اتابع هذه الايام مسلسل “رحلة السيد ابو العلا البشري”، مسلسل تم انتاجه في الثمانينيات من القرن الماضي. كنت اتابع المسلسل عندما كنت صغير، 6 اعوام اكثر او اقل. في هذه الايام، كنا نتابع حلقة مسلسل لمدة ساعة دون انقطاع من اعلانات تجارية و خلافه. ترك هذا المسلسل انطباع على ذاكرتي لم انساه قط. حذفني حنيني لان اشاهده مجدداً و اتحدث عنه…
تكشف لنا رحلة السيد ابو العلا البشري كيف انه قرر في يوم الاعتكاف في منزله الريفي دون النزول الشهري المعتاد لزيارة اقاربه بالقاهرة. طالت هذه الفترة الى سنين طويلة اعتكف فيها البشري على قراءة الكتب و التطلع على كنوز المعرفة المدونة. اثارت طول فترة هذا الاعتكاف دهشة صديق البشري المقرب، الاستاذ تهامي، الذي تبدو عليه البساطة و السعادة، فسأله عن جدوى انعزاله عن العالم. فرد البشري قائلاً: “القراءة فهمتني سر العالم يا تهامي. انا اتعلمت من الكتب الحياة، و لقيت اجابات لكل الاسئلة التي تحيرني.”
يقوم البشري بزيارة القاهرة بعد سنين طويلة، فيكتشف ان عائلة ابن عمه التي اعتاد ان يزورها في السابق قد كبر اعضائها في السن، و تفككت بعد وفاة الاب، فتزوج صفوت الاخ الكبير من فتاة انانية فاصبحت المادة اهم همومه لارضائها، و عمرو يعمل في الممنوعات و يستمر في الفشل بدراسته، و الفتاة الصغيرة المدللة التي تفعل ما تشاء. تصيب البشري الهموم بسبب ما قد حل باهله في المدينة اثناء انعزاله. يعود البشري لمنزله الريفي متأملاً في المصائب التي حلت باقاربه في المدينة.
بعد سنين من الانعزال، و بعد نجاحه في ادارة الارض الريفية و الحياز على حب عمالها و مهندسيها، يقرر البشري فجأة الاستقالة من وظيفته الناجحة، و العودة الى عائلته الكبيرة في القاهرة بشكل دائم لتحقيق رسالة الخير التي وجدها في حكمة الكتب و تقويم حياتهم بالمبادئ و الاخلاق. فيعكف يوماً اخيراً على قراءة الكتب في منزله الريفي (فيرينا المخرج كيف انه يقرأ دون كيخوت ضمن ما يقرأ) ثم يبدأ رحلته الى المدينة.
في اول يوم من ايام رحلته، يجد ان صفوت، الاخ الاكبر، يطرده من البيت خوفاً من طول بقاءه. فيذهب البشري لابن عمه الاخر، حضرة الناظر، ليجد زوجته تعارض بقاءه ايضاً، لقلة المساحة في المنزل بعد ان جائت مديحة، ابنتهم و زوجها، للعيش معهم. فيذهب البشري لابن عمه الثالث، مرتضى، ليجد منزله مليء بطلبة الثانوية العامة الذين جائوا لتعاطي الدروس الخصوصية. هنا يقرر البشري ان المبادئ لا تتجزأ، و يبدأ في ايعاظ التلاميذ عن عدم اخلاقية الدروس الخصوصية، و انهم يجب ان يحضروا دروس المدارس. هنا يغضب مرتضى عندما يسمعه “يقطع عيشه” و يطلب منه الرحيل حيث ان الدروس مستمرة حتى الصباح. يذهب ابو العلا الى لوكاندة في ساعة متأخرة ليلاً فيطلب غرفة، فيجد ان الموظف يتحايل في الرد ملمحاً الى ضرورة المفهومية من اجل ايجاد غرفة. يغضب ابو العلا و يطلب المدير، فيخاف الموظف و يعطيه مفتاح لغرفة خالية…
و هكذا نرى كيف ان البشري يجابه مفاسد المدينة و الواقع بمثاليته المطلقة، مردداً عندما يستنكره الاخرون بحجة ان الزمن قد اختلف، بان المبادئ لا تتجزأ، و ان الاخلاق و القيم و المثل لا تختلف مع اختلاف الزمان.
Supposedly, the main interest of Architects in film, and its relation to architecture, is that a film is made of scenes moving in space expressing content; an intentional content. This content has a structure and is being conveyed through a form. Film is constructed through a process that involves very much a similar process to that of architecture, in being an industry and being a cultural product. But the most important connection there is between film and architecture is the movement of the camera within a space, which is much the same to the movement of humans within a space.
This is also not very unrelated to Husserl’s phenomenological concept of intention in the consciousness of man, and how man perceives an object through a reflection that expresses an intention/essence. The movement of the camera within a space and how its scenes are composed is something that film authors are consciously enacting to reflect an intention, also, that is a reflection of an essence (nostalgia, confusion, resistance, etc). How our consciousness works is very much the same. We perceive through intentional cameras that are our minds and our eyes, reflecting intentional essences that vary from one human to another according to their view of the world. In this sense, the process of architecture-making is not very much different from film-making. It can be also utilized in being a reflection of a certain scenario that is happening within a space, with all its attached experiential and cultural components of identity, emotions, experiences and so on so forth. A film camera can accelerate its motion to manifest a time lapse, zoom in and out to highlight details; it can prolong or shorten time, or even disorder scenes in order to relay a fragmentation, revealing a certain essence. Architecture has other elements, other tools and techniques. It can also try to reflect an essence expressed in a movie, instead of doing it on its own, utilizing similar structures and effects used by a film director.
Architecture and movies do influence each other rather mutually. It’s only that films can be richer in an instantaneous intensification of content, while architecture can be very prolonged in its influence and very flexible to the appropriation of the human behavior. The film can also be subject of appropriation as well as prolonged influence. But it remains in the scope of a box, or of a cinema; of eyes, of imagination. It, itself, doesn’t change even if our perceptions of it varied; whereas architecture is experienced through a wider and more real set of elements, which can be directly experienced in reality on an everyday basis. It doesn’t have the intensification that film does in a 120 minute event, but it has a longer duration of influence. This is where the industry understands that it is very valuable, economically, and that it cannot be subject to as much experimentation as film is. If the force of the industry disappears, I do not find it difficult to imagine a population that each dweller would wish for themselves a very different dwelling than their neighbor, which express them dynamically. But then wish for that when you have solved the problem of hunger in the world, or shelter, before starting to envision a special one! This is as concerns to experimentation in architecture in contrast with experimentation in film.
On another note…
Carlos Dall’Asta said that residences are not subject to experimentation. I don’t think that it is true that people prefer stability in their residences… in the experience within the residence, yes, but not in the residence itself. I can even imagine pre-industrial societies each living in their own unique dwelling that expresses them better, and that the industrious elements that would prevail as norm would only be structural elements (that depend on technology in construction and pre-established techniques), that respond to an ultra-human necessity: to defy gravity and build sound and durable constructions. Yes, architecture definitely has a dual nature: that of containing an interior, and that of exhibiting an exterior that is part of a collective system; this collective system is the city or the village or the settlement where it belongs.
Yi Fu Tuan wrote about the experiences of place and space and their relation to fixity and movement, stability and change. Change here is quoted in the sense of being a venture towards the unknown, the unfamiliar. In many cases, the interior, even of a public space, can be an element of stability that incorporates familiar elements, with familiar colors and intimate landmarks. But… I can seriously see no reason why this should be applied to the exterior face of architecture as well. If we take the extreme case of need for stability, the home, we will find that whatever this home looks like from outside, it will always feel home, because of how it is (as a shelter), and how it performs (as a dwelling). There is not much in its exterior that could manifest its intimacy. Rather, it would be more intimate as much as it expresses its owner, like certain music expresses and indentifies its listener. Here you are, returning to a home that looks and thinks like you. What a city that would be?
This is actually happening, if you see the difference in built environments between different cultures and classes (different neighborhoods of Cairo, or New Mexico for example). But in this globalized world of today, houses in Egypt are planned after American suburbs, built with Chinese tools, finished in a Greek style depending very much on the availability of construction material and techniques that are almost always imported from abroad! What identity does that express? How stable or intimate is that? But what the hell… the people work so hard to afford their houses and they live in it with content, feeling very much stable and at home.
Don’t Blame the Tool:
The tools that humanity is creating can never solve its problems. The tools are mere tools. They are irrelevant to the problems. They can help and they can destroy. All tools are double-edged weapons. Even weapons are double-edged tools.
Media is not the problem. The problem is what has become of media. Once the tool is misused, then it needs to be dismantled and redefined. Facebook is like this. It’s just a tool. But as a tool, it becomes the appropriate platform for young people to show off how beautiful they are. As a socializing tool, the more lipstick you put on your profile, the more friends it will bring you, and the more famous you will get. Socializing in itself is not a problem. The problem is the vanity and objectification that erupt from social encounters.
Alas, humanity will continue to create tools. Some obviously helpful, some obviously destructive, some in a grey area in between. What will always remain as the disease of this world is the human; their vanity, their ego, their lust, their greed. For me, they are all sides of the same coin. They all come from the same source. If you can conquer that source, you would be liberated.
I am sure that Deleuze’s concept of desire as the main driving force for the flow of life wasn’t actually speaking about desire as it is conventionally perceived. There is a way to skin desire from its long time association with lust and greed. Or maybe this is only Deleuze’s idea, and he couldn’t find a more appropriate word for it. Deleuze wrote in French.
The Devil in Film:
There are three very important films that have been made around this topic that are always staying with me. The first two are The Devil’s Advocate and Revolver. For me, Revolver, was stronger and more in depth. It was very insightful in how it presented the character/persona of Sam Gold.
Mr Gold was described as:
- “Mr Black Magic. Mr Clandestine. Mr Ambiguous. Mr l-run-this-game Gold. ”
- “No one sees Gold, but Gold sees everything”
- “Mr Gold doesn’t give more time or second chances. The word “excuse” does not exist in Sam Gold’s lexicon”
- “No-one lives and displeases Gold”
- “The more power you think you have in Gold’s world, the less power you have in the real world“
Sam Gold was the personification of lust and greed. In mythological words, Mr Gold was a personification of Satan, just as Al Pacino was in The Devil’s Advocate. Mr Gold was personified as an ego that sticks with you everywhere you go, and orders you as if it is you. “The greatest con that he ever pulled was making you believe that he is you”. In this way, both movies are suggesting ego/vanity/lust/greed as an external factor that attracts/drives you to sin. It is what enslaves you. For those who are against religion in its entirety, or more specifically the concept of the Original Sin, this might be unconvincing, to say the least. The more blatant they get in their attack on religious thought and what it has inscribed in our daily life, an understandable thing, the more they will be put off by this thesis. But for me, it’s like this. The conceptual persona of Satan, or in that matter Sam Gold, is very insightful. EVLG has always been what drives humans to kill, steal, cheat and pollute. There will be no personal salvation unless one conquers this ego.
Similarly, a third film that investigates this theme is Fight Club. It holds another perspective that doesn’t deal with ego as the individual effect, but society as the affect of the establishment of ego. The narrator is tormented by how the consumerist society dictates what he should look like as an individual, until Tyler Durden emerges as his alter-ego. Durden takes him on a wild path of self-destruction, in order to dismantle that corrupt version of him that has been dictated by society.
He puts it in words as:
- The things you own end up owning you.
- Self-improvement is masturbation. Now, self-destruction …
- I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say lets evolve, and let the chips fall where they may.
- Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. […] We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact.
- It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.
Tyler Durden, in this case, becomes the personification of the anti-(Christ). Durden is another conceptual persona that functions externally; that is: in relation to the collective. It is essentially counter-society. It seeks liberation as an individual from the molding of the collective establishment. It uses the same mechanism that was used in Revolver: the destruction of that ego inside one’s self that yearns to conform, this time, to the corrupt collective. Collective salvation thus would occur if everyone would go through the same process; or more radically, if a group of enlightened “space monkeys” would force it on others through a shocking act of public mayhem.
For Revolver, the sins come from an external actor, satan, who moves within you those forces of corruption using what he uses best: money, fame and power. The whole matter is fairly spiritual. The form of society is not out into account. For Fight Club, the struggle is exactly against this society that has grown itself so corrupt in making its individuals seek what they don’t need, to do what they don’t want. The individual is thus advised to unplug from the system, and through that act itself personal salvation is reached.
No One Except You Will Save You:
Returning to the original subject of this post, humanity can never solve its problems by tools, or anything in that matter, unless humans can search inside their selves, into their own conscience, and decide to be good to one another. There is no political system, as far as I know, or technological invention, or philosophical thought, or work of art, or sociological report, or self-improvement prescription that can save the world. There is no specific religion that will deliver you salvation. There is no prayer that will liberate you. It is only what is inside the human, what can only be accessed by the human themselves, that can save the world. I believe in this.
This concept is very simple. Alas, it is the problem of our world, and has always been. On a collective scale, it adds up to form an establishment ruled on an institutional level like that of Sam Gold. Sometimes the name was the Church; other times the State and what Power it holds. Today it is called Capitalism. At all times, this evil is being run after and fought by man. At all times, man wins and is able to conquer the establishment until it had crumpled below his feet in a glorious act, only to create a semen for another establishment, conceived by man’s inconsideration to others and to his environment. And so on and so forth.
Revolution is an act of self-destruction, whether on an individual level or on an institutional scale.
Religions deal with this level of human conscience. This is why they have persevered for all those ages. They were never entirely dismantled. A movement as strong as this cannot be without reason or lacking of importance. The core values of each religion emerged from a specific soil, specific needs, but always dealing with this component of the human conscience. When we are speaking about difference in religions, it would be very naïve in my opinion to speak about Moses prohibiting pork, Jesus praying to a cross, or Muhammad barring alcohol. The differences are far more subtle and deep in their structure. It is the difference of why Buddhists haven’t personified they creative power into a God, why Muhammad preached the unity of that creative power and why specifically love was Jesus’ message. It’s very simple to distinguish in my opinion once you believe that our problem is not the system, but each individual’s choice and decision.
شاهدت اليوم فيلم كازابلانكا. كنت اشاهد في الاساس هامفري بوجارت و اتعجب من النمط الذي ينقل به صورة الرجل.. في هيئته و تصرفاته. ثم جلست مع ابي لاتذكر موقفاً كان قد حدث في اليوم السابق.
دائماً -و عندما اقول دائماً اعني في المواقف التي تحتاج الى بصيرة- ما يأتي السم في داخل العسل. السم في حد ذاته ليس هو المشكلة.. و لكن المشكلة تسطح عندما يأتي السم متخفياً في ثوب العسل. هنا تكون الرؤية مشوشة. و دائماً ما يكون امتحان الرجل في ان يستخدم قوته، مصحوباً بامتحان فيما اذا كان قادراً على ان يسبّق رحمته قبلاً.. و في هذا الامتحان يأتي ايضاً اختبار لقدرة الرجل على ان يكيل ما له و ما عليه من حب و بغض.
لن انسى هذا الموقف البسيط الذي علمني فيه والدي درساً.. عندما كنت اداعب ابن اخي مستخدماً قوتي، لم يكن قادراً هذا الصغير ان ينجو من قوة قبضتي.. غير ان والدي، بعد حين، اعطاه و اعطاني اختيار ان ينجو بقبلة، او لا ينجو مطلقاً. تفكر الصغير قليلاً ثم فعل بحكمة ما يستوجب حريته.
كنت قادراً، بقوتي، ان ابقيه بين اضلعي.. اذا شئت. و لكن حيث اني احبه، كانت القبلة هي تذكرة مروره.. جواز حريته. وافقت لما اعلم من حكمة ابي.. وافقت فقط كي اتعلم الدرس.
السم هي قبضتي.. العسل كانت هي القبلة.. اختار الصغير -لحبه لي- ان ينتزع حريته عن طريق العسل.. فمر من هذا السم بيسر.. و رغم قوتي المفرطة نسبةً لهذا الطفل، الا انني لم اكن من الممكن ان اجرده من حريته طويلاً.. لأن هكذا هو حال الحياة. لم يكن هو ليرضى، لم تكن لترضى الاقدار. كان من الحكمة لي ايضاً ان اجعله يمر.. بل كانت هذه الحكمة عظةً لي لاعلم بأني لا اقدر ان اسجن حرية كائن، حتى و ان كان طفلاً، بالقوة التي وجدتني عليها.. كان علي ان ااخذ هذه القبلة التي تدفن في داخلها حب لكي احيد قوتي، و اجنبها لصالح رحمتي.. رحمتي التي هي ليست نابعة من خوف، و لكن من ثقة بقوتي.. و من اتساق بالحق السائد في هذا العالم.. هذا الحق الذي هو الله.
هنا تأتي هذه التركيبة العجيبة.. هذه المعادلة. بين السم و العسل.. القوة و الرحمة.. الحب و البغض.. ان كانت تغيرت اي من هذه المعطيات في المعادلة لكانت تغيرت النتيجة.. و لوجب تغير سير الامور.
هكذا يبنى الرجال.. من هكذا دروس.. ليت قومي من حكام العرب يعلمون!