Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not exactly about ping-pong

Someone once told me a joke, that is probably the silliest I ever heard but ironically one I never forget. It is exactly its silliness that makes it all the more meaningful. That's how the joke goes: one day a boy asked his father, what do you want for your birthday, and the father says, I want a ping-pong ball, next year, the boy comes with the same question and heard the same answer, and the following year, and the following. Every year, the father answers that he wants a ping-pong ball, until one day, when the father was on his death bed, the boy comes again and asks his father what he wants for his birthday, and again, the father says, a ping-pong ball. Here, the boy finally spits it out and asks, but father, all these years I have asked you what you wished for your birthday and you always said you wanted a ping-pong ball, but why? So the father says: because...because... and he dies, before he could finish his sentence. The joke is not funny but absurd. The absurd as skillfully explained - or shall I say preached?- by Albert Camus and others, I find one of the most fascinating theories or philosophies. That exact "why" is what keeps humanity buying ping-pong balls knowing damn well in the deepest oceans of their souls the futility of their quest. What ties them to this futility is a notion of an illusory answer they think they have deep inside but they find incommunicable, instead, they cling to their instinctual and invented desires and the philosophy of avoidance, of blindness because seeing is terrifying. Imagine yourself in an out of body experience looking at your own life, at any normal day of your life, and you will definitely form a very distinctive notion of yourself than the one you had until that moment, when you were still looking at yourself inside inward. That experience is so terrifying that one prefers to curl inside that bubble that is the self, where questions with no answers seem much more convenient to live with than the terrifying answer(s) to the big 'why' question. But there is also all the maturity and clarity of the world in that blindness. The ping-pong ball joke is funny in this sense. You might burn all your brain cells in thinking but maybe the answer is right there in front of your eyes, as bright and blunt as the sun. Life is probably not more than a joke, it is at best a ping-pong ball, but definitely one worth a shot.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Price tasting

This is a very cool study: In a blind taste test, volunteers were unable to distinguish between expensive and cheap wine. That refers you to one of my earlier posts. But I assure you that many Lebanese would swear on their grandfathers graves that they would score better in such a test!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just a thought!

Only art is worth paying for. Everything else, and I mean everything, should be free for all.

Warning: Information technology decreases sexual activity

With the fast and vast flow of information reaching us -or us trying to catch up with it- the world doesn't seem to be moving any faster and our brain, eyes, and ears have not yet adapted to this fast evolution as of yet. Maybe few years down the road, kids will be born with four eyes and four ears and probably 3 brains, one for news information processing, another for work related matters, and the third for everyday tasks (how do we eat? how to start a car, where did I leave the key, who my wife is, etc.) Some women will be born with six hands, two for doing the dishes, two for handling business, and another two for carrying the baby and massaging their back pains. For now, google reader is all we got. The funny thing though is that with the wide spectrum of topics and variety of stuff out there, stuff that you think you are interested to know, you end up needing yet another filtering system to filter your google reader. Aha, filtering, the key word in all of this mess. From there on, all zeros in to how big or small the filtering holes are and you will be surprised how much less you know the more information you get. Because the more information you get, the less you are inclined to read. If you are persistent enough, maybe a genius -or a loser, some might argue- then you might end up covering the top headlines, some titles here and there, or just focusing on one thing, one single topic, one single issue, to master. Otherwise, if you are lucky, the best you can hope for is to be jack of all trades, master of none. Imagine, how ages ago, people in remote areas, that's when they had plenty of time to do nothing, used to converse:
Man 1: So, what's up?
Man 2: Nothing much, I heard they are still fighting up north, but that was last year, haven't heard anything since... Did you hear what happened to our neighbor who stole the eggs?.. AH! yes, you were there, anyway.
Man 1: So... it was nice seeing you, I will see you again in a while.
Man 2: Yeah, I might have sex with my wife in the meantime.
Man 1: good idea.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pioneers

Today I heard a Lebanese owner of a beauty center say this on the radio: "because we Lebanese are the pioneers, we are always the first in everything especially when it comes to beauty, I make sure to bring to Lebanon everything that is trendy outside (i.e. the West)." So this smart woman is saying that the Lebanese are the best copycats and that is for her a source of pride. That is so much like that stupid guy who said that if everyone signs, he will be the first one to sign, or that smart Lebanese politician who said to his supporters: bring down the sectarian regime and I will be the first one to step down.

P.S. The Lebanese national anthem it seems is stolen altogether, music and lyrics!!! That doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The sectarian anti-sectarian protests

A closer look at the anti-sectarian protests reveals a sectarian division among two movements: Those demanding abolishing political sectarianism, with the pretext of being realistic, and those demanding total secularism or laicism, with the pretext of going all the way through. Both positions stem from sectarian considerations rather than secular convictions. My take is that sectarianism is not the problem, it is rather the symptom. The malady itself is yet to be diagnosed or understood, it shows symptoms very similar to those that appear in stupidity and if not treated early on it can be deadly. Experts named the malady "ignorance". The malady is highly contagious and those protests are ineffective vaccines to which the body adapts quickly and transforms into an even deadlier virus. In the absence of a cure, I recommend prevention, abstention, and if you can't hold yourself, then protection.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The infamous Roumieh Prison: get inspired

I have been inside Roumieh prison a few times (visiting that is) and I never felt more in danger inside than outside those thick high walls and wires, or to put it better I never felt less in danger outside than inside the prison. People outside are no more free. It is inside a prison, that the highest forms of humanity can be seen with bare eyes: Regret, vengeance, solitude, rancor, anger, hopelessness, but also a lot of pride, are the walking spirits there. I never understood why cellphones, TVs, and internet -why not?- are prohibited inside. It is not a man deprived of his freedom you should fear but a man stripped of his dignity. That's what you learn from the big masters. Get inspired:

To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today. Albert Camus

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. Fyodor Dostoevsky

In jail a man has no personality. He is a minor disposal problem and a few entries on reports. Nobody cares who loves or hates him, what he looks like, what he did with his life. Nobody reacts to him unless he gives trouble. Nobody abuses him. All that is asked of him is that he go quietly to the right cell and remain quiet when he gets there. There is nothing to fight against, nothing to be mad at. The jailers are quiet men without animosity or sadism. All this stuff you read about men yelling and screaming, beating against the bars, running spoons along them, guards rushing in with clubs -- all that is for the big house. A good jail is one of the quietest places in the world. Life in jail is in suspension. Raymond Chandler

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Casa de los babys

I stumbled on this movie, which I also liked very much. I like it when I put anything in the DVD player expecting some trash and I am proved wrong. This is one of the movies that force you to reassess your life, values, and principles and reconsider both your rosy dreams of bringing a baby of your own to a beautiful world and your dark fears of bringing a baby to a world full of horror and injustice. The movie remains in the gray shades of life and ends abruptly... same as life or "anything else" as Woody Allen would say (another great film).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rather the Invention of Evil

I watched today this movie "the Invention of Lying". It is not a great movie but the idea behind it is sharp although the movie fails to take it to the extreme. The movie takes you to a make believe setting where saying the truth is the only way of life and where you basically cannot say or think or imagine what is not true, where fiction does not exist, and where you don't know what isn't. The word "lie" has no place in this world, it simply does not exist, because it cannot be, or as the movie puts it "to say something that wasn't". The movie poses as a comedy although it hardly makes you laugh but it gets you thinking: in a world where truth is absolute, where the lack, or in this case, the absence of truth does not exist, what you lose is more than emotional and creative thinking, and more than the pursuit for happiness, and much more than the philosophical quest for some meaning, what you lose is freedom. It is evil not righteousness that sets you free after all.