Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘The Maitre Phares’ Library

The Most Glorious Year: A Modern Hermit (May 14, 2009)

I wrote in my diary a couple of days ago the following:

“It is the most glorious year in my life since I started publishing on in mid September of 2008.  This year is associated with the most abject financial condition I ever experienced.”

As I stated in my post “Beyond why we write”:

My reading purpose has undergone a qualitative shift:  I read for themes that excite my personal reflection.  There are days I vow not to write anything but my diary.  Then, as I read a chapter in a book or a report in a magazine” I am noting down a theme in my “article file” with a catchy title.

Regardless of the analysis or style of the theme in the chapter that I am reading, my article is fundamentally different and bears my signature style and opinions.

This year is glorious because I learned to live with the bare necessities that permit me to read, write, and publish.

My old car is no longer that necessary and is barely salvageable.  I don’t have to ride any farther than three kilometers to the public library.

I spend wonderful mornings amid new book arrivals and the available internet for posting what I have edited yesterday.  (You may read my post “The Maitre Phares’ Library“).

I go to bed early, no later than 10 p.m., and get up early to the chants of birds.

I managed to nail down a productive and enjoyable routine since I removed from my worry the nasty and ridiculous process of applying for ridiculous jobs and be interviewed by non interesting specimen.

Around 8 a.m. I exercise for 45 minutes, leisurely and happily, and then I work in the garden and gather what I sawed, leisurely and happily; a kind of silent prayer.

I make sure to take siesta or a nap and value all the dreams that get attached to sleeping and I am up fresh for another round of eight hours of productive and enjoyable work in my study. (You may read my post “A Typical Day“)

I have been forgotten for years as if I live in Mars.

I don’t receive visitors since I am not in any business of selling and buying.  I refused to return to cellular phones or anything that may keep beeping: I cannot afford monthly payments for anything anyway.  Thus, I don’t need to deal with banks that always find excuses to penalize me and extort money as I willingly deposited with them for “safe keep!”

(Banks re-invest your safely net money in secured government bonds with outrageous interest loans, extended to other customers who patronize the same bank.  Banks are the perfect financial sawing machine to extract whatever benefit it can rob you clean, with other people’s money. Banks are such icons that governments feel obligated to save banks, even investment banks from bankruptcy, by shamelessly propagating the myth of a most ridiculous excuse:  Banks are the “ideal oil” or lubricating medium to keeping society functioning for the capitalist system!)

I didn’t earn money this year but I was not robbed or had to shed blood for any blood suckers.  I have no money and I am no longer at the mercy of anyone to be lured into temptations for investment in far-fetched business ventures or keeping abreast of new gizmos.

It is a new experience that is teaching me that what is necessary for survival keeps saving me from sickness, and bad moods. My money is stashed in the safest boxes of all: my health and positive hope are intact for another glorious fresh morning.

It is a new experience that teaches you that what is superfluous consumes your nervous energy and your precious time: it ends up reminding you that financial success is all vanity, that power generated from money is the worst of vanities.  Many died this year in my hometown and in varying ages and they are practically forgotten.

I reverted to a childhood condition with a mind that can read, write, and re-appreciate the moments of happiness for the little gifts and grace that I receive.  As a modern hermit I don’t miss occasions when I am invited for an outing of trekking or visiting a remote area that I am not familiar with, or sharing an occasional “surprise party”.

“Surprise parties” for birthdays and other excuses are becoming countless among youth, and wages vanish on gifts and going to movies and preparing for the party in decorations and purchasing the cakes and buying new outfits.

I try hard not to be lured by modern facilities to vanquish nature: seasons have rights that I respect. Day cycle has rights that I respect.  In winter I keep warm and dress accordingly; I avoid unnecessary trips under a thunderstorm rainy days.  I avoid long distance trips just to pay my respect to an immigrant visiting his homeland.

In April and early May I dust off my suits and wear them everyday with a flower fastened in my lapel hole, “a movable feast” for the eyes and my morale.  In summer, I am very casual, in shorts, jeans, and occasionally I dress Hawaiian.  I thus kept the recurring flu at bay this year, even the pork/pig flu so far.

It is the most glorious year because I effectively worked the hardest with the best time investment on my mental and physical capabilities, with no money transactions involved.

This is the year I felt the most powerful: master of my time, my well-being, and acquiring genuine compassion for my neighbors and relatives.

If conditions change, I’ll change and adapt.

I will refrain from altering in any drastic way this great experience.

The Cultural Foundation of Maitre Phares Zoghbi: Kornet Chehwan, Lebanon (May 1, 2009)

I used to be, and still are, a frequent visitor to the Phares Zoghbi’s library in Kornet Chehwan.  I currently patronize it almost 5 days a week.

Once, I missed a day and Maitre Zoghbi called me home: he was worried that I might be sick.

Maitre Zoghbi turned over the library to the University of Saint Joseph (the Law Department) for management as long as the library is domiciled at his house. Many lawyers and judges pay visits the library for sources of references that are unavailable in other libraries and universities.

I once overheard Maitre Phares asking Rita Zoghbi, the resident manager, about the final count on the books in his library and she replied: “I think we reached over 50,000 manuscripts and counting”.

Fresh news books in French and Arabic are purchased on weekly basis and Maitre Zoghby used to enjoy touring the various commercial libraries for selection.  Recently, Maitre Zoghby was inspired to add magazines; he is paying for them. The University pays the tab for the new acquisition of books.

With this encouraging environment I am cranking up on average three articles every couple of days and publishing them on the internet that the library has connected to, a few months ago.

I enjoy having a smoke in the garden and picking up a rose or a flower and insert it in my lapel hole.

When Layal Kanaan spent a month in the library (she sits in a large room and I in another) to write her dissertation on French linguistics among the Lebanese I used to bring her an assortment of flowers.  She later told me that she prefers flowers to die in the garden.

It didn’t make much difference to me: I love to see everyone I encounter wearing a flower, a kind of “movable feast” for the eyes and morale proving nature’s eminent glory, beauty, and versatility.

I asked Rita about books that Maitre Zoghbi has published and she gave me two for free, both written in French: “Liban: le salut par la culture” and “A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs“, a biographical book.

I had posted this book review on my blog

Maitre Zoghbi was the lawyer of the Lebanese daily Al Nahar (The Day) and of the Casino of Lebanon.

In every trip outside Lebanon, it was the libraries that were his favorite hangout and books were shipped to his library/house.  Maitre Zoghbi financially aids several local “non-profit” institutions related to health and learning.

Rita is managing the library and taking good care of Maitre Zoghbi.  She arranges for his meetings, communications, translating his occasional illegible hand writing, preparing Turkish coffee for visitors, his appointments to physicians, and calling for taxis (Maitre Zoghbi never learned to drive and he would never miss an occasion to personally offer his condolences to a dear departed).

Occasionally, Rita organizes study groups on authors and philosophers once a month; she invites neighboring schools to check out the library and have special classes.

Maitre Zoghbi prefers to meet with his visitors among his books. As I enter he is already busy inserting “book marks” (that Rita had cut out and prepared for him) in every page he flips, just feeling the need to insert paper book marks.

Maitre Zoghbi is proud that he celebrated his 93 rd birthday this March. He is still relatively functional in walking and reading. Once, he had to climb an incline of a route around the house and it had rained; he was utterly exhausted and scared as he slipped several times; I found him walking by the wall as I parked and gave him my arm.

I horde an oversize room, well heated and well lighted.  I keep a dozen books on the conference table. That should keep the impression that Lebanese adore reading.

Rita shares with me cookies that go with coffee or sections of any fresh sandwiches that she receives. Sometimes I don’t feel hungry at lunch time when I go home.

The library closes when the University is officially closed, which cramps my style and habits.

Once, my sister gave me ride because of car problems. The library was closed and I had the opportunity of investigating drivers’ charity level. I walked half the distance before someone stopped for me.

It shouldn’t be more than a 2-kilometer trip from my home, and if my experience with hitchhiking is satisfactory then I will sell my old car.

For $20 a year you own a kingdom of learning and an oasis of peace and tranquility.

You can find huge volumes of artistic manuscripts for all kinds of famous painters and photographers.  Good reading.

Note 1: I have since sold my car and walk to the library carrying a school backpack. On rare occasions I am lucky with a driver stopping to pick me up.

Note 2: Last year, the library closed as Rita got busy with her own business “Baby Step“. This March 2014, the library re-opened officially and Maha can help you with your search. Opened from 8:30 to 4 pm Monday thru Friday, and Saturday from 9 to 3 pm.




April 2023

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