Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Of blogging, democray and Una Nancy Owen....

As a child we used to have a copy of Agatha Christie’s “Dix petits negres” around the house, and I used to re-read it whenever I had the chance. One of the things I love about it was that all these people were agglomerated in that island because they received letters from a certain “U.N. Owen” – and to each one different names were included for the U.N. such as “Una Nancy”… But if you read the name phonetically it becomes “UNKNOWN”. I won’t spoil the book by saying all of them died for trusting that unknown stranger!

Lately, I have been becoming upset about an issue, a lot of people want to express their opinions but seem to want to do it anonymously. A letter I received a few days ago infuriated me, not because of its content – but because its sender seemed to insist on not signing his or her name. The reason that the person gave was that we live in a country where cars get blown up. And he or she thought it was a “metaphorical” comparison that was “subtle”.

Now I am annoyed – you want to disagree with me. Be my guest. But don’t do it while hiding who you are. Ex: if the person in question turned out to be an advertising executive at the agency that did the ad, then their stand is definitely involved and far from being unbiased. If however, he or she was simply a member of the public who happened to like the ad, then their statements would have more credibility. But before knowing which is which I am unable to take that person seriously.

Same principles applies to democracy in the Middle East, it seems everyone wants to “do an omelet without breaking eggs”, everyone wants free speech and freedom of thought, without applying it to themselves. All those anonymous people want someone else to speak on their behalf, to sign his or her name, to get the glory or the shame, all while they nod in approval or disapproval without having their own identity revealed.

I have no pretensions when it comes to blogging, I am not one of those who think they are changing the face of the universe just because they are posting over the internet. But by keeping my comments unmoderated, by trying to express whatever views I have and also signing them under my own name, I am simply trying to say that this is who I am and this is what I think.

As a matter of fact, I am one of those who sincerely believe that “clashing” and “antagonism” are the basis of the creative industry. In my classroom I have had cousins in the same class, and I demonstrated to them that they are unfit to work together in the same group – the two girls grew up together, with the same toys, DVDs, visual and cultural references so basically they are no “challenge” to one another so little creative thought was going to emerge.

Whereas when I put a progressive rock fan student with someone who loved Nancy Ajram in the same group, some of the best creative work emerged – both students knew how to probe each other for their best ideas simply because they were so different in cultural backgrounds.

Don’t take this post as some sort of an invitation to an extended Beirut/NTSC fan club. I get so many people disagreeing with me on several issues, sometimes they comment on the blog, sometimes they send private emails (I can cite names too!), but as long as it is not defamation of character or slander we seem always to find a common meeting point. And what’s the worst that can happen? We disagree. Which in itself is positive!

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