Over the past few months, I have been reading almost exclusively novels written by Arab writers or about the Arab World. Nevertheless, I have decided to take a short break and read the new novel from one of my favorite authors, Nuriddin Farah, entitled Knots. All of his novels take place in his native Somalia, and while Somalia is not per se an Arab nation (though some people consider it to be so), it is a Muslim country and has many Arab influences.
While reading a particular passage today, I was reminded of something that I have witnessed in Naguib Mahfouz’ works as well as in other Arab novelists — the effect produced in the minds of young men by women covered by veils, masks or full-body coverings as dedictated by the norms of the societies in which they live. In Mahfouz’s works, for example, you can see the incredible and almost debilitating desire felt by young men when glimpsing a woman’s ankle or even a collar bone.
In the following passage from Knots, the main character, Cambara, reflects on how strange it is for her to return to Somalia after so many years and find women camoflaging themselves underneath veils and full-body covers, and how such disguises actually increase desire Continue reading
Lucio Battisti has two songs that I absolutely adore. The first one is “La canzone del sole” about a young man who, at the moment of his first intimacy with his young girlfriend, is shocked and intimidated to discover in her composure a much greater level of security and experience than in his (the nightmare of all Italian men, for sure, to discover that they are more innocent than their “innocent” targets).
And last night while listening to another friend describe how she is breaking up with her boyfriend (yes, everyone’s always confiding in me), I was remined of my other favorite song by Battisti, “Comunque Bella”.
“Comunque Bella” is about a man whose girlfriend arrives drenched in rain, with red eyes, obviously after a night of making love with a different man. She tells him that because he is a man she owes him no explanations and needs not ask for his forgiveness. As if after generations of being subjected to infidelities, women have no reason to justify their actions to men.
“Comunque Bella” would be translated literatlly as “however beautiful”, but I think in English it is more natural to translate it as, “but still you are beautiful”. And what I find so interesting about the song is its chorus, “you were beautiful, but still you are beautiful”. Thus, as the narrator looks upon his girlfriend entering the room with all of the evidence of having been unfaithful, he recognizes that not only was she beautiful, but that she continues to be beautiful. I really love this song, for one of the things that I most detest about my gender is its manifestation of weakness and insecurity through jealousy and possessiveness. Continue reading
Last Saturday, my Bro and I partook in Safe Democracy’s International Conference, Three Years after March 11: Regional Challenges for a Globalizing World. I was part of a round table discussing immigration in Europe and my Bro was on the one discussing Africa. Afterwords, my Bro and I reflected on some of the “cultural” differences we noticed between the United States’ worldview and that of the mainly European and Latin American experts present at the event.
My Bro mentioned two. First, in a similar conference in the U.S., a significant majority of those present would have been female; and second, that people were much more left-wing than he would have imagined (and he is VERY left wing). Here are my general impressions: Continue reading
Now that Radio Blog Club is up and running again, I can finally post one of his flute pieces. This is “Ode to CP”. Enjoy!
I just visited Ejovi’s blog and found these videos from a 2005 PBS interview discussing his book Hacker Cracker. I don’t pretend to know Ejovi that well, but I did get to know him a little bit during the time he worked with us at FON and during a short stay in Madrid.
These two (of four) videos are particularly interesting as he discusses the American experience of growing up in Brooklyn (somewhat reminiscent of my family’s Bronx Tale), the very entrepreneurial nature of those who are bred in depressed American neigbhorhoods, and the importance of information technology. He even alludes to gentrification, a topic dear to my Bro’s heart. The final two videos are available as well on his blog. Check them out!
For the past 10 days or so, I have had the great pleasure of having visitors stay with me (Manolo, then my Bro, then Manolo again). With people occupying all of my free time, I haven’t had much time to read or listen to music. It took me twice as long to finish Naguib Mahfouz’ The Beginning and the End than what it should have. And last night, while I began reading Nuriddin Farah’s latest novel Knots, I was thinking that I have to stop buying new music. I simply do not have time to fully appreciate so much music if I want to continue reading and maintaining a moderate level of sociability.
Well, tonight after having read about 75 pages of Knots, I decided to surf a little on the net. This turned into a bit of an error as I began searching to see what Eric Dolphy CDs were available on iTunes. Dolphy was a multi-instrumentalist who played the alto-sax, bass clarinet, and flute. Above all, I just cannot get enough of the sound of his flute. In particular, I love his album Out There with Ron Carter playing the cello. In my search (and gluttony for his jazz flute), I discovered two more interesting Dolphy CDs, Iron Man and Where? (with Carter as the band leader). So much for taking advantage of my time and saving money.
Unfotunately, I cannot find any good, quality videos of Dolphy on flute and radioblogclub is presently under re-construction. So, the best thing, is this video of a Dolphy performance on alto-sax with the John Coltrane Quartet.
I wonder what the great Bill Collins, HR and OB guru, would have to say about Terry Tate, Office Linebacker and Sensitivity Training.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get Cobra to do the same at FON?
con la luz del universo . . . quiero hacer contigo lo que hace la primavera con los cerezos.
Por lo visto, mientras que yo esté en la tercera planta redactando contratos y revisando todo lo escrito (y equivocándome por todas partes), en el imperio de la planta cero los Hombres de Negro lo están pasando como si fuera otra galaxia. Este video da fé a ello y quedará archivado en la historia de FON. ¡Gracias, chicos!
Hay tantas cosas por ahí que necesitan respirar, y yo aquí ahogándome.