Tuesday, February 28, 2006

THE REAL TARGETS: CIVILIZATION, CULTURE AND MEMORY

You have probably heard of Shinar. That's because you're especially well-read and struggled for your intellectual independence in a culture hostile to free-thinking. If you haven't heard of Shinar, that is probably because you are a victim of the US programme of wiping out historical memory. In America only scholars with particular areas of expertise or those with very particular areas of interest know what Shinar is, although it should be a name much more generally known. Long before there was Baghdad there was Shinar, that is Babylon, in the Fertile Crescent - the cradle of civilization. It was there that civilization, as we know it in the Middle East and in the West, began. Despite the fact that many priceless archaeological artifacts were destroyed in the last Gulf War - many still remain. Physical archaeological artifacts provide the basis and sometimes the proof of how the history of Humankind looked. Without these priceless artifacts all historical and linguistic theories remain just that - theories. Every statement made about whom our ancestors were and how they lived must end with "IMHO", if we do not have artifacts that bear out our claims. Artifacts not only serve support theories and lend proof to beliefs; they can make short shrift of the longest-standing, most cherished beliefs as well. The discovery of the 'The Dead Sea Scrolls' is a perfect example of an archaeological discovery which is revolutionizing the way we think about the Second Temple period. The 'The Rosetta Stone' also served as the key that opened many doors of knowledge that were bolted and sealed before its discovery. The examples are many and dear to our hearts. Artifacts are priceless, then - by far dearer than gold, oil, drugs - or any other commodity that nations may go to war over. Those who control what knowledge of archaeology is available to the public control what the public is privy to knowing about where they came from, where they are and where they are going to. Whatever one's status in American society: long-time citizen, new immigrant, descendent of slaves or conquered Natives, one is stripped of their historical framework and linguistic background (unless, of course, they come from an English-speaking country, but even in this case they will be required to adopt the American ‘take’ on English, and thus be forced to adopt American thought patterns). America demands that one forget whom they were, where they came from and blend into the "melting pot". Nowadays, with the advent of means of mass communications, the process of assimilation into the American ‘melting pot’ is usually complete in one generation. Among those who retain their culture most tenaciously the process takes two generations. Paradoxically, those whose racial type is not mainstream in America have a much better chance of retaining their identity than those who ‘look white’ with few cosmetic applications. It is said, and it is true, that if one does not know where s/he is coming from, s/he cannot know where they are going to. This is the goal of those who determine American sociological policy - the creation of a mass of citizens none of whom have clear knowledge either of their own roots, and thus have a very nebulous sense of self, or a sense of the historical context of others. Dignity, honor, sense-of-self and an appreciation of the greatness of others are the most immediate casualties in the war against free thought. Public opinion is quite easily manipulated in a non-culture in which the citizens have no sense of rooted-ness, knowledge of their original languages (or the etymologies thereof) or clear sense of historicity. For example: It is the lack of knowledge of history and etymology of languages that allows the present propaganda concerning who the ‘Palestinian People’ to be believed by well meaning, but ignorant and gullible people. The less we know about history and languages the more our consciousness can be manipulated as we make a hodge-podge of the images that are fed into our brains in words whose etymological roots we have no knowledge of. I urge the readers of this post to read the material contained on the two links provided below carefully. We will see that both those who operate Bush and those who operate Sadaam Hussein are interested in revision of history. On the one hand the Western world would have the wealth of artifacts in Iraq, which could serve as plastic proof of our past destroyed so that historicity is obliterated. On the other hand the powers that be in Iraq would have the artifacts preserved in order to be used to manipulate history and create a false sense of pride and continuity from the glory of Sumer in the present-day citizens of Iraq - thus returning them to being the slaves of a leader who has declared himself a deity. This war is about YOU - who your ancestors were, who you are and who your descendants will be - rootless, mindless, unknowing and manipulated in the West or utterly helpless slaves who work in unquestioning devotion for a leader they believe to be god. There is no "good guy" and "bad guy" in this war. Control of knowledge for the sake of mass enslavement of Humanity is evil - no matter what continent it is attempted on, no matter whether the people doing it wear three-piece tailored suits or jalabias. This writer must be honest and say that the destruction of archaeological artifacts is far worse than the manipulation of their meaning, because so long as they exist there is a chance they may be understood properly. The destruction of the remains of civilization is the attempt to blot out the basis for civilization and rooted-ness - irrevocably. We will be returned to pre-Sumerian levels of civilization if this occurs, regardless of what our level of technological development is. The prospect of being pre-historic even while we are nuclear capable is beyond nightmarish. The booty in this war is control of CIVILIZATION itself. Did anyone seriously entertain the notion that the instigation of war with Iraq on the part of the US, UK and the U.S.'s lesser allies was principally about oil? Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Yisra'el

April 13, 2003

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BAGHDAD, June 20, 2005 (AFP) - Archaeological sites in southern Iraq have been systematically looted for over two years, but experts say the dig will have to go much deeper to find out where thousands of lost artifacts have ended up. "The complete lack of knowledge is devastating," says archaeologist Elizabeth Stone, who spent years excavating the Old Babylonian city of Mashkan Shapir. "One article said that a billion Iraqi dinars worth of artifacts had been smuggled to Syria, but that's absurd. We just don't know what's gone," she says. The mystery has emerged as new site protection forces finally begin to make a dent in thefts from the cradle of civilisation, rampant since the US-led invasion of March 2003, but experts say it may be years before the riddle is solved. Meanwhile, artifacts are surprisingly absent from the ever-hungry illegal market. "Artifacts aren't turning up yet," says Seth Richardson of Chicago's Oriental Institute. "The market's too hot. People don't want to trade them, for good reasons and bad." "We'll probably have to wait four or five years for this stuff to turn up. And it could be anywhere -- London, New York, Geneva, Tokyo." What is known is the shocking breadth of looting, with satellite images showing ancient sites turned into chessboards of square-shaped holes. "There's been more dirt moved after the (2003) war by looters than there ever was by archaeologists and looters combined before the war," says Stone. On the ground, archaeologist Abdal Amir Hamdani, in charge of antiquities for Dhi Qar province, home to some of Iraq's most famous archaeological sites, says his focus has shifted from looters to smugglers. "I'm not an archaeologist. I'm a policeman," he says. Hamdani uses what he calls a "hunting dog" -- a former looter turned paid informant -- who follows up on rumours and goes out with a digital camera and global positioning system (GPS) equipment to locate and mark smugglers' houses. Italian carabinieri forces disguised as Bedouin then go with Hamdani to carry out often fruitful raids. "This is the war within the war, the forgotten war," he says of his dangerous job. Last October, eight Iraqi customs officers were found dead and their recently seized cargo of antiquities disappeared on the road to Baghdad. Al-Fajir, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Hamdani's base in Nassiriyah, is rife with smugglers and dealers, he says, and 60 suspect homes in the small town of 10,000 have already been identified. Hamdani shows photos of seized artifacts: Parthian glasswork, Sumerian statues and erotic images on temple tablets, hundreds of coins, gold jewellery and bowls inscribed in ancient Aramaic, some clumsily glued together, damaged forever. "I don't know how much they're worth to a dealer," says Hamdani. "To me, they're priceless." He laments what he says are lax sentences of two or three years handed down to smugglers. "It's not enough. They should be getting 10 years or more. I would like to kill them, but then what happens to human rights in this country?" Stone says that families in the area have been selling artifacts for generations, but the lawlessness of recent years combined with increased demand from the West, Japan and Israel has made them more daring. "You can see the purposefulness of it. People are very well-organised. They come with food and water and guns. That's different from what Iraq has always had, farmers and villagers coming to take something to sell at the local souk." "The assumption is that they won't have to hold onto it for 100 years. But some families have been doing it for generations and might think their grandchildren will sell it. There must be warehouses bursting with the stuff," she says. "It will start coming onto the market when people decide authorities can't be bothered to prosecute anymore." While the director of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, Donny George, says that an object sold by a farmer in Baghdad for 50 dollars can fetch "200,000 to 300,000 dollars in New York," the financial loss pales in comparison to the cultural one. "The frightening thing is objects going to private collectors, where they are hidden, just for investment, like hoarding gold," says George. He says ill-informed buyers in the West, such as the man who paid 80,000 dollars for a non-descript cylinder seal, are also inflating prices and inspiring more thieves. "They've been taking out at least 3,000 tablets a week, by the truckload. That's got to be 400-500 dissertations," says Richardson, adding that some looters die when the tunnels they use collapse, becoming artifacts themselves. Iraq currently has 12,000 registered archaeological sites, but once the whole country has been surveyed, that number will jump to 100,000, says George. Hamdani says there are 800 sites around Nassiriyah alone, with 200 site protection forces to patrol them in just seven vehicles. As a result, no amount of policing is going to suffice and the museum is placing its hopes in changing people's mindsets. "Ninety percent of schoolbooks used to be dedicated to Saddam and the Baath party. If we can dedicate five percent of books to antiquities, children can learn a lot -- and they can teach their parents." Meanwhile, generous foreign aid is well-intended, but not always useful. In the corner of George's office is a box of 40 satellite phones donated for site protection forces by UNESCO. "We've had them for three months, but they didn't give us SIM cards," says George. "Now we have extra funding so we can buy the cards and use them." I told you so.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Am I Real?

Not having been in the States for almost 24 years and not owning a television, I cannot always determine the status of that which is presented to me taped and sometimes experience feelings of unreality as a result. Actually, I am not at all sure that I would be any less confused about the reality of what I might be viewing if I was back in NY or Miami Beach and "plugged in". I suspect that quite the opposite might be the case, though I would probably be less aware that I was having difficulty separating fact from fiction or being able to mentally and emotionally assimilate semi-biographical movies; mini-series loosely based on fact; a John Nash not only endowed with preternatural mathematical genius, but also the looks of Russell Crowe who is too preoccupied with, and engrossed in, his paranoid ideation to make love to Jennifer Connolly or a Suzanne Hinn.

In the case of "The Fruitcake Lady" it was entirely clear to me that it is a show, even before knowing that the links were from a Jay Leno site. OK. No questions there.

Sometimes matters are not that straightforward, though. Not having been in the states and witnessing the development of the "entertainment" industry, and finding that Western society blows my mind and seems unreal all too often (especially when it transpires that it is all too real); I get confused about whether something implausible that has been videotaped is real or a put-on if I am not prompted beforehand as to what exactly what I'm going to be viewing.

The oxymorons in the entertainment industry confound me. They are myriad, so I find myself feeling confounded more often than I should expect to. E.g., what the hell is a "reality show"? Since when do stiff upper lipped British MPs, who were formerly renowned for their dignified reserve, get down on all fours and act like cats and cavort in red leotards with someone, one breast exposed, whose gender is indeterminate? (Since when is gender entirely independent of sex? But I digress.) Now that I think about it, why have so many ex-actors made the transition to being politicians so easily? I thought that then actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was acting in the film "The Terminator". Now, as Governor of the State of California, he refuses to stay the execution of the third convict on death row in a matter of a couple of months, this time despite the doubts of a judge that the evidence against him is credible. I am left wondering if he was acting in the movie or not.

Do you remember the film Mondo Cane? The 1962 movie was considered "shock cinema". Today, images far more shocking, perverse and utterly revolting are not supposed to shock people at all, but rather serve as light-headed and light-hearted entertainment, and one is considered peculiar if they do feel that those images assault his or her sensibilities. TV is filled with images that make Mondo Cane look tame. If one protests that they are sickened by those images and suggestions, the person is considered overly sensitive, overly religious, or just plain over the hill.

Sites like scopes.com and the search that someone on an e-list conducted in order to determine the status of the film clip bespeak the fact that I am hardly alone in this confusion. It's not at all clear even to people who have been steeped in Western culture all their lives if what they are viewing or reading on the net is real, some weird chimera of reality and staging, urban legend, a put-on...Note how often the scopes.com site will label a given story partially true, or something to that effect. Those are the buggers. Give me the truth or a damn lie anytime, but when they create pernicious, predatory species of mental picture-inducing and emotion-stirring images and suggestions by splicing and concatenating the plausible and the implausible ostensibly willy-nilly (but I'll bet dollars to donuts it's painstakingly crafted to be conflating and emotionally overexciting, thus numbing) into some indeterminate filmed production, evolution has not provided me with a mechanism for defending myself against that. There are no such images in nature and I am at a loss. I feel like the child who, emerging from a wax museum, asks: "Am I real?", only there's a far more sinister air to it all.

There is a description on the psychiatry books for that state: borderline experience. When a person has been assaulted by the unthinkable and by that which the brain is not equipped to process more times than the brain can recover from, i.e., has had more borderline experiences than the psyche can heal from, a syndrome results - Borderline Personality Syndrome. The prognosis for BPS is far more pessimistic than for Schizophrenia. The mass media are inducing Borderline Personality Disorder in the masses and I don't believe for a moment that it is unintentional or not serving someone's purpose.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Monday, February 20, 2006

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

As background to the following discussion, please see: http://tinyurl.com/k75vy

I am saddened, profoundly saddened, that Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) has been "discredited" because of the cases of medical practitioners who allegedly misused the diagnosis.

I do not know why Sir Roy Meadow has been discredited personally and instead of being called the discoverer of this syndrome is being slurred as "the inventor of this label/diagnosis". I think he should be hailed for having given a name to a phenomenon that, without being named, is very difficult to recognize as a syndrome of child abuse.

Almost 25 years ago I befriended a woman who had one daughter at the time, or rather, she befriended me - desperately. She was a needy and dependent personality, but I was new in Israel and her obvious admiration of me and the open house she provided me with was pleasant and convenient in lieu of a real family. She seemed to need to be needed and didn't seem to care if a good deal of being used was involved.

Her daughter, whom I loved, was a "sickly" child and she was always attentively attending to the girl's various, rather obscure and oddly symptomless, illnesses. At first I thought this woman a very dedicated and concerned mother. After a while I began to see that something was amiss, but I did not know how to define what exactly. I began to joke with her that she a hypochondriac for her daughter. Her husband did not smile when I made these jokes.

After a few years she has a boy, then another child...five in all.
All of her children were "sickly". Their obviously imaginary illnesses ran the gamut from the mild cold to chronic illnesses and emergency medical conditions that required immediate attention. She was constantly running with them from one health clinic to another (perhaps as they caught on to her she moved on?) and calling ambulances in the middle of the night. There was no name for what she was doing to her children in those days and all I ever heard of was plain old vanilla hypochondria. Evidently, that was also the case with the child welfare workers too. Israel has excellent child welfare mechanisms in place for rescuing children at risk, but no one had a name for this type of personality disorder and child abuse at the time.

The last time I saw her she invited me over to her place. We were living in different cities at the time. When I got there no one was at home. I spotted a pharmacy across the street. I walked over to the pharmacy and, not at all surprisingly, there she was with the kids. "How did you know where to find me?", she laughed knowing the answer. She was always plying the kids with OTCs and getting them prescription drugs from unsuspecting doctors and administering those as well. This time she was buying Flagyl. I knew Flagyl was dangerous so I opened my mouth and said: "Flagyl is dangerous (I don't recall that we knew it is carcinogenic at the time, but we did know that it is risky to take). Why are you giving the kids Flagyl?" The little one said: "Mom says I have worms" and rolled his eyes signaling that he knew he didn't. I choked back the tears.

I never went back there. I couldn't. It hurt too much to see what the kids were going through in that house. She called me to invite me to the wedding of her oldest, my favorite of her children. I couldn't attend. Too many memories of her having been hurt as a child would have flooded my memory. My friend said something unclear about a social worker helping the family and about the little ones being in boarding schools. I understood that child welfare had intervened. I heaved a very deep sigh of relief.

My conscience bothers me to this day. Had I known the words Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, I would have reported her to the authorities. I would have demanded that they look into the case if they ignored it for lack of knowing how to handle it. If they didn't know what MSBP is, I would have sent them information. I didn't know what MSBP was and those kids suffered terribly until someone learned about the syndrome and acted on it.

I am filled with sorrow that MSBP had been "discredited". How typical of the West to throw out the baby with the bathwater on the lark of a trend. MSBP was probably the "darling" of the psychological world at one time. Now it's the ugly stepdaughter. How typical. Dammit!

I am certain that more children will suffer because of real MSBP than due to medical malpractice using MSBP as a cover.


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Come As You Are - Verdeutschte und Verbessert

The afflatus for the following rewrite comes, oddly, from
Shakespeare –the Yiddish rendition of Shakespeare to be accurate.

The frontispiece of the book reads: Shakespeare auf Yiddish – Verdeutschte und Verbessert

In that spirit, here you have The Vaselines – if not uebersetzt,
then surely verbessert:

First, the original, mediocre, not-quite-grungy-enough lyrics:

Come as you are, as you were,
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend, as an old enemy
Take your time, hurry up
The choice is yours, don't be late
Take a rest as a friend as an old memoria
Come dowsed in mud, soaked in bleach
As I want you to be
As a trend, as a friend, as an old memoria
And I swear that I don't have a gun
No I don't have a gun

A few nips and tucks and it'll be the true grunge it was meant to be:

Cum as you are, as you were,
As in my fantasy
As a friend, as two friends, as an old enemia
Take your time, hurry up,
Don't cum before me. Don't be late.
Take a breast from a friend, here's an old mammary
Cum dowsed in mud, soaked in bleach
As I want you to be
As a trend, as a friend, as an old mammary
And I swear that I don't have a gun
No, I don't have a gun
But I do have a dungeon

Thursday, February 09, 2006

TITS & TATS

On another message board I was called judgemental and narrow-minded by a woman in her mid-50s (that's her age, and perhaps her IQ) who starting talking about how cool tats are.

She waxed ecstatic as she described the "body suit" of the tattoo artist who did her and her husband's tats.

I once saw a young man who had a continuous spider's web tattooed on his whole body that could be seen (he was wearing shorts, no shirt) and was sickened with sadness. I wondered what will happen to him if he ever regrets what he did.

IMO, tats, particularly extensive tats are an act of aggression against one's own flesh and a sign that one harbors abysmal self-anger, if not self-hatred.

I think that anyone who has extensive tats needs psychiatric care, as would anyone who did anything to mutilate himself or herself.

I would say the same for "Prince Alberts" and ampalang.

I don't get driving a rod through one's tongue, nipples and clitoris either.

Have I become a narrow-minded aging lady? Or am I one of a minority of people who still has what used to be called common sense?

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lighten Up for Chrissakes!

On another list someone wrote: "The Islamics of the world like the Christians and the Jews need to be subjected to humor and critique."

That prompted me to respond:

If they could only learn to laugh at themselves, they would not need to be critiqued.

They take their religion so damn seriously is what their problem is. There is no levity in their worship at all, no fun.

One of the teachings that Judaism instills is worshipping God in joy, because only in a state of joy does one's consciousness expand to the point of being able to understand the teaching correctly. We are taught that the presence of God does not rest on someone who is not in a state of joy.

As one of my Rabbis once taught me: You've got to take it all with a great sense of humor. The Ramba"m goes so far as to say that one returning from a business trip should not engage in the study of Torah until he relaxes from it. Why? Because he is in too serious a business frame of mind to learn Torah.

There are those who say that organized religion is the problem and they call for individual "spirituality".

I say that religion without humor, particularly the ability to know that God is playing with us and to play with God in return, is the problem.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

DoreenDotan@gmail.com

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Some of my lighter-hearted stuff is to be found on a site I've called

Miscellaneous Meanderings:

http://www.geocities.com/dordot2001/MiscellaneousMeanderings.html

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