Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Two versions

An American plane crashed last Sunday in Zaventem, Belgium's National Airport. There are two versions about the plane: 1. It is an American diplomatic plane flying to Bashrain. 2. It is an American military plane with military good for Iraq... Military planes aren't subjected to the same checks as civilian airplanes which could be a factor in the crash...
You decide, both sources had the same degree of trustworthiness.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Writers in Prison

No not the people in these pictures are in prison. They are part of the WIPC meeting to organize the work to defend free speech all over the world. Some will follow one or two main cases: one honorary member in China and two in Tunisia. Others will cover the former East Blok and Russia, and some will try to stay on top of the rapid actions, the urgent cases wherever in the world. The WIPC works in the same way as Amnesty International and sometimes we join our meager forces. The meeting was in a sunlit garden, exquisite pies and other fingerf ood was served by our most gracious hosts. Besides liberating the incarcerated writers we also try to raise awareness in youngsters and the general public to issues of freedom of speech and en passant that afternoon we tried to stop the wars, bring peace and see to it that everybody had clean water and food so that they would be strong enough to use their right to free speech. Sometimes we feel quite powerless, but then we realize being all writers, that the pen will always be mightier than the sword... It is a small but great team.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shadows of the Pomegranate tree

For the longest times I thought Tariq Ali only wrote non-fiction: Letter to a young Muslim, The Clash of Fundamentalisms and many others. Then I learned he also wrote the ‘Islam Quintet’. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is the first novel of this series. It starts with the bookburning in Granada, by the intolerant Catholicism under Queen Isabella of Spain. Two million manuscripts were burned in one night. A wall of fire engulfed the scientific knowledge and the beauty of the Arab writings with had initiated the end of the dark uncivilized middle ages in Europe. The aftermath of this event is told here as a family saga while their world collapses around them. The instinctive decency, dignity, moral vigor and courage, the theological and intellectual discussion, give us thought for food. The recipes and ingredients used by the family cooks are a nice touch just as the songs and poetry. Since Tariq Ali knows his history, he is free to weave the storyline around the actual happenings of that time.
- If we had used our iron fists to deal with Christianity the way you treat us now, the situation might never have arisen.
Spoken like the owl of Minerva. Instead you attempted to bring civilization to the whole peninsula regardless of faith and creed.
- There were apparent meaning and hidden meanings…. Allegorical interpretations were a necessary corollary to the truth.
- The heat and cold that remains in our body is never constant.
In the epilogue we meet the Captain who executed the killing of a whole village in South America eying the riches of Montezuma: ‘Much wealth went into its construction’. ‘ they are a very rich nation, Captain Cortez, came the reply…
And thus we are reminded that the carnage and pillage was about greed and we know what Cortez did with the rest of his life.
For this book Tariq Ali won an important literary prize in Spain as best foreign novel in 1994. I'll be ordering number two of the quintet.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Willie Nelson and family

Willie nelson and family are touring Europe and came to my town. So a friend and I just had to see it. He gave us, a motley crew of rhinestone cowboys and diehard fans, a fun medley of all the songs we love to hear, songs that choke us up like Take the ribbon of your hair and Alway on my mind and Georgia. A lot of fun rock and roll , a bit of blues and jazz, not always as subtle as one would like it. The guy on the harp (mondharmonica) played a mean bit of music: wonderful. 'The family', mainly the nice honky tonk playing sister Bobby, could hardly be heard over the din sometimes. Well maybe a man his age doesn't like to be on the road any more without his friends. It was something one had to see, a legend passed by, a sly performer, with a strong commercial sense of pleasing the audience, by signing autographs, throwing a few of is red bandanna's that he had worn on stage to the front rows. He also sang a few songs written by his friend Chris Christofferson among other the wondeful 'A moment of forever'. A nice evening I'll remember when in Arizona they'll see me dancing on 'Beer for my horses'...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A rose

Dr Scarpone told me once: "If you stick your nose out of the door things happens." Well he is right. Today I had worked away all day on a text. Thus in the long, light and warm evening I decided to go for a long stroll. None of the plenty cafés looked attractive to me, so on I went back home when I got accosted by Joëlle and Christa. They are two pretty rather young ladies one blond and curvy, the other small, black, showing a dazzling smile, both dressed to make a man's hormones unleash in a late spring night, but too young for it to be legal. They stop me and offer me a red rose for mothers day... For one who is not into these days, it was a sweet gesture that chased away the blues with deep red. Thanks girls.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ebénezer Folefack Sontsa

The young man was known as 'Martial' and was found death in a closed center for asylum seekers in Merksplas Belgium. The day before the police had tried to expel him forcefully in a violent and inhumane way. The marks on the body seemed not consistent with the hanging. The demonstration was to ask for an independent inquiry to shed light on Martials death, to ask to stop the forced repatriations since this is the second victim in a brief time. It would be good to look at the living conditions in these closed centers, since it is like being in prison without having committed a crime.
The assylumseekers who were arrested during the demonstration were immediately repatriated to countries in war, to countries with famine. Where is the humanity in democracy and where is the right to free speech and the right to gather...

Friday, May 9, 2008

May 9

Sometimes after the sun sets, a sadness descents, as if a friend is lost who leaves us alone to a dark night, who leaves us alone to deal with the practicalities of peoples and life. Thus I have learned to look forward to the sunrise and to the rainbow over the city after the rain. It took me a while... Thanks for the beauty in my life.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Waterworks II

The plume of steam is from a nuclear plant, near a city of one million inhabitants. This harbor is the prettiest, most looking like a harbor, mainly because the city loves its harbor and feels that thus is its identity with all that it entails in the field of openness and hospitality, even giving the right to defend indefensible opinions. This is also the harbor which has known a paradigm shift: When thinking about their plans for the future, they take into account the habitat of fauna and flora and the 'bird directive' of the European Union. The city has commissioned a thorough study of what are still valuable area's and which species live in and around the harbor. The next projects will build around them not harming the earth and the water creatures. Yet it is the fourth harbor in the world and has one of the largest concentrations of chemical industries. I love the strange cranes and the dramatic skies over the water and the banana boats with their exotic African or latin American names.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Working on the water

Water, the magic of it and the language of it: deep see docking, being on a boat on a river and feeling the change to the open sea in the wide estuary, small canals in old towns and quays along docks and large canals in tideless sea harbors. The Panamaxes -the size of a ship able to pass through the Panama canal -will anchor here and as most harbors they are planning for bigger and better ships the almost 400 meter long container ships of which about a hundred are being build... and for whom many harbors are competing by deepening and widening their capacity. Freight and passengers, money, fish and birds, all in competition for survival. That is why I have been silent for a while. Tomorrow more pictures...