Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Relationships Not a Destination

Why start a relationship if it’s going to end we often ask. If people aren’t right for each other, why even bother. To tell you the truth we have a point. What use is going down a dead end path, where the end is near and you can see it from a distance. Why take an unknown road that leads to the same point. Why be with someone you can’t be with forever.

The reason is because there is no forever. Nothing lasts anyway and every relationship is temporary. What makes 10 years more permanent than 2 years is because we choose to label it so. For some, 10 years is temporary and 25 is permanent. But the point is that it all ends sooner or later. It’s understandable that people want things to end later rather than sooner but the point that people miss out is that it’s not about the end.

Relationship ends make no sense, it’s all the in between that makes all the difference, yet the way people analyze it is as if the journey doesn’t affect you, as if the quality of the relationship has nothing to add to you and nothing to give you. They skip forward in time and see its demise and judge a relationship based on that, but by the end of a doomed relationship you can actually come out a better person, bettered by the person you were with or by the experience. The real question isn’t how long this relationship will last, but how much it would give me while it does.

To shift the paradigm, is it better to be in a bad relationship that would last or in a good one that won’t? Ideally one would hope for a good one that lasts. For sure a bad relationship is not worth anything no matter how permanent it is. The good relationship needs to be assessed. Will it give me more than it’ll take? Would the journey through it give me something, give me joy.. as permanent as the volatile things in life?

Being with someone is very dynamic, it changes everything about yourself and about the other someone, you get entangled and you take a piece of that someone with you as you go along and they take a piece of you. The worst relationship is when you lose parts of yourself without gaining anything of worth. Good people are hard to find, those who share a good part of themselves with you, but should you try and grab a part of them even if it can’t last? If people give you a lot you can always win, and the reasons things don’t work out could very well be external reasons beyond your control. Why give up on something good if you can’t have it for longer? The entirety of life isn’t long anyway.

A relationship doesn’t exist for the sake of the relationship but for yours. What I mean is that the purpose of the relationship isn’t where it’s going to take the relationship itself, but where it takes you. You may see the end from a distance, but you can’t know the route you’ll take to reach it and much more, you can’t foretell the person you’ll be when you reach it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


When I first watched the ‘Avatar’ trailer I thought the movie would be a complete disaster and that I wouldn’t enjoy it one bit for a variety of reasons. For starters, the name Avatar sounds like some geeky internet word that can’t be taken seriously. The blue cartoon like creatures didn’t help either and only served to remind me that the last time James Cameron made a movie was in ’97 with Titanic. Sure it was the most successful movie ever made from a box office point of view but I didn’t care very much for it. Visions of a movie stuck in the nineties with old concepts flashed through my head, not to mention a cliché plot. The trailer told me all I needed to know about the story. A sort of teched-up version of Dances with Wolves meets Pocahontas.

Having watched Avatar in 3D, everything changed. Perhaps it was because this is my first time to watch something in 3D and have nothing to compare it with but I truly doubt that. The verdict is that Avatar is a movie that’s worth watching in 3D. (In 2D it wasn’t as impressive, which I simulated by watching with one eye closed through the 3D glasses) The first hour was an introduction to a colorful brightly lit new world in three dimensions and Cameron took his time drawing out the details of the new world with meticulous precision and fantastical imagery. The reason why it was very enjoyable and entertaining extends to more than the beautifully crafted scenery. James Cameron did a fine job transporting us to the planet Pandora surpassing so many of his predecessors that have attempted to take us to their own worlds. The creatures lived up to their name of having been created masterfully on the screen. It was as if we were looking into a glass box where everything was happening live before us, into a luminous exotic forest that was out of this world.

That’s not to say that the movie’s story line was profound or original. In a way it did mimic Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas in that the modern humans intermingled with an alien culture and one of us fell in love with one of them, but not in a cheap manner. The characters were taken seriously and Cameron took the trouble to write up their scenes from scratch rather than rely on ripped recycled scenes from previous movies (ala 2012). The movie itself is not a mindless action flick of action and sci-fi clichés and that’s was what won me over. The themes were not of the American patriotism and supremacy for a change; on the contrary they were quite the opposite which is rare to find in American blockbusters. It had some socio-political themes entwined with green and nature.

The aliens were not alien in their values and their ideas, they had a deep connection with their forest and every living thing around them. Their tribes worked in harmony, the women and men equally vital to their community with deep respect for the greater force of nature that binds them all. In a way the Navis of Avatar resembled the native Americans whom the Americans slaughtered, whose lands were stolen in order to serve the great and sinister ideal of capitalism. The Americans resembled, well, hmm, Americans and even in a futuristic movie on other planets they haven’t changed their locust-like nature of devouring everything in their way. The businessmen causing wars and milking us dry won’t stop.

In this movie it’s like the true alien to the humans is humanity. We’ve become so alienated from our roots that we don’t recognize them when we see them. We destroy everything in our way for insignificant profit and we've distanced ourselves from what truly matters. We’ve severed our connections with our surroundings, our nature, our climate, our environment and what’s more with one another. As a story, even with all the repetition in the ideas presented, everything is as pertinent as ever. The natives or Navis are referred to as hostiles and the American are still using the phrase ‘fight terror with terror’ even though they’re the aggressors.

The sky people (humans) moved back to their dying planet; something along these lines was said. We have killed our planet, but worst of all we’ve let our greedy politicians and businessmen do it, but unlike the movie we don’t have the power to tell them they can’t have everything they want, we have to watch our own planet being depleted for ink on paper they call money and for luxurious polluting vehicles and machinery.

The mandatory action sequences were there, but beneath their usual shallowness, I was filled with an underlying sorrow to see that beautiful scenery that Cameron had built being destroyed by heinous gun fire and explosives. It’s sad to see something beautiful destroyed, and Cameron created something very beautiful.

Those I’ve been with hadn’t experienced 3D in the manner presented to us in the film and according to many reports, Cameron revolutionized 3D. Cameron aimed to bring people back to attending movies in the cinemas. In my view, he succeeded.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Miracles and Realism

"...in my experience miracles never bother a realist. It is not miracles that incline a realist towards faith. The true realist, if he is not a believer, will invariably find within himself the strength and the ability not to believe in miracles either, and if a miracle stands before him as an incontrovertible fact, he will sooner disbelieve his senses than admit that fact. And even if he does admit it, it will be as a fact of nature, but one that until now has been obscure to him. In the realist it is not faith that is born of miracles, but miracles of faith. Once the realist believes, his realism inexorably compels him to admit miracles too. The Apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, said: 'My Lord and my God.' Was it the miracle that made him believe? The likeliest explanation is that it was not, and that he came to believe for the sole reason that he wanted to believe and, perhaps, in the inmost corners of his being already fully believed, even when he said: 'Except I shall see...I will not believe.'"

~ The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Has it been that long?

I saw a young kid listening to Metallica's Load album. It seems ancient now, but he seems to be a fan of the classics. I realized how much of a classics it is. Even Nirvana now is a distant past, and is as old to the new generation as was Pink Floyd or Zepplin to me back at the time of Nirvana.

Has it really been that long?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weary to my Bones

The starting lines of Paul Simon's American Tune never fail to move me. I think constantly of my friends when I hear the lines: "I don't know a soul who's not been battered, I don't have a friend who feels at ease."

Yet with all this sharing, there might be something redeeming...

Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I'm all right, I'm all right
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees
but it's all right, it's all right
for we lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the
road we're traveling on
I wonder what's gone wrong
I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly..

From Paul Simon - American Tune

Monday, December 14, 2009

First Editions can be Dangerous

Serbia made it to the world cup. In celebration of their victory the Serbian president Boris Tadic celebrated by opening a bottle of champagne and proposing a toast. Apparently it is illegal to consume alcohol in sports venues and so the president was fined.

When I heard the news, it made me really sad to think that even in such an event the president could be accountable for his actions when breaking the law. Needless to say, it's sad because of our current situation.

In contrast, our government has done something quite ridiculous, this same piece of news was published in Al Ahram newspaper's first edition (see below).

In the second edition, this piece of news was removed (see below)

Is there someone in charge of looking at all these first editions and removing any threat to the presidency and the government? Why would they remove such a piece of news? It's already known that our president is above the law. What does the removal of this piece of news say about our own government? I think it just means they're afraid and that it must not be ingrained in the minds of Egyptians that the law applies to the president. It's almost funny that there's someone with enough power to influence a newspaper going through silly pieces of news to identify threats to national security.

The act of removing news items and images in the second print is a common practice, which means that all newspapers are closely monitored and that there is great interference in what is published. Instead of all that energy to monitor the news, why doesn't the government do the multitude of jobs where there is obvious dereliction?

The bottom line is to watch out for first editions and enjoyEgyptian lunacy...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Survival Skills

It's odd how humans are taught skills that are necessary for the prosper of business instead of survival nowadays. You're being trained as a machine, not just to survive but to make money for someone else. Are we being taught the right things in school?