Articles

Star : Hello December …

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 by Star-Light

بعد انقطاع شبه طويل عن المدونه اعود وحقيبة الذاكره محملة بالمواقف والاحداث والاشخاص, اعود وحياتي لا تزال مزدحمه بتلك الاحلام التي تتكاثر لحظيا لتلون سماء ايامي, لتجعل من حياتي لوحه يزداد بها السحر والجمال في كل لحظه, ويحافط على استمراريتها  وتألقها الامل.

ديسمبر …

أتى معلنا نهاية سنه مليئه بالاحداث , سنه متوتره على اصعده مختلفه, سنه اطلق عليها سنة السقوط. سقوط الرؤساء, سقوط الانظمه الدكتاتوريه, سقوط الاقنعه وسقوط الأشخاص من دائرة الثقه على الصعيد الشخصي. ديسمبر حاول بجهد واضح اصلاح ما تم تدميره خلال الاحدى عشر شهرا الماضيه, لكن الأمور حتى هذه اللحظه غير مسيطر عليها , فالشعوب لا تزال ثائره تطالب بحقوقها وتنادي لحريتها .لست مهتمه بالسياسه لكن لا يستطيع أحد المرور امام سنة 2011 دون ذكر الثورات والاحداث السياسيه والاقتصاديه التي هزت العالم كله وأثرت بالانسانيه. ابتداءا بالثوره التونسيه ثم المصريه فالليبيه واليمنيه والثوره السوريه الدمويه , احداث البحريين والوضع السياسي المتوتر في الكويت والكثير الكثير في الدول العربيه والغير عربيه. احداث كثيره لن تستطيع يا عزيزي ديسمبر ان تشفي كل هذه الجراح, ضمدها فقط فدوائها يحتاج سنوات وسنوات ليظهر مفعوله.

نعم كانت سنه غريبه بوجه عام, لكنها مميزه على الصعيد الشخصي,صحيح واجهة الكثير من الصعدات والنزلات , الكثير من الصدمات وخيبات الامل لكن بالمقابل اكتسبت الكثير من الخبرات . توسعت مداركي , تقلصت ورمت العنصريه التي يربينا عليها المجتمع منذ الصغر وعن قريب سيتم استئصالها. حاولت ان اقحم نفسي في السياسه لكن حقيقتها كانت تألمني, فعند اقترابي لسياسة الكويت فضلت الابتعاد لان الطعنه من القريب اكثر وجعا  فاستهوتني سياسة الولايات المتحده لانها بعيده عني . في كل يوم من 2011 كان يتلاشى الضباب الذي يحجب رؤيتي لشخصيتي , احببتني اكثر ,حددت نقاط ضعفي, كثرت احلامي وزاد شغفي لتحقيقها . اطلقت علي لقب “انسانه تحت الصيانه” سوف اظل كذلك طوال حياتي فاقتنعت من تجاربي الأخيره بأن الانسان عباره عن ورشة افكار تتغير على الدوام, فليس هناك صوره مثاليه للانسان .

من المستجدات التي طرأت على حياتي في السنه الماضيه, تعرفي على صالونات ثقافيه كثيره بالكويت مهتمه بنشر الثقافه في جميع المجالات, فكان الصالون الثقافي “سبمبوت” ابرزها, وهناك “الجليس” لتشجيع القراءه والكتابه. اطلاعي على المسرحيات الثقافيه الشبابيه في مهرجان ايام المسرح للشباب, وحضوري اكثر من مسرحيه على المسرح الصغير في منطقة الاحمدي, اكتشاف عشقي للأدب والتاريخ والفلسفه. بذرة رواية مشتركه بيني وبين لايت متطلعين لانهاءها خلال السنه الجديده القادمه.

لا زلنا في منتصف ديسمبر, فلو هناك أي مشاريع مأجله , وعود معلقه , اهداف لم تكتمل فهذه هي فرصتكم لجعل ديسمبر شهر النهايات السعيده.

*STAR*

Articles

Light – December Reflections

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 by Star-Light

Hello again,

It’s usually my custom to gather all the journals I’ve kept during the year and to evaluate them in December. So that’s what I did today. I’ve kept 6 complete journals. That’s an average of a journal every two months. But I have also written in two other journals and reached the half-way point: one of them is dedicated to my writing plan and objectives, and the other is for my miscellaneous daily events.

The broad picture of 2011 is that I’ve spent the first half mentally stagnated, but experienced an impressively outgoing and social life, while the second half of the year witnessed more industry on my part and less social activities.

My football career is mostly affected by 2011. First, a lingering illness from the previous year handicapped my regular training sessions. This was followed by another two weeks of being without a car due to the accident I had in March. When I returned to the team they appeared to have changed and I figured it was then time for me to make a professional decision. Hence, I quit my old team and transferred to a different club.

The first two months were smooth. I found myself regaining my technical skills and adroitness and even scored numerous goals against my old team. Unfortunately, things began deteriorating soon after. The administration kept “holding off football practice” by prioritizing other sports, such as basketball and volleyball. And when I found my stamina evaporating and the excess pounds piling up, I registered for a referee course at Fifa. I figured I needed to widen my options.

And hence I stand at the end of 2011 with the following reflection: my club’s administration thinks so ill of football that they are not only prohibiting us from practicing on our own pitch, but they also pulled us out of the first official Women’s Football League in the country! On the other hand, I’ve made such an impact on Fifa’s staff and Kuwait’s League of Referee’s that they all want me to pursue refereeing instead. On the bright side, two newspapers interviewed me on my football during the year.

In terms of the Masters, I’ve been studying and writing chapters. The problem is that writing is a process; when I’m done with 20 pages, I spend the next week rewriting / editing them. Overall, I’ve written about 70 pages for my first chapter. And then I was told that the whole thesis should be around 80 pages! This changes all my calculations and means that I have to start again from the beginning. I am disappointed in the MA’s administration because I asked them before I started writing about the length of the thesis. I was told that length is not an issue and I could write as much as I wanted, “Even if it’s a thousand pages.” So I think it’s quite unprofessional to tell me this before and then declare 80-100 the length of the thesis. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to try harder then in 2012.

I’ve been less prodigious as a writer this year, mainly because the first half of it was spent in a slump, and when I decided to ‘get my acts together’ I concentrated on football and on my thesis. Still, I managed to write two poems during the year which I performed at Taste of Jamaica’s 4th Slam Poetry Competition last Friday and won 1st Runner Up for them. I also wrote a short story that I haven’t yet published. Mainly, however, I spent the whole year working with Star on our first novel. As it is our debut novel, and as my schedule is packed with responsibilities, we’ve decided to take our time with it and sculpt it well. We’re thinking of completing it in 2012. So stay in tuned for more on that. Finally, I’ve published one article in Bazaar this year, and because of it I was approached by an amazing Italian who asked me to write for En.V, a socially active magazine that is based in Kuwait and whose main aims include the discussion on human rights, women’s rights, and news about the environment. So I’m so glad for my Bazaar exposure.

In terms of work, or my 9-5, that’s a bit shaky and I foresee another career move in 2012. I’ve spent much more money this year than any year prior to this… So job security is important, but I need a location that would cultivate my talents rather than suppress them.

In a nutshell, my 2012 goals are the following:
1- Be done with my MA Thesis
2- Acquire interesting life skills.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – Chocolate Dip and Mustard Evaluation

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 by Star-Light

Today I want to talk about how one validates oneself. I do it through accomplishments. It’s a very capitalistic way of thinking, which, if you know me, would appear quite paradoxical in relation to my stance on the way the current economic system is creating more poverty than prosperity. But that’s a different post.

Everybody has a system from which they embrace the tools and standards to judge themselves.

Example A

Her standard might be a rival, friend, or a family member. “A” wakes up in the morning and counts her blessings by juxtaposing them to her rival. Her mind, sometimes even without her consciously realizing it, begins to ask and answer a series of questions, such as: “Am I prettier than So-And-So?” “Am I thinner?” “Am I more accomplished?” “Have more people expressed their love for me than they did for her?” “Am I richer than So-And-So?” And so on and so forth. The more “Yes” responses that her brain receives, the more powerful “A’s” self esteem becomes.

Example B

His standard is the quantity of people’s approval of his behavior, ideas, and personality traits. “B” doesn’t recognize quality in friends and in family members. He would unconsciously prefer more people to like him than desiring the right people to do so. Hence, “B” might betray a best friend’s secret just to “add” another person in his collection of admirers. The way he validates his life is by asking himself if more people love him today than yesterday, irrespective of the people and their proximity to his life.

You get the idea.

Some people validate themselves by doing good deeds. They then compare the good that they have done in the past to their charitable activities in the present. Others might be materialistic. They gain self-esteem by watching their savings rise.

In my case, the only person I compare myself to, is the Me of yesterday. I wake up and ask myself: What have I accomplished today that overshadows what I accomplished yesterday? If I come up with a negative, my mood declines. The more I respond with a negative, the more I gravitate towards a crepuscular state of mind. Once I begin to loath myself…it’s extremely difficult to break out of my downward spiral. (Like Capitalism, my self-evaluation is bound to reach repeated crises.)

When you have enrolled at a university at fifteen-years of age, when you have read more than 120 books in a year, when you have won numerous literary and public speaking awards, when you have been the captain of a professional football team, when you have taught at twenty, when you have been honored as the best student in the Master’s Program though you are the youngest, when you are asked to host a four-hour show only half an hour before it actually begins…etc., it is difficult to continue feeling validated. What can I do today that beats everything I have done in the past?

I thus push myself beyond my limits not simply to expand my CV, or to gain approval from the people around me, or to make a mark in history, but rather, in order to live another day.

I am both bored and disgusted by mediocrity. If I can predict the nature of a situation or the behavior of a person, I lose interest immediately.

How do you validate yourself?

Articles

Light – Valiant Compatriots

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2011 by Star-Light

I’m often astonished by the capacity of people in this country to waste their lives doing absolutely nothing. Historically speaking, the fermentation of a gang culture, or the assemblage of lethargic, good-for-nothing groups of youngsters, who prowl the streets terrorizing or bothering passers-by, results from their dissatisfaction with the social hierarchy. Teenagers who skip on school, who choose not to participate in their social organizations, argue the inequality of the current system. So they rebel by taking drugs, by preventing others from working, or by sabotaging the status quo…

Where do Kuwaitis stand?

They’re lackadaisical at the same time that they vehemently uphold the system. They don’t prowl the streets looking for mischief; they do so in pursuit of game or phone digits. They don’t settle on curbs looking formidable in order to regain part of the power that the dominant forces endeavors to rob them of; they gather in malls and stare passers-by from top to bottom. They do not participate in the numerous activities that the country offers; they swear by their last Cartier watch that the country is boring and that there is nothing worth doing apart from going to censored movies, meeting friends at restaurants, or throwing parties and gatherings which involve movies and food for friends.

Yet, they would strike you down with a mallas if you cry out with indignation at the rise of consumerist sentimentalities in this country. Don’t you dare offend their malls, or their designer clothes, or their luscious gadgets. If you suggest they visit museums they call you an elitist. If you suggest playing games, such as basketball by Marina Mall, they consider you uncultured. If you suggest they take a course and improve an aspect of their lives, they laugh at your nerdy naiveté. They are consumers. That is what they do. What they think about doing. And what they work for. And don’t tell them you work full time, study in a Master’s program, play professional football, freelance as a writer, and still manage to participate in a course or two of various natures…you’ll never be busier than these consumers, for whom consumption is a ceaseless operation that functions at the same time that they breathe.

Inhale—choose the latest product—exhale—swipe your credit card.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – The Sara Dickson post continued

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2011 by Star-Light

2) Genres and Literary History

The denunciation of writers as plagiarists is a serious accusation. I told you earlier that it was a crime. People can get sued and careers, livelihoods, and reputations can end. This is why it is imperative for any so-called “fraud detector” to read the whole text before they pass their judgments. It grieves me to say that the literary scene in Kuwait, like any other scene in the country, is a sad victim of the “People said…” mentality. Critics and reviewers alike are so ready to condemn a writer or a literary work before even reading the full text. Unfortunately, Sara’s blog suffers the same fate at certain occasions.

It is also not enough to simply read the full text, although it is a start. In order for a critic to judge a literary work, critics need to be familiar with literary history. How could I tell, for instance, that TV’s exceptional character, Dr. House, is an allusion to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes? Obviously…because I read Doyle’s series. And how could I tell that it was an allusion and not plagiarism? Because I watched the TV show. Holmes was a detective. House is a doctor.

This brings me to another issue that is worth mentioning in this post: Genres. You see publishers pay big bucks to publish a novel. They treat literature like a business. So they want their money’s worth. Before they agree to publish a text, they check if it will satisfy their target audience. So, if I’m a teenage girl who is interested in romance, I’d want the novel I buy to contain certain characteristics. I don’t want it to be boring, political, gory, or ugly. I want a handsome young protagonist. I want to connect with the main female character. I want to escape in the world of the text. I want to see (feel) a love relationship. And most of the time, I want a happily ever after. What the writer does to shake it up is up to him/her. The lead could be British. He could be a mechanic. The writer can give me more than one male lead. He can make the female lead a waitress… But I want my fundamentals.

If I’m buying a WWII novel and it turns out the writer chose instead to write about Winnie the Pooh…I’ll be furious. This means that genres contain rough stock material because they function primarily by satisfying a target audience. To know a genre is equally to know that one cannot denounce a text within the same genre for utilizing this stock material.

It’s one thing to say Abdullah Al-Mothaf copied sections from Dan Brown’s work, and totally another thing  to denounce him for following a formulaic plot in lieu of Dan Brown’s series. It’s flat-out wrong to say Hiba Hamada stole the character of Fitha from the show Fitha Qalboha Abyath (Fitha: Her Heart is Pure) from the Series Sara by the Egyptian actress Hanan Turk. There is a history of texts (and by that I also mean movies, series, poems, plays, and so on) that deal with the issue of an individual whose body matures while his mind remains in its infancy. Just as there is an entire body of texts where a character enters a coma…

So before people jump on the bandwagon of hailing Sara or stigmatizing her, and before Sara herself either continues in her trend of asking people to tell her who plagiarized or not without checking the literature herself, or giving up on Kuwaiti literature altogether, I suggest everyone calms down and looks at the big picture: Kuwait’s literary scene is still in its infancy. Let’s help it evolve ethically by aiding Sara in weeding out anyone (writer or critic alike) who intends to diminish our international reputation; while simultaneously educating our young/new literary figures about what they might not know.

Most young writers in Kuwait were never taught about the making of literature, its literary history, or its political ramifications. Rather than ridiculing them and alienating the only people who are currently willing to stand up against Kuwaitis’ banal judgments and their pathetic Blackberry campaigns to ruin reputations…should we not embrace them?

I go for embracing…but maybe it’s because I love hugs.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – The Sara Dickson Special (Scandal)

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2011 by Star-Light

This post was initially supposed to be a response to a tweet…but obviously it’s too long for that.

I don’t have anything against Sara or the writers she ridiculed on her blog. I also don’t care at all about the fact that she lied to people about her picture and about not writing the tweet that caused her notoriety in the first place. I only care about literature and criticism. I think that at the end of the day, since she is writing a blog intended to “expose” fraud in literature the focus should not be about the scandals but on her “specialty.”

Writing is a very hard business. But so is criticism. The tools and instruments of both are familiar to the majority of the public. Language is everywhere. To speak the language, however, is not the same as to critique a literary product. So as a writer myself, I applaud the effort she is undertaking in divulging malicious thievery. I’d hate to work for years and then watch someone, devoid of both ethics and talents, plagiarize my hard work and get away with it.

But as a critic, I have major concerns with Sara’s “mission”. Let me specify my concerns:

1) The Difference Between Allusion and Plagiarism

In literature, one can make a reference or an indirect mention to another literary work or part of a literary work (a character, a location, a theme, a plot, an introduction, a motif, and so on and so forth). This is not considered stealing. An example of this in Kuwaiti Literature is Sulayman Al-Bassam’s Richard III. His work is an allusion to Shakespeare’s famous play only it is refashioned to fit an Arab milieu. The play contains the title itself. Does that mean that Sulayman is a “thief?” Sara would have you believe that he was. But literary critics know the difference between an allusion and plagiarism. Two other examples are Huda Hussain’s old play: Al-Esaba (The Gang), and Zain’s recent musical by Hiba Hamada: Zain Alamon Jameel (Zain a Beautiful World) which are both allusions to Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist. In Western literature, the movie Avatar contains the plot structure of the popular story of Pocahontas. All of the aforementioned literary works are allusions and not “stolen” works.

Plagiarism is the worst crime that a writer may perform. If Waleed Al-Tebtebai lived in the West (and not in the East were copyright laws are still nascent and where religious titles are like army badges) he would be discredited, sued, and never published again. Copy/Pasting full articles is not only unethical (and unreligious!) but it is also an insult to your readers. If readers like your work, then they are smart enough to seek similar gratification elsewhere and thus they are bound to come across your crime. Copying part of articles, even if it was just a line or two, is also a crime. It is difficult to expose the imitation of ideas but if proven, that is also a crime. JK Rowling herself was accused of plagiarizing an idea.

I looked at Sara’s blog and while she might be correct in supposing that Abdullah Almothaf plagiarized Dan Brown’s work (as I mentioned, copying a passage or two is still a crime even it was in translation), she’s definitely wrong about Hiba Hamada’s work. Whether you like the end result or not, Hiba enjoys her literature and she seems to enjoy her allusions. Using standard character types from so many different (and might I say canonical) texts and wielding them all together in a new plot structure is not plagiarism. I’ve heard people claim that Hiba is stupid for using texts that everyone knows and would have preferred it if she “stole” from lesser known texts… So much for criticism in this country! This just shows you how uninformed the public is about the way literature works. You usually allude to something that made an impact. Sulayman utilized Shakespeare, Huda Hussain rewrote Dickens, and Cameron updated Pocahontas! The point is for the reader (audience) to go “I know where this is from!” but also to see the original in a new light. Sulayman gave us an Arabian Richard, Huda gave us a female Oliver, and Cameron introduced virtual reality into the ancient text.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you all about the importance of knowing your literary history before you start assuming and denouncing writers, because I’m heading to bed.

Light’s out.

Articles

Light – Redbull Cans and Yesterday’s Pizza

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2011 by Star-Light

I don’t mind spending time alone to work diligently on projects on my own schedule, taking my own breaks, venting my own way. But I can’t do this for long periods. I’m a social character. I want to meet friends, flirt, play sports, and maybe even join a writing competition or two.

I’ve written short stories and poems. Easy peasy. Basically, you spend about a week or two working and then that’s it. You do something else.

Long projects are excruciating. I’ve been hammering out chapter one of a major project and I’m starting to get sick of it. That’s like saying you want to build a house from scratch and you give up even before you set the foundation.

Well, I’m not giving up just yet. But I’m hoping that by the time I’m done, neither I, nor any of my friends, have grey hair nor grand kids! And the worst part of all is, due to all the referencing and research, I have to write at home (I can’t carry 1,000 books to a coffee shop to write, you know?). And in order to write without interruptions, whether physical or otherwise, I have to do it when everyone’s asleep. This arrangement really hampers your social life.

It’s just me and my thoughts, all day, everyday…

Oh. Listen to that. Loneliness beckons again.

Light’s out.