A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to KNOT Magazine´s Rachid Filali and his interview with multi-award winning Poet Laureate, Alberto Rios. The interview will be added to Cengage Learning´s poetry information, as well publish in Gale Poetry for Students textbook later in the year. CONGRATULATIONS!
A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to KNOT Magazine´s Rachid Filali and his interview with multi-award winning Poet Laureate, Alberto Rios. The interview will be added to Cengage Learning´s poetry information, as well publish in Gale Poetry for Students textbook later in the year. CONGRATULATIONS!
By: Rachid Filali
- You’ve written an important book about the language and the Internet, is it possible that the electronic writing such as SMS (gr8-great) threaten the future of languages?
No. It forms only a tiny part of modern usage. Also, it’s not as fashionable as it was when it first came in. Many teenagers in the UK no longer use it.
- French Professor Claude Hagège , confirmed that the English language has become a danger to other languages, because a lot of people want to learn the language of Shakespeare and neglect learning the national languages?
It isn’t just English. All powerful languages are a threat to smaller languages. There are endangered and extinct languages as a result of Chinese, Russian, Swahili, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese… The important thing, of course, is to maintain local languages as an expression of identity alongside the learning of an international language.
- Professor David Crystal , In English there are many Arabic words, do you know How many of these words, and could you give us your evaluation on the status of the Arabic language at the moment?
The Oxford English Dictionary currently has 510 words that have Arabic as part of their etymology. I’m afraid I’ve never made a sociolinguistic study of Arabic, so can say nothing about its status.
-There are researchers who say that the Arabic language is threatened with death soon, is this true?
I can’t imagine why. Arabic is a very powerful language still, unified by the Classical Arabic of the Koran.
-You are one of the largest specialists in Shakespeare, is it true that this poet has coined more than 1,700 English word, what do you think of those who claim that the poet did not write his plays, and the whole (37 plays) written by unknown authors?
Recent research suggests that the figure is much less than that - probably less than a thousand. But that is still an amazing figure.
I have no interest in the trend that began in the 19th century, and became a 20th century fad, suggesting that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays. All his contemporaries recognised him for who he was, and that’s good enough for me.
- Professor David Crystal, some researchers argue that Arabic is the language of literature and not the language of science and technology, in your opinion, does this analysis, reasonable and scientifically valid?
English is undoubtedly the primary language of science and technology, and has been since the 18th century. But of course other languages can talk about science just as efficiently. And many scientific terms come from Arabic anyway, such as algebra and algorithm - and of course, the numerals.
- Why do the Americans insist on spelling reforms, but the British do not want it?
There has only been one time when American English reformed its spelling, and that was through Noah Webster at the end of the 18th century, just after independence, when the new nation wanted to distance itself from Britain. No spelling reform movement has since succeeded anywhere else in the English-speaking world.
- Professor David Crystal you assume that English will be divided in the future, as has happened before to Latin, is this due to the wide spread of English in the world?
Yes. Some already talk of an English ‘family of languages’, as a result of developments such as T ok Pisin in Papua New Guinea.
- Professor David Crystal
You have a very productive scientific career, providing a valuable service to the English language, what is the secret of this great love?
The fact that languages are always changing. Whatever English is like today, it was different yesterday and will be different tomorrow. I talk about this at greater length in my autobiography, Just a Phrase I’m Going Through.
By Rachid Filali
First of all ..
I’ve read about your life … It’s really a wonderful story, and can be transformed into a successful film professor Richard Sears .. Why all this great sacrifice, it was a high price (lost your wife) in order to become a specialist in Chinese language ..
-Professor ,lot of people believe that the Oriental languages is much harder than the European languages such as English, French and German, is not this the wrong idea, because the Chinese language, for example, is easier than English .. What do you think?
For a baby speaking all languages is in theory about the same difficulty. But reading and writing Chinese requires learning about 5000 characters and about 60,000 character combinations. Chinese is harder to read and write than other languages.
-You say that the Japanese language, different from the Chinese, and Japanese language resembles more the Turkish language ..
Can you clarify that for us?
The structure of Japanese grammar is quite different from Chinese. Many people think it more resembles Turkish than Chinese. But they borrowed Chinese characters and many Chinese vocabulary, so they use a lot of Chinese characters. But they still need two alphabets to write the words that are not derived from Chinese.
-Is the Chinese language has borrowed words from other languages, and what are these languages?
Chinese have borrowed words from other languages.
-Professor Richard Sears , why do you think the Chinese did not invent the alphabet easy to write like most languages, and why they prefer this difficult and complex symbols?
Chinese have a larger reverence for their elders and especially the “Ancestors”. In fact some people say they have ancestor worship. I suspect it is this strong reverence for the ancestors that has kept the written language alive for so long.
-Professor Is it true that there is a language suitable only for science, and language suitable only for Literature?
No. You can write literature or talk science in any language. As long as the other person understands the language and appreciates what you are trying to say.
-What is the secret of this great love especially the Chinese language, without other languages, Why did not you learn the Arabic language, for example?
One day I wanted to learn a foreign language and I wanted to choose the most different language from English. Since Chinese was not alphabetic, I chose Chinese because it seamed the most difficult. Also it is the largest language in the world.
-Professor, is it true that the Chinese language will become the first international language after a few years, especially after the great progress made by China in terms of economic growth?
I don’t think so. English is the only language that is commonly spoken all over the world. I don’t think that will change. Try to speak Chinese in Brazil, or Arabic in China. English is the only common language.
By Rachid Filali
-You are an actress and translator and journalist .. how you can successfully combine all these different areas?
One of the big lessons life has taught me, is that everything and anything can be done, as long as you have passion for it. The reason why I’ve been successful in combining these areas is because I don’t commit to doing things that I don’t have any passion for.
-You appeared before Bollywood movie stars, how would you describe this experience important?
That experience was important for me, because it helped me realize that ANYTHING is possible in life. No dream is too big or out of our reach.
-You know five languages, is it true that the acquisition of a foreign language helps us to open up to the culture of others and avoid prejudices?
It is 100% true that acquiring a foreign language helps expand our knowledge and understanding of other cultures. That has been the case for me in my life. I’ve immigrated three times in life. As a result, I’m more open and accepting of different cultures.
-Who is your idol in art and life, and what do you think about Atiq Rahimi, Afghan great novelist?
I have had many inspirational idols growing up. It is difficult to name them because there are so many. I would say as an artist I recognize, respect, and appreciate the work of other artists. I recently saw Atiq Rahimi’s: The Patience Stone. It was simply GENIUS. The story was good, the direction was impeccable, the realism in it was haunting, and the actors were very good. I’m extremely happy to see Afghan artists slowly emerging in the field of arts and entertainment such as: Sonia Nassery Cole, Siddiq Barmak, Barmak Akram, and internationally acclaimed pianist Omar Akram.
-You traveled a lot across the world (Netherlands. India. America ..) You are also smart and beautiful woman, do you consider yourself lucky woman?
I consider myself INCREDIBLY BLESSED. In fact, I try to constantly remind myself of the fact that I could very well have been one of the street children in Afghanistan. Every single time I see pictures or documentaries about Afghanistan, I thank God for having blessed me with great opportunities in life. While grateful for my life, I pray for Afghan children who are less fortunate to have similar opportunities and blessings.
What do you read now?
I’m in the middle of reading: A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson and Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch. I also recently got a script by a friend called: The Afghan Woman. I’m very eager to start reading that as well.
What do you think of Arab women?
I think of Arab women, the same way I think of Afghan women, Dutch women, Indian women, American women, or any other women. I think of women as my sisters. I’m a firm believer that women all should stand with each other, not against each other. I have many Arab friends, mostly back in Holland. From music to food, we share a lot of things in common.
How do you see the future of Afghanistan?
That is a difficult question to answer. I pray for a better future for Afghanistan, and hope peace will prevail not only in Afghanistan, but all around the world.
What is the most beautiful word?
Afghan songs are very sad, why?
Most Afghan songs are very sad because songs often reflect on the lyricist or singer’s experiences. With a war torn country like Afghanistan, all Afghans have experienced tremendous amount of grief and sorrow. However, we have many singers who are also rejoicing the birth of a new Afghanistan with hopeful and cheerful songs such as: Farhad Darya’s songs Hai and Dosti (friendship): http://www.youtube.com/v/CtWQFowDZNM
What message do you want to submit it to
We should always remember that we are all one. We are all human beings and we are in it together. Once we understand that we are one and the same, it will help us realize that hurting another means hurting ourselves. Disrupting another’ peace means disrupting our own peace. That loving and caring for another, is the same as loving and caring for ourselves.
By Rachid Filali
-Dr. Darold Treffert You are one of the greatest specialists in psychiatry, there are researchers who claim the discovery of the drugs stimulate the evolution of intelligence and memory, is this possible in your opinion?
- There are some drugs that can increase memory at least on a temporary basis. Stimulants of various sorts, including something as weak as caffeine can do so on a temporary basis.
-The “islands of genius” is one of the most important books that try to answer very difficult questions, such as the secret of genius, which, however, remains a mystery and vague like a metaphysical issue, is not it?
- There is nothing really metaphysical or mystical about genius. Intelligence and creativity are distributed in humans on the usual bell-shaped curve. Some persons have very low intelligence from a variety of factors–injury, genetics, lack of education opportunities etc. Most of us fall in the mid-range of intelligence and some persons–prodigy, genius, profoundly gifted–are at the upper end of the spectrum. Some of that distribution at the high end is genetic. This is based on brain function obviously and we are trying to better understand the exact brain
chemistry, dynamics, pathways, circuits involved. It is complex, but not metaphysical. We just need better tools to better unravel those factors. We are slowly getting there now that we can examine the brain at work (functional imaging) instead of only looking at brain structure.
Part of the problem in understanding the brain better, as opposed to the heart, liver or kidney, for example is that the brain sits well protected in a closed box (skull) which cannot be ’scoped’ or easily accessed for biopsy, so we need to depend on imaging.
But there is nothing mysterious about it in a metaphysical way. The complexity simply exceeds our tools at present.
-Is it true, Dr. Darold Treffert that the Arabs gave to humanity a little geniuses compared to other peoples?
- I doubt that the incidence of genius is lower among arabs that other populations or cultures. I expect it would be the same. But those cases may not have come to attention as much as in the Western world. I expect the incidence of savant syndrome to be the same in Arab nations as elsewhere. Maybe having Islands of Genius in Arabic will bring more cases to my attention. I anticipate that will happen although the language difference is a barrier to bringing those cases to the professional literature.
-There is a very strange paradox, where we find autistic patients suffer from mental retardation, at the same time possess supernatural powers, how do you explain that?
- Savant syndrome is a rare but remarkable condition in which some persons with developmental disabilities, such as autism, or with other brain disease or injury, have some remarkable ‘islands of genius’ that stand in stark contrast to over-all handicap. In these persons whether that way from birth, or from disease or injury later in life, there is recruitment of undamaged tissue (generally left brain) with re-wiring to that undamaged area and release of dormant potential until then buried. I think we all have such dormant islands, with the skills and abilities distributed among us in the usual bell shaped curve as above. So we are not all little Mozart’s or Picasso’s. But we all do have some dormant abilities distributed in the bell shaped curve. So savant syndrome can be explained as a process in which some undamaged area of the brain is recruited, rewired to compensate for damage elsewhere (often left hemisphere). See chapters 3 and 4 in Islands of genius.
-Despite impressive progress in the field of medical research and technology, but we could not yet locate intelligence in the human brain, note that some of the shocks in the head, caused the emergence of extraordinary talents of some people (Savant Syndrome)?
- ”intelligence”, memory and creativity involve many areas of the brain; there is no one seat of intelligence, memory or creativity. They involve intricate circuitry working in concert throughout the brain. Beyond that, there is not only one “intelligence’ (IQ) but rather we are a series of intelligences (plural) The shocks to the head is Snyder’s work and it is an application of (5) above. With use of electrical current one suppresses one area of the brain (left anterior lobe generally) which allows some right brain potential (until then buried) to surface. But that does not work in all persons and the extent to which ‘intelligence’ surfaces depends on the bell shaped curve above, and our capacity to capture and measure that.
-The wonderful book “islands of genius” Is translated into Arabic or not? Will publish another book about the same this important subject in the future?
- Fortunately Island of Genius is translated now into Arabic and I look forward to conversations now with persons, such as yourself, and other professionals or parents, from your part of the world and culture. The language is a barrier but now with some internet translation capacity I have been able to ‘read’ some arabic in my language. I am doing some other publishing, but not in book form at present. I have some articles coming out in Scientific American and I think there may be Arabic versions of that magazine. I am sure the book will put me in touch with some persons in your countries, as it already has with our correspondence.
-You say that inside every one of us “Rain Man” and we do not know just how to take advantage of our capabilities correctly, in your opinion, Dr. Darold Treffert , Is it possible to turn ordinary human into a genius, after following certain educational training?
- Savant abilities are more right brain than left brain. In the U.S. and other English speaking countries left brain function (logical, sequential thinking and language skills) make us largely a left brain society. And that’s OK. It serves us well. But right brain function (music, art,
abstract thinking and meditation, for example are not as valued or practiced. What I am saying is that we all do have some dormant capacities which in our culture at least tend to be less valued and it is accessing those dormant capacities that I think we can do much better if we work at it. As above, we are not all hidden ‘geniuses or little Mozarts or Einsteins, but we do have dormant capacity and the acquired savant especially proves that. Genius resides at the far end of the bell shaped curve; there are only so many worldwide based on a number of contributing factors, some of which are simply genetic. While we may not be able to make everyone a genius, through education and effort most of us can improve our memories, our ’smarts’ and our creativity. Working at it helps although effort may not be totally the answer as below.
-Thomas Edison said that genius is 99 per cent of the effort and the rest is talent, but there are some people born talented, like Mozart ?
- The question of nature (genetic endowment of talent and intelligence) v. nurture (simply working at it) is an age old argument. Some argue that give me an ordinary person and with extreme dedication and effort that person can become a genius; Not so although that would be nice.
True genius depends on a basic genetic endowment of innate skills and ability (nature). Certainly that person can ‘train the talent’ to great heights by work and effort. But genius cannot be simple created by efforts. Some people like Mozart are born with more than the usual innate skills, whether music, art or math, for example along the lines of the bell shaped curve. I don’t think genius is 99 percent effort. I think the proportion of nature v. nurture is closer together than that and innate talent represents a generous portion of every genius. That proportion can certainly be worked with an brought to an even higher level but the innate requirement of genius is just that–innate.
I hope that answers your questions. I think you will find answers to most of those in the book, in your language. I really look forward now to hearing about more cases from your part of the world to see what differences, if any, exist between Arabic savants and non-Arabic.
One more thing. Did you find the DVD helpful as included with the book?
Darold A. Treffert, M.D.
By Rachid Filali/Algeria
Mr. Guy Deutscher
Your latest book “Through the Language Glass : How Words Colour Your World” caused a big storm of debate in the field of linguistics, where you tried to examine the old theory, concerning the question of influence between language and culture, first what is the motive drove you to discuss this theory again?
I thought the power and importance of culture (as opposed to genes and DNA) over language and over our thoughts has been underestimated in recent decades, and wanted to put it back in its rightful place.
I tried to show in the book that the lack of vocabulary for colour differences has nothing to do with Daltonism, that is colour blindness. It is a cultural difference, in language, not in eyesight. And there are similarities not just between ancient Greeks and Berbers, but with cultures all over the world in the way that colour vocabulary develops. This is one of the main themes of the book.
-Do not you think - sir - that your book, encourages some racist tendencies, which defends the superior race, who speaks the language of advanced,
Of course not. What could possibly have given you this idea? There is nothing in my book about ’superior race’. My book in fact tries to say that any differences between us are due to the cultural environment and have nothing to do with race.
-There are a number of linguists describe the Arabic language as backward and the language of nomadism, and therefore is not a language of civilization, because they used a large number of terms are too old and these terms are generated in an environment Sahroah, but Arabic is the same that gave many of the terms urban Modern Languages (English, French, German, Russian ..) What do you think, sir?
I think there is no such thing as a ‘backward language’. If a language doesn’t have words for scientific or abstract terms, it can just borrow these, just like all European languages borrowed their words for scientific and abstract terms from Latin and Greek, and… yes - Arabic.
-Some languages are very complex and does not have an alphabet such as Chinese and Japanese, but the speakers of these languages are not less intelligent than others, on the
contrary, they are very smart, and their ideas about life including “great philosophy” .. The Sioux Indians - for example - in the United States speak a language seem poor but rich in myths reflect the view of the world, is not it?
You have to separate between writing system and spoken language. Chinese writing system is indeed complex, but the language itself is not more complex than English or French or Arabic.
You know that there are scientific theories with preconceived ideas and deviant, Linguistics and full of such quasi-scientific theories, what is the way of research in this important area of human culture without falling into extremism and falsehood?
As in all things to do with science - the best way is to try to stick to facts, and facts that can be proved.
Regards, Guy Deutscher
By Rachid Filali
- In your book “The New Religious Intolerance” You say that the misunderstanding of Islam is the reason for the emergence of the so-called “Islam phobia” in Europe, do you think that education is just enough to dissolve this problem, do not you think that the media’s role is also significant to distort the image of Islam in Europe America, for political reasons the first place?
Actually, in my book I find more than one cause for the current wave of fear and mistrust directed at Islam. One problem is that Europe has not adopted shared constitutional principles of religious liberty and equal respect: in my book I describe the evolution of the U. S. Constitution and commend the framework that it offers. But a deeper problem is the issue of national identity. The U. S., like India, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and quite a few other nations, conceives of its national identity as based on political principles: if you accept those principles and agree to live by them, you can be a fully equal citizen. Europeans have standardly adopted a conception of identity based on the ideas of romanticism, in which soil, blood, ethnicity, and language lie at the heart of national belonging. It is for this reason that they have so much difficulty accepting new immigrants who look different, or, indeed, anyone who insists on maintaining a separate and distinctive ethno-religious identity. I point out that Jews in eighteenth-century Europe were treated very much the way Muslims are treated today.
I think that education is surely helpful, particularly if it’s an education that touches the imagination and induces people to see Muslims as full and equal human beings. But it won’t be enough without a change in the way in which nationhood and belonging are imagined.
- Do you think that the Arab Spring has dreamed Arab human freedom and dignity, how to protect the Arab revolutions of extremists and other exploiters and corrupt, and how do you see the future of the Arab world in view of the major events that experienced in recent years?
I’m no expert in the Arab world – my work dealing with Islam has focused on India and Bangladesh, which have a very different history. I guess the question really is, how did India manage to become a successful pluralistic democracy, in which Muslims play an active role – not without discrimination and occasional violence, but nonetheless as proud Indian citizens? How did India evolve as the sort of democracy that really respects human equality, and how might nations in the Arab world emulate that success story? The leadership of Gandhi and Nehru is a large part of the story, and it is as yet unclear whether leaders as deeply committed to human equality will emerge in the Arab nations. But I would also single out the role of India’s excellent constitution, crafted largly by B. R. Ambedkar, himself a “dalit” (formerly called “untouchable”), which contains extremely careful protections for minorities and women. I fear that Egypt has not had the same sort of constitution process – at least not yet. The other thing one might say is that the British, though terrible in many respects, did lay the groundwork for democracy in India by supporting legal reform and the rule of law. It is not clear that the groundwork has really been laid in the Arab nations. In his excellent book THE ROAD TO DEMOCRACY IN IRAN, Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji argues that the preconditions of democracy exist in Iran, virtually alone among the Arab nations (including a high level of education, a well formed civil society, vigorous youth movements, and empowered women), and thus Iran fails to have democracy only because of the most brutal repression. He believes that the preconditions for democracy are incompletely developed elsewhere in the Arab world.
-In your books, we find a strong defense of the humanities, especially in the face of new technology, professor Nussbaum Do not you think that your thoughts, even though it is a great defense of human intelligence, do not affect in this world who surrenders completely to modern technologies for its multiple services?
Well, my book was not written for people who truly believe that only technology and wealth matter. It was written for people who believe that political liberty and democracy matter as well, and my aim was to convince those people to support the humanities by showing that they are important for the survival and health of democracy. I think that there is a large group of such people, and that they can be won over, even though they might not support the humanities out of personal love or taste.
--The issue of gender equality is still much debated among intellectuals, especially in the area of freedom, as there is a difference wide between the concept of this freedom among Indian women and Swedish women, for example, in your opinion is there a common standard and unified concept of freedom of all women in the world?
I am not sure why you contrast India with Sweden. I’ve spent a lot of time in India, and I think that you would have a hard time finding a nation that is more deeply committed to women’s equality. Lifelong feminists hold positions of power that no feminist would ever be given in the United States. For example Kaushik Basu was Chief Economic Advisor to Manmohan Singh while at the same time being the President of our Human Development and Capability Association, and he is a scholar who has spent most of his career writing about gender equality. The current Solicitor General of India is Indira Jaising, a passionate lifelong feminist legal advocate who established the leading NGO that works on gender equality. Sonia Gandhi’s chief advisor is Jean Drèze, an economist who has co-authored numerous books with Amartya Sen, all prominent addressing issues of gender equality. Even in the opposition party, women’s equality has a high priority, which could not be said of the Republican opposition in the U. S. So there is a deep public commitment to women’s equality in India, and that is a longstanding matter: Gandhi and Nehru were both strong advocates of women’s equality, and gave women high positions of power. In many Indian states, women are Chief Ministers. In the academy, women have more power than in any other nation I know. So the gender gap in India, in education and job opportunities, is not at the level of educated classes; it persists in rural areas and is part of the general failure to make economic progress in those areas. The problems are large, but given the united commitment to addressing them, I feel that the future looks good.
As for Sweden, Sweden probably has less sexual violence than either the United States or India, and women do quite well in politics, but in the academy they still lag way behind, due to a tradition of mentorship and inbreeding. I would not want to have a career in Sweden! If I had to choose between India and Sweden, I’d have a hard time, because I think that academic women are treated better in India, but the air quality is better in Sweden, and that is rather important to me, as an amateur singer with lots of allergies.
Is there a common standard of freedom among the world’s women? Yes, I think so. CEDAW is a fully international document, both written and supported by women all over the world. I find small differences among nations. For example, Sweden is more hostile to the decriminalization of sex work than either Denmark or India. But those are matters for detailed argument. On the large issues, including most of CEDAW, there is very substantial agreement.
-What do you think of contemporary Arab women?
Once again, I am no expert, since I do a lot of work in India, and most of the Islamic women I know are either there or in the U. S. But on visits I’ve made to Jordan and Lebanon, I am deeply impressed by the energy and achievement of Arab women. Our Human Development and Capabilitity Association held its annual meeting in Amman, on the campus of the University, and I was amazed to discover that 75 % of university students in that excellent university are women. They are really an impressive bunch. The same was true of women at the American University of Beirut. Women still have a long way to go in these nations in terms of equal influence in politics and the economy, but they are making large strides in the professions as well as in education. Now they just need to extend the progress they have already made. Women in Egypt are in a far more insecure and uncertain position. In Iran and Saudi Arabia they are in a very adverse position.
-Professor Nussbaum: You strongly defended the hijab and burqa, and this moderate position rarely noticeable when non-Muslim woman, how could Professor overcome cultural heritage and win this humanitarian vision, open-mindedness on others who are different from us?
I think that my defense of the choice to wear the hijab or burqa (and of course I defend it only when it is a choice, not imposed by violence or the threat of violence) has been largely accepted in the U. S. It is a very mainstream position, and even conservative Republicans appear to agree with a lot of what I say. Some members of my family are very conservative, and I’ve also been on conservative radio shows, so I know, as a result of these conversations, that there is a general agreement that when people want to express their religious convictions in dress, they have every right to do so. In Europe things are very different: my views are regarded as outside the mainstream, and even as “offensive.” That is largely, I think, because of the problem I mentioned earlier – Europeans think that people ought to blend in and adopt the ways of the dominant ethnicity. They also think that religion itself is “premodern,” and that any form of religious dress is rather embarrassing. I find that the fact that I’m an observant Jew, and that I often sing in my temple, makes people in Europe pretty uncomfortable. So what can be done? Well, I think one thing is simply to live an openly religious life and talk about it, and manifest in one’s life the fact that one can be an engaged citizen and at the same time express and live by a religious identity. That’s what I say to observant Muslim students in U. S. universities when they ask me for advice. In Europe, however, they will have a far harder time, because the basic idea of equal respect has not been accepted. Given that the nations of Europe summon new immigrants and need them to do the work that needs to be done, I hope over time these attitudes will change. It’s rather like inviting guests to a party and then treating them rudely when they arrive.
-Political world today relies primarily on power and interest, and as you see that virtue and human dignity and equality of opportunity is the solution which is the essence of justice and liberty, how can that be reconciled in practice between these opposing trends?Is not this dialectical conflict that human lives in its fire since time immemorial?
I think you are too pessimistic about politics. Of course there is a large role for power and interest, and always has been. But today we also have a thriving international human rights movement, and an increasing consensus that dignity and equality are key political values. I think we simply need to keep talking about the importance of these values and to support people who are struggling to realize them – at the same time making sure that our own nation, whatever it is, exemplifies the high standards that it talks about! I find that people often pretend that threats to liberty and equality are only in distant parts of the world, when they are often, also, right in front of us at home.
By: Rachid Filali
A number of researchers emphasize that the anthropological and ethnological research filled with racist terminology such as the concept of “race”, what is your opinion in this conclusion sir?
*Anthropologists once believed in ‘races’. But many of them, in particular American such as Franz Boas and Margaret Mead did a great deal to question the concept of blood races. Few anthropologists today talk about ‘races’.
- The anthropological research in the field is very stressful, as happened with you in Nepal, what is the secret that made this research continues sir, is it scientific curiosity or is there another motive such as access to the highest scientific titles, fame, etc.?
*Yes, anthropological fieldwork, like much academic work, is very stressful. Our motives are always mixed, and mine was as well. It was a mixture of curiosity, intellectual excitement, desire to cross academic boundaries, a return to a country and people not dissimilar to my childhood in Assam, and, of course, earning qualifications if I ever wanted to be an academic.
- Your book about tea is very important, Is For these reasons, nutrition scientists reveals that dishes contribute substantially to the formation of peoples’ personalities?
*Yes, tea has many effects – including, it is believed, making people more calm (as the English and Chinese). It also has enormous effects on health – probably the most important plant in the world in terms of preventing water-borne and other diseases.
- There is a common saying that history is written by the powerful, Professor Alan, As a famous historian, this analysis is true scientifically?
*As usual, this is half true. It tends to be the victors and powerful who write the history – or at least whose history dominates. But there have been examples of the weaker also writing the history and their views finally being accepted – Jesus, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are famed examples.
- Dear Professor Alan Macfarlane , you wrote several very important research on the practice of witchcraft and sorcery in England, do you think that modernity brought “rupture” with these superstitious practices in the Western mind or whether they still exist, but in other ways?
*We still need explanations of why terrible things happen to us. We also often seem to need people to blame and to hate. So although witchcraft beliefs are out of fashion, there are many situations where something similar, for example ‘the war on Evil’, the ‘battle against the terrorists’ etc, overlap with the witchcraft period.
- Dear Professor, why do not deep research on the Arab peoples, you‘re a great professor, and the Arab people need to learn more about themselves, do you think - sir - that the Arab mind, is a metaphysical mind and illogical as imagined by some Western scientists?
*I would like to have done more on the great Arabic peoples. I read a little about early Arabic civilization, for example in Marshall Hodgson’s great work on Islam (The Venture of Islaqm). But unfortunately my energy is limited and having studied western Europe, Nepal, Japan and China, I am running out of time!
On Arab mind…I do not believe in something called ‘the Arab mind’, which is as ridiculous as talking about the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Russian’ or ;Brazilian’ mind. And certainly the history of great scientists and artists of Arab civilizations show them to have been as logical and practical and rational as anyone in history.
- Professor Martha Nussbaum has assured me that the modern means of communication reduce the innate intelligence and critical awareness, especially in the field of humanities, what do you think, sir?
*No, I don’t think so at all. If anything, modern communication will sharpen intelligence and critical awareness – if people exercise care. The new communicaiton technologies are opening up the world of ideas in many ways – potentials for research, for writing and filming, for publishging – wonderful.
- Dear Professor Alan Macfarlane Where arrived draft digital Himalayas?Especially It is considered a significant step in order to preserve the oral heritage of humanity ..
*This came out of the influence of my great Professor of Anthropology, Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, plus an interest in digital technologies and communication. It was developed jointly with Dr. Mark Turin of Yale University and my wife Sarah Harrison, the web-mistress of www.alanmacfarlane.com where many of my lectures, two hundred interviews and writings can be found. I first became interested in communications technology in the early days of the computer, in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s the potentials of the laser disc (videodisc) became apparent and I helped to make the first academic videodisc (on the Naga peoples). As the internet revolution spread, I realized that the future of teaching and wider communication, and particularly the ability to communicate with people in poorer parts of the world who do not have direct access to libraries, museums and high grade teachers, was through the internet. Also that much of the world’s culture needs to be preserved digitally. Hence my work on digital websites.
By Rachid Filali
Stephen Coleman is Professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds, Honorary Professor in Political Science at the University of Copenhagen and Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
His main research interests are: i) methods of political engagement; ii) uses of digital media in representative democracies; iii) intersections between popular culture and formal politics; iv) political efficacy; v) citizenship education; vi) political aesthetics, performance and rhetoric; viii) literary and dramatic representations of politics; and ix) forms of deliberation and decision-making.
This year, Robert W. McChesney published a new book Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet against Democracy was published this year. On the other hand, other researchers have stated that the internet has contributed significantly to the dissemination of democratic knowledge. Professor Stephen Coleman, you have written several books on this issue. Don’t you see that these views are contradictory?
Stephen Coleman: This is a very good question, because it allows me to face some rather unhelpful dichotomy in the literature where there is much talk about cyber-pessimists and cyber-optimists; realists and utopians; the Internet as inherently for or against democracy. These are all terribly distracting antitheses which lead scholars to fall into unproductive camps. I want to argue that the Internet is a cultural product and that its relationship with democracy, like television, the telephone or the printing press before it, is determined by culture rather than technology; by the values we adopt as social animals rather than the tools we use to realise our sociality. I don’t want to argue here that access to the remarkable range of new media that have become available in the last couple of decades has led – or will lead – to a brave new world of enhanced civility, harmony or democracy. But I do want to argue that the emergence of the Internet has greatly increased the power of voices that were once unable to access the public domain or enter global spaces of communication; that it has given relatively low-cost access to a public platform for many (but not all) people who have a story to tell or point of view to state; that it makes it easier for people with similar interests and values to coordinate with a view of sharing their experiences, pooling knowledge and taking collective actions; and that it opens up a space of competing narratives, accounts and explanations that contribute to a levelling of communicative opportunities and a diminution of the power of corporate and state agenda-setters and story-tellers. This potential – which Jay Blumler and I, in our book, The Internet and Democratic Citizenship, refer to as ‘vulnerable potential’ – can only be realised by people taking democratic action to make the Internet accountable to public interests. So, for me, the question is not whether the Internet is ‘for’ or ‘against’ democracy (which is crass determinism), but whether democrats should be using the Internet to further our objectives.
Rachid Filali: Is it true that Facebook was behind the Arab Spring revolution? And is this new means of communication able to bring positive changes to the Arab societies’ political awareness?
Stephen Coleman: This is like asking ‘Was the printing press behind the French revolution?’ Of course, in one sense it was – but it didn’t make it happen. All of the evidence I’ve read suggests that the use of online and mobile-phone communication significantly strengthened the Arab activists and completely baffled the old dictators and their stooges, who simply didn’t know how to counter this new democratic space. I have spoken to people from Saudi Arabia who told me that every time the (unelected) government tries to suppress online communication, the number of people making their voices heard online increases. But the Arab Spring happened, not because people had the Internet and mobile phones, but because they were driven to exasperation by regimes that treated them with contempt.
Rachid Filali: Is the widespread use of social networks (in Europe and America in particular) caused by the search for a replacement of the “extreme individualism” suffered by Westerners in general?
Stephen Coleman: The grandparents of the Facebook generation had fewer social contacts than their grandchildren, but knew them better. Online social networks create what Granovetter called ‘weak ties’. I wouldn’t like to categorise networked sociality as a retreat to lonely individualism or a turn towards more collective engagement. It is both – and the empirical question is to identify where and when and how one kind of relationship is more dominant than the other. The crisis of Western individualism is deeper and more profound than can be explained by the use of technological tools. (Most people in the West feel that they have little influence on the world around them, leaving them as spectators upon political dramas in which they’re told, according to democratic ideals, that they should be centre stage).
Rachid Filali: Do you expect the demise of “the printed press,” after the huge success of “electronic media”?
Stephen Coleman: No – but some print dinosaurs will fall by the wayside, while others will adapt. I like the idea of a media ecology in which different media serve specific socio-cultural needs. We’re doing some empirical work on this currently in the city of Leeds, where my University is based.
Rachid Filali: We can notice a strange phenomenon nowadays. Is it true that while the “printed press” in the Arab world is successful, the opposite happens in Europe and in America, as it is threatened with bankruptcy?
Stephen Coleman: Yes, indeed this is the case. Much of the commentary and scholarship about the media is very Euro-American-centered. This is an important reminder.
Rachid Filali: There are a lot of fake news published by the press in many countries of the world, especially in the press that is financially and politically supported by companies and influential personalities. How to protect the truth of these evil forces?
Stephen Coleman: See this article: http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/1946698/68514667/name/Television%20%26amp%3B%20New%20Media%20-%20Murdoch%20-%20Coleman.doc.pdf
Rachid Filali: How do you analyse what is currently happening in the Arab world including changes in political, social and cultural areas?
Stephen Coleman: I’m a democrat who believes that the work of building democracy is never completely finished. The Arab Spring was an inspirational phenomenon. It is too easy to forget just how risky it was for people to take to the streets and just how differently it could all have ended. But the current situation is certainly not what most of those demonstrators wanted. I’ve recently written a book called How Voters Feel (Cambridge University Press, 2013) in which I argue that democracy is fundamentally interruptive and transgressive: it overturns conventional assumptions about who should be heard and what can be said. Bringing about such a cultural change takes a long time. It cannot be enacted by legislation; nor will it follow on simply from economic reorganisation. Democracy requires a level of shared public consciousness that must be worked for consistently. This is not an Arab challenge or a Western challenge or an African challenge or a young people’s challenge. It is a human challenge. There are plenty of forces at work that diminish and disrespect public consciousness, writing off the brains of the many as if they had no value. These forces, it seems to me; however they may manifest themselves, should be supported by democrats.
By Rachid Filali
- After the great success of you in the field of adventure across the seas and oceans, do you think that you are given a lesson enough for the enemies of the environment, note that the risk of environmental pollution is increasing from day to day?
I haven’t even begun yet, relatively speaking! Over the past 8 years I have used my adventures to raise awareness and inspire action on environmental issues, via my blogs, podcasts, Facebook and Twitter. And I think it had some considerable effect, especially in reaching people who didn’t naturally regard themselves as environmentalists.
But obviously we still have a very long way to go. As you say, every day we continue pollute our one and only planet. We live on a finite Earth, and now that there are 7.1 billion of us here, we are overburdening our ecosystem. This will not end well for us! Unfortunately, we seem to have mostly lost our ability or willingness to look into the future, and to see where we are heading. Ancient and indigenous cultures knew this well.
My belief is that we need to create a new metric of success. While we perpetuate the notion that “success” means a big house, a fat paycheck, and the latest fashions and gadgets, we have no hope of achieving sustainability. Psychologists have proved that this conspicuous consumption doesn’t even make us happy. Any such happiness is short-lived compared with the greater factors of happiness - contributing to our communities, nurturing our friendships and relationships, and living life with purpose and passion.
In a perfect world we would have greater human happiness, derived from the true and long-lasting factors, and at the same time reduce our environmental footprint by understanding that once basic needs are met, less really is more.
-Do you think you defend the rights of children as well,
Especially since they are exploited in many countries ugliest roads, and are there other adventures you have done in defense of similar humanitarian issues?
That is an interesting question. I have not campaigned specifically on children’s rights in terms of child labour etc, although by being an ethical consumer I believe I vote by making informed purchasing choices.
What I am campaigning for is the preservation of our ecosphere not only for children alive today, but for the children as yet unborn. I love to scuba dive – I hope to help preserve our oceans so that the children of the future can enjoy healthy coral reefs and rich marine life. I love seeing animals in their natural habitat – I hope that children of the future will be able to hear songbirds and watch dolphins and walk in the wilderness of the forests. I love to feel healthy – I hope that we are not contaminating our planet so much that future generations have to tolerate impaired health and diminished vitality.
Right now, we are stealing from the future. Our current way of life is diminishing the quality of life for future generations. That makes me feel guilty. But we have the knowledge and the science, and we can set a different path. I want the children of the future to look back on our generation and thank us – rather than being angry with us for having robbed them of Earth’s beauty, I want them to be grateful to us for having made wise, although maybe tough, decisions, to preserve this amazing and beautiful planet.
-There is still a large racial discrimination between women and men, have been adventures and clear message that women are able to achieve miracles, I want to ask you, in this context, where did you get all these extraordinary courage?
Throughout history, women have been at least as brave as men. Courage is not dependent on gender.
As to where I got my courage, I firmly believe that courage can be learned. It is not something you have to be born with. I did not used to have courage – I used to be afraid of all sorts of things. I was afraid of the dark, afraid to be different, afraid to be myself, and afraid of the ocean – in fact, I still am! The first two weeks on the Atlantic, especially at night, I was terrified. But after a while you get tired of being afraid, you find a way to come to terms with your own fear. There were so many times that I thought I had hit my absolute limit – of fear, frustration, boredom, pain – but when you have no choice, because you’re in the middle of an ocean and there is only one way to get to the other side, you just push on through it, and you realise that your limit was just a mirage, a figment that existed only in your mind, not in reality.
-What do you think Madam in the character of Arab women?Do you have a special message for her?
I understand that life is very different for Arab women, that they have many restrictions that women in the West do not have. Probably some do not mind these restrictions – and that is fine – but I do believe strongly in freedom to choose, and so I pray that women in the Arab world will claim greater freedom for themselves.
Thousands of years ago, many societies were matriarchal. Now we are in a patriarchal era. My vision for the future is that we have a world where neither gender dominates, but rather that we realise we function best when both the masculine and the feminine are honoured and respected.
-Do you achieved all your dreams in life and what is your philosophy?I mean, what are the most important advice you worked in your daily life?And is the author of your favorite?
I still have so much to do! For me, rowing across 3 oceans was just the start. It was an important stage on my life journey, showing me what I am capable of – and if I can go from being fearful to being courageous, if I can go from being a nobody to being a somebody – then anybody can. We all have so much potential, and I hope that my life story will help inspire other people to rise up and be all that they can be.
My favourite quote is by the late actor Denholm Elliot – “surprise yourself every day with your own courage”. I try to live by that. We are all so much more courageous, have so much more potential, than we dare to believe. Believe it!!
Roz Savage is an ocean rower, environmental campaigner, author and speaker. She holds four world records for ocean rowing, including first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oarstrokes, and spent cumulatively over 500 days of her life at sea in a 23-foot rowboat. Her first book, “Rowing The Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean”, was published in 2009. Her second book, “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning on the Pacific” is published on October 15 this year, by Hay House.
She is a United Nations Climate Hero, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, and has been listed amongst the Top Twenty Great British Adventurers by the Daily Telegraph. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic.