Traders World Digest Issue #13

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  1. from the Editor
  2. Traders World Digest Issue #13
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  4. The Prudent Fiduciary Digest ~ from tjb research

Cait and Zoe proposed they take over Garrett's orientation. Jenny agreed to take a break and went to drink some of Peter's good coffee. She instructed them to show Garrett what not to touch and to stay away from anything that could explode. They didn't heed her warning and opened a portal with the Interspatial Teleportation Unit.

Garrett was almost pulled through by a ghost on the other side. A couple of weeks after the incident, Jenny and Ray supervised a Ghostbusters session with a cadet named Ms. Zeigler at the Warehouse. Ray was called away to Ray's Occult to authenticate a collector's item. Jenny continued to coach Zeigler on capturing a Soar Throat Ghost in the giant cube enclosure.

Jenny eventually acknowledged Cait. Cait pointed out they were being treated like interns - slime detail, dust duty, and running errands left and right. She wanted to know when they were going to be taught ghostbusting again. She suspected it was because they weren't paying customers. Jenny snapped and reminded her of the teleportation unit incident. She reiterated they could have been hurt or worse and hoped they didn't attract another demigod. She could feel something was wrong. Cait reminded her they already apologized then critiqued Jenny's use of the word "blasted".

Jenny was interrupted by a call from Janine. Cait wondered how she had pockets. Jenny reported Cait hadn't blown anything up in the Warehouse yet and three cadets managed to capture a ghost without incident. Jenny told Cait to let Zeigler out of the cube. Jenny got a call from Egon asking about the pilot team. She informed him they already left the Warehouse and went home for the night but recalled Ray still had a class scheduled the next day. She asked if something was up. Egon replied "yes" and hung up. Jenny wondered if it would kill him to say goodbye like a normal person.

She told a cadet named Elaine no one could take samples of Psychomagnotheric Slime home. She put the jar back where she found it. After the dimensional bleed incident was resolved, Jillian Holtzmann had some residual memories of Ray's and recalled she knew what it was like to make out with a ghost. She pointed out to Ray that he could have showered at home. Ray contended the Firehouse had better water pressure. Going on the fact the ghost had a head shaped like a pumpkin and an Irish accent, Jenny focused on a ghost that manifested during the festival of Samhain.

Once Ray came out of the shower, she presented a page from " A Book of Pagan Rituals " to him that had an old drawing that resembled the ghost. She felt his head looked more like a turnip. Ray consulted " The Old Book of Magic " and learned the ghost wasn't seen in centuries and was believed to have been banished by a druid that learned its real name. Ray remembered the druids didn't have a tradition of writing so the ghost's real name was lost and hoped their modern arsenal was comparable. Jenny warned him to be careful. Ron interrupted them and suggested putting her into the Containment Unit for safekeeping.

Jenny was surprised and asked why he was paying them a visit. Ron joked about her going easy with the cold shoulder because it was bringing down the room temperature and it was bad for the skin then pointed out Ray wasn't wearing any pants and only had a towel on. Jenny became angry and red and went through the wall and cabinets. Ray stated she was still sensitive about her condition. Peter called out to Janine but Jenny informed him she was out on a meeting. Peter was surprised and wanted to know with who. Peter didn't think she just met with people, stopped and wondered if she did.

Jenny informed him she did all the time, took some papers from the file cabinet, and flew upstairs. Peter unknowingly helped cause an overload when he deposited the Trap, during a diagnostic, just as Ron and Holtzmann secretly tested their Remote Access Teleportation Unit. Janine and Jenny went to a hospital a few blocks away from the Firehouse to check on Peter's progress or lack of. They stopped at Pequod's stand. Jenny stated she hated hospitals. Janine wondered why since she was dead and couldn't be overcharged anymore. She apologized and admitted she never thought how the place would make her feel.

Jenny told her it was fine but revealed she could sense things she would rather not sense. She detected Peter was fine for the most part. Janine joked she wasn't worried until she got an ugly stack of paperwork for his next of kin. Before Jenny could ask further about the next of kin, Janine revealed to her that Peck offered the liaison job. Jenny was surprised and told her she would be great at it since she knew the ins and outs of the business better than anyone else and knew how to keep the Ghostbusters in line.

Janine wasn't so sure the trade offs were worth it: a say in things and a lot of freedom for new responsibilities and a little more money. Jenny advised her not to make decisions based on maybes but she was interrupted. Jenny sensed something came for Peter. She entered the mental plane and jumped the entity posing as Dana Barrett. Jenny yelled at Peter to run but Peter pointed out he had nowhere to run to. Tiamat tossed Jenny and explained she was just trying to pass along a warning.

She added he was in danger and quizzed him on the nature of a spectral entity -- ghosts, gods, demons, creatures that exist only in dreams -- and how they were all the same thing but different. She walked to the "refrigerator" and continued. She spoke of individuals that were born and existed as a "mass of psychokinetic energy" and nothing more but weren't gods or monsters with no aim to destroy or haunt. Then she hinted these individuals had their predators.

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Tiamat opened the "refrigerator" door and warned those predators had a vested interest in keeping the Ghostbusters from becoming a permanent interdimensional presence or they would affect the balance and create chaos. Peter asked her to wait but she pushed him through. Before Jenny left of her own volition, she told Tiamat she found the warning too convenient because it was exactly the kind of thing that the Ghostbusters would believe in: a prophecy, a conspiracy, and a complex situation involving monsters in the dark. She asked why she would give Peter the runaround.

Jenny admitted she didn't know but was going to find out. Peter came to, back in his body, surrounded by the other Ghostbusters, Janine, and Jenny. He told them about the warning but realized it was real vague and full of a lot of unnecessary details, like a con job. He suggested they limit their studies of the multiverse but Egon briefed him on the issue of missing entities and the Containment Unit being on the brink of structural collapse.

The current situation does not, as some may believe, speak of a creative proliferation. The cultural agitation that individuals or organizations would like to pass off as a growth spurt of our literature is in fact the mere expression of a cultivated stagnation, of a certain number of misconceptions as to what the real sense of literary activity consists of. Petrified contemplation of the past, sclerosis of form and content, unashamed imitation and forced borrowings, vainglorious false talents — these are the tainted daily ration with which the press, periodicals and the greed of all-too-few publishers have bored us stiff.

Not counting its multiple forms of prostitution, literature has become a form of aristocracy, a badge of honor, a manifestation of intellectual prowess and do-it-yourself attitude. Something is afoot in Africa and in other Third-World countries.

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Exoticism and folklore are falling by the wayside. No one can predict where this will lead. But the day will come when the real spokespersons of these collectivities really make their voices heard, and it will be like dynamite exploding the rotten arcana of the old humanisms.

from the Editor

Severe patience and strict self-censorship were necessary to produce this review, which sees itself first and foremost as the organ of a new poetic and literary generation. Souffles was not created to add to the number of ephemeral reviews. It answers a need that has never ceased formulating itself around us. From that perspective, no cultural clashes can occur. On the one side there is a culture in which qualities of dynamism, growth, and depth are recognized. A living culture that perpetually renews itself. On the other side there are characteristics, curiosities, objects — but never structures.

Abdelkebir Khatibi, a novelist and sociologist whom Roland Barthes would later cite as an influence, was perhaps emblematic of the concerns that ran through the pages of Souffles. Let us consider now, not the problem of literature, but that of Maghreb writers. In a sense, this description was salutary because it was already a type of appraisal of the colonial situation. But at this very level, it was already being overtaken by events that were taking place in North Africa. For instance, at the moment when Algerians took to arms to liberate themselves through violence, novelists were busy describing the minutia of everyday life of Kabyle villages and poets were singing the anxieties of their torn personalities.

Condemned to follow a reality that is in permanent transformation, the writer faces a dilemma: if he wants to follow the evolution of this reality in a continuous manner, he becomes a journalist. If he takes too much distance, he risks ending up producing disembodied literature. The situation has become more complicated after the Algerian war. In their way, they helped to make the Algerian problem known. Unfortunately, for the most part this literature has outrun its course, it died with the war. Now that we face enormous problems of nation-building we must ask frankly and without detours the question of literature: in countries that are in large part illiterate, that is to say where the written word has few chances for the moment to transform things, can you liberate a people with a language that they do not understand?

The debate over language continued to be at the core of the early issues of the magazine. The Soufflites were aware that publishing in French, the language they had been educated in and through which they could reach an intellectual elite in France and elsewhere , was limiting the size and scope of their readership. Although after Souffles would develop an Arabic-language edition, Anfass , the question of language would remain paramount — and not only for the Moroccan avant-garde. In the fourth issue of Souffles , he expounded on the problem:. Thus, it is true that the linguistic frustration of the colonized went beyond, in the colonial context, the simple coexistence of two modes of expression.

It weakened the psyche of the colonized and was a weapon for the depreciation of his own culture. At the level of this repressive phase, the linguistic dualism was a tragedy. A tragedy that has not been overcome for many intellectuals of the independence period since even the cultural structures conveyed by the new modes of education and the improvised experience of arabization have not, in this domain, shattered in depth the basis of the colonial status quo.

The colonized adolescent, even if he was deprived of his maternal tongue, could still dispose of a vehicle for his thoughts through which he could express his rebellion, his ideas, one through which he could exteriorize his personality. The post-independence adolescent has lost this imposed vehicle but has not yet re-conquered the other. He is aphasic. His thought, his deep personality, only emerge in sporadic, imprecise scraps. His linguistic infirmity does not come from a conflictual position, but rather from the imprecision of his methods, from the uncertain negotiations in this phase of evolution or from the stagnation through which most newly independent countries go through.

The tragedy has thus changed in nature — it has deepened. For him, the question was not whether Arabic was better than French, but rather, how each language could be re-appropriated. Souffles offered younger poets an opportunity to reach a larger audience than other publications coming out of Morocco at the time, particularly as it had captivated the attention of French intellectual circles who, caught up in the enthusiasm over decolonization and an emerging nonaligned movement led by third-world countries, publicized the new Moroccan literature to a wider Francophone audience.

Tahar Ben Jelloun, perhaps the best-known contemporary Moroccan writer internationally, was among them. Ben Jelloun began writing in Souffles in , a few years before he published his first novel. Climb atop some dromedaries your vertigo will be in the image of your churning hunger; your mouth will open to footnote ruin and tears; In the morning drink a little Arab blood: just enough to decaffeinate your racism;. To your friend offer your tattooed souvenirs a postcard of aluminum beatitude obscure resonance of our morgue-skull;.

Serfaty was born in Tangier to a middle-class Jewish family; during his engineering studies at the elite Ecole des Mines in Paris he joined the Communist Party. Upon his return to Morocco, he linked up with local communists and joined in the nationalist movement, earning him a six-year exile courtesy of the French colonial authorities.

By the late s, however, Serfaty was at the forefront of a wave of strikes by miners and other workers. He was fired from his ministry post in Serfaty met Laabi in early during political debates on the Palestinian question. Between this period and , he slammed the door on a Moroccan Communist Party he found too ossified and created, with Laabi, the Marxist-Leninist movement Ila al-Amam Forward. Indeed, poems by Nissabouri and Khair-Eddin slowly disappeared from the pages of Souffles.

I saw Damascus Beirut mourning but it was not the mourning of Jerusalem that covered the walls of Damascus and Beirut the inscriptions spoke of a man ignored the land and Jerusalem its womb Damascus Beirut in simian and tragic lines behind the symbolic hearses of the last pharaoh fallen under the blows of overwork and of Remorse Jerusalem bled and suddenly attacked by a mirage reappeared on the other side of the Jordan similar and yet different Amman relieved it so colossal was the massacre. In , the changes Serfaty had brought to Souffles became even more evident with the publication of a special issue on Palestine including an article by Serfaty distancing Moroccan Jewry from Zionism.

The layout of the magazine changed, too. Gone was the abstract, blazing dark sun that had graced every cover since the first issue in ; instead Souffles became wider, thicker, squatter. Its covers featured pictures and illustrations. In and , years of permanent strikes at many universities and high schools, students held teach-ins where the latest Souffles served as textbooks, its articles templates for discussion and debate.

It would be the last to be published. In the first few days of , Laabi and Serfaty would be singled out by the Moroccan security services as a driving force of the student movement. Serfaty remembered the day of their arrest in his memoirs:. It was that early in the morning of Thursday 27 January [that] the police came to get us at our respective houses, Abdellatif and I, to take us to the central police station of Rabat where we were, separately, immediately submitted to torture.

It was the first time. I had received beatings and very hard blows when arrested by the colonial police, but torture is another ordeal. Torture is a form of debasement that any being rejects, with a refinement in pain that horrifies much more than the naked specter of death. But there is worse: torture makes one mad, in [that] it is in this abyss of insanity that one risks losing all self-control, and thus to betray oneself by talking.

Their release was in part possible thanks to students who took to the streets in droves often brandishing copies of Souffles to demand their freedom. Laabi was subsequently rearrested and sentenced to ten years of prison for crimes of opinion. In he was released but forced into exile to France, where he still continues to write. Serfaty went underground shortly after the first arrest and spent two years hiding in safe houses, where he continued to devote himself to Ila al-Amam until the police caught up with him.

Serfaty was one of several prominent dissidents who returned to Morocco after the death of King Hassan II in , when he was made an advisor to a state-run oil exploration institute. He is now retired and severely ill. They failed, and Oufkir was killed and his entire family imprisoned. In recent years, with slightly greater press freedoms afforded by Mohammed VI, there has been a wave of new periodicals.

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Traders World Digest Issue #13

But in the thirty-five years since the demise of Souffles , no publication has matched its stature, appeal, or intellectual authority. The debates it inaugurated-on education, language, identity-are with us still, albeit in new configurations. And the inheritors of the humanistic legacy of Souffles face fresh opponents, most notably from Islamists. The editor of Nichane , novelist Driss Ksikes, was so embittered by the episode that he resigned.

Since then Ksikes has been dreaming up a new cultural review whose inspiration will be the early Souffles , with a focus on the arts and literature rather than the often tawdry and convoluted turns of the Moroccan political scene. As to the later, combative, political Souffles?

Time will tell. Or rather, glorie descended, one of several new words improvised by Oxford don John Wycliffe and his band of translators for their controversial English-language version of the Latin Bible. Later, when Joseph encounters his brethren, now starving — it is a time of famine, just as he predicted — he instructs them to take word home to their father:.

In Genesis glorie attends to the crosser of borders, the exile. It belongs to the immigrant, with his neatly tended warehouse of wheat. It was composed at exactly the same moment as The Canterbury Tales , and if the new translation was dedicated to anyone, it was less the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost than the farmers, tailors, and millers whose entitlement, piety, and licentiousness Geoffrey Chaucer immortalized in his own vernacular text. But the Latin Bible was itself the work of translators, and their gloria sat perched atop still older words in other languages.

Doxa , for one, scattered throughout the original Greek version of the Gospels. The coinage lent doxa an air of splendor, as well as a kabbalistic register of prayerful submission. Glory is thus connected at the root not only to notions like paradox refusing to submit to common sense or orthodoxy reflexively submitting to same but also to a heterodox undercurrent in which divinity and mundanity are understood as contiguous. This is a thing-like glory, at best distantly related to a Wycliffe coinage like mystery. It is actually a form of anti-mystery: startling and immediate, like the stench of a family rotting in a plague-ridden cottage, or a sudden flash of gold.

Some mainline Catholic theologians of the same era saw glory in somewhat related terms, speaking of a gloria materialis. This was as an objective, etheric conductor, a class of matter across which the affirmed and exalted fact of God could be transmitted to the baser levels with all the force of a slap in the face. Gloria materialis was like a fifth element connecting earth, fire, water, and air to God.

It was the iridescent fingerprint of the Creator on his creation, a holy residue that, like an oiled wick, could connect the flammable hearts of men to the spark of the divine. A few centuries later the first chemists would theorize another fifth element, phlogiston, an invisible substance thought to bind the other four in combustible configurations; gloria materialis could be thought of as a theological phlogiston.

This kind of glory evoked the properties of circuits and currents in the pre-electrical age. It could suddenly render one speechless, the proverbial bolt from the blue. Away from the Church of Rome Calvin imagined something similar and called it grace, a downward pressure from heaven that could force an unwilling man to bend the knee. It was through grace that even the lowliest might find themselves saved.

Glory has come to accommodate a much wider world of meanings. Today we speak of glory in relation to winning seasons, paradigm-shifting technologies, roadside conversions, early adopters, sublime panoramic vistas both natural and reproduced , and first brushes with abiding, transforming loves. And glory has become a channel for other, darker energies. By infamous means, I work towards my bright purpose. The same bright circlet now encloses the head of saint, sinner, and martyr without prejudice or distinction, an opening in the fabric of the world through which they transmit anonymously and alone to another plane.

All of it is glory. I came of age during the s and Eighties in Cambria Heights, Queens, a quiet, quasi-suburban neighborhood of tree-lined streets on the extreme eastern edge of New York City. Our zip code growing up was , a numerologically suggestive palindrome — four ones? One four? It could have easily been notation for a drum machine, the encryption of a rhyme.

Cambria Heights and its environs made tidy safe houses for their aspirations, as well as for those of tens of thousands of equally mobile African-American neighbors. My parents had no intention of staying — no Haitian tyrant had ever held on to power for more than a few years, and they presumed they would soon go back home. But they were grateful to America. I was told the story of my dead siblings as soon as I was able to hear it. The moral I came away with was that I was not the firstborn; I was simply the first to survive.

Sometimes I wondered whether they resented me the good fortune of my birth in exile, if they wished Duvalier had made himself dictator sooner. The then-defining traits of New York City in the popular imagination — subways, graffiti, blight, crime — were in the main hard to come by in our neighborhood. In the face! It would get tooken, as the West Indians liked to say. Our part of Queens was as far away from the urban centers of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as it was possible to live and still consider oneself a legit New Yorker.

Most of its residents had fled the big, bad core, but they had not run so far that it was unable to exert a powerful hold on the imaginations of their sons. Even bucolic Staten Island would eventually be redeemed by the esoteric exploits of the Wu Tang Clan. My part of Queens played an honorable role in Eighties hip-hop — I can claim to have seen local heroes Run-DMC at more than one block party before they were famous — but there was always a sense that my local heroes were tainted or limited by the underlying good nature of their origins.

Even in the Eighties you had the feeling that somewhere in The City, likely in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or the Bronx, there existed a more powerful musical live wire, whose voltages and amplitudes ran differently than ours. The great MCs of Eastern Queens and Western Long Island — Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy — made epic claims on our attention, but they tended toward the formal or political, their imprecations and choruses not quite the soundtrack to an anxious walk down an unexpectedly darkened alley. At eleven or twelve my friends and I were simply too young to get on a train and witness such things for ourselves.

But we had been able to intuit their existence through the music and chatter that emanated from radio towers atop the Empire State Building, maybe the World Trade Center. During the day New York was a fairly standard American radio town, but on Fridays and Saturdays the airwaves would undergo startling transformations. On weekends I would stay up way, way past my bedtime, alone with a primitive radio cassette recorder, obsessively listening to, taping, and annotating live hip-hop shows broadcasting from clubs in The City.

It was painstaking work. I retreated to my room to commune with the music the same way I might retreat with pornography, locking the door and projecting myself into scenarios and situations that were beyond my years and ken. Long before I had any real notion of sex or dating or manly peacockery and expression, I understood that the clubs in The City were playing fields where all of the above and more took place.

When the DJ would cut the noise of a crowd into the mix, I pictured myself in the hot, darkened room, lending my voice to the mass, feeding out along wires to the radio towers and into the world, into my bedroom, the circuit complete. Friday to Saturday, week to week, the mixes changed very little; whole months or seasons might be marked by songs that would appear in different locations in the mix on a given night, in different versions.

But when something new appeared in the mix, it was like accidentally stumbling across the third rail. It was magic, a sudden and irrevocable shift in the fabric of the cosmos. I remember being disquieted by the regularity with which what I had believed to be the Greatest Record Ever could be eclipsed by another. How could such things be? In addition to confounding me, a new, hottish song also immediately sent me into a kind of informational panic. On my particular block lived two older boys with hobbyist DJ tendencies: Eddie, who played the good-natured, tough-guy protector to the younger boys, and Pete, who was far and away the biggest asshole in a five-block radius.

Pete had more sneakers and Kangol hats than anyone we knew and was by far a better and more knowledgeable DJ than Eddie, but consulting him was always a last resort. It brought risks — of ridicule, mostly, though also cartoonish physical assaults involving wedgies and Indian burns. Even his eventual redemption was lifted from a certain colored set of pages.

Pete converted to a strain of Sunni Islam popular with African-Americans. He lives on the same block to this day, holy and sanctified, his mother and the kids from the old neighborhood the only people allowed to refer to him by his Christian name. In any case, at a certain point on Friday and Saturday nights I invariably found myself without guides.

There were two mixes each weekend night, an 11pm to 2am hip-hop mix and a 2am to 4am house mix, and I would listen to both, cataloguing and recording songs. But in the dead of night, when the house music started, I had nowhere to turn. In the aftermath of disco, most dance music had become associated in our young minds with homosexuals, and neither Eddie nor Pete had much truck with the gays. I would sit in the dark, unnerved and unmanned by the keenness of my interest. I feasted on the orchestral flourishes of the house music then in vogue, the gospel-powered wails of wronged and hopeful black women.

But this in turn only further undermined my claim on the 11pm-to-2am slot. I worried that someday I would have to make a choice between mixes, and it seemed unfair, rigged even, a choice between two forms of failure. Still, the house mix was too compelling to turn away from. I was fascinated by math as a kid, and I would often try to graph the mixes on quadrille paper, assigning admittedly arbitrary values and lines and algebraic expressions to beats, vocal lines, crescendos, and fades. This work was easier with the already schematic dance music, and I would often fantasize about working backwards from a graph and creating a song from it.

The pictures always struck me as beautiful, futuristic, graffiti-like, and I wondered what the graph of the Greatest Record Ever might look like. I understood from my readings in physics another interest that scientists were on a quest to find a grand unified theory that could explain and encompass everything, and I imagined that such a thing must exist for music, too, a graph of the perfect, hidden beat. This notion seemed to solve the problem of the Greatest Song Ever, as whatever song I loved at any moment could be understood to be an aspect or piece of the Perfect Song, with some lines and equations omitted or mathematically transformed.

The upshot, of course, was that I might have to keep listening, cataloguing, and graphing forever. Saturdays and Sundays I would lay in bed well past noon, more haggard than any child of relative quiet and privilege should have been. My parents were exiles after all; they had been chased across the sea. My parents had been loath to buy me an Atari.

They worried it would come between me and my studies, they said. So I talked them into buying me an expensive personal computer by telling them that it would help with my studies. I eventually settled on a black-and-silver machine made by Texas Instruments. It was a terrible choice, really, doomed from the start; the TI was introduced in the early '80s, only to be quickly eclipsed by Commodore 64s, IBMs, and Apples. On more than one occasion I stayed up until dawn, playing the speech-synthesizer against the radio, making the computer talk to me, recite lyrics in various electronic voices and accents.

Listening for an echo. Giant pistons or explosive devices would beat against the curve of the earth as if it were an eardrum, seismic waves carrying back echoes of pharaonic riches. Like Joseph after all. Gemeiz is a poor showman who works in a nightclub. One day millionaire Assem El Isterliny visits the nightclub, visibly shaken after shooting a young man he caught with his wife.

This was the first in a long series of films throughout the s, in which Yasin assumed what became his trademark persona of the fool who embarks on quixotic adventures, narrowly and miraculously escaping various dangers. Central to The Millionaire is an extended song and dance spectacle that takes place in the madhouse. The madhouse is where fools converge and indulge in all sorts of language games. They sing subversive songs, gesticulate wildly, laugh insanely, and break taboos casually; all is acceptable under the umbrella of insanity.

The way madness and entertainment meet in such spectacle has proven highly successful with audiences and remains a staple of Egyptian cinema to this day. There are critics who attack popular comedies for their supposed lack of a narrative structure. These comedies are meant to be episodic, situational, and physical. In them the figure of the comedian focuses on all that is irrational, fragmented, and broken.

The comedies become the inheritors of an Arab heritage in which the stories of madmen are often latently critical of power and authority stories attacking with sarcasm tyrants and their casual abuse of the people abound. Gemeiz is our guide to the alternate universe of the madhouse.

A doctor first asks Gemeiz a couple of simple questions. Gemeiz is showered with cold water for two hours. The name, highly ironic, helps highlight a series of oppositions and paradoxes that mark the film. The contrast between poverty and wealth, a common enough dichotomy in the melodramas of the period, looms large. Eventually, Gemeiz is literally pushed into the ward. This alternative world is where our anti-hero takes active steps toward rediscovering himself, letting unconscious drives free; his road to knowledge passes through folly.

Grand in scale and flanked by palatial columns, the ward is a fantastical place. The line between real and unreal, the visible and invisible, is subtly indicated. Gemeiz plays an invisible qanoun toward the end of the scene, and we magically hear the tinkling notes of a virtuoso instrumentalist. When one of the inmates shouts that he is a train and starts to imitate one, we hear the sound of a full-on locomotive, and when another inmate warns him against falling into the water, we again hear the rustle of water.

The ward, just a moment ago a ship of fools, is suddenly transformed into a Shaabi carnival, as the entire chamber breaks into song and dance. Truly remarkable is the number of celebrities among the extras fifty, at a minimum in these scenes, including famous singers and musicians who utter only one or two lines. A series of sketches in which each madman assumes a different historical character follows.

The choice of characters is inevitably loaded. Napoleon saunters down the stairs, declaring that he holds a mighty secret, only to start muttering banal inanities. Antar, the Bedouin Arab hero of legendary strength, also appears. However, when he begins speaking after a musical introduction that includes bagpipes we discover that his voice has been perfectly dubbed over by the feminine voice of a young woman.

When Gemeiz asks him what happened to his voice, Antar replies that it changed after his last thrashing. Each time a new historical character is introduced, pompous, almost militarystyle music — a complete orchestral brass section — is played. This music, however, soon f lips into the light folk-inf lected baladi music of the time. Whenever one of the madmen starts to speak seriously, the music reverts to Western Napoleon, Nero or Bedouin Antar motifs. And again they revert to a popular mode when the madness of what they say is revealed.

This opposition between Western music and Oriental popular music comes with a series of associations. Orchestral European music here implies rationality, seriousness, authoritarianism, and patriarchal power, while the music of the people carries associations of madness, sarcasm, and breaking the barriers of class and gender. At the end of the spectacle, Gemeiz enters a dialogue with a bookish inmate carrying a large pile of texts; he looks like a philosopher.

The male nurse then reappears to take Gemeiz to see his wife and sister. He proceeds to lie and assumes the persona of the millionaire once again. In this way, he is let free. The Cairene spring arrived in mid-May, in the form of perfect days — breezy yet warm, the kind of weather that makes you want to run around the city on foot. It was a few anxious weeks before midterm elections for the Shura Council, and every inch of available space was plastered with political posters.

Building facades, bridges, and electricity poles: the faces were everywhere, bearing down on me from every direction, imploring or commanding, struggling to wrest my attention from the movie posters and advertisements for cell phones, sunglasses, and hearing aids. One of the most striking posters depicted a candidate for the affluent district of Kasr El Nil. I noticed it one afternoon while walking down the west side of Zamalek, along the Nile.

I had just turned onto Mahmoud Mokhtar Street, by the opera house, when I came across a wall lined with the most sublime images. Framed in a laurel wreath was the face of a blond-haired, blue-eyed, fairskinned angel, emerging from or ascending to a heavenly blue sky as wispy clouds floated peacefully above. It was an icon, though not the kind you see at church. I went closer to read the fine print: al Islam howa il hal. The marriage of pomp, politics, and religiosity is nothing new.

For decades now, sweeping banners of President Hosni Mubarak have shaded our boulevards from the sun, while halos form around his image through clouds of carbon monoxide. I grew up in that shade. Which, to this day, is often, but never more so than in the summer of And he was everywhere. Most of the Mubarak posters were distributed via the good offices of the state.

If I had ever entertained hopes of getting out from under his image, the inundation of our public spaces that year dashed them forever. In the capital, his most recent portrait is set against a Matrix -inspired emerald green galaxy. This is Mubarak 2. Further up the Nile, icons of the president assume more phantasmagoric shapes. In one arresting depiction, Mubarak appears upright, full-figured, shadowless. He is a true demigod, straddling the worlds.

To his left, pyramids; to his right, skyscrapers. His right arm sweeps away to the horizon, index and middle fingers slightly tilted, raised in blessing. Fighter jets splinter into the sky like fireworks beneath a bright orange nimbus: the sun god, Ra. If there are cults in Egypt today that still believe in the old gods, that seek to restore the majesty of the pharaohs, Mubarak wants their vote, too. It there were such a cult, it might well have a chapter in Qena, a governorate in the heart of upper Egypt whose denizens line the walls of their homes with votive portraits of themselves — riding a plane, sailing away on a cruise ship, making the hajj.

These are people who live amid ancient tombs and temples, just outside the valleys of the Kings and Queens. As Ramses had expelled the Hittites from Egypt, so Nasser had expelled the British; Ramses built colossal statues, temples, and vaults that would last for all time; Nasser would have his dam at Aswan, a monumental project that would change the topography of the land forever, creating the greatest lake in Egypt. Ramses, son of Ra, became the greatest of the kings of Egypt; and so Nasser, his successor, would refract that ancient glory.

His image was invested with hope — for honor, equality, victory. His icons were not only the stuff of political campaigns; they also appeared in private homes, on desks and bedroom walls. One of the most common images people hung in private spaces was a black and white photograph of Nasser draped in white linen, making the pilgrimage to Mecca.


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He is standing upright, the cloth sweeping down his otherwise naked body, hands folded in prayer. He looks to the side, the object of his gaze obscure to us, as a crowd of men, also draped in linen, look toward him. In that iconic image he achieves his ultimate majesty: on the road to the holy of holies, looking for all the world like Zeus. In September , the Mandala Collaborative received a letter of intent from the Iranian minister of culture and arts to design a new home for the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. It was a prestigious undertaking for the young Iranian firm, a landmark project that excited the interest of the Shah himself.

As in so many fields of endeavor, the ambition was to make a great leap forward, from backwardness to the cutting-edge. It was an era of great plans and major projects. Tehran, which had just hosted its first international film festival in , was to acquire a new museum of contemporary art next to Farah Park. The whorled ceiling of the auditorium was at once functional — minutely calibrated to achieve optimal reverberation — and symbolic, evoking the graded textures of the walls at Persepolis, the ruined capital of the Achaemenid Empire just outside present-day Shiraz.

The project, which also involved the American firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, proceeded slowly. Thousands of drawings and plans were devised; a model was produced and personally inspected by the Shah. It was very much a royal symphony hall, tailored to the needs of the emperor, with separate entrances for the conductor, the service workers, and the royals. The main entrance for commoners faced Pahlavi Avenue, near a proposed stop for the then-unbuilt subway.

But as the clerical regime consolidated power, the idea of a royal symphony hall became an anachronism, yet another reminder of the epic waste and misplaced priorities of the Pahlavi era. Like so many things, it was a step too far, the latest in a long line of glory-mongering excesses. Sleep on in peace forever, for we are awake and we remain to watch over your glorious heritage.

Though the audience for the Shiraz festivals was mostly Iranian, the predominance of Western artists and the vast sums spent preparing Shiraz for visitors made them, like the imperial celebrations, a magnet for criticism. Liberal reformers sometimes echoed religious complaints, insisting that the monies spent on these foreign-dominated cultural events might be used to improve the lives of average Iranians.

But the cultural dimension was always close to the surface. The Shiraz Festival featured Pig! Indecent acts have taken place in Shiraz, and it is said that such acts will soon be shown in Tehran too, and nobody says a word. We need markers of Islam. The idea of the museum itself was also subject to interrogation. An editorial in Faslnameh Honar demanded that, rather than catalogue or represent the arts of past epochs, the revolutionary exhibition would submit the work of art to the judgment of Islam. Certainly, lovers of modern art feared the summary judgment of the clerics; the basement of the Museum of Contemporary Art became a storehouse for the largest collection of twentieth-century art outside of Europe and North America, including pivotal works by Picasso, Pollock, and Grosz, as well as a silkscreen portrait of Empress Farah by Andy Warhol.

This indifference or hostility to the non-Islamic past extended across the humanities. Archeology suffered, as well. The Institute of Archeology at Tehran University was closed; funding was slashed or eliminated for ongoing work at various locations, including Persepolis. In June , nearly two decades after his departure, Fiuzi received a phone call at his home in the suburbs of Washington, DC. It was a representative of the Iranian government, calling with a proposition: Could he lead the design and construction of a grand meeting hall, to be completed in time for the Eighth Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference — just over five months away.

His team proceeded to produce some 4, drawings, including designs for fabrics and furniture; many were s plans re-rendered with AutoCAD. The new complex would feature resting halls, prayer halls, and meeting rooms, though the focus remained the circular center, formerly the main concert hall, now a tent-like auditorium in which to install some fifty-odd heads of state and their retinues.

Six thousand workers laboring around the clock ensured that the construction of the building was finished on schedule. The new design had to be modified in form as well as function. In light of the occasion of its construction, the conference center was to represent the achievement of Islam, not the timeless glory of the Persian Empire. Fiuzi would have to gut the Achaemenid elements from the original plans and replace them with new design elements in an appropriately Islamic style. Of course, the nature of Islamic style is itself an open question.

The morning after his site visit, buses bearing traditional tile workers showed up at the site to begin their work. Neither the building nor the Islamic Summit Conference was a phenomenal success. This was a monumental work built in record speed for comparatively little money, ninety-three percent of it from local sources and hence only seven percent foreign — the press loved to quote the exact figure.

Today he lives and works in Tehran. The body, which is destined to decay, to be mingled with the dust and produce and be eaten by worms, even at the pinnacle of its beauty is but an obstruction in the way to real beauty. The beauty of concealment, therefore, lies in the elimination of the physical values in order to revive the values of the real self of a woman in the mind of the society of man and woman.

Aberoo is the basis of hospitality, even generosity, but it also contains an element of falseness. Those who labor to keep up appearances often have something to hide. In addition to the tent city and the outlandish meal and extravagant spectacle at Persepolis, the whole city of Shiraz where journalists and lesser dignitaries stayed was cleaned up: the prison painted, potted flowers lined along the main roads, caged songbirds hung on lampposts. Shopkeepers were issued handsome blue jackets. After the events were over and the guests had left, the city was stripped of all these ornaments. The Islamic Summit Conference and its specially commissioned building was a different kind of project, a demonstration of piety and simplicity, the opposite of ostentatious.

But it was a kind of aberoo , too. At the foot of a monument, we are asked to remember something we do not, cannot, know. By this we are yoked to the cause. A brand of pity and sorrow arises. It is pity for ourselves: for having been born at all and for not remembering it; for being creatures who will die and not remember that. I expressed some doubts to my mother. You want glory and riches.

Being half American and half Qatari my sister and I are very lucky to have had so many paths to choose from. If you ask my littlest sister El-Bendari what she wants to do when she grows up, she will tell you without hesitation: marry a boy from our tribe. El-Bendari is five years old this year.

Already she has decided that her wedding will be the high point of her life, the funnest and best thing there is. El-Bendari wants a wedding, not a Shetland pony or a career in finance. I discovered this the first time I came to Qatar by myself. My uncle took me aside for a chitchat. Later I confronted my father. Was I really betrothed to my cousin? I sometimes imagined not without pleasure a King Kong—type scenario in which Godzilla clutched me in his chubby fist as I channeled Fay Ray in my black abaya. He squeezed me with his sausage claws as he swatted buzzing helicopters out of the Doha skyline.

His father, my uncle, a powerful local imam, became impatient. I worried about them. Godzilla was clearly going to be a lot to handle. I had always liked him well enough, mostly because he was in possession of what seemed to be the only pirated, of course English copies of The Smurfs in all of Doha, or at least our tiny corner of it. But his VHS collection did not stop with the Smurfs. I think it was called Gym Nasty , though perhaps I am making that up. But Godzilla definitely had a reputation as the town perv. I danced at their wedding with extra abandon, having dodged the fastest bullet of my young, eligible life.

But everyone knew it was supposed to be me looking elated and nervous and miserable in a spumescent white dress. Only later did it occur to me that each dramatic swerve and hair-flip generated gossip about poor terrified Moza. Sure indications that a wedding is imminent are the squeals of pain ripping through the cement houses of the lucky bridal family. The sweet is a golden glop of boiled sugar water the consistency of thick honey. The lucky lady comes first, though, and her waxing is extra-sweet: for her wedding she is allowed her first-ever full-body wax.

This takes place offstage, in a side room, with the door locked and the key hidden. But the screams make it exciting for everyone. Nowadays some girls do a certain amount of auto-depilation with razors, but this is still controversial. When I moved to Qatar I brought a pink Bic razor with me from Washington and promptly caused a scandal. My grandmother made me take it out of the bathroom and hide it. Who was I doing this for, indeed. After the halawa, the bride has to get the henna. Usually the henna lady is different from the halawa lady.

And there are different styles of henna. North African henna is geometrical and closely resembles fish bones. Indian henna is darker if you mix the henna paste with lemon, it gets dark and has feathery motifs, like peacocks. Gulfi henna is more rounded and organic.

There must be no hint of an image, so it tends to be more floral. For her wedding the bride gets the whole deal: head and shoulders, knees and toes, all the way up her thighs, like stockings. Her sisters and cousins get hands and arms and sometimes, more recently, an American-style tramp stamp on the lower back. When we talk about our weddings, we are only barely talking about our marriages.

It is essentially the signing of a contract, witnessed by family members, sometimes with an imam present but usually not. Tea is served, and cookies. Sweetly he brought his bride a pair of lovebirds in a cage, but the poor little budgies died a week later. When we talk about our weddings, we are mostly talking about the parties.

The dueling receptions, male and female. Usually there are two tents set up next to each other on one of the huge swatches of empty lot near where we live. Sometimes they take place at a wedding hall. My sisters dream of having theirs at the Sheraton or the Four Seasons, the men and women in separate air-conditioned ballrooms. But we have never been to such a wedding. The best wedding I ever went to involved a whole baby lamb splayed out over a hill of rice. The lamb still had its eyes. Out of its back rose a tier of trays with condiments: yogurt, pickles, pepper, salt.

The meat was buttery, butter soft; you tore pieces you wanted off with your hands. Usually the food at weddings is disgusting. Gahawah : yellow coffee made from unroasted beans with lots of cardamom. Sour grape leaves. Tasteless rice in hillocky clumps. Cellophane-wrapped wedding favors with shriveled pistachios and sugared almonds in nougat, which sometimes breed tiny worms.

Plasticine fruit tarts. But El-Bendari loves wedding food, especially the tarts. This is the main event: nervous virgins and divorcees take their places on a catwalk that is at once auction house, runway, soundstage, and wilderness. Black-robed mothers of marriageable sons move in close in anticipation. Each eligible girl clambers onto the stage and is announced by the wedding singers, who are always Sudanese. The singers are called daghagat , and they play drums and sing into battered microphones, feedback issuing from the cheap speakers.

All the songs sound kind of the same, and yet people have favorites. I have a favorite, but I have no idea what it says or how to ask for it, as the words are almost unintelligible through all the static. The serious matchmaking happens after dinner, after the bride has been whisked away by the groom and his family. When the groom comes everyone covers back up and the newly amalgamated family dances around together, the mother of the bride throwing riyals in the air, on her daughter, or on herself, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

I always dance early, to the consternation of my grandmother. The female hemisphere of the wedding party is always well lit and bustling long after the men say goodnight. Flesh bursts the seams of silk dresses; the party bursts the woolen tent. The goat-hair flaps can barely shield their glittering secret from the lazy male gazes that peer out from behind the headlights of idling Land Cruisers.

If you were to whip out a camera in the middle of a wedding, the done-up dolls of Doha and their honor-obsessed mothers would gore you quite mercilessly. Security would be called, your film torn out, your memory card burned with a hot incense coal. When I was little there were no photographs at all; the bride had to go to a photography studio, where a woman whose job it was to do so made sure that no one did anything funny with the negatives.

These days there are official wedding photographers, usually Filipino ladies. There are no group photos. After the photographer has finished with the bride, unmarried girls swarm to get their picture taken, something to send to their secret cellphone boyfriends. Sometimes the most perceptive girls would pull me behind the stage and ask to be photographed in awkward glamour-shot poses pinky finger under chin or head cocked into plastic rosebush. After all, my photographs were free, while the Filipino photographers charge five riyals a pop!

But this time I felt an unfamiliar twinge of guilt as I aimed my Pentax camera lens out from under the arm of my abaya at a trio of unsuspecting second cousins. Each of them was resplendent in carefully chosen colors. Afra swayed back and forth in a beaded tunic that quit mid-thigh and rained glass droplets down to her French pedicured toes. Abrar lounged in a golden tiger number, striped spandex stretched taut over her arms into fingerless gloves. Abtihal, who was turning out to be the belle of the ball, stood tall and slim, her torso and hair littered with crumpled purple ribbon rosettes, misted with lilac scent.

All three were wearing colored contacts blue, yellow, purple and deep red henna all the way up their arms.


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I had to suppress an awe-filled sigh at their finery. I photographed them as they commented sardonically on the young and unmarried unsheathing themselves for the delectation of the shrouded older women. As she stood between her sisters, I noticed that Abtihal had an unusual glow about her festooned head. We all used to laugh at the ugly girls who made such a fuss about the stray snapshots that sometimes circulated around the tribe. Now, suddenly, Abtihal stood there, petrified, stock-still as her sisters gesticulated around her.

Meanwhile, shameless in the tall grass, I poached the pristine reputation of my beautiful cousin with every snap. This news explained both her glow and the imperceptible twitching revealed by my photographs. Full to the brim with promises, Abtihal was too bright for me to capture. Lashed to her dignity by the braided ropes of fate, she had been petrified of being photographed and risking the honor of her new family. The official photos of my cousin Jameela and her sisters folded neatly into a pocket-sized memory book from the Al Saad Ladies Photography Company.

Her daughter is unrecognizable behind layers of white foundation and raver-girl glitter. In the cover photo, Jameela squints out of a heart-shaped cutout. My aunt dismisses the tears with a wave. I wonder briefly about my aunt, her marriage to my uncle. We flip through the rest of the photos. My aunt sighs again and mumbles something about the Allah-given gift of love.

But probably not. The first time I danced at a wedding I was fourteen years old and wearing a red Chinese dress with a shocking slit up the leg. Thus restrained, I resorted to a mixture of Egyptian-style belly dance and Midwestern clod-hopping. Daughter of Mohamed,"or "Safya! Granddaughter of Amer! Which in turn made me feel triumphant despite my humiliation. The Institute of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences occupies some seventy acres of farmland on the outskirts of Bangalore. Innocent eyes might see the luxuriant foliage, the palm-fringed lake, and the swimming pool and conclude that the institute is a resort.

Nothing unusual, really, in a country where alternative medicine is anything but. My very first memory of medicine is that it tasted great. Medicine meant little white sugar-balls, shampoo was shikakai powder, a fever was treated with a cold compress, and exercise was yoga. Every so often, my mother would hold my nose and put some mysterious viscous fluid down my throat. It was never clear what it was supposed to do, but mysterious viscous fluids were usually certified by the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, and we always assumed the best. That alternative medicine continues to be mainstream even as India has become a powerhouse of mainstream medicine is a charming contradiction.

I remember when holistic concoctions came in grim brown bottles sold by grim brown cooperatives. The institute — or Jindal, as it is generally known, after its founder, S R Jindal, and his eponymous steel conglomerate — is something of a national legend. Look at your wonderful achievement, o! Modern man of flying colors! The gigantic synthetic tree you have grown has no leaves, no flowers. Having allowed the inner power of your soul to die with a shrug, You cannot think of any thing other than the synthetic drug. Such snippets of solipsistic caution pop up around every corner at Jindal.

Jingoistic, moralistic, vegetarian, and cosmic, Jindal seemed to have been specially designed to annoy me. I have been pumped, drained, prodded, shrived, and mapped, and I would do it again. My conversion was a long time coming. I made my first trips to the institute as a boy, escorting various aunts through the Jindal experience. They came from Bombay and Delhi and Vishakapatnam, gregarious and overweight, eager and apprehensive. Two weeks later, they would emerge broken but definitely unbowed, desperate to get back to their dosas, whiskies, and cigarettes.

I went as a man and suffered a similar fate. But I always knew I would go back. I hated myself for failing and retained a kind of Victorian horror at the state of my body, long after I shed my baby fat. Besides, the ideal South Indian Brahmin achieves his perfect body not by lifting weights or cutting carbs, but by acquiring vast reserves of inner power. He is soft, not taut; lean, but never muscular. Most crucially, he understands that the greatest glory is renunciation, that the best-lived life is a life hardly lived at all. So it was with considerable trepidation that I returned to Jindal this July.

I tried not to think about it. I was allotted one hundred grams of boiled bean sprouts, a spoonful of steamed garlic, and four slices of two kinds of fruit. Inevitably, I could think of nothing but real food. I fanatically recounted my favorite recipes to equally fanatical strangers. They told me about their excreta. We all scrutinized the serving staff, hoping to exploit any lapse of vigilance.

One evening, a thin, heavily made-up woman collapsed quietly at my table. She was removed and I never saw her again. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of liquids, horrid and nice. The horrids include strained pulp of aloe, tulsi water, and asafoetida tea; nice ones include mango juice, buttermilk, and tender-coconut water. Most people with horrid liquids on their prescription calmly substitute something nice.

I for one discovered that several glasses of fruit juice chased by hot milk and jaggery can feel like a meal. I found it oddly comforting. What had driven me to delirium before was the broken promise of chewable food, not its absence. There was still plenty of absence, however. No cigarettes, no alcohol, no outside food, no medicines, no laptops, no visitors, no sex. Even the double rooms have two single beds bolted to the floor.

No one is allowed to leave the well-guarded premises. The politician who paid the cleaning lady Rs to smuggle in a cup of tea is derided by name in the welcome pamphlet; a couple who were caught eating papayas they had plucked off a tree during the evening walk were tossed out immediately. The story of their perfidy lives on to this day. Jindal diary: Days begin at about am with bhajans piped into each room on closed-circuit audio.

At , after the mandatory walk around the grounds and the mandatory laughing session, we begin the kriyas, a set of cleansing techniques to quicken the kundalini. The first time I faced vaman dhauti, I hesitated, fidgeting nervously with my glass. The instructor laughed. Moments later I was lurching and vomiting like everyone else. The highlight of the morning, however, is an invigorating two hours of yoga, beginning at Men and women assemble on two sides of the main hall.

An instructor performs on a center stage, providing a constant stream of blandishments. The most enthusiastic win awards-motivational books by S R Jindal-while certain of us receive gentle rebukes. At 10am, the medical portion of the treatment begins with an enema. At Jindal, nature never calls; it is summoned.

High-end patients get theirs en suite, while those in more modest accommodation have to show up at treatment headquarters tube in hand. This is the second most humiliating process at Jindal. In a tiny cubicle, one has to disrobe and lie sideways. The moment the water pressure becomes unbearably discomforting, one signals weakly, at which point the attendant removes the tube.

Then, jaw and rectum set, one rolls over, fumbles with a protective towel, and dashes gingerly to the nearest loo. The rest of the morning is for less invasive treatment. Cold mudpacks are slapped on — not to the face, of course, but to the stomach, the better to freeze the parasites and their eggs that hide in the large intestine causing disease, according to Jindal lore.

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This happens at least four times a day. I should admit that no matter how many times I am subjected to colonic hydrotherapy, and no matter how recently, it always comes as a shock. The afternoon, generally speaking, is for therapy. Patients can obtain nearly every natural cure ever devised. One side effect is a near-constant state of sexual alertness.

Between entertainment and bedtime there are two hours of mandatory play.


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There are several reasons I blush when confessing I enjoyed the Jindal experience, and the corniness of it is not even the first. The library, for instance, stocks every right-wing Hindu magazine possible, from the Organiser — the official weekly publication of the fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — to the softer, odder Hinduism Today. There is that hard institutional bitterness toward the second sex. Many of the instructors I talked to were proud Hindus in a perfectly pleasant way.

Jindal is a thoroughly confusing place, an oasis of what we might call right-wing hippiedom. Except that the enthusiasts at Jindal are industrialists from India, not crusties from San Francisco. Hot-steam therapy has been on the menu at Scandinavian spas for at least the last two centuries. Homeopathy is German in origin; acupuncture comes from China. Unani is influenced by Persian Islam. Medical Nemesis, published in , capped a career of romantic longing for a simpler time. Whatever one thinks of him today, there is no question that in his time, Illich tapped straight into the zeitgeist.

The 70s saw the maturation of a radical project born in the 60s. That new left is now our old left, and Illich retains enormous currency with them, at least in India. Perhaps this is just so. Like it or not, naturopathy is neither left nor right. Or rather, it is both. Everybody loves natural power. It is simultaneously self-indulgent and selfless.

Right-wingers get off on the self-determination of it all, the confirmation that everyone is capable of a better body and a better life, that all people need to do is get their act together. Left-wingers love the fact that it evinces, yet again, the fallibility and hypocrisy of the West. The first time I went to Jindal, I left in the same haze of anxiety I endured within. On the hour-long journey home from that first internment, I directed my auto-rickshaw driver to stop at the first restaurant we passed. Suitcase in hand, I proceeded to make up for fourteen days of missed meals.

Butter chicken, parathas, masala dosas, and delicious deep-fried vadas. I was sick for weeks. The second time was different. I studied myself and liked what I saw. I had lost a kilo for every day I had spent at Jindal. My body looked like it had been through a particularly successful round of plastic surgery, while my cholesterol levels had dropped dramatically. My lipid profile had never looked better. You might even say that I was lean, yet soft.

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The only way out of that conundrum is to live austerely alongside the indulgent, and for that I need to cultivate still more inner power. Battles of Troy is a study of the economics of contemporary global cinema as seen through the eyes of the bottom rung of the production hierarchy: the extras. The film considers the making of the Warner Brothers blockbuster Troy.

Battles of Troy , released one year later, is a Bulgarian documentary by Krassimir Terziev that documents the making of the Hollywood film. In its way, it is nearly as epic as its subject matter, spanning six nations, displacing space and time and containing within it the greatest battle ever fought between the people of Bulgaria and Mexico. In April of , Warner Brothers begins production of Troy. Filming begins at Shepperton, near London. Production next moves to Malta, where a Troy was erected in Fort Ricasoli. Though the main battle scenes were originally scheduled for Morocco, tensions born of the impending war in Iraq forced the production to move from Morocco to Baja California Sur, Mexico.

I had no excessive body fat; everything was fine with the muscles on my body, and perhaps I also had a face. We look a lot like… like those people of back then — the ancient Greeks, the Trojans, and all of the tribes. In Mexico, a group of 1, extras are to recreate the battles between 50, members of the Greek army and 25, Trojan warriors.

The production team is in need of an elite group that not only possesses the physical prowess necessary to convincingly stage the battle scenes, but also has a palpably Mediterranean look. A military experts team flies to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to conduct a casting call among 5, men.

The perfect soldiers are recruited from the Sports Academy in Sofia. They are flown to Mexico for a three-month shooting period. The Bulgarians are flown to Mexico for a grueling three-week training period in temperatures upward of degrees Fahrenheit. They are a sensation in the local media; a radio message warns the Mexicans to guard their wives on Saturday night. We kept trying to get a break, to get some water or find shade. But there was no shade. So we were simply sitting there, killing scorpions and all sorts of nasty centipedes. Not the movie characters.

You notice the extras in the movie. After production comes to a close in Mexico, the Bulgarians are flown back to Sofia. A few of them stay on in Mexico, two marry Americans who were vacationing in Cabo that summer. One Bulgarian extra, Alexander Iordanov, starts to study film. The Trojan horse made for the movie is given to Turkey as a present, where it continues to sit today at the site of the original Troy. In , a small group of Moroccan poets, artists, and intellectuals launched Souffles , a quarterly review that would over time become at once a vehicle for cultural renewal and an instigator of efforts to promote social justice in the Maghreb.

It was a cri de coeur , a rebellion against the artistic status quo, a manifesto for a new aesthetics, even a new worldview. Its trademark cover, emblazoned with an intense black sun, radiated rebellion. A decade earlier, the French protectorate of Morocco had managed to secure its independence as a kingdom while Paris concentrated on retaining neighboring Algeria, where a war of independence was just beginning.

Leftists battled conservatives for control of the nationalist movement, while Crown Prince Hassan maneuvered to position himself as the ultimate political arbiter of the young country. When his father died in , the prince became King Hassan II. For Moroccan intellectuals, students, and urban workers, the Sixties were a time of massive upheaval. Thousands participated in strikes and street protests that often ended in brutal clampdowns, arrests, and torture. Leftist political leaders such as Mehdi Ben Barka who was assassinated by the regime in , probably with French and American help built links with progressive forces abroad, including Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, and Malcolm X.

Into this fraught picture entered Abdellatif Laabi, founder, editor, and publisher of Souffles. He had attended colonial schools and taught French. His early poems combined surrealist invective and a rage against his own uprootedness as a Moroccan who was more comfortable expressing himself in the colonial lingua franca than in Arabic. Laabi launched the inaugural issue of Souffles with this prologue:. The poets who have signed the texts in this issue-manifesto of Souffles are unanimously aware that such a publication is an assertion on their part at a time when the problems of our national culture have reached an extreme degree of tension.

The current situation does not, as some may believe, speak of a creative proliferation. The cultural agitation that individuals or organizations would like to pass off as a growth spurt of our literature is in fact the mere expression of a cultivated stagnation, of a certain number of misconceptions as to what the real sense of literary activity consists of. Petrified contemplation of the past, sclerosis of form and content, unashamed imitation and forced borrowings, vainglorious false talents — these are the tainted daily ration with which the press, periodicals and the greed of all-too-few publishers have bored us stiff.

Not counting its multiple forms of prostitution, literature has become a form of aristocracy, a badge of honor, a manifestation of intellectual prowess and do-it-yourself attitude. Something is afoot in Africa and in other Third-World countries. Exoticism and folklore are falling by the wayside. No one can predict where this will lead.

But the day will come when the real spokespersons of these collectivities really make their voices heard, and it will be like dynamite exploding the rotten arcana of the old humanisms. Severe patience and strict self-censorship were necessary to produce this review, which sees itself first and foremost as the organ of a new poetic and literary generation. Souffles was not created to add to the number of ephemeral reviews. It answers a need that has never ceased formulating itself around us.

From that perspective, no cultural clashes can occur. On the one side there is a culture in which qualities of dynamism, growth, and depth are recognized. A living culture that perpetually renews itself. On the other side there are characteristics, curiosities, objects — but never structures. Abdelkebir Khatibi, a novelist and sociologist whom Roland Barthes would later cite as an influence, was perhaps emblematic of the concerns that ran through the pages of Souffles.

Let us consider now, not the problem of literature, but that of Maghreb writers. In a sense, this description was salutary because it was already a type of appraisal of the colonial situation. But at this very level, it was already being overtaken by events that were taking place in North Africa. For instance, at the moment when Algerians took to arms to liberate themselves through violence, novelists were busy describing the minutia of everyday life of Kabyle villages and poets were singing the anxieties of their torn personalities.

Condemned to follow a reality that is in permanent transformation, the writer faces a dilemma: if he wants to follow the evolution of this reality in a continuous manner, he becomes a journalist. If he takes too much distance, he risks ending up producing disembodied literature. The situation has become more complicated after the Algerian war. In their way, they helped to make the Algerian problem known. Unfortunately, for the most part this literature has outrun its course, it died with the war.

Now that we face enormous problems of nation-building we must ask frankly and without detours the question of literature: in countries that are in large part illiterate, that is to say where the written word has few chances for the moment to transform things, can you liberate a people with a language that they do not understand?

The debate over language continued to be at the core of the early issues of the magazine. The Soufflites were aware that publishing in French, the language they had been educated in and through which they could reach an intellectual elite in France and elsewhere , was limiting the size and scope of their readership.

Although after Souffles would develop an Arabic-language edition, Anfass , the question of language would remain paramount — and not only for the Moroccan avant-garde. In the fourth issue of Souffles , he expounded on the problem:. Thus, it is true that the linguistic frustration of the colonized went beyond, in the colonial context, the simple coexistence of two modes of expression.

It weakened the psyche of the colonized and was a weapon for the depreciation of his own culture. At the level of this repressive phase, the linguistic dualism was a tragedy. A tragedy that has not been overcome for many intellectuals of the independence period since even the cultural structures conveyed by the new modes of education and the improvised experience of arabization have not, in this domain, shattered in depth the basis of the colonial status quo.

The colonized adolescent, even if he was deprived of his maternal tongue, could still dispose of a vehicle for his thoughts through which he could express his rebellion, his ideas, one through which he could exteriorize his personality. The post-independence adolescent has lost this imposed vehicle but has not yet re-conquered the other. He is aphasic.