What Really Matters?

Just under two years ago, I was in Paris with my wife.  How the umr bi yigri. We visited the Arab Institute and bought some things there, and admired the view from its terrace.  Then we crossed the Seine, and went up to the Place des Vosges, between the 3rd and 4th Arrondissement.

I saw an apartment for rent, and I thought to myself, yes, it would be nice to, again, live in Paris one day, before I became too old to do so, and my wife agreed.

She loves Paris, for her own reasons:  mine is not only that the famed Egyptian writer Albert Cossery resided nearby for so long (I of course also went to visit the Hôtel La Louisiane in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but alas there is nothing left of his romantic writer’s garret: it has been converted into some multi room living space), but because a sophisticated cultural notion of Arabness thrives in Paris, as you can see from the pic I have used as the header image to this post.

Compared to the wasteland of Florida, or the active suppression going on in New York, the notion of Egyptian and Lebanese and North African history and scholarship is alive and respected in Paris.

There are many serious problems, unfortunately, with the Jihadis in France:  I would not rule out — if I were King of France — permanent expulsion or long term incarceration of those who advocate radicalized violence.

I support the idea of a laïque republic, which America, for example, is most definitely not, and thus do not think mass prayers in public spaces are appropriate; burkinis, ugly to look at as they are, I could care less about; and I personally feel sorry for young women who adopt the hijab.

Bearded unpleasantness aside, not far from the Institute is a wonderful Beiruti restaurant where I would love to have dinner again one day.

At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, there’s no resemblance to a life lived in Paris, compared to say, Florida:  it is as if they inhabit different worlds.  Perhaps some of the 9.9 per cent “aristocracy” who dominate the Treasure Coast, where I live, are vaguely aware of the Paris I know.  Perhaps they, too, recognize that the world would be a far better place free of religious superstitions.

But most of the gap-toothed locals who live here in trailer parks and attend Sunday services, well, all they truly  care about — other than being assured that God and country are on their side — is finding another way to believe in the latest mensonges spewed by their venomous savior, the toxic Abydocomist-in-Chief.

I hope Macron (who is now rightfully paying a heavy political price for his right-wing policies as well as humiliating France on his recent White House visit) is eventually replaced by a full-throated Gauchiste. Why not? After all, this year in Cannes, it’s almost 1968 again.

I hope, too, Western Europe (absent the deeply misguided English, who may still wake up before it is too late — though I doubt it:  the Brexit die is cast, and the Brits are lurching on a path that reminds me of a blind drunk person trying to stagger home) succeeds in realigning itself globally post-America, which it can longer rely upon nor agree with on most things that matter.

Should that happen, Western Europe would be a far better place to live in, for sure, compared to being subjected to Americana Collapsa.

I published a post yesterday about a novel called The Book of Khalid.

As usual, there was no commentary, and barely any views.  I do not know why I continue to write posts in this blog, if the subjects I am interested in writing about are of little consequence to the average WP surfer. Maybe, and I say this unsneeringly, that their interest, or lack thereof, is hardly the point why I continue to add entries to this blog.

Now wading through The Book of Khalid is a hard slog.  If you don’t believe me, here are my random notes that are just from the Preface (titled Al-Fatihah, which is modeled after sura Al Fatha, of course, or the opening verses of the Koran):





el shami – is that the band was called sam the sham?







AL FATHAH (intro)


the structure forming the entrance to a temple.


A scarf, usually of thin muslin, wound round the crown of a sun helmet or hat and originally fastened so that the ends hung down at the back to shade the neck.


Late 19th century; earliest use found in Rosa Caroline Praed (1851–1935), novelist.


dona dulcinea

Dulcinea del Toboso



Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a Russian revolutionary anarchist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is considered among the most influential figures of anarchism and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition.Wikipedia


scrip (or chit in India) is any substitute for legal tender. It is often a form of credit. Scrips have been created for payment of employees under truck systems, and for use in local commerce at times when regular currency was unavailable, for example in remote coal townsmilitary bases, ships on long voyages, or occupied countries in wartime. Besides company scrip, other forms of scrip include land scrip, voucherstoken coins such as subway tokens, IOUs, arcade tokens and tickets, and points on some credit cards.

Scrips have gained historical importance and become a subject of study in numismatics and exonumia due to their wide variety and recurring use. Scrip behaves similarly to a currency, and as such can be used to study monetary economics.


Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (German: [ˈhɛkəl]; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many …


a mixture of oil and balsam, consecrated and used for anointing at baptism and in other rites of Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Churches


a form of Jannah


pale-faced intellectualities of Cairo flock”

diachronic shift

sartor resartus



universal vagrant




So as you can see, he goes all over the place, as I am doing, in this post  I must admit, the book’s not only heavy going, but tedious.  I was bored stiff in fact, but kept going, because I am interested in understanding the structure of the novel, taking in the observations Rihani makes of life in lower Manhattan in the early part of the 20th Century, and reading about the tense developments that apparently take place later on the book — where I see parallels to what I am contemplating with the “Gouna novel.”

In other news, not much going on here:  I look forward to the arrival of a Lavender plant that I intend to place in a large argile pot that I brought down with me from my former house in Greenwich.

But mostly what I am about these days is reading — a lot — widely and deep.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I find this is what keeps me going, other than SUP paddling, losing weight, and exercising.  All that physical stuff is only to allow the brain to survive ad long as possible in its encasement, such as it is nowadays.  All I need is for that last to, er, last long enough to support my current ambitions.

So in that regard, it matters not if few of even no American readers of this blog are interested (or not) in novels such as The Book of Khalid, or who Al Shanfara was (and why exactly he’s a fascinating poet), or whether American War by Omar el Akkad is now part of my summer Reading List.

I mean no disrespect by that, truly, but instead of being glued to the telly every night watching Chris Hayes and Rachel and Lawrence, you — especially if you are an Arab-American, and are remotely interested in your cultural origins — might (or might not!) want try wading into Al Shanfara some, and you might get what I mean quicker than a takeout stop at Jimmy Mac:  after all the L poem is less than 100 verses long.

Or, you can fester about Muller this and Trump that and Jerusalem the other thing and continue to have affrangis dictate the conversation inside your head.

Not that that’s any of me nittin’.

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The world today is a crowded place, and all sort of people push their way in on to the subway car at rush hour.
The tracks are creaking from what in Arabic is called zahma, the crowd, and the price of your ride keeps going up.
But you are different, you tell yourself.
You are not part of this horde.
You think for yourself, and at heart, you are a Bohemian.
And so you ask yourself: Why does one read a novel or view a painting?
Is it to pass the time?
To see the world in a new way?
Why do you still tape those art posters on the walls of your shotgun apartment?

Let me tell you a story.
There was a group of Egyptian artists, once.
They rose during the time of Farouk the King.
Many if not most spoke French.
They traveled to France. They picked up the mannerisms of the Surrealists.
Then of course they wrote a Manifesto. (It’s charmingly dated, like a Tristan Tzara sendup, but worth the quick read, especially the French version.)
Après tout, all Surrealists had to also be pamphleteers.
Some were arrested for threatening the King’s rule.
But then Farouk was forced to abdicate, and the young Surrealists, dubbed Les Inquiets by the art critic Aimé Azar, became super patriotic.
They believed in the Socialist dream.
Nasser loved and supported them. They served a useful political purpose: they proved that his hukooma was not only about hanging those who disagreed with him.
The Inquiets created images of the New Egypt.
Then the Socialist dream turned to ashes in 1967.
Many years passed, and the art of the anxious young Idealists was appropriated by the State, and ended up in dusty government warehouses and in the storage rooms of dilapidated museums.
The revolving ministers of Culture in Egypt saw no value in them.
Neglect fell upon the land of Egypt.
But then, slowly, a market emerged, fueled by private collectors.
Suddenly, Egyptian billionaires like Naguib Sawiris — whose presence is global, even though he purportedly rides around El Gouna in a bicycle — were snapping up paintings by the likes of Abdel Hadi el Gazzar for millions.
Cairo dealers woke up to the commercial value of yesterday’s Idealists, and thus a market for fraudulent art was born.
It continues to thrive in the phoniness of today’s Egypt, as President Peepee and his henchmen arrest and even torture anyone in sight who might speak out the truth.
Just like Mubarak and Sadat and Nasser did, and the English during the time of Farouk and Fouad before that lot. Just like when the young Idealists were nabbed and beaten in jails when Egypt was a kingdom for the few.

Now I ask you again, why do you read novels?
Why do you look at paintings?
Do you say, oh I’m hip to Ganzeer, I know all about how the dreams of the Arab Spring turned to sewage. I know all about Using Life.
Do you?
Do you really know anything real at all about Arabs?
As the truth about what happened in 2016 becomes clearer by the day, yet the abydocomist-in-chief remains in the Oval Office — you might ask yourself: how is America different in that regard from Egypt? or Iraq? or Iran? or Israel?
You will surely continue to hear, from the xenophobes and charlatans, oh these Arabs do not belong here. This is our land. These are terrorists; they are not part of our culture.

But then you might also hear, by chance, a whisper about some obscure novel and your curiosity is piqued: Is it possible, you say? Did Arabs really emigrate to NYC in the late 19th Century?
Was there a little Syria in the borough of Manhattan on Washington Street, right by where 9-11 took place?
And did an Arab-American writer who lived there during that time produce a sophisticated novel in English as far back as 1911?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes again.
And so you read this novel, The Book of Khalid, and you read about the unusual life of Ameen Fares Rihani, and your astonishment grows, particularly if you were an English major in college and thus able to make the connection to Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus.
Sartor Resartus? Carlyle? Arabs? And Surrealism too?
Is this possible?

Arabs are animals, they say.
Many have spent their lives over the centuries trying to parlay this idea.
You stop and think:
They speak French, these animals?
They produce culture?
They write novels and create works of art?
In America, more than a hundred years ago, and in the world at large for a thousand years before that?
These are the same animals who are busy producing some of the best fiction being written today, despite the threat of imprisonment and death?
These are the terrorists you hear so much about?
You might also ask yourself:  why is it that the 9-11 Memorial Museum suppressed any mention of Little Syria and the tragic if not obscene irony of a generational catastrophe in the very place where Arabs once thrived in lower Manhattan?
What’s that all about?

You stop and again ask yourself.
Why read novels?
Why look at art works or street graffiti?
To be entertained? To make a killing in the art market one day?
Or is it something more urgent?
Are these the last remaining places to find out a deeper though always provisional Truth, as the zahma threatens to leave you brain-dead amidst the rats on the subway tracks to nowhere?
Is that it?
Is it, in fact, the last vestige of what’s left of your humanity?

leaving america

Ramadan, the Hot Month

His Magnificence, Generalissimo Sobhy, hoping he’ll never have to ever fight a real war against Israel

Here’s the latest from the sandy lands of Arabia….

As Cairo wilts under a heat wave on the eve of Ramadan, President Peepee’s much decorated Minister of Defense, one Sedki Sobhy, has just spent quality time earlier this week in Vlad Land with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoygu.

Because of what is going on in the Middle East, pleaded the Generalissimo, who seems to have forgotten how effective SAMs and other Ruskie military paraphernalia were during the 6-Day war, we Egyptians are wetting our beds nightly because we don’t have enough machine guns, enough tanks, enough helicopters, or even enough spyware to monitor and arrest protect Internet and mobile users in Egypt.

Said Sobhy: We could be shot in the dick at any moment by that ragtag bunch of desert vermin lurking in the caves of Northern Sinai, whom we have already completely vanquished in the latest anti terrorist operation of course, but still… they could return at any time, with the bloodlust of holy vengeance, if we don’t have the latest takh takh at the ready!

Meanwhile in America, many got boners at the sight of Jared and beautiful Ivanka attending the heart warming ceremonies for the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, because that means The Lord is coming any day now.

It’s the fault of the left-wing media that the children of Gaza are suffering today, scoffed David Friedman, a lovely human being if ever there was one, as images of unarmed protesters being mowed down by the Israeli army were beamed around the world.

Back in Egypt, President Peepee is in a quandary.  What to do?  After last month’s sham Presidential election, his position is still shaky.  What if his best friend, the Orange One, is removed from office?  What then?  While it’s true that things are going well on the Morsi front (the only legitimately elected President of Egypt is slowly dying in prison, which is such great news!), Peepee knows things can turn on a dime.

So he sends the Generalissimo to play footsie with the Russians, because what Egypt needs now above all else is a stronger army to enslave defend the Egyptian people, who should know better than to oppose a strong, noble and handsome man such as himself.

In Gouna, on the Red Sea, where I just spent 7 months, the mandarins of Abu Tig marina continue to relax, uneasily, under the broiling sun — their houses and yachts secure (for now), as tuc-tuc drivers sweat it out for a pittance.  Soon these pseudo Egyptians will be retiring to their chalets in Switzerland and Northern Italy and villas in the South of France for the summer, though many will party in Knightsbridge, or their love nests in, say, Romania, one of the enlightened EU countries that is joining the US in relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.

“We will only destroy a few filthy Arabii huts in East Jerusalem for this Christian project,” said a high Romanian official, who spoke to Haaretz on condition of anonymity.

With all these latest developments, Jews everywhere are rejoicing.

They have won. Bibi has won. The Big Lie that is at the heart of America’s support of Israel’s right to “self defense” has won.

what the people want

Not only have the vast majority of Egyptians been turned into geldings vis-à-vis the Sahyouni project, but endless war prevails in the Middle East, which is of course a very good thing for the only Democracy in the region, still so unjustly misunderstood.

President Peepee, though, readily grasps the current global situation and acquiesces daily to the glory of the Zionist entity: he has in fact become Bibi’s second bestest Arabitch friend.  They talk on the phone all the time, joking about how easy it is to hoodwink gullible Americans with The Coming Rapture jive, or starve and kill Palis, who are nothing but untrustworthy goat fuckers anyway.

Wonders are many, but none more than how Peepee allowed Israel to celebrate its founding at a recent soirée at the former Nile Hilton — with Nasser no doubt rattling in his nearby mausoleum, but with few of Cairo’s current crop of ruthless effendis seeing a real problem with it, or the latest Israeli-Egypto gas deal. Alas, the venerable Ros el Youssef did not see fit to  let this welcome Israeli diplomatic event pass without publishing a deeply troubling cartoon.

And so Ramadan arrives, bringing peace and joy everywhere to the Muslim world.

The House of Saud, too, has lately been hot on Bibi — isn’t that marvelous?! how more Guardians of Mecca can you get?! — as is their new good friend Peepee, who was nice enough to gift Mohammad Bin Salman a few Egyptian islands in the Red Sea, in return for a trifle of baksheesh, and of course that mega project in the South Sinai.

Everyone is waiting for the next adventure: the bombing of Iran — as once called for by the now dying but already canonized McCain — for that should be great fun!

More money for everybody at the American taxpayer’s expense, and more opportunity for all those kids who are stuck scraping by at Walmart and Jimmy Ds to join the army, kill some camel jockeys, then retire before they are forty with full pension and en-surance bennies for life.

Sweet deal!

And it’s not even the oh so aptly-named Ramadan yet.


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