La révolution du 17 octobre 2019 fut l’occasion pour de nombreuses femmes libanaises de toutes appartenances et générations d’élever leurs voix. La plupart de ces femmes revendiquent les mêmes droits que ceux des hommes, notamment le droit à une vie digne, une société inclusive, une meilleure gestion socio-politique de la diversité, la fin de la crise économique et de la corruption, etc. Toutefois, plusieurs femmes ajoutent à ces revendications celles ‘féministes’.
Il est évident que la lutte pour les droits des femmes ne date pas d’hier au Liban et n’est pas le produit de cette révolution, même si plusieurs médias européens et nord-américains affirment le contraire. Les activistes de tous bords et les ONGs s’acharnent depuis des années contre le patriarcat et le confessionnalisme, et pour l’égalité des genres. La lutte multiforme est en fait continue, et ce en dépit de certaines réformes — dont l’abrogation de l’article 522 du code pénal qui permettait à un violeur d’échapper à une condamnation s’il épousait sa victime — et les avancées dans les domaines de l’éducation et de la santé.
Selon le rapport Global Gender Gap du Forum économique mondial, le Liban se situe en 140e position du classement sur 144 pays étudiés. Les libanaises restent encore en retrait dans les domaines économique et politique. Elles touchent des revenus bien moindres que les hommes (hormis quelques exceptions) et sont minoritaires dans les postes-clefs de managers et fonctionnaires. Le parlement ne compte que 6 femmes sur 128 députés au terme des législatives de mai 2018, et le gouvernement démissionnaire n’incluait que 4 femmes ministres.
De plus, les femmes souffrent d’inégalités au niveau du statut personnel (mariage, divorce, héritage, garde des enfants, …) vu que celui-ci est confessionnel. Le mariage des enfants est encore légal, et le viol marital/conjugal n’est pas reconnu. A ce jour, il n’existe pas d’âge minimum national, alors que d’autres pays l’ont deja fixé à 18 ans: Tunisie, Egypte, Emirats Arabes Unis… Et bien que le Liban ait ratifié la Convention internationale sur l’élimination de toutes les formes de discrimination contre les femmes en 1996, l’Etat libanais a émis des réserves sur l’article 9 stipulant que les Etats signataires donnent à la femme le même droit que l’homme en ce qui concerne l’octroi de la nationalité au conjoint et aux enfants. Et encore… La liste des inégalités est trop longue et ne peut être résumée en quelques lignes.
Il est clair que la révolution du 17 octobre a rendu les voix des femmes beaucoup plus visibles qu’auparavant — elle a permis à un plus grand nombre de femmes de s’exprimer, au-delà des traditionnels cercles de la société civile (la prise de parole et l’action se sont démocratisées) –, et celles-ci jouent un rôle incroyable tant en coulisse que sur le devant de la scène, mais il reste beaucoup à faire afin d’en récolter les fruits.
Mon article paru ce matin dans l’Orient-le-Jour (Beyrouth – Liban) sur la nécessité de déconstruire la culture de la guerre et d’édifier une culture de la paix. C’est le énième article que je publie sur ce sujet depuis les années 90. La guerre est continue au Liban. Elle n’est pas que physique, elle est surtout psychologique et culturelle.
Voilà des années que le Liban vit au rythme de guerres de paroles, de mémoires meurtries, d’identités meurtrières, d’autoritarisme et de crises sociopolitique, économique et environnementale.
Dans cette saga libanaise aux allures de choc de titans, les héros ont bel et bien disparu, laissant la place aux fanatiques, démagogues, corrompus, méduses, sorcières du Styx, montagnes de détritus, scorpions monstrueux, sacrifices humains et maléfices de Hadès.
Près de trois décennies après la fin des combats, il est triste de constater que le pays n’est pas en mode « postguerre ». En fait, la guerre est continue, et les leçons qui auraient dû être tirées n’ont pas pu l’être, justement parce qu’une véritable construction de la paix n’a pas eu lieu, et ce en dépit des initiatives de certains groupes et individus œuvrant pour la convivialité et un système sociopolitique aconfessionnel assurant l’unité dans la diversité des voix(es) libanaises. Une chose est de faire taire les canons, de faire disparaître les frontières territoriales et de constamment faire miroiter bonheur et prospérité ; une autre est de renouer le contact entre les communautés et d’établir des liens solides au-delà des dissensions et des clivages.
Comment penser et vivre une catharsis salutaire lorsque le Kraken de la culture de la guerre constitue la toile de fond du Liban contemporain? Cette culture s’impose comme réalité du quotidien physique et virtuel. Avec son cortège de djinns et de démons, elle enflamme les esprits, sème la zizanie et ravage les vies. Elle est à la fois le produit et le producteur de choc de titans, un cercle vicieux formé d’oppresseurs et d’opprimés, d’accapareurs de pouvoir, de démunis et de boucs émissaires.
Chaque instant qui passe sous l’emprise de la culture de la guerre creuse davantage le fossé entre Libanais, sanctifie l’assassinat du semblable et du différent, transforme le meurtre en devoir, banalise les suicides individuel et collectif, et interdit toute réflexion critique, toute évolution et toute richesse émanant de la diversité.
Tant que la culture de la guerre sévit dans les cœurs, les criminels continueront de perpétrer leurs crimes et les victimes de mourir par omission. Tant que cette culture existe, l’étripage des dieux se poursuivra. Tant que l’hégémonie culturelle est celle de la guerre et non de la paix, on ne pourra garder l’espoir face aux bouchons inextricables du passé et à la léthargie étouffante du présent, révéler les non-dits, muer la douleur en souvenir fondateur et retenir la principale leçon de la guerre, de toute guerre : qu’elle ne se reproduise plus.
Tariq peered out of the window of the living room of his third-floor flat, watching a glow-worm of traffic inch its way in puma-wrapped technicolour across the wide thoroughfares of Al Barsha 1, Dubai. Of course, he’d quite gotten used to the way the traffic signals changed colour by the eon rather than by the minute, though he himself rarely drove in Dubai. No; the metro service in that part of the bustling desert-city was quite adequate; more than adequate in fact. Dressed in silky grey and sky blue, clean and limpid as a polished shell, the metro was a tribute to a thriving, flourishing, if makeshift, habitat. It docked, quite nicely for him, then wormed like a lean and obsequious bullet, out of one of the far ends or limbs of the huge Mall that neighboured his apartment, the apartment he shared now in his close-on two-year marriage with his wife, Maryam. After a few more moments of aimless pondering, he turned back from the window and scanned the room. The two main paintings adorning the walls were melees of blue and white; one a seascape in some no-man’s-land between abstraction and representational art – and he just loved the vibrant licks of white paint at the bottom, near-end of that sea, because he could smell the brine there and feel the nice metallic cool of the water on his feet. The other, opposite, had been a gift from a family friend, a wedding-present in fact, painted by the brother of a friend of his brother’s – a now highly-distinguished Iraqi painter who was Emeritus at some university and had had at least two major museums of fine arts named after him. This latter painting was supposed to be one of the few paintings done of the cantankerous modernist poet, Ezra Pound; and there was something both swarthy and atmospherically-androgynous about the young man painted there. Come to think of it, that made little sense. Though the painter in question was now in his eighties no doubt, even if he had painted Mr Pound, say, in the sixties, said Mr Pound would have been quite deftly aged by then, and certainly not the blue-faced Byronic youth looking so soulfully at an angle out of the frame, wrapped and cosseted and draped in some swarthy mantel that reached up from the shoulders and round the back of the head up to the somewhat shadowed brow. Tariq emitted a soft, daft chuckle to himself, as though responding to the quip of a nearby angel. Yes, he now thought to himself, I too am getting old. His phone now tinkled.
‘Hello?’ His voice was deep, gruff, a voice like the colour of his ghost-grey goatee beard.
‘Yes, I know,’ he continued in response to the voice on the other end. ‘I know that. But he’s the apple of my eye.’ While he slowly rubbed the mole by his nose on the right side of his brown-skinned cheeks, a gesture indicating enervation, he continued to listen to what this woman had to say about Teymour.
‘Gay? He’s not gay.’ The woman on the far end of this strange chinwag was adamant though; and she seemed to be offering a profane litany of evidence testifying to her statement. Tariq listened for another minute or so, then interrupted her long, belaboured monologue.
‘Listen, I think I know my own son! Now that’s quite enough.’ He placed the phone down and walked towards the entrance of the kitchen, nearly bumping into Maryam as she emerged therefrom bearing a tray with two mugs of simmering green tea.
‘Who was that, love?’
‘Oh,’ Tariq fibbed, ‘just someone asking after Teymour.’
‘Someone from London?’
‘Yes, I suppose so.’ As he clutched his mug, Tariq tried to shake off a stupor. The woman with whom he’d just spoken had distracted him. The idea that his own son, his only child from a previous marriage, might in fact be homosexual, well, it was a wholly new train of thought. It had never once occurred to him. And parry with it as he now did, some small and tender part of him was set wandering. Maryam now said, observing her husband surreptitiously,
‘Harried by a ghost?’
‘You seem distant. What is it? Teymour ok?’
‘Yes, yes.’ He now conquered the makeshift demon, pulled off a wide smile and kissed his wife on the cheek. ‘I’ve some work to do in the study,’ he said, looking dearly into her eyes. ‘I must get this article finished by the morning. This business in the Yemen is getting out of hand.’
Maryam nodded as he trundled off, carrying his still steaming mug of tea. She watched him disappear through the doorway, as though hooded by thoughts. She knew enough not to press him on the matter, whatever the matter was. If it was important, she knew he’d let-on at the right time.
The next day, Maryam woke earlier than was her wont – though still, she now estimated, a couple of hours after Tariq. He was getting up earlier and earlier of late. After making a pot of coffee, pouring herself a mug of it, steaming in vermilion and black, she walked into the living room and spied an opened book laid face down on the long coffee table by the sofa. Seating herself, she picked it up. Its title ran: Delightful Murder. It was a book she knew, or at least knew-of; the one ‘literary’ foray made by the august Ernest Mandel himself! That Belgian economist, leading Marxist and Trotskyist leader for so long, had always had a penchant for detective fiction. She knew that because Tariq had once explained it, a few years back, when, recently-divorced, he’d been courting her in those first few months of their acquaintance. She could still picture that scene in a small but elegant and smoky bistro near the left bank of the Seine.
‘To this day,’ he’d said, ‘you do realise that the Penguin edition of the three volumes of Capital still make-use of his Introduction. God! In sixty-eight his little slim An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory sold over one point five million copies! Can you just imagine, I mean, just try and imagine something like that happening today! Im-possible.’ He was dressed all in white that evening, and the white glowed against his dusky skin; glowed like the glamour of his dark and sparkling eyes.
Perhaps it was the fact that he was nearly thirty years older than her, perhaps it was his oaky charisma, a mixture of deep seriousness and lightsome charm, but Maryam was smitten when he spoke with such impassioned verve. She wasn’t a political animal herself, though she did keep au courant with the world-scene; and more so now that she was falling in love with this older man so involved in the left-wing movements across the globe.
‘He’s most famous of course for his Late Capital. But my favourite of his works is his Marxist Economic Theory. That by the way was his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne. It took him nearly ten years to write, and he does something quite special there – though old-hat in today’s climate, where such tricks are anachronistic given the high-brow sophistication of the intelligentsia, left or right.’
‘What? What did he do?’ It wasn’t just amorous interest; Maryam was genuinely intrigued. For her, books and the world of the intellect had always been a presence; but somehow, she’d just never been as invested as this older man, talking to her now with such heartfelt passion.
‘Well, while updating Marx, he mimicked him. He dealt with the various parts of the Marxist economic conceptual apparatus, but developed them in an arc that told the political-economic history of the civilised world that was now, as then, susceptible to such a penetrating critique.’
Maryam had frowned here. She’d placed her glass of red wine, which until then she’d held up in an inquisitive space between the table and her lips, as though poised there as a question-mark, back down on the table.
‘What I mean is: he showed how the conceptual tools of Marxist economics could be seen to grow, to develop organically with the history of economic organisation. He showed, in other words, how Marxist economic critique was no a priori theorising, but that it itself was deeply grounded in the empirical history of material civilisation.’
Maryam had thought it through, and as she was a highly intelligent woman, she’d now said, with eagle-eyed perceptiveness,
‘But then, doesn’t that paint quite a bleak picture of history?’
‘How so? I’m not sure I follow.’
‘Well, doesn’t that make it look like Marxism is kind of inevitable?’
‘Yes, I suppose it does.’
‘But then if Marxism is an ineluctable result of economic history, well, doesn’t that…’
Tariq had caught on now.
‘No, it doesn’t. I see where you’re going with this. No, it doesn’t. Marxism is still worthy as a fighting-promise, a fighting-proposition. Yes, in the sense you mean, it is a part of the way of the world. But no, it is also stuff from the briefs of the angels.’ There was both warm Marxism and there was cold Marxism, he’d said, switching now to his more clowning mode.
They had clinked glasses, glasses of delicious, crisp Beaujolais, and had drunk into the early hours that evening in Paris. He’d offered to take her there only the week before, to give her the grand tour. And she’d jumped at the chance. A year later they were married.
And yet, it wasn’t on that particular evening that Tariq had spoken of Mandel’s life-long love for detective fiction. But it was in the environs of that early time in his courtship of her. He’d said that certain minds, like Mandel’s, certain mathematically-minded intellects couldn’t resist mysteries. It was the architectonic neatness of their construction, their sweet mathematics, that attracted such rationalistic mindsets. And it wasn’t limited to social scientists or even hard scientists. There were certain literary minds that matched; he’d given the examples of G.K. Chesterton, or, one of the latter’s epigones, one of his most avid readers, Jorge Luis Borges. (Even if the latter’s literary mathematics wasn’t restricted specifically to detective fiction. In fact, the latter’s literary mathematics was even more tremendous in so far as it worked itself out in short stories that were far from detective fiction.) And, he’d continued, there were even religious minds that thrilled to the stuff. Such as the Oxonian and catholic stalwart for a whole generation, a good friend of Evelyn Waugh’s no less, Ronald Knox. Though hardly anyone knew about such figures nowadays. They were far more well-known during the post-war era. And part of the reason that he, Tariq, knew of someone like Knox, not himself being much of a ‘religious’ type, was because he too had been an Oxonian – if in a period, even then, posthumous, quite conclusively posthumous…
Maryam now toyed with the slim hardback in her long and delicately-fingered hands. Delightful Murder she recalled now, ogling the book-cover, to be a short social history of the detective story. But what was it doing here, laid face-down but open none the less, and not duly stacked away in one of the voluminous bookshelves of her husband’s study? As though in response to her mental query, Tariq now ambled out of the study, bearing a wide smile.
‘Finished. The Yemen piece; just sent it off. It should appear next week, I gather.’
Maryam decided now to stay silent about her mysterious find of the Mandel book, the Mandel book itself a short, taut discourse on mystery. Tariq seemed oblivious, but he did now say,
‘By the way, you were asking about that call yesterday.’
Maryam racked her newly-woken mind.
‘You know, about Teymour.’
‘Ah yes.’ She just managed to stifle a look of perplexity from playing completely across her features. ‘And?’
‘Well, it was just an old friend asking after him. I told him he was doing fine. I called him “the apple of my eye” because that’s what you call a child born in May.’
‘Well, that’s what I’ve heard. Anyway. Now that the piece is finished, and dispatched, I thought we’d go out for lunch. What do you say?’
His face creased up, like a round and melting ember of coaly brown and bristly silvery-white, and Maryam felt warmed, as ever, as though wrapped in a soft, thick duvet of what was, it was certain, bona fide, mature love. She would be with him, she knew at some steep and stark gut-level, until forever kissed the cosmos.
They spent the rest of the day galivanting about Dubai, a city they’d only recently moved to due to the dire illness of Maryam’s father. She needed to be on the ground and, as Tariq was as much in love with her as a nineteen-year-old tossing and turning in the storm of a piercing first love, he’d not objected. He still travelled, but the move hadn’t disrupted that. In fact, as one of his specialisms in his political journalism was the Middle East, Dubai wasn’t so bad as a base. And that night, after they both had trundled, tipsy alike, to their third-floor apartment, they’d made love as though for the first time. Life, for the older man and for his younger spouse, was looking rosier and rosier than ever. Maryam had found the love of her life; Tariq had found more than that – a veritable lease of life!
However, the morning after was a riposte. While Maryam’s sleep was dreamless, or so it seemed to her the next morning, Tariq woke the next day having aged it seemed, by the djinn-spurred copiousness of his dream. It was the fey uncanniness of it all that most overwhelmed him.
He’d dreamt he was in Paris again. It was or seemed to be a lecture he was attending, during or near to the time of the famed student revolt in sixty-eight, the year the world teetered on the brink. Ernest Mandel was seated next to him, whispering it seemed the translation from the German of the young Jurgen Habermas. Which was strange, because that seemed to meld two different occasions, the former one having been in Germany, Frankfurt to be precise. But then that’s what dreams did. So, Tariq now thought, wiping the dream-spread sweat from his brow, fair enough. But as far as he could remember the words Mandel was spouting into his ear were not strictly-speaking political. He was spewing forth a launched and personalised invective against his protegee. He was threatening to kill his son, Teymour, even though Mandel had died close to the time Teymour was born, in the real world, in real time. He was launching a tirade as well at the young-old Tariq, for having written his first novel, a serial political satire, titled, Redemption, and ending it in the way he had. Tariq had made Mandel, the somewhat hyper-real hero of the tale, well-nigh hermaphrodite, ending the satirical foray with a scene in which he, Ernest Mandel, had nourished his own baby from what turned out to be his own manly breasts. Tariq had ended with that scene because he’d wanted the political utopian to be a sexual one as well. He’d tried to explain the logic to Mandel, on more than one occasion shortly after the book was published in the late eighties of the previous century. But in real time, years and years ago now, Mandel had been furious, and for the space of a few years had cut off ties with his protegee. In the dream, however, Mandel’s ire was directed against his son, Tariq’s that is. And then just as Tariq felt he’d had enough of the threats of the old man, Leon Trotsky, the original ‘old man’ himself suddenly appeared on the scene, to tread the boards of what was becoming an incredibly terrifying dream. Trotsky walked down the aisle of the lecture hall, unnoticed by any of the crowd or any of the panel, unnoticed by all except he, Tariq. As he approached the raised dais he motioned with his hand for Tariq to calm himself. He approached the two of them now, while Mandel was whispering still in Tariq’s ear. He leantin to Mandel’s ear and himself whispered something, something that seemed both momentous, ominous, as well as happenstance and by the bye. Mandel suddenly jerked his head back and burst into hysterics. He patted the young-old Tariq on the back now, while wiping the ludic tears from his eyes, telling him that it was OK after all, that he wasn’t intent on murdering his son. Tariq then looked up at the old man himself, and thanked him, his eyes and his face filled with depth-charged emotion. Trotsky smiled back. He said that he was delighted to be of service. And to keep the cause alive. And to keep the cause alive.
Omar Sabbagh is a widely published poet, writer and
critic. His first collection and his
fourth collection, are, respectively: My
Only Ever Oedipal Complaint and To
The Middle of Love (Cinnamon Press, 2010/17). His 5th collection, But It Was
An Important Failure, is forthcoming with Cinnamon Press at the start of
2020. His Beirut novella, Via Negativa: A Parable of Exile, was
published with Liquorice Fish Books in March 2016; and a riveting collection of
short fictions, Dye and Other Stories,was released in September 2017. His Dubai novella, Minutes from the
Miracle City is forthcoming with Fairlight Books in July 2019; and a study
of the oeuvre of Professor Fiona Sampson, For the Love of Music, should
be released by Anthem in 2020. He has
published or will have published scholarly essays on George Eliot, Ford Madox
Ford, G.K. Chesterton, Robert Browning, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Joseph
Conrad, Lytton Strachey, T.S. Eliot, Basil Bunting, Hilaire Belloc, Henry
James, George Steiner, and others; as well as on many contemporary poets. Many of these works are collated in his To
My Mind, Or, Kinbotes: Essays on Literature, forthcoming with Whisk(e)y Tit
in 2019.He holds a BA in PPE from Oxford; three MA’s, all from the
University of London, in English Literature, Creative Writing and Philosophy;
and a PhD in English Literature from KCL.
He was Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at
the American University of Beirut (AUB), from 2011-2013. He now teaches at the American University in
Dubai (AUD), where he is Associate Professor of English.
At the Women in Front Conference on Lebanese Female candidates in the 2018 Parliamentary Elections – Challenges and Barriers.
اكيد الأبوية المتغلغلة بالمجتمع اللبناني والقوانين والذهنية هي من أهم العوائق للمساواة الجنسانية ولتمكين المرأة في الحياة السياسية. طالما العقلية السائدة هي أن “دور المرأة(فقط) إدارة المنزل”، والجندر “مسألة نسائية” وليس مسألة وطنية، “وعلى المرأة(فقط) انو تفرض حالها وتكون كفوءة”، نسبة النساء في البرلمان اللبناني رح بتضل متدنية: ٤% … عيب علينا كلبنانيين ودولة لبنانية
I had the honor of participating in this wonderful gathering of scholars, activists and artists working on gender and women’s rights issues in Southwestern Asia and North Africa. Once again, Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture and CAFCAW have succeeded in challenging the intellect and establishing a dialogue between diverse identities and currents. The conference was successful by the wide range of speakers and by the attendees who contributed to the constructive debates.
We finally presented excerpts of our paper Dr. Nadia Wardeh and I, entitled ‘Against the Current: Religious Authority, Gender and Interreligious Dialogue’. We argued that feminist and liberal thinking/doing interreligious dialogue is a marginalized reality in our region at the institutional level, and particularly when it comes to decision-making tables within and across religious sectarian borders. This is largely unsurprising in so far as the leadership of most religious communities continues to be predominantly male (and patriarchal). The way we see it, there is a need for a shift from complementarianism to egalitarianism, and especially the production and use of Christian and Islamic theologies of gender equality as pillars of thinking and doing interreligious dialogue.
هل القوانين في لبنان تحمي حقوق المرأة وتعزز المساواة الجنسانية Gender Equality؟ ماذا عن تطبيقات القوانين والمعايير الاجتماعية والعقلية السائدة الابوية؟ وقوانين الأحوال الشخصية؟ كيف يمكن تمكين المرأة في القطاع السياسي والاقتصادي؟ ما هي الخطوات العملية التي يمكن للمواطنين والمجتمعات والأحزاب السياسية اتخاذها لتحقيق المساواة في الحقوق والفرص والواجبات؟ كيف يمكننا تفكيك الصور النمطية القائمة على النوع الاجتماعي؟ هذه بعض الأسئلة التي ناقشناها اليوم ضمن ورشة عمل عن المساواة الجنسانية في لبنان.
October 14, 2018
Organized by CAFCAW
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh Gender Equality Training Session
Above the traffic of the street below, pocking the low periwinkle sky with polka-dots of errant lighting, colour, Maryam was twiddling her thumbs. Outside the wall-wide window, the vehicles in this, one of Beirut’s most uppity zones, made honking sounds like tweezers or like thick blobs of sound on the air, with the odd swift and rinsing tinkling of rickety breaks, with the loud, brash, desperate yelp of a beggar or two, with music, western and oriental, breaking out now and then from a car-radio, the windows down, a few bars of hackneyed melancholy, hackneyed longing; and now a wolf-whistle, heard in blindness from within her plush third-floor flat, heard, that is, without knowing its object – a stray casting of the net for a woman, perhaps, though that was unlikely; more likely to be a signal from one end or side of the street to another, between buddies with skins so wizened and brown they were grey – indicating, say, a sundry direction to go, or something happenstance of the sort. This was, after all, the staple music of life, in all its deadpan, humdrum drudgery – and Maryam was presently at a loss.
For what she knew of music, in the very cut and timber of her bones, she would never let-on. Music was everything to her. It was for her, in a manner of speaking, the meaning of life. Oh, of course she was a cultivated, literate woman, and had read of great poets whose primal concern had nothing to do with the represented content of their words, but rather with an incipient musical inkling or mood, to be filled-out and fortified to boot, in the moving architecture of their poems. But that wasn’t the most signal memory that occurred to her now. It was, rather, of a small passage of speech which a philosophy professor, whose lecture she’d happened to attend, had elocuted in a moment of deep and sincere enervation.
The tall, slim man from Texas, who held his cowboy hat plum against his paunch, as though there were a belly to hide or smother, had been dragged by questions from the audience for close-on half-an-hour. You could see his nerves were on edge, as the amateurish audience tried to pick-apart his views and his explanations of such. So, as the moderator silenced the barking crowd, the tall, slim professor from Texas presently calmed himself. He took a gulp of water, looked down briefly as though to gather one final push of strength, and said:
‘Ladies and gentlemen. I am now close to the end of my career as a professional thinker. And I would like, only, to impart to you one final, simple lesson that is the upshot of decades of tussling with philosophical problems. And it is this: music, rhythm, but a dynamic, moving rhythm – these are the catchwords of a successful, in the integral sense of flourishing, human life. To petrify your movements in the world, mental or more dispositional, to get stuck, fixed in any one stance, however extreme or un-extreme it might be, that is the error I hope you may come to elide. In short, music is the metaphor of reality, lived well – whether you want to call that a realism for yourselves, agents in the world, God, or the way things are, ontologically, or indeed just being at-one with yourself and the world in which that self is housed, an integral part. In ethics, for example, the libertine and the ascetic or saint are the same person, for all intents and purposes; the one makes pleasure his religion, the other takes utmost pleasure of a sort at least in his religion. No; the answer, or better, the solution, to enact a truly balanced life, is to be neither too pure, nor too sullied. A bit of idealism here; a bit of selfishness, if not cynicism, there. And this mixture, this texture, this weave, in constant, live oscillation. This way, as we are creatures of and in time, with all the unfortunate paradoxes and aporias that entails for us, we might, just might grow to out-shimmy the prison of reality, making it our bower….’
Maryam couldn’t say what she was wearing that day, or what she’d eaten for lunch, or even whom she was with at the time, if she was with anyone, but this small speech had stayed with her, riveting her still – even if to be “riveted” was the life-error upon which the older man had so incisively dilated. She’d had many relationships in her own life, after all, which had failed because of being so fixed and steeped – life-errors, she now thought, indeed.
There was Karim, for instance. She’d stayed socketed in his wake for nearly three years after they’d broken up. Whether she was being altruistic or selfish, though, was a touched, tough question. Yes, she thought she felt she still loved him, and that was a generous, giving sentiment; or no, she was wallowing in self-pity, hitched to a bygone eon, in a way that gave her some small, secret, escapist pleasure, denying with relish the passage of time and her life. But either way, she certainly had not “out-shimmied” reality then. And there were others, too, on whom she’d stayed equally fixated.
That was the problem with being a woman. She, woman, that is, might love to dance, to make merry in the music, but when it came to matters of the heart, for all her, woman’s that is, ability to carry outlandish burdens and to survive, adapt, and to help others survive terrors, even terrors – when it came to matters of the most personal heart, she was like a frozen number. Sure, she, like many women, might dither, shimmy at the start of any loving-affair, setting traps and tests, trying-out her potential partner in all sorts of scenarios and situations, to see him in all the lights and shades, to see him in as round a way as possible – but all this was simply to make-sure. Then, once in, she was in – irretrievably so. And this could be problematic, aporetic as the philosopher would say, because men were like time, a kind of prison.
The paintings on the walls of her flat were in the main abstract. Life of course, and life for a woman especially, wasn’t. But what was music? You could read a musical score, say, if that was in your line. You could trace the elegant calligraphy of it. And to listen to music, good music, music that stirred, and took you somewhere, somewhere new, different, but still and at the same time ratifying all the best parts in or at the home of your-self, your self-awareness – well, that was neither a picture you could see and recognise, nor was it wholly separated from the fabric of daily life. It was hard to decide, even as a dilettante. Words like “chromaticism”, “melody”, “tonality”, even “atonality”, echoed in her mind, and she wished she might be, become, a more knowing, telling part of that mysterious, miraculous world.
She’d decided what she must do
انتظرت بعد أن هدأت موجة الحديث عن زفاف الأمير هاري والعروس ميغان ماركل؛ لأتحدث بكل صراحة عن أهم النقاط؛ التي تغافل عنها البعض، وبداْ أكثر اهتماماً بمن كان من بين الحضور.
يعد هذا الزفاف بمثابة نقلة في البلاط الملكي بل ورسالة تعايش نحن في أشد الحاجة لها الآن.
غالباً ما تكون الروايات من نسج الخيال؛ لتكون صوتاً يتمرد على الواقع، ولكن أن يأتي اليوم لتصبح فيه قصة “سندريلا” حقيقة فلابد أن ندرك معنى وقيمة هذا التغير.
ميغان ماركل ممثلة أمريكية ولدت لأم أمريكية من أصول أفريقية، وأب أمريكي من أصول هولندية وأيرلندية. درست ميغان المسرح والعلاقات الدولية. ثم سطع نجمها بعد أن لعبت دور رايتشل في المسلسل الشهير “سوتس”، وأما عن الأمير هاري فهو غني عن التعريف.
للعائلات الملكية قواعد وشروط صارمة مثل عدم الزواج من عامة الشعب.
فالملك إدوارد الثامن ملك المملكة المتحدة تخلى عن العرش عام 1936؛ من أجل الزواج من واليس سمبسون، والتي كانت أمريكية الجنسية ومطلقة سابقاً.
مع العلم أنه قديماً كانت تمنع كنيسة إنجلترا الزواج من النساء المطلقات.
هل يبدو السيناريو متشابهاً ؟ ربما! ولعل هذه النبذة الصغيرة تعكس كيف كان البلاط الملكي والمملكة المتحدة آنذاك.
فاليوم يوجد تنوع عرقي غني في إنجلترا، فزواج الأمير من امرأة أمريكية من أصول أفريقية يخلق حالة من مد جسور الحب والتواصل والاحتضان للجاليات والأعراق المتنوعة التي لفترة طويلة شعر بعض منها بشيء من العنصرية. بالإضافة إلى الطبقية. فجاء هذا الزواج ليجعل الشعب نسيجاً أكثر ترابطاً ويضيف لمسة تحضر وانفتاح لقبول اختلاف الآخر على علم المملكة، في وقت نعاني فيه من الإرهاب ونقص في التسامح.
أما كونها مطلقة وتكبره بثلاث سنوات فهذه التفاصيل شغلت الرأي العام العربي أكثر من غيره؛ مما يجعلها رسالة أمل لكل امرأة وتحديداً العربية بأن هناك حياة بعض الطلاق، وبأنه ليس ممنوعاً أن تتزوجي بمن تحبين وأن كان أصغر سناً.
إذا أمكن للبلاط الملكي أن يغير جلده، فلربما حان الوقت أن يصبح مجتمعنا العربي أكثر رحمة وتقبلاً؛ ليلحق بقطار التمدن وترك التعصب بكل أنواعه جانباً