Thursday, April 30, 2009

Alice In Wonderland

“Try another Subtraction sum. Take a bone from a dog: what remains?”
Alice considered. “The bone wouldn't remain, of course, if I took it - and the dog wouldn't remain; it would come to bite me -- and I'm sure I shouldn't remain!”
“Then you think nothing would remain?” said the Red Queen. 
“I think that's the answer.”
“Wrong, as usual,” said the Red Queen: “the dog's temper would remain.” 
“But I don't see how –“
“Why, look here!” the Red Queen cried. “The dog would lose its temper, wouldn't it?” 
“Perhaps it would,” Alice replied cautiously. 
“Then if the dog went away, its temper would remain!” the Queen exclaimed triumphantly.

... Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Caroll


“I'm very much afraid I didn't mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I'm glad to accept as the meaning of the book.” 

... Lewis Caroll in The Life And Letters Of Lewis Caroll

Metamorphosed Into Its Opposite

It would take too long to traverse the entire range of the operational negativity of all those scenarios of deterrence, which, like Watergate, try to regenerate a moribund principle through simulated scandal, phantasm, and murder - a sort of hormonal treatment through negativity and crisis. It is always a question of proving the real through the imaginary, proving truth through scandal, proving the law through transgression, proving work through striking, proving the system through crisis, and capital through revolution, as it is elsewhere (the Tasaday) of proving ethnology through the dispossession of its object - without taking into account:

the proof of theatre through antitheatre;
the proof of art through antiart;
the proof of pedagogy through antipedagogy;
the proof of psychiatry through antipsychiatry, etc.

Everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form. All the powers, all the institutions speak of themselves through denial, in order to attempt, by simulating death, to escape their real death throes. Power can stage its own murder to rediscover a glimmer of existence and legitimacy. Such was the case with some American presidents: the Kennedys were murdered because they still had a political dimension. The others, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, only had the right to phantom attempts, to simulated murders. But this aura of an artificial menace was still necessary to conceal that they were no longer anything but the mannequins of power. Formerly, the king (also the god) had to die, therein lay his power. Today, he is miserably forced to feign death, in order to preserve the blessing of power. But it is lost.

To seek new blood in its own death, to renew the cycle through the mirror of crisis, negativity, and antipower: this is the only solution-alibi of every power, of every institution attempting to break the vicious cycle of its irresponsibility and of its fundamental nonexistence, of its already seen and of its already dead.

... Simulacra And Simulation, Jean Baudrillard

Fundamental Illusion

“For if production can only produce objects of real signs, and thereby obtain some power; seduction, by producing only illusions, obtains all powers, including the power to return production and reality to their fundamental illusion.”

... Seduction, Jean Baudrillard

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Simply Am Not There

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable ... I simply am not there. 

... Patrick Bateman, American Psycho

Spring Break '09 - Part 1

Leaving beautiful Chicago for Providence, Rhode Island to attend the Fulbright Conference 2009.

On the lawn of Harvard University.

Harvard University.

Harvard Law School Admission Office.

Harvard Law Review's building - the most competitive and prestigious law review journal. President Obama was the head of this journal when he was a law student at Harvard.

Harvard Law Library - the largest law library in USA, with many floors, including underground.

Inside the Harvard Law Library.

A typical large seminar room in Harvard Law school.

Harvard University quad.

Widener Library - the main library in Harvard University.

Harvard Square - the scene which greets you as you exit the train station to Harvard University.

The prestigious JFK School of Government, where many world politicians attend.

The beautiful Charles River dividing Harvard University, Boston University and MIT.

Harvard University's football field.

MIT's art centre - reminds me of The Esplanade.

The prestigious Massacheusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massacheusetts.

MIT's famous dome building.

Taken from MIT of the Charles River, overlooking downtown Boston.

Boston University Law School's entrance.

The architecture at the back of the STATA Center.

The unique STATA Center in MIT, designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect Frank Gehry.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Break '09 - Part 2

Downtown Boston. This is the tallest building in Boston - the John Hancock Tower, with a viewing gallery at the top.

The fancy and chic Newbury Street in downtown Boston.

Boston Capitol State Building.

Downtown Boston -  a mix of classic and new buildings.

The famous Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge welcomes you to Boston.

My breakfast room at the Old Castle, Providence.

Providence Capitol State Building.

They put me up in a suite at The Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island for the Fulbright Conference. I even have my own reading/working room with a huge reading chair!

The Ballroom of the magnificent The Biltmore, Providence where most events were held for the Fulbright Conference 2009.

Providence Capitol State Building.

An aerial view of Providence, Rhode Island.

Spring Break '09 - Part 3

I was in the team that tackled Educational issues. We visited a local high school in Providence, Rhode Island - Feinstein High School - and had an interesting exchange.

The mural on Feinstein High School - drawn by the students themselves.

One of the students playing guitar for us in the music room. They even had to learn music composition. Awesome!

Attended a panel on social entrepreneurship by panelists: Prof Alan Harlam (Brown University), Prof Sami Nerenberg (Rhode Island School of Design), Clay Rockefeller (Founder, The Steel Yard) and Lorne Adrain (Founder, Social Venture Partners)

I was hosted for dinner by a local resident (an ex-Fulbright scholar too) at their home together with a Hungarian and an Israelite. The host painted those beautiful paintings and made her own potteries.

We were given a tour of Newport, Rhode Island and visited this magnificent castle. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed in. It seemed that everybody in Newport lives in such huge mansions. The residents lived here only 21 days out of a year! This 70-room mansion housed only 4 family members! They have another mansion in New York with 110 rooms. Go figure!

The side garden stretching and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The view is magnificent.

South Alifson Pier, Newport.

My flight back to Boulder was delayed due to bad weather (yet again!). Had a layover in Dulles, Washington DC. This was a scene early in the morning from my hotel room.

4/20 on April 20 at my campus. This was a scene from Norlin Quad. It was about 12,ooo-strong crowd.

That Which Is Worth Bringing

If you're lugging a heavy bag,
don't fail to look inside it
to see whether what is inside is bitter or sweet.
If it's really worth bringing along, bring it;
otherwise, empty your sack
and redeem yourself from fruitless effort and disgrace.
Only put into your sack
that which is worth bringing to a righteous sovereign.

... Mathnawi IV: 1574-1577, Mevlana Rumi


SINGAPORE — After starting the day with prayers and songs in honor of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, the students at the Madrasa Al Irsyad Al Islamiah here in Singapore turned to the secular. An all-girls chemistry class grappled with compounds and acids while other students focused on English, math and other subjects from the national curriculum.

Teachers exhorted their students to ask questions. Some, true to the school’s embrace of new technology, gauged their students’ comprehension with individual polling devices.

“It’s like ‘American Idol,’ ” said Razak Mohamed Lazim, the head of Al Irsyad, which means “rightly guided.”

A reference to the reality television program in relation to an Islamic school may come as a surprise. But Singapore’s Muslim leaders see Al Irsyad, with its strict balance between religious and secular studies, as the future of Islamic education, not only in this city-state but elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Two madrasas in Indonesia have already adopted Al Irsyad’s curriculum and management, attracted to what they say is a progressive model of Islamic education in tune with the modern world. For them, Al Irsyad is the counterpoint to many traditional madrasas that emphasize religious studies at the expense of everything else. Instead of preaching radicalism, the school’s in-house textbooks praise globalization and international organizations like the United Nations.

Leaders in Islamic education here rue the fact that, in much of the West, madrasas everywhere have been broad-brushed as militant hotbeds where students spend days learning the Koran by rote. Still, they were relieved that not one terrorism suspect in the region in recent years was a product of Singapore’s madrasas, though some suspects were linked to madrasas in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. That association deepened a long-running debate over the nature of Islamic education.

“The Muslim world in general is struggling with its Islamic education,” Mr. Razak said, explaining that Islamic schools had failed to adapt to the modern world. “In many cases, it’s also the challenge the Muslim world is facing. We are not addressing the needs of Islam as a faith that has to be alive, interacting with other communities and other religions.”

In Indonesia, most Islamic schools still pay little attention to secular subjects, believing that religious studies are enough, said Indri Rini Andriani, a former computer programmer who is the principal of Al Irsyad Satya Islamic School, one of the Indonesian schools that model themselves on the school here.

“They feel that conventional education is best for the children, while some of us feel that we have to adjust with advances in technology and what’s going on in the world,” Ms. Indri said.

Here, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, a statutory board that advises the government on Muslim affairs, gave Al Irsyad a central spot in its new Islamic center. Long the top academic performer among the country’s six madrasas, Al Irsyad was chosen to be in the center as “a showcase,” said Mr. Razak, who is also an official at the religious council.

The school’s 900 primary- and secondary-level students follow the national curriculum of the country’s public schools while also taking religious instruction. To accommodate both, the school day is three hours longer than at the mainstream schools.

... for complete article, The NY Times

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Letters To A Young Poet

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart; and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. 

Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. 

And the point is, to live everything. 

Live the questions now. 

Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

... Letters To A Young Poet (Letter 4), Rainer Maria Rilke