EARLY INTO Naji Bakhti’s Between Beirut and the Moon, the novel’s protagonist Adam hides in a single bathroom with his family from Israeli aircraft bombs dropping in the distance. As the hours pass, Adam’s father asks him and his younger sister about school, literature, and soccer to distract them, while his chain-smoking mother reminds him that he’s “lucky” because he will now have inspiration as a writer later on. Adam resents his mother’s positive spin; not only does he find her use of black humor unsettling — after all, no citizenry would possibly be thankful for being bombed — but he dreams with unflinching determination of becoming an astronaut, not a writer: “I wanted to shout back … to exclaim that there was probably infinitely more inspiration in space than there ever would be in a tiny old bathroom in Beirut.”
All of them are unlikely rebels. They are quiet, mostly unassuming, and doggedly hopeful. “The strong hand over society will never protect any dictator forever,” Mohamed Zaree said, shortly after a hearing at which the assembly-law case was adjourned yet again. “At some point, however hard a fist is clenched, it comes apart.” The price to be paid in the meantime is the endurance of thousands of disillusioning setbacks. Dissidents do not have the luxury, as guerillas do, of living outside society and periodically striking at it. They remain in the midst of things, witnessing crimes and abuses too numerous and commonplace to note. Having lived so long with the contradictions of their lives, Egypt’s dissidents have forgotten that they are courageous, if they ever knew it. They just persevere, sustained by the belief that there is something in man that must be defended, and that the current state of affairs is beneath their dignity.
Classical music being used to repel people!
Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.
A needull for your weekend. What does it take to make your relationship last? “The secret to creating happy and lasting relationships, Miller concludes, is simple: just love your partner or leave.”
Would it be fair to say that you’re applying the thinking behind arranged marriages — such as Sanjay’s parents’ relationship — to love marriages?
Yes. In the Western world, too many relationships have become disposable. As soon as a romantic relationship becomes difficult — and it always does — too many people want to leave or blame the other person, rather than work through the problems. The US divorce rate of nearly 45 percent bears this out. In arranged marriages, escape isn’t typically an option, and we know that many of them actually develop more love than non-arranged marriages, based on fascinating research conducted by Harvard Professor Dr. Robert Epstein. Most of them figure out how to make it work. They work hard at it. They learn to love each other. They learn to create love.