Worthless words

 



















My heart leap-frogs when I behold
A haddock in the sky :
So was it when my wife ran wild;
So is it now I am a child;
So palpitating hearts grow cold
Or it belie!
The fish should never be beguiled;
And I would wish it swam in sea
Bound to nature's laws just as foolishly.

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                                            With apologies to Wordsworth
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Similar Shakespeariences 
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Parody and photo-montage by Mirino © January, 2011

Le monde fou



Déjà le monde a paru plus fou que 'normal' l'année dernière, et ceci dans tous les égards, mais si ce mois de janvier est représentatif de l'an courant, on peut craindre donc que 2011 soit encore pire. Dans certains pays les hommes semblent d'autant déchaînés que paraissent actuellement les éléments.

La 'Révolution de Jasmin' qui, malgré le nom de la fleur emblématique de la Tunisia, (et l'arabe de 'yas' -désespoir, et 'min'- mensonge) est pour certains un terme moins approprié que celui tout simple de 'la Révolution Tunisienne'. Elle signe un trop plein dangereux dans ce pays du Nord de l'Afrique. La répression sévère envers les islamistes pratiquée auparavant par Ben Ali, risque aussi de provoquer des répercussions éventuelles, si enfin la démocratie n' y est pas pleinement accordée au peuple, et alors respectée scrupuleusement.

Depuis le suicide par immolation de Mohamed Bouazizi, un jeune diplômé et chômeur qui préférait vendre des fruits et légumes sans autorisation au lieu de ne rien faire, cette tendance d'un extrémisme terrible pour manifester contre une situation intolérable, parait vouloir s'étendre aux pays voisins souffrant des mêmes effets de la crise économique.
Aussi en Algérie donc on réclame cette liberté fondamentale. Et si elle est refusée, une alternative pouvait être déterminée par une récupération bien plus radicale.

La pauvreté immérité par rapport à la corruption honteuse de certains gouvernements et de leurs chefs, a tous les ingrédients pour créer ces situations explosives trop apte à être exploitées par des islamistes.   

Pendant qu'au Pakistan on s'acharne à vouloir appliquer pleinement la loi du blasphème, et un gouvernement manifestement trop faible pour s'opposer à la volonté du peuple, semble même prêt à jeter ses propres ministres à la gueule du monstre pour essayer de l'apaiser.

Mais jusqu'à quel point le monde musulman estime-t-il devoir aller pour établir la ligne entre ce qui est considéré blasphématoire ou non? Si une Chrétienne comme Asia Bibi défend sa foi, s'agit-il donc déjà d'un blasphème? Si des musulmans accusent cette Chrétienne de blasphème, ne serait elle pas alors en droit d'accuser ses accusateurs d'être blasphémateurs envers sa propre religion? Si le Coran reconnaît les deux autres des trois religions monothéistes d'Abraham, l'Islam ne devrait-il pas alors aussi reconnaître l'existence des lois, des commandements de ces religions?
Si pour Asia Bibi la parole du Prophète Jésus incarne davantage de vérité que la parole d'un autre Prophète, elle ne peut pas logiquement être coupable de blasphème, car elle est fidèle à sa propre foi. Elle n'attaque pas le sujet de sa foi. Mais ses accusateurs prennent la liberté d'attaquer sa foi autant, sinon bien plus, qu'elle n'en avait pris pour attaquer la foi de ses accusateurs. La loi d'Islam ne devrait-elle pas avoir une juridiction limitée aux musulmans, les pratiquants de cette religion? L'Islam peut-il prétendre juger ceux d'une autre foi? Si l'Islam prétend avoir ce droit et ce pouvoir, alors toutes les populations du monde qui pensent autrement, ou qui osent être fidèles à une autre religion que l'Islam, peuvent aussi par principe ou par extension être coupables de 'blasphème' aux yeux des musulmans.

Pourquoi Dante, entre autres, n'a-t-il jamais été condamné, même par contumace, pour avoir traité le Prophète de scissionniste, sinon pire, au Moyen Âge? Depuis quand l'Islam prétend avoir un tel pouvoir sur les non-musulmans? 

Asia Bibi, 45 ans et mère de cinq enfants, est condamnée à mort pour 'blasphème'. Elle nie l'accusation disant qu'elle a été persécutée pour sa foi dans un pays où les Chrétiens sont régulièrement harcelés, sujets d'abus et de discrimination.
Depuis juin de l'an dernier elle a été emprisonnée dans Dieu sait quelles conditions. Elle accuse même ses accusateurs de l'avoir violée. Et celui qui ose parler en sa faveur risque le même sort de Salmaan Taseer, le Gouverneur de Punjab, lui qui avait eu le courage de critiquer la loi du blasphème. Abandonné lâchement par le gouvernement, Il a été assassiné par son propre garde de corps. Malik Mumtaz a avoué sa responsabilité pour le meurtre. Depuis, il est traité de héros par beaucoup de pakistanais, malgré la loi Coranique qui condamne catégoriquement le crime d'homicide.

Il ne s'agit pas d'Iran, d'une musulmane accusée de meurtre et d'adultère comme Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani dont les faits des 'crimes' sont aussi flou. Il s'agit du Pakistan, 'l'allié' bien payé de l'Occident. Et dans ce cas honteux, on n'entend rien du gouvernement des Etats Unis. On n'entend pas grand chose non plus des chefs d'Etats Européens. Dans ce cas il n' y a pas de mots passionnés des belles célébrités Européennes pour sauver Asia Bibi. Elle n'est pas une musulmane accusé des crimes soi-disant établis. Elle est condamnée à mort à cause des rumeurs, des commérages, de 'blasphème', ou plutôt d'être Chrétienne et d'avoir eu le courage de défendre sa foi. Mais bien entendu la situation n'est pas la même. Il y a une nuance, grossière comme une tache de sang dans un coin sale. Le Pakistan est quand même un 'allié'...


God, or whichever word one wishes to use to name the power that rules over the universe, cannot possibly be verbally insulted. Such an idea would be ridiculous, as infinitely absurd as trying to slander the sun, the moon and the stars.

Such power is untouchable. Man reveals his own weakness and pretentiousness even more by imagining that the omnipotence that rules everything, right down to mankind's own limitations, differences and manner of appreciating such power, should be defended against calumny.

It would thus follow that those who claim to be the messengers of this omnipotence, those sincerely believed to be the true Prophets of God, must also be beyond all reach of slander. Their greatness defies any form of what mankind calls 'blasphemy'.

If this is true, then those who feel insulted in the name of God, or in the name of one of his Prophets, because of what they would claim to be 'blasphemy', would be assuming the right to identify themselves with God or one of God's messengers. 
In spite of their weakness, their vanity and their unworthiness, they thus pretend to wield the sword of divine justice, even so far as to claim the lives of those whom they accuse in God's name. 
Surely this is far worse a crime than any expression of words or opinions that might also be criminally construed, misconstrued, if not even invented by others, in order to accuse their victims of blasphemy.
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Text and top transposition by Mirino. Top images AP, with thanks. Lower image IBN, with thanks. January, 2011

Eternity

  







  
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun-rise.
1757 - 1827

Infinity 















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Photos © Mirino (PW) January, 2011

Democracy's example

 
 The above is a copy of the Magna Carta that was reluctantly signed by King John (1215). It was originally called the Charter of Liberties and it eventually led to De Montfort's Parliament in 1265, the first elected parliament of England. Seeds of democracy.

Below, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit 's Democracy index map published in December, 2010, we note that few countries can claim first prize for democracy. Surprisingly the greatest exalter of freedom, the USA, isn't rated amongst the highest. In Europe the only country that excels is Sweden (9.80). The worst example in the world, with only 1.08, is North Korea.

Needless to add, countries who claim to defend democracy should be exemplary. They should avoid giving pretexts to those who, already disillusioned with unfulfilled promises of freedom, either grow beards and become religious extremists, or supporters of the growing, growling, antithetical mobs bent on destroying Israel, the USA, Europe and democracy itself.

The violence in Tunisia is obviously an expression of extreme frustration, a trop plein that no one, including the Tunisian government itself, seemed to have anticipated. As long as things appear to be relatively stable, democratic countries will go along with it. But obviously the democratic world was wrong. One can never practice double standards with impunity.

Naturally this also applies to Afghanistan, where whatever good is being achieved could be undermined by the corruption condoned, and seemingly perpetrated by a President virtually chosen and supported by the USA and Europe.

Maybe it was thought that if ever considered necessary, a Pashtun President might eventually be useful in negotiating with the Pashtun Taliban. This would be a natural follow-on from the continual incoherence of solving the Afghan problem, not by dealing directly with the Afghanis, but by dealing with Pakistan. The very country originally responsible for fostering the Taliban and sending them into Afghanistan to take over the country towards the end of the Afghan-Soviet war to impose their reign of 'religious' terror.

How can one justify the error of judgement and the incredible lack of communication between the West and Afghanistan from the mid 90's leading up to the major abomination of all time?
How can one not regret the assassination of Massoud who represented so much hope for his country? Few people know that the French journalist, Christophe de Ponfilly was so devoted and committed to Afghanistan and its freedom, and had so much faith in the 'Lion of Panjshir', that for him his assassination meant that there was no longer any future for Afghanistan. Consequently in his view, there was no longer any reason, even for the fine journalist that he was, to continue to live.

One also gets the impression that a similar disillusionment has effected Dr. Abdullah, who hopefully only temporarily, might prefer to turn his back on the bleak, political scene of Afghanistan. Such a gesture on his part would be perfectly understandable. But surely he still represents real hope for his country.

Whilst the West continues to finance Pakistan. Indeed it sometimes seems that the West is paying Pakistan for the right to wage war against Pakistan. This, because it's still painfully evident, as it always was since the 90's, that the enemy is still fostered within, as well as additionally financed and supported by other States.

The point of all this is not to make tiresome repetitions of what has already been referred to in Viewfinder. It's made as a suggestion that those who claim to represent democracy, and who would never tolerate massive election fraud or governmental, judicial irregularities and corruption in their own countries, should no longer collaborate in allowing things so to slide, virtually being accomplices to governmental, illegal activities, elsewhere. 

Whatever motive those who represent us may have, the over-easy acceptance of the massive fraud that made a fiasco of the Afghan elections, and the tolerance of the consequences, can never be regarded as a positive contribution towards the Afghan war effort. If Nato is still not succeeding in winning the trust of the Afghan people ('not all fortunate enough to be Pashtun') and thus the war itself, this could be one good reason why.
Is there any point in trying to defend a threatened democracy, if it appears that even the President and the government of that threatened country are not defending its fundamental principles?
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Text by Mirino. Copy of the Magna Carta, the Democracy index Map and key, 
with grateful thanks to Wikimedia Commons. January, 2011

Tournant Tunisien


Si le peuple a toujours raison, où est le problème? Même s'il n'y avait aucun chef d'Etat au monde qui auparavant aurait pensé à traiter Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali de 'dictateur' ou de 'tyran', le peuple doit savoir ce qu'il fait, non?
Si Obama est le premier à féliciter les tunisiens pour leur courage, ce doit être même quasi certain..

Pourtant... On peut toujours observer le déroulement des événements, puis les festivités, puis les contre-réactions violentes, avec un œil plus pensif qu'enthousiaste.

C'est vrai que Ben Ali, président de la République tunisienne depuis 1987, n'a pas respecté les règles de la démocratie, mais l'enjeu, la montée de l'intégrisme entre autres, même à cette époque, était aussi un facteur déterminant.

Si les médias étrangers souvent dénonçaient sa politique à l'égard des droits de l'homme, la répression de ses opposants, et les atteintes à la liberté de la presse, il avait par contre réussi à hisser l'économie de la Tunisie à un nouveau parmi les meilleurs d'Afrique. Il a permis le développement des associations comme la Ligue tunisienne des droits de l'homme. Il avait assuré un pacte national pour rassembler les diverses formations politiques du pays (sauf celles des islamistes). Il s'est aussi engagé pour que l'égalité entre les deux sexes des citoyens soit respectée, et qu'il n' y aurait pas une liaison entre Islam et la politique.

D'ailleurs dans les années 90 les islamistes manifestaient violemment contre les forces de l'ordre créant des problèmes graves sociaux et même de terreur. (Ils ont attachés deux gardiens de nuit dans un bâtiment public à Tunis avant d'y mettre le feu. Les gardiens ont été horriblement brûlés, l'un d'eux en est mort). On s'est aussi rendu compte alors que l'armée, la garde nationale et la police tunisiennes ont été infiltrées largement par des islamistes.

L'épouse de Ben Ali, Leïla Trabelsi, malgré certaines distinctions pour ses initiatives sociales, culturelles et humaines, est encore moins populaire que son mari. Elle est accusée d'avoir utilisé sa position pour déléguer aux membres de sa famille un dégré important de contrôle dans certains secteurs de l'économie tunisienne.
Dans le climat social actuel, une telle accusation ne peut qu'inciter davantage de haine. Voilà tous les ingrédients pour condamner, des plus hauts minarets, la corruption et 'l'occidentalisation' des dirigeants..

Pourquoi tant de brutalité des 'forces de l'ordre' tunisiennes? Si Ben Ali en était responsable, s'il avait un tel pouvoir à sa disposition, un tel bras de fer tyrannique pour opprimer son peuple, pourquoi alors il se croyait obligé de fuir le pays aussi vite?
(Aujourd'hui, Dimanche 16 janvier, le drame continue. Un photographe français de 32 ans a été tué).

A une période où l'Europe commence à se sentir un peu plus cernée par la radicalisation islamique, et davantage d'Afrique du Nord bouillonne de ce phénomène quasi incontrôlable, ce qui se passe actuellement en Tunisie pourrait être considéré comme préoccupant.

Si la Tunisie vient d'ouvrir la porte à la radicalisme islamique?

Mais le peuple doit savoir ce qu'il fait. Le peuple a toujours raison, non?
____
Text by Mirino. Source Wikipedia, photo- AFP, with grateful thanks. January, 2011

Oscar Wilde. On Socialism

 
  'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars' 

Oscar Wilde was born the 10th October, 1854 to parents who also considerably distinguished themselves. His father, Sir William Wilde was known internationally as a leading eye and ear specialist. It was he who invented the operation for cataract, performing it on King Oscar of Sweden. For this he was awarded the Order of the Polar Star.
Oscar Wilde's mother, Jane Francesca Elgee (Lady Wilde) fiercely defended the National Irish cause. She wrote strong poems and articles for the Irish Nationalist newspaper, 'The Nation' under the pseudonym 'Speranza' from her motto Fidanza, Constanza, Speranza. She liked to believe she had Italian ancestral links.

The Wilde family was of Dutch origin. The first to settle in Ireland was a certain Colonel de Wilde, soldier of fortune and son of an artist whose work, apparently, can still be seen in the Art Gallery at The Hague. Some allege that such an ancestor who fought under the command of William of Orange, caused considerable embarrassment to Oscar and certainly to his mother. It's probable however, that Oscar would have been more amused by the irony of it, than embarrassed by it.

Oscar Wilde excelled at Trinity College, Dublin, winning the Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek. He received a demyship to continue his studies at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was influenced by John Ruskin and Walter Pater ('Art for Art's sake'). Oscar was determined to go further with- 'Beauty for Beauty's sake'. His creed, indeed, was æstheticism. He believed that everyone should strive for the ideal of beauty. At Oxford he won the Newdigate Prize for English verse (the poem Ravenna) and a double first in Classics.

In 1879 he started to earn his living in London as a writer, also attracting much attention by his appearance and unconventional dress in what was then a very rigidly conventional, Londonian society.

This then was the backdrop for the first scene of his extraordinary life, destined to end tragically in France in 1900.

His first political influences must have been his parents. The successful, internationally reputed physician on one side, and the fierce writer defending the Irish cause, on the other.

The social injustice of the 19th century, the 'industrial tyranny' was destined to plant the seeds of Communism, first to grow as a sincere ideal to try to realise what human nature (thus nature herself) constantly seems to deny humanity: equality and social justice.
In view of the political influence, the social climate, the poverty and class system of the Victorian era, it's interesting to note some of Oscar Wilde's views on Socialism. They sometimes seem cynical, and even naive, but they reveal the depth of his perception. This first extract is taken from the introduction of his The Soul of Man Under Socialism.

'(...) The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism- are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man's intelligence; and as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.
They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor.
But this is not a solution; it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life- educated men who live in the East End- coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins. (...)'

Oscar Wilde then goes on in his analysis maintaining that Socialism 'will be of value simply because it will lead to Individualism'. At first he seems to be expressing another paradox. He was always very fond of paradoxes. He adds further on: 'Socialism annihilates family life, for instance'. And- 'Individualism, then, is what through Socialism we are to attain. As a natural result the State must give up all idea of government. (...) All modes of government are failures. Despotism is unjust to everyone, including the despot, who was probably made for better things. Oligarchies are unjust to the many, and ochlocracies are unjust to the few. High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. It has been found out. I must say it was high time, for all authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and degrades those over whom it is exercised. When it is violently, grossly, and cruelly used, it produces a good effect, by creating, or at any rate bringing out, the spirit of revolt and Individualism that is to kill it. (...).'

Further on he refers to Burke regarding journalism as 'the fourth estate.' (...) 'That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. (...)'
(...) 'The fact is that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing'.(...)

In this article Oscar Wilde often refers to Christ, whom he maintains, encouraged Individualism, and thus 'to be oneself'. He states that private property is more a hindrance than an asset. That it is not what one has that's important, it's what one is. In truly realising and being oneself, one's most precious possessions are within oneself.

Finally he seems to believe that whether Socialism wills it or not, it would lead to Individualism. 'The new Individualism is the new Hellenism'...
But history already seems to have proved that this is just another Utopian dream (unless we now apply it to the Greeks...).
 

His article was written 24 years before the start of the 1st World War, well before the Russian Revolution, and the reactions that were already consequential during the 2nd World War, like those of Ayn Rand in 'The Fountain Head' (1943). The understanding that 'Individualism' can never be a product of any governmental attempt to create social justice, equality and conformity. It's determined uniquely by the individual, the defence of one's personal convictions, accomplishments or creations, even, if not especially, if this means breaking the establishment rules.

Certainly Oscar Wilde himself, is a perfect example of an Individualist who broke the rules, defended his art, his personal convictions, at the ultimate cost of his life, and, at the time of his trial, at the cost of his reputation as an exceptional intellectual, artist and writer.
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Oscar Wilde. Salomé


Text © Mirino (PW). Portrait of Oscar Wilde by Toulouse Lautrec. Source and extracts from Collins' Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, with thanks. January, 2011

The Pond



The pond in the nettle patch was very low and despondent.
It showed no signs of life, hardly moved a ripple and stagnated sulkily.

It had been so strong and free. Its course then lay before it and everything seemed simple. It was always on the move, flowing with energy, babbling happily along, so fresh and fulfilled.

It never made great claims, even if at times it did run away with itself a little. But then the pond had been quite misled. And shallowly it pondered over its plight with disgust and self-pity, in the early days of spring.

But as the weeks passed, the little pond began to take stock of itself. Its reflections became more profound as it harboured a deeper interest in its new situation. Things became clearer, less gloomy and sluggish.

During the summer months delicate dragonflies and various other insects appeared. Birds flew down to drink, to bathe or catch midges. Tadpoles emerged from their spawn. Life was developing.

The pond was soon fully occupied with all this growing activity. It no longer regretted the past, when it was submerged in its own pursuits. It had glossed over so much then. Now it was enchanted.

By the end of the autumn the pond had grown larger, but not ponderously so. And by the following spring it had already become a modest lake.

In the summer, white, water-lilies bloomed, and soft clouds were perfectly mirrored on the lake's smooth surface.

One glorious day, when there were such majestic clouds, two fine swans flew from them. Elegantly they circled down to the beautiful lake they had chosen for their new home.

From the Rainbow series
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Text and images © Mirino (PW) January, 2011

The mirror of humanity

 

The history of art is a precious record of civilisation's evolution, also mirrored by works inspired by religious themes throughout the ages. The history of mankind, of his loves and fears, tragedies and accomplishments. It's a constant, visual reminder of the wake of civilisation, and it starts by revealing the unique source of faith. For all religions can only originate from one source.

The creator of 'Heaven and Earth and all creatures great and small' is unique. He or 'even' she can have several names, but there can only be one creator. All existing religions would acknowledge this.

The culture of Ancient Egypt is exceptional because it spans across approximately 3000 years and was subject to dogma and discipline thus endless, repetitive stylisation. Yet this civilisation was considerably advanced in relation to its period. As the priority of the Pharaohs seems to have been to defy the rigours of time, this was the determining factor. Yet in a relatively modest way the artists of Ancient Egypt were free to express themselves with small creations, of items such as jewellery and works of sculpture that reflect their creators' discernment, sensitivity, faculty of observation, and their love and respect for nature. Items of furniture were also beautifully made and such fine carpentry and miniature works of art remind us of similar, fine examples created many centuries later in Japan and China. Thanks to the Ancient Egyptian obsession regarding conservation, these small artifacts that perhaps would have been dismissed as relatively trivial, have also been well preserved.

The enormous pyramids, sphinxes and stylised monuments of Pharaohs are of course very impressive, as are also the pyramids of the Incas. Naturally we are aware of the incredible labour involved and can imagine the thankless toil of the many slaves forced to work to satisfy the requirements of their masters. But it would be difficult to consider them as inspired, artistic accomplishments.

When one creates a monument, for whatever reason, the results only merit the respect and admiration that they evoke or are aesthetically worthy of.

Surely the greatest creator of all would be angry and insulted to see an important result of his own creation- mankind, engaged in war in His name!

Two Prophets, one who claims to be the son of God, the other, the messenger of God. The first preaches love and tolerance, whilst gently and respectfully turning the page on the Old Testament. The second advocates reverting to the fundamental discipline similar to that of the Old Testament, and negates the validity of all other alternatives. The much older Hebrew religion refers more directly to the Creator. For the Jews, any consequential conflict between the two Prophets would thus be avoided.

The Muslims reason that as their Prophet was the last messenger claiming to convey the word of God, he must be the only legitimate one to follow. Would this then mean that if Jesus came after Mohammed, the Muslims would all have become Christians? Is religion thus determined by chronology? The order of appearances?
If a third Prophet had followed Mohammed, claiming to be the reincarnation of Abraham, the father of the three monotheist religions, couldn't this then have solved the problem and finally established peace for posterity between Muslims, Jews and Christians?

One of the longest reigning Empires was Byzantine. After Egypt had become a province of the Roman Empire (30 BC) it was gradually Christianised by the Copts, and this despite Roman persecution and genocidal massacres that took place during the third century. 'Coptic' in fact means 'Ancient Egypt' and the last stage of the Egyptian language. The Copts regard themselves as direct descendants of the Ancient Egyptians. Islam was imposed 400 years later when the Arabs invaded and took over Egypt. Yet by the 11th Century half of the population of Egypt was Christian Orthodox and many Coptic monasteries still remain in various parts of Egypt. Through the centuries the Coptic, cultural centre was Alexandria.

Yet again, despite history, certain Muslims seem to be persuaded that the Egyptians whose ancestors lived there many centuries before the Arabs ever arrived, have no right to be there at all, and have even less right to practice their more ancient religion!

History always leaves its traces, some more beautiful than others. Those who negate history, negate their own roots, their identity, their culture and thus their religion.

The Tree of civilisation has many branches, each one aspiring to reach the sky its own way. And the branches reflect the root system of the tree, the essential source. The harmony of its branches determine the tree's stability, its longevity and its beauty.


Text © Mirino (PW). Examples of ancient Coptic art, with thanks to Wikipedia. 
January, 2011

The Noah cycle



Mark Twain, in his Letters from the Earth, points out the obvious flaws in the Biblical story of Noah's Ark. Naturally there would have been many practical problems that would have sunk the story. How could a farmer, for example, conjure up the technical ability to build a ship so large- yet not large enough- for the purpose of saving all his family and countless couples (and possibly hermaphrodite singles) of the entire world's animals?

Noah would never have had enough time to collect what Mark Twain had modestly estimated to be 146,000 species of animals and two million species of insects. In the allotted time it would have been an impossible and absurd task for an enormous team of the greatest natural scientists and biologists in the world, and Noah was just a simple farmer who was fond of wine. As Biblical history records that he died 350 years after the Great Flood at the ripe old age of 950, it would seem that he thrived on it.

No one, including Darwin, would have ever succeeded in cataloguing millions of insects, many of which would also have a genetical mutation capacity. And in his, 'On the Origin of Species,' his allusion to human evolution was mainly limited to "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history".

Mark Twain also observes that a second Ark would have been required just to carry the necessary supply of fresh water. But one appreciates that amongst other Biblical parables and fables, the American writer refers to this one especially, with floods of irony, incredulity and sarcasm.

Nevertheless, the story is symbolically intriguing. Couldn't it also be interpreted as a recurring fatality, or solution, which would also explain man's uniqueness in relation to other terrestrial creatures?
Darwin's theories thoroughly disturbed the ecclesiastical conviction that God had made all creatures great and small, and most of all regarding the Darwinian theory that man originated from a species of ape (instead of from Adam and Eve). Since then however, such an idea seems less likely. Human skulls have been discovered that are older than those previously thought to belong to our apish ancestors. And there are no existing species of ape on earth who need to develop their intelligence in order to survive. If there were, then wouldn't this evolution be constant, and not just a unique, inexplicable case as ours seems to be?

We thus return to religion, as scientists also tend to, because if God or Nature made all creatures great and small, He or She made the whole universe and its incredibly intricate mechanism. And the further we try to reach, the more we are conscious of the existence of other mysterious galaxies coaxing us ever onwards and outwards.
In relation to all this we and our life span represent nothing, specs of life and a bat of an eyelid, yet
we must still be an integral part of it all.

When one admires the paintings of Lascaux, estimated to be merely 17,300 years old, it's very difficult to associate them with primitiveness. They're too sensitive and sophisticated. Relatively recently, further research suggests that the Lascaux paintings incorporate astrological charts corresponding to the constellations of the Palaeolithic period.

Where then did we come from if natural science now seems far less sure about the idea that we descended from apes? How does one explain the Nazca lines in the Andes Mountains of Peru and an image there which apparently resembles an astronaut? And if it's true, that we came to Earth from another endangered planet, couldn't this be a recurring cycle that spans across many thousands, if not millions of years? One then wonders how many times man, or a similarly intelligent life-form, has been obliged to build 'Arks' to save ecological systems, lives, souls and humanity, or an intelligent counterpart?

The obvious question that would then spring to mind, would be- why was primitive man then primitive? But wouldn't this be a natural consequence when knowledge and technology are lost, when nothing can be effectively recorded, (if we discount cave paintings and 'primitive' drawings of astronauts, etc.) when the raw materials or resources that one is used to, are no longer available in a new environment, and when the laws of survival are once more reduced to the rudimentary? From generation to generation wouldn't there be an initial, mental and even physical regression? The whole process of education and technological evolution would have to start all over again.

Across recorded history our own basic capacity of reasoning has remained relatively constant.  It's interesting to note that human nature has never really changed at all. It has only adapted to the progress of 'civilisation', science and technology. Occasionally, which would include the present period, we are confronted with examples of irrational, social regression, yet we are nevertheless developing increasingly sophisticated means of communication, extraordinary technological means to reach the stars, and highly potential means to totally destroy our precious planet.
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Text © Mirino (PW). Image by Mfikretyilmaz (slightly modified). The structure claimed to be Noah's Ark near Mount Ararat in Agri, Turkey. (With thanks also to Wikimedia Commons). January, 2011

Michael


Sans le chercher hier soir sur la tv, on est tombé sur une partie du film de MJ en train de faire des répétitions. Je ne pouvais rien entendre, mais juste regarder.. Quel talent, quelle grâce, précision, et générosité! Un artiste complet. Une merveille!

Et ce qui était aussi émouvant, c'était les témoignages de ceux et de celles - aussi des talents énormes - qui avaient l'honneur et la bonne fortune de travailler avec lui. Eux aussi savaient à quel point il était un artiste incroyable. C'était toujours le mot exprimé. 'Incroyable'.
Les danseurs choisis parmi les meilleurs du monde et dont il exigeait toujours le maximum, sinon aussi l'impossible, le regarder répéter, lui manifester leurs émotions, leur inspiration et leur immense admiration, sachant mieux que personne le niveau de son talent qui dépassait largement toutes les limites.

Peut-être d'ailleurs, il était trop fort, trop généreux, trop plein d'amour, trop soucieux du mal du monde pour y vivre trop longtemps. Car c'est aussi en quelque sorte le mal du monde qui l'a emporté.

Quelques lignes insignifiantes en pensant à lui après avoir eu la chance de le voir travailler. Je n'ai rien entendu, mais comme tout le monde je connais bien sa musique et sa voix. Elle résonne toujours dans nos esprits. Mais il ne suffisait que de l'observer se préparer à se donner totalement, pour être aussi pris qu'ému, et d'apprécier finalement et d'autant plus le grand artiste qu'il était, et la légende phénoménale qu'il sera toujours.


On sait qu'il y a ceux qui cherchent infatigablement - et qui croient souvent y trouver - la bête noire. On voit ce phénomène trop souvent. Peut-être même il fait parti du côté mesquin de la nature humaine. Mais c'est inutile de se rappeler que rien au monde ne peut jamais déprécier la grandeur d'un vrai artiste, et encore moins d'un artiste de ce niveau vertigineux, l'artiste extraordinaire qu'il était- danseur incroyable, visionnaire, compositeur et musicien formidable, et un prodigieux perfectionniste qui donnait son tout, et pour qui rien n'était impossible.
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Text © Mirino. Images (modifiées) from Google, with thanks to MJ and their creators. January, 2011