Thursday, December 20, 2007

Adonis on Hariri TV. I watched Adonis on Hariri TV. It was quite a show. He did not say one interesting thing. And it is not his politics that makes me say this: I don't like Mahmud Darwish's politics, but when he speaks, I am riveted. Every word is chosen carefully, and he expresses himself in the most original and interesting way. Adonis speaks in cliches: like, poetry is "the essence of society" or that "art is poetry" or whatever. For 2 hours, he sounded as if he memorized lines from Hallmark cards, I kid you not. There were a few interesting things: he said that he does not care about awards, and does not seek Nobel. He added that if you are known to seek Nobel you are excluded from the running. That made me think: you have really studied the situation carefully, O Adonis. He then said that he respects literary critics in the Arab world. At that point, I felt the urge that my father felt every time then Lebanese president, Charles Hilu, appeared on TV when I was a child. My father would literally throw his shoe at the screen--as you who are educated in Arab culture know--this is very insulting in Arab culture. Respect critics, I yelled out?? This is somebody who can't tolerate criticisms of any kind. Once after reading a critical article by Jihad Fadil, he yelled in the office of Kifah Al-`Arabi in Beirut: "His name is George, and he wants to teach me about Arab nationalism" (Jihad Fadil's real name is George Fadil). He then said that he is a harsh critic of his poetry. He said that he never exercised authority, and that he is against authoritarianism of any kind. He was asked to name three female poets that he likes: he named his sister-in-law, and stopped. He was asked to name three female novelists that he likes, and he did not name one. But he did call for an end to women's oppression. He makes these very general and bland criticisms without offending any regime. Finally, he talked about his last meeting with "martyr prime minister" Rafiq Hariri. He said that Hariri had a "vision." He once had made a speech in which he was very critical of Beirut, and when he was attacked by Lebanese intellectuals (many of them anyway), he retracted and never repeated what he said. (He was mercilessly attacked by Paul Shawul in Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal). Now, he praises Beirut but criticizes its inhabitants--whatever that means.