Who’s reading what and how?

Mali rebels torched library of historic manuscripts
Fleeing Islamist insurgents burnt two buildings containing priceless books as French-led troops approached, says mayor

Beyond the tragic implications of such an event, a small anecdote:

The manuscripts had survived for centuries in Timbuktu, on the remote south-west fringe of the Sahara desert. They were hidden in wooden trunks, buried in boxes under the sand and in caves. When French colonial rule ended in 1960, Timbuktu residents held preserved manuscripts in 60-80 private libraries.
The vast majority of the texts were written in Arabic. A few were in African languages, such as Songhai, Tamashek and Bambara. There was even one in Hebrew. They covered a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women’s rights. The oldest dated from 1204.

Women’s rights? Was this “topic” added to suit the modern mind? I did not know there was a discipline as important as astronomy or poetry, music and medicine called “women’s rights”? Is it now a science of some sort?

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Hare Krishna Inc.

The London School of Economics is considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world where a tremendous amount of “international” students flock in to receive the benediction of the neo-liberal priests, from the capitalist-technological temple otherwise known as western academia. They then go back to their countries to preach the new religion. They enter a symbolic economy that directly throw them in the sphere of the elite simply because they know the jargon. It does not mean they understand ‘reality’ in a better way, it is just that they speak of it with particular words, a particular syntax, a style, they ‘name’ things in a way, they diagnose the ‘symptoms’ which permits them to act accordingly in the economy.

In any case, this is not the subject of this post (if this topic interests you, you can read this illuminating case study, or simply that). In front of the main building of LSE, there is a little carriage held by a guy who give away free vegetarian food to the random passerby. Tapestry of hare krishna slogans with facts about how pacifist and enlightened it is to eat vegetarian food, how it inspires a spirit of giving to the to other, of caring for animals, etc.

I seriously wonder, why are these guys giving food to those whose thirst is quenched? Why aren’t they taking their carriage to where the hungry is and to where the poor resides? No doubt that the poor would rather have eggs and bacon at the average coffee place held by a mix of poles, turks and other pariah of the London economy.

Watching the queue of very fancily dressed students coming from the economic and social elite of all over the world, waiting for their karma food, was really something disturbing. Except for Islamic movements I have yet to see emerge social action performed by movements deriving from traditions and specific readings of history preaching to other people than the rich. It may be that the particularities of the European nation-state system does not let emerge interesting social action outside the official party system in place with its affiliated syndicates and pressure groups.

Actually, it is the idea of nation that has been stolen from what is today referred to as ‘religion’, and its sanctioned claim to write history. But more on this later…

Crisis in the group

Well that does it for me. Speak no more. I just had the confirmation for what I always thought: People at ICG (International Crisis Group) could well join the rank of the phony ‘experts’ that make a living out of writing journalistic reports about a political situation but while giving it more credibility by issuing the report with an institutional ‘think-tank’ stamp.

Check the latest report of ICG on Lebanon. That’s the title: The new Lebanese Equation: The Christian’s central role… Just read the “executive summary” to get to what corner of mental derangement the guy can take you. No need to read the rest of the text unless you are interested in curious cases of insane imagination.

Stamp it, fix it, make it an axiom: The only central role (if you want to think with such a stupid concept as ‘centrality of role’ in this case) that one can see not only in Lebanon but in the region at large is the one played by Hizbullah. They are the biggest winner, and on all fronts. Now of course, no single actor/group gained a role, the situation is just very different for everyone, and there is no group called ‘Christians’ in lebanon, there are Christians loosing and Christians winning if you want to call them like this. Likewise Hizbullah gained on levels and is constrained on others.

This ICG article triggers other open-ended questions that could be researched:

1- Journalists/producers of information, foreigners, coming to Lebanon end up
adopting the concepts used by Lebanese themselves to understand a situation (confessional concepts for example), ‘Christians’ is an entity that ‘play’ a ‘central’ role for example.

2- Think tanks and pundits adopt the Hollywood-based train of thinking that you need to find something ‘catchy’ to write an article on the ‘situation’ in a specific country. You can’t just say that the various protagonists ended up resolving Doha in such and such a way after fighting on several fronts peaking with the Beirut demonstration of force. No, you need to find something good. Something Brussels would like, in this case, “Christians” are strengthening because well it is original, it is about the Middle East and it is not about “Islamists”, plus in the backdrop of Christians ‘not-strengthening-at-all’ in Iraq or Syria or etc.

3- The explosive rate at which the general industry of producing information grows is highly alarming. More and more people are making their living out of basically producing crap. They create institutions, start ranking themselves in them, from one type of expertise to the other. Academia is basically the same thing but has much more history and has the sanctity of ‘educating’ giving ‘diplomas’, etc which basically means giving a social position/distinction. I’m sure one day, with the growing ‘democratization’ and ‘globalization’ encountered by the various human creatures of this planet there will be think-tanks, hey, even bloggers, giving diplomas and certificates!

Christian desperation to be "different"

A disproportionate number of the Middle Eastern country’s Christian men carry a Y chromosome that is clearly of Western European origin, which scientists believe was carried to the region by Crusaders and pilgrims between the 11th and 13th centuries.
This genetic signature is more often seen among Christians, and more rarely in Lebanon’s Muslim or Druze communities. The Y chromosomes of many Muslim men trace their ancestry to earlier migrations from the Arabian Peninsula, as Islam spread during the 7th and 8th centuries.
The findings, from a study of 926 Lebanese men, suggest that both Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon owe their origins, at least in part, to different founding events.
Study co-leader Pierre Zalloua, of the Lebanese American University in Beirut, said: ‘This (has) revealed new insights into the complex history of my country.’
The research, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, focused on the male Y chromosome, which can be used to chart patrilineal descent. It found 10 per cent of Lebanese Christian men belong to a Y group known as R1b, which is of Western European origin. Just 6per cent of non-Christians had this kind of chromosome.
This indicates that more Christians than non-Christians have at least one male ancestor from Western Europe, and fits with the region’s history.
More than 250,000 men from Europe travelled to the Middle East during the four Crusades.

Now ok this is a very funny article treating a very pathetic concern but there are things important to note here:

1- The study was conducted by some Christian ‘academic’ from a public university in Lebanon. This tells you a lot about the presence of a knowledge industry that searches and elaborates through scientific legitimating methods the presence of particularities.
2- I really love how this contradicts a lot of Christian claims saying that those who really ‘made out’ with the crusaders were the Shi’a (la’ano keno feltenin) who obviously have a higher intensity of blonds, blue eyed and round cheeks (of course this is another bullshit theory but in this case not being pushed for legitimation).
3- Maronite Christians historically come from the Arab peninsula whether you want it or not. Now in the process was there any fornication that followed that I am sure it sometimes happened with whomever was on the way and depending on a case by case basis. But Maronite Christians are the most Arab types of Christians through their rites, their use of the language, their social practices, etc. (I’m talking historically, because today and especially since the civil war, they changed a lot in all these practices).