Sunday, February 8, 2009

LOVE (is in the air, everywhere I look around)

Just about time to write about Love…with the up coming Saint Valentine’s day. We’re being bombarded by publicity, stores dressed in red, teddy bears, huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, my mail is already full of publicity from Apple inviting me to buy a personalized ipod for my loved one and the airlines helping me to plan my passionate weekend, spas for two, a movie contest of romantic home produced movies (porn?), e-books to improve your skills on blow jobbing, ohh how many products and options!

Thanks god I’m in France and I’ll be able to escape a little bit from this Saint Valentine madness; even if they think they live in a free market, liberal industrial capitalism, they don’t know what they are talking about.

It is enough the very day life, love songs, love stories, movies, series … every way you look around is full of love, as the wise Magyd Cherif would say about sex and love: It is more important than school, work, knowledge; everything is about girls (or guys).
Do humans are obsessed with love? Or their imagination is so reduced they can’t think about something else. Writing, producing, acting; does it mean they do know love? Anyway it seems that you’re obliged to find it.

Alain Sechas. Le baiser, Rodin. Tourcoing suite (45 dessins)

So love. What is it? And why is everybody looking for it? I really like the definition Samuel Beckett gives it in “Premier Amour” (First Love) What we call Love is the exile, with a postcard from the country once in a while. And he says about the loved one; She bothered me deeply, even when she wasn’t there…..I didn’t feel well when I was with her, but I felt free to think about something else than her, and that was great… They are one of my favorite couples in literature Lulu/Anne and who ever; the other one would be Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights.

I’m not a Grinch of love or bitter, but as you can see I have a twisted way to think about love. Where does it come from? I don’t know, my family, media, literature, personal experience, maybe. My idea of romantic love is, stimulating, passionate, intellectual, cynic, challenging, mad, free, fun, bitter, sweet, impertinent but never simple. Am I asking too much? Well I guess I will have to wait to find it, and keep on feeding my twisted conception of love; meanwhile I’ll keep on watching screenplays and reading novels.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bitter Orange (Al Bortouqala al morra)

Al Bortouqala al morra (L'Orange Amère) is a Moroccan movie for the television, as the ones HBO and Hallmark produce, when I can have access to this kind of media content I never hesitate on watching it, it is always a great experience to know the contents produced out of western societies; surprisingly in Morocco the Telenovelas (Mexican soapoperas) are greatly known, but there isn’t a fair exchange of contents, we are completely ignorant about what do they produce. As we know Internet opens up new opportunities of diffusion for this kind of productions so for this and other reasons I watched it on line.

After watching it, I was confused I didn’t know If I like it or not, so I started reading the commentaries of the people who has also watch it; as Dayan, the French thinker will say “The experience that consists on watching television cannot be described in simply individual terms. “To watch is to watch with”, is to enter in an interaction from a reverse angle, made up of all those watching simultaneously the same televisual image.” Well it is not TV, neither simultaneously, it also links with the intimacy television, because they not only give expression to their opinion about the movie, but how it relates to themselves. So I became even more confused, we need some theoretical studies about this.

So as I was saying I don’t know if I like it or not, most of the people did; they describe it as the best Moroccan movie ever, beautiful, marvelous, “it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, I loved so much the end of the story, when the movie began I was wondering if they will ever meet again; even if the circumstances were difficult. I cried, tears of joy and sadness when they see each other, the two characters who are strangers but have loved each other from the first sight” (commentary about: Al Bortouqala al morra - Orange amère on

I could say it is a beautiful drama but I could also say it is a cheap sexist plot. Why could it be beautiful? The idea of love, pure, uninterested, first sight, lifetime longing love is a feeling that move us all, the mere possibility of the existence of this kind of feeling, emotion or condition. Allowing yourself to love to the point of becoming crazy, losing the eager to live, forgetting about yourself renouncing to any kind of gratification from the life in society, renouncing to the pleasures, even to romantic love itself, giving up everything to live out of platonic love. It isn’t a simple mourning for the lost love.

Why it could be a sexist plot? Saadia our heroine lives in a repressive civilization; first of all she lives at home with her parents, she has never been to school, so she is illiterate; she is obliged to ask her friends to write her love letters. Her whole life is based on getting married; she is used to receive suitors asking for her hand in marriage. But she falls in love with the policeman, in this repressive society she does everything she can to win his affection, she just writes a letter because she is not aloud to do anything else, even it is too much. 

She waits and waits for a reply, she never gets one, and she finds out he is going to get married. As her life doesn’t have any other purpose than getting married she becomes crazy and homeless. Meanwhile our hero Amine, he is also in love with Saadia, but he never tries to find her, he decides to follow the flow and accomplish the expectations of the society and his mother; getting married. This story is unfair for both to men and women. Men are pictured as not capable of a greater love as women do, they are lazy and selfish; they couldn’t give up everything for love. Women are too sentimental and the lack of rationality that surounds them, make them  to lose everything for true love.

Well I still don’t know if I like it or not, I’m sure it depends on many things, the momentary mood, the experience with love, what do you think about love, how you were raised (family values), in what kind of society you were raised, the roles of women and men according to the society you live in, and your opinion about it…..

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Meeting the French Youth

Yesterday while showing Lyon to some friends we met a young guy when watching some break-dancer practice in the Opera building, he offered to show us the spot where the techtonik dancers practice, since my friends have never seen this kind of urban dance and I couldn’t miss this sociological chance we were happy to follow him. It was a lifetime ethnographic opportunity because it is difficult as a foreigner and older person to manage your way in.

Our guide was a maghribian gangsta rapper, break-dancer and also the organizer of the dance battles (break-dance vs techtonik), he was the one who managed to expulse the techtonik dancers from the Opera building, and he isn’t older than 16!!! He seems to have the business under control, he knows everybody around, almost every teenager who crossed our way came to say hello. He dresses differently, like a grown up so he can be taken seriously, trousers, shirt, sweater, jacket and briefcase.

When you see the French youth, you can barely make any distinction between them, maybe just the color of their skin, white, brown or black; but they all dress, make up and comb alike, their body language tries to show how bad ass they are, both girls and boys,  call each other (dirty) bitches and pimps. They follow the mass media stereotype of the black ghetto community in US; thanks god they do not limp when walking! For being French, they are very attached to this model, but they don’t seem to acknowledge the level of their consumption. They think the Techtonik is purely French and they ignore the influences they have.

In our little tour on the urban French culture, we were lucky enough to meet the mother of the Techtonik (la mère de la Techtonik), the best dancer, she is a 16 year old Maghribian girl, who was happy to have a foreign audience and show us her movements.

It was a brief insight of how this urban tribe behaves, how is managed leadership, how as teenagers try to fit in and define their identity; how the life in a society develops, how they identify each other, and construct a collective identity from plurality.

Encore une soirée où la jeunesse France
Encore elle va bien s'amuser dans cet état d'urgence
Alors elle va danser faire semblant d'exister
Qui sait si l'on ferme les yeux on vivra vieux

(Jeunes et Cons, a song by Damien Saez)