History

Encounter

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Stupidity and Genius enter a coffee shop. Genius takes a moment to take in the different smells and noises, and to let all types of observable information sink in. Stupidity, on the other hand, jumps right into the middle of the coffee shop, winks at Halima, the waitress, and roars, “What up, biaaaaatch!” to everybody and to no one in particular at the same time.

Everybody in the coffee shop notices the frivolity of Stupidity without paying the slightest attention to Genius. Unobserved, Genius sits down and waits for Halima to notice him and take his order. In the meantime, Stupidity makes himself comfortable and yells at the guy behind the counter, “where’s my brew, dude?! Arrogance will be here at any moment, and I’d hate to leave with her before I get to enjoy my coffee.”

Two ladies enter. With a step ahead of her companion, the lady in flashy clothes throws a confused look at the place as if looking for someone in particular. Stupidity notices them. “Hey, hotties!” He screeches. “Oh, hey Stupidity! Thank God you’re still here. I was afraid you’d have already left.” She says at the top of her voice as she catwalks towards him. “Come on, Arrogance! You know you and I are meant for each other. I just can’t leave, or live, without you!” He points out. “Oh! I see Genius has taught you some of his stupid puns.” She remarks with a cringe. “Naaah, I just made that up. Genius and I haven’t really talked much lately. He’s over there, by the way.” “Argg! Gosh, I hate his guts! Can you believe he told me to move my car from the super market’s parking lot just because it had a sign of a disabled person? He said no one should park there except for disabled people. He behaved as if he owned the place! What a pain in the ass!” “Oh well, I guess we know him very well. He’ll never change. He thinks he’s smarter than everybody else, and that we owe him stuff. That’s why I could never befriend him. He doesn’t know to enjoy life! He’ll never be as cool as we are”

The other girl shrinks at the remark. Then, as if she needed to gather some courage, objects, “Ummm sorry, but I think he’s got a point.” Astonished, Stupidity looks at her then turns towards Arrogance, “I see you’ve got company. Who’s your friend?” He asks. “Oh, right! Please meet Common Sense. She’s an old friend from elementary school. I just bumped into her and I thought we could have a cup of coffee with you.” She answers as she motions to Halima to come. “Common Sense. Huh?! I like compound names. My favorite is ‘ass-hole!’ HAHA! HAHA! HAHA!” He continued his frantic laugh as he stood up and made his way through the tables and towards Genius. “Did you hear that, Genius? Did you hear my grand joke?”

Without taking his eyes off the morning paper, and with a tone close to how a bored dead man would sound, Genius answers, “Ah yeah, but technically ‘asshole’ is one word. And honestly, I haven’t known many people who have it as an OFFICIAL name.” And with a fainted voice adds, “But I can think of someone who deserves to have it.” “What was that?” Stupidity asks as he leans nearer. “Uh, nothing. I said have a great day, Stupidity!” Genius replies with a fake smile gently pushing Stupidity away and making space for himself to stand up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get going.” He adds with the same fake smile.

In his way out, Genius takes a second to throw a look at the two ladies and salutes them with a gesture. Common Sense smiles and waves back, while Arrogance turns her head away in neglect, and keeps herself busy running her hand over her silky hair and puffing her cigarette’s smoke regardless of the complaints of the people in the next table. Common Sense stands up and excuses herself, too. Feeling that Common Sense was not enjoying her company, Arrogance looks at her in disgust, puffs her cigarette towards her and Common Sense turns her face and motions with her hand as if to stop the smoke that is invading her space. “I think you should quit.” She finally manages to suggest with a smile. “I think you should shut the fuck up!” Arrogance snarls. “You and Genius are the scum of society. Haven’t you realized how much trouble you have caused to everybody? Right people?” Everybody turns their faces away! Shocked, Common Sense finally takes a step away from Arrogance. She still bids her and Stupidity farewell in a hurry, and departs.

“I think she’s nice.” Stupidity declares. “Arrogance looks down at him with the same disgusted look she just offered Common Sense. “ I told you you were not supposed to think.” She answers in wrath. “Sorry dear, I just…” “You’re just too stupid to follow simple instructions, Stupidity!” She interrupts him. “Now hand me my bag and let’s follow them. I know they’ll go together, and we can’t allow them to stay together for long. They’ll definitely be up to something against us and we can’t allow it to happen.” She orders. “But I thought this was Nosiness’ business!” He protested. “CRACK!” Everyone in the coffee shop turns to the source of the sound. Stupidity holds his left cheek and moans in pain! “Why did you slap me, Arrogance?” He struggles to ask. “Because I wanted to, Stupidity. It’s not like you’d understand anywyas, so just deal with it!” She yelled and left.

Halima, with a grin as big as the door that saw Arrogance leave, comes with the addition to Stupidity. “Sir, my shift will end in a few minutes. Will you please pay me, now?” She asks without even trying to hide her amusement. “Oh, sure.” He grins back. “I like it when you smile at me.” He says. “And oh, nice boob job! Who’s your surgeon?” Halima rolls her eyes in frustration, turns away, raises her hands and announces; “Stupidity is alive and kicking, ladies and gentlemen!”

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“Orientalism;” An Ongoing Discussion

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If there is anything I appreciate about the Internet it’s its power to eliminate distances. Fortunately, I could make use of this powerful treat offered by the Internet in one of my most valuable experiences. This unique experience is nothing but my amazing ongoing discussion of Edward Said‘s “Orientalism” with my American friend.

Edward Said

Even though we live in totally different places, my friend and I communicate on a daily basis and we always manage to discuss different stimulating topics. So we thought of taking our discussions to the next level and read a book together. Thus, I chose Edward Said’s “Orientalism.” This choice was partly because I’ve always heard of it and wanted to read it, and partly because I knew it contained very interesting and debatable topics that both my friend and I would enjoy.

Ok let’s face it, the writing style is obtuse. Also, It takes some knowledge in different fields to be able to fully understand Said’s words. He can hover over a variety of topics such as history, politics, culture, media, anthropology, literature, epistemology, etc. in one or two pages. Furthermore, sometimes, I feel as if Said takes it for granted that the reader is acquainted with some references and allusions, which can be an additional burden on the shoulder of the non-specialized reader.

On the other hand, what my friend and I are enjoying about this book is the fruits of our discussions. You can think of Orientalism as a “discussion stimulator,” and a thought-provoking starting point to our in-depth talks. Therefore, we always end up with very interesting discussions that help us better our understanding of the American as well as the Arab mindsets.

Our talks make us view issues from different perspectives. Therefore, many of our lingering questions have finally been answered. Many assumptions have been altered, and many fallacies corrected. Thus, I’m now starting to see how Americans REALLY view us, and vice versa.  I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have learnt more about America and Americans since I started reading and discussing this book than I had done in my entire life. My friend, too, made it clear that she has come see things from a different angle and from a fresh perspective, and that she has learnt a lot as well.

I think that what we appreciate about this ongoing discussion is that we both accept each other’s opinions and points of view no matter how distant our stands are. No one is claiming that their way of looking at things is the best, and no one is ridiculing the other’s views or opinions. It’s a friendly discussion with a special interest in mutual understanding.

I wish we all opted for dialog instead of surrendering to preconceived ideas and stereotypical views of the other. I think a lot of the world’s tragedies would have been avoided had those in power resorted to dialog. However, I believe that hope will still be glowing at the end of the tunnel as long as there are people willing to talk, discuss and open their minds.