Wednesday, October 21, 2009

living to die...

Who is more responsible?

The hand that makes the bomb..
The one that ignites it..
Or the bomb that blasts??

Our anger is a bomb that destroys the peace around us.
Let us try not to be the reason of an argument..
Let us avoid from being the one who ignites a fight..
Lets us not be the victim of the bomb of anger...

Peace is all around us...its not a matter of faith; it's a matter of practice...

No peace comes from shattered pieces.

Suicide terrorism is not a new phenomenon. From the 11th-century Assassins — whose brazen and usually public murders of their rivals invited immediate death to the perpetrators — to Vietcong sympathizers who blew up themselves and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam, many people have proven their willingness to perish while carrying out attacks in pursuit of their political goals. Yet, the “modern” expressions of the suicide terror phenomenon surfaced with the appearance of the first suicide terrorists in Lebanon, more than 20 years ago.

From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, the sponsors of every campaign have been terrorist groups trying to establish or maintain political self-determination by compelling a democratic power to withdraw from the territories they claim. Even al-Qaeda fits this pattern: although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, a principal objective of Osama bin Laden is the expulsion of American troops from the Persian Gulf and the reduction of Washington’s power and influence in the region.
In reality, the probability that terrorists will kill as many Americans as drunk drivers [will] in any given year is tiny. Suicide attackers are usually respected and even revered in their own societies because they are defending those societies against a foreign threat. Simply put, Pape suggests there is no sound reason to believe the pool of potential suicide attackers can be dried up as long as their societies perceive an existential threat to their existence.

Terrorist organizations call upon their members to take part in suicide attacks under different banners and slogans. Sometimes it is done on behalf of God and religion, sometimes on behalf of the “nation,” and many times as an act of revenge or deterrence against a more powerful adversary. Islamic fundamentalist organizations such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda, and Hezbollah invoke God and interpret the Koran in a way that fits their political and operational needs. By doing so they justify such a battle against the “infidels” in defense of Islam. Most of these groups also use nationalism in their jargon, usually invoking the redemption of a holy land belonging to the larger Muslim nation from the hands of aggressors.

All of the major religions forbid suicide, religiously motivated groups always express the motives of suicide bombers in “altruistic” terms; also, all terror groups, religious or not, wish to project strength. Thus, the personal motives of suicide bombers are often concealed. Research conducted with “failed” suicide bombers throughout the world has shown that such motivations do exist, including personal psychological hardships; despair and uncontrollable eagerness for revenge; and specific goals of personal glory, such as familial honor or even money for the bombers’ families. In one notable example, widely reported in the Israeli press, the first female Hamas suicide bomber — a young mother of two — was allegedly having an extramarital affair; killing herself and several Israelis was said to be the only way she could redeem her name.

Recruitment has almost exclusively involved encouraging an individual to sacrifice for the alleged well-being of the community, and the use of persuasion and manipulation techniques — but not physical coercion. Another alarming aspect of the suicide phenomenon is the utilization of young children as suicide bombers. The participation of boys as young as 10 to 14 in recent suicide campaigns has been mainly overseen by Palestinian terror organizations that wish to take advantage of the boys’ unthreatening appearance. This has generated outcry among the children’s families and many others.

The reputation of suicide terrorism as the ultimate strategic weapon of the poor and the deprived may contribute to its further dispersal around the world in coming years, and more groups and networks may adopt it into their own arsenal. The main threat emanating from this unique modus operandi is a possible combination of lethal tactics such as a mixture of suicide bombing and non-conventional materials. Much like the unprecedented September 11 attacks, an event of this kind could have global implications.

The technique of suicide bombing is an atavistic form of violence. Historically viewed, warfare has technologically advanced through cowardice, and the American fighters are the leading exemplars of this. Fighting at a distance with missiles was beneath the descendants of the armored men-at-arms who had dominated European warmaking since the age of Charlemagne. The suicide bomber overcomes the timorous distancing-of-self in battle by requiring propinquity to the target. In sacrificing one's own life, however, the suicide bomber has surmounted the human nature for self-preservation. But the suicide bomber's actions have greater significance. The suicide bomber, who targets military enemies, can be considered as a courageous fighter, a throwback to warriors of old...

Friday, October 16, 2009

¡gracias a la vida! (tribute to mercedes sosa)...

One of the greats of Latin America pasted away this past week, well it's going on two weeks by now. Haydée Mercedes Sosa was born on July 9, 1935, in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina and produced nearly 40 albums during her musical career, performing in venues such as The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican and New York's Carnegie Hall. She also served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for Latin America. She was an unrivalled interpreter of works by her compatriot, the Argentinian Atahualpa Yupanqui, and Chile's Violeta Parra, both icons of the region's nueva canción movement towards the end of the 1960s, whose work often spoke of the struggle for human rights and democracy. One of the greats of Argentinian popular music, she was nicknamed "La Negra" because of her jet-black hair, and was one of the leading exponents of the "Nueva Cancion," a musical style that combined ballads with folkloric instruments, with lyrics that often combined romantic themes, social issues, and the plight of the indigenous of Argentina and all of América Latina.

During her long career that saw her produce 40 albums, Sosa collaborated with musicians ranging from Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and Joan Baez to Latin stars such as Shakira, Caetano Veloso and Joan Manuel Serrat. Upon her death, Shakira paid tribute to Sosa, who she has previously worked and performed with, branding her "the voice of her brothers on Earth who lifted up the music of suffering, and of justice". Undoubtedly, she had the greatest voice, and she had a great capacity for understanding suffering.

I first heard of Mercedes Sosa while visiting the studio of my favorite Latin America artist Oswaldo Guayasamín in Quito and seeing one of his many paintings that he painted of the singer during his lifetime. As a figurehead of the Left in her own right, Mercedes Sosa fell foul of the military junta led by Jorge Rafaél Videla that ruled her nation between 1976 and 1983 and conducted the notorious "Dirty War" against its own people. One of the central themes of my artwork has been the disintegration of the social fabric during moments of political, social, and economic turmoil, of which Dictators and their regimes constitute a major component. It was during this time that she had to live in exile, even though, as she once declared: "An artist isn't political in the party political sense – they have a constituency, which is their public – it is the poetry that matters most of all."

But after the military seized power in Argentina in 1976 and installed a murderous dictatorship, Ms. Sosa, who was publicly identified with parties of the left, began having political problems and found many of her songs banned from the radio. Thereafter, Mercedes Sosa became the object of state surveillance and intimidation by the "Triple A" death squad. At a concert in La Plata, Argentia in 1979, she and her entire audience of 200 university students were arrested and detained. Although she was released as a result of international condemnation, the incident forced her into exile, leaving with just "three suitcases and a handbag". She found life in exile tough, living first in Paris and then Madrid, but her music became a rallying point for those back in Argentina who had themselves been silenced.
With the Argentinian junta's power waning however, Mercedes Sosa returned home in 1982 shortly before the debacle of the Falkland's War, giving a triumphant series of concerts at Buenos Aires' Teatro Colón. These were immortalised on the double album Mercedes Sosa en Argentina, which sold particularly well and cemented her status as a legend of the musical genre.

She was able to go back to Argentina in 1982, as the hold of the Armed Forces was weakening. But Ms. Sosa’s musical tastes had broadened during her years in exile, and after her return she became an early advocate of and mother figure for a new generation of singer-songwriters whose roots were more in rock ’n’ roll and international pop than traditional or folk music. She quickly added songs by future stars like Charly García and Fito Páez to her repertory, giving their careers and music both credibility and an important commercial boost. She continued to champion emerging young talent until her death.

Ms. Sosa was married to a musician, Manuel Óscar Matus, for eight years, and later lived with Pocho Mazzitelli, who was also her manager, until his death in 1978. Fabián Matus is her only child. As her international renown expanded, Ms. Sosa seized on opportunities to collaborate with performers outside of Latin America, like Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Nana Mouskouri and Joan Baez. After touring with Ms. Sosa in Europe in the late 1980s, Ms. Baez described her as “monumental in stature, a brilliant singer with tremendous charisma who is both a voice and a persona...I have never seen anything like her,” Ms. Baez added. “As far as performers go, she is simply the best.

As with many of the most precious and memorable things in life, we rarely appreciate them until they are long past. In the same vein, I find myself listening to her songs and albums now and youtubing her concerts and performances. Que pena no haberla disfrutado en vida, ciertamente ahora que la escucho siento que se fue una voz única, cada día van quedando menos artistas con voces que te hagan industria musical actual ya no nos ofrece joyas como esta. Que descanse en paz...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

the dreams of children...

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights...

~ Dr. Seuss

Carl Jung claimed that the dream symbol of a child is a motif for the forgotten things in our childhood. For example, your dream may be telling you that you've forgotten how to play or should take a more innocent, carefree attitude. A couple of nights ago I dreamt of myself as a little child playing in the living room of my grandmother's house sitting on the floor playing with crayons. A couple of scribbles on the paper and some on the floors. I watched this scene play out in my subconsciousness for what seemed like 15 seconds (but what role do temporal planes have in dreams in any case). The symbol of me as child represented the infinite possibilities of youth. It paves the way for future changes in the personality and the child may represent the part of you that needs reassurance and security.

What are told as children (for the most part although there are definite cultural and gender variations), that we will inherit the Earth and once this time comes we will all become the most wonderful visions of our imaginations. We can be doctors, and leaders, teachers, or astronauts seemingly without limitation or impediment with the right work ethic and channelled determination. But at what point do we start to deter our children from their dreams. At what crossroads of our lives do we go from children with the world in our hands to adults who are incapable of anything, adults who will not amount to anything, adults who are told to give up every occasion they possibly can because in this world their skin color is too shade too dark for dreams so big. But it is bigger than color, or race, gender or socioeconomic status, society generally frowns upon occupations that are unconventional or deemed too lofty for those born without gilded spoons and trust funds. And our parents... our parents merely recount their own failures and superimpose them on our own dreams when they tell us to choose a "safer" occupation.

I am an academic/scholar/and an artist, which means that I am one-part consumer of knowledge and two-parts it's creator. There is a reason that intellectuals like myself are the first to be made to "disappear" in repressive regimes and our voices made to be silent. In everyday life, where dilemmas are sometimes solved by the most surprising new propositions; many artists, philosophers, and even scientists owe some of their best ideas to inspirations . . . from the unconscious. We are the antithesis of the trained indoctrinated soldier adherent to established ideologies, I seek knowledge and inspiration that same way that I child chases butterflies through fields not giving a damn about private property laws. I pledge allegiance to positive energy within the sovereign state of 'My Being'. That's all for now, am off to paint a couple of canvases to the dismay of my parents. Much like the actions of a child.