Saturday, March 29, 2008

My view on the current situation regarding the Dutch film (entitled "Fitna") that attacks Islam.

First of all, I would like to refer you to this techcrunch post which made me write about this issue. I made a comment on that post which I am going to reproduce here. My comment caused great disagreement and anger. I am just giving out my point of view. It is just an opinion. That's all. Here it is:

"I am going to respectfully disagree with most of you here.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression. I understand the importance of upholding that right and I understand that if you stop a video that offends a person(s) then you would probably have little videos out there on youtube or google video or whatever.

However, this video is purely an act of provocation to Muslims. And it is not like insulting a whole group for their appearance or actions or even personalities etc.; it is in fact, insulting what they hold the dearest and most precious in their life, it is like insulting their very being and soul. So do not expect Muslims (me being one of them) to just see this video, shrug their shoulders like they are in “the Brady Bunch” or “Happy Days” and say “Oh well.” This is insulting and we’ll be vocal about it. Of course I am in no way approving of any act of violence in any form or shape and I am ashamed of anyone who uses this religion as an excuse for violence as a response to such weak acts of provocation like this video…

Legally the entrenched right of Freedom of speech and expression (Human Rights Act 1998 s.12, 13 here in the UK) can be overruled if it is deemed that the information being published will be a threat to public safety e.g. publishing sensitive information from an ex spy (say) which could hurt the government and ultimately the people. Legally this video was refused publication because it was a threat to public safety … why? because it is completely an act of provocation and frankly a very low blow built upon ridiculous unsubstantiated allegations with no message other than Islam = Terrorists and also completely insulting us by for example, the scene where u hear pages being torn and a message coming on the screen saying “that was not the Quran being torn”…

I think their should also be another exception to the noble-natured right of freedom of speech and expression but not a legal exception but an ethical moral one… some of you might of heard of it. It is called common decency. But law is law … not morals… the latter is up to the individual to uphold there are no real policing to that.

So now, this video having been denied entrance through the official channels, is using the internet - where there are basically no real laws or at least its a grey area nowadays to publish it in. Fine. But what about your morals? Don’t you have any common decency? (I am speaking to the dutch makers and MP who helped put this video online after being rejected from publishing it legally).

I hope this at least makes u get a better idea of why Muslims are vocal about such things. Don’t let the makers of this video fool you. This is not their way of trying to reinforce the noble-natured right of Freedom of Speech as much as it is a pure act of provocation to Muslims generally.

Sorry for the long comment."

I think I need to make myself clearer here. Let me summarise the aforementioned comment which got wonderful thought-provoking comments that attacked not only my view but me personally and my blog!

  • Prelude: I do not condone any form of violence in any way, shape or form. I cannot emphasise this enough.

  • My first point: this video is clearly an act of provocation. It is full of hate and ridiculous unsubstantiated allegations against islam.

  • 2nd point: I think it is OK to voice your disapproval of a film creating a message like that. I gave Legal reasons for that (look at my comment above) and moral reasons why it is wrong to publish such a film.

  • 3rd point: I am all for Freedom of Speech and Expression. Please do not think that because I disapprove of this particular vile video I wish to halt freedom of speech or expression. I don't. I am just saying that Muslims won't like it and very rightly so if I may add. So sure post it on the internet but don't expect us Muslims to simply stay quite about it. They will voice their disapproval of it. I don't think only Muslims will voice their disapproval of it either, it is a downright vile film. Of course I reiterate, I do not condone any form of violence whatsoever. This blog post right here is an example of what I mean by voicing disapproval.

  • 4th and final point: People!! this is just an opinion. You do not have to agree with it! But please consider what I am saying and hopefully you can see where I am coming from. If you can't, though, can't we just agree to disagree?
  • Friday, March 28, 2008

    My theory on "love".

    Before I start I just want to state that calling this a theory is a bit of a stretch. It is just my understanding or my view that i have developed from personal experiences and experiences shared to me by my friends surrounding the topic of love. I have come to put this idea into words after I somehow ended up in this quite unique new blog (I think the blogger commented on a blog I was reading one day and I just happened to click on the blogger's name and ended up there). Anyway, here is my "theory on love".

    I think love is highly over-rated. I truly believe that love is NOT eternal. It is temporary, just like a lit candle - sooner or later the wax will run out and the fire will burn out. Ultimately love is a temporary high, just like sex (although, arguably, a longer lasting temporary high - but nonetheless still temporary). Fortunately though, when love burns out what is left is what I like to call the byproducts of love; Namely : trust, compassion, respect, companionship (you know, sex! usually reserved for partners, sometimes friends (I hear); hopefully not for families), etc. This is, however, by no means an exhaustive list of those byproducts, just the main ones.

    I think that what people (men or women) are really after, is infact those byproducts. Their oblique intention is those byproducts (even though they might not conciously be aware of that). Their direct intention is "love" but their oblique intention or should I say, what they subconciously deem as a virtually certain event to occur, is those byproducts of love. And it is those byproducts which we are all after, not love.

    Of course those byproducts can individually be acheived by other means besides love, I am aware of that. But I believe the easiest, most satisfying way to get these bundles of "byproducts" is through love. That's why most people are yearning for love. They are really yearning for someone they can trust, be compassionate about, respect, etc.

    Obviously, this is only a "theory" from a 22 yr old guy so you should probably take it with a grain of salt. To be honest, I am not sure if this is what I keep telling myself to feel better to the fact that I still did not find "true love" or if it is actually what I believe. I think it is more of the latter...

    Here is the blog post that inspired this comment and inspired me to put my ideas into words, and hence in this blog.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    The Corrections; By Jonathan Franzen

    The 653 page novel entitled "The Corrections" is a unique work of fiction. It is unique because first of all, it is a big novel, my hands literally got tired from holding it whilst in bed before going to sleep every night. I honestly think my biceps grew a bit bigger because of how heavy the book was. It is also unique because there is no "real" story; there is no "real" over-arching plot or narrative to it. The Corrections is essentially 5 stories each concerning one of five characters who are all connected by the very fact that they are members of the same family; to be more specific, the Lambert family.The 5 plots each have cameos from the other four family members and you will sometimes get to see the same situation but from the other character's perspective accompanied with their own commentary and view on what is actually happening. Franzen managed to pull this time jumping off and made it seem seamless.

    Picture source: Wikipedia.org

    After reading three of Dean Koontz's books (in a relatively short period, at least to me), I grew a bit frustrated for I kept feeling this totally predictable sensation when reading stories. I kept seeing a common theme not only in Dean Koontz's books but in almost all fiction novels I have read till now. A totally cliched, everything will end up fine in the end, kind of feeling. And if everything did not end with a disguised form of "and they lived happily ever after", they just end with a completely anti-climax ending that simply ruins the whole novel for me (an example of this would be Douglas Coupland's JPod). Another example would be where the main character will always look like he/she is either going to die or is in a predicament he/she cannot escape from unscathed, only to miraculously escape from it truimphantly - it's a common theme I have come to expect from such novels (an example of that besides ANY Dean Koontz book would be Dan Brown's books, and more specifically, Angels and Demons where the main character (Robert Langdon) was at one point towards the end of the story pushed out of a helicopter and he survived the fall by using his PANTS as a PARACHUTE... completely ruined an otherwise excellent book).

    Franzen managed to reignite my otherwise dwindiling interest in novels by completely avoiding the aforementioned common theme landmines in his novel. He managed to do that by not having a "real" overarching plot. There are no real answers given to the complex issues that he deals with in his book, there is no patronizing "and they all lived happily ever after". It's a real story with real characters that are imperfect just like everyone of us. I will give a small description of the five characters without mentioning any spoilers.

    Enid and Alfred are the parents of Gary, Chip, and Denise (in chronological order). Alfred was an engineer in this company concerned with making railway tracks. He quit his job just 6 months before he was entitled for retirement. Enid is the housewife who used to try her hardest to deal with her stubborn husband who not only quit his job he has worked on for years, but done so without telling her the reasons for quitting. Also, she refuses to acknowledge that Alfred has Parkinson's (I keep confusing it with Alzhiemer's for some reason) disease now. As a matter of fact, the story in essence relates to everyone, including Alfred himself, denying the existence of his condition until it gets too much to simply look passed...

    Gary, the oldest son, is a successful man living with his beautiful wife and three boys in the city. His wife does not like his mom, Enid, very much. I will not say anymore about him or his plot except the fact that I enjoyed his particular plot the most.

    Chip is the intellectual in the family, he lives alone and teaches in a college. He has a particular dislike for capitalist societies and the excessive commercializing in society nowadays. He is also working on a script for a play and owes his sister Denise a large amount of money which is something causing him great distress. I will not say anymore about him except to mention that it is the most unpredictable plot I have ever read.

    Denise is a rising star chef working in the city. Her story is the juiciest story with lots of drama. Again, it was unpredictable and very satisfying how the character developed through the plot.
    All these characters and plots are connected by Enid trying to get the whole family for one last christmas dinner in their home at St. Jude (their hometown and place where Enid and Alfred currently reside).

    I have enjoyed this novel immensely. So much so that I have searched for interviews with Franzen and found quite a few good ones (the most notable is Charlie Rose's video interview). One of the most interesting tidbits of information I learned was that this book is the only book to ever be selected to join Oprah's book club and then later removed. Usually, a book is selected to be in the Oprah book club then weeks later Oprah will interview the author on her show - which as I mentioned before didn't happen. In a nutshell he made remarks in an interview after being selected by Oprah about how it made him "uncomfortable" and how he did not want a "logo of corporate ownership" stuck on his book cover. Obviously, Oprah wasn't too fond of those remarks so she simply removed his book from the selection (unprecedented to this day) and cancelled the interview with him issuing this statement to her fans in her website. Almost all the articles written about this incident were on Oprah's side and sure it is her show she can do what she wants with it but I cannot help but sympathize with him (see this article). For his side of the story after the Oprah incident which is sure to haunt him for the rest of his career, watch the aforementioned video interview.

    This book has been awarded the prestigious National Book Award, his acceptance speech is available on their website.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well-written, original, immersive works of fiction.