Monthly Archives: June 2011

Can you imagine a world without Music?

Because it’s “la fete de la Musique” some thoughts on Music

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent”

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”

“When the music changes, so does the dance”

“Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.”

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

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If Lebanon was a Person

If Lebanon the country of my birth and my chosen place of residence were a person it would be:

A bipolar poet…

A small person in stature but extremely beautiful and attractive at first sight.  If you stick around to know this person better you would discover that  she is much older than she actually looks (I always think of Lebanon as a ‘she’).  Behind her welcoming smile and the bright Mediterranean eyes there is an unstable personality.

Lebanon  is suntanned and hardy, but the well concealed lines of her face keep quiet secrets.

She hides her scars under impeccable designer clothing.

She has children but she hasn’t raised them well; they dislike each other, and have a love hate relationship with her.  They leave her and miss her charm and charisma, then come back to her and get aggravated with her moodiness and selfishness!

She has been suffering from an acute case of identity crisis since her birth.  One day she thinks she’s an Arab princess, the other she thinks she’s the concubine of a Sultan. Sometimes she sees herself as the mother of all knowledge, and other times she sees herself as the party girl.  This identity crisis often manifests itself in the form of a snobbish attitude and an acute superiority complex…

Lebanon the person is too generous with her gifts to others; she wants to be liked and loved to satisfy her narcissistic tendencies.

Lebanon the person is as lovable as Lebanon the country.  In spite of all her madness, her flaws, and her faults, she still holds a spell over those who meet her.  She is a sorceress of sorts, a changeling muse, and I for one, can’t live without her!

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Filed under Arts, Poetry

Reflections on War: Seeking an Understanding of the Male Motivation

I once read a statement by a male author (I wish I remembered who it was) that war brings men a sense of satisfaction far greater than any sexual experience, that it is through war that they can truly embody  the true values of masculinity.

This statement stuck in my mind, because I always wondered about the motivations of men, and I always knew that they were certainly different from the motivations of women. Yes sometimes men are a mystery to women just as women are perceived to be a mystery to men.  My point here however is to think further about the differences of perception about the subject of wars: power struggles and the use of  deadly force to resolve them.

Is it the territorial drive? Is it the need to be the strongest, the alpha male? What exactly is it that drives this aggressive tendency towards others that can lead to killing?  This drive is definitely present in most animals, but as thinking creatures with advanced technology, humans should be the exception? or may be not? I think it is important to note at this juncture that I am trying to explore this without any judgement and without qualifying these attributes as positive or negative.

The escalation of conflict and aggressive behavior leads to war which equals killing. In modern warfare killing is no longer a man to man battle, but an endeavor that allows one to kill many, and often times, many whose faces are never seen by the perpetrator of the killing.  Here I did not say killer, because killing in warfare is not considered a criminal act, yet it is still the taking of someone’s  life.

So how did we raise the killing in war to a higher moral level than plain murder?  How is this act justified within the confines of our religious and social moral codes in order to balance the aggressive killing instinct with the issues of conscience?  I have heard tales from men who fought in wars of the high they feel during battle, of a blood thirsty  state while in the heat of it all, and of the lows experienced after it is over, with feelings of remorse and of disgust over the acts they had committed.  War seems to only be glorified and romanticized by those who have never really participated actively in it or lived through it.

What makes this a bearable and repeatable state? I can think of some possible explanations: the concept  tribal and later national belonging, expansion and defense are certainly ones that play a major role.  Idols, ideologies and ideas are also culprits, men die and kill to defend them.

Warriors or soldiers step out of the confines of the universal codes of human morality for a period of time during wars.  Their belonging shifts to tighter circles, whether these circles are national, ethnic, religious, etc… Within these circles of belonging, killing is justified as a means to resolve conflict under the umbrella of a different code of ethics, one that men understand on a basic subconscious level.

And on a basic subconscious level, women admire this but I don’t think we will ever fully understand it, nor accept it.  The input of the male readers will be welcomed and anticipated!

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Freedom, Justice, Peace and all that Jazz

Terminology is potent: Key words, slogans, catch phrases, can manipulate emotion, and many times incite to action.  One must be careful though of terminology that is wielded around while devoid of real substance.

I will only go through a few terms that are being tossed around these days, terms whose real meanings remain to be pondered.

Freedom:  Now here’s one that gets your blood flowing!  Freedom: to think what you like and do what you like (within the confines of acceptable social behavior and civil or religious laws).  Here’s something I always wondered about:  we have created laws to restrict our freedom in order to be protected from each other, there is a fear factor attached to freedom.  It is a big word and every person that feels restricted in any way will grab on to it for hope.  But beware the freedom peddlers they will more often than not exchange one form of restriction with another.

Truth:  here’s another highly charged term, what we hold as true is what shapes our lives.  But somehow, truth can also be relative in nature: what is true for a certain time and place, may not be true for another, truth is never reality, but more of a process of seeking.  So whenever someone is offering you a truth, remember to take it with a grain of salt and here I’m going to use a movie quote: ” can you handle the truth?”

Justice:  also very relative in nature!  I don’t think that there is a consensus on what is truly just, I mean we measure justice based on moral codes, and moral codes differ (maybe not to a great extent) from place to place and from time to time.  In collective terms, what may be just for one society or country may entail an injustice to be incurred on another.  We all want fair treatment and should not confuse that with the big J.

Peace:  ahhhhhhh peace, that lovely state of being where conflict is nonexistent!  It is a transient state at best, peace like truth is never a  permanent reality but a temporary process of seeking.  Conflict is inherent in human nature, what we have control over is how to deal with conflict in the best ways possible and to lessen its impact on our lives.  So always think of peace as a prelude to conflict, and of conflict as a prelude to peace.

Words and terms that can best be defined by conjuring their opposites are often   dynamic and not static in nature, they are conceptualizations of certain states in the human mind, and they have strong emotional impacts.  Buyer of words beware!

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Filed under Anthropology, Social Organization