Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Philosophical Musings of a Human..being.

It has been a while since I endeavoured into the uncharted world of human behaviour, mostly due to a state called "The Idleness of the Soul"; the unaware slipping into the common state of indifference, launching the autopilot embedded within us all and functioning in a robotic fashion going about our daily errands.

I have no clue why I keep quoting authors and literature, but it probably has something to do with the intricate detail with which they reflect human conciousness and self awareness. In his radio play "Under Milk Wood", Welsh playwright Dylan Thomas captures the essence of solitude, physical and/or intellectual, where one's own mental conversation echoes within, reminding one of their existence, in the purely Descartes-esque fashion of "I think, therefore I am". Doubt in existence needs an assirtion, and that assirtion is thought.

Knowing that doubt exists, we can generalize and assert that conscious acts exist, since doubts are a kind of conscious acts. And so, if we are to reach Descartes’ conclusion, we must somehow show that the self exists, and not just the conscious acts.

The really interesting question, then, is whether or not we can show that the existence of a conscious act guarantees the existence of a first person perspective aka "I", and if some constituted self must exist as a result of this. The structure of consciousness, the fact that we talk of the conscious act as a presentation, certainly implies that the act is structured around a first person perspective. In other words, without a first person perspective nothing can be conscious; and thus, to doubt that the first person perspective exists would itself be a conscious act structured around a first person perspective, confirming its existence.

Why is it structured around a first person perspective? Simply because someone might insist that there is no real first person perspective, only an appearance of one. So all we can really say is that the conscious act, the experience, seems as though it has a first person perspective, the existence of a first person viewpoint is itself a kind of minimal constituted self, since the first person perspective implies that there is someone who is having the current experience, even if it doesn’t necessarily give that self any other attributes, other than being there physically and/or mentally, at that specific time, completing the elements of existance.

Now, back to Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood":

"And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now, Hush..the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cockle-women and the tidy wives.

Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organ-playing wood, you can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.

Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast and slow..asleep."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


"He had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth." Márquez; "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

It is odd, that despite the 100 years of rhetoric about the value of freedom and human rights, the right for self determination is a valid argument for all the peoples of the world, from East Timor to Southern Sudan, which took 72 hours to become a full UN member, not to mention the mushrooming self determination calls across the world as we speak, but in the case of Palestine, it becomes a matter of long negotiations about disputed lands rather than occupied lands.

One has to admit that the struggle for Palestinian self determination was never handled rationally, not that rationale was an option to people uprooted from their ancestral lands in a few months to make way for people who claim it to be theirs first; an argument that can easily be made by native Americans in the case of North America, aborigines in the case of Australia, and the list goes on, but having reached the point we're in today, one has to be pragmatic with the hopes and realistic with the expectations.

194 would be the number Palestine would hold in the list of nations at the UN, an interesting coincidence with the UNGA resolution 194 of 1948, which calls for the return of the displaced Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war, but being a General Assembly resolution, it has no legally binding power as those of the UN Security Council resolutions, it remains, though; an ethical bedrock of the United Nations' moral duty of justice and equality, not to mention its idealistic role as the peacekeeper of the world, at least on paper.

The fact of the matter is that the US position towards Israel transcends elections, the Jewish vote and democracy, it goes deep into religious belief; Israel is seen as the prologue to the return of Jesus Christ, and the protection of Israel in every way possible serves that purpose, whereas the Palestinians are Philistines, a pagan barbarian enemy of the chosen people eventually defeated by David, Goliath is their most famous historical character, the David vs Goliath story has become the embodiment of Good vs Evil in the collective psyche of the Judeo-Christian narrative. Evangelism in the US is fascinated by Israel, a tiny peaceful promise by God to the Jewish people to herald the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of Heaven, threatened by the descendants of Goliath, the choice as to who to side with is as clear as daylight.

The World is a messed up place, truth and lies are meshed up with interest and gain, hypocracy is a human trait reincarnated through the United Nations, George Orwell's Animal Farm -written one year prior to the establishment of the UN- is probably the best representation of its inner workings: "All Pigs are Equal, but some Pigs are more Equal than Others". And yet, Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the UN in 2011 and says: "In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me - and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people, serving their nations here - But here's what the rabbi said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies." [source]. I'm not entirely sure whether the rabbi was insulting the UN or praising it with that statement.

Alright, so where do we go from here? A US veto is on the menu, Palestine won't become a full UN member, despite the prospected use of the same course that was taken by Israel in 1948, it is -none the less- the beginning of a great annual nuisance to Israel and a cause for a great annual embarrassment to the supposed fair broker to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Tonight, a vote at the UN Security Council is expected to be made to propose sanctions on Syria, it's expected that Russia -which announced its backing of the Palestinian statehood bid- would use the veto to abort it, so in a way, a tit for tat ping pong game between the US and Russia, a US veto for Palestine, a Russian veto for Syria, and they're even. The quartet's envoy, the Right Honorable Tony Blair -on his part- turned out to be having an affair with an Israeli business woman, so that's also in the bag, we're set, we're back to the global city of mirrors -or mirages- Márquez was talking about, it's our 100 Years of Solitude this time around, though.

"Look at situations as contingent, not as inevitable, look at them as the result of a series of historical choices made by men and women, as facts of society made by human beings, and not as natural or god-given, therefore unchangeable, permanent, irreversible." Edward Said.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


Remember the Birth pangs of the New Middle East? The genius theory prophesied by Ms. Rice, who; on this eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, had ignored, underplayed and dismissed intelligence reports warning of an imminent threat to the US mainland, 2 months prior to the attacks, voiding her political wisdom obsolete since the first few months of the Bush Administration.

It seems that the number Eleven has an element of change embedded within it's identical straight lines, as was the case in 9/11's tsunami style change across the world, 2011 has proven to be a year of unimaginable change in the Arab world, Three regime changes in Eight months, Two others in the process. A whole mindset of defiance has risen from beneath the proverbial ashes of the Arab defeated spirit. Tonight, remarking on the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo last night, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that "The Middle East is now undergoing a political earthquake of historic proportions. Perhaps this can be compared to what happened a century ago at the end of the First World War with the establishment of a new world order."

Two of Israel's most relied on historic allies in the region -using the hip Facebook language- have "unfriended" Israel, even if this status change is temporary, the fact remains that Israel is as clueless as it's never been before in its history, Netanyahu's comparison of the current state of the Middle East to the era at the end of the First World War isn't a haphazard statement, the whole map of the Middle East was redrawn in the aftermath of WWI, Israel hadn't been born yet but it's probably the ultimate prize that came out of that "earthquake". Since its creation in 1948, Israel had always been the re-shaper/re-drawer of borders in the Middle East, through the series of wars from '48 to '73, not to mention the Lebanon invasion of '82 and the Lebanon war of '06 -which saw that first genius statement of the new Mid East- and the Gaza war of '08.

in 2011, Turkey's 61 year old strategic alliance with Israel is frozen, Egypt's 30 year old puppet regime has fallen, Syria's "good bad neighbour" is in the process of falling, and the whole political map is reshaping with Israel's helpless eyes fixated Westwards seeking protection and reassurance from its historic ally and benefactor across the Atlantic ocean, to guarantee its survival and to salvage the broken pieces of diplomatic tantrums in the Arab World.

Bottom line, Welcome to the new Middle East, The birth pangs of the New Middle East have returned; Israel isn't the only constant anymore, but rather the new emerging variable. History never accepts the status quo, even if the status quo conveniently lasts for centuries.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

When South Becomes the New North

I, for one; do not care what the official Jordanian position towards what's happening in Syria is, if -that is- there was indeed an official -or an unofficial- Jordanian position to begin with, for all the diplomatic etiquette, and all the elegance and eloquence in political communiqués become void of their meaning when five minutes across the Jordanian northern border, people's human dignity is being abused for the sake of one man's -cosa nostra style- narcissistic ego.

I won't go into the known facts of inter-familial ties between Jordan and Syria, nor will I remind you that the flag of Jordan was -at one point- the flag of the Kingdom of Syria, neither will I stress the unbreakable Jordanian historic sociological and cultural belonging to the Leventine identity more than its economic yearning towards the Gulf. But if I were to practice my talents in crystal-ball gazing and my world renowned supernatural powers in prediction and astrology, I would predict a firm Jordanian position towards Syria in the next few days, one that stresses the "importance of safeguarding the human dignity of the Syrian people, and their inherent human right of free expression void from the threat of physical harm, pointing out the sanctity of human life". A position that boasts with idealism and chivalry, as All our official positions are. We will, of course; add actions to words and seal this noble position by recalling our ambassador from Damascus for consultations.

You might be sly in thinking that this -better late than never- eventual expression of our deep inner feelings of humanity comes to you courtesy of our GCC membership hopes, or the unprecedented Saudi, Kuwaiti, and UAE financial aid to Jordan in the past and coming week or so, not to mention the official Syrian announcement of a drug smuggling bust on the Syrian-Jordanian border today, but you'd be wrong; in fact, it all comes down to our piousness and ever so clear consciousness, you see.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Má Vlast

What is Jordan's most recent assertion of existence? probably a shocking question to some, but I've been thinking about variations of this question for a while. This year, we celebrated the 43rd anniversary of the battle of Karamah of 1968; and despite the unfair historical hijacking of the first Arab victory post the 1967 war, it remains the fundamental proof of Jordan's ability to survive. Some would also include the September 1970 events, and they might be correct, but Karamah endures as the first straight forward Israeli defeat.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Jordan had a Message, one of insistence to succeed as a model of a modern Arab nation built from the ground up, one reflective of the diversity of the Arab nation both ethnically and religiously, a civilized model of Arab renaissance in the 20th century, this was fortified with the constitution of 1952 and the parliamentary elections of 1956, the 1st and last purely democratic exercise in Jordanian history, despite the subsequent regionally inspired political turmoil in 1957. The social and economic development in the 1960s and 1970s was another assertion of existence, so was the life and death of notable Jordanian politicians like Hazza' Al Majali and Wasfi Al Tal, although I would argue that our best example of the will and power to succeed was embodied in King Hussein himself, hence, the example could be extended to his own life, until his passing in 1999.

Jordan's enduring stable political identity's marking of its 90th anniversary this year is one worthy of note, and there's much to say about the virtues of the Jordanian model of government. But the political, economic and social map has changed massively since the passing of King Hussein, the fact remains; that Jordan's one time idealistic -bearer of arm/bearer of olive branch- image has vanished from the collective Jordanian psyche during the past decade or so, and was replaced by the materialistic image of singular capital gain through plural capital loss. Which brings to mind Ibn Khaldun's theory on The Rise and Fall of Nations, when, in the fifth phase of a nation's life, it suffers from the symptoms of old age, including national dementia, where the one-time single unit made of multiple compositions is fragmented into many, replacing collective national pride with factionalism, tribalism, and individualism, diminishing the capacity of diversity as the engine of the political unit. A negative socio-political evolution where decadence and decay hits the nation and sedentary luxuries over-ride the basic duties of government in safeguarding justice and equality among all citizens, regardless of their economic stature.

The mere recurring use of the word Reform, refers to infested deterioration, the only problem is that even if you get a facelift, or a botox injection, or any other cosmetic treatment called "Reform", you'd most likely still suffer from chronic age-related arthritis, increasing loss of hearing, and probably, at one point, Alzheimer's disease, despite the baby -blemish free- skin. Your best bet lies in your regular mental and physical exercise, in other words, the clear and constant engagement of all the proverbial colors of the social and political spectrum in the assessment of the national priorities, void from unquestionable hierarchical patronage, dismissal, or pastoral dictation.

Friday, 15 July 2011

On The "Re" In Reform

I have to admit, in the beginning, that I've been quiet for a long while for more than one reason, but mainly out of the void of something useful to say; Having said that, I imagine that today's events in Amman, are as about useful of a reason to speak as one could have.

I also have to admit, that despite my being a critic to many government policies throughout my not so brief adulthood, bearing in mind my on and off government service, I'm not entirely certain that the objective sought by those who take to the streets every Friday, and for the sake of the argument I'll call them the callers for reform is the same objective for all, and whether they're all calling for the same reform.

We acknowledge the need for Political and Economic reform, and as far as I'm concerned, all the elements of reaching an enlightened, fair and unanimously agreed upon form of government are on the table; Corruption has become pandemic in Jordan, and there has to be -and I'm not taking a shot in the dark if I assume that there really is- a genuine will in cutting the pipelines of corruption, as far as the system allows, bearing in mind the particularities of the Jordanian political and economic interdependant nature of relationship.

The center of Amman isn't the courtyard of the Bastille, and storming it like storming the infamous prison one day after the former's anniversary has to be one of the most dramatically orchestrated and least politically wise moves the opposition ever made, not because of the timing, but because the call for the protests didn't have a single specific demand shared by all the opposition, if; that is, we can call whomever was in the streets today an opposition. There seems to be a phantom of multiple interest groups with different economic and social claims: from those who are stating their claims in what's called واجهات عشائرية or tribal lands, to those who are looking to better their retirements, to teachers seeking the formation of a syndicate, to fading political parties and movements looking to return into the spotlight by riding the waves of all of the above. A rainbow of crossing interests with the least kind of interest in actual reform rather than economic gain for a certain few, however rightful their claims may be. Taking to streets every week is not going to change the facts, or the speed with which any reform is being achieved, nor will it change the fact that it wouldn't make a difference whether or not the political will towards reform is indeed genuine.

The Jordanian model of government isn't Plato's Utopia, and I'd be the first to admit it, but throughout the 90 years since the establishment of an Emirate East of the river Jordan, the term "Jordanian Refugee" has never been used, and that, to me -and to anyone who has any sense of justice- has to be the Apodictic proof of the benign nature of the Jordanian system of government. We've had Palestinian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni precede the term refugee in the past months and years, and almost all of the above refer to lands where government is irrelevant to the historical continuity of the social belonging to the lands they refer to, but that civilizational certainty hasn't saved their peoples from being displaced and become refugees -even briefly- as a result of a man-made circumstance dictated by the wisdom -or lack thereof- of the political system.

I'm not, neither will I claim to be more monarchist than the monarch, but to me, the respect of human dignity is first and foremost in any relationship, especially when it comes to the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. The social contract between any people and their government gives away rights as well as gains others, the protection of the human dignity is probably the single most important of all rights. Keeping in mind the style of government we've seen across the Arab World in the past 50 years; one cannot stress enough the importance of this little detail when one see's images of people being stepped on, kicked in the face and shot at by regime thugs bearing all sorts of lethal weapons and orders to use them at will in Syria, an hour away from Amman, for example.

The bottom line is that, despite the shortcomings of the political, economic and social policies, as well as the misuse of power against protesters we saw today and several times before, one has to be fair to one's own nature and acknowledge the fact that these abuses are not systemic, nor are they an integral part of the political system's composition and character, which makes it even more important not to underestimate the value of being a citizen of Jordan in 2011, and not a citizen of any other country where human dignity can easily be waived, misused and abused, for the sake of the continuity of one person's malignant political regime.

Update: There needs to be a clear definition of authority, particularly over the Police and the security apparatus, the removal of weapons only to be replaced by sticks, stones and barbecue grills to face-off protesters isn't a an exercise to restore order, it's official hooliganism under the pretext of keeping law and order. Not having control over anti-riot police voids the word authority from its meaning, it makes us a borderline Police state.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Mental Trips of Sinbad II

Less often than we'd like to admit, we're very fragile creatures; even if we overly portray ourselves as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. For the most part, we're hiding behind self-made walls of pride and prejudice, of vanity and greed, heading aimlessly with the stride of the knowledgeable goat being led by a shepherd's dog.

Our minds are our compasses, and despite them being shallow pools of rain, sometimes; they do reflect the stars a million light years away, and those stars, are our eventual destination, if we choose to engage all our senses in the art of "living". Humanity is best served by the act of leaving a trace remembered long after one's short "cameo" is over, otherwise it's a waste of space and time.

Live, Love, Loath -moderately- and most of all, Learn; and while doing so, be thankful for God's Grace.