Sunday, May 25, 2008

The new President of Lebanon

After some kind of Coup, Michel Suleiman is the new president of Lebanon.
Especially Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia are pleased.
Read here, here, here and here what some Lebanese watchers are saying.


If I invite people to write on this blog, blogger let me all the time know that they 'allow' up to 100 different authors. I am thankful for that..)
A couple of weeks ago, I introduced Aziz here. He was supposed to write at least once a week, that was our agreement by phone since he asked me to be a co blogger here. But leaving comments on a blog is something else than show your own opinion through an entry on a blog or a column. Aziz could not make it, but still welcome to express his opinion. He sounds like a clever person, and has a lot to say, worth listening.

Vassilli had a winter sleep, and Seda, my dear Turkish friend now living in Thessaloniki had some issues as well. But both are living in Greece, where the tempo of living and working are different than elsewhere..)

Bea and her remarkable blog doesn’t need another introduction, neither Sandra who has something special to say this week. But Eva will start writing, as off this week, after a long week in Istanbul, here on this blog. She travelled all over Europe, the USA, and Asia, now back in the Netherlands to prepare for a 6 week trip to Nepal. She will tell more, in her own words. And she will be the Benjamin here with her 22 years...welcome!

Food for (ultra) nationalists

To raise the issue of culture today is to position oneself at the crossroads of two forces, globalization and the persistence of national identity, that are both contradictory and intertwined. Culture can no longer be developed without a basic, existential, vital tension between the universal, the regional, the national and the local.
Although cultures remain anchored in their national contexts, it is increasingly hard to believe that the traditional concepts of identity, people and nation are inviolable. Our societies have never experienced such a widespread break with traditions that have grown up over centuries.

But we must ask ourselves whether modern trends usually presented as possible threats to these traditions, including that of the nation-state, might not turn out to be fertile soil for culture, i.e. favourable to the coexistence of diversity. They might help to avoid the two pitfalls of ordered cohesion and artificial uniformity.

The first arises from the hegemonic identity model being based on a single, total, dominant, integrating culture. It was seen as something fixed and immutable. It was brandished as a weapon, and we are only now beginning to measure its impact. The twentieth century saw the most sophisticated cultures give in to barbarism. It took us a long time to realize that racism flourishes where cultural identity is regarded as an absolute. Cultures based on exclusion inevitably lead to the exclusion of all culture. That is why the concept of cultural identity as we have known it since the beginning of globalization is out of date.

But culture must not free itself from national identity by surrendering to the might of globalization and privatization. Emerging post-national identities have not yet shown their capacity to withstand inequality, injustice, exclusion and violence.

To subordinate culture to criteria developed in the laboratories of the dominant ideology, which make a cult of the ups and downs of the stock market, the uncertainties of supply and demand, the snares of functionality and urgency, is to cut off its vital supply of social oxygen and to replace creative tension with the stress of the marketplace.

Two big dangers loom ahead. The first is the current tendency to relegate culture to the status of a superfluous product, whereas cultural perception could well become for information societies what scientific knowledge has been for industrial societies. It is too often forgotten that repairing social divisions means having to pay a cultural cost. Investing in culture is also investing in society. The second danger is that of "electronic fundamentalism". Cultural factories and supermarkets spread a culture that is so technology-oriented that it could be described as dehumanized.

But how can culture be "technologized" to the point where it is just a collection of cultural clones, and still claim to be culture? A cloned culture is an aborted culture, because when a culture ceases to be interdependent, it ceases to be a culture. Interaction is the hallmark of culture. And interaction leads to hybridity, not cloning. With cloning, the one is an exact copy of the other. With hybridity, the one and the other give birth to a new entity which is different but also naturally retains the identity of its origins. Wherever it has occurred, cultural hybridity has sustained roots and forged new solidarities, which may be an antidote to exclusion.

To paraphrase Andre Malraux, I would say that the third millennium will be one of hybridity or it will not be.

Eduardo Portella is a Brazilian philosopher (see picture), author and literary critic. He was formerly his country's Minister of Education and Culture and has served as Deputy Director General of UNESCO.
Note: I post this short article by Eduardo Portella because last Friday night, we, Erkan, Dinc, Eva and I had a interesting discussion about Turks who are living outside Turkey. Later more.
Update: Key theorists in hybridity are Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Gayatri Spivak, and Paul Gilroy, whose work responds to the increasing multicultural awareness of the early nineteen nineties. Often the literature of postcolonial and magical realist authors such as Salman Rushdie, Gabriel García Márquez, Milan Kundera, and J. M. Coetzee recur in their discussions

The FREE Road More Traveled

Recently, I've been looking for free stuff to stuff my pockets with whatever I can. Do you have space in your pockets for some interesting things FREE? Here are three of my faves:

You can create your own Radio station. No, it's not for download but for those times you want to listen through your computer. You can create the tunes to your satisfaction. Go to Pandora and type in the music, artists or composers you like and the rest will be done for you. FREE!

Do you like silver jewelry and want to get a nice gift for yourself or your favorite someones? Well, if you're in the states, you can get free jewelry of your selection by paying for shipping and handling of about 7 bucks. Jewelry is FREE if you pay the small charge for shipping.

Wi-Fi required? Find out where you can connect for FREE no matter where you are. Don't forget to scroll all the way down the page to find all the Wi-Fi locations all over the world. Happy surfing!

Day opening - May 25

Russian, Diman Bilan, wins Eurovision 2008.