me a boat

I would surely ease up my boat closer

To your blue sea eyes

Every sundown.

Note: This poem is an abridged free translation from Arabic of the famous late Syrian poet Nizar Kabbani.

Emilia’s loathing 

            In the first two years my marriage was perfect. It felt that our deep and complete accord of our senses mingled with this silence of the spirit; critics of our personalities were suspended; love was the sole judge of the partner.  Emilia was absolutely without any defects; I wanted to believe that my behavior was shared. Certainly that we had plenty of defects but they were transformed into benign, forgivable, or even particular qualities that enhanced our individualities.

            The happier we feel the less we pay attention to the grace of our felicity; indeed, I might have many moments of boredom in our relationship; it seemed common and natural, nothing that special, like the air we breathe. People would envy me for my state of happiness and I would retort that I lacked the security of the morrow: I was in a tight financial predicament as a movie critic and we barely managed to go out see a movie. We lived in a rented furnished room; my wife had to use the owner’s kitchen to prepare breakfast. Never did I lament as during the first two glorious years of my happiness.

            To my eyes, my wife Emilia was a beautiful secretary when I fell in love with her.  She was not that tall; bared off her long heels her head reached my shoulders, but she had this supple grace and “majesty” that made her look much taller and impressive than most girls that I had met. Emilia was especially taller in bed, more packed, rounded, and powerful, though I knew very well that she had nothing of the massive. In moments of abandon her large sensual chestnut colored eyes expressed a state of loss and displacement.

            Emilia came from a poor family and kept our room constantly clean and shining.  She made my small study her exclusive care: my papers, desk, and books were arranged to lure me to work. Emilia was mostly silent; she barely laughed or smiled but managed to disseminate her feelings by body postures and the expressions on her face: she was barely educated and her world opinions were limited.

            At the time I let my grunge and intellectual looks boast for my potential future as an illustrious artistic personality. My corrective glasses and slender high stature might have contributed to my imagination.  I could not afford to buy an apartment as I felt was Emilia’s deepest wants, her own residence to furnish, maintain, and cherish.  I recall now that during our engagement her eyes got wet when I told her that I barely could rent a small apartment: she was longing for a place of her own and quickly.

            I managed to put down a deposit on a modern apartment of two rooms and a tiny kitchen.  When we visited together for the first time our potential dusty and unfurnished apartment Emilia joined me at the window and asked me to hug her; it was a displaced tender and overt behavior on her part.  We kissed passionately and then Emilia demanded: “take me now”.  She promptly removed her skirt and tops and we made love on the dirty floor.  I had never felt that passion in Emilia; it felt as if she was returning the gratitude for an extended expensive gift. Surely, I had the apartment in Emilia’s name.

            I have never felt that despondent and miserable as the first months after we purchased the apartment: I was permanently worried about the next payment.  Emilia did not help any: she increased her shopping excursion to buy furniture.  She was perfectly aware of my financial predicaments but she acted nonchalant and perfectly an “egoist” to me.  Gone was the period I was lording it as a potential famous intellectual; the feeling of the harsh reality that I was an utterly penniless person, a non-entity, overtook me. I started to listen to the opinions of the opposition political parties that lambasted governments, services, and the social inequities. (More is to follow).

 

Note:  This story is taken, with some alterations, from “The loathing” (Le mepris) by Alberto Moravia.

Emilia demanded: “Take me …”, (September 17, 2009)

In the first two years my marriage was perfect. It felt that our deep and complete accord of our senses mingled with this silence of the spirit; critics of our personalities were suspended; love was the sole judge of the partner.  Emilia was absolutely without any defects; I wanted to believe that my behavior was shared. Certainly that we had plenty of defects but they were transformed into benign, forgivable, or even particular qualities that enhanced our individualities.

The happier we feel the less we pay attention to the grace of our felicity; indeed, I might have many moments of boredom in our relationship; it seemed common and natural, nothing that special, like the air we breathe. People would envy me for my state of happiness and I would retort that I lacked the security of the morrow: I was in a tight financial predicament as a movie critic and we barely managed to go out see a movie. We lived in a rented furnished room; my wife had to use the owner’s kitchen to prepare breakfast. Never did I lament as during the first two glorious years of my happiness.

To my eyes, my wife Emilia was a beautiful secretary when I fell in love with her.  She was not that tall; bared off her long heels her head reached my shoulders, but she had this supple grace and “majesty” that made her look much taller and impressive than most girls that I had met. Emilia was especially taller in bed, more packed, rounded, and powerful, though I knew very well that she had nothing of the massive. In moments of abandon her large sensual chestnut colored eyes expressed a state of loss and displacement.

Emilia came from a poor family and kept our room constantly clean and shining.  She made my small study her exclusive care: my papers, desk, and books were arranged to lure me to work. Emilia was mostly silent; she barely laughed or smiled but managed to disseminate her feelings by body postures and the expressions on her face: she was barely educated and her world opinions were limited.

At the time I let my grunge and intellectual looks boast for my potential future as an illustrious artistic personality. My corrective glasses and slender high stature might have contributed to my imagination.  I could not afford to buy an apartment as I felt was Emilia’s deepest wants, her own residence to furnish, maintain, and cherish.  I recall now that during our engagement her eyes got wet when I told her that I barely could rent a small apartment: she was longing for a place of her own and quickly.

I managed to put down a deposit on a modern apartment of two rooms and a tiny kitchen.  When we visited together for the first time our potential dusty and unfurnished apartment Emilia joined me at the window and asked me to hug her; it was a displaced tender and overt behavior on her part.  We kissed passionately and then Emilia demanded: “take me now”.  She promptly removed her skirt and tops and we made love on the dirty floor.  I had never felt that passion in Emilia; it felt as if she was returning the gratitude for an extended expensive gift. Surely, I had the apartment in Emilia’s name.

I have never felt that despondent and miserable as the first months after we purchased the apartment: I was permanently worried about the next payment.  Emilia did not help any: she increased her shopping excursion to buy furniture.  She was perfectly aware of my financial predicaments but she acted nonchalant and perfectly an “egoist” to me.

Gone was the period I was lording it as a potential famous intellectual; the feeling of the harsh reality that I was an utterly penniless person, a non-entity, overtook me. I started to listen to the opinions of the opposition political parties that lambasted governments, services, and the social inequities. (More is to follow).

Note:  This story is taken, with some alterations, from “The loathing” (Le mepris) by Alberto Moravia.

“I was virgin to horror when I signed up…” (September 11, 2009)

 

            It is Arthur’s fault. I was minding my own business. Arthur insisted on inviting me for a cup of espresso.  He was saying “People in Paris give the impression of being busy; in fact they go for walks from morning to evening. When the weather is not appropriate for walks, when it is too cold or too hot, you never see them on the streets or anywhere. They are in their homes drinking coffee. They say it is the century of speed, of great changes; where are they? People keep admiring one another; that is all.”  And then he said “I don’t like politics. If my country asks me to shed my blood then I will be ready. The French race is a good one.” I retorted “You are wrong. This supposed race is a collection of miserable people in transit who were hunted by hunger, cholera, and the cold and happened to settle here: they could not cross the sea.” Arthur said “Our forefathers were better than us and we owe them respect.”  I replied “We have never changed. We do not change our socks, our masters, or opinions. We are born loyal; free soldiers of talking chimps, and hero for the entire world. King Misery clamp down on us when we do not prove to be sensible.”  Arthur said “There is still love”.  I vehemently replied “Love is the infinite accessible only for poodles.  I have composed a poem titled Wings in Gold.

            A God counting the minutes and the pennies,

            A God desperate, sensual, and growling like a pig.

            A pig with gold wings that keeps falling everywhere,

            Stomach up, and ready to be caressed.

            It is He our Master. Let’s hug him.

 

            It happened that a Colonel mounted on a white horse was heading a regiment in front of the Café. People were throwing rice and flowers on them.  I followed this regiment until it started raining and people vanished from around this exhibition. I had second thought to leave the regiment but once you are caught in then there is no escape and I was stuck as war recruit or volunteer.

            Once you are in then you get used to your new life.  They made me ride horses for two months and then they demanded that I start walking. One morning, the orderly of the Colonel borrowed the Colonel horse and never showed up.  We are walking on the road and I saw two black dots at the end of the road.  They were firing at us; I realized they are Germans who have been firing at us for some time; they are evidently lousy shots. My Colonel must have known why these Germans were shooting at us; possibly the Germans knew also; I didn’t know anything. I have nothing against Germans: I studied with German kids with shifty pale blue eyes like the wolves. We drank sugary beer; but to end up firing at me! This is not nice.

            The Colonel resumed his walks, head high, as if nothing the matter.  And then one of the bullets scraped my head. In these kinds of stories there is nothing to do but to flee. I never in my life felt so useless; a universal joke.

            I was 20 of age and wandering in the countryside.  I was virgin in my passions and surely pretty virgin in matters of horrors. Farms were deserted as if the owners did not want to disturb our journey in and around their homes and lands. We sort of owned everything in the land, fruit trees, chariots, cows, and even a chained dog. I always hated the countryside.  When the bullets harassed me I swore that, I may got to be a hundred, I will never set foot on any kind of countryside. I got to thinking “If the residents were here then maybe we would not be shooting at one another”.

 

            Then it dawned on me.  My Colonel is an idiot; he is a monster and worst than a dog; he could not imagine his death; he lacks imagination; he cannot visualize death.  There must be millions of idiot officers; that is why this imbecile of a war is going on. Am I the only coward in this world amid thousands of “heroic” kids wearing their metal outfits and behaving more enraged than dogs?

 

            I am more scared of our soldiers and officers than the enemy; more of us were shot and court marshaled by our own army than by the enemy; our officers always want to make example of courage! I don’t want to die my face in the mud, crap, and blood.  I don’t want to die in this desolate, dark, and cold environment.  I want to die differently. Am I not free to choose how I want to die too?

 

Note: This topic was selected from the first pages of the French novel “Journey at the end of the night” (Voyage au bout de la nuit) by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

“Once upon a time, there was a King…”  

            What else?  If not a king, then a queen, or a chivalrous knight, or a young beautiful princess, anyone that strikes the imagination of the common people who never have seen secretive “noble” individuals.  There are no new stories to invent; they were all told by the many cultures that we don’t know the languages and had never read their stories; the most enduring stories through the ages are the most common ones. Do not invent stories; just tell it.

            Once upon a time, there was a King.  The astrologer warned the King that all his children must be males or he will lose the kingdom.  The first child was a girl and she was executed.  The second child was a girl and did not survive the day.  The third child was a girl; it was becoming such a habit that control got lax and the mother got to see, hold, and feed her daughter.  This time around it was out of the question that this girl dies. The Queen bribed the executioner to save the child and fled the castle with the kid and a few servants.

            The King tracked the Queen; in his journey he had to conquer other kingdoms, burn, and maim.  One tiny kingdom resisted and the Queen refused to meet and negotiate with the invading King. The Queen of the steadfast territory was ready to burn her kingdom and to fight to the last willing men.  The daughter finally decided to meet with the King, spent the night with him, and saved her Kingdom.

            The Queen was beside herself and suspected the worst for the generosity of this cruel King. “What do you think was the end of this story?” said grand mom to the listening grandchildren. The kids wanted an ending to the story but grandmother refused to offer any: that was a mystery. No one had a satisfactory happy ending.

            As she married, Safiya told her old father-in-law the story and asked him what the ending was. He replied “I did not even know the story. Anyway, it could not be but a tragedy since incest was consummated.”  The next day, the old man relented and told Safiya that there could be an alternative happy ending; in general for one happy event there are two tragic events. 

            The ending should be decided on who must be happy the daughter, the Queen, or the King.  Should the moral Queen die? (What morality is there in the destruction of an entire population?) Should the law enforcer of King die? (What kinds of laws are so lawful to execute the supposed “traitors” for a King personal satisfaction?)  Should the daughter die in order to let her parents live “happily”?

            We try hard to find a happy ending at the detriment of our own because morality and customs decided that parents, relative, and community take precedent to our happiness.  In Greek tragedies everyone dies; in Shakespeare’s tragedies everyone dies or goes mad. 

            There is lack of imagination on the outcomes of the ending and people still flip the last page to know how the story ends.  It is so easy to let everyone die so that custom, tradition, ignorance, and censure win.  And yet, all these stupid tragedies are considered work of art for the ages.  No wonder society did not progressed at the same pace as sciences: stories fundamentally lack courageous alternatives that defy acceptable “common sense” outcomes.

 

Note 1: This story, with minor alterations, is taken from “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by the Iranian Atiq Rahimi.

 

Note 2: I won’t let this post ends without a joke.  An Afghani army recruit is asked by the sergeant “what are you carrying on your shoulder Ahmad?” The soldier replied “This is my rifle.”  The sergeant screams “This is your mother’s honor Ahmad, your sister, and your wife.”  Then the sergeant asks the next soldier “what are you holding in your arms?”  The soldier shouts “I am holding Ahmad’s mother, Ahmad’s sister, and Ahmad’s wife”. (Most probably this naïve soldier got shot in the neck at recess!)

Napoleon enters Moscow; (September 10, 2009)

 

            Napoleon Bonaparte, the self appointed Emperor of France, gathered a large army “La Grande Armee”.  This army was over 680,000 soldiers strong, including 175,000 cavalry men.  The Big Army converged from many parts of Europe to Dresden; it included 270,000 French soldiers, 20,000 Italians, 80,000 from the Rhine Confederacy, 30,000 from Poland, 30,000 from the Austrian Empire, and 20,000 from Prussia.  The objective was to punish the Russian Czar Alexander I.  No one among the politicians and the Generals saw any cause for this war.  The Czar simply was the only independent monarch in the European continent not to obey promptly to the ducats of the Emperor.  Napoleon’s avowed reason for this war was that Alexander I did not sign on a tariff treaty that bind all the other monarchies in Continental Europe and thus was alienated from the continental system.

            Napoleon declared war unilaterally on June 22, 1812 at Wilkowiski proclaiming that second Polish war has started.  The army needed 3 days to cross the Niemen River to the Russian frontier; no enemy army was waiting to give battle to Bonaparte. In Witepsk he had a second thought of postponing the invasion to next year because he sensed that it was dangerous to remain in Russia during the coming winter season.  Then, as the Czar refused to reply to his letters or envoys for negotiation Bonaparte got pretty upset; he reasoned “Moscow, the Saint City with hundreds of churches and the remaining bastion of Christianity, is 20 days march for the army.  By the time the Czar calls up his recruits he will be in Moscow.  The Czar will be forced to initiate negotiation.”

            The Russian army under Barclay refused Bonaparte battles and continued its retreat toward Moscow.  There was a battle at the city of Smolensk; Bonaparte could either attack Moscow or move toward Saint Petersbourg where the Czar resided; he opted for the Capital Moscow.  General Kutuzov replaced Barclay at the head of the Russian army.  A major battle took place on Borodino or Moskowa on September 6; the two armies were equal in numbers of about 125,000 but the Russians had strong defenses. One thousand canons from both sides are vomiting fire; 80,000 perished in 5 hours of engagement, including over 50 generals from both sides; cold rain and violent wind dominated the dark landscape. The Imperial guard of 25,000 strong did not participate in the battle; Marechal Ney exploded “Since the Emperor refuses to be a General then let him go back to Paris and be Emperor”

            Bonaparte saw Moscow on September 14; the Russian troops had vacated their Capital. Emperor Bonaparte moved in the Kremlin the next day. The third day Moscow was burned down by order of its Russian’s governor Rostopschine; all the Russian prisoners were let out of jails with ordered to burn their Capital. General Kutuzoff who had moved east returned toward Voronowo. 

            Napoleon wavered for an entire month for the next step; he could have marched to Saint Petersburg to force the Czar to negotiate but he opted to wait for the Czar to take the initiative for a political settlement.  Napoleon decided to retreat by October 18; he had ordered Marechal Mortier to blow up the Kremlin after he leaves; it was done at 1:30 am on October 23.  

            Bonaparte decided to take a different route but was forced to follow the same route to Smolensk because the troops of Kutuzoff had blocked the way.  The French army had to watch the previous battlefields; the carcasses were still strewn everywhere and the wolves were roaming.  The harsh Russian winter arrived during the long retreat. Over 300,000 of the Big Army died mostly of frost, famine, drowning, and diseases within two months of the retreat.  Of the thousands of horses only 1,500 remained. All canons, carriages, and baggage were left behind for lack of horses.

            Napoleon parted with his army and returned to Paris to take care of “revolts”. Only about 120 thousands French soldiers arrived to their homelands; there are no documents how many of the survivors lived within weeks after arriving home. Napoleon wrote to the French Senate “Your Emperor never felt healthier during the entire campaign”. 

            The Russian army could have easily captured Napoleon as prisoner and totally eliminate the remaining French regiments but it must have been a political decision to let Bonaparte return safe and sound to Paris.  Europe did not expect the disintegration of the French army so quickly and thus had no political alternatives after Napoleon.  It was better to keep Napoleon as the target enemy to unite Europe against a unique enemy than to start political infighting among the monarchs.

            The worst crossing was the Beresina River. What happened before and during the crossing of the Beresina River? Bonaparte just wrote “The French army crossed the Beresina”; period. My next post will expose the harrowing details.

 

Note: My contention for this war is simple.  Napoleon was feling terribly bored. I was the master of Europe. He was bored by his new wife Emperess Marie-Louise of Austria; he was a new dad. Administration was giving him terrible headache.  He needed a long excursion at the head of the largest army; he wanted to break new Guiness records.  This topic was from Chateaubriand.

“… Today he will dine with Mr. The Viscoun”; (August 21, 2009)

 

            Abbot Mugnier lived very well; he was dined by noble families and the illustrious writers and personalities of Paris; and his diary (Journal) was very funny. Abbot Mugnier’s maid servant was even funnier; when he died at the age of 91 the servant said: “The abbot will be very pleased with his new environment.  Today he will dine with the Viscount (meaning God)”

            Abbot or priest Mugnier was famous before WWII for his words and sentences on society, art, literature, love, rapport among people were recounted in conversations among the families in Paris and France.  He was not elegant; his shoes were square and his black frock was threadbare; he wore a tricorn hat but his behavior was ultra-mundane.  Abbot Mugnier was a snob; when his mother died he said “the aristocracy in my hometown behaved very nobly. Dukes and princes came to her funeral”.  He was aware of being a snob “Nobody ate outdoors in Paris as much as I did. I dissipated my soul in full dishes.  What a life that I am carrying on; cars, lunches, and dinners.”

            Abbot Mugnier said “I am the priest of the wedding of Cana (where Marie invited Jesus to attend); I am not the one who fast in desert.  I live among people of contradictory opinions. I have to keep a supple role but how can I preserve unity? Thus, I am Abbot Plural.  What I love in this world is the frame, the names, the beautiful residences, the reunion of fine spirits, the contact with celebrities.”  At the end of his life he wrote: “I lived at the expense of others. I am a born parasite but I managed to develop my little personality”

            Abbot Mugnier has no illusion about the prestigious personality who invites him. He says “An aristocrat can never have original talents to be a writer.  He is too satisfied. He has many servants between him and reality. He never fraternizes with things. There are no communions.”  To a certain writer he notes down: “Bloy shouted to me his misery, too much maybe.  He is conscious of his talents, too much maybe”.  With respect to Mauriac he wrote “He has not healthy enough to be a pagan”.  He confessed the countess of Noailles at her deathbed and he confessed “She told me beautiful things…What do you want, I risked giving her absolution”.  Cocteau told him “the future of literature is limpidity enriched of all the anterior complications”

            Abbot Mugnier dreaded most losing his sight “My life was reading. I am dead” (that would be my case too if I get blind).  “My job is to offering communion, reciting the rosary, and giving my blessings. Any priest can do it. The minor corner in nature seems to me closer to God.  How tiring and trying is my task.  I tell all these young women coming to confess their sins: go, go. Enough sermons and guidance, what do I know!” Abbot Mugnier married many couples and wrote: “Most of these couples do not realize that when they approach the sacred they lose their liberty”

            Malraux said “Excepting Memoirs, Journals, and diaries, what book is worth the pain of writing?”  I have published a draft of my autobiography; it should be titled “Biography of an unknown confused man”.  You may stick reading biographies of celebrities; that would please me hugely: my revenge would be that you exacerbated your regrets with packs of lies.

 

Note: The topic is from “Smell of time” (Odeur du temps) by Jean d’Ormesson.

“Bad lovers end up warriors…” (September 8, 2009)

 

            The man was shot in the neck by a comrade for a stupid angry flare up.  The man was a commander in the front for many years, liberating Afghanistan from the Soviet enemy troops. The man is now in a coma; the mullah said that he will be out of coma within two weeks. The Hero, which means the absent one, is till in bed after 16 days; he lays eyes wide open; his wife is taking care of him. She washes her husband once a day, drops medicine in his eyes three times a day; and changes the serum; serum is not generally available so that she adds salt and sugar in water for serum.

            In a few cultures, people select a black stone to talk to; they pour out their complaints and miseries; the stone is supposed to absorb patiently all their worries, pains, and frustrations. Once the stone is saturated with the secret soul searching of the individual then it chatters and the person is relived and absolved.

            The wife has been reciting one of God’s names everyday; on day 16 she is reciting “Al Qahhar” (The Dominator); she has counted the many times she repeated the name, aided by her rosary of 99 beads;  she repeats the name at nausea until she goes to bed at night. The woman has counted the numbers of rosaries before the water boy knocks at the neighbor’s door; how many times she recited the rosary before the kid on a bicycle drive through chanting “Laiti, Laiti djan, djan, you broke my heart”.  Day 17 is the turn of the name “Al Wahhab” (The Donator).

            The woman has two small daughters; the kids are not to enter their father’s room: he is sleeping and resting. The kids are frequently crying of hunger and fright. The house is quickly becoming a red battle line among the belligerent factions after the Soviet troops retreated to Russia.  When fire and shells intensify this small family scrambles to the “basement” which floods during heavy rain. The father of the Hero was proud of his children while liberating the nation but now he hates them: they are struggling for power.

            The mother of the “Hero” in coma had visited the woman’s family to engage her Hero to the cadet girl; it was not the turn of the cadet to be wed; it was not a problem; the Hero’s mother agreed on the second eldest girl; anyway the man was not to be present during the engagement: he was on the front battling the enemies and he never showed up for three long years.  The eldest girl 12 of age was given to a man of forty when the father failed to win in the quail fight.  The father adored the quails that he raised for the fights and never cared for his family.

            The mother’s Hero decided that her son should be wed after a year of engagement: it was too dangerous to leave the girl free in her parent’s house.  The woman was wed without the presence of her husband; the dagger (khanjar) of the Hero replaced him.  The married girl moved to the husband family for three years until the Hero returned from the war. All the while, the wedded girl was to sleep in the same room with her mother-in-law to guard her chastity; the newly wedded girl never was to set foot outside the house or mingle with her previous girlfriends until she moves out with her husband.

            The wife saw her husband three years out of ten; she saw her man occasionally during these three years. “I am afraid of you” was saying the woman to the man in coma. “The first night I actually saw, heard, and touched you I had my period. My aunt told me not to divulge that fact. You were totally inexperienced in intercourse and you failed many times.  You were proud of my virginity and the blood that came out of me. It was supposed to be “dirty blood” but you had no idea then.  I recall one night, I was soundly asleep and you came in drunk and you violated me; I faked to be sleeping. When you retired from me you saw blood on your tail and you struck me savagely for having my cycle and not warning you!”

            “You never allowed me to touch you when not making love.  You never permitted me to kiss you on the lips as I saw in the Indian movies;” went on the wife. “Now you are all mine and I can speak to you and you have to be listening to me.  When I left last night and removed your water supply hoping that the demon Israel would come and finally fetch you I felt so relieved and sad simultaneously.  Today, I know that I am relieved to see you alive: I can now divulge to you my deepest secrets; you would have killed me if you were healthy and knew all that I did in order to keep you for me”

 

            “Your brothers are cowards.  They wished that you fall dead on the war front so that they marry me in good conscious according to customs.  When the battle raged in our neighborhood your brothers refrained to take me and your two daughters to safety as long as you were alive.” The wife was confiding to her husband in coma.

            “After my dad gave away my eldest sister of 12 to a man of forty after he lost his bet in quail fights I let his prized quail out of the cage while praying in the mosque on Friday morning before the quail fights. I let the cat eat the quail and watched the cat eat it all.  My father beat every member in the family, including my mother.  I told him that what happened to the quail was the proper punishment.  My father understood what I meant and that I was the culprit.  My mother and sisters had no idea of what I was saying and thought that my punishment was due to my effrontery for retorting to dad.  My father incarcerated me in a dark room in the basement for two days; he let a hungry cat inside to nibble at me; there were so many rats inside that the cat befriended with me.”

            “Your dad asked for me alone when he was dying. He said that he saw the angel Gabriel; that he finally realized that the magic stone of patience was the Kaaba in Mecca; once this black stone inside the Kaaba disintegrates from the millions of complaints and confessions of the pilgrims then it would be the Day of Judgment”

 

            “Three militia fighters entered my house.  The leader asked what I do. I said that I sell my body to survive. He got very angry and said “Don’t you feel ashamed saying it?” I replied “Do you mean whether I am ashamed of admitting it or practicing it?” The fighter said “They will lapidate you to death if you admit it; aren’t you afraid?” 

            The leading man recited a verse of the Koran and said “Allah, Al-Rahman! Al Mueen! In the name of Allah protect me from Satan”.  The fighters left this impure house.  “They would have raped me if I were a “correct and proper” girl.  I know these types of men.  Fucking a whore is no prize for them; it is merely a transaction.  Raping a virgin girl is like raping her honor and they go for defaming people’s honor. Yes, my husband, my stone of patience now, you may meditate what I am recounting you. Oh my syngue sabour, I had so many secrets to tell you to relieve my soul.  You never gave me an opportunity to talk to you.  You were scared of talking to me. Now you have no exit and you will listen to all that I have to say.”

            Two days later, the youngest of the fighters, the one who stutters, asked me “How much?”  I understood and his gun on my stomach convinced me to agree.  He had a terrible time removing my trousers.  I had to remove mine and his. He ejaculated prematurely on my thighs. I caressed his long hair and told him “This is not a grave matter. All men do the same the first time.” 

            I recalled our first year together.  You could not full it off.  At the time I had no experience. I thought it is in the nature of things that man enjoys and that we women are satisfied with men feeling happy satiated.  One night, I was enjoying myself and you woke up at my muffled screaming.  I told you that I have the fever and you believed me.  You told me to join my daughters in the next room.”

            I told my aunt the story of the young fighter and she said “Next time you have to initiate your adolescent boy properly; bad lovers ends up worriers.  Make sure that your stutterer kisses with his tongue and speak with his tail”

 

            “You forbade me to see my aunt. You are all in the wrong. You know nothing of my beautiful and loving aunt.  She was married at the age of 12 to a dirty old man.  My aunt could not give him offspring and she was sent as slave to her in-laws. Since she was sterile her father-in-law abused of her sexually, day and night, for years. One day she broke her father-in-law’s skull with an axe.  My aunt left a short letter that she committed suicide and disappeared.  I was 14 of age when I never saw her again.  I found her three years after my marriage; she is taking care of my two young daughters when all your coward brothers refused to aid me in my predicaments.”

            “You see, my adolescent boy of a lover is a quick learner. I am teaching him properly.  You never wanted to learn.  You considered me as mere flesh; you would say “Hide your flesh woman”.  If I had tried to initiate you to the proper love making you would have broken my face.  You were and still are so naïve and stupid on the matter of the flesh.  You would say “It is my soul that gives me honor; it is my honor that protects my soul”.  Well, your soul is now overhanging in that pocket of perfusion administering serum to your lousy body. Now it is your body judging your soul.”

            “You see, this eldest militia man who spit on my face because I lied to him when I said that I am a whore to avoid being raped, well he is a bastard.  My adolescent of a lover is being used as his sex slave; in the evening he shackles my lover’s feet with little bells to dance for him; this bastard is burning my lover’s body which is covered by bruises all over”

 

            The fighting ceased for two days.

            The dogs are howling: They are hungry.

            There are no cadavers on the streets

 

            My father-in-law told me a Hadith. He said “The Prophet Muhammad, before he started disseminating his message, was convinced that he is going mad. He told his first and rich wife Khadija that he was hearing voices coming out of stones and that a giant with head reaching to the sky was appearing to him. Khadija asked him to warn her when the giant re-appears. One night at home Muhammad screamed; the giant was standing in front of him.  Khadija approached Muhamad to her bosom and said “Is the giant still standing?” Muhammad said “yes”.  Khadija removed her shawl and let her long hair drop to her shoulders and said “Is the giant still around?”  Muhammad said “No, he left”.  Khadija then said “Don’t worry.  This is no demon. He is an angel.  If he were a demon (Shaitan) he would have not respected my nakedness.  My father-in-law resumed “It is Khadija that was the true prophet; she revealed to Muhammad the sense of his prophesy, cured his bewitching visions, and saved him from the satanic sham”

            “You were sterile my man; my aunt knew the Wiseman who arranged that I get pregnant twice so that I may keep you to me. The Wiseman used to be my aunt’s pimp and he selected an inexperienced young man to do the job; the man entered with a band over his eyes; he was not to see me; we made sex in a dark room and with our cloths on. I had to guide him to perform sex. Do you know my man what is the last name of Allah?  It is exactly The All Patient (Al Sabour).  You are the last of God’s names in you actual physical state and I am your prophet, revealing my secrets and sharing them with you, my syngue sabour.”

  

            “I have been hurling my deepest secrets on the magic stone, my husband in coma. My aunt forbade me to divulge my secrets to the spiritual Hakim (the Wiseman) or the mullah because I am pretty much normal; my talking is dictated to me from Above. The black stone of patience is disintegrating.  I am not possessed by a demon.  The voices that come out of me have been silenced for thousands of years.    I am another prophet who has been revealed many secrets and I am disseminating the message.  The All Powerful Al Jabbar, it is I.  The All Merciful Al Rahim, it is I.”

           

 

Note: I have already published four posts on the French manuscript “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by Atiq Rahimi.  I am regrouping the four book review articles in one post. The Iranian Rahimi published several books in French such as “Earth and ashes”, “The thousand houses of dream and of terror”, and “The imaginary return”.

“Once upon a time, there was a King…” (September 7, 2009)

 

            What else?  If not a king, then a queen, or a chivalrous knight, or a young beautiful princess, anyone that strikes the imagination of the common people who never have seen secretive “noble” individuals.  There are no new stories to invent; they were all told by the many cultures that we don’t know the languages and had never read their stories; the most enduring stories through the ages are the most common ones. Do not invent stories; just tell it.

            Once upon a time, there was a King.  The astrologer warned the King that all his children must be males or he will lose the kingdom.  The first child was a girl and she was executed.  The second child was a girl and did not survive the day.  The third child was a girl; it was becoming such a habit that control got lax and the mother got to see, hold, and feed her daughter.  This time around it was out of the question that this girl dies. The Queen bribed the executioner to save the child and fled the castle with the kid and a few servants.

            The King tracked the Queen; in his journey he had to conquer other kingdoms, burn, and maim.  One tiny kingdom resisted and the Queen refused to meet and negotiate with the invading King. The Queen of the steadfast territory was ready to burn her kingdom and to fight to the last willing men.  The daughter finally decided to meet with the King, spent the night with him, and saved her Kingdom.

            The Queen was beside herself and suspected the worst for the generosity of this cruel King. “What do you think was the end of this story?” said grand mom to the listening grandchildren. The kids wanted an ending to the story but grandmother refused to offer any: that was a mystery. No one had a satisfactory happy ending.

            As she married, Safiya told her old father-in-law the story and asked him what the ending was. He replied “I did not even know the story. Anyway, it could not be but a tragedy since incest was consummated.”  The next day, the old man relented and told Safiya that there could be an alternative happy ending; in general for one happy event there are two tragic events. 

            The ending should be decided on who must be happy the daughter, the Queen, or the King.  Should the moral Queen die? (What morality is there in the destruction of an entire population?) Should the law enforcer of King die? (What kinds of laws are so lawful to execute the supposed “traitors” for a King personal satisfaction?)  Should the daughter die in order to let her parents live “happily”?

            We try hard to find a happy ending at the detriment of our own because morality and customs decided that parents, relative, and community take precedent to our happiness.  In Greek tragedies everyone dies; in Shakespeare’s tragedies everyone dies or goes mad. 

            There is lack of imagination on the outcomes of the ending and people still flip the last page to know how the story ends.  It is so easy to let everyone die so that custom, tradition, ignorance, and censure win.  And yet, all these stupid tragedies are considered work of art for the ages.  No wonder society did not progressed at the same pace as sciences: stories fundamentally lack courageous alternatives that defy acceptable “common sense” outcomes.

 

Note 1: This story, with minor alterations, is taken from “Stone of Patience” (Syngue sabour) by the Iranian Atiq Rahimi.

 

Note 2: I won’t let this post ends without a joke.  An Afghani army recruit is asked by the sergeant “what are you carrying on your shoulder Ahmad?” The soldier replied “This is my rifle.”  The sergeant screams “This is your mother’s honor Ahmad, your sister, and your wife.”  Then the sergeant asks the next soldier “what are you holding in your arms?”  The soldier shouts “I am holding Ahmad’s mother, Ahmad’s sister, and Ahmad’s wife”. (Most probably this naïve soldier got shot in the neck at recess!)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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