Poor Arabian women?

January 29, 2012

How we, cosmopolite, liberal Europeans, with pronounced anti-sexist views and very democratic in behavior (really?), love to pity our Islamic sisters, the poor veiled ladies obviously maltreated by their husbands, oppressed by their discriminatory culture which, in addition, breeds mass-terrorist! We feel so superior, so falsely advanced and philanthropic, if we sustain their “cause” or, after reading the tragic memoir of one struggling Arabian wife, deeply involve in “aid Muslim women” organizations with the strongest sense of self-importance! It’s our duty to support them and actively participate in their externally imposed adaptation to the modern values. We made a mean of boasting with our humanitarian actions from it!

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And I don’t state that encouraging emancipation is, though majorly artificial, something blameworthy (after all, help’s inevitably welcomed), but it’s wrong to treat Arabian women as being clearly inferior. Not to say it’s another form of the unfairness we claim to want to diminish.

We, sophisticated, unprejudiced lads, seem to have forgotten the funny contrast between our histories. Bet you don’t expect what I’m about to tell.

While the fancy, highly “cultivated” European dame of the Early Meddle Ages was spending her time doing oh-so-complicated things like this…

woman in the middle ages

…and, if aristocratic enough, this…

women spinning

…the poor Muslim gals had to settle on easier jobs, fitted for their limited capacities, like, I don’t know, patronizing world’s first University?

When the erudition of the female population was badly seen by Christiandom and women had to be satisfied with mere basic knowledge so they could remain the docile, plain brides men desired, Fatima al-Fihri (died 880), nicknamed Oum al Banine (meaning “the mother of the children”) founded the oldest academic degree-granting University existing today, the University of Qarawiyyin, in Morocco. Daughter of a wealthy businessman, Mohamed al-Fihri, she invested the money inherited from her father to build gathering locations for scholars. Her sister, Mariam, is said to have been responsible for the construction of the Al-Andalus (Andalusian) mosque in Fes.

university of qairawan

This was late 9th century, almost 200 to 400 years before the birth of our more educated Hildegard of Bingen (1097- 1179) and Christine de Pizan (1363- 1430).

The 10th century doesn’t disappoint either: around 950, Miriam al-Ijli al-Astrulabi hand-crafted intricate astrolabes, a premature type of global/ Sun/ Moon/ planets/ stars positioning system, which was an impressive deed for the epoch.

astrolabe

It’s sad, though, there’s not much information about these two, at least not in accessible language, ’cause it would be great to learn more of their lives and accomplishments. Personally, I discovered Miriam and Fatima’s vague stories from an informative exposition-program I stumbled across in Istanbul. It was called “1001 Inventions”  (if you need further details) and introduced to the public a list of the chief Islamic scientists, astronomers, doctors, architects, mathematicians, etc, amongst whom were our admirable ladies.

fatima-at exposition

miriam- at exposition

miriam

Summing up: it’s very nice to help and sponsor Muslim women to speak-up, claim their God-given rights, liberate or whatever, yet you should bear in mind that they’re far from being pathetic and poor, on the contrary: they have a legacy we can’t brag with.

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Marry yourself first!

January 28, 2012

Near the Panthenon, in the ancient Agora where Socrates and Platon used to spread their wisdom, lies a small, beautiful marble temple called „the Hephaisteion”. It is said that its ruins are the best kept in the whole world – a symbol for the times Greece passed through, while history’s cast storms fell above centuries. I was there in the evening when I discovered this. And, as the sun breathed one’s last streak of light on my lids with a mild, friendly wind-whisper which brought the smell of olives to my nose, I couldn’t recall anything else but my own forgotten spirit. It was dusk; night was coming over.

I was the only person in the world who knew exactly what my eyes saw.

Hephaestion Temple

Unfortunately, no one tells us how important is to build a relationship with yourself, nor how much we mean to the soul our body bears because -let’s face it- every single nerve within our been screams out for the little annoying issue called “love”. We search, find, leave,   call,   want,   dream, spy, hate “love”. But we’re always twisted in the end by her poisoned arrows! Why? Nice question. We are, after all, social animals in need of affection and under-standing -even more than it looks- so, I think that leads humankind in the place it is now. At least that’s what I believed. Can’t this labyrinth hide something else, a secret meant to guide us through darkness and oblivion just for showing man that inside lies his greatest discovery and the only key which matches at the gates of Shamballa?!

gates of Dolmabahce Palace

I went there to vow myself “until death will set us apart” and show how much respect I have for me. I went there to scream a silent “I love life” when watching over a very old city. I went there to prove myself that I had learned the lesson and I finally can stay in harmony as a soul, spirit and body.  There’s no more you can hunt than being connected with your inner channels…

Stay whole, rise firm and do not ever -under any circumstances- throw away the appreciation within.

Now I tell this to everybody willing to listen: believe- before giving love we have to sense it flowing in our veins.

Vanity Fair

January 28, 2012

We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire!”- I’ve just fully tasted George Sand’s quote; I bear its stigmatizing prints all over my flesh like a perpetual, cruel and eternal remembrance which oblivion could least veil. Fortunately, through huge narcissistic efforts supported by certain invigorating pride, I’ve survived the temptation of “throwing the whole book in the fire” even after ripping not only a page but an entire chapter I had so minutely developed. It took that to reveal me why most people can’t break up, can’t escape the worst self-admitted bound, why humans can’t decide to welcome freedom again if searing in crippled, withering relationships.

They’d rather die imprisoned than pass the page for building another (the imposed fidelity and desperate affiliation taught by society have some faults here). I now deeply understand this masochistic behaviour as I felt its bittersweet flavour; I learned how vague you accept the flaws, the ultimate separation, how confusing, bizarre and shocking is to confront the blank space your torn page left or the empty happiness none will cover. Struggling, compromising, you had made -in your world, in your time- a metaphorical nest sacrificed for the torn page which, lacking, unleashed that aching spatial void I previously mentioned.

Houdini in chains

Thus you plunge in tormenting abysses, always fearing the possible sorrow, and, following one antique animal instinct, choose the familiar ruin-relationship instead of healing, still painfully ambiguous, liberty. It’s a studied path you may very fast indulge in.

the kiss

But all has alternatives: why shouldn’t I keep my integrity and let go the unhealthy intercourse? When I start acknowledging end’s arrival why shouldn’t I accept it properly? Not as a demission, nor as a cowardly retreat and definitely not without trying some amiable methods of conciliation -because none desires to be called a quitter-, avoid the perpetuation of sick tides held only for what they were. Never hang on such illusions: inexperienced, you’ll waste vain tears you’ll more often regret. Never turn back to beg forgiveness: you’ll get weaker and surrender to obsessive desires. Vacillating, you’ll get twisted in the vanity fair of ambiguity which equals a dangerous dance with the devil.

Best adopt the coldest dignity; allow the past to be past and you- part of the future.

Move with the world- humans have a prohibition to remaining stoned.

Tear out the page- you have plenty others ahead (if you’d only pacify with the concept proceeding from which you’ve earned the possibility of inaugurating fresh starts, fresh connections, fresh pages…).

absynth

Question yourself more about romantic (platonic?) expectations so you can check how well they’re touched by the relationship that momentary tortures you. These enquiries, sharply put, honestly answered, will guide any person to certain enlightenment in issues of love and hard choices- its trick accessibly lays in personal honesty and in developing a strong connection with your inner bean (without which you would fall from mistake to mistake, gathering the experience you had avoided). Therefore, the skeleton of breaking ups is basically simple, obvious and at hand for the willing, yet successfully hidden inside the self-knowledge few practice because a contagious blindness. Mind-training frequently, you’ll activate it, point after you’ll be wise enough to deal with mature questions.

Complications (the malicious ramifications of the main core) represent the real trouble- they’re the “ever-fixed mark”, the uncertainty you’ll encounter over and over for as long as you live, no matter how you try to mummify the simplicity of parting. Fake hopes, hesitations, the scarcely guessed psychological component of your partner…no wonder “we cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire”! Sometimes, the single possibility freezes your mind. And, sometimes, no advice, no theory, no self- knowledge may help but just ameliorate the downfall.

girl with a pearl earing

Still, bruised, ruffled, you’ll outlive it with the gift of moving on, rejecting the grave in which the ill relationship throws us every time.

It was in the mid 19th century, when most foreigners would normally yearn for a bottle of classic white wine, a delicious wheel of Brie cheese or least some fiery night with the reputed lorettes who made the prostitutes of the time, that Ottoman diplomat and art collector Khalil Bey (1831-1879) , very respectable man otherwise, commissioned  an erotic painting from libertine Gustave Courbet (1819-1877).

Origin of the World

Roll out the red carpet for “L’Origin e du monde” (“The Origin of the World“), a medium-sized oil-on-canvas naughtily representing the genitals and abdomen of  Whistler’s mistress, Joanna “Jo” Hiffernan, with the cruel realism Courbert was so proud of. Vulgar? Offensive? Gaudy? Maybe, but label it as misunderstood art and here you go! a masterpiece! currently one of Musée d’Orsay’s most appreciated works!

Symphony in White

Only looking at the model, really, you can see she had just one part which truly deserved to be immortalized in Courbert’s picture -and what an inspiring part that was! Visitors today queue to admire and impassionedly comment her precisely drawn fanny, as I observed when I passed through the halls of the museum, few years ago. Can’t blame them, though.

But if nowadays open-minded people curiously gather to watch it, how could such a specific violation of academic canons escape from a scandal while more innocent and traditional portrait like Eduard Manet’s “Olympia” caused a historic outrage?

Olympia

Well, l”L’Origin e du monde” was sheltered by an usually unlucky factor which can be quite merciless with some things- ignorance. For over two decades, after its first pervert owner, Khalil Bey (remember him?), sold it due to financial problems,  our controversial painting was hidden behind a wooden pane depicting a church (ironically…) with a snowy landscape, in a Parisian antique shop. Since then, it went from Hungarian Baron Ferenc Hatvany’s house to the thievish Soviet troops and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s country estate, the Brooklyn Museum, the Met and ultimately, the Orsay Gallery, its present place.

Thus being mostly privately displayed in the period when it wouldn’t have been accepted and unveiled with “Playboy” ‘s apparition, “L’Origin e du monde” ‘s story is a happy one.

Now it’s hanged between the best works of French masters, showing what a Turk wanted from a French.

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